Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day #1: We're in Effingham, IL

We're on the road again! We left for Texas right after church this morning. We had a wonderful time serving little children this morning and then the worship service was so ... worship-FUL! We decided not to push it with our travel today ... just drive leisurely and stop early enough to get a good night's rest ~ so we have "landed" in Effingham, Illinois for the night.

We had a pretty uneventful day. Clear weather made for nice dry roads. Light traffic. I hardly took any pictures because well ... everything was brown ... or a dirty color of gray! But the sun breaking through the clouds near the end of our drive was pretty enough for me!
We naturally saw plenty of trains during our drive. I-57 follows train tracks for miles and miles through farm country. I also saw plenty of hawks, but not in flight ... just every now and again I would see a beautiful one perched high in a tree overlooking the interstate. We did see a ton of migratory birds, thousands and thousands of them (!) just south of Chicago. I think they were ducks and they were flying ... north! Perhaps that's a good sign of an early spring?
Well ... not much news to share. We're hoping to arrive to see Nicolas, Rachel and the grandchildren sometime Tuesday. We'll hang around Bandera for a couple of days, as long as they can stand us, and then we'll head up to Austin to see Sabrina, Andrew and the grandkids there. In the middle of our Austin visit, we're going to head down to Houston to see Grandpa Jones's sister, Peg, as well as meeting up with Kathie (Don's other sister) and Dan (from Coshocton) and all go to the rodeo together. Grandpa Jones and I will return to Austin for a few days after that and then travel on to El Paso to spend some time with Jesse, Di and the little kids there. So we have a busy few weeks ahead of us ... so thankful we are retired and able to make this twice a year trip! We'll keep in touch along the way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snow on snow ...

I took a mid-morning hike in knee-deep snow down by Stoney Creek today. We used to live just a few blocks from here back in the early 90's. The other day when I snapped a few pictures, I didn't have much time; so I decided to return here today and take a nice long walk.
If you are from Michigan, you know that winters can get long and sometimes it can feel like spring will never come. But not today. It could not have been more gorgeous out in the woods than it was today.
I decided that there simply must be snow in heaven. Snow on snow. And definitely winding creeks with little rapids and waterfalls and whirlpools ...
And trees, etched and outlined in snow.
I remembered there was a railroad bridge back here somewhere, so I walked and walked until I found it!
What a great place! I can't believe I forgot it was right here, just a ten-minute drive from home.
There was no one in sight. I could hear birds singing. And the sound of rushing water ...
See? A little dam and a waterfall. I definitely do not remember seeing this years ago.
I think this might become my new close-by favorite place to hike!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cutie Karis Danielle is FOUR!

I love this picture of Karis that I stole from Sabrina's blog ... probably from last summer. It's just so typical of her little personality ~ she is full of joy and just bubbles over with energy and spunk and love of life.

Karis is four today. She is getting to be a big girl. She talks constantly and is very fun to be with. We are sorry to NOT be with her on the very day of her birthday, but we are going to see her 10 days from now and have a belated party! These are some of the presents we have to wrap up yet to bring to her ...
We're counting down the days, Karis, until we see you. We will play and play and just enjoy being with you so much.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cautiously optimistic ...

I am sitting at my desk in the back office of our house and I am actually using my repaired computer! After much research and development, e-mails and phone calls back and forth to Adam, Mr. Jones has finally put all of the pieces back together (switching out some components and eliminating others) ... and other than a mess-up with my camera software (it refuses to upload), everything seems to be working A-OK. We used the card reader to upload a few pictures I took while on a walk this afternoon.

And the very best news ... all of my card files that were on my desktop have been completely retrieved! Hurray! Plus, everything has been backed up onto my external hard drive so that even if this new-fangled repaired computer fails, we will be able to just plug the hard drive into another computer and all will be well. I am SO relieved!

I am sad to lose what I suppose everyone else considers a dispensable photo program, the Microsoft Photo Editor, that came with Windows all those years ago. I have used it so long and it is SO easy to crop and fine tune a picture ... light, color, size, some very cool special effects ... but it is now gone. I do have Photoscape that I will continue to use and to love ... but I always tweeked my photos first with Microsoft before I even took a picture over to Photoscape.
We woke up again today to more beautiful snow. Really wet and heavy snow! Shoveling the driveway was a job and a half! Once it was cleared, I drove over to Comstock Park and took a little walk down by the railroad tracks. There are beautiful trails back into the woods and a great sledding hill that I didn't even know about until today! Next Christmas when everyone is home for the holidays, the little kiddos would have such a blast on that hill ... and it's closer than Richmond Park is to our house.

Well, since I was without all of my pictures for nearly two weeks, I am very behind on making cards for folks ... so I'm going to get busy ... right now!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Announcing ...

Dylan and Kelly are engaged to be married! A midsummer's wedding date of July 31 is almost certain (it has to be confirmed with all family members and friends) ~ but looks to be the likely day of this most happy occasion. We could not be happier for them!

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same LOVE, being one in spirit and purpose." Philippians 2:1,2

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Treasure hunt ...

The butterflies are blooming again over at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park ~ but the exhibit doesn't officially open until March 1. I've been seeing preview pictures of the butterflies in the newspaper and wondered if people were allowed to visit before the actual opening date. So I called my friend, Judy, and she assured me that, yes, even though there wouldn't be the optimal NUMBER of butterflies, there at least would be LESS people looking at them.
So yesterday, I spent an exceedingly happy almost three hours just wandering the place. The tropical conservatory is kept at a real balmy temperature, so I was deeply and immediately appreciative of actual HEAT and HUMIDITY ... it's like a sauna in there! Wonderful!
And I got to see the elusive Clearwing! I went to the exhibit in 2008 and 2009 (twice each year) hoping to see one, but I never did ... so I was really excited to see one up close and personal.
Isn't he cool?
The flowers and plants that are EVERYWHERE just about take my breath away. I can't get enough of them. I am always stunned at the depth of beauty that God has created.
This is the Common Morpho that absolutely WOULD NOT open for me. On the inside, he is the bluest blue you can imagine. Back in 2008, I was able to catch one off guard when its wings were open ... so I didn't begrudge this one's refusal to comply with my wishes.
There were not many folk visiting the butterflies yesterday. This was good because it gave me a lot of freedom to just hang out and go looking for as many kinds of butterflies possible. There were a few other people with amazing photographic equipment, unbelievably large lenses, and we were all kind of on a treasure hunt! It was very fun. When one of us would find a cool moth or butterfly, we would show it to the others (after FIRST taking all of the pictures we wanted).

I think this Blue Clipper, a brush-footed moth (Asia) was the prettiest one of the day. It was hiding way under the leaves of this plant. I was so excited when I parted a few leaves and there he was! So I snapped four pictures of him and then he took off ... before I could share him with anyone else!

And can you see what's hiding behind these orchids? (I think they are orchids!) I'm having a difficult time identifying him. I used my zoom to get this photo, all 10x of it, because I wasn't able to get any closer to him ... he was way back by the wall and they don't allow you to just walk off the pathways and climb over stuff (like I would normally do) at Meijer Gardens ... after all, it would be rather chaotic if everyone who wanted a good picture just violated all of the rules. I can't tell you how hard it was for me to behave myself!

I think this is a Great Mormon swallowtail ... you can't believe how BIG this guy was! It flew around forever before it landed on this plant ... and really, it was as big as a bird!

I had never seen a butterfly like the one above. And since they didn't have their literature ready to hand out, I am using last year's identifying booklet and can't seem to find him!

And I think this is just a regular Postman from Central/South America. I have tons of pictures of these Postman butterflies from the last few years, but this one was posing so nicely I just went ahead and snapped his picture.

All creatures of our God and King
lift up your voice and with us sing ~
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless
and worship Him in humbleness.
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise praise the Father, praise the Son!
And praise the Spirit, three in One ...
Oh, praise Him!
(St. Francis of Assisi)

How many are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you made them all ...
PSALM 104.24

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The heart of the matter ...

Having come through Valentine's weekend thinking about LOVE and now entering the Lenten season thinking about the awfulness of Christ's suffering ... what it cost ... and the forgiveness and salvation that it bought ~ is very sobering and humbling and comforting all at the same time, isn't it?

We've had a nice round of new snow here. Almost every single day we get another inch or two of this sparkling clean, amazingly beautiful covering over of all of the dirt and gray and dismal stuff of life. I love Michigan, every single season of it.

We leave for Texas in 12 days. Looking forward to reconnecting with our children and grandchildren down there. My computer is still "broken" but Adam has sent us a disk that might possibly fix the problem. Mr. Jones is "studying" the issue from every possible angle ... we should know soon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I Corinthians 13:4-8a NLT