Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Cleaning

In the midst of all the activity around here the past month or so, Mom and I have been fitting in the spring cleaning as we had time and . . . it's just about all finished! But with gardening season upon us (and a host of other things as well), I'm not sure when we'll get to the rest of it. But at least all the main rooms are all deep cleaned now!

Wiping down the walls (and everything is in the center of the room in this photo. :)

The living room after it is all finished . . . I love the feel and look of a room that has just been deep cleaned!

Now I'm off to make dinner, and then will come chore time, maybe a walk, and then a pleasant evening spent together working on various things. For me, that will likely be embroidery . . . I've been working on my "days of the week" tea towels as I have time, and am now embroidering the one for "Day 6" (Bake on Saturday :) This has been a fun project, and I am looking forward to when they are all finished!

Monday, April 26, 2010

From My Window - Photos from Nebraska

Traveling for our family is a bit different than for many other people as all of us get motion sick save for Ryan . . . which means lots of looking out the window! I have heard others talk of crocheting, cross-stitching, reading, etc. in the car, and I can only imagine how nice that would be! But since those activities are not possible for me while traveling, I do one of my other favorite things . . . photograph.

The hours during our trip up to Nebraska for the funeral and then back home again often found me with my camera in my lap or in hand, ready and waiting for it to be put into use. "From the vehicle" photography has its challenges (especially on overcast days!) in trying to have the shutter speed set fast enough so that there isn't blurriness, while still having the photos light enough as well. Not to mention trying to 'frame' the photos, and attempting to keep out things such as telephone poles, other vehicles, roads, etc. It all makes for fun photography, though!

And while my "from the vehicle" photography skills are improving (I have lots of opportunity to practice!), I do some cropping/editing on some of the photos that are taken. Sometimes, though, in the few seconds available before passing a subject by, a photo is taken that can get by without any cropping/editing such as this windmill . . .


On some of the roads that we drove on where there was next to no traffic, Daddy stopped on occasion to let me photograph things like this singing Western Meadowlark (and yes, this photo was one of those that was cropped :) . . .


Western Meadowlarks have one of the prettiest songs! It was so enjoyable listening to him sing!

And then these turkeys . . .

These gobblers put on quite the show for us while we stopped and watched them. There were also a couple more gobblers here as well as a number of hens.

When traveling, there are a number of things that are my 'top favorites' to photograph . . . barns and old homesteads would fit this category. And when traveling through the Nebraska prairies, there are so many beautiful old barns, houses and other outbuildings! These are always a delight to see, and not only for one who likes to photograph them, but also for one who simply loves the character, architecture and beauty of these older buildings. (Such would be me. :)

Since most of the buildings are back in the trees, it's often difficult to get decent photos of them, but it is always fun to try! I'll refrain from sharing all the barn photos here (there are a lot of them!), and will simply share a few of the ones that turned out better . . .


This was one of the more unique barns . . . we don't see ones like this very often!

A big, old, red barn . . . my favorite color for barns
This is the second time that this barn and outbuildings were captured on my camera . . . two years ago when traveling to the reunion, they were photographed while the sun was setting, and the photo ended up being the desktop background on our computer for awhile.

While this building isn't a farmhouse or barn, it is one that I really like . . . it is an old one-room schoolhouse that my great-great-grandfather built. It is located just down the road from my great-great-grandparents' homestead.

In addition to the old farm buildings and farmhouses, I also enjoy photographing landscapes, rivers, and things like tractors working out in the fields . . .


Animals are another favorite to photograph, though farm animals (with cattle being the favorite :) are usually the only ones that work with "from the car" photography!

An Angus cow with her little calf . . . there were so many cows and calves in the pastures, and it was enjoyable seeing them all!

This trip, though, we had the opportunity to stop alongside the road a number of times (such as with the above turkeys and meadlowlark) to capture things such as this . . .

This photo was taken by Leah as the pheasant was outside her window. He was so pretty and let us watch him for quite a long time! The hen, however, quickly disappeared as soon as we had stopped.

The same pheasant again only he was outside my window this time. I loved the setting and then when the red-winged blackbird joined the scene, it made the photography even more fun!

During our time in Nebraska, we also drove by my great-great-grandparents' homestead, and while the gate to it was locked, we stopped to take a photo from the road . . . it's sad to see how much more the buildings have deteriorated over the winter (the barn especially) . . .

The lighting wasn't good for this photo, and with the trees and all, not much can be seen, but with knowing the history of the buildings, I like it anyway. :)

While I enjoy photographing most of the scenery in Nebraska, there is one thing that doesn't top the list . . . the cattle stockyards! :) This trip, however, Leah and I photographed a few of these to show to a friend of ours who had never seen them before . . . these are for you Mrs. Castlebury!


So while the drives are often long, with a camera in hand (and a big memory card :), there is plenty to keep this traveler happily busy as the hours and miles pass by!

Friday, April 23, 2010

At Home with the Lord

As was shared in one of the recent posts, my great-aunt Frances passed away and went home to be with the Lord two weekends ago. Aunt Frances was such a special lady and one whom we were all close to, and her death came as a surprise to us as she had previously been in quite good health. Her funeral was planned for Wednesday of the week that Ashley and her family were here visiting us in Missouri, and the Castleburys were so sweet and encouraged us to go to the funeral - assuring us that they would "hold down the fort" while we were gone. (Thank you so much, Castleburys!)

So Tuesday morning, Dad, Mom, Leah and I made the long drive to Spencer, Nebraska, spent the evening visiting with family members, and then attended Aunt Frances' funeral the following morning. The day was a beautiful one and as we grieved with other family members and sought to bring comfort where we could, my heart still had joy amidst the tears in knowing that Aunt Frances was at that moment with Jesus. Death is always hard and there are always tears and sadness, but when the one who had passed was a believer in Jesus Christ, there is also a comfort, hope, and joy as well. Aunt Frances had trusted in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and had given her life to Him, and with knowing that, her death was easier to bear.

It was also such a blessing at her funeral as the gentleman who officiated gave a clear and convicting gospel message, and shared much about Aunt Frances' faith and commitment to the Lord. He also had her Bible up with him and shared a poem that Aunt Frances had kept inside as well as some verses from a bookmark that was found within it. How precious it was to hear all that was shared about this special lady who will be so greatly missed here on earth!

Aunt Frances, Leah, Me, and Uncle Otto - September 2009

I remember the first time that I met Aunt Frances, and what happened then was the beginning of a special bond and relationship that continued to grow and develop between us in the years that followed . . . I was twelve years old, Leah was ten, and it was our first time going to the Pelc Family Reunion. At the park where the reunion was held at, Leah and I had found a little stray kitten that became our constant companion during the weekend. But then when it came time for us to head for home, the sad realization sunk in tha
t our kitten couldn't come home with us since my Mom is very allergic to cats. Leah and I were saying goodbye to our sweet little kitten with tears in our eyes, when Aunt Frances came up and said that she would take the kitten home with her and take care of it for us. I can still see her cradling that little kitten with a smile on her face while her act of love greatly blessed two little girl's hearts. In the years that followed, we often talked about that first reunion and "the kitten story." :)

Me, Aunt Frances and Leah - September 2008

Now it won't be the same going to the Pelc Family Reunion without having Aunt Frances there . . . I am going to miss her so much. Her warm and loving hugs . . . the sparkle in her eyes . . . hearing her laugh . . . listening to her stories of growing up on the Nebraska prairie . . . looking through family history photos together, she identifying people and sharing stories while I took notes . . . sitting down and having such wonderful conversations with her . . . watching her play with and hold her great- and great-great-grandchildren . . . yes, I am really going to miss her. But while there is sadness, there is thankfulness as well for all the special memories that we have, and thankfulness that I was able to know Aunt Frances and was able to learn so much from her. There is also such joy and comfort in knowing that Aunt Frances is with the Lord in heaven and that I will see her again someday. I cannot even imagine what indescribable beauty and joy she is enjoying and experiencing right now! Free from all sadness, sickness, grief and pain!

At Aunt Frances' funeral, the below Scripture verses (as well as many others) were expounded on, and they seemed fitting to share here as well:

"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also . . . Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.' " (John 14:2-3, 6)

"For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:53-58.)

What a promise . . . and what a hope.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our Week Together - Part 3

Saturday

Saturday was our last full day together, and we enjoyed it to the fullest! And stayed up rather late, too. :) But that wasn't anything unusual! I think we got to bed after eleven just about every night and were up around 6:00 every morning. One night, Ashley, Leah and I even stayed up until after one o'clock talking as there was so much to catch up on!

The dear mothers

Ryan and Ashley

"You're not really taking a photo . . . are you?"
Meanwhile, Sayre, avoids the camera by hiding behind me :)

Ashley

Leah on the stairs (which were just installed!) leading to the upstairs

Ryan and Ashley upstairs by the window that the guys had put in that afternoon (and this window was the last one that needed to go in! Exciting!)

Having fun together :)

Looking out the upstairs window at Leah, Sayre and Sawyer

The stairs and opening as viewed from the downstairs (the kitchen/living area is on the right and the bathroom and bedrooms are on the left.)

Mr. Castlebury finishing putting sheetrock in the pantry

The house from the front/side view (the big porch is so nice! Perfect for a porch swing or rocking chairs. :)

And from the side/back (the window upstairs is the one they had just put in.)

The deep hole that Sayre dug for the waterline

Sawyer and I having some snuggle and play time together the last evening that they were here

Sayre figuring out how Leah's metronome works (we went to a garage sale that had some antiques, and she found this for a dollar!)

And thus concluded our last full day together . . . it was sad to say goodbye, but there are now so many special and wonderful memories that we all have! And the next planned time when all of us will be getting together will be July for the wedding . . . how very much we have to look forward to and plan for!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our Week Together - Part 2

Friday

I'll let the photos speak for themselves in this post! :)
(they're in the order of when they were taken.)

Sawyer, Leah and I

Mr. Castlebury screwing on drywall

Ryan and Ashley working on picking out paint colors . . . that took awhile!

Daddy measuring sheetrock

Let's just say that Sayre doesn't exactly like having his photo taken! ;)

Daddy pausing from work to add his creative touches to Sayre's 'face' while Sayre and Leah look on :)

Mr. Castlebury cutting out a window opening

Ashley and Leah

I had fun taking some photos of Sawyer outside. :) He, Leah, Sayre and I went for a walk around part of Ryan's property together.

Leah and Sawyer running across the pasture

Sawyer helping me to measure plastic for one of the kitchen walls

Ryan working on putting sheetrock in the pantry while Ashley keeps him company

Daddy and Mr. Castlebury working on sheetrock

While I stapled up plastic, Sawyer was my little helper . . . every once in awhile I wouldn't get a staple in all the way so he'd hammer it in for me. He'd stay close by me and ask from time to time "Do you need me Sawah?" So cute. :)

Mrs. Castlebury duct-taping the two pieces of plastic together

Sayre and Leah (with Sawyer helping :) carrying away scrap sheetrock

To be continued . . .

Monday, April 19, 2010

Our Week Together - Part 1

What a wonderful, busy, enjoyable, and eventful past week this was! I have so many photos from our times together with Ashley and her family so instead of doing one big post, there will be several 'smaller' ones . . .

Sunday
Our first full day together was pretty relaxing with Sunday morning and early afternoon being spent with brothers and sisters in the Lord which was a blessing and encouragement. And then the rest of the afternoon was spent out at Ryan's place looking at everything (everyone but Leah and I, that is, as we stayed home to put together dinner.) This was the first time that Ashley and her family had seen the house 'in person', so it was exciting for everyone!

Monday

Monday the guys spent most of the day out working while we ladies and Sawyer spent the morning visiting local antique stores. We have somewhat of a 'tradition' that whenever we get together, we try to fit in at least a little bit of antiquing. :) And as usual, we had so much fun! We also went grocery shopping to get some things for an unexpected trip . . . Saturday evening, which was the night the Castlebury's arrived, we received word that our Aunt Frances (my Dad's aunt), who we were quite close to, had unexpectedly passed away. So Dad and Mom were going to go up to the funeral and Leah and I decided to go with them. It's a nine to ten hour drive one way, so we went up on Tuesday and came back on Wednesday after the funeral and luncheon (and there will be more about all that in a later post.)

After all of our errands were run on Monday morning, we brought lunch out to the guys . . .

Break time!
Ryan and Ashley going for a walk together

And now back to work.
Thank you Mr. M for all of your help this day!


Tuesday and Wednesday

While we were gone, Ashley took some photos of the work done on the house, and now the metal roofing is all on! Talk about exciting!!! Great job, guys!


Sayre and Ryan up working on the roof

Ryan, Sayre and Mr. Castlebury working on the porch roof

Mr. Castlebury and Sayre working on cutting the metal roofing (it was so loud that they had to wear ear protection while doing this.)

Up goes another sheet!

Ryan screwing down a piece of metal roofing


Thursday

Just about every day while the guys were out working, we ladies would bring out lunch for them and spend some time out there. Mom and Mrs. Castlebury were usually the ones to put it together . . .



And when we weren't out at Ryan's place or out antiquing/running errands, Leah, Ashley and I had such wonderful times together doing things like taking care of outside chores, talking together (what wonderful conversations we had!) and playing piano duets . . .


And of course, playing with Sawyer and reading him stories, too. :)


And in addition to all of this, Mrs. Castlebury helped me do 'surgery' on an old Montgomery Ward sewing machine that I had gotten for hardly anything at a garage sale. The motor and all ran smoothly once Ryan had tightened up the belt, but something was wrong with the bobbin/shuttle area. After some work and research on the internet, we figured out the problem . . . a broken gear! (Thank you for your help, Mrs. Castlebury, in figuring this out!) I also had finished the mock-up for my bridesmaids dress, so Ashley and Mrs. Castlebury took a look at it to see what changes needed to be made . . . now it's time to start on the 'real' dress!

Then, of course, there were all the wonderful conversations, the laughter and teasing, the walks, taking care of the animals, and much more! And for Ryan and Ashley, lots of wedding planning, house planning, and things along those lines, too. :)

To be continued . . .