Archive for July, 2013

Ma fan

It’s pronounced MAH-fahn, and it’s a Chinese word that means frustratingly complicated.  I think it’s a very useful word.  Thankfully, most things in my life are not ma fan, but a few are, and one of those is the never-ending challenge of vacation rental home laundry; or, more specifically, the drying and transportation thereof.

We have these two vacation rental homes, and they are a great blessing – to us, to our guests, and to the several people who are employed in cleaning them.  However, they both sleep something like 14 to 16 folks, and when that many people stay in a house, they use a lot of sheets and a lot of towels.  Furthermore, because these are upscale homes, the towels and cloths are plush (read “thick”) which means they take a long time to dry, and that’s where the problem arises.

It takes about four to six man-hours to clean a house, but with a couple of cleaners (and/or when there’s a quick turn, meaning that one set of guests leaves at 10 AM and another set comes in the same day at 4 PM) the cleaning work is generally finished before the laundry is – especially in one of the houses that has a rather slow dryer.  Now, honestly, hasn’t EVERYONE who does laundry noticed that washers always get their part of the job done in less time than dryers?  Why doesn’t someone DO something about this?

In the case of these homes, what happens is that the cleaner either has to sit around for a couple extra hours and wait for the laundry to get dry, OR they have to take the laundry home damp, dry it, and then (and this is the ma fan part) somehow get it to the person who will next be cleaning that house, so she can return it when no guests are present.  Thankfully, in the summer the homes are full of guests virtually all the time, which is good for business, but bad for laundry replacement.  Both houses are located about 20 minutes away from us and from all the people who clean them, and it’s not a good feeling to suddenly realize that the load of nicely folded towels sitting in our dining room must suddenly be transported to someone else somewhere else, or else!

This morning, we played musical laundry with three households, and I think we got it all taken care of, but according to Walnut Shade Mom, here’s what ultimately needs to happen:

A house that sleeps 14 should have one enormous washer and two industrial strength dryers.  That way, ALL the laundry could be completed while the cleaners are on site, and no one would have to be drying, folding, and driving stuff from Point A to Point B.  I haven’t yet figured out where one would put the extra dryer, though. . .  Maybe that’s why no one has done it yet!

Meanwhile, at least we have a great word to describe the process.

Becoming a new person

With the help of a great counselor and a much greater God, I have worked very hard over the past couple years to face and deal with a number of personal issues and to keep growing into the person God created me to be.  Today, I am more free, more healthy, and more honest (with myself, with God, and with others) than I have ever been.  There are situations in life that hurt a lot, but underlying the pain, is a great sense of hope and anticipation.  Despite challenges, I am enjoying life.

Today I did something that I really enjoyed.  Scott and Josiah are in Niger, Katie’s in Virginia, Jessica’s in Hong Kong, and Andrew was helping clean one of our vacation rental homes and then going on to his tumbling class.  I went alone to the library and then out to eat!  It was really fun.  I listened to the music I wanted to hear in the car.  I took my time browsing the stacks until I wanted to leave.  At Backyard Burgers, I ordered a great sandwich (including onions!) and seasoned fries, and sat in a booth reading part of a fun book called A Buffalo In the House.  Back at home, I was relaxed and ready to do the remaining tasks and errands for that day.

As a wife and mom, a fair percent of what I do is either done to achieve some self-imposed goal of my own creation, to meet someone else’s need or desire, or to accommodate someone else’s schedule.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m generally willing to do things for others, and I’m becoming more willing to flex my schedule around theirs.  It was just extra nice today to have some time and some resources that I could enjoy in my own way.  I’m realizing that the person I’m becoming really appreciates that.

Jeopardy question: What is 38?

Answer:  The number of pounds of stuff (including the weight of the suitcase!) that Josiah took for a three-week mission trip in Africa followed directly by a semester of college.

He was packing until ten minutes before departing, so only God and Josiah know if he really has everything he needs.  Well, maybe only God.  = )

In a few days, Andrew will begin his traditional “mucking out of the Llama’s stall,” and, depending on the treasures unearthed in that process, I assume I’ll be emailing Jo some questions about what he may or may not want shipped to PHC!

Go-to foods and the spellings thereof

I’m guessing that most women have these.  Or maybe it’s most families.  I have certain dishes (with food in them, duh!) that I tend to serve to guests or take to potlucks.  I don’t have a long list of these, however, and as this has been the “tourist” season for us, I think that my family may actually be getting tired of eating “company” food.

Here are a few things that you have probably eaten if you’ve been to our house for any length of time.

Hot spicy chicken on the grill

Creamy cheese potatoes

Baked beans


Cookie Dough Brownies

Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

Malisa’s Chicken Enchiladas

Tanora’s White Chili

Great Big Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Breakfast Casserole

I’ve made a fair amount of most of the above in the recent past.  It’s a good thing that they are all pretty tasty; we tend to eat up any leftovers before they go south.

In addition, I have been buying fruit in high gear.  Snacking on fruit works really well for me, but I vastly prefer to be able to grab it and go.  In other words, I don’t want to open the fridge and look at an apple and have to go to all (fourteen seconds of!) work to cut it and core it just to eat only half of it.  No, I want to look at some strawberries and grab a handful of them NOW and eat them immediately.  Maybe it’s that I just don’t like to delay my gratification.  In any case, I have developed a habit of buying a LOT of fruit and prepping it for ease of access and then munching on it off and on all day.  And well into the night.  = )

This week, since I was also providing lunch and snack food for the mission trip training camp, and since Jessica said fruit would be good for them to snack on, the fruit prep thing really went into overdrive.  Here’s the run-down:

8 pounds of strawberries

2 fresh pineapples

3 canteloupes

6 pounds of green grapes

2 watermelons

Typing this up reminds me that I need to cut up a canteloupe for breakfast.  And now, why is wordpress suddenly saying that I’m spelling canteloupe wrong?  Have I ALWAYS spelled it wrong?!?!?  That might qualify as a major sin. . .

(Three minutes later)

Well, friends, here’s the truth.  I looked it up, both online and in Webster’s print version, and I clearly need to repent in sackcloth and ashes!  I have been spelling canteloupe with a central “e” FOR FORTY YEARS and FOR FORTY YEARS I have evidently been WRONG!  I feel like Fonzie!  The word actually has a central “a,” which means that my “funny sign” at McKenna’s was not funny at all, and instead, the joke is on me!

Please do extend to me the courtesy of allowing me to amend my list above to indicate that I bought three cantaloupes, one of which must needs be cut for breakfast.  However, I am too tired to do it now.  Said cutting shall have to wait till the morning.

Funny signs

I like to collect funny signs.  When possible, I take pictures of them, but often they zing by so fast that I can’t do that.  I really need to start typing them up and saving them in a spreadsheet or something.  Katie sent me one that she saw online recently, but I won’t steal her thunder.  I will just say that it was VERY funny to me and made me think of something in the lower level of Grandfather’s Mansion.

Today, I went to McKenna’s farm to get another super sweet (I hope) watermelon and some peaches.  Andrew and I had gone yesterday, but they were closed.  A sign on the door said they were “closed do to family sickness.”  It turns out that their son, who looks to be about my age, had a heart attack!  He’s doing well, had four stents put in, and should be released from the hospital tomorrow, and I did get a watermelon and a few peaches.

As we got back in the car, I looked more closely at the various signs on the front of the building and saw these fun single words:



Inside, Andrew had, with a big smile, pointed out another one to me:  ORKA, $3.00 per pound.

Betcha’ didn’t know you could get killer whales on F Highway, huh?  At an average weight of eight tons, that’s $48,000 each.  Just selling off one of those might cover Mr. McKenna’s cardiac hospitalization. . .

It’s been a Katie kind of day

God’s never-ending mercy has been extended my way yet again. 

With our TTC team here, they are using the Durango for a couple days.  Scott is driving the Honda, we gave away the white Toyota, and that leaves me driving Reno.  At the end of July.  In Missouri.  With no air.  Right now, Reno also has shot brakes (a casualty of much stopping and starting while driving some 1000 miles for Jimmy John’s in recent weeks), a decided lack of power steering fluid (technically, that would be Dexron transmission fluid, which I bought today and will add to the reservoir when the rain stops), and an odd scraping sound that I can’t yet pinpoint as being mechanical or engine-related, BUT he is still quite drivable – and still quite clean!!! – and I am thankful.

I have kind of been dreading the lack of A/C for a couple days, but since Josiah drove Reno for two or three weeks in 95+ degree weather for a variety of three-hour or ten-hour shifts and managed to survive, I figured I could surely make it for two days.  He used a pot of water and a piece of cloth to keep cool, and I was prepared to do likewise, but this morning, when I headed out in Reno for the first time, the temp outside was 65 degrees!!!  It’s July 26 in Missouri, for crying out loud!  All day, it’s been raining lightly, and I don’t think the thermometer ever went above 70 degrees.  (I just looked out the window, and it’s still raining – has been for at least six hours – and the temp is 65.)

Only God could and would engineer such a thing, and he has got to be grinning from ear to ear!

The Peacock has landed

Katie told me that Jessica told her that she landed in Hong Kong with her bags!  Yay!  It was probably around 11 PM local time, and her plans were to email someone about some ministry business, take a shower, and go to bed – in that order.

The good and bad of splitting a trip

Jessica emailed Scott from Tokyo.  She said it was a “good flight, nice and short,” but she wished she didn’t have another five-hour flight ahead of her.  I guess when you do a lot of international travel, short is an extremely relative term.

I can’t figure out how to figure out the actual length of her Dallas to Tokyo flight.  Her itinerary says (and the times given therein are normally local) she was to leave Dallas at 1:20 PM Tues July 23 and arrive Tokyo at 4:15 PM Tues July 23.  My world clock indicates that Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of us, so if anyone brilliant can do those calculations, that number of actual hours constitutes a “nice, short” flight in Jessica’s mind.  The tough part is that, instead of having one killer long flight, this time she has two killer short ones.

She made the aisle seat!

Jessica left today to fly home to Hong Kong..  We had a great month with her – full of laughter, baking, serious conversations, fun, friends, spinach and dairy products, silliness and all the other stuff that love entails.

It’s really hard to see ALL your stateside friends and enjoy ALL your favorite Missouri experiences in just one month, although she and we did manage to pack much in.  I think she had a few regrets, but not too terribly many.  One little thing was that she really wanted to get some Andy’s frozen custard.  It just didn’t work out.

When we got the airport in Springfield this morning, we found out – surprise, surprise – that her initial flight (Springfield to Dallas) was delayed about 45 minutes.  This would really bite into her layover, which might make it hard to catch her Dallas to Tokyo connection.  No telling what that might mean for the final Tokyo to Hong Kong leg.

After her bags were checked – she got TWO free bags(!), one of which weighed 50.5 pounds. . . yes, her bag was over, but they let it slide; I guess American rounds down – she still had about an hour before she had to go through security.  Scott hugged her hard, said his goodbyes and left for work, and the three of us (Jessica, Andrew, and I; Jo was at work) decided to go back into town for some Andy’s!

Jessica used her new “Note” and the airport’s free wi-fi to find the closest one (on North Glenstone) and we headed off at a speed that was admittedly slightly higher than the posted limit.  When we got there about 10:30 AM, Andy’s was CLOSED!  Summer hours start at 11:00 AM.  Sigh.  However, there was a lady inside and she did slide open the window.  I said melodramatically, “You can’t be closed!  My daughter is flying this morning to Hong Kong for a year, and she wanted some Andy’s, and her flight was delayed, so we came back here to get frozen custard.  You just can’t be closed!”  The employee lady told us that they didn’t have any custard yet, but they did have frozen custard bars with chocolate coating.  We bought one and Jessica ate its innards.  The coating was too fudgey for her, but the actual custard was creamy and tasty.

Back at the airport, we hugged, said our tearful goodbyes, and sent her through security.  She asked us to tie her through it, and the official result was two minutes and seven seconds, which she said was slow, but maybe that was because she had to unload and unpack both her laptop and her tablet.  She had checked her seating online the previous day and it had her in a window seat, which she hates, because it’s such a pain to climb out for the bathroom.  She could pay an extra $100 to change to a window seat, but she didn’t want to do that.  However, this morning, she went online and saw that there were three aisle seats left, and she was able to secure one of those at no additional cost!  Praise God!`

I got a text from her as she landed in Dallas:  “On the ground.  Now to run.”  She had only 40 minutes to change terminals in an airport she’s never been to.  Shortly thereafter, she texted me again:  “Even made it before the final boarding call.  Pray my bags do too.  Love you!”  With such a short layover, sometimes the person (who can run from gate to gate) makes the plane, but the bags (which have to be unloaded from Plane A, moved, and re-loaded into Plane B) do not.  It’s always preferable for one’s bags to travel in the same plane as oneself, although, as we recently saw with Katie, even if they don’t, they do generally meet  up with their owner eventually.  Her bags were driven (by the airline or its representative) an hour and-a-half to her home the evening following her much-delayed, whirlwind flight(s) from Branson to Baltimore.

So, I assume that at this writing, Jessica is peacefully snoozing in an aisle seat somewhere between Dallas and Tokyo.

Jeopardy question: What is “Something less than three?”

Answer:  The number of ripe bananas that can be safely “mashed” with an electric mixer in a two-cup glass measure.

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