Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gladie Homestead

Above are photos of the inside of a tobacco-drying barn. Notice the many racks elevated into the ceiling area on which long leaves hang upside-down for drying. A collection of old farm tools fascinated Alan-some familiar to him from his days on the farm.
Quilt designs are commonly found on old barns throughout Kentucky. They create a quilt trail, another way for tourists to discover quaint and lovely places throughout the state.
The old homestead, once so far away from anywhere, is now accessible by an asphalt road--but still from away from anywhere!

Red River Gorge

One drives along the Red River Gorge, pulling off into overlooks to catch glimpses of the magnificent gorge created by the Red River.

Natural Bridge-2

Natural Bridge State Park is too magnificent for just one posting! It's trails, trees, rocks and views are breathtaking. There is no better time than a crisp, clear fall day to enjoy the park.

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

With autumn leaves turning & the sky beaconing blue, we took a day in October for hiking in Natural Bridge State Park & the surrounding area. Natural Bridge is a wonderfully wild place with great vistas, craggy stone outcroppings, shaded trails, caves, and mossy rocks. Our day there was uncrowded, but did include several dads on outings with out-of-school children that made the chatter around us lively and fun. We hiked the easier way up to the Bridge, but took the tougher trail down. We felt our legs trembling by day’s end. The leaves were barely turning, but were still beautiful. We walked for a few hours and then enjoyed a late lunch in the lodge restaurant. After eating we drove and photographed along the Red River Gorge and visited the remote Gladie Homestead in the Park. We were the only people at the Homestead so we wandered slowly around the property and through the old tobacco barn. Alan even stretched out in the late afternoon sun and took a nap on the grass.

The bridge's size makes it hard to photograph from close-up. It's awesome.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Grand Moments

Daughter, Rachelle & her husband, Jeremie and Grands Gracie and Noah spent fall break with us. The kids did fine, but mom and dad suffered from car sickness on our winding roads. Mostly we enjoyed hikes in the beautiful autumn woods where nobody got sick.

Grand moments

It was a wonderful week with the grandkids (Grands), Gracie and Noah. At eight and seven they are full of life, questions, comments, and more sugar and spice than is almost bearable. One day we were gazing at a mountain vista, the breeze blowing Gracie’s soft blonde hair around her wondering blue eyes. She sighed, “Ohhh, Kentucky looks just like it did in my dreams.” Gracie, I think that Kentucky blue is almost as pretty as your bright Pearson eyes.
Not to be outdone in the comment column, Noah had a word or two to share in the week too. Although he tended to dance on rocks rather than stand on them, he proved an able “guide” on our mountain hikes. Driving past a sign one day that said Dead End, he seriously informed us that this was where one went on the last day of their life. What a sweet week.

Beverly UMC in its fall colors

The Beverly UMC is picturesque no matter what time of the year it is. The sound of a babbling brook greets attenders; it reminds me each Sunday of the sacred symbolism of water...birth, rebirth, cleansing, life itself.

Pine Mountain State ParK

Lunch at this park is a treat. It has a great buffet…but an even greater view. It’s a popular spot for the after-church crowd on Sunday, as we found out on a gorgeous fall day. The vista is spectacular and we were so grateful to get a table right next to the window! The room was full and we lingered long enough for the waitress to give us the look.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Splendor in the Leaves

The colors of fall are simply splendid here in the mountains of southeast Kentucky. They are more than just seen; they are experienced. Every windy road turns into another colored postcard and every ridge becomes a vista of multi-colored puffs. If the day is clear, the sky is a beautiful blue—bluer than turquoise, clearer than blue topaz. I’ve heard it called simply Kentucky Blue. I didn’t know I liked the combination of blue and orange so well, or blue and yellow. The very best shades of color happen when you get under the leaves and look up through their translucence into the sunlight. I wish I could describe it, or paint it, or capture a photo—but none do the sensation justice. The colors of fall are simply to be experienced.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mountain Nurse

You would love Marilyn Brock. She's retiring this month after 34 years as the Public Health Nurse here at Red Bird and the years before that in PA, KY, and Sierra Leone. "She's a dandy," the mountain folk say; I say she's the end of an era. Marilyn thought nursing on horseback in the mountains sounded fun so she came to the Frontier Nursing School to study midwifery after getting her RN. Instead of horses, she has made her way around many a winding, steep and uncertain path in Jeeps. I spent a day on the road with her, and sure nuff, we broke down! Her patients love her; she's not only a crackerjack nurse, she's also got the biggest bunch of stories and jokes you ever heard. Marilyn is also a musician and we play four-hand piano every week in chapel, sometimes sing together, and my affection for her caused me to humiliate myself in front everybody singing a song I wrote for her and playing my own autoharp. We have great fun together. I was there when one of her patients, Miss Addie, broke out singing "Walk Around Me Jesus." --And he did. Marilyn is a walking example of a lifetime of love poured out for others. We wish her godspeed.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Beverly U M Church

The Beverly United Methodist Church is one of the most beautiful and quaint churches you will ever see. It looks like a postcard--nestled in the mountains with a babbling creek running along side. Wild flowers bloom & the sound of water is ever present. Inside, it's chestnut paneling gleams in soft light and a stained glass window graces the front. This is a peaceful, sacred place.

My old Kentucky home

Here are a few photos around our house. You can see that we are surrounded by mountains & much green vegetation. Our front door looks toward several houses and our back door faces a square of grass surrounded by apartments. Teachers & other staff live in these smaller places. We are fortunate to have a single home: 1,300 sq. feet with a single garage.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye to family was so hard. We had said goodbye to Alec, Layne, and Jessa earlier. We had said goodbye to Madalynne and Morgan (and their mom and dad) when we left them in Michigan the first of July. And that meant that we still had Gracie & Noah, with their parents to bid farewell. The Sunday before we left, the church had a potluck after church in order to fellowship and say goodbye. Actually the women of my Bible study organized it, and it was wonderful, right down to the tables with linen and lovely centerpieces. There was a short time for remembrances after the meal and it was a lot of fun. We love the people at First Church; they have been our spiritual family for many years and we have grown & served & lived out our faith together in the uniqueness that only comes with being part of a church. Elaine sang a song for us: Make My Life an Alleluia--and I cried through most of it. And this was the day that our dearest friends would lay their hands on us and pray us into our future; “laying on of hands,” as we call it, always has a powerful effect on me.
But our last day at church was the day we were leaving. I’d not slept, we had a long drive ahead of us, & I was dreading the goodbyes. Then, too, I’d planned to speak & sing in a quartet, & knew that Rachelle had planned a special song. The speaking went well, singing the offertory went well, but then Rachelle & Brian sang a goodbye--one of my favorites: “Be At Rest.” Taken from the songs of David, this wonderful Steve Green version of Psalm 116: 7-8 says this: “Be at rest, be at rest once more, oh my soul, for the Lord has been good. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and You, O Lord have delivered my feet from stumbling. Be at rest, be at rest once more. O my soul, for the Lord has been good to You.” And then Rachelle went out the back door of the sanctuary and I heard her sobbing out loud. I remember standing up when it wasn’t the time to stand, and just stumbled out after her. It was so very hard to hug her and Jeremie and little Gracie and Noah goodbye. I miss our children and grandchildren terribly. This is the borne cross. But the words are true and my soul is at rest; Rachelle knew it was just the right song to sing.

Moving Day

Moving Day

Wow. We had so much help it was like a large human vacuum cleaner sucking the stuff out of the house. We hired two professional movers to direct the packing of the 26’ U-Haul truck, and then Nick (Indiana UM camps’ director) & his sons and friend showed up at 8 a.m., and Dave, Don, Joe, Ron, & Marge came from church, and family Ryan & Jeremie came to help move. They were all absolutely awesome. The two professional movers were so impressed by the help; they said they’d never in their years of moving seen so much and such good help. By noon the house was empty and a 26’ truck and a 12’ trailer were all packed and ready to go. We were loaded and heavy. And I was a nervous wreck. My exhausting weeks caught up with me on those last days and I went a couple nights with no sleep. Fatigue is not my friend. I was almost overwhelmed by what we were doing and what was ahead of us; fatigue also makes me become more emotional and the stress causes diarrhea. So my last day at home left me a bit of a basket case! I was not in good shape for our last day at church and our farewell to family and friends.

The Move

The Move

The summer of 2009 was a blur. I was finishing a job and carefully preparing it for somebody else. It was an emotional farewell, saying goodbye to my work with the wonderful people of the Indiana Conference of United Methodist Churches. I had poured my heart into it for 8 ½ years. Our final Annual Conference was a mix of joy & sadness, followed by an accident that totaled our car. Through this we had to help our daughter, Rae Lynne’s, family get their house ready to sell, packed, loaded and moved to Michigan. It was exhausting. We returned to Indiana with four days to ready for a sale in which we would sell about 2/3 of our household goods. And after the sale we would have 5 days to pack and leave for Kentucky.
Somehow one’s belongings don’t look so good splayed out on tables and the drive and the yard. It’s really a pathetic looking site, looking at one’s life laid out for sale. It was sometimes painful, but we were probably too tired to appreciate the immensity of what we were doing. We gave the kids what they wanted & could fit in their homes & sold the rest. It was just stuff, but it was ‘our stuff’ and our life being dickered over and carted away in other people’s trunks. I thank God for my friend, Paula, who helped sort, haul, stack, price, & sell our stuff. And John & Nancy who brought food and then bought some things, & Marge & Dave who helped through it all. The sale was very successful , what was left went to the local homeless shelter, and the remaining goods were just about right for our much smaller home in Kentucky. In the end, downsizing this much had a rather freeing effect. And if we ever move back to our Logansport home we’ll have to buy new furniture….not all that bad of an idea!
After the sale, we had five days to pack all the goods we were moving to Kentucky. It was a marathon and ran late on several nights. We found french fry boxes from Mc Donalds were just the perfect size. Thanks to Karen, Marge, Rachelle, & Bonnie we got the household packing done. If I never hear the sound of ripping packing tape again in my life I’ll be happy.

Gut Check

Gut Check

From the time we decided to move to Red Bird Mission a number of odd and adverse circumstances hit us. Some would say we were being tested. Some said it was the Devil trying to discourage us. Some thought we should rethink our decision and stay in Indiana. I think a series of natural events took place, one after another, but in such a way that they tested our resolve. I can honestly say, when the chips were down and the pressure built up, we never wavered….not from sheer resolve, but because we just felt/knew this was the direction to go and we wanted to do it! We couldn’t wait to get started. Perhaps the incidents provided a simple gut check. We still believe it was right and are confident in our choice to move. It was not easy, but it was right and good. An old gospel song says this: “God never makes you go against your will, he just makes you willing to go.” I would say not only willing, but ready and anxious to go. Anticipating and looking forward to going. One goes because staying put just isn’t an option anymore.

The Call

The Call

I now find others asking us: “What made you move to Kentucky?” And implicit in that question—from United Methodists anyway—is the understanding that the underlying question is “How is that you were called to Red Bird?” I’ve asked many people, myself, to explain their “call” to me, and was never satisfied that I knew just what they meant by an understood call.
So now the shoe is on the other foot and others wonder about us. Surely some sense of call motivated us to leave family, our friends and church, our home and possessions, and move to a very remote place in Southeast Kentucky. Our story won’t make any more sense to you than others’ stories made to us. We simply couldn’t not do it. It would have hounded us. As believers in the Christ, we say our lives are not our own, they are lived by and for a much larger purpose than that of simple human existence. So short of getting philosophical, theological, or weird, I can only say that our faith has been like stepping into a stream and it has carried us along our entire lives. (And water has so much spiritual significance that this seems an apt analogy.) It is the only life worth living and it is wholly satisfying.
And so we said yes to an opportunity to live and serve in the heart of the mountains and forest of Southeast Kentucky. We don’t know that it is for the rest of our lives. We say it’s not so much a destination as a direction. And that is enough for us.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bandelier National Monument

Archeologists believe that today's Pueblo people descended from groups of hunters and gatherers who came to northern New Mexico over 10,000 years ago. These Ancestral Pueblo People were farmers, weavers, and potters. By the mid-1200s some of the communities were made up of villages of as many as 40 rooms. The Long House at Bandelier is an 800 foot stretch of adjoing, multistoried stone homes with hand-carved caves as back rooms. The ruins at Bandelier include many homes with cave extensions, as well as kivas (round, underground caves that were the center of religious life), petroglyphs, footpaths, and the spirits of those Ancient peoples who came before today's Pueblo People. By the mid-1500s villagers had moved on, settling into new homes in villages along the Rio Grande River. Descendents of this group continue to live in several Pueblos in the region of the Frijole Valley.

Red rocks of Abiquiu