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Friday, August 27, 2010

No Small Potatoes

The march toward fall continues. Our days are warm and bright but nights are cool. This morning it was down to 54. I took the window unit out of the bedroom today and cleaned those windows. I don't think we'll need AC anymore this year.
This week the sound of corn choppers was heard all day long as the fields were being stripped bare. Last evening Gene and Amy came over to help dig the potatoes. We got two (2) baskets! This is the smallest crop ever. I don't know what happened. There was enough rain and we kept the weeds down better than usual but they died off early and obviously quite a few did not produce a thing. I'm sure we won't go hungry this winter. We'll just have to buy our potatoes. Thankfully, that will not be the hardship it would have been thirty years ago when we had a family of boys to feed. We used to plant 50 pounds of potatoes then.
Gene was born on August 30, 1980. Digging potatoes around his birthday time is sort of a family tradition. I was in labor while Leroy and the children were digging the potatoes. I managed to wait until they finished and then we rushed to the hospital. That was no small potatoes!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This is guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Seasons Come and Go

There is still a month of summer left on the calendar but those who have seen sixty years of seasons come and go can detect the approach of fall. The A/C in the bedroom has not been turned on for two weeks. This week the temperatures were in the sixties in the mornings with an early fog that burns off by 8:30 and allows the sun to warm the day to normal summer levels. The fog is just a gentle reminder that September is coming. Last week I saw a small flock of Canadian geese making a low pass over the field. It was just a test run but I know what is on their minds.
An early warm spell this spring pushed the season ahead two weeks and we've been ahead of the game all summer. Our first corn was ready in mid-July and peaches ripened by the end of July. The August canning rush was here before the month arrived.
With everything we had going on in May and June, it seemed the summer was half over before it began. The pace of other activities slowed just enough to allow for the annual canning ritual but even that was limited this year because I overdid it last year and need to use up the leftovers. I need to make one batch of pizza sauce yet and then canning season will be over for me. I do not need any pears and the grapes weren't sprayed so they retaliated by not producing anything. Canning usually stretches into September. I don't know when (if ever) I finished canning before the end of August.
Are all these signs of an early frost and a long winter ahead? I hope not. I wouldn't mind if this kind of weather lasted a couple more months. April, May, and October are my favorite months of the year. Spring and fall both have their own beauty but I think the spring months win because it is the beginning of more good things to come. October is bittersweet. We savor each lovely day because we know there will not be many more before the long cold winter sets in.
The older I get, the less I like winter. But I'm not that fed up with the season to be ready to join the snowbirds in Sarasota, Florida. That's too far from all the things and people I love. For me (and all my ancestors back to colonial days) the sun always rose and set in Pennsylvania. I'll stay here, thank you, and enjoy each season in its turn.

Monday, August 16, 2010


We had a great weekend in Ohio reconnecting with the tour group who went to Israel together in 2008. Of the 39 who were on the tour, 31 showed up for the reunion at the home of Dr. & Mrs. Nolan Byler in Ohio. They came from Ontario, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Those missing were two from Texas, four from Ontario, and two from Missouri.
The reunion began with supper on Friday evening and continued through Saturday. We looked at each other's pictures, sang from the song books we used on the tour, and had a time of sharing what has been happening in our lives in the past two years.

We were three of the fortunate couples who stayed in Nolan & Clara's lovely home overnight. He is a physician with a family practice smack in the middle of Amish country and still makes house calls (in this day and age!).

It was hot and humid in Ohio but Nolan's house has central air so the heat didn't bother us a bit. We were planning to drive down to our daughter Saturday night but she called and said their electric had gone off and it could be off quite some time because the problem was at the substation. We decided to stay at Nolan's another night rather than burden Cheryl with company under difficult circumstances. We went down in time for church Sunday morning and left right after lunch. We at least got to see them but it was short and sweet. The whole weekend was very relaxing and uplifting. I hope we can keep up the friendships we established on the trip and renewed this weekend.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Turned the Corner

Gerald took his state test on Saturday, July 31, and passed. His official nursing license arrived in the mail yesterday. He is now a fully-licensed and practicing RN. This is not the end of the road. He has just reached the intersection and turned the corner onto the next road. He'll reach the next intersection when his six-month internship ends in December.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shirktown Threshers

Yesterday Leroy and Gene went to a threshing demonstration held at the Peter Martin log cabin. This demonstration, known as the Shirktown Threshers, used to be held on a farm but the location was changed this year. I was having company for supper so I didn't go along but it was a nice day and an estimated 1000 people showed up.
Naturally, there were several steam tractors and several types of threshing machines being demonstrated. There was also a line of tractors, old cars, and other things on display. The one that got Leroy's attention was this scale model 730 John Deere tractor and threshing machine made by Irvin Showalter of McVeytown, Pa.

The little threshing machine, powered by a belt connected to the tractor, actually worked but of course could only handle a handful of stalks at a time. Leroy is still working on his scale model John Deere B and every time he sees a finished one this size he gets excited. Someday he might be able to show off his own little tractor. It's coming along but there's a ways to go before it looks this good.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Triple Treat Torte

I found a good dessert recipe that fits my style of cooking---quick, easy, and cheap. And it's good too. Try it.

Triple Treat Torte

1/2 c. margarine
1 c. flour
2/3 c. chopped roasted peanuts
Mix until crumbly and press into a 9 x 13 pan
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes

1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. peanut butter
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. whipped topping
Mix all together and spread on cooled crust

1 pkg (3.9 oz.) instant vanilla pudding
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) instant chocolate pudding
2 3/4 c. cold milk
Mix all together and spread over filling. When it is set, top with a layer of whipped topping and sprinkle with chopped peanuts or chocolate curls.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Friday, August 6, 2010

New and Improved Edition

Someone asked me recently what I look for when I do research in a cemetery. That's one of the things that makes looking at gravestones so interesting. You never know what you might find on them. Some give nothing more than the person's name and years of birth and death. But often a stone will give more detailed information. It might give you the names of a person's parents, a woman's maiden name, marriage date, name of a child who died young, number of children, family genealogy, or any number of variables.
Here are a few amusing stones I came across on the FindAGrave website.

John Denby DDS
"I'm filling my last cavity"
Bristol County, Rhode Island

Monroe county, Florida

Paul G. Lind (apparently a Scrabble fan)
Multnomah County, Oregon

Here are a few other unusual epitaphs of the famous and non-famous.
Arabella Young, 1771
Here lies as silent clay
Miss Arabella Young,
Who on the 21st of May
Began to hold her tongue.
(Hatfield, Massachusetts)
Grave of Ellen Shannon in Girard, Pennsylvania
Who was fatally burned March 21, 1870
by the explosion of a lamp filled with
"R.E. Danforth's Non-Explosive Burning Fluid."
Alexander the Great
A tomb now suffices for him
whom the world was not enough
Quoth the Raven,"Nevermore."
Edgar Allan Poe
(Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery; Baltimore, Maryland)

...If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea....
Anne and Charles Lindbergh (Palapala Hoomu Congregational Cemetery; Kipahulu, Maui, Hawaii)
And here is my favorite:
The Body of
B. Franklin, Printer
Like the Cover of an old Book
Its Contents turn out
And Stript of its Lettering & Guilding
Lies here. Food for Worms
For, it will as he believed
appear once more
In a new and more elegant Edition
corrected and improved
By the Author
Benjamin Franklin
(Christ Church Burial Grounds; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

I don't know if you have ever given any thought to what you would want on your memorial stone, but I have. The genealogist in me would want my maiden name included. And I want this verse which is my statement of faith. "But thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Death is not the end of life. Our Lord Jesus Christ won the victory over death and because He lives I shall never die. I know without a doubt I shall reappear in a new and more elegant edition, corrected and improved by the Author. Thanks be to God who makes it possible!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lost and Forgotten

I went back to a place yesterday that I used to visit as a girl and had not seen for close to fifty years. I don't know when or how I learned there was an old family cemetery on our neighbor's farm but I went there every spring to pick huge bunches of lily-of-the-valley that covered the cemetery. It was not very well maintained. I remember the groundhog holes and poison ivy in it as well as the lily-of-the-valley. But I liked to wander around in there reading the names and ages on the stones. I wondered about the lives of the people and why (especially the children) had died. (Yes, I was infected with the history bug when I was nine years old.)
I did not remember any of the names that were on the stones and decided after all these years it was time to pay another visit to the cemetery. What family had started that cemetery? How old was it?
Yesterday we were down that way for a reunion so we stopped at the farm and asked if we may walk back to see the cemetery. The farm is owned by the third generation of the Lauver family and the current owner is my second cousin. He told us how to find the cemetery which is now surrounded by corn. A few years ago he cut down the trees that used to be around it so if he had not told us where to go into the cornfield we would have had a hard time finding it.
The condition of the cemetery has not improved with the passage of fifty years. In fact, it is even worse than when I last saw it. The iron fence that surrounded it is still there but it has fallen over. The lily-of-the-valley has been choked out by the weeds. The groundhog holes are still there and more numerous than ever. The stones that are still standing are few and far between with no semblance of rows. Some of them are lying face down while others are leaning against the fence or half-buried in the ground.
We tromped down or pulled out weeds to be able to see the stones. Some of them are weathered smooth but others were still readable. I photographed fourteen stones, most of which are readable. I did not find any one predominant family name but an assortment of Becker, Hauck, Ressler, Sauter, and Fry names. The oldest one I found was John Sauter, born January 6, 1760, died December 10, 1811.
I satisfied a little of my curiosity about this old cemetery but there are still many unanswered questions. I still wonder who these people were, exactly where they lived, and who started the cemetery. Restoring the cemetery would yield more information but it would also be a tremendous amount of work. The owners of the farm said the last burial was done there in 1933 but there was no visible stone for a burial that recent. I couldn't help feeling sad for the people who lie here with stones saying "in memory of" but are lost and forgotten in history.