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.

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!


Might As Well Go To Mt Rushmore

Life sure can be unpredictable. Especially when living with my hubby. On his birthday a few days ago, I gave him a birthday card that said he is my biggest adventure, and it’s true. We were only supposed to be going to Illinois to see family for a couple weeks, but suddenly he said, “Well, since we are going that far, we might as well go to see Mt Rushmore.” That man knows how to make me happy. I packed with a huge smile for this trip. Not only would I see precious family, but I’d be going on an adventure too.

First we spent almost a month with our son and his family, which includes our three adorable grandchildren who have absolutely stolen my heart. We were able to see Jonathan fulfilling his role as campus pastor at New Hope Newton church.


We experienced lots of rain and even a couple tornado warnings while in Illinois. I smiled as I did my Bible reading this morning. It was Mark 4:37-41 where Jesus slept in the boat during a terrible storm. His disciples were terrified and woke him with the question, “Don’t you care?” I admit that storms do scare me a bit. It might have something to do with watching the house next door burn after being struck by lightening when I was 4 years old. But as I get to know Jesus a bit better, I am learning just how powerful and loving he is. He said, “Quiet! Be still!” and the waves and wind totally died down. During the storms of life, I am learning to trust that God will still the storm. So as we waited in the basement of our son’s house during tornado warnings, I attempted to share the faithfulness of our almighty God with my granddaughter. With all that rain, we had plenty of time to do art.

Oh, how those children love art! Even one year old Aaron will not be left out. If he sees me sitting down with his sisters to do “arting”, he fusses until he is on my lap and holding a pencil. He’s happy that way for an hour!IMG950460

My daughter-in-law, Johanna, and I learned a new artform: mosaics. Here we are with our instructor, Dinah Nuelle.DSC_7894 3

And I had the privilege of teaching my first two students how to do rug hooking. Johanna and her friend, Morgan, enjoyed designing their own projects and I got them started.  Aaron wanted to get in on the rug hooking too. I started calling him Leonardo because he seemed interested in so many things.


It was difficult to leave those wonderful people, but it was time to explore. After stopping in Nebraska to visit Matt’s sister, we made our way to the Badlands in South Dakota. I found the lovely green plains and the big sky fascinating. I could see forever! It was the first time I had seen a speed limit sign for 80 mph! Don’t worry, I didn’t go that fast with the rig.Photo by Janine Broscious Photo by Janine Broscious Photo by Janine Broscious

Beautiful bright blue butterflies flitted around and I snapped this pic of two mating.Photo by Janine Broscious

I had made reservations right in the park for our camping. It’s almost boondocking, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. There is electricity at the site, but no water or sewer. So, we filled our holding tank with water ahead of time. I like that we are one step closer to being able to camp with no hook ups! The Cedar Pass campground is right next to beautiful Badlands formations.Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious

Our neighbors were lovely people that actually knew of the college where Matt and I attended and met, Houghton College. Not many people know of it. We enjoyed visiting with Max and Betty for a bit and then went driving in the Badlands.Photo by Janine Broscious

What lovely formations!

Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious

The mounds had stripes and the ground looked quite parched.

Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.comBadlands Photo by Janine Broscious

What a great day. The sunset was amazing and bathed our camper in warm light. We hadn’t made it to Mt Rushmore yet but that’s next! Stay tuned.

Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious

Happy Campers Hooked Rug

Since I’m always in the pursuit of a new creative outlet, I gave rug hooking a try. After finishing the pumpkin mat from the kit I got at Oktoberfest, I was itching to make a larger project. Looking online made me realize that even though there were several tempting kits available, I really wanted to design my own rug.

Have you noticed all the adorable little camper things out there these days? You can get all sorts of things with a cute drawing of a trailer. But never have I seen anything cute for 5th wheel campers. Not fair! So, I decided I just had to make something myself. I’ve wanted a decorative rug for in front of the sink in our 5th wheel. I drew out several different ideas.DSC_0064 2

I then determined that I needed some help. Rug hooking supplies just don’t seem to be available at craft stores. I sent an email to the woman that I had gotten the original kit from, Caroline Twigg of Eagles Nest Woolens, and she invited me to come to her home. And what a gorgeous, interesting home it is! After driving through one of the most beautiful parts of Maryland, our GPS took us to the end of a cul-de-sac. We followed a long drive with no house in site but after going around a curve, there it was!DSC_9777 2 DSC_9778 2

I wasn’t expecting a historic home! Inside was beautiful too. Caroline had gorgeous hooked rugs everywhere along with interesting antiques.  Her rug hooking studio is in the attic, so I enjoyed looking at the rugs as we made our way up two flights of stairs.DSC_9768 2 DSC_9767 2

Finally we entered her studio. Wonderful fabric, rugs and work spaces! Caroline helped me pick out fabric for my design. Here is my stack of fabric.DSC_9773 2

And then, thankfully, she cut it all for me!DSC_9771

Caroline was my hero! What a blessing for her to cut all that fabric for me. After spending three hours helping me, she still graciously agreed to a photo with me.DSC_9774

So, now I was committed. I had to make this rug happen. First I needed to have a hooking frame. Matt offered to make one for me, but I was on a roll. I found one on the internet and just had to wait a couple days. Some assembly was required. But not more than I could handle!DSC_9784 2

Now I was ready. My design was still on a piece of copier paper and I wanted this rug to be the perfect size for in the camper, 27 x 17. I couldn’t figure out how to make it bigger any other way than to just draw it again on bigger paper. The edges of the linen backing fabric needed to be secured. Hubby to the rescue with blue tape.DSC_9795 2

I was equally mystified as to how to transfer the pattern onto the linen. Matt suggested just laying the paper pattern on the floor and then the fabric and seeing if we could see the pattern through the little holes. Surely it wouldn’t be that easy, would it? Yes, it would.DSC_9796 2

I had been told to hook the main motif first. That meant our lovely camper! So, I worked a row of stitches around the camper and filled it in. So far so good.DSC_9814 2

Wording on a rug can prove to be quite a challenge. I suppose I cheated a bit by working up the wording on the computer to make sure the letters were spaced well. They were coming together!DSC_9840 2

This rug hooking was pretty fun. It’s sort of like coloring with wool strips. No need to count; just fill in the spaces. I was a bit concerned about whether I should have chosen a different color for the tree. It was working up to be darker than I had envisioned. And I had chosen darker blue for sky. Hmmmm….DSC_9845 4

I decided to outline the tree with the window color. I liked it! The tree popped right out and yet didn’t overwhelm. Perfect. I worked the sun as I waited for my son and daughter-in-law to arrive from another state. I hadn’t seen our Marine son since he had gotten home from being deployed. Working on the swirly sun was just perfect to keep my mind from going crazy with the anticipation! That rascal showed up early, snuck up on me and scared me half to death! I will always look at the sun in this rug and have that fond memory.

There was not enough wool for the outline. So, once again it was time to improvise.DSC_9866

A multi-colored border sounded good to me. And it went fast. Too fast. My beautiful, Happy Campers rug is all done.DSC_0052 4

And I love it!DSC_0063 2

Check out my post about my Butterfly rug pattern!

Michigan and Lake Superior Agates

It was time to get back on track and head over to Michigan. It’s a little difficult leaving each place. It becomes a bit of home and I leave a piece of my heart there. We’ve met so many nice people along the way that we most likely will never see again but still have touched our lives. One couple was Dave and Heidi who were traveling across the country to start a new job. Dave is a neural scientist and professor. They had quite a menagerie with them: two dogs, a turtle and two birds. Matt had a great time discussing 3D printing with Dave and I enjoyed chatting with Heidi. DSC_8529 2

But move on we did. I was finally able to capture a shot of a typical barn for this part of the country. All through Wisconsin, Minnesota and now Michigan I have seen these sloped roof barns. I really wanted to get a photo of the red ones with a white roof, but at least this shows the type of barn.DSC_8532 2

We spent a few nights in Michagamme Shores Campground right by the Michagamme Lake. The campsite was a gorgeous double wide with a lovely view. Here is the lake that evening.DSC_8568 2

We were in for some rain and woke up to a different sight. In one day, the temperature dropped 40 degrees. We went from 80’s and hot to the 30’s at night. Whew! Time for sweatshirts and jackets.DSC_8572 2

It was a work day, but we got out in the evening rain to get some fresh Lake Superior fish to fry. Here’s Matt holding our treasures: lake trout and whitefish from Thill’s Fish House. We fried them up with butter and lemon juice. So good!! I had never had either and decided I liked the trout better.DSC_8565 2

Before moving on, there was one more place I wanted to visit. Some of you know that I love stones and in fact have polished many. Here are some that I have polished.Examples of Janine's lapidary work

Just as we left Minnesota, I learned that the area we had been in was well known for finding agates. Do you see that pink swirly stone on the upper left side of the photo? That is an example of an agate. Now I was very interested in Lake Superior agates and a bit upset that we had already left the prime area for hunting them. I did, however, spy a rock shop near where we were camping. After Matt finished work, I said that was where I wanted to go.20140911_184642 2

At first I thought that Carolyn’s Rock Shop was just on her porch. And it took me a bit to figure out which door bell to ring, but finally Carolyn asked us to come in. She slowly led us down the steps into her basement pointing to rocks on each step as she went. Each one had a story, it seemed, and she told it enthusiastically. Soon we were in the basement and I was surprised to find that her rock shop took up the whole thing! We were given the grand tour and it was quite enjoyable. There were many tempting treasures there, but I stuck to my guns and only bought a couple Lake Superior agate samples, one natural and one polished.Lake Superior Agates

Here is a close up of the unpolished sample. Notice the waxiness and the concentric lines? Those are two of the qualifiers for when searching for Lake Superior agates.Lake Superior Agate unpolished

We enjoyed talking with Carolyn about agates but also about her life. She is a stroke survivor and I was impressed with her determination. Even though the doctor said she would never be able to do steps again, she was not going to give up on her rock shop. This amazing woman tied a rope at the top of the steps and pulled herself up the steps. Now she has almost recovered fully and is so glad to have her rock shop to inspire her. Here she is holding one of her rock specimens.Carolyn's Rock Shop

Buying agates from Carolyn just fueled my interest and desire. Yes, the next day we were leaving the prime hunting area. But after more research, I learned that it was possible to find the agates all along the lake. That night I actually had a dream that I was agate hunting and found several. Then suddenly some of our family members were with us too and when I went to show them the agates, they had shriveled down to slivers. When I awoke, I had to chuckle. Was I interested in Lake Superior Agates? You bet!

To See What We Can See

After visiting with our son and his family for two weeks, we are on the road again. The song, “The Bear Went Over the Mountain,” kept going through my head. Just the part, “to see what he could see.” We’ve never seen Wisconsin, so off we go. I actually have gotten so I enjoy driving the rig while Matt works in the passenger seat. Here is where I parked with the big rigs at a rest area. We sort of fit in, don’t you think?20140902_120304 2 I liked this sign at the rest area. My driving limit seems to be about 6-8 hours. I can’t imagine driving for 11.20140902_120544 2 We have arrived at our first place in Wisconsin, Sky High Camping Resort. Here is my view from our campsite. I’ve been doing laundry and catching up on emails.20140902_160955 2 And while at the laundromat, I met a fascinating woman, Ida Gannon. She was so friendly and said I should come to her site to visit her. Then she mentioned that she was an artist. That was it! I was absolutely going to stop by! As I approached, I heard a drilling sound.DSC_7929 First she draws her beautiful designs on the gourds. Then she does wood burning. But today she was cutting out portions of the design.DSC_7930 2 Ida, who is in her 70’s and is a widow,  says she loves to stay busy. But sometimes, she works so long that her hands get completely numb. She was glad I stopped by and gave her an opportunity to rest.DSC_7932 As I admired her beautiful art, I heard a tiny crunching sound. I kept looking behind me and finally Ida said, “It’s a little red squirrel.” I moved slowly hoping to get a photo. He was quite tame and just kept eating.DSC_7944 3 There always seems to be fun experiences to be had while camping, even on the days when I have to stay at the campsite. Right now new neighbors are setting up, Mike and Janey. They are pulling a toy hauler that carries their motorcycles. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a motorcycle ride!