Friday, December 25, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas At The Mansion

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon my sister, sister-in-law, and I visited the Arkansas Governor's Mansion, the official residence of the governor of Arkansas. I've driven by and looked through the massive wrought iron gates, but I've never been inside before. Somehow I've missed the fact that they have an open house each year at Christmas.

Carolers greeted us as we walked up the steps.

Just stepping into the foyer took my breath away. The mansion's rooms were decorated using the theme "Carols of Christmas" with each room featuring a holiday song or carol. 

I have to admit that I did not recognize the carol "Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light" which was the theme for the dining room. I did look it up and read the words. It was written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1734. 

The room was filled with elegant silver and gold decorations.

The theme in the formal living room was "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." This Christmas carol first appeared in 1739 in collection written by Charles Wesley. It was solemn, not the joyful tune we know today. A hundred years later in 1840 a cantata was written by Felix Mendelssohn. William H. Cummings adapted part of Mendelssohn's music to fit Wesley's lyrics.

The many angels placed around the parlor were beautiful!

"Let It Snow" was the theme in the glass atrium. There we found Old St. Nick with his sleigh and beautiful snow covered trees. The lyrics to this carol were written by Sammy Cahn and the music composed by Jule Styne in July 1945. I thought it was interesting that this carol was written in Hollywood, California during a heat wave as Cahn and Styne imagined cooler conditions! We could use a little of those cooler conditions around here, too!!

The lower atrium was decorated with whimsical elves, sweets and goodies. It wasn't the most gorgeous area, but it was a very popular area. There were delicious pastries, cookies, candy, punch and apple cider available for everyone to enjoy. 

Of course the decorations wouldn't be complete without a few Santas around!

I was most happy to see several nativity scenes throughout the mansions. There were small ones to this very large one which was my favorite.

The beauty of the mansion put me in such a good holiday spirit. 

What have you found this Christmas season that brings you joy?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Let's Go Hiking!

We didn't have a normal Thanksgiving this year. We didn't have our meal on Thursday. We didn't have fancy dishes. We didn't dress up.

In fact, we had our meal on Wednesday. We used throw-away dishes and we ate with a little dirt on our jeans. 

It was the most wonderful Thanksgiving week. We spent our week at a cabin in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Of course you can't go to the Ozarks with doing a little hiking. 

We all arrived in stages, so on the first day my daughter, her three boys, and I walked the Whitaker Point Trail. Our destination was a rock formation that juts out from the bluff that resembles a Hawk's beak. Thus it's called Hawksbill Crag. It overlooks Whitaker Creek and a huge valley. Above you can see my daughter and boys. Below, I'm with the boys and you can see the rock formation. Although it is a little scary knowing that you're out on a rock even if it is a wide rock. We didn't go near the edge and we made the boys sit down! I'll have to confess, I wasn't about to stand up!

On the second day, my son and his family arrived. We all hiked the trail to The Glory Hole. The Glory Hole is a waterfall cascading through a natural-made hole in a rock down into a cave. The trail is steep in places, especially going down to the bottom of the waterfall where the rocks are damp and slippery with leaves. None of us minded taking a few breaks along the way!

Gramps arrived in time for the hike on the third day. Lost Valley was our destination. This was my favorite trail. It's beautiful with so many rock formations, a waterfall, a cave, and unusual trees. The trail starts out easy, but as you climb becomes more difficult.

Our little Isaac, whose is two, walked with me at the beginning of this trail. We brought up the rear. Ahead of him is Jerry (my husband), Randy (son), Patty (daughter, on left), Aimee (daughter-in-law on right) and the three other grandson way up there in the distance. You can barely see them. Although Isaac walked as much as he could, his dad had to carry him through the difficult parts.

This trail has a Natural Bridge where water flows out of a tunnel into a reflecting pool. Remember I said it got harder. We actually climbed up the right side of the waterfall into the tunnel. I still can't believe I did that. That's me in the picture above, far left.

There's a second waterfall on this trail, Eden Falls. What happens when you put boys and water together? You get lots of rock throwing! As the rocks hit the water their sound echoed loudly around us. It sounded like small canons.

Rest time again!

The rock formations were breathtaking!  

One last picture, of me and the boys. You'll notice that our oldest grandson is not with us except on the first day. He and his dad hiked the Buffalo River Trail, a total of 39 miles. An amazing accomplishment for these two!  So proud of them both!

(picture taken by Jacob, my son-in-law)

Thanks for hanging around and getting to the end. There's just so much I want to share about our week. I'll be back with a few more nature details as soon as I'm able.