My Biggest Cake Order So Far

July 24, 2016

DSC01056It has been a long day, even though it is Sunday. We just got home from a quite fancy wedding held at the Hickory Street Annex in downtown Dallas, an old Gulf Oil building that has been beautifully repurposed. The bride is a former Wycliffe member and had asked me to make her wedding cake.


It wasn’t just a wedding cake for 200, it was also specialty cookies for 200 (and throw in a few gluten-free cupcakes, too!).  If you are interested in seeing how I made the cookies, look at this link.

This was the first time I had ever done a 12″ diameter round cake.  I think it ended up almost like the bride specified, not exactly, but close enough.  I won’t bore you with step by step cake construction because I’ve done that in the past, but here are some shots showing how we got the cake parts to the wedding (don’t forget it is 100 degrees here these days!), assembled it, then attended the wedding.  The cake wasn’t cut until 3:30pm after an 11am wedding, so it was a long day.  The party was still underway when we left with a Korean ceremony on the side.









Do Not Muzzle the Ox

July 17, 2016

Rachel's Work PicsOn Friday Rachel completed a data entry task that Gary gave her to do about 9 months ago. She has been going to the office with us in the mornings and typing the population figures from the paper version of the 12th edition of the Ethnologue into a spreadsheet. (Apparently the digitized version of the 12th edition got lost between computer upgrades somewhere along the way.)

She did this by photocopying the Ethnologue a few pages at a time, using a highlighter to find population and year of population for each of the world’s languages, then she typed that information into a spreadsheet where the list of languages and their 3-letter ISO codes had been pre-generated from the digitized 13th edition.

If I understand it correctly, the point of this exercise is to help the Ethnologue staff [read that: Gary] produce a longitudinal data set showing how the population of each of the world’s languages has changed over time.  It would likely be one of the data products sold by the Ethnologue  for use by linguists  and demographers to study where the little languages of the world are headed–mostly to extinction, is the fear–assimilated by nearby languages of wider communication.

Well, she was not worthy of her pay, or even if she was worthy, she wasn’t paid, since Gary didn’t want to be accused of nepotism.  On the hand of the other metaphor, we could at least say that she was not muzzled while she tread–we fed her all the stale donuts she could eat at coffee break.:-)

p.s.  While writing this blog Gary and I had to research the word “ox.”  Mostly it means a castrated male bovine who works for a living, but in some contexts it can also refer to female bovines.

Emma’s Tree

July 13, 2016

You may remember that we’ve planted trees in honor of our three grandchildren, and I’m happy to report that all three trees are growing well. We’ve had quite a bit of rain this spring and early summer and the trees seem to love it. The Isabella Elm and the Micah Oak are in the back, but the Emma Ash is right in the front. It is still a young tree, but it makes enough shade on these hot and sunny days for one person–we sure miss our two big trees that had to be cut down! David and Sarah, please show this photo to Emma and tell her to come have her photo taken with her tree sometime!



In other news, we had our annual All-Star Party at our house last night with just two visitors.  But since they brought pizza and taco salad, we were very happy they came!  And of course, Gary got to throw peanut shells on the tarp-covered floor.



I spoke with Laura today and she is feeling pretty good after her surgery a week ago–so good she is bored and wants to be able to start driving and stuff again.

Another Cake

July 10, 2016

I have agreed to do a wedding cake and a giant order of hand decorated cookies for the same, due in 2 weeks. I’ve been doing some practicing to see if I can get just the right recipe for lemon filling, white cake, white icing, and decorative lace. I’m still working on it, but time is growing short.

I turned a practice cake into a birthday for our friend Deborah on her 30th birthday. She and Rachel get together regularly to have sushi.  I learned a new “watercolor” technique, and also how to make a gumpaste flower and 3D numerals.


It has been awhile since we’ve had some cute grandkid photos:



And speaking of Laura, her surgery last week went well and she is home recovering, not without some pain.

And if you want to see what Nana got Micah for his birthday, look here (though I think daddy might be having as much fun with it as Micah!):


Happy Birthday to Me

July 3, 2016

It is the time of year when I become older than Gary. It happens every year on my birthday. I had a nice birthday, including:

  • an ice cream social in my honor at coffee break at the office on Friday
  • Rachel baked me a chocolate cake–99% by herself.  It was yummy and I’m having the leftovers for supper tonight
  • We went out for lunch at a new sushi restaurant, and I didn’t eat sushi.  The teriyaki was good.
  • I got lots of cards from friends and relatives.  Some included $$ and some included chocolate!  One included a bag of bird seed!
  • Rachel made me buy myself two new spatulas, and I love them both.
  • I bought myself a new upright freezer.  We expect delivery July 11.







In other news, Gary preached at church today in our pastor’s absence.  Our church does a live stream of the services, which are also recorded. So if you go to this link: you’ll see the triangle to play the video. You can see us in the choir at minute 3:20. The choir anthem (Peace in the Valley) is at minute 22, and Gary’s sermon starts at minute 26.

Speaking of church, the Cordova family made these fun July 4th refreshments for the social time after church.  And if you look closely you’ll see a Sousaphone in the background–Jason playing patriotic tunes as only a tuba can do:


My Trip to Michigan

June 28, 2016

Wow, two weeks since my last post. Hard to believe that I’ve been on three trips in one month. Usually Gary does all the traveling and I stay home, but my most recent trip was by myself.  It had been nearly 2 years since I had seen my mom–since her 80th birthday party two years ago.

I got home a 6pm tonight and the house was clean and there was food a-cookin’! Will wonders ever cease?!?  Thank you to all who helped Gary and Rachel in various ways while I was gone–they did not look any worse for my absence.

I forgot to take a photo of my last rental car–bright red and brand new. Not at all my kind of car.  And, sadly, I didn’t get any close up photos of mom, Deb, and I.  They always complain about me taking their photos, so I guess I didn’t even try this time!


Mom and I made a trip to the cemetery,


and then a trip to the Mennonite farm stand where I bought these gorgeous Michigan strawberries.  They tasted SOOO good!  Yesterday I bought some more so I could have them one more time before returning home.


On Thursday mom and I visited Bob and Patty Nosker who treated us to a very tasty lunch–always good to visit with them!


On Sunday morning I went to church twice.  First with mom and Deb and Jim for the early service, and then I walked a block to this church where my cousin Larry is the preacher.  Larry wasn’t there, but his wife and sister were, so I got a chance to visit with them.



A highlight of this trip was the Symphonettes reunion in Grand Rapids on Friday and Saturday.  So fun to see these girls with whom I sang over 40 years ago!


On Monday I got up early for some birding.  Didn’t see anything too exotic, but did find 25 total species, including this Phoebe.


Nice to go and nice to be back!


Birding in Tualatin

June 13, 2016

We’ve been at the Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge several times, but this was the first time for a summer visit. There were some different birds this time. We saw a total of 39 species, including a lifer for me, Western Wood Pe-Wee. But my favorite sighting was the male Lazuli Bunting with its stunning neon blue head.  We also loved seeing a juvenile Bald Eagle try to pick off a duck (without success), and an Angry (Black) Bird attack a Great Blue Heron several times its size.













Portland Vacation Wrap-up

June 13, 2016

Tomorrow we head back to Dallas, and it should be an adventure on the public transportation since neither David nor Sarah is available to take us to the airport. It is an afternoon flight, so we’ll have all morning to get there.

I’ve organized an online photo album of our trip, including birthday party for Micah, visit with other of Gary’s relatives, and a trip to the Rose Garden (which got cut short due to rain).  Here is the link, and this time, it isn’t too long!

The R2-D2 cake that I made was a huge hit. I may give it its own blog post eventually.

Gary and I snuck off a couple times to go birding at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. I ended up with one lifer! Western Wood Pe-Wee.  I will post another time about the birding, especially the beautiful male Lazuli Bunting.

Vacation in Portland

June 9, 2016

My efforts to pick flights for Gary and Rachel and I that rendezvoused in Portland worked pretty well. Gary was waiting for us at the bottom of the escalator when Rachel and I headed for baggage claim and he had only been there a few minutes. While waiting for our bags we got a call from David. He had finished his last cataract surgery in 10 minutes (hmm, do we want our eye surgeons to work that quickly???😉 ) so he was able to come pick us up and we didn’t need to do the train/bus/foot journey. It was nice to be picked up.

Micah and Emma were happy to see us. Within 30 seconds Grandpa was horsing around with Micah.



Before long, Micah was getting a haircut.  Before and after–no, I guess that would be after and before.


On Wednesday we drove to the kids’ preschool for a little visit. Here is a video of Micah at his Soccer Shots class.

This morning we dropped the kids off (after an eventful time of getting ready which included losing the dog out the door) and Emma was not happy to see us leave. From there Gary and I went to Tualatin River Nature Preseve for a 2-mile birding walk. Not too many birds, but we did see a few. Then we called Teresa and invited ourselves over for morning coffee break, and sure enough, she had cookies for us. Nice. Liam and Zoe warmed right up to us.  This photo is for Wendell and Judy:


Sunday Update

June 5, 2016

Rachel and I had an eventful trip back to Dallas last Wednesday. We got up late (since my phone was in blocking mode the alarm didn’t ring) at 4:25 am and had to rush to get the the Ithaca airport for a 6am flight. Only to discover that the flight was delayed by 6 hours!! And then I discovered that Delta had sent me a text in the middle of the night to say we were rerouted to leave at noon but but I didn’t hear it (since my phone was in blocking mode). But since we were actually standing there, the Delta lady rerouted us to get home a couple hours sooner by going via Syracuse. Of course that meant taking a taxi from Ithaca to Syracuse, but at least they paid for it.  We were fortunate that the person we had scheduled to pick us up at the airport was available to come get us at 6pm instead of 10:30am, so that worked out nicely.

Then when we got home we opened the door to an awful smell. My practically new freezer had died and all the food inside was rotting. Ugh.

So we had to go out to find something for dinner, there being no frozen leftovers to eat. Then spent the evening cleaning up the freezer. I’ve been working to see if we can get it repaired or replaced, but they don’t make it easy. We’ll see.

20160604_114333 (1)The yard was out of control too, since there has been so much rain. On Friday evening Rachel and I each took a turn mowing, then again on Saturday morning, and finally finished at noon. The temps were reasonable, so even though my face was beet red, it was tolerable. While mowing and trimming we found 6 giant ant hills, 3 species of poisonous fungus, and I chopped a baby snake in half with the trimmer.  And I got attacked by a thorny tree branch which drew blood.  Who knew yard work was so dangerous?

Since then we’ve doing laundry, thinking about Micah’s upcoming birthday party (Star Wars theme) and I even went to work for a couple days. Rachel is actually sick again with yet another cold or flu. Too much coughing around here.

I’ve heard from Gary a few times (he’s in Melbourne, Australia).  Sounds like the conference went well, and the extra days he wants to do some personal work with someone who lives there.

Lord willing Gary’s flight will arrive in Portland, OR only 15 minutes after Rachel and I arrive day after tomorrow.  David and Sarah are both working that day, so we plan to take the train, then the bus, and find our way to the non-airport car rental place then get to their house just a bit before Sarah gets home.

In other news, Evelyn Pike passed away yesterday at the age of 101.  I am so sorry we are going to miss her funeral.


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