Monday, October 30, 2006

The Yellow House Falls

Today was the day when the yellow house met its final end. It was destroyed and brought down within the course of four hours with a small excavator. Definitely a bittersweet event.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Appalachian Trail to Nuclear Lake

Throughout college I dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail. I often thought that the ideal honeymoon would consist of spending a summer hiking the AT from Georgia to Maine. But, until today, I had not even hiked one foot of the AT. The AT is actually very close to home. Today I discovered that I only have to drive about thirty minutes to reach an AT trailhead.

My first trek on the AT (with Nate, Luke and Tsheko) was quite favorable. After parking at a small trailhead and walking into the woods I felt as though I quickly left typical civilization behind. The woods were remote. After hiking for a couple miles on the AT we reached our destination: Nuclear Lake. It seemed to be a very quiet and pleasant place despite its name that relates the history of the former nearby plutonium plant. I was very excited that we came across some "real ATers" on our return trip. They were setting up camp and said that they were loving the hike three days into their journey. I definitely left inspired to hike more of the AT. But maybe not for a honeymoon.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Evening Comforts

Nate and his friend Tsheko came up from Princeton today. Family reunions are always fun. Mom captured our joy and satisfaction in being together as we all piled up on the big bed to do some reading. Nate read Dr. Dobson, I read First Things and Hannah and Rebecca perused the Hearthsong catalog. Caleb was along for the ride.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

John Deere and Speedo

Rebecca was very excited to find that her cow, Speediest, had a heifer calf yesterday. Heifer calves are of much greater monetary value than bull calves. Also, heifer calves are crucial for the success and maintenance of a dairy herd. Thus, the birth of a heifer calf is always celebrated.

The birth of a heifer calf always poses a unique challenge. It must be named. The names of aunts, old girlfriends and wives were important selection ground for heifer naming in years past. However, Rebecca has charted her own territory when it comes to the art of naming. The heifer who began Rebecca's herd was named "Speedy." Keeping with sound etymology, she has decided to name all of her calves with the word "speed" embedded in the name. The candidate for this year's newest calf? Speedo.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

An Afternoon with Diet Coke and Mentos

My students requested that I do the popular Diet Coke and Mentos geyser experiment for them. I spent the better part of the afternoon trying, not to make a geyser, but to make a rocket. Fourteen bottles of Diet Coke and one hundred and forty Mentos later, I am still left with little claim to success. I can't say that trying wasn't fun, though. With the help of my siblings and Mom, we launched many attempts, got covered in Coke, and laughed while watching the videos of our Coke duds. We have not given up hope yet and Luke still plans on trying to launch a couple more rockets tomorrow. In the meantime, our attempts (especially the second one featuring Luke), may prompt a sympathetic laugh.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Telephone Charades

Nathaniel and his friends from Princeton Evangelical Fellowship put on quite the performance with telephone charades. In his own words:

Hi ya'll,

Click on the link and watch two funny videos (one starring me). ChrisSallade's act (croc hunter) is superb. You should be amused.


Japanese Chef & Croc Hunter

Saturday, October 14, 2006

What He Ordaineth

As our family gathered for devotions last night several of us began to reflect on our favorite lines from hymns:

"And let our ordered lives confess the beauty of Thy peace." (John Greenleaf Whittier - Dear Lord and Father of Mankind)

"And though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet." (Maltbie D. Babcock - This Is My Father's World)

"Hast thou not seen how all thy longings have been granted in what he ordaineth." (Joachim Neander - Praise to the Lord the Almighty)

"When all thy mercies, O my God, my rising soul surveys/ Transported with the view I'm lost in wonder, love and praise." (Joseph Addison - When All Thy Mercies, O My God)

"O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the works Thy have made / I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder / Thy power throughout the universe displayed / Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; How great Thou art!" (Stuart Hine - How Great Thou Art)

Friday, October 13, 2006

When the Frost Is On the Pumpkin

by James Whitcome Riley

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then's the times a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bare-headed, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here --
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pitcur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock --
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries --kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below -- the clover overhead! --
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!
Then your apples all is getherd, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin' 's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage, too! . . .
I don't know how to tell it -- but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me --
I'd want to 'commondate 'em -- all the whole-indurin' flock --
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!

~It is a family tradition for Dad to read this poem right around the first frost.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Columbus Day Weekend

Welcoming the fall colors.

The College Boys: Isaac and Nate.

It was a gorgeous and full Columbus Day weekend. Isaac and Nate arrived home on Friday and all eight of us went to cheer for my high school students in their attempt to win the homecoming football game.

Luke and Cousin Rita

Sunlight reflecting off a spider web.

Bright and early Sunday morning we took our Christmas card picture in the dewy pasture. We all attended Clintondale Friends Church before Isaac and Nathaniel departed back to college. Hannah, Rebecca, Rita and I left for the Schwangunks to hike around Lake Minnewaska.

A beautiful view of Lake Minnewaska.

Enjoying autumn in the Schwangunks.

Hannah and Rebecca's reflection in Lake Minnewaska.

On Monday, Mom, Dad and I returned with Rita to New York City. I caught up briefly with a friend from college while walking around Central Park. Mom, Dad and I then attended the 20th annual Erasmus lecture where Dr. Philip Jenkins (UPenn) addressed a crowded group at the Union League Club.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

When Country Folk Visit the Shoestore

Inspired by a visit from our cousin, Rita, visiting from New York City, we planned a small window shopping trip to the nearby town. After visiting our old favorites - the consignment shop and the five and dime store - we decided to explore the shoe store. Rebecca quickly found a bair of boots that she liked. They cost over $100 and because of the price she wasn't planning on trying them on until I whispered, "You could try them on and find get them off of the Internet for your Christmas gift." She took me up on my suggestion.

Upon asking the shoekeeper if she could try on the boots, he asked, "What size are you?" Not exactly sure, the shoekeeper kindly measured her feet and trecked upstairs to find the matching size. He came down the stairs with the boots, fitted them on her feet and she began to walk around.

"Do you like them?" He asked.


"Are they comfortable?"


"Well, good, we don't like to sell boots that are uncomfortable. The way I do business, I say if they don't feel good from the start, don't buy them. Some people try to say that you will eventually break into them, but not me."

"So, you like them?"

"Yes," Rebecca happily replied again.

"Do you want to buy them?" The shoekeeper asked, getting to the point.

"No," Rebecca said. "They are too expensive."

The shoekeeper asked with a laugh, "Then why did you have me go all of the way upstairs so that you could try them on?"

"I want to buy them off of the Internet. They're cheaper."

A good business man, the shoekeeper said, "You won't find them on the Internet for cheaper."

Not convinced, Rebecca replied, "Yes, I will find them on eBay."

Ever the salesman, the shoekeeper says, "These boots are made in Australia. The only boots that you can find on the Internet are from China."

"That's okay," Rebecca said.

At this point, Mom is overwhelmed with embarrassment and has made a beeline for the door. She hides beyond the vantage point of the window. Quite embarrassed myself, I decided that a quick exit was desirable.

However, given that I was the one who suggested that Rebecca try on the boots so that she could purchase them later, I decided that to leave her stranded with the shoekeeper was not kind. I casually glanced around the remainder of the store, turned around and came to Rebecca, embarrased to look at much beside the door, lest I catch the eye of the shoekeeper.

And in the end we calmly left the store, as if it were perfectly normal to have a shoekeeper go to a lot of effort only to tell him, "No thanks, because eBay is cheaper."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Holding Out the Word of Life

Our family has been deeply challenged by the witness of the Lancaster Amish community in response to the recent killing of five of their school children.

"We think it was God's plan and we're going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going," a member of the community said. "A funeral to us is a much more important thing than the day of birth because we believe in the hereafter. The children are better off than their survivors."

Just as powerful as these hopeful words is the picture of genuine love and concern painted in the words of an Associated Press article published today. It was reported that an Amish man came to the gunman's family home to comfort the family. "[The Amish man] stood there for an hour, and he held [the father of the gunman] in his arms, and he said, 'We will forgive you."

Another Amish women explained: "We have to forgive. We have to forgive him in order for God to forgive us."

The New York Times reported that the Amish have started a charity fund not only to serve the victim's families but also to help the gunman's widow.

I believe this Amish community has left us a very clear sketch of gospel living. They have clothed an act of hatred in a bath of love and shown that love truly cleanses a multitude of sins. Never before has reading the New York Times felt so similar to reading the Sermon on the Mount.

The Amish have said that their response to tragedies has been helped by an approach to life that they call "yieldedness." They have yielded themselves by faith to believe that all things work together for the good of those who love God. And it seems that therein they have found, perhaps not answers, but peace. We wait for the other side of the Jordan to tell the remainder of the story.

NY Times: Strong Faith and Community May Help Amish Cope With Loss, Oct. 4
AP: Amish Forgive, Pray and Mourn After School Shooting, Oct. 4

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The 19th Birthday Celebration

On Nate's birthday, Ryan, his roomate, and friends treated Nate to dinner at an Italian restaurant.

All at dinner.

Nathaniel requested tickets to the Yankee's first playoff game for his nineteenth birthday. Nate and his college friend Rich caught the Dinky from Princeton and travelled by train to Yankee Stadium. They missed the Dinky on the way home and had to run the last two miles of the stretch from New York City to Princeton, New Jersey.

Rich and Nate at the Yankee game.

Nate at Penn Station after the game. Just a little tired?

Monday, October 02, 2006

For the Love of Frisbees and Sunshine

Bentley loves frisbees. When we went on a long walk in the woods today to celebrate Yom Kippur (a school holiday), Bentley decided to bring his frisbee along. Caleb was the official frisbee tosser. About five minutes into the walk, Caleb threw the frisbee into the bramble bushes by the side of the pond. I tried to reach in to extract the frisbee from the brambles, but my arm was not long enough. Caleb, not deterred, decided that he would compact the bramble bushes with the force of his pounding body and eventually he was able to reach the frisbee. Success!

Not five minutes later the frisbee ended up in another thicket. This time the frisbee was surrounded by thorns on every side by about fifteen feet. Even Caleb was not able to reach the frisbee though he tried to crawl into the bushes on all fours. When we had finally given up hope of ever retrieving the frisbee, Bentley decided to head into the thicket. Through the briars he plunged and eventually he happily reappeared with his frisbee. Thankfully that was the end of the briars.

With the frisbee excitement past, Rebecca decided to keep us entertained with her fascinating acorn whistle. Her favorite whistle pattern was Captain von Trapp's whistle march from The Sound of Music. It is quite impressive that a little acorn can make such a shrill noise.

The afternoon found the children enjoying the brilliant sunbeams in the back pasture. Rebecca practiced her cartwheels before playing King of the Mountain with Caleb and the neighborhood children.

Caleb reaches for the elusive frisbee.

Bentley comes to the rescue this time.

Rebecca whistles to Captain von Trapp's marching call.

Enjoying the setting sun.

Who is the King of the Mountain?

Happy 19th Birthday to Nathaniel

We miss you and wish that we could celebrate with you!