Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Reminiscing-- Part One

     I never thought that I would reach a day when I'd look back to when I was 8 years old, and feel a deep reminiscing come over me. 
However, lately I have been reminiscing about my childhood favorite activities SO MUCH. 
 
   As a child, I was a follower.  I rarely came up with games to play on my own.  I followed my siblings' ideas and plans.  And with four sisters and one brother to play with (my older brother was already involved in politics and debate teams when I was around this age, so he didn't play with us much), I had a great group of creative comrades.   
 
     Our barn was a decent size, with a large hay room, and loft as well as the pens and stalls inside.
I don't have a picture of the barn, but the loft looked something like this, with beams of different heights.
 
 
 
 
      In the late summer, my parents would purchase a lot of big, round hay bales.  I never actually counted them, but it filled up the whole room, and the bales went quite close to the ceiling.  From the very day that the hay arrived, Katie, Sarah, Martha, Lydia, Oliver and myself would spend all evening in the barn, playing in the hay.  I never kept track of time...but many days, we would all go outside after we were all finished with school, chores and piano practice, and we wouldn't come inside again until it was well after dark. 
 
     Each hay season, we would put on an original  "musical" or "play" written by Katie and Sarah.  These usually included many fancy somersaults and jumps, choreographed original songs, and a plot.  At least two of these plays I was privileged to play the part of a wicked person, or some such devious character.  I remember this because as we held auditions once in the hay loft, though I wasn't very talented as a solo singer (like Lydia), or brave enough to climb the highest beams (like Sarah), I had an ability to use my diaphragm and force out a truly evil-sounding laugh (or cackle). 
 
Call it a co-incidence, but none of us are allergic to hay that I know of to this day. 
 
 
     The property I grew up on was located at the bottom of a hill, right beside a cemetery.  Often, when it would rain for a length of time, the water would run down both sides of the road in the gutters and dump right into our cow pasture, past the barn.  Between the pasture and the cemetery was a large drain and a sort of little creek. 
 
     I always got so excited when I would go to bed and it was raining heavily.  I would wake up, hoping that it was still raining.  If it was, I would hope that it would continue until after we were all finished with school and free to play. 

After school, chores and piano, we would all pull our rain boots on. 




     As I recall, we would play outside until we were soaked.  I don't remember a single time going to the creek and the drain, but I know that Sarah, Martha and Katie did.  I don't know if mommy had a rule about the younger children not being near the creek or whether I was just too scared to go near it.  But I mostly just remember the feeling of walking in sludge, mud, and even cow manure, and sometimes having your boot get stuck. 
 
     It was never a guarantee that your boot was without holes too.  Why was that so much fun?  I don't know...but it clearly impacted me a lot.  I'm still thinking about it. 
 
 
The last reminiscent activity I'll mention in this post can be explained in just this one picture. 


 
 
    In the cow pasture, near the road, we had a wild mulberry tree.  I ate so many mulberries each spring and early summer...
 
    But many times, we wouldn't eat the mulberries, but would use them as war-paint for our faces.  I can only imagine what our neighbors thought when they saw six children running around our property with faces completely painted with mulberry juice, in different designs.  We stopped eating them after so long in the mulberry season because we discovered that the berries carried tiny white worms.
 
     Bear with me as I reminisce about my favorite childhood activities.  When I ask many children today what their favorite things to do are, it is rare that the things they list are creative, healthy OR imaginative. 
 
     I think that could be part of the reason why I enjoy reminiscing about my own childhood.  It wasn't perfect, and times weren't always rosy and exciting, but I'm grateful to have these amazing, fond memories. 
 
What did you do for fun as a child?  Think about it sometime...
  
 


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Granville News Updates

The town we have moved to, Granville New York, is so gorgeous.  It is an old town, and the houses in it are beauties!  I took a walk with our German Shepherd a few weeks ago and took a few pictures while I did so. 
 
This photo was taken on the main street, of the sight of the old quaker meeting house.  It is no longer standing today, but this Presbyterian church is there. 
 
 
This is one of the most beautiful home in the town, I think.

 
Behind the library and museum is this pretty bridge, crossing the mettowee river.

 
I think that this is the second most beautiful home in town.  I don't believe that anyone lives in it, but it is lovely!

 
We are very much enjoying living in upstate New York!  A few weeks ago, we visited the L.L.Bean outlet store near us in Lake George.  We had several gift cards from different friends, and we came out of the store with a whole bag of winter clothes and nice pants for Dan- and we only had to pay $4!  Pretty amazing. 
Turns out that because L.L.Bean is typically sized larger than average, anything that is Xsmall or XXSmall, goes straight to the 50-75% off clearance shelf!  I'm definitely not an XSmall, but at L.L.Bean, I am...so we got some great deals!
 
 
Chula absolutely LOVES our new home here.  She sometimes helps Dan to paint at the church...
 

 
And although she is fully-grown, she likes to sit on Dan's lap.

 
And she is an awesome ball-catcher!  Catching and playing fetch are her favorite games.

video
 
A few days ago, we drove to pick up a window that a woman was selling, and we crossed the Hudson River.  Isn't this GORGEOUS? The leaves are just starting to turn beautiful!

 
And to end this post, I have to tell you a funny story.  Now that I have my own phone, I like to play pranks on Dan.  The other week, I called his number after plugging in *67...that causes my number to show up as a "no caller ID" caller on his phone.  Each time he answered, I hung up.  
 
A few times, I would whisper something unrecognizable, and THEN hang up.  I finally confessed that it was me, after Dan told me "This person is annoying me so much that I'm gonna go to the police and see if they can track the number."
 
This was the face he made when I came clean.    

 
Sometimes, it's just necessary to have a little fun. 
I know that this post was a hodge-podge of everything, but that's what has been happening in our lives here in New York. 
 
I hope that you all are doing well!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bob and Joe

I experienced kindness from a stranger yesterday whom I have never met and never will meet in this life.  And it was too exciting to not talk about. 
One never knows who may read this, so for the sake of this person, I will use aliases. 

Except for myself: you all already know my name. 

In 2010, I purchased a computer program to be included in a package deal when I bought my first laptop for college.  I received a good price on this program, and it came with the whole works.  In four years of my undergrad and one year of my masters, I used this program faithfully and never considered upgrading it to the newer years' product.  2010 suited me just fine!

In 2015, my laptop crashed, and I lost everything that came with it (as well as a ton of personal files).  After purchasing a new laptop, I contacted the program company and told them my plight...that I had already purchased 2010, but that I had no receipt or install dvd because it had been purchased as a package deal.  This company kindly helped me, found my information using my name and email address (a yahoo account at the time), and gave me my product password, so that I might install it onto my new computer.  They encouraged me to please purchase a re-install dvd in case this computer were to crash as well.  So I did that!

Now it's 2017.  I've continued to use this program faithfully, until earlier this year in June.  My computer's hard drive failed in June, thus leaving me without a laptop to use.  I actually went without one for about a month, but finally took it to a shop, and had them put in a new hard drive.  Because the hard drive was replaced, I basically had a new computer. 

Yesterday, I went to install the 2010, trusty computer program again!  It wouldn't work because I had not written down the product password, and I had deleted my yahoo account last year.  I contacted the company, explained my plight to them again, apologized for losing the password again, and asked them to please give it to me again. 

We were chatting via live chat and the employee I was "speaking" with (Bob) said that they did not have any record of my having purchased the program, since I had originally purchased it as a package deal.  I explained that they most certainly did have record of my purchase, because I had contacted them just two years prior and they found my account just fine. 

This went back and forth for about 15 minutes and finally, being very frustrated, I asked to speak with a supervisor.  The supervisor (Joe) , after speaking condescendingly to me told me that he had no idea why I seemed "so attached to 2010, and that it was so dear to me, when I could just purchase the newest version."

Joe said that "out of the goodness of his heart" (he actually said that!), he would give me a trial of the newest version and that after a few months, I'd need to purchase it. 
Finally, realizing that I was getting nowhere with these people, (and unable to make them realize that the reason I was partial to 2010 is simply because I paid for it and it worked well!) I accepted their offer of this new version which I would eventually have to pay for. 

Joe switched me back over to Bob, who then proceeded to set me up to begin a remote session with him (which meant that he could access my computer from where he was and could install this new program). 

After getting it all set up, he began using my mouse, opened up a notepad document on my desktop, and typed "I'd like to help you.  I have the product password for your 2010 version. 
I typed back "ok"
And then Bob proceeded to give me the password, install my 2010 program, and set it up for me. 

Wow...
I was just sitting there, watching my screen in amazement. 
Some man across the country somewhere, who had never met me, was helping me out though it wasn't going to benefit him at all.

After Bob was finished, he typed to me "I'm sorry.  I wanted to help you all along, but I hope you understand my limitations.  You are my first customer tonight."

I typed back that I understood and continued to thank him profusely.  And of course, I apologized for being irritated initially. 


Bob and Joe represent two different types of people to me.  Joe realized that though he had the password on hand, it wasn't his obligation to pass it on to me.  He lied to me, told me that there was nothing he could do to get the password for me, and convinced me that I had better just take his other generous offer. 
Bob, while initially following the "protocol" of their business, BEGAN lying to me, but then his conscience must have kicked him for doing so.  He decided that he would help me. 
Bob had nothing to gain from helping me out, monetarily speaking.  But he made the choice to help someone, and I'm sure, felt better as a result. 

I learned something valuable too.  Be honest in my dealings, like Bob. 

Also, keep track of important passwords.

    

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Visit home...

 
 
 
Two weeks ago, my grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  My sister planned a surprise anniversary party for them with the family.  So I drove down and spent several days with my parents.  My car needed to be inspected as well, so I took my car to the auto shop for that. 
 
I arrived on Wednesday evening and went right outside and picked some raspberries.  After that, we went to the midweek prayer meeting at church.
 
Thursday was very nice because I was able to spend the whole day with my dad.  He took me to one of my favorite stores (the Amish store, BB's).   
 
 
Friday, I helped my parents around the farm, getting things ready for markets on Saturday!
 
Then on Saturday morning, I went to market in Westminster with my mother.  We were there from about 6AM-12:30PM.  It was a good day and went by quickly. 
 
We stopped and got slushies at Sheetz on our way home, which was nice and refreshing. 
After getting home, we cleaned my parents house.  Then, I drove to Hoss's, where the surprise party was to take place.
 
It was wonderful to see all of the different members of the family show up.  I, of course, was running around trying to take pictures of everyone. 
 

 
My niece, Ella.

 
Oliver, Elisabeth and Isabelle.

 
My parents, and Sarah, Billy, and Willie.

 
I DO have pictures of the surprise, but they are on my phone and will not download for some reason. 
My grandparents were so surprised to see the whole family together, celebrating them.
 
We were able to get one group photo with my whole family, my uncles whole family, and my grandparents.  It's not a good-quality photo, but at least we got one!



Stuart with Jochebed.
 

 
All of the nieces and nephews love uncle Daniel, my brother-in-law. 

 

I wish I had taken better pictures, but at least I got some!  I had a wonderful time at home, especially with my parents.  However, it was my first time being away from Dan for four days in a long time, and I missed him SO much.  After driving back to New York, it was good to be back with my husband. 


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Taking the Next Step!

An important event occurred in my life this year and I forgot to post about it.  On May 3rd, 2017, I was able to graduate from West Coast Baptist College with my masters degree in music.  I was really excited about that because I had been working on it for three years. 
 
I finished my thesis project just one week before graduation, and that was a HUGE relief. 
 
Dan and I flew to California on Tuesday and arrived just in time to attend the special dinner that was prepared for the graduates and their families. 
 
This picture is of five of the music masters students.  The four of us on the left were graduating.

 
Wednesday Morning, Dan took this picture of me as I was driving to the college to find out whether I received honor cords or not. 

 
Annnnd...it turned out that YES, I got honor cords, as did all of the other music masters students!  There is only one music masters student missing from this group picture.  This was right before we processed in to the ceremony.

 

 
 
 
After the ceremony, I took a picture with one of my teachers from my undergrad years. 
 

 
It was a memorable time.  I'm so glad that I got my masters degree!  I really didn't question whether or not I should pursue my masters degree at all.  I knew that when I finished my bachelors degree, I wanted to continue learning. 
 
And I'm glad that I did.  I was able to learn so much more; particularly about vocal techniques and directing choral groups. 
 
 
 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Life in Upstate New York

Since moving to upstate New York, I have been getting used to living in the country again. 
 
I have to say...there's nothing like it. 
After living in California for five years and in Glen Burnie and Baltimore, MD for two years, I am SO happy to be in upstate New York now.  I have no problem with California or Maryland, but in the three cities I lived in while living there, there was always some feeling of threat or fear.  I wouldn't have thought of going for a jog in Baltimore where I lived because of the violence and gangs nearby.
 
The feeling that I always had to be careful how I looked at people (or didn't look at people) in Baltimore for fear of being labeled in some way was SCARY. 
 
Upstate New York (I am clear about saying "upstate" because it is nothing like NYC) is nothing like that.  In fact, I take our dog for a walk every morning and go running or bicycling each day too. 
 
The people in this area know everything about everyone else.  The people are easy-going and friendly in a casual, neighborly way.  I love that.  I've missed that the past few years.    
 
 
When we first arrived in New York, one of the kind members of the church here gave Dan and I tickets to ride the Minne-Ha-Ha, a steam boat on Lake George.  It was fun to tour the lake on the boat!   
 
 
 



 
 

 
We love the house where we live now.  In this picture, our dog Chula is running around.  She LOVES the open space.  It's much better to play fetch in the country than in the small city plot we had before. 

 
About a month ago, I was really wishing that I could have a rabbit, so I found one for sale on ebay and we bought him.  I named him Duffy. 

 
Chula really likes Duffy, but I don't think Duffy feels the same about her.


 
Dan made a nice hutch for him. 

 
We're loving life up here! 
 



Saturday, September 2, 2017

Honeymoon

😀As most of you can probably tell, I have very recently begun blogging again regularly. 
As I was going back through the posts I have written, I noticed one that I never posted. 
Our honeymoon!! 
 
And of course, who wouldn't want to hear about that, right?  :) 
 
So here it goes, though more than a year late. 
 
 
 
When we left our wedding in Dan's pickup truck, we drove back to the church where we had left Dan's car and switched over into that.  It made more sense to drive to Virginia in a car than in a truck. 
 
I had no clue where we would be spending the night, since Dan had took it upon himself to plan that all out secretively. 
 
We pulled into a long winding driveway in Lancaster, which went straight up a hill.  Almost at the top, we could see what looked like a mansion!  It was definitely a mansion, but was also an awesome bed and breakfast. 
 
Dan took this picture as we were cresting the hill and I had my first sighting of the Hurst House. 
 
 
 
The Hurst House was a truly beautiful place to stay!  We only stayed for that one night and then left early the next morning. 
This picture was taken at breakfast the following morning. 
 

 
Dan had planned everything out down to a T.  There was a gorgeous bouquet of roses waiting for me, as well as three different types of junk food snacks (he knows me so well!). 


 
At the Hurst House, we had our own private balcony, overlooking their beautiful lake. 

 
 
After we left the bed and breakfast, we actually went to church in Lancaster county at a Baptist church.  I've always thought it'd be odd to attend church the day after you get married, but something wouldn't have felt right if we had missed church.  We were both glad that we went.  It was a very nice church. 
 
We made the drive down to Shenandoah Crossings in Virginia where we were going to spend the week.  It took us about four hours or so to get there.  We were staying at the Bluegreen Vacation spot which was a sort of resort with cabins and yurts and campground.
 
We had this cabin all to ourselves.  It had four bedrooms and two bathrooms.  It was HUGE!
 


 
It was a neat place.  And because we were there in April, not many other people were around.  It was a historic area, so we went to see Thomas Jeffersons's Monticello home as well as James Madison's home.  We were planning to go on lots of hikes, but it rained almost every day that week. 
 
We were able to sneak in this short walk one day between rain storms. 


 
On the second day at the resort, we went to this required lecture about what Bluegreen Vacations was and all of the vacation spots we could go to. 
We really didn't want to sign up for a timeshare with them or invest into vacations with them.  We were given a deal at Bass Pro, which was why we signed up for it. 
 
Anyway, so we sat through the lecture and then had a tour of the resort and three different salespeople tried to get us to sign up, but we stayed firm and did not purchase anything or sign any contracts. 
Four hours later, we were free to enjoy the rest of our honeymoon.  Please don't think I am being rude when I say this (because our honeymoon was truly AMAZING), but those four hours were the worst part of our vacation. 
 
 We felt very pressured into making a decision to buy their vacation sampler package.  Despite our insisting that we rarely go on vacation and that when we DO, we certainly wouldn't spend thousands on a vacation, the salespeople were quite relentless. 
 
The best part about this sales pitch time was that there was a popcorn machine.  So I enjoyed that. 

 
After we finally got back to our cabin, we saw a horse and buggy and wanted to go for a ride. 

 
Our driver was the nicest elderly man.  He talked to us the whole trip. 




 

 
When our buggy ride was over, we explored the resort.  There was a historic house on it, and we looked at that for a little while.  We just peeked in the windows, since it was closed.  


 
The week flew by!  On our last day there, Dan and I played checkers.  They had this large checkers board and checker pieces on the sidewalk.  I beat Dan, which is why he is pouting in this photo.  :)


 
 
That was the end of our fabulous week!  One day, we hope to go back to that same resort for a vacation.  It really was a very nice spot!