Thursday, December 29, 2016

This Christmas Season 2016

Christmas this year was/is unusual.  It was very musical choir-wise, not harp though (at least - not played by me, we did a special piece with choir and a professional harpist).  I was on the "bad list" at work, so was scheduled for all of Christmas, other than a small window of time later on Christmas Eve. Robert is in Portland, and Julie and Tyler went to Michigan since I was stuck working.  So our big family dinner is yet to come.  But I will give you the highlights so far, starting from early December.

Early December: 
Handel's Messiah, a new church for us, with a new choir.  
I was asked to sing a "O Thou That Tellest", my first solo.  
It was nerve-wracking, but all went well.

Our fireplace needed extensive repairs: 
Tuck-pointing, chimney cap, a stainless steel liner, and a fan.  ($$$)  
But all is well, and I love being able to use the fireplace again.  

Before Christmas frivolousness:
Christmas red toenail polish!
(And a kitty who likes to rub his chin on toes!)

Christmas Eve Choir Music:
Multiple pieces, including selections from Britten's "Ceremony of Carols".  
We had Ben Melsky as our harpist (awesome, playing the difficult harp accompaniment).  
I practiced long and hard on this piece.  
Musically it is difficult, but also the text is Middle English and Latin.  
(Here's a sample: "Wolcum Yole!" Voci Nobili with harpist Willy Postma)

In a nice surprise, we have been slow at work.  I had to go in from 11 AM to 3 PM, but then was downstaffed for the rest. Paul, Kristin, and I had a nice Christmas Dinner together - enjoying each other, but missing the rest of our family members. But we will all be together next week.  Julie and Tyler are home, and Robert will be visiting from far away Portland.  
(I haven't seen the lad in four whole months!)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Anniversary Clock Repair

This fall found Paul taking on a new skill to add to his arsenal: Clock Repairman!  

Three clocks demanded his attention all at once, sort of.  Paul had received an Anniversary Clock from work one year.  Note: the name "Anniversary Clock" comes from the fact that supposedly one only has to pay attention to it once every 400 days, although 365 days would suffice, hence, the anniversary portion of the name.  Official definition: "Unlike a regular pendulum clock, the Anniversary Clock keeps time with a mechanism called a torsion pendulum. This is a weighted disk or wheel, often a decorative wheel with 3 or 4 chrome balls on ornate spokes, suspended by a thin wire or ribbon called a torsion spring (also known as "suspension spring"). The torsion pendulum rotates about the vertical axis of the wire, twisting it, instead of swinging like an ordinary pendulum."  Unfortunately the suspension wire had weakened and over-twisted, rendering the timekeeping useless.  I thought it was just broken, so searched and found one on eBay for cheap.  Guess what - same problem (it would have been nice of the seller to mention that, but like I said - it was cheap.  

So we started looking into this.  Paul took one of the clocks apart carefully, and saw what we needed.  Unlike others of this ilk, these particular ones used a plastic end suspension wire, almost impossible to find.  however, we did find one shop online that carried it, Timesavers. The part is a Hermle 400-Day Suspension Unit.  We ordered, and Paul was able to fix them.

At the same time, the clock Paul made for his mom many years ago also needed repair.  The parts for that (the box where the hand-moving mechanism is) were easier to find, although it took forever to arrive. We got these parts at Clockparts.

Side by side suspension wires.
The on on the right is the broken, twisted one.  
Note the plastic ends.  

The suspension from the inside

Close-up of the bottom plastic end inside the suspension

A Clock Video

Part finally arrived, Mom's clock fixed!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent Begins

“Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent…If Christ is to come more fully into our lives this Christmas, if God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer. Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in our souls that can truly change our hearts. Ours is a great responsibility not to waste this Advent time.”
— Fr. Edward Hayes
On Saturday, Julie and Tyler went to Queen of All Saints for an Advent wreath crafting.  The result is beautiful.  We lit the first candle this evening.  In the background is a 2016 Valrhona chocolate Advent calendar that we bought at Trader Joe's.  Tyler is very much looking forward to December 1st, when he can open the first flap.

"Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel."

Friday, November 25, 2016

I Am Finally Back

The past two and a half months have been very busy, plus I am dealing with health and motivation issues (more on this in a future blog post).  I am hoping to have a new post up by Monday!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Robert's Grand Adventure (Sad Goodbyes/Vegan Restaurants)

Last week we brought Robert to Portland, Oregon to begin the next phase of his education. Although he has a Bachelor's degree, and has been working in his field (Live Sound), he wants to further his education by attending a fast-track Engineering program in Portland, where he can have a second Bachelor's degree and a Master's in Engineering in three years. (Note: he had gotten some of the prerequisites out of the way earlier this year, making this program a possibility.)

We flew top Portland with him, and helped set up the apartment (Loads of IKEA - "some assembly required!" - ugh.  But it looks really nice, and is an economical way to start up an apartment from scratch).  The apartment is cozy and clean, very nice.  While there, we were so busy that the only amusement we really had was our fantastic dining out experiences, and fun beer and cider drinking.  Plus a visit to the famous Powell's Books - a city block building with multiple levels, and books, books, books...

The dining in Portland is amazing.  Robert and Sierra are strict vegans, and Portland is extremely vegan-friendly.  Every meal we had was wonderful; in particular, the lovely Italian meal we had at Portobello Vegan Trattoria.  Here's their dinner menu.


IKEA dining table and chairs, with cat

Robert and Sierra on the (you guessed it!) IKEA couch, 
cat in foreground

Loki, he loves carpet.  Freya was too shy to come out.

And then Robert, who has had long hair forever, surprised us by sending this photo.  
I had finally gotten used to the long hair.
Apparently after we left he went and got a haircut (they took off 12 inches).  
However, I think he looks exceedingly handsome!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Vacation Photos - Wrapping Up

And so our vacation came to a close.  I do hope we can return here someday.  It was a marvelous place to go.  Although I am not usually that big on travel, the rest of the family is, and I want to be able to make more memories like these.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Vacation Photos (Captiva Cruises)

We went on two cruises while we were in Captiva, on a boat called the Lady Chadwick.  We saw dolphins and other wildlife, and Tyler got to drive the boat.

Lady Chadwick

Flying Dolphin. 
Kristin captured dozens of dolphin photos for us.  
This one was the best.

The captain, teaching Ty the ropes.

All by himself -

Sierra and Robert - I love Sierra's impish smile in this one.

Julie and Ty

Paul, Ty, and me

Night falls on the water.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Vacation Photos (Julie on the Beach at Night)

This is an awesome photo of Julie, taken in the dark of night on the beach.  Jordan was able to adjust the camera to get this interesting shot in spite of the dark.

Julie dancing on the beach at night

Vacation Photos (The Beach)

We loved the beach.  Two of the days had enormous waves during the afternoon, which we jumped in for hours it seemed.  I had forgotten how much I loved that.  And Ty was so brave, jumping over and into the waves just like the rest of us.  These photos were taken on a day where we weren't chasing big waves, so we looked for shells and waded.

Beautiful beach

Paul and me

Ty Boy

A long-haired photo

Last bit of fun before sunset

Vacation Photos (Various Things - Flora and Fauna)

Here are some random things we found intriguing on our trip.

Cutest bunny ever!

(night shot) 

These frogs were actually tiny 

Unusual plant

Vacation Photos (Tyler Fun)

Photos continued...

Tyler Fun:

Sanibel Sea School 
(at Captiva's South Seas Resort where we stayed, link here)

Ty did two half-days at Sea School, and loved it.  
He learned tons.

Ty and Angel, one of his instructors.

Sea School decor.

Ty got to stuff and decorate a dolphin stuffed animal.  
He named him "Jack"!

Happy Boy