February 25, 2017

Let’s see, what to update.



The internet doesn’t have enough food photos, so I’ll add a couple more. I recently made this yummy, crusty bread in the cast iron pot that Andrew and Laura got me for Christmas. I also made lasagna in the covered casserole that David and Sarah got me a year ago Christmas.

In spite of my previous post, the Ethnologue isn’t really done. Poor Gary labors on to get all the tiny details right. Today he worked on acknowledgements and the introduction. There is always a stray punctuation mark or trailing space to throw off his calculations. But anyway, it is close.

It is about time to start the taxes, isn’t it. That is always a big chore. I’d better get started. Rachel’s will be more complicated now that she’s a business owner (of sorts).

The weather here has been crazy warm. It got up to 90 this past week and it is February. I fear this will mean a miserable summer.

Well, I should go finish the laundry and bake a birthday cake.


February 21, 2017

Today is International Mother Language Day, so that means it is also the day a new edition of the Ethnologue goes live. Gary and his team have been working very hard to meet the deadline–a few things remain to be done, but the new edition went live late this morning.  Yay!

The official count of living languages on this earth is now 7099.  If you are interested in how the above number of living languages on this earth was reached, please read the Ethnoblog where Gary explains the process–some are added, some are subtracted each year due to languages going extinct or new ones being separated from other ones. He also mentions how many changes were made to the database since a year ago, and what new data has been gathered in the last year.  My pet name for the Ethnologue: the book of a million details.

I Just Saved Several Hundred Dollars

February 18, 2017

Maybe over $1000.

Our refrigerator quit working early this week. That is especially annoying due to the fact that it is only 4.5 years old and the fact that I’m not quite recovered from the flu didn’t help my mood about it. We still have a small refrig out in the apartment, so we emptied the food out of the big fridge and into a laundry basket which we dragged over to the apartment fridge. I tried to figure out the problem: there seemed to be some ice where there shouldn’t have been, so we let it thaw out, cleaned around the compressor a little, then plugged it back in. The freezer seemed to be getting cold, so with that little encouragement, we put all the food back.

Mistake. It still wasn’t working very well. So we took everything back out, schlepped it back to the apartment fridge, then tipped over the big fridge and found a disgusting amount of filth that need to be vacuumed out. Surely that would solve the problem, so we filled it back up and waited.

Mistake. A third time we took everything out and dragged it to the apartment fridge. Gary exclaimed, “I get so tired of laundry basket condiments” which might not sound that funny to you, but it was a mockery of Rachel declaring many years ago “I get so tired of Reddy Ice” when we used to drive past their factory on the way to church.

Anyway, I gathered my strength together for battle and hit the internet to find a Youtube video to tell me what was wrong with my refrigerator and how to fix it. I mean, it would seem immoral to put the thing in the landfill after only 4.5 years to say nothing about the cost of replacing it.

Well, it turned out to be easier than expected: its symptoms indicated a burned out evaporator fan which I was able to remove after taking out the ice maker.  We ordered from our local U-Fix-It store and 26 hours later I had installed it.  This time we waited several hours to prove it was plenty cold before we moved the food in!


Grandpa Wendell’s Memoirs

February 17, 2017


If you’ve read this blog for the last three weeks, you know that I’ve been quite sick with the flu. I’ve slept poorly during this time, but being homebound and unable to sleep gave me plenty of opportunity to read Grandpa’s book, a gift he gave to us this past Christmas.  I’m not sure how many copies he printed, but we ended up with two of them at our house, one for Rachel and one for us.

I will indulge myself a tiny bit here in saying that I felt a little bit of satisfaction when these books arrived for Christmas.  That is because when we visited Wendell and Judy last October, one of the things we had on the agenda was to help Wendell with his computer and computer files.  Due to Gary’s eyesight, this job usually falls to me.  We vaguely knew that Grandpa Wendell had been writing his memoirs for some time, though we had never seen any of the files.  As we investigated, things got complicated when we found a too-old computer with even older Word files, lack of compatibility between systems, etc.  We really weren’t sure what to advise, but we went to work converting his files to Google Docs.

Then somehow Grandpa mentioned how he was “almost finished” and really didn’t want to re-do things with the new system.  So I asked, “Um, could we see what you mean by that?” and lo and behold, he pulled out photo-ready paper copy, including laid-out photos with captions, cartoons, chapter headings, page numbers, etc!  That was a shock!  No wonder he didn’t want to start over again.  Turns out the only thing missing was the preface or half-title or some very small part of the frontmatter!  That changed the task we had to do–so we just helped him with this last bit of work.  And then I went into a (hopefully not too rude) tirade about Hurry up and finish this and get it printed already!!  Which he did.  🙂

I found this book quite interesting and read it all carefully (except for glossing over some of the Appendixes which were the genealogical facts).  I suppose the parts that most interested me were things that touched on Gary, though those were few.  A number of things I read helped explain things I’d observed about the Simons family for 40+ years.  I found the parts about Grandpa Wendell’s very early days, his relationship with his sister, the death of his mother, and separation from his father quite interesting.  It is hard to imagine his life of being on his own by age 16 even possible in today’s world.

Grandpa must have kept good notes over the years because there was a lot of detail about certain items.  I encourage my kids to read the entire book–it reads pretty quickly.

On last thing which needs clarification:  Gary has always told me the story about his second month of life as being in the hospital due to pneumonia and a hernia.  But Grandpa’s book (p. 49) clearly says pneumonia and kidney infection.  Can anyone set the record straight?

Happy Valentine’s Day and More Cake

February 15, 2017

Gary and I, of course, do not celebrate the “Hallmark Holidays.” (At least Gary doesn’t.)  However, since I won a raffle that included a heart-shaped cupcake pan, I decided to make cupcakes to take to work.  Even though they are bright pink, no artificial colors were used.  Instead, they are filled with pure cranberry sauce, and the icing is cranberry sauce buttercream.  Quite tasty!


Rachel had a great Valentine’s day. She carefully made a card for each of her kids at work:


And she got several gifts in return (and if you look hard enough, you’ll see Panther chasing Delilah):


We closed the day out with strawberry shortcake with ice cream–not bad.

I was asked to make a cake for  co-worker who was today celebrating the fact that her PhD dissertation was recently published, so that was cakes two days in a row.


Still Coughing, But Slowly Getting Better

February 9, 2017

I finally went to our clinic today so I could be checked for pneumonia. Thankfully, none. But she did concur that I had likely had the flu, along with lots of other people.

She prescribed some heavy-duty anti-cough pills which makes me hope that I’m going to finally getting a good night’s sleep, something that has eluded me for the last 12 days.  She said I shouldn’t be contagious and could go back to work if I feel like it.  We’re actually having a visitor tomorrow, who plans to use our guest room, so I hope I’m  well enough to be a decent hostess.

Andrew and Bella had a snow day today–looks like that dog (Scarlet) doesn’t mind dragging her belly in the snow.


Sarah recently sent this photos of what Micah has been building at Kindergarten.  These magnetic pieces were someone’s great idea.


Almost Better

February 7, 2017

Today was the first time I’d gotten out of the house in 10 days. I was quite sick with, apparently, the flu. I had a fever for 5 days and was left quite weak, somewhat nauseated, and in general with no energy. I hope to go back to the office tomorrow, but I still have a dreadful cough.


On Sunday I was grateful for both Rachel and Gary stepping up and team teaching my Sunday School class on the topic of the birth of Jacob and Esau. One of my students made me this get-well picture.

Proud Mama

February 2, 2017


simons1David sent us this link telling about the award he received for the glaucoma gadget he is trying to invent:


If you drill down you can see the half-page description of what the thing does.  Nice job, David.


Let’s Go Shopping

January 29, 2017

David recently sent this cute video of Micah and Emma getting ready to go grocery shopping.  I especially like when Micah announces they are 5 minutes late and will soon get to Nana’s house.  And when Emma finds the ice cream!


“Was This an Intended Pregnancy?”

January 27, 2017


This is a story from my past, but I still think about it at times. It came to my mind again this week, the 44th anniversary of the passage of Roe v. Wade, and today when there was second women’s march in Washington DC.

I was 25 years old at the time, We were living in Ithaca, NY while Gary finished his dissertation. I started feeling nauseated and having other symptoms so I went to a doctor to see if I was pregnant. (Those were the days before home pregnancy tests were available, and since it was my first pregnancy, I didn’t really know the symptoms myself.)

Gary went to class, I went to the doctor. The test was positive. Instantly, my head started spinning, but there was also a little smile on my face. I sat on the examining table and the doctor looked at me and asked, “Was this an intended pregnancy?”

In my naiveté, I was confused by his question–I mean, why would he ask that? and really, was that any of his business?  Still not understanding his meaning. I mumbled, “Yes.”  A little later, I figured it out: he was asking me if I wanted an abortion.  Roe v. Wade had been passed five years prior.  Realizing what he meant by his question sent me into my first fit of Mother-Bear-ism to protect my baby.

I don’t really remember much of anti-abortion goings on in those early days. Maybe I was too stuck in my own world of college and being a missionary and getting married, etc. to notice. Honestly, it took years of thinking about it for me to fully formulate my own stance on the matter.

For many, it is a complicated matter involving science, morality, religion, law, social community, and probably lots of other things.  And even though I am a strong Christian believer, which makes me religious by definition, my own stance is based more on biology than religion.  I take the biologic “magic” that happens at the moment of conception to to be a scientific fact: a new set of DNA is formed that makes a unique human being–the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts. A qualitative change happens at the moment of conception.  Before that moment no human being could be born and after that moment the process has begun such that one could be born. From that point on it is a matter of quantity–more cells develop, the cells specialize, etc., and then a human baby is born. So I base my anti-abortion stance on the biology of what happens at conception:  a human now exists and she deserves protection under the law of the state.

Yes, I know there are other things to talk about: is personhood the same as a complete set of human DNA? Does a fertilized egg have a soul? What about a pregnancy caused by rape or incest, etc., etc. I’ve thought about those issues too, over the years, but I always circle round to the what feels to me to be a bedrock fact:  a fertilized egg is not the same thing as a sperm and an egg and therefore, it needs to be respected for what it is.

Some times my sadness over the legality of abortion makes me think that the deciding factor in judging whether a fertilized egg/ zygote/ fetus/ tissue / baby is a human person (and therefore worthy of protection under the law) is simply want–that is, if the parents want it, then it is a human baby to be protected; if they don’t, it isn’t.  That is just too subjective for me.  But that is what Roe v. Wade allows–an unwanted “it” can/will/might be killed, but a wanted one won’t be.  As a society we need to find a better way to deal with unwanted “its” than to kill them.

I know that a repeal of Roe v. Wade would not end abortions.  But personally I want to live in a country where a fertilized egg is recognized as a person, and it is not ok, on principle, to intentionally murder a person.


Anyway, I’m glad Andrew was born, and the same for Rachel and David.  You were wanted but that is not what made you a person.