Beauty in the Badlands

DSCN0223.1The Badlands are rich with subtle life at this time of the year. The summer heat hasn’t scorched the region brown yet, and the moisture has coaxed flowers into bloom. Soon enough, the summer will arrive and the green with burn away, but for now there is a tenacious life that clings to the region.

DSCN0191.1This past Thursday, Sarah and I took an excursion to the Badlands with two church friends, Roy and Jessica, and made an afternoon of the Badlands loop, stopping at just about every scenic turnoff, and hiking when possible. Although my family has driven through the Badlands several times, never had we gone through at such a leisurely pace! A quick drive through really doesn’t do them justice.

DSCN0268.1Razor-sharp peaks and spires give way to rolling hills with impassible cliffs. Strata of bright orange and gold layer through one region, while tablelands dominate another. Viewpoints overlook cliffs, plummeting down hundreds of feet into the valley or canyon below.

DSCN0175.1And in such a hostile wasteland, a no-man’s land, there’s life–Creeping insects, scurrying chipmunks, burrowing prairie dogs. Prairie phlox and scarlet globemallow bloom in the rocky, dusty soil. There wasn’t any flowing water anymore, but the gumbo mud was still sticky in places, and little puddles of tepid water hadn’t yet sunk into the earth.

DSCN0220.1The rain in the Hills had opened into blue skies over the Badlands, but as the day wore on, we watched thunderstorms roll in. The sky grew bluer and bluer with storm, and the occasional rumble of thunder echoed quietly through the stony peaks and valleys. For hours, the storms seemed to crop up on the horizon and roll towards us, never reaching us.

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We scrambled around in the gumbo, climbing to the tops of the tablelands. As we scrambled up over the edge of one, a pair of doves startled from their ground nest. Two eggs were tucked inside. I should have gotten a picture of the location of the nest–The tableland rose a good thirty feet up, and then there was a little washed out spot and a slightly higher table, roughly the size of a dinner table. The nest was nestled in the grass on this second table. The perfect vantage point to watch for predators.

The storm broke as we were eating dinner. Probably a good thing, or we might have stayed out exploring a lot longer than we did!

Laura Elizabeth

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Battle Creek is up!

After all the rain we’ve gotten, this driveway flooded out this past Sunday, a few miles down the road (and downhill) from us.

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Soon to come…

The weather has conspired against me for the past two and a half weeks. For two and a half weeks, I’ve been saying that I’d get pictures on the next nice day. And that next nice day has really not come yet. For two and a half weeks, we’ve had rain, then snow, then melting snow, then rain, then snow again, then rain, and more rain.

So my precious dolls have been kept safe inside, which means I have yet to get pictures of my doll clothes which will soon be for sale on my Etsy shop. It is currently inactive, but it will be called HomesteadNotions.

However…I do have a preview of the doll outfits! Minus the little items to go with the dresses, this is what I’ve been doing in my free time for the past couple of weeks!


The patterns are from Simplicity, American Girl, and Heritage Doll Fashions. The two Regency dresses were made from the same pattern, which I tweaked a bit for the plaid one, to give it a gathered bodice and short sleeves. The two Colonial dresses were made from another pattern, which I tweaked in both to have growth stripes in the skirt; I also added pin tucks to the bodice of the brown dress.

I didn’t realize how much I missed sewing until I started doing it again!

Laura Elizabeth

Moral of the story…

We tend to be a family of procrastinators. I do have my suspicions that it is a genetic trait. For that reason, Sunday mornings tend to be a little bit hectic–That is, until we walk through the church door and realize we aren’t late.

Well, this morning the unthinkable happened. None of us woke up until 7:40, which is a mere 40 minutes until the absolute latest time we could leave for church and still arrive on time. Our usual Sunday wake-up time of 7:00 rarely seems sufficient, so this was quite the hardship. Sarah the Optimist thought/knew we could all be ready in time, but some of us (Pessimists or Realists, depending on your own person level of Pessimism or Optimism) looked at the ratio of people to showers/mirrors/sinks and thought it was impossible.

Proving that nothing is impossible with God, the next 40 minutes flew by in a blur, and we were all out in the car and driving away on time. I think all of us were a little amazed at this feat of greatness–Five people, one bathroom, and all had coffee AND breakfast, and we were still managing to get to church on time.

Until…

I was sitting in the back seat of the van, concentrating on my mug of cream–Ah, I mean coffee and cream.

“Laura, did you unplug the coffee pot?”

I hadn’t. After which ensued a lengthy conversation about whether to risk it and go to church anyway, or turn around and make sure our house wouldn’t burn down.

The long and the short of it is that we had our own church service at home–We read and discussed an article, read a commentary about the early Christian church (which, pertinently, was composed of individual house churches), and listened to a podcast. We’re not perfect–But God in His grace can redeem our flaws and mistakes and work with them anyway to bring glory to Himself.

But next time we’ll make sure to unplug the coffee pot.

Laura Elizabeth

New Haunts

When we pDSCN0048.1lanned on Sunday to have an excursion Wednesday, we just assumed the weather would cooperate. When it started snowing yesterday, and then snowed and rained all afternoon, I started having my doubts. But today, the sunshine broke through the clouds, turned the snow into puddles, and the air warmed with springtime. A perfect day for an exploration!

DSCN0024.1My sisters and I and some friends from church ventured forth to enjoy a day off in the beauty of God’s creation. We visited their building site (they’ll be our close neighbors, it turns out!), had a picnic lunch, and then decided to haunt a local ghost town, Spokane.

DSCN0043.1It is hard to imagine people once living here, attending school, inhabiting what are now mere shells of homes, piles of wood and rubbish and old rusted nails. But once, people had lives here in this beautiful little meadow, and the big, two-story house wasn’t overgrown with birch, and it didn’t drip water through the roof. DSCN0032.2The chimney once gave smoke, and the upstairs bedroom was lived in by people, not a family of bluebirds. The apple tree was young and fruitful, the house was whole, and people had lives within its walls. How fast we fade and are forgotten! Who were they?

DSCN0085.1The little ghost town sprawls in an open meadow, and remnants of later days, forgotten later days, are scattered farther into the overgrowth of trees. An old crumbling stove. Ancient automobiles with rust-eaten bodies, rotted cushions, shattered glass, and polished chrome.

DSCN0107.1The recent rain and snow has turned parts of the Hills into thick woods reminiscent of rainforests. Trees were dark with wet, and the ground seeped with it.

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Moss dripped from branches bejeweled with gleaming lichens. Old rotted stumps crumbled softly underfoot, and tiny mushrooms flourished in the fertile moist earth.

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We haunted the town for more than an hour, enjoying the quiet, the creeping life of things living close to the soil, the smell of wet trees and fresh grass. I have a feeling we’ll be back.

Laura Elizabeth