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Monday, December 31, 2012

End of The Year

The end of a year seems to be a time for reflection and self-examination. What have I accomplished in the past year? Was it worthwhile enough to justify my existence? What mistakes did I make? What changes do I need to make? What are my goals for the next twelve months?
While I seldom make a list of formal resolutions, I do usually have at least a mental list of things I hope to accomplish. One of my goals for 2012 was to read the Bible through in the NIV. I started at Genesis 1 and read straight through, finishing with Revelation 22 on December 29. There are benefits to reading large portions in order rather than short portions at random. But I also felt that it was like gulping down a large meal without taking time to chew. I enjoyed that for one year but I think I'll go back to taking smaller bites in 2013.
The quiet, slow winter season when daylight is in short supply and outdoor work pauses, is a good time to do some things I don't have time for in other seasons. So my year always starts with a to-do list that includes scrapbooking the previous year's pictures and getting things ready to file taxes. Other things on the list will vary depending on the latest new ideas and what seems most important. At the moment, I have some writing projects in progress and fabric waiting to become curtains.
The #1 job for 2013 is compiling and editing a book on The History and Development of the Mid-Atlantic Mennonite Fellowship. I am doing this at the request of the Mid-Atlantic ministerial body. I asked each congregation to assign a writer to submit a history of their congregation and biographical sketches of past and present leaders. Things have been coming in and I have enough to keep me busy for several weeks. I hope the missing pieces keep trickling in fast enough to keep me going so I can finish by the end of February.
Of course, between writing, sewing, scrapbooking, and whatever else gets in my way, I will also be doing all the usual housekeeping, babysitting, and volunteer work. I don't have time to get cabin fever. I could do without snow but I wonder when I'd get some of these things done if there was no winter season.
So I shall start out bravely tomorrow morning and plow through 2013, hoping to accomplish enough to justify my existence and be granted permission to continue. I need more time if I'm going to finish some other things I started that are simmering on the back burner.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ephrata Cloister Chorus

This is my first attempt to create a music video. You will easily see it was done by an amateur but I hope you will take a minute to watch at least part of it. It's a project that ran away with me.

We got a turntable to plug into the computer and convert our old vinyl recordings to digital files which can then be put on an MP3 player. Since we didn't have plans for Christmas Day I thought I would spend the day converting some records (which are under conviction). I did two albums and then did a 45-rpm of music from the Ephrata Cloister. I bought that record when I was a teenager and had not heard it for many years. It is, of course, sung in German, but the English translation is printed on the dust jacket. I thought it would be helpful to have the English words with the music. Since I had never attempted something like this before it was a learning experience and took me a whole day to get it finished. And now I see my proofreader missed a couple typos which you will just have to overlook.
The chorus sings one verse each of seven songs and the entire video lasts 8-10 minutes. If you can't handle the whole thing, listening to even one song will give you a taste of eighteenth century music. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas 2012

 December 22, 2012
 The food
 Boys and their toys
 Grayson's first Christmas/birthday
 Grayson's first birthday will be Jan. 5, 2013 but was celebrated while we were all together.
It was a piece of cake!
 And more presents!
The youngest person present was Dale's new foster baby, Kyreese. He slept through most of the day but I did catch him once at the end of the day with his eyes open.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Feasting Season

When I woke up Friday morning there was an old lady in my bed. Horrors! It was me!!
I decided I would be allowed to do anything I pleased that day to soften the blow of being an official card-carrying Senior Citizen. What could be more fun that strolling through a cemetery looking for some missing persons? It was a relatively mild day with bright sunshine and no wind. Perfect for cemetery stomping. I went back to the city cemetery I visited last week and picked up the list of names I had left for them to locate in the files. Armed with the section and plot numbers, I set out to find my people. A very helpful custodian soon followed me out there and kindly led me around to all the places on my list. I came away with only one small bit of new information and the rest was negative progress---the rest of the people I'm hunting are not there.
The second cemetery I visited was a total failure. No one was in the office and finding anyone was hopeless without a list or map. I drove through slowly but didn't waste any time walking around looking. After I got home I contacted someone who has done a lot of work there and learned where to find the cemetery records.
I got groceries on the way home. It was nearly 1 p.m. and I hadn't had any lunch. Since it was my birthday I was allowed to treat myself to a sour cream and onion soft pretzel from the snack bar in the grocery store. Better than birthday cake!
In the evening we went to Cracker Barrel for supper---on a gift card. Cracker Barrel is one of my favorite restaurants. I like the atmosphere as much as the food. Leroy wasn't hungry because he had eaten too much of the office lunch so he just got a small meal. I had a full meal of rainbow trout. It was great! Afterwards we went to Cabelas and I enjoyed looking at all the mounted animals on display. It turned out to be a good birthday after all in spite of the high number.
Tomorrow Leroy will roll his numbers but he's always four ahead of me so that helps mine sound better. I'll make some special things to eat but we'll save our second gift card for some other time. He'll be just as happy to eat at home since I'm making fried oysters. And on Saturday we have a Christmas dinner to look forward to. It's feasting season!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Old Sweet Songs

I can do it! When Gene and Amy were here on Saturday they installed the software on my computer and showed me how to convert my old vinyl records to digital files. It really is not that hard but I'm glad I didn't have to figure it out myself. The younger generation can do it in less than half the time it would have taken me to set it up. Once it was ready to go I could simply click my way through the process and viola! I'm hearing music I haven't heard for many years.
It is going to take awhile to play and convert all my old records. At the moment, I am working on the three-record set of Handel's The Messiah by the London Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra. Leroy gave it to me for Christmas back in the 70s. He didn't have much appreciation for it in those days but knew I loved it. He didn't know anything about the artists but thought the name "has enough big words in it that it should be good." It was! And it was one of the best and most treasured gifts he ever gave me. After we no longer had a record player I always found it on the radio somewhere at Christmas but I haven't listened to the records for many years.
Some of the records are vintage 60s, bought before I was married. While I am writing this I am listening to one that we used to play on almost every date--an instrumental of The Old Sweet Songs. Naturally, there are some scratches on these very old recordings and some cracking is reproduced in the conversion process but at least we can listen to them again.
Eventually I'll get all the records done that our children listened to when they were growing up. I'm sure they will bring back a lot of memories. And when I finish the records I also have a cassette player to convert a stack of cassettes to digital files. It could take most of the winter to get everything done but then it can all be stored on an MP3 player and we can hear all the old sweet songs again.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


December is birthday month around here. There are some distinct advantages to having birthdays three days apart. My husband has never forgotten my birthday because he knows it is just before his own. Another benefit (for tightwads like me) is that we can save money by going out to eat once and celebrating our birthdays together. Well yes, we usually have a gift card or two lying around we use so it doesn't actually cost us  any money but the second card can be saved for our anniversary. We can also buy joint gifts for "our" birthday and save even more by combining it with "our" Christmas gift. This year we bought ourselves a new stereo system to replace the 21-year old model we had. Only the radio worked on that one anymore. We bought a cassette player and turntable which will plug into the computer and transfer all our CDs, cassettes, and old vinyl records to an MP3 player--if I can figure out how to use all that modern technology.
One thing we did NOT do together for our birthdays is turn 65. He did that four years ahead of me and I was happy to let him blaze the trail through Medicare and Social Security benefits. But now this year I have arrived at the magical age and we changed our Medicare coverage to an Advantage plan. My coverage began on Dec. 1 and includes prescription coverage. I ran out of one of my prescriptions on Nov. 29 but (tightwad that I am) figured I won't die if I wait two more days to fill it. Why pay full price if I can get it with my card two days later? So I tapped into my Medicare account the first day it became available.
I have arrived! I am a card-carrying Senior Citizen and will be for the rest of my days.