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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?