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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."