Monday, October 29, 2012

Family Farm

At long last, I'm returning to my journals of our trip back east last summer. This post is especially meaningful because it's about our visit to an ancestor's farm. I'll include a few more pictures than usual so the extended family can enjoy more of our history.

Monday, June 25th, 2012
We crossed the Champlain Lake on a ferry that looked to be a normal size. Then three huge tour buses pulled up next to us and we were afraid they’d make us wait for the next boat. Imagine our surprise when they squeezed three buses, one semi truck, one van, and something like 18 cars onto one ferry. It’s a gray, drizzly day, but it was pretty to drift across the water, watching the little boats darting around us. Thankfully the big vehicles only blocked our view on one side.

When we were almost across, all of a sudden Mom says, “What are we waiting for?”

“What do you mean?”

“We’re not moving.”

“We already crossed the whole lake, Mom. We’ve been moving.”

“You mean I missed the whole trip? I was reading the newspaper!”

Turns out the voyage was so smooth she’d somehow missed that we were moving. Ah the joys of long trips on little sleep. I know she’d been glancing out the window, but somehow thought the water moving was just the current.

"When I named the farm I could not think of anything which would express my feelings towards this particular spot on the earth’s surface more correctly than the phrase ‘Heart’s Delight’ and it certainly is my heart’s delight every time I am permitted to enjoy the beautiful things which the Creator has showered upon us with such a lavish hand... It is an expression of the great joy reflected to me by the farm and the beautiful country round about." ~William H. Miner

Our stop at Heart’s Delight Farm was amazing. Starting in 1903, William Miner built or renovated 300 buildings over the 15,000 acres in Chazy, NY (pronounced chay-zee). They raised and sold huge numbers of cattle, pigs, horses, chicken, corn, and celery. He was a brilliant man who had grown up a poor orphan but invented so many types of railway equipment that he became rich at a young age. The farm was run based on all the scientific knowledge and technology available at the time, and they were constantly researching and working to make things even more effective. They even built their own dams right on the farm to run electricity to the whole thing—the Miners had electricity before the governor did!

Mom’s family had passed down the story that we are direct descendants of William, but recently Mom had contacted the farm and discovered he didn’t have any children. It threw us for a loop and we realized we were actually cousins of him.

William Miner and his wife, Alice.
The farm has always been open to the public, even when it was first built. Today there is a little museum set up but they still farm it and raise horses. The horses were excited to see us and neighed to us the whole time we were there, and some sniffed me all over to see if I might have a treat hidden in a pocket somewhere.I also spotted some kitties curled up in chairs, which made me miss my Leika.

 It was amusing to see the above horse watching us out of a second-story window.
William used much of his fortune to help start schools.
This is the institute's bus that would go pick up students every morning.

Throughout the beautiful gardens and farm, there are garden stones or signs posted with poems or sayings that remind the reader to appreciate the beauty given us by the Creator.

It made us proud to see the efficient farm focused on not only technology and research, but on helping the community around it and on glorifying God.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'm back with tales of blessings

The last few weeks have been so busy I haven't even had time to add pictures to the blog journals I've already written. The first couple of weeks it was because I was working hard formatting a different kind of project--an autobiography called From Ruby Ridge to Freedom. A small publisher, Overboard Books, hired me to work with the author on the story, do an edit, and then (after another editor's proofread) format the paperback. The last few months have been spent on that process, on the phone or over email with Sara, giving the book a final polish.

It's been a blessing to be a part of this powerful book. Sara's story is a difficult one of terror and death, lies and oppression. But most of all, hers is a story of finding grace and offering forgiveness to those who hurt her the most. Check out an interview about her story here and check out the book on her website,

Only hours after finishing the book, I headed south to the Oregon Christian Writers' conference. Wow, what a blessing! The four-day conference took a toll on my health and it'll take a while to recover, but it was worth it. There were a lot of "divine appointments" with other writers I met who needed a bit of encouragement and we exchanged a lot of business cards and arranged to exchange critiques and encouragement.

There was a professional photographer there offering author photo shoots, but I'd decided I couldn't afford it, even though I need one for my website and have people asking for it when I get short stuff published. Then they drew my name for a free giveaway! Thank you, God. Another writer there who happens to be a professional stylist flagged me down and offered to do me up before the shoot. So many blessings. I should get the photos in a few weeks.

I brought along the creative writing workbook I wrote, Bring Your Writing to Life, to sell at the bookstore. The teacher of my coaching class included it in his list of recommended books and I sold out all the copies I brought and had people asking for more.

Most exciting was that I met with a big name publisher who asked to see Voices of the Dark when it's finished and then I met with one of the top agents in the industry who rarely takes new writers. He said, "I don't ask people to send me their manuscripts. Will you send me your manuscripts?" So I sent them off this weekend! Maybe nothing will come of it but it's so encouraging to even get asked for a second look.

Wishing I felt better to be working hard on finishing Voices, but I still have a few weeks before the term starts back up at the college I work at, so hopefully can recover some in that time and get a lot done.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tea Party Hills

Journal from Saturday, June 23rd, part two

Next stop was Boston and the Tea Party Ship and Museum. It was closed but we could have taken pictures of the outside of the ship, but by then it was raining cats and dogs so hard on the roof we could hardly hear each other talk, and we didn’t have jackets.

But it was too strong to even drive in, so we hung out and eventually it slowed down enough for us to slog down the road and take pictures of the replicas of the boats that were carrying the tea. There was one anchored on either side of the museum and the third will be built in the back. A worker happened to be coming out as we walked up and he was kind enough to stop and chat with us about the project and the history of the ships, and then offered to take a picture of all of us together. Previously I’d had to Photoshop us all into the same picture.

Journal from Sunday, June 24th

Today we meandered through Concord and little villages in New Hampshire and Maine. We went through Northwoods in Maine and then back into NH in the White Mountain area. The little roads opened into gorgeous lakes and rivers every short bit, each one surrounded by little houses and cabins and families enjoying boats and fishing.

I saw two deer and Dad saw a turtle running across the road, but I forget what states those were in. Now we’re in bear country and I’m keeping my eyes peeled in hopes of seeing one. I’ve only ever seen a bear outside a zoo once, and that was in Alaska from a long distance, when I was in gondola and a bear cub was spotted way below us, sleeping under a tree.

Somehow I missed getting notes of which city these buildings were in,
but I think this must be Concord. The buildings were very ornate and old.

I rested in the back seat trying to keep up with editing jobs, though that’s hard when my nose is running so badly. Yes, that’s right. I’m working on two different editing jobs during this trip. My new laptop with six hours of battery life was a good investment.
You can tell the trip and the cold are taking their toll--I look exhausted.
New Conway, NH was full of adorable little shops, restaurants, and hotels that were themed everything from Bavarian chalets to western style. It’s apparently a vacation town with lots of outdoor stuff to do year-round. They call the area White Mountain, but their “mountains” are only a little bigger than my foothills and very green this time of year. Still pretty.

We saw the neatest ski resort that has been very clever in turning its slopes into year-round fun. They have water slides, dirt bike trails, and wheeled toboggan runs all along the slopes. We would have loved to play for a while, but were hoping to make it to Chazy, NY by evening because my mom’s distant relatives have a famous farm there. Her first cousin third-removed, Amos Miner, owned Heart’s Delight Farm (that would be her great-grandmother’s cousin).

Check back on Tuesday for some cool pictures of the amazingly-huge farm that belonged to my great-great grandmother's cousin. He put a hydro-dam in the middle of the farm and was one of the first who had electricity.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pilgrim Travelers

Journal from Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

We stayed overnight in Rhode Island and passed over a long bridge over a beautiful bay with lots of boats and islands and a ton of tiny sailboats that must have been one-person sizes.
Then we passed into Massachusetts and visited Mayflower II, a full-sized replica of the original MayFlower. It was really cool to get to go in the boat to see what the cramped quarters really would have been like. The voyage itself was about two months but there were delays before and after, so the families were stuck in the hull for almost eight months. Some people brought wood, so they were allowed to construct a bed or partition. There was an actual may flower on the front of the boat, which I didn’t know or had forgotten.

This is a map of where voyagers came from, with our
ancestors' names enlarged.

Ropes were wrapped around this to
give leverage to get heavy items in
and out of the holds.

A whole family would use one of these bed compartments.

I love this picture of the riggings.

Then we walked over to see Plymouth Rock. It’s pretty small now and unimpressive, but he told us that it used to be three times larger before people chipped off pieces as souvenirs. Plus, originally it was the only boulder on a big stretch of sandy beach. Now lots of rocks have been added to the edge of it to make a marina.

This building was protection around the rock.

You can see our shadows against the rock.

Check back next Friday for more pictures!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Quaint and Queer

Journal from Friday, June 22nd

Today my sore throat turned into a full-blown cold. I knew the sniffling sneezing man next to me on the airplane was bad news. We drove through New Jersey, New York, and then Connecticut, but got stuck in bad Friday traffic that was compounded by a thunderstorm and strong rain. Somehow it was still fairly hot, though better than the day before. Finally we reached the little town of Guilford and stopped to look around.

The oldest stone building in the U.S., built in 1639, is in Guilford. At the time the communities built a bunch of tiny thatch houses and usually squished them all together with a protective wall around them. Gilford decided to spread out a bit and instead of the wall, they added four big stone houses that everyone would be able to crowd into in case of danger or bad weather. The one that has been restored and is still standing was for Reverend Henry Whitfield and was three stories tall.

We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but there were a lot of household items that were commonly used during that time, like a light that held a reed dipped in wax, which was cheaper than a candle. There was also a kitchen sink that had a wide spout that would lead outside the house for dirty water to drain out of.

Then we drove around the cute town, saw the pretty shore, and then meandered through the neighborhoods of quaint Colonial homes.
And then we saw it—a monstrosity of metal. In the midst of all the light, tall, square houses was a dark metal round… thing. We finally decided it was a house, but it was very long and almost looked submarine-ish. We passed it and talked about it for a bit and then decided we just had to turn back around to take pictures! I very much would love to know the story behind this house. Or whatever it is.

Ah ha! I found it. As I was posting this blog, I checked Google one last time and realized I'd been previously searching in Gilford, NH rather than in Guilford, CT. The above picture is of a condominium, dubbed "The Spaceship" for obvious reasons. Here is a New York Times article about it.

Check back on Tuesday for the next leg of the trip.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dork in New York

Journal from Thursday, June 21st, part two

After seeing the 9/11 memorials, we headed toward South Ferry to ride to Staten Island so I could see the Statue of Liberty. Dad decided to walk, but I was worn out, so Mom and I took the subway. But when we got to the entrance we needed, there wasn’t anywhere to buy tickets. When we finally found a booth, the teller didn’t accept credit cards and the machine would only give a minimum of $10 on the pass card. Dad had our cash with him.

Somehow Mom and I scrounged up the $2.25 each, with only ten cents to spare. Earlier there had been a woman singing in the subway car and I’d given her fifty cents. Later I saw that the other subways stations charged $2.50 a person. Not needing that .50 for Mom’s and my ride seemed like I’d been blessed for my gift to the lady.

But getting the tickets was only the start of our trouble. We had one card between us, so Mom went through and then handed the card back to me through the bars. I swiped it and tried to go through, but the bars wouldn’t budge. I swiped it again and Mom and I tugged on the bars. This time the gate opened and the bars swung around—only I didn’t.

Somehow we’d managed to push the gate around ahead of me. Now our pass card was depleted, leaving Mom stuck inside and me stuck outside.

Sheepishly I went back to the poor teller we’d already bugged twice and told him what had happened. “Well,” he said kindly, “The only thing I can do is let you into my entrance going north. You’ll have to go one stop north and then transfer over at that stop and go back south.” Apparently once you are inside the tunnel, some stations have stairs that will loop you around to the other direction without going out and paying to come back in, but others don’t.

I'm in the middle with the dark shirt.
Meanwhile, Dad had arrived at the ferry and kept phoning me to see where we were, but cell signal comes and goes in the tunnels, so every time he called or Mom called to check where I was, I lost them. Then Mom and I discovered we could see each other across the tracks and had a wave and good laugh. I discovered later that Mom heard an announcement that said there was a problem with the north-bound train, and was worried I was stuck in the middle of it, but I wasn't and didn't hear of it until later.

Me and Dad on the ferry, with the new Twin Towers under
construction in the background.
After all that, I wasn't feeling so well, but finally we made it to the ferry and found Dad, and then got good news at last. As of just a few days ago, the ferry was now free. It was a bit cooler out on the water and a very pretty ride. As we moved out, the skyline got more distinct and the statue drew closer. She is beautiful. As we came back, if the sun had been just a little lower I could have gotten a picture where it would look like her torch lit up the sun.
Dad took this beautiful photo.

The wind on the water felt great on this over-104-degree weather.

Check back on Friday for the most bizarre picture of the trip.

Friday, July 13, 2012

New York Memories

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

New York skyline. The two towers on the left with the dark tops are the new
twin towers that are in the process of being constructed.
Today our goal was seeing New York. We were daunted by the almost-100-degree weather. We figured out that parking costs and toll bridges were about the same cost as paying for the three of us to take public transportation from New Jersey to New York City, andecided that it would be easier on me physically if I could ride in the car. But then we ended up spending most of the day turned around or stuck in traffic. We passed through even Harlem (and didn’t see another Caucasian for several blocks).

We finally made it to Central Park but by then it was mid-day and we hadn’t eaten yet but we were on the wrong side of the park and I can’t walk far, especially in the heat and an empty stomach. It was 4:00 before we finally found food and then got on the subway to the 9/11 Memorial.

The middle of the floor is covered
with some kind of prayer path.
My favorite was St. Paul’s church where the firemen and rescue workers went to rest between shifts. It’s now a memorial, though it’s used at least a little for services, as well.

There was a huge tree by the church that was hit by debris. It fell over but somehow missed hitting the church and the up-rooted roots did not disturb any graves. It became a symbol of God’s hand of protection in the midst of the chaos.

The roots on the statue to the left were inspired by that tree and the two trunks represent the towers. This was part of the inscription: "these trunks are cupped by the hands of God to symbolize the grace and spirit that the Lord is pouring out on people."

This colorful memorial on the right is made up of patches off everything from firemen outfits to boy scouts badges. Anyone who visits is able to leave one in honor of the volunteers, and I believe ones were sent from all over the country.

The cross on the left was created from pieces of metal in the ruins, and the backdrop is pictures of people who came to help and pray in the aftermath.

This flag was created out of all the
names of those who died.
Banners were hung all round the church that had been sent
from states and groups around the country.

The official 9/11 Memorial didn’t have quite as much there as I thought it would. They are still doing construction all around it, so only one entrance was open and we had to stand in a long line and go through security, though we bypassed one area that could have been filled with hundreds more people in line if it had been busier. I had trouble standing just in our shorter line, so I was thankful it wasn't longer.

The memorial itself was two pools. The big craters the towers left were filled with a waterfall and then surrounded by a stone wall that is carved with names of those who died.

It was powerful to stand there on Ground Zero and see the huge holes and all the buildings towering around, including the two new towers that are being constructed. There were also a couple of places where they left some of the actual remnants of buildings and just covered them with a glass structure. The emotions from seeing the collapse live so many years ago and all the ensuing footage flooded back. Even as I looked around and knew it had been choking dust and suffering and panic, I tried not to dwell too deeply on things, for fear it would be too overwhelming, but did say a few prayers.

Check back on Tuesday for more New York pictures and the funniest story yet!