I left Wednesday morning and drove straight through to Wichita. It was about eleven hours, something I usually don't do, but I was doing very well and just decided to keep going. The trip was largely uneventful. Even the "eventful" parts were pretty blah, a bit of road construction and a semi turned over on the highway. Yawnnn.
Once I arrived in Wichita, there was no Internet available. Scott & Connie just moved ... well, make that, "are moving" ... to a new home, and the phone (and DSL) and dish people were coming on Thursday to hook everything up. There were some rather bad mix ups, however, and without a lot of detail, it didn't get done. So no phone, no Internet, no posting to my blog or checking email.
Thursday evening, Kylee had a choir concert, which was just as cute as can be. I was impressed that 6th graders sang three songs, and actually sounded like a choir, harmony and all! Of course, they were followed by the 7th/8th grade choir, then the high school choir who were very good. It was nice all the way around. I was also impressed by the choir teacher who politely and gently, but firmly chastised some teens who shrieked when a friend came out on the stage as part of the 7/8 grade choir. The teacher walked to the edge of the stage, looked down at the shriekers in the first row right next to us, and said that that kind of demonstration and behavior was unpleasant to others around them and wouldn't be tolerated. If it occurred again, they would be asked to leave. Thank you for an administration and teaching staff that expects young people to be aware of others around them and is not afraid to hold the youngsters to a standard!!
I took some pictures and a couple short videos of Kylee and her choir performing. Geez, they were cute! Then when we got home from the concert I got out my computer to load the pictures so we could all see them. When it powered up, I was surprised to fine a home network that was unprotected, one of the neighbors, so I had the Internet!! The signal was very, very weak, however, and it took forever for anything to load. I thought I might go to a Starbucks or some such place today to post. I didn't, however, because the day was insanely busy. Fortunately tonight the signal is good enough to keep me connected, so here I am!
The citizenship ceremony today was pretty cool. There were over 200 immigrants from 39 countries there. I spent a lot of time while we stood in line waiting to get in talking with a beautiful young woman named Stephanie who was there with her friend/boyfriend from Iceland. She is just 26 years old, has two small children from a previous marriage, and I thought she was married to the man. She said no, they were getting very serious a few months ago when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and marriage became the least of her concerns. The cancer has spread to her liver, a kidney and probably some other areas. She receives radiation every day for two hours. Next month she is undergoing surgery in which they will remove the bad kidney, 3/4 of her liver, remove her intestines and examine them carefully for any signs of cancer, then tuck everything back in and keep her in an induced coma for a couple days to allow the pain to subside before bringing her out of it. Through all of this, Stephanie continued to smile, not a forced smile, but one of positive belief that she is going to lick this monster.
She is not delusional. She knows her odds aren't great. But as Stephanie explained to me, she refuses to let "it" win. She said she has lots of days that are pretty awful, but she says she wants to enjoy as many days as she has left. She tries to be as normal as possible for her children, but loves the support of her parents (she called them "her heroes"), her friends, and especially the man in her life. You know what? I'm betting that she will win. Don't ask me why, but I think this woman has something special about her that will carry her a long, long way. I told her I would keep her present in my prayers. Now I'm asking all of you to do that, as well. Please?
The ceremony was neat to observe. There were people from Mexico, Canada, several Central American countries, from South America, several African countries, Germany, Australia, Russia, the Middle East, and all over Asia. It was amazing to watch the variety of faces and listen to them as each stated the country from which s/he comes. And the beaming of their faces when they received their certificates at the end, walking across the stage almost like a graduation exercise, most of them holding the certificate and staring as if they held a treasure was great to watch. Connie was the only one who stopped in the middle of the stage, waved her certificate, then held it to her chest for us to see and photograph!
Impressively, there were about a dozen people who took their oath today who were in uniform. Yes, they are already serving in our military forces, even before they became citizens! How cool is that?
This process ... standing in line, going through security, the ceremony ... took over three hours. When we were done, we went out to lunch with a number of Connie's friends, then came home to prepare for a party that was tonight. More good food, lots of wine or beer, then later in the evening, of course, the tequila came out! The music, over 5 hours, got louder, the dancing was going strong, and the party was a huge success. Many of the guests were people who work with Connie at the University, most of them in the Spanish Language Department (professors, GTAs, former students, etc.) or some who work with Scott. A bunch of really great people, all of whom love Connie and Scott, and that makes the perfectly OK in my book. Connie and several others are graduating in May with Masters degrees, and it was a wonderful time for all of them to let their hair down for a while tonight. If you've been to college, especially grad school, you know what that last semester is like!
Tomorrow morning I'm leaving fairly early to drive to Kansas City, about three hours farther. I'm going to stay with Caroline one or two nights. We haven't decided for sure, but we'll play it by ear, depending on how the animals get along and some other factors. I left a few items with another friend. I'm picking those up on Sunday afternoon while he is off work. If I feel they will be alright in the bed of the pickup overnight, I'll probably stay till Caroline goes to work on Monday morning to leave. But you know how parking lots in apartment complexes can be. Isn't it sad that I must even consider that?
So there you have it. I'm back, at least off and on for a while. Caroline has internet, of course, and I'll be back here in a few days, so I should be able to post more often. Thanks for the nice wishes and kind words to my last post. I did read them, and I appreciate all of you! Everyone take care!
Life is beautiful!!!