Bumps In The Road

Journal Entry for Friday, December 1, 2017

Well, I was so happy and content two days ago. Lol. But yesterday, we drove to Vidalia, Louisiana and were greeted by a huge mess when we opened the camper. The cabinet above the couch broke all apart, pulled down from the ceiling, doors broke off and fell to the floor and the cabinet contents were strewn everywhere.

The cabinet is destroyed. Now we have to get warranty work done while living in the unit. I knew the time would come when we would have to figure this out. And we both handled it pretty well. We know God will work this out too. Just as He has done SO MANY times in the past. But we have had several things lately, including the hard drive on Matt’s computer frying. He can’t even make 3D printed items. We sent his hard drive to a company hoping they can recover his files. His many important files.

These are just two of the many bumps in the road we have experienced. Frustrating things. Upsetting problems. I know I mostly write about the fun we are having because that is what I like to focus on! But there are always bumps, big obnoxious ones. Not all fun and games here.

I have had to remind myself that no matter how much I may desire it and strive for it, this life will never be perfect, stress free and problem free. NEVER.

There are, however, wonderful moments between the stress points and somehow, I need to truly turn things over to God so that I can enter in to those moments with joy. Rather than stewing and feeling my blood pressure rise. LORD, I am learning, but it’s a struggle! There will always be bumps in the road.

But God is with me through them, working the situation out to be good, giving me wisdom, training me for future bumps and using me somehow for His glory. Do I like the bumps? No, I do not. And I probably never will. Everything in my being longs for beauty and perfection.

I think that means that I am longing for God. Only He will satisfy my longings, my deep desires for love, comfort, peace, purpose and for things to generally be right. That’s why it is so good to have the blessed hope of eternity with Him. Pure, beautiful, good, painless eternity. ETERNITY. I can’t grasp it, really. But it is truth. God’s beautiful truth that sustains me through the bumps in the road.

Facebook Comments

In My Camper, Along the River

Journal Entry for Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It’s amazing to think of what my life is now and of my journey to get to this point. Here I am in a beautiful camper sitting along the Mississippi River watching the swift current as I bask in the lovely warm sun and drink tea from a handmade mug from my favorite spot in Florida.

I remember being in the throes of motherhood – dishes, diapers, runny noses, dirty floors, constant school work to grade, mounds of laundry- all the while feeling ill and wondering if I would ever get through. There were joy-filled moments, but because of my illnesses, I was often depressed and just hanging on. My being was filled with unexpressed creativity with no time to release it. I saw people travel to interesting places, but we always visited family, not only because we wanted to see them, but also because it was affordable. In my spare moments, I escaped through Christian novels to things new and exotic. The older mothers told me to cherish those times because they go so quickly and you long for them later. I really thought I might drown in overwhelming exhaustion before I would get to that point.

But here I am. My beautiful, energetic boys have grown to handsome, successful men. They have grown and flown. Our nest is empty. I admit to having struggled for a time without my boys. And still at times missing them startles me with sudden waves of pain. I have, however, made it through the mid life transition. I almost felt like I had to free myself of “the homeschool mom” mentality by getting rid of all our homeschooling materials and the bookcase after bookcase filled with books. And ultimately, I needed to sell the house in order to move on. I couldn’t figure out who I was in that house without homeschooling. And the boys I had trained to clean it weren’t there to help anymore! Lol.

So the books have found new homes. The home has found new occupants. And I have found a new identity: Traveling Artist. Creativity has always wanted to pour from within me. And new places have beckoned me to “come, explore.” So, here I am in my camper, watching the barges traverse the rapid waters and clinging to God in this new phase of life. The life after little kids. The life that doesn’t seem to have quite as much purpose as raising the next generation, and yet is filled with time. Time to rest and rejuvenate. Time to heal my body. Time to meet people, look them in the eye and listen to their stories. Time to see my husband as more than a life-line that shows up after a day away at work when I am at my rope’s end. Time to learn how to reign in my thoughts and enter in to joy.

And time to draw ever closer to the one who made me to be the creative person that I am – my Father – THE Creator and Lover of my soul. He has blessed. There is Hope. There is Joy. I will enter in. I will embrace this new phase of life and live it with abandon, with the excited expectation of God using me again, even if my life is so very different than it was or even than other women my age. And that’s okay. I am right where I am supposed to be. Along the river. In my camper.

Facebook Comments

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

While in Hot Springs, several people said, “You’ve got to go to Crystal Bridges.” I had no idea what they were talking about but they said it was an art museum that featured the art collection of Alice Walton. It didn’t even ring a bell who she is. But, I looked it up and we decided that we did, indeed, need to stop in Bentonville, Arkansas to visit Crystal Bridges.

Alice Walton, the daughter of Sam Walton, who was the man who started Wal-Mart, has loved art all her life and began collecting it as a young girl. Finally, in 2011, she opened Crystal Bridges which houses part of her vast collection. The public is invited to enjoy her American art for free! The architecture itself is a work of art and was explained by a tour guide.

This photo shows a sketch that the architect made on a napkin to give Alice Walton an idea of his vision. I find these quick sketches that artists do fascinating.

He nailed it!

The gardens were beautiful as well and there are many hiking paths that include sculptures to enjoy along the way. We enjoyed going into the geodesic dome. Great selfie opportunity!

See the little people inside? It was big.

And Matt got a great bear hug.

And found a guy he tried to cheer up.

We showed up at just the right time. There was a display of the work of Chihuly. His blown glass sculptures are amazing.

Alice Walton bought and moved a house built by Frank Lloyd Wright. I love touring his houses!

I saw several quotes on this excursion that I loved. Here is one of them.

After enjoying the grounds, we made our way inside. I just know I could spend several days viewing all the art inside the beautiful museum. In my lifetime, I have not been to that many art museums and I’m making up for it now. It is intriguing, the whole idea of art. What makes something art? Why would people care about and pay money for some “art”. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but some art puzzles me. Here are some of the pieces that I enjoyed.

“Kindred Spirits” by Asher Brown Durand. Matt decided that this was his favorite piece in the whole museum. I loved it too! Later, I looked it up and found out that Alice Walton spent $35 million on just this one painting. Again, I was amazed that she shared such a wonderful treasure with us!

Famous portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale

Mrs. Theodore Atkinson Jr. by John Singleton Copley

I’m amazed at how he painted the fabric in this painting. I studied it for quite some time since I am working on a rug hooking piece that includes clothing.

Landscape by Mark Tansey

The Big Black Bang by Ghada Amer

I asked one of the people working there if there were any fiber arts in the exhibit. They told me there was a quilt, but that’s it. We need more hooked art pieces in museums! Maya’s Quilt of Life by Faith Ringgold

Time by Max Ferguson What amazing detail!

Circle of Flowers by Alma Thomas

Self-portrait with Drawing by David Bates

Coca-Cola by Andy Warhol

Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell

Florida Mexicana by Alfredo Ramos Martinez

Jimson Weed by Georgia O’Keeffe

A New Jersey Village by Bluemner

Summertime by Mary Cassatt

View Near Polling by William Merritt Chase. I find that I love paintings of sheep now that I use wool all the time in my rug hooking.

Arboretum By Flashbulb by Stuart Davis

Another quote that I thought was perfect.

Inspired is how I felt after going to Crystal Bridges. And thankful that Alice Walton has shared her love of art with us all. We found out that there is the Wal-Mart museum nearby too. The Waltons sound like wonderful people. I loved the quote that Alice’s mother, Helen, is known for. They are words I want to live by too.

Finally, Matt and I took THE BEST SELFIE EVER!

Facebook Comments

Hot Springs, Arkansas

A new state to add to our map!

As we were packing up to leave Hot Springs, Arkansas, I said to Matt, “It’s hard to leave. I was starting to feel settled in. I know where the laundromat is and where to shop. I found the post office. We made friends and I have a rug hooking group. It’s amazing how much can happen in a week!” Well, actually, I guess it was two weeks, but we sure did a lot! First we went into the town of Hot Springs to find out what it was all about.

Hot water bubbles through the surface of the earth. At some places it is 143 degrees! See all that steam?! Then we toured the visitor center for the national park which just happens to be in an old bath house.

The antiquated equipment was interesting and some looked downright scary! But overall, they had facilities to do the same things we do today: baths, massage, hair styling and a work out room. There were several places throughout the town where you could fill water jugs with the water. It is safe, and good, to drink. Here is Matt filling the one bottle we had with us with hot water. It was very good tasting.

The next day, we decided to see a chapel in the area. Anthony Chapel is part of the Garvan Woodland Gardens. You can visit the chapel for free and that is all we intended to do. What a gorgeous place to pray. I love windows, and this chapel was just about all windows!

We almost didn’t pay to see the gardens. I kept thinking that it couldn’t be very fun at this time of year. Surely it was best in the spring and summer when flowers would be out. But, we decided to chance it anyway and we are so glad we did.

There actually were some flowers out at Garvan Woodland Gardens. But what we enjoyed was the lovely walk in the woods. It wound beautifully around a creek and over to views of a lake.

The bridges were beautiful. The whole walk was rejuvenating.

Another day we took a drive through the Ouachita National Forest. Matt found a “drive” on the internet and we followed it’s instructions. There were supposed to be signs along the way where you could stop at interesting things. Well, the drive was great and we loved it! We had a difficult time finding most of the signs though. Later we found out that the information he had found was old and apparently not up to date. At this stop along the road, we were to observe how the earth swirled and therefore how the mountains in the area were formed. There just happened to be a geocache there too. He had to watch out for a hornets nest.

While on that drive, we found out that the area was known for quartz crystals! One of the places we stopped had us walk for a mile straight up a mountain. What a climb! It took us to a place that used to be a quartz mine and you could look for crystals. We found where people had dug and also some large rocks with quartz veins, but nothing worth keeping.

I’m glad we just made it back down the mountain. The path was rocky and we kept slipping. Thankfully, we didn’t get hurt. But I love rocks and gems. You know…jewelry maker and all… And I looked on the internet and found out there were several places to look for quartz crystals in the area. One was a mine where you could pay a fee and dig in their scrap pile all day. So, we went to Ron Coleman’s mine and dug in drizzly, 46 degree weather all day long.

At first we dug holes in the dirt and really didn’t find anything. Then I decided to start rolling over large rocks.

We found some lovely crystals and clusters!

We had lots of other pieces but settled on these few to keep with us. When we sold our house and got rid of our stuff, I had boxes of rocks to throw away that I have collected in various places. Just like Lucy in “The Long, Long Trailer.” I can’t allow myself to collect rocks again. I sure want to though.

One day while driving around, Matt said, “Wait. Arkansas. Whetstones are from Arkansas!” He loves sharpening knives and had a whetstone from Arkansas. So, I looked it up and sure enough, we were in the prime area for whetstones. There was a place only 20 minutes from us called, Dan’s Whetstone, so we drove out to it. We didn’t realize we were going to where they produced the whetstones. After speaking with the very gracious people there for awhile, they offered to take us on a tour of the facility! This saw was room sized!

Mary gave us an informative tour about how they bring the stone, novaculite, from their mine and then carefully cut, polish and grade it.

It is a major production!

The folks at Dan’s Whetstone were super nice and interested in us too. In fact, when they heard that I made jewelry, they invited us back for me to show them. They enjoyed doing their Christmas shopping and we loved visiting with them again. Several people mentioned that Arkansas was a place to mine for diamonds too. So, off we went.

People find diamonds there everyday. At least, that is what they tell me. We were faced with a huge area that is periodically tilled up. You can see here a building that was built years ago when they tried to mine the diamonds commercially. It didn’t pan out.

My husband is a very patient man and he stayed all day digging buckets of dirt, hauling it to the sluice area, using screens to rinse the dirt from the gravel and then searching the gravel for bits of diamond the size of a head of a pin.

 

No diamonds for us. Maybe if I had stayed there with him and worked all day we would have found some. I must admit to leaving him there and shopping in the town square nearby. Now that was more fun!

Just had to share this next photo. My dad’s name is Burl and you don’t find many Burls around. So when we saw this sign, we just had to stop.

It was quite the place and Matt had fun sharing stories with this character.

One more special thing happened in Hot Springs. I decided to see if there were any rug hooking shops in the are. I needed more wool! And I found Aileen Anderson of Bear Creek Studio. She invited me to her lovely home to shop. We hit it off immediately and I stayed for four hours. Such fun! Later, she invited me back for a hooking time with her gals. Aileen showed us how to make poinsettia pins.

So, yes, we loved Hot Springs, Arkansas. And it wasn’t just for the fascinating hot water seeping from the ground. No, it was for the people. I almost felt like they adopted us. And I hope we see them again!

Facebook Comments

Natural Bridge to Nashville

After leaving Ohio, we drove to Stanton, Kentucky. We’ve decided we really like that area. So beautiful and full of parks and places to hike.  We almost didn’t find a campsite in the area, but I’m so glad we did! I wanted to see the Natural Bridge. I thought that was the only “bridge” in the area, but there are several. These arches have formed naturally in the stone.

We took the original trail to the Natural bridge which is the easiest. Now don’t suppose that means it is easy! No, it was quite strenuous. I’m glad we didn’t take any of the other trails.

The beauty of the area was wonderful.

We did make it to the Natural Bridge. Fascinating!

Then we hiked to the top to walk over the bridge and view the scenery. Matt has a terrifying habit of getting close to the edge and leaning over to look down.

While in the area, we took several drives in Daniel Boone National Forest. What a beautiful place! The roads were very narrow and often dirt. It was a bit interesting driving on switchbacks in the mountains with a long bed dually truck. Thankfully, there wasn’t too much opposing traffic! We did go through a tunnel that was one lane and we barely had room for the fat back end of our truck. I think I held my breath all the way through.

We stopped at one point for Matt to climb a rock. I didn’t join him in this activity. 

One of the other arches we saw was the Rock Bridge Arch. Beautiful spot! This “bridge” is the only one with water running beneath it.

We almost hated to leave Kentucky, but knew there were more things to explore ahead of us. We decided to stop for a bit near Nashville, Tennessee. We ate at an Aquarium restaurant. I was pretty hungry.

They had some really big and interesting fish in that tank. The fish swam constantly, well, all but one that just sat on a rock the whole time. It was exhausting to watch them.

We aren’t much for cities, but I wanted to see what “Music City” was all about. A fellow RVer had told us of a good place to park where we would cross the Cumberland River over a pedestrian bridge to get into the town. We had a lovely view of the city as we crossed.

Then we walked around the streets in Nashville. We had heard that every night of the week you will hear music pouring out of restaurants and clubs. It is true! Even though it was chilly, the doors were wide open, and sometimes even the walls, with musicians right inside playing all types of music. It was a happening place.

I was really tempted to buy some boots for some strange reason.

And I had fun singing with Elvis. I had no idea he would be there!

The view was even better on the way back to the truck.

The Hermitage was something Matt was interested in seeing. It was the home of Andrew Jackson. We both realized that we didn’t know much about him. One interesting tidbit was that he fought a duel for the honor of his wife. The opponent got a shot off first and hit Jackson, but he reeled and got his shot off too, killing the other man. He lived with the bullet in him for the rest of his life. Or so the story goes…

When Matt tried using his credit card to pay to go into the Hermitage, he realized that he had left his credit card at the restaurant in downtown Nashville. So we hiked back across the bridge to get his card from the Brazilian steakhouse. He loved eating there at the churrascaria because it reminded him of mission trips to Brazil.

As we walked across the bridge this second evening to get to our truck, we passed a young man walking the other way. He looked worn out and sad but had a guitar on his back. I wondered if he had great dreams when he first came to Music City but that it wasn’t panning out for him. I couldn’t help but think he might want to spend a few days being rejuvenated by hiking in Daniel Boone National Forest. I know that’s what I prefer!

Facebook Comments

A Whirlwind Catch-up Post

So much has happened since my last post that I barely know where to start! We made a huge change in our lifestyle by selling our home and getting rid of almost all of our possessions. A few precious things are stored with family, but otherwise, everything we own is in our camper. And that changed too! Since we will be spending all our time in our camper for a while, we decided to upgrade both the camper and the truck. Here is our new rig:

Selling everything was huge and someday I will write a post about it. It really seemed the thing to do for some reason and so we went for it. I worried that after everything was gone, I would miss it and be sorry. But just this morning as I was waking up, three months after dismantling the life we had lived for 23 years, I still feel relieved. I must have been dreaming about the house. I think my mind is still trying to make sense of all we did. As I awoke, I had visions of the basement and garage with all the stuff and my first reaction was, “Oh, I am so glad I don’t have to think about and care for all those things!” I feel more joy without those possessions tugging at me all the time, demanding that I do something with them.

So, since we went on the road we have put 4200 miles on the camper. We have rushed to Illinois to see our granddaughter get baptized. Next was a visit to Sauder Village in Ohio for a rug hooking event. Then back to Maryland to register the new camper. On to Pennsylvania to visit parents. Down to North Carolina to greet our son coming home from deployment. Back to PA to attend the memorial service for my husband’s stepmom. Then back to Ohio for another rug hooking event.

We have seen four bald eagles sharing a meal, biked 20 miles along Oil Creek, viewed gorgeous art in Cleveland’s art museum, toured Monticello, watched the eclipse, went on the Blue Ridge Parkway, saw several covered bridges, and did LOTS of hiking. All the while, Matt was working full time and I drove, grocery shopped, cooked, cleaned and did laundry. And of course, hooked rugs, wrote an article for Rug Hooking Magazine and made some jewelry. I had no time to write blog posts and half the time had poor cell signal. So, here are a few pics here to catch up. Put on your seat belt!

Our home of 23 years when we listed it for sale. What a lovely home it was and I am grateful for it. But it was time to move on.

Our son, Jonathan, baptizing our granddaughter, Beth. What a joyous occasion!

Our granddaughter heard me talking to her mom about our big change. I said it was a bit daunting knowing that we didn’t have a home to go back to. Beth suddenly showed up and told me to keep this verse, that I needed it. Indeed I did. It is on my refrigerator still!

I was thrilled that my artwork was chosen to be in the Celebration book. It is a book that is published once a year with the “year’s best hand-hooked rugs.” Here it is in the Celebration exhibit at Sauder Village in Ohio.

My rug, Transformation, featured in the Celebration book which is a juried collection of rugs.

My latest jewelry creation. I love labradorite and wire working!

Each time we are back in Maryland, we love visiting with Philip and Emma. I do miss our dinners together. This was taken in Harpers Ferry, WV.

While in PA, we hiked at Ricketts Glen State Park. I still haven’t seen all the waterfalls in this spectacular park.

Here I am with my beautiful mom, Shirley Updyke. She put one of my rugs in a place of honor in her lovely home.

We were amazed to see four bald eagles in a field very near to where we camped in PA. Here is a photo I took of three of them.

I am so pleased that Jeremy is home from his deployment. It was wonderful to see him and Mary Claire together again.

I had seen Monticello as a teenager and always wanted to go back. We just happened to camp nearby, so I got to see it again.

Here is our family all together. We camped together in PA while we attended the memorial service for Matt’s stepmom, Jo. Even though we are sad she is not with us, we know she is with Jesus and we will be with her again!

We did our longest bike ride yet in Oil Creek State Park, PA. I think it was our most beautiful ride yet. And we finally got helmets!

I was blessed to take a class from Gene Shepherd at the ATHA bienniel in Cleveland.

Cleveland Museum of Art was great! I loved this Van Gogh painting.

The rock formations in Cuyahoga Valley National Park made me feel small.

That’s all for now! Lots of adventures ahead!

 

Facebook Comments

Rug Hooking in Florida

When I think of wool, I think of cold nights snuggled under a warm blanket…not Florida! And my latest art form uses a lot of wool. I love rug hooking so much that I’m willing to work with wool in warm temperatures, but I wasn’t sure other people in my RV resort would feel the same way.

Two ladies heard that I hooked rugs last year and approached me about showing them how to do it. Unfortunately, by the time this happened, it was already Spring and time to head home. But I promised to send them information about rug hooking over the course of the year, I signed up for a room in the Rv park, Sun N Fun, to hold our meetings and they said they would order what was needed to begin rug hooking. With that, we parted our ways for nine months.

All summer long, I sent out messages with ideas of where to buy a hook, frame and kit. I kept wondering if they would actually show up and want to learn. And the big question was would I be able to teach them how to do it.

Well, let me tell you that this season in Florida has been the best one for me yet! Here are the two lovely, FUN ladies that urged me to teach them.

Trisha and Sherry love to have fun!

And then another who parked her camper next to mine and saw me hooking my project from her window decided to come and join us.

I loved being Donna’s neighbor!

Donna, Sherry and I were already on the same street in our RV resort and Trisha decided to move over and join us. Our street became lovingly known as hooker alley. (I do at times wish this wonderful art had a different name!) We sure had fun getting together mid week to hook outside by our campers.

Hooking at the campsite

Even though I was still working on my hummingbird piece, I felt the need for a more simple piece to work on while teaching others. Something quick and easy that I could start and finish while showing the ladies each step. I designed the “Love Always” love bird piece. 

Of course, the birds are my sweetie and me. And of course, he had opinions as I designed it. At first I drew the birds to look pretty much the same. But he thought the male bird should be fancier, like in nature. We had a good laugh when he suggested a top knot! Even though he is bald, he thought the bird to represent him should have more feathers on top! So, I drew it out and liked it very much. I was able to start and finish it in a few days. I love my twist on Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. Pattern available here: Love Always

So, then it was time to design something else for me to work on. The hummingbird piece still needs to be finished. I don’t know why I’m dragging my feet on that one…. Anyway, there was one photo from our trip from Maine that I really love. I feel that it captures much of what my life is about: nature, travel and LOVE! Here is Matt and me by Bass Harbor Light.

I love the photo, but thought that the design needed to be tweaked a bit. Wanting us to be the focal point without having the piece huge, I made us a bit larger.

I had not yet hooked a sky, so I decided to follow the advice of Cindi Gay in her book: Pine Trees, Grass and Sky. What a wonderful book! And since I have’t done any dyeing of wool (although I am sorely tempted), I ordered “sky wool” from Cindi. It is just beautiful! My photo had no clouds in the sky, but I added some. Since I started the piece, I have spent quite a bit of time staring at the clouds in the sky. They are so varied and beautiful! Here is how it looks so far. My first hooked sky!

Bass Harbor Kiss by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

My friends and I also went each Monday to participate in hooking time with others an hour away. They were doing some overdyeing with ice. So I took some wool and gave it a try. What gorgeous colors! I really am getting quite interested in the dyeing process.

Well, my RV lady friends actually each finished a piece. Here is Sherry with her beautiful mat. (Notice her AWESOME name tag!? If you don’t have one yet, here is where you can order one: Rug Hooking Name Tag)

Sherry did great with her first hooked mat!

And Trisha finished her version of my “Happy Campers” rug pattern. She put the words, Joy, joy, joy, into it because RVing gives her and her husband such joy. What a joy to see her finished piece!

Happy Campers design hooked by Trisha Senterfitt. Design by Janine Broscious

So, rug hooking in Florida has been an amazing experience. I’ve had a great time seeing others enjoy learning a new art form. And I’ve made some lasting friendships! We are all looking forward to next season with many others promising to join us.

Facebook Comments