Monday, October 24, 2016

Hiking Horizon

Sunday afternoon, members of our church gathered at Camp Horizon, the United Methodist church camp near by. Katherine had symphony practice, so Rachel and I headed out for the fun.

Horizon is a beautiful place. It's built on a bluff overlooking the Arkansas River and the views are amazing.

We got there early, so Rachel and I hiked around a bit. We found a snake skin, which I found fascinating but Rae refused to come anywhere near it.

Eventually, other people arrived and we started the official activities of the day. About 50 of us, ranging from a 10 week old baby to people in their 80's, ventured out on a 3 mile hike through woods and prairie and rocky ridge. Our student pastor, Daniel, was our guide.
Daniel is much beloved by our church for his compassion and gentle humor and his quiet leadership. During the hike it also became evident that the kids of the church adore him.
Rachel and her friend Madeline spent most of the hike following at Daniel's heels, soaking up his every word.
Daniel, a seasoned hiker, had assured everyone that this hike was easy, nothing too taxing. However, most of us on the jaunt were not used to walking distances on uneven ground or climbing anything, so it was more strenuous that we'd anticipated!

But the scenery around us was beautiful...

...and the comradery was great. People moved forward and back along the trail, chatting as they went. Nearly half the hikers were children and they skipped from spot to spot with infectious enthusiasm.
It was wonderful to be out in nature, observing the details of the world around us, feeling the muscles in our bodies, talking and laughing with friends old and new. I think we all need to take more hikes.
We found our way back to camp just before the sun went down. Other church members had built a fire in the fire pit and we roasted hot dogs and made s'mores and ate together.

We all sat around, full and warm and surrounded by people we loved.  The sense of community and the satisfaction of just being radiated around us as we watched the sun set. And it was glorious.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pumpkin(less) Patch

Rachel and I went to the pumpkin patch with some friends today.
It was 78 degrees out. Not exactly crisp fall weather, but beautiful all the same. The pumpkins you see here were the only pumpkins we actually saw at the pumpkin patch because pumpkin patches are SO much more than picking pumpkins!

 Rachel and Madeline buried each other in the corn box.
They went down the big slides on gunny sacks.

They rode on the tire swing merry-go-round.

They rode the lawn mower pulled barrel train even though they were really too big.
And they jumped on the giant bouncy pillow. 

For two hours.

 Really, that's the reason Rachel wants to go to the pumpkin patch.

 Just to jump and bounce and turn cartwheels and do flips.

Over and over and over.
By the time we left, Rachel was covered in sweat and dirt and corn dust. We came home tired but happy. And without a pumpkin. But it was a great afternoon at the pumpkin patch.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bluegrass 2016

The girls and I went to the Bluegrass Festival yesterday, one of our most beloved traditions.
We spent the day listening to music, buying more tie dye, looking at craft exhibits, talking with friends, and just spending time together.

 The festival was a bit strange this year as the river beside the festival grounds flooded last week and all of the hundreds and hundreds of RVs and campers and tents had to be evacuated. The festival itself went on as usual, but it looked and felt different without the campgrounds just beyond the boundary fences. There was torrential rain on Friday and lots of mud pretty much everywhere, but yesterday was sunny and hot. Maybe too sunny and hot.
We had the world's best reuben sandwiches and cherry limeades for lunch...
...and then listened to more music. The festival is such a safe and family friendly place that I have no qualms about letting the girls roam on their own. Katherine went off with friends for most of the afternoon and Rachel made trips to buy more drinks or visit my sister at another stage and relished the sense of independence. And when there weren't people to chat with, she entertained herself with whatever was at hand, including making a "tongue" with a water bottle label.
Katherine loved wandering through the instrument vendors stands, looking at all the interesting things for sale. The vendors are patient and knowledgeable and encourage people to try out their wares. Katherine strummed several ukuleles...
...and then found a fiddle display. She eagerly accepted the offer to try one out and then thought for a minute about what to play. Then she tightened the bow and started fingering In the Hall of the Mountain King from the Peer Gynt Suite. There are a huge assortment of songs performed at the festival, but this may very well be the first rendition of Edvard Grieg played there! The sound of classical music in the midst of the banjo and mandolin tunes brought amused grins from the passing crowd.
After a long afternoon of music and people watching, we visited the food stands for some supper. I had to laugh at our choices: Chinese stir fry, a gigantic tamale, and an Indian taco. Surrounded by hamburger, pizza, and fried catfish stands, we all opted for ethnic food. Typical for us! It was tasty, too.
By evening the girls were tired and dirty and ready to go home. I stayed around for a couple more hours to hear more music and reflect on a beautiful day.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Playing Ukulele

Katherine went to a pre-festival ukulele workshop in the park this morning.
She has tried to teach herself how to play through YouTube videos, which has been rather frustrating for her. She really needed someone live to watch and learn from and this was a perfect opportunity.
The workshop leader was Linda Tilton, the much loved sign language interpreter at the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival.
Linda was great. She calmly and gently explained the basics, from how to correctly pronounce the name of the instrument (it's oo-kulele not you-kulele), to the names of the strings, to how to finger chords.
Katherine was by far the youngest player there, but she didn't care and neither did anyone else. Most of the group were complete novices, so Kate fit right in. She settled in next to Seth, my friend from college days, and listened intently.
And I hung out the back, just watching. Within 45 minutes Linda had taught everyone two song, Hank William's Jambalaya and Let the Circle Be Unbroken. The weather was gorgeous, the lighting was cool, and the thrumming of ukuleles soothing. I was more than content to sit and people watch.

I have a feeling that this won't be the last time Katherine sits around playing songs with a circle of strangers. And really, I can't think of a better way to spend a morning.

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way