Month: May 2007

Human Cockroaches

St. Louis City Museum Tree Maze

St. Louis City Museum Tree Maze

Our family fun today was climbing all over the St. Louis City Museum like a bunch of human cockroaches. The only way to describe the spaces built into this renovated city building is to think of the places a cockroach would crawl and imagine an endless human-sized maze of such places. It was really fun. Some of the outside climbing places are four stories high and go through two airplane hulls. Inside there are two cave areas as well as a tree fort. And a blue whale through which you can travel like kelp – all the way.

50th Anniversary Addendum

Mopping Up the water from a flooded toilet

Mopping Up

Just as almost everyone was gone and the Hertzlers were wrapping up, Audrey found Grandpa Hertzler and told him the ceiling was leaking. Sure enough, the toilet in the upstairs bathroom was flooding. After shutting off the water we spent the next half hour mopping. A memorable end to a memorable weekend.

Happy 50th Brentwood Bible Church!

One of the reasons we came to St. Louis was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Brentwood Bible Church, the church I grew up in, was married in, and which still supports our work with Campus Crusade for Christ.

Over the 50 years of its existence God has used the people in this church to cause spiritual growth in the lives of many. As a result there are pastors, elders, deacons, committed church volunteers and missionaries serving the church of Jesus Christ in many places around the world – sent from the spiritual greenhouse of Brentwood Bible Church.

Being around all these people at one time was a unique privilege. Seeing people from my childhood at my childhood church brought me right back to, yes, my childhood. So I kept reminding myself that I am 41 years old now.

The best part was seeing friends that I thought I’d never be able to see again and catching up with people I would otherwise have no way of contacting. “It’s the next best thing to heaven without actually having to die first” was how one person described the feeling of being around so many old friends again.

One of the highlights of the weekend was hearing people refer to my brother and me as “Jerry and Jimmy.” I haven’t called him “Jimmy” in so many years I’d forgotten it was his name in our family growing up. I plan to call him Jimmy (instead of Jim) from now on – just to help him remember who his big brother is.

Cairo, Illinois Commercial Street

Cairo, Illinois - Bass Sales Co.

Cairo, Illinois Commercial Street

On the way to St. Louis today we drove through Cairo, Illinois – down Commercial Street. It is a ghost town now and very interesting. I need to get out of suburbia more often so I can see stuff like this.

Click this picture then “Back to Photo Album” if you want to see some others.

Swamp Blackberries

Swamp Blackberries

Swamp Blackberries

The wild blackberries are ripe now on the fringes of the cypress swamp behind our house. They’re not extremely sweet, but they’re worth fighting the thorns to get them. I like finding things that help me forget I’m buried in the middle of American suburbia.

School’s Out!

Michael catches a rat snake


Today was Field Day for Trace Academy, the last day of school. Similar to Field Days at the kids’ school in Budapest, it’s just a party to enjoy the last day. Only Trace’s Field Day is better. Sorry ICSB. Here we rode jet ski’s on a lake in the Florida sun and gorged pizza for lunch. I took the day off and chaperoned. Rough assignment but some of the parents had to do it.

The highlight of the day was when Michael caught this rat snake at the edge of the lake in front of his neighbor’s dock.

School isn’t quite out for Andrew yet; he has two more days of exams next week. Today he took his first college level exam, and, while we hear that most people in his class fail this exam, if he does pass it counts for college credit. Our fingers are crossed.

At Least I Called on Mother’s Day

Living in Europe for three years provided Cathy and me an irresistible excuse for being late with holiday gifts and cards. Who knows how long it really takes for mail to get between continents, right? The late arrival of a Mother’s Day card, for example, could have been the result of many other things besides being mailed late.

The excuse doesn’t work for us anymore, of course, but that didn’t mean we mailed our Mothers Day cards on time. We did call, though.

Today I read of a family who went a very long time without checking up on their mother. It made me feel a little better about being a day late with the card.

According to the BBC,

A man in north-eastern Spain has made an unexpected discovery after buying a new home without seeing it first.

Inside he found the mummified body of the previous owner.

Gordi Giro bought the flat in the Costa Brava resort of Rosas at an auction after the previous owner defaulted on her payments.

He told police that he was shocked on going into the flat for the first time to discover her dead body sitting on the sofa.

It seems that Maria Luisa Zamora failed to keep up payments on her mortgage because she had in fact died in 2001.

Police believe the body has been preserved by the salty sea air. Coroners said Mrs Zamora died of natural causes.

But questions are being asked about why no-one has been concerned as to her whereabouts for the last six years.

Police say neither her estranged husband nor her children in Madrid registered a missing persons report for the 55-year-old.

I’m an Omnivore, What Are You?

Take the Pew Internet & American LIfe Project survey and find out.

Omnivores make up 8% of the American public.

Basic Description
Members of this group use their extensive suite of technology tools to do an enormous range of things online, on the go, and with their cell phones. Omnivores are highly engaged with video online and digital content. Between blogging, maintaining their Web pages, remixing digital content, or posting their creations to their websites, they are creative participants in cyberspace.

What are you? A “Connector”, a “Productivity Enhancer”, a “Light But Satisfied”, or “Off The Network”?

Annie’s Conflicted Car Rides

Annie cowering before going to the vet

Annie Trying To Avoid The Vet

Living with a dog is not unlike living with a perpetual 2 year old. They’re not very sophisticated, but they do learn.

Annie loves going for car rides. We’re not exactly sure why, but we think it has something to do with the fact that if she is in the car she is not getting left behind for several days. Often the car rides end up at the vet, but that doesn’t occur to her when she gets in. It used to be she never realized she was at the vet until she smelled the entrance, but now she recognizes things a little sooner – as we drive into the vet’s parking lot.

This is a picture of Annie cowering in the back of the van behind the seats shortly after arriving at the vet’s last week for her cone. She has another vet trip scheduled tomorrow morning to get her stitches out. I wonder how long it will be before she decides it’s safer not getting into the car in the first place.

Andrew’s Ankle

Andrew hurts his ankle

Andrew Hurts His Ankle

Yesterday Cathy called me on her way to pick up Andrew who had called her from the skate park saying he thought he broke his ankle. He was not in big pain, so we didn’t consider it an emergency, but we decided to get it looked at.

As I was calling the walk-in clinic to find out how much they charged I realized we had broken into the next level of health care usage. We had become frequent flyers, and I was shopping for the best price. I even questioned the walk-in clinic how much they charged for x-rays and whether there were separate charges for sending the x-rays out. I should have asked them if they had gold accounts for hazard prone customers.

Both the doctor and we think that Andrew’s ankle may actually be broken, but nothing is visible on the x-ray. They issued Andrew a pair of crutches and a removable cast for his ankle and told him to stay off it for a while.

The consequences of having only one foot are now dawning on Andrew, and he is not happy about them. Navigating school, the school bus, and a hundred other places won’t be easy. And it will be a while before he can get back on the skate board again.

Who Left The Faucet On?

Today when I sat down at my cart it sounded like someone left a faucet running. I knew what it was right away because I have watched the assembly of this fountain in our work area for the last couple weeks, and I have known of its expected arrival for the last nine months. The background noise of this fountain is supposed to make us want to work together near it while at the same time masking the noise of the conversations we have around it. Sort of like a giant water cooler.

This seems like a logical place to put things, though. Like coworkers on their birthday. Or loose change from your pocket. Or staplers from your coworkers desk. Or food coloring. Or dish soap from the kitchen area. Or a flock of rubber ducks. Or goldfish. Or Fluffy.