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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Winter Retreat

Winter is here and I'm going into semi-hibernation. This is the season I retreat deeper into my cozy cave while the winter winds howl. That does not mean I sit hunched over my fire and contemplate the flames. It just means I take on a few projects I don't have time for in the summer when I'm out and about.
When we were out with Cheryl in October, I brought home an appliqued quilt top she has had for several years and never got quilted. I told her I won't put it in until after Christmas. Now that Christmas is behind us, I pulled the top out of storage and put it in the frame on Monday. Since it is no hurry to get it done, I have not invited anyone to come help quilt--yet. I'll work at it whenever I have time and it won't matter if it takes me all winter. So I am retreating to the basement of my cave and stitching the winter away.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Present Crisis

Here are a few lines from a poem by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) entitled The Present Crisis which might provide some comfort for you at the dawn of another year in these uncertain times.
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Flasehood, for the good or evil side; . . .
Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet 'tis Truth alone is strong,
And albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong.
Backward look across the ages and the beacon-moments see,
That, like peaks of some sunk continent, jut through Oblivion's sea;. . .
Careless seems the great Avenger; history's pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,---
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.
"Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne." Although wrong seems to be forever winning in this world, Truth is forever on the scaffold building a kingdom that will triumph in the end. Meanwhile, God is sovereign "keeping watch above His own."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bits and Pieces

This morning I did a double-take when I went back into the auditorium after Sunday School. The register up front reported that the amount of the offering was $153,000.00. It was a combined offering for Mennonite Air Missions and the Medical Aid Fund, but it far exceeded my expectations. I wondered who had emptied their savings account or sold a property to give that much. After church was over the secretary who had posted the amount went up and removed one of the zeros. That brought it down to a more believable $15,300.00. What a difference one zero can make!
This is the end of a four-day weekend and I've had enough of it. I'm ready to get back to normal. I'm beginning to wonder how I will manage retirement if a four-day weekend is all I can handle. I did put in a full day of housework on Friday but people were in and out of the house all day. I am used to shipping everybody off in the morning and having the place to myself. It's not that they were in my way on Friday, or that I didn't enjoy the Christmas dinner and socializing on Thursday, Saturday and today. It just feels like I'm not getting anything done with all the partying that's been happening the past week or so. I'm ready to wrap up this year and get on with the projects I have planned for the first month of 2009.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas came to our house on Saturday, five days early. What a blessing to have a family who can get together and have a good time without any arguments erupting! It wasn't always this way. To those who are still in the thick of raising children, take heart. They do eventually grow up and are able to sit at the table without elbowing each other and demanding more space.
Cheryl and Richard had the furtherest to come and put forth the most effort to get here. Their basement flooded on Friday and they spent all day cleaning up the mess. They left very early Saturday morning to get here in time for lunch and had just gotten on the interstate when they had a flat tire. But after that they had smooth sailing and got here at 12:10, just in time to jump in the food line and fill their plates with a hot meal. I got my promised revenge and cooked the two infamous geese and a duck Gerald raised last summer.

We were not quite finished eating when the first grandchild asked the question in most of their minds. "Is it time for presents?" We selfishly made them wait until the women had put the food away and washed the dishes. Then they formed a circle and waited for their turns to receive their gifts.

One different activity we had this year was packing school kits which will be shipped to children through Christian Aid Ministries. We usually collect money for a charitable cause but did a hands-on project this year. We had enough supplies for each child to pack one kit.

After everyone left, Cheryl and Richard helped clean up the basement so it is at least half decent. (I'll get the rest of it today.) We all went to bed early, tired and happy.

Our plans for Sunday changed with a phone call in the morning saying church was canceled due to the icy road conditions. Snow and freezing rain were still coming down. The total accumulation didn't amount to much in the end, but it was very slippery in the morning. So we had a lazy morning at home with an easy-to-make dinner of leftovers (what else?!). The sun came out while we were eating and melted the ice on the roads. They were bare by the time Cheryl and Richard headed back to Ohio at 3 p.m. The setting sun highlighted the glittering ice, making it look as if we live in a world made of glass. It was a beautiful ending to our Christmas holiday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas

As many other people who have December birthdays, I am used to having my birthday and Christmas present being rolled into one. This year was no exception. There was no way Leroy could keep my gift a secret this year. Here it is.

This is the sideboard that belonged to my paternal grandmother, Annie Burkholder. She got it when she was married in 1905, so it is over 100 years old. I bought it this spring from a cousin who had inherited it but never used it. The man who refinished it for me did not want to attempt repainting the decorative lines and design on the top. I took pictures of the designs before he stripped off the old finish so we could have them redone by someone else. As you guessed by now, it never happened. So last week Leroy took the pictures and the top to a professional sign painter and had the design restored. He brought the finished piece home this week and reattached it. So there's my present---the design on the top of the sideboard. It is completely restored and the lines really set it off. I wonder what Annie would say if she saw it now. I think it must look very much like it did when she got it 103 years ago.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy Birthday

Thanks to all of you who wished me a happy birthday. It's happening. It's not as exciting as the year the numbers were reversed and I had finally reached the magic number to get a driver's license and run with the young people. On the other hand, I do not want to have to go through that year of my life again. I'm not the same person I was when I was 16. I much prefer my stolid steady plodding pace today. I don't have to wonder what course my life will take for most of it has already been lived. I'm happy and content with my lot in life and being through the thick of raising a family. Now I have time to pursue my own hobbies and interests instead of spending my days meeting the immediate and urgent needs of the family.
This morning we had a very inspiring message on how the way the Christian walks is paved with the promises of God. No matter what happens, His promises give us comfort and security. I bought myself a special treat for Sunday dinner--Weaver's prepared southern fried chicken. This afternoon we visited an old lady in the neighborhood I have befriended. She misunderstood something that happened and wrote me an angry letter. So I took her a plate of Christmas cookies, stroked her fur while I explained what really happened, and we parted on just as friendly terms as before. I don't have an enemy in this world (that I know of) and I'd like to keep it that way.
This evening we plan to go to a candlelight service at the Coleman Chapel just north of Brickerville. I have often wanted to see the inside of that old church and this is the perfect opportunity. It was named for Robert Coleman who bought the Elizabeth Furnace from Henry Stiegel in the 1700s. Elizabeth Furnace was right next to the chapel. Stiegel also had an iron furnace at Charming Forge just a few miles from here. He lived too extravagently and was bankrupted. There was no government bailout in colonial days so he died a pauper. The candlelight service will be a nice finishing touch to a happy birthday. (And I won't have another one for a whole year.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bargain Book

I know this will not be exciting to some of you and won't know the difference if you skip reading this post. But look at the bargain I got on ebay last week!

This is a German hymn book printed in Germantown by Christoph Saur in 1763. It was printed for the Reformed Church but, according to Mennonite Encyclopedia, was also used by the Mennonites before they printed their own German hymn book. A stack of these unused books was found in the attic of the Groffdale Mennonite Church in 1925. I suppose they were retired to the attic after the Mennonite hymn book was printed in 1804. The writing on a flyleaf says the book was purchased by Elisa Barbara ? of Heidelburg Township on November 18, 1770 for 6 shillings and 6 pence.

The surname of this lady has not been deciphered but when I get a chance I will show it to my German expert and hopefully he can tell me what it is. At any rate, she probably lived just a few miles from here. Names of later owners written on other pages are Jacob Loop and Henry Bowman.

The person who listed this book on ebay was from Colorado and obviously did not know what it was. When I saw the bid was only $26, I couldn't let the opportunity pass. I have seen them sell for $1200. This one is probably not worth quite that much because the back cover is not attached to the spine, but it still is worth a lot more than I had to pay to get it. Of course, I paid a little more than $26 for it, but my winning bid was still a bargain price. Now I have to decide if I am going to sell it and make a large profit or keep it and let my children inherit the profits. I doubt I'll ever get another one this cheap.