January 24, 2015

  • Some of my Winter 'Pets'

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    I think we have several squirrels around here that have a touch of that "rain rot" stuff
    that I described in a previous post ~ this one is not nearly so ugly.

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    They don't let a little snow prevent them from foraging for the birdseed.

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    They really don't like another squirrel showing up while they are eating, though.

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    This one was just a bit intimidated by the one at the feeder.

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    He won the staredown and was soon stuffing his own cheeks full of seeds.

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    ~ yet another squirrel with an imperfect coat ~

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    I'm not sure why a brown-headed cowbird was at the feeder ~ they usually eat off the ground,
    but I guess the snow brings them in to dine where they can.

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    Even the pesky house sparrows are somewhat beautiful.

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    I love it when a red-bellied woodpecker comes to call ~ they are so striking.

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    This noisy blue jay's photos are so dull ~ it was a very gray morning when I shot these.

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    ~ blurry cardinal in the pre-dawn ~

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    ~ random photo of icicles from inside a restaurant ~

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    ~ a couple photos shot in very early morning as we headed out to a job ~

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    ~ round hay bales buried in snow ~

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    ~ my favorite shot from this set ~ just outside our town early one snowy morning ~
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
    Psalm 51:7

January 12, 2015

  • Hawk Ambush!

    WARNING:  This is rather a gruesome post ~ :(

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    A few days ago, as I was sitting in the office at the computer, I heard a loud "WHOOSH"
    and saw something large flash downward past the window.
    I wondered at the time if it was a hawk, but I briefly glanced out and didn't see anything.

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    The window is right beside me as I sit there ~ many birds dine at the feeders just 6 feet away from me.
    But for several minutes after that, there were no birds in sight.

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    Curious, I got up again and peered out more closely ~ alas, right below the window, up next to the house,
    was a large hawk, devouring what looked to have been a mourning dove.
    I grabbed my camera and ran down the hallway, slowly opened the front door and then stood on the front porch
    in my stocking feet ~ it was freezing cold, but I wasn't going to miss this opportunity.

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    It was a juvenile Cooper's hawk ~ the size of a very, very large chicken or small wild turkey.
    It couldn't have cared less that I was taking its picture ~ it wasn't budging.

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    Cooper's hawks dine mostly on songbirds and small mammals.
    They often perch on telephone poles, unlike their smaller cousin, the sharp-shinned hawk,
    which is usually slightly larger than the common crow.

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    I took many, many photos, then started to inch closer to this ferocious bird.
    It soon grabbed the remains and flew a few feet into one of the pines at the north end of our home.

    CH 10

    After returning to the office, I could see it perched in the pine, directly outside the north window,
    just a few feet away from the house.  It was tearing into what was left of the poor morning dove.
    It saw me, but again, did not care.

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    The detail of its feathers was absolutely amazing ~ so delicate, intricate, precise.

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    When I slowly tried to open the window, it flew deeper into the pines.
    I could no longer get good photos as the limbs kept taking the focus.
    So, I started yelling at it to get it to leave so it wouldn't continue to scare the other birds away,
    but it stuck its ground ~ it stayed an hour and a half before it was finished, then finally flew away.

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    As aggravating as it was to me for it to grab one of "my" birds for its lunch,
    somehow it was still quite beautiful ~ in all of its fierceness.
    But, it will be fine with me if it doesn't return, although I'm afraid that it will,
    since it now knows it can find birds around my window most any day ~ :(
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?"
    Job 39:26

January 7, 2015

  • First January Snow

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    Yesterday morning, we awakened to around 6 inches of fresh snowfall.

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    Snow is a delight to me, but not so much for hubby.

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    ~ mourning dove ~ 

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    ~ cardinal ~

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    ~ dark-eyed junco ~
    My grandpa and grandma always called them snowbirds ~ :)

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    ~ our view from the family room ~

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    My Christmas poinsettia is still beautiful.

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    ~ dark-eyed junco ~ 

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    We have this sick-looking squirrel hanging around here;
    it has no fur from its neck to mid-back ~ :(
    A cousin, who is a veterinary student, told me it has a fungus
    caused by too much damp weather last autumn.  He said
    lots of animals get it, but they will eventually get their hair/fur back.
    He said the common term for it is called "rain rot" ~ ewwww!

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    He just throws his tail up over his back a lot to keep the chill off.

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    I will be glad when he is recovered ~ ugly thing!

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    ~ a very cold mourning dove ~
    The birds are very, very busy at the feeders as the temperature is just above zero;
    with the wind blowing fiercely, the wind chill is far below zero.

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    ~ white-breasted nuthatch ~

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    ~ tufted titmouse ~ 

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    ~ female cardinal ~ 

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    The mourning dove's feathers are amazingly beautiful.

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    ~ white-breasted nuthatch ~
    I love this photo.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "She (a virtuous woman) is not afraid of the snow for her household:
    for all her household are clothed with scarlet."

    Proverbs 31:21

January 6, 2015

  • Christmas 2014

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    For Christmas decor, I really cut back this year, but wrapping a doll in 'swaddling clothes'
    to rest in a basket, as baby Jesus, is absolutely a priority ~ :)
    "And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe
    wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
    Luke 2:12

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    My nativity set was placed on top of the buffet this year;
    our granddaughter liked the blue lights ~ said it made it appear more like a nighttime scene.
    Once upon a time, it truly was an humble scene in the night ~ with only one very bright Light.

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    As Christmas drew near, I decided to just add a few things to our clock shelf in the kitchen.

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    ~ tabletop tree with birds beneath ~

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    ~ front door wreath ~ 

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    Two of our granddaughters had Christmas concerts ~ I enjoy their music so much!
    A third granddaughter was ill and missed her concert altogether ~ :(

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    Soon, it was time to decorate the table for our family gathering;
    our family Christmas was the weekend before the actual holiday.

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    When the day finally arrived, Clayton awaited the children's and grandchildren's arrival, wearing his snowman socks ~ :)

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    ~ oldest son and family ~
    Mark, Angela, Burke, Bronté

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    ~ middle son and family ~ 
    Lynn, Lynette, Madelyn, Andrea, Valerie, Brandon

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    ~ youngest son and family ~ 
    Ryan, Cheryl, Jordan

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    ~ our very special grandchildren ~ 

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    ~ my beloved and me ~

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    We always have a jigsaw puzzle out for everyone to work on whenever they want.

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    Game after game after game was played over the weekend.

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    My mother loves to play 42 with her family.

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    The two little guys played with cars much of the time ~ racing them up, down and all around.

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    I completely neglected to take any photos of our meal this year;
    it was served buffet-style and it totally slipped my mind.
    Before gifts were unwrapped, some of the grandchildren sang for us ~ so beautiful.

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    Christmas is always made more special by the little children ~ so fun to watch them.

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    ~ Madelyn ~

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    These two little guys, Brandon and Jordan, have so much fun together.

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    ~ Valerie ~ 

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    ~ Bronté and Andrea ~
    They are always clowning around ~ we love it!

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    We got our daughters-in-law Thirty-One bags;
    each had the same inscription, but were of different fabrics.

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    ~ Burke ~ 

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    Hats from Vermont were gifts for our sons, but the two fun-loving girls had to try them on as well ~ :D

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    ~ the aftermath ~

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    After gifts, the granddaughters performed a little concert for us.

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    The little guys kept busy racing their new remote-controlled cars.

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    The next morning, the teenagers prepared an amazing brunch for the whole family.
    They planned, fixed and served it with great expertise ~ impressive!

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    They even did some of the cleanup during the preparations, bless their hearts.

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    Then it was stocking time (looks like she needs some!) ~ and then more games, and grazing through more food;
    all too soon, we were bidding them good-bye and safe travels ~ another family Christmas was history.

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    On Christmas Day, we did not initially have plans, so we invited my mother to come for leftovers.
    Her sister and husband joined us and brought a delicious salad.  Lots more games were on the schedule.

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    We played a lot of Skip-Bo Golf ~ Mother got a double block on this particular hand ~ wow, Mom!  :)

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    Later in the afternoon, their older brother and his wife stopped by;
    these three siblings really enjoy spending time together.

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    To end this post, I just wanted to post a few pics of our children's nativity sets;
    and also a photo of the one my youngest sister had displayed.
    The other picture is of a grouping of churches she had on a table.

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    My favorite was the way our youngest son's family had theirs displayed ~ so beautiful!
    We had no snow over Christmas ~ the weather was warmer than normal.
    But now, this morning, we have a fresh coat of 6-8 inches of freshly-fallen snow ~ may post pics soon.
    Enjoy January ~ my very favorite month!

December 4, 2014

  • End of our Vermont Vacation ~ Lake George, New York

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    We didn't check out of our motel until late morning on October 9 ~ we had booked a two-hour luncheon cruise
    on Lake George ~ it was so nice to have a leisurely beginning to our last sight-seeing day for this trip.

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    Music played as we were ushered to our window table on the bottom deck.

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    As we pulled away from the dock, we were served a buffet lunch ~ the butternut acorn squash soup was scrumptious.
    The tour began at noon on the landlocked lake ~ it is 32 miles long and 3 miles wide at the widest point ~ 200 feet deep.

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    Dessert came a bit later with more coffee.

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    The foliage was about halfway to peak ~ very beautiful.

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    There are 11 major species of fish in Lake George ~ it completely freezes in the winter with ice over 30 inches deep.

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    We traveled along the west coast of the lake first ~ along what they call Millionaire Row ~ lined with stately mansions.

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    We spent some time outside, but it was pretty windy, so we soon went back in for yet another cup of coffee ~ :)

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    There are 183 islands in the lake ~ 29 are privately owned.

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    The steamboat company has 3 different boats, including a paddle-wheeler; they have been in business since 1817.

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    ~ The Sagamore ~
    This Victorian-era resort is located on Green Island ~ in the town of Bolton Landing, Lake George.

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    The Sagamore first opened in 1883 and quickly developed into the social center for the wealthy of the area,
    those from Green Island and Millionaire Row ~ it also attracted an international clientele.
    A room there during peak foliage season might now cost as much as $500 a night.

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    James Fennimore Cooper wrote of the region in his book, "The Last of the Mohicans".
    The hotel was named after an American Indian who was called "the Sagamore" in his 1826 novel.

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    The mountains that surround the lake are foothills of the Adirondacks;
    Lake George lies within the borders of New York's Adirondack State Park which was established in 1892.

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    As we traveled back along the eastern, less posh side of the lake, there was music and dancing inside;
    several formed a conga line and thoroughly enjoyed themselves ~ lots of smiles and laughs.

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    All too soon, it was time to debark and seriously head towards home.

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    ~ interesting sights along the way ~

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    We stayed in New York yet that night and spent the next night with friends in Pennsylvania.

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    As we drove toward home through the Pennsylvania mountains on the 11th, the foliage was at peak color,
    but because of the rain and fog, we sadly couldn't enjoy much of it ~ :(

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    Eventually, the sun did break through ~ we stopped to spend the last night of our trip with our youngest son and his family.

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    Then when we drove down our street in our own little town, this is the glorious sight that met our eyes!
    Wow, God, what a welcome home You granted us ~ after 3,286 wonderful miles ~ :)
    We were so blessed to experience autumn twice this year ~ once in Vermont and then back at home ~ :)
    I just wish our town forefathers had thought to bury all those electric lines ~ ;)
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven . . . 
    the leaves thereof were fair . . . the beasts of the field had shadow under it,
    and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof . . ."
    Daniel 4:11-12

December 2, 2014

  • Vermont Vacation ~ Part XII

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    On October 8, we again crossed over the Green Mountains, driving a bit southwest.
    In this photo, I was wishing those high wires had been buried like the ones in Woodstock!

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    We came across this interesting barn upon which was a clock face, a compass, a globe and an eagle;
    no one seemed to know the significance of the decorations.
    In nearby Dorset, they told us it was built by Mr. Dorr who owned a good bit of ground around the village.

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    They said he was rather an eccentric ~ also owned this long, curved line of antique tractors ~ around 40 of them.
    A large antique car show is hosted there each summer.

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    We shopped in the very old general store ~ brought back so many memories for me of the little old grocery
    in the town where my paternal grandparents lived ~ I loved visiting that old store in Pyrmont, Indiana.

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    Clayton had fun with some of the merchandise;
    we bought several things in the store, including my pair of Sloggers.

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    The businesses in Dorset went to great lengths to decorate for autumn;
    I loved the bright tangerine color of some of these pumpkins ~ beautiful!
    Many villages in Vermont have a "green" or small park at its center ~ some of the streets surrounding them are one-way;
    it gave me a whole new perspective of the saying, "around the village green".

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    We headed north under darkened skies ~ just wandering a bit on that last day in Vermont.
    The sunshine eventually returned as we meandered on our way.

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    Something we were told about pastures in Vermont ~ "You can tell it is a pasture
    if there are lots rocks in it ~ not much good for anything else then." ~ :)

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    There were still a few pockets of flaming color.

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    We had to take a detour over winding backroads and ran onto this charming old Red Schoolhouse cemetery;
    it looked like it probably contained less than 50 graves.

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    I couldn't enter the gated fence, but was able to photograph this stone of Phebe, a young wife born in 1794 who died in 1823.

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    We entered the village of Brandon ~ had to take several photos of the signs for our grandson by that name ~ :)

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    Sheri's diner offered us a delicious lunch ~ we split their signature meatloaf sandwich with a bourbon berry barbecue sauce.
    At their deli, they offered a salmon, scallion and mush quiche ~ wished later I had tried that ~ :)
    I enjoyed the "laughter" saying on the chalkboard.

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    ~ waterfall near the diner ~
    We specifically visited this village at the wish of Dianne ~ she wanted us to see the artwork of Warren Kimball.
    His works had mostly been moved to a town just south, so we did venture down to view a bit of it in an antique store.
    The locals in Brandon told us they would give us directions to his home and we could just ask him to show us his art,
    but we declined ~ they said he wouldn't care, but I wasn't too sure he really would like a couple of tourists on his doorstep!

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    The town of Brandon was decorated for autumn and Halloween both ~ many of the lampposts had "people" attached.

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    The lady in lavender had quite the shoes!  :)

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    Traveling nearer and nearer to the state line, we found a couple more covered bridges.

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    ~ Cooley Bridge ~

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    ~ Gorham Bridge ~

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    We stopped briefly at the Vermont Marble Museum ~ mainly just checked out their gift shop.

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    After dragging our feet about it all day long, we finally had to say good-bye to amazing Vermont,
    and crossing into New York, we checked into a very nice Comfort Suites at Lake George.

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    That evening, we ate on the shore of Glen Lake, sharing a fisherman's platter;
    our meal included corn on the cob ~ we had seen lots of it at farm stands ~ they must have a late season for it.

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    Clayton had been wanting to see a moose so badly ~ well, we finally saw one, missing one of its wooden antlers ~ :D

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    We ate on their tent-enclosed patio which was heated with the neatest propane heaters.

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    It was a beautiful evening on the lakeshore.

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    As it was raining the night before, we were unable to view the blood moon as many of our friends had at home,
    but the full moon was gorgeous this following night in New York.
    Only one more post to go from our vacation ~ hoping to finish it up later this week.  Almost time for Christmas pictures!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    ". . . as the people pressed upon Him to hear the Word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret."
    Luke 5:1

November 26, 2014

  • Vermont Vacation ~ Part XI

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    From Montpelier, we struck out south on a winding road to the town of Northfield Falls;
    the map showed that the little village contained four (!!) covered bridges.
    And apparently, there are two other bridges very near there that we missed altogether ~ :(
    On the way, we still saw a few patches of brilliant color, although most of the landscape looked a bit faded.

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    ~ Station Bridge ~ 
    This bridge (first of the four) sits close to the inviting general store, where we bought our lunch;
    we shared a pulled pork sandwich with a side of potato salad, then split a piece of pumpkin cheesecake.

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    Station Bridge spans the Dog River.  Cox Brook flows into the Dog River at this point.

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    ~ viewing the second bridge just up the road ~

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    ~ Northfield Falls (aka Cox Brook Cascades) ~

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    ~ Lower Bridge ~

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    The second bridge spans Cox Brook.

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    ~ looking back toward the Station Bridge ~

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    ~ Upper Bridge ~
    The third bridge also spans Cox Brook ~ it is about a quarter mile from the Lower Bridge ~ just around the bend.

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    I enjoyed photographing the bridges ~ each is unique in some way.
    We were somewhat surprised that nearly all the bridges we saw on this trip are still able to be driven across by vehicles.
    We drove across all four of these antique bridges ~ so fun ~ :)

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    The last bridge we saw near the town was Slaughter House Bridge which also spans the Dog River;
    all four bridges were built in 1872 ~ somebody had a busy year back then ~ :)

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    ~ viewing the Dog River from inside Slaughter House Bridge ~

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    Driving on south towards our B&B, Clayton noticed a deer on a ridge above us;
    he pulled off and slowly backed up to see if it was still there.  It stared at us like we were crazy ~ :)

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    ~ still a bit of red foliage here and there ~

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    ~ a tiny covered bridge near Pittsfield ~

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    ~ our B&B ~ built in 1840 as a summer hotel ~
    President Calvin Coolidge and Thomas Edison stayed there on occasion.

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    This lazy fellow greeted us as we walked up to the porch;
    he was definitely letting the grass grow under his feet ~ :D

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    I absolutely loved the front porch!

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    Inside, they offered us a free upgrade ~ how nice!  But, they didn't offer us the Coolidge Suite ~ :)

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    After checking in, we took a walk around the inn ~ there was always something interesting to see.

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    ~ another steeple with 'the breath of God' symbol ~ 

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    A beaver had been gnawing on a couple trees near the creek.
    You can see the dam they were creating behind the tree.

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    We had all intentions of taking a row on Echo Lake in one of the canoes, but we had forgotten the key
    to unlock the padlocks and there was water standing in all of the canoes anyway.
    Oh well, you know what they say about good intentions anyway;
    we just hiked back to the inn with those intentions intact ~ :)
    We drove down to Ludlow for supper ~ Clayton had a stuffed pork chop and I chose pot roast.
    It was another splendid day in Vermont, despite the rain and wind in the forenoon.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth,
    and my right hand hath spanned the heavens;
    when I call unto them, they stand up together."
    Isaiah 48:13

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    "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . . and be ye thankful."
    Colossians 3:15

November 25, 2014

  • Vermont Vacation ~ Part X

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    On Tuesday, October 7, we backtracked northwest a bit, through the rain;
    the village of Royalton lay in the valley below us as we drove on the interstate.
    The foliage was dimming fast ~ leaves were rapidly falling as the rain poured down.

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    We visited the Rock of Ages granite quarry and factory at Barre, Vermont,
    where they mostly make tombstones and beautiful memorials.  The company was founded in 1885.

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    Clayton was fascinated by the processing and enjoyed seeing all the machinery.

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    I'll have to admit, it was interesting ~ I enjoy old cemeteries, but a tombstone factory stretched me a bit ~ :)

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    ~ in the lobby ~ a photo of the 9/11 memorial which they had manufactured ~

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    We rode to the quarry in an old schoolbus ~ up a steep, rocky grade ~ in the pouring rain.
    The quarry was flooded in 2011 from Hurricane Irene ~ they are still trying to figure out how to drain the water
    which is stained a milky aquamarine color by an algae which grows from the granite dust.
    The color is similar to the glacier-dust-stained waters in parts of Oregon and Washington, we were told.

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    When we arrived at the observation point above the quarry, the wind and rain were fierce.
    I had to take pictures blindly above my head, aiming out over the railing while sheltering under an umbrella,
    trying to protect my camera.  That worked okay for a little bit, until the howling wind blew my umbrella inside out!
    Our guide had extras, thankfully, but we all got pretty wet anyway.

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    ~ our guide ~
    Clayton was amazed by the cranes which can lift 250-ton blocks of granite!
    We learned that the strain of granite at this location is 10 miles deep, 4 miles long and 2 miles wide;
    there is enough granite to supply the company for 4,500 more years! ~ they harvest about 175,000 square feet a year.

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    From the top of the derrick (crane) to the bottom of the quarry (if the water was drained),
    it is 600 feet, presently.  The water itself is 85 feet deep.
    We heard a few jokes on our tour ~ "We don't take our jobs for 'granite'."
    One of the tourists said they probably all like "rock and roll" music.
    When our guide asked where we had learned about Rock of Ages, one tourist replied, "In church!" ~ :D

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    I hoped these ladders were just a sentimental thing and were not still used ~ they looked pretty rickety.
    While we were there, sirens blew, warning of an imminent blast ~ which turned out to be
    rather a "small blast", our guide said.
    The ladders are a testimony of weathering many stormy blasts ~ even a hurricane.

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    Driving back to the factory, we passed several blocks of granite stockpiled for future use.

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    We left the factory and drove through Barre, searching for the Hope cemetery ~ they said we really needed
    to go there to view all the interesting tombstones that people had requested for their loved ones' memorials.

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    I must say, it is one of the more interesting and unusual cemeteries we have ever visited.

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    It truly is a beautiful setting, though, with huge, very lush hydrangea bushes throughout.

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    Next, we drove to Montpelier, solely to see their remarkable, golden-domed statehouse ~ lovely setting.
    It was built from Barre granite ~ as are many monuments in Washington D.C.
    Only half our day was done, but will complete it on the next post ~ kind of wondering why I take so many pictures!!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God."
    Acts 10:4

November 20, 2014

  • Vermont Vacation ~ Part IX

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    Monday ~ October 6 ~ a foggy 36º morning ~ but by the time we had driven back to that picturesque Jenne Farm,
    the sun had burst out of the haze.  We arrived before other photographers, but could see that the grass
    was heavily trampled on the hill where many had stood to take their pictures over the weekend.

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    The view was spectacular that day ~ by the time we left, several others had arrived and were hauling out
    their massive cameras, scopes and tripods ~ rather unbelievable, actually.

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    We noticed a tiny sign out by the road stating that they were selling half gallons of maple syrup for $25
    and there was a little, dilapidated donation box nearby.  We saw nary a person at the farm itself, though.

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    On around the bend, we saw evidence of the tree-tapping for their syrup-making ~ line upon line of sap tubing.

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    Back in Woodstock, we did a bit of window-shopping; then I sipped a maple apple caramel latté
    and shared a cinnamon muffin with Clayton, who chose a cinnamon vanilla latté.

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    The leaves were scuttling along the sidewalk under our feet; the air was crisp ~ a gorgeous autumn day.

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    ~ the millstream flowing through Woodstock ~

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    The goods in this window took my eye ~ so we ventured inside . . .

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    . . . and I decided to make the saying on the bottom right-hand corner of this pillow my new motto ~ :)

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    Through a small door at the back of the shop, we stepped out onto a little porch overlooking the millstream.

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    We next drove to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Farm/Park to take the hour-long tour
    of the mansion.  While waiting for it to begin, we walked around the beautiful grounds.

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    These families were heavily involved in the restoration of Vermont's forests and commerce
    after logging and over-grazing of sheep nearly destroyed it.  They later donated the property,
    plus around 550 acres, to the government to become a national park ~ now everyone can enjoy it.

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    I could hardly stop taking pictures of the home ~ for some reason, it reminded me of my grandparent's home,
    except it is on a much, much grander scale, of course ~ so beautiful.

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    ~ our tour guide ~
    One interesting thing he told us ~ some of the Rockefeller family had all the power lines in the Woodstock area
    buried underground to protect the views ~ and as a photographer, I greatly appreciated their foresight!  :)

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    ~ view from the front porch ~

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    While on the front porch, we were told we could not take photos inside, but back in the visitor's center,
    there was a book which had photos of the interior, so I snapped a few pictures of those.

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    From there, we drove to Norwich to visit the King Arthur Flour company.

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    It is a huge bakery/baking school/kitchen store complex.

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    They use 250,000 pounds of flour a year ~ flour can be purchased in 50-lb. bags.

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    Lots of tourists roamed the complex ~ we split a helping of tiramisu and drank a cup of coffee while people-watching.

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    ~ my very own 'King Arthur' ~ :)

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    We drove back across the Connecticut River that evening to share a salmon meal
    at Jesse's ~ in Lebanon, New Hampshire.  The lamplight was so welcoming.
    We first sampled the salad bar; the generous meal included mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus;
    we were really glad we had decided to share.
    The next day, we moved on ~ away from the Woodstock area.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    "In my Father's house are many mansions:  if it were not so,
    I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you."
    John 14:2