fall camping

Posted by pamela on Oct. 26, 14 | 0 COMMENTS

I love camping. I love the point where you leave cell coverage and electricity behind and are stuck with your friends and the supplies that you remembered to pack. I am thankful for friends to share such times with, and for those who instigated a camping trip to Mineral King, a part of Sequoia National Park, last weekend.

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We left after work and had fun finding messages our friends left for us on the back of the sign-in boards about where to find them. “Pam & Ben: All the good camp sites taken, proceed to Cold Springs.” “ Pam & Ben: We are at at site 25.” A fun treasure hunt in the dark after the drive up the crazy road through Mineral King.

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mineral king stream

The nights were cold, the days beautiful. It was a taste of fall with leaves turning yellow and cool, clean, crisp air. It was a taste of life where the drought is not so extreme as we hiked by as stream and up to a waterfall.

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For Ben and I, it was our first camping trip together. We tested out our new tent and sleeping pads. We shared food by a fire and conversation with friends. Next up is making our own camping box and our own camping ‘normal.’ What fun it is to get to make new traditions and try new things with a loved one. Mineral King might have to become one of those normals in the years to come as there were so many trails we did not get a chance to explore. But then, there is so much of California yet to explore.

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ps – Ben’s blog post on this trip can be found HERE.

our wedding.

Posted by pamela on Sep. 01, 14 | 6 COMMENTS

Two weeks ago today, I married my love, Benjamin Hoover. A new season, overflowing with love and joy has begun. I have thought of so many different ways of sharing some of this special time, and I hope you enjoy this walk through a few of the treasures and backstories of the day we became husband and wife.

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Our Rings: All Five of Them

It takes five rings to tell our engagement and wedding story. When Ben asked me to marry him on the beaches not far from our California home, he gave me a simple silver ring with my birthstone, an Aqua Marine, in it. He had commissioned the ring from a jeweler — making one to fit my right hand that I could take with me on all of my travels around the world. Together we found an antique ring that we had copied with great grandmother’s diamond for my second engagement ring, something new from something old.

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Creating our own tradition from one I knew from my childhood spent in Jordan, I got Ben an engagement ring as well, that he wore on his right hand (a very simple, very inexpensive ring – nothing special except its significance). In the weeks following, Ben would say, “Another first…. I had dinner tonight wearing a ring…. I took a shower with a ring… I taught a class with a ring…And so on.” His conclusion was that men too should get engagement rings as they are a precious reminder of a new and beautiful season, a season of preparing for marriage.

When looking for our wedding rings, we wanted simple bands that matched. For me, one that I could wear when I traveled but also to go with my wedding band. I love what we found. I love that we used jewelers working from home or local stores for our rings. I love the simple beauty and deep significance of our rings.

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And this bowl. “To have and to hold.” A gift from my sister-in-law Lauren, was used by our ring-bearer (my nephew Liam) and hold my engagement rings on my bedside table when they are not on my hands.

My Wedding Jewelry: Gold from Damascus

Much of my childhood was spent in the Middle East, where women would receive sets of gold for their wedding. While we lived there, my Dad bought my Mom a set of gold that was stunning in its simplicity – handmade knots linked together. When I was 19 years old, my Mom and I went to Damascus one last time before our family left Jordan. Dad had us buy three sets of gold to match my Mom’s: one for me and each of my sister-in-laws on the occasion of our weddings. Several days before my wedding, my Dad gave me my wedding gold at a family dinner. It is so beautiful. Even more than its beauty, I love knowing that this marriage was planned for and prayed for years ago.

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A Family Wedding….

This wedding was about family and friends — the wonderful community that surrounds us. Our deepest hope was that people would enjoy each other as they celebrated with us. And so we wanted to celebrate in a way that included things we loved to do with each other and those we loved, hoping for lots of conversations and laughter. Before the details, one picture of the community that gathered with us that day – representing so much family and so many friends from different times and places.

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Location & Decoration: Family, Colors and Places

The wedding was held in the gardens of Aunt Louise’s house. The gardens were large enough for the ceremony to take place in one area and the reception (dinner and games) in another area. Living in California where our backyard is closer to a postage stamp than a lawn (and it is brown, not green), it felt so wonderful to be surrounded by such natural beauty.

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I love bright colors, and my mom made hundreds of yards of bunting that danced in the wind all day. Cloth napkins were made into bow ties around plasticware for people to use and then take home. The fabrics we used were from America and Africa, combining beauty from the two continents of my recent life as I live here (now with my Benjamin) and continue to travel the world.

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I love that we can return to the place that we got married every time we visit Pennsylvania. It will forever be a special and happy place to us.

Games: Fun on the Lawn

Ben and I love to play games together, and a garden wedding seemed a perfect place for lawn games, or games that could become lawn games. We took our photos before the wedding… part of which allowed us time to take some time to play these games before anyone arrived. It was like a little date – games and laughter  — I just happened to be in a wedding dress.

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Food: A Local and Family Affair

The centerpiece of the our dinner was barbecued chicken — Hoover BBQ Chicken that is — a family recipe and on a homemade grill with a Hoover Dad as the grillmaster. Sides from Wegmans (a grocery store – but prepare for a a long and serious argument from Ben should you ask why, or if, they are better than any other grocery store). It required a giant napkin to protect my white dress.

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And then there were the drinks: sangria and beer. We sipped sangria right after the wedding as we soaked in the glory that we had said our vows and were actually married – we were husband and wife! A few precious moments alone. Thank you to Uncle Todd and Aunt Karen for making gallons of this sweet glory. We smuggled a quart of this into our hotel on our wedding night too. And then there was the beer that my brother Chris made and bottled special for our wedding and Lauren designed special labels for. Somehow we managed to save a few and sneak them home in our luggage. Perfection.

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Dessert was cupcakes from a baker who works from her home. On cupcakes: let’s just say that flavors like Blueberry Buckle and Peanut Butter Cup make my day. Nom nom nom.

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Our Wedding Party: Deep Friendships and Long Faithfulness

These dear friends are like family to us. My bridesmaids (Renee, Bethany, and Elizabeth) are ones that I have known for years, have lived in community with, and have shared the ups and downs of life with. I could not imagine this day without having them there with me. Ben’s groomsmen (Jonathan, Matt, and Duane) included his brother and two dear friends from his childhood that I had heard endless stories of since we first met. As we stood at the alter, we had the great blessing of being surrounded by deep friendships and also be six people who each have strong marriages and have been blessed by children in their homes. In the week leading up to our wedding, we heard countless stories of love and faithfulness, all encouragements that what we had now was just the beginning, that our love could grow deeper and richer with time. What a beautiful witness. And yes, all three beautiful ladies standing with had their first child this year, and so we swapped flowers for babies after the wedding… love these women, their husbands, and their babies.

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Our Family: We Are So Blessed

There is so much to say about our families. We love them so much and wish that we could be close to all of them – though that would mean somehow being everywhere from Georgia to Pennsylvania to Scotland all at one time. One could always hope. We are blessed to both come from great families, to have parents who’s love has grown richer through the years, and to have siblings we love being with. And the kids – oh the fun of the nephews and nieces. As we return to a life of emails, phone calls, and skypes, it is fun to think back to this time together that was so precious.

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The Ceremony: Where Two Became One

Our ceremony was simple. We were surrounded by nature and family and friends, and we were married by Gary Jacabella, Ben’s uncle. This was the most important part of the day and the one that is the most difficult for me to express. Getting married is a very surreal stepping from one reality to a new one, promising to choose to love another for the rest of my life – a promise I am sure I do not yet fully understand. There are three things that I would like to share with you: the family blessing, our vows, and the Lord’s Supper.

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The Family Blessing comes from A New Zealand Prayer Book  and was read by one Crane sibling and one Hoover sibling as we celebrated our families.

Eternal God, creator of us all,
we praise you for all the ways
in which your love comes into our lives,
and for all the joys
that can come to men and women through marriage.
Today we especially pray for Pamela and Benjamin
as they begin their married life.
With them we thank you for the love and care of their parents,
which has guided them to maturity
and prepared them for this commitment.
Give them strength
to keep the vows they have made,
to be loyal and faithful to each other,
and to support each other throughout their life,
that they may bear each other’s burdens
and share each other’s joys.
Help them to be honest and patient with each other,
and to welcome both friends and strangers into their home.
In all their future together
may they enjoy each other
and grow through the love they share, until, at the end of this life,
you receive us all into your eternal kingdom,
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

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Our vows, which will take us a lifetime to understand and to live out. May we never forget the promises we made on our wedding day.

In the name of God, I, Benjamin/Pamela, take you, Pamela/Benjamin, to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, through laughter and through tears, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.  Forsaking all others, I commit myself to you. I will seek to serve you with tenderness and respect, energy and intelligence, imagination and love. This is my solemn vow.

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And the Lord’s Supper… our parents helped serve everyone on our wedding day as we shared in communion together for the first time as husband and wife, surrounded by our community. I wish I could extend this richness to you as well.

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Dancing: Mostly in the Kitchen

Ben does not love to dance, but he dances with me… mostly in the kitchen and sometimes under the stars on the beach. To make me smile, he danced with me under the stars at our wedding. And then I danced with my Dad. I love these pictures, and goodness, I love these men.

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Now: Creating a New Normal

Ben and I are back in California now…. we had a lovely week in the Poconos ignoring the world following our wedding during which we explored waterfalls and hibernated in a cabin (read Ben’s post about that here). Then a week of work and trying to make one home out of all of our stuff; we are getting there. As I sit back and remember this time, I smile at its beauty and am so thankful for everyone who made it possibly by helping with the wedding and those who traveled distances – small and great – to celebrate with us. I only wish that we could have had more time with each of you. I am thankful that friendships cover miles and years and cannot wait to see you again.

End Notes

You can read Ben’s post about our wedding here.

All photographs (except the last one) are by Jen Capone. She is pure awesome.

redeeming missiles

Posted by pamela on Feb. 03, 14 | 2 COMMENTS

redeem: compensate for the faults or bad aspects of something (The New Oxford American Dictionary)

missile plantar

I do not know where bullets end and missiles begin, but as I crossed the compound, it seemed to me that what I was seeing would fall into the (small?) missile category. Except that instead of looking threatening and telling stories of trauma, this missile was disguised as a planter. The end of the missile was cut off and plants tumbled out of its top. It was beautiful. Had I not known where I was, I probably never would have taken a second look as it was beside a tree in a large courtyard, and I never would have realized what I was seeing. But I did, and it made me smile to see how this home in northern Sri Lanka had redeemed this weapon of war. Intentional or not, a symbol of war became a symbol of beauty, violence replaced with peace. A stunning act, a beautiful moment.

I am so thankful when I notice  ‘little’ things when I am traveling.

memories of roses

Posted by pamela on Dec. 06, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

I love roses, and I love that I can get beautiful single stems at the farmer’s market here in San Luis Obispo. I love them for their beauty, and I love them for the memories they hold.

When we first moved to Jordan, we moved into a new building and the garden beds were empty. We had moved from the tropics where everything grew fast and large, but this was the desert. The little, scraggly rose bushes we planted looked like little sticks in comparison to the veritable jungle we had left behind. I remember doubting that they would ever becoming something grand.

In the coming years, those little sticks became rose bushes that looked me in the eye with branches heavy with flowers. Pink and white flowers that were so incredibly fragrant. From the gate to our door I walked by these bushes every day, and I would stop to smell the roses. It would just take a moment, but what a lovely moment.

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Now my flowers are more ‘perfect’ and less fragrant, but I love them all the same. Maybe some day I will again have rose bushes. Until then, I am content and thankful for the farmer’s market.

 

three weeks, three locations

Posted by pamela on May. 29, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

Three weeks, six cities, two countries on different continents, travel by foot, car, 4-wheel drive and plane. Not a particularly abnormal three weeks of my life. In California I enjoyed wine country, in Michigan I was blessed with another week of stunning spring, and in Ethiopia I discovered regions I had not yet visited. Now I am back in California and am looking forward to a few weeks during which I will not be visiting an airport or living out of a suitcase.

week 18: San Luis Obispo, CA, USA

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week 19: Kalamazoo, MI, USA

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week 20: Ethiopia

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i love coming home

Posted by pamela on May. 09, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

a photo a day: week 17

location: San Luis Obispo, CA

As much as I love to travel, I love to come home. I love familiar feelings of places that I know, that share a piece of my story and a part of my history. I intuitively knew that this is different than nostalgia, but I could not make that thought tangible, so I looked nostalgia up in the dictionary.

Nostalgia is “a sentimental longing or a wistful affection for the past, typically a period or place with happy personal association.” (New Oxford American Dictionary)

This love of coming home is not a longing of the past. Instead it is a sense of belonging and a placement within history. My home is my haven where I am free to create and to simply breathe. It is my place of peace that I share with loved ones. Every time I move, I work to make my new house my home as quick as possible, and I am glad to say that as I fill the pores of this house with the smells of cooking and her walls with my photos it is becoming a home, a place I love to come home to.

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a photo a day: first weeks of a new job

Posted by pamela on May. 02, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

Weeks 14 – 16

Locations: San Luis Obispo, CA and Poipet, Cambodia (with a layover in Tokyo, Japan)

First weeks of work at Lifewater International in beautiful San Luis Obispo and my first trip to visit our partners in Cambodia. Minus my current affliction with jet leg, it has all been awesome. Loving finding the beauty in these new places.

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a photo a day: discovering beautiful lands

Posted by pamela on Apr. 12, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

Weeks 12 & 13

Location: Cross-country Atlanta, GA to San Luis Obispo, CA

After last bits of laughter and fun with family, dad and I towed the trailer across the country. It was long day through both beautiful and plain country and then we arrived at the ocean and drove north to find my new home in San Luis Obispo. Beautiful. Right now the land is green and full of stunning flowers. The strawberries are fresh and from the local farmer’s stand. I am soaking in the goodness before the season changes to bring brown colors and different fruits. I am blessed.

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a photo a day: the glory of spring

Posted by pamela on Mar. 28, 13 | 0 COMMENTS

Week 12

Location: Atlanta, GA

This was a week of welcoming spring. I believe that there is a magical two weeks, sometimes it lasts as long as three, where spring puts on a grand show. Out of a barren wanter during which the trees of stood barren and cold come buds, then beautiful flowers, and finally fresh green leaves. Trees take their turn showing off their beauty before they slide into the green that will grace their leaves through the summer. If you blink, you will miss it.  I try and soak in every single bit of the glory of spring so that I can have my fill while it is here as it never stays for long.

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a photo a day… in 2013

Posted by pamela on Dec. 31, 12 | 0 COMMENTS

2013 is going to be a year of transition. Even if you were to ask, I do not have answers on what is next, but I promise there are things brewing and that I am filled with wonderful anticipation. As I begin another season of life, I am excited to remember the original tagline of this blog, “A piece of where I am.” This has been a place for me to write about the journey and to find beauty in where I am. As this year of transition begins, I want to record it and share it.

In addition to writing about “where I am,” I am launching a fun little photo project. In 2013, I will be posting a photo a day through Instagram (tagged with #365), and will share those photos in a weekly blog post with some thoughts to wrap up the week. I will collect these photos in a little book to share with you at the end of the year. This blog has often helped me to find the beauty that surrounds me, and I believe this project will do that as well. My hope is that, as I search for beauty in where I am, that you too will be blessed.

Just to fill you with anticipation, here are some instagram photos from 2012.

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Chilling in my hammock (Kigali, Rwanda).

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Flying places: sometimes in small planes (Uganda).

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Old land (Northern Kenya).

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Making coffee on the road (Ndola, Zambia).

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Handwashing station in the desert (Northern Kenya).

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Big flower, little bee (Northern Uganda).

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Village scenes (Lira, Uganda).

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House projects Africa style (Kigali, Rwanda).

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Sunset and lake (Michigan, USA).

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Hiking Ben Nevis (Scotland).

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Coffee (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia).

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Ancient buildings (Rome, Italy).

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Old art (Rome, Italy).

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Water and islands (Hydra, Greece)

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Interesting signs (Marsabit, Kenya).

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Beautiful and yummy food (Atlanta, USA).

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City sunset (Atlanta, USA).

I hope that you too are filled with anticipation as we prepare to ring in the new year!

All my love,

~pam (the nomad)

a lake gateway in uganda

Posted by pamela on Nov. 13, 12 | 2 COMMENTS

This weekend as I curled up at home, I kept thinking about my trip to Uganda earlier this year. A good friend and I visited Lake Bunyonyi just north of the border with Rwanda. A mountain lake, the evenings were cool and we huddled under our blankets, but the days were warm. At an ecolodge on a small island, we had some of the joys of camping without any of the stress. Home was a straw geodome with an open front looking onto the lake. Our balcony made for a perfect view of the night sky so clear that the Milky Way was like a cloud across the sky. The outdoor shower had a picture perfect view. Taking the local dugout canoes on the lake was an exercise of patience and laughter as we discovered our abilities in western canoes and kayaks did not apply here. And the food was good, simple, and cheap. What more could you ask for on a weekend getaway? Here are some photos and at the end some ‘how to’ details for those of you enticed to make a trip of your own!

Taking a pause from paddling… also a pause from going in circles.

Sunset over the lake.

The outdoor shower with a view of the lake. I love showering outdoors, so this was pure happy.

Looking into the geodome from the balcony. Those are just regular old candles on the table. Above the bed in the middle there is a little skylight.

This is the view from the bed towards the balcony… where we played many games of cards, sunned ourselves, red books, and watched the stars at night.

The night sky. Do you see the Milky Way. This is what happens when there is no light pollution and no moon.

How to: 

  • Visit the Byoona Amagara and make a reservation using their email addresses. When I went, it was about $17 per person.
  • Take a bus from Kampala or Kigali to Kabale. From Kapmala you can take the Post Bus or Jaguar. Best to get tickets ahead of time to make sure you have a seat. There are cheaper options, but the mini-bus routes will take much more time and you will be much less comfortable – I suggest paying the price (less than $20). Kabale is about 6 hrs from Kampala and about 1 hr from the Rwanda border.
  • From Kabale, find a taxi to take you out to Lake Bunyonyi and to the dock for Byoona Amagara. From there you can either get the powered boat (a few dollars and about 15 minutes) or take a canoe (free and about an hour).
  • All electricity on the island is powered by solar power, so it is likely that you will not have much power if it has been cloudy/rainy, so be prepared with a flashlight (although they do provide candles). Also, the water is heated by solar, but if it has not warmed up, the staff will heat water for a bucket bath if you want.
  • This is an ideal location to relax, read, do some canoeing, play games, and watch the stars. If you want to do lots of hiking, this is probably not for you. If you need to rest and recharge, this is your spot.

This has been one of my favorite trips in the region – I hope you love it too!

a touch of my garden’s beauty

Posted by pamela on Oct. 30, 12 | 0 COMMENTS

I love my garden in Kigali. It is a wonderful haven – a place in which to escape and be filled with peace as you soak in the beauty around. Although plants grown year around on the equator, with the rains, the garden wakes up and the colors become more vibrant. Here are a few pictures I took on a walk through the garden a few weeks ago. This is just a small piece of its beauty. I wish we could meet for a cup of tea or a Saturday brunch and soak in its beauty together.

a brilliant night sky

Posted by pamela on Aug. 21, 12 | 1 COMMENT

Last night I was lying under the an absolutely brilliant night sky contemplating divine beauty. The day had been near perfect: my soul was filled with the laughter of friendship and silly adventures, my stomach full with good food, and my skin sun-kissed from a day outside. And then the day was pushed to perfection when the clouds cleared and the stars emerged in a way only possible where there is no light pollution. The Milky Way was a cloud across the night sky. I could not help but say that this is divine beauty made by a creator in such a way that I, that we, could enjoy it. My dear friend added, “And that we would be made to appreciate beauty.”

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