Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Places We Go

An enormous blinding flash of lightening lit up the entire night sky showing the wild dancing of shining and drenched leafy trees. A crack of thunder followed, matching the lightening's brilliance in voice. The rain picked up volume and force along with a racing wind that through huge curtains of rain across our covered porch. So much for trying to stay dry while observing this summer charade outside, but that mist felt perfect, really. It was cool and refreshing after a overly humid day of tension while the whole forest waited for this moment. Every aspect of the storm could be felt. Every minute detail, if studied enough, could be found.
The dark and sulking clouds had been loitering around my apartment all day, threatening to burst any moment. Finally, a distant rumble of thunder broke through the atmosphere and this was followed by a gentle rain turning into a steady downpour. The thunder continued grumbling under his breath, barely audible and the lightening hardly showed his electrifying force for the eyes. 

This is one of the many differences between living in the country versus living in a very large (at least in my standards) city. The summer storms in the city are petty compared to a NC countryside storm. But it does have its benefits I suppose. Like...
Late nights swimming at a NATURAL (because there basically are none in NC) lake. Pushing each other off the jumping raft. Doing flips into the cool water. Getting icecream at a lakeside icecream shop.

This pic was taken by my friend.

And eating good food

And having cookouts.

And homemade icecream

And game nights at siblings' houses or your own.

So wherever u go u can always find the good things.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Haiti 😊

This past week I got to spend ten days in Haiti, which was great. It started on a rainy Tuesday morning. I drove with our "team", which only consisted of me and three others including our leader, Barbara. She whizzed us to the airport early in the morning and then we got on the plane heading for the animated city of Port-au-Prince. We finally arrived at around one and were warmly greeted by Linda, a really sweet lady who is with HUG orphanage. We did get to see the HUG girls that day as well. I write to one of the girls so it was nice to actually be able to see her in person again. I love being with those girls. They're all so sweet. :) We then went up to Pastor Maxeau's house in the mountains, where he and his wife were such amazing hostess's.

I fell in love with this little wonder, Pastor Maxeau's daughter.
And I fell in love with Lizzie. 😍
A little blurry but here they are together.
I know it's a blurry pic but I had to show that smile. 
So that was day one. Day two started off with a nice peaceful sit on the two balconies (my favorite spots). The one balcony is right off of the room that we stayed in and is very small and overlooking the rocky dirt parking lot. One chair presides smartly in the corner, a picture perfect place to sit and view the sloping vegetable rows and the early morning sun sprinting down the steep lush mountain casting the night fog off with a bright smile while children from 4 to teens walk to school and motorcycles bounce down to the city below. The other balcony is similar but bigger and with more inviting chairs and a nice round coffee table and a cushioned couch making a great place to build amazing relationships with amazing people including one girl from one of the orphanages who I love so much.  Then there was a great breakfast as always. Maxeau's wife always serves amazing food.  Then we started the ride over to the beach. The beach? On your first day? Yes, we did it on the first day but that's because Linda was leaving so, hey, we had to give her a beach day. 😉
Me and my babe. 😉
Kind of a blurry pic but I like it. 😏
We went for a boat ride while at the beach and the driver brought us snorkeling. Our boat driver was very entertaining to say the least. He had us all singing, dancing, and dying of laughter. Yeah, good times! Later that day we got to visit the HUG girl orphanage. I love those girls!
Then we headed back to Pastor Maxeau's beautiful home in the mountains, where the air is fresh and cool in the evenings.
I fell in love with this young lady on the left. She's a beautiful girl inside and out. And Ginette: 💗
The pic above is on the bigger patio at Pastor Maxeau's, where we got to spend several happy evenings and mornings. That's how our first full day in Haiti ended.
*The pics throughout these posts are taken by me and other members of our team and from the lady who runs the guesthouse we stayed in later on during the trip.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

"They're in for a Pep Talk"

Yep, it's Sunday, one of those rainy Sundays. It's funny that when there's rainy days it always seems to land on a Sunday. I guess it just feels like being contrary to its name sometimes. What? You've never felt like that before? Anyway, today was one of those pretty much none stop angel-crying days, but that doesn't mean it has to put a sour mood on the day. The angels can cry all they want to and you can still have a happy day. Because of the none-stop rain, I didn't really have a chance to go on my longed for walk (or run) down and up our dusty gravel road (wait, did I just say “dusty”? Yeah, lately that is as far from the truth as calling a tree a gas pump). Those times are the best. It clears the head and leaves you feeling refreshed. Yeah, I'm talking about feeling the slipping and sliding rocks underneath your feet, feeling the breeze swipe any stray pieces of hair from your face, hearing the peacocks “mee-aw”, the goats whine for more food (more on that in a little bit), or a hawk screaming it's war cry in the sky, seeing the long gray/blue road stretch away in front of you, seeing the neighbors picture-perfect fence lined with cute creatively designed birdhouses, hearing a Shop Vac sucking up every last piece of dirt in a car, smelling all the competing outdoors smells: smoke from the neighbors' furnace or from a fire outside, sizzling hamburgers on a grill drawing all the party sensations in you, the sweet Honeysuckle nectar that tastes like, as a friend once said “What water will taste like in heaven”, waves from a cow pasture or chicken barn, earthy starchy dead leaves hugging the ground, and then there's almost always the droning of an airplane flying overhead, and maybe even seeing a Scion or Saturn or other vehicle stir up dust passing by and wave back to the drivers. Then coming down to the tricking or roaring, muddy or crystal clear creek, depending on the rain frequency we've had and there's something about hearing the soft whispering of the creek in your ear, seeing the minnows doing acrobats underneath the water surface and watching the water striders jerk barely past your reach when you try to give them a dunk (ahem, did I just suggest I did that? : / ), feeling the icy cold bracing water on your feet before it laughs on down the stream, and seeing the sun sparkle brightly on the water that leaves you feeling so carefree and wishing you could stay here forever far from the complications of life elsewhere, wishing you could just be one of those minnows swimming about with not a care in the world, wishing you could fly effortless over the rocks like the never-stopping creek racing to bigger creeks and than to rivers that join other rivers all on one goal for the seemingly endless blue or gray or green salty cool ocean. 
Well, on this particular day I didn't get to enjoy all these treats but, at the near end of the day tired of not being outside very much, I decided to venture out even though it was still drizzling. I donned a gray hoodie and raced out the house and into the damp darkness of the end of a soggy but warm winter day. The rain quickly made a crazy wreck of my already crazy hair. The rain-drenched leaves from last year's fall squooshed under my feet. The muddy and slimy ground tried to get me to join it but, don't worry, I didn't give in. And where, you might ask, was I going on this tearful evening? My feet carried me down the steep ivy-entangled hill, over the mushy moss, and leaped over fallen brush through the woods to a clearing with a shed: yes, a long overdue visit to my much missed friends, Nancy and Peggy Sue, our next door neighbors: the goats. I wasn't planning to actually go into the fenced-in area but upon seeing my friends that I hadn't seen in forever “bah”-ing and begging me to come on in, I couldn't resist the temptation. What I discovered in going in is that it was high-time we had a pep-talk. Peggy Sue, who could always stand to lose a little weight, had definitely put on some pounds and my good ol' Nancy, who's pretty much always been a good weight was just as fat as Peggy Sue! Our pep-talk ended with me setting goals for them: stop eating so much and get out of their stuffy pen and run around while at the same time running my hands through their soft white, tan, and brown hair. Regretfully, I finally left them and rewired the gate after slipping through and onto to the other side where the orange mud oozed through my toes. If you can't tell, I miss going down throughout the week to take care of my friends. It's one of those things in life that's calming and invigorating and clearing. I leave that for another post but, for now, I'll leave it at arriving back at the house after (yes, Mom) washing my feet. And so ended my night outdoor head-clearer.

Pc to Lyd

Hey, I actually took these. Can you believe I actually take pictures!

Pc to Lyd
Pc to Elisabeth along with the rest of the pictures.

In remembrance of when they were little. 

Friday, January 19, 2018


 She raced out of the “White House” as it was named and made one leap down the stoop steps, across the gravel parking lot, and up the hill. Her bare feet crunched on the dead winter leaves spread like a golden carpet across the landscape. In no time she reached her destination: the “giant” swing as they called it. Hooking the cable swing up to a metal link tied to a worn and frayed yellow rope broken many times through the years evidenced by the many knots that hold the rope together, she grabbed the first splintery old board nailed to a small Maple. Making the 15-foot climb and rope-pulling 18 seconds this time, she pushed back on the old Cherry log swing and let the swing carry her away. The wind rushed in her ears and pushed her hair swiftly from her face. Oh, yes! That lovely belly-drop that comes with the first outward-going swing. It was another warm winter day, typical of NC. It had gotten up into the high 60's that day and she hoped the warm weather would keep her company for a few more days at least. She wiggled her toes and let her feet rake against the ground making the cable slow down to a near stop. It was quiet and peaceful broken only by sounds (that were meant to be there) that added to the blissful rhythm of a woodsy evening. A nearby gunshot reminded her that it was just two days after Christmas, a perfect time for target shooting, and she secretly hoped they'd invite her to join them. The wind rattled the few remaining Oak and Beech leaves and an occasional squirrel scurried off to dinner. Dinner? Hmmm, she should be going in soon. A distant car whizzed by on White's Chapel and an airplane droned overhead. The bare trees stood silhouetted against the sunset. The sunset! Oh what a glorious sight! By now the sun had disappeared behind the ridge line leaving it's tattle-tail marks behind. A cool pink/gray faded slowly into a stronger pink. An obstructing cloud turned a smoky purple and then gradually fluffy pink and faded orange. The sunset gently faded into the vast grayness of the rest of the sky. A typical winter sky. You could almost imagine it was snowing, except for the fact of the comfortable breeze blowing across her feet and face. She cast a glance at the volleyball net. It stood pitifully, a few yards away, pleading with you not to notice it's half-torn black and blue net and make its court ring again with the bang of the ball against fists and the shouts of kids playing. From far off, a pitched voice yelled, “Mo-o-o-o-o-o-m!” reminding her that her own Mom might soon be calling for her to come in. Yes, it was getting late! She should leave this winter day to itself and take a shower. As she slowly walked back to the house, the darkness crept ever nearer. It was the end of another beautiful winter day.

The sunset pictures are taken by an amazing photographer, Elisabeth. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Of Seuss, Snakes, and Sick Goats

Have you ever been babysitting and try to get the kid or kids your babysitting interested in a toy, book, movie, or something and then you end up being totally more interested in it then the kid? And you think, "What!? Joe, this is so cool!" because Joe just wandered off to do something else. Well, that's what happens to me many times and I happened to be babysitting and was reading like all the Dr. Seuss books "to the kids".  Some of the best quotes come from the least expected places. "There are so many THINKS that a Thinker can think!" "THINK! You can think any THINK that you wish..." -Dr. Seuss. Wow! Now that's pretty inspiring if you think ;) about it. We can learn about anything we want to, which means there's no end to learning new things!
A book you should read. :)

And one thing that I'm learning about is how silly goats are. Since I have the honor of taking care of two goats, Peggy Sue and Nancy, I get to observe their fanatics. Peggy Sue is the boisterous and rather greedy goat. She's also the bigger of the two. Nancy is quieter but she can be pretty greedy, too. But one thing that they have in common is their love for putting their heads through the fence. They can put their heads through fine but getting them out is a different story. They a lot of times get caught on the fence and sometimes I'll come down to feed them and there one of them is with her head stuck. No matter how many times this happens, they can't seem to learn their lesson. So every time I find them in this most unfortunate situate "baa"ing off their heads, I try my best to get them out (It took Hannah, Priscilla, and I to get Nancy unstuck one time), but this Saturday I encountered a case that I simply couldn't do any thing about unless I cut the wire. I found poor Nancy with her head stuck but this time she had somehow managed to stick her head through the fence onto the other side and then had twisted her neck back around so that she had half her head back inside the fence and a horn on either side. When I came over to try to help her, she was all hot and was having trouble breathing. Dad went down to try to see if he could get her out, but we never succeeded. The distressed Nancy had to wait till her owners came to cut the wire and free her. For the last several days she's still been recovering and has two sores on her head and neck. The question remains, though, has she learned her lesson? In my opinion, probably not, and we think "Dumb goats!" But then I'm beginning to learn how silly people are. We often can't learn our lesson either.

Speaking of sick goats, there was also a very sick copperhead. Ok, so he wasn't sick when I first encountered him. A couple mornings ago, I ran into him slithering across our path. Running back to the house, I procured a shovel and thankfully came back to find him still there. The poor guy was caught by surprise with a shovel on his neck. I will say, I'm hoping he really was dead because he did stay there with the shovel on him all day, but then later I brought him closer to the house for the funeral and the next day he wasn't there so we're hoping animal took him. To assure you, though, I'm pretty sure he was dead because he was cold and I don't think he could have lived through the chops of the shovel he bore. Sadly, though, as you may have guessed, we weren't able to have a proper funeral for him.
This is a scary picture!

His poor mangled neck.

Friday, September 8, 2017

She's no Longer a Leake; He's no Longer Single

Yes, these two are finally married and a super cute and happy couple. And now I finally have another brother and a married sister!
He had to prove he was taller than her. ;)
But before we start getting a peek into the big day, I'll tell you a little about the wedding shower. A sweet friend of ours offered to host a shower for Priscilla and I'm so glad everyone could come that did come!

Yep, lots of super good food!

Two happy sistas!
And five happy sistas
and eating.
And then the day before the wedding we prepared for the big day (Surprise!!).
Working hard making bouquets.
Mom worked hard on this cake and she made a good one!
Finally getting married...Jk, not yet.
I love these two. :)

Now for the actual day!
Getting the hair done...
And the fingernails.
Hannah and Elisabeth
And all four of us.
Justus and his sweet Mom :)
The photographers!
Friends for life.
Isn't she beautiful! And isn't she adorable!

First dance. They're so cute! ;)
This was such a sweet moment.
The crazy awesome wedding party 
Me and my sis :)
And now they depart.
And so ended a long-anticipated day and the start of a beautiful family.
Photo credits go to Dad, Elisabeth, and Lydia.