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Monday, February 27, 2012

On The Same Page

Raising a family can be a long haul. And yet, now that they are all married and have their own homes I look back and wonder how we got here so fast. We're back to the same two we started with, although in many ways we are not the same people we were when we started. Some of our ideas and values have changed along with the physical changes age brings. Our basic ideas and values about God and faith are as solid as they were when we were married, or more so. I'm not talking about those things. I'm talking about things that seemed so important at one time such as "what will people think?" and the value of material things. 
Now, not only have my values changed, but I have lived long enough to see my children are repeating the process. There was a time my children thought I was old fashioned and out of touch because I didn't see the value in the things they thought were of utmost importance. The older we all grow, the more the age gap narrows. I saw it happen again yesterday.
The four boys (and their families) were all here yesterday. There was a section of the attic where all of their hobby stuff had been shoved when they left home. There it sat, left behind in the dark cold attic for a coon's age. I have been threatening for years to go in there and shovel up the pile. But because this stuff was once so highly esteemed I feared the wrath of the four winds would blow me away. And I didn't know whose stuff was whose. When they were all here yesterday I told them to go up in the attic and claim anything they want. Then we will feel free to dispose of anything they do not want.
One to whom this stuff had been so precious once upon a time rooted through the pile, came downstairs and told me he doesn't want anything. He has other things to do and no interest in it. He told me to light a hot fire and get rid of it. His values have changed and we're on the same page.
So to all you parents who still have teenagers in your house, hang in there. The DO grow up eventually and someday (sooner than you think) you'll be on the same page.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I don't know if Fasnacht Day is as big all over the country as it is here in PA German land. But in case you didn't know, this is the day! I spent my day doing volunteer work at the historical society so I didn't have time to make fasnachts (or donuts). I used to make them once in awhile when we had enough people around to make it worth the trouble. But now six dozen donuts is more than we can eat, Leroy is diabetic, and I sure don't need so many donuts in the house tempting me to add them to my hips. And besides, my deep fryer gave up the ghost a couple years ago. That adds up to four good reasons why it makes more sense to buy a donut once or twice a year instead of making a whole batch.
But I still have the recipe! Gene asked me for it today so I thought I'd share it with the rest of you. I got this recipe from Dorothy Martin and it makes the most light fluffy donuts you ever ate. Try it! (You look like a couple donuts on your hips won't do any harm.)

Dorothy's Donuts
6 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. solid shortening
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. water
3 pkgs. yeast (if using bulk yeast, 1 tbs.=1 pkg.)
1 tsp. salt
Scald milk and add water. Take out 1/2 c. and dissolve yeast in it.
Add shortening to the milk & water. Beat eggs. Add sugar and salt. Mix with the milk mixture.
Add yeast mixture, and then stir in about 8 c. flour.
(The dough should be a little sticky. The secret of light doughnuts is to go light on the flour.)
Cover and let rise 2 hours.
Roll out about half of the dough at a time. Dump some flour on the rolling surface and work in just enough flour so it can be rolled. Cut out doughnuts, cover and let rise 1 hour.
Fry in hot oil. Flip them so the top fries first. The flat bottom will rise as the top fries.
Makes about 6 dozen

Monday, February 20, 2012

Great Grandmother

I'm a slow thinker. Grayson is six weeks old and it just occurred to me that since Great-grandma Stauffer is 88 and doesn't drive we should make ourselves responsible to see she gets there to meet him. It worked out to take her yesterday. He gurgled a coo that I'm sure meant "pleased to meet you."

We also took a four-generation picture. The faces identify the generations to tell you who is the father, grandfather, and great-grandmother. This is one of those times when we wish Great-grandpa Stauffer was still here. I'm sure he would be pleased to see his namesake, Grayson Phares.

Great Grandmother

(Melissa Evans)
There is a special woman whose love has meant so much.
She blesses those around her with her love and tender touch.
She's strong in faith and courage, yet gentle as a dove.
She has a special mission determined by God above.
He knew that one day children would walk upon this land
and he needed a special woman to guide them with her hand.
She loved them every day until they each had grown,
and soon her little babies had babies of their own.
'Grandma' they now called her, a word she loved to hear.
She spread her hugs and kisses to each grandchild so dear.
She tickled them and sang to them and dried their little tears,
but soon these babies grew as the days turned into years.
God watched this special woman from His kingdom up above,
and though her hair had grayed, her eyes still shown with love.
"Her work is not complete yet" the angels heard Him say.
"I still have precious children that I must send her way."
So though she's not as young as she once used to be,
she still can bounce a baby upon her bended knee.
And though her loving arms are sometimes tired and sore,
they'll never be too tired to hug a child she adores.
So as you now can see, God's plan was very good.
He needed one to spread His love and He knew this woman would.
So in answering God's call, we learn it never is too late.
For loving God's own children are what made this Grandma GREAT!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day

I got to spend the whole day with my valentine yesterday. It was the day for us to service book racks for Lantern Books. We left home at 7:30 a.m. and returned at 4:30 p.m. We stopped at a McDonalds for lunch. Leroy had chicken nuggets and I had a Caesar salad. The last stop of the day was at a bargain grocery store where Leroy spent the last dollar in his wallet to buy a box of chocolate covered cherries for me. The $1 box was probably leftovers from Christmas. On the way home we laughed at our romantic Valentine's Day. We went out to eat and he spent all the money he had to buy a box of chocolates for me. 
As far as I'm concerned, Valentine's Day is a reminder to express our feelings to those we love but the main purpose it serves is to fill the retailer's pockets and provide a little bright spot in the middle of dreary winter days. We have done special things some years for Valentine's Day and he has been known to buy roses sometimes. But with 44 years of a happy marriage under our belts, we don't need to spend a lot of money on a certain day just because the merchants make us feel guilty if we don't. When you have a solid and secure marriage like ours, every day is valentine's day.

P.S. My glasses fell apart while we were doing the inventory of a book rack. Leroy spent another 25 cents to buy a tiny screwdriver and put them back together. Now that's the ultimate in loving service!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Election Year

Here we are in another election year and the air waves are super-heated from all the hot air. Here is a list of simple definitions of political viewpoints to help you sort out what a particular candidate is promoting.

Socialism:  You have two cows. Give one cow to your neighbor.
Communism:  You have two cows. Give both cows to the government, and they may give you some of the milk.
Fascism:  You have two cows. You give all of the milk to the government, and the government sells it.
Nazism:  You have two cows. The government shoots you and takes both cows.
Anarchism:  You have two cows. Keep both of the cows, shoot the government agent and steal another cow.
Capitalism:  You have two cows. Sell one cow and buy a bull.
Surrealism:  You have two giraffes. The government makes you take harmonica lessons.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mexico Photos

I have retrieved the camera I left behind in San Diego last week and here, as promised, are some photos to give you a bird's eye view of our two weeks in the Southwest. (click to enlarge)

Rancho Ojai, the campground at Tecate, Mexico, where we stayed from Jan. 13-23.
Our log cabin home for ten days.

Here is the inside of our cabin. The bathroom is through the doorway behind the bed. We used the bunk bed on the opposite wall as shelf space.
Here are the cooks in the kitchen where we cooked for sixty every day. It was kind of tight quarters for six cooks.

A patio outside the kitchen served as a multi-purpose room which sometimes included cooking. We also had another large refrigerator on the patio. (It says Coca Cola on the outside but had only large shelves inside.)
Leroy really did help with the cooking. He fried hamburgers (above) and made pancakes for breakfast (below) and other things.
When the food was ready we loaded it in a van and drove from the kitchen to the dining hall where we set up and served cafeteria style. Then we loaded the leftovers back in the van and went back to the kitchen to clean up. It wasn't the most convenient system but everyone got enough to eat. This is the dining hall.
The cooks also did laundry for the young people. We washed towels every day and all the clothes on Tuesday and Thursday. We had 22 loads on Tuesday and 18 on Thursday. We hung 46 pairs of jeans over the fence to dry. Leroy helped on Thursday. Here he is bringing a stack of folded jeans in from the fence.
Near our cabin was a nice southwest garden.Looks are deceiving. I only took pictures on the sunny days and there was frost on these cactus more than one morning. We wore sweaters and/or jackets almost all the time.
This is the group we fed three times a day for more than a week.
 On Sunday we also served everyone from the Shining Light Children's Home which brought the number to 135. This is the serving line that day.
A few side trips included going to the mountains the first Sunday. It was a winding road between mountains of nothing but rocks.
 Another day we visited an old folks home where some of the young people worked. It was very depressing to see 120 old and mentally handicapped people living in these conditions. The fact that it was cold and raining did not improve matters.
One day when Leroy was helping do laundry he got sidetracked in the miniature golf course taking pictures of old farm equipment setting in there.
We ended our trip with a day of sightseeing in San Diego on Jan. 24. Old Town appealed to the historian in me and Leroy enjoyed it too. We could have spent a lot more time there but we wanted to get to Imperial Beach in time to watch the sunset. It was a lovely day and perfect ending to the trip.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Back In My Niche

Nothing shortens a winter as much as going away for two weeks. I am back on schedule and going on with life. But the whole month of January has melted into history and suddenly it is February. Leaving home for a couple weeks does not make time stand still. While we were gone the earth continued to turn on its axis and make its annual trip around the sun. I knew that, of course, but was still surprised to see how much later the sun set than it had when we left. 
Yesterday felt like spring with the temperature soaring into the fifties and today we could cross into the sixties. I'm enjoying but not being deceived by the weather. Tomorrow the ground hog will probably remind us there's another six weeks before spring arrives. That's fine with me (especially if the weather stays as mild as the winter has been so far). My job list for this winter has not been conquered and I can use six weeks to get everything done.
The job at the top of my list is preparing three workshops for two writers conferences at which I am to speak. The first one is on story writing for children on March 3. That one is a one-hour workshop. Then on April 13 I have two workshops in Virginia which are ninety minutes each. The first one is "Effective Techniques for Interviewing." I'm supposed to tell how to harvest information from living people in order to accurately write their stories. The second workshop is "Literary Latitude with Limited Facts."  That one deals with writing true stories of people who are no longer living. The writer has to use some imagination to fill in the gaps where information is limited. How much liberty can be taken before the story becomes fiction?
I got a start on one of those workshops this week but have a long way to go before I have enough material to speak four hours. Still, it is good to be home and back in my familiar niche at the keyboard. If I can conquer these workshops in the next month I might still have some time to travel in the Past Lane awhile before spring is here.