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Sunday, September 30, 2012


I have two sisters. Whenever one of us has a birthday we have a Sister's Day. The birthday girl picks the activity. We've done all kinds of things from taking a trip to Mexico to quilting to just sitting and talking. For my birthday this year I decided I want to go to the cabin for a weekend and just loaf. It seems whenever we go up there we work our tails off maintaining and improving the place. I wanted to go and just loaf for a change like other people do when they go to a cabin. Since my birthday is just before Christmas and that is a busy time of the year, I chose to go early. This was the only weekend it seemed to work for all of us. 
We usually go up Friday night but since we were just going to loaf this time we didn't leave until Saturday morning. Here's how it looks when we loaf for a weekend.

Cleaning out the spring
Labeling envelopes
Weed whacking

Grading book reports

The quality of this picture makes it appear we may have been a bit nervous about taking time off from loafing to eat.

And some bona fide loafing on Sunday afternoon!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Canada Trip

We're home again and another of the trips on our wish list has been completed. We have been saying for years that someday we want to go to eastern Ontario to see where Leroy's grandmother, Mary Brubacher, was born and lived until her family moved to Iowa in 1901. She was a teenager by then and that's where she met and married Eli Stauffer. He had moved from Pennsylvania to Iowa with his family when he was a preschooler. Eli and Mary had three children when they moved back to Pennsylvania and the rest of their children, including Leroy's father, were born there.
Some of Mary's siblings returned to Ontario when they left Iowa so Leroy has relatives there today. His parents used to go up to visit his dad's aunts, uncles, and cousins, but Leroy never went with them. All the aunts, uncles, and cousins are gone now but Leroy has second cousins there. After asking a bit we were put in touch with Clare Frey (a historian in the area) who could show us all the places we wanted to see and helped us find some of the second cousins. We learned long ago that you will see a lot more if you have a local guide and that certainly was true this time. On our own, we would not have been able to find and see everything we did in one day.
On Friday, our family history day, Clare showed us the places Leroy's grandmother and several other of his ancestors lived. This is the farm the Brubacher family left when they moved to Iowa. Of course, there have been some changes to the place, such as the silo which would not have been there in 1901.
Clare also took us to quite a few cemeteries where Leroy's ancestors are buried. His great-grandfather, Jacob Brubacher (Mary's father), returned to Ontario and died there. Clare knew which of Leroy's ancestors was buried in a certain cemetery and could point out their stones without much of a search.
We also made a quick stop at the Mennonite Archives in Waterloo to pick up a file of Burkholder information I had ordered. The purpose of this trip was to find Leroy's ancestry but somehow the Burkholders kept sticking their noses into it and I couldn't ignore them. Our first stop in Ontario (Thursday afternoon) was the First Mennonite Church in Kitchener were Christian Burkholder and some of his descendants are buried. Christian (the son of Ulrich Burkholder of Bowmansville) moved his family to Canada in 1818. The Mennonite Archives has copies of the family register pages in Christian's 1805 family Bible. I stumbled upon that information the week before we left and it was a must-have. At least one of those pages will be included in the Burkholder genealogy I am preparing for publication in the Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage magazine.
Saturday was our visiting day. Leroy wanted to visit some of his second cousins but did not know who they were or where to find them. We got one or two names and that's all we needed. They knew who his relatives were and would invite others to come too. One of these places was Earl and Joyce Martin. Joyce's grandmother was a sister to Leroy's grandmother. Joyce also invited her mother, Vera, and daughter Romayne. Although she spells it with a y instead of an i, the name is pronounced the same. It is not often that two Romaines are at the same place at the same time.
On this trip we also visited all the Canadians who had been on the same tour to Israel we took four years ago as well as some other people we knew. We stayed in private homes three nights, winding up at Howard and Barbara Bean at Tavistock. We went to their church Sunday morning and then headed toward home.
We drove two hours Sunday afternoon and spent the rest of the day seeing Niagara Falls. We walked around the Canadian side before we crossed the border and then took a long hike from our motel to the American side of the falls. After dark we drove to Goat Island from which we could see both falls. We've seen the falls several times but this was the first time we saw the colored lights at night.
On Monday morning we angled southeast toward home, stopping to visit friends and relatives at two places along the way. It was good to see their parts of the world, but when we left the last place at 6:30 we knew we still had a three-hour drive ahead of us.
We arrived home at 9:45 p.m. Monday, tired but very satisfied with the trip. We had achieved our goals of finding relatives, seeing family history sites, and visiting with friends. It was one of the least expensive trips we have ever taken as everywhere we went people wanted to feed us and/or give us a room for the night. If you can "Mennonite Your Way," that's the way to go!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Family Pow Wow

Why are some days so hum drum usual and other days packed to the gills with more stuff than a person can possibly do in a day? Yesterday was one of the latter. It seemed like everyone suddenly realized the summer is ending and planned outdoor activities before it gets cold. The problem was that everyone planned their stuff for the same day and we couldn't do everything. We wound up choosing a couple things and cutting all of them a bit short in order to cram as many things into the day as possible.
We started the day at Myerstown East End Days. That is an annual event in which all the businesses on the east end of Myerstown band together with special activities and lots of good food. With the perfect weather this year, the size of the crowd swelled to a record number. The Amish begin the activities on Saturday morning with a breakfast which benefits their parochial schools. It is a real feast with fresh-from-the fryer homemade donuts and the works. We decided to skip the breakfast this year because there were two other eating events in the day.
After paying our respects at the monstrous community yard sale and other East End things, we headed for the next event. We were in time for the grilled hamburgers and homemade ice cream at Stauffer Heritage Day. Again, we could have spent more time there but after four hours it was time to move on to the next thing.
Our family gathered at a little private campground for a chicken barbq. The chicken was smelling good when we arrived at 4 p.m. By 5:45 everyone was there and we devoured the finger-lickin'good stuff. The air got quite chilly after the sun went down and the campfire felt good. I could hardly drag myself away from the warm fire and family fellowship but at 9 p.m. I admitted defeat. The clock was just not going to stand still and another day was coming, ready or not. So we folded up our chairs and crept home.
It is such a blessing to have a family who has grown up to like each other after all. We could peacefully discuss future plans and come to an agreement without anyone going away upset. Thirty-five or forty years ago when sibling rivalry reigned I could not imagine this day. I'm glad I lived long enough to see it become reality. My children have all become sensible adults. Is that a miracle or what? :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Green Things

It's been awhile since I posted a progress report on Leroy's tractor-building project. That doesn't mean nothing was happening, just that progress was slow. He finally finished the assembly, which means he has figured out how to put the thing together.
On Saturday he tore it all apart again so he can paint the pieces. He took some pictures first in case he doesn't remember where a piece belongs when he is ready to put it back together. He's been doing a little painting each evening this week. Here are a couple pictures of the painting process.
The gray is the primer and the fan is turning yellow.
This morning he inspected the green things he painted last evening. The weather this week has been perfect for this project and he wants to get it done before it gets cool. Then he can move back indoors to reassemble the tractor. That should not take as many years as it took to figure out how to build it. When he is done he will have a miniature John Deere unstyled B with a Novo engine that has the sound of a real putt-putt.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

New Audience

We tried something new today. Several years ago (probably more than I think) a small congregation near Quakertown joined our conference of churches. We learned to know some of their ordained men when they came to preach for us but we had never been to their church.
This summer we were asked to teach their adult classes one Sunday each month. We agreed to start when the new Sunday school year began in September. They said we shall come on the second Sunday of the month. That was today.
We left  home at 7:30 this morning in order to give us plenty of time to find the church. It was a beautiful day to make the drive and we enjoyed the day. It took us one hour and twenty minutes to get there. Next time we won't need to leave quite that early.
I knew this was a small church and that is why they were asking for teaching help, but I didn't realize HOW small it is. Last Sunday their attendance was 27 but with the visitors today the crowd swelled to 35. I had nine ladies in my class. I'm looking forward to learning to know them. With such a small class it shouldn't take too long to learn all their names. I suppose the class of men Leroy taught was about the same size.
Once in awhile I had a year off but I have been teaching the ladies class at our church for most of 38 years. I heard somewhere that if you want people to listen to what you have to say you either have to keep learning new things or find a new audience. After 38 years of teaching at the same place, I think they must be getting tired of me. Today I found a new audience.