Thursday, August 8, 2019

Robert's Summer Visit

What with all the busy-ness of this spring and summer, we almost missed our window of opportunity for getting Robert here for a little one-on-one visit! It was a short one - picked him up on Monday, returned him today (Thursday) - but we squeezed a lot of fun into that short time.

Almost as soon as we'd walked through the door, Robert was opening his guitar case and plugging his amp in so he could show us what he's already learned in just TWO lessons! One reason we needed to get him home today was so he could have his third one this afternoon. He's doing really well. We recognized two or three of his little tunes, which delighted him.

Late in the morning on Tuesday, we went to Academy Sports & Outdoor, where we met our good friend and experienced Texas fisherwoman, Jan. We spent a while looking at rods and reels and finally chose one just right for Robert. In fact, the reel we got could be reversed and made into a "lefty," which was exactly what he needed.

Jan, and her husband, Larry, had agreed to help Robert learn how to fish in the beautiful little lake just behind their house. She told us that we probably needed to wait until evening, since the fish wouldn't be biting in the heat of the day. In the meantime we brought his rod, reel and fishing tackle home and got it all geared up. Dan took him in the backyard and showed him how to cast. He seemed to catch on quickly, but the true test would come that evening.

Jan took him under her wing and helped him cast the first couple times, and that was all he needed! Every cast was great. He was trying to get his hook clear across to the other side of the lake - and he came close! 

Before Jan could even get her hook baited, Robert had a little bluegill on his hook, and excitedly reeled it in! Okay ... it was tiny, but it was a real fish, and his first ever!

The big ones weren't biting that evening. Here is the largest bluegill he brought in. But we lost count of how many he caught. Maybe twelve or fifteen!

The most exciting catch of the evening was this catfish! Larry said it was eating-size, but we released it, as we did all the others. Larry was a great, patient teacher. He showed Robert how to hold the catfish so it wouldn't "fin" him. After helping Robert get his hand around the fish properly, he had him do the release, back into the lake. It was a good lesson for him.

Larry didn't stop there. He was determined to get Robert to bait his own hook. He only did it once, but he DID it! Good job, Robert!

As we walked back to the house, Larry and Robert stopped to feed the ducks some bread. There are three ducks on the lake, and they have been named by the neighborhood folks.

Here's a picture of Larry, Robert and Jan. Robert was really proud to be called a "fisherman" at the end of the evening. He wanted to come back again the next morning, but our schedule just didn't work out for that. He'll just have to bring his rod and reel back next time he visits, and we can go to Jan and Larry's lake again.

Wednesday evening Robert wrote out a "thank you" note for his fishing tutors. I'm going to attach one of the photos and take it to church on Sunday to give it to them.

We let Robert choose what to do on Wednesday. I had some things in mind, but his choice was to just stay home, so that's what we did. We all played the game "Ticket to Ride," he and I worked our way through a puzzle book together, and we rented "Detective Pikachu" for him to watch on Amazon Prime.

Today we drove him to our usual meet-up place, Somerville, and delivered him into the arms of his mama. When we pulled into the parking lot there, he said, "I'm not feeling so good." I'm hoping he didn't pick up some bug here, especially since school is starting real soon.

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Week of Good-byes

Saying good-bye is never easy. so this week has been a little difficult for me.

These two people have become very special to us over the past three years, ever since we began worshipping with the Salado Church of Christ. I can't even tell you how much I will miss them, although I completely understand their desire to move to Abilene, where their grandchildren all live. They are truly salt-of-the-earth folks. David is a terrific song leader for our worship services, and Denise is a great children's Bible class teacher. They are part of our small group, and have shown us hospitality by opening up their home and property to us numerous times. 

A small-group meeting and cook-out at David and Denise's home
They are leaving large shoes to be filled, especially considering their years of dedication to three children, from a non-Christian home, whom they have brought to class and worship every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. The two older children have grown in their knowledge of the scriptures, and in their faith, to the point that they have made the decision to be baptized into Christ's body. I have no doubt that the youngest will reach that decision in the future, thanks in great part to David and Denise's influence in their lives.

Last Sunday our small group hosted a farewell ice cream party for David and Denise. Our friends, George and Twilla opened their home and their pool area for this event, and we all had a super time.
David and Denise, opening a little gift box from our small group.

Rachel and I, at our good-bye lunch at the Olive Garden
Rachel is a bright, beautiful and fun young wife and mother of two little boys. She comes from China and has been living in Temple for two years, doing post-doctoral work at a medical lab. Through the Temple Literacy Council, I've been privileged to be her English tutor. We have met once a week to deepen her conversational English skills and her familiarity with American culture. 

Our curriculum has included working through ESL workbooks, outside reading, conversations, field trips and a few restaurant meals together. We read the book Old Yeller together, and then she and her family came to our house for dinner and to watch the 1957 Old Yeller movie. Rachel and her family even attended our 50th wedding anniversary celebration.
Rachel and I hugging, at our anniversary party. Also pictured, her husband and younger son.
In class, studying from the ESL workbook
We made a Christmas advent calendar to take home for her boys

Bluebonnet field trip

Rachel's two-year work visa ended this week, and she and her husband packed up and are currently on their way to California for a short vacation before heading back home to China. I will truly miss spending time with her each week. Zàijiàn my friend! I hope to see you again!

Mama Bird watching over her nest and eggs

I've blogged before about the birds that seem to love building their nests on my porch and back patio. The problem is that their favorite place to nest is my hanging flower baskets, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to water the plants.

This year I was determined to keep the birds from nesting in those flower baskets. I love the birds, of course, but what's wrong with nesting in my oak trees? I tried several different things this year in an effort to discourage their nest-building in my baskets. I hung streamers, I put a pinwheel in one, I hung them near my wind chimes - none of those efforts worked. In fact, a mama dove was the first to nest in the one with streamers. Sadly, after laying two eggs, she abandoned that nest.

But in one basket I placed a scary looking plastic lizard. For a long time it seemed I had found a successful deterrent, and I was ready to go buy a half-dozen more lizards to put in next year's baskets. But one morning I went out to water the plants and found a small bird's nest built right on the back of the lizard!!! Sure enough, Mama Bird then laid four perfect little eggs, all of which hatched. I kept lifting down the basket and putting a little water around, but not onto, the nest, as the hatchlings grew. The mama seemed to tolerate this disturbance every couple days, and continued to nurture her babies. It was great fun watching them grow and get real feathers in place of the little downy ones.

Four perfect little eggs, in the nest atop the scary lizard
Still little, with pink skin and fuzzy down
A couple days before they fledged. Their feathers are beautiful.
Yesterday I lifted the basket down to water, and was surprised when all four of the babies flew out of the basket and up into a nearby tree! I thought maybe the fledglings would return to the nest for the night, but they didn't. It seems they have flown away for good, and I hope they will all survive as they explore this big beautiful world.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Fun With the Grands

I'm a bit behind in posting, so this is a catch-up. 

Usually when Clara and Robert show up at Grandma's house, they become the center of attention. But for the days that they were here with their folks to prepare for our anniversary celebration, they took backseat to all of the busy-ness. And on the party day, the spotlight seemed to be on Grandma and Grandpa. So, on Sunday (June 23) afternoon I wanted to let them have some fun. I took them to the arcade, and the three of us played game after game! These happy faces were all the reward I needed.

It's been less than a month, and I'm already missing these precious kids.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Party Time!

Clara's handiwork

Several months ago Kelsey told me that she and Chris wanted to host a party for our 50th anniversary. That first discussion, and all of the subsequent planning, finally came to fruition this past weekend. Since Kelsey was coordinating everything from long-distance, my good friend, Kay Jackson, helped by being Kelsey's feet on the ground, here locally. And helping with photography were Sheila Sodergren and her niece, Madison. Our celebration was held in the Lakeview Room at the Sammons Community Center, from 2:00 to 4:00 on Saturday (June 22)  afternoon.

Most of our guests were local friends and family, however we did have a few who traveled to be here.

From out of town:
Cousins Marci Gaustad, Caleb and Tammy Miller, from Waco (40 miles one way), and Rand and Jane Baker, from Katy (160 miles, one way); college friends Dan and Charlyn Trussell, from Mission (385 miles, one way).

From out of state:
We were thrilled to have our son Tim, from Albuquerque, New Mexico (630 miles one way), with us;

From out of the country:
Winning the "Farthest Traveled" award, by a long shot was our Japanese exchange student, Takashi and his son, Hisashi, from Kurashiki, Japan (6810 miles one way!!!). Takashi lived with us 30 years ago, during the school year of 1988-89. He has come back to visit us numerous times - in Oregon, Alaska, New Mexico and, finally, Texas. We were all blown away when we saw Takashi and Hisashi arrive. Takashi didn't tell anyone he was coming, so I was moved to tears. Sadly, his wife, Yoko, couldn't get away from work, so she wasn't with us.

Many thanks to Kelsey, Chris, Clara, Robert, Tim and Kay, who all contributed in various ways to bringing this celebration to life. I'm honored by each one who helped and every single guest who shared the day with us. I'm also grateful for all the notes and cards that came from friends who couldn't be here. Dan and I loved reading each one, together that evening, and remembering times past with those of you who have remained close at heart, despite the physical distance between us.

Kelsey, Chris, Clara and Robert

A hug from Tammy Miller

Takashi and Dan

Friends Darin and Stephanie, son Tim, granddaughter Clara and son Chris

Tammy Miller, Marci Gaustad, Caleb Miller, Rand and Jane Baker - all cousins of Dan

Kay's special, creative gift. We love it!
With our college friends, Charlyn and Dan
Kay, on left, visiting with friends Butch and Linda Smith

After the party, the family all met at the Belton restaurant, The Gin at Nolan Creek, for dinner. 
Three first cousins - all children of the Baker siblings. Dan Judd, Marci Gaustad and Rand Baker.

Takashi and Hishashi stayed around until after church on Sunday, then headed back to Dallas and on home to Japan.

Takashi and Tim