September 17, 2014

  • Virginia Views II ~ Assateague Wild Ponies

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    The highlight of our island time was this pontoon-boat tour to seek the wild ponies.

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    Captain Dan’s Around the Islands Tours only allows six or less guests at a time.

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    ~ Captain Dan ~

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    We passed the Waterman’s Memorial ~ honoring those lost at sea in different occupations.

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    ~ Assateague Lighthouse ~

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    There are  lots of old, dilapidated crab shacks in the Chincoteague Bay;
    at high tide, they look as though they are nearly floating on the water.

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    ~ duck blind topped by an osprey ~

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    I was astounded when I brought this photo up on the computer to see black-bellied plovers amid the willets ~ a first sighting for me.

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    ~oyster watchhouse ~ 
    Oyster watchhouses once housed those who protected the oyster beds from marauders and ‘oyster pirates’.
    We were told that in more recent years, those who harvested oysters hung out here
    until their boats were full, then hauled their catch back to shore.

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    ~ double-crested cormorant ~
    Dan said I could bring a thousand of them home with me, if I wanted ~ they consider them a nuisance.

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    The first wild pony we saw happened to be a lone stallion ~ Copper Moose.

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    Moose seems always to be alone, without a girlfriend, our guide said.

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    However, he was accompanied by plenty of seagulls ~ :)

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    ~ great blue heron ~

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    ~ crab traps ~

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    Next, we spotted a group of four ponies ~ Phantom Mist, Tuney/Queenie, Daisy and Kachina.
    I read somewhere that they are actually horses, but that the islanders fondly insist on calling them “ponies” anyway.
    Many ponies that we saw were surrounded or “topped” with cattle egrets.

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    Dan told us that this sighting still didn’t qualify for his requirement of seeing ponies within 100 yards of the boat.
    His guarantee stated that if he didn’t find ponies that close, he would return our money.

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    ~ flock of white ibis ~

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    I think there might just be a couple sandhill cranes amongst all those egrets ~ too far away to tell for sure.

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    Finally, after nearly two hours, we approached the north end of Assateague Island;
    as we rounded the northern tip, we were thrilled to catch sight of a larger herd ~ much closer to the boat.

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    Dan was excited to see a new foal with its mother, Cody Two Socks.

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    I have a lot of photos of these ponies ~ hope it doesn’t bore you ~ I was pretty excited to see them, obviously ~ :)

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    ~ Wild Thing ~
    He is the stallion in this particular herd.

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    ~ the new foal ~

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    It was still pretty wobbly.

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    ~ Beautiful Dreamer ~ 

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    As we turned around for the return trip, our guide said we were far enough north that we had entered Maryland waters for a bit.

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    It was turning cool and clouds were approaching.

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    When we returned to Chincoteague Island, we were told we simply had to get some ice cream here ~ and it was worth it ~ :)

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    As we left the island, a rainbow appeared ~ a wonderful day’s blessing.

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    This particular cloud reminded me of our toy poodle, Luci;
    she’s been gone now for several years, but is fondly remembered by our family.

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    As we approached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the sky was gorgeous.

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    What a very special day that was!

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    The next day was a scorcher ~ we took a brief morning walk along the Yorktown beach.

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    ~ photo taken from the pier ~

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    We ventured south a bit to eat a seafood lunch along the James River.

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    We shared a bowl of she-crab soup, to begin with.

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    ~ delicious slaw and a blackened salmon sandwich ~
    It was such a blistering hot day, we just rested in the afternoon.

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    That evening, we ate at Smokey Bones ~ brisket and pulled pork.

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    On our last evening in Newport News, after hubby finished the job, we ate at Harpoon Larry’s ~ fabulous meal.

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    And the next morning we headed home ~ so I’m just posting my favorite photo
    of that beautiful sunset over the Chesapeake Bay as we headed back from the islands.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses:
    but we will remember the Name of the LORD our God.”
    Psalm 20:7


September 15, 2014

  • Adoption Benefit

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    On Saturday evening, we attended a fabulous benefit supper ~ for our nephew’s family;
    they are pursuing the adoption of a little girl from China.
    These are NOT MY PHOTOS ~ my niece generously gave me permission to post some of hers;
    I didn’t even think of taking pictures ~ I greatly regret it, but I was just enjoying the moment so much, it didn’t cross my mind.
    I think my head must have been in the clouds ~ maybe amidst all those pretty Chinese lanterns ~ :)

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    When we entered the building, it was a feast for our eyes ~ so beautiful.
    This station had a blessing tree ~ handwritten blessings and prayers could be tied to the branches of the tree.
    Photos of orphans who are awaiting forever families were posted on the wall below the verse.
    A jar of fortune cookies sat on a corner of the table.

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    The meal was amazing ~ so scrumptious ~ and served so beautifully ~ so creative.

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    ~ so many yummy desserts ~ it was hard to choose ~
    I chose lemon sponge cake with the raspberry topping, a sliver of the chocolate pound cake
    and a sugar cookie iced with “LOVE” written in Chinese.
    I know, I know ~ way too much dessert for one person ~ and yes, I was stuffed!

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    ~ luscious drinks available at this station ~

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    Children from families who have already adopted children, or who are in process of adopting,
    sang three songs, including “Jesus Loves Me” ~ in English and then Chinese.
    They were accompanied by a violin, keyboard and guitar.

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    A small auction of some donated items and gift certificates helped raise funds;
    leaf-raking, baby-sitting, cooking certificates ~ there was quite an assortment from which to choose.

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    ~ our nephew and his dear family ~
    They are so very excited about the little girl coming to join their family ~ can hardly wait.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “God setteth the solitary in families . . .”
    Psalm 68:6

September 11, 2014

  • Virginia Views I

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    A couple of weeks ago, we headed to eastern Virginia ~ hubby had a half-day job there.
    We decided to incorporate Labor Day Weekend into the trip so that we would have a couple days to ourselves.

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    Interesting cloud formations attracted our attention as we traveled into the Allegheny Mountains.

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    I was delighted when we stopped at this rest stop to find such beautiful flower gardens.

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    The brilliant zinnias were attracting lots of bees.

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    ~ hibiscus ~

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    ~ dogwood seed pods ~

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    ~ great-spangled frittilary ~

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    ~ rose of Sharon ~

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    ~ butterfly bush ~

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    ~ back on the road again ~

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    ~ the meandering mountains seem to go on and on forever ~

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    We stayed in Newport News ~ on Labor Day we drove toward the ocean.

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    ~ small portion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel System ~
    I did not take this picture ~ found it online.

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    The bridge system is 20 miles long and includes 2 one-mile-long underwater tunnels.

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    It was difficult to take pictures because of the railings ~ no places to turn out or stop for a photo.

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    I must say, it is beautiful and amazing ~ beyond words ~ but navigating it was one of the more unsettling experiences
    we’ve ever had.  It’s just kind of a weird feeling driving underwater, for some reason ~ :-/

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    After crossing the bridge, we started driving north on 13 through the small villages
    on the Eastern Shore of Virginia ~ the crepe myrtle trees were in full bloom.

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    These two small islands were our goal for the day.

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    ~ the walkway toward the Assateague Island lighthouse ~

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    I wanted to take lots more photos of the lighthouse, but the mosquitoes were nearly eating us alive;
    we absolutely could not stand still without being bitten.

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    ~ tree full of great egrets ~

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    ~ snowy egret ~

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    ~ willets, black skimmers and one lone herring gull ~

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    ~ Atlantic Ocean ~ Assateague Island Beach ~

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    This gull didn’t get the sign’s message ~ :)

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    We next drove around Chincoteague Island, admiring all the brilliant crepe myrtle trees.

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    ~ bridge to the island ~

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    ~ loved this old rusting hulk ~

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    These giant chairs were a “huge” attraction for anyone with a camera.

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    Hubby decided to take a nap while we waited to board a tour boat ~ I’ll tell you about that exciting journey on the next post.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.”
    Psalm 97:1

August 22, 2014

  • 5½ Inches of Rain

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    During the night and then again this morning, we had downpours totaling 5½ inches of rain.
    This is our backyard ~ hadn’t seen this much water in our yard since the spring of 1989 when we had a 7-inch rain.
    That year, all the mulch from our raised flower beds ended up at our neighbors ~ 4 days before our son’s graduation.
    We had been planning to have his reception in the backyard ~ there was a fast change of plans ~ :(

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    I was so distracted by phone calls and other things this morning
    that I didn’t get any photos until after the water had receded quite a bit.

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    They were using a firetruck and sump pumps to drain the water from the town park today;
    our town’s summer festival is to be held there tomorrow ~ might be a bit soggy.

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    Leaf-blowers were used to blow mulch off the street and sidewalks.

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    Our little town was inundated ~ people were detouring around flooded streets,
    wringing water out of the items they had in garage sale booths
    and children were frolicking in knee-deep puddles ~ making fun where they could find it.
    God is good ~ all the time.  :)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in heaven and in earth . . .
    He maketh lightnings for the rain; He bringeth the wind out of His treasuries.”
    Psalm 135:6-7

August 18, 2014

  • Bacon Festival

    On Saturday, we had a few free hours, so we decided to drive to a nearby town for lunch;
    a processing plant near there was sponsoring their first annual Bacon Festival.

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    ~ loved this semi’s decor ~

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    Since the whole festival was supporting local senior and mentoring charities, there was an entry fee.

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    We had to buy tickets with which we could then purchase our choice of foods from different booths;
    there were some quite unusual offerings on the menu ~ :)

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    Two streets were blocked off and there was a large crowd in attendance.

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    One section was reserved for booths which were giving out samples;
    each of them had placed entries into the cook-off.

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    The cook-off had two categories ~ one for taste and one for appearance;
    the entries in the appearance category almost made me drool!

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    ~ activities for the kiddos ~ face-painting, treasure hunts in the straw, etc. ~

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    ~ the aroma from all the food booths ~ absolutely mouth-watering ~

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    ~ maple bacon cake pops, bacon breadsticks, bacon pizza ~

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    We had to taste one of the maple bacon cake pops.

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    Someone else was sampling the bacon cinnamon rolls and the maple bacon bourbon cupcakes;
    they testified that they were scrumptious ~ sounded a bit strange, but I expect they were good anyway ~ :)

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    We really enjoyed the booths that were giving out samples ~ yum!

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    We would have stayed longer and sampled more things if we hadn’t been on a schedule,
    but I’m not so sure that would have been wise ~ we might have made pigs of ourselves! (pun intended) ~ :)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “O taste and see that the LORD is good:  blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.”
    Psalm 34:8

August 14, 2014

  • Catching Up

    Wow ~ summer has absolutely FLOWN by! ~ and I know I will never be able to catch up now
    with all the photos, so I’m just going to give you a few snapshots of the last several months in our life.

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    In February, Brandon turned 7 and celebrated with a Carz party.

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    Jordan turned 6 in April ~ his parents did an amazing job with his golf course cake ~ :)

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    There was even a putting contest ~ his uncle Mark won.

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    ~ opening gifts with his Dad ~

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    Spring brought birds checking out the available accomodations.

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    A house wren explored this dwelling but decided not to use it ~ :(

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    Our oldest grandson, Burke, graduated from high school this year.

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    ~ with his family ~

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    May the Lord bless him with a bright future ~ he now has a full-time job
    doing what he enjoys ~ we are so happy for him.

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    Bronté’s class had a promotion ceremony ~ she and Andrea are both new freshmen this year;
    and Madelyn is a senior ~ how does this all happen so quickly?

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    Jordan and his kindergarten class had a little graduation ceremony ~ he and Brandon are both in first grade this fall.
    They sure have a good time when they get together ~ :)

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    ~ neighbor’s cat snoozing on our front porch on a rainy day ~

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    ~ red-winged blackbird ~ a sure sign of spring in our parts ~

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    It seemed like we had so many birds trying to get through our windows this year;
    this is a chipping sparrow ~ peering into our family room.

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    ~ house finch ~ perched on the office window ~

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    Valerie turned 10 in May and has now entered fifth grade.

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    I stopped by my sister’s home one day and snapped a few pictures of her art studio.

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    We seem to have an abundance of chipmunks, piney squirrels and 13-lined ground squirrels
    this year; they are becoming a bit of a nuisance, even though they are cute.

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    This one has literally stuffed his cheeks with seeds that dropped from the bird feeder.
    We are considering having a pest control company come out to check our attic and crawl space
    as we have been hearing a bit of scurrying above our heads
    and have noticed burrowed holes near the foundation;
    don’t want these crazy critters making themselves at home where they should not be!

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    ~ Brandon ~ ready for a game ~

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    His dad operated the pitching machine sometimes.

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    Jordan played ball this summer too.

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    I just happened to capture this shot when he got a hit!

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    ~ at the summer festival in his small town ~

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    It’s been a beautiful summer ~ just wish it would continue for a while longer.

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    “Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: Thou hast made summer and winter.”
    Psalm 74:17

July 16, 2014

  • Bandanas

    I keep thinking I am going to post these photos of one of our favorite restaurants;
    and today is the day!  :D
    The pictures are from several visits in different towns in Illinois;
    each one has their own flair with the decor, but the food is always scrumptious!

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    One could spend a lot of money there on a meal if they so desired,
    but most of the meals are quite reasonable.

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    ~ my meal at one of the restaurants ~
    I think their potato salad is especially tasty.

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    We absolutely love their sweet potato fries.

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    ~ lots of barbecue sauces from which to choose ~

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    The waitresses all have bandanas hanging from the back pockets of their jeans
    and some have them tied around their necks.  Cowboy hats are common too.

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    ~ suckers for the kiddos ~

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    ~ Clayton’s meal from another visit ~

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    ~ my barbecued chicken ~ oh, so good! ~
    I can almost smell it from here ~ :)

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    Have any of you ever eaten there?  We highly recommend it.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing
    into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
    And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
    I Timothy 6:6-8

June 20, 2014

  • Wonderful Weekend

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    I spent seven days at our oldest son’s home last week ~ helping sew dresses for a granddaughter.
    While there, we spotted deer many times ~ this was my favorite “capture” of the week.
    I took the photo through the door of their family room ~ the deer was down by the creek.

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    Very early one morning, I saw eight at once in the bean field which is alongside their home;
    I was only able to get six of them into one photo.

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    Clayton joined me on Thursday evening ~ our granddaughter, Bronté, was baptized that evening;
    I snapped this photo of her just before leaving to go to the meetinghouse.

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    ~ little boys sitting beside the spring-fed baptismal ~

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    After she changed into dry clothes, I convinced her brother, Burke, to pose with her for a picture.

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    ~ delicious snacks served afterward in church basement ~

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    It was so much fun to sew all week ~ their dining room looked like a clothing factory ~ :)

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    On Friday evening, we attended the hog roast held in their church district.

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    ~ tail end of the well-done hog ~

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    It was quite dressed up ~ very festive.

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    The table stretched on and on and on!

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    The hosts’ home was so beautiful ~ I just loved their patio furniture.

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    ~ gorgeous arrangements ~

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    I thought the bird seed sack used under the centerpiece was so cool ~ what a great idea!  :)

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    ~ luscious food ~

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    Their back lawn was very spacious ~ with stunning flower beds and lots of space for all kinds of activity.

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    The little gray building had a small greenhouse/potting shed on the back.

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    Their garden was inside the white picket fence, with nary a weed in sight.

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    Our granddaughter, Andrea (red shirt), stood on one of the stumps, trying to pull the other girl off her stump;
    I think she won several matches until she ended up with a rope burn on her hand ~ :(

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    ~ lots of volleyball ~
    (granddaugher, Madelyn, on left in white jacket ~ grandson, Burke, in black/white-striped shirt.)

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    In another area of the expansive lawn, the little ones were playing all kinds of games.
    (grandson, Brandon, in white shirt)

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    Several people later sat around the campfire and sang hymns ~ it was a beautiful evening.

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    Then on Saturday evening, Bronté and Andrea helped with announcements at teen camp.
    On Sunday, Father’s Day, we attended services, bid good-bye to family and friends,
    then headed home to catch up again on mail and rest ~ :)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
    Luke 15:10

June 3, 2014

  • Holmes County Hiatus

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    In the middle of May, we spent a day and a half in Holmes County, Ohio for our anniversary;
    it is one of our favorite destinations when we just want to slow down for a bit.

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    One has no choice but to slow down during a visit there, because around every bend in the road,
    or over the top of every hill, there might be a horse-drawn buggy or farm implement.

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    There are plenty of hills ~ and every single byway seems to be filled with curves and bends in the road.

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    School was out for the year ~ had to wonder why these horses were tied outside one of them ~

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    ~ a bicycle mishap for a couple young Amish girls ~

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    It was planting season in Holmes County ~ we so enjoyed seeing all the activity in the fields.

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    We saw teams pulling sprayers, rakes, harrows, mowers, plows and planters ~ a bustling, busy time for them.

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    Everywhere we went, there was another horse, of course ~ :)

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    We ate lunch at a large restaurant which serves home-cooked meals ~ this was how they divided their rooms.

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    It was really fun to see all the new lambs and colts frolicking about in the green pastures.

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    It was a Monday ~ wash day ~ their clotheslines sometimes stretch to the top of a barn roof.

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    ~ loved the reflections on the road ~

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    On Tuesday morning, even before breakfast, we again headed out through the country to see what we could see.
    We later stopped at a local farmer’s restaurant and feasted on fried mush.

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    I think one of these little guys stuck his tongue out at me ~ :D

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    We had seen this same farmer the day before, in the very same place in his field,
    with his trusty dog seated nearby . . .

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    . . . and the same beautiful horses in the pasture next to his field.

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    Since I tried to be discreet in my picture-taking so as not to offend them,
    I often had photographs with strings of barbed wire cutting through the scene.
    Hubby was fascinated to see a 5-horse team . . .

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    . . . and he was also interested to see this long-horned mother with her baby.

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    I enjoyed seeing this killdeer which stood still and posed for me.

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    All too soon, it was time to eat another wonderful lunch and leave for home;
    we followed this farmer heading back to his fields.  We can’t wait to return another time.
    If you have never been there, we highly recommend a visit ~ just be sure you take a big appetite ~ the food is amazing!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us;
    and we turn about their whole body.”
    James 3:3

May 29, 2014

  • Rare Privilege

    On Tuesday evening, as we drove down an Ohio highway, I glanced into a side road and saw
    what I thought was a doe and perhaps her fawn.  I persuaded hubby to turn the car around
    and slowly approach with his window down, so I could aim my camera right through the window.

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    Lo and behold, she had twins!!!  We couldn’t believe she was still there,
    but she just looked at us and stayed put while her little ones very unsteadily walked about a bit.

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    It appeared to us that they may have been just born as they were still pretty wobbly on those spindly legs.

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    They seemed very uncertain what to do and the momma kept nuzzling them with encouragement.

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    We were kind of in a hurry and hubby was getting anxious to move on, but it was hard to leave!

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    The mother stood so still and didn’t seem to mind us much.
    As soon as we coasted forward a bit, though, she walked into the woods.

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    The little fawns seemed a bit disoriented without her, but eventually followed.

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    “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.”
    Psalm 42:1 (NASB)