It’s a beautiful day in Pennsylvania

I was driving home from town the other day, and about 5 miles from my destination, I had to stop. My car pulled up to a familiar spot. I parked and got out out, just because the air was clear, the sky was blue, the clouds were white and the fields were green.  The temperature was perfect, just the way I like it, not to warm, not to cool. There is a lookout tower at this spot and this kind of a day is always good for a little exercise, so I climbed up the stairs and the camera came out.  That is how this blog happened.  It simply was a beautiful day in Pennsylvania.

Did I mentioned that the barn was red and graces the landscape beautifully.


Green fields and tall corn indicates a relatively short, wet summer producing this kind of color as fall sneaks up on us.

Tranquility at its best from my vantage point.  I love the feeling of tranquility when I can pause from a busy day, take in a deep breath and feel peace in my soul.  Even when I know peace does not abound everywhere, in this moment, in this picture there is the feeling of peace.

Aren’t you glad to see the bicycler in the yellow made it up the hill, and as we look this direction we see reminders of a time when things were not so peaceful on this hill overlooking the town of Gettysburg.

Don’t miss those puffy white clouds floating high above the green, green grass of home.  It’s time to leave my perch up in the tower and head down the road. Another quick stop and another snapshot reminded me of a hope we have here in our town.

The eternal flame at the peace memorial.

Now I am really on my way home, but can’t shake the feeling of this lovely day.

One more barn catches my eye and brings my car to a stop. It’s the barn where my dad made his living, milking cows and raising corn, to feed his family of nine children. It’s empty now, but remains full of memories, especially on a day like this.

I made it. I am finally home, time to put the camera down and get to the tasks of daily living. But really, who could resist this peaceful view from my back porch? You know I love to travel, but I thank God every day for this.  The air is clear, the sky is blue, the clouds are white and the fields are green.



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A day in “the burgh”

Did you ever wonder why Pittsburgh is spelled with an h on the end while other “burgs” end with a g.  Well I never thought much about it until I spent a day touring “the burgh.”  I don’t usually refer to Harrisburg or Gettysburg as “the burg,” but it didn’t seem at all strange to call Pittsburgh “the burgh.”

With a little research on Google I came up with this answer.  “The city was originally named for William Pitt the Elder, but it was General John Forbes who did the naming. His Scottish background is the reason for that extra “h” —-think Edinburgh.  To edit the spelling to the German “burg” was akin to editing the city’s founding.  After 20 years of complaints, the Board finally overturned their previous decision on Pittsburg(h)’s controversial consonant on July 19, 1911.”  Of course people do call it “The Burgh” but it is also famous for its three Rivers that join at the point.  Can you name them?

The Ohio River runs very close to the popular Three Rivers Stadium, the other two are the Allegheny which flows south from New York, and the Monongahela which flows north from West Virginia. They come together at the beautiful Point State Park shown in the first picture.

To see all these sights we took a run up the Duquesne Incline to have a look from the top.

We enjoyed the ride, the views, and

I was almost surprised that the city continued at the top of the incline.


We were fascinated by these historical pictures.    Time changes things.

From there we took in the walk along “The Strip District” in old Pittsburgh.

Not too surprising, we encountered multiple Pittsburgh Steelers souvenir shops, but a walk along the half mile strip offers many other opportunities for retail therapy. Husband Dick was 8 weeks out with total knee replacement and was doing well. He stopped for a rest while I was busy looking and taking candid photos.

Some parts of it, like this old grocery store, reminded me of being in a foreign country.

The one thing we were told we had to do was to eat at a Primanti Brothers restaurant and devour one of their signature sandwiches.  No problem, except we just got one and split it. Yes, that is coleslaw and french fries you see dangling from the side. The side dishes are all part of the sandwich deal.

This restaurant on the strip is the original Primanti Bros hangout.

A half mile back through the strip to the car and we were ready to say we have seen “The Burgh.”





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Do you need a rest??

Mount Gretna Pennsylvania, is a place of good memories and best friends.   I remember Gretna from my childhood when my parents took us kids to the Sunday evening church services in the summer.  They were held in the great open tabernacle, which we loved because instead of sitting on the benches we were free to roam around and play quietly in the open area in the back.

   The surrounding houses always fascinated me and I used to dream of being able to go up the porch of this one house beside the tabernacle.  Today my best friends live in that house and we have spent many hours on that same porch I dreamed about years ago.  Recently we listened to a band concert while sitting on the Cornercopia porch. Most of the concerts are free, just collecting an offering. This is truly a place of beauty, peace and rest.


Porches are a big thing in Mt Gretna. My friend displays her lovely doll house on hers, and on our last visit we took a stroll to have a look at what made other porches catch your eye.

This one reminded us that the 4th of July is near.

It’s the colors and the rockers that beckon you to come on up and sit a spell.

This one just invites you to take pictures, who can resist the stained glass and the beautiful lanterns?

Plants and flowers enhance many of the porches.  The gardens are as inviting as the porches. Come walk with me, I’ll show you more.


First, the bunny garden, 

 the tiny houses

and the flower garden.

We’ve done a lot of walking, why don’t we just sit a spell on the blue bench?

Ahhh!  I thought so, you do need a rest.


Don’t sit too long, there is lots to see and do in Mount Gretna. Visit the Jigger Shop when you are hungry, see a play at the theater, treat yourself to a concert or check out a book at the library.

Everything is beautiful at Mount Gretna.

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Chapter Chicks hit the road to celebrate 100 books read

This fall our Chapter Chicks book club will celebrate 10 years, but this spring we celebrated reading our 100th book as a club. Our fearless leader, Lisa, is very organized and keeps track of all the books we have read and discussed. Three of the six who were able to make the trip are charter members.  We read our first book in October of 2007 and felt compelled to mark the momentous occasion of reading our 100th book. We chose to read “East Wind, West Wind” by Pearl S. Buck, and to make the reading special we took a field trip to Sellersville, PA to visit the Pearl S Buck House.  We arrived at the former home of this extraordinary woman, with a sign in hand announcing who we were and why we were there. We were welcomed by the staff and given other Pearl Buck suggestions to consider. Proceeding with a tour we learned much about her as an author, a mother and a humanitarian.  In 1980 the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the home a historic landmark.

We toured the house which was home to the many children she and her husband adopted and later fostered.

A look out an upstairs window gives a view of one of the garden and play areas.

In one of the three or four libraries in the house we saw this beautiful, Chinese chess set among the 10,000 books housed in the dwelling.  According to the note she was evidently a good chess player.


It was interesting to see the desk and the typewriter where she wrote Nobel Prize winning book “The Good Earth.” Written in 1931, it quickly became a best seller and was made into a motion picture in 1937.  The note she received from the Chinese government refusing her visa to visit the country with then President Nixon was among the other interesting articles on the desk.  The Chinese were not happy that her stories were about the peasant people of China rather than the aristocrats.  They felt this portrayed a poor image of their country. (no pun intended)

They also did not like the way she brought Western customs into the story of “East Wind, West Wind. Personally,  I thought it was a marvelous culture study. Let me tell you a little about this book.  It is a story of an arranged marriage of a young Chinese girl to a man who had just returned from America to practice medicine in China.  The girl was steeped in tradition, having her feet bound and wanting to do her duty of bearing him a son. However the young man was not interested in controlling this young girl, he wanted to love her and wanted her to love him.  She was very confused about this, but by his being loving, patient and understanding, she truly did fall in love with him, and went through the painful process of unbinding her feet at his request, which he knew was for her own good.

These are a pair of an adult woman’s shoes whose feet were bound since childhood.  Can you imagine the pain a child suffered?  The slow process of unbinding the feet as a young adult was very painful as well. Even though the Chinese did not like Buck exposing some of the practiced injustices, in later years a Pearl S Buck Museum was opened in Zhenjiang, China, and slowly, some of these customs were dropped.

I couldn’t help but take a picture of the portrait of this famous author who has a love for the Chinese people and a heart for children.


The outside tour was as interesting and beautiful as the indoor tour.

Our day ended with a delightful stop at a Russel Stover’s candy shop.

Good chocolate and tasty ice cream was enjoyed by all.


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Notes and quotes from “An Italian Journey” and other recent reads

Writers are readers.  I find that a very true statement and lately I have been doing a lot more reading than writing. So now I would like to share with you some of the books that have kept me busy since the holidays.  I enjoy reading very much and the variety that I have recently indulged in is amazing.  Here are some of the several books I have read lately.

An Italian Journey. I saw it on Face book, I drooled over the posted pictures, read the comments and I wanted it for Christmas.  We opened our gifts on Christmas Eve, and I had about 1 hour of free time on Christmas Day when I started to read it.  I am immediately drawn in.  The next time I picked up the book was Monday evening and I decided that I was going to make notes and list quotes that struct a chord with me.  While I’m at it, I might as well learn a little Italian so I began writing words with their meaning in the journal that I also received from my husband for Christmas.


An Italian Journey is one I am definitely recommending.   I am going to share some notes and quotes from James Ernest Shaw’s incredible “revelations in the olive groves of Tuscany.”


The first quote I wrote came from Wendell Berry who, among other things, wrote “The Unsettling of America” said this: “It’s not from ourselves that we will learn to be better than we are.”    I like to think in this case, the quote says we need to interact with others, learn who they are, and where they are coming from to better understand the problems they face and their world view.

“Love and understand the Italians, for the people are more marvelous than the land.”  E. M. Foster    On my trip to Italy, I found this to be true.  We stayed in family bed and breakfasts and enjoyed visiting and being a part of the local activities, like riding a bike around Lucca.

“Wisdom begins in wonder”  Socrates     I found myself wondering at the beauty on every hand.   People are people everywhere and I will just tell you that the ending of this book is my very favorite part of the entire writing.

Next up is a series of three books based on a true historical family in the early 1800’s in what is now Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.   These books are an easy read and would be great for preteens who are interested in life and times in early America.


The story begins in 1812 with 9 year old Susan, continues with the conflict in the family concerning the older brothers and ends with Susan as an adult, leaving the homestead to start a new life with her husband.


The Royers of Renfrew  written by Maxine Beck and Marie Lanser Beck offer much insight and drama to the daily tasks revolving around the family farmstead which was in fact their livelihood. “If you didn’t work, you didn’t eat” was surely true in that day, and it was all hands on deck from the oldest, who taught the youngsters what was expected of them to keep the family going.  I read all three of these books in a matter of days.  They truly held my interest.

In case you think I am all about easy reads and light and airy travel stories, let me direct your attention to “Destiny Disrupted” by Tamin Ansary.  As the title indicates this is “A history of the world through Islamic Eyes.”  Beginning with the Fertile Crescent and continuing to the events on 9/11, this is a look at some of the history most Americans missed along the way.


Khaled Hosseini, author of “The Kite Runner,” (which I have also read) says “With his seamless and charming prose, he challenges conventional wisdom and appeals for a fuller understanding of how Islam and the world at large have shaped each other. And that makes this book, in this uneasy, post 9/11 world, a must read.”  I agree.  It did take me more than “a few days” to read this one.

My next read which is now on pre order will be “The stranger in the Woods, the extraordinary story of the last true hermit.”  This man entered the central Maine Forests in 1986 and lived there alone until 2013.  I recently read a short article about him and am intrigued to understand what took him there in the first place and what motivated him to stay there so long.

If, however, you would rather read a love story, anything by Charles Martin will fill the bill.


Just one more book I want to share with you, its the one I wrote just two short years ago.  It’s the story of my life in the younger years. A love story of sorts, one of an adventurous young woman trying to find her place in the sunshine of Hawaii. A love that has lasted nearly 50 years.  Life was different 50 years ago, but you will enjoy the telling of the fun times we had when life was not so complicated.  Find it by clicking on the link above.



Keep reading my friends, writers love that about you.

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Tea and hats in a 1930’s setting

My youngest sister and her husband recently renovated a house and decorated in a 1930’s style.  It is very tastefully done and brings a sweet sense of old fashioness to the forefront. The School House Haven incorporated both the one -room school house theme and the small self-sufficient family farmette style throughout the house and surrounding landscape. What better place to have a tea with retro fashion hats and lots of sisters to share the unique experience.  We were actually honoring our eldest sister who turned 83 earlier in the month.  Today there are six of us and one sister-in-law to share in the fun. Note the paper chain decoration in the door way, and the world map flip-chart in the background.


First we selected hats and although there were no prizes and everyone looked great, I said that Brenda won the hat prize with her pretty yellow top and red scarf. The yellow hat she chose was perfect.


Jeannine, (front middle)  chose a hat so small you can hardly see it but, as someone suggested, she was NOT a party hat pooper.  The sister-in-law from the Kane family was kind enough to take this picture.

Still decorated for Christmas, we took a look around at some of the antique decorations Cindy had collected.








I loved this window picture with the paper snow covered village houses, and the tree.  The picture on the right is our mom and dad’s wedding picture.  She was 19, he was 21.


Before going into the kitchen, Linda and I pose beside an old radio just like the one our grandfather owned and listened to the Lone Ranger long before we ever had a TV set.img_6308

My eye caught this beautiful chandelier in the living room.  It belonged to Grandma Kane’s mother-in-law, now a wonderful addition to this quaint respite available for short stays free of charge to workers in full-time Christian Ministry. A ministry in itself provided by owners, Don and Cindy Kane.img_6340

Now we enter the kitchen and have a look at a sample of the goodies laid out on this decorative old cook stove.


Don’t let that tea bag fool you, you might not want to pour hot water over the carefully crafted shortbread cookie dipped in chocolate for an appetizer.


Tea, and a host of other delightful delicacies, was served.  Thank Cindy you were a wonderful host.


There is nothing like hot tea on a cold winter day to solidify great relationships. #lovemysisters

Happy New Year to all my readers.



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Family, Friends, Food, and Fun in Fall


It’s fall and we are heading to the orchard to get some apples.  Apple butter time is here and this year more fun was had by all because the weather was so very accommodating and it seems, more kids are accumulating.  This was the year for kid fun.


Young and older lined up to get in on the action.


No small fire emergencies with this hand crafted board.


The “redneck hover board”  was noisy, but it worked and everyone got in on the fun.


Meanwhile back at the apple butter kettle, the stirring goes on and on, from 6am to 3pm to be close to exact.


So the kids head to hills for a little sling shot fun with water balloons.



Once you are up there, how you gonna get down?  Jump in the barrel and roll down, of course.


How about sharing a swing big fella?

Meanwhile back at the kettle, it’s noon, all 12 bushel of apples are added and it’s time to gather round to give thanks for the mounds of comfort food that has been stacking up in the kitchen,



This year sister Brenda accepts the “copper kettle” award on behalf of the entire kitchen crew who fixes buckwheat cakes and sausage for breakfast, takes care of the many lunch offerings and bakes bread for when the apple butter is ready.


Tractor rides are free and so are the balloon rides. That is if you can pull that rope hard enough.


Oh my, what to do between lunch and the finished product??



As the kettle is emptied the copper pennies are counted and


The fresh baked bread arrives


All hands on deck to get the first taste.


Meanwhile things have been happening in the kitchen. The stirring is done, the kettle is empty and 174 pint jars are full.



And this is what we’ve been waiting for!


Fall is here,


with more beautiful days to come.


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The Hole in One Dream, or a day on the golf course for a cause

It was a great day for a golf game, not to hot, not to cold, not to sunny and just a little windy. I was not there to play golf, rarely have I ever had a golf club in my hand.  I was there as a volunteer for the Adams Rescue Mission. The place in Adams County that houses the homeless, gives jobs to the jobless and helps men and women realize the value of their lives and directs them to their purpose. The place was the beautifully landscaped Mountain View Golf Course.


A tournament is about sponsors and players.  We had many wonderful sponsors and 8 registered teams.  We had lunch, snacks and dinner.  We had volunteers, golf carts and prizes. At 1:00 all was ready for the tee off.


As a first time volunteer for this event I noticed no glitches, mostly due the efforts of this gal who worked out all the bugs last year at the first tournament.  This was the second Steve Shoemaker memorial golf tournament.  Steve lived and worked at the mission for many years.  He did an excellent job of restoring furniture that was donated to the thrift store at the mission.  After Steve’s handiwork the pieces brought steady income to the mission, and all who came in contact with him knew he was dedicated to the work of the mission and loved his job.


Of course everyone knows the most fun thing on a golf course are the carts.  After the signs were placed, the snack bags distributed, the registration complete and lunch was ready to go, Bruce, the mission director offered to take me on a tour of the course. He said “Let’s take a green one.”   So off we go in our ‘not one of a kind’ green golf cart.


First impression??  Wow!!! This place is breath taking! Who can concentrate on hitting a ball surrounded by all this beauty.


It’s big too,  no wonder it takes all day to get around the course.  Half way around for us, Bruce turned over the driver’s seat to me.  Great thing about golf carts?? It takes about 30 seconds to master the driving part.


Ah ha, could this be why it’s called “Mountain View?”

The thrill for every golfer is the big prize for the hole in one drive.   This hole in one challenge was a 160 yard drive with plenty of sandpits surrounding it.

Ron, another volunteer and I went to check out the prize and the scope out the lay of the land. There she is, A BRAND NEW KIA.  While we were walking around having a good look at the drive, a gentleman stepped up to the tee and took a crazy straight shot, sending the ball  right over the fairway, landing on the green. The ball stopped about a foot short of that looming hole in one.  One more well placed hit and he was in.  I was excited, thinking he was so close to winning that car, then we learned it didn’t really matter. He was not part of our tournament.


We congratulated him on a great shot. He was pleased that he wasn’t a part of the tournament and happy that he did so well.


This was about as close as anyone else got, after coming out of the sandpit.


At the end of a good day, the golfers lined up for supper, and Jamie, another hard working mission employee, handed out the prizes.


And the KIA dealer got his car back.  Maybe next year guys. (oh, we did have one female playing)

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We do thank Battlefield KIA dealership, all the other sponsors and  the Mountain View Golf Club for a good day and the help they gave to the mission.


If you are interested in a good golf game, this beautiful course is located just west of Gettysburg on Route 116. It could be your happy place.


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What to do on a hot day in September? Show up!

It was hot!! Above 95 degrees most of the day. That did not stop over 35 volunteers from coming for at least part of the day to build a fence to make a safe place to play for kids at the SCCAP facilities in town. The South Central Community Action Programs of Gettysburg had a need.  Thrivent members and friends answered that need by showing up with some sweat equity and built that fence. It was all organized by the Thrivent Community – Southern Commonwealth.  Volunteers started to arrive about 9 AM.


Shade tents were set up and plenty of ice and water were on hand.


Men were digging post holes and carrying fencing.  At first there were a lot of guys who were getting organized and doing a good job figuring out how to go about the process of getting the fence up.  It was getting hotter faster and progress seemed slow.  Then out of the blue a stranger to most of the volunteers appeared on the scene and calmly announced that he has been in this business for 18 years. Suddenly we could see the light at the end of this hot tunnel!  The fence began to take shape in a hurry.


The men worked together so well with the help of this professional.  When asked how we were blessed with his presence he replied, “I saw it in the newspaper and thought I could help.”  Help he did, and everyone appreciated his expertise so much as we watched this miracle take shape.



Meanwhile back in the shaded area, others were busy assembling play ground fixtures.  Some of them came together quite simply, others felt like a frustrating Christmas Eve dilemma.




As soon as the toys came “off the press” so to speak, they were put to good use.  Gina, on the left, a Thrivent representative and Tanya on the right, representing SCCAP, share a mutual admiration hug, as they both worked very hard to see this day to its completion.

“The pig” rolled in just after 11.  He was well done.

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This is what is known as a “Pennsylvania Pig Roast”  as opposed to the “Hawaiian Luau.”  One of the kids standing by when the hood was open said quite flatly, “Who killed the pig?”  Adding emphatically, “I don’t eat pig!”  After a second thought she said, “Oh except for bacon and ham.”  When the piles of meat ended up on the platter, she ate “pig” as well.

As lunch time drew near the end of the job seemed closer and even the kids joined in to help with the work load.

20160910_120820              20160910_110514 Others were having fun, and the men, kept digging post holes.20160910_104813


Soon enough the fence was completed and the pictures proved a job well done. The end product did seem a miracle given the heat of the day and the surprise show up from an unexpected angel.


I love it when a plan comes together and how just “showing up” for a community project can bless so many people.




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“Walk back in time”

History is a favorite of mine, so whenever I get a chance to “walk back in time” I am inclined to take it.  This summer my friend took me to Renfrew Museum and Park located east of  Waynesboro, PA right along route 16.  The name Renfrew came to the park from a tragic story of American History.  The Renfrew family lived on the land now known as the park until their two daughters were were killed by Indian Warriors in 1764.  Later the land was owned by the Daniel Royer family who built an operated a tannery, a gristmill and a lime kiln, soon developing a self sustaining farmstead.  The mill was built by the Antietam Creek.  Today that same creek offers this quaint bridge and cool, clear flowing water.



Years later Royer constructed the present stone house, that is now the museum, moving his large family from their 23 by 23 square foot log cabin.


Two centuries later 107 acres of the land was donated to the town of Waynsboro through the generosity of two sisters who were the last owners. Rather than naming it for themselves, they wanted to honor the first two sisters who lost their lives on the land.  Therefore the name Renfrew Park.

A look into the museum house along with an informed guide is truly a step back in time, and gives much insight to 19th century Pennsylvania German farm life.  As I stepped into the old kitchen, the first thing I noticed was the shiny copper kettle sitting by an ancient looking fireplace which was of course, the center of the meal preparations in that day.


Our family owns a copper kettle much like this one, that is dated to pre civil war days, was given to my grandparents and handed down through the family.  It is carefully cleaned and stored each year after we cook about 82 quarts of  apple butter in it for several hours in October.  This has been a long standing family tradition.


The china, silver and pottery displayed throughout the house marks the beauty of that century.

The style of the German house also reminded me of the old Pennsylvania farm house where I lived in Lebanon County. That house was laid out in much the same fashion.  There was a hallway and a staircase separating the main portion of the house with two rooms on the other side.  The bathroom was located in the same place and was an entire room as large as the other rooms, probably bathroom fixtures were put into a former bedroom after indoor facilities came into play.


The bedrooms included different styles of beds and chamber pots.  I thought this one was innovative.



This old bicycle has an interesting story. One of the donating sisters, who lived next door at the time, recalls taking rides with the farm owners on this bike.  She remembered sitting on a seat of some sort attached to the handle bars. As she rode, thinking of the kindness of her neighbor and the beauty surrounding her, she dreamed of living on the farm one day.  A dream which eventually came true.  The seat was found years later in the barn.


The lovely barn setting today houses space for local artists, and souvenirs, including a set of 3 books written in “Little House on the Prairie” style, telling the stories of the people who have loved this land for centuries.

Several displays of old pottery and the famous Bell pottery are also displayed here.


Check out the Renfrew museum website at  The photography and videos are well done and gives you a great perspective of this day in the park, walking through history.

A completely separate entity of Renfrew  is the very fascinating Renfrew Institute for Cultural and Environmental Studies.  This portion of Renfrew brings over 8,000 students a year to the park to learn past cultures of daily living. My friend Pam, pictured below on a brochure, dresses in a Pennsylvania German costume made from linen.  Among other things she teaches students how to make linen from the flax plant.


They do everything from breaking up the tall stalk to remove the outer shell, to weaving the finished threads on a loom.  They also plant and harvest a PA German Four Square Garden which is divided into 4 sections with a representation of God in the center and the outer sections representing parts of creation.  The produce is donated to a local food bank.  All of this educates children in living history and helps them understand how and from where our products like food and clothing come from. Please check out their website   for fun information.  Offering programs like “Once upon a farm”  the “grass to milk” process and the significance of the “Four Square Garden,” gives participants the opportunity to touch history.   They can see the reality of the hard work and perseverance for survival our ancestors experienced.  Can you guess what “Raising Clothing” is, and what about “Growing Clothing?”  I love the titles for these programs.

The serenity and beauty of Refrew can help us see with grateful eyes how far we have come, and to what heights of ease we have aspired.   It is good to recall the work ethic and values these hardships afforded, may we never lose them completely.

I hope you enjoyed this overview of Renfrew and I really would recommend a visit to this lovely park.  I am told the house is decorated beautifully for Christmas.  Make plans to visit it or the websites soon.



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