We woke up to about a centimeter of snow this morning.

Connor headed to breakfast

It was gone by lunchtime, but a lot of people here seemed pretty excited about it. Snow is not unknown here, but I guess it’s not terribly common either. I think the kids in our group learned a little more about the Desert Southwest – yes, it does snow here.

We ate breakfast and then got right to work on the bikes and window screens. At 11:00, it was time to teach the Adventurer Awards. I rounded up the kids who were going to teach Elephants and Owls, and we made it there right when we were supposed to. Except one kid was straggling, and I had to leave the classroom to track him down. When we got back, I found out that we could not teach the Owl Award. Owls are a taboo among the Navajo!

Ana and Natasha teaching an Adventurer Award

Natasha preparing to teach the Owls Award

That caused a bit of a scramble. I called Chris to see if she and Jane could get here quickly. She scrambled. Then I stepped out so I could go to the dorm and retrieve the insignia, and saw Shaun. He was in the queue to teach Sharks, and he was right there. The clock was ticking, and we only had an hour to teach the awards. I asked him to jump in, and he did. First he fetched his laptop from his room (right across the street from the classroom) and he began the slideshow/lecture portion. I called Chris back to tell her to resume her previous operations. It was good Shaun showed up when he did, because Chris and Jane were about to go to the girls’ dorm to fetch their materials and it would have been at least another 10 minutes.

But the scrambling was still not over. I had to track down Shaun’s craft supplies as well as his daughter who was also teaching. That took a little bit of time, and they didn’t get their supplies until 11:30. They didn’t manage to finish the crafts, but I’m sure they will soon.

At least Elephants went OK, except that Emma tried to pull up a video of elephants on her phone – and the first one to come up featured two elephants mating). Oops!

Then we had lunch. After we ate, we had a surprise for the kids. They have horses here, and arrangements were made for our kids to ride one of them at 1:30. So before we left the cafeteria,we told the kids we’d announce a surprise in 15 minutes. That 15 minutes was filled with incorrect guesses. At 1:15 we called them together, and Melissa told them, “At 1:30 we are going down to the barn.” Squeals of delight. Then I chimed in, “To clean out the stalls!” Groans! Every single one of them thought I was serious. Melissa let them in on my cruel little joke, and the squeals of delight returned. We headed down to the barn.

Beth riding on "Nano."

Beth riding on "Nano."

Two of the girls had never ridden a horse before.
Saralyn's first horse ride

Saralyn's first horse ride

Look at that smile!
Emmanuelina's forst horse ride

Emmanuelina's forst horse ride

Emmanuelina had never even touched a horse until yesterday. She enjoyed her ride very much. Technically, she’s not one of the kids since she’s 20 years old. She is serving as the counselor of the Companion group this year, and is just a delightful beam of sunshine.

Even I took a turn.

Karen Littell took this shot

Note the tether - I am not an experienced horseman

Horseback riding lasted about an hour, and then we got back to work. We finished making all the needed window screens, and we will install them tomorrow.
Melissa splining a screen

Melissa splining a screen

Warran and his crew have pretty much finished all the bikes now too. They were not able to fix this one (and one other). I think they could probably score some bucks if they sold this one on E-Bay.
1950's Model

1950's Model

Warran was then given a new task – periodic maintenance of some of HIS’s vehicles. Connor pitched in.
Checking the tire pressure

Checking the tire pressure

Tomorrow we will install the screens, and Jared the maintenance chief will find us another assignment.

With our work done for the day, we headed to the cafeteria for supper. I might add that I have enjoyed every single meal I have been served here. The kitchen staff is top-shelf.

One of the Navajo kids came up to us at supper time and asked if they would get to learn about owls. We told him we were sorry, but we couldn’t. If one of those kids went home with a patch featuring an owl, it almost certainly would have resulted in a beating. We asked him about the taboo, and he told us that it was related to “skin-walkers.”

I looked it up on Wikipedia.

Skin-walking is a form of shape-shifting (like werewolves), and people who are thought to practice it are considered the ultimate in evil humanity. I guess it’s their equivalent of Hitler. You can read about it at Wikipedia and know as much about it as I do.

And now… shower and bed. Tomorrow is another big day.

Va and I have been very busy this week recreating Nazareth. Adventurer Camp-in is tomorrow night, so we’ve been at it every evening since Tuesday. Because we will have church before the Camp-in starts, we can’t even finish building all the sets we need. So tomorrow afternoon, we will dive in and finish it off. Here’s some of what we have so far:
The left canvas is one we painted maybe four years ago to use in the Cradle Roll Sabbath School classroom. They use this when the program in there is about Jesus as a boy. Since it’s set in Nazareth, and the Camp-in is also set in Nazareth, we decided to press it into service again. The canvas on the right is one of nine that we painted this week. This particular one is supposed to be a continuation of the scene on the left.

Va adds olives to the olive trees

Va adds olives to the olive trees

These canvasses form three walls. This olive grove is the back wall. Va is busy painting olives on the trees.

There are four more rooms that will need a similar (but less extensive) treatment. For those, we are just using blank canvas drop cloths and some bed sheets. Actually, all of the painted canvasses are just drop cloths.

We had several Pathfinders come out and help us Tuesday evening, and a few more came out on Wednesday. When they were here, we spread tarps out on the carpet, laid the canvasses on top of them, and painted the sky and the hills. For this we used latex paint and paint rollers. A couple of kids used half our paint on the first sky. So I cut the paint with an equal amount of water, and Va bought another gallon of light blue, and another gallon of brown. We cut those 1:1 with water too. The next day we suspended them from the ceiling. Yesterday we painted the trees and grassy spots, and today we added the olives and some rocks. Also, today I extended the house.

The thing that makes this a Camp-in, is that when the Nazareth program is over, we spend the night. When we wake up, I have a Pathfinder meeting, and during that, we will record segments of the Pathfinder skit on video using some of this same scenery. Two birds. One stone.

I am exhausted. I have been exhausted every night when I’ve gotten home. But Penny doesn’t understand this. She wants me to throw her (broken) frisbee.



Today we started to get ready for the Adventurer’s Camp-in that’s coming up… this weekend. Actually, Va has been getting ready for it for at least a month, but today I got involved too. The theme this year is “The Fruit of the Spirit” and it’s based on a passage in Galatians. The setting is in an orchard, so we have to turn the church basement into one of those. We figure the best approach would be to hang a bunch of canvas drop cloths and paint them up to look like a scene from an… orchard?

At first we were going to do this at the church, but I figure we might be a little more productive here at the house instead. I thought maybe we could pin a canvas on the dining room wall and paint it there. Finding no push-pins anywhere in the house, I went to the Staples Tilton to get some. Then I came home and we ate. As we ate, I had a better idea.

I decided that if I could assemble some furring strips into a 12-foot section, I could staple the top edge of the canvas to that. Then use two more 8-footers to wedge the canvas to the ceiling. I also thought that the whole concept might work better if we painted the entire canvas light blue (to serve as both sky and gesso). So I went to Tilton again. I bought a gallon of light blue paint and four furring strips. I got the cheapest paint I could find (ceiling latex, $7.97/gallon).

Then I assembled them as planned, and it worked perfectly. Va starting laying in some blue, and I took Beth upstairs to put her to bed. When I was done with that, Va had half the canvas painted. But she thought that maybe I should go get a couple more. Also, it looks like it takes almost exactly one gallon to paint a 9×12 canvas, so I should also get more paint (same color please). So I went to Tilton. Again.

When I got home, Va had nearly finished painting the canvas. She reserved the top foot for me, so I finished that off. Then I assembled a second canvas and wedged it against the ceiling, right in front of the first one. I might ought to paint it tonight too so we can do the artistic part tomorrow and Friday, but I’m pretty tired now.

Today has been a long day. We went to church, and then after the services Va had an Adventurer meeting. I helped her set up, and I cooked some mac-n-cheese for some of the refugee kids (and my own kids) that go to our church. They don’t usually bring food to a potluck, and that is entirely understandable.

The Adventurer meeting ended at about 3:00pm, and the fruit truck was due to arrive at 5:00. So rather than drive home (30 minutes) and then drive back (another 30 minutes), Jonathan, Beth, and I went geocaching. Va went on home, and David hung out at the church with his netbook surfing the web.

The geocache was on the other side of a pond that I am convinced was built to be an artificial wetland. We walked around it and about the time I decided we were at ground zero, Beth found the cache. Even before I had started looking! Then we hustled back to the church to wait for the truck.

It was a short wait. Beth wrote a few things in her blog while we waited. She had also written a little this morning which I found pretty funny.

When the truck arrived, Jonathan, David, and I were the only able-bodied people there. Several had told me that they had intended to help us unload, but none had yet arrived. I directed the truck to park in the back, and by the time he stopped the truck and opened the doors, people started to arrive. At first they came in a trickle, but then in a torrent! I didn’t count them all, but I feel confident in estimating the number at about 25, and that was just the people from our church. We were also the drop point for the church in Manchester, and they had plenty of people on hand as well.

The truck was unloaded in record time. I think this was the most people I have ever seen at a fruit-truck-unloading. We began sorting the fruit and dividing some of the crates (we sell half- and quarter-crates in addition to full ones). Va had printed out some mailing labels for me that had people’s names and their orders on them. Cheryl took on the task of applying the labels to the boxes, and pretty soon everyone who was there and who had ordered some fruit had gotten theirs.

And all the while this was going on, other church members were arriving and buying more. I had bought an extra 28 cases of fruit, and as of this writing, I have only 14 left unsold. We will take that to Sam’s Club Monday evening and try to sell the rest of it. I am quite confident that people will snap it up too, but that remains a matter of faith.

After all that was sorted out, Jonathan, David, Beth, and I headed over to Taco Bell and had some dinner. I was pretty tired by then. We had a nice time together though, and then we came on home. Penny was glad to see us (and very excited).

Tomorrow we have a Pathfinder meeting, and will (hopefully) have the rest of our customers come out then for their fruit. I will probably spend the morning raking the yard, as it needs it pretty desperately. The leaves are off the trees and the snow has not yet fallen. What better time for is there raking?

Today was long. First, we went to church. Then potluck. Then while Va conducted an Adventurer’s meeting, the Pathfinders made sack lunches for the homeless. David and I delivered them to the shelter (we made 88 lunches, which is almost double what we did last year).

After that, and after the Adventurer’s meeting, we went home for a little bit. A little after 5:00, Jonathan and I headed for Portland, ME to pick up our final citrus fruit delivery. We borrowed Cheryl’s SUV for that, as we only had 23 cases to pick up. That’s too many to fit in my car, but they fit nicely in the SUV. I have been borrowing Ken’s truck for that, but he’s leaving for a trip tomorrow, and the SUV gets slightly better gas mileage.

We arrived in Portland a little after 7:30 and helped them unload. By 8:00 we were outta there, but we did stop at an Arby’s for some dinner on the way home. We got to the church at 10:45, and Cheryl and Dirk met us there (with my car – we had swapped). They helped us unload, and then we came on home.

While we were in Portland we got some intel on the “competition” – the Portland Pathfinder Club is building their cardboard boat in the same building where the fruit was unloaded. I took a picture with my cell phone, but I’m just too tire to sit down and figure out how to get it off of there without paying $5.00 (or whatever).

Tomorrow promises to be just as busy. Anyhow… here it is.

Beth had a half day of school today, so I drove her (and our riders) in. I came home after that and had the idea of making a fly for one of those mesh tents I bought this summer. David used it on our backpacking trip, and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember how well it fared in the rain (hint: not well at all).

I planned to use some superfluous interior tents walls for this, so I laid a couple out on the floor and took some measurements. They are not quite right, but I think I can stitch a couple together without too much difficulty. And so that’s what I did. But that’s as far as I got. Maybe more on that tomorrow, we’ll see.

When Va was ready to leave the house this morning, I volunteered to go with her so we could pick up some fabric. She’ll be running the Adventurer “Camp In” in February (?) and the theme is “The Jerusalem Market Place.” We will therefore need several costumes. We picked out a couple of prints for the villagers, but they didn’t have enough of it there for two of the three outfits. So we bought enough for one villager outfit. Also some for a rabbi and enough for two Roman soldiers.

But all that was after we picked up Beth. Today was the first day the school kids got on the computers I set up for them. They were all pretty excited about that, and Camille seemed to be happy with it too. That’s a good thing, because we are piloting a Linux Terminal Server setup, and if all goes well and it meets all their needs, the software will cost exactly $0. Plus, I know how to set up and maintain such a system. I’m pretty helpless when it comes to Windows (see yesterday’s post). So if this doesn’t meet their needs, I will not be of much use to them.

After the fabric store extravaganza, we came on home. I started working on a villager costume, but could only take it so far. I need some interfacing. Oh well.

Then I helped Beth with her piano lessons a bit and put her to bed. After that I started researching the ancient art of thatching. As in straw roofs. There’s a Pathfinder honor from East Africa for that, and I thought it might be an interesting one to tackle. To my surprise, I found a couple of pretty thorough resources on d’web. I also ordered a book from a retired thatcher (not Margaret!) from England for $16.00. Cool. Right now I am thinking that I will thatch the log cabin I’ve been building for Beth for three years. Maybe this will spur me to make some progress (though I suspect a chainsaw might spur me even more). I was originally inspired to build a log playhouse by Richard Proenneke, but man… a chainsaw sure would be nice! But right now I’m excited about the prospect of thatching the roof, and documenting it as I go for the Wiki answer book.

It has been rainy all day. It may have snowed a little last night, but that was long gone by morning. We may get some snow tomorrow, but with the high forecast at 40 degrees, I’m not expecting any trouble.

I also got a call from an Internet friend today about a meet up. He’s the guy who founded the Bloom Clock project, and he’ll be up here for T-Day. Currently, we’re considering a meet up at the Boston Arboretum on Friday. If that happens, I’ll bring the family.

Well, that oughta be enough for tonight! Thank you both for reading!