Comments are welcome but please have the courtesy to sign your name. Unsigned comments will be deleted.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Extreme Cabin Makeover

My parents built an A-frame cabin in Union County in 1984. Mom said someday we would finish the inside walls but we can use it with stud walls until then. The cabin was finished on my dad's sixtieth birthday and he died about a year and a half later. Ownership then passed to his children. When Mom died in 1993 the walls were still unfinished. (This picture was taken in 2009 when we were painting the porch and balcony.)

In 2006 we put dry wall on the two end walls and insulated them. Those two walls were a lot of work, even though they were short walls, because a lot of fitting around doors and windows was required. But, as often happens with improvement projects, the end walls looked so nice it made the side walls look even worse. We realized it would not be nearly as much work to do the side walls. Since it is an A-frame, there are no windows or doors on the side walls. Last year we did the one side wall with plans to do the other one this year. We chose to do these walls on Memorial Day weekends because we knew it would take more than one work day to do a wall.
We picked up the dry wall Friday afternoon and got to the cabin around 6 p.m. We did a few things around the place but had a nice evening to enjoy the quiet woods before the work started. My sisters arrived on Saturday and the beavers got to work. This is how it looked before we started.
By evening the dry wall was installed and spackled. We also patched the spackling on the wall we did last year. (Lacking the proper tool, we had tried using a broad cake spreading knife to apply the spackling and it was a lousy job.Don't try it!)
We took a day off to rest on Sunday and then tore into it again Monday morning. The spackling on both walls was sanded (making a dusty mess on the whole main floor) and then painted. I thought we would have to go up another day to put on the finish coat of paint. Since it was a nice warm day, the paint dried fast. We realized if we stay a little later than planned we could finish the whole job. That made more sense than running up there again later. Some of us cleaned up the dust while others painted. When we were ready to leave at 5:30 p.m., the new wall looked like this.

And here is a view of the whole room with both walls finished. It doesn't look like the same place!

Besides finishing this wall, between the six of us we also cleaned out the spring, filled the woodshed, trimmed the weeds and brush around the cabin, and scrubbed the green growth off the two porches and balcony. A lot of the credit goes to the two who are not yet in the senior citizen category. I don't think we four older ones could have done it without their help. 
I'm sure my parents would approve of and be pleased with what we have done. After 28 years, "someday" came and the walls are finished. The only remaining unfinished wall is the L-shape in the kitchen but there are some problems there we haven't figured out yet how to get around. Maybe "someday" we'll find a solution and finish that section. Meanwhile, we'll use it as it is.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Walking Tour

May weather is just about as perfect as anyone could want. The last few days have been gorgeous with clear skies, warm temperatures, calm winds, and low humidity. This is also the time of year when a lot of outdoor activities are planned and it is impossible to do everything. We thought we had our plans made for today but changed our minds last evening. We decided to go on a local walking tour of historical sites which was part of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the town of Womelsdorf, Pa. This is the little town about 3.5 south of where we live.
The walk began in the parking lot of the local grocery store and took us over the Tulpehocken Trail once used by all the common and famous people who traveled through the area. It is a known fact that Benjamin Franklin and George Washington traveled this road. Of course, it is now paved and new highways have made it a "back road." Our guide was Conrad Weiser himself (sort of).

Conrad Weiser (1696-1760) lived on the eastern edge of Womelsdorf and was a person of many talents. He was a pioneer farmer, tanner, and judge. In addition to German and English, he spoke the language of the Indians. He was an interpreter and effective diplomat between the government of Pennsylvania and the Native Americans.
Our guide led us across old stone-arch bridges, along the ditch that was once the Union Canal, into a cemetery that dates back to the 1720s, past old stone and log houses built in the 1700s, and much more. It was very interesting and I got some of my local history straightened out. I had some of the residences confused. For example, I thought this was the home of Leonard Reith (Reed), the leader of the group of Germans who were the first settlers in the area in 1723. No.  This was the summer home of Casper Wistar, Philadelphia Quaker who was a doctor and colleague of Dr. Benjamin Rush. Leonard Reed lived nearby and operated a mill across the road from this house.
Leonard Reed's son lived nearby in this log house built in 1739.
We walked by another house with a date stone which says it was built by Johann Jacob Losch in 1753. This farm was sold to a Kurtz and stayed in the Kurtz family for 200 years until 2000.
I enjoyed the walking tour and am glad we went, but I was also very glad to reach the end of the trail three hours after we started out. A trolley was there to bring us back to the starting place.
I think my hind leg will be complaining for a few days after pulling this stunt. I knew a four mile walk would be a bit much for an old lady with rheumatoid arthritis but I did it anyway on the "go now pay later" plan. It was worth the time and effort.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ascension Day

Yesterday was Ascension Day. We had a special church service in the evening. Instead of recounting the events surrounding Jesus' return to heaven, the speaker focused on the results and benefits of the Ascension. We have a Great High Priest in heaven interceding to the Father for us. He is not like the High Priests in the Old Testament who died but is an Eternal High Priest, continually interceding on our behalf. It was an inspiring and reassuring message, well worth being there to hear it.
As we drove home I reflected on how the observance of Ascension Day has changed in my lifetime. When I was a girl at home we went to church in the morning on Ascension Day. The rest of the day was kept holy the same as a Sunday. We might go visiting or have company but no work was done. All Mennonite business places were closed for the day.
About the first 12-15 years of our marriage we went to church in the morning on Ascension and then to a family reunion for lunch. The date for Ascension fluctuates as it is forty days after Easter. Some years it was rather early and quite cool for a picnic. But having a picnic on Ascension was a Stauffer tradition and it persisted in spite of inclement weather.
Eventually, the aunt and uncle who hosted the reunion were too aged to continue and the Stauffer reunion was switched to a Sunday in October. With no reunion to attend on Ascension, we continued going to church in the morning but came home afterward and did things around the place. We no longer observed the no-work rule as on a Sunday. Most of the people in the (Mennonite-owned) place Leroy works were working on Ascension so sometimes he went to work in the afternoon.
Attendance at Ascension Day services dwindled as fewer and fewer people observed the day. Business places that used to be closed on Ascension are now doing business as usual all day. A few years ago the decision was made to shift our church services to the evening. Attendance has picked up as people no longer have to choose between going to work or church. We can now go about our normal work routine during the day and conveniently pay our respects to the day in the evening.
Fifty years ago I would have felt wicked to do any work on Ascension. Today I can work all day, go to church in the evening and not feel guilty at all. How did that happen? Suppose our Eternal High Priest relaxed His standards and did not intercede for us as faithfully as He did fifty years ago. Where would we be?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Count Your Calories

Three years ago I lost 20 pounds. I managed to stay within three pounds of that low but this winter those three pounds welcomed back two more. Unacceptable! I struggled to get rid of them but they refused to budge. Something had to change. Then my sister told me about a website she uses to count calories eaten and burned. It's working for her so I decided to try it too. 
Logging everything I eat makes me think before I just pop something in my mouth. How many calories are in this? Do I want to see them on my account? One day I ate too much for supper and took an extra walk to burn off the excess calories before they stuck to me. I wouldn't have done that if the program hadn't told me I had exceeded the calorie limit for the day. It's working! I've lost four pounds in three weeks. 
If you need to lose some weight and don't know where to find the willpower, try To further encourage yourself, it might help to sing this to the tune of Count Your Blessings.

Count Your Calories

When upon the scales you're weighing every ounce,
When you're stepping off and feel your belly bounce,
Count your many calories, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the food has done.
Count your calories, don't forget a one,
Doughnuts, cakes, and cookies seemed like lots of fun,
Count your french fries . . . Did you eat a ton?
Count your many calories, see what food has done.

When you think of others who are lean and slim,
Does your heart grow heavy as you think of them?
Count your Mr. Goodbars, every single bite,
And you'll know the reason that your clothes fit tight.
Count your Hersheys, count them every one,
Extra cheese and chili on your hot dog bun.
Count your Snickers, don't forget the Mars,
Count your Milky Ways and other candy bars.

So amid the dress shop as you try on clothes,
Polyester stretches everybody knows;
Searching in your closet, garments hanging there,
All those pretty dresses that you used to wear.
Count your blouses. How your wardrobe grows!
Count the dollars spent on queen-size hose.
Was it chocolate? Was it rich desserts?
Count the many reasons you can't wear your skirts.

Are you ever burdened with a load of guilt?
Looking at the body that your food has built?
Scrounging in the kitchen, see the foods you chose.
And you'll know the reason you can't see your toes!
Count your calories, praying as you eat
Vegetables and milk and lots of lean fresh meat.
Count your calories, you'll start feeling great.
Keep on counting calories, you'll start losing weight!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Anabaptist Night of Music

   Last night we went to a night of Anabaptist music sponsored jointly by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society and the Swiss Pioneer Preservation Society. It was held at the Martindale Reception Center and attended by an overflow crowd. Every one of the 1000 chairs were filled and people were standing. They went somewhere and got another 200 chairs.
   The music was wonderful! The program began with a group of Amish singing in German from the Ausbund. This hymnal was first published in the 1600s in Europe and contains a lot of ballads about the suffering of the Anabaptist martyrs in the Reformation. The Amish still sing these German hymns in the slow chanting style used in the 1600s, in unison with up to seven notes per syllable. If I closed my eyes I could picture myself in a cave in Europe listening to my ancestors sing.
   We moved up 200 years then to singing led by several groups of Old Order Mennonites from the Unpartheyisches Gesangbuch published in 1804 in Pennsylvania by the Lancaster Conference Mennonites. This is also a German book and the singing is done in unison but the pace was stepped up to 2-3 notes per syllable.
    The River Brethren led two hymns from their 1800s hymn book. Their singing was the same as the Old Order Mennonites, in unison with 2-3 notes per syllable, but in English rather than German.
    Then we moved up to the type of hymn books we use today with the words printed between the lines of music, in English with four parts and one note per syllable. I thought it was interesting that every 200 years the pace of our singing has picked up speed. The Church and Sunday School Hymnal was published in 1902 so it actually only took 100 years to double the speed from two to one note per syllable. What will our singing sound like 100 years from now?