Monday, October 30, 2006

I created a Slide Show! Check it out!

What a Weekend!

We had such a full weekend! From visiting with old friends to needing a new chainsaw...

Beginning at the beginning, our dear friends the Whitehouses were coming from Grove City to visit Gettysburg and York, and now that we're here, us! We have known Janet and Terry since Kate and their son Jeremy were in the church nursery together at First Baptist church in Grove City. Janet and Terry came to Florida a couple of times to see us, and now that we're back here we'll be seeing them more often. How fun to welcome them to our new home. We reminisced over old times, looked at photos old and new, learned who' gotten married or passed away- a few shockers there, oh my...

Jeremy spent the night with us and joined us for the final home game of this football season. Having lived in Florida, we're not afraid of a little rain, especially unaccompanied by lightning. But rain+ cold+ wind = perfect recipe for a miserable evening! So we ditched the game at half-time and went home to dry out and warm up. Having a fireplace in the family room is a beautiful thing, by the way.

The next day dried out some around mid-day and even warmed into the 60's, but then came the wind. Being inside with warm panini sandwiches and friendship is nice on such a day. Our friends left around 3 when we were leaving to go to a church Fall Harvest Festival at a farm. Visits with dear friends always seem too short. Knowing that we'll see them again helps!

The farm where the festival was held sits nestled in gently rolling hills that provide a perfect avenue for biting cold winds to blow right through one's many layers of ineffective clothing. Joanne (from South Africa) joined us for this uniquely American festival. The hayride was guaranteed to chill everyone to the core, but our kids went on it several times, Isaac pledging to keep Joanne warm and protect her. Jim won the hay bale toss contest, (the wind was helping everyone!) A bonfire was kindled, but walking down the wind tunnel to reach it almost wasn't worth it. What with kids trying to cook marshmallows, I couldn't get close enough to get warm! Dinner was as fabulous as any gathering bringing potluck always is, and the fellowship was fun. After dinner the barn was cleared for a hoe-down. Now, we were so cold we couldn't feel our extremities, and I don't mean only the wimps from Florida. Everybody was cold. Square dancing is the remedy for such cold, let me tell you.

When it comes to dancing I normally play the role of avid spectator, otherwise somebody might get hurt. But after watching several rounds of dancing, in which all of my children took part, (Kate reluctantly, the others enthusiastically) and Joanne as well, Jim and I were pressed into a square. Before long we were not only enjoying ourselves but shedding our coats too! Live music, a humorous caller, and laughing couples made for a great time.

Sunday morning we were grateful for the extra hour to sleep in. The day was promising to be dry and sunny, but the wind was still mighty strong. After church Jim took Vali for her walk while I got lunch together. Standing in the kitchen near the window a loud gust of wind caught my attention just as it blew over the tree that shaded our back porch! Our bird-feeder tree! (not a small tree either) I couldn't believe my eyes- our tree was truely and really down! After recovering from the shock, we did a quick survey out of the windows to discover that a couple of other trees were down in the yard as well. (and Jim nor the dog were under any of them...) Turns out that the weather conditions over our little hilltop had caused a severe weather advisory to be issued due to the heavy winds. And we didn't even have time to board up the windows! No damage to the house, thankfully, but the house being constructed down the street lost a couple of walls. All's quiet today. When Jim gets home tonight he'll get out his new toy- the chainsaw, and take care of the trees down in the yard. Wow. I was looking for a place to plant a red Maple without taking up much of our open ground... Found it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Daily Pedicure, (aka: morning walkies)

God, in His infinite wisdom, arranged what was initially a huge inconvenience, but has turned to unexpected blessing.

Our dog, Vali, a German Shepherd mix, has always had a fenced yard in which to enjoy the freedom of her morning toilette. Moving to a wooded hilltop in PA with 2 acres of wonderful unfenced yard has presented us with the problem of what to do with a dog who would love nothing better than for us to turn her loose outside and watch as she zooms out of sight. The backyard being oh, so fascinating every time we take her out on her leash for a specific purpose, she spends that time exploring with her nose and ears all of the sensations that must thrill her to her core, but thouroughly distract her from our purpose.

So began our morning walks, (which also serve to keep her claws down- good for the wood floors). When it's time for Erin and Isaac to get to the bus stop across the street, Vali and I accompany them. After the kids get on the bus, Vali runs up the stairs for her morning treat and petting from the bus driver who is also a dog lover! Then we walk the length of our street. We live at one end and 1/2 a mile away is the last driveway at the other end. though there is still plenty of opportunity for distraction, Vali can't fight her internal biology which such a walk stimulates and our purpose is usually accomplished half-way through our walk.

Where the blessing comes in is this. Our hilltop portion of street is spectacularly beautiful this month. The noises of traffic are far away and, save in front of the new home under construction, silence reigns. But, really, silence is a relative thing. If you count the twittering of birds, it is quite the riot some mornings. Being able to hear, (no kidding) leaves falling in the woods, is amazing. The occasional acorn landing on a car roof can sound like a kettle drum. Vali's tags tinkling as she walks is enough noise to keep the deer from leaping on top of us as they dash across the road I'm sure. I have seen them getting out of our way at least once- fortunately Vali was looking the other way or I might not be musing on blessings right now.

I have so much to do between finishing painting in the dining room to unpacking, (and continuing the hunt for our alarm clock!) that even on days that I don't need to get to the store I could be busy in the house from sun-up to sundown. Vali's need has turned into the means for getting me outside to enjoy the beauty of a fall morning, which I also need. One mile is not significant exercise-wise, but the fresh, crisp air and the opportunity to detatch from the pressing business of each day has become precious to me. Talking to Vali, listening to the birds, and praying as we walk is a great way to begin each day.

Now we'll see how I feel about it once it's snow and not leaves I'm walking through!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Melting Pot in PA

As we were driving home tonight from KMart, (the kids need warmer garments every day it seems) Rebekah was commenting on some of her new friends, one of whom is not caucasian. She was pondering on the fact that this girl is actually one of her friends, and not away in a group who all look alike, as was so often the case in So. Fla. It occurred to me that we have actually landed in an area where the "Melting Pot" still works. Because their differences are not "celebrated", or held as the highest good, as in areas where multiculturalism is king, kids of every color can enjoy what they have in common. Whether that be a sport, an art, or a study hall, they have some common ground where they can meet as friends. Rebekah had gone to watch another friend in a volleyball game, and was surrounded by boys and girls of every color who were cheering for the same team.

On a similar note, we will be sharing our Thanksgiving Feast with another family of Christians. This family hails from South Africa and are here for one year on a teacher exchange program. The mom is a teacher and has switched with another teacher from here; they even switched houses! Their daughter, Joanne, is friends with Kate, and they will be joining us to experience a real traditional American feast. I can't wait to see and taste their contribution of a traditional family recipe from South Africa! The sad part is, since the school year in their homeland runs January to december, they are leaving in December. Having spent a year in America they are very sad to go before the two kids can finish this school year as well. We are glad to have a chance, however brief, to get to know these brothers and sisters from across the globe.

For the beauty and the atmosphere of "Apple Pie America", I am so glad that God saw fit to move us here.
Truimphant Pumpkin Hunters! October in PA is absolutely spectacular for natural beauty. We are enjoying every bit of it. This weekend we went looking for a roadside stand or farmstand to buy a pumpkin. We found several near our home and brought home not only pumpkins, but a gourd for a birdhouse, fresh eggs, homemade salsa and jam and gorgeous mums. What fun!

If you want to see more photos like this, check out my webshots homepage!

Testing, I guess...

Wow, an actual blog for little ole me. As if anyone would actually read this. Hmm... We'll see.