YIKES - 2016 is already 1/12 over - I can hardly believe that a full month has passed since we all rang in this New Year - seems like that was only a couple of weeks ago. And even though it is still January, I think our weather is quite confused about whether or not it is still winter.
Some days and nights there is a real bite in the air! In fact, it was quite chilly as we left the apartment to go to the office on Monday, January 25.
I liked this frost pattern on the door post on the pickup - Mother Nature knows how to create some beautiful things in the most common places.
Delicate ice crystals on the door handle.
The ice melted quickly as we prepared for the arrival in the office of Elder and Sister Rands. We had about 1.5 hours of training with them before the President and Sister Baker arrived for our meeting and just a few minutes following the meeting. It was then lunch time and the Rands needed to find a Fed Ex store to ship something back. They arrived back at the office having been unsuccessful in finding the Fed Ex store (wow - I so remember feeling COMPLETELY lost when we first arrived here - Now that I've been here for 14 months, I only feel 75% lost ;-D ) After a bit more training and Elder Ashton not being able to proceed with some of his "new car" training for Elder Rands because the cars were not yet ready to be picked up, the Rands headed back to Hampton in hopes of having better luck of finding a Fed Ex store over there.
On the way home a little after 5 p.m., I asked Elder Ashton to drop me off on the Portsmouth side of the bridge so I could take a couple of pictures of the renovations they are making on my favorite property back here. What an adventure!!! The headwind was extremely strong and I couldn't walk the bridge and I had only taken one picture before I passed Elder Ashton coming looking for me. When he saw that I was still upright, he went back and parked to wait for me :)
I came upon this ivy like vine, trying to survive in the cold and snow and making it's way up the railroad tie retaining wall. I think there are times in our lives when we feel like this tiny vine - trying our best to climb to the top but hampered by unexpected things in life - the equivalent of cold and snow- but we need to keep climbing because we will eventually reach the top just as this little vine has done.
If you look closely at the house in the background of this picture, you can see that they are adding a portico on the side of the house facing the river. What a beautiful site they will have when the portico is finished and they can sit, and rock, and watch the river go by :)
As I was walking by, I noticed another scene that brought to mind a life lesson. These ducks are all trapped at one end of the pond by the ice that has formed and seem to be trying to find a way around it. Are we ever trapped in our lives by ice that has formed in our hearts when we lose our way or turn away from what we know is right?
Tuesday was a regular office day AND the sun decided to try to shine that day so all of us working in the office went around with big smiles on our faces that day :)
Wednesday the Rands came to the office for more training and we covered a few more areas of financials and started to get ready for the upcoming annual audit which will occur on Wednesday, February 3rd. I had received 15 small amount checks from the electric company due to a decision made by the corporation commission that they had overcharged for electricity in 2013 and 2014. It took Sister Rands and I about 2 hours to get all those checks receipted and recorded appropriately so we could deposit the money at the bank. A tedious exercise but a great learning experience for her and me - I have never had a large group of checks arrive all at once.
It was cold again as we left our apartment on Thursday morning....and once again Mother Nature had left a beautiful display.
If you look closely you can see the lacy frost pattern on the windshield, partially blotting out the tree.
Today (Sunday) as we were talking in Sunday School about all things indicating there is a God, I thought again of the beautiful and unique displays that I had witnessed this week. It makes me smile as I see the beauty :)
Friday started out as a rather quiet day....at least until the mailman arrived with 25 utility bills. I was just finishing the processing of those and Elder Rands had just arrived to go with Elder Ashton to pick up new cars, when the Sister Missionaries stopped in the office to ask if I could go with them to an appointment of a less active man. I went and it was a very pleasant experience. The guy is not ready to come back to church yet but is starting to think about it and he was a very kind and happy man, especially considering that he is alone, with no family around. I think I would have a hard time being as happy as he is if I wasn't blessed with such a great and loving family!
By the time I arrived back at the office, I had 3 messages waiting for me, Elder Ashton and Elder Rands were still gone and the phone was ringing almost constantly with only me to answer it. I felt like I was trying to juggle balls and any of my family that have seen me attempt something like that knows that I fail miserably and drop every ball.....that almost what all the phone calls felt like ;-)
Since we have been sticking rather close to home for a few weekends, we decided to go "play" a bit over in Virginia Beach. We were expecting the weather to be pretty nice, so after a couple of loads of laundry and grocery shopping, we headed out the door to explore.
First stop, Francis Land House in Virginia Beach - circa 1805-1819
Francis land was a wealthy plantation owner and had grown tobacco which wore out the soil. He then started raising grains, corn, oats, wheat, etc.
Our guide told us that the reason the mortar is different around the windows is because the windows were replaced and made a little larger so it would be lighter in the house to accommodate the tours.
I liked this flower (I think it is a crocus) trying to brave the cold wind.
This bush with no leaves and just a few berries reminded me of the story told by Hugh B Brown - "I'm the gardener here.'
I liked this large tree silhouetted against the bright blue sky as we made our way around the end of the house to enter.
The end of the house....with one of the chimneys. This house had two chimneys and the entire house was heated with fireplaces.....must have been some fancy duct work that carried all that smoke away!
As we were walking around the house to enter, I stopped to take a picture of the trunk of this tree.....I find the different types of tree bark back here very interesting....and our tour guide said, "This is our granddaughter tree." I didn't quite understand that until she pointed to the other side of the yard and said, "That's the grandma tree - and she is 300+ years old."
Quite an imposing tree. I mentioned to Elder Ashton today that I noticed the "grandma tree" was more white and he said, "Hmmm, guess it's like humans white hair."
You can see the trunk is still gray, but most of the limbs are white. If it had been warmer yesterday I probably would have spent a few minutes just staring at this try and the different twists and turns in the branches, but the wind was really blowing and I was FREEZING!
These are Sycamore trees.
The front walk - square cut bricks. I thought the scalloped shingles were interesting as was the "fan" of bricks over the door and windows. This picture shows that the steps are different than the first picture. Apparently the steps gave out and were just recently replaced - they are much less ornamental than the first picture shows.
Inside the house
The painted canvas "carpet" in the walkthrough (entry/exit) to the house. This was recycled canvas ship sails painted to look like faux marble and was laid down over the hardwood floors in the places where there was the most traffic to preserve the wood. It was quite interesting to look at and even felt a little softer than the hardwood underneath (I don't know how many layers of canvas were used)
A framed hand drawn map of the Chesapeake bay area hangs in the entry/exit.
An embellished fireplace mantle and gilt mirror hang in the parlor. The little table on the right is a little sewing table....the green silk "bag" underneath held fabric and the drawers held notions, e.g., thread, buttons, needles, scissors, etc.
This is an upholstered settee from that era. Many of the settees were not upholstered but research has indicated that the one in the parlor of this house was.
Square brick floor in the basement of the home. The basement was pretty much just a crawl space under the house until the 1930-1040 era when it was dug out.
It was dug out and you can see the gray mortar where this column was repaired.
Next stop - The Beach
There were a few brave souls at the edge of the water but not many....the wind was too cold. A few of the white spots you see are waves kicking up, but most of them are seagulls flying along the water looking for something to eat :)
After snapping a couple of pictures and ran back to the truck. By this time we were hungry too and spent the next hour trying to find someplace to eat. We were sure we would find something along the beach, but over 90% of the places were closed for the season. We finally ate at Neptunes which was part of one of the 100 or so hotels strung out along the beach. I think Elder Ashton was a little disappointed because the name would lead you to believe it would be a seafood restaurant but it wasn't. Plain old American food - which I was 100% OK with.
Next Stop - Atlantic Wildfowl Museum - housed in the DeWitt Cottage
This is the DeWitt Cottage as it appears today. This houses the museum dedicated to preserving the history of water fowl in the region.
I found it interesting that this building was the first brick building built at the waterfront and was built by the mayor of Virginia Beach in 1895. In 1909, Cornelius DeWitt bought the house and moved his family there.....the "Cottage" had 22 rooms so it was large enough for DeWitt and his family, consisting of his wife and 10 children.
This man sat in a little room off to the side and spends his days carving water fowl, large and small. You can see that he has various projects in different phases of completion. As we chatted with him for a few minutes he was working with some of the smaller pieces of wood, said he like to make the smaller birds because they are easier for the kids to hold.
This pelican looked quite realistic to me.
I really liked all the details in this wooden model
Another view of the model
Still another view of the model
Do you notice the carved wooden water fowl in the display cases and along the shelves?
More carvings....finished in great detail. Some of the carvings had actual feathers attached and I kept looking at this one trying to figure it out, but wasn't able to determine if there are any real feathers on this.
Another one with a great deal of detail. Do you notice the baby on the back of the adult? How about the fish in the mouth of the adult?
By the time we were ready to leave, the sky was still very blue but the wind was still kicking up so we still didn't walk down into the sand.....maybe another time :)
Now that Elder and Sister Rands are here and we are beginning to train them, the reality of how fast our time here is passing is really setting in......seems the weeks just go flying by and I am beginning to decide which things to leave behind (like skirts I am sick of wearing) and what to take with me. I know for a fact that I will be leaving a part of my heart behind with the great people I have had opportunity to know and work with here in Virginia!
Happy February - I'm thinking spring is just around the corner :)