October 20, 2014

  • Vermont Vacation ~ Part II

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    As we traveled north on route #100, our first stop was in Weston ~ at the Vermont Country Store.
    It has been in business since 1946 and seems to have everything from soup to nuts;
    they pride themselves in still seeking out items to sell that one cannot find just anywhere.
    Different sections of the store are actually like a museum.

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    Clayton liked the car exhibited on the grounds.

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    I so loved the stark white trunks of the birch trees intermingled with all the stunning foliage.

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    After jutting west on route #4 to route #7, we headed north again and stopped at the New England Maple Museum.

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    For some reason, it surprised me to learn that Native Americans were actually the first
    to discover how to turn maple sap into maple syrup.
    I guess in my ignorance, I assumed early European settlers figured it out.
    It was interesting to learn about the whole history of American maple-syrup making.

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    Throughout our time in Vermont, we saw several churches with steeples that looked similar to this.
    After asking my Vermont friend about them, she explained that many churches had either lost the top part
    of their steeples in storms or had never gotten enough funds to complete their steeples in the first place ~ interesting ~

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    We arrived in Middlebury in mid-afternoon and promptly took a nap.
    We didn’t need lunch after that ample breakfast.
    Upon advice from my friend’s daughter, we dined at Fire and Ice that evening;
    “They serve anything you might want, she said.” ~ quite the understatement!  :)

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    When we walked into the lobby, I was stunned by the decor ~ quite beautiful.

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    We were seated in the absolutely gorgeous “library”.
    They had no idea how special that was for me since I worked in our local library for 24 years.
    It was difficult to not pluck books off the shelf to examine.

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    This was the salad bar room ~ over 55 items, including a half dozen kinds of bread, scrumptious hummus,
    marinated mushrooms, artichokes, shrimp cocktail, sushi, fruit and a few things I didn’t recognize.

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    The salad bar was all we ordered ~ it included a cup of clam chowder and then carrot cake
    for dessert ~ that was way more than we needed.  Whew!

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    Other rooms were labeled things like, “Lake” or “Tearoom” or “College”.
    Oh, how our sons and grandsons would have enjoyed seeing the “Lake” room.

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    The ceiling of the copper dome room was quite impressive.

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    ~ light fixture in the pub section ~

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    They said we were welcome to stroll through the place and to take pictures ~ didn’t have to tell me twice!

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    ~ beautiful sunset on our first evening in Vermont ~
    Many more pics from our trip to come ~ stay tuned!

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    “The trees of the LORD are full of sap; . . . which He hath planted.”
    Psalm 104:16
    TGBTG

October 16, 2014

  • Arriving in Vermont (Vermont Vacation ~ Part I)

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    After leaving our niece’s home, we traveled another couple of hours east, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
    for an overnight visit with longtime friends, Cerwin & Doris, (met her through Xanga years ago).
    The first and fourth photos are from her camera ~ :)

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    They took us to Sight & Sound in Lancaster to see the production of Moses.

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    I was so excited to be there ~ we had been wanting to go for a very long time.

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    We learned that they can seat 2,000 people at one time and usually run 11 shows a week!
    Most shows are packed out ~ the place is absolutely huge!
    The stages wrap around both sides and nearly reached our right-side balcony seats.
    They also have a theater in Branson, Missouri, if you get down that way.

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    The show was amazing and the ending with the parting of the Red Sea left me speechless ~ how do they do that!?
    There were lots of animals ~ even camels going up the center aisles, right next to seated patrons ~ wow ~ !!
    Apparently, I was not supposed to take photos during the show, but I didn’t hear the announcement ~ :-/

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    The next morning, we went with them to their church service and Sunday school.

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    After lunch, we drove on toward our vacation destination ~ saw just a few horses and buggies near the Amish area of Lancaster.

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    The foliage was just beginning to turn in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New York.

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    We were so thankful that we were not trying to return to New York City from the north ~ traffic was backed up for about 100 miles;
    we were told at a travel stop that it is like that at the end of every weekend ~ not our cup of tea ~ good grief!

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    Early the next morning, we drove a bit east into the sunrise and arrived in Bennington, Vermont, in time for brunch at
    the Blue Benn Diner ~ we were told about it at the welcome center ~ they said Martha Stewart recommended it.

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    Someone should have warned us to share ~ Clayton’s blueberry almond pancakes were as big as the plate,
    complete with SIX slices of bacon and an egg.  I ordered a spinach and asparagus omelet;
    it was delicious, but so huge, I sadly had to leave half of it behind.

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    We scooted on east to the scenic route #100 and headed north, skirting through the Green Mountains.

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    We saw some of the most colorful folliage of our whole trip that day ~ simply stunning!

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    There are over 100 covered bridges in Vermont ~ this is the first one we saw.

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    Near Killington, we cut west on route #4 to head toward Middlebury and drove past
    many ski areas ~ a popular winter pastime in Vermont.

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    We were off to a good start ~ and it was still before noon on our first day in Vermont.  We were smiling.  :)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “In the midst of the street of it . . . was there the tree of life,
    . . . and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
    Revelation 22:2
    TGBTG

October 14, 2014

  • On the Way to Vermont

    Near the end of September, we set off for a vacation in Vermont;
    but on the way, we stopped for a short visit with our niece and her husband
    who live on a dairy farm in southern Pennsylvania.

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    Their home is on the right ~ a little stone house built in 1810.

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    It was so very good to see Maria ~ she warmly welcomed us to their lovely home;
    Levi was already in the barn doing the evening milking.

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    I took lots of photos of their quaint little house because
    my mother ~ her grandmother ~ especially wishes she could visit her.
    Maria has a true gift for decorating ~ her special touch was in every nook and cranny.

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    The windowsills in the little house are very deep due to the thick stone walls.

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    Levi’s parents live up the hill in the big brick house.
    After Maria gave us a tour around outside, Clayton spent some time in the barn with the men.

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    A very embarrassed peacock (because his new tail feathers have not yet grown in)
    and three funny geese roam the premises.  Maria told us that the
    gray one always seems to be in the back of the parade ~ :)

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    These two little calves are twin girls ~ Levi is pretty happy about that ~ a big plus for a dairy farmer.

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    Clayton made friends with their dog as he watched the men do the milking.

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    When the chores were finished, Levi & Maria drove us to the top of their nearby field
    to look down over the homesteads and pastures ~ a beautiful scene.
    I was unable to get a photo of the little and very old family cemetery up on that hill
    because it is totally overgrown now, but their intentions are to get it all spruced up soon.

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    Then they drove us to High Rock from which we could see the whole valley.
    Although the view was spectacular, it literally about took my breath away;
    I was a tad bit nervous because of the heights ~ :(

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    Back at the farm, I couldn’t resist snapping this shot across their pond as the sun went down;
    Levi’s mother told me that photographs of the farm are taken from that spot often ~ :)

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    ~ sunset through Maria’s kitchen window ~

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    The next morning, I awoke to a rooster crowing and an owl hooting from a nearby tree.

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    I ventured outside in the heavy dew and could barely see the cows through the morning fog.

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    Levi’s father has an aviary in which he raises pigeons, peacocks and guineas;
    the morning sun was bringing to life the morning glories which shaded it.

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    I tried to get a photo of the baby peacock;
    just as I snapped the picture, the mama stuck her head in ~ too cute ~ :)

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    After the morning milking, it was time for a wonderful breakfast;
    the napkins with birds on them were adorable ~ loved them, Maria!

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    The geese headed toward the pond for a morning swim.

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    Levi knew I liked old cemeteries, so during another drive that morning,
    he drove us by this little tiny one ~ I loved it.

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    This stone was for a 52-year-old man who died in 1819.  The verse read,
    “You that are old, prepare to die.
    For I was old and here I lie.
    My resting place is in the dust.
    And Jesus Christ is Whom I trust.”
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    They also took us by another small, private plot which I didn’t photograph,
    but I loved the epitaph ~ “She hath awakened from the dream of life.”

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    ~ Lazy Lane ~
    This is actually a shortcut to another main road ~ :)

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    When we returned from the drive, the local great blue heron was hanging out with the cows.

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    ~ the farm’s very lovable dog, Maddy ~

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    After lunch, we bid them good-bye and headed on toward our Vermont vacation.
    What a sweet time we had with them ~ thank you, dear ones.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    “From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
    Psalm 61:2
    TGBTG

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
    TGBTG

     

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
    TGBTG

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
    TGBTG

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
    TGBTG

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
    TGBTG

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.

    27 Cm 1

    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.

    28 Cm 2

    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!

    29 Brandon 1

    ~ Brandon ~ ready for a game ~

    30 Brandon 2

    30a Brandon 3

    His dad operated the pitching machine sometimes.

    31 Jbb 1

    Jordan played ball this summer too.

    32 Jbb 2

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

    33 Jf 1

    ~ at the summer festival in his small town ~

    34 Hb 2

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

    35 Hb 1

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

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!

    Bndnas 1

    Bndnas 2

    Bndnas 3

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

    Bndnas 4

    Bndnas 5

    Bndnas 6

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

    Bndnas 7

    We absolutely love their sweet potato fries.

    Bndnas 8

    ~ lots of barbecue sauces from which to choose ~

    Bndnas 9

    Bndnas 10

    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.

    Bndnas 11

    ~ suckers for the kiddos ~

    Bndnas 12

    Bndnas 13

    Bndnas 14

    Bndnas 15

    Bndnas 16

    Bndnas 17

    ~ Clayton’s meal from another visit ~

    Bndnas 18

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

    Bndnas 19

    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
    TGBTG