December 10, 2016
I’ve been playing catch-up since returning from NY earlier this week. Lots to do to get back to normal. Oh, and then there’s getting ready for Christmas, writing a newsletter, taking Gary to the dentist, getting a new battery for Rachel’s car, and stuff like that.
I’ve finally got my photos into a Google album. They don’t have captions, but I have grouped them together so you can probably figure out what they are. Topics include: transportation on plane, subway, taxi, train; visit to Fordham; Botanical Gardens; meal in Chinatown; 9-11 site; Thanksgiving meal; and a few other items, too. Once the album opens, click on the first photo, then you can use the right arrow key to scroll through each photo. There are quite a few photos in this album, but I hope you’ll take the time to glance through them and see Andrew, Laura, and Isabella in their new environment.
December 8, 2016
Our trip home from NY on Tuesday was uneventful if a bit tedious. I wish I could sleep on planes like some people I know. Rachel was glad to see us, as we were her.
This trip kinda cut into the Christmas season, so I’ve decided to skip sending my usual goodies to one and all. Lack of time is the main reason, but I’m also acknowledging that everybody is “on a diet, has diabetes, and has too many sweets during the holiday season” anyway! The only exception will be mailing Grandpa Simons some of Bella’s sugar cookies.
Speaking of mail, our mail has been a mess for about a month. After 30 years of getting our mail in the same cubbie, we suddenly were getting no mail at all. This note was one of four that it took to finally, I think, get it sorted out. There were also phone conversations with the local Post Mistress and local mail carrier and an email sent to the federal PO system.
Once all mail arrived, there was a veritable mountain of in on the counter top to sort through. I can’t ignore it, because I want my counter top back! Actually, I sorted through it at 5:30 this morning when I woke up early. 90% of the bulk went into the recycle bin, 5% bills to pay, and 5% forward to Andrew’s new address.
Besides mail, we’ve had other things to deal with on our return: Gary had to go to the dentist early afternoon and sit in the chair for two hours while the dentist drilled his tooth off in preparation for a crown. And then we discovered Rachel’s car wouldn’t start and when I tried to remove the battery to go buy a new one, but it was too heavy for me to lift out and too wedged in there, and I lost one of the bracket pieces. Somehow I got it back together, almost, then used the jumper cables and got it started long enough to drive it to the garage where they will put in an new battery and bracket, for a consideration. So now I have to drive her to work today, but hopefully it will be finished by the time she finishes work.
December 4, 2016
Our time in New Rochelle, a largish city about an hour’s car drive north of NYC, is coming to a close. Andrew and Laura return from Scotland tomorrow and we return to Dallas on Tuesday.
I’m totally bummed out about driving in this city–I feel like a failure, and apparently the guy behind me agrees as he keeps beeping at me. Or maybe folks here just beep for the fun of it. I’ve never driven anywhere where they honk at people so much. Also, the roads are so narrow–makes a guy appreciate Texas with its wide roads. And there is no place to park, too much traffic, no 90 degree corners, only parallel parking (and you have to pay even to do that–no free parking anywhere) and oh, did I mention–the guy behind me, the guy beside me, and the guy across from me are all honking. At me? I can only assume so. Then there is the driveway: bushes blocking the way so I can’t see to exit–maybe I should just honk and pull out without looking?!? And then when I return to the house, there is a mandatory 17-point turn that one must make to maneuver the big car in a small driveway to make it point outward–it would be a fatal mistake to try to back out. To pick Bella up from school one has to park a quarter of a mile away–fortunately, picking her up is only necessary on Mondays. It is also kinda scary to walk a block to her bus stop–about a million cars are driving (and honking) to the High School which is nearby. And to top it all off, my dumb GPS has failed me once more. So to switch to using Google maps on my phone like the rest of the world, I’m trying to figure out how to keep the phone screen from going blank and how to scotch tape my phone onto the display bracket of my failed GPS so that I can mount the phone to the windshield in order to see the phone while driving. Oh, and to make the font big enough to read while driving and to keep the volume loud enough to be heard over all the people honking at me!!!
OK, now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can think about the good things here:
- Andrew and Laura have a great house. Spacious, beautiful wood floors, double hung windows, full basement and full 2nd story, All of Grandma and Grandpa Simons’s Mexican furniture fits well and looks great here. The walls are covered with lovely pieces of art from around the world. And they have a big Christmas tree set up by the fireplace. There are a few things that need to be done around the house and yard (in particular, they need a new lawnmower shed) but it is a nice, comfortable place for them and they have room for visitors.
- Andrew and Laura can both get to their jobs on public transport. Which is good, so they don’t have to have cars honking at them to start and end the workday. It would take some doing to learn the system (commuter trains, buses, subways, Uber, taxi) but they seem to have figured it out.
- Bella rides the bus to a public school with well paid teachers (at least that is what the newspaper said). She is making friends at school but I know she kinda misses having immediately available playmates like she used to have in Ithaca.
- There is a nice Lutheran church next door where we visited today. The church has a BIG parking lot adjacent to Andrew and Laura’s house, and no bushes by the exit. Sometimes they use this space for auxiliary parking. The church service was very “high,” and felt a lot like an Anglican service. Beautiful stained glass windows which Bella liked seeing from the inside–she said they were “blurry” when viewed from her house. :-) She attends after-school care there three days a week–no driving required. We met a nice couple there–the husband teaches at Fordham in Andrew’s department.
- There are several place to eat within short walking distance–the Chinese takeout was good and the slices of pizza weren’t bad either.
- There is a children’s library very close by and Bella is a card-carrying member.
- Bella and I had opportunity to make Christmas cookies yesterday and today.
December 1, 2016
I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve had plenty of things to post about, but I’m away from my nice big computer monitor and instead am trying to make a little tablet think it is a full sized computer–not much luck! Also, hard to work with my photos without my normal computer software–I’ll sort them out and make an album of the good ones after I get home.
We (Gary, Rachel and I) arrived here on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and thus began a long list of “firsts” for Rachel:
- First taxi ride
- First Uber ride
- First subway ride
- First commuter train ride
- First time to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
- First time to see the Statue of Liberty
- and probably a few others I forgot about.
We arrived in time for Thanksgiving, and Rachel went back to Dallas the Monday after, but Gary and I are staying on a week more to babysit Isabella while Andrew and Laura are in Scotland for a conference. While Rachel was still here, these are some of the “touristy” and regular things we did:
- Visited Andrew’s new place of employment, Fordham University (but it was closed)
- Ate heroes at a deli in Little Italy
- Went to the Botanical Garden
- half of the group went to Central park and the Central Park zoo
- made apple and pumpkin pies with Bella
- watched Laura and Laura make a fabulous and complicated Thanksgiving meal
- half of us went to Central park and the Central Park zoo
- half of us went to the Met which could have taken days but we did it in hours.
- went birding near the ocean
- put up Christmas stuff (well, I mostly watched)
- installed solar light along the sidewalk
- went to Grand Central Station
- Found the sculptures that our friend John Collier made for a church near ground zero
- visited the 9-11 memorial
- ate Dim Sum in Chinatown
- walked across the Brooklyn Bridge along with about a million other people
- ate at a Salvadoran place nearby
- and learned the ropes for getting Bella to school and back and to her activities.
Andrew and Laura made it to Scotland after a delay for a day in Paris–I could think of worse places! Today they visited a famous castle.
We’ve talked with Rachel several times and it sounds like she has everything under control. Only problem, not her fault, is that somehow our mail is not being delivered properly–it has been messed up for about two weeks and we can’t seem to get it straightened out.
Taking care of Bella is turning out to be pretty easy. At this stage she pretty much takes care of herself. She loves to do so many different things, including cooking. This evening she made salad with “carrot infused oil” (her words) in the homemade dressing!
November 20, 2016
Rachel doesn’t have any kids of her own to buy gifts for, but she enjoys picking out gifts for a name chosen from the Angel Tree at her church.
She also did an Operation Christmas Child shoebox a month ago.
We had our church’s annual Thanksgiving dinner tonight–early start on the turkey! I made a pumpkin pumpkin cake and it turned out kind cute:
This morning the Tower of Babel was the lesson for my Sunday School kids–a dream lesson for linguist-SS teachers. For once I had tons of material at my fingertips: The Book of a Thousand Tongues, several translated NTs, and photos from the Solomon Islands. And, let’s not forget the 3-volume set of the Ethnologue as well as its Executive Editor for a guest speaker!
November 19, 2016
The purge continues. Today it was the piano. We hope the neighbors down the street get some good use out of it.
Then, it was sorting through piano, french horn, guitar, hammer dulcimer, flute, and tuba music. Some of it is on its way to Half Priced Books.
We also had a memorial service for our of our early SIL and Wycliffe leaders, Frank Robbins. I made some mini cupcakes for the reception.
The weather has not felt very fall-ish this week. In fact it got up to 87 one day. No wonder my accidental lettuce is growing so well. It made some good BLTs this week.
This next week we go to NYC to see Isabella and her family. Should be fun!
November 13, 2016
I’m still cleaning up my photos from recent months. Here are some “art” shots that range from 25 years ago to 2 days ago. The first photo is of a picture made entirely of fingerprints.
David’s artwork from early elementary:
Stonehenge minor at Joe Pool Lake:
Stained glass history of Bible Translation:
Ice and water:
Rachel won a free night at a Paint and Praise Party at her church:
Supermoon tomorrow night!
November 10, 2016
I am still sorting through the photos from our trip and willl post some of them soonish, but for now, just a little update.
I spoke to David today who is in Ft.Worth. But since he didn’t bring any grandbabies with him, I refused to see him. Well, that’s not exactly how it happened, but …
I also talked to Andrew and Isabella today after remembering to pay up my promise to Bella for her marathon reading contest for her school. See the video here: https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Tm9t5f
Rachel has been getting a few more babysitting opportunities. They seem to be a bit on-and-off, but she has found two nearby families that want her help on a more or less regular basis, if for short times. We’d like to see her work at least 20 hours per week, and she might almost be at that. She is signed up to take a CPR class at the Center on Saturday. We thought that was a good idea for a babysitter. Rachel also got her first report from her new “business” of renting out her house. The property management company made some little repairs, etc. as they moved in a new renter and by a month from now we’re hoping there will actually be some income to speak of.
Speaking of Rachel, she was complaining that she wanted pumpkin pie, so look what she did while we were at choir practice last night:
Yesterday I did some computer consulting with an older lady from our former church (Hi, Mary!). She said to tell Grandpa Wendell she knows just how he feels!😉
On Tuesday we did our civic duty and voted. I had a very difficult time finding anyone I liked to vote for. In the end, I used my penmanship skills. We stayed up late to see the results.
November 6, 2016
We fly back to Dallas tomorrow after our week of meetings at the Wycliffe Center and then a weekend of birding. Both events went well and we were glad to be here. I got lots of photos and after I go thru them I’ll post the best ones as I get time.
The weather was perfect with just a little shower this afternoon. The worst part is all of the Beware of Alligators signs all over the place! The alligators are creepy. We saw several of them in the wetlands where we were birding.
For now, just let me post two photos of our rental car. My first time to drive a hybrid which is nice for slow speed birding because it doesn’t make any noise! It also has a dial shifter–cool, but it takes some getting used to.
We are in the town of Titusville, very close to Cape Canaveral. Everything here has a name like Space Shuttle Inn, Rocket Road, and Astronaut High School. We could see the launch pad towers from where we were birding.