“Emergency” Eye Exam for Gary

May 22, 2017

On Saturday, amid the mountains of buttercream, Gary started noticing flashes in his right eye and now has a floater there too. After consulting with baby David, we tried to get an eye appointment today at the practice we’ve been going to for 30 years. But they had no openings until Wednesday, so they suggested another place nearby and they had just had a 4pm cancellation, so we took it.

When Gary finally got to see the doctor, he seemed a bit overwhelmed with Gary’s issues: new patient? Stargart’s? When did this start? When did you last see a retina specialist and what was the name? Why didn’t the technician get this retina scan right? etc, etc.

They re-did the retina scan (I think that’s what it was) and I turned off the flash and sound on my camera and snuck a photo:

Quite an interesting machine. Another machine took a photo of his optic nerve.

In the end, the dr. seemed not very concerned about the flashes and the floater, but he did mention cataracts and hints of glaucoma! He is sending Gary to a retina specialist in Dallas, and then wants to do a more detailed glaucoma test in 2 months.

Update with Cake

May 21, 2017

Last week we were pretty busy with cake. First of all, Rachel organized a birthday party for her friend Adriane from church and we (mostly Rachel) made a marble “bundt” cake for the occasion. Well, it really was made in an angel food cake pan because I don’t own a bundt pan, but it turned out well. Rachel had the idea to make the candles and Andriane and about 12 others were happy with her efforts.

Rachel helped me tons this week to bake and freeze cake after cake after cake to make full 275 servings for a wedding yesterday. It was an exercise in organization to get all the parts ready at the right time, right size, in some kind of container, and safely deliver them to the venue to be assembled and completed. Late in the game we learned that the venue, located in west Arlington, had no kitchen, so we brought a hot plate and saucepan to prepare the ganache and had to fetch water from the bathrooms to keep our hands clean. But we finished in plenty of time and I was happy with the result.  I hope the bride and groom liked them.

I learned about cake plateaus with this cake order.  That is what they call those big silver things on which the cakes are presented.  I don’t own anything like this, but now I know about them.  🙂

Then it was home to clean the kitchen for the 40th time this week and put away all the cake stuff which took a full 2 hours.  Oh, I also threw together some cake leftovers for the church potluck today, a chocolate cake and a pile of chocolate covered strawberries.  Speaking of chocolate, we had a dreadful time getting the ganache to work for some reason.  I’ve made ganache many times, but this time I ended up with 4 (!) ruined bags of chocolate chips before I got it to work.  If you want to learn more about seized up chocolate, here’s a link.  Though it was a busy week, I didn’t really feel stressed until the 3rd bag of chocolate chips went bad.  Then I started to panic.  We ended up stopping by Walmart on our way to the venue to buy more.  At which time the mother of the bride called me and wondered why we weren’t there yet!  AAArrggh!

Camping Trip

May 13, 2017

Gary surprised me by suggesting we go camping this past Thursday thru Saturday. I guess he had some “comp” days built up from being gone 16 days in Europe. It is almost too hot to go camping by now, but the weather did cooperate and it was quite comfortable except in the late afternoons.

Rachel joined us on Friday after she got off work. We did a lot of birding and walking and a little cooking out and sleeping. In our old age, camping isn’t what it used to be. Sure, we sleep in a tent, but we also brought along an electric fan to keep us cool, and an electric light, and an electric kettle. We don’t rough it as much as in our younger days, but hey, who cares? It still feels good to be outside and enjoy the beautiful world.

And I got a lifer: Chuck-will’s Widow.  We didn’t see this bird as it is nocturnal, but we heard it over and over and over.

Here is another Google Photo album so you can see for yourself:

Sunday School Report–Burning Bush

May 7, 2017

First of all, I should say that Gary got home safely last night. We saw half of his 300 photos taken with Rachel’s old cell phone and will see the rest today. Eventually I’ll figure out how to get a few of them on this blog.

My Sunday School class has finished with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (and Joseph) and now we’re moving on to Moses. Moses is quite an interesting character. I’m making the assumption that since he was reared by Pharaoh’s daughter, he was well educated. So I dug out the hieroglyphic rubber stamp set that Gary bought for me at the British Museum many years ago and we all wrote our names in hieroglyphics.  You know, just like Moses did 3000+ years ago.

Then we read Exodus chapters 3 and 4 about the burning bush and God calling Moses into ministry. For many people, the most interesting thing about this story would be the burning bush, but I find the part about Moses complaining to God that he isn’t capable and can’t talk so good to somehow be more relevant.  It seemed especially appropriate today because one of my kids has a serious problem with his speech–stuttering and hesitating, just like Moses.   No matter, I still make him read out loud just like the other kids, and thankfully the other kids are kind and patient and don’t make fun.  We talked about how God still wanted Moses to be the leader, even if he wasn’t completely capable.  And how God brought Aaron alongside to help.

I printed out the lyrics to the epic song “Moses” written by Ken Medema and performed in this Youtube video.  After reading the story the kids watched/listened to the song, and followed along with the lyrics.  I also told them that Ken Medema was blind, yet God used him and helped him.  The song is kinda long, but I find it rather inspiring,  (Click on the triangle to start the video.)


(Non-) Political Rant

May 5, 2017

I try not to rant too often in this blog. After all, it is called “Linda’s Family News” (not Linda’s rants). But today I feel like expressing my feelings and my thinkings not about politics per se, but rather people’s reaction to politics.  (And by people, I mean people who identify themselves as Christian.  I have no opinion about non-believers in the political realm.)

To start with I’ll say: I did not vote for Trump nor did I vote for Clinton. I didn’t like either one of them, so I didn’t vote for either one of them.

On one side, I am troubled by Christian friends of mine who go way out of their way to rationalize and approve of things that various political leaders do and say that are just plain stupid. In my head I say to them, “Would you want one of your kids acting and talking like that?? Yeah, me either.”

On the other side, I am troubled by Christian friends who feel overly angry or depressed or anxious about politics. In my head I say to them, “Don’t you remember that we don’t really belong here? Our citizenship is in heaven and we are aliens and strangers on this earth. So let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, not the vagaries of any given political leader in any given country.”

On the third side, I am troubled by Christian friends who used to be strongly conservatively political, and now, they have turned away from their previous stance and use every Facebook opportunity to rub people’s nose it it (and by “people” I mean their family and friends whose camp they have recently vacated).  In my head I say to them, “Really??  You look pretty immature.”

Though I find politics distasteful,  I know some Christians are very interested in politics and I don’t hold that against them, except as noted above.

OK, I’ll shut up now.

Still Waiting for Gary’s Return

May 4, 2017

Wow, this trip of his seems like it has lasted forever. In actuality, however, the calendar says it is only 16 days. Here is a list of places he went:

  • April 20 depart DFW
  • April 21  sleep hotel in downtown London, visit theologian Chris Wright, go to British Museum (where they’ve now protected the Rosetta Stone from certain people who couldn’t resist touching it), traveling by Tube
  • April 23 go to Heathrow, get ride from kind soul to St. Katherine’s for a week of meetings with boss and coworkers
  • April 28 take the overnight bus from Victoria station to Amsterdam, crossing the channel via ferry
  • April 29 visit SIL board Chair after a 1.5 hour bus trip
  • April 30 visit Royal Museum
  • May 1 visit coworker regarding how well translated NTs in PNG are being used
  • May 2 take 4 trains to get to Holzhausen, Germany
  • May 2-5 train Ethnologue field contributors from Africa and Eurasia
  • May 5 train to hotel in Frankfurt
  • May 6 train to airport, then flight home
  • Saturday night,  May 6 I expect Gary to be home

Gary has been using Rachel’s old cell phone for both an audio book reader and a camera, so we’re expecting a slide show when he returns.  Maybe I’ll post a few photos here eventually.

We’re Back. And, Yes, It Did Work

May 2, 2017

Rachel and I are back from our short and intense 3-day, 2-night trip to Portland to celebrate Emma’s 4th birthday. Gary is still on his long trip to Europe (more on that in another blog), so he didn’t come with us. We found cheap tickets on Alaska Airlines, even if the flight times weren’t the best.

I collected photos from my camera, my phone, and Rachel’s phone to make an online album. I”m slowly getting used to the new platform of Google Photos, so I hope you can too. I was able to add a few explanatory sentences inside the album, but they aren’t exactly captions like we had in the old system. Anyway, I hope you can see from this album how much fun we had. Click here to get started:


Note:  Those of you who do not use Gmail and other Google products, please let me know if you have any problems viewing this album.  Also, I think if you click on a given photo, you will get a close up view of it, and you can use the arrow buttons on your computer or the angle bracket sign on the page to move forward through the photos.

Wendell and Judy:  there is one photo especially for you.

We had a fun trip, even if the day prior to leaving was a hectic one for me and even if Rachel had a migraine headache half of the time we were there.  Now, back to the normal routine.

Is This Going to Work?

April 26, 2017

Rachel and I are flying to Portland for Emma’s 4th birthday very early Saturday morning. We are hoping to get there in time to assemble the cake for her party, a rainbow unicorn theme. We’ve baked 6 layers of cake, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and found containers that we hope will suffice to get them to Portland. They are not frosted, so they shouldn’t be confiscated at the security checkpoint on account of “liquid.” They will stay in the freezer until we head for the airport.

The fondant decorations are already packed up to go into our suitcases, too. Good thing we’re only there 3 days, 2 nights and won’t have to take a lot of clothes, since there won’t be much room in our suitcases. 🙂

Front Page News

April 25, 2017


Well, front page of a website, that is. David’s glaucoma research and invention is featured on the front page of Oregon Clinical & Translational Research Institute’s blog, which is the department of Oregon Health and Science University where David got the funding to do this research. Click here to see for yourself (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Speaking of David and Sarah, Rachel and I are getting very excited about our upcoming trip out there for Emma’s 4th birthday.  It will be a very short trip, just three days, but we are getting excited about seeing them.  I’m attempting to take parts of a cake with us on the plane, and them assemble them in the few short hours after we arrive and before her party starts.  More about that later.  Not only her cake, but  we’re doing a large cake/cupcake/cookie order due a few hours before we depart.  So we’re up to our elbows in icing this week!  Too bad Gary isn’t here to lick the bowl.

Gary seems to be doing OK at his location near London.  He has limited internet and even more limited access to power.  I guess the buildings are centuries old and when they retrofitted with electricity they weren’t very generous with power outlets.  Amazingly, he has been raving about the food.  Hard to believe since the British aren’t really known for their cuisine.

Happy Earth Day 2017

April 22, 2017

Or, as some in my circles call it, “Happy Creation Care Day.” I believe that both Christians and heathens have a reason to take care of this place where we live.

But that’s not what I’m posting about today–I wanted to show off the cake I made for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the aquaponics system that has been built at the International Linguistics Center. Earth Day was a good day for this event. John Cheng, the brains behind the system, is calling it “Gospelponics.” (But some of us linguists thought it should be “Gospelphonics.” due to its location!)

Anyway, Rachel and I made two giant cakes for the event, one chocolate and one white, but only the white one got decorated. I was able to recreate their logo with buttercream, in a process called frozen buttercream reverse transfer. And since the plants in the aquaponics system grow on fish doo-doo, I incorporated fish and plants into the cake’s border design (but I omitted the doo-doo!).

There were over 150 people at the event and folks got to tour the facility. I’ve seen it before, and the little tomatoes from three weeks ago are large and ripening today. I also went nose to nose with the tilapia in the tanks, and was tempted to steal some fresh lettuce for tonight’s salad.

In other news, Gary left on Thursday and I haven’t heard a word, so either he got lost in London, or he hasn’t figured out how to work the hotel’s internet.