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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorable Weekend

We spent the weekend at our cabin in Union County. My dad built the cabin in 1984, two years before he died and it passed on to his children.

Each spring we sisters go together to do cleaning and maintenance around the place. This year it worked best for us to go on Memorial Day weekend. That gave us an extra day to do the larger work project of putting drywall on one of the living room walls. Our parents said "someday" the walls would be finished and we've been working at it slowly the past seven years or so. This is how the living room wall looked before we started. (The end wall was done in 2007.)

On Monday two coats of undercoat were  applied to the new wall. We will go back June 16 to put the color coat on.

Our work was interrupted on Monday when I went outside and found a big black snake stretched out on the ground along the edge of the porch. It crawled under Leroy's truck and  coiled up on the spare tire. Poking and prodding didn't help so he sprayed some kind of chemical in there. That convinced the critter he didn't like it in there after all and he came out. It scolded us by sticking out its tongue at us and shaking its tail. We didn't want to kill it because black snakes are not poisonous and are actually beneficial since they keep the rodent population down and scare away rattlesnakes. But we didn't want it hanging around the cabin either so we chased it into the woods.
To quote my little nephew, "At least we saved our lives."  :-)

Friday, May 27, 2011


The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society has asked me to be one of the story tellers at the Encore festival being held at the Garden Spot Village on June 4. Since this retirement community is located at New Holland, Pa., I decided to tell some stories from my book Annie's Day of Light. The book tells the story of the life of  my paternal grandmother who lived on the opposite side of town. The book is over 600 pages. It should not be a problem to fill my twenty minute time slot. Maybe we'll even sell some books. :-) We will be under a canopy so I hope it's not a windy, rainy day.
You can see the schedule here:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm Done!

At 2:15 this afternoon I handed in my resignation and walked away from one of my volunteer jobs. For the past three months I've been working on cleaning the house Gerald bought in January and began moving into in February. I tried to go once day each week but with him working nights and sleeping days there were some weeks when it did not work for me to be there any day. Today I cleaned the sink window and the two dining room windows. And that's it folks!
Kelly's family is planning to go do some painting this weekend. That will make a huge difference and greatly improve the appearance inside the house. But the layer of old stale dirt had to be washed off before it could be painted. I'm not much of a painter and don't enjoy it but I sling a mean scrub rag. So I scrubbed away and now it's ready for the painters.
Most of what Gerald has done so far was pressure washing the outside of the house, painting the shed, and cleaning up the landscaping. He has ordered some new windows and roofing materials, hoping to get that done sometime in the next month or six weeks and have it ready for his bride to move in with him by the end of July.
At any rate, I think I have done what I'm able to do and have worked myself out of a job.

Monday, May 23, 2011


The sound of wedding bells is ringing louder. A bridal shower was given yesterday for Gerald and Kelly. He knew about it and saw she got to the proper place as the proper time. She was not as clueless as we hoped. She said she suspected it because the weekend was too well planned too long in advance. They didn't usually make plans for the weekend before Friday and the plans were all in place by Wednesday. Even if she was not shocked by the surprise, the shower was a success. The object was to shower them with gifts and that part certainly happened. Some of the gifts can be put to use right away as he is already living in their house and was limping along with a minimum of towels, etc.
He watched some of the time while she opened and her sister recorded the gifts.

My gift was a wedding sampler I finished cross-stitching in February. It took me five hours to do the lacy border between the two clusters of flowers on the bottom corners. That should give you a little idea of the difficulty of the pattern. It was a labor of love and the last one I'll do.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Yesterday was a very full day and I made some interesting observations as the day progressed.
It was my regular day to work at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. A group of Jr. High students was scheduled to come for a field day. I showed four groups of students through the museum. After the first set I shortened my opening schpeel and spent the time showing them objects to try keep their attention. A few of the students were interested and listened but most of them could have cared less about what I was saying. Give me senior citizens any day! At least they stand in one spot and listen.
After the tour we guides stayed in the room to answer questions while the students had a scavenger hunt. They were supposed to find the objects in the museum that were listed on their paper and write down something they learned about it. One of the boys asked me what the kerosene lamp was. After he was told how it worked he asked, "But what was it used for?" I told him, "For light!" He said, "Oh, for light" and scribbled the answer on his paper.
The next part of the field trip was a tour of the facilities. When they were shown what the computers in the library were used for they sat right down and tried them out. After the students left, one of the researchers who was in the library exclaimed about how much those young people knew. He said, "They didn't have to be told how to use the computers. They just sat down and did it. I don't know how to use those things." I just smiled to myself and thought, Maybe so, but they have no clue what a kerosene lamp is or even what it is for! I'm sure that man would have known (without asking) exactly what a kerosene lamp was and how it worked.
Observation: We are all ignorant, just on different subjects.

This is graduation season and we attended another one in the evening. This time it was Gerald's fiancee, Kelly, graduating from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) with an Associate of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education.
The ceremonies were held in the Large Arena of the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg and was for all the graduates of the Lancaster, Lebanon, Gettysburg, York, and Harrisburg HACC campuses. We got there early enough to get good seats and reserve enough for Kelly's family.
The speeches were not as long and boring as they were at Gerald's graduation last year and it only took an hour and a half instead of three hours. Another great difference I noticed was that it was completely secular. There was no mention of God at any time and no prayer of any kind. Gerald's Alma mater is a Catholic university and there was a religious tone throughout his graduation. At this one the idea seemed to be you are your own master and the world is your oyster. I'm sorry, but human wisdom and efforts are not strong enough to be a solid foundation for life.
Observation: I'm glad Kelly has a solid foundation on which to build her life. We congratulate her for finishing her course and graduating with the highest honors. On July 30 she will add three more letters to her name (MRS) and change it to Stauffer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wild Weekend

We spent the weekend in Ohio with our daughter and her family. We left Friday afternoon and got there just in time to attend the high school graduation of our oldest grandchild. Here is Jeremy with his diploma. It seems like just yesterday when his mother graduated from high school. The longer the wheel of time turns the faster it spins.

On Saturday we went to a 10,000-acre nature and wildlife preserve at Cumberland, Ohio, called "The Wilds." They have a lot more animals now than they did when we were there in 1998. It was too cool for the giraffes to be out but we saw two kinds of Rhinos, Cheetahs, Bison, Zebras, African Wild Dogs, Oryx, Sable Antelopes, Takin (from China), Trumpeter Swans, Camels, and other rare or endangered species. My favorite was the baby White Rhino just born this year. Unfortunately, my photo is fuzzy. This is the Asian Rhino.

We took the two and a-half hour tour in an open bus so we could get better pictures but had to switch to a closed bus when rain moved in. Since the animals are on open range we were not able to get as close to some of them as in a zoo where they are in pens but it was great to see them in munching on the grass in natural surroundings.
If you ever are in that area, it is a worthwhile tour. In the meantime, you can learn more about it at

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day News

Mother's Day was great. Gene invited us for dinner and cooked the meal himself. I thought maybe he'd grill something but he made lasanga and salad. It was very good. And I didn't have to cook--or do dishes afterward. Gene and Leroy did those.
The most exciting thing this Mother's Day was the announcement Gene made just before we ate. He and Amy are expecting their first child in December. It was not a total shock as we knew they were ready to start a family but they saved the announcement for Mother's Day.
Grandchildren do not come to us as easily as they do to some people. We have six adopted and three natural grandchildren. The youngest of those is six, so we are excited about having a baby in the family again. One thing I have learned, being an expectant grandmother sure is a lot more comfortable than being the mother. If this one comes a bit early it could even be on my birthday.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Attic Treasures

I've been saying for several years that I need help to clean our attic. A lot of things have been stashed in there that should have been thrown out right away. We can do our children a favor by throwing out our junk ourselves instead of leaving it for them to clean out someday. Some of the things were too big for me to drag out without help. But it is too hot to work in there in the summer, too cold in the winter, and the spring and fall seasons kept passing by.
I guess Leroy got tired of hearing about it and finally was motivated to help. We did not have a Saturday available so we started working on it evenings last week. One thing that was in our favor is that our attic is limited to crawl space behind the walls of the upstairs bedrooms. I can't imagine how it would have looked if we had a full attic.
We worked on the one side of the attic two evenings and it began looking a lot better. I kept the home fires burning to get rid of as much as I could that way. There is still a non-working air conditioner and computer piled right inside the door waiting to go to the recycling place when I have a free Saturday. I told myself this is what happens when you live in the same house for 43 years with a man who can't bear to throw anything away. But if sitting in the attic for 20 or 30 years didn't fix it, I don't expect another ten or fifteen years will do any more good.
Last night we finished cleaning that half of the attic. The things that were left have more sentimental value and there wasn't as much to throw out. I brought two boxes down to go through and clean up. We had a lot of fun just looking through the stuff last night. I found my old diary from 1964, some of Leroy's pay stubs from the early 60s when he worked for $1.25 hr., the letters and cards we sent each other when we were dating, and lots of other interesting things. I brought the letters down to read and see if we should leave them for our posterity or let our secrets die with us. :-)
The most pleasant surprise I had was opening an old fruitcake tin and finding a pair of glass perfume bottles that always set on my mother's dresser. We did not find them when we emptied Mom's house for estate sale and I always wondered what had become of them. They were in my attic all these years? When did they leave Mom's dresser and get mixed into my things? I have no idea but it probably happened before I was married.

I don't know the dollar value of these old perfume bottles but I believe Mom got them before she was married in 1944. The only marking on them is on the bottom where it says, "Made in Occupied Japan." That identifies them as WWII era. But they are not for sale (unless my siblings want to contest my right to have them and schedule a family auction). Finding them in time for this weekend is my Mother's Day comfort and connection to Mom.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day

This Sunday is Mother's Day. My mother was almost 21 when I was born and she died at the age of 66 so I had a mother on earth for 45 years. My husband is 67 and his mother is still with us. Sometimes I feel like I got shortchanged. Mother's Day always stirs up those memories and feelings. But my loss was her gain and she certainly earned her eternal reward. I wouldn't want to shortchange her of the rest and peace she is enjoying in Heaven.
"Little but oh my!" That was Mom. She was only 4' 10" tall but she was a spiritual giant. She never went further than eighth grade in school but she had more wisdom that some people who have earned a Phd.
Mom loved to read and passed that love of books on to her children by reading to us every day. When one of us started school she took time to read a few verses from the Bible and pray with that child every morning before the school bus came. At the end of second grade she told us that we can read well enough now to have our own devotions. In this way she helped us learn to read and to have a daily devotional time.
Mom taught the ladies Sunday School class every Sunday for many years. I never realized how much time that took to study every week until I started teaching twice each month. She is still remembered as one of the best teachers we had in Sunday school. When she was in her sixties she chose a title and theme verse for each chapter in the Bible and memorized the list. She reviewed the list constantly so she would not forget. If I wanted to know where to find something in the Bible I just asked Mom and she could tell me without looking it up in a concordance.
Mom's Bible knowledge was the basis of her wisdom but some of it was just common sense with a down-to-earth (and touch of humor) approach.
Mom taught me
* proper self-esteem: "Get to work. You're not just here for pretty."
* to overcome fear of the dark: "Don't worry, nothing will get you. And if it does, in the morning when it sees what it got it will bring you back."
* work ethics: "The quickest way to do a job is to do it right the first time."
* nonresistance: "It takes two to fight."
* respect for authority: "Because I said so, that's why."
* logic: "If you fall and break your neck, don't come crying to me."
* medical science: "Carrots are good for your eyes. You'll never see a rabbit wearing glasses.
* compassion: "If you were as near dead as you make it sound you couldn't cry that loud."

I learned a lot from Mom about faith AND works. I managed to get as tall as she was but she still towers over me in other ways. In July it will be eighteen years since she left us but I think of her often and every Mother's Day I still miss her. Thanks for life Mom!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Truth For Today

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Matthew 5:44

"Do not repay anyone evil for evil . . . Do not take revenge . . . but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord . . . Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good." Romans 12: 19-21 (NIV)

"Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, for the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him." Proverbs 24:17-18 (NIV)