Catching Up

I haven’t posted since we went to Blenheim, a week ago today. Lots and lots has happened, and I can’t sort out what happened on what day, so I’m just going to hit the highlights, along with some photos. There were 15 of us, so we didn’t always go as one big group. When we could, we wandered to whatever grabbed our interest, and made a meeting place and time to re-gather.

We didn’t go to the most well-known Stonehedge, but a smaller one that is nearby.

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Avebury Stones
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Breakfast in an Oxford cafe that was the first room in which the professors gathered for counsel, back in 13–something 🙂
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Lots of sheep in Avebury. You needed to watch where you put your feet 🙂
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Salisbury Cathedral
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The Magna Carta is inside this structure, to protect it from vandalism and damaging sun rays.
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Lef to right, Ivan, Alayna, Kyle, outside Salisbury Cathedral
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Sheila got a good shot of the best-known Stonehenge made of blocks of fudge 🙂
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Ken is taking a turn pushing my chair just outside of Salisbury.

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Alayna (in chair) and Victoria
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We opted for the Thai restaurant. Giggling squid really didn’t appeal to most of us 🙂
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Alayna and Maria
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The whole crew. Photo was taken by Victoria’s friend Katerina
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Dan and Maria
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The Womping Tree, used in 2007 Harry Potter movie, grounds of Blenheim Palace

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Outside the back yard at Dan and Maria’s place
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Bunch of goobers pushing Granny up a very small hill 🙂
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My favorite rose, the yellow Tea Rose edged with pink. Love them.
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The rose gardens at Blenheim were a total delight
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This old woman kept showing up with our group. We finally decided to take her home with us 🙂

Katerina with Alayna and Victoria in the rose garden at Blenheim

There’s more, but this is getting too long already.

We fly out of Heathrow at 8:30 tomorrow morning, have a layover in Frankfurt, and then nonstop to Philly. I’m looking forward to being home, but I’m really going to miss all the people we’ve spent nearly two weeks with.

Special thanks to Mike, who has done the lion’s share of planning and has been a driver; also to Janan, who has taken on driving on the wrong side of the road and in the wrong side of the car 🙂 Thanks to Dan and Maria for housing everyone, and for helping to find a lovely place for Terry and me to stay at night. Almost everyone got involved in the cooking, which was SO good! On Sunday, they prepared a feast, literally, in celebration of Terry and me and of our 50th anniversary in June.

One evening, we all gathered around the piano and sang for maybe two hours, maybe longer. Ken even found a violin, and it was so good to hear him play. Sheila manned the piano, and she always does such a lovely job.

In Oxford, we came across a Baptist church that was open to viewing. At one point, Mike and Janan started singing. Connell, Kyle and I joined them, and we were caught on video by the little elderly man who was the welcoming committee. He was so pleased to have us there and listen to us. He gathered us all around when it was time to leave, and blessed with a heartfelt prayer on our journeys.

There’s more, but I think it’s past time for me to stop.

Thursday and Friday

Thursday, the 11th, I was feeling very tired. The plan for the day was London, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I’ve been relatively pain-free for the last couple of days, which is something I want to keep on doing. Anyway, Maria couldn’t go because she was working; Dan had some things to attend to, so I decided to spend the day at their place.

When they all got home, Ken told me I’d made a good decision. It would have been hard to get me on and off the subway (excuse me, underground) and I can’t move fast at all. Mike agreed, good choice for me to stay home. They went to the Tower Bridge, and then to see the crown jewels; after that, the British Museum. I have seen all that, so it was good to just chill. The only trouble is, I was reading; I’d pulled a cosy blanket up over me to my chin, and I fell asleep almost instantly. I slept for three hours. NEVER do I do that during the day, because if I do I can’t sleep at night.

So I was awake until somewhere around 3a.m., and that makes me a very unhappy camper for the rest of the day.

Once Maria got home, we had a quick supper, and then enjoyed a walk through the village where Dan and Maria live. Beautiful old houses, lots of flowers, lots of friendly people. They’re in a good place.

Today, the 12th, we drove up to Blenheim Palace, the home of Sir Winston Churchill. It’s a huge estate, acres and acres of woods, river, lake, gorgeous old trees. The palace itself is an amazing place.

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We took the audio-guided tour, in which you are given a headset and what looks like an iPhone. In the phone, there are taped descriptions and histories about the rooms and the furnishings. It was most interesting–lots of history I was mostly familiar with, and beautiful big portraits of family members for a very long time ago. I loved the tapestries that covered entire walls, all stitched by hand.

We also went out to the fountain garden, and then to the incredibly beautiful rose garden. I could have sat there among the flowers for a very long time. It was a gorgeous day, sunshine and clouds and a delightful breeze.

I enjoyed the rooms that were dedicated to Winston Churchill. Lots of interesting photos, pictures of him working on the paintings he loved to create, war history, and so one. For a history buff like me and many of the others in our group, it was a real treat.

We were hungry, so we trekked to a Chinese restaurant that took great care of us. Our group numbers 15, and of course everyone ordered something different. They took it all in stride, and we were pleasantly stuffed by the time we were finished.

The drive home, or a drive anywhere here, scares me to death. They drive on the wrong side 🙂 I have to force myself not to watch, because cars coming toward us always seem to be coming right at us. Very hard to get used to. But we stopped for some ice cream to have when we got home, so that was worth the trip. Right now, the younger part of the group is in the kitchen playing some kind of game. Judging from the noise level, I’d say they’re enjoying themselves. The rest of us are looking at all the pictures taken today, catching up on email and blogs ( :)) and just kind of winding down.

Took no naps today, and it’s deliciously cool outside. I plan to sleep very well tonight.

Sunday Through Wednesday Morning

We left home around 10:30 on Sunday morning.I had arranged with the airline to have transport (wheelchair) for both of us, because neither of us is good at walking a distance these day. The escorts who pushed our chairs were wonderful. They were kind, helpful, and completely pleasant. They took us right to the front of every line, and no one was upset or unhappy with that. We breezed right through TSA, and then they wheeled us through to our gate. It’s the first time I’d ever experienced that service, and it sure saved us time and a lot of pain not to have to walk all that way.

Our escorts left us in the seats designated for the handicapped, and told us they would return to help us board. Again, we were taken to the head of the line and right to our seats on our first flight.

When we landed in Toronto, we were again met by two delightful women who tended to us until we were in the right gate. But between the Toronto flight and the London flight, I lost my Kindle e-reader. My own fault. I had dropped into the pocket on the back of the seat in front of me, and totally forgot about it. We have a report in the Air Canada’s lost and found, but I really don’t have much hope It will be returned. I need to get in touch with Amazon and tell them not to accept any new orders. Also, I will file a claim with the airline. I’m not going to do that until we get home, though, because there’s an off chance that someone will turn it in to lost and found, and they have our mailing address.

We arrive at Heathrow around 8:30 a.m. Ken’s family came in around noon, and we all piled into a couple of vans and drove up to Oxford, and the village of Islip where Dan and Maria live It’s a wonderful little village, just like you read about in Agatha Christie mystery novels or Jane Austen’s books. Dan and Maria are enjoying their time here, wishing they could find a way to stay after Maria finishes her degree.

It was so much fun when we were all finally together in one place. Lots of hugs and joking and just enjoying each other. Two people to add to the mix: Katerina, who has been Victoria’s friend since they were six years olf; and Josh, who is Victoria’s boyfriend. He’s a very pleasant guy, and and great cook. He and Janan have done major food prep. Victoria likes to cook, too. And I find absolutely no stress in having the opportunity to sit back and let them do it without my participation.

On Tuesday, we went in to Oxford. What a cool place! Amazing artisanship in the old buildings. You can almost envision Harry Potter and his buddies scooting around on brooms 🙂

We went through the University of Oxford Museum of Natural History. You could spend all day, every day, looking at the amazing collections there, for at least a month and maybe more. They have lots of fossils from dinosaurs, which I’ve always found fascinating. The size of those animals is astonishing.

From there, we went to the Botanical Gardens in Oxford. Oh, my, how beautiful! There are all sorts of things, but I especially loved the rows of all kinds of flowers. They’re planted in thick rows, and walking between the rows tends to stir up the scents from the various blooms. I want to go back there before we leave and just spend a couple of hours–or more–enjoying the color, variety, and aroma. It’s a delightful place.

I stole some pictures from my daughter-in-law Janan, who posted them on her Facebook page. If they don’t show up here, you can find myt FB easily. On your FB, just search for Linda Fullmer Kreger.

I’m sure there will be more pics.

The days are already flying by so fast! My back is holding up fairly well, but is still recovering from all those hours in an airplane.

One of my favorite things is just to sit and listen to my family talking and laughing together. Memories that will never fade.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Off We Go!

Just a quick note this morning. We’ll be leaving for the airport soon. All details are covered, as far as I know. If we forgot something, we’ll just have to figure out how to get along without it 🙂 There are details when you’re flying internationally that have to be addressed. Like double-check that you have your passport where you can get it easily 🙂

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I’ll do my best to make my usual travelogue posts as the days pass. People seem to enjoy that, and so do I. Keeping track of what we’ve done every day makes a great diary for later reference.

Just in case you missed it, this trip is to celebrate fifty years of marriage. We are blessed indeed in our love for each other, for our family, and for our church and our friends.

It’s a wonderful life!

I Can’t Sleep!

Eccl. 5:12. “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”

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It’s been a long time since I worked so hard physically that I fell into bed and was asleep instantly. My body won’t tolerate that kind of work these days, and I have to tell you, it is NOT a blessing that I can’t do what I did in my younger years, and even into my early 60’s. The back problems started about four years ago, and my life has changed completely. Sleep can be elusive these days.

But the focus in this verse is not physical conditions that prevent sound sleep. Instead, we’re looking at the blessing of sleep for one who works hard, even if he didn’t get a banquet before he went to bed.

There’s something about work, physical labor, that creates a sense of satisfaction and a pleasant weariness that leads to a sound sleep.

The rich man, however, can pay other people to do physical work. His problem with lack of sleep can come from having too much in his stomach, which prevents sound sleep.

Here’s an excerpt from an article I found on the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s website:

So, what happens to your body when you overeat?

  • Overeating causes the stomach to expand beyond its normal size to adjust to the large amount of food. The expanded stomach pushes against other organs, making you uncomfortable. This discomfort can take the form of feeling tired, sluggish or drowsy. Your clothes also may feel tight, too.
  • Eating too much food requires your organs to work harder. They secrete extra hormones and enzymes to break the food down.
  • To break down food, the stomach produces hydrochloric acid. If you overeat, this acid may back up into the esophagus resulting in heartburn. Consuming too much food that is high in fat, like pizza and cheeseburgers, may make you more susceptible to heartburn.
  • Your stomach may also produce gas, leaving you with an uncomfortable full feeling. 
  • Your metabolism may speed up as it tries to burn off those extra calories. You may experience a temporary feeling of being hot, sweaty or even dizzy.

All that work that your body is doing to digest an overabundance of food is going to keep you awake, or at least cause restlessness.

Isn’t it interesting how, when we fail to use common sense, our bodies go into overdrive to cope with what we’ve jammed into our stomachs? Your rest will not be sweet.

God created our bodies to work amazingly well when eat eat sensibly, work hard, and make wise, balanced choices.

To do otherwise is just another vanity and vexation of spirit.

Love of Money

Eccl. 5: 10-11. He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

 When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?

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Some smart person has said there is no such thing as losing too much weight, having too much money, or too much chocolate.

Of course none of that is true. Except for the chocolate part 🙂

Really, I think these two verses contain incredibly good common sense. If we love money above everything, we’ll never think we have enough. No amount is too much; no amount is sufficient,

But at some point, it’s possible to stop taking joy in money. When you have so much that you have to hire people to deal with it, and you never consider charitable donations for fear that it will destroy your bottom line, then the money controls you and you have become the servant of mammon.

Matthew Henry, the great commentator, said it succinctly: Nature is content with little, grace with less, but lust with nothing.

Verse 11 makes it clear that the more a person has, the more people there will be who depend upon his riches for their living. In other words, the more meat the more eaters.

It is not wrong to be wealthy. It is wrong to worship wealth. Doing so is vanity: emptiness, having no satisfaction. Money can be an idol. Wealth and fame can become the most important things in one’s life.

Ultimately, those things cannot replace God.

Don’t Be Surprised

Eccl. 5:8-9. “If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they. Moreover the profit of the earth is for all: the king himself is served by the field.”

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Does it shock you when you learn that someone in a position of trust and responsibility has misused his power? Stolen money? Accused someone falsely of that which he himself has done?

It shouldn’t surprise us. The heart (Jer. 17:9) is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. We have no guarantees that people in positions of power will not sin. In fact, being powerful makes it easier for a corrupt person to be even more corrupt, because others will cover up his misdeeds, or pass them off as unimportant.

There is a lot of finger-pointing, accusation and counter-accusation in America today. Our media gives us one side only. We have to go elsewhere to find out both sides of any story. I think the thing that concerns me most is the vitriol, the hatred, that is spilled out constantly. The name-calling, character defamation and anger that fills our airwaves and cyber space is overwhelming. One side says the other side is evil; and we all like to think we have the moral high ground.

What is comforting to me is in v. 8: There is One Who is higher than the highest on earth, and He sees all that goes on, the good and the evil. I need to do what I can here, to alleviate pain and offense, and make sure I am not guilty. But God is the highest judge of all, and He sees what we do not.

As verse 9 says, even the king depends upon the output of the fields.