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Wednesday, July 29, 2009


When he received a journal as a gift, my eight-year-old son was mystified. "Mom, what am I supposed to do with this? The pages are blank." "You write down interesting stuff that happens to you," I said. "So it's like a blog … on paper."

After reading this little story I started thinking about how much communications have changed since I was eight years old. (That would be 1955, if you need a reference point.) In those days, communication was by mail or telephone. When I was eight, I wrote letters and mailed them for three cents. I did not use the phone. If I heard our ring, I yelled for Mom. (For you johnny-come-lately guys, not all rings were the same on a party line. Each household knew their ring. It might be one long ring, one long and one short, one long and two shorts, one short and one long, etc.) We had a party line until sometime in the 1980s. Private lines were too expensive for the average person.
We could make local calls with our rotary dial phone but to make a long distance call we dialed 0 and told the operator the number of the person we wanted to reach and she made the connection. Direct dialing did not begin until the 1960s and even then the operator cut in to ask the number from which we were calling. The long distance calls we made were seldom further than the next county. An out-of-state phone call was made only for important business. I remember getting nervous when I needed to make an out-of-state call in the 1970s.
As the years rolled on, we accepted new methods of communication. We got email in the 1990s, cell phones around the turn of the century, and I started blogging in 2007. This made me feel like I was keeping up with technology but in reality it is exploding too fast for me. I do not know how to send text messages on my cell phone and am not on Facebook. I have heard of Twitter but am not sure exactly what it is or how it works.
With all the fast and instant ways of communication these days, it would seem the problem of misunderstandings which cause relationship problems between people should be a thing of the past. And yet, the divorce rate is higher than ever and counseling services are more, rather than less, in demand. Why?
Communication is a two-say street. If everyone is talking but no one is listening, there has been no communication. When you listen, you are hearing what the other person is saying and not thinking about what you are going to say next. That's what you did when you listened in on the neighbor's conversation on the party line. You just listened and didn't say anything. Now that we all have private lines we have cut ourselves off from our neighbors. Maybe that's why we broadcast our private lives and thoughts on blogs and Facebook. It's a cry for someone to listen.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tractors 'N Wagons

Yesterday Leroy hauled his John Deere crawler about 1.5 miles down the road to a neighbor who was having a little show. His crawler added some variety to the line of John Deere tractors.

This man makes models of antique wagons and does a very nice job of it. He made a Conestoga wagon, Gruber wagons, and all sorts of delivery wagons once used to deliver milk, oil, mail, etc.

Someone had one of his Gruber wagons hitched to a large goat.

He also has a shed full of the real thing.

I didn't go along because I figured if you've seen one tractor you've seen them all, but I would have liked to see these wagons. If he does it again next year I'll probably go long enough to see the wagons. Gruber wagons were made locally by the Gruber Wagon Works. The wagon beds could be changed depending on the job the farmer needed to do. They used the wagon bed with the low slanted sides to haul hay (see second picture) and the bed with taller straight sides (like the one the goat is pulling) to haul corn.
The Gruber Wagon Works is now a national historic site. You can learn about it here:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Always Will Remember

My birthplace is gone. The demolition crew salvaged what they thought was worth something and yesterday the rest of the house was torn down in a matter of hours. My sister was there to watch and record the destruction. She sent me these pictures. I'm glad she was there to record the event but it would have torn my heart apart to watch the demise of the place in which I lived for nearly twenty years. She was only nine when we moved away so she does not have as many memories of the place as I do.
In a matter of hours the place was reduced to a pile of rubble. (Moral: Tearing down is always easier than building up, whether it's houses, relationships, or reputations.) A new road will soon mark the spot where the house once stood. It may be gone, but in memory I will always be able to see it the way it was when I lived there. Thanks to my parents for purchasing this aerial photo, I can show my home place to my grandchildren even though it is gone. There's our ball diamond in the meadow . . . the creek where we slopped on hot summer days. . .the chicken house roof I jumped from and broke my arm. . . the brooder house my sister and I used as a play house. . . the lawn we mowed with a push mower . . .the barn hill where we sat to watch fireworks in the summer and went sledding in the winter . . . the corn field we walked through to get to the mulberry trees at the other end . . .
I Remember, I Remember
By Thomas Hood (excerpts only)

I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn.

I remember, I remember,
The roses, red and white,
The vi'lets, and the lily-cups,
Those flowers made of light!

I remember, I remember,
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing.

I remember, I remember,
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky.

I always will remember the house where I was born!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Then and Now

On Saturday my older sister gave me her album of the oldest pictures of our family. I started out yesterday intending to scan a few but the idea grew and I wound up spending all day scanning pictures to put on a CD. Faded ones can be brightened and crooked ones straightened on the computer so they look better than the originals. I have nearly 200 pictures in the file and could add quite a few more from my own album.
Here are a few gems from the previous century. Any idea who this little snip might be?
Age 2 years 10 months

Age 9

Age 17

If you still don't know, refer to the picture from this century on the upper right.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Coming Down

The house is coming down. This is how it looked on Tuesday when my sister drove by. One of our sons also stopped in and talked to the men who are doing the demolition. He was told the barn is rented and will probably stand another year. The house is being taken down to make way for the road that will go in to the development. It will be called Willow Creek. The name is taken from the willow tree that stands along the creek in the meadow. There was no willow tree in the meadow when we lived there. This house was built in 1900 so it stood for 109 years before succumbing in the name of "progress."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Memories Keep Forever

We had a very full weekend and even then we had to pick and choose because there was more going on than we had time to do. This morning I feel like I have jet lag although we were just circling all weekend.
The biggest event was the Berean Meetings which begins on Thursday evening and runs through Sunday evening. This was the 32nd annual event held at the United Zion Campground. We have a 45-minute drive but we always come home for the night. I would rather drive back and forth because I just sleep better in my own bed.
The weather this year was some of the nicest we've ever had for the camp meeting. The heat seems to be trapped in the south this year. Our air keeps circulating down from the north and Canada is providing natural air conditioning for the whole northeast this summer. It was actually kind of cool under those trees at the campground this year and I wished for a sweater a couple times.
We skipped some sessions this year to do other things. On Saturday evening we met my siblings and some of the next generation for a little tour our old home place. The town has gradually grown out and surrounded the place since my parents sold it in 1967. Now it has also fallen into the hands of developers. The buildings will begin to be torn down today so this was our last chance to go see the place and relive some memories.
The house was built in 1900 and doesn't look like it did when we lived here, but in my memory I can picture it exactly as it used to be. I was born in this house and lived here until just four months before I was married.

The house and barn were white when we lived here.

This is the barn hill where we sat to watch the fireworks in the summer and went sledding in the winter. It is not as steep as I thought it was back then.

Another extracurricular activity this weekend was the Little Burkholder reunion. Since both of my parents were Burkholders and Daddy's family was much larger than Mom's, we distinguished between the two reunions by calling them the Big and Little Burkholder reunions. Mom's sister, Nora, is my only living aunt. She is 95 and was there as always. Every year I think it might be the last year and the next year she is there again. I had ten cousins on this Burkholder side but only eight of them are still living. (Add five of us in my family to make a total of fifteen cousisn on this side.) Not all of the cousins were at the reunion but we took a picture of those who were there with Aunt Nora.

The cousin in the pink dress was only six years younger than my mother. She and her husband lived in half of our house when they were first married and then built a house on a lot Daddy sold to them. We were back and forth a lot and my youngest brother and sister played with her children. We always have a good time sharing memories of those years. Time marches on and things change but memories keep forever.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Today is our 42nd wedding anniversary. I can't believe how fast those years rolled around. "Time flies when you're having fun." Life has not been all moonlight and roses but we've had a good marriage that has sustained both of us through all the ups and downs of daily living. Our son and his wife are celebrating their third anniversary today. July 15 is a great day to begin a long and happy marriage. It worked for us!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happiness In Small Things

A study published in the current issue of the journal Emotion reports the findings of researchers at the University of North Carolina. They reached the conclusion that people who appreciate small moments of happiness, laughter, and joy through the course of each day tend to be happy people who are more likely to be resilient against adversity and more successful in jobs, relationships, and health outcomes.
The study showed that happy people do not need to be Pollyannas or deny the upsetting parts of life. The key to focusing on micro-moments is to set aside worries about the big picture. The lead author of the study said, "A lot of times we get so wrapped up in thinking about the future and the past that we are blind to the goodness we are steeped in already, whether it's the beauty outside the window or the kind things that people are doing for you. Be open, flexible, and appreciative of whatever good you find in your daily circumstances."
They needed to do a study to figure that out?!
Look close. There is a bumble bee on the flower. That's a micro-moment to savor.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Threshing Day

We went to a Wenger reunion near Ephrata today. It was very poorly attended and we had some other things on the schedule so we checked out about 1:30. Our next stop was at the J. Ivan Hoover farm, just up the road from the reunion. They were using various types of antique threshing machinery to demonstrate the development of threshing. The one below was a belt-driven stationary threshing machine powered by an Oliver. There was also a much larger threshing machine powered by a Frick steam engine. I took videos of that one running but for some reason it is dark and the color is terrible so I am not posting any of those.

This was not a commercial event. The only advertisement was a handmade sign "Thrashing Today" at the end of the lane and there was no admission fee. It was just a bunch of farm boys (of all ages) getting together to have a little old fashioned fun. I have a feeling most of them went away happy to have been able to reach back and touch the past but also glad they do not have to thresh their entire crop that way anymore. It's fun as long as it's play!

There are lots of these kinds of events going on all over the country this time of year. If you've never been to one, you owe it to yourself to find one and go. You can watch threshing on a video but you won't really get the feel of it unless you smell the black smoke that belches from the smokestack of the steam engine and get close enough to be showered with fine pieces of straw as it comes from the stacker pipe of the threshing machine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hoe, hoe, hoe

My garden is weed-free at last! With a smaller garden, I thought we would be able to keep it in tip-top shape this year. Constant rains and rheumatoid arthritis worked against me. The rains made it impossible to get rid of the weeds, which grew all the faster with so much moisture. The first planting of green beans and corn did not come up and had to be replanted---between showers. Last evening we weeded the three rows of corn and this morning I finished hoeing. It has taken until after July 4 to get the garden looking the way I wanted it to look all summer. Showers are in the forecast again for this afternoon, but that's fine. The garden is clean at last and ready for the natural irrigation. (Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and cabbage on the left, corn and beans on the right.)
As I was hoeing, I thought how impossible it would have been for me to do this a month ago. I have an appointment with the rheumatologist on Thursday. If I tell Dr. Walker what I have been doing the last couple weeks I think she'll tell me I don't need the steroids anymore and take them away from me before I get dangerous.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Conrad Weiser Homestead

The State of Pennsylvania recently announced the Conrad Weiser Homestead at Womelsdorf is one of the historic sites which will no longer be receiving funding to operate. This historic site is less than five miles from where we live. I have driven by it hundreds of times and often thought I want to tour the grounds but it never happened. Now, with the place being threatened with closure, it suddenly seemed urgent to go see the grounds.
When we learned the grounds were open to the public today we decided this is the day to go. The Ringgold Band was also there to give an Independence Day program. We listened to the music and toured the grounds. It was a beautiful, comfortable day and I got a lot of good pictures.
The small house in this picture is the oldest house on the property. It was built by one of the Weisers, however they are not positive if Conrad lived in it or not. If not, he certainly owned this land and lived very close to this spot for the Weiser family cemetery is just a short distance from this house. Conrad, members of his family, and some of his Indian friends are buried in that little family cemetery on the hill above the house.

Conrad Weiser was born in Germany in 1696 and immigrated to the colonies in 1709. He lived among the Mohawk Indians in New York during the winter of 1712-13 so he could learn their language and help the German settlers communicate with them. By 1723 the German settlers in the Mohawk Valley began to move south to the Tulpehocken Valley in what is now Berks and Lebanon Counties. In 1729, Conrad Weiser brought his German-born wife, Anna Eve, and their children to the Tulpehocken region, settling on 200 acres near the present town of Womelsdorf.

By the early 1730s Weister had become known in government circles in Philadelphia for his knowledge of the Iroquois. Provincial Secretary James Logan hired him to guide the new Pennsylvania Indian policy recognizing Iroquois dominance over the indigenous Lenni Lenape and guaranteeing a stable and safe frontier.
Over the next two decades Weiser was constantly directing and implementing this policy through treaty negotiations, land purchases, and journeys to the Iroquois homeland. He worked closely with the Indian Chief Shikellamy. It was through Weiser and Shikellamy that the Pennsylvania frontier remained stable and peaceful until mid-century.
Throughout his life, Weiser was active in local affairs. He served as a magistrate for Lancaster County (Tulpehocken was part of Lancaster County at that time), helped found and lay out the town of Reading in 1748, helped to establish Berks County in 1752, and was its President Judge until his death. He served as a lay minister in the Lutheran Church and became a founder of Trinity Church in Reading. His daughter Maria married Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, the "patriarch" of the Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania.
Conrad Weiser was a pioneer, diplomat, magistrate, and lay minister. As an interpreter and Indian agent, he negotiated every treaty from 1732 to the close of the French and Indian War. Among his peacekeeping accomplishments was a 300+ mile walk into Indian territory, made at great personal risk, to prevent approaching tribal warfare. "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4th Project

We wanted to paint the porches at the cabin when we were there the first weekend in June but the wood was soaking wet after two weeks of almost daily rains. We had a sisters huddle then and decided to go again the July 4 weekend to do the painting, weather permitting. Since the 4th is on a Saturday this year, Leroy had a holiday on Friday. That was perfect to do the job. We needed to put a coat of color stain on one day and then a protective coat of urethane the second day.
It was sort of touch and go earlier this week but someone who lives near the cabin said the showers had passed them by up there. Carol & Mary went up Thursday night but the rest of us went Friday morning. We got the redwood coat on everything by afternoon (including a small back porch which does not show on the picture). A few short showers popped up late in the afternoon but the paint was dry enough by then to shed the rain.
This morning we put the urethane on top of the redwood. We are hoping that will make it last longer so we don't need to paint so soon again. The color stain is supposed to have a waterproof coating mixed with it but it just does not hold up very long. We have been wanting to cover it with urethane for years but never seemed to find two days back-to-back to get the job done. This weekend was perfect. The weather today is gorgeous with comfortable temperatures and enough air to aid drying. There are no picnics or fireworks for us on the 4th this year, but it is a good feeling to finally get this job done.