Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You Learn Something New Everyday

Each day I continue with working with my kids in our new cyber school environment, I am amazed at how much we are all learning. One of my oldest daughter's assignments this past week was to complete a scientific timeline which had to include discoveries and inventions spanning the last 500 years. I had to chuckle at one of her choices-it was about the invention of the hot air balloon: "On September 19, 1783, in Versailles, the Montgolfiers flew the first passengers in a basket suspended below a hot-air balloon—a sheep, a rooster, and a duck. The flight, which lasted eight minutes, took place in front of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the French court, as well as a crowd of about 130,000. The balloon flew nearly 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) before returning the occupants safely to earth." Our first reaction was, "those poor animals!" But then the visual settled into our brains and gave us all a good laugh. We talked about how we wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for all the crazy things people have tried over the years and how clever some of them have been. The human mind is an amazing thing, isn't it? Celebrate how brilliant you are today, and may you learn something new and fascinating!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm getting in the mood for Fall!

The artists of the Bluebrick Gallery will put their artistic creativity to work during a pumpkin-carving event to be held as part of Gettysburg’s upcoming First Friday celebration. The event will be held at the gallery, located at 18 N. Washington St., Gettysburg, from 6:00 to 9:00 P.M. on Friday, October 1. Fresh local hot cider and other refreshments will be served.

The Bluebrick Gallery has become known for its unique and popular First Friday events, which have included artist trading card swaps and artist demos. Gallery director Lisa Harman hopes visitors will enjoy the creative designs the seven Bluebrick artists will carve into their pumpkins – and that the event will become an annual tradition. “We’ve been open over a year now, and we always look forward to the fun and excitement of First Friday,” Harman says. “There’s a certain energy in the air around town that’s really fun and inspiring.”

Most of the seven Bluebrick member artists are also educators in local school districts, so during the school year the gallery runs on an altered schedule. “Since school is back in session and we are all involved in education in one form or another, we are now open only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays,” says Harman. “But we’re also very flexible and would be happy to open the gallery at other times. Just give us a call or message us on Facebook.” Harman encourages interested people to connect with the gallery on the social networking website to keep abreast of upcoming events.

The Bluebrick Gallery artists include Harman (watercolor and acrylic paintings, handmade glasswork jewelry, melted-bottle cheese trays), Wendy Heiges (custom-made jewelry and artistic frames), Shawn Heiges (raku and ceramic pottery), Sarah Maclay (acrylic landscape paintings), Amy Dreves (fine silver jewelry), Deborah Yargar-Reed (photography), and Jill Rakowicz (paintings and jewelry).

For more information about the Bluebrick Gallery and its upcoming First Friday Pumpkin Carving event, call (717) 420-0103 or visit

Thank You, Facebook! I Would Never Have Known About This Otherwise....

Yet another reason why I love bringing up my children in this town. We will definitely be attending this-I can't wait!!!!

Next Wednesday September 22 - Battlefields and Beyond Book Shoppe - 777 Baltimore St. - 6:00pm Our group will be taking a walking tour of the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Park Ranger Bert Barnett will present some of his extensive research on the poetry written by Civil War soldiers buried there as well as other poetic elements of this historic venue. All are welcome, it is a free program.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thaddeus Stevens

"I hate school!" My youngest announced last week, stamping her foot emphatically-her arms folded tightly across her chest. "Why do we have to go to school anyway? It's just a big waste of time!"
I knew she didn't mean it-she was just overtired and had been working diligently all afternoon on a rather difficult lesson.
"You better be careful of what you say," I advised. "Thaddeus Stevens might hear you and he won't be happy."
The girls and I had had a discussion over the weekend about Thaddeus. (His picture hangs in the tavern at the Fairfield Inn where I work as an Innkeeper. My girls often have the wonderful opportunity to accompany me there on the days I go in to prepare breakfast and ready rooms for the guests.)
Her eyes got wide and her hand flew up to her mouth. "I didn't mean it!" she quickly added-looking around nervously. We had also heard lots of stories about ghosts haunting the inn, and because Thaddeus had frequented the Historic Fairfield Inn quite a bit while constructing the "Tapeworm Railroad" between Frederick, Maryland and Gettysburg, PA, in the mid 1800's, there was always the slight possibility he might decide to come back for one more cup of delicious 1863 Ham and Bean Soup or to confront a little 10 year old girl who often acts too big for her britches.
"I'm sure he wouldn't be upset with you," I said, trying to ease her concerns. We talked a little about some of the notable things Thaddeus Stevens had accomplished in his life time. Not only did he play an important role in inventing the public school system, he also built two local furnaces, one of which resides at the Inn currently. He was also a staunch Republican and advocate for the abolishment of slavery. While he never married, he did share his home with two of his nephews and his "housekeeper," a lovely woman named Lydia Smith. Her portrait hangs next to the Maria furnace at the lovely Historic Fairfield Inn.

A Tough Decision

Sometimes in life, some pretty difficult decisions have to be made. I hit one of those milestones this week, when I had to pass on a wonderful opportunity to adopt another beautiful thoroughbred named Hayley. It broke my heart to do it, but unfortunately, something as mundane but also a necessity had to take priority. In the end, our furnace won out. I wish there had been a way to make it all work, sigh!
Now Hayley needs a home quickly, as the farm where he has been calling home needs to make room for an unexpected emergency situation of another horse. I am praying that Hayley will find a forever home soon. I only wish that it could have been with me.

To find out more about Hayley, click here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I love this!

The following is an excerpt from Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist (Zondervan).



"The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life.

Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness.

Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul.

Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy.

Nearly ten years ago, my friend Doug told me that the central image of the Christian faith is death and rebirth, that the core of it all, over and over again, is death and rebirth. I'm sure I'd heard that before, but when he told me, for whatever reason, I really thought about it for the first time. And at the time, I didn't agree.

What I didn't understand until recently is that he wasn't speaking to me as a theologian or a pastor or an expert, but rather as a person whose heart had been broken and who had been brought back to life by the story God tells in all our lives. When you haven't yet had your heart really broken, the gospel isn't about death and rebirth. It's about life and more life. It's about hope and possibility and a brighter future. And it is, certainly, about those things.

But when you've faced some kind of death — the loss of someone you loved dearly, the failure of a dream, the fracture of a relationship — that's when you start understanding that central metaphor. When your life is easy, a lot of the really crucial parts of Christian doctrine and life are nice theories, but you don't really need them. When, however, death of any kind is staring you in the face, all of a sudden rebirth and new life are very, very important to you.

This an ode to all things bittersweet, to life at the edges, a love letter to what change can do in us. This is what I've come to believe about change: it's good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it's incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God's hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be. So this is the work I'm doing now, and the work I invite you int when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Little Hair Raising....

So far, nothing too earth shattering to report on the cyber-school homefront. Yesterday was our first day and, wanting to start of on the right foot, we got up early and dove right in. I am trying to keep some order in the house and am attempting to keep up some sort of a routine, so, I woke the kids up at 6:30 a.m. E and M made their beds, got dressed and had breakfast. ( Right there is a big plus, because M would never eat a decent meal before she headed out.) M finished all her classes without a hitch, with her trusty australian sheperd Ella resting at her feet.

E began her day with her dog Kaylee sprawled out next to her. Sigh! (One of the many pluses of having the girls at home-the dogs are in 7th heaven.) Surprisingly, E had some pretty in depth material to cover for a fifth grader (she is in the gifted and talented program,) but I have to admit I was a little surprised with it being the first day -typically in the brick and mortar school she attended the first day usually consisted of meeting teachers, students and it was pretty easy. I am proud to say my youngest handled her first encounter with cyber school with a lot of grace, but we all had a good laugh at the end of the day when she emerged from her work area. Her hair and been neatly pulled back in a ponytail in the morning, and now she appeared looking wild, with her eyes glazed over, wisps of hair out of control, framing her face. I doubled over with laughter when she said her chair had an imprint of her derriere' on it because she had been sitting so long, and she informed me she needed to complete an essay on Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in the 15th century by the end of the day. I glanced at the clock, which told me it was way past the time for a 5th grader to be working this hard and told her it would be okay if we tackled that tomorrow.

The child who gleefully yelled out the front door last week to all the school buses transporting students to their first day of school shouting, "So long, suckers!" was now eating her words.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Whenever I Need Some Inspiration.....

Oh my goodness......My poor front door is going to go through another change, I can just see it now!