Sunday, November 12, 2017

Scenes from My House

It's hard to know what to say when you've taken an unintentional two-month-plus blog break.  How do you jump back in?  Do you apologize?  Do you explain?  Do you just reappear?  I think I'll go with the third option but give a brief explanation:  I was just plain busy!  At least once a week I thought about my poor neglected blog, but everything else crowded it out. I don't know if I'll do any better now, but I will try.

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After a week of clouds, the sunshine was very welcome.  The morning sun held warmth and brightness.




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We had our first freeze near the end of October and I thought my flowers were done for.  They were, except not all the geraniums in the barrels near the house got nipped, and they continued to bloom.  But another hard freeze was on the horizon about a week later, so I gathered all the blossoms that remained and put them in a vase on the kitchen windowsill where they are blooming still.  From here on out it's store-bought flowers for us until spring.




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My birthday dessert, which we shared, from the local French bakery. So rich and gooooood!


Sorry for the bad lighting!  It's dark by 5:00 . . .


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English food gets a bad rap.  I can say that with authority now that I've taste-tested a variety of authentic English foods.  In fact, the only bad English food we had the entire two weeks we were there was the pasta we ordered at an "American Italian restaurant."  Dave and I had cornish pasties on the train between London and Cambridge that were absolutely delicious!  And this was just train food!  In September, I decided to try my hand at making my own pasties.  They were a respectable first attempt, but I hope to refine my recipe and technique over the winter months.  They don't look too bad, do they?

Again, bad lighting . . .



Saturday, November 4, 2017

From My Commonplace Book

"Perhaps [Anne] had not succeeded in 'inspiring' any wonderful ambitions in her pupils, but she had taught them, more by her own sweet personality than by all her careful precepts, that is was good and necessary in the years that were before them to live their lives finely and graciously, holding fast to truth and courtesy and kindness, keeping aloof from all that savored of falsehood and meanness and vulgarity."~~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

"Ever since that day there has been the old friendly sociability in Cranford society; which I am thankful for, because of my dear Miss Matty's love of peace and kindliness.  We all love Miss Matty, and I somehow think we are all of us better when she is near us."~~Elizabeth Gaskell, Cranford

"Grant, O Lord, that this day which Thou hast given unto us in mercy may be returned unto Thee in service.  As Thou hast guarded us during the hours of sleep, so do Thou guide us during the appointed hours of labor; that all our tasks may be gladly and faithfully performed, as in Thy sight; that our burdens may not be too heavy for us, because Thine aid and comfort are with us continually; and that in nothing may we displease Thee or injure one another.  But if in anything we fail or come short, through ignorance or weakness, O God, let Thy Fatherly wisdom correct us and Thine infinite mercy forgive us, and Thy divine love amend our fault; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen." Presbyterian Book of Common Worship

Oh, to live up to these ideals!


Image result for autumn images




Thursday, August 17, 2017

Zinnias


Zinnias are such rewarding flowers!  They are easy to grow from seed, they flourish even with abject neglect once germinated, and then they burst forth with bright, big blooms.  Once they start, they don't stop until frost.  They stand up to drought conditions, too.  To top it all off, they make great cut flowers that last and last.  Zinnias are excellent flowers for children to grow because they are fast-growing and don't require diligence.  Just clip off the faded ones so more will appear.





Saturday, July 29, 2017

Merry Ol' England Part 2

Picking up where we left off. . .

Though we stayed the entire time in London, we spent a day in Oxford and a day in Cambridge, which we got to by train.  That was all we saw of the English countryside (which simply means we will have to make a return trip!).  We enjoyed both days immensely and I'm so glad we we visited these two towns.

We ducked into the Ashmolean briefly, but since we had already been to a lot of museums in London, we were more interested in seeing Oxford itself.  The prominent Martyrs' Memorial is worth seeing and mulling over (what faith! what dedication to principle!), but I was more moved by the actual site of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer's martydom, marked by a cobblestone cross in the middle of Broad Street.  It is well worth knowing the inspiring story of these Oxford Martyrs.



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Walking around in Oxford was a lot of fun.  We saw the Bodleian, various famous colleges and churches, Carfax Tower, Christ Church Cathedral (though only from a distance--we weren't allowed to get any closer--boo!), and we visited Blackwell's, which actually is now a series of specialized bookshops.



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Just walking around and looking at the architecture was a treat.

Oxford's Oldest Saxon Tower





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A highlight of Oxford was eating at the Eagle and Child, the hangout of the Inklings!



By the way, we ate mostly at pubs and, despite the reputation of English food, we thought the food was very good. Steak and ale pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, Cornish pasties, the full English breakfast--none of it was a disappointment.  In fact, the worst food we had was as at an "American/Italian" restaurant, where Dave says he was served the world's worst calzone!

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Coming up next--Cambridge!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Merry Ol' England Part 1

Hello, again.  I didn't mention this before because, well, I couldn't announce to the entire internet that we would be out of the country for two weeks, but Dave and I took a long dreamed-about trip to England.  We will be married thirty years in August and we thought a trip like this was a worthy gift to ourselves.

I won't even try to show you everything we did and every place we went.  We squeezed as much into each day as we could and made the most of our time there.  We decided to stay in London the entire time rather than spend our time moving from hotel to hotel, and I'm glad we did.  Even with two whole weeks, there were still places we didn't get to.

One of my very favorite aspects of England was the continually happening upon historic sites and monuments that were not part of our planned itinerary.  Everywhere you turn there is something to see, some plaque marking the spot of a historic event or a memorial to someone or something.

We used public transportation the entire time, mastering the Underground and becoming familiar with the bus and rail systems.  We rode on the top of a double-decker bus and now we know where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for the Knight Bus!  (By the way, did you know there really are night buses in London?)  We took trains in order to spend a day each in Oxford and Cambridge.  It was so much fun to see the places mentioned in favorite books such as To Say Nothing of the Dog and Doomsday Book (Oxford) and to go punting on the River Cam (Cambridge).

I'll share some highlights, and they really are just highlights.  This post would be too long to share everything we did!

Westminster Abbey is truly awe-inspiring.  Rich with history and beauty, it is one of the most glorious buildings I have ever been in.  We attended two services there because we were going to church somewhere, so why not?


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In the foreground is a 2000+ year old Roman wall, part of the original wall that defended London for centuries.  Most of it is gone now, but this large section can still be seen, touched, and marveled at.

In the background is the famed and fabled Tower of London.  All I can say is wow.  The history of a place like this is astounding.  We saw the place where the scaffold was erected for private executions (there's now a memorial fountain there), the royal chapel where King Henry III was reportedly murdered, the room where Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned, the steps where the furture Queen Elizabeth I sat when she refused to go into the Tower.  It is a cliche, but a place like this really does bring history to life.


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Dave in front of the British Museum.  We actually went there twice and we still didn't get to see everything we would have liked to.  Actually, we could have spent the entire two weeks in this museum alone and not seen everything.  We focused on early British history, classical antiquity, and the Enlightenment.  Items we viewed include the Rosetta Stone, the remains of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Sutton Hoo treasures, Roman statues and mosaics, Lindow man, and so much more.


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Platform 9 3/4 in King's Cross Station was a must-see for two Harry Potter fans.  The store was absolutely crammed with people, but we did pick up a few gifts.  What really surprised us is that the station looks nothing (and I mean nothing!) like the station in the movie.  Apparently, Rowling got the station mixed up with another in her memory.  The real King's Cross is modern-- all glass and chrome and shine.  See?

The area between Platforms 9 and 10

The store is off to the side near Platforms 9 and 10
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We also visited St. Paul's Cathedral and then went back for a service.  Though very different than Westminster Abbey, it was also breathtakingly beautiful and awe-full.  Christopher Wren was a marvel.  Everywhere we looked were his buildings, but St. Paul's is his crowning achievement.  The inscription on the floor under the dome bids visitors not to look for a memorial to Wren within the building; his memorial is all around us in the building itself.


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We didn't tour the Houses of Parliament, but we did walk or ride past them many times.  The iconic clock tower which houses the famous bell, Big Ben, is an easy landmark.  


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On our last day in London we hunted up Twining's Tea Shop, which is the oldest retail store in London.  It has been located in the same building since it first opened in 1706.  We often drink Twining's at home, so it was fun to visit the original store.  It was tiny!  Look how it's sandwiched between two relative giants!  We almost didn't see it!


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This has gotten long enough, so I'll share some more another day.  Thanks for tagging along!







Monday, June 19, 2017

What's Growing Around Here

So far-- and I'm keeping my fingers crossed!-- our vegetable garden is doing really well, especially compared to our first two attempts since we moved here in the summer of 2014.  Take a look!  (Photos by Dave)


The cucumbers are blossoming~



There are no blossoms on the beans yet, but they sure are lush!




Little tomatoes are forming~



And little cabbages are growing in the middle of those enormous leaves.  Something about cabbages makes a garden look so abundant.



We also have cauliflower and herbs growing.  

In the flower department, these are a few things blooming in my flower bed~





And these wild roses are creating quite a show just now!




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hey, I'm Still Alive!

Hi, there, she said sheepishly.
 
I didn't mean to take a long blog break; it just happened.  There was nothing earth-shattering, but day after day went by without time for blogging.  Hopefully, I can pick it back up.  Here's to trying, anyway!

Since we last talked, my part-time, on-line teaching job has come to a close.  I've been teaching young people on-line about the great masterworks of classical music and the people behind them for fifteen years, and I look back at that period of my teaching life with great satisfaction.  But it was time to move on.  Family life had become too busy and demanding.  By the way, all you young mothers out there, don't think that once your kids grow up you will have time on your hands.  No sirree.  Grown children have different needs, and the support you can give is essential.  My mission continues to be as a ministry partner to my husband, but I've discovered being available for my grown children also takes time and energy.  Not that I mind.  I'm happy to be there when they want and need me.

Here are just a few highlights from the past six weeks~

Hannah embroidered these for our family to give to two confirmands in May.  The one in the silver frame is for a young lady, the black for a young man.  You can find more of Hannah's beautiful work in her Etsy shop.



My goodness, I do love allium!  I planted six bulbs in the fall of 2015 and they have multiplied to ten.  Allium blooms in mid-spring, so these are finished for the year, but they are wonderful while they last!



Arane picked these for me.  Sweetness! 💕




We took a quick trip to Rockbridge State Park on a beautiful day in May.  Kids love nothing more than to paddle around in water with no one hurrying them!



Dave and I in front of the rock bridge~
  
Photo credit:  Elizabeth

That's all for now.  More to come soon!

Scenes from My House

It's hard to know what to say when you've taken an unintentional two-month-plus blog break.  How do you jump back in?  Do you apolo...

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