Our next adventure....

was for the whole family. Our church takes an annual mission trip to South Carolina to repair homes for those who cannot do the work or do not have the funds. We work through Rural Missions, Inc. on John's Isand south of Charleston. The people we help are part of a dying culture. Some are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of slaves, hanging on to their property and slowly losing the Gullah culture that has prevailed for generations. All of the people we come in contact with, no matter how sad and distressing their living conditions, have a faith and trust in the Lord greater than I have ever experienced myself. They trust in God and praise Him openly and fervently. We end up being ministered to as well as ministering. Our family has gone to the Sea Islands twice now and hope to go back again. It is a time where we see and feel God's presence all around us, 24/7.

The work was hard and it was very hot, but knowing that we have made life a little better for someone else makes the work easy. It's a blessing and a pleasure to be able to share our skills and time. The pictures below show one of the homes we worked on that week. We cleaned, we painted, we built a porch on the back of the house and a ramp on the front. The homeowner was very happy and thankful.

St. Mary's Part II

Originally an all-girls college, St. Mary's College of Maryland was founded in 1840. It is a publicly funded college in Historic St. Mary's City. During the summer, the college hosts the River Concert Series, funded through corporate sponsorships. They are able to bring in world-renowned muscians and vocalists to perform with the Chesapeake Orchestra. The series takes place outdoors with the sun setting on the river, creating a beautiful backdrop to the perfomance. The whole event is casual and a wonderful evening out. Vendors selling food are located nearby but out of the way. Concert goers picnic as they enjoy the music. The listening area is divided up into three sections: closest to the stage is for serious listeners, the mid-section is for casual listeners and the back section is reserved for those who are there to socialize with the music in the background. It was a perfect start to our weekend away.

We spent Saturday exploring Historic St. Mary's City. We could have easily spent more than a day. It's tough to say which was a bigger highlight: spending time on the recreated ship, The Maryland Dove, or sifting through layers of soil dug up from a midden heap at the archaeological site. The Dove is a fully operational ship. On Sunday, they had a practice run and we went down the river to watch it sail.

As we were ending our visit, we stopped in at the dig site. The college hosts a ten-week field school. Students were excavating an area that has had multiple structures. The area of focus the day we were there was the dump for the last residence and possibly previous structures. Sifting through the soil, we found bones, buttons, a piece of smoking pipe that dates back to the original founding (1634) and was made in England, earthenware pieces as well as ceramics and items made from iron. It was a cool experience, finding all these treasures in someone's trash heap from 200 years ago and earlier. Our finds are contibutions to a better understanding of how the colonists lived. On the web, visit www.stmaryscity.org

We ended our trip with a visit to Point Lookout State Park. This peninsula is the result of the confluence of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. A beautiful natural area, this piece of land became the site of a major POW camp for the Union. In addition, an innovative Civil War hospital was built. It featured a wagon wheel type construction, with wards for different ailments as the "spokes." It was believed to allow more air-flow between and in the buildings.

Southern Maryland has much to offer: history, outdoor sports, good food, wineries (fairly new to Maryland) and friendly people. Someday, it will be a spot we revisit.

Trip Number One...

was to St. Mary's, Maryland. As usual, we stumbled upon this hidden little treat by accident. A lot of the trips my husband and I have taken over all the years we have been together (20 years now-oy vey!) have turned out that way. This time around, we were looking for a long weekend get-away to celebrate our anniversary. A little quiet spot not too far off. Someone recommended St. Michael's, MD, but I lost the scrap of paper I had it noted on. When I began my internet search, I couldn't remember St. Michael's and St. Mary's kept popping up in my head. As far as I know, I had never heard of St. Mary's until I googled it. Boy am I glad I did. The whole weekend was perfect from start to finish.

We are history buffs and spend a lot of time visiting historical sites (whether our daughters like it or not!) near and far. St. Mary's is an early colonial settlement, former capital of Maryland and a significant player in the Civil War. It is also home to St. Mary's College of Maryland, a public university. And for those of us who are the outdoorsy type, there is plenty to do.

I have to mention for the benefit of all of the Central PA people, the B&B we called home for the weekend is owned by an LVC alumnus and his wife (who was the College's president before retiring). Jim Grube frequently sang the praises of scrapple over the course of our stay. His truck bears a bumper sticker reading, "Scrapple, the Other Gray Meat." If you ever decide to explore St. Mary's County, plan to stay at Woodlawn Farm. The main house, built in 1798, is an historic piece of architecture itself. It even made an appearance on the HGTV show, "If Walls Could Talk." Visit Woodlawn Farm at www.woodlawn-farm.com

Friends and reviews led us to a restaurant at the end of a gravel road for dinner one night. The best way to describe the place (and the reviewers did too) is a dive. Incredibly fresh seafood, great service and a very relaxed atmosphere was the perfect way to end an evening. This Kansas girl surprised her husband with her accomplished cracking of the crabs steamed up and placed in front of her. Oh, they tasted soooo good. Tom, the owner of Courtney's Restaurant and Seafood, still has his own traps out on the Potomac River, so there's a chance the crabs you order were caught just a few yards away that morning. You can't get fresher than that unless you're catching them yourself and have the pot boiling before you take 'em out of the tidewater. A stroll down to the dock had us sitting on the edge of the Potomac watching the crabs that got away. One thing I learned about crabs on this trip: they swim sideways. I had never seen nor even thought of how crabs swim. Just always assumed they spent a lot of time on the bottom, scuttling around. Who knew? Not me!

St. Mary's Part II coming up...

Summer Vacation is Over...

with the end of the Labor Day weekend. Boo hoo! 8 days of school down, only 172 more to go!

Now, I know school began before Labor Day, BUT, those first four days hardly count as real school. Those are the "getting to know each other" days where not a whole lot of "school" happens. Textbook distribution, locker assignments, reading of the rules, etcetera, etcetera-those are the things that happen in those first few days. Unless you are in high school. Like my older daughter. She had homework after the first day. Those math and science teachers are tough! I suppose when you are on a block schedule, ya gotta cram in all that teaching and learning in just one semester (I'm not particularly fond of block scheduling. However, it does have advantages. I'll leave that musing for another time).

Labor Day weekend ended our Summer of History. Our trips this year were all historical in nature. And all of them took us back to the settling and founding of our great nation, before, during and after we became the United States of America. And we shared time with many incredible people along the way. Check back and I'll have pictures, stories and links to share with you.

Summer Projects 2010

I have managed to finish a few projects this summer, despite all the time I have wasted on FB.

I expanded my garden.

I put in a "creek."

And I finished the steps. (see 2009 summer projects)

As usual,

It has been months since I posted. What can I say? I've been busy! Not really. I have allowed Facebook to take over my computer time.

As wonderful as Facebook is for finding old friends and classmates, it can be just the opposite. All of the other "stuff" there is available to do while logged in to FB, sure can suck the life right out of a person. It is amazing how much time I can waste playing games and looking at all of my friends postings and pages.

School will be starting again very soon and FB will be put on the back burner again. At least for me. Having only one computer for four people and two of those people will need to use it almost daily for schoolwork, I will be the one giving up the computer. I suppose it will make me a better person. : )