Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Week 8: Endings and Ongoings

Sunday the 21st was the anniversary of Daddy's passing. I went back to the poem I wrote, "Dear Daddy" and later reviewed the photos of the days when we gathered as a family to celebrate his life. 

 This week also marked the end of robot build-season. As always, the team worked extra long hours to meet the deadline.

Tuesday, February 23 midnight, Bag and Tag took place and they celebrated with rootbeer floats.

However, that was not the end. This year they pushed hard to build an additional robot in order to practice the game before competition season. They were also allowed to keep back a limited amount of components to continue perfecting their mechanisms.

Mike told me this morning, almost a week later, that he figured out a problem in his sleep. One of the feats the robot must accomplish to get best points, is to climb the tower at the end. They managed it off and on, and again before the bagging. A certain sound in the process clued him into a recurring problem.
It seems that his brain continues to iterate uninterrupted when he is at rest. He explained the word: an iteration is a repetition which includes a change or additional step, whereas a reiteration is an exact repetition. Anyway, two missing steps came to him as he napped.

The team needs help: this wonderfully built and muti-skilled robot remains nameless!

I learned another word this week Tsundoku--a reading pile, or the tendency to acquire and let books pile up unread. My stacks illustrate this obvious problem: top right--three books that arrived this week; middle right--audio books I have or am enjoying. . .

Wednesday, I planned to help Mother get to her follow-up visit with the surgeon, but winter storm warnings discouraged travel. I was in Marion for a hair cut when I learned that her Dr.s office was closing for the day and we'd have to reschedule her appointment. I was so grateful to make it home safely. However, I found the lane blocked, had to walk the last stretch and wait for Michael to cut and remove the fallen tree.

At that point we were only getting rain and very strong winds. Snow came later.

We woke up Thursday to the birds having a party around the bird feeders.

Friday, February 25th, remembering three years ago when we buried Dad.
Thanks to cousin Stan Hoyt and neice Tina Herschberger we have a wonderful collection of photos.

Five Hoyt siblings with Mother--the day of the viewing and the day of the funeral
Sam's family was only able to come the day of the viewing. How the young ones have changed!

Stephan and Karen came for the viewing and friend Gina. Leah and family came for the memorial service the next day.

Saturday I happened to be at the Red Barn and peeked into the Pottery room at the many pieces accumulating there--a reminder of another of Mike's weekly commitments. Wednesday he had quite a large group of kids during the after-school session.

My Spanish classes were fun, different, interesting this week. The best one was a guest speaker from Chile, who happens to be a tour guide. I asked him to share 15 or 20 minutes and the students would also have prepared questions. He extolled the wonders of his country for two hours and we were enthralled!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

2016 Week 7: Tis the season. . .

Yes, the crazy busy season for building robots, and carving ice art.
It's a good thing us wives (Karen and I) are so busy teaching or we'd be pining away.

Monday, when I returned from spending time with Mother, by evening I truly panicked. It was not a normal robotics workday. I was unable to reach Mike all day, he wasn't home, nor did he appear for Stephan's Monday Night dinner. I wrote a note to the Team Members-only group asking if anyone knew Mike's whereabouts. They were amused. Didn't I know this was the last week of build-season? They were holding him hostage until Tuesday the 23rd, etc. . . Turns out his phone was dead and he was too busy teaching. Watch him in action in this video, you might even learn how to solder also.

Five out of seven days this week Mike has been gone from morning till past midnight. And the only reason he gets in then is because one of the girls, like Cinderella, must be home by 12 or her carriage turns into a pumpkin! That means he is on his feet 15 to 18 hours. When we remember that a year ago that would have been impossible due to the pain he was experiencing, we are very thankful for good health to do what we enjoy.

Saturday several Indiana teams got together for a scrimmage, the opportunity to try out their robots on a playing field, detect any problems, and practice the game.

PHYXTGEARS headed to the scrimmage in Greenwood
Trouble-shooting, adjusting, learning, practicing
Meanwhile, at home I had a quiet day. I finally hung up the Christmas gift from Kayla and Matt (he photographed all the grandkids).

I found the perfect place, and love it! Although I want to work on making Skye's picture more proportionate to the others. To make up for that, here's a cool pic of Uncle Skye, who's become a favorite with Rebecca. 

And another cute Skye-photo I came across recently, when he was a little guy.

Kayla and Rebecca came by for a visit and found me taking a nap on the deck on this record warm winter day--72 degrees!

I wonder if Rebecca is ready for the tricycle up in the attic? 

Her little legs don't reach the pedals, but there's other fun to be had with a tricycle!

Another old photo surfaced on Facebook this week: Stephan as a little guy riding the train at the Prater Park in Vienna, Austria.

 Last weekend, grownup Stephan and his helper, were building a train in Culver, IN.

We finished at twilight
Surprisingly there was plenty of snow there due to the proximity to the largest lake in Indiana.

However the following weekend in Carmel, it was a different story, despite the ads for the festival:
"Embrace the chilly temperatures of winter with us at the inaugural Clay Terrace Winter Blast!" 

It was fun carving in a T-shirt at Clay Terrace's Winter Blast. Just shows how God does, in fact, have a sense of humor.
Stephan has sculpted an inordinate number of blocks in the last week or two, and even had to rush from one event to another.
At the Perrysburg Winterfest he carved a Gold-worthy competition piece.

Three Sheets to the Wind
If you enjoy that sort of challenge, watch the news report of the event and find the errors.

I was blessed to go out to lunch with daughter Leah. Here she is showing off her new blingy jewelry.

Just when I was lamenting that I had nothing to show for our youngest son, the following appeared on Facebook.
Yesterday was awesome as we learned a great deal about building a better skateboard. Thanks to Lew Ross of Fickle Skateboards for attending as well as Jim Martin of Marwood veneers. Thanks also to Samuel Koch of Life Skateboards and Tim Timothy Barclay of Maximus Skateboards who even though were not present were thoroughly Facebook stalked to investigate their techniques and designs... Here is my home video. 
DIY Skateboard building symposium

That's been our week, each doing our own thing and too busy to get together.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

2016 Week 6: Mother

My last post ended with the query, "What will next week hold?"
Monday Mother ended up in the ER with a serious bowel obstruction.

I went up Tuesday. She had slept well (morphine-induced) and was in no pain, just waiting.
Her health professionals wanted the blood flow rates to go down (lower Coumadin levels) to insert a pick line and prepare for surgery, if necessary.
I could only stay an hour and half and then had to rush back to meet my classes in Marion.

I spent Wednesday in the recliner at home with a heating pad to relieve lower back pain, a restful day grading papers and reading.

With pick line in and no change in her condition, Mother's surgery was scheduled for Thursday at 1:00 p.m. when I was due in the classroom. It was hard to focus on teaching, but there was nothing I could do for Mother that day, except worry and pray. 

Alan texted the good news later that afternoon--laproscopic surgery through three small holes, released the kinked intestine bound by scar tissue, and the bowel was restored to normal function. I could finally breathe! 
She was sedated and wouldn't be allowed to wake up till the next morning. When I arrived Friday she was awake, alert, and hungry! But, to her chagrin, had to remain on a clear liquid diet for at least a day.

She had a string of visitors and also enjoyed hearing about all the people everywhere who were praying for her--amazed and comforted listening to the many Facebook or e-mail messages.

I spent the night in Mother's Grace Village apartment and looked through all the family photo albums, searching for pictures of young Uncle Phil (who passed away January 31st) when he came back from Europe after MIA for a time, having been wounded while serving in WWII.
1945, with Uncle Phil

When I arrived back at the hospital Saturday morning, Mother was very serene reflecting on a memory that came back insistently throughout the night. She was in the Glee Club in high school, Miss Ziegler the director. The most vivid recollection was of competing in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The lyrics of one song, taken from Psalm 103, kept going over and over in her mind. When she tried to recite them for me she became a little upset because as many times as she'd gone over them in the night, now she was getting stuck in one part.

She fell asleep. Alan and I talked in the hallway so as not to disturb.

Interestingly, after he left and I quietly resumed my vigil, she opened her eyes and recited the following:
Bless the LORD, oh my soul,
and all that is within me bless his holy name.

He is full of compassion and mercy
long suffering and great in goodness.

He will not always chide
nor leave his wrath forever more.

Bless the LORD, oh my soul.

Mother also told me the story of the terrible winter in Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War, when so many soldiers died of satrvation, disease and exposure.

The surgeon came in with a very positive report--she could eat solids and go back home in a day!

Studying the menu

Before heading back to Upland for the night, I stopped by Mother's apartment to do laundry and gather some clothes for when she'd be discharged the next day, especially her winter coat to face the frigid temperatures.

I slept soundly in my own bed that night and didn't even notice when Mike got back from his long day at robotics.

February 14th was Rebecca's 18-monthaversary! 

 Mother commented, "That 's how old you were when we went to Argentina."

With Daddy in New York                                                                             On the ship

Sunday, Valentine's Day, was also the day Mother got to go home!
I stayed for a day to help her transition, and worried a little after I left. But all reports are that she is coping quite well. Brother Alan is nearby and can check on her more regularly.

Once again I close wondering what lies ahead, but assured of the Lord's promise, "Lo, I am with you always."

Monday, February 8, 2016

2016 Week 5: Celebrating 46, 91, 50 years

January 31st was our 46th wedding anniversary.

 Last week I left you wondering whether we'd have time to celebrate. We did enjoy dinner out at a Teppanyaki Buffet.

My second plate
Meanwhile, our thoughts were very much with Uncle Phil's family after hearing that he passed away early that morning.

Monday night, of course we had dinner and fun at Stephan's. The evening ride there was so beautiful as we watched the sun setting.

Tuesday I informed my students that we would not have class on Thursday as I would be traveling to Pennsylvania to celebrate my uncle's life of 91 years.

My brother Alan and I drove to Pennsylvania and arrived at Aunt Fae's Thursday evening. Other family members were gathering. Such precious reunions!

Aunt Fae and the special rose
The little peuter vase, brought back from Indonesia by Jim and Beth years ago, has a sweet story to tell. Uncle Phil would sneak it out twice a year  to the flower shop (for birthdays and anniversaries) and ask the girls to find a beautiful rose to take back to his wife. It was like a game. Aunt Fae tried to hide the vase so he wouldn't spend the money. He would always find it.
So on this day, family members searched for the vase, one grandson went to the flower shop and brought back a special rose.

Uncle Phil's family has experienced much loss.
The first to go was grandson Shane (Beth and Jim's son), deputy sherrif, who died while on duty some 16 years ago.
Daughter Dawn, the oldest, was next, in 2000.
A few years later, son-in-law Jim, passed away suddenly.

Beth and her new husband, Bud                                               Two brothers, Seth and Jimmy, with Shane's widow, Lynn
Lynn taught us a Dutch word gezellig, which she used to describe how grandson Hirschy looks after his grandmother--makes coffee and popcorn and spends evenings with her.

The memorial service in the Baptist church, where Uncle Phil served faithfully all his life, was well attended. Many shared wonderful, inspiring and some humorous memories of Philip Hirschy--teacher, friend, community servant. . .

As a veteran of WWII, who miraculously survived the Battle of the Bulge, the service included military honors.

A meal was served in the building in the back left, named for Norman Hirschy, my grandfather, who pastored the church for over 30 years.

Evans City Baptist Church    The original church later converted to a home for missionaries.    The old Hirschy homestead
So many childhood memories are wrapped up in these photos. Our family lived in Evans City the year I went to eighth grade.

Three of us cousins wandered the cemetary that afternoon and found the grave markers of several family members. On Uncle Phil's we discovered a strange little gift. Can you guess?

If you'd ever met him, whether you knew him personally or not, you would likely have gotten a kiss from him--a Hershey's kiss! He carried a plastic bag and gave them out freely. Several of the memories shared were of times he'd caught people off guard offering a kiss, before clarifying what kind!

I rode back with cousin Rosie (who then went on to Chicago) and arrived home safely long before Mike was back from his long day at robotics. He's worked there nearly every day.

Sunday, however, was a good day at home. And in the evening, together with Leah's family, we celebrated the 50th Super Bowl and especially the Broncos victory with QB Peyton Manning, who still belongs to us in Indiana!

Watching football intently

. . .not so intently 
A very full week is over. What will the next one hold?