Comments are welcome but please have the courtesy to sign your name. Unsigned comments will be deleted.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I have been blessed with a husband who will eat almost anything (except cucumbers). Being the oldest of ten children whose parents were married very young and during World War II, they did not live high on the hog. (To this day, he will not empty a dish unless I insist because he grew up always leaving a little in the dish in case someone else at the table wanted more. ) The food I serve him can be described as "fast, cheap, and easy." I have too many other things I enjoy more than cooking to fuss around making elaborate meals that get destroyed in a matter of minutes by a set of teeth.
I seldom get either complaints or compliments on my cooking, so when he asks for something I know it is something he really likes. Last night he mentioned that it has been awhile since I made the recipe I got from my daughter-in-love. I like when I get suggestions what to cook. It makes meal planning easier and I know it is something he wants to eat.
I don't have a title for this recipe but it is a Berks County special with a German flavor. Here it is:
1/2 -3/4 pkg. wide noodles
4 apples
4 Tbs. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage
Cut sausage into small pieces and fry in a skillet. Boil noodles according to package directions. Wash, pare, and cut apples into thin slices. Melt 2 tbs. butter and place in oblong 13x9x2" dish. Place half the cooked, drained noodles into the dish. Place half of the sausage pieces on top of the noodles. Place half of the apples on top of the sausage. Mix the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle 1/2 of this mixture in the pan. Layer the remainder of the noodles, sausage, apples, and sugar mixture. Dot with remaining 2 tbs. butter. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until apples are soft.
You can use other kinds of sausage but the sweet Italian is the best. It sounds like an unusual mixture (if you aren't German) but it is delicious. Enjoy!
I have spent yesterday and today doing the final proofreading of a historical article which will be published in April. Cooking tonight must be fast, cheap, and easy. And now you know what we're having.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Finish Line

I put the first stitches in Cheryl's quilt on December 30. I had help for a couple hours one day, but I did the rest of it myself. It was a fun way to spend the month of January. I was so nearly done I knew I wouldn't be satisfied doing anything else this morning until the quilt was out of the frame. I crossed the finish line at 12:20 pm. Cheryl will do the binding of the scalloped border.
The top was marked for quilting when Cheryl gave it to me and it turned out beautifully. Here are some close-ups of the quilting patterns. I'll spare you a picture of my sore, bleeding fingertips.

With the quilt off the list, maybe next week I can get to some other things that are on my list for this winter before the season melts into spring.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thirty-five Years

We went to the company Christmas banquet last evening. Yes, it's nearly a month after Christmas, but we have enough going on during December and I'm glad they always have it in January. The awards for years of service are given at this annual banquet. This year there were several who got awards for five years, one person has been there ten years, and one for thirty years.
Leroy reached the 35 year mark last March and was due for an award. Since he is there longer than any other employee, there is no precedent and we never know what they might give. When he was called up, Ira handed him a framed certificate. From past experience, we sort of figured there would be more than that but ok. Ira asked Leroy to tell some stories of how things were when he started hanging doors in 1973. After that, Ira handed him another gift which turned out to be a John Deere version of Monopoly and a pack of "Johnny Pop" popcorn. I still thought that was sorta cheesy. It's special because it is John Deere, but neither of us are game players.
Finally, Ira handed Leroy the "real" gift, a Precision 1937-38 John Deere B model. He only had the one end opened when his eyes got big, his mouth dropped open, and he said, "Precision!" That one word told me what it was. Precision models are very detailed and very expensive. The little pedals move, the steering wheel turns, etc. He has always drooled over them but was too tight to fork over the money to own one. Now he does!
So if you would like to have a Precision John Deere, now you know. Work at Shank Door for 35 years and you'll get a free one.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mennonites on YouTube

A young Canadian has posted an album of assorted Mennonite groups singing acapella on YouTube. This is one of the selections. Very nicely done. If you want to hear more, go to

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


For the first time in my life, I watched the Inauguration of a President happen. I had listened to Inaugurations on the radio but since we don't have a TV I had never actually seen one take place. Yesterday, thanks to live coverage on the ABC News homepage, I was able to watch the Inauguration of our 44th President via the Internet. Here are some of my thoughts as I watched the activities.
This President is a first in more ways than one. He is the first President who is younger than me and from the next generation. All previous Presidents were baby boomer or older. Obama began using newer technology in his campaign (such as YouTube) and is more in touch with the younger generation.
I appreciated the frequent mention of God and the number of prayers that were offered at the events. Although actions count more than words, God is still at least getting lip service. Someone was trying to prevent him from saying "So help me God" at the end of the oath. If we erase God from the picture, we are sealing our own doom. The man who prayed before the luncheon hit it on the head when he addressed God as Sovereign of sovereigns. Obama may be the most powerful man on earth, but he is still subject and accountable to God like everyone else.
Obama is not a magic word that will set everything right overnight but his rise to the Presidency is a sign of progress in at least some areas. I don't agree with all his ideas on abortion and gay rights but think he is on the right track in getting out of Iraq and closing Guantanamo.
The world was watching this Inauguration as never before, due to the historic proportions and multinational background of the 44th President. The change of power occurred peacefully and courteously, in stark contrast to the rioting and bloodshed that accompanies elections in some parts of the world. As Obama's tribesmen and relatives watched in Kenya, they were shown there is a better way to do things. Although security was tight and some people in the throngs of at least 1.5 million people were disgruntled with the inability to navigate, there was not one arrest for misconduct all day. After the Inauguration was over, some who realized they would not be able to get out of town for quite awhile grabbed garbage bags and voluntarily started cleaning up the trash left on the mall. That is the spirit that makes America great.
And the last observation was more earthy. I was glad I was NOT in Washington. I know what being out in the cold does to me and they estimated there was one porta-john per 400 people. I would have spent hours standing in line at one of them and missed the swearing in because my turn had finally come. I could see better and was more comfortable here in my own office.
My God bless our new President and may he govern our great nation in accordance with the laws of God which supersede the laws of men.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cabin Fever

Leroy rounded up some of his sons and grandsons to go to the Cabin Fever at York. Cabin Fever is a guy thing. It is a show of all kinds of models and model engines. He likes to go, but not by himself because it's the kind of thing that is more fun when it is shared.
The star of the show for him was some half-scale John Deere tractors like he is dreaming of making. He wants to make a B model like this.This GP model really spun his crank. It sounds just like a real one. Start the video and hear it.

Some of the other models on display were anything from New Holland hit and miss engines to boats and trains and even a tiny cannon fired by a ray of light beamed through a magnifying glass to set it off. Dale thought it would make a unique alarm clock. You could set it on your windowsill, positioned just right for the sun to hit the glass and the cannon aimed just right to give you a wake-up call and get your day off to a running start. Any volunteers to try it?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Our Ship Came In

At one time or another we have probably all said what we will do when our "ship comes in." Today it happened. Our ship came in. Leroy opened his pay envelope and found a second unexpected check inside. It was more than enough to buy a brand new car. (A conservative Mennonite car, that is, not a Rolls-Royce.)
Being a firm believer in the old saying, "when it's too good to be true it probably isn't," Leroy immediately hiked up to the boss's office with the check and asked what it was all about. He was so stunned by the amount he didn't take the time to look whose name was on the check. The boss sheepishly said he had been half asleep when he did payroll last night. The check belonged to someone else and was not supposed to be in Leroy's envelope.
Our ship came in but the dock sank.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Berks County Boone

The last Boone in Berks County has died. Harvey M. Boone was a descendant of James Boone, uncle of Daniel Boone. The Boone family lived in Berks County in the early 1700s, just four miles from Mordecai Lincoln, great-great-grandfather of President Abraham Lincoln.
In 1750, 16-year-old Daniel Boone moved to North Carolina with his parents. He eventually wound up in Kentucky, as did Abraham Lincoln's parents. Daniel's uncle, James, stayed in Berks County where his descendants kept the name alive until January 1, 2009.
You can read the article and see a picture of the last Berks County Boone here

Friday, January 9, 2009


Identify theft is everywhere!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

John Deere B

As Leroy sees the magic number coming up for retirement, he is getting more and more ideas of things he wants to do. Last year he started collecting parts to make a miniature John Deere B from a garden tractor. The more parts he collects the more he sees how much work it will be. This week he spied a picture of a finished tractor much like he envisions which is for sale at Wengers Farm Machinery. He stopped by yesterday and took some pictures of it. Isn't this a cute little machine? It's the stuff his dreams are made of. How long will it be until he has one like it sitting in his garage? I'm not even going to hazard a guess.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

This Is The Day We Get Organized

Twenty years ago when our two oldest boys were in their upper teens, we added two bays to the garage to house their stuff and keep peace between them and their dad. We have always referred to that half of the garage as "the boys' side."
Years passed. Steve died in an accident (January 2, 1994) at the age of 18. More years passed. Three of the boys are married. Only the youngest is still at home at the ripe old age of 25, but in a sense none of them has really left. I've heard it said that your children have not really left home until all of their stuff is gone. I have a feeling our boys will never leave until we do. Each of the married ones still has one car stored in "the boys' side" of the garage and piles of parts.
Leroy has been saying for years he would like to put shelves on the boys' side of the garage to get their parts off the floor and make more room but it was not a job for the fainthearted. With his own side of the garage bulging, he began to covet the boys' space.
In December Leroy brought home the materials he needed to make shelves. He could see the project stretching out for ages because everything would have to be moved before he could even begin to build the shelves. Then home-raised angels in jeans arrived. Gene had a week of vacation over Christmas and took charge of the project. Between Leroy and the boys, they cleared the space and started building shelves. On January 2, they finished the organizing. Most of the things that were on the floor are now residing on shelves, sorted according to their four owners.

Quote from Gene: "You can see the FLOOR!"

The three boys' cars are now back in with room to spare. Dale's Chevelle (which Leroy bought new in 1966) is on the far right. Daryl's Chevelle is freshly washed and covered in the background, and Gene's Monte Carlo (which was Steve's) is under cover in the foreground. And there is room for Leroy to store a few of his things in between---which was his object to begin with. He can hardly believe all this happened in less than two weeks. (Now if only he would clear all the junk from his own side of the garage!)