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Saturday, November 28, 2009

God Loves Variety

My sisters and I got together today to celebrate my birthday. It was a couple weeks early but December is such a busy month so we went now. I chose to go to a Thai restaurant for lunch. Thai food is similar to Chinese but more spicy. My Dutch tongue cannot tolerate hot peppers so I told the waitress to keep my order pepper-free. I had Pan Thai which was a traditional noodle dish with shrimp and other things mixed into it. Without peppers, it was sweet and very good.

After lunch we went to the Reading Museum. It is a small museum as museums go but has some nice displays. The artifact they are most proud of is an Egyptian mummy. As I looked at all the variety of things from different countries and time periods, I was reminded of the ingenuity and imagination of the human race. There are so many different ways to do the same things. People use what they have available and fashion things they perceive to be either useful or beautiful.
The Native American who wore this beaded vest felt just as elegantly dressed as the actress who wore this dress to make the Cinderella movie. Either one would not have felt comfortable in the other's world.

There are as many ways to feed and clothe our bodies as there are nations and tribes. In spite of the differences in our appearance, we all have the same basic inner needs for love and fulfillment. Eating Thai food and seeing the variety in the museum today reminded me that my way of thinking and doing things is not the only way. God loves variety. That's why He made us all different.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

There are loved ones who are missing
From our fireside and the feast,
There are faces that have vanished,
There are voices that have ceased.
But we know they passed forever
From our mortal grief and pain,
And we thank Thee, Oh our Father
For the blessings that remain.
Thanksgiving, Oh Thanksgiving,
That their love once blessed us here,
That for a time they walked beside us
Sharing smiles and tears;
For the joy their love has brought us
That can never pass away,
For the sweet and gracious memories
Growing dearer every day.
For the faith that keeps us patient
Looking at the things unseen,
Knowing spring will follow winter
And the earth again be green.
For the hope of that glad meeting
Far from mortal grief and pain,
We thank Thee, Oh our Father
For the blessings that remain.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Angels and Miracles

Are angels real and active? Do miracles still happen today?
After church yesterday morning Barb Martin told me this story about her daughter Cheryl. The church where Cheryl goes supports a mission in Africa. She has gone over several times to help out for a few weeks. She just returned from her third trip and told Barb this story.
When Cheryl left the U. S. she did not realize her visa and passport had both expired in June. She made it through Holland without anyone noticing but the problem was spotted when she arrived in Africa. She had to pay $150 to smooth her path and be able to go on, which she did.
The van which was to take Cheryl and the lady who was traveling with her from the airport to the mission got hot and they were stranded in the middle of nowhere in the night. Before long, a car stopped and a man asked if he can help them. After they explained the problem he said they must turn around and go back to the nearest village. They said they can't but he insisted it will be all right. He would follow them back. They would go a ways and then stop to let the van cool down again. Eventually they arrived at the village where the van could be repaired.
A taxi driver there said he would take them to the mission for $100 but Cheryl did not have the money because she had spent it on her passport problem. The man who had stopped to help them said he will take the two women to the mission for no charge. He told them to get in the back seat because his brother is going with them. This did not smell good---two women being driven through the wilderness by two strange men in the middle of the night. But they did not know what else to do, so they got in and were off.
When they were an hour from the mission Cheryl said to the other lady, "Look at the gas gauge. It's on empty." The fuel warning light soon came on and they had 100 miles to go. Cheryl was really afraid now and she started praying out loud, "Lord, you put oil in the widow's jar and I believe you can put gas in this car. I'm counting on you for a miracle." She kept on praying and the car kept on going.
At last they arrived at the mission safe and sound. Cheryl got some money from Jonas (who lives at the mission) to give the driver. He refused to take it and said, "I told you I would bring you for no charge. I don't want any money." She tried to tell him he will need fuel to get back to wherever he was going but he just said, "It will be okay."
The next morning Cheryl and the other lady were telling Jonas about their midnight adventure. They told him how pretty the blue and white license plate was on the car. Jonas said, "There are no license plates like that in this country." Then they described the car and he said, "There are no cars like that around here."
Cheryl said, "It gives me the goose bumps. We were picked up by angels! I wonder what they thought of my praying."
If you are facing an impossible situation, remember this story. God can make a way where there seems to be no way. He can and does do the impossible.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lantern Books

Yesterday we made our first solo flight to Cumberland County to service book racks for Lantern Books. The business operates like Choice Books, putting book racks in stores but handles different books than Choice. Leroy thought he would enjoy servicing book racks as a retirement project and went along several times to learn how it is done. But he never got along very well with papers and got befuddled with the paperwork involved. He wanted me to go along to do that part of the job but I just didn't have time until October. The person in charge went along to teach me how to do the paperwork. It was not that difficult and we said we'll try it ourselves this month.
There are eight stops on the Cumberland County route. We left home at 6:30 in the morning, got the Lantern truck at the office, and arrived at the first stop at 8:30. My heart sank when it took us an hour there. At that rate, we weren't going to cover the route before the stores closed. But then the second stop took only 45 minutes and the third one a half hour. We worked out a system and things went more smoothly. He read the titles on the rack while I marked them on the inventory sheet. Then he dusted the rack while I decided how many new books to put on and which ones to take off the rack. He placed the books on the rack while I finished the paperwork to hand in to the office for billing.
By 12:30 we had finished five stops and I was breathing easier. We had time to stop for lunch and finished the route at 3:30. That was longer than it took in October when there were three of us but not too bad for the first time on our own. We returned the truck to the office and got home at 6:15. I enjoy the work but just have to forget about everything else waiting to be done at home.
Leroy would like to learn another route and go more than once a month but at this point I simply do not have time to go more often. He'll either have to learn to do the paperwork himself or wait until I have more time. Since February I have been volunteering two days per month at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society and this takes makes three volunteer days per month. That doesn't sound like much but I am also keeping house, trying to do some writing, scrapbooking, quilting, etc. etc. I'm just as busy as when I had a house full of children underfoot, but in different ways.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New Chairs

When we were married in 1967 we bought an extension table and six chairs. We ate from a card table for about a month until the table and chairs were finished. As the years passed, boards were added to the table to accommodate our growing family. Six chairs did not seat the whole tribe and we had to add two from other sources but the original six chairs were in use for 42 years.
As you can imagine, the chairs took a beating. One was broken too badly to be used and has stashed in the attic for quite awhile. Since there are only three of us living here anymore, we can easily do without it. This is how the survivors of 42 years and six children look. The picture doesn't really do justice to it. The back has been unprofessionally repaired. The finish is completely worn off in some places and is peeling in other places. Weekly washings have worn off the painted acorn design.

We often talked about replacing our beat-up chairs but it never happened. Then last week I saw a set of four chairs on E-bay that were just like ours, made by Moses Horning of Ephrata, Pa. We decided to put a bid on them and got them for the opening bid. They were in Chester Springs and for "pick up only." I was down that way on Saturday for something else so I made arrangements to stop and pick up the chairs on my way home. They had been used but look as good as new and just like our first chairs did when we bought them.

Since we both have December birthdays, we are used to giving and getting one gift that will do for both birthday and Christmas. Since there are four chairs, we decided we each get one for our birthdays and one for Christmas. Leroy's Christmas shopping is done and we finally have some decent looking chairs again. These should last as long as we need chairs at the table.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Upper Hand

I just came back from a visit with Dr. Walker. We have made some progress in the battle with rheumatoid arthritis but it still has the upper hand. On November 1 I decreased the dose of prednisone to 5 mgs and hoped I would be able to eliminate it altogether. After twelve days of the decreased dose, neither of us is happy with the results. My feet are swollen and painful again. It's not as bad as the first time I tried to go off prednisone but it is affecting my walking and shows us the RA still has the upper hand.
Dr. Walker told me to go back on the 10 mgs of prednisone, increased the dose of another drug I'm on and added a new one. We'll try that for two months and see what happens when I try again to go off prednisone before I see her in January.
There are a couple options available. The one I prefer and we are trying first is to use other drugs. I could also go on a clinical trial program which would be entirely free but I'm a little skeptical because I hate to be messing with things that might not work. The third option is to get injections but they would cost $30,000 per year so that option is out.
I am much better than I was in June when I first saw Dr. Walker. I think eventually we will find the right dosage of the right medications and get the upper hand, but we're not there yet. In the meantime, thank God for prednisone. After a few days on the crutch of a 10mg dose, my feet should improve and I'll be able to run full speed again.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Count Your Calories

Yesterday we were invited to a get-together in Adams County. One of the ladies who attended brought this poem which can be sung to the tune of "Count Your Blessings."
When upon the scales you're weighing every ounce,
When you're stepping off and feel your belly bounce,
Count your many calories, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the food has done.
Count your calories, don't forget a one,
Doughnuts, cakes, and cookies seemed like lots of fun,
Count your french fries . . . Did you eat a ton?
Count your many calories, see what food has done.
When you think of others who are lean and slim,
Does your heart grow heavy as you think of them?
Count your Mr. Goodbars, every single bite,
And you'll know the reason that your clothes fit tight.
Count your Hersheys, count them every one,
Extra cheese and chili on your hot dog bun.
Count your Snickers, don't forget the Mars,
Count your Milky Ways and other candy bars.
So amid the dress shop as you try on clothes,
Polyester stretches everybody knows;
Searching in your closet, garments hanging there,
All those pretty dresses that you used to wear.
Count your blouses. How your wardrobe grows!
Count the dollars spent on queen-size hose.
Was it chocolate? Was it rich desserts?
Count the many reasons you can't wear your skirts.
Are you ever burdened with a load of guilt?
Looking at the body that your food has built?
Scrounging in the kitchen, see the foods you chose.
And you'll know the reason you can't see your toes!
Count your calories, praying as you eat
Vegetables and milk and lots of lean fresh meat.
Count your calories, you'll start feeling great.
Keep on counting calories, you'll start losing weight!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Changing of Seasons

I just brought the laundry in from the washline. The day started out bright and sunny but now the air is cold and damp with the feel of snow. It reminded me of a picturesque piece I clipped from a newspaper many years ago. Here it is.
Changing of Seasons
The dawn was made of smoky purples, grays and reds. It was like the background music for a movie about the Creation. Although the mood was somber, it was nothing you could really put your finger on. The colors were subtly intermingled and changed rapidly from one to the other and to mixtures of two or all three.
The day, according to the calendar, would be a November day and, after the nature of the brute, hardly anybody knew how it would all come out. It began brilliantly after its dawn had dissipated and the sun struck the east sides of houses and trees with a brightness that was altogether foreign to dusky November.
In this eleventh month of the year Nature's patience is running out. She is tired after having produced the bounty that fills barns and freezers and quart jars to feed animals and people through the winter ahead. Fatigue makes her fretful and the weather she brews in fit for neither man nor beast.
Sometimes, as in this year, there is snow before we are psychologically or physical prepared for it. Consider, if you require evidence, the bewilderment that struck us as we looked out upon a white world at a time it should have been green. Snow fence segments lie, still rolled, in fields and there was the unusual experience of the maples, spectacular in yellow---trimmed in white.
November is notable for its cold, dismal rains that slant into the faces of pedestrians and for sleet that dresses them and the objects of their culture in glassy sheaths. Its winds rattle doors and moan softly about the corners of houses in a tune-up for winter. They will become more proficient with rehearsals and, by January, should be in excellent voice.
Sometime in midmorning, long after the somber dawn had faded, a thick mass of forbidding clouds began to move out of the northwest in a line that stretched from horizon to horizon. There was no turbulence within the mass and its passage across the heavens was orderly, almost sedate.
The mass was not of a consistent thickness. In it were brighter areas of thinner cloud. Some parts of the mass moved a bit faster than others and in some areas had compressed the gray bulk ahead of them into formal rows until they resembled a squeezed accordion.
Torn By The Wind
Immediately preceding this darkening curtain across the overturned bowl of the sky was a wide line of thin, white cloud, ragged and torn on its leading edge by the winds. The larger mass retained its white border until there was nothing left of blue but a wide sliver that stretched across the southeastern sky.
The advancing clouds consumed the sliver in the end and the sky was gray from horizon to zenith over 360 degrees of its earth boundary. In the northwest, where it had all begun, the sky was a leaden gray curtain of uninterrupted gloom. This curtain was to bring a very brief spate of raindrops in midafternoon.
The countryside seemed moody and depressed under its heavy cloud cap. Farms appeared deserted, although, in Lancaster County, it must never be assumed that an absence of visible people means idleness--the work goes ahead inside buildings. Snow lay in patches about these buildings and there remained a light frosting on portions of their roofs. Where the blanket of snow on fields and meadows had melted or was very thin, strips of emerald green broke the monotony of adjoining brown fields.
There were still traces of color in the foliage of a woodlot that climbed a hill behind a snowy cornfield. The whiteness in the foreground accentuated the dim color in the woods that had been so brilliant a short week ago.
Most of the trees had lost their leaves. To the sycamores the absence of their crowns does not seem as great a loss as it does to other woody plants. The sycamores, with their whitish limbs exposed, are now the most spectacular and easily recognized of all the trees in the woods.
In the upper elevations where there was more snow originally and where more of it had remained there was the feeling that Thanksgiving was just around the next bend in the road. Warm feelings that accompanied this thought were supported by a thin column of smoke that rose from the chimney of a farmhouse where, in a few days, a turkey will be roasting in the oven. The smoke curled away from a northwesterly breeze that was not yet a wind.
A flock of starlings, perhaps the homeliest birds on earth, flew crazily overhead and landed clumsily in a field. Further on, for contrast, a pair of cock pheasants, bursting with pride at the glory of their own plumage, stood by the road and haughtily surveyed the landscape.
A lone gull made his way down the course of the river and disappeared into the gathering gloom of late afternoon. The surface of the Susquehanna was troubled by a breeze and its reflections of the hills opposite were indistinct, but not without a faint hint of color. Patches of snow shone among wooded areas on the tops of the York County hills. It seemed later than November over there.
There was no indication of it in the west when the day was over. The sky simply became more leaden and darker and evening settled in, chill and comfortless, around houses where lights came on. It had taken all day for it to become November.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ohio Weekend

We had a good weekend in Ohio with our daughter and her family---in spite of a cold rain on Saturday and the flu bug in the house. I knew before we left that Cheryl was not feeling well so I took a frozen casserole along to spare her the trouble of cooking for us on Sunday. We bought our food on Saturday at their school benefit auction.
This was the "first annual" auction so they had no experience or idea what to expect. It was a smashing success and gave the school budget a tremendous lift. We enjoyed watching things sell but didn't buy much. I got a pint of specialty barbq sauce which is made by an Amish family in Ohio and Leroy got a CHI Winross truck. The place Leroy works uses the line of garage doors manufactured in Ohio by CHI.
Cheryl was too nosey to stay away so she was there wrapped up in a blanket. By Sunday she was too sick to leave the house. Then I was really glad I had taken a casserole along which could just be popped in the oven. I tried not to get to close to her and so far I seem to have escaped the bug. I don't know if it was the regular or swine flu, but I don't need either kind. I have lots of other things to do besides holding down the couch.