Lyrics for Bach

Life is very difficult to live on pins and needles, but much more rewarding when you can travel through life with people you love who love you for being you; people with whom you can be yourself, even if that self is goofy at times. (In fact, sometimes the goofiest friends are the best)

Weeks (or months) ago, a man at our church gave me a CD he thought I’d enjoy – it took classic 70’s and 80’s music but gave them Christian lyrics.  He asked me once if I had had a chance to listen to it, but I hadn’t, so last week, I gave them a try.

As an aside, I generally consider that I have successfully raised my three children because, in part, they have quite extensive taste in music, and are very familiar with the songs with which I grew up – 70’s and 80’s.   I must admit one very large parenting failure in this week, however.  When I asked my youngest daughter (now almost 14) what the title of the song was to which she’d heard the chorus modeled after Prince’s hit, Purple Rain, (lyrics, “Jesus Reigns”), she replied (with quizzical look), “Jesus Reigns?”     Umm.. no.   She hadn’t heard of Purple Rain.  (sigh)

At any rate, on Sunday morning, I saw the man who’d given me the CD talking with one of my good (and goofy) friends, so stopped to say, Hi.   Of course, he asked me again if I had listed, and I was pleased to tell him I had.  He then turned to my friend and began to describe the CD.  He said,   “it takes classical music and puts Christian lyrics to it”.   A puzzled look washed across her face, so I gently corrected, “Classic Rock”    She laughed and said, “Oh, I was trying to remember the words to the last Bach piece I learned, and I couldn’t remember ever learning any… it’s just chords”. (another reference to something I tell her often about music.)

Later that day, I remembered that I had something I wanted to give her, so I sent her a text to ask her to help me remember next time I saw her that I had something for her. She replied, “is it the lyrics to Bach?”

I absolutely love her sense of humor. She cracks my up every single time I talk to her. It’s good to have friends that make you laugh.

If you haven’t laughed with friends lately, make it a point to reach out to one who will brighten your day.

Be blessed today, my friends.


Weary traveler?… or something more sinister?

As I mentioned in yesterday’post Post 9-11 every time I travel by air, I think about the first few time I flew after 9-11.  Yesterday’s post was a bit more serious, but looking back at this one, it has a bit more levity.  It, too, occurred within a few months of the most devastating event in US History occurred, and the fear was quite fresh on everyone’s minds. Airport security was a whole new ball game.  Frequent announcements were made in airport terminals about identifying unattended bags, and passengers were terrified that they may contain bombs or other explosive devices.

I sat in the terminal waiting to board a flight to Tampa, Florida, casually observing the other people in the terminal around me.  A family with young children to my left, a few business travelers across from them, and the disheveled foreign man sitting directly across from me.  He was wearing a black, rumpled up raincoat, khaki pants and a wrinkled dress shirt.  His hair was a mess and he looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks.  Kind of like a foreign Columbo.

His briefcase?  A small, silver, stainless steel case that seemed right out of a James Bond movie.  I tried not to make eye contact with him. No one else around me seemed to notice him.

We sat there awkwardly for a while and then he asked me, with a thick accent, if I had change for a dollar – he needed to make a phone call.  I did.   I remember that, as handed him four quarters and took his dollar, I placed it in my left, front pocket, in case the authorities needed to dust it for fingerprints.   I’m sure it was an unfair judgement, but in the wake of 9-11, I thought he seemed a bit off. I thought to myself that it was strange he didn’t have a cell phone – even I had a cell phone at that time.  But whatever, I gave him the change I had.    And then…   it happened. He asked me if I would watch his James Bond briefcase while he made a phone call.     Really?   At a time when everyone was walking on pins and needles, waiting for the next terrorist attack?  At a time when the airport speakers perpetuated reminders about notifying authorities about luggage left unattended.  He asked me to watch the briefcase that surely contained a bomb?

A million thoughts went through my head in a split second… did I want to be the one who shut the entire airport down only to find his briefcase contained notebooks used for his work and other incidentals any traveler would have?  or did I want to be the one who didn’t raise a flag when I could have, who became one of several hundred victims as the plan he commandeered plummeted into the land below? A weighty decision, for sure.  I had seen news reports about planes and airport terminals that had been shut down due to citizen panic from well-meaning people. In the end, I decided I didn’t want to raise a flag. After all, he was probably just a weary traveler, right? And I avoided the scandalous news story that could have embarrassing consequences.

When we arrived safely in Tampa that evening, I felt like kissing the ground.  The weary traveler deplaned with the rest of us, and continued to wherever his journey took him, presumably without incident.

Was I unfair?  What would you have done?

Curious to hear your responses…



Anyone with similar experiences?

NYC missions ~2~

I was traveling last weekend and missed my opportunity to post another story about our missions trip to NYC in 2016. Looking forward to June 2019 when we do it again, I find it fun to think about our experiences during the first trip.

Our trip began on a Sunday after church, where we gathered all of our food and luggage and kids and chaperones into two vehicles rented by the church. We originally rented three but decided everything fit in two and it might be easier. This is a key decision as you will see in a subsequent post.

We pulled out around 2 pm ish and drove across Pennsylvania into Nee York. The ride was fairly uneventful despite the excitement of the kids, who ranged from 4-6 grade. About 5 hours to NYC… not bad. We underestimated the NYC traffic, however, and spent the next three hours navigating through the city to find our host church in Brooklyn.

I asked my daughter, who was on the trip with us, what she remembered about our travel day. She said, “I remember it was a nice, peaceful drive across Pennsylvania and then ‘WABAAM!’ New York City traffic was chaos!” Lol. My sentiments exactly.

Our host church was a place called Living Waters, a three story building with a sanctuary and fellowship hall on the street level, and living quarters above. The pastor and his wife lived in one area, and the other area had dormitories set up for missions groups. We arrived after dark and the group who had occupied the dorms the week before were sleeping because they had a 5 am flight to catch.

Without realizing how lucky we were, both vehicles found parking on the street right in front of the church. We unloaded our luggage and supplies as quietly as we could so as not to disturb the other guests. The pastors mother had a medical problem just before we arrived, so only his wife was there to host (also key for subsequent post).

Exhausted from our trip, we quietly suck into the sleeping quarters to get some rest before our first project the next morning. We fumbled in the dark through the second floor dorms and fell into bunk beds made of two by fours, trying not to wake our roommates.

Goodnight, NYC. Anxious to see what tomorrow holds.

Snow Angels

A few years ago, my son and I made a trip in February to Virginia to visit a college. It was a weekend visit complicated by the fact that our older daughter had a scholarship interview at the college she’d be attending that fall – scheduled for Saturday of the same weekend. Since his trip was from Thursday to Sunday, that meant that I had the privilege to drive to Virginia on Thursday, stay the night, drive home to PA Friday, to daughter’s college Saturday then back to Virginia for the concert being held on campus that night and home again on Sunday – lots of miles, lots of driving, lots of adventure.  I’m always up for adventure… even in the winter.

As we pulled out of our driveway, the snow was falling and the windshield quickly needed cleaning, but when I sprayed my windshield nothing came out, so I assumed the wiper fluid tank was empty.   We stopped at the local gas station and bought a gallon of fluid, but when we went to put it in, found the tank was full.  I imagined I was crazy but we had a deadline and an 8 hour trip ahead of us, so we started out.

As we entered the PA turnpike, the roads slush and filthy, I found it wasn’t enough to rely on the snow being kicked up onto my windshield to wipe off for clear vision.  I couldn’t go more than five miles without having to pull over to clean the windshield.. and how exactly did we do that when the squirters wouldn’t work?   well..   my poor son had to get out of the car with the gallon of fluid we bought, open the jug an throw some fluid on the windshield for me to wipe off.   Honestly, it was a scary situation because in some spots, I couldn’t pull  very far off the road and there was a lot of truck traffic that day.  He said his part was far harder than my part…

After just a few stops along the turnpike, I thought to myself, this is going to be a REALLY long day.   After a couple of hours, we made it to Breezewood, then south in to Maryland.  As soon as we crossed the border into Maryland, the weather warmed up a few degrees and … you guessed it… my squirters worked.   Frozen.  I had recently had my oil changed at the local shop and apparently they Topped off my fluids with water, not wiper fluid…

From that point, it was a much more pleasant ride. Eventually we made it to campus and connected him with his weekend roommate (who was a friend of ours from home!)

I found the hotel I had reserved for Thursday and Saturday nights, and settled in.  The next morning, I attended a few of the parent meetings at the campus and then headed back toward PA.  The state of Virginia has about a million antique stores, so I took my time and stopped at quite a few along my way home. I returned home late Friday evening with a trunk full of antiques  (yikes!).  Early the next morning, the girls and I headed to college again for the scholarship interview (which went well, by the way).   We had lunch and headed for Virginia – except this time I thought it would make more sense to take a different route since we were starting from her college which is near the PA / West Virginia border.  Thus, we travelled through the Appalachain Mountains… in February… in my stupid van (sorry, Nellie, but it’s true – you’re terrible in the snow!). I’m not sure why I thought that was a good idea. Sometimes hindsight is 20/20.

I’m convinced the state of West Virginia had declared a state of emergency because there were literally no other cars on the road for many hours as we drove through – save the snow plow which was throwing the freshly fallen powder so high in the air we could see absolutely nothing! When the road cleared, we were literally on the other side of the yellow line.

This was the actual picture my daughter took. We can’t see the snow plow, but it’s in front of the giant pile of snow blowing our way.

I drove, white knuckled, for what seemed like days, up steep roads that made my driveway look like Ohio, without seeing another soul. I didn’t want to vocalize my concerns to the girls about what would happen if the van couldn’t navigate one of the hills, or if we broke down. Then, just as I was beginning to loose hope (and REALLY had to pee), in the middle of nowhere, a convenience store!

We pulled in and ran to the bathroom, the gathered some snacks and had a brief conversation with the clerk. When we got back in the car, we all agreed that it felt like we were in a Twilight Zone episode.

Shortly after our stop, we began to descend the mountains. I had been concerned about our car making it UP the hills, but to be honest, coming DOWN the mountain was even scarier. I felt like we were in a giant luge. Still hardly another vehicle on the road, we made our way down the mountain. I was never so glad to see a “Welcome to Virginia” sign in my entire life.

This weekend, my husband and I will be traveling to Virginia Beach for a wedding. I doubt we’ll take a shortcut through the West Virginia mountains! (And somehow I don’t think he’ll want to visit the antique shops!)

Be blessed, my friends!


Black and Light

Hi, there, beautiful readers!  I appreciate each and every one of you who subscribe to my blog, who receive it in their email or view it in WordPress – those of you who comment, or email or text me, encouraging me to keep doing what I’m doing – your encouragement means so much to me.

I’m embarking on  slightly new adventure – to encourage my own feeling and creativity – and have created an additional site for those works – I’ve titled it Black and Light – mostly because it’s cool and I feel like it captures the essence of my persona.  You can find it here: Black and Light

I will continue my Journey, of course, for that’s the place I share my real life.   Black and Light will likely be more of my escape from reality, but I wanted to let you all know it’s there.

You can subscribe to it (if you’d like!) or share it just the way you subscribed to my Journey (there should be a button for it – I know only enough to be dangerous – truly!)

As always, I heart you all!

Much love,




Shabby Love

I’ve always loved big old Victorian houses with creaky floors and crooked doors. When we were first married and talking about buying a home, I suggested my grandparents home, which was a three story home with grand pocket doors and ornate woodwork. He said NO.

I am drawn to vintage items with lots of wear and tear. In fact, the rustier, more dented and distressed, (except on my piano) the better. Then one day, while perusing Pinterest, I discovered that style had a name. “Shabby Chic”, popularized by designer, Rachel Ashwell. Instantly in love, I spent the next several years updating our decor to incorporate antiques and items with chippy layered painted, repurposing old doors and thrift store finds, and sanding woodwork to give it a natural distressed feel. Turns out others like it too as the phenomenon has entered all of the coolest home stores across America. Most of those items are manufacturers, though, and most of mine are true vintage.

For a look at previous shabby, chalk painted project, see Restoration through Craigslist

The picture below is the set of closet doors in our Master Bedroom that I finished this fall (ideas from Pinterest).  You’ll notice the distressed shiplap wall behind the door – inspired by Joanna Gaines, it gives our bedroom a nice old cottage feel to it – comfortable and lived in, just like me. Our bedroom update was done just this past summer, and I truly love how peaceful it feels now. The doors were a Craigslist find a few years ago, and I knew what I’d do with them evenually – they needed stained and painted with several layers of paint, then polished with dark furniture polish to give them an “aged” appearance.  I love the way they turned out.   (Incidentally, the dresser beside the doors is also a Craigslist fine – a set of two that I “reburbished” and aged this past summer – I also love the way they turned out..

Below are some of the antique and distressed items I’ve collected, many of them on Craigslist, some in resale and antique shops, and some from my own family. Everyone has an old “explosives” box, right? And a finger-joint music box? The scrolled corner shelf and mirror were from my grandfathers house. The tea cups were moms, and their display stand came from my favorite resale shop in Greensburg, PA. The loveseat (adorned with my dog below) was a Craigslist find that was originally an olive green and maroon brocade. Rather than reupholstering (which seemed daunting), I dyed it brown, which turned the shades of olive and maroon into various shades of brown. I love the way it turned out.

In my laundry room hangs an antique ironing board. When it was given to me, it was covered in tattered fabric which I removed. Upon removing the fabric, I discovered the wonderful burn mark deep into the wood! It was glorious, and I made up a story in my head that accompanied the burn! I knew instantly I’d have to make something special with it to hang in my laundry room! Because I’m good at spilling food on my clothes, I settled in the on the saying I painted:

The shelf below I made for my sons room when he was a baby. One of his baby blankets used to hang from it. I’ve repurposed it in our bedroom and set the wooden advice board on it, along with the fleur de lis set I found at an antique shop in West Virginia and the jade glass vases I found at Goodwill.

For me, this shabby chic style was “love at first sight”, I believe mostly because I connected with it. This style hollers,


which describes me to a T. It shouts, “fix me up!” and “make me new”, and that’s just what God did with me. Oh, I’m far from perfect, like the items in my house, but my dents and scratches, bruises and scars give me character (at least I like to think so). But like the items in my house that each have a story to tell, I can share my mistakes and bumps and bruises with others to encourage them or help them along their way.

Shabby but happy, be blessed today, my friends!


The Journey – the virtual US tour – first stop Dorney Park

Okay, folks, here it is.   I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to figure this out, but ya’ll know I set a 1000 and 1000 goal for the year (1000 miles….  followed by a long term goal to virtually travel across the US…   and 1000 lbs of clutter removed from my house).   Last night, I was playing with Google Maps and mapped out the route from NYC to Los Angeles, both walking and biking.   Believe it or not, there IS a difference.

To WALK the US (via Rt. 40), Google Maps estimates 913 hours of walking 2,763 miles.  To bike it (on official bike trails), Google Maps estimates 256 hours of biking 3,031 miles.   I mapped and printed both.  (I’m a total geek, I know!)

Because the route literally takes me through the smallest towns in the US, I had to do some work with Google to identify recognizable landmarks along the way. I’ve made notes on my printout so I won’t forget. It’s almost comical, but since this route doesn’t include interstates, it’s made up of short distances on dinky roads, sometimes marked in feet not miles. I love how most of the landmarks noted are food places! Appears that I just passed Rita’s, one of my favorites!

As of now, since I started my journey, I have traveled approximately 100 miles.  According to the route, I am approximately near Allentown, PA (technically, a little west of Allentown, more near Fogelsville or Hamburg).

Being from Pittsburgh, I have many experiences traveling across the state of Pennsylvania, usually via the PA Turnpike (Rt. 76).   In the recent past couple of years, I have two experiences specifically with this area which I appear to be traveling through virtually on my US walking / biking tour.  The first was a visit to Dorney Park. The second was the Cracker Barrel we dined at after my son and his girlfriend completed the Spartan race in Palmerton, Pa. Famished by the time we got there, they were tempted to order one of everything on the menu.

Dorney Park:

My kids and I love to experience amusement parks – and by experience, I mean EXPERIENCE.   We all love thrill rides, and we all have tremendous stamina for fun – we usually do parks from the time they open to the time they close.  We only allow fellow park enthusiasts to accompany (and trust me, it’s a very, very select few who have passed the test – nothing worse than being at an amusement park with someone who doesn’t ride everything!)   Several years ago, we created an Amusement Park Bucket List Challenge for ourselves – specifically to visit as many amusement parks as possible (Usually coupled with a meal at a Cracker Barrel… and we put pins on our Cracker Barrel map to show where we’ve been).  Our loose goal is to visit 3 new parks a year – parks we’ve never been to.  Being from Pittsburgh, of course, we’ve grown up going to Kennywood Park, usually multiple times a year (and frequently been to Hershey Park and Idlewild Park and Sandcastles). Of course, we’ve also been to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH,  which, in our opinion, so far, is our favorite.  We decided we’d like to experience other parks, though, so made a list of all of the Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks and have somewhat systematically been checking them off of our Amusement Park Bucket List.

We visited Dorney Park a few years ago.  It was probably the 3rd or 4th of the Cedar Fair Parks that we’ve visited.  It’s approximately 4 hours from our home near Pittsburgh, so we left early one Saturday morning and drove straight to the park.   We purchased our tickets on-line, and arrived at gate opening.  Since it was so near our home, we were undecided about doing a day-trip, which we’ve done for other parks such as Hershey, Cedar Point, Kings Island, so we didn’t make any hotel reservations beforehand.

We found the park to be very clean, with decent organization (we pay attention to things like line organization, etc).  There are eight thrill coasters there. For the early part of the day, the lines were relatively short – we typcially use this time to ride all of the thrill rides – we map them out in an order that makes sense, and try to cover all of the thrill rides or unique rides (that we haven’t seen at other parks) before riding any of the standards.   On this particular day, we had probably covered all of the thrill rides by 4 pm, even though it was a Saturday. Incidentally, there were several Rita’s stands at Dorney. 🙂

We noticed when we bought our tickets that there was a discount price offered after 4 pm.   We also noticed that, after 4 pm, many people took advantage of these tickets.  The park got significantly more crowded after 4 pm, and the clientele changed significantly as well.  We noticed several times where an individual would stand in line and essentially “hold” a spot for 20-25 of his friends to join at the very last minute – despite signs all around the park indicating that line cutting was forbidden and violators would be kicked out of the park.  Several times, this happened right in front of us.   Typically, if someone held a spot for a friend, or someone in their party joined, I wouldn’t make an issue of it – but to have 25 people jump in front of you in line is beyond rude.  What was disappointing about Dorney Park staff, however, was that, although they were very much aware of the line violations, they did precious little to address.

By 8 pm, we had ridden and put up with all the crap from other patrons we wanted to, so we left the park. We’d certainly been able to drive back home that night, but at some point in early afternoon (before the crowd changed), I had made an on line reservation at a local hotel, so we set out to find it. Although it was a chain (that I won’t name), it was different than we expected. Run down and a bit sketchy, my daughter remarked that she’d seen the room before on an episode of Criminal Minds. We noticed a police car a few doors down and figured he wasn’t just visiting. Always up for an adventure, we stayed the night! We got up the next night and ate at the Cracker Barrel in Fogelsville before heading home.

Overall, our Dorney experience was ok, although not as good as some of the other parks we’ve seen. I’ll sure more about them as we travel across the country!

Be virtually blessed from Dorney Park!


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