Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Listen and Watch

June 29, 2011

OOPS!  I forgot when I posted last night:  

First Presbyterian is collecting garage sale items for its big community Garage Sale on July 9.  Let me know if you have items to donate, and I will do a pick up between now and next Wednesday.  For those of you who shop, we already have a lot of really good items and enough great items that we will have a boutique inside the garage sale for the very nicest things.

Also, our youth group is collecting plastic grocery bags for a Mo Ranch Project where they will make surprisingly durable sleeping mats by weaving the bags together.  Please donate your extras!

Of course, I love Walter forever and for always.  And, of course, Davis is a more wonderful son than ever a mother could hope for, but if I had to pick my next three guys, it would be Nico, Adam, and Ian Tjoelker. 

These guys, starting with Nico as a 3 year old in Bev Dawsons's class with Erin at Covenant and Adam, at first unable and later unwilling to leave his momma's arms (no way, no how), forged a friendship with our family that is inviolable.  Nico made an uncountable number of trips to clinic in Houston and Bryan, balancing homework on a clipboard on his knee,  shouting out "Kickapoo Road" in chorus with Erin when we passed the exit off Hwy 290 both going and coming every trip, finding easy entertainment with whatever we had available (making tableaus out of earplug people,  watching Hogan's Heroes re-run, playing travel yahtzee, doing whatever it took to make the time pass).  Adam starting going as soon as he was old enough and patient enough to hang in until the day was over (according to the doc and nurses).

Erin loved these guys.  I remember the secret code:  "Can we have some crackers?"  which meant that someone (probably not the adults) was planning and hoping for a sleepover.  You were all too polite to put your parents on the spot and ask a question that they might say "no" to.  

The big kids let Ian hang out when he came along:

Erin played Jezebel in Elijah.  Nico didn't want to sing, but he agree to be a foot solider and have Erin's back.

We even coordinated vacation and lobbying a couple of times.  This was the mall in DC, where, as luck would have it, there was a giant do-it-yourself Lego exhibit when we visited.

We also met up in Pittsburgh and made a day of Kennywood.

Of course, we didn't have to leave town to have a vacation:

We were so sad when you went on sabbatical in Australia:

By the time they got back, Erin was gone.  Now they are so much bigger and more interesting.  This could be Adam's first talent contest:  

Live at Mo Ranch

Nico has become more and more amazing with each passing month.  First, watch his entrance to the talent show, then watch his performance (The Ride of the Valkyries):

If you rock on the organ (and you don't get dizzy watching sideways video) you can see Nico's virtuosity on a fantastic pipe organ, playing Lobe den Herren.  I hope I am always part of your lives, even across the ocean and the years!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Born and Inspire

June 20, 2011

Sometimes the calendar conspires against you and compresses things so you don't have time to work through them before you have to move on to the next thing.  That happened over the last several days, as we burned through first my mom's birthday, Davis's departure back to Ohio, a roadtrip, PPR Day, Father's Day, and today, Erin's fourteenth birthday.

My sister and I celebrated the today by making donations to the Let's Do It! fund at 1st Presbyterian Church.  The Let's Do It! fund supports youth programs at the church and is the "go to" account when someone has a great idea, and wants it to actually happen instead of having it talked to death or committee'd to death.  This completely captures Erin's spirit.  Happy Birthday, Dear Girl!

Here is her first photo:

And here is one of my favorites:

Saturday, June 18, 2011


June 18, 2011

I've loved Ella Fitzgerald for a long time, but my love solidified in 1977 with a New Yorker cartoon that had two guys looking at a bird in a birdcage.  The bird was dressed up in a long evening gown and had a trademark Ella Fitzgerald wig.  The caption read:  "Funny, she doesn't sound that much like Ella Fitzgerald to me."

Walter and I are going to an out-of-town concert in a few minutes (not Ella), with the added bonus:  the date extends overnight in a king-suite at an out-of-town hotel.  So, in honor of Ella, in honor of Erin, and in honor of falling in love (still), sing along with me:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Return (for a Moment)

June 7, 2011

My compressed calendar has unwound a bit, though I still have miles to go before I sleep.  When it has to do with advocating and supporting childhood cancer research, my first inclination is to say "Yes" then figure out how to do whatever it is that the requester has asked.  This is my Erin's Dream Lanyards mantra and it carries over into my world of public policy advocacy.  

This explains how I found myself driving 500 miles roundtrip last week to do training for camp counselors and a workshop for Presbyterian women, coming home to rest overnight, then flying to the West Coast to set up at Max's Touch-A-Truck.

Bright and early Saturday morning I wedged myself between this horse trailer:

and this rainbow muscle car:

This convertible completed the triangle:

Walter and I took a few days to catch our breath and enjoy the mild California weather (and truthfully, to avoid the harsh Texas temps, humidity, pollen, and drought).  See how quickly we catch on?

I'm using free wifi in the San Diego airport to make this post.  We're headed home.  On Thursday, I leave again for West Texas to train another 60 camp counselors how to make Erin's Dream Lanyards so they can shepherd Flaming Arrow campers through the process all summer.  By Friday, I'll be back home, frantically cleaning the house (which I haven't touched in the last month) preparing Chez Buenger for the state visit of the young prince, who will arrive on Saturday for a weeklong trip.

I hope I can stuff the beads that have overflowed into his room back in the "bead room."  Luckily, after the last week there are many fewer to store.  I sent them to camp for the summer and the lucky ones have moved to California.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


June 2, 2011

I drove back from Mo Ranch this morning, staring into the rising sun, chatting with Jimmie (thanks for the deft assist at everything we did!), and pondering this:

What would anyone born almost anyplace in the world at almost any other time in the history of man think about a culture and society that spends so much money renting ugly spaces to store our extra stuff in?

Really?  We have so much extra stuff that we pay a hundred bucks a month to stow the stuff that our over-sized homes don't have room for?  As a nation we have given rise to an entire industry where we can pay money to have someone store all those treasures in our lives, which we have cleverly disguised as garage sale material to keep it safe:  our collections of mismatched freebie coffee mugs, canvass totes we got at every conference we ever attended, toys our children played with for ten minutes that we are now saving for our grandchildren, lawn chairs we are going to repair when we have the time.

WWALS (What would Abraham Lincoln say)?  What would Marco Polo say?  What would Pliny the Elder say?  What about your average Ugandan or Fiji Islander?

I passed bunches of these places and wondered how this had happened.  It made me say hmmmm.

Mo was terrific as always.  A special salute to the women of First Presbyterian of Fort Worth who all came by on Ellen's instructions and joined the fun!  We are also now geared up for Erin's Drem Lanyards at Mo summer camp.  I am refreshed and ready to start the summer.  Tomorrow we are San Diego bound and are ready to marvel at Max's Touch-A-Truck and see various Thornburgs!  Next week it is back to the Guadalupe River in Hunt, Texas (just down the road from Mo) to introduce a new set of camp counselor's to Erin's project.  

Life is good.  

I won't start worrying about WWALS or how the American culture and society gave rise to two roomfuls of glass beads in my house until I get back. 

At least I haven't had to resort to off-site storage.