Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blueberry Picking

I LOVE blueberries! When they are in season I eat them on my cereal every morning. Not only are they delicious, but they are also good for you. They are higher in antioxidants than any other fruit and they are also high in Vitamins C and E. They are low in calories and lower your cholestorol! Not to mention that they are pretty to look at, too!

On Friday John and I went to Ritters' Farm Market to pick blueberries. There you pay by the pound so you aren't supposed to eat as you pick. It was mighty tempting, believe me, but I exercised great self-restraint and didn't eat any!

We were there about an hour and picked nine pounds of blueberries!
She gave us one large bucket and we wanted to fill it. We almost filled it, but not quite. She said that bucket full is usually right around 10 pounds.
We have had a lot of cold, rainy days this summer, so it was nice to be outside on a warmer day. It is cloudy in these pictures, but the sun did shine before we were through. I froze most of the berries and made a pie out of some of them. I want to go back and get enough to make some jam. Then I'll be able to enjoy blueberries all year long!

"Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum

In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!

And all ripe together, not some of them green

And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!"
--from Blueberries by Robert Frost

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Fun Weekend

Daniel and Suzanne are working at Camp Ladore this summer (see here). Normally camp runs from Wednesday morning to Monday morning, so they get Monday afternoon and Tuesday off and return to camp Tuesday evening. They are both working as counselors there. They work long hard hours with some pretty needy kids. But they are doing well and making friends with other staff. Many of the staff come from overseas, especially England, Australia, and New Zealand.

This past weekend was a long weekend off for them. They had Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off. The staff members from overseas stay at camp all summer, but on the long weekend they have to leave the camp so that the directors also get a true break. So Daniel and Suzanne brought three other counselors home with them. One is from Sweden, one from England, and one grew up in NY City but is currently from Lancaster.

Unbeknownst to Suzanne, her former roommate from Sahel also came down for a visit. She and her sister, who brought her, ran and hid in the closet in Suzanne's room. When Suzanne walked in and they jumped out, she started screaming, she was so excited. It was a lot of fun to see them get together again! I didn't get the camera out in time to film the actual reunion, but here they are only moments later.

The girls and I went shopping one day while the guys went to a movie. The next day the whole crew of them went shopping. They watched videos, went for walks, played football (aka soccer), swam in the pond (including once at night), slept in and took naps, and ate my delicious food ("Just like my Grandma's"....what a nice compliment! :)). They also spent a lot of time on computers looking at facebook, catching up on email, and playing computer games. They even helped wash dishes. It was a lot of fun having them around. Joy went home Tuesday afternoon and the rest of them went back to camp Tuesday evening. John made a trip to CT on Monday and is still gone, so it is awfully quiet around here. We'll be getting more company on the weekend, so that will be nice!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

4th of July weekend

Suzanne and Daniel had to work at camp the weekend of July 4th, but John and I went out to CT for the weekend.

It actually warmed up a bit for the weekend, so we had nice weather all weekend. On the way there John and I stopped at McDonald's for lunch. They had some outside tables, so we took our lunch outside and ate in the sunshine. Most restaurants and stores are overly air-conditioned for our thick Niger blood!

On the 4th, we went to a picnic at the beautiful home of people that go to Trinity Covenant Church, our home church. It was nice to get to know some people we had never met before. That evening we went to the home of a couple who are going to take an early retirement and want to become missionaries in Africa. How cool is that??? Right now they are confused by all the options and possibilities so I hope we were able to help them sort things out. It would be tempting to try to push them towards SIM Niger, but we refrained from the hard sell at this point in time!

On Sunday afternoon, the 5th, we went to Tim and Laurie's to celebrate Jacob's high school graduation and his winning States in the decathlon, Caleb's birthday, and a farewell to Caleb and Keri, the newlyweds who will be moving to VA for Caleb's graduate work. (Tim is John's brother in case you are wondering!)

They have a house and yard that have been ideal for raising four boys. The house itself is very nice, but not huge. But it is the yard that is so wonderful! Out front they have a basketball hoop and there is room for hockey nets there, too. The backyard is on a slope, but there are like five sections to the yard. First is the deck. Just below that is a flat area where Tim built a half-pipe (you can see the railing of the half-pipe right behind Dad DeValve's head). There is also a trampoline there. Then you go down some steps and there is another sort of flat area where they have a fireplace, room for games (they had some kind of new game....two balls tied on either end of a rope that you throw and try to wrap around a rack....I have no idea what it is called), and a trebuchet. Then there is the woods and the tree house and that slopes down to the creek where they build dams and catch fish.

So are you wondering what a trebuchet is? It is a siege warfare weapon from medieval days used to break down the walls of castles. It can take heavy rocks and projectiles, and fling them far, with great accuracy. It works by dropping a great weight attached to the short end of a long lever-arm. The long end of the lever is thereby raised with considerable velocity, pulling a sling that contains the projectile. The sling increases the effective length of the lever arm, adding even more speed to the final projectile before the sling releases it. See here and here for more information on trebuchets.

Tim is an engineer and he figured out how to build this thing. See the box? Well, they lower that down to the platform and fill it with weights. I think they had around 300 lbs in there. Then they put a bowling ball in the sling. They then used a system of lines and pulleys to ratchet the box of weights up.
Once it is up, the line is released, the box drops, the long arm to which the bowling ball is attached flies up and at the top of the arch the ball flies out, sails over the trees, and lands in the woods beyond. This particular ball broke on impact! It's a good thing they have the woods behind their house!

We came back on Monday and the kids came for their day off just a few hours after we got back. The work at the camp where they are is not easy, but I think they are doing well there.

Friday, July 03, 2009


Whenever we are in CT our friend and supporter, Mark, takes us sailing on his boat. It is always so much fun. This time was fun, but it was very different! Normally it has been sunny and warm when he has taken us, but this time it was rainy and downright cold. There was great wind, though, and that's always a good thing when you're sailing!

We started out wearing sweatersand Daniel was just wearing a t-shirt. But there was a bit of sun at that moment.

Then the kids ended up below deck to get out of the wind.By then Daniel had donned a jacket. Then it started to rain, so we went into the lee of an island, dropped anchor and had our lunch. Don't worry, it's just root beer.

Then we tried sailing some more. Mark didn't want to go out too far because of the weather. It wasn't a violent storm or anything, but it was hard to tell what was coming.
You can't tell, but by now I am wearing a fleece jacket and a sweater.

Next came the wool blanket. Both Suzanne and I ended up under the blanket.

By then it was raining pretty good and Mark found rain slickers for all of us. So by the end I was wearing a fleece jacket, a sweater, a wool blanket, and a slicker.

Kudos to all the New England fisherman who work in these conditions and worse all the time! It was definitely a day to remember, but I hope the next time is warm and sunny!