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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Die Lenger Die Schlimmer

As I was straining tomatoes today I thought about a rhyme my mother used to say:
Die lenger die schlimmer
Bei uns geh immer.
It doesn't rhyme in English but means, "The longer the worse it always goes with us.
What does that have to do with straining tomatoes?
Well, here it is, the last days of July and I am doing the first canning of the summer. Yesterday I froze a measly eight packs of corn (1 1/2 cups each) and today I had a bucket of tomatoes. I used to start canning around Memorial Day and kept at it until sometime in October. Our garden covered about 1/3 of our acre of land. We were barely through the peas and strawberries until we had piles of green beans, pickles, and you name it. August was always the rush with corn, peaches, tomatoes, and applesauce to can and freeze. I would can 100 qt. each of peaches and applesauce and put six cups of corn in a pack. Feeding five boys takes a lot of food!
As the family began leaving home, the garden began shrinking. It is now less than a quarter of what we once had and the rest has become lawn. Not only do we not need as much food (thank God!) but my aging crooked back does not let me till and hoe like I once did. The only reason the garden has not shrunk to the size of a flower bed is because Leroy likes to work in it. We could buy produce at the local produce market and still enjoy the taste of home canned foods.
This year I will have the shortest canning season ever. We were in Israel during strawberry season, I have enough cherries, apricots, and pickles left from last year, and I buy peas and beans now instead of canning and freezing them. That brings us all the way to the beginning of the August produce season before I canned one jar or froze one pack of anything.
Die lenger die schlimmer
Bei uns geh immer!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Year of the Traveler

I've heard that the weak U. S. dollar is making American vacations a bargain for foreign travelers. I have no statistics to prove whether that is true or not, but we are having more foreign visitors than usual this summer. Last week we had two overnight guests from Holland. Last night, while my sister was entertaining a family from Switzerland, we had company from Wales.
Sylvia Jones was born a Wenger and grew up in Lancaster County. Five years ago she married Peter Jones in Wales and has made that her home. They came back to visit her family this summer. She read my Sarah book and wanted to meet me and Sarah while they are here. They came for supper last evening and we had a nice visit which lasted until after 10 p.m. Peter was fascinated with things we take for granted, such as cicadas and fireflies. The PA Dutch meal I served, which included chicken pot pie and shoofly pie, was also unfamiliar to him. It was interesting to watch his reactions to these things.
Sylvia's brother, Larry, from California, and her sister Joyce & Dale Enck, from Lancaster County, were also our guests. Of course, Sarah was included too. She is a first cousin to Larry, Joyce, and Sylvia. Here they all are. Peter is on the far left and Sylvia is seated beside Leroy. Larry is sitting on the arm of the sofa and the Encks are in the corner. Which country will send us the next visitors?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Trip Report

This afternoon I feel like the air leaked out of my balloon. I've been scrambling around for a week getting ready for and going on a research trip to Ohio, then coming home to have overnight guests the next day. Now that it is over, I am limp and exhausted. But it was worth it!
We left on Thursday afternoon, spent the night with Cheryl, and went on Friday morning to Elida, Ohio. We picked up Ginny Traycik at the Columbus airport and arrived at the Salem Mennonite Church just in time for the 3 p.m. meeting of Good historians.
On Saturday we attended the reunion of the descendants of Henry and Betty (Culp) Good. About 90 people showed up. I know more people now than I did when I arrived. The highlight of the day was the presentation Don Good gave on the immigrant Good ancestors who settled in PA. That connection is what prompted my invitation to the reunion. Below is Don deep in discussion with Martha Huber Good from Ontario. She has written a wonderful book on the Hubers. I am glad she decided to ignore her age excuse and come. She is 81 but knows her Huber genealogy just as well today as she did when she wrote her book several years ago.

Of course we visited the Salem Cemetery which is the oldest Mennonite cemetery in the county and contains 1300 graves. We also went to the Pike Mennonite cemetery a few miles away. Walter & Martha Good, her sister Florence Riehl, Don, Ginny, and I were more interested in finding documents in Fairfield County because more family history happened there than in Allen County. We all left Elida early Sunday morning and drove three hours to attend services at the Turkey Run Mennonite Church in Fairfield County. The pastor there invited all of us to their house for lunch and showed us around the area. We visited three cemeteries on Sunday where we found some graves of ancestors and saw some other historically signifigant things. But we did not find the grave of Susanna Beery Good anywhere. We know she died before her husband and his second wife moved from Ohio to Iowa, but where is she buried? We went back to our hotel mystified.

On Monday we visited the public library in Lancaster, Ohio, and raided the Fairfield County courthouse where we found some valuable information in deeds and Joseph Good's 1849 estate settlement.

When we finished collecting our loot, we had a very late lunch and then headed for home at 4 p.m. We made only two pits stops and got home at 11 p.m. Monday night. The next day Ginny and Don asked the right people the right questions and found an obscure little cemetery in the woods that contains eight stones marking Beery and Good graves. More research is required, but we are all inclined to believe they found the elusive Susanna Beery Good buried under a stone marked simply S. B. G.

I reget missing that adventure, but have not figured out how to be two places at once. I wanted to be here to host Gerlof and Machteld Born. We don't often have the opportunity to host visitors from Holland. They arrived at my sister's house two days earlier than we expected, which meant I had overnight guests the day after I got home instead of two days later. Fortunately, one of my cousins stepped up to the plate in my absence and invited everyone for supper Tuesday. Machteld is on the far left but Gerlof is half hidden behind the person in the right foreground.

The Borns went on to Lancaster County this morning and will be leaving the area on Thursday. We met Gerlof when we were in Holland in 1997. He was single then but married Machteld a year or two ago. He is the secretary of the Mennonite Mission Board in Holland and told us about their work around the world.
The last week has been a whirl of activity and lots of fun. I enjoyed every minute, but now I'm going for a nap. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Here We Go Again!

We sure have not spent much time at home this summer. We're home a few days and then off again on another trip. Last week it was a day off in the middle of the week to go to a cabin. We were home Thursday and Friday, and then on the run again all weekend. We were home the first three days of this week but this afternoon we take off again.
Through my genealogy work we were invited to attend a Good reunion in Elida, Ohio, this weekend. It begins on Friday afternoon with a meeting of Good historians who are comng from various states and Canada. I'm looking forward to meeting Martha Huber Good who has written a wonderful book on the Huber and Good family history. I was surprised to learn that although she is coming from Ontario she is actually a couple hundred miles closer to Elida than we are.
The reunion will be held on Saturday and then the Good historians will move on to Lancaster, Ohio, to do some research. We hope to find some Good gravestones and the properties where these people lived. I would love to stay longer to do more research but we will have to come home on Tuesday. Paychecks have been scarce and small this summer, but are we having fun!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Look Who's Forty!

Our Fourth of July weekend was full and fun. On Saturday we attended the wedding of a nephew who finally took the plunge at the age of 35. Cheryl and Richard were invited to the wedding so their family was here from Friday evening until this morning.
Sunday evening we all helped surprise Daryl with a 40th birthday party. His birthday is actually on July 21, so he was totally unsuspecting and we got him over him good and proper.
I can't believe my children are turning (or pushing) forty. It doesn't seem long at all since I reached the same milestone, but it's twenty years ago. How can twenty years go by so quickly? The most scary part is that another twenty years will make me 80. Horrors!
Let's think about the positive! Daryl has made a success of his life and we congratulate him for that as well as that big 4-0 coming up in two weeks. But fasten your seat belt, Daryl! The next twenty years will go faster than the first forty did. I know. I've been there.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sister's Day

For quite a few years my sisters and I have been having a Sister's Day whenever one of us has a birthday. The birthday girl chooses the activity. Betty Ann's birthday (we won't say which one) is July 6. She rented a cabin in Snyder County for July 1-3 and invited all of her siblings (and spouses) to spend the time with her.
Some of us left at bedtime on July 2, but we were all together a little more than 24 hours. Since Merle and Edith live in Canada, we don't often have the chance to all sleep under the same roof. We had a good time, but I couldn't help thinking how much our activities have changed since we went to the cabin together years ago. Instead of climbing trees and falling in the spring, we sat on the porch and talked.

The conversation has changed considerably over the years too. We've gone through several stages as we moved through life. At one time the main topic of conversation was our children and the struggles of child rearing. Our children and grandchildren are not left out now, but we discussed some topics that were never mentioned years ago---such as blood pressures and what medications we take. Thankfully, I didn't have much to say on that subject as I don't take anything except an occassional Tylonol for headaches.
We wrapped up the day by singing together in English and German. Then my preacher brothers serenaded us with songs in Creole and Spanish, which are the languages of the countries where they have served in missions. After singing, we shared some of the thoughts currently on our hearts and minds. We got our love of music from our father and love of books from our mother. Although we don't all live close together, we are close at heart. What a blessing!