Friday, November 30, 2007


Last week I was too tired to do a blog and this week almost gave in to the same temptation....
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving last Thursday with a good crowd of both family and friends. Yes, the food was decadently too much as usual with it being a potluck. These are 2 of G's photos so some of

you have seen them already. It was hard to get everyone in the picture at once, hence the two angles.
The day was cold, windy and a bit damp by the end of it. It started out at 62' F before breakfast and after breakfast I went out again for something and it felt a lot cooler - looked at the thermometer and already 57'F. Throughout the day it dropped, reaching the 30's by evening.

I keep finding gems in the book, Ministry of Healing, by EGWhite. Here's a section on Help in Daily Living:

The badge of Christianity is not an outward sign, not the wearing of a cross or a crown, but it is that which reveals the union of man with God. By the power of His grace manifested in the transformation of character, the world is to be convinced that God has sent His Son as its Redeemer. No other influence that can surround the human soul has such power as the influence of an unselfish life. The strongest argument in favour of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian.

The Discipline of Trial

To live such a life, to exert such an influence, costs at every step effort, self-sacrifice, discipline. It is because they do not understand this that many are so easily discouraged in the Christian life. Many who sincerely consecrate their lives to God's service are surprised and disappointed to find themselves, as never before, confronted by obstacles and beset by trials and perplexities. They pray for Christlikeness of character, for a fitness for the Lord's work, and they are placed in circumstances that seem to call forth all the evil of their nature. Faults are revealed of which they did not even suspect the existence. Like Israel of old they question, "If God is leading us, why do all these things come upon us?"

It is because God is leading them that these things come upon them. Trials and obstacles are the Lord's chosen methods of discipline and His appointed conditions of success.....that they may discover in their character the defects which have been concealed from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to correct these defects and to fit themselves for His service....

The fact that we are called upon to endure trial shows that the Lord Jesus sees in us something precious which He desires to develop......

Our part is to yield ourselves to be molded by the Master Worker...

He has a song to teach us, and when we have learned it amid the shadows of affliction we can sing it ever afterward.

Well, I could quote more....there is so much in this little book.

Next week I'll talk about some of the school, music and other goings on around here as the holidays approach. Happy Sabbath!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Greyton Beach in August

Here's some advice if you're planning a pleasant, warm holiday to Greyton Beach on the Florida Panhandle - don't do it in August, especially during a heatwave. It was stifling hot and very humid. But I must say, we enjoyed the beach, the sea, the sailing, the marine animals and most of all, relatives to enjoy it with. Our three families shared 2 large campsites quite comfortably and we had a prime spot on the shore of Western Lake - only a 1/4 mile's walk or ride to the beach, or 1/8 mile paddle in the canoe across the lake. Thanks to G bringing their catamaran, we also enjoyed sailing - on the lake and in the ocean. The sailing was wonderful. With strong winds whipping us along it seemed like we were just skimming the top of the clear blue-green water. C especially loved that. In addition, we had 2 canoes, one kayak, and our bicycles.

Having air conditioning made all the difference!

Marine life included jellyfish, regular fish, shark, stingray, dolphin, flying fish, manatee, crab, sea cucumbers and other small creatures. Birdlife included gulls and terns of all sorts, osprey, storks, herons, ducks, pelicans and many others. Some land animals included rats around camp, raccoon, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, lizards - no alligators, although there were warnings around - and dogs.

On Thursday we all drove up to Ponce de Leon springs where the water stays a constant 68' F - Brrrr. Immediately refreshing and breathtaking - and a nice change from the week "at sea".
At some high point near the springs

Having air conditioning sure helped us both day and night - I don't want to say too much about the luxury of it, since the rest of the family were in stifling tents!! It seems unfair! They were real troopers - though somehow I don't think we'll be planning another trip down there in August any time soon. October seems to be the best time of year for great weather. We'll have to book next Fall break to have a holiday there and be comfortable! Kom ons maak 'n plan, julle!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Cherohala Skyway bike ride

Well, the folk are still waiting for a report of S's biking weekend riding the Cherohala Skyway so here is a brief summary. I'm sure S would have many more interesting details of the actual ride. This photo was taken at the end of day one.

On Friday, August 24, we drove up toTellico Plains with our caravan and set up camp at the local KOA for convenience sake. The campground is quite nice, especially if you get a spot by the trees, and the Tellico River, like we did. After setting up camp, we drove the length of the Skyway to stash water in various "hot spots" for the next days' rides. The plan was to ride a full 82 miles two days in a row in preparation for their trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway the next month.

The following morning, bright and early, friend M (with son D), joined us at camp and M and S soon set off up the road on their bikes - maybe around 7:30am. The Cherohala includes a long steep climb of 31 miles to the high point of over 5000 ft (the total elevation climbed that day was about 10 000 ft.) The guys then rode down the other side to a point and returned up and over for a total of 82 miles. The day was hot and the guys had underestimated their need for fuel so it was a grueling day for them. The kids and I met them about half way with some food and extra water which helped them over the hump, so to speak.

As for me and the kids, we played in the Tellico River on both days, rode the bikes around camp and generally just hung out.

Awww, isn't this sweet?

 They also had fun sliding down a long water slide the camp people had set up on the side of a hill.

When the guys got back that evening, they were ready for a good rest, shower and a big meal of pasta. At this point they realised that doing 80 or more miles a day for 5 or 6 days was going to be tough. That night all 5 of us slept in the caravan and the next morning they were off again. This time another friend, F, had driven over and joined them at the bottom to do it all again. Actually, M and S decided to only ride to the high point and back (total 62 miles), instead of the 82. Their friend did the full 82 since he hadn't gone the day before. Fortunately the weather was a little kinder, not so hot and muggy, plus they were able to gauge their fuel needs better and were in a lot better shape on their return than the day before.

So that is the story of the biking weekend. They were glad they did it as it gave them a good feel for what it would be like doing the Parkway in only 6 days.....

Next week I'll give a little overview of our holiday on the coast in early August.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Alumni and Family visits

Last week, as I mentioned before, S's folk came up from Florida for the Alumni weekend and to visit. We enjoyed having them and as usual, the time was too short. They are so kind about babysitting for us and we had some time to "date", and to shop and do errands. They're both doing well and Mom is getting around well after her fall in July where she broke both her left knee cap and wrist.

On Sabbath afternoon we were treated to a hammer dulcimer concert, then an organ eveningsong with Sietze de Vries on the organ. He also gave a full concert the previous Tuesday night. He is from Holland (married a South African), and is an absolutely stunning organist. His improvisations are very creative and beautiful. His favourite form is the fugue. His playing takes one back to Bach or Buxtehude's time when most organists improvised a lot of the time. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the improvisation masterclass he gave on Thursday evening and got some good ideas.

We've had some beautiful weather including getting some good rains last week. The fall colours are still gorgeous - I think our peak will be later than usual this year. We've spent several hours this week digging in the garden, C and I. Mostly just for fun, but also to find Japanese Beetle grubs to feed to the birds. Might as well do something useful with them because when I catch the beetles in the summer, they go straight into a jar with petrol. C digs around and then rakes everything smooth again. We also came across a large toad buried in the ground. Fortunately I wasn't using much force when I hit him. We buried him again close to the flowering quince where we had found one last year and hopefully he'll get over the shock soon. We also uncovered a pupa of a moth and other interesting critters.

The other day C was out rather a long time and when I went to find her, she was closely studying a large preying mantis. We fed it a grub and watched as he gnawed on it. (I actually felt sorry for the grub as he didn't bother to kill it first!) Since we are studying about insects anyway, we took this opportunity to looks at its mandibles, compound eyes, pulps and antennae etc. Thankfully he was large and we didn't need a magnifying glass. He was at least 4 1/2 to 5 inches (9 or 10cm) long. C now says her favourite thing is gardening "more than language, more than math or anything!" Well, helloohh!

I didn't get pictures of the garden critters this time but in the summer we found a rabbit's nest in the dog's pen of all places! It was well camoflaged and had 3 little nestlings in it. We took photos so I'm including a few of those here. (In case you're wondering, the dog was kept elsewhere during the time it took for them to leave the nest.)

Their little eyes aren't even open yet

Only a day or two later they're ready to leave the nest 
The mother kept them covered with grass (here we've uncovered them for the picture)
Our other news this week is that we might be getting a "real" piano on Sunday! Saw it advertised a couple Sunday's ago at the flea market. Maybe we'll have a pic for you next time. C is so excited because not only are we getting this piano but she is going to be able to have the electric one in her room! Joy of joys!

And last but not least, a big Happy Birthday for Aunty K on the 31st! We love you and miss you and wish we had been there to share the fun and of course, the cake :-)!