More Freezer Problems

August 17, 2017

The problem Gary has with lawnmowers I seem to have with refrigerators and freezers. Ugh. My upright freezer is only 13 months old and it quit working on Wednesday. Of course, it was Thursday before I realized that was the case, and by then the ice cream was soup but other things were not quite thawed.

The good news is I bought the 5 year extended warranty. The bad news is they can’t find a technician for up to a week. Fortunately, we still have a small unused refrigerator in the apartment, so we’ve moved everthing out and lost only the ice cream.

This was the low point of my day; the high point was receiving a nice thank you note from the teachers and students at childcare who were thanking me for my invited talk last Friday. They all drew pictures of birds with smiley faces.

Another nice thing is that Rachel’s cucumber bush just keeps producing and we’ve had an unusually cool and rainy August, so that helps. (By cool, I mean 95 degrees instead of 105.)


August 14, 2017

We really try to do our part as far as not adding unnecessary junk to the world’s landfill, but when it comes to lawnmowers, we’ve trashed quite a few. ūüė¶ Gary got too close to the stump (maybe we should have paid for stump grinding) and messed it up good. He tried to straighten the crankshaft with a sledge hammer, but, uh, that didn’t really work. ¬†So off to Home Depot we go, and once again, Rachel’s tiny Scion serves as our pickup truck.


In other news, a 16 year old boy from church asked if I could give him some cake baking lessons, so he spent the afternoon at our house yesterday and helped me make a birthday cake for colleague Tom.


In still other news, Rachel went to our clinic today to get a TB skin test and was told she needed two immunizations as well, so she rolled up her sleeves! ¬†She managed (barely) not to faint by asking them for Dr. Pepper to revive her!! ¬†She more than spent her week’s paycheck while there, but it would have cost more at a real doctor’s office. Speaking of childcare, I was the invited expert guest speaker there last Friday to teach the 3-5 year olds about how to go birdwatching. It was kinda fun and I left them with a pictorial checklist so they could practice. ¬†They had been studying birds all week, and one of the teachers had a real (empty) ostrich egg for show and tell! ¬†(Ya never know what those missionaries are going to come up with…)

DIY New Sink and Faucet

August 9, 2017

It was approximately 32 years ago that Grandpa Wendell installed a bar sink in our apartment bathroom. He made it work double duty as a kitchen sink by cutting the hole in the countertop far to the right so there would be a tiny bit of counter space.

But after 32 years the faucets were getting a bit worn out, so I bought a replacement. This will be easy, I thought, since the new one is exactly the same size as the old.

And indeed the two sinks were the same size. However, the new sink had longer strips of the channeling along each underside which holds the clamps, and because of that, the new sink wouldn’t go in the same hole. ¬†Ugh. ¬†I tied two different ways to solve the problem, but in the end I hacked it. I hacked the countertop hole with the hacksaw to be just a little bigger and a little squarer to fit the new sink. It was a big ugly mess, but once the new sink was installed, you can’t even tell.

The new faucet is taller than the old, so that is even nicer. This one hour project took 4.5 hours.


August 6, 2017

I had a busy week because it was a cake week. Rachel helped me make 4 recipes of cake this week, two chocolate and two white. I spent about 6 hours yesterday finishing both of these cakes and I was very happy with the results. I’m feeling more and more confident with my techniques, and am finding ways to do the work in short stretches along the way so I don’t have a panic last-minute crisis.

Rachel is in NYC with Andrew and Laura and Isabella for the weekend. They gave her a ticket to Hello Dolly! for Christmas and a plane ticket as well so she could get there to see it. Her original outbound flight was cancelled at the last minute and that left us to scramble to get her there in time as to not miss the Saturday matinee. We rebooked her on an early flight thru Atlanta, her boss let her off work, and we raced off DFW. Fortunately, she had already packed and had everything in the car to leave after work, so we were able to make this change and still get her there. The flight from Atlanta to Laguardia was delayed 2 hours, so she had a very long day getting here, but she made it. She sent these photos from in front of the theater where Bette Midler was staring.  Be sure to read the signs in the back of the photo.

Not only was Rachel having all this fun, it was Andrew and Laura’s 12th anniversary.

Last thing to note today is a shout out to Maureen–she has boundless energy as the leader of Nana Camp 2017. ¬†She even made camp tee shirts. I wish I could do that some time myself!


July 27, 2017

I haven’t posted my birds blog from our trip, but I haven’t forgotten. In the meantime, here are two bird photos from the back yard. The first one went on the Worst Bird Photos Facebook group and got 200 likes! ¬†The other was posted on a different Bird photos Facebook group just so I could brag a little. ¬†ūüôā


Speaking of birding, Gary and I got up early last Saturday and went to the sewer drying ponds in Arlington to look for shorebirds. ¬†None were to be found because they sold all the sewer water to the golf courses. ¬†ūüė¶ ¬†But we did see 34 other birds and we got home by noon, hot and sweaty. ¬†Spent most of the rest of the day recovering. ¬†Notice Gary using my new birding scope (thank you to David and Sarah!) under a big umbrella, trying to prevent sun stroke.

King Bird

White Ibis

Cliff Swallow ¬†–oops, turns out these are Cave Swallows (much less common)

Black-bellied Whistling Duck and White Ibis

Little Blue Heron

In other news, we are grateful that Rachel has started a second part time job and now is working for pay 5 hours each day, 5 days a week.  Still not full time, but a blessing for her to turn her volunteer job into a paying job.  This is an answer to prayer for our family, and both jobs seem to be a good fit for her.

2017 Summer Trip, part 3–Copalis Beach, WA

July 18, 2017

Sarah’s dad was kind enough to let us have our family reunion at the beach house he and his siblings own. It was a perfect spot for us. Four bedrooms–one for each couple and one for Rachel and the chickadees. It is two stories, and the upper story has a nice balcony to watch the ocean. The ocean did seem kinda far away, but we learned that Mother Nature had had a hand it that. We looked on the internet and found photos from 60 years ago and the ocean was much closer then. Now there is a shallow river/creek to circumnavigate before getting to the sea.

The weather was perfect and the guy at the little grocery store said, “This is as good as it gets!” ¬†It was chilly in the mornings, but not bad, and warm in the afternoons, but nothing like Dallas warm. ¬†The beach was one of those kind that goes for a mile before it gets deep, so there was lots of safe sand beach and ocean edges for the kids to play. ¬†There were also ocean birds, but I’ll save that for another post.

There was a full kitchen where the kids and I did a little cooking together: ¬†homemade egg McMuffins, pancakes, cookies, and blueberry cobbler. ¬†One day we also made slime/gak/flubber–but we didn’t eat that! ¬†Isabella is getting rather accomplished in the kitchen. ¬†Micah noticed that I was cutting things against my thumb and wondered why I wasn’t bleeding! ūüôā Emma participated some of the time, but she was actually a little sick so I think she slept through the breakfast preparations.

Sarah knew where to go for some entertainment and the kids had fun with arcade games, putt-putt golf, bumper boats as well as hanging out at the beach.

I came home happy that we had had such a nice time together in such a nice location with such nice weather.  It was a good vacation!

Here is the link to the rest of the photos:

2017 Summer Trip, part 2–Portland, The Dalles, Fossil, and Newberg

July 17, 2017

On Friday David and Sarah returned home shortly after lunch and we made preparations for our overnight to The Dalles.  David was kind enough to drive us (that is, me, Gary, Micah and David) to The Dalles which gave me a break from driving.  We sailed through The Dalles on to a tiny town called Fossil.  There was a fun place to dig for fossils behind the high school.  It was fun, but it was very hot and we only lasted about an hour.  I found the first one, a little leaf fossil.

We had a nice dinner back in The Dalles, then a bit of time at Sorosis park and then we slept at Motel 6. ¬†Next morning we were up early for Egg McMuffins then off to Gateway Presbyterian church to speak briefly in both services, updating the congregation on our mission work which they’ve supported since about 1981. ¬†Micah attended Sunday School during the second service. ¬†A nice family from the church invited us out for dinner at a restaurant near the river, then we drove back to Portland.

Many folks at the church asked about Gary’s parents who are well-remembered there. ¬†One person asked for a copy of Wendell’s memoirs which they said they would read then pass on to others. ¬†I’ll have to get the address to Wendell so he can mail them a copy if he still has a spare.

We weren’t home for very long until we went to Wendi and Fer’s house for BBQ. ¬†Teresa and Terry came so we had a bit of a Simons family get-together.

On Monday Gary and I got up early and went to Tualatin River NWR for a couple hours of birding with my new scope.  Our best thing to see there was a Great Egret off in the distance which turned out to be a Bald Eagle standing on the ground!!  A few minutes later it flew to join its mate in a dead tree in the middle of the area.  After that we drove on to Newberg for lunch with the Websters and a driving tour of George Fox University.  They updated us on news from Santa Cruz and people there that we know.

My photos are in an online Google Photos album. ¬†I’m still learning how this new photo platform works. ¬†Once you click on the link below, click on the first single photo you can see a larger version of it. ¬†Then look in the top right and see a lowercase i in a circle and click that to see a caption or description in a side panel. ¬†Leave the side panel open and use the forward arrow key to move to the next photo and caption. ¬†I know that sounds complicated, but if you do that, you’ll get a little sentence to go with some of the photos.

Click here:

Happy 100th Birthday to Maude

July 17, 2017

I’m still working on our trip photos, but let me insert a shout out to Maude Moore who turned 100 today. She was a member of the Kimball Free Methodist church where we attended for many years. They had a great party for her on Saturday which we attended. ¬†When we talked to her she seemed as sharp as ever. ¬†I think her memory is better than mine.

I managed to get our three kids to sign a card and make a photo for it while we were all together in Washington.

2017 Summer Trip, part 1–PD in WA

July 15, 2017

It turns out that July 4th is a good day to travel by air because everyone who is traveling for Independence day has already gotten there. The roads were clear and the airport manageable. We arrived in Seattle on Alaska Airlines and got a Sixt rental car (new company to me, with good service, but there appears to be a mistake with the billing, so I’ll need to try to sort that out…).

We drove to our son’s mother-in-law’s house and let ourselves in. Not too much later the personal fireworks started and we could hardly believe how many folks were shooting them off! But I was so tired I fell asleep with all the racket still going on. ¬†It was good to see Maureen the next morning and to use her home as a base while we visited other friends in our support team. The weather was perfect.

On Wednesday We got treated to a fabulous evening meal at Anthony’s at a marina, and on Thursday it was breakfast at Shari’s, and a homecooked meal for lunch at a home in Shoreline.

On Thursday we drove to David and Sarah’s house in Portland to perform grandparent and auntie duties while David and Sarah had an overnight at Cascade Locks.


Andrew’s a Plumber

July 3, 2017

Or at least he’s learning how to be one. The undermount sink in their kitchen detatched itself, so he had to figure out how to repair it. It took a bit of doing, a bit of discussing it, a few YouTube videos, and many trips to Home Depot, but he did it. I assume the 2x4s will be removed once the adhesive has plenty of time to set.

In other news, today is get ready to leave day, and here’s what I’ve done so far: went to work for 2 hours, gave haircuts to two people, went shopping, made lunch and dinner, cleaned the kitchen, did laundry, spoke to the missions’ commission person to finalize plans, spoke to David to finalize plans, reserved a hotel room, remodeled a shirt for Rachel, edited some powerpoint slides, researched how to make shrinky dinks, and now I need to go pack. ¬†Ugh, it is hard to get ready for a trip, even if you really want to go!