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Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Overview

Here's just a few glimpses into our Christmas celebration this weekend. (Click on photo to enlarge)

The new drapes Leroy gave me for the living room arrived on December 23.

Our family was here on December 24. All 28 of us still fit at the tables in the basement.

We were certainly gifted parents. Just one of these things would have been enough.

The grandchildren enjoyed their gifts too. This is Lauren and Kayla sharing theirs.

Justin and Kaden compare their (battery operated) hamsters.

The hot dog roast for supper was a new activity for Christmas (fueled by the branches that came down in the October snowstorm).

After supper the boys played Monopoly with the John Deere version of the game.

On Christmas Day we went to my sister Carol's house for supper with my siblings. My Canadian brother could not be with us but connected by phone during the party. We changed to an Easter dinner after Mom died in 1993 so it has been a long time since we were together for Christmas. We had a very nice visit and uplifting conversation. It was a lovely end to the Christmas weekend.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

We're having our family for Christmas dinner tomorrow. I've done as much as I can today. The rest must wait until tomorrow morning. Cheryl and her family will arrive in time for supper tonight and stay until Sunday afternoon. We will go to my sister then Sunday evening to round out Christmas Day. I will not have time to check in here before Monday so here's wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas that will live on in memory and spirit all through 2012.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Arrival

The noise and the bustle began earlier than usual in the village. As night gave way to dawn, people were already on the streets. Vendors were positioning themselves on the corners of the most heavily traveled avenues. Store owners were unlocking the doors to their shops. Children were awakened by the excited barking of the street dogs and the complaints of donkeys pulling carts.
The owner of the inn had awakened earlier than most in the town. After all, the inn was full, all the beds taken. Every available mat or blanket had been put to use. Soon all the customers would be stirring and there would be a lot of work to do.
One’s imagination is kindled thinking about the conversation of the innkeeper and his family at the breakfast table. Did anyone mention the arrival of the young couple the night before? Did anyone comment on the pregnancy of the girl on the donkey? Perhaps. Perhaps someone raised the subject. But, at best, it was raised, not discussed. There was nothing that novel about them. They were, possibly, one of several families turned away that night.
Besides, who had time to talk about them when there was so much excitement in the air? Augustus did the economy of Bethlehem a favor when he decreed that a census should be taken. Who could remember when such commerce had hit the village?
No, it is doubtful that anyone mentioned the couple’s arrival or wondered about the condition of the girl. They were too busy. The day was upon them. The day’s bread had to be made. The morning’s chores had to be done. There was too much to do to imagine that the impossible had occurred.
God had entered the world as a baby.
Yet, were someone to chance upon the sheep stable on the outskirts of Bethlehem that morning, what a peculiar scene they would behold.
The stable stinks like all stables do. The stench of urine, dung, and sheep reeks pungently in the air. The ground is hard, the hay scarce. Cobwebs cling to the ceiling and a mouse scurries across the dirt floor.
A more lowly place of birth could not exist.
Off to one side sit a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor, perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him—so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds.
Near the young mother sits the weary father. If anyone is dozing, he is. He can’t remember the last time he sat down. And now that the excitement has subsided a bit, now that Mary and the baby are comfortable, he leans against the wall of the stable and feels his eyes grow heavy. He still hasn’t figured it all out. The mystery of the event still puzzles him. But he hasn’t the energy to wrestle with the questions. What’s important is that the baby is fine and that Mary is safe. As sleep comes, he remembers the name the angel told him to use . . . Jesus. “We will call him Jesus.”
Wide awake is Mary. My, how young she looks! Her head rests on the soft leather of Joseph’s saddle. The pain has been eclipsed by wonder. She looks into the face of the baby. Her son. Her Lord. His Majesty. At this point in history, the human being who best understands who God is and what he is doing is a teenage girl in a smelly stable. She can’t take her eyes off him. Somehow Mary knows she is holding God. So this is he. She remembers the words of the angel,
“His kingdom will never end.”
He looks anything but a king. His face is prunish and red. His cry, though strong and healthy, is still the helpless and piercing cry of a baby. And he is absolutely dependent upon Mary for his well-being.
Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teenager and in the presence of a carpenter.
She touches the face of the infant-God. How long was your journey!
This baby had overlooked the universe. These rags keeping him warm were the robes of eternity. His golden throne room had been abandoned in favor of a dirty sheep pen. And worshiping angels had been replaced with kind but bewildered shepherds.Meanwhile, the city hums. The merchants are unaware that God has visited their planet. The innkeeper would never believe that he had just sent God into the cold. And the people would scoff at anyone who told them the Messiah lay in the arms of a teenager on the outskirts of their village. They were all too busy to consider the possibility.
Those who missed His Majesty’s arrival that night missed it not because of evil acts or malice; no, they missed it because they simply weren’t looking. (emphasis mine)
Little has changed in the last two thousand years, has it?
Max Lucado

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Eve Story

This is, of course, a fictitious story but still touching.

On a snow blessed Christmas Eve a young man found himself alone in the back of an old city bar in the rundown section of town. Using his solitary drink as something of a moat between himself and the rest of the world, he was surprised when an elderly gentleman asked to join him at his table. Reluctantly, he nodded his permission but within minutes he found himself engrossed in a story that the old man related to him; a story about another Christmas Eve when the Lord looked down from above at all his children. It had been nearly two thousand years since the birth of His Son and turning to His youngest angel the Lord said, “Go down to the Earth and bring back to me the one thing that best represents everything good that has been done in the name of this day.”
The angel bowed to the Lord and spreading his wings, descended from heaven to the world of man, all the while contemplating his mission. So much had been done in the name of honoring the birth of the Christ Child. For this day wars had temporarily ceased, cathedrals had been built and great novels had been written. With so little time, what could he possibly find to represent all this?
As he soared above the earth, he suddenly heard the sound of church bells below. Their tone was so beautiful that it reminded him of the voice of God.
Looking down, he saw a small church whose bells were ringing out the carol, “Silent Night.” As the final note died away, it was replaced by one lone voice singing inside the church. It was shortly joined by a second voice that embraced the first in perfect harmony, and then another and another until a choir of voices rose through the night. Enchanted by the magic of what he was hearing, the angel found himself listening until the song was finished. As he resumed his flight through the night, he was delighted to hear these sounds everywhere, from the largest cities to the smallest villages. And any place where he heard these songs, he found hope in the hearts of men. Grasping a song out of the air, he held it in his hand (angels are able to do this) and thought that maybe, these songs could be the one thing that best represented Christmas. They seemed to give voice to man's greatest joys as well as hope to those deepest in despair.
But, though at first glance it appeared to be the answer he sought, his heart told him that this music was not enough. There had to be something more. So he continued his flight through the night until he suddenly felt the touch of a father's prayer on its way to heaven. Once again looking downward, he saw a man who was praying for his child; a child whom he had not heard from in a long time and who would not be home that Christmas. Seizing upon the prayer, the angel followed it until it reached the lost child.
She was standing on a corner, in a quiet snowfall, looking very small in a very large city. Across from her was an old city bar, the kind that only the lost seemed to know how to find.
The patrons of this establishment rarely looked up from their drinks and so seemed not to notice the young girl. Suddenly, the door opened wide and into this world walked a small child. The bartender could not remember the last time that a child had been in this place, but before he could ask the child what he was doing there, the child asked him if he knew that there was a girl outside their door who could not get home. Glancing out the window, he saw the girl standing across the street. Turning back to the child, the bartender asked him how he knew this. The child replied: "On this night of all nights, if one could be home, they'd be already there.” The bartender looked back toward the young girl as he reflected on what the child had said. After several seconds of thought, he slowly went over to the cash register and removing most of the money, came out from behind the bar and followed the child across the street.
Everyone in the bar watched as he spoke with the girl. After a few moments, he called over a cab, put the girl inside and told the driver, "J.F.K. Airport." As the cab pulled away, he looked around for the child, but the child was gone. And what was stranger still, even though his own tracks leading from the bar were still clearly marked in the snow, the child's were nowhere to be found. Returning back inside, he asked if anyone had seen where the child had gone, but like himself, no one had, for they also had been watching the departing cab. 
Later that night the angel returned back to heaven and placed in the Lord's hand, the prayer of a father for the return of his child. And as the heavenly host looked on, the Lord smiled.
At the end of his story the old man then told the youth that he had enjoyed their time together but that it was time for him to leave. After the old man had left, the youth found himself rushing out the door only seconds behind the elderly gentleman's exit so that he might ask his name, but not only was there no one in sight but there wasn't even a single track in the snow.
The young man stood there for a moment perplexed but then he suddenly felt a sense of gentle peace and contentment flow through his body. Buttoning his coat the youth slowly walked home where for the first time since his childhood he dreamed a Christmas dream.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Village

We went out for supper last evening for my birthday (on a gift certificate). On the way home we passed Koziar's Christmas Village which is about four miles from our house. This elaborate display started out as a family decorating their farm in 1948 and continued to expand until the family made enough money from it that they could quit milking cows. After 60 years, cars still line up for miles waiting to get into the place.
I drive by this place in all seasons of the year. Many of the decorations remain in place all year but the lights don't go on until the fall. This place has put the sleepy little town of Bernville on the map. People from far and wide know about Christmas Village and if you say Bernville they immediately say, "Oh. Up there at Christmas Village." Yes, and the road that goes by the place has even been named Christmas Village Road.
Since I'm not big on decorating I've never had a burning desire to pay to get in and see it up close. ("A prophet is not without honor except in his own country.")  But I do like to see this view from the hill when I pass by this time of year. So for all of you who have never seen or heard of it, here is Koziar's Christmas Village. (Click to enlarge)



This link will take you to more images of some of the displays on the place

But don't forget what Christmas is all about---Jesus, the Light of the world.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Three Sisters

This might be an old one to you but it was new to me. It fits like a glove.


Three Sisters

We are three sisters
Three sisters are we
I love each of you,
And I know you love me.

We’re not always together,
Life sometimes keeps us apart.
But we're never separated
We’re in each other's heart.

Now I know we've had our troubles,
But we always get thru.
The real message is you love me,
And I also love you.

We have had lots of good times
That we'll never forget
Sometimes we worry
And sometimes we fret.

But if God ever gave me
Something special you see,
It might have been the blessing of,
Three sisters are we.

The Lord above has gave me lots
Of happiness and glee
But the most special thing he did was
Make us sisters, all three.


This was taken four years ago when my youngest sister received her doctorate in English education at Pensecola Christian College. She is the English teacher at Terre Hill Mennonite High School. It's the best most-recent picture I have of the three of us together.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas & Birthday

We are having our family for Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. Believe it or not, that's only two weeks away. This morning I finished shopping for gifts and everything is now wrapped and waiting. A few things need to be slipped into gift bags the last day. I do not do well with cramming to finish and it's a good feeling to be ready two weeks early.
I've actually been ahead of the game the whole way this year. The cookies were baked the day after Thanksgiving. The Christmas mail went out this week. I still need to bake the Moravian Sugar Cake for our Christmas breakfast but that is never done far in advance so it doesn't get stale waiting.
The mail is more interesting in December than any other month of the year. We both have a birthday in December which adds to the mail. We have a gift certificate for a restaurant which will do for a joint birthday supper. The place is decided by the gift certificate but we still need to decide on whose birthday we will use it. He thinks we should go on his birthday because it's a Saturday and I think we should go on mine three days earlier. Shouldn't the cook have off on HER birthday? Come on, cast your vote for me!



Saturday, December 3, 2011

Prepared

Hurricane Irene knocked out electric out for five days in August. That was the longest we've ever been without power. We managed to keep the food in our frig and freezer from spoiling by running a generator Leroy brought home from work. But it was not big enough to pump water so we were handicapped and ever so thankful when power was restored.
A freak snowstorm in October brought down the lines again and we were without power for four days. It was colder and we were without both water and heat. We stayed warm with the help of a kerosene heater and again borrowed a generator to run the frig and freezer but were without water.
That did it! Leroy has been talking for a long time about getting an alternate power source and after those two storms he decided it is time to get serious and do something. Yesterday he got a generator that is big enough to run the furnace and pump water. He is working on making a plug arrangement so it can be connected to the dryer receptacle and operated by turning individual breakers on and off. We can run things without a tangle of cords running through the house.
When we said we were considering doing this someone said, "Go ahead. That will be good insurance. If you have one you won't need it." It may turn out that way and I won't complain if we don't need it. But you know the old saying, "Seconds, thirds." We've had two strikes close together and blizzard season is coming. If the power goes off again for an extended period, we're prepared.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Here!

Aaron's Civil War is now available from Christian Light Publications. Click on this link for a description of the book and ordering information.
http://www.clp.org/product/aarons_civil_war_2805


The book should appear in bookstores shortly. If you don't want to wait or do not know of a bookstore that handles my books you can order on line now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart

 Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I couldn't figure out how to embed this link so just click on it and enjoy.

http://llerrah.com/bethankful.htm

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unser Leit

Last evening we went to a historical meeting where Leroy Beachy, from Holmes County, Ohio, introduced his new two-volume set of books entitled Unser Leit (Our People). In these books he traces the history of the Amish from Europe to the present day in Holmes County. In addition to writing the text, he drew by hand all of the pictures in the books. Since my ancestors were pretty solidly Mennonites rather than Amish, I did not go to buy the books but to hear what he had learned in his research.
Almost every source you find will tell you the Amish separated from the Swiss Mennonites in 1693 due to a disagreement between the leaders of the Mennonites and Jacob Amman who led the Amish. In the Archives in Bern, Leroy Beachy found some documents which do not fit that story. He has a document which lists the "Amish" in Switzerland who were taxed half the value of their properties in 1673 for being Anabaptists. Their leader was Ulrich Muller (Miller). He also has a court record from 1674 showing Ulrich was imprisoned at Thun for 16 months on a diet of bread and water. The surnames of Ulrich's followers are "Amish" names although they did not begin to be called Amish until later when Jacob Amman became their bishop. This group of Anabaptists came out of the Reformed Church in Switzerland,  independent of the Mennonites in Switzerland and Holland. They had some different practices (such as shunning and feet washing) from the Swiss Mennonites. They never were part of the same group and the Amish did not form as the result of a church split.
Amos Hoover says we should have known by their surnames that the Amish and Mennonites always were two separate groups of Anabaptists. If they formed from a church split the surnames on both sides would have been fairly equal. But the surnames among the Amish are distinctly different from those of the Swiss Mennonites. Common surnames among the Swiss Mennonites are Weaver, Martin, Sensenig, Hoover, etc. while Amish surnames are King, Glick, Zook, Hostetler, Stoltzfus, etc.
Changing a story that has been believed for more than a hundred years is not easy. But it has been done before when documents surfaced which proved the previous story was based on assumptions rather than facts.
In his book Leroy tells how he became interested in the history of the Amish when he was eleven years old. This is how it happened.

Leroy's parents invited Felty Burkholders for dinner one Sunday. After they finished eating Felty pushed his chair back from the table, tipped it on the two back legs, and said (in PA German), "You know, it always wondered me where the Amish came from." None of them really knew but Elsie was there and she knew something. She said:
Long ago the only people who lived in America were Indians. They were always fighting and killing each other so they never amounted to much and there weren't many of them. In Europe it was just the opposite. The land was full of people and there was not enough land to go around. To alleviate the overcrowding they decided to send some people to America. The ones who were chosen to go were called Pilgrims. In 1492 they got on three ships called the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria and sailed to America. John Smith was their captain. One ship load was Amish, the second Conservatives, and the third Mennonites. They settled in Lancaster County and from there they spread across America.
Felty considered her story and had another question. If all the settlers were some kind of Mennonites or Amish, where did the auslanders (non-Mennonite) come from? Elsie said, "Oh they were people who defected from the Mennonites."
With this as his starting point, Leroy Beachy has come a long way in sorting out fact from fiction.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hilarious Giving

The holiday season is rushing to meet us. Thanksgiving Day is just one week away and merchants are already pushing Christmas. It is appropriate that we pause to count our blessings and give thanks for them before we dive into Christmas when the focus all too often is on getting rather than giving.
Our church has always collected donations for needy families the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It is usually a grocery shower but sometimes a money shower is more practical. That is the case this year with at least one of the families living in another state. We will be collecting money on Sunday for three families who have had large and on-going medical bills this year. The father of one family died recently after a battle with cancer and just after his wife was also diagnosed with cancer.
Last evening we were discussing the money shower and how much we should contribute for each family. Leroy named a figure and my immediate response was (to my shame), "Where are you going to get that kind of money?"
He said, "If we wanted something for ourselves we would find the money."
Gulp. He's right. The amount he suggested is small in comparison to what we have spent on oursleves this year. We have replaced our car, freezer, and refrigerator. All three were 20-44 years old and/or inoperative, so they really did need to be replaced. We have been greatly blessed and could do it without financing. We could give the amount he suggested without hardship. Why did I bulk?
I don't like to admit I'm selfish but it sticks out all over, doesn't it? Be honest. Is it true that I can't afford to give or do I just not want to?
And that's what too often makes the holidays a headache. It's the season of greed and all about ME. What I want for myself is more important than what I am willing to give to someone else. I need to learn to be more Christ-like. He had all the wealth of heaven but sacrificed it to come to earth and be my servant.
At Thanksgiving and Christmas (especially) our focus should be on what we can do for others rather than what we want to do for ourselves. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). The Greek word translated cheerful is hilaros, from which we get our word "hilarious." Am I going to give just enough to soothe my conscience because it is expected or will I give sacrificially, hilariously?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Silver Lining

We reached a milestone on Sunday. Eighteen years ago Steve had his eighteenth (and last) birthday on November 13. I can hardly believe as many years have passed as he was with us. I can't quite picture him being 36. In my mind he is forever 18. God has him in His keeping, we have him in our hearts.
Although we never would have chosen for Steve's life on earth to end when it did, there are some benefits we never would have if things had been otherwise. One of those blessings is the "addition" of Steve's best friend to our family. He has since married and has five children who call us Grandpa and Grandma and consider our other grandchildren their cousins. "Every cloud has a silver lining."


Last week was a very full week with church every evening plus running to and fro on the face of the earth three days. I had very little time to get things done here at home. All these activities made it an interesting week but I am ready for the pace to slow down this week. At the same time, I am realizing the holiday season is rushing to meet us and there will be no lack of things to do the rest of the year.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Baby Shower

Yesterday we had a baby shower for Gene and Amy. They are eagerly waiting for their little firstborn son to arrive a few days after Christmas. Amy was told about the shower the night before so it was not a surprise. We had a brunch before she opened her gifts. She got a lot of nice, cute,  and useful things. I gave a blue onesie I saw weeks ago and couldn't resist.

It says "If you think I'm handsome you should see my Daddy." I thought it was appropriate for the father's mother to give that. It was only a token gift. In the bag was a note telling them to come to our house and pick up their rocking chair whenever they are ready for it.
We're planning to have our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. This little fellow could interfere if he should arrive a few days before the due date. But babies come when they are ready and we'll just have to adjust as needed if that should happen.
The closest I came to having a Christmas baby was the middle of November. I thought that Christmas was especailly meaningful as I thought how Mary must have felt when she held her Son in her arms. Babies are sweet any time of the year but a newborn at Christmas adds a special touch to the holiday. If this one should come 10-12 days early he could even share the birthday of his grandpa or grandma Stauffer. We can only wait and see whose birthday he will share or if he'll pick one of his own.





Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Survivor!!

The great October blizzard is now history and I am glad. Only a bit of snow remains piled in secluded places and the grass is green again instead of white. Here are a couple pictures.
This one was taken Sunday morning soon after sunrise which accounts for the blue color. The branches of the trees were hanging to the ground on Saturday (and quite a few broke off) but by Sunday morning the snow had fallen off the branches and they were back in place. This one give you an idea of the depth of the snowfall. The previous record for the month of October was two inches and we topped that by at least 3.5 inches.
This one was taken Sunday afternoon when the snow had already begun to melt. (The good thing about October snows is that they don't last long.) The brown strips in the fields are soybeans that had not been harvested. I'm afraid the snow threshed the beans right into the ground. I have never seen the landscape this white with so many colored leaves still on the trees.


Our electric was off four full days---96 1/2 hours, to be exact. We managed to keep warm with a kerosene heater, kept our food from spoiling in the frig and freezer with a generator, burned a gas lantern for light after dark, and bummed water and showers from our son a couple times. In August we were out of electric five days and I sure was hoping we wouldn't have a repeat performance. It came too close for comfort.
The weather this year, and especially in the last half of the year, has been extreme. We had a record 106 in July, earthquake and hurricane in August (which caused flooding), record rainfall in September, and now a record snowfall in October. What will happen in November? I don't even want to think about it. Let's just have a "normal" month for a change! I guess God's just reminding us He is in control and man is no match for His power.

Monday, October 31, 2011

October Snowstorm

I'm sure lots of people are posting about the record snowfall we had this weekend. The previous record snowfall for October was two inches. We beat that record all hollow on Saturday with 5.5 inches. Since the leaves are still on the trees, the weight of the heavy wet snow on top of the leaves brought down many branches which took power lines with them.
The storm was not a surprise. The meteorologist had been warning for several days that it was coming. After being without power for five days in August following a hurricane, we took the warning seriously. Leroy brought a generator home from work on Friday night and I tapped some drinking water Saturday morning.
It was raining when we got up but by 8:30 had changed to snow. At first it melted as it came down but  then it started to pile up. And then branches started coming down. We lost power at our house at 2 p.m. 
In August it was warm enough that we did not need heat but this time the house got sort of chilly. When it was down to 63 Leroy started the kerosene heater and that took care of the chills. The generator was put to use to run the freezer and frig but it is not large enough to pump water. That is the largest handicap.
We went to his mom Sunday morning to wash dishes and get showers. Lunch was a tin can of soup and hamburgers made on the grill. Gerald and Kelly were powerless too but Gene and Amy were only out a couple hours on Saturday so they invited the four of us up to their house for supper Sunday. Got through one day.
This morning the power is still off. I needed to do laundry so I came up to Amy again to use her washer. This is my chance to use her computer as well to let the world know we are still alive. When the laundry is done I'll go back to my powerles cave.
The morning paper said our power company still has 35,000 customers without electric and it could be Friday before it is restored to everyone. I can only hope we are not the last ones on the list this time. In the meantime, we'll bum water off other people, eat tin can soup, and manage the best we can. We survived five days in August and I guess we can again if we have to---but I'd rather not have to stick it out that long.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Can You Top This?

When I was collecting information on the descendants of immigrant Christian Burkholder there were a couple great-granddaughters in Ohio I could not trace. In the Lancaster County archives on Tuesday I found documents related to the settlement of Christian's daughter Anna "Nancy." She was never married so her estate was divided among her nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews. Those papers gave me the married names of the mystery girls and the names of at least some of their children.
One of them was Mary Weaver, daughter of Henry and Barbara (Zug) Weber. (Henry was the son of Christian Burkholder's daughter Barbara, sister of Anna/Nancy.) Henry and Barbara moved to Stark County, Ohio. Their three oldest children remained in Lancaster County but the others went with them to Ohio and changed the spelling of their name to Weaver.
Mary Weaver married John Garman. She died before her aunt Anna/Nancy's estate was settled in 1873 so her children received her share of the inheritance.
Now here's the part that still has my head spinning. John Garman (1811-1889) had three wives
Magdalena Dickerhoof (1810-1849)
Mary Weaver (1825-1862)
Catharine Hane (1838-1920)
He had a family with his first wife and married Mary the year after his first wife's death. She was 14 years younger than him and he had a second family with her. After she died he married his third wife who was 27 years his junior and had a third family. His three families totaled 29 children. You heard right. Twenty-nine children! In the 1880 census he was 70 years old and had a 9-month-old son. Wow!
Can you top that? It's the record for any family I ever found in the United States of America.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sneak Preview

Here is the cover of my new book. The lines at the bottom say "He marched off to fight a glorious war, but discovered the real enemy was closer than the gray coats across the battlefield."
I got the typeset copy yesterday for the final proofreading. It should be ready for the printer next week and is expected to be on the market before Christmas. Open your wallets and prepare to buy!


I started researching this story at the beginning of 2009. It was accepted by Christian Light Publications at the very end of 2010. By the time it is on the market it will have taken three years to go from idea to print. That's why writers of my caliber need to have another source of income to survive. I enjoyed researching and writing this story and it is gratifying to see it become reality.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset

Today I bumped into a reality check. This is our daughter's 40th birthday. She is our third, not our oldest child. I look at our three "middle age" children and wonder how this can be.

"Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don't remember growing older, when did they? Wasn't it yesterday when they were small? Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset - Swiftly flow the days. Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers blossoming even as we gaze..." (Fiddler on the Roof).

After all the birthdays I've had I've sort of become immune to them. They can come and go without making me feel any older. It's the numbers on my children's ages that make me catch my breath and think surely there must be some mistake.  But they are starting to turn gray so maybe the numbers are right.
It doesn't seem long at all since I turned 40 but life has changed considerably since then. On my 40th birthday my youngest child was a four-year-old preschooler and he had five older siblings still under our roof. One by one they left the nest, five by marriage and one by death. Every time one left there were changes within the household. Now we are back where we started with just the two of us rattling around in the house.
Every time I entered a new stage of life I thought it was better than the one before. I couldn't imagine it until I got here but this empty nester stage is the best yet. It's only when I stop to think how the numbers of my children's ages are ratcheting up that I get scared. I'm not trying to deny I'm over the hill but the further I go down the other side the faster the ride. And this thing doesn't have any brakes! It just keeps rolling along, "sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset . . . "

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Strange Old Lady

A very weird thing has happened. A strange old lady has moved into my house. I have no idea who she is, where she came from, or how she got in. I certainly did not invite her. All I know is that one day she wasn't there, and the next day, she was.
She is a clever old lady and manages to keep out of sight for the most part, but whenever I pass a mirror I catch a glimpse of her. And whenever I look in the mirror to check my appearance, there she is, hogging the whole thing, completely obliterating my gorgeous face and body. This is very rude. I have tried screaming at her but she just screams back.
For an old lady, she is quite childish. She likes to play nasty games, like going into my closets when I'm not home and altering my clothes so they don't fit. And she messes with my files and papers so I can't find anything. This is particularly annoying since I am extremely neat and organized.
She has found other imaginative ways to annoy me. She gets into my mail, newspapers and magazines before I do, and blurs the print so I can't read it. She has done something really sinister to the volume controls on my radio and telephone. Now, all I hear are mumbles and whispers.
She has taken the fun out of shopping for clothes. When I try something on, she stands in front of the dressing room mirror and monopolizes it. She looks totally ridiculous in some of those outfits.
Just when I thought she couldn't get any meaner, she proved me wrong. She came along when I went to get my picture taken for my driver's license, and just as the camera shutter clicked, she jumped in front of me! No one is going to believe that the picture of that old lady is me!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stuff Collects

When I first started writing for publication in 1973 my "office" was the kitchen table. I didn't even own a typewriter so I wrote things by hand and then went over to my mom to type the piece for submission. That was too unhandy so I soon bought a used manual typewriter on an auction. That antique Royal typewriter has been resting in the attic for years.
I thought I was really getting up in this world when I bought an electric typewriter. By then I was writing enough that my office had expanded to a card table which was set up wherever it was most convenient at the time---kitchen, bedroom, or basement. When I started writing Sunday school quarterlies I taught myself to compose on the typewriter due to space limitations. Composing on the typewriter saved a lot of time because I knew if I had too much or too little to fill the space alloted for each lesson. After the rough draft was written I spent at least three full days retyping two copies of the manuscript. By the end of three full days of typing I would be typing my dreams at night.
Enter the first computer. It is also an antique by now as computers go. I struggled to learn to use it but was soon hooked. No more retyping when the manuscript was finished. But the card table was not big enough for the computer and all my books and writing aids. So I got a small computer desk which we set up in the bedroom. That was my office for several years.
I dreamed of having a whole room for my office but we needed all the rooms for bedrooms. Then the children began leaving home and one day we were able to move the computer desk into a room of its own. As you might guess, the computer desk and file cabinet were no longer big enough for all my books and papers. I went to an Amish man who built desks and ordered a new desk custom made to fit my room. It included a floor-to-ceiling bookcase, a dozen drawers, and more shelves behind doors in the corner hutch top. At last! My dream was reality and I had lots of room!
Fast forward a couple more years. Today the bookcase is nearly full. The file drawers are bulging, the shelves are rather full. Stuff collects!!
Last week I set about reorganizing my stuff. Believe it or not, I even convinced myself to throw a few things out. I had to go to the store twice for more folders. I finished the job this afternoon. My two hobbies of writing and history & genealogy are now residing in separate file drawers. Things are in hanging files and labeled folders. I hope I will be able to find things more easily in my new filing system. But I wonder what I'll do a couple years from now if I keep on the way I have been. Stuff collects!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Jerusalem

My two brothers are actively invovled in mission work. The older of the two has served in several missions in Central America at various times and is currently pastoring a mission church in the city. The younger one is a career missionary and travels around the world in mission work. He is currently spending six weeks in Thailand and Mynmar. Both of them have a lot of interesting stories to tell about the people they meet and the work they do.
The elder brother was the speaker at our annual Missonary Conference over the weekend. Among other things, he challenged us to get out on the street corners to distribute tracts and preach to the people. I came away feeling like I am not fulfilling the Great Commission to go into all the world. I sit at my computer writing stories and doing volunteer work at the historical society while people are perishing.
Yesterday was my regular day to be at the historical society. A bus tour was scheduled to tour the museum. I show the domestic part of the museum and two men show the agricultural and church & school portions. I don't have time to talk about every item on display but usually point out the same ones to each group and answer any questions.
One of the men in the group yesterday asked, "What is the significance of the women's white cap?" I answered his question by referring him to 1 Corinthians 11 and explaning what it says. I finished by saying, "The Bible says so." He just looked at me and didn't say another word. I don't know what he was thinking but I doubt he was expecting an answer from the Bible. I was glad I was there to answer that question.
As I reflected on that experience, I realized there have been other times when I have had an opportunity to share my faith in the museum. My brothers go into all the world but there are opportunities to witness wherever we are. The museum can be my "Jerusalem."

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mounted

Hunting season is about to open and taxidermists will find their work picking up as trophies are brought in for mounting. We've got a trophy mounted and on display in front of the garage.


We always said we drive our cars until the wheels fall off. It happened on Monday. After serving us for nearly thirteen years and taking us 200,000 miles, something suddenly went CLUNK. The suspension fell down and the steering went with it. Fortunately, it happened while going up a crowded exit ramp at 5 mph instead of a few minutes earlier when it was going full speed. We can only thank the Lord for holding it together long enough to prevent a tragic accident.
Leroy borrowed the neighbor's trailer to bring it home. He wants to look at it in the daylight before he unloads it so he can see better what would be involved in fixing it. With the other repairs it would need to pass inspection the end of October, it is highly questionable whether it's worth sinking any more money into it. Once he decides what to do with it we'll know if the trailer is the operating table or hearse.
I'm so thankful we bought another car in June. If we didn't have that one we would suddenly be up the crick without a paddle. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Camping

We've come through a week of gray skies and drippy weather. Monday morning was nice but the clouds rolled in during the afternoon and never went away. We got twelve inches of rain from the two hurricanes that crossed through here earlier this month so we really didn't need any more rain. I wish people in the dry parts of the country could have had what we got this week but that's out of my control. Actually, we only picked up a little over an inch throughout the week but one dreary day followed another.
The Stauffer family has an annual camping weekend at a local campground at the end of September. Cheryl and her family planned to come this year. They had a terrible time deciding if they want to come all the way from Ohio for a weekend that winds up being a washout. They finally decided to take the chance, come, and "think +." It worked!
Heavy showers moved through Friday night but by the time they got to the campground at 8:30 it had stopped. The weekend was not exactly gorgeous but the clouds controlled themselves and kept their tears inside. On Saturday afternoon the sun actually came out for awhile and we saw blue sky for the first time since Monday morning. The chicken barbq supper was held on schedule.
Everyone brings enough chicken legs and potatoes for their family and they are all done together. I always take enough for all of our children and grandchildren. The first year I did that it only meant two extra legs. This year I took 17. Two of the sons could not attend or I would have taken more. We had a total of about 60 legs on the grill.   
We are not happy campers and come home to sleep. We went to church this morning and then went back to the campground again for lunch. The gray clouds still hovered above but it did not rain all weekend, thank you very much!
 Autum arrived on Friday and with the camping weekend behind us, we are poised to fall into the new season. It's sure to bring cooler temperatures and I hope some sunshine to give us a chance to dry out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Downsizing and Upgrading

"I'm not fat, I'm fluffy." You've probably seen that line somewhere. Fluffy sounds cuter than fat. We would prefer to be known as "thrifty" rather than "tight."  The term doesn't change the fact but it does bring a more friendly image to the mind. Call it something else and it is easier to accept. Hmmmm. That might work for some more things.
The only thing I dread in housekeeping career is cleaning cupboards and closets. There are so many more interesting things to do and it's so easy to procrastinate. But eventually things reach a point where something has to change and I get at it.
Such was the case this morning. The day had arrived which I had scheduled for housecleaning the bathroom and I knew that awful closet was leering at me behind it's closed door. As usual, getting started was the worst part and the results were reward enough to keep going.
As I worked I thought maybe cleaning closets would be more attractive if I gave it a new name. Combining half empty shampoo bottles, throwing out expired medicines, etc. could be called downsizing. Wiping the layer of dirt off the shelves is upgrading. Returning things to their proper places is reorganizing. That sounds more efficient than old fashioned housecleaning. Will it help? Probably not as long as I have a computer in the next room.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life's Little Surprises

Life is full of surprises. Sometimes they are not appreciated (like when the electric is off for five days) and other times they are pleasant little interludes. One of the later popped up yesterday when a friend from Iowa I had not seen for more than thirty years stopped in for a visit.
Betty and I found each other when we were about nine or ten years old through the "Reader's Write" column in the church papers. One of us wrote a letter asking for pen pals. The fact that our birthdays are two days apart if what brought us together and we have been writing ever since. Today, most of our communication is by email rather than snail mail.
Betty and Bob were here on their honeymoon in 1970 and again the next year with their first child. The last time we were at their house was in 1979. They had ten children and we had six. I guess we were both busy raising families and had no time or money to travel back and forth. We have been saying for several years that we want to go to Iowa but other things kept getting in the way. Maybe next year. . . .
At any rate, it was good to see Betty again after all these years and their visit was far too short. But we were on the tail end of their two-week vacation and I know at that point it starts to feel like it's time to get home again.
Here's Betty and I, together again after more than 30 years. We'll make sure it's not that long the next time..

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back to Normal

After surviving two back-to-back hurricanes, I hope life returns to normal this week. Irene left us without electric for five days and Lee dumped eight inches of rain on us last week. We had electric but flooding disrupted the normal flow of life. The forecast for this week looks sunny with the chance of a spotty shower once in awhile but no hurricanes are on the horizon.
Although my plans for the past two weeks had to be adjusted due to the weather, we were very fortunate. Our hearts go out to those whose homes were flooded or who had family members swept away in the floods. One was an eight-year-old boy who was playing in the water and another was a man who was trying to help someone with a flooded basement. We had only a small wet spot in the basement and we canceled some plans and stayed home because of flooded roads. That is minor compared to what some people are dealing with.
At least the electric stayed on during Lee and I was able to harvest the Concord grapes in the back yard and wrap up the 2011 canning season. We had a bumper crop of grapes this year, better than we've had for years. I decided they must thrive on neglect. They were not pruned, sprayed, or watched. I was astounded when I picked a five-gallon bucket full and saw I had hardly made a difference. In the end I got three buckets full which became 17 qts. juice concentrate and two batches of jelly. With great joy I put the canner away for the season. I am ready to do something different and start eating out of the freezer again.
At the top of my new list is cleaning the patio. I like to do that the end of August before it gets too cool to slop with the hose. The job was postponed two weeks due to the hurricanes but it looks like the beginning of this week will be perfect. By the end of the week we will have "a touch of fall" with temperatures struggling to reach 70.
Sometimes when life seems to be the same-old, same-old, we might begin to feel we're in a boring old rut. But when life is upset by unusual circumstances that old rut starts to look rather attractive and comfortable after all. I'm happy to slip back into my comfortable old rut this week and get back to normal. Someone said, "A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out." Not necessarily. A rut can be a blessing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Apple Butter

Our Labor Day activity was making apple butter the old fashioned way in my sister's copper kettle. Last year was our first attempt and a learning experience. We had a larger crowd this year and therefore a bigger batch of apple butter. We shorten the process by starting with applesauce instead of raw apples. Rain had moved in overnight and threatened all day so my brother-in-law set the furnace in his implement shed where it would be under roof.
With so many of us taking turns stirring, no one had to stir long at a time. We started at 10 a.m. and the apple butter was pronounced finished approximately 1:45. We dipped it from the kettle to a big dishpan and divided it among us according to how much applesauce each of us had contributed to the kettle. I wound up with 3 qt. of apple butter for my 4 qt. applesauce.


I always made apple butter in the oven. Baking for three hours or slowly simmering in a crockpot will turn applesauce into apple butter just as well as cooking over a wood fire. But the apple butter made this way has a different flavor. The best part of apple butter day is swapping stories and catching up with each other's lives. The memories we make while we stir and ladle the stuff is the secret ingredient that gives old fashioned apple butter its superior taste---and maybe a little of the wood smoke gets stirred into it too.
I still have some apple butter in my freezer from previous years and really didn't need any more but I wouldn't have wanted to miss the day. I can always give it as Christmas gifts. Maybe by next year my older stuff will be used up and I'll be ready for a fresh batch.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Power Woman

Hurricane Irene is finally history in these parts. After 122 1/2 hours without electric, power was restored at 1:30 p.m. yesterday. I quickly unplugged the frig and freezer from the generator and into the wall receptacle again. Then I got rid of the tangle of cords running through the hall and kitchen and down the basement steps. Next I happily returned the coal oil lamps to their decorative positions and the gas lamp to the garage, poured the bucket of water on the plants, flushed the toilet (!), and reset clocks. Ahhh! We're back to normal.
As unhandy as it was to be without electric for five full days (plus a few hours), we are still fortunate. Leroy left at 4 this morning to go to New Jersey with a group of men who are doing flood clean up work. All we needed to do to put Irene behind us was have the electric restored. We did not lose anything in floods nor do we have to repair anything.
Still, I feel as if I sat by the side of the road all week unable to do much. Today I'm a Power Woman; all the electric I need to do anything I need to do. My sister knows me well. She warned me not to try to do everything today I was planning to do all week. The urge is there to do it all but I know that's impossible. I'll do what I can today and the rest of it next week.
I told Leroy I hope I never take electric for granted again but I probably will when the memory of this week fades. Today it still seems like a miracle to have light at the flip of a switch and water at the turn of a knob. It feels like being born again.
Power woman, start your engine! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!! And away I go!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene blew up the East Coast on Saturday. The wind increased all day Saturday and rain began falling. It was still raining when we got up Sunday morning but it seemed the worst was over. The power blinked once Sunday morning but came right back on. We went to church as usual and by the time it was over the rain had stopped and wind was dying down. We went merrily on our way to our dinner invitation at my cousin's house at Fleetwood. Eveything was fine there. We had a good meal and nice time visiting.
When we arrived home about 4 p.m. we found the electric had gone off at 11:02 a.m. Oh well. We didn't mind too much because it was Sunday and we weren't doing much anyway. I had tapped some drinking water and Leroy had filled a 5-gallon bucket with water for other uses. We went to church in the evening and then to bed by the light of a coal oil lamp, confident power would be restored by morning.
We awoke Monday morning to a dark house. Now it was beginning to become real. I hauled our dirty laundry up to Gene & Amy's house and ran it through her washer. It dried nicely on my solar powered washline. I spent quite a bit of time picking up the sticks that had blown down and burned them. I decided not to bother cooking supper; we can go out to eat and surely by Tuesday the power will be on.
We awoke Tuesday morning to a dark house. More of the same. I had invited Gene & Amy for supper because it was his birthday. Instead, I hauled the food up to their house and cooked it there. Surely by Wednesday morning the power will be on.
We awoke Wednesday morning to a dark house . . . . More of the same . . . Surely by Thursday morning the power will be on. . .
To be continued

According to this morning's paper, we could be out of electric until Saturday. I hope not, but am trying to look at the bright side. At least we don't have to worry about keeping warm, frozen pipes, and closed roads. We were able to borrow a generator from the shop to keep the food from spoiling in the frig and freezer. I discovered I can also plug in the microwave to make instant coffee and the computer to find out if the rest of the world is still out there. This may be the first gas-generated blog post you've ever read. Where there's a will there's a way.

But now I need to shut it off and plug the freezer in again. We'll survive but it sure is unhandy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

End Of The Season

I am exhausted in body but gratified in spirit. This morning I got two 5/8 baskets of big solid canning tomatoes at a nearby farm. I slopped around all day turning them into my own version of V-8 juice and tomato soup. I had enough pizza and spaghetti sauce left from last year so I wasn't going to make any this year. But 48 pts. of juice and soup later, I still had another 1.5 gallons of juice left. I decided it can be spaghetti sauce after all but didn't have all the ingredients on hand. I stuck the juice in the frig to wait for processing until another day.  What was I thinking? I probably have enough tomatoes to last us two years!
The Big 4 of the August harvest have been conquered for another year---corn, peaches, apples, and tomatoes. I'll can one basket of pears yet and probably freeze a couple pie fillings. There may be some grapes but we didn't spray them so they probably won't amount to much.
Since there is only two of us here anymore a little food goes a long way compared to what it once did. As I was canning peaches I asked myself if it is worth the work for not more than we need. But I concluded it is because Leroy is diabetic and commercially processed foods have too much sugar for him. I can accommodate his diet by canning my own products. And home canned tastes better too.
With so many produce farmers around here these days I let them grow most of my fruits and vegetables. Our garden has shrunk to fresh-eating size. It has the look of fall now. All that's out there anymore is potatoes, tomatoes, and a short row of green beans that decided to do an encore.
As much as we enjoy eating fresh things, I am glad the rush is over and I can soon stash my canner away for another year. I won't have any trouble finding other things to do!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sharing Knowledge

One of the things that I like about volunteering at the historical society is that no two days are ever alike. Another of the benefits is the people I meet that I would probably never meet otherwise. This spring I met a man from California I had communicated with on genealogy via email but had never met. He happened to come in on one of my work days and we were both surprised to meet in the library. Today another lady came in who was only a name to me until we met there and since then we have helped each other with our projects.
Today I was working on getting a postcard collection ready for the archives when two couples walked in. One of them was my cousin, Nora Hoover, and her well-known historian husband, Amos. The couple with them was obviously Amish but I had no clue who they were until Amos introduced us. I was pleasantly surprised to learn he was David Luthy from Pathway Publishers in Ontario. And David and his wife had read some of my books and were also surprised when they heard my name. David immediately sent his wife upstairs to the bookstore to buy one of my books because he wanted an autographed copy.
Later in the day a lady came in to research her family history. I heard her telling Mary (the volunteer at the research desk)  the surnames she was searching for. One of them was Beery. Mary knew nothing about the Beerys but that is a family I have done some work on so I butted in and referred the lady to some books on the shelf which I knew were her Beery line. She was very grateful and impressed with what she found in the books. Being able to help someone like that produces a satisfied feeling.
Someone has said, "You will be the same five years from now except for the people you meet and the books you read." The historical society is crammed with books and a place where the currents of people's lives can mingle and flow together for a time; then go on to carry the shared knowledge in different branches to other places and people.
Sharing knowledge increases its value. Keeping knowledge erodes power. Sharing is the fuel to your growth engine.



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

'Tis The Harvest Time

The last half of July we were in the final preparations for Gerald's wedding. July 30 came and the wedding went off without a hitch. (Well, there WAS one hitch.) Then the following week I began catching up on all the things that I said could wait until "after the wedding." On Saturday I drew a deep breath and proclaimed I was caught up.
But I wasn't looking over my shoulder. While I was busy catching up on laundry, computer work, mail, cleaning, etc. the summer's produce was busily growing in the gardens and orchards. After only one day of rest (comparatively speaking; we had church and two picnics on Sunday) I woke up Monday morning to dive head first into the August canning rush.
On Monday Amy and I froze our corn for the winter and Leroy brought home two baskets of peaches. We were scheduled to be on the route today for Lantern Books so the peaches sat quietly in the patio turning more pink and juicy all day long. I sorted them when I got home and stashed one basket in the frig until morning. Then I went out in the garden and picked another basket of cucumbers, cabbage, and tomatoes. More stuff stashed in the bulging frig. Tomorrow will be peach day and the other things will have to wait their turn.
My canning season used to begin in June and run through October. Since we're a family of two now I don't need as much but for at least a couple weeks each summer there is something to can or freeze every day. It all adds up to good eating the rest of the year so I'm not complaining. When I think of the starving people in the horn of Africa I know I am mightily spoiled. I enjoy the harvest time and hearing the music of canning lids sealing but I'm glad I don't have to do it all year long.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wedding Recap

Here is a mini slide show of the wedding of Gerald and Kelly Stauffer on July 30, 2011
Cornerstone Mennonite Church, Ephrata, Pa.

Here comes the bride!

Larry Martin officiated at the ceremony


After they were pronounced man and wife, Gerald and Kelly took turns pouring white and purple sand in a container around their unity candle.

The unity candle was lit


Both sets of parents prayed a blessing on the marriage.


         The Martin family of the bride


             The Stauffer family of the groom

                
 The bridal party

                                                               
     Leaving the church in a shower of bubbles

                                                   
   Convertible ride to the reception


Reception at Weaver's Banquet Hall                                                       


    Some of the 230 guests

Those who are gone were not forgotten. On one table were four pictures of Gerald's relatives who were not with us. First in line was his Grandma Burkholder who died 18 years ago on this date. Then there was a picture of Grandpa Stauffer, Gerald's brother Steve, and cousin Ryan Boll.


After Gerald and Kelly gave the traditional speech thanking everyone for coming, Gerald had one more event planned which even Kelly did not know about. You can see him kneeling at his laptop beside the bridal table publically changing his Facebook status from "Engaged" to "Married." It's is official!


The bride and groom reflect on the happiest day of their lives.

Meanwhile, their brothers get their car ready to leave on the honeymoon. It was HIS dutchified brother who did the writing.



Friday, July 22, 2011

Heating Up

We are now one week from the wedding and things are heating up---literally! When I saw the temperature was already at 82 at 7 a.m. I decided to forego my daily walk and hurry to get my housework done before it gets too hot. By 9 it was up to 90. By 9:45 my work was finished and I had retreated to my AC office until supper time. I can always find plenty to do in here.
The heat may slack off a few degrees by Sunday but forecasters say we will probably remain in the 90s the rest of the month. This is the third time one of our four sons selected a July date for his wedding. But we did the same thing so what can I say? At least these days churches and reception halls are air conditioned.
The pile of stuff pictured in my previous post has diminished somewhat but there is still a pile waiting to go whenever Gerald has time to take it. He is scrambling to get the bedroom finished. Hopefully the last coat of paint will go on tomorrow. Then they can move the furniture into it which will free another bedroom for storing things until they have time to find proper places for them.
Being the mother of the groom is not as stressful as being mother of the bride. I will need to get the food ready next week for the rehersal on Friday. That should not be a hardship. After that is over I can relax and enjoy the wedding.
I doubt Gerald thought about it when they chose July 30 for their wedding but that day it will be 18 years since we said good-by to my mother. I can think of her without grieving all over again but it will be nice to have a happy occassion to celebrate on that day.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Don't Be So Rammy

Gerald and Kelly were engaged in October last year. Wedding plans were made, preparations began, and time moved along. Today we are two weeks away from the wedding. Things are coming together and the house is well enough along that what doesn't happen before the wedding can be done afterward.
Until we reached this point I thought I would get emotional at seeing the last one leave. But Gerald gently eased us into being empty nesters and I think I can handle it after all. He bought a house in January and started moving in February. At first he was here about half the time but gradually started staying at his house more and more. A couple weeks ago he got a washer and dryer. Now he doesn't even bring his laundry home anymore and we agreed he has officially moved out.
Last week he moved his roll top desk, a chest of drawers, and about four boxes of things to his house. He said he'll get the rest of it later. With the amount of time that is left and all there is to do yet, I could see "later" being much later until he had time to pack anything. The room badly needed cleaning but I wasn't going to attempt to clean around all the stuff. So this week I started packing for him. Here's the pile of boxes that's ready to go.

And here's what is still waiting for him to pack. It's his reloading bench. I'm not touching it with a ten foot pole!

Put those two piles together, add a bed, nightstand, dresser, chest of drawers, and roll top desk. See why I was only cleaning a path around the bed? Stuff collects. I've seen with the other sons that by the time they are in their late 20s they have outgrown a bedroom and need a house for their stuff.
At any rate, I woke up at 3 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. Around 4 I got the grand idea that with all those boxes packed and Leroy here to help move furniture, this would be the perfect day to clean the room. It sounded like a wonderful plan and I tore into it. By 11 my energy was running out and I was asking myself whose dumb idea this was. But I was too deep into it to quit.
It's a good feeling to have that room clean and ready to be used as a guest room. But next time I get a brainy idea at 4 a.m. remind me to take a deep breath first and not be so rammy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Art Exhibition

Yesterday we were invited to attend the Opening Reception of the art exhibition at the Reading Museum. Of the 300 pieces that were entered, 141 were chosen to be on display in the museum until September 11. Amy, our daughter-in-law was in the top ten and received an award for her piece titled "Oblivion. "

This prize-winning leopard is done on a black ink-covered board called a scratchboard. The image is scratched on the surface with a razor. The color is added after the scraching is completed.
Hundreds of people showed up for the opening. It was interesting to stand back and watch people look at Amy's leopard. They would go up really close looking at all the fine details in the leopard's fur. One lady said, "He looks so real it seems like you could pet him." (Click to enlarge and you can get an idea of the detail; seeing the original is much better.)
Amy is self-taught and has had no formal training in art. She is doing very well and we are proud of her accomplishment.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fill My Mouth

My mother had a note tacked on her frig for a long time. I thought it was a poem but this is all I could remember
"Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I've said enough."
I often wished I could find that poem or whatever it was. Today it occurred to me that I might be able to find it on the Internet. I could not find a poem with those words. It appears that was the entire quote. But I did find another poem Mom also had posted in her kitchen. This prayer was answered. She is still remembered as an excellent Sunday school teacher. In her two-month illness before her death she had 600 visitors. She DID have a few friends in the end!

An Anonymous Prayer
Written in the 17th. century

Lord, thy knowest better than I know myself
that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say
something on every subject and, on every occasion.

Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs
Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy,
With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all.
But, Thou knowest Lord that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind from the recitals of endless details.
Give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains.
They are increasing and love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the time goes by.
I do not ask for Grace enough to enjoy the tales
of other's pain but, help me endure them with patience.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but, for a
growing humility and a lessening cocksureness
when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken

Keep me reasonably sweet
I do not want to be a Saint.
Some of them are so hard to live with.
But, a sour person is the works of the Devil.

Give me the ability to see good things in
unexpected places and talents in unexpected people.
And, give me, O Lord, the Grace to tell them so!