Sunday, October 15, 2017

2017 Week 41: Earthly Farewells

The week was overshadowed by two earthly losses/heaven's gain.

In memory of Viola

Yet our earthly pilgrimage must go on as usual: teaching, grading, writing, tap class, for me; robotics, pottery, and so much more for Michael.
Our resident student had a visit from her best friend and is now on Fall break after surviving seven weeks of a grueling schedule.

Water color class is going well. This week we transfered a child's drawing and then practiced the techniques Jason is trying to teach us.
Jason's water colors using his kids'art

Then we worked on a still life. I realized that I am too realistic, not artsy. We have such a good time together, enjoying the process as well as the results.
Leah's, Stephan's, Kari's, and my pumpkins

Speaking of pumpkins. . . Stephan has been very busy carving and shaping them into the most unusual rearrangements.

Tractor; Pumpkin Pele doing a bicycle kick; Lighted Pumpkin Clock; . . .

Thursday morning my brother Alan shared this tribute to his beloved wife:
Early in the morning of October 12, 1492, a sailor on board the Pinta sighted land, beginning a new era of European exploration and expansion. The next day, the ninety crew members of Columbus’ three-ship fleet ventured onto the Bahamian island that he named San Salvador (now Watling Island, and then called Guanahaní by the natives), ending a voyage begun nearly ten weeks earlier in Palos, Spain."
Early in the morning of October 12, 2017, Sharon Lynn Hoyt, my shipmate for nearly 35 years sighted land, beginning our new era of exploration. Here is her last text to me: "First you have to build the wooden sailboat, then we’ll go on a long cruise". To the very end her thoughts and dreams were for and about me and her boys. Her words to me over the last couple of days were about preparing a place for me. She asked me to never forget Romans 8:8-23

Today she discovered freedom, everlasting love, the reality of the truth we all crave to touch and see.

Sharon's journey with cancer lasted five torturous years of multiple surgeries and every treatment available. She fought with courage and grace and never lost hope.

In 2013 when Dad passed away she was already going through chemo.

Top: With Mother, four brothers and spouses;
Bottom left: my favorite photo of Alan and Sharon. Bottom right: The last time I saw Sharon, Mother's 96th birthday in July.

A very timely memory popped up the next day, a painting I was drawn to when we visited the Art Prize several years ago. It speaks to me now, of the grief journey ahead for Alan and the two boys, Nicolas (28), Daniel (almost 27). I especially love the reminder of Who is there for them, and of the promise in Luke 21:19 (The Voice)

Friday we celebrated the life of my dear friend Viola Fights (86).
As a tall beautiful 18 year old she was headed to college and a promising future when she contracted polio and her life was altered forever. The disease did not hold her back. She married and raised six children and more that ended up in her care. She was not one to complain, though trapped in a body with increasing limitations. When we met thirty three years ago she could still walk with leg braces and crutches and almost daily walked by our house in the neighborhood. Post polio took its toll over the years. Later years she got around town on her scooter until gradually she became totally bedridden.

Senior picture from her high school yearbook. A "walk" together on her 80th birthday with her beloved dog Patches.

As the family gathered photos for the memorial, they lacked one of Mary her caregiver for 13 years. I happened to have the only one. This was my gift to Mary and the family.

The angel who cared for my friend

Michael had gotten up very early to work on a presentation for a FIRST robotics forum and was busy all day. He also made a Venison Chili Mac for a chili cookout at Victory Acres, our local CSA farm.

Mike's special Venison Chili Mac

The weather was perfect. They had planned a wonderful fall festival. One activity was photo treasure hunt. This was my shot at the photo booth.


We had a lovely relaxing evening with good food and friends.

Michael left very early Saturday for Purdue in West Lafayette. His presentation, "Basic Electricity and Electronics for FRC", was well attended. He had a long day away. I had a long day at home.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

2017 Week 40: Love and Grace

Love has many meanings and degrees.  
For example, on a scale of 1 to 5:
1-like something
2-really like something
3-care about a person/s
4-be committed to someone
5-adore, reverence God. 
What number would I assign our Sunday evening Open House at Pastor Dan's getting to know the college students?  

Can you guess what we're roasting over the open fire

How would I rate the pie Mike baked this week? 

Our first watercolor class was so much fun. Jason and Kari Diller led us in several activities to practice a few techniques with washes and masking. The game at the end, a good learning exercise, resulted in some very strange creatures.

Our town experienced a police emergency that night, Tuesday, and into the next morning, until the two armed robbers were apprehended a half a mile from us. Taylor U was locked down and cancelled classes till noon the next day and Eastbrook Schools closed all day.

After tap class Wednesday we celebrated Kayla's 26th birthday with lunch at The Bridge.

Cousin Rosie sent me a couple old photos, just in time for Throwback Thursday. I "love #2" this one of my youngest brothers. They were best buds growing up and now, years later, work together at HP Home Rescue

Grandpa Mike was able to spend some time with Zion and Jude at Royerton School Grandparents Day. These two are also best buddies. Zion is in second grade and Jude in pre-school.

I missed the abuela-fun and traded it for alumna-fun at Grace homecming. I sat with Malachi in  Chapel, ate lunch with Mother at Grace Village, and then enjoyed the Grace and Winona Lake History bus tour (my fourth time!) with author and guide Terry White. He wrote the book: Winona at 100 Third Wave Rising. My neighbor friends joined us for the tour and the special treat after--a guided walk-through of the Billy Sunday Home.

In the Museum I was drawn to an old tandem bicycle, wouldn't ya' know. And, simply amazed by the global impact of this hub.

Sunday we celebrated Jude, an exuberant five-year-old who has brought so much joy since the day he was born.

How would you guess-rate all my "loves"?

I think a lot about # 4 as my youngest sibling faces the reality of the promise "till death do us part." I pray for strength, peace, a precious farewell, and a smooth transition.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

2017 Week 39: Life is fleeting


Beautiful warm autumn weather lingers and Michael has been out almost every day chopping and splitting wood. The supply grows steadily. I remembered that last year Skye did most of that work.

I visited Mother on Tuesday. We read letters most of the afternoon and finished the treasured folder (9/10/1945 - 3/20/1947). We also went back to the earlier ones to piece together the months before our little family left for Argentina. I am currently trying to write that chapter. 
Ivan surprised us when he joined us in the dining room.

Ivan reading the chapter so far and waiting for his dinner. Mother looking so cute.

We lingered at the table so long that by the time we left, the monthly jam session had begun. We thoroughly enjoyed an hour of good music by the Singing Fossils. I suppose it was especially interesting to me because Dr. John Davis, the lead "fossil" (smile) was one of my professors in Seminary, oh so many years ago. He later became the fourth president of Grace Schools. I found a very interesting article that attempts to describe this renaissance man Guardian of Grace.

He introduced himself as an archeologist (one of his many interests), and went on to explain "as you know, my life is in ruins." He went on to categorize different old age groups: "70s are old; 80s are antiques; 90s are fossils; and beyond that they are really old fossils." 
He and his wife have recently moved in to Grace Village with this assortment of oldies, and as he stated in his humorous song they are having the time of their life.

We also really enjoy sharing a meal with the older crowd at the senior center on Wednesdays. 
I love asking questions and hearing stories from their lives.

Birthdays of the month

Some five years ago, at a writers' conference, I had opened a Twitter account. I never did much with it after that. A random notification popped up this week. I opened it, scrolled down and found a photo posted during an open mic session of me reading a poem I wrote after my mother-in-law died--"The lingering years. . ."

A couple days later, looking through a folder of correspondence from a Argentine pastor-writer- friend, I came across his translation of my poem,  which he titled "Aquellos largos años". Eduardo passed away last month. His wife died almost twenty years ago after long years of early-onset Alzheimers. 

We get old and our young grow older. 

Elijah (12) after soccer victory Friday. Memory of the same kid (5) playing with my Spanish club student's piñata
Friday we enjoyed Elijah's last soccer game of the season; he had an assist and a goal, maybe more. Kristie and I were busy chatting, getting caught up. The little guys played in the park. Oh, Jude informed us, "I want to be a paleontologist." And, don't you just love his tie?

Saturday,  a dear friend died. I rejoice at the thought of her body set free from the ravages of polio.
Today, Sunday, heaven welcomed another suffering saint.

I was reminded of an unchanging truth: God's love never changes, never ends, never quits.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

2017 Week 38: Chores and more

What's happening at the Koch's?
This week I want to focus on Michael as I didn't include any of his activities last week.
He has accomplished a great deal this summer: painted sections of the siding; sealed the driveway; cared for his beehives. (Sadly one of them became infested with wax moths and didn't make it. There are five colonies left.)

The evidence
The latest project: felling dead trees, making sure they'd fall in a safe direction; loading and moving them; splitting the logs and stacking the pieces. 

Our resident engineering student giving advice
This is an ongoing project. Four trees down and four more to go. 
Stephan will pick up several of the right-sized logs suitable for the timber frame house he is preparing to build.

Not to mention all Michael's other ongoing involvements: robotics; pottery at the Red Barn; the satellite project; and very regular bicycle rides.

What's happening in other Koch households?
Last Sunday was Kristie's birthday. I'm borrowing this sweet photo of the royal treatment she received that morning. This weekend, the college boy came home so Sam and Kristie could get away.

Wednesday tap class was quite a mental and physical workout--trying to learn new steps and a new dance routine as well as remember the old one--but very entertaining as well.

Big teacher, little teacher

I popped in to visit mi hija Thursday and got some good pics of the family pets.

Top: Zeus; lower left, Ruff; lower right, Cleo

Signs of autumn greet me on gray days and sunny days, but the heat wave we are experiencing (several days in the 90's) tell me summer is loathe to leave.

Grading was my focus. Tests and homework packets were spread out on the counter most of the week. I discovered that listening to audio books makes the task bearable, even enjoyable.

I finally learned how to use an app to access library books, and now I'm on a roll, three in one week. At this rate maybe I'll catch up on all the recommended reading.

I lean toward memoir and biography. There are so many life lessons in these stories.
I'm curious, do you enjoy audio books?

The week ended strolling hand in hand with Michael through the numerous vendor booths, rows of rebuilt old cars, and food concessions at the popular and chaotic event in the neighboring town, the Ducktail Run. We settled on a sweet treat to share.

Looking old but happy

Sunday, September 17, 2017

2017 Week 37: Life--Full and Fleeting

My plants prospered and multiplied outdoors but it's time to begin thinking about bringing them indoors. Summer will officially be over in a week, though pleasant, even warm weather may linger.

Times and things change. Seasons come and go. Friends and pets also. 
We attended two memorial services this week, celebrations of lives well lived. Last night we heard of two older friends in Argentina who left this life for a better one. 

We are so grateful when we see our young ones making decisions and taking steps in light of eternity.
"I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3John 4

Last Sunday we witnessed Zion's step of faith in baptism. You can watch a little video the church put together for the occasion--Baptism 9.10.17. It is customary at The Gathering, their church, for the family to surround the special water tank as the candidate is prayed over and baptized.

Pastor Brandt praying for Zion; the cousins; children's pastor Stephanie baptizing Zion

Monday after four hours of teaching, it was a real treat to meet my friend Julia for Thai food at a nearby restaurant..

Stephan always has culinary surprises for us Monday evenings, and we never know who all will be there.

Full table, fun food

Sadly, the next day, one of  their dogs went missing. Wednesday she was recovered from the animal shelter disoriented and blind, not sure exactly what happened, how or when.

Poor Gracie

I spent time this week looking back at my family's earliest years in Argentina in an effort to recall and retell those stories. I scanned, enhanced, posted photographs and also read a year's worth of "Aunt Margaret's" weekly letters written in 1959. I need to return those treasures to her next time I go to Grace Village.
Here are two sample photographs:
Our little family and another couple were scheduled to leave on the José Menéndez, a cargo ship, September 7, 1945. We were all aboard, and trunks loaded. Grandparents toured the vessel and noticed the small cabins. The farewells that followed anticipated a five year separation. However, our visas had not arrived, even though both families applications were mailed at the same time. Our belongings were unloaded and we were left behind.

A few months later, we finally left New York on the day after Christmas 1945, the final voyage of that same ship and my first time at sea.

New York City, Christmas 1945

Thursday I had a little visitor. We heard the neighbor children playing on their play set so we walked over to entertain them!

Rebecca loved the trampoline and was not afraid of the froggie

Our Friday evening fun was the Adopt an Angell concert, a delightful event to raise funds for the Angell family to bring a Korean child into their family.

So many near and far need to know, experience and be reminded of God's extravagant and faithful love for us, me included.

What about you? Do you live knowing you are loved?