Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Surviving the Perfect Storm

          Looming over our house in  our backyard is an enormous maple tree pictured above.  This is only a small part of the tree which hangs threateningly over the back portion of our house.  Here my son is about fifteen feet above the ground climbing a rope swing attached to one of the limbs.  What is not apparent from this photo, however, is the split that runs well down the trunk, leaving a part of this tree as a threat to our home.  Knowing that the coming "perfect storm" would bring with it very high winds left us praying that the Lord would protect our family and our home from the coming storm.  Miraculously the morning after the winds subsided, the tree remained standing and our house was undamaged.

       Most of the day Monday and well into the night the storm winds gusted around our house at times sounding much like a freight train rushing by.  While watching the news, we saw a huge tree that had fallen and crushed nine cars in the town where we live.  Not too far from our home the news also showed pictures of trees that had come down, literally crushing parts of houses.  We felt very fortunate in that while the lights flickered once, we never lost power while many in our area did. Tuesday happened to be my elder boy's birthday, so I spent a great deal of time that evening while the wind was howling outside baking a chocolate applesauce cake for his birthday.  At times my wife responded with great apprehension as our kitchen is located under where that tree would fall if it fell on the house. God is faithful and answered our prayers, and we were able to joyfully celebrate my son's birthday the next day.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Treasures of Nature

     Since starting to home school my boys, I have seen a dramatic uptick in interest in nature.  While hiking in the mountains recently, my eldest reveled in the wonders of nature as he discovered them.  In the first photo, he was fascinated by water burbling from a pipe coming from a nearby mountain spring.  Later he discovered colorful fungi along the trail/  Eventually he discovered where an animal had made its home in a tree, and finally he had to know what that whitish green stuff was on a fallen tree.  I explained that it was lichens, a combination of moss and algae.  I am so happy to see him taking an interest in so many things that we frequently overlook or take for granted.  For more scenic photos, visit Scenic Sunday.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sky Scenery

While these clouds looked threatening, they soon passed to the east leaving a beautiful, blue sky behind.  We thoroughly enjoyed our time on the Skyline Drive in western Virginia.  The foliage was gorgeous as can be seen in earlier photos.  Visit Skywatch Friday for more beautiful skies.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shenandoah Autumn 2012

     Unbelievable color greeted us as we climbed the Skyline Drive in Virginia this weekend.  Vivid oranges, yellows and reds burst forth all around us.  It was a fantastic day to view God's great and glorious creation.  Standing a thousand feet above the valley, I marveled at the lovely sights below.  How I yearned for a better camera!  Despite the fact that I was using a very simple Canon, I was still able to capture some of the tremendous beauty of the scene below.  For more great scenery, visit Scenic Sunday.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sunrise in the Clouds

     This was a lovely sunrise early one morning.  I love the clouds with the sun breaking through.  As I viewed this sunrise, I reflected on another example of the artistry of our awesome Creator.  Truly, we serve an awesome God!   For more beautiful sky shots, visit Skywatch Friday.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Back to Our Roots

     Having always been fascinated with history and historical buildings, this trip to New England  enthralled me.  One cannot visit the Boston area without coming away with a better appreciation of our roots.  An additional bonus was the scenic beauty of the area.  The abandoned church building above dated back to the 18th century, and probably had quite a story to tell.  The buildings in the lower photo were a part of the Harvard campus in Cambridge.  For more scenic photos, visit Scenic Sunday.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Great Meadows

     On an early fall day several years ago, our family went hiking in the Shenandoah Valley off the Skyline Drive.  The scenery was terrific as was the weather.  A rather balmy day allowed us to enjoy our time hiking and the great outdoors.  Thin wispy clouds swept across the sky bringing the promise of rain in the near future; however, this day was picture perfect.  For more great sky photos, visit Skywatch Friday.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Face Painting or Just a Mud Bath?

          Sometimes it is difficult to know whether to be amused or exasperated at the antics of little boys.  This was one of those times.  My wife went outside and found my boys wallowing in the mud.  Needless to say, she was not pleased.  However, after quick consideration, she decided that this was one of those times when Mom needed to just allow them to have their fun and get a well deserved laugh rather than a scolding.  I don't know why, but they both seem to have a real affinity for mud.


     One of our nations most popular and picturesque parks, Yosemite National Park was one of my stops as I camped around the country.  Hiking, climbing and camping in Yosemite is an experience I will never forget.  Arriving late morning, I managed to find an open tent site and set up camp.  Then I climbed Yosemite Falls which can be seen in the first photo.  What an experience that was!  I started off climbing and was making pretty good time when I met two young ladies descending the trail.  They wanted to know where my water was, and when I told them I had none, they immediately pulled out a half full bottle of water and gave it to me.  "You will need this ," they said.  As it turned out, I was never so grateful for a freebie as I was for that bottle of water.  I was a long climb up, and I completed it in about half of the recommended time.  When I arrived at the top, I was both winded and thirsty.  That water was vital.
     The third photo is of Half Dome, which is one of the most frequently climbed of all the peaks around Yosemite; however, it is also a dangerous climb.  While I was there, they had to airlift a couple of climbers out because they fell while climbing Half Dome.  The second photo has one looking out over Yosemite National Park while the fourth photo shows the peaks of the Sierra Nevada range in the distance.  I had a wonderful time at Yosemite, but I wish it could have been longer. For more great scenic photos, visit Scenic Sunday.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Awesome Sky at Redrock

     Western skies seem to stretch on and on forever.  There is a song that has as part of its refrain "O the land of unclouded sky."  Red Rock Arizona brought those words to mind when I visited there.  The view of the sky was fantastic, setting off the gorgeous red rocks there in a scene of unrivaled beauty.  I actually was able to climb all the way to the top of one of these enormous red rock formations, giving me a view that left me breathless.  Passing automobiles, the one or two that passed by, looked like tiny matchbox toys from the top of this formation.  Depending upon the angle of the sun, these rocks took on different colors, sometimes blazing brightly, while at other times turning almost a blood red.  Still other times the rocks just had a reddish brown hue.  I really enjoyed visiting this area in Arizona.  For other great sky photos, visit Skywatch Friday.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Texas: Not Your Typical Beauty

     When camping around the United states some years ago, I took a detour from El Paso in the southern part of Texas north to the Grand Canyon where I saw the more expected awesome grandeur of that huge chasm.  Before heading north north, however, I stopped to visit the Natural Bridge Caverns.  The trip down into the caverns was a welcome relief from the dry desert heat I had been experiencing and the caverns did offer some very interesting formations.  However, the one that really drew my attention was this section aptly named the belly of the whale for it did somewhat resemble how one might imagine the belly of the whale might appear.  Other fascinating formations were a cluster of butterfly-like forms and one named bacon while another was eggs.
     The really interesting part of my time in southwestern Texas was the afternoon I spent at the Hueco Tanks.  I did not get to see some of the more spectacular views, but I did get to enjoy an awesome climb up these boulders.  When I finally made it to the top, I really did need a bit of a breather.  Unfortunately, I was not comfortable spending a great deal of time there as there were some warnings in the area about rattlesnakes.  The view was fantastic from the top and the climb was worth it even if I did lose my wristwatch on the return trip.For other great scenery visit Scenic Sunday.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Evening Sky

     Watching my nephew's son play in a local softball all-star game recently gave a couple of really beautiful views of an evening sky.  This sunset was truly fantastic with a few lowering clouds overhead that promised no rain but added to the beauty of the evening.  It was a lovely evening to spend with family watching a ballgame, just cool enough to be a break in the summer heat but not uncomfortably cool.  With great weather conditions, our evening turned out to be an enjoyable summer outing.  For more lovely sky photos visit Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Worn Out!

          Yes, homeschooling can even be a bit exhausting.  Here our little five year old has run out of gas at the dinner table.  A day of lessons followed by some good exercise outdoors left him all "tuckered out."  He tends to keep going until he just cannot go anymore.  When that time comes, he shuts down.  On this particular evening we simply took him to bed and let him sleep.  He awakened early the next morning bright-eyed and ready for another day.  Most days he is awake and playing very early until it is time for the school day to start.  We have purchased a DS game for him and he loves to play on that until it is time for school to start.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Yard (Junk) Sale, Anyone?

     With these two little guys running around plotting their next little adventure, life is never dull.  Whether it is climbing the impossible, digging holes where holes were not meant to be dug, or just digging up junk and trying to solicit sales, Matthew and Everett are always in the thick of trouble.  Just when things seem to be the calmest, the tempest hits.
     This last week one day things had gotten almost impossibly quiet, so I went to investigate.  I immediately noticed that they had lined up three card tables in our back yard and were starting to place items on them.  Never dreaming that they would go beyond setting up their own imaginary yard sale, I went back inside to continue on some work.  A while later I heard their voices quite clearly out front where they did not belong, so I went to investigate.  Sure enough, there sat my eldest son holding a paper plate on which he had very carefully printed YARD SALE.  To make matters worse, He and my younger son are singing out in their loudest voice possible, "Yard sale, Yard sale!"  After chasing them out back, I had to inspect their wares.  Hearing the term "junk" at a yard sale cannot even begin to describe the items they had littering their tables.  A rusted ax with a broken handle, a pickaxe with no handle, an old rubber shoe with no toes left, and a myriad of other junky items had found their way on their three tables.  When  I scolded them, my younger son looked up at me with the most innocent look imaginable and said, "But Daddy, we just wanted to help you make some money."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Asking God for a Whole Football Team and...

     My eldest son Matthew loves sports.  He plays soccer in the spring and would like to play baseball too.  This evening we were all sitting at the dinner table when my wife looked over at me and said that she still needed to tithe from her last paycheck.  Matthew immediately looked up and chimed in with a suggestion.  "Yes, Mommy, you can give your money to God and then ask him for six more baby boys.  Then we could have a football team.  We could get all the equipment like pads and helmets and play football.  Oh! and maybe you could ask God for six baby girls so we could have cheerleaders too.  That would be really neat!"  His eyes sparkled and his voice rose with emotion.  Tess and I had a good laugh, but Matthew was, at least in part, serious.  He has mentioned on more than one occasion that he would like a little brother.  Our stock answer, and the truth, is that we are too old to have any more children.  We both are quite happy with what we have!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Unspoiled Beauty

     Mackinac Island is truly a place of unspoiled beauty.  Despite a great tourist trade, Mackinac Island has been untouched by automobiles and is a scenic place with great charm.  Modes of transportation on the island are horse-drawn carriages and bicycles.  This was a great to bike, so I rented a bicycle and got a cart to draw along behind.  It was a great ride, but these little guys wore out before we made it back to our point of origin.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

As the Sun Sets...

     Reflecting on the beauty of a recent sunset, I could not help but draw the analogy to life.  As the sun sets, I always marvel at the brilliant hues seen pasted across the sky.  In much the same way that these vivid colors brighten a darkening sky, I would hope my life would brighten someone's life with rays of hope.  I have always loved a sunset, and now in my waning years, the sunset means more to me than ever.   I am not being morbid, just practical.  I know I am past my prime, just as the setting sun has only a short time left that day, yet, if anything, that seems to make the sunset even more glorious.  I never cease to marvel over the beauty of the setting sun.  For more sky photos, visit Skywatch Friday.
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