Monday, September 29, 2008

Finding More Than the Kennedys

I’ve been home from my trip out east for a week now but I have one last picture (o.k., maybe three) to share with you. I meant to post this WAY earlier but you know, life has been busy, blah, blah, blah.

On our way back to Boston last Tuesday we decided we still needed to see Hyannis Port, site of the Kennedy compound. It was basically on the way to the airport if you didn’t mind an extra mile or fifteen. Of course, finding the Kennedy compound is much like searching for a stealth bomber. It seems to be totally invisible to the naked eye. We did come upon a road that clearly stated that we should not enter it, which sometimes doesn’t deter me, but since there was mention of surveillance cameras I decided it would be in my best interest to turn around. Though I doubt this was the Kennedy compound, I like to pretend that I was very, very close. Why, I don’t know.
What we did find, and were able to view, was the JFK Memorial garden. It was a beautiful site overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and best of all, it was free to visit, which was good because we were out of money at this point.
Right next to the JFK memorial was a Korean War Veteran’s Memorial. That too, was a beautifully crafted memorial. As I approached this Memorial I found a man sitting on a stool leaning over working on the brick sidewalk. Many of the bricks had names engraved in them and I figured he might be replacing a brick or adding a name. As I approached him I asked him if he was adding a brick (I’d been behind him up until this point so I wasn’t just being dense.) He told me no, he was just cleaning out the grass between the bricks. I was somehow sure this wasn’t a paid position and inquired if he was just volunteering his time. His answer gripped my heart. He informed me that yes he was volunteering his time because he’d served in the Korean War with some of the guys for which the Memorial had been erected. For a few minutes I was choking back tears that I couldn’t quite explain. Here was a man spending his day “taking care of his friends” who had long since left this earth. What a testimony to his respect for his fellow soldier.
Once I knew it would be safe for me to attempt to utter a word without fear of having to stop midstream to hold back the tears, I simply thanked the man for serving our country. I took his picture as a reminder of the sacrifice he made in a war fought before I was ever born. I know nothing more of this man other than the obvious fact that he has a servant’s heart. One which blessed my day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Most Unusual Sound

My friend, Debbie, and I are staying on the bay side of Cape Cod. It is unbelievably beautiful. It's exactly as you would expect the Cape to look, but with more trees. But, what has been most interesting to me is the sound that the water makes when the tide is going out. When I first heard it I just couldn't figure out how to describe it. The best description that I could come up with is a sort of sucking sound. It's almost like the sound you would expect if you could record the ocean and then spin the record (the old black vinyl kind) in reverse, much like they used to do with the Beetle records.
I don't know why but I just love this little fence along the sand. Perhaps it's because it reminds me of the picture on the website for the place we are staying.
When the tide is out you can always find people out on "the flats." It's fun to walk out there, but seriously, there's not a lot to see. The most fun part of it is hearing how annoyed the seagulls get when you walk near them. I'm sure they'd be more excited to see me if I were carrying food for them but since I'm not, they just squawk to let me know that I'm in their space.

You can't beat a view like this.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Pilgrims Landed Where?

Driving from Boston to Cape Cod took us right past Plymouth, where the famous Plymouth Rock stands. Plymouth Rock is supposedly where the pilgrims, who came over on the Mayflower, first stepped foot in the New Land. Of course, the rock has been moved a couple of times, dropped at least once, and is now a little bitty boulder by comparison to what it once was. And, according to some people, the pilgrims really landed in Provincetown, which is across the bay from Plymouth.
I had been warned not to bother stopping as it is, after all, just a rock, but it was lunchtime and we were there so why not take a peek? It seems we picked a bad time. At some point in time a portico was built over and around the rock, I believe to protect what is left of it, and the government picked this summer to do repair work on it. So, our view of Plymouth Rock was through a piece of plastic, with scaffolding all around it. Wouldn't you know? I actually think our view was more fun. At least it was more unique.

Plymouth Rock through plastic. Still more fun that High School history!

This is the line of people waiting to view Plymouth Rock. Once people saw it they just walked away shaking their heads saying, "you don't want to miss that."

A replica of the Mayflower given as a gift to the US from England in the 1950's. This is NOT a Holland America Cruise ship!

I would have made a lousy pilgrim. They say there were over 100 people on this ship. I think it's smaller than the combination of my living and dining room. Granted I have a rather larger living and dining room but I've had, at one time, about 50 people in there and we could hardly move! How bad must your life be to sign on for this trip? Yet, there were people of all ages and genders, two women gave birth, and many were sick and dying. You wouldn't have had to throw me overboard. I would have willingly jumped!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Way better than High School history class

My friend, Debbie, and I decided to cash in some frequent flyer miles to take a trip to Cape Cod. Being as this is our first time to the northeast we decided that we should see some of the historic sites of Boston while we are here. We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and decided a trip to Harvard would be the perfect thing to do until our luggage decided to join us on our adventure. We headed out using the amazingly well organized Boston subway system called the “T”. We had to ask several people for directions along the way but everyone was really nice and very helpful. Wait, haven’t I always heard about how rude people are on the east coast? There goes another stereotype out the window.
I can't explain why, but it was just very fun to see the Harvard campus. I have to say that I was a tad bit disappointed. Aren't the buildings supposed to be covered in ivy? Or is that Yale? We only found one side of one building covered with ivy. What's up with that? But, otherwise it looked just as I thought it would. One of the buildings was built in the 1600's. That is just impossible to fathom!
Inside the gates of Harvard. Look at all those smart people milling about.
We were a tad bit disappointed that the banners were falling down but this is the building that just said "Harvard" to me. The ivy covered walls are on the other side of this building, which I believe was originally the chapel, and still has services on Sundays.
Three hours after our return to our hotel, and three phone calls to NWA finally produced a reunion with our luggage. The bell hop who brought our luggage to our room was quite amused to find out he was now my new best friend.
Wednesday was our day to review our high school history lessons and tour the city of Boston. Somehow history takes on a new meaning when you are standing in the spot it happened. Of course, being over 50 might play a part in my new found interest, but whatever, it's pretty remarkable to be in the location where so much happened and the fact that there won't be a test at the end of the trip makes it all the better.
Old North Church, is the oldest church in Boston, built in 1723. It is most famous for the signals sent from it's steeple (one if by land, two if by sea) the night of Paul Revere's legendary ride.
This cracked me up and made me sad at the same time. Every family had it's own pew box. The wealthier you were, the closer to the front you got to sit. The poor and the black sat in the balcony. That kind of discrimination must grieve the heart of God. The part that cracked me up was the individual pews. It's one way to contain the children I suppose but how do you ever get to "bond" with the other members. Of course, you wouldn't want to skip church because then everyone, including the pastor, would KNOW you were missing. This church still holds Sunday worship services.
The Old North Church was primarily used by the British who occupied the Colony. This, the New North Church, now St. Stephens, was the church used by the colonists. It also happens to be the church where Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was baptized in 1890.

The Boston Public Garden swan boats. Yes, we rode them. I think we were the only ones on the boats without children. We were getting tired by this time and figured this would give us a chance to sit for awhile. I sort of thought that our boat driver would tell us a few things along the way, but no, he just pedaled.

This may sound strange, but before leaving home I prayed that God would orchestrate our days. Knowing that we would have a limited amount of time, and hoping to spend a limited amount of money, I just wanted to get the most "bang for my buck," if you will, out of our trip. While there were moments today when I was wishing that God hadn't orchestrated quite so much walking in our day, I just found it very cool that we happened along this sign on our way back to the tour trolley. I considered staying and witnessing to the people who passed by, thinking that perhaps there would some day be another plaque here saying one of them came to know Christ at this location and they'd be a famous evangelist, but there really wasn't anyone around and there was still a lot to see.

This is actually the back view of the Old State House. On the other side is a balcony where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the public. Every year on the Independence day it is read at this site. Wouldn't that be cool to witness?

Brownstone apartments. A view from the 50th floor of Prudential Tower.

While this view of the Leonard P. Zakim-Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge doesn't really show you how it spans the Charles River, it was still my best shot of the bridge. This bridge, opened in 2003, is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world and boasts a total of 10 lanes for traffic. It's an amazing structure.

Thursday we head to Cape Cod. We'll see if I can tackle the Boston traffic and make our way there without getting lost. Hopefully I'll have more pictures for you later in the week.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pay to Weigh?

John and I spent the weekend in St. Cloud. He spent most of Friday and Saturday learning more stuff about eyes. I spent most of the weekend loafing around in the hotel room. It was wonderful, at least for me.

On our way out of town today we stopped at a truck stop just before getting on the freeway. While John put gas in the van I used the restroom. I know, that may border on too much information, but it’s the restroom part that was funny. Inside the restroom there is a HUGE scale. Seriously, do people really need to weigh themselves in a public restroom? It gets better. On the scale it said “highly accurate weight measurement.” Are you kidding me? They want me to pay 25¢ for a “highly accurate measurement?” I’d be more likely to pay 25¢ if the scale had advertised, “Guaranteed to boost your self-image. This scale weighs on the light side.”

In all fairness, this scale doesn’t just weigh you, it also promises a daily message. Perhaps if the message said “you are the most beautiful woman in the world,” I would be interested in parting with my money, but my guess is that it would, more likely, give me diet tips. The last thing I want to invest in is a sassy scale.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know

This blog marks my 100th blog. Who knew I had so much to say? (Those of you with your hands up can put them down now.) I once read that on your 100th blog you are supposed to write 100 things about yourself. Seriously, no one needs that information about me. But, my friend, Kim, recently posted what she referred to as Meme on her blog so I thought I’d follow suit.

So, here’s what I want you to do. I know there are some of you out there lurking, reading my blog and never commenting. Let me know a little about yourself by leaving a comment. Either pick one category and tell me your five favorite things in that category, or share one thing from every category.

It’s not hard to comment, just click at the bottom of this post where is says comment. Write your list in the box, fill in the word verification with the crazy letters written above that square, then either fill in your Google account information, or click on name or anonymous. Then click “publish your comment.” I’m sure these directions are redundant for many of you blog readers but it can be tricky for newbies.

Here are some of my five favs!

5 things under $5.00 that I couldn't live without
(seriously, I could LIVE without them, I just wouldn’t want to.)
Orange Tic Tacs - in fact, I believe I’ll go have some right now
Dasani water
Hershey Bar
Soap – seriously, no one should live without soap
Deodorant – so glad I don’t live in Europe

5 favorite movies
Return to Me - great music, great story
Sound of Music (- can’t get enough of that cute little Gretel
The Bee Movie - it just cracks me up
You’ve Got Mail - ah, the chemistry
Mama Mia - weak plot, great music

5 favorite baby names I love
(haven’t really considered this for years! Some of these were ones we considered and didn’t use – boys just shouldn’t be named Karen)

5 songs I love
Today is the Day - Lincoln Brewster
The Stand – Hillsong United
Bring the Rain – Mercy Me
Orphans of God – Avalon
I Will Lift My Eyes – Bebo Norman

5 life changing moments
The day I got married
The day I gave birth to Paul
The day I gave birth to Adam
The day I gave birth to Scott
The day I took the Strengths Finder test

5 current obsessions
Chocolate – this is NOT a new one
Shoes that look cute and actually feel good, too
Good books

5 places I want to go
(there are really more than five but if I have to decide)
Swiss Alps
Vermont in the fall
Cruise of South America/Antarctica - this is really more than one place, but it’s just one trip and would allow me to say I’ve stepped foot on every continent.
Washington DC
New York City

5 appliances or kitchen tools I could not live without
Sharp Knives

Friday, September 5, 2008

Building my Faith

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. I'm not particularly fond of "funky" times, but they do happen and I try to just ride them out. A funny thing about times like this is that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that getting into my Bible, and immersing myself in God's word, will be the best thing for me and, at the same time, it's the hardest thing in the world for me to do. Why is that? It's like knowing, when you are sick, that if you take some really yummy tasting medicine you'll get better and being too lazy to get out of bed to take it.

Thankfully, God has alternate plans for lazy people such as myself. Yesterday, God lovingly sent two people my way to encourage my faith. This all happened in the grocery store parking lot of our small town. This, by the way, is the same grocery store that I've whined about many times in my blog. It's the only one in town.

The first person God sent my way was a friend who recently lost his eye to cancer. I know, you are wondering how in the world this encouraged me. Keep reading, I'm not there yet. My friend shared with me the incredible love that filled him as he awoke from surgery. He knew that it was because of the prayers of so many people. He'd been told by his doctor that the procedure for the removal was really quite simple, medically speaking, but terribly challenging for the patient emotionally. I can imagine! Yet my friend stood there, just a week after surgery, totally in love with Jesus, knowing that God would use all of this for His glory. God had orchestrated so many things surrounding his diagnosis and treatment that continually reminded my friend of Christ's love for him. I know God will use his story, he already has. Oh, and the really cool part, my friend had a full body scan to determine if there were any other areas of cancer. They found a spot on his liver. This caused a bit of discouragement and worry, but also a lot of prayer. He was quickly sent to whoever it is that specializes in this type of cancer, another scan was run, and the spot was nowhere to be seen. There is no doubt in my mind, or his, that this was a miracle of God.

As we stood there talking, a former neighbor came over to talk with us. Well, truth be told, he came to talk to my friend, but I'm sure he was thrilled to talk to me, too. Anyway, this man's grandson lost his leg in Iraq, or maybe it was Afghanistan, but you know, somewhere over there. Again, this doesn't seem like a faith building story, until you hear about the young man's response. Two things struck me while hearing it. One was the fact that the Marines had just recently started using a new type of transportation in the war. I can't tell you what they are called but they are being used instead of Humvees. Apparently, this young man's unit was hit during an attack by the Taliban and their vehicle sustained immense damage, causing the loss of this young man's leg below his knee. Had they not been driving this new type of vehicle, they would have all lost their lives.

The second thing that I heard was even more amazing. This young soldier called his mother from the hospital shortly after losing his leg. He said, "I know that everything happens for a reason and I'm glad to be alive." What an amazing attitude!

So, even funks happen for a reason. A little attitude adjustment, and some time in God's word, are definitely in order. I have much for which to be thankful, and a loving God to remind me when I forget.