Visiting Washington D.C.

In November, we traveled to Pennsylvania to attend some training for our ministry work.  On the way home, we took some vacation time in our nation’s capital.  It had been about seventeen years since my husband and I had visited, and our children had never been there.  The weekend was chilly but fair.  We arrived on the afternoon of November 11 and spent quite a bit of time driving around looking for parking.  Once we finally found a parking spot, we began walking toward the Lincoln Memorial.  There were quite a few people milling around the memorial.


From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we had a beautiful view of the Mall with the Washington Monument in the background.  While the monument looks close, the perspective is deceiving.  That afternoon, we figure we walked over five miles from our parking spot, around several of the memorials, to the Washington Monument, then toured the Air and Space Museum, and back to our vehicle.


On our journey, we stopped at the Washington Monument which is difficult to photograph because of its towering height.  A point of interest is the varying shades of the stone which is due to the start and stop of construction and to rock coming from two different quarries.


Eventually, we wound up at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  My husband and I noticed that since our last time in Washington, the security is greatly increased.  To get into any of the museums, you must empty all your pockets, put any belongings on the belt, and go through a scanner.  Before we entered the building, our oldest noticed that there was a sign stating items that were forbidden including knives.  Being a country boy, he had his knife attached to his belt.  My husband decided they should hide the knife in a flower bed.  Of course, going through security, he managed to set off the alarm.  We were not sure if it was his cowboy belt buckle or his cowboy hat.  By Monday, I suggested he leave all his “paraphernalia” at the motel, and he sailed smoothly through security that day.

Sunday afternoon, we wondered around the outside of the White House and toured the Visitor’s Center.  When we first walked up to the grounds, I was surprised how small the President’s home is.  On pictures the White House looks so grand; but compared to the other massive buildings of the city, it is quite modest in size.  Right away, we noticed there were quite a few security people around; and there were guards on the roof as well.  Later that day, when we were leaving the city, we saw the President’s plane flying overhead.  Later, we found out it was Mrs. Trump returning from her travels.  Another interesting experience was finding ourselves in the middle of a gathering and being offered a program: the purpose was Muslims protesting Isis.


After fighting traffic and searching for a parking spot Saturday and Sunday, my husband decided we would ride the Metro into the city on Monday.  That was a new experience for all of us, from figuring out the ticket machine, to choosing which train to enter, and learning where and when to exit.  It was interesting to people-watch and imagine what each person’s role in life was.

After a delay where the Metro sat for a few minutes, we arrived just in time for our appointment to tour the Capitol Building.  We met our Representative’s assistant and were able to see his view of the Capitol from his office window.


Our tour guide was quite knowledgeable of the history of the Capital Building.  She guided us capably through several layers of security.  The Rotunda was especially breathtaking.



After our tour, we wondered around outside the Capital and enjoyed our picnic lunch.




In the afternoon, we toured the Smithsonian Natural History and American History Museums.  In the Natural History Museum, we saw a variety of animals, rocks, and gems.  I think we all enjoyed the American History Museum the most.  We had a fascinating tour guide that summarized United States’ history in one hour.  There was something of interest for everyone including vehicles, the First Ladies’ ball gowns and china, and historical items such as Lincoln’s top hat.

Our Washington D.C. trip was interesting and enjoyable, but the best part was experiencing it together as a family.


A Day in Cincinnati

In September, we attended a work retreat near Cincinnati, Ohio.  As one of the learning activities, we visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a fascinating museum of history of that time period.  Our guide led us through the highlights of the four floors of the museum.  One stop was what appeared to be a tall log cabin.  The building was, in fact, a slave pen.  The guide informed us that twenty to thirty men and women would have been held there awaiting transport further south.  It was a solemn experience to stand inside and remember the horrible injustice that is part of our nation’s history.  Another area of the museum depicted types of places in which escaping slaves would hide along the underground railroad.  One account is of a man who mailed himself to freedom in a package.  For most of his journey he was upside down in the crate.  Our youngest got inside the box to experience a bit of the feeling.


During our lunch break, we took a picnic down by the Ohio River where there is fun, interactive park for kids of all ages.  The children enjoyed the giant checker board, the keyboard with chimes, the flying pig, the exercise pipes, the large swings, and the water pumps and channels.


The day was beautiful, sunny, and mild.  The sky was brilliant blue with puffy white clouds.  There were several types of boats on the river.


The suspension bridges were intriguing, and it was fun to walk across one onto the Kentucky side.20170928_14390620170928_143732

It was a great day of learning and experiencing a bit of Cincinnati.




Vacation and Return

After full weeks of hosting summer volunteer groups, I was feeling spent; so having a time of relaxation and renewal was a blessing.  As a family, we experienced spiritual refreshment at Roxbury Holiness Camp, relaxed as we experienced Chincoteague and Assateague, and reconnected with family in a variety of settings.

At the ocean, the children frolicked in the waves both with and without boogie boards and created sandcastles on the beach.



My husband and I enjoyed the water and sitting under an umbrella.  There is something quite soothing about the sound of the waves on the seashore.


One morning, we climbed the winding stairs to the top of a lighthouse.  The view was amazing.  I felt dizzy as we peered over the railing.


After a time away, it feels good to be home.  I was so glad to see that the gardens are still producing.  We picked green beans, corn, tomatoes, carrots, beets, squash, a cucumber, parsley, and various greens.  Fourteen quarts of beans were added to the freezer.


Tonight we enjoyed a crock pot meal made of many ingredients from our garden including potatoes, onions, squash, tomatoes, parsley, and oregano.


Praise the Lord for His gracious provision!

Glimpses of Summer in the Mountains

Beautiful blossoms are attracting the butterflies and bees.


The other day, I noticed this tree blooming.  The blossom is like a bristly feather fan.

We have got quite a stand of mullein growing out of an old pile of coal at camp.


The string beans are bearing: both Roma and wax.  The second picture, which I think has interesting perspective, was taken by our youngest.



A friend dropped off a solar dehydrator for us, so I am experimenting with herbs and greens.

Interesting mushrooms are growing under the oak tree beside our garden.  I think they might be edible, but I am too cautious to try them!


An afternoon at Martin’s Fork Lake was a welcome break from the heat we have been experiencing.  I had forgotten how beautiful the view is there.





Gladiolus and Fireworks

The gladiolus have burst into bloom this week.


On July 4, we were invited to a celebration at a fellow church member’s home.  After hours of fun including swimming, water sliding, trampoline jumping, music, and socializing, the fireworks show began.  It was a fabulous show complete with music, lighted balloons, laser lights, and the longest grande finale I have ever seen.


Gabe’s Branch Falls

This morning we went on an outing with some of the summer staff to Gabe’s Branch Falls.  The falls are one of those hidden spots that only the locals know exists.  To get there, you drive four miles on a gravel road.  The stopping spot is unmarked.  Then you walk down a bit of a path until you spot the falls.  I had been there in my 20’s but had forgotten the beauty of the place.  From the top, the pool of water looks quite deep.



After gazing at the water for a bit, we hiked down to the bottom.  Someone has built wooden handrails and steps, for which I was grateful because of the steepness of the incline.  Even so, the descent was a bit slick due to the night’s rainfall.  Upon arriving at the bottom, the water did not look as deep.  Although if it had been hot, swimming in it would have been refreshing.  Coming from the mountains, I’m sure the water is quite cold.



The children soon found amusement in trying to skip rocks or just plain throwing rocks in the water.




Choosing sticks, collecting unique rocks, and adding to a small rock damn were also interesting activities.

The rush of the falls, the coolness of the air, and just being out in nature was refreshing.

Blossoms, Gardening, Creatures, and a Sunset

This time of year, blossoms, both wild and domesticated, can be seen declaring the glory of God.  Every week, there seems to be a different type of flower in its peak.  In the woods, the wild azaleas are displaying their brilliant orange blooms; and by the lodge, the delicate purple flowers of the hostas have pushed up above the leaves.


I am always struck by the flow of plants through the spring and summer.  In the vegetable garden, the peas are nearly finished producing; but this week, the beans and tomatoes began to blossom, promising more produce in the weeks to come.



What is in the box that has captured the attention of these children?  It’s a box turtle rescued from the trail.  The creature provided wholesome entertainment on a rainy day.  The next day, a ring neck snake in a box caused quite a stir among the kids.




One evening, the sun was a bright fire ball slowly sinking behind the mountains.  A camera cannot fully capture its beauty.



“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  -Psalm 19:1

Summer Break Begins

Before our summer season of volunteers begins, we grabbed the chance to have a bit of family vacation.  Since we have lived in Kentucky for ten years, we figured we should take in the world heritage site of Mammoth Cave.  To quote Stephen Bishop, an early guide, the cave is “grand, gloomy, and peculiar.”  The tour guide shared interesting tidbits of information, and it was an adventure squeezing through narrow passages and climbing and descending hundreds of steps.

Being part of the National Park System, there is more to Mammoth Cave than what is underground.  There are also trails to hike and beautiful sights to see above ground.

After our time away, we returned home to welcome my husband’s parents for a visit.  Our youngest celebrated his ninth birthday with presents, lasagna, and ice cream cake.  Since school is out, there has been lots of time for play including match box car races, marble track, and trampoline.

The garden has yielded some beautiful produce.  The bountiful rains have filled out the radishes and strawberries and caused the greens and herbs to produce large leaves.

Our last home school group meeting was a field trip to Pine Mountain Settlement School where we toured their agricultural initiatives including gardens, chickens, honey bees, and hoop houses.  A gorgeous, sunny day after several rainy days was a welcome treat.


Snapshots from the Week

The last few weeks have been full with finishing the school year and preparing for our summer season of volunteers; but it was fun to arrive at camp and find the peas, potatoes, and greens we had planted in April pushed up through the soil.  I was able to harvest a few radishes and salad greens, and we have pulled enough strawberries for the six of us to each have a few.

The iris, which is my favorite flower, were in full bloom.  I found a wild one blooming at the edge of the woods.

The children and I got the summer vegetables planted: beans, corn, several varieties of summer and winter squashes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.  Teamwork made the job go quickly.  Our oldest pulled back the wood chips with a hoe.  Our daughter and I planted the seeds, and our two youngest boys took turns covering them up.  At the end of one row, we uncovered a salamander which the kids found to be a fascinating diversion.

Later in the week, after all the vegetables were planted, we were grateful for a lovely, soaking rain.

One morning, the clouds were rolling in over the camp; and I had to stop and thank the Lord for the beauty of the sky.

personal pics (187)


That same morning, I admired the colors of our breakfast fruit salad.

personal pics (189)


Our oldest spent quite a bit of time in the shop working on wooden creations.  This was his first chiseled piece.  Later, he made another and was excited that someone bought it.

personal pics (179)

A few snapshots from the week!

Farm Sale

A traditional activity of Pennsylvania farmers is attending farm sales in the spring.  It is a place to gather and exchange pleasantries with other community members, pick up a few deals, and buy some lunch from the food stand.

This spring, after more than forty years of farming, my dad decided he was going to rent out his fields and that he would sell his equipment.  Another man had some small items to sell, so an auction was planned.

personal pics (143)


I hadn’t been to an auction for years, and it was a new experience for our kids.  At nine o’clock in the morning, the auctioneer began selling small items off the back of the wagons.  A sampling of items included tool boxes, tools, a vintage egg basket, a potato planter, a sump pump, shovels, chicken feeders, and even a “training stick” from the 1940s (AKA Board of Discipline).

personal pics (154)


The call of the auctioneer has a draw that holds the attention.  From time to time, he would throw in some casual banter to lighten the moment.

personal pics (148)


Our oldest got to be a runner and hold up items for the crowd to see.

personal pics (155)


After scanning the crowd, I quickly realized this was predominantly a men’s event: men of all ages, various professions and church affiliations.

personal pics (150)

personal pics (160)


The intermittent rain did not seem to put a damper on the attendance.  Some put up umbrellas, and others just stood in the gently falling showers.

After selling the small items and garden tools, the auction moved onto the farm equipment including tractors and implements.

personal pics (159)


Throughout the auction, the food stand was open where one could purchase typical Pennsylvania sale food including chicken corn or ham and bean soup, sloppy Joes (hamburger with BBQ sauce on a potato roll), hot dogs topped with sauerkraut or BBQ, whoopie pies, and various kinds of pie by the slice.  Pie is my dessert of choice, and there were lots to choose from: shoo fly, apple, pumpkin, cherry, red raspberry, lemon meringue, blueberry, and more.

At the end of the day, some items went high and some went low.  As my dad said, it all came out in the end.   I was glad to have experienced a bit of my Pennsylvania roots.