Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Stephen "added a notch in my Texas belt" today when he got stung by a scorpion on the finger. Yes, been here for 13 years and it was his first scorpion ambush. He was helping Farmer Boy start a fire to cook some fish that FB had just caught when he got zapped in the hand.

His main concern? "I don't think I'm going to be able to play the piano tonight." But of course he did, because there isn't much that will keep him from the piano.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My dad is 73 today!

Three years ago I posted about my dad celebrating his 70th birthday on the road in the Outback of Australia.

Well, they're at it again, so happy 73rd birthday Dad!

Here are some adventures from a recent email. Keep in mind that he is celebrating his SEVENTY THIRD birthday...

"We have finally emerged from the remote outback, and this is the first chance we have had to get on the internet in about 10 days. We had a marvelous trip across the never-never.

The weather stayed quite good for us, although it had rained a few days before we went through, and we had to cross a few wet and watery places. We had seen some water mirages of the type we always see when it is hot on the roads in Texas, and as we were barreling along I said to Mom, 'There is another mirage,' and as we got closer it still looked like a mirage until SPLASH! - it wasn't a mirage! Fortunately I had suspected it might not be just before we got there so had slowed down enough that there was no problem.

The real outback part went from Warburton to the Carnegie Homestead, if you have your maps. The part up to the Heather Highway was very good, and the first half of the Heather was good too. Then when we made the turn onto the last half of the Heather things began to deteriorate quite fast. The corrugation was terrible. The track split in places in up to 4 different tracks trying to get less corrugation, and we'd try different ones, never sure we were on the best one. We hit a number of washouts where we would simply have to stop and get out and try to figure out what was the best way to get across them without tipping the campervan over - the angle we were in at times was quite scary. Usually Mom would get out and survey the place, break off branches if necessary, knock down parts of the bank so we wouldn't get hung up and then watch to see if I toppled the van over as I drove across. It was very exciting a number of times.

In places the spinifex grass was up to 4 feet high, both on the sides of the road and in the center of it, so you could hardly see the road at all - it was just 2 small tracks across the spinifex. In that area we averaged about 10-12 mph, and when we would get up to 18mph (30kph) we would be ecstatic.

In a distance of about 900 Km we passed only one vehicle. We know there was also one vehicle going the same way we were, but a day ahead of us. We never came across their bodies, so we assume they made it too. We stayed overnight at Everard Junction on that really bad stretch (it is circled on the map). It was amazingly lonely out there - no station or any organized life for at least 150 miles in any direction. That was the junction of the Gary Highway and the Gunbarrel Highway, but it was certainly unlike any highway junction you have ever seen - just grass and 2 small tracks as far as one could see. There were lots of holes in the ground, which were clearly homes for unknown creatures, and once it was dark we definitely did not venture out of the camper until it got light the next day.

The first few hours the next day were like the end of the previous day - very slow. Then about 100 Km before Carnegie Homestead the road got much better (the road we had been on up to then was "built" in the 1950s and had had absolutely no maintenance on it since then). At Carnegie Station we were able to get fuel (it costs about $8/gallon out there!), could take a shower, etc.

The next day we drove into Wiluna, the first town in almost 3 days - we were going to stay there, but it was not at all a friendly looking place so we drove another 180Km on unpaved, but good, road to Meekathara, which was a marvelous town of 2000. About 50Km out of Maakathara we came across a car stopped with 3 aborigine women and 2 men there. They asked us to stop, which we did. They had run out of fuel. They needed gasoline and we had diesel, so we could not help them. They had no food, so we gave them a half loaf of bread, a jar of peanut better and a large can of beans, which they really seemed to appreciate. They had plenty of water. We told them we would tell people in Meekathara about them, and as soon as we got into town we found the police and told them. What they did about it, I don't know, but the police thanked us for being so concerned and kind, and that made us feel a bit better.

We were then on pretty much paved road for the next almost 1000Km, except for a stretch of about 150 Km. Kalgoorlie is a big (30,000) town with all the comforts of home. We are going to celebrate our birthdays with a dinner in the best restaurant in town later today, and also we got an ensuite site at the campground (it has its own bathroom right outside the camper door). So we are now living it up! Kalgoorlie is a gold mining town, and we just visited the most huge mining pit I've ever seen. We've got pictures, etc. So that's about it for us. We've had great adventures and hope for a few more to go, but the worst (or best) is likely over."

Do I have the coolest parents or what?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Hymnal Project

Stephen has started a new project this week, recording hymns from the Episcopal hymn book. You can read about it and hear our first attempt at his new blog!

Monday, April 07, 2008

I will not doubt

This past year has been a year of much loss for our little family. We lost our income in July. We lost our beloved church home in August. We lost a precious little baby in September. We lost a restaurant opportunity that we had been working on for months, this February.

None of these things is yet resolved.

I was recently talking with some friends and one of them said to me, "Patti, you work harder than anyone I know. Yet your goals all seem so far away." She said it with the utmost love and compassion. It was true, and yet immediately I knew there was something not quite true about it.

And it hit me, so I said, "As hard as all this has been, my REAL goal is to end up in the arms of Jesus forever, and He is ever with me. No matter what has happened, or will happen, no matter how I feel, God is God is God is God, and He is constantly with me."

That is what I meant when I chose the title of this blog. My long journey is home into His arms. The adventures along the way are the stuff of my life.

I read this poem today and wanted to share it with you. It speaks so much to my heart and my circumstances, that I kept saying "Yes! Yes!" out loud as I read it:

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand that never fails,
From seeming evil works to good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
"I trust in Thee."

I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
That has refused these things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure passion of my fixed believing
Undimmed will burn.

I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive.
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses,
Yet I will see through my severest losses
The greater gain

I will not doubt. Well anchored is this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not fail
To face the mighty unknown sea of death.
Oh, may I cry, though body leaves the spirit,
"I do not doubt," so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Biscuit Brothers

On Wednesday evening we drove into Austin to the Biscuit Brothers' CD release party at Central Market.

The Princess, normally outgoing, was quite shy when she met "Buford", "Dusty" and "Buttermilk". I asked her about it later and she said, "Well, I was shy at first, but as soon as I said something I felt fine." Which was true. She got a signed cd, ate dinner and jammed out to the live music. A fine time was had by all.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Butterfly Boy

This past weekend, our friends invited us to join them at the annual Zilker Garden Festival in the Austin Botanical Gardens.

We had a great time, bought a bunch of plants, and snapped a colorful picture or two...

My love/hate relationship with chickens

Why I like having chickens:

"Did someone say 'Roadtrip'?!"

But sometimes, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Our front "flower" bed (that mulch used to be on the bed, and there isn't a single one of the dozen plus flowers the Princess planted left):

The front walk (note the POOP, and the ants... chickens don't eat ants, wah!):

Obviously (do a little math on the number of pictures I posted) I like chickens. But man are they frustrating sometimes.

If I could just get these animals to read the rule books!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sleepy sleepy

So, you wonder, why are the Browns falling asleep so early?

Two words: HARD WORK

We have really been feeling what it might be like if we did this homesteading thing full time. In the past month Stephen has put more than 50 posts in the ground for fences... posts from trees that he cut on our property, trimmed, hauled, cut to size, hand-dug the holes for, then dropped in. And then he's actually attached the fencing.

He is gaining greatly in strength, and is officially a redneck! The other day he took his shirt off for a while outside while he worked because it was so hot, and I was blinded! We had a good laugh. :-)

I have been breaking as much new ground as I can before he gets the new garden totally fenced in. I daren't plant a thing yet because of the chickens. When our technical difficulties are overcome, one of the pictures I will post is of their dastardly work on the front flower bed. They are wonderful helpers for breaking new ground (they ate up some little wriggly bad bugs like candy yesterday), but they sound the death knell for living plants.

Today I didn't get much time in the garden because it was a very child-intensive day. I'm sure you homeschooling moms know what I mean. But we got through it, and the children eventually got all their work done. That kind of day causes a different kind of tired. Not the go-take-a-little-rest-at-7:30-and-then-I'll-do-the-dishes tired that my hard-working husband succumbed to tonight (it's midnight now and I haven't seen him since, poor dear!)

It doesn't help that Stephen and The Princess seem to be highly sensitive to oak pollen (which is high now). They both just get wiped out by it.

Well, I suppose I should stop talking about sleep and actually start sleeping!

Technical difficulties

Deary me. I have oodles of photos to post. But we seem to be under a black cloud of technical problems. First the camera went missing before I uploaded the photos to the computer. Then I found it and the battery was dead. Oops, no, not dead, the camera couldn't read that it was full and shut down immediately on starting. Super-hero-Midas-touch husband saved the day.

Me: "What did you do?"
Him: "Manhandled it."
Me: "No, really, tell me so I can do it the next time it happens."
Him: "I honestly don't know. It was whatever the last thing I did was."
Me (thinking) "Wow. That's incomprehensible to me on so many levels. And I am SO thankful for this man!"

So, hooray, we have pictures, we take more, I am all set to post, oops, Dreamweaver (through which I have always uploaded my photos) is set up differently than it used to be. So again I ask my hero, "If you have a chance, would you see why Dreamweaver isn't working the same way?"

So he fixes it. But I fall asleep. And now here it is tonight and HE has fallen asleep, and everything is broken again.

Honestly, I don't know how people without computer genius husbands manage. These machines are SO pesky!