Saturday, September 24, 2011

Back to "Normal"

Life is back to "normal".  Don't you just love September?  As great as the summer was, it is nice to get back to a familiar routine.  Part of that routine for me is my Learn English Ministry volunteer job.  Last year I taught level 2 classes.  To be in level 2 you must have a basic command of the English language.  Which was good for me since I speak no Spanish and most of the student's native language is Spanish.  We were able to communicate between their English and my minimal Spanish.  Well....."the powers that be" decided to put me in level 1 this year.  What??? This is a bit of a challenge, I have some people who speak NO English.  Yikes!  There are a few blank faces staring back at me now.  Just to make things a bit more challenging, since it is the beginning of the school year, the classes are very well attended, it is free!  As in any classroom there are several levels of ability from the students who speak NO English to the ones I feel are getting close to moving up to level 2.  This helps a bit, the more advanced students can help translate to the ones who are just beginning.  It is amazing how fast 90 minutes can go by with a full class of eager learners!  I forgot just how much I enjoy this ministry.  They are just so happy to be learning a new language, it is enough to make anyone's day!

Another part of the fall routine and being back "home" is reconnecting with our friends.  Yesterday we reconnected with a couple who have a ranch not too far out of Houston.  It was also the opening day of dove season, whoo hoo!  You know I am all over that one!  TJ managed to cram three different dove hunts into one day with three different groups of people.  I almost said "men" but realized there were several women on the last dove hunt.  The last hunt was at our friend's ranch.  It was the first time I witnessed actual hunting.  I try to avoid anything to do with guns, dead animals, heat, and the potential of running into a snake at any moment.  This hunt was very civilized if I do say so myself.  No, I did not hunt!  My participation was limited to watching, taking pictures, eating, drinking and enjoying the breeze....all from the deck of the house, far away from any snakes.  It was about as far away from London or France as one can get in two weeks!

TJ and Sadie had the time of their lives!  Sadie being the ever faithful dog!

Sadie, doing her job and loving it!

The viewing deck!
After all the hunting was done we all sat on the deck and enjoyed a nice meal with the beautiful sunset behind us.  I could not resist this beautiful picture.   An iconic Texas shot!
Beautiful sunsets follow me wherever I go!
This morning when we were having our breakfast on the deck, the owner had just mowed the grass around his fruit trees that are fenced in to keep the deer and cows away from them.  After he mowed, he apparently forgot to close the gate and about a half hour later this was the site.....
"YUM!  This freshly mowed grass is the best thing we have eaten in weeks, maybe months!" 
There were 3 cows inside the fenced in orchard just chowing down on the freshly mowed grass and the tender green weeds.  (the orchard gets watered) Since we have been in a serious drought, they have not had grass this lush to eat in a while.  The owner went inside the fence just to make sure they did not eat the treasured fruit trees and then gently herded them out, back into the crisp brown yard.  "Drats!", they said.  FYI, the longhorn is named Sirloin!

Speaking of the drought.....
While I was away for over 3 months, I had read about the drought in Houston and heard about it from family and friends but the severity of it slapped me in the face when I got home.  This is a serious situation.  The rain is just about the only thing anyone can talk about these days.  They preach about it in church, they talk about it on the radio, it is on the front page of the newspaper and on the news on television.  Remember this post?  If you check out the last paragraph you will see the beginning of the drought, it is now September 24th and our rain total for the year is 11.9 inches, normal is 34.7 inches!  We got 1 inch of rain so far this month and you would have thought it was manna from heaven.  Add a month of over 100 degree days and you have brown crackly grass, dry lake beds, wild fires, water rationing, and trees that have turned brown and my never recover.

The "lake" in September....where is the water?

The same "lake" in April.....

They are not brown because it is fall, they are dying because they are thirsty!
So I leave you with hopes that it will rain buckets on us soon.  I'm off to do one more of my favorite September college football!  Geaux Tigers!

Why are these two smiling? 
Because they will be getting married in one week!

Stay tuned for pictures and stories!


A M said...

Re: your English struggle, I wonder if you know that there is a whole school of teaching foreign languages that makes a point of NOT speaking the students' native language in class, even if you can? If I'm not mistaken, the English for this method is Language Immersion. It's kind of hard, and it works better with children than adults, because lessons are a lot like playing, but it works. I hesitate to recommend a specific book on the subject, though.

You'll probably get all that rain back with interest next year... or the year after that. Where I live, it's always a year of draught, then another year of very bad drought, and then you'd think another flood is coming.

And congrats with the start of the bird season!

Steve Finnell said...
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Steve Finnell said...
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