Time Hurries On

August 26, 2015

Gary and I have been able to Skype a few times while he’s been in Australia. He’s doing well, but having lots of jet-lag. Their first day was pretty much a disaster due to a software compile issue, but then things got better.



Rachel went on a mini missions trip Sunday-Tuesday with ladies from her church.  15 of them drove to Bartellsville, OK and worked at the headquarters of Voice of the Martyrs stuffing envelopes.  Seems like she enjoyed the trip.

Today I got a little sad as I realized the season of grandbabies has ended.  I returned to crib to the boutique warehouse and took the Jungle Animals crib bedding set to the crisis pregnancy center and they seemed very happy to get it.  I kept the car seats just in case.


Off to Australia

August 21, 2015

Gary and his team have worked hard this week to be ready to fly to Brisbane, Australia tomorrow. The Ethnologue editors will be rolling out new software for editing the Ethnologue from the field. It is not likely to be smooth sailing, because first versions of software never are, but the idea has been long in coming. If this works, it will be a step in the direction of making the data in the Ethnologue more accurate and up-to-date.  Here is the bookcase that holds the old versions of the Ethnologue–63 years of history.




In other news, Gary got his new Ocutech this week. The glasses part is new (with bifocals), but the microtelescope part is from his old one. It has been so long since he has driven, he needs to relearn how to use them. 20150819_105158

Our renters moved out today.  They were great folks and we are sad to see them go.  The plan at the moment is to look for a few temporary renters, then Stan E. will be staying out there in early November.  After that, Rachel may move out there if she has a job, or not.

Rachel and I filled a cake order this week too, cupcakes for a coworker’s “adopted” daughter who has just gone off to college the week of her birthday.  Her college’s colors are maroon and gold, and I had some edible gold spray paint left from a 50th anniversary cake that worked just right.  Rachel has learned to make the icing and of course helps clean the kitchen during the process, so that is a big help.


Some Micah and Emma Photos

August 17, 2015

You’ve seen some recent cute Isabella photos. Now I have a few cute Micah and Emma ones, including a field trip to a farm and showing off the garden salad that really did come from the garden.  I miss them all so much.  The good news is we bought tickets for a short trip to visit them in late October.







unnamed (2)



The Week Ends

August 14, 2015

Today was kinda rough for various reasons, some of which I will put here. First off, updating to Windows 10 turned out not to exactly be a straightforward process. But after hours of reboots and finding info about problems via a different computer, I did manage to install it and now my computer is working again. However, it just seems like the screen resolution isn’t really quite as good.

Next, I think I lost Isabella’s heath insurance card–bad me! I came to that conclusion when I found her library card in my wallet. Oops. Had to mail it back to Ithaca.

In spite of a kinda down day, I have a collage of pretty Ithaca flowers to share.

15-08-03 Ithaca waterfalls and flowers

Vacation Has Ended

August 11, 2015
15-07-29 Trip to Ithaca to babysit for 10th anniversary

We had a very early morning to catch a 6am flight departing from Ithaca today, but all went well and we arrived home safely with our ride waiting for us at the airport.  Our wonderful renters had taken great care of the house and cats, making it a very easy transition home.  We’ve unpacked and hung up all the clothes, and I’ve cleaned up all my photos and finished this (rather lengthy) online photo album.  It is arranged in approximate chronological order with a few captions to explain.  Later I may post some flower and bird photos, but for now, this is just the travelogue and falls photos.  Go back and look at it again, lots of new photos added.

We had a great visit.  Isabella is a delight and well-behaved.  She is very communicative (but sometimes just a little bossy), inquisitive about all kinds of things, energetic,  and a great reader.   She missed her parents, but didn’t cry even once.  She happily did household chores when asked.  We loved babysitting, and Rachel loved being there too.  I gave her an old camera I had, and she seemed to love taking photos.  She quickly learned how to managed the battery recharging, etc.  We’ll see if she can find a computer to upload them to!  Actually, I borrowed a couple to put in the above album.

Andrew still has the rest of the week in Italy at his conference.  Laura is back to work, too.  Gary worked from home this afternoon, since we got home before lunchtime.  He’s got a full plate for the rest of the month, especially getting ready to leave for Australia August 22.  Rachel and I need to go to the grocery store, but it is too hot!

Babysitting Vacation

August 3, 2015

I’m too exhausted to write much, but I am trying to keep a photo album of our time here in Ithaca. All is going well and the weather is beautiful. I suppose the locals would say it is hot, but it feels great compared to Dallas.

I’m so glad Rachel came with us. She has been a great help with Isabella.

We’ve been introduced to a wonderful texting app for cell phones called Whatsapp and it has meant we can text and even voice call Andrew and Laura in Italy for free. They seem to be having a good time. Maybe I’ll eventually figure out how to get a photo from there to here.  Read the captions for some of the story.

More details later, but here’s the Picasa online photo album that I’ve started and will add to as our time here continues.

15-07-29 Trip to Ithaca to babysit for 10th anniversary

Cake, Cupcakes, Cake Pops

July 26, 2015

I was busy earlier this week with cake stuff for two customers. Well, I should say “we,” because Rachel has been helping me a lot. It is much easier with two people and I’m sharing the income with her.

One customer wanted 12 chocolate cupcakes and 12 white cupcakes decorated with white icing and topped with a monogram B.

She also wanted 24 gluten-free chocolate cake pops, 12 dipped in green (decorated as 4 drizzled with white, 4 plain, 4 dipped in silver sprinkles) and 12 dipped in chocolate (6 decorated with white drizzles and 6 plain). Got that?

It was my first time making cake pops, and the “traditional” recipe for them is YUCKY! Normally they are made by crumbling a baked cake into shreds, stirring in gobs of icing to make clay, then form them into balls which are dipped into candy coating then decorated. Way too sweet!

With Rachel’s help, I found another way to make them.  We bought a rather inexpensive waffle-iron-like gadget that just baked little cakes the size and shape of golf balls.  Much less sweet and easier to work with.  The prepared cake batter, in this case gluten-free, goes into a plastic bag.


Then snip off the corner and squeeze about 1 tablespoon into each cavity.


Close the lid and let them bake for 4 minutes, then tip them out onto a clean dishcloth and let them cool.


Next step is to add sticks, which Rachel did by dipping in the candy coating first, push them in, then freeze for 15 minutes.


Then the tricky part–dipping them in the candy coating.  It took me a practice round the week previous to figure out how to do this consistently and easily, but it helped to add a tiny bit of paraffin to the melted candy. Possible hazards: balls falling off sticks, coating too hot, coating too cool, coating to lumpy, coating too thin, etc. Having Rachel’s tiny crockpot really helped.  Sprinkles can be added immediately, or let them harden to add drizzles later.


Of course, I sent the good looking ones to the customer.  These rejects went to the office.


The cupcakes turned out not to be that easy either, though I’ve made this recipe a hundred times:


Do over.  Second batch were fine.




And the day before all of this, a half-sheet cake (that is, two 9X13) layered with fresh strawberry cream cheese filling, decorated to say farewell to a colleague who is leaving our organization to go teach ESL in Everett, WA.


Then Gary left for Chicago and I spent the next full day cleaning the kitchen.  The end.

Bella’s Birthday, a Little Late

July 21, 2015

Andrew and Laura took photos of Isabella’s 7th birthday party and I’m reposting a couple of them here. The theme was Harry Potter, and it seems they had a mysterious professor making all kinds of concoctions with the guests.




Isabella’s abuela Miguelina was there for the occasion and a stayed a few more days.


Bella and abuela Miguelina July 2015


In other, completely unrelated news, I got this bad photo of what I think is a Great-crested Flycatcher in the wires in the front yard.  It is supposedly common here in the summer, but I’m not very familiar with this species, and I think I’ve sometimes mixed it up with Western Kingbirds.





July 18, 2015

OK, I know I’ve blogged about our trees, or lack of them, too much already. But I just have to say that now that we are in the hottest part of the Texas summer, our air conditioner cannot keep our house cool. Without some help from the shade trees, it runs without stopping from about 4pm until 11pm. I hate to think what the electric bill is going to be! Yikes!

This reminds me of what someone told me this week:  the best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago.

And just to make us all feel better, here is a photo from last winter.  Our young neighbor built a snow-self-sculpture.  Not bad!


The Purge Continues

July 17, 2015

I know it wasn’t fun or easy, but Gary agreed that 35 years’ worth of paper journals stacked away in a closet wasn’t doing anyone any good. At this stage of life, an empty closet is a better option. We took them to the recycle bin and have begun to fill the closet with Rachel’s stuff.



DSC07939In other news, our in-house workshop to test some new software that will be used for editing the Ethnologue went well and we took a photo of our group.

OSCAR workshop July 2015 Fennig Lewis LSimons Evans GSimons White Johnson

We also did a panoramic shot which produces an odd perspective (click for a better view).



In other news, I have a couple cake orders to fill this coming week, so I’ve been doing a little experimenting.  One person wants green, white, and silver cake pops–gluten free!  Here’s my second try–the first try was so bad I didn’t even take photos!



Gary is working very hard these days to be ready for the workshop in Brisbane, Australia where the new Ethnologue editing software will get its first workout.  Lots to do to be ready and we’ve got vacation to enjoy between now and then too!  We are looking forward to spending some grandma and grandpa time with Isabella–and auntie time too, since Rachel is going to go with us as well.  We’ve contacted the church in Ithaca which has supported us all these years and we will be spending a bit of time with the new pastor and a couple week-day prayer groups.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.