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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Blessed Are The Flexible

"Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape." This weekend was one of those times we lived by this rule.
The weekend started out calmly enough Friday evening when I picked up Leroy's handicapped sister, Kass. She is staying with us for the weekend so she could get in on some of the family weekend activities. Saturday morning, Leroy went to a demonstration of plowing with a steam engine. I made some food and got things ready to go to Camp Swatara where most of the Stauffer family was camping for the weekend.

Dale and Cheryl (and their families) both had campsites this year so we went a little earlier in the day than we normally do. That turned out to be a good thing because things started going downhill at 3 p.m. when we felt the first drops of the predicted rain begin to fall just as the men were putting the chicken for supper on the charcoal. It was so cool some of us huddled around the campfire under umbrellas while the chicken was cooking. The tempo of the rainfall increased and by 5 p.m. when the food was ready, an umbrella was no longer sufficient. We moved under four canopies which provided enough space for all the food tables and a relatively dry place to eat.

Just as we started eating, Gene called and said the transmission broke in his car. He and Amy were stranded up in the Pocono Mountains two hours away. He wanted Leroy to bring a company truck and trailer to bring them and the car home. After Leroy finished eating his chicken barbq supper, we held a tribal council to decide how to arrange everything. In the end, Leroy and Dale went up with the truck and trailer. I drove our car over to the warehouse and let it set there so they have a way to get home when they come back with the truck. Daryl and Velma brought me and Kass home.
Cheryl and Richard had decided not to drag their camper all the way in here from Ohio but just set up a tent. With the steady rain falling and our good solid roof only 15 minutes away, they packed up their family and moved in here for the night too. We all went to bed and Leroy finally got back at midnight.

This morning it was still raining. Leroy had to teach Sunday school so we went to church and came home for lunch instead of going to the campground as we had planned. The rain was giving up by the time we finished eating so we thought we'll go back and collect some of the things we left there. But while I was washing dishes Dale came and dropped off our things. He said everyone had enough "fun" and was clearing out. It was not worth going.

The game we played this weekend was one where you make the rules as you go. Everything worked out in the end and everybody wound up safe and dry at their own homes. So I guess we can call it a success even if there were all kinds of twists and turns along the way.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Yesterday I served again as a tour guide in the little museum at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. Things are marked so people can take a self-guided tour of the museum but we do provide guided tours upon request. Guided tours are divided into three sections with one man portraying the farmer, another man as schoolmaster, and I show the domestic section. The tour group is broken down into small groups of no more than ten so that we usually repeat our presentations four times. A bell is rung at a set time to tell the little groups when to move on to the next section.
To do my little show, I wear a black dress and apron with a shawl and an old fashioned head covering with black strings that tie under the chin. I always begin at a spot in front of the log cabin and end across the room at an old quilt. Yesterday when the bell rang I went back to my spot in front of the log cabin and waited for the next group to assemble. As one of the ladies in the group walked up she looked at me and said, "She looks very realistic." Then I moved and she threw up her hands and said, "She IS real!"
That was the first time I was taken for a wax figure! I guess I never stood still long enough before for that to happen.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New York City

Our church has been going to the Bowery Mission in New York City to have a service every year since about 1975. I don't remember when we last went along but it was not in this century. Leroy was saying the last couple years he'd like to go again but there was always some kind of schedule conflict. This year we crossed off other things and joined the group on the fully loaded bus to make the trip.
We got on the bus at 7 a.m. and arrived at Battery Park in New York City around 10. Our group walked to the Staten Island ferry and rode it both ways back and forth from Manhattan. We sang four or five songs on each trip. At the end of the first crossing one of the passengers told me our singing was beautiful and asked where we are from. Someone said they saw another man taking a video of our singing. We were not doing it to get attention for ourselves but to point people to the Lord as their hope and rescuer. From the ferry we had a good view of the NYC skyline. The ferry passes close to the Statue of Liberty and Leroy got a good picture of it. Someday I want to go up in the statue but we did not have time yesterday.
After we got back from the ferry we ate our lunch in Battery Park and explored the park a little afterward. The weather cooperated nicely and gave us a beautiful day to be in the city.
There is an old circular stone fort in Battery Park which was built in 1808. It was the last of a series of forts which guarded lower Manhattan, beginning with the one built in 1624 by the first Dutch settlers. Just across from the fort is a monument to the Walloon Settlers (Belgian Huguenots) who sailed with the Dutch on the ship Nieu Nederland (New Netherland) in 1624. The momument was dedicated in 1924, the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the settlers in New York (then called New Amsterdam). We are rapidly approaching the 400 year mark! This is the entrance to the fort. On either side it curves outward to begin the circular design. (You know I will find something historical everywhere I go, don't you?)

After lunch the bus inched toward Bowery Street where the mission is located. Traffic was heavy and some streets were closed for an Italian festival. We saw Ground Zero where some construction was being done but it is a long ways from being anywhere near finished. Because of the traffic we were late getting to the mission where our group conducted the 2 p.m. service (which didn't start until 2:30). Things have changed on Bowery Street since we were there last. The piles of trash and junk have been cleaned up and the drunks that used to line the sidewalks as they slept off their hangovers are gone. The neighborhood looks much more respectable now. The parts of the city I saw yesterday are cleaner and greener than they used to be. I saw quite a few rooftop gardens and flower beds planted in islands in the streets.

After the service ended at the mission, the bus again inched its way out of the city. It took an hour to get to the Holland Tunnel. We stopped for supper somewhere in New Jersey and got back to the church at 8 p.m.

As I looked at the streets of New York teeming with people I could not understand how so many people would be attracted to living in such cramped quarters. We saw all makes and models of people dressed in all sorts of ways and speaking a multitude of languages. I guess we were just one more variety added to the mix. I noticed the inquisitive looks we got from passers-by in the park while we were eating our lunch. Leroy heard two men discussing us and one of them identified us as "A-mish." New York is a nice place to visit but I'm a country girl to the bone. We had a good day in the city but I am thankful to be back in the quiet country again. I need my space!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Electric Candle Survey

There are less than seven days left until summer ends and the first day of fall arrives. Since the hours of dark and daylight are nearly equal again I got my electric window candles out of summer storage and set them up last evening. I have them on a timer in our bedroom so they go off around 9:30 because I can't sleep with a light on at night. In the summer when it doesn't get dark until nearly 9 it is hardly worth having them on. So I usually put them away in June and get them out again about this time of year. I think the house looks so inviting when we drive up in the dark and can see a light in every window.
As I was putting the electric candles in the windows I remembered reading a list of things that are typical of Pennsylvania. Here are just a few of them:

You know you are in Pennsylvania when...
*Hearing horses clopping down a paved road doesn't bring you to the window to see what's going on outside.
*Red Beet Eggs makes your list of top ten favorite foods.
*When it snows they put cinders on the roads instead of sand.
*You call Sloppy Joes "barbecue."
*You do things "once," as in "I'll go check in the back room once."
*Your turkey has "filling," not "stuffing" or "dressing."
*You say things like, "Outen the lights," "I'm calling off today," and "They're calling for snow."
*At least five people on your block have electric candles in most of their windows all year long.

How about that last one? I never thought of year-round electric candles as a Pennsylvania thing, but after hearing out-of-state visitors comment on the candles I began to wonder if there is some truth to it after all. Don't many people in other states use electric candles all year?
I'd like to take a survey. If you live in a state other than Pennsylvania, post a comment and let me know if electric candles in the windows are considered a Christmas decoration or commonly used all year in your state.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Here is a cute picture Leroy brought home one day last week portraying the difference between men and women. Men have one switch labeled "on" and "off." Women are much more complex creatures.
Leroy said there is one thing missing on the panel for women---a big loudspeaker. :-) I know I talk more than he does but don't let him fool you, he likes it that way. He readily admits he would make a very poor bachelor.
Honestly now, isn't it true that men like to fiddle and tinker with things to make them run smoothly? What challenge would there be in a one-switch woman?
In defense of women, I don't think all of us have this many buttons and knobs. Some of us are pretty basic creatures who plow through life without constant fine tuning to keep us running smoothly. But it shall always be a woman's prerogative to change her mind!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Finish Line

I crossed the finish line at 5 p.m. today. Here is the chorus line of eight jars of grape jelly. The musical pinging of their lids sealing was nearly drowned out by the clashing sound of the lid being slammed on the canner. It is now washed and stuffed away for the season.
I have been canning non-stop the last month or so. My freezer and jar shelves are bulging with more than we can eat in one winter. This has been the best growing season we had in years so I figured I might as well do plenty when we have it in case next year is a lean one. I'm thankful for the good year but still, what a relief to be done! I'm looking forward to getting back into the past lane next week and having more time to dig into historical things again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Laughing Bride

This is great! It was on the news yesterday. I can imagine myself doing the same thing if it had been me. For some reason I couldn't get it to embed so just click on the link.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Summer Is Ending

It seems as if it was just a few weeks ago we were in Kansas for the Memorial Day weekend, and here we are at the other end of the summer finishing the Labor Day weekend. We limited our observance of the holiday to grilling hamburgers for supper and otherwise spent the day laboring. Since our Saturdays are all spoken for this month, we took advantage of the opportunity to clean the garage today. Over the years we've found a plan that works. He empties the garage, I scrub it, and he puts things back in when it's dry. Every year I think we will do better at keeping it clean but every year dirt happens. Clutter happens. And then we do it all over again the next year before the weather turns too cool to be slopping with the hose.
The signs of fall are increasing by the day. We are closing the windows at night now and I put a quilt on the bed. The crocheted bedspread is just not warm enough anymore. As we speak, I hear the sound of the corn chopper making silage of the tall corn. They've been at it all day and make quick work of it with a trailer truck driving beside the huge chopper. No little silage wagons for them! (This picture is actually chopping hay but it will give you the idea.) In about two days all the corn fields around us will be bare and empty.
We've been seeing a hummingbird around the house the last week or so. I don't know how long we can convince it to hang around but we resurrected Gerald's old hummingbird feeder and hung it on the porch. Today we saw the hummingbird feeding there. I hope it spreads the word and brings some friends. That would be one way to hang onto summer a bit longer.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Higher Kingdom Christian Bookstore

One of my cousins opened an online Christian bookstore this year called Higher Kingdom Christian Bookstore. His main objective was to make available online the books published by TGS International, an arm of Christian Aid Ministries. This humanitarian aid and relief agency with headquarters in Berlin, Ohio, operates a food packing and meat canning center in Pennsylvania as well as five clothing centers in the United States and Canada. Many of the books published by TGS tell heart-rending true stories of people whose lives have been torn apart in the countries around the world where Christian Aid Ministries is working to bring relief.
In addition to books published by TGS, Higher Kingdom Christian Bookstore also offers high-quality Christian books by other publishers. You can go to the bookstore by clicking on the link on the right. The web address is

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Shifting Gears

Huff puff !! I'm finally getting there! To the end of the garden and the August canning rush, that is. I prophesied things would gum up during the last two weeks of August and that's what happened. Things have been a little crazy around here lately but the dust began to settle today.
My canning repertoire for last week included corn, tomatoes, apples, and pickles. This week it was same song, second verse with tomatoes taking center stage on Monday and apples on Tuesday. My tally so far this week is 16 qt. spaghetti sauce, 36 pt. pizza sauce, 29 qt. applesauce, 2 qt. dried corn, and 5 pt. sweet pickles. Another kind of pickles is curing and can be processed tomorrow. I have just come in from picking the last two dozen ears of corn in the garden and a nice mess of green beans. They are still blooming and will probably continue to give us something fresh to eat for a couple more weeks. Other than the beans, the only thing still left in the garden are tomatoes. I probably could have picked another bucketful but chose to ignore them--at least for today.
Since our Family Day concluded with a cookout here on Saturday, I decided to skip cleaning last week knowing the place would need cleaning more after than before 27 people circled my table. Another prophesy came true. After the last ones left around 9:30 p.m. I was too tired to sweep the floor and I did not have time on Monday or Tuesday to do anything about it either. By last evening the floor was so sticky I could not tolerate walking on it in bare feet. My choices were either to wear socks or carry a putty knife to pry my feet loose after each step. (I chose the former.) Wednesday is not normally a kitchen-cleaning day but today was an exception.
My hoard of provisions for the winter are safely stored on the shelves in the basement, the kitchen is clean, and the garden is nearly empty. I will still can small amounts of a few things but the August rush is over. I'm happy to be shifting gears and moving into fall mode.