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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?