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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Gifts of Christmas

It's the day after Christmas. The smells and looks of Christmas linger in the basement. I'll get it cleaned up today, but then we'll still have the memories to keep and gifts to use. Our children gave us a memory card for the camera which should hold all the pictures we would want to take when we go to Israel next May, and also a new fan to replace a dangerous one used in the upstairs.
The best gifts our family gave us were those of time and work. They came early to clean up the yard of the debris from the Dec. 16 ice storm. With eleven people working together, the job was done in less than two hours. Leroy was picturing himself working all winter to do it alone.

This is the brush pile.
Leroy's back started acting up on Christmas Eve and by Christmas morning he could not even put his socks on by himself. That was an added reason to be grateful the yard was cleaned up. What a relief to have the job done in one day! By the end of the day, all that remained of the brush pile was a little pile of ash. The yard was cleaned before dinner.

After we finished the meal and gifts, the men pulled out the old washline posts and made new ones. This is the gift that was promised last Christmas to happen this spring but they never got around to it until this Christmas. So we had two Christmases rolled into one. Fortunately, the weather cooperated for all these outdoor activities.

We are so blessed to have a family that can have fun working together. We had a great Christmas and hope all of you did too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Beauty In The Storm

I realized this morning that my previous post focused on the negative effects of the ice storm. There was certainly plenty of beauty in it too. Each little blade of grass has a thick coat of ice that crunches when you walk across the yard. The ice that was blown off the trees in the wind that followed the ice storm, lies in piles on the ground. Walking across the yard is like walking on a layer of broken glass. Here are some pictures of the beauty in our crystal landscape. These pictures were taken in the lull between the rain and the wind.
The electric was restored at 12:30 p.m. yesterday. It was off for 56 1/2 hours. What a blessing to wake up this morning and have light with the flick of a switch! And hot water from the spigot!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ice Storm

Helloooooo. You are hearing an echo because I am speaking from the depths of a deep dark cave.
We had a 1/2 inch of rain on Sunday (Dec. 16) that froze, putting a thick coating of ice on every blade of grass, twig and branch. The rain started about bed time Saturday and at 4:15 a.m. Sunday the power went off. A lot of branches and wires were down, and kept coming down through Sunday. The trees are pretty much topped and the yard looks like a war zone.

It's just as bad in back of the separate garage.

Church was canceled Sunday and we just sort of hunkered down to wait it out. Leroy brought the kerosene heater in from the garage and when it got dark he fired up the gas lantern. He grilled hamburgers for lunch and I warmed a kettle of soup from a tin can on the grill. So we survived Sunday.
Monday morning the power was still off. I did everything I could think of to do without electric and my hunkers were all used up. So I went over to my brother's house where I got a shower and did a load of laundry to hold us over. Leroy brought a generator home from work in the evening which we are using to run the freezer and frig. We are out of water so he also brought home some 5 gal. jugs which we use sparingly. It was his birthday and we had a gift certificate for Country Buffet which we were planning to use that day, so that took care of supper on Monday. The phone was restored Monday afternoon.
This morning (Tue.) the power is still off. I plugged in the computer long enough to check email and post this, but then I must plug in the frig again. I went to church this morning to help pack the cookies to give when they go caroling tomorrow. While I was there I cooked something for supper tonight which I can warm by setting it on top of the kerosene heater.
In the paper this morning it said they hope to get everybody back on today. I sure hope that means us too! This is getting old. I have so many things I would like to do and can't without electric. I don't remember ever being out of power this long before.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What A Happy Birthday!

My 60th birthday was great! I had decided the day I turn 60 I am not going to work. I'll take a "vacation" day and do something fun. It looked like this when the sun came up.

But the roads were clear and the forecast said the ice would melt during the day. So I went on with my plans to go to Lancaster and had great time pawing through the deed and will books in the Archives for about five hours.

I stopped at Burger King for a sandwich for a rather late lunch and got my first bona fide Senior discount--all the way 40 cents! Then I went to the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society for a couple more hours. I found a few things there but ran out of time. How can a day go so fast? I stopped in Lititz and picked up some Chinese take outs for supper. (I was not working, remember?)
I got home about 5:20 and found a couple phone calls on the answering machine, cards in the mail, and e-cards waiting on the computer. I loved the one line of the Dr. Seuss e-card Carol sent. It said, "Your brain's full of wherefores, who's whos, and whys." She knows me pretty well, doesn't she?

Leroy came home with a miniature rose bush, and there was a notice on the door that Royers had tried to make a delivery. That had me wondering until they were delivered today--from Daryl and Velma.

After our Chinese supper (sandwiched between a couple delightful phone calls) we went to the Christmas program at Gene's church. He had given us a couple tickets to come hear him sing.
They had obviously put a lot of work into the program and did a fine job. Gene is in the middle of the front row.

We got home around 10 p.m. I was so keyed up from all the exciting things that happened all day that I could not wind down enough to sleep before midnight. I don't expect every day of the 60s to be so much fun (and I couldn't handle it if they were!) but I had a great start to a new decade. Thanks to all who had a part in helping to make it a wonderful day. Being 60 has been painless so far. I think I'm going to like it after all!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pushing 60

This is my last day to be young. I think I say that every year on the day before my birthday. But this year it really is true. This year I cross the line that puts me in the Senior Citizen class. I will qualify for the little perks like senior discounts.
I didn't mind turning 40 and 50 didn't hurt either. I figured by then the damage had been done. But 60? Now that's a different story. I feel too young to be in the senior class. But what can I say? The figures do not lie. 1947 was sixty years ago.
Oh well, I guess there are worse things than turning sixty. Like turning 70. Or 80. Now 60 is starting to sound young after all.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It's Beginning To Look Like Christmas

I just thought maybe I should let you know I got over my Scroog-ish attitude now that December is here. This week I set up my Nativity set and replaced the rocking chair on the porch with my Flexible Flyer sled. (Not that I intend to use it! Been there, done that--back when I got that sled for Christmas nearly 50 years ago.) I also strung up the snowflake decorated garland across the arch where I started hanging up the Christmas cards that have arrived so far. By Christmas Day the Christmas and birthday cards will fill both sides of the arch--like this.
These pictures are from last year.
As I do the cleaning today I am getting out the snowmen and other things I set out around the house during the winter. The outdoors is decorated with a fresh layer of snow. So it is beginning to look like Christmas around here---inside and out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It Came To Pass

When I pulled out my smallest kettle and dumped frozen peas in it for supper tonight, I remembered something my mother used to say. When things were less than perfect, she used to remind me that nothing lasts forever. I can still hear her say, "That's why the Bible always says 'it came to pass' and never says 'it came to stay.' " Sometimes things seem to go on forever without changing and a person begins to wonder if it isn't here to stay after all. My little kettle is proof Mom was right. Nothing lasts forever.
I bought a couple kettles before I was married and have been using them for 40 years. The smallest one lost its handle so long ago I don't remember when it was, but probably about 30 years ago. I got a new handle but it never was put on. So for at least 30 years I have been using a hot pad to handle that kettle. A couple times Leroy looked at it and said all he needs to attach the handle is a long screw. But we didn't have a screw the right size and none came marching to the door. I was so used to the way it was I didn't think about it anymore. Every year when I cleaned the "junk drawer" I'd take the handle out of the drawer and put it back in again. I had stopped hoping it would ever be attached to the kettle.
And then the miracle happened! Yesterday Leroy stopped at the hardware store and spent 44 cents for a long screw. He brought it home and within minutes the little kettle had a new handle.
Mom was right! The handleless kettle came to pass, not to stay. Sometimes you just have to wait a long time for things to change. But nothing lasts forever!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Call Me Scrooge

Call me Scrooge if you will, but I am boycotting my favorite radio station until December 1. Years ago they played a lot of Christmas music in December. Then they went to solid Christmas music beginning December 1. The last year or two they switched to solid Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving. They don't even let me finish digesting the turkey!
Maybe the manager of the radio station sees it as trying to balance the commercialization of Christmas, but I see it as getting caught up in that frenzy which pushes the beginning of the season earlier and earlier every year. I'm sure the people at the radio station will not miss my ears, but I am not listening to their Christmas music until next week. So there!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mighty Hunters

This was the first day of hunting season. A new hunter began his career in Ohio this morning. This was the first year Cheryl & Richard's Josh was able to go hunting. He bagged his first buck at 7:30 a.m. on the first day of the season with his first shot. He was within sight of their house. Pretty good for a boy who will be turning 12 in January.

Gerald is in the final weeks of the semester and had to go to school this morning. Every year since he started college he says he won't have time to go hunting, but every year he manages to find time somewhere. He went out this afternoon after he got home from school. It was about dark when he backed up to the garage. I knew what that meant! He got one. He will probably post the whole long story on his blog. I'll just say he got an 8-point buck, shooting from a distance of 200 yards. He has a cold and got saoking wet in the rain. What some guys won't do for a buck!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Snow Is On The Mums

The warmth of summer stretched well into the fall this year. Less than a month ago the temperature reached 80. I had hopes this would be a mild winter. Today I have second thoughts. We had our first measurable snow this morning. According to folklore, since the first measurable snow fell on the 19th of the month we will have 19 snow storms this winter. If I can afford the heating oil, it might be a good winter to hole up in my study with my books.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Gift of Memory

This is Thanksgiving week, the time of year we are reminded to be thankful for the blessings we enjoy. I am thankful for many things, but the one I want to focus on this year is the gift of memory. Sometimes, especially when I have a difficult decision to make, I wish I could see into the future. But most of the time I am glad the future is only revealed when it becomes the present. Think how joyless life would be if we knew only the present and could see neither future nor past!
The gift of memory allows me to
*smell roses when the ground is white
*go to Mom's house years after she is gone
*feel the embrace of someone far away
*hear the voices of children who have disappeared and are now adults
*taste the potatoes Grandma fried on the top of her cookstove
*laugh at funny things that happened, even if they weren't funny at the time
*sing songs I learned as a girl---even advertisement jingles I heard on the radio
*feel the excitement of waiting for a birthday cake or Christmas present
*know what it was like to live in the 1950s when Sputnik was the cutting edge of technology
*sift out the unpleasant parts and save the happy moments

Maybe the last one is why memories tend to improve with age. Memories can be edited. What are your favorite memories?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In Memory

The tide recedes and leaves behind bright seashells on the sand,
The sun goes down, but gentle warmth still lingers on the land,
The music stops! And yet, it echoes in sweet refrain.
For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.
(John Bossert)
Today Steve would be 32. I can't quite picture him that age. He died about seven weeks after his eighteenth birthday. To me, he is forever 18. I am thankful for the eighteen years we had him with us. Today I will savor the beautiful memories that are mine to treasure forever.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Barbarians and Scythians

In Colossians 3, Paul talks about the unity of believers in Christ. Verse 11 says, "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all."
This verse is so familiar, I'm afraid we read over it without understanding all the words. Two questions--
1. Who were the Barbarians and Scythians? I'll give you one clue. They are not opposites. Notice the words are separated only by a comma and the word "nor" is not used as in the other pairs of words.
2. In Paul's day, where did the Barbarians and Scythians live? Since the words are capitalized, they are not general terms but refer to people of a particular region.
Post your answers to these questions. I'd like to see if you come to the same conclusion I have.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

John Donne

Last week I was reading some of the works of John Donne (1572-1631), the most outstanding of the English Metaphysical Poets. Meditation XVII from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions contains the often-quoted line, "No man is an island." Being a lover of books, I was impressed with the beauty of another part of that piece.

All mankind is of one Author and is one volume;
When one dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book,
But translated into a better language;
And every chapter must be so translated;
God employs several translators;
Some pieces are translated by age,
Some by sickness, some by war, some by justice;
But God's Hand is in every translation,
And His Hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again,
For that library where every book
Shall lie open to one another.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Researching family history is one of my hobbies. I have read that forty percent of Caucasians in the United States can trace their ancestry to Pennsylvania. I don't know how the writer of that article arrived at that figure, but the more I study genealogy the more I am inclined to believe it. Many of the Mennonite names in the nation today can be traced back to Lancaster County.
Last week I spent a day at the courthouse in Lancaster. That place is a virtual treasure chest of old documents dating back to the beginning of the county in 1729. One of the things I was looking for this time was the original German will of Peter Good, written in 1753. I had a copy of the English translation of the will but wanted to see the German one in order to compare Peter's signature with the one he wrote on the ship list when he immigrated in 1727. The German wills are kept in a balcony area over the will books in the Archives. The attendant brought it down for me and I immediately saw the signature, although not totally identical, was similar enough to believe it was written by the same hand.
Colonial German handwriting can be hard to decipher because the letters are not always written the same way they are written in English. Here are three signatures from the witnesses of Peter Good's will. (His two sons and a brother.) Can you read them?

Jacob Gut, Christian Gut, Peter Gutt

If I didn't know they were all farmers, I could believe they were doctors. I know some people today whose signatures bear little resemblance to their names---and they aren't doctors either. Will your descendants be able to read your signature 250 years from now?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Frost on the Pumpkin

We had our first frost on Monday morning, which was nearly three weeks later than the average date of October 10. It was not a hard freeze, but there definitely was frost on the pumpkins. A few of them are too green, but I brought in three that are far enough along to believe they will finish ripening on the patio.
That pumpkin vine was a volunteer that came up from a seed I had thrown out with last year's garbage. It grew like crazy, took over about a third of the garden, and blessed us with 20 big neck pumpkins. The vine is black and dead now, so if I can find homes for the last five pumpkins we will be out of business. Meanwhile, we are eating lots of things made with pumpkin. We've had pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin bars. Tonight's dessert is Pumpkin Parfait--a concoction made of a cooked and cooled pumpkin mixture with meringue and cool whip folded in to make it fluffy.
Seeing frost on the pumpkins reminded me of the way one of our little boys recited that familiar line from James Whitcomb Riley's poem--"the frost is on the pumpkin and fadder's in the shop." The frost never ceases to come no matter how many years go by, but fodder and shocks are terms which no longer have meaning to most children.

Monday, October 29, 2007

25th Anniversary

Yesterday we helped Leroy's youngest sister and her husband celebrate their 25th anniversary. Paul and Gloria have a fine family of four children, the oldest of whom was married in September. I have made a counted cross stitch piece for each of our brothers and sisters when they reached this anniversary. This picture shows Paul and Gloria with the one I made for them.
Having the last of the Stauffer family come to this milestone in life naturally led to some reflection on the swift passage of time. Gloria was too young to remember when her parents had their 25th anniversary, but she remembered that they had been married 40 years the year she and Paul were married. And now her oldest brother (and I) reached that mark this year.
I thought our parents were old when they reached their 25th anniversary, but now that we have gone so far beyond that ourselves, people celebrating their 25th seem rather young. It's curious how different the same thing looks depending on your vantage point.
Happy Anniversary, Paul and Gloria. May you have at least 25 more!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cabbage Seeds

Last night we went to a benefit dinner for Gospel to Haiti mission. Their work is in the Les Palmes area of the Petit Goave district, located in the south western peninsula of Haiti. It is a very rugged part of the country fourteen miles from the main road, which takes two hours to travel by 4-wheel drive vehicle and mule.
After a delicious PA Dutch supper, which also included Haitian rice and beans, we saw a power point presentation of the country and work of the mission. They operate a church, school, and medical clinic, using as many native workers as possible. The doctors and nurses are natives.
The moderator of last night's meeting told us they had brought a Haitian man to the States for surgery. He lived in their home about a month while he recuperated. Before he went home they asked him if there is anything they can do for him. He said, "Yes. If it could be arranged, I would like a pack of cabbage seeds to take home with me."
That story really challenged me. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. I've been there and seen the poverty. I am wealthy in comparison to that Haitian man, but am I as contented? Suppose I had been in his shoes. After a month of living in comparative luxury, what would I have asked for? I'm afraid it would have been for something more expensive than a pack of cabbage seeds! What do you think you would ask for?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Eternal Security

We spent the weekend with our daughter in Ohio. At their church, the adults currently are having a joint class taught by one of the ministry to study their Statement of Faith during the Sunday School hour. The topic this Sunday was Salvation. The teacher did a fine job of addressing the issue of the assurance and security of our salvation.
He made it clear that he does not believe in unconditional eternal security. I agree. The idea that a person cannot lose their salvation for any reason is not supported by the Scriptures. Salvation is based on faith. You can't kick God in the closet with the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny and still expect Him to take you to heaven. God only saves those who believe in Him and His Son. The Bible says, "He that cometh to God must believe that He is . . ." and "Without faith it is impossible to please Him."
Although it is possible to lose our salvation (if we drop our faith) we are eternally secure in Christ as long as our primary goal is to please God. If we are trusting our own intellect or works, our primary goal is not God but self. The grace of God continually cleanses those whose primary goal is to please Him so that our salvation is intact in spite of imperfections.
I think our Mennonite churches need more of this teaching on the grace of God. We are strong on teaching obedience (which is the response of faith) but weak on teaching grace. Grace does not give us license to sin but it does free us from fear. I am eternally secure in Christ so long as my faith in Him endures. That's like a big fat feather pillow under me.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Black Light Song

Here's something that is really cool. It is done with a black light and white gloves.
Click on the link and enjoy.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Happening

This week was the first anniversary of the Nickel Mines school shooting. Several books have recently appeared on the market which tell about the tragic incident. I have not read all of them but have flipped through or read reviews of them. The one I would recommend is The Happening by Harvey Yoder, published by TGS International, an arm of Christian Aid Ministries.
Harvey lived among the Amish at Nickel Mines for a month as he interviewed the families and people involved in the tragedy. Although he has used fictitious names in consideration of the Amish community's desire for anonymity, he says in the Prologue, "the events and conversations of that Monday and the days that followed have been reconstructed as accurately as possible, down to the description of the classroom and the very songs they sang in school that morning . . . Nevertheless, the happenings and the emotions are true."
Some of the books which have been written about Nickel Mines are analytical. This one is an easy-to-read story about the incident. It shows the forgiveness the Amish extended did not come without a struggle. They asked the same question others asked--"Why did God allow this to happen?" To someone who does not know or understand how the Amish think, the story may sound too idealistic. Since I have personally experienced tragedy in the death of a teenage son and recieved the same grace of God to forgive, I can identify with the reactions and emotions they experienced. I believe the book is an accurate portrayal of how they dealt with the situation and their grief.
If you cannot find this book in your area, it can be ordered from:
TGS International
PO Box 355
Berlin, Ohio 44610

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

False Alarm

I get so tired of being asked, "What are you writing now?" I usually try to side-step the question because it takes me so long to produce something and if people know what I am working on they expect to see it on the market long before it arrives.
Since my last book was published, I have had at least 16 suggestions and/or requests to write stories for people. I cannot do all of them and turn most of them down. A couple weeks ago one of the editors from CLP called and asked if I would rewrite a story that had been submitted to them for a children's book. This one interested me and I agreed to do it. After spending all day yesterday on it, this morning the original writer of the story called and withdrew the request. Now isn't that ironic? Out of all the requests I received, the one I agreed to do flopped in the dust. I have plenty of other ideas floating around in my head and a few in various stages of beginning, but the one I had decided to make the first priority dissolved after one day's work.
Truth to be told, I feel sort of lost if I don't have some kind of writing project to work on--at least in my head. I always take a break over the summer canning season. With that behind me for another year, this week I was ready to start again and had a false alarm. Maybe next week I'll pick up another idea and try again.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Vacation Report

My "vacation" is over (boo-hoo). It is going to take me the rest of this week to get my act together and then next week I will try to go on. I looked forward to the visit of the Good cousins for months and the days flew by so fast. But the memories will last longer than the months of anticipation, so I can savor them whenever I like.
Trying to give a complete report of the past 12 days would result in a very lengthy post, so I will try to recap and touch on the highlights.
Don Good, from Texas, was the first to arrive. He flew into Harrisburg and showed up on our doorstep around 10:45p.m. on September 15. The next day was Sunday, so we went to church in the morning and after lunch drove down to spend the rest of the day in the Bowmansville area. One of the stops was at the Good Homestead on Good Road, which is now owned by Luke Burkholder. We walked around the grounds and talked to Luke outside. One of the big questions was where Jacob Good built his first (probably log) house. Luke told us he dug up some big foundation stones when he was burying a fuel tank next to the house. That was pretty clear evidence to us that the first house stood very nearly on the same spot as the current stone house, which was built in 1852.
Another big question was, "Where are the original deeds to the property?" Don asked Luke if he has any old deeds. He said he has one and took us out to the office of his shop where he opened the safe and pulled out a sheepskin deed from 1769 transferring the property from Jacob I to Jacob II. What a treasure! We could not believe we had found something so rare and valuable on the very first day.
Monday (17th) was a day to tour the local area here and tell Don what I had found about his Lauck ancestors. The Host church, which stands about a quarter mile from our house has record of some of his Laucks being married and baptized there.
Tuesday (18th) we spent the day at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. We found a few things and talked to Carolyn Wenger who is the Archivist. Don told her how excited we were to find the deed on Sunday. He went on to say it is the first deed transferring the land from father to son but not the Patent Jacob I got from the Penns. Carolyn calmly said, "I think I have that one." Don and I looked at each other in disbelief. But a few minutes later, Carolyn came back with the Patent in her hand.

A sheepskin deed and Patent in the first three days!! I had very little hope of finding these old documents and to find two of them in three days time was far more than we could have dreamed. Don's ancestor, Jacob II, moved on to Virginia and died there. His son, Abraham, stayed in PA and got the farm. So the two documents we found are the very two which contain the signatures of Don's two Good ancestors.
Wednesday (19th) we went back to Lancaster to visit the courthouse and Lancaster County Historical Society. We got copies of a few wills, deeds, and other tidbits but nothing as big as a sheepskin deed. He went to the airport at Harrisburg to pick up his two cousins, Ginny Traycik and Meredith Mauck, who arrived (from Florida and Kansas) in the late afternoon. Another cousin, Millie and her husband Wayne Croy (from Missouri), also arrived on Wednesday afternoon but went straight to their motel at Reading.
Thursday (20th) was the group's "tourist day." We were at the Leola Produce Auction at 9 a.m. I had called Noah Oberholtzer (who works there) to make arrangements to visit with them on Sunday so he knew who I was bringing. When I introduced him to Don, Noah said, "I saw there were strangers here, but you don't look like a foreigner. If you told me you were from Brownstown I would believe it." That "foreigner" comment was repeated for the duration of the trip! We did other touristy things like Bird-in-Hand, Intercourse, Ephrata Cloister, and wound up at Jonathan and Ada Martin where Don and Jonathan had a good genealogical conversation while the ladies looked at quilts.
Friday (21st) found the group back in Bowmansville where we met Henry Horning and his wife. Henry lives in the area and knows the people and places better than I do. He was our tour leader there, beginning with the grave site of Jacob Good I at Pine Grove Mennonite Church.

Left to right--Ginny, Meredith, Don, Millie & Wayne

The whole group toured the Good Homestead. Don had called Luke and asked him to get the deed out of the safe again so he could photograph it. While the group toured the house, I sat down and transcribed the entire deed directly from the sheepskin. It was easier to do that way than to try do it from photographs. The thing was about 20 inches long and full of writing. It took me a lot longer than I expected, but I got every word. Our next appointment was with Ron Funk who had agreed to show us through the Bowmansville Roller Mill which he owns and is preserving. He gave us a thorough 2 hour tour which was very interesting. In the evening Ron and his wife went with us to Shady Maple Smorgasbord for supper. The Good cousins all declared they had never seen such a large restaurant or choice of foods. Saturday (22nd) the Good cousins went on a tour of Philadelphia sponsored by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. While they were gone, we had our day crammed with other activities which included a sale, wedding, and school reunion.
Sunday (23rd) the whole group went to church with us and came to our house for dinner. After dinner Millie and Wayne left for home. The rest of us piled in their rented van and drove to Noah Oberholtzer's place at Leola by way of Ephrata and Fairmount hill. Noah and his wife went with us to see the spring at Groffdale which attracted Hans Graeff to settle there. Peter Gut (Good), the father of Jacob I, owned 100 acres of land across the road from Hans Graeff. After seeing the spring and Peter's land, we went back to Noah's place. He gave the "foreigners" a buggy ride.

Monday (24th) Don, Ginny, Meredith, and I headed for Virginia to see the place Jacob Good II lived from about 1800 until his death in 1803. The first day was largely spent touring the Gettysburg Battlefield. We hired a guide to ride with us and tell us what we were seeing. It was well worth the $45 cost. We got to Harrisonburg, VA by supper time and checked into our separate Comfort Inn rooms. David Steinberg had agreed to be our VA guide. He came to meet us at the motel and make plans for the next day.
Tuesday (25th) David Steinberg met us at 8:30 a.m. and was our navigator. Our first stop was the EMU library where we found some things and made a stack of copies. Then we visited a few cemeteries, including Singers Glen where Frances Good, the wife of Jacob II was buried in 1826. She was the first person buried in this cemetery, followed by her son Daniel and his wife who were the second and third burials on this steep hill cemetery.

Our next stop was the courthouse in Harrisonburg which yielded a few results but not everything we had hoped to find. We also visited the Early Cemetery where some surmise Jacob II is buried (on the other side of town from the cemetery where his wife is buried). If he was buried there, his stone has not survived. As usual for this group, it was dark by the time we had supper and called it a day.
Wednesday (26th) we swung by Trissels Mennonite Church to stomp through another cemetery on our way north. Then we hit the Interstate and made it to Harrisburg in time for Ginny to catch her flight home. Don, Meredith, and I went from there to Lancaster for another raid of the courthouse there and then swung by Bowmansville again to catch a few forgotten items. We got home a little after 5:30 p.m. I had a "quickie" meal in the back of my head for just such an occasion and it came in handy. Leroy grilled some sausages while Meredith stirred together a salad and in less than a half hour we had supper on the table. Meredith preferred to spend the night at Lantern Lodge, so she headed there after supper.
Thursday (27th) Meredith had said she would be back to pick up Don at 9 a.m. but made a wrong turn on the way and didn't get here until 10. Her flight out of Harrisburg was leaving at 11:50 so there was still enough time to make it. Don's flight was scheduled to leave at 2:30 p.m. We had a wonderful time together and I enjoyed every minute of my local vacation. We found the answers to some questions and made some amazing finds, but other questions remain unanswered. Just before they left Don said something about this being their "first trip." He can see it will take another trip to get more answers to the unsolved riddles that remain. I have a feeling they will be back someday. And they are more than welcome.
I could make a career of digging for documents and stomping in cemeteries! But there are other things on my "to-do" list and I guess I will have to go back to the daily grind. Vacations are meant to be enjoyed and then savored in memory.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Vacation Schedule

I will be "on vacation" here at home the next two weeks. Five Good cousins are coming to look at their PA roots. I'm sure I will enjoy being their "tour leader." The first one arrives this evening and the others come Wednesday, 19th. Here is the basic schedule we have worked out, although some things could change as we go along.
Sunday, Sept. 16--Bowmansville area, Good Homestead
Monday--Lauck ancestor sites in Berks County, John Schmid program at Hinkletown Mennonite School in the evening
Tuesday--Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, Gary & Judy Good come here for supper
Wednesday--Lancaster Courthouse, pick up two women at Harrisburg airport and come back here for supper
Thursday--Lancaster County "tourist" day seeing things such as Leola Produce Market, Ephrata Cloister, Lapp Valley Farm, etc.
Friday--The whole group sees the Bowmansville area, Shady Maple for supper
Saturday--The group takes a tour of Philadelphia sponsored by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, I scramble to do all my own things
Sunday, Sept. 23--The whole group attends our church and comes here for dinner, see the Groffdale area where the oldest Good immigrant first lived, get a buggy ride at Leola
Monday--two leave
Monday - Wednesday--side trip to Gettysburg and then on to Harrisonburg, VA to see where the Goods lived in VA, search for some documents, EMU library, etc. Return to PA in time for one to catch her flight out of Harrisburg
Thursday, Sept. 27--The last two leave.
Since history is my passion, I'm expecting to have a grand time. Posting may be sporadic or nonexistent until after Sept. 27.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Win/Win Situation

This afternoon I took the 33rd jar of applesauce out of the canner, cleaned up the mess, and hung the "closed" sign on the canning season for 2007. Although I no longer can and freeze as much as I used to when the family was all at home, I am always glad when the season is over and I can do other things. Is canning and freezing food worth all the work?
I would not have to can and freeze a year's supply of food each summer, but store-bought products do not hold a candle to homemade. And it is so nice to have my own private supermarket in the basement. Cooking does not require much pre-planning with meat in the freezer, potatoes and vegetables from the garden, and jars of canned fruit on the shelves in the basement. A couple months of canning yields enough convenience foods for the rest of the year.
I've been pushing to finish canning this week because I will have guests in the house the next two weeks. Five Good cousins are coming to look at their Lancaster County roots which go back to the 1700s. I will be running hither and yon with them, digging for information and looking at the places related to their family history. This comes at a just the right time--after I finish canning and before I start the next fall project. I'm going to be on vacation right here at home for the next two weeks. I'll consider it my reward for the summer's employment--and as a bonus I get to eat the fruits of my labor until next summer. It's a win/win situation.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The "Real" Story

My mother always told me that my name came from Romaine Hertzog--a girl she knew and admired for her piano playing. But early Monday morning the real reason was revealed to me in a dream.
I thought I was talking to someone who also has an uncommon name. He asked me what I tell people when they ask where I got my name. I said I tell them, "My mother gave it to me." (No kidding. Somebody once actually asked me where I got my name and that's what I told her.) But then the story drifted into fantasy mode. I went on to tell the guy what really happened was that my mother found me under a cabbage leaf in the garden, thought it was lettuce, and named me Romaine. So that's the "real" story of how I got my name. :-)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sentimental Journey

Where do you draw the line between sentimental value and junk?
I thought about that yesterday after a little flurry of emails with Gene that started with the quote I put at the bottom of my emails this week. The quote said, "What's wrong with sentimental? Sentimental means you like stuff."
Gene's comment was, "Put your treasures in heaven . . . "
To which I replied, "Well, yeah. But in the meantime . . . "
Gene won the debate by quoting a statement his father made when he was cleaning and organizing his stash in the garage, "I sorted it twice and it's still junk."
There comes a time when you cross the line from being sentimental to being a pack rat. Some people subscribe to the idea, "If you haven't used it for a year, throw it out." My German heritage runs far too deep to adopt that philosophy. My house does not contain as much junk as the garage, but I must admit there are some things I could do without.
Yesterday I cleaned the bathroom and found a little bottle of Num-Zit--a teething lotion I rubbed on the gums of my first child 39 years ago when he was getting his first teeth. Why have I kept it all these years? Why didn't I throw it out yesterday? Does it have sentimental value or is it junk?
If everyone threw out all their old things there would be no antique market and we would know nothing about our ancestors. How do you determine what is worth keeping and what is junk?

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Short and Long Story

Yesterday we were invited to Snyder County for dinner at the home of a single sister and brother, Esther and Earl Good. They are Leroy's mom's first cousins through the Shaubs. After Esther read my book about Sarah, she wanted to visit with Sarah and meet me. So she invited us, Mom, and her sister Mary and John, to come to her house for dinner.
In the afternoon, some more of the Good siblings, nieces and nephews came to visit with us too. It was a full house and interesting day. Among the visitors was a LeeRoy Stauffer. Although the spelling is slightly different, this was the first time Leroy met someone with the same name as his. When we got home I checked LeeRoy's genealogy and found Leroy and I are both his fourth cousins. Our common ancestor is Jacob W. Stauffer, the founder of the Pike Mennonite Church. LeeRoy descends from Jacob's son Moses, who was a brother of Leroy's ancestor Daniel and my ancestor David. So that's the short and long story of Leroy Stauffer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It Is Finished

The remodeling job is finished and everything is back in place. Whew! You can now cast your vote if you like it best this way or the way it was before. Scroll down to the Remodeling post if you need to compare.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I Am Not a Mechanic

I can cook and bake from scratch; I can sew; I can sing; I can draw a half-decent picture; I can write a story; I can speak to a crowd without getting nervous. But I am not a mechanic. I cannot hammer a nail in straight no matter how often I try. I am just about as bad trying to take nails out with the other end of the hammer. I know a car won't run without gas and where to put gas in so it will keep going, but that's about it.
So why was I standing on a bucket shining a timing light down into the bowels of a truck this afternoon? Only because there was no one else here to do it.
Gerald explained over and over how things worked under that hood and what we were trying to accomplish. He was going to make some adjustments on another part and I was to shine the timing light way down there "where that jagged line is and tell me if the mark moves." I saw the jagged line but I could not see the mark. He shut the truck off, crawled underneath, and put his finger on the mark. Oh! That faint little line. OK. Now I see it.
So he starts up the truck and I shine the light way down south. But the light flashes with every revolution of the gizmo and I cannot see the mark when it is running.
Finally, I am dismissed with, "Go back in the house. You did what you needed to do."
After raising five sons, I have heard enough talk about cars to know setting the timing is a delicate matter and he does not yet have it where he wants it. But I go back in the house smiling inside at the irony of the situation.
In the house, I am in familiar territory and know what I am doing. Don't ask me to help with something mechanical unless you enjoy getting frustrated. I am not a mechanic.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Shades of Fall

We're in the middle of August and I am already seeing hints of fall around me.
*The days are warm but the morning temperatures this week have been in the low 60s. The hills wear a misty veil in the mornings that disappears as the sun rises in the sky.
*Garden season is winding down. This morning I was out there cutting off the corn with my trusty old tobacco shears. The only crops still in the garden are a partial row of corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, and one huge neck pumpkin vine that volunteered to come up and is taking over as if it owns the place.
*Every day this week the mailman has delivered one or more of Gerald's books for the fall semester. School starts August 27.
*I have already given the front porch and outside of the patio their end-of-the-summer scrubbing.
*The first mums are opening and showing their ruby red color.
*The hours of daylight are noticeably shortened at each end.
Summer just began a few short weeks ago. But after living through nearly 60 years of season changes, I can see and feel the subtile hints of fall. Ready or not, it's on its way.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


We built this house in 1968 and have done a lot of finishing, maintenance, and repairs in the past 39 years but have never actually remodeled anything. (I consider remodling to be tearing out the original and rebuilding.) There are some spots in the house that are vintage 60s--such as the paneling in the living room and ceramic tile on the bathroom walls.
I have been wanting to do something about the paneling for years but nothing ever happened. Leroy just says, "It was good for 39 years, what's wrong with it now?" That's just the point! The paneling has taken a beating in the raising of six children. Finally, we compromised. I decided the paneling in the entrance and front hall is really the most beat up. If we get rid of that much I can live with it in the living room.
After doing the drywalling at the cabin, Leroy said he is not going to tackle doing it in our house. So we got High Builders lined up to do the work. In order to save a little on the cost, we tore off the paneling and plaster board that was behind it so the project is ready for drywall on Monday morning. It is making a dirty mess in the house but I predict it will be a great improvement when it is finished and that he will like it in the end--although he is still grousing that it isn't necessary.
Here is a BEFORE picture. I'll post an AFTER picture when it is finished and then you can cast your votes whether you think it is an improvement or not.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Charlotte's Last Stand

What do you do to keep cool on a hot summer day? Every year about this time when there is a hot, humid day like today, I head to the front porch armed with a hose and scrub brushes to erase the unsolicitited contributions the flies and spiders generously deposit to my account over summer. The porch does not get as dirty as it once did when it was the parking garage for an assortment of bikes, scooters, and the like. Now it is home to inanimate objects such as antique jugs, flower pots, and yes, even a rocking chair.
The fly and spider dirt wasn't even as bad this year, perhaps due to the dry weather. But the porch was needing a good scrub, and I decided this is the day. By the time I finished I was so wet I had to wring the water from my skirt before coming into the house, but I'm cool as a cucumber, and the porch is now wearing a happy smile after it's "dental" cleaning.
In the scrubbing process I brushed down a huge white spider from above the bow window. I realized she must have been the culprit that spun a web across the porch a couple weeks ago when we had guests for supper. There was no spider web on the porch when they arrived, but the first person to walk across the porch when they were leaving got hung up in a huge spider web. Since it was dark, I couldn't see the spider. And since it was white, it blended into the woodwork so that I never saw it in the daylight.
Some women scream at spiders, but I don't mind them at all. I marveled at the size of this one and swatted her flat. And then I began to have second thoughts. . . Was this huge spider's name by any chance Charlotte? Had Wilbur sent her to work her magic on my porch? When my friend walked into her web, what message was destroyed? Did it say, "Some Housekeeper" or "Safe Haven for Spiders?" I guess we'll never know, will we?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Anniversary Party

We reached the 40th anniversary of our wedding date on July 15, but this weekend we enjoyed a big party our children hosted to celebrate the event. I cannot believe how dense I was to all they were doing behind our backs. The thought they might have a party had crossed our minds but we agreed there are no signs of anything going on and we were happy with that. How wrong we were!
Cheryl and her family arrived about bedtime on Friday night. She wanted to go shopping on Saturday and I thought we had all day. We went to Ephrata and mosied our way home. She tells me now she about wilted when I suggested going into Dutchway's restaurant for a little lunch. She turned down all suggestions for other places to shop, so we went home. (She had things to do I didn't know about!)
I had told all our children to come for supper around 6 and was surprised to see Gene and Amy were there already. As soon as I got out of the car, everyone that was there came and surrounded me.
Gene said, "I didn't get the lettuce and tomatoes for supper tonight."
I said, "I was just at Dutchway. I could have gotten them if you had told me."
"Well, I figured we don't need them."
"Oh! So when YOU have to buy lettuce it isn't necessary." (We have this on-going joke about me being too tight to buy lettuce.)
"What time were you expecting people to come?"
"Six o'clock."
"Well, if you're here at 6 you'll be disappointed because nobody is coming."
"They're not?! They all said they can."
"No. They're not. And you're not supposed to be here either. You're supposed to be at Blue Lake at 3:30."
After all the clues I missed, the light finally came on then. It was so much more fun for them if we were surprised, but I am left wondering about my mental capabilities! Things were said and done right under my nose and I never caught on to a thing.
I was overcome when I got to Blue Lake and saw all they were doing for us. It was a full-fleged party with 170 people invited that lasted from 4-8 p.m. Of course, not everyone came, but we counted 111 in attendance. It was so much fun seeing who all showed up and visiting with everyone.
I was especially surprised to see Amos and Nora Hoover there. They gave us the "biggest" gift--a 500,000,000 German Mark note from 1923. That money was printed in September and worthless by November. A lot of people lost their fortunes in the process. Now I am wondering if I am a multi-millionaire or not. Imagine it! 500,000,000! I guess I'll frame it because I'll never have another million in my lifetime.
In spite of the note with the invitation stating "no gifts," we did get quite a few cards with cash gifts in them. It will take some thought what to get with it. I certainly am not going to spend it for groceries! We had a wonderful time and made many memories that will last a lifetime. Many thanks to everyone that came and helped make it happen!
Here are a few pictures from the party.

Meeting the guests.

The party in progress.

The bridal party, minus the best man who lives in Florida and could not attend. Notice our wedding clothes hanging on the wall behind us. Why didn't I wear the dress? Three guesses and the first two don't count!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Things That Truly Last

After supper last evening I literally "hung out" on the patio--in the hammock. I had a busy day filled with a lot of little things that added up to a full day's work. I was so tired I didn't even take a book with me. That turned out to be a good thing.
With no printed page in front of me, I was more aware of the world around me. I heard the music of the kadydids and crickets, saw the points of light courtesy of the fireflies, smelled the fragrance of drying hay in the field across the road, and felt the gentle little breezes coming through the screens. This is life at its best!
I was reminded of Rudyard Kipling's poem, Philadelphia. He talks about how different Philadelphia is today from colonial days and then winds up with this verse (emphasis mine):

If you're off to Philadelphia this morning,
And wish to prove the truth of what I say,
I pledge my word you'll find the pleasant land behind
Unaltered since Red Jacket rode that way.
Still the pine-woods scent the noon; still the catbird sings his tune;
Still autumn sets the maple-forest blazing;
Still the grapevine through the dusk flings her soul-compelling musk;
Still the fireflies in the corn make night amazing!
They are there, there, there with Earth immortal
(Citizens, I give you friendly warning).
The things that truly last when men and times have passed,
They are all in Pennsylvania this morning!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


A year or two ago the Pike church at Hinkletown put new siding on their building and installed new windows. I was fortunate enough to latch onto one of the old windows. It sat in my basement ever since while I batted around ideas what to do with it. Suddenly, inspiration struck!

I went through the things I got at Aunt Esther's sale in February and picked out an assortment of old postcards, calling cards, etc. which I mounted on a piece of poster board and then framed with the old window.

Some of the items are the calling cards of Leroy's grandpa, Amos Wenger, and his brothers, Ammon and Noah. There are postcards sent to Amos Wenger and his second wife, Lydia Good, in 1908-1914 and also some scarce postcards of the Pike Church and the center of Ephrata taken in the early 1960s. But I think the prize piece is a little valentine Grandpa Wenger got from his first wife, Amanda Shaub. The tiny card (center bottom) was in a little envelope on which she had written, "From your true love, Amanda." She died in 1933 from complications of childbirth. After that, the household things were sold and the children scattered in various homes. Not many of Amanda's things survived, so this little valentine with her own handwriting is a real treasure. And the window from their church is an appropriate frame for them.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sore Knee

I walk about a mile and a half every day (Lord willin' and the cricks don't rise). My one knee has been grumbling for a couple weeks and was getting more insistent about it so I decided to take a week off and see if it gets better. It is still sore but not as bad as before. I don't know what ails it but I subscribe to my grandpa's philosophy---"It got this way itself, it can get better itself." It surely isn't age. :-)

A man went to his doctor complaining of a sore leg. “Doc, I’ve tried all kinds of salves and ointments, and it’s just not getting any better.” After examining him, the doctor said, “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do. It’s just old age you’re feeling.”
“But, Doc,” said the man, “my other leg doesn’t hurt, and it’s the same age.”

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pool Forge Park

If you're looking for a nice spot for a picnic, try Pool Forge Park at Churchtown. It's right along Route 23. There is a sign at the end of the driveway to let you know when you have arrived. There are a couple of neat old stone houses in the park and a covered bridge. A pavilion is still under construction. There is also a playground and a stream if you like fishing. We were there Saturday evening for a birthday party. I wish it was closer!

Friday, July 13, 2007


I have been abundantly blessed this week in studying the little book of Habakkuk to teach the ladies Sunday school class on Sunday morning. The little book is basically a dialog between the prophet and God that culminates in a song of praise. It goes something like this (in my own words):

Habakkuk: God! Don't you hear me crying for help? Why don't you answer? Why don't you do something? Must I forever see all this sin around me?

God: I am doing something. You'll be so amazed when you see it you won't believe your eyes. I am raising up the Iraqis to be a world power. They will come in and scoop up captives like you scoop up a handful of sand.

Habakkuk: The Iraqis? They are worse than we are. How can allowing such a wicked nation to wipe us out be justified? Answer me that.

God: Mark this down in big, bold letters. Wicked men trust in themselves and fail; but the righteous man trusts in Me and lives. I am not blind. The Iraqis will get what they deserve in the end. Eventually everyone in the earth will realize God alone is the supreme ruler and stand silent before Him.

Habakkuk: God, You are great and powerful. I trust Your judgment. Even though I dread the terrible things that are going to happen, I will trust in You no matter what.

When I look at the setting of this book I can see parallels to our times. The nation of Israel had been taken into captivity by the Assyrians, leaving only the small nation of Judah where Jerusalem was located. Then the Assyrians were conquered by the Babylonians (Iraqis) and Judah breathed a sigh of relief that they didn't have to worry about the Assyrians anymore. They didn't know the Babylonians, who were even worse than the Assyrians, were about to become the new world power and wipe them out. That did not even seem like a possibility.

Fast forward to the 20th century.

In the 1980s Americans breathed a sigh of relief when communism crumbled from within. We no longer had to worry about Russia marching in and taking over. But how long was it before we started hearing about Osama bin Laden and seeing terrorist attacks? These attacks are growing and become more vicious. Will the terrorists manage to subdue the free world? What terrible things might we have to live through? What shall we do?

Read Habakkuk's prayer song in chapter 3. No matter what happens, we can trust in God. He is sovereign. He knows what He is doing. Although everything we have is totally destroyed, we can trust God to see us through. In the end, He will punish the wicked but "the just shall live by faith." Even if we lose our lives in a terrorist attack, we shall LIVE eternally by faith. Even in losing we win!

(Now if you're going to be in my Sunday school class on Sunday, I just spilled the beans and you know already what I am going to say.)

Monday, July 9, 2007

40 Years

On July 15 we will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. In recognition of the occasion, we had our portrait taken and I have updated the picture on my profile with the anniversary picture. When I compare it with the picture taken on our wedding day, I can't believe both of these pictures are ME.

Leroy says, "If it's true that time flies when you're having fun, we must be having a ball." It hasn't all been fun and games. There are some spots I wouldn't give a nickel to live through again, but that doesn't mean they were all bad. Even the hard times were good for me. But there have been plenty of good times to compensate for the hard times and I have never regretted the choice I made 40 years ago.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Try This!

While sitting on a chair, lift your right foot off the floor and move it in clockwise circles.
Then raise your right hand and draw a 6 in the air.
Your foot will automatically change directions.
Try it!

(Some people must not have enough to do or else they lay awake nights figuring out things like this.)

Friday, July 6, 2007

I Hate Changes

I hate making changes, especially those related to technology. There are people who like to be on the cutting edge of new technology. They are the people who stood in line for hours (or days) to get the first iPhones last week. Not me! I'm skeptical. My philosophy is that new technologies usually have some bugs in them that need worked out. Let somebody else have those headaches and then maybe someday I'll try it.
It's not just technology. I won't tell you how old the wallpaper is in my kitchen but it goes quite a few years back into the previous century. I sleep in the same bed in which I was born. And I still have every (unchipped) piece of the china doll dishes I got for Christmas when I was six years old.
What makes me so reluctant to change? I think I found the answer.
Yesterday I finished typing a list of my ancestors, tracing 16 lines back to the immigrants or beyond. All but one of those lines are Swiss/German and all of them arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. Some of them lived in the Philadelphia area for a short time, but then all of them moved inland to Lancaster County where they put it in park and stayed for generations.
I can count on the fingers of one hand those who died in another state or county. The vast majority lived not only in Lancaster County, but in one of the three Earl Townships. (Earl, East Earl, and West Earl)
My ancestors lived in Lancaster County for 250 years until my parents broke the pattern and moved to Berks County in 1967. Maybe that's why it's so hard for me to make changes. It's in my genes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Cherry Pie Filling

I just finished canning 18 qts. of cherry pie filling. These cherries were on the tree this morning and now they are preserved for the winter.

Is it really cheaper to can your own pie filling? I'm not sure it is, but this is more about taste than cost. There is no cannery in the whole United States that can match the taste of home canned cherry pie filling. Here is the recipe for the best of the best cherry pie filling.

3 qts. sour cherries, 1 qt. water, 1 pkg. cherry Kool-Aid, 3 c. sugar

2 c. water, 1 heaping cup of clear jel, one 3-oz pkg. cherry Jell-o

Pit the cherries. Combine 1 qt. water, Kool-Aid, and sugar; bring to a boil. Dissolve clear jel in 2 cups water and add to the boiling mixture. When thick and clear, add Jell-o. Stir until Jell-o is dissolved. Pour over cherries and stir to mix. Put in jars. Cold pack 10-15 minutes.

The Kool-Aid and Jell-o add flavor and color to the cherries. If you try this recipe you'll never go back to your old one!

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Lousy Beautician

Leroy served two years of alternate (I-W) service at a hospital in Morristown, NJ from 1965-67. There was a mental hospital about five miles from there which also had a large group of I-Ws. On Saturday there was a reunion at New Holland of the guys that served at both places.
When we got there, some of the crowd were visiting on the parking lot. At first glance Leroy thought he doesn't recognize anybody. But the longer we were there the more people he knew. The name tags helped a lot!
The organizer said it for me when he said he couldn't believe how OLD everybody looked. But then, it WAS 40 years ago in May that Leroy finished his service. Like it or not, I guess we fit in with this grayed, faded glory crowd. The "cool dudes" are old bucks and the "chicks" are clucks. I think we've all mellowed and I hope grown wiser as well. Time may be a great healer but it is a lousy beautician!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reiff Ancestors

A few weeks ago I came across a Reiff in my ancestral line. That was one I had not traced before and of course my nose itched to learn more. This week I pieced together information I had from various reliable sources and now have the line back to Hans Ryff who was born about 1528 in Switzerland.
Hans Ryffe and several generations after him lived at Wadenswil, Switzerland, which is the same area in which my Weaver ancestors lived. Hans Heinrich Ryff (known as Heinrich), who was born in 1622, was the first generation known to be Anabaptist. In January 1673, Heinrich, now 51 years of age, "secretly left the village" and escaped with his family to the Palatinate, Germany, where by 1680, he was living in the Ibersheim area. This is the same village in Germany where the Stauffers. The spelling of the surname was changed from Ryff to Reiff in Germany.
Abraham Reiff (grandson of Heinrich), who was born in Ibersheim about 1696, immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1719. He first lived in Montgomery County but then moved on to Chester County and finally to Lancaster County where he died in Upper Leacock Township.
After three generations of Abrahams, my line follows a daughter, Anna Reiff, who married Christian Horst. In the next generation the name became Nolt, and two generations later it changed again to Burkholder.
I am in the 15th generation descended from Hans Ryff in Switzerland, making this one of the longest lines I have worked out in my genealogy. I am in the 16th generation of Stauffers and 22nd generation of Baumans. Most of my other lines I have traced are at least ten or twelve generations. That is why it is so frustrating for me to be able to go back only seven generations in my Powell line. That tiny bit of English in me is proving much more difficult to document than the dozen Swiss/German lines I have traced. On the other hand, some of the things I have found about the Powells make me wonder if I really want to know more about them. They certainly are more colorful than my steady, stolid Swiss/German ancestors!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Memories to Treasure

We had an interesting weekend with company that stretched into Monday afternoon. My brother Merle and his family came from Canada, arriving about 10:30 Saturday evening and were here overnight. On Sunday morning he preached at our church.
Other visitors at church were my sisters, Betty Ann and Carol, who brought with them four friends from Switzerland. They were Mr. & Mrs. Paul Wittwer, their son Hannes, and Susan who is the sister of Mrs. Wittwer. (Susan is missing from this picture but is in the back row on the next one.)

We met the Wittwers in 1997 when we were in Switzerland. They lived at Steinburg which was the property where several generations of our Burkholder ancestors lived in the 1600s and until it was confiscated from them in the early 1700s because they were Anabaptists. From there the Burkholders moved to the Jura Mountains and then immigrated to PA in 1754. We found Steinburg in 1997 and then knocked on the Wittwer's door to ask what they could tell us about the property. We were total strangers to each other but quickly found we were simply friends that had never met before. They were very friendly and accommodating.
Betty Ann & Marvin took another group over in 1999 and spent time with the Wittwers again. When we learned they were coming here to visit, we invited all the people who had been in both groups to come here for lunch on Sunday. What was even more amazing was the fact that Merle and Edith were planning to be here the same Sunday. I was glad every one of our 1997 family tour group was here.

After the photo session the Wittwers said they would like us to sing together. So we sat on our patio and sang familiar songs by memory. We sang the same songs but they sang in German and we in English. We were an international group from three countries, but the faith we have in common binds us together in heart and soul. A foretaste of heaven! "Every nation and kindred and people and tribe . . . "
Merle had three meetings crammed into today. He left the house at 5:30 this morning for the first one and got back around 4 p.m. They left as soon afterward as they could because they have a six-hour drive to northwestern PA where they must be by bedtime. We looked forward to this weekend a long time and now have the memories to treasure.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What We Believe

Yesterday I listened on-line to a great topic by Frank Peretti entitled What We Believe. If you have a cable or DSL connection, you can listen to it by clicking on this link and then on Play Audio.

Frank Peretti has a unique style of public speaking. He has a comical way of expressing his thoughts decorated with his own sound effects. But the truths he presents are right on target.
Listen and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Trash or Treasure?

Anybody want a free table and six chairs? We set this breakfast set out this morning with a FREE sign in hopes our trash will be a treasure for someone else. If there are no takers the question will be answered and it will go in the trash.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

250th Anniversary

The Little Swatara Church of the Brethren is celebrating its 250th anniversary this weekend. Four small congregations in this area joined to form the Little Swatara Church in 1964. We went for part of the celebration this afternoon. They had a German service at 2 p.m. After that we went on a mini-tour of a couple of the old Brethren buildings. The oldest one is Merkeys which was built in 1848. (They met in homes for the first hundred years.)

On the way back we stopped at the Little Swatara Church again to see the old cars and tractors on display. If I ever had a car just for fun I would want one of these little darlings. It's a 1918 Tin Lizzie.

Monday, June 11, 2007

All At Once

Our whole tribe gets together each summer for a weekend or at least a day trip to a place nearby. This weekend we did a bigger trip (for most of us) than usual. Leroy and I met Gerald near Hershey after he got off work at 3:30 on Friday and headed west. I had reserved five rooms at a Days Inn at New Stanton for all of us. It was not the best motel experience due to a storm that knocked out the power before we arrived. It came on partially around midnight and we were thankful we could at least get lukewarm showers Saturday morning.
We left the motel a little before 9 and drove to Pittsburgh where we met Cheryl and her family at the Carneige Science Center at 10. They had the short trip this time (for a change) because Pittsburgh is about an hour and a half from their home in Ohio.
We had reserved group tickets to go into Sports Works, the Science Center, and the Imax Deep Sea film. We went into Sports Works first and all but a few of us ladies and children were there until lunch time. As you can see, the place is more of a guy thing.

We had taken our own lunch along which we ate at tables inside the Science Center. Right after lunch we saw the film and then were in the Science Center until 5 pm. They have a lot of hands-on things to do which demonstrate how the principles of science and laws of nature work. This is Marcus operating a solar powered car.

I came out of there amazed at the vastness of the universe and how intricately everything is made. It takes more faith to believe the world evolved on its own that it does to believe it was created by God.
Cheryl and Richard picked up 8 pizzas on the way back to their house. It was kinda cold till we all got there, but we ate it anyway. Then everybody started the bath routine and finding a place to settle for the night. We and Daryls went over to Richard's parents to sleep. There just was not enough floor space for everyone to sleep at Cheryl's house. Cheryl and Richard slept in the sleeper bunk of his truck and the boys had a tent in the back yard.
We and Daryls went back to Cheryl's house for breakfast with the rest of the bunch and then went to their church. Richard was an usher Sunday morning so he reserved the back two benches on each side for our tribe. We filled about 3 1/2 benches. We had lunch at their house, including two freezers of homemade ice cream which we totally licked up. Then it was time to load up and head home. Before leaving, we gathered on the front porch of Cheryl's house to take a picture. You know the old worn-out saying, "Come to visit us but don't all come at once." Well, we did all go at once--all 26 of us. And here's proof.

We pretty much packed out the Miller house, but that just added to the fun. I think this will go down in the books as one of the best Family Trips we have ever taken.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Personality Types

Yesterday I came across Gary Smalley's description of personality types. I know I heard this before but I had forgotten it. These are easier for me to identify with than the Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic descriptions of personality types.
Here is a description of the four personality types based on Gary Smalley's writings:

Lion-Take charge. Do it now. This personality likes to lead. The lion is good at making decisions and is very goal-oriented. They enjoy challenges, difficult assignments, and opportunity for advancement. Because lions are thinking of the goal, they can step on people to reach it. Lions can be very aggressive and competitive. Lions must learn not to be too bossy or to take charge in other's affairs. Biblical Example: Paul

Otter- Laid back. Carefree. Otters are very social creatures. Otter personalities love people. They enjoy being popular and influencing and motivating others. Otters can sometimes be hurt when people do not like them. Otter personalities usually have lots of friends, but not deep relationships. They love to goof-off. (They are notorious for messy rooms.) Otters like to hurry and finish jobs. (Jobs are not often done well.) The otter personality is like Tigger in Winnie The Pooh. Biblical Example: Peter

Golden Retriever-Caring. Concerned about feelings. Good at making friends. Very loyal. Retriever personalities do not like big changes. They look for security. Can be very sensitive. Very caring. Has deep relationships, but usually only a couple of close friends. Wants to be loved by everyone. Looks for appreciation. Works best in a limited situation with a steady work pattern. Biblical Example: Abraham

Beaver- Busy. Organized. Pays attention to details. Think that there is a right way to do everything and they want to do it exact that way. Beaver personalities are very creative. They desire to solve everything. Desire to take their time and do it right. Beavers do not like sudden changes. They need reassurance. Biblical Example: Moses

It did not take me long to decide in which category I belong! But I know people often don't see themselves the way other people see them, so I asked Leroy which he thinks I am. After about 10 seconds of thought he came up with the same answer I had. I'm a Beaver. Busy--I always have more ideas for things to do than there is time to get done. Organized--My spices are arranged alphabetically on the shelf. Pays attention to details--socks are hung on the line in pairs with all the heels pointing south. Need reassurance--I needed to hear the one who knows me best verify that I am a Beaver!
Which one are you--Lion, Otter, Golden Retriever, or Beaver?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Everything's Coming Up Roses

My roses are blooming. There they are in all their glory.

Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. (Veronica A. Shoffstall)

Monday, June 4, 2007

All Things Come To Those Who Wait

"All things come to he who waits." Who said that? Violet Fane (1843-1905) used the idea in her poem Tout vient ß qui sait attendre, but did not coin the phrase.
'Ah, all things come to those who wait,'
(I say these words to make me glad),
But something answers soft and sad,
'They come, but often come too late.'

I am happy to report that one of the things on our "someday" list got done before it was too late for me to see and enjoy it.
The A-frame cabin Daddy built was finished on his 60th birthday, in 1984. He died a little over two years later and ownership was transferred to his children. We made some improvements over the years; the most major one being remodeling the dressing room. That included putting new vinyl on the floor and sheeting the walls with a washable wall board. The greatest improvement was a shower.
We got the idea how to make that shower when we were visiting Leroy's uncle in Belize in 2002. Since our cabin has no running water (unless you run up from the spring with the water bucket) the shower is a pipeless bucket-and-rope version. A bucket with a shower head attached to the bottom is tied to a rope that runs over an overhead pulley. To use the shower, you must lower the bucket, fill it with water, hoist it back up, and flip the valve to let the water come through the shower head. But you better pick a short song to sing in the shower because when the bucket is empty your shower is over.
Anyway, one of the things we often talked about (but never did) was finishing the inside walls and ceiling. The walls were still bare stud walls---which made it easy to string up new lights or receptacles but cleaning more difficult. Finally, on Labor Day last year we spent the long weekend putting insulation in the two end walls (one in the living room and the other in the kitchen) and installing drywall. It did not stay warm long enough to get the spackling all done last fall, so we let it go until this spring.
We spent this weekend at the cabin with my two sisters and the job was finally finished by applying a coat of soft beige paint. It looks wonderful! Now I am dreaming of finishing the side walls. But the men who would have to do the work are not as enthused as I am.
Oh well. All things come to those who wait.