Camping in the Rain

April 26, 2015


DSC07197We had been planning to go camping this past Thursday-Saturday for several weeks. Rain was threatening on Thursday, and after a long bout of indecision, we decided to go anyway. Cloudy skies made for pleasant temperatures. We made it through the night with just a few sprinkles and only reinflating the air mattress once.

Gary brought the campfire back to life Friday morning and flipped the pancakes with one hand while holding an umbrella with another

After that there was some birding, and yay! we saw our first Painted Bunting of the season. Also saw about 30 other species all together, including these:



We made it to Friday evening and ate our chicken-feta-spinich dogs with gusto. Then just after eating, my cell phone announced there was a tornado watch for the area. We took cover in the women’s restroom.
The deluge began in earnest and continued for about 45 minutes while we watched, wondering what was becoming of our tent.

When we got there we found the tent had leaked a little, but enough to get our sleeping bag pretty wet. I declared we were going home. So we picked up our clothes and valuables, and headed home, leaving Rachel’s car, the tent, the gear, etc. to wait until morning.

When we got home, this is what we found. Ugh. I called the insurance company and filed a claim, but they said to leave the tree as is until an adjuster contacts us. Don’t know if there is roof damage, but it looks like this Bodark tree finally has to go.
Saturday morning we returned to the park and broke camp in the mud. It took hours to clean everything up, let it dry, and then finally pack it away. While cleaning I looked up and saw about 300 American Pelicans flying over, but you’d hardly think so by this photo!!

Saturday night we attended a wedding–Rachel’s housemate has a new housemate and they plan to finish moving out when they return from their honeymoon.
Today my Sunday School boys suggested we take a selfie together before eating their birthday cake. They both have birthdays this month.

Preaching, Eating, and Attending a Rutter Premier

April 19, 2015

Sorry that you all reading this missed hearing Gary preach at church today. He did a good job. I was going to suggest that you could listen to the recording that the church made, but it appears that only 11 minutes of the preliminaries got recorded, and that without sound! Seems like our new equipment has a few bugs to work out…

Then we drove to downtown to have lunch with friends, including John, whose wife died recently. So good to see him. He seemed happy to have a chance to talk with all of us about his loss.

Then this evening Gary went with a work friend to a Presbyterian church in north Dallas to attend a premier of a John Rutter choral piece that someone in that church had commissioned. He returned home enraptured.

Last night we attended a wedding. We drove home in a big storm, just like we did on Friday night after the flute recital we attended then.



April 18, 2015

Wow, we’re having a great bluebonnet show this year. Lots of rain for us, and the wildflowers appreciate it. Rachel and I stopped along a freeway exit on Thursday after dropping Gary off for jury duty and took photos.  (Just like all the other oafs in Texas.)











We also did a selfie or two.


And yesterday I posted this photo on a Facebook Birding page and so far have gotten over 375 “likes” on it! Go me!


Sunday Walk

April 12, 2015

After church I took off for the state park while Gary stayed home and watched “our Dallas boy” win the golf tournament. Great day for wildflowers, especially the rather rare prairie ones. And the bluebonnets are so lovely just now.

Blue-eyed Grass



Celestial Iris




Prairie Paintbrush










Monarch on Wild Hyacinth




Gray-blue Gnatcatcher nest with babies inside that you can’t see.DSC07017 DSC07022

Mama KildeerDSC07032


April 11, 2015

Friday we said farewell to one of Gary’s interns. She did a lot of work on the topic of language policy and some of her research will go directly into the Ethnologue. She requested carrot cake with cream cheese icing.


Friday evening she and her mom joined us for dinner, but I forgot to get a photo of that event. We’re eating the leftovers this weekend.

This morning we went to Rachel’s house and worked very hard for two hours in her backyard. Gary trimmed the bushes and emptied the gutters while standing on a rickety old ladder. Rachel and I raked leaves, cleaned out the French drains and ran the trimmer. Now Gary and I are exhausted, and he must be even more than me because he came home and mowed half of our lawn after that.





Yay, Rachel got her car out of the shop after 19 days.


Articulatory Efficiency

April 9, 2015

You have no idea what that title means, do you? I only have the vaguest idea myself. But I want to tell a nice story having to do with that concept.

Trouble is, no one will understand this story. That being the case, I’m just going to omit the very interesting details and just give the big picture summary instead.

Once upon a time, in a country far, far away, Dr. Ken Pike was thinking some deep thoughts about language and expressing them in such a way that few mortals could understand.  Twenty years later, in another far-away country Dr. Gary Simons was learning to speak Toaba’ita, analyzing its pronoun system, and comparing that pronoun system to that of neighboring languages.  Gary then wrote a working paper using Ken’s ideas which he had learned while being Ken’s teaching assistant at SIL summer school.

Then in an even different far-away country, at a time long ago, a colleague read Gary’s paper, and in 2014 remembered what he had read and thought it might help to understand a knotty complex phonology system of a language in Australia. He passed on the concept to the latest person in a decades-long list of missionaries and linguists who had tried but failed to understand the phonology of this language.  And since no one could figure out the phonology, that meant no one could come up with a workable orthography.  And of course, without an orthography, a language will never see a translation of anything.

Skip to the end:  it worked!!  The concept of articulatory efficiency, first thought of by Ken Pike in the 1960s and then written about in 1980 by Gary, turned out to be exactly what this language needed to make sense of the phonology patterns and then a workable orthography was produced.

And to end the story, this colleague took the time to write up this story (in its detailed, specific form) and send it to us by email.  He ended this way:

So you never know when your struggles will one day pay off big time for someone else down the track.  The Anindilyakawa people are about to benefit from what you did back then.  Thanks for sticking with it in the hot uncomfortable Pacific.

S1976-83 0000

Easter and post-Easter Update

April 8, 2015

Holy Week was busy with lots of choir stuff. We performed a little drama+choir thing called the Living Last Supper and it was well attended with many community folks in both the choir and the service.



Good Friday another service in which Gary sang in an acapella quartet, “Were You There?”






Easter Sunday we had our traditional meal with the Martins. Just Rachel and Joel around for kids and they’re getting old too! Sharla always makes a nice table and meal and I brought some desserts.







Rachel’s woes continue to stretch out in length:

  • Her car has been in the shop for 17 days. Each time she checks on it, something else is wrong. Latest problem is they can’t seem to fix the alignment.
  • Her phone has never worked right since moving to Ting about three weeks ago. Ting has been great for our plan, but somehow she can hardly ever get a call to go thru outbound or incoming. Only today she got the voicemail to work. She is on a first name basis with their customer service.
  • Her sewer is still not repaired. 19 days ago the city said it would be two weeks. When she called them yesterday they said it would be 2 more months! I called them back immediately, politely but forcefully explained to the manager how long it had been, how bad the situation was, etc. and he said it would look into it again. Well, whaddayaknow, this morning the city crew showed up to start the multistep process. (Once the city is done, the private plumber has to come and do his part.)


  • She called the state department of assistive and rehabilitative services to get an appointment to try to get some help with her job search, but they can’t even get her an appointment for two weeks.
  • So far only one small bite on advertising to rent her place out.

Prayers on her behalf continue to be appreciated.  In other news, I started to replace the headlight bulb in our car tonight, and the nice renter came out and did it for me.  :-)  This Friday is the last day for one of Gary’s interns, so I need to bake a cake and prepare a dinner for her and her mom who is coming to help her drive home to Florida.  The following week the mom of out other intern is coming and I’ll be repeating this process.

Gary got home safely from his time in Miami–fancy hotel room had two bathrooms and two TVs.  He took one walk on the beach.  Gary continues to be over-busy.  This week’s items of note include figuring out how to sell Ethnologue data to Stanford U. who have been begging for it for many weeks and whether or not to give a code for the language of the itinerant snake-charmers in southern India!

Final note:  the hummingbirds have returned.

Ugly Plants and Pretty Plants

April 3, 2015

I’m not one to tell God he did a bad job designing some of his creation, but in my opinion, some plants are prettier than others. Here are some ugly ones from our immediate neighborhood. We have mushrooms growing on the rotting roots of the tree that used to block the front door–so strong they lift the bricks up! (Since I took these photos Gary mowed them down–yay!):






And then there are some pretty plants around here too:






March 30, 2015

Spring is here in Texas and my grandbaby-honoring trees are starting to leaf out.

First there is Isabella’s Elm:


Then there is Micah’s Oak:


Then there is Emma’s Ash:


And speaking of growing, Auntie Carol is celebrating a birthday tomorrow and we had a little coffee break party a day early.


She also asked me to make some cupcakes which she will take to share with her rehab taskmasters tomrrow when she goes for her session.

From Bad to Worse

March 23, 2015

They say that for some folks, trouble comes in threes. I think for Rachel it just keeps on coming. Besides all the other bad things, on Friday there was the $3000+ blocked sewer:





Then today, she got in a single-car mishap impaling her low Scion onto a streetlight fixture in the middle of a left-turn median. The car is now at the shop waiting for an estimate. We know it at least needs a new oil pan as the pan was broken and all oil spilled out on the street (they soaked it up with kitty litter). At least a nice police lady drove by and saw her predicament and called a wrecker. Rachel just had lunch with her friend and watched out the restaurant window until the wrecker came. We came running when she called and ended up having lunch at Taco Bueno, so, not all was bad! :-)






Please keep praying for Rachel.


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