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Friday, August 31, 2012


This year our church started a new method of outreach within the local area. We're taking a turn every couple months to serve lunch at the Food Bank in Lebanon. We signed up to help serve today and it was an interesting experience.
Seven people were already working when we got there at 10:30. It took all of us to get the food ready by noon. We served Italian bread, hamburger-noodle casserole, tossed salad, and banana pudding. When it was time to serve Leroy and I took care of pouring water and coffee. We made enough for 200 and served 130, so we had a lot of leftovers to find homes for.
As I was pouring water and watching the people eat, I wondered what the circumstances were in their lives that brought them to a soup kitchen for a free meal. There were people of all ages. Some were young mothers with several children (single moms perhaps?). There were old people, young men, and middle-aged people. Very few of them looked like homeless people who lived on the street. None of them were dirty and ragged but there were all kinds of outfits, tattoos, earrings, and you name it. As I watched one particularly "fashionable" young man I thought, no matter how they look on the outside every one of these people have an eternal soul that will live forever somewhere. It's hard to see past the sagging pants and long chains and remember you're seeing the face of Christ. Inasmuch . . .
Several people asked what church we are from and one man said he would like to come. He asked for directions and had me write it down. I told him I'll be looking for him. We need to go to foreign countries and minister to the needs of the physically and spiritually poor, but there are also plenty of people in need in our own back yard. Reach out and touch someone in your own neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Front Porch Reflections

As I was giving the front porch its annual end-of-summer cleaning this morning I couldn't help reflecting on the changes in that spot during the past 44 years. The only thing we had on the porch when we built this house was two cheap lawn chairs. Then tricycles began to appear and were soon followed by bikes. With six children in the house, the porch was so full of bikes you could hardly see the porch much less walk across it without banging into something.
Time passed and the bikes on the porch began to thin out, replaced by cars and pickups that lined the driveway. If everyone was at home the driveway was so full it looked like we had company. It seemed there was always at least one dead vehicle parked in front of the garage and numerous others in various stages of disrepair or use.
The lawn chairs that had been in the corner of the porch for years were moved to the back of the house to reside on the patio we had always dreamed of and finally got around to building. With no lawn chairs or bikes on the porch, it was so bare I added some things purely for decoration to make it look like someone is at home. Before that, the children were the only decoration we needed (or was safe) on a porch.
More time passed and the cars in the driveway began to leave as the children married. After the last one married last summer the driveway was empty for the first time in years. As empty as the upstairs which was once crammed with five boys and their stuff.
I know old people always say how short forty years is and I'm showing my age when I repeat it. But it's true. I remember telling a young mother about fifteen years ago how fast the years fly and her children will be grown and gone before she knows what happened. I could tell she did not want to hear that line and it was no comfort to her when she was in the thick of raising a family. The years seemed to stretch endlessly ahead. She has moved to another state and I don't see her anymore but I heard her oldest child got married this summer. If I could ask her now, I believe she would probably agree that twenty years is not as long as she thought it seemed when her children were small.
It really does not seem long ago that my porch was full of tricycles and bikes. Am I wishing for those days to return? Not at all! I didn't mind it when I was in it but I sure don't want to go back to those days of so much noise and dirt, mounds of laundry, and cooking huge amounts of food. I'm satisfied to have a couple old jugs, a few plants, and other things on my porch to give it a lived-in look. I like having grandchildren come and wish they would come more often. But keeping house for two is enough for an old lady. There is a time for everything---a time to have a porch full of bikes and a time to sit on the porch and watch the world go by.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Genuine Card-Carrying Senior

I'm a genuine Senior! I got a Medicare card last week without even asking for it. It's not effective yet but it's residing in my wallet, ready to go when the magic month arrives. I have the option of saying "no" but I'm not about to do that. Since Leroy got his card a couple years ago I am not totally clueless how Medicare works. But now that we can both enroll we are seriously considering making some changes to our health care program. And that's where the confusion begins.
Parts A & B are easy to understand and Leroy has had part D for prescriptions. I was able to go online, compare the prices and plans, and choose the one that best fits his needs. So I know how to proceed with that part for my prescriptions. Part C is the stickler. That must be purchased from a Medicare approved commercial insurance company. There is a great variety to choose from BUT they won't post their prices online so I can compare and choose like I did for Part D. Every time I try to get a price they ask for contact information so they can call for a consultation. I don't want to talk to a lot of salesman. I just want to see their prices.
Then a salesman called and said he could compare all the companies and tell me which is best for me. He was very helpful in explaining how the different options for Part C work and I almost got sucked in. Fortunately, my common sense kicked in and before I went very far I told him I want to talk it over with my husband first. The longer I thought about it the more sure I was that I do not want to do business with anyone who calls to sell me anything, especially someone representing a company I never heard of who lives in another state. How do I know they are not some sort of fraud or scam? They would be sure to ask for my Social Security number when filling out an application and that is a NO-NO!
Today I called Medicare and they gave me a number to call which will provide the same service for no charge. They will be able to tell me who has the best price for me.
Moral of the story: Never listen to a salesman and never, never give personal information to anyone on the phone. Identity theft is too common these days and a word to the wise is sufficient.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Failure List

I was going through my files and found this failure list I clipped from a newspaper years ago. If you're feeling like a failure today, take heart and keep trying.

  • Einstein was four years old before he could speak.
  • Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school and was considered "unpromising."
  • Beethoven's music teacher once said of him, "As a composer, he is hopeless."
  • When Thomas Edison was a youngster, his teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything. He was counseled to go into a field where he might succeed by virtue of his pleasant personality.
  • F. W. Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was 21, but his employer would not permit him to wait on customers because he "didn't have enough sense to close a sale."
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Boston Celtics Hall of Famer Bob Cousy suffered the same fate.
  • A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."
  • Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade and had to repeat it because he did not complete the tests that were required for promotion.
  • Babe Ruth struck out 1,300 times---a Major League record.
A person may make mistakes, but isn't a failure until he starts blaming someone else. We must believe in ourselves, and somewhere along the road, we must meet someone who sees greatness in us, expects it from us, and lets us kow it. It is the golden key to success.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dead Things Need Paint

I read something in the paper this morning that was food for thought while I went on my morning walk. A certain columnist asked readers to tell her how many lipsticks they owned. Those who responded reported they had anywhere from one to 179 lipsticks and lip gloss. The lady who said she has only one lipstick at a time and doesn't buy another until that one is used up is a rare exception and way below average. 
As I was walking I wondered how much money is tied up in 179 lipsticks. I have no idea because I have never bought a lipstick and do not know how much one would cost. Then I wondered how much the average woman spends per year on cosmetics to paint her face, eyes, nails, hair, and whatever women paint on their bodies. Again, I have no clue because I don't buy any of that stuff. My cosmetic department consists of chapstick, hair spray, deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, and bath soap, which aren't really considered cosmetics.
Why do women think painting their bodies makes them more beautiful? Bright red lips and fingernails make a woman look like she was tearing into some bloody carcass. Bright red is not as fashionable as it once was but now we see all colors. When I see blue nails I wonder if the lady is suffering from frostbite. Orange nails make me think I should check the calendar. Maybe it's later than I think and it's Halloween.
By the same token, why do women think wearing huge circles or long dangly things in their ears makes them beautiful? I realize that some women had mothers who taught them that they are not fully dressed until they have put on their makeup and jewelry. They feel naked without it. Living a lifestyle that requires neither paint or jewelry has saved me a lot of time and money.
I am thankful I was blessed to have a mother who taught me that a woman's beauty comes from within. A woman who has the joy of the Lord in her heart and peace in her soul has a radiance that needs no enhancement and only soap and water to keep her face shining. A woman who is alive to God does not need paint to make her beautiful. Only dead things need paint. Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Season of Good and Plenty

Ten dozen ears of corn that were living in their summer home in an Amish man's field at 7 a.m. this morning took up residence in their winter quarters in my freezer at 3:30 this afternoon. I have 71 packs of corn in the freezer and that should see us through the winter. That sounds like a lot but it really isn't. Since we're back to the original two we started with 45 years ago, my packs of corn have been reduced to one cup. Back in the days when we had six children (five of them male) eating at our table, I put six cups in a pack. The 71 packs I did today would only have made ten meals. Of course, I had a lot of hands to help husk then and today I worked completely alone. But I am not sorry I don't need six-cup packs anymore. I didn't mind it at the time but I am glad they are all able to take care of themselves now and do their own corn.
Leroy is picking up a bushel of peaches at the orchard on his way home from work tonight. They will be my next project. Most of them will become Fruit Slush. That is a mixture of peaches, pineapple tidbits, green and red seedless grapes, and bananas frozen in a syrup of pineapple and orange juice. Because Leroy is diabetic I omit the sugar some people add. The fruit juices sweeten it enough for our taste. We eat it as it is or I put it in the blender with a cup of yogurt to make smoothies.
Our garden used to cover about a third of an acre. It kept shrinking as the children married and moved away. With the condition of my back, we wouldn't have a garden at all anymore if Leroy didn't take an interest in it and see it gets done. It's nice to be able to go out to the garden and pick enough for a meal, but it is also possible to buy plenty of produce for canning and freezing. Anyone who cannot or does not want to garden can still find plenty of good quality produce for reasonable prices to preserve for the winter---at least in this part of the world.
Old Order Mennonites and Amish have switched from growing tobacco for a cash crop to raising produce. Their crops are sold at produce auctions in Lancaster, Lebanon, and Berks counties. The corn I got this morning was from an Amish man who takes his crop to the produce auction but he also takes private orders which can be picked up on his farm. It's a win-win situation. He is spared the bother of hauling it to the auction and I save time by not having to wait for it to be sold on the auction.
I raised a large garden, froze and canned huge quantities of food out of necessity when our family was at home. I cannot imagine the size of the grocery bill in those days if we had bought everything from the store. It cost enough for the things we could not raise when we used a gallon of milk and large loaf of bread every day. My grocery bills have shrunk to a reasonable size now but I still prefer home canned food to commercially produced products. It's a matter of taste. 
We have fresh corn, tomatoes, cabbage, and peaches  as the month begins. Apples will be coming shortly.  August is my favorite eating season, the season of good and plenty.