Friday, December 26, 2008
Around Thanksgiving I proposed that I take my wife to visit the Biltmore Estate while it was decorated for Christmas. We'd talked about visiting the Biltmore for a couple of years and sometimes you just have to say "now is the time" or things turn into "one of these days". So, I chuckled when I read my buddy, Michael (conchscooter) had visited a few days before us. But then again, we both have pretty good taste and ideas, so why am I suprised we both had a good idea?
As we were touring the Biltmore Estate, my wife commented that it would make a good blog post. I replied, "It's been done. Michael did it two days ago." But she insisted that I should post my pictures, so I yield to her prodding.
What can you say about a 175,000 square feet 255 room house sitting on an 8,000 acre estate that was originally 125,000 acres? Breath taking. The craftsmanship and the pure grandeur is overwhelming. Tapestries cover the walls of a 90-foot room. A two-story library with a circular staircase contains 10,000+ volumes. A Billard room, a banquet room worthy of Kings and Queens with a 40 foot dining table, an organ loft with a pipe organ, and in the basement a huge swimming pool and a two lane bowling alley. The tour for the common peasants views 30 of the 255 rooms. Pay more and you get to see "behind the scenes". Pay more and you get to walk on the roof.
Visitors bathrooms, dining areas, and gift shops are housed in what was once the horse stables. I dare to say that the stables and hay loft that now is a dining room exceed the quality of many U.S. homes. I bet someone somewhere is giggling that commoners pay to eat in their stables.
The visit was well worth the 3 hour drive. We will have to return again and take in the estate itself.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!