31 July, 2007

Photos from Scotland

The village of Largs

Giant (I say!) rhubarb

These are pictures from the climb our son took that I posted about several days back. These cliffs are the ones he free climbed barefooted :-).

They are gorgeous, aren't they?

Buildings in Edinburgh, just before a bad storm

30 July, 2007

Next Restoration Project

Held together with medical tape. At least it's not duct tape!

I mentioned here recently that I have about nine or ten restoration projects on my plate right now. Some of them are not urgent, so clients understood that I wouldn't have them finished until sometime this summer or even early autumn.

Other projects are favorite study Bibles of several friends. These are the projects that I will get going on right away.

Removing the glue of "perfect binding" is a mess and takes a special process.

Here I am removing the tape residue with a special solution.

More updates to come!

28 July, 2007

La Bella Luna

We returned home from a day with our friends, Todd and Debbie (and kiddos) just in time to get this shot. I've been patiently waiting for this photo! The full moon was out the very next night, and I'd though about staying up into the wee hours for the moonset, but decided against it. I got to bed quite late that early a.m. as it was. I did get midnight photos of the full moon, but decided to keep this one posted.

27 July, 2007

White virginia caterpillar

Discovered on our pear tree ~
We've never seen one of these in our yard before, and we used to keep a vegetable and a butterfly garden every summer.

He got out of his jar and I found him on a grape tomato. I though it looked almost like a veggie tales character!

~ and this final shot looks like a balding man's head if you just look at the shadow, LOL!

Sparsebeard is home!

Home from the Solar Car Challenge!

He took these shots on his camera phone ~ sunset over Lake Erie

26 July, 2007

Photos from camp in Scotland

Our dd noted how J's face has changed. He is looking more like my brothers and a nephew in the photo above. Notice the tartan scarf, lol.

He e-mailed earlier (our time) and said:

"Today I climbed the prettiest set of bouldered foothills and freeclimbed a series of sheer cliffs and rock faces (barefoot). I sat at the top of a thousand-foot peak overlooking the sea and a vast expanse of farmland, and remembered that this is the most ideal 'vacation' a boy could ask for. I ran around and played with a park ranger's dog, took pictures, hung my feet over the edge of a cliff and yelled at the clouds like a madman. It was fantastic. I felt so accomplished when I got to the top. Before I climbed I kept thinking, 'if I don't do this, I am not a man. Am I a man? Yes. Then why am I stiting here? So then I did it. It was fantastic.'"

Yes, adventuring is the right word for it!


25 July, 2007

Scotland update

The Royal Mile and John Knox house

This early morning I find myself with a bit of insomnia. I have decluttered rooms and swept down cobwebs both inside and out for days, now. I am beginning to slow down, yet I still need to cull through my wardrobe.

On to the Scotland news:

Dear son is adventuring now. He found himself a youth hostel in the heart of Edinburgh to stay in this week. He visited with the 70 yo missionary at his church in Paisley, just outside of Glasgow. He is beginning to understand the "alright-ness" of old wine in old wineskins vs. the equally valid new wine in new wineskins, and is able to appreciate the beauty and strengths of both. This is one thing that I have prayed for.

He has gotten hooked on bicycling (yes!) as he had the chance to take a ten or twelve mile short tour last week of the Isle of Cumbrae, in the Firth of Clyde off the coast of North Ayrshire, Scotland. Reminds me of my bicycle tour of Heidelberg, Germany in 1984 by a friend who lived there and attended a tiny branch of Pepperdine U. J, so very much like it was for his father and me, wants to buy a bike rack for his car when he returns home, and wants to bicycle to work as much as possible.

He says of this day trip:

you and dad would have died. It was SO, SO pretty. at one point riding back into town a marching band of bagpipers crossed the street in front of us playing a Scottish tune! it was breathtaking. I got a video of them doing that, and then video of them playing Amazing Grace. SO cool."

Wrapping up camp last weekend was emotional for J. He said he really invested, got hurt, was listened to, stayed up all night, and was able to lead some kids to Christ. He also said it was so worth it. He's made new friends, some of whom he is touring with here and there about Edinburgh and London.

Upon getting settled in at his youth hostel then meeting up with his friends he writes:

"We went over to Edinburgh castle, and visited some other crazy places. This Christian guy attacked us and told us that we needed to be soul-winners, and he asked me what the significance of "Jesus+Nothing" meant. He said that tracts were the secret to living a moral life. But it was a really neat thing, because Craig and I stood up to him and told him we thought he was wrong in grabbing people and yelling in their faces. Incidentally, the man is from Texas."

Prayers for his continued safety and goodwill are very welcome!


23 July, 2007

Fed mosquitos for this one

Why, oh why didn't I wear jeans and a long-sleeved shirt when I went out to capture this shot?

22 July, 2007

I could, but I shouldn't...at least not at this moment

I COULD answer a few tags I've received this summer. It would be so fun to join in the games.

I COULD post another photo or two, but they need some resizing in photoshop.

I COULD pass on another (and a fantastic) update from my son in Scotland.

I COULD write up a theory post that I've got swimming round in my head temporarily titled, "As goes Europe."

But I must, simply MUST take advantage of being home alone right now to work on my major decluttering projects that are still underway.

Forge ahead, I SHALL, with fortitude and focus. Pray that I don't get mired in the sub-category (or the sentimental :-) details...I have a soft spot for family history.


21 July, 2007

meals fit for a bug

Sad looking rose bush - 7/12/07

The massive quantities of rain that we received for six to eight weeks provided the perfect environment for a bug and critter explosion. About nine days ago, we came home from summer school only to find that *two* of my rose bushes had been utterly devoured by bagworms in less than two days. Since we've lived in this home we have not seen this large of a population of bugs and moths in our yard.

One of hundreds of bag worms that 12 yo "Lego-boy" and I pulled from the bushes.

14 yo Audubon had seen some of the damage when he had mowed, but didn't think it was a big enough deal to tell us that something seemed amiss with the bushes. Each morning, I go out and look for more. They began to make their way over to our crepe myrtles that are very close to these bushes. We let the kids burn a bowlful of them the second or third day of picking them off. They are very healthy critters. This morning, I only found about seven of them, and they were all very small. I think we've successfully dealt with these vermin.

We also have a bazillion little *midges* or flying little things on our Rose of Sharon bush, and it looks as if it could use a good washing. I'll let these little gals handle most of it, though:

And these fellows:

Munching on the aphids on our sunflowers

There are four or five geckos that we normally see...they are quick! They are also huge (four inches or so) since we find them camping outside our door at night just feasting on the little bugs that are attracted to the porch light.

This is the only photo taken on my smaller digital Kodak Z710 with Schneider lens. This was before I got my Cannon.

20 July, 2007

Summer light

That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Deep cleaning, anyone?

I once heard deep cleaning, laundry, and scrubbing referred to as being in the land of "Mount Never-rest." I like the term and the humor.

Whilst Hubster and Ansel Adams (oldest son) are off, the rest of us are de-junking and organizing our spaces. It has been years since I've really been able to focus like this on the recesses and corners of home, as life with teens is so very busy. The clean spaces are looking great, and the rooms are coming along slowly, but surely. There are plenty more spaces to attack. Ask me how I'm doing in about five days. Maybe I'll post some more pictures of our progress.

I did extensive research then shopped at my favorite resale shop and IKEA. I found a metal locking cabinet for my tools and bookbinding supplies, sewing frame and presses at the thrift shop for one third of the normal price. What a blessing! My main motivation has been, now that summer school is over, to get to the nine bookbinding/restoration jobs that I have lined up, now. These will keep me busy till just before school starts again.

Next, I added cubbies and baskets not only to the tool cabinet, but all over the house in nearly every shelf. They are wonderful things. Audubon put together the above storage cubbies yesterday and the cats found it a delightful spot for napping and leisure.

19 July, 2007

British School Board Announces Death of Western Civ

Are they daft?

Well, I suppose this should not be a surprise to the truly educated minds of the world. Sir Winston Churchill has been officially axed from the required lessons list. Who else was taken off the list? Hitler, Gandhi, Stalin and Martin Luther King, not to mention the War of the Roses, Elizabeth I and Henry VIII. Oh, sure, they will still be teaching World Wars I and II, etc. but without its heroes and villains named? Can you say "watered-down by the P.C. crowd??"

Instead they will be taught about “relevant” issues such as global warming and drug dangers. Churchill’s grandson, Tory MP Nicholas Soames, is said to have called the move “total madness.”
At least the schools secretary Alan Balls is angered enough to give this a deeper look. He is now squared against all curriculum advisers.

Ministers said the shake-up will free up a quarter of the school day so teachers can focus more on individual pupil needs.

Regarding languages, they decided that their schools will be able to stop teaching French, German and Spanish and offer other languages (in place of the common foreign languages...and in Jr. High??? Charlotte Mason would roll over in her grave, if she could), including Urdu, Chinese, Russian, and Arabic. Qualifications and Curriculum Authority boss Ken Boston said the changes would equip young people “with the skills for life and work in the 21st century”.

Well that's just great. (tongue firmly planted in cheek)

Alright homeschool/private school families and teachers--Let's educate and empower our children with a real, no-bones-about-it lifelong education in Western Civ. and Biblical Worldview courses, to be able to preserve some truth to teach future generations.

Read more here.

18 July, 2007

Baby mockingbird has left the nest!

Our 14 yo son, whom I have referred to here before as Audubon (suits him, yes?) hustled in today to tell me there was something I might want to take a picture of out in the yard...

Sweet baby mockingbird set to take his place mocking at our cats when he gets older and stronger!

Photographed with my Canon Rebel and 75-300 mm zoom lens, so as not to disturb the "toddler."

16 July, 2007

surprise visit

This is what Dread Pirate Sparsebeard is involved with these days. Today, he surprised me by coming home for a few hours before the team leaves for their long journey toward two great lakes and New York State. The cars are looking better each year! (click to enlarge)
Hubster is seated beside the guy in the red shirt.

Sparsebeard had to bring home a student who was not doing well, so he called from the school to inform me of his whereabouts :-). This is one of the "judge-mobiles" as I call it.

I wish our oldest son could have gone on this trip again, as he has in years past helping with photography and videography. BUT I am confident that Scotland is exactly where he is supposed to be this summer!

15 July, 2007

evening walk

Dear Daughter and I had quite a view on our walk this evening. (click to enlarge)

There were the sun rays stretching upward in one last effort to shine for us. Then there was the sliver of new moon sort of in the middle just above the horizon and tree line. Last, you see Venus in the upper left corner. Just lovely, thanks to having no rain clouds today...the second day of summer where we've had 24 hours with no rain!

14 July, 2007

Today's Scotland update

...plus a few memories that his adventures bring to my mind.

Our dear boy (who is not a boy anymore) e-mailed his update today. Things seem to be smoothing out at camp for him, and he is excited about the teen camp starting today. He is in charge of his own cabin of three boys and asks that we be praying for them--Ian, Euan, and Jack--as they settle in together and get to know each other.

I asked him how the food is and he replied, "The food is funny, but some of it is good :-)." His tale comes on the heals of my long lunch and cappuccino with Queen Shenaynay from the Beehive Clan. What a lovely time we had while we shared stories. She asked about J and then told me about her first introduction to the food in Scotland when her family traveled there last year. She shared about their long flight with no sleep, a feverish child, and how the cold weather when they arrived just added to the difficulty of their first hours there. Food items in the first shop she and her family visited in Scotland were unrecognizable, especially by the packaging.

That reminded me of my first trip to live in Germany for the summer of '83. The new and different food was interesting. Sometimes it was really delicious - Some favorites were hafer flocken, muesli, and vollkorn bread. German and Swiss butter, cheese, and yogurts were (and still are) fantastic! Other times we ate things that were not very healthy or filling, so the body had to get used to the new cuisine and meal routine, for example, leberwurst for a type of "light" open-face sandwich for dinner. Their main meal is lunch, and of course, I was used to big suppers. When I'd visit a bakery, general store or shop, I had to learn what was in all that packaging, which was either a lot or just a little different from the products here in the states. One snack example: a Milky Way and a Mars bar were in fact just the opposite of each other in Germany in the 80's.

Thankfully, the German family that I lived with introduced me to some really good products and would keep their tiny fridge stocked with coffee yogurt and other yummy things I'd never had before but came to love. About three weeks into my first summer I had a vision (LOL for lack of a better term). While resting with our mission team up at a gorgeous and remote campground eating Nutella on Kaiser rolls, or Nutella on bananas with peanut butter that a German church member had gotten from an American military family just for us, a very overwhelming feeling came over me.

I was just homesick for Mom's homemade biscuits and gravy. It was such a strong wave of emotion, enhanced by a dreary, rainy day, that I wrote a long letter home. It was a wave of "culture shock" that I'd been ignoring, I suppose. Things got better after that, but I still remember desiring biscuits...fluffy American biscuits-complete-with-bacon-gravy (don'tchaknow!). It was so clear in my heart and mind that I almost couldn't stand it. I went for a long walk after that among the hills, where I could view all the distant, tiny villages from afar, as the clouds moved away and the sun burned through.

The feeling passed on and I never had to
pray about and deal with such a strong reaction to the cuisine (while in another country) again after that point that summer - and only once the summer after that (in what used to be East Berlin, a story of endurance for another time!!). I was able to completely enjoy the interesting qualities of flavors and meals of international cuisine of all sorts after that. In fact, I fell madly for Greek food that year, and great coffee and cheeses that I'd never heard of before.

Well, there you have it, another flashback from my young adult life, as I now hear of my own child experiencing some of the same challenges and adventures!


13 July, 2007

We're finished!

Summer school is over!! It was a good thing, but at times VERY stressful. The worst was the end of week two/beginning of week three. I'm thankful for the Lord's provision, and in knowing that with His help, I CAN do it well.

I am also grateful to have a summer break, now.

The Hubster, aka Dread Pirate Sparsebeard, has gone on a trip across the country to be a judge in a solar car "race." He is really looking forward to the adventure. This is the trip our oldest son has always gone on and helped with as a photographer or videographer intern.

So, rest I shall, and catch up on movies, as well.

Yes, I do plan to get a lot of decluttering done in the next two weeks.

Ta Ta!


11 July, 2007


Finally, finally a sunrise...then it quickly clouded over for much of the day. Loving Sparsebeard stopped our "boat" long enough for me to take a few shots this morning on our way to teach summer school. You know we leave early if we are out of the house just before the sunrise.

As I type the sun is back out again after a brief rain shower so there is hope of a tremendous sunset.

Did I say how much I love my new camera?

¡Me encanta mi camera nueva...y me gusta mucho la fotografia!

(I used my 75-300 mm lens on photos 1 and 3)


10 July, 2007

Funny Reading

And very light, too. This is another activity we enjoyed together at our friends' home the other night. We laughed so hard it hurt! Enjoyed best when read aloud.

09 July, 2007

Rain Plops

We got a little more rain. Of course. But it makes for interesting photos! Did I mention how much I love my camera? I was able to catch rain drops falling in mid-air...but also rain "plops"
as well.

Brief, hard rain

Update from Scotland~Son already home sick

Maybe sooner is better than three weeks from now? He can get it out of the way and be able to enjoy his time better...Last time he was out of the country, he was on a photography and humanitarian trip with me along. Having a family member or good friend along makes being gone from home (especially internationally) a lot easier.

Pray that he is able to adapt and let the little cultural or small wrong things be easily learned and gotten over, and that others are able to give grace! He was asked to help write a camp volunteers manual when he gets back to the states. I told him to write things down as he goes, so that he can spare someone else all the "little things" that he wrote about in his e-mail to us today.

J writes:

"I just wanted to let you all know
that both bags arrived safely, and
all is going splendidly. I keep getting
in trouble for little things that I don't know
about before I do them, but aside from that
everything is perfect. Thanks for your prayers
and your splendidness. I miss you all very very
much and I'm ready to come home, now. See
you soon.

The weather is amazing. Today, we
went horseback riding. It was gross and boring,
but we made it fun I suppose. We played
a wicked game of capture the flag, and everybody
spends a lot of time making fun of "the American",
and it is pretty funny. So far all the kids are good at
imitating my Texas accent, which is amusing."

Thanks for continuing to keep J in your prayers!


08 July, 2007

Summer Fun

A few of our favorite people/things of all with which the Lord has blessed us ~

~ Afternoons and evenings with friends - these are some of our oldest best friends. We've done a lot of things together from camping and traveling to singing together (even on TV!) in studios on recording projects. Cathy helped me lead worship once at a Charlotte Mason homeschooling Moms conference in which I brought Cindy Rushton in as our guest speaker for the weekend.

Judy (left) teaches lower school classes at the same school where I've been teaching this summer. Cathy is a voice and piano teacher, and I am on the right. I teach Spanish, primarily, (or other lit or language type classes) and have homeschooled our four kiddos from the beginning. We just graduated our oldest son this past spring.

~ listening to piano duets
~ Cathy and her hubby are also our constant symphony friends. We have a monthly date with them during the regular symphony season, but have been known to win extra tickets (via classical radio stations) to summer concerts in the park together. We like to sing and play Handel's Messiah or Beethoven's Ode to Joy together at Christmastime. We used to perform in Easter musicals together pretty much every year throughout the 90's. Now that some of our kids are older or graduated, they have taken the baton in the music arena on a more active basis. We are semi-retired, playing or singing from time to time.

~ catching toads
~ all our kids at one time or another have been huge critter collectors.

~ playing silly games! ~ Judy's hubby on the left, mine on the right in the "Hank the Cowdog" T-shirt. The older we get, the more they look alike (BIG grin!)

~ playing with cool pool toys ~ Ever wondered what it would be like to play *inside* a ball?

~ photo ops ~ spider web "blowing" in the streams of heat coming up from the grill

~ then of course... we enjoy eating together and sipping homemade cherry limeade.

~ peering at Jupiter and her four visible moons through our friends' telescope.

What have you been doing this summer? What are some of your favorite things to do?