Thursday, March 30, 2006

Crocus - A Flower That's Always An Inspiration

Creation's little wonders
Rocking my soul alive
Overriding gloom's residue

Cry no more
Under the snow
Sun arises

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Peace Valley Park, No. 4, Fungi

Tuesday morning, I spent a couple hours hiking at Peace Valley Park near Doylestown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The wildflowers weren't blooming there yet though I saw and heard lots of birds singing. But in my hiking, I came across some fungi growing on a live tree. I'm fascinated by fungi. So I took pictures of fungae from a number of trees. However the ones pictured below all came from the same tree. As you view the pictures be sure to click on them to get the larger view.

The first picture shows the whole stretch of fungi growing on the tree.

This next picture shows close up the two fungi near the bottom the of the first picture.

This picture shows the underside of the fungi on the top third or so of the first picture.

Sometimes, I think I ought to have been an earth scientist or a naturalist.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Banbury-Mopac Trail, No. 2, Signs of Spring

Yesterday after work I went for walk on the Banbury Mopac Trail in Franconia Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylanvia. It was a beautiful sunshiny day in the upper fifties. Spring is just beginning to show itself there with some wildflowers such as pictured below. Birds were plentiful, too, and singing. And so was I in my heart. :) I believe the wildflowers in the first two pictures are yellow violets and the last picture a flower called a bluebell.

Monday, March 27, 2006

My Nieces

Yesterday evening I was visiting with my nieces and others of my family. The wife of my oldest brother is from Pakistan. She had recently made a trip back to Pakistan and bought some dresses for our nieces. The girls are showing them here.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Belize - Xunantunich Mayan Ruins

In the summer of 1988, I spent three months in Belize (which borders Guatemala and Mexico in Central America) serving with a Youth Evangelism Service team. We worked with the youth of a local Hispanic Mennonite church in the village of August Pine Ridge in Northern Belize. While we were there, we were able to tour the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins of San Ignacio, Belize. These are considered among the more minor Mayan Ruins but took some considerable hiking and climbing.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Honduras, No. 8, Copan Ruins

Copan is located in Western Honduras near the Guatemalan border. The Mayan Kingdom known as Xukpi (Corner-Bundle) flourished there in the fifth through nineth century AD with some earlier roots going back to the second century AD.

The above picture show the location of ancient Mayan ball games in which the winning team would lose their lives but with the promise that they would enter the Mayan heaven.

These are some of my MAMA Project team members including myself who chose to tour the Copan Ruins. In the background, you can see the mountainous terrain surrounding Copan.

This is a pillar for one of the Mayan temples there.

This sculpture represents the Mayan Underworld.

Above and below are stellae depicting Mayan rulers.

For more information on the Copan Ruins check out the web site Copan Ruins in COPAN, HONDURAS.

Maine Scenes, No. 6, Acadia National Park

Simply Beautiful Marshland

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Lenape Park, No. 2, Covered Bridge

The covered bridge in the pictures below was built in 1832 of pine and oak. It originally crossed over Pleasant Spring Creek which feeds into the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek in South Perkasie, Pennsylvania. But after the bridge was condemned for traffic, it was moved in 1958 to its current location in Lenape Park for preservation. It is commonly referred to as the South Perkasie Covered Bridge.

In the above picture, the sign at the top of the picture reads, "$5 fine for any person riding or driving over this bridge faster than a walk or smoking segars [cigars] on."

The above picture and the next two were taken from inside the covered bridge and shows some of the construction of the bridge.

In this picture note how the bridge is being held together by wooden pegs.

As usual, this sort of structure does attract grafitti such as above. Note both the carved text and drawing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Lenape Park, No. 1, Spring Is Coming

Yesterday morning, I went for a couple hour walk in Lenape Park going from Perkasie to Sellersville, Pennsylvania along the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek. It was a cold morning probably didn't get out of the thirties all day; but it was sunny. :) The first picture shows one of the two walking bridges over the East Branch of the creek followed by five pictures of early spring flowers. It was a refreshing walk.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Plantain Soup

This past Saturday, I got together with some of my MAMA Project team members that went to Honduras back in January and February. It was suggested that we bring a Honduran or Latin American dish for our meal together. So I found a recipe for Plantain Soup that took about two and a half hours to make; but it was delicious. Below is a recipe for eight to ten servings:

  • Finely chop two medium size onions, two carrots, two celery stems, and two garlic cloves and set aside.
  • Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Add chopped vegetables to large sauce pan and cook uncovered for about four minutes.
  • Peel four plantains, quarter them lengthwise, and thinly slice them; set aside.
  • Remove stems and finely chop one bunch cilantro; set aside.
  • Add five 14 ounce cans (or 8 cups) of chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Add plantains, cilantro, one and a half teaspoons cumin, and a bay leaf or two.
  • Season with salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
  • Return to a boil; then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for forty to fifty minutes.
  • Remove and discard bay leaf(s).
  • Take half of soup and puree it in a blender till smooth.
  • Return to large sauce pan.
  • Add one more 14 ounce can of chicken broth
  • Bring back to boil and serve.
  • You may add more salt or cumin before serving to suit individual taste.

For those who want to know a little more about plantains, I recommend visiting the Cooking with plátanos web page.

Souderton - Past and Present Under The Railroad Bridge, Part 2

Here are the pictures painted on the other side of the railroad bridge over Chestnut Street in Souderton, Pennsylvania. For these, I don't have interpretive comments to make except to say that the second picture is a close-up of the poem in the first picture. The pictures are presented as viewed from left to right. Click on the pictures for a larger view.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Souderton - Past and Present Under The Railroad Bridge, Part 1

Crossing over Chestnut Street in Souderton, Pennsylvania is a railroad bridge built in 1927 on which some of Souderton's history both past and present has been painted on both sides of the street. The pictures presented below come from one side and a later post will present the pictures on the other side. All comments for each picture will describe attractions from left to right. For a larger view, click on the picture.

In the above picture is a Liberty Bell Limited trolley car which ran from 1912 to 1951 through Souderton from Philadelphia to Allentown, Pennsylvania. I think the large brick building may have been the Souderton Feed Mill. Next to it, the building with the four yellow Corinthian columns was the old Union National Bank home from 1877 to 1929. The bike rider represents the current day Univest Grand Prix which attracts amateur bike racers from countries in Europe as well as from America. The race route is a hundred miles long passing through much hilly terrain.

On the road at the top of this picture are two soapbox cars and riders representing the Indian Valley Soapbox Derby held twice a year in Souderton for the youth. Below the red soapbox car is the town clock and the "Welcome to Souderton, Inc. 1887" sign.

At the top of the hill is the pavilion located in the town park. Below the pavilion is a row of corn plants representing the agricultural history of the area. Next to the corn is the railroad and Main Street, Souderton. On the road is an antique Souderton Police Department vehicle. Next to that is the Montgomery Theater that produces a number of plays throughout the year.

And last but not least is the black steam locomotive that pulled trains with freight and passengers between Philadelphia and Allentown for so many years.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Peter Becker 23rd Annual Flower Show

Every March the week after the Philadelphia Flower Show, the Peter Becker Retirement Community of Harleysville, Pennsylvania holds a Flower Show revolving around a central theme. This year's theme was "See You In The Movies" highlighting scenes from Singing in the Rain, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Mary Poppins. I went this past Friday afternoon my first time ever. It was well worth it. In some of the displays, they used live characters dressed according to that time era. In the Willie Wonka display, the gardens are supposed to have been entirely edible. Below are a few photos I took at the event.

Pictures from previous shows can be found at the Peter Becker web site at The Enchanted Garden for the year 2005 and Past Flower Shows for the years 1994 through 2004. For those who may wonder, the Peter Becker Retirement Community is historically related to the Church of the Brethren but seeks to serve Seniors of all faiths.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Conference Wide Youth Lock-In Activity

Every year Mennonite churches in Bucks, Montgomery, and some neighboring counties of Pennsylvania hold a recreational all night lock-in at a local Mennonite school for youth in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. It begins on a Friday evening at 9:00 p.m. and ends Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. The activities include worship times, movies, karaoke, snacking, and a wide variety of sports among other things. The sports included soccer, extreme dodgeball, wallyball, fosseball, ping pong, and basketball. The two movies were "Herbie: Fully Loaded" and "National Treasure."

I took a few pictures of the closing worship time and the karoke activity three of which are shown below.

Closing worship time was held in the bleachers in the school's gymnasium. I think there were around 340 youth and 80 adults at the Lock-In. The two following pictures were from the karaoke time. They often came up in large groups though some performed solos, duets, or trios.