Sunday, September 25, 2011


Some of Leah's cards and expressions of love
As I reflect over this week, the word treasures comes to mind. I'm not totally sure why. Perhaps because I feel like I am reviewing my whole life as I sort through many files, papers, letters, photos and items from the past. I am forced to ask over and over, "What is really important?"
We value each member of our family so very much. That is why we still try to celebrate birthdays together even though it is becoming more difficult.

Sunday, we celebrated two birthdays: Diane's (9/11) and Kristie's (9/17). We took an ice cream cake to Diane's and then came back for gluten-free fare to celebrate Kristie.

Monday, among the file folders I cleaned out, I uncovered Leah's adoption and name change documents, intact. They are all in German and very interesting, from what I could understand. It was most serendipitous to discover her birth mom's birth date on the very day of her 56th birthday. How I wish we could contact her, thank her and tell her about the child she gave life to.

I have also found so many loving and grateful notes from that daughter God placed in our family. I treasure them indeed, and admire her art work too.

We so value the times with the group that shows up at Monday Meals, and appreciate the food too!

Shrimp Alfredo Fetuccini
Stephan acquired the shrimp when he went to tear down one of his ice setups at a big event, an elaborate two-tiered display tray, and there were 25 lbs left. The caterers could not take it, so he did!

Mashed Potato Donuts
Progress on the house reconstruction this week included: continued work on the deck, some changes, replacements, and additions (spindles too far apart according to new regulations); various stages of plumbing; delivery of the boiler (the newer model is smaller and more efficient); heating and A/C (Mike and Jimmy worked till midnight a few times).

Three and a half hours of wood burning will heat up the water tank.

Ceramics at the Red Barn has not slowed down, on the contrary. One day Leah was there to help her Dad with the kids and contribute her innate artistic sense.

All four wheels in use!
I was glad to get away with Mike and another couple Friday evening. We went to the Ducktail Run in the nearby town, yet another festival with good food, vendors and lots and lots of old cars!
We wandered into Jonesboro, the adjoining town, and lined up on Main Street there were all kinds of fancy motorcycles, yet another world of motors.
I do not know much about either one, nor am I interested, but time with friends is always a gift.
The only photo-worthy moment, in my opinion, was the statue of Garfield as fireman, a reminder that Jonesboro had the first volunteer fire department in Grand County.

Stephan has been out twice this week carving the old oak stump.

The final sculpture will represent the abundant blessings of our lifetime.

I have been hearing so much lately about Ann Voskamp's one thousand gifts blog, book, and the dare to live fully right where you are.
So, what do you treasure? Let's encourage one another as we value the big and small gifts of every day life.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Crazy Busy: Week 38

Last Sunday we went back to the Covered Bridge Festival after early church, sold nothing but talked to more people, purchased a few goods we had been eying, said goodbye to fellow vendors, packed up our left over wares, and took down the tent. By the time we drove out, the sun was setting!

Back home and online again, I found a very moving message from a young friend in Basque Country.
All week long I had been listening to programs remembering 9/11, building up to the 10th anniversary ceremony. I was touched by the stories of individuals, far and wide, affected by the events of that day. Most began by reminiscing as to where they were when they heard of the tragedy.
This is Irati's quote:
I know that this day is different for all Americans, a sad day and one of homage, a day never to be forgotten. I, obviously did not live this in my own flesh, at the time I was only six years old...however, I remember it perfectly, all that happened as I saw it live on television, and how my mother wept out of anger and helplessness and my father kept telling me to turn off the TV...that it would make us have a miserable day...and so it was, a day when the world shuddered, wept and wailed.

As a six year old, I watched my mother cry and I began to cry although I didn't know exactly what was going on, yet I knew it was something bad. Then came 3/11, as I was older I understood more of what was going on. I realized then that 9/11 had been the worst attack in history, although 3/11 also hurt very much.

Today, at 3:30 pm, Spanish time, I have just watched those images of the World Trade Center again. I must admit I cried out of anger and helplessness, like my mother wept 10 years ago, but this time with feeling and understanding.

I AM SO VERY SORRY, how a nation and magnificent people have caused you so much harm unjustly and I know that many died heroes and others accidentally, unwilling victims.

I am sorry.

The events of that day impacted the whole world.

Our week was crazy busy, especially for Mike. He is installing the heating system at the house, working some evenings as well. Monday night he was not able to go with me to the meal at 'Chef' and Karen's--one of our favorite times of fellowship. He missed the wonderful fruit pies too.

Enough peach pie for seconds?
I asked my son if we were allowed to have a second piece. He was amused by the role reversal.

Mike also continues mentoring the robotics team once a week, Tuesday evenings, and teaching ceramics at the Red Barn three times.

Oh, and he is also very intentional about exercising regularly--jogging, bicycling, playing racket ball, whatever schedule and weather allow.

My painting instructor had her eye on a particular saggar-fired pot she saw at the festival, so we bartered, it will pay two lessons for me!

Work on our house progresses nicely. The windows are in. The larger one in the loft, very difficult to install, is where my desk will be!

Three months since the house fire and I have finally finished cleaning the filthy rescued items we had here in the garage. Mike was then able to organize the stored furniture and things and move one of the cars in, and at last, the floor and counters in the kitchen are clear.

Enough produce for the big weekend?
Notice the radio on the counter, my constant companion all those hours spent over the sink, mostly listening to Moody Radio.
I do believe that sorting and organizing our 'stuff' will take me as long to accomplish as it will to rebuild the house--a race to the finish.

My attempt at sorting family photos
Saturday we picked up the three younger grandsons to give their mother, Kristie, a day off for her birthday. We met other family members at the Hoosier Outdoor Experience, a great time of exploring all kinds of activities. It was a beautiful sunny day.

This little one ran himself and everyone else ragged. The others did not lag far behind. Great way to guarantee a quiet ride back home and a good night's sleep!

We took beaucoup photos but these will suffice for now (more later on Facebook).

And now I'm off to prepare food for our family birthday gathering later today (before the boys wake up!).

Monday, September 12, 2011

From festival to festival

The week was sandwiched between two local festivals: in our own town and the neighboring one. First the three-day Upland Labor Day Festival, the 'grand finale' being the parade on Monday morning (as grand as it can be in a small town.) It is the one weekend a year that 4-wheelers are allowed on the streets. Skye and his friends had fun running around with ours, and Matt (Kayla's boyfriend) brought his.
Taking Zion for a ride
Zion, our youngest grandson, was so fascinated watching the parade that he hardly noticed the candy.

The Upland Garfield statue was installed in time for the festival. Jim Davis, the creator of the famous feline, was born in our county, so in his honor a unique Garfield statue was designed for each town.

Of course, the Upland cat likes ice cream and stands next to Ivanhoe's!

The painting class started up again after Labor Day and I reviewed leaves along with the new students.

Most of the week was cool and rainy. From a sizzling Saturday we went to a chilly gray Monday. By Wednesday, our builders were laying the last shingles in the rain.

I was out and about Thursday and stopped at daughter Leah's to pick up some clothes for Skye who spent a few nights with us. She had her beloved Czechoslovak doll on display. Thankfully it had not been stored away in our attic or it would have been destroyed in the house fire.
It is especially meaningful to Leah because her birth mother's family were refugees from Czechoslovakia.

This was an awfully busy week for Mike, yet he did not want to miss the fun of participating in the Matthews Covered Bridge Festival. Due to the rain, we did not set up the tent the day before. Friday morning early we drove our loaded cars to the site of the popular festival in the next town. Hours later we had finally opened all the boxes marked 'ceramics' and unwrapped the multiple layers of bubble wrap, tape and paper to discover and display all the many pieces that survived the fire.

This choice pot from the last firing was found buried in the muck. Twice through the fire brought out some new tones.

I'd like to use these colors (and pieces?) in the newly decorated house.

This post would not be complete without a few State of the House photos.

East/North side
Front, west side
South side
East side
After three days at the fair, I wasn't quite ready to compose my weekly post last night. I'm hoping the saying holds true "Better late than never" (Mejor tarde que nunca.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

American Bookends

The photos I have this week begin and end with events that I realize are very American: a bridal shower and a rummage sale. I will begin with the latter.
Yesterday, Saturday was very, very hot. So was Friday, but I was indoors and didn't feel it.
However, on this the day of the famous Upland Town Rummage, we were sweltering!
The Upland Labor Day Festival weekend begins with 200+ yard sales where people sell what they no longer need or use. Outsiders and locals roam around in cars, trucks, bicycles, golf carts, four-wheelers, and on foot, scouring the neighborhoods for treasures. As they say, "One man's junk is another man's treasure." [Insert 'woman' or 'person' if you prefer.]
I believe this custom is very American, but may be catching on in other countries.When we recently moved into the most popular neighborhood for yard sales, I decided to join in the fun and also get rid of the unwanted items I discover as I go through all that was restored or rescued.

Others brought their things and helped set up and manage the sale--a neighbor, and family members.

Glenda (neighbor)

Leah (daughter) showing off Zeus
The ladies are taking turns playing with the new "granddog" between customers.

Hot and tired--Mike, Kayla, and Matt
This view, taken from the swing where the ladies are sitting, shows the money box, what's left of the porch clothing sale, and some exhausted helpers.
Mike set up and took down the tables, but stayed away most of the day. Actually, many town folk would rather be away and avoid the crowds. Mike simply prefers to ride with his cycling club than hang around and sell odds and ends.

Another outdoor event was a lovely garden party for a beautiful bride-to-be, a former student. We were there to meet her husband-to-be (who grew up in Albania!), hear their story, celebrate with them and shower them with gifts. I don't know if that custom is practiced in other countries now or not.

Alyssa and Adam
Sandwiched between those two events, our regular exercise routines and the ongoing work that involves us of late.

For Mike it means going out to the rebuilding site every day, splitting logs before the sun is too hot and beginning to install the radiant floor heating. It is very tiring work to drill holes, set clamps and thread tubes in a pattern overhead!

Taking a break
The framing crew has worked steadily and the progress is very noticeable at this stage. However, I was only out there twice this week so my photos will not show the latest changes.

Tuesday evening

One of the work crews has enjoyed going back to the picnic area for breaks or lunch. I think they also appreciate the cookies we take out twice a week.

For me, Rita, work involves countless hours cleaning, restoring (or tossing) a variety of items, and sorting through the unopened boxes and bags delivered so far. Motivated by the upcoming sale, I finally got through all of them, except the ones labeled Ceramics. I found many items in the "why-did-we/they-save-this" category, but also was glad to find other very meaningful things.
I remember the day the boxes arrived. I watched them carry load after load to an open area downstairs. I saw one item, that did not fit in a box, and exclaimed, "Oh, the silly things that come back." The restoration lady answered, "It wasn't silly that night when we were rushing to gather what we could." Then I realized that I needed to appreciate their extreme efforts.

Silly Santa
I had never valued this Christmas item before. Many years it did not make it out of storage. It has now acquired more value having survived the house fire! More than that, it will always remind me of Grandpa Koch's very popular discount store in Omro, Wisconsin--Koch Sales. (I wonder how many readers may remember that unique shopping experience on Highway 21?)

A couple more photos--the squash growing in our somewhat abandoned garden: