Monday, November 16, 2015

A Ladies' Retreat

Saturday was the ladies' retreat here at Victory Ranch.  There's only one more guys retreat and then the Ranch gets a break for the Holidays, construction, and repair, until sometime in January.

Teaching time in the Living Room

We had one chaplain candidate and two college students come as volunteers. We were expecting thirty women, but it turned out that only eleven came. Which was fine- eleven is still a fair amount.

Making cards to send home
As always, it was a very diverse group; though most of the ladies were fresh out of high school and going into the National Guard or Reserves after training.

One of the volunteers had a birthday
We fed them soup, and apple cake, and breakfast for dinner. There was so much food.

Lots of eating
We had a game a Bible session in the morning, and a game and Bible session in the afternoon, and lots of free time. It was a beautiful day, too.

Walking to Church

On Sunday we walked across the pallets to Church(Beulah Baptist) for a very Baptist Sunday School lesson and a very Baptist service. Later on Sunday guests arrived at the Ranch: Tim and Bobbi Bettger. The Bettgers are Cadence missionaries transitioning from Fort Drum to Florida, and Victory Ranch is on the way!

Saturday, November 14, 2015


The day I arrived Mr. H had excitedly planned to have stew baked in a pumpkin for dinner. Mrs. H dutifully prepared the stew, and the pumpkin went into the oven around 4:30pm. At 8pm, all faint from hunger, we finally gave up trying to cook in a pumpkin. So the stew came out, got boiled, and the chickens got the pumpkin.

Friday I cooked meat, made brownies, vacuumed, and took a nap; then an interesting person named Cedric came over to help Mr. H with outdoor clean-up prep for the retreat. Cedric is from France, and he married Laurel, who is a Cadence missionary who spent several years in France; and through the wonder of internet dating, Cedric is now her husband. Cedric has a very nice French accent, and I feel soooo bad when I can't understand what people are saying! Anyway, we all went over the Cedric and Laurel's house for dinner and Bible study Friday evening: and we had pumpkin soup. Cedric and Laurel were very kind. They gave me a stamp for a letter.

Cedric and Laurel Givry.

While we were at Bible study we found out about the tragedy in France. It was maybe more meaningful praying for the country of France with someone who lived there.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Victory Ranch

It's been exactly two years since I volunteered(officially I was an "Intern") at Victory Ranch in South Carolina. Victory Ranch is a part of Cadence Int, a Christian ministry to the Military. This location hosts retreats primarily for enlisted soldiers from Fort Jackson. I enjoyed my time here two years ago and I'm glad to be back, if only for a short while.

The Lake at Victory Ranch in 2013

The big news item at the Ranch is flood damage. The dam/road leading to the retreat center washed away after water from the flooded lake started pouring over the road. A working siphon in the dam couldn't keep up with the amount of rain brought in by two major storm fronts meeting over Columbia.

The Lake at Victory Ranch 2015

So long story short, the dam broke, the lake drained, and the road to the house has a deep, deep gully carved right through it. The edges of the lake are dry enough to walk on now, but the stream running through still needs something over it for walking on. Mr. H nailed boards and pallets together to make a long sort of walk/bridge going from the remaining road to the edge of the yard.

The Pallet Path from the road to the yard
And then there's the stairs. It's a form of exercise.

The pallet path is a bit steep in parts where you're walking up or down the sides of the lake, but it serves the purpose well. If you can keep from tripping. Everything coming to the house has to be carried from the end of the lane up to the house. Packages can't be delivered to the house

The breaking of the dam didn't damage any houses lower down the stream; though it did fell a tree close to the road and wash away a truck that was parked on the road.

A crack in the earth

The gravel lane from the paved road down to Victory Ranch has always been rather bumpy, but besides breaking the dam the rain made man-deep gullies and ruts down various sections of the half mile stretch of road. Thankfully, the County maintenance crew came(the very day I arrived) to repair the main section.


It looked like the County maintenance crew spread moon dust and volcanic rock on the lane. In fact, I'm convinced that's exactly what it is! So progress is already being made to repair damage. The H's and Cadence have already raised $28,000 out of the estimated need of $50,000.

Less ground to walk on.

Victory Ranch is part of Cadence Intl. Donations for repair can be given online at Restore Victory Ranch.

A Nature Walk at Victory Ranch

I think mom may have tried to take us kids on a few nature walks early on in home school, but there's only so much to see in a square mile of Nebraska farmland, so that didn't last into middle school. I'm not a big plant person: I don't grow plants. I just admire from afar. But if one can avoid poisonous plants, deadly reptiles, rodents, dogs and beasts, keep from getting sunburnt, frozen, or wet, and walk at one's own pace, then walks can be fun. Also if you have someone's hand to hold, that's nice too.

Anyway, I went on a short walk to see the drowned lake. Fall is pretty in South Carolina. I don't think the trees color as much as the more northern states, but there's still red and gold and green. So here are a few pictures from my nature walk today.

I'm extra enjoying things like moss before I move to Texas. Where, presumably, they don't have any moss.

South Carolina Marble.

In a word, Fall.

I call it a gumdrop.

I don't really know what it is, but it's pretty.

Volcanic rock and Red.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Week with Friend H

It's been actually fairly chilly here in SC, and I didn't pack for it at all- Tuesday was the first sunny day above 65 since I arrived. So I found another blanket, bought a sweater, and wore two pairs of socks to bed, and finally the temperature warmed up outside.

The Front Door

On Monday Friend H and I went thrift store shopping. On Tuesday we went to Starbuck's and Christmas stocking shopping(My first time at World Market). Today, Wednesday, we toured two historic homes in central Columbia: The Robert Mills house, and the Hampton-Preston house. Both houses are owed by the Historic Columbia Foundation. The houses are right across the street from eachother and both have pretty gardens.

The Back Door
The Hampton-Preston house was a private residence since the early nineteenth century, barely escaped being burned by Sherman during the Civil War, and ended as a Presbyterian Women's College. The Robert Mills house was never used as a home, since the owner died before it was finished, and so it went straight to being a Presbyterian Seminary. Which I think is really neat, since Presbyterians rule, and also really efficient, having a Seminary across the street from a women's college.

Then we came home, had brownies, and took a nap. My last day visiting Friend H.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Sabbath in South Carolina

Sunday morning we went to H&Z's PCA church, and since they're looking for a pastor right now the preacher for today was actually the pastor of Rose Hill PCA, which I visited last time I was in SC.

A Magnolia flower, from my last visit to SC.

 So the plan for Sunday was to go to the Rev War reenactment at Camden after church. BUT, because the temperature was 50F and it drizzled all day, we ended up not doing that. Alas for Camden.

Instead we went out to eat at a place called Cookout, and then tried to go to the State Museum thinking that today was the first Sunday of the month($1 admission) but it being the 8th today turned out to actually not be the first Sunday of the month; so we went to Mast's General Store in downtown Columbia, and then out to coffee. The General Store was neat; it had some good gift ideas for decent prices, though none of us bought anything. The coffee place was nice too, and totally empty.

Why is it so cold in South Carolina?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Day Two....

.... of my pre-wedding vacation in South Carolina. We had plans to visit the Rev War reenactment in Camden, but rain changed our plans. Instead I went to Fort Jackson to meet up with some ECD friends and teach cute little Sea Cadets some dances.

It was not air conditioned.

A complete stranger picked me up from the H&Z home and took me to a only slightly shady gas station, where we were met by another lady with more girls, and then still another lady and her girls, who took us to our final destination.

Cute little people and cute little people in uniform. So cute!

It turns out Sea Cadets are like the Civil Air Patrol, only for the Navy. At least, that's how I understood it. So we danced some good dances and chatted during the drive about dancing and life, and it was fun to see people again.

Friday, November 6, 2015

It's Bigger on the Inside?

Pretty much all I did at the shop in the week leading up to Hallow/Reformation Day was work on the Tardis dress. Simplicity 1095, it's a gored skirt, bustled overstkirt, corset, and bolero/hood. I changed the pattern, of course; no way was I going to take the time to make a boned bustle.

The Tardis Pattern

Anyway, I spent a good three days working full shifts on that dress, and the person for whom is was made ended up wearing for half an hour. But then it went in the shop window, labeled as "Sexy Tardis dress, $75 for rental."

The Sexy Tardis? I'm offended.

Otherwise, I've recently made several 70's vests, a striped Elf outfit, and five more "Tardis" hoods.

There was a rainbow at some point

Football is over. My sister-in-law had a baby. And there's nine weeks until the wedding. I finished my last commissioned sewing order, so now I'm almost officially on vacation until after the wedding. Just a few more days at the costume shop and I'll be officially, officially on vacation. And I can finally start sewing my own dress!

Football Star.

Actually, I am kind of on vacation right now: back in April I bought tickets to come back for a visit to the retreat center in South Carolina. It's been exactly two years since I volunteered here. So I had my tickets a long while ago, but the recent flooding here changed my plans a bit. I'll be spending most of the time with my old friend, Friend H, who I met in Russia exactly three years ago, and saw again when I was here two years ago. Friend H is married(to Mr. Z), expecting, and a homeowner, but still fun to be with. Today, my first day here, we went to her TWO HOUR maternity class- and then to the Old Mill Antique Mall in downtown Columbia. It's a cool place, really big, with good prices. When I came here in 2013 I bought all my Christmas presents there. On today's visit I bought two adorable pottery cups with little turtles on them. A good day!