The Portugal Years: Photo Shoot At Camp



The Guys
The Guys

This was during the early days of the camp. The director and the teens and young adults were close to the same ages. We didn’t always know what we were doing, but we kept on trying. And even if we could travel back in time and parcel out some good advice, I daresay it would not change anything, human nature being what it is.  But how we miss them. Um grande abraço para os nossos queridos irmãos. Que saudades de vocês.


Brazilians, Americans, Portuguese all worked together…mostly well. Do you think you can tell which of them are Americans and which are not?

The Portugal Years: Great Expectations

Well, we all had some expectations after the flood. Bethy was expecting to watch the television after the rain let up, and we were back in our own home. Twelve days without electricity was a long time for a two-year to wait, but her expectation came to fruition and she was once again nestled in her chair  watching her Abelha  Maia.

Abelha Maia
Abelha Maia

Bethy also anticipated being able to ride her bike outside. That was also an expectation  fulfilled –  but only in part. The garden and the paving stones were in the process of being rehabilitated from the muck and slime. But, she did well on the front varanda safely over the the part of the neighbor’s farm that had come to rest at our abode.

Loving riding on the varanda.
Loving riding on the varanda.

Thanksgiving peeked around the corner and prompted our gratitude for all that we had in spite of the mess. Our house was intact, and we had an electric radiator that we could move from place to place in the cold winter temperature. The rooms all had doors that we could close to keep us warm in whatever we needed to do.

We were healthy, and had enough. Our salary was not generous, but we had enough for our daily bread and a little more. Our expectation was that our Heavenly Father would continue to provide – and He did. We had Elisabeth. Each day I marveled as I saw her growing and learning.

Soon our expectations of Christmas crept up on us. Money and presents arrived from family and friends in the states. It was only Bethy’s second Christmas, and she had few expectations. Nevertheless, we enjoyed shopping for her. We had decorated the tree shortly after Thanksgiving, and her eyes were wide with joy,  wonder and a bit of apprehension. But, we had another expectation in that Christmas tide.

'Twas the night before Christmas....
‘T was the night before Christmas….
Christmas Morning
Christmas Morning

Our other expectation was about a very young lady who had yet to show her face. She had a name (Sarah Susanna) and Harry’s expectation was that she would be born on his birthday, January 7th. The doctor said she could come at any time. With that expectation in mind, we bought Bethy a baby doll named Susie, and a crib to put her in. We hoped thought that it would help Bethy make the transition from only child to  big sister. The time was getting close, but not soon enough for me.


Elisabeth with the baby doll and the cradle.
Elisabeth with the baby doll and the cradle.


The Portugal Years – Year Five: Part 2, No Lights


Flood Zone
Flood Zone

As we talked about how to get our two-year old daughter upstairs and out of the flooding, someone outside knocked on the bathroom window. It faced the steps up to the landlord’s flat. Harry opened the window, the landlord told us to hand Elisabeth to him and he would take her up to their flat. Bethy was duly handed through the window, which was large enough for her, but definitely not big enough for her parents to pass through.

Down the steps from our front door we went with me and my baby belly first. I wondered if we would have anything at all after the flood. At the bottom of the stairs, the brown river was already almost up to my shoulders. The neighbors watched us, and told me that it would be easy for me to swim since I already had a beach ball  on my belly to float on. Then, they giggled. If ever I had any dignity, it was gone.

Finally, we reached the top of the stairwell soaking wet and shivering from the cold. Our landlady offered to let us shower down in her bathroom, and I gladly accepted it. The water heater ran on gas, so we even had a hot shower.  They enfolded us up in voluminous blankets and we all sat sitting in the dark which we  alternated with looking out the window at the flooding.

About 6 a.m., dawn reluctantly began to peep through the clouds. The swirling waters rippled like an enormous vat of Hershey’s Chocolate. The water had slowed down and stopped just after it reached the next to the fifth step of our flat. By sunrise, the waters had abated and we were able to trudge back up the steps to our home.

Our flat felt alien to me. The long night had left us exhausted. As a very pregnant woman, I was a bit miffed. The slimy earth was slippery and emitted a peculiarly unpleasant odor.  Everything that we had stored in the garage lay ravaged by the flood. And we had no electricity.

I ventured into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. We did not have an enormous amount of food in that small appliance, but most of it did not make the cut. I cooked what was salvageable on our gas stove, and reluctantly threw the rest out. That was when Bethy found her way to the kitchen and asked to watch Abelha Maia . Having been saturated in Portuguese language the all night, I  automatically responded in that language: “Não há luz.” Bethy translated it in English as a question: “No lights?” A detailed explanation concerning lights and electricity followed that, sadly, landed on mostly deaf ears. “No lights” became her daily battle cry.

To be continued….


The Portugal Years: An Old-Fashioned Love Song

June 30, 1979
June 30, 1979

Today is the 35th anniversary of our wedding day. If you could hear me say it out loud, you would hear a bit of amazement in my voice that we’ve come this far. The smile on our faces is the relief we felt with the belief that we had arrived at a goal that Harry had hoped for when he was a freshman at Drexel University some six years earlier. Some of you are laughing at those youngsters as I am today. It was a long journey to get to this point, a journey that I began to blog about  in 2011.

No, we had not reached the goal; we had only begun the race. If you take two strong, stubborn and hard-headed people, put them in close proximity for 35 years, you can pretty well read their history in their faces, and in the way that they look at one another. Those youngsters in that photo were 26 years old when they got married. They thought they were mature. Yes, I hear you laughing again. We are still working on that. 😀

Really though, living together  in holy matrimony has its good days and its rugged days; days when we are both ornery and obnoxious all at the same time. Then there are the incredibly wonderful days that remind us why we got married. As a friend of mine said to me, life is so daily. It takes Divine Intervention to get through it in one piece.

So, if I could, would I go back in time to tell that young woman what lay ahead for her? No. She would probably cut and run. In so doing, she would miss the sweetest moments that life would afford her.

So here is to Harry, the man who loves me no matter what page I’m on. Here is to being on different pages, because when we add up the information that way we don’t miss anything important. Here is to learning each other’s language and creating one of our own. And here is to hammering out our differences – as long as the hammer doesn’t land on someone’s head. 😀

[You will need to click through to YouTube listen to this version of the song.]

The Portugal Years: Before, During and After

George MacDonald, a Scottish preacher and author, had a gentle character who had a mental disability. He went around saying over and over again saying, “I didna ken whaur I come  from.” This week you will see some moments in my life before, during and after Portugal.

last vacation
Fenwick Island, Delaware

My dad’s boss had a house on Fenwick Island, DE. He let my dad rent it at a reduced amount and we spent some lovely summer days walking the beach. We were near Ocean City, Maryland, which had a boardwalk. The last summer before my older brother joined the Army we spent two weeks. We all kind of knew that it was the last family vacation.

Fifties Party, Denver, CO
Fifties Party, Denver, CO

In November of 1975, I got a job at a small Christian publishing house (now defunct) in Denver. I boarded in a woman’s home with another young woman who also worked at the publishing house. Judy invited me to go to her the young adult Fifties Party at her church. It sounded like fun, so I dug into my wardrobe. I got engaged to a man I met in a college class – Modern Fantasy Literature – but he was ready to get married, and I knew I wasn’t.

wccs wedding
June 30, 1979  Aren’t they the sweetest kids you ever saw?

At the end of a year, being thoroughly fed up with working in a cubical, I accepted a position at West Chester Christian School as the fourth grade teacher. How I loved doing that and loved my students. Most of the time, at any rate. Harry and I had dated when I was in high school, and broke up over some silly thing. He came back for another round, invited me to visit him in Portugal and before I returned to the states, he had put an engagement ring on my finger.

Harry at work
Look at him! Who could resist a face like that?

We the following summer, and I went back to Portugal with Harry and the idea that we were going to stay there until we died. With a few visits to family and friends in the states, of course.

Me with Elisabeth at 4 days old.
Me with Elisabeth at 4 days old.
Bethy's bath time.
Grandmom taking charge of bath time.

We were so excited about having our little girl followed by another little girl and finishing up with a little boy. We were content. Our children were thriving in Portugal. We never imagined our Paradise would end. But it did. In the spring of 1999, we left part of our hearts in Portugal and ended up in Lancaster County, PA. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t home. Not for us.

Valentines Day Homeschool Craft
Valentines Day Homeschool Craft
Forever friends
Forever friends
Sarah-Sarah at Christian Character Club on Wednesday night
Sarah-Sarah at Christian Character Club on Wednesday night
Valentine's Day Sweetheart Banquet; Harry acting out Casey at the Bat while I narrated it.
Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Banquet; Harry acting out Casey at the Bat while I narrated it.



My daughters participating in the Greek Tragedy, Electra.
My daughters participating in a Greek Tragedy, Electra with our homeschool group.

We had friends, and Harry had a job, but those were painful years trying to re-enter the American culture when we felt mostly Portuguese.

Other Grandma and us on our front step in West Willow, PA
Other Grandma, a friend and us on our front step in West Willow, PA – my favorite house ever.

Eventually, we moved to Florida. But it’s not Portugal.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you like to live?

A Blogging Award from Rachel Carrera, Novelist: The Field of Flowers Award

Being nominated for a blogging award always takes me unexpectedly. It usually takes me awhile to  get my act together. The Field of Flowers Award means a lot to me, especially the kind words that Rachel said about my blog. Thank you so very much. Not only have you honored me with this award, but with it I have discovered your delightful blog. So without further ado, here it comes!


▪Thank the blogger who nominated you – have gladly done so!
▪Place the award on your own blog – done!
▪Nominate 7 other bloggers and write a little something about why you would give these bloggers “A Field of Flowers”.

In no particular order:

  1. The Professor blogs here in The Punchy Land. Some of you are wondering what sort of blog that is. The Professor is a genial chap and fun to read. One of the outstanding things that he has done is to make his blog a truly interactive community in a very “punchy” manner. Now that you are all confused, you will know how our growing community feels on a daily basis. The best thing for you to do is visit for awhile. Warning: if you stay too long, you may become addicted to the hilarity that we all enjoy.

  2. As a reader, I will admit that I follow a few book review bloggers for the sake of a higher TBRlist. FictionFan’s Book Reviews  cover across the fiction genre and includes classic stories and new authors. Her reviews are fun and informative. Her take on horror is refreshing. She’s good. If you like to read, swing by her blog and check her out.

  3.  Petals Unfolding | Whispers of Silence features some of the most beautiful photographs of nature that I have ever seen. If that were not enough, she adds  thoughtful words with each of her photographs. Following her blog is knowing that when I need some quiet and encouragement, it is there. Take a look at her outstanding photos, and rest on them.

  4. This man, Opinionated Man, is a prolific blogger. He will make you think about things you never imagined thinking of. He is, as his title suggests, quite opinionated – but he’s upfront about it. He has opinions about nearly everything. Unlike others, as long as his readers respect him and others, he encourages others to share their opinions as well. If he disagrees, he does it in an agreeable manner. Adult content warning

  5. Heather Kopp blogs over on Sober Boots where she shares her journey along the the road of being a recovering alcoholic and other topics. She is frank about her mistakes and has a tender heart for people who struggling with many kinds of bumps along life’s road. Something she said last week on her blog rang a bell for me. She said that caring for someone’s dog while they are away is also a spiritual practice. Check her out.

  6. The LadyCheetah blogs on Life in the Concrete Jungle. She offers her perspective, observations and opinions in short, pithy but humorous segments. Her posts help make my day a smiling one. It will only take a minute to go over there and see what’s going on.

  7. Do you have food allergies? Bethy at The Girl Who Couldn’t Eat Anything blogs about finding things to eat when you can’t eat…well almost anything. She also journals about the vagaries of high energy  four-year-old daughter she calls, The Princess, and who hasn’t yet come to the end of her explorations. I will admit to a strong bias for this blogger since she is my eldest daughter. But if you or you know someone you know that struggle with food allergies, take a look at some of her very yummy recipes.

▪Let your nominees know that you nominated them.

Will attend to this momentarily.