Horn Happenings

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Location: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"SPRITE, ANYONE?"

Here I sit aboard Delta flight 5311, with my customary in-flight Sprite firmly in hand, typing away at my little laptop. A smaller aircraft than which I normally fly in, this little plane is at present spreading its wings over the lush Pennsylvania farmland at an altitude which allows one to enjoy the scenic views below. For the first time in probably ten years I boarded a plane without the luxury of an indoor access ramp, but as the weather is simply gorgeous the experience only added a bit of fun to my day.

While climbing the steep, narrow stairs connected to the aircraft, my thoughts went back to trips I used to take to Florida with my family as a little girl. Catching our flights at the tiny Mercer County Airport in North Jersey, I remember my fascination at the idea of boarding a plane from the outside; only people in old movies and political leaders flying private jets did that, I thought. Strange what used to give one thrills.

This morning saw me hugging my great-grandparents goodbye as I headed out the door to catch my flight home. After a delightful two week stay filled with hours of conversing and laughing with my beloved MomMom, I had at last to bid her a painful farewell. Sitting by her side, waiting for my uncle and aunt to pick me up, our hands were locked in a firm grasp. Words were not necessary; we know each other so well. I forced back the lump in my throat and thanked God for giving us these two weeks and asked that He might continue to supply her with good health. It's hard to leave a loved one who nears the age of ninety as the mortality of man is that much more evident.

Yesterday I said my goodbyes to the few people in my great-grandparents' retirement community I have come to know these past couple of weeks. Mr. Callahan, the former police officer, bull rider and world traveler, who now drives residents from their cottages to the dining hall, was the most fascinating acquaintance made on this trip. His stories ranged from descriptions of Ireland to the terrifying experiences of riding bulls. Someday I too would love to travel to the green land of Ireland, but I'll leave bull riding for those who think life isn't exciting enough without attempting to kill or maim oneself. :)

Well, my Sprite is nearly gone, and the accompanying cookies are crying out to be tasted, so I suppose my post should end on this note: Goodbye Jersey. Hello San Antonio.

~Cara

Monday, September 18, 2006

COWTOWN - A CULTURAL EXPERIENCE

A world within a world lies hidden surrounded by the lush, green farmland of Salem County, New Jersey. This is the world of the cowboy. This is rootin' tootin' land.

When most people think about the tiny area of land officially called New Jersey, visions of crowded roads, dirty cities and rude people who speak with a distinctive, grating accent appear. But such is not case - at least not everywhere. Do you believe that there is a place, located in a state known for its cold snobbishness, where one can see cowboy boots, occasionally sight a ten-gallon hat and locate a few western apparel stores, to boot? My friends, it's called Cowtown, and I've never been anywhere else quite like it.

Cowtown is best known for its weekly summer rodeos which attract some of the best competitors in the rodeo circuit, or so I am told. Located in the County of Salem, historically an agrarian community, Cowtown Rodeo is the Saturday evening place to go for locals. Although I always loved the rare occasions when we as a family attended the Cowtown Rodeo, my great passions in life do not include roping a calf in a few mere seconds, or attempting to kill oneself while riding a bull, but nonetheless the rodeo holds a dear spot in my heart.

Last Saturday morning found me accompanying my great-aunt and cousin to the Cowtown Market, a subsidiary of the Cowtown Rodeo. Cowtown Market is truly a one-of-the-kind place. A jumble of farmers selling their produce, immigrants hawking their wares, tough Philly guys with stuff to sell, some cowboy hopefuls sporting both boots and hats and a general feeling of people trying to make a buck. It is a fun and delicious smelling atmosphere (did I mention the tantalizing aromas of soft pretzels, cheesesteaks, funnel cakes and hoagies all hanging over the area like a dreamy haze?). Sounds of smooth-talking salesmen attempting to convince potential buyers of their amazing sales mingle freely with the haggling offers of customers trying to make a deal.

I suppose Cowtown Market's uniqueness lies in the combination of its city-like vending stalls and cowboy country atmosphere. Where else can you admire sparkling gold watches and adorable handbags with the faint smell of manure added to the ever present aroma of a sizzling steak? Unusual, yes, but I like it; minus the manure smell, of course.

So, if ever in the area, you'll simply have to stop by and see this unique cultural phenomenon - Cowtown, New Jersey. I don't think you will be disappointed.
~Cara

Thursday, September 14, 2006

CELEBRITY STATUS

No, I've not invented some amazing new machine or discovered a medical breakthrough. My name will not be included in the credits on any screen production, nor will my voice be heard on the radio, but I am a celebrity. One might wonder how that could be, but the answer is quite simple: I'm at least fifty years younger than anyone else eating here in the dining hall where my great-grandparents live!

As I walked to the buffet table to grace my plate with some food the first night here, the little old ladies in line showered me with warm, friendly smiles. Much to my amusement, I could here the stage whispers between residents inquiring as to who I might be. After one darling lady came up to introduce herself, and learned my name and of the family relationship which brought me to this little village, I saw her quickly return to her table and inform the curious minds of same. How absolutely adorable!

Tonight we ate dinner at the dining hall with a dear couple with whom I share a very close, mutual friend. Before this trip, although I had heard of this couple before, I had not had the privilege of meeting them personally, nor was I aware that they lived here in the village. The husband regaled me with stories of his forty years working as a mechanical engineer for a local oil refinery. He tried to impart to this dense brain of mine the process of transforming crude oil into aviation fuel, or at least how it was done during World War II. Although very interested in the subject, and coming away with more knowledge of the fuel refining process than I had ever previously possessed, I must admit that a great deal went "over my head," so to speak. One major thing I did learn though tonight was that at one time gasoline was considered a waste product, something the oil companies had to dispose of in the days when leather lubricating oil and kerosene were the main items for resale. How I love conversing with those of the older generations. Some of them have so many stories to share and just crave a listening ear.

On a more serious note, I am pleased to report that my great-grandmother is doing well. She has improved greatly since first being diagnosed, with the pain decreasing daily. How grateful I am for the prayers of the saints lifted up on her behalf.
~Cara

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING . . .
The months of August and September 2006 will be a season of time to remember for years to come. First off, let me say that we are now completely moved in to our new home which is a most delightful feeling. Although there are still numerous cosmetic jobs calling for our attention (are pictures on the walls really that necessary?) it is wonderful to live in a house that by the grace of God, we can call our own.

In August we attended the invigorating Entrepreneurial Bootcamp held in downtown San Antonio and were delighted to host several friends representing the states of New Jersey, Tennessee and Kansas.

A couple days after the departure of these dear friends we were on the road to The Woodlands, a beautiful suburb just north of Houston. For the first time ever we joined as an entire family in representing Vision Forum at their homeschool conference book table. Apart from the fact that some of us were afflicted with colds, and the resulting effects of said colds, we had a marvelous time. Working together as a complete family unit was both enjoyable and productive as we were all able to hold many diverse conversations with the dear people who stopped by the booth.

Tim and I were also privileged to attend the celebration of the covenantal union between Mr. Peter Bradrick and Miss Kelly Brown held in Wake Forest, North Carolina on August 26th. Actually, Tim served as one of Peter's groomsmen and had the pleasure of joining other young men in standing behind the first of his fellow intern friends to enter into the state of marriage. While Tim needed to fly to North Carolina due to time constraints, I was able to join the Torres family in the Texan Caravan they led across the southern states along with several other young people. It was a most enjoyable, uplifting, insightful and memorable time. Imagine spending all those hours in communion with dear friends and fellow bondservants of the Lord, both before and after a most glorious, God-honoring wedding. Simply indescribable.

On September 1st, Tim and Dad left on their long awaited trip to the British Isles while Mom, John and I settled down to a week of rest and rejuvenation at home. We all thoroughly enjoyed our respective times; Tim and Dad in sightseeing and marveling at the amazing history God has given the British people, and those at home in reading, resting, Bible study, and jaunts to nearby areas of interest.

Last Friday, before Dad and Tim returned from England, we received word that our dearly loved great-grandmother had been diagnosed with shingles in addition to a few other health problems which were already causing her great discomfort. Mom's uncle made it possible for me to fly back to New Jersey yesterday to assist with her care. Yes, I am presently writing this post on a laptop, given to me by my incredibly generous uncle, while sitting here in my great-grandparents' home. I can hardly believe I am once again here in my beloved Delaware Valley. Thankfully, my great-grandmother seems to be progressing well and still has her sweet, uncomplaining attitude even though in pain.

I close with hopes of being a more faithful blogger in the days ahead. Signing off from New Jersey.
~Cara