Fifty years and a week ago

Belated St. Valentine’s Day to everyone!

Last weekend we celebrated Dy’s parents’ 50th anniversary with many friends and family members in Central Illinois. Tee greeted and hauled coats between breaks with a cousin (right). That’s the bride’s dress on display behind Tee; Arey might have worn it to the gathering if it hadn’t been so extremely itchy.

A delightful time was had by all, for reasons besides the obvious fun. John appreciated the free Wi-Fi provided by the caterer. Dy introduced our household to the dozens of dinner guests.
After exploring the ancient bare brick walls a bit and enduring photo sessions, A.J. deployed a range of weaponry across the tabletop for mock battles between the protective stemware, silverware and napkins (left). His dad actually won one such engagement, before guests occupied the rest of our table. Don’t get A.J. started identifying the various nations’ vehicles involved, unless you’re ready to listen and play a while.
A.J. counted over 300 semis on the trip home. This weekend is much quieter with less travel. – j

Urbana transplants

That’s what we are – transplanted for these days to serve ~22,000 folk gathered between Christmas and New Year’s.

And Urbana itself has been transplanted, from its namesake city in Illinois to the larger urban center in the Show Me state.

So far, we’re doing well enough to call ourselves blessed. What with the craziness of check-in and subsequent recovery as a family, the following written late on Christmas Day (after a dinner overlooking the soaring arch) was stuck in the cache awaiting postage.

For content straight from the convention floor, don’t miss the delayed webcast.

Three energetic student sisters (right) volunteered for Lynn, hotels check-in coordinator – including removing the stabilizing plastic wrap from around all those boxes of bags. A.J. and Tee pitched in with a little help and creativity. What to do with yards and yards of leftover wrap? Dresses, neckties, headgear, kickballs, belly warmers…

This has been an unique and memorable Christmas! As our friends arrived to participate in Urbana and care for our kids, we both noted how little the day has felt like Christmas. Good thing the faith doesn’t rest solely on sentiments. It matters little what day of the year or even what exact year the Incarnation got into full swing. The fact remains (and I venture such a claim in view of the risks, known and unknown): ours is a visited planet.

As the registration check-in and other convention areas were taking shape, other advance staff kept arriving. Dy and teammate Sarah checked in the first wave during a Christmas Eve gathering – including Jim, Urbana 06 director.

These views can’t possibly contain the whole – but neither could the swaddling cloths, manger, stable cavern or heavens of old. Someone should write about the reentry of these elements into the story as strips of linen for wrapping, a wooden supporting structure, freshly carven tomb and obscured path of ascent.

A second unequivocal visitation has been promised once all the ethne (people groups, a.k.a. nations) of the earth receive news of the first (see, e.g., Mark 13:10). The date and hour remain unknown, along with plenty else we’d like to know.

Until then, A.J. keeps busy with Lego constructions and dreams of more. Here (right) a new and expanding battle group traverses the expanses of an America’s Center hall awaiting the vast friendly hordes of convention attendees.

Have blue tubes, will build airplanes

blue tube toys transformed into military vehiclesWhat’s a boy to do with an hour or two on his hands and a box of old toys?

If it’s a box of “blue tubes” and imagination is involved, no problem. (That’s a P-38 Lightning on the right, by the way.)

These 3/8-inch (10 mm) diameter blue plastic tubes have a nominal length of by 1-1/16-inch (28 mm). Besides the straight pieces, there are elbows, red gears, red wheels with (or without) black tires in a couple of sizes, yellow collars and spacers, flat square fillers in two sizes and colors and, of course, the necessary yellow friction joiners. At least, those are my names for them. There’s no instruction booklet with handy designs to try out, no indication of where they were made toward the middle of the 20th century. We’ve searched the web for clues; now it’s your turn to let us know if they’re not unique gifts left by extraterrestrials.

Found in a neighbor’s garage in North Carolina, they survived my intensive use and are bearing up well under A.J.’s over thirty years later. They compete well against (or get creatively combined with) K-nex. They even offer periodic distraction from his first remote control model airplane purchased with some of his hard-earned cash – and now dangling safely from the ceiling.

Mere days until Urbana and that’s all we’ve got? No, but it was an excuse to see if the new Blogger was any better at uploading images than the previous one. Much better. On to less trivial items – j