Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Racking Up the Years

"Yes! Set free, as so beautifully drawn by my friend, Karla Dornacher."

October 14 was an anniversary date for me. Three complete years of retirement. I was "set free" from full-time work outside the home. What have I learned? I'm still trying to slow down.

The discipline of jumping up and running first thing in the morning is hard to break. Oh, I'll always be a morning person, but I don't have to start quite as early. I've been trying to wait until 6:30 to get started. That's a whole half hour longer friends!

     "Jo, looking in the kitchen window, and Abby, looking in the writing room window, trying to get my attention."

Now it doesn't help that the pups are wide awake and playing at 5 a.m. During the summer I would sit outside with them for a spell so Jerry and Mom wouldn't be disturbed. The early morning is quite chilly now--no sitting outside. But thankfully, they do quiet down after they eat at 5:45, and I can read.

                                                  "Uh oh. We're in trouble now."

So today is the first day of my 4th year of being retired. I'm thankful circumstances were such that I could retire after 42 years of working full-time. Do I miss work? No. As my friend, Roy, use to say: "That's why they call it work."

I learned a lot. Experienced a lot. Was exposed to many things over those 42 years. That season of my life is over.

                                "My dahlias are still blooming so I bought these in to enjoy!"

I may have given up some things, but I haven't lost the best thing--the work God has given me to do for Him. That wasn't lost or ended. Now I have more time to do that and other deeds of service I couldn't do before.

Happy anniversary, Carol! The best days are before me. Now that encourages me!

Finally, after waiting all summer, two fawn were up with their Mom last Sunday morning. The second week of August has always been the latest we've had fawns come up, normally seeing them the end of July. I thought I wouldn't see any this year. Our neighbor, below us, told us they'd seen two in their yard in July. I was so thrilled to see them! Better late than never!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Swaying in the Breeze

"'Tain't worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes."  Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909)

I'm studying "Slaying the Giants in Your Life" in my Sunday School quarterly this quarter. Written by David Jeremiah, he teaches on those awful things such as worry, discouragement, quilt, etc. In Session 3 the subject is about worry, and I enjoyed reading the way the author discussed how illogical worry is. And he did it by talking about a lily . . .

"Have you walked through a beautiful garden in the springtime? It's very difficult to be weighed down by the cares of the world when you're surrounded by the majesty of God's beautiful art. Solomon was a glorious king, Jesus tells us, with the wealth of several kingdoms at his disposal. But all of his sparkling finery pales in comparison to the simplest lily that God placed beside your feet .

"And how many office hours have those lilies put in? Have you ever seen a lily suffering through an anxiety attack? They neither toil nor spin. They simply sway in the breeze (I like that), reaching heavenward toward the source of their water and sunshine and sustenance. They do neither more nor less than they were designed to do, and what they were designed to do is to glorify God. Would that you and I could glorify God with the simple eloquence of that little flower.

"Yet the great point is that God values you so much more than a lily. The lily is merely something He created for your pleasure, for you're the one that bears His image.  And if He cares for each petal or stem that blooms and fades within a season, how much more does He care for you? How much more does He take to heart the things that cause your anxiety?

"He took the answer to that question and displayed it on a cross two thousand years ago. He'd never suffer and die for the same children He planned to neglect. That's why worry is illogical."

Yes, the finery of a lily. The beauty of a garden. The sweetness of a meadow. He gave us all of this to bring us pleasure. He most certainly can handle our little worries.

"One is given strength to bear what happens to one, but not the one hundred and one different things that might happen."  C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An Adventure to Remember

      My version of the famous church and covered bridge just below the home of Norman Rockwell.

Vermont is a beautiful state--especially if you like mountains, and I do! My adventure is now over and what a trip I had! God kept me safe, accident free, and this 65 year old girl went exploring on the back roads!

I made the drive in one day and explored for two full days. The weather couldn't have been better.

My lodging was in the home of Norman Rockwell which is now a B&B called "Inn on Covered Bridge Green." I was able to go inside his study, behind the house, where he painted his scenes of life. I was in the ground floor room on the left with a private entrance. I splurged, and I'm so glad I did!

The white church and covered bridge sit just below his house, and I love the top snap I took early the first morning. The fog was still resting on the trees. I also like the pictures below of how it looked years ago and today. I was standing just outside of the covered bridge facing the house.

My hostess, Julia, said a movie is being made of Rockwell's life and will be filmed there this winter. Photographers were coming in this week to film fall scenery.

The town of Bennington, where I came in to Vermont, is a good welcoming town. I found these moose (above) at the Welcome Center, and the two chocolate moose, Benny and Molly, below in a local chocolate shop!


While snapping the scene below, a man driving by, stopped and asked if my car was a rental car from Maryland or if I was from Maryland. Turns out he lived in Ellicott City, and after visiting Vermont two years ago, he and his wife moved up there. This happened twice. Another man stopped and asked the same question when I was snapping pictures another place. He was from Odenton and misses the Jimmie Cone stores. I bragged that there was one five minutes from my home!

Of course, I visited Weston, home of the Vermont Country Store. I've been buying from them through their catalogs for years. It felt like being home in familiar surroundings.

Just above Weston I visited Ludlow and their Sugar Shack. They give tours on how they make maple syrup. I picked up a few containers to enjoy. A sugar shack in Arlington, the town I stayed in, had a museum of Norman Rockwell's work.

                                     I love the layers of mountain. They were everywhere.

Arlington is also home to the Robert Frost museum, and I stopped by one afternoon. I picked up the children's book illustrating his famous poem "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening." It is beautifully illustrated and this child wanted it!

I loved the roads that curved around like the one below. I could drive on those kind of roads all day long!

Of course, I visited a number of covered bridges, some in poor condition and others quite lovely. At one near the town of Brattleboro, when I got to the end of the bridge I saw a mirror completely opposite of me and there I was in my car! It gave me a chuckle so I had to snap a picture of it!

Grafton is said to be one of ten most loveliest towns in America, and it was indeed charming. I drove 9 miles on a dirt road to get there. :)  I brought home this little green enamel pot, which was being used as a decoration in the general store. The proprietor let me have it for $5. It's seen better days, but it was quite a bit cheaper than the sculptures and quilts that were selling in the thousands.

                              This covered bridge was just outside the town of Grafton

I enjoyed a hearty laugh when I bought gas at the station in Grafton. The pump machine was an old model, with the credit card machine on the end. The manager assured me that everyone has trouble figuring out how to operate it. It sure asked a lot of questions and finding the right buttons to push was frustrating. But he was friendly and helpful, and I got my gas.

I also visited a local farm and found week old piggies! Isn't he cute!

My two days were packed full, and I was ready to return home. I arrived home to two very big, happy puppies, and a happy husband. They presented me with this lovely bouquet of flowers and a quart of chocolate hagen daz ice cream! Jerry said the first morning after I left he woke up to a puppy sleeping on both sides of him and he felt like a squashed sausage! They're getting close to 70 pounds now. I do believe they got along just fine.

My desire to visit Vermont was well satisfied with this visit. I'm sure over the course of a few weeks you'll see pictures showing up in future posts from my trip.

                   I didn't see any real bears, but at least I found one on the dirt road to Grafton!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vermont? Yes. Vermont

Before Jerry and I married 29 years ago, I mapped out a trip to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. It was a trip I was excited to go on!

But then I met Jerry, and I planned a wedding -- not go on a trip to Vermont. I've never lost the desire to visit Vermont. We did make it to Maine in '89, but a trip to Vermont never materialized.

                                                  Still blooming . . .

Sometime this year I wrote a list of things I wanted to do before I died. Visiting Vermont was one of my desires.

I was scheduled to take a few nights away this fall. Jerry went away in June and we agreed I'd go away in the fall. With Mom living with us, and the pups and Sam to care for, it was easier to take separate time away.

                                                Still blooming . . .

During the summer I thought about Lancaster, Hershey and Ohio of possible places to visit. I enjoy those areas greatly. That is until two weeks ago when the three of us were returning home from lunch in Emmitsburg.

"Go to Vermont," was spoken in my head. "Go to Vermont?" I thought. Where did that come from? I hadn't been thinking about Vermont at all. But the rest of the afternoon I pondered the possibility and that evening, when I told Jerry, he said ok.

Ever since then I've been planning the trip. I'll be visiting the southern part of Vermont coming in at Bennington. I'm splurging and staying in a B&B for the two nights I'll be in Vermont. The B&B is the home of Norman Rockwell, and it's just above the red covered bridge and white church that is so famously photographed.

I'm driving. Alone. I'll have my Booth Brother's CD, as well as Steve Green and John Starnes, and a few others to keep me company on the 9 to 10 hour drive.

                                                Still blooming . . .

Mom and Sam will get a vacation too, staying with friends for the week. Jerry will care for the pups and eat ribs from the Amish market. He's still not completely well from the pain in his back, so we're hoping he'll be feeling much better by the time I leave.

Another dream comes true this year of my 65th birthday. Two puppies in February; a new car and gaining health insurance in March, and a new camera this month (before I ever knew I'd be visiting the  beautiful place of my dreams).

       These two were giving me the eye as they watch over the little one sleeping on Wilson's Farm.

There won't be a new blog post next week because I'll be driving the back roads of Vermont, admiring mountains, lakes, covered bridges and wild life. Route 100 is one of the most scenic routes in America, says Reader's Digest.

Say a prayer for me as God brings me to mind. I've driven long distances before -- 35 to 40 years ago. But as my friend, Jackie, recently wrote to me: "I'm absolutely thrilled about your upcoming trip . . . and proud of you for pursuing a dream and having the courage to step out on your own and follow your heart."

                                                   Still blooming . . .

Psalm 37:4 says: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Thank you, Father!"

                                           Abby and Jo wishing they were outside the gate!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Very Big Word!

                 A quiet evening in the back yard. Only geese would have made it better.

"The days are hard, and your spirit is low, but there is a hope in your soul that never diminishes, and has the power to lift your spirit and comfort your heart. I know you have this incredible hope inside of you."

Those words are one of the thoughts God gave me to encourage others in my note writing. Hope. That four letter word that will inspire, comfort, cheer, strengthen and encourage. And all those who know Christ as Lord and Savior have it.

One of it's definitions is to believe or trust. But when times are hard, it's easy to overlook the power hope can bring to our life.

                                        September in the garden. Still a delight to look at!

In Charles Spurgeon's February 25th devotion in "Look Unto Me." he wrote these words as he commented on the Scripture verse "My hope comes from Him." Psalm 62:5: "What a privilege for a believer to be able to say these words . . . if he looks to God to supply his needs . . . he may continually make withdrawals from the riches of God's loving-kindness."

A believer's hope is powerful and permanent. I like the hymn, "My Faith Looks Up to Thee." The third verse says: "While life's dark maze I tread, And griefs around me spread, Be Thou my guide; Bid darkness turn to day, Wipe sorrow's tears away, Nor let me ever stray From Thee aside."  Ray Palmer, 1808-1887

                                                                     "Hi Dad."

Friends, I know you have this incredible hope inside you. Turn to it always for it never diminishes. If you can't claim these words, I urge you to turn to the one who provides this hope, Jesus.

I write these words because I know they are true. I know they refresh, encourage and comfort, and direct your thoughts to the One who never fails us. Draw up your hope! It never wavers. It never fails.

"Hope the balm and life blood of the soul." John Armstrong, 1709-1779

"The word hope I take for faith; and indeed hope is nothing else but the constancy of faith." John Calvin, 1509-1564

                                                                       "Mom, help!"

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A "Free" Weekend!

   You can see the young buck on the left side. Two doe were behind it.  I like the fawn with the stone wall.

We had a "free" weekend this past weekend. A weekend without mother. Hope that doesn't sound unfeeling or selfish. I think the three of us get along ok since she came to live with us two years ago. I'm sure all of us have times that aren't great, but so far it's working out.

I use to have "free" days when I worked. When it snowed and the office was closed, it would be a "free" day. I could do whatever I wanted too, and sometimes that was just sitting by the window watching the snow fall. Drinking hot chocolate, of course.

               I snapped this group a few weeks ago. It's one of my favorite spots to see deer.

We had a few plans for the\is "free" weekend, but Jerry woke up not feeling well Saturday morning. He'd been having trouble with his back all week, and his stomach wasn't well either. So it quickly became a stay at home weekend. His stomach now seems to be fine, but he's being very careful with his back and what he does.

Friday I went to Best Buy and bought a new camera. The one I've had for four years needed repair. I had sent it to the manufacturer once before for a different problem, and just decided at four years old I'd like a new one. I bought a Nikon. My first one.

I've been through them all: Brownie,  Polaroid, Instamatic, Olympus, Minolta, and Canon. All of them served me well. Now the Nikon. Lest I sound rich, it's a little point and shoot, and it was on sale.

 I had a difficult time focusing in on these deer and only had two snaps turn out, and not great. Haven't had that much trouble focusing on similar snaps with my previous camera.

I went out Saturday morning with my new camera for a fawn shoot. Jerry was home letting the pups take care of him. Things weren't going well. I had a number of opportunities to take pictures, but the camera wasn't focusing, the pictures were fuzzy and the weight of the camera didn't feel good. I later decided the body was too light for the longer zoom lens.

I worked with it the rest of Saturday and into Sunday, and I did get some nice pictures. But the fit just wasn't right for me. So Monday I went back to Best Buy and upgraded to another Canon PowerShot. I'm thrilled. It doubled and more my zoom capabilities, and I'm very familiar with how to work it. The snap below is the last one I took with the Nikon.

 I was out back Sunday evening still working with the camera, and saw this buck wanting to come to the  back gate to eat. There's a lane between the short grass and the bushes on the other side. He decided he'd come again another time, turning and walking off.

Labor Day weekend marked the end of my fawn shoot for this season. I've been out most Saturday mornings in July and August from 6 to 8. I've gotten a fair number of good snaps to enjoy. Especially the fawn nursing! I'll have to wait until next year for this fun and refreshing time to return once again.

 I did get this refreshing snap Saturday morning. Wish they all could have turned out like this one!

Mom returned Monday evening and brought us back to the routine of life. But I know one day I'll get another "free" weekend! Maybe next time Jerry won't be in pain!