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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!