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

Friday, March 28, 2014

Let Spring Begin!

At 11:37 this morning I checked off the last thing on my winter to-do list. The list looked like this in October.
*Crochet an afghan
*Four writing projects
*Scrapbook my 2013 pictures
*Have a quilting
In all honesty, I must say that not all of the writing projects are finished. I am totally finished with two of them and reached my goal on the others. One is nearer completion than the other but I got as far as I expected to go this winter.
The quilt was my sister's project. We had the quilting here yesterday because my house was closer for the cousins she wanted to invite to come. Eleven ladies were here yesterday and when they were all gone I saw I could finish the quilt today. I made that my top priority this morning and it is now ready to go back to my sister for binding. She had each of the grandchildren make a block and presented the top to her husband for his 70th birthday in December with plans to quilt it this winter.

And that winds up my winter work. What will I do now? Don't worry. I'm not going to sit down and rock myself to death. I'm picking up my spring list next week. It begins with
* go to Writers Conference in Virginia
* houseclean a couple rooms (which should include some painting if I can drum up the ambition)
* Etc. etc.
If things go as usual, I will barely finish the spring list before summer begins and hands me a new jobs list. As long as my eyes and hands work, I shall not be bored!
This has been a long cold winter. I am ready for the ground to thaw and the grass to turn green. Let spring begin!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ready To Go

Our church building is old and in town. Parking space has always been limited and it is not possible to get into the auditorium without going up a flight of stairs. We tried to make some accommodations for our wheelchair-bound member by building a ramp on the outside of the building. But the restrooms are in the basement which presents another problem.
We bought the building from the Church of the Brethren in 1973, after they built a new facility down the street. The house next to the church was their parsonage. When they decided to sell it in 1976, they gave us the first opportunity to buy it. We bought it and rented it for many years.
At least 20 years ago the suggestion was made to remove the house or annex it to the church for additional space. The wheels of change turn very slowly! But about two or three years ago when the last renter moved out, the talk became serious and a building committee was formed. We began collecting money for the building fund while they worked through the red tape involved in permits and other requirements.
This spring we are finally ready to go ahead and begin. The first step is to dismantle the house to make room for the new addition. It will be handicapped accessible and include restrooms on the auditorium level and also several classrooms. The existing building will also undergo some remodeling which will include the air conditioning that has been talked about almost as long as the addition. We won't gain much parking space but the building should be greatly improved.
Work on dismantling the house will begin tomorrow. I took some pictures of the house on Sunday before the work starts. I'll probably be posting more pictures through the year as the work progresses. This is how it looks today (with the dumpster ready to fill) but it will begin to disappear tomorrow.
South side of the house
Back of the house

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Just Released

There is always a sense of satisfaction in holding in your hand for the first time something you have worked hard to accomplish. I had one of those shining moments today when I picked up a copy of the History of the Mid-Atlantic Mennonite Fellowship. It was just released today. Seeing a new book for the first time is something like seeing the face of your new baby for the first time. You carried it in your head for months and went to great pains to bring it into being. And at last, you see it face to face.
Here is the cover.
This book is different than anything I've ever done. It is not a story but more of a resource book. The first chapter tells the history of the Mid-Atlantic Fellowship and how it came into being. That is followed by a history of each of the 23 congregations in the Fellowship with short biographies of every ordained man who ever served that congregation. There is a total of 131 ordained men in the book, up to and including the last one ordained in December 2013.
Unless memories are recorded in some way, they are erased when a person dies. The number of people who can remember the formation of the first congregation in 1972 is dwindling. The ministerial body felt we need to get at least some of our history recorded while we still have people who can remember the early days. We have been members since the beginning of the second congregation in 1973. Our auditorium is pictured on the cover.
Another way this book is different from any I've done before is that I functioned as editor rather than author. Each congregation appointed someone to submit their congregation's history and biographies of leaders. I took the raw material and tried to refine it to meet literary standards.
This book was a collective effort. Every person who submitted a congregational history or biography had a part in writing this book. The person who did the layout and the printer helped to work out all the little glitches. It's amazing how a person can read over mistakes without seeing them! Each of us found things the others hadn't seen.
After working on this for more than a year, it is a good feeling to see the finished product and know I really, truly am finished with this job.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Floods

Spring is just around the corner! The calendar says it will arrive in eight days and the weather is finally easing its icy grip on us. We were still in the single digits last week and the snow geese were not stopping as they flew over because there was no open water for them to land on. This week we have had a couple days in the 60s and the snow pack is disappearing. I'm not sorry to see it go!
Snow melt can cause spring floods. We had a flood in our basement last week but it was not caused by snow melt. While no one was home, a valve on the furnace broke and allowed water to run out into the room. When we got home in the evening we found the water still running and the basement flooded about a half-inch deep. We had no heat or hot water.
Thanks to a couple ambitious offspring nearby, the water was cleaned up with shop vacs that evening. We borrowed a couple dehumidifiers and fans to dry the carpet and went to bed around 11 p.m. A kerosene heater kept us warm overnight and the furnace was fixed the next day. A week later, the carpet was dry and everything is now back in place. I'm thankful it was just water and not oil as I thought when I first saw it.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fasnacht Day

Tomorrow is Fasnacht Day. Are you ready for it? Or isn't it observed in other parts of the country?
Fasnacht Day is an annual Pennsylvania Dutch celebration that falls on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The word translates to "Fast Night" in English. Making and eating fasnachts was a way to consume all the fats, such as butter and lard, kept in the house pantry, as these rich ingredients were seen as lavish and were not supposed to be eaten during the Lenten season.
There are three types of fasnachts, one made with yeast, one made with baking powder, and one made with potatoes and yeast. All are slightly crispy on the outside and not as sweet as standard doughnuts. I prefer the yeast kind. A genuine fasnacht is square rather than with a circle with a hole in the middle like a donut but the recipe is the same as for donuts.
Here's my recipe, if you need one.
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
3 tbs. yeast
1 tsp. salt
Scald milk, add 1 1/2 c. water. Take out 1/2 c. and dissolve yeast in it. Add shortening to milk and water. Beat eggs. Add sugar and salt. Mix with milk mixture. Add yeast, and then about 8 cups flour. Let rise about 2 hours. Roll out and cut. Let rise 1 hour. Fry in oil. Yield 6 doz.
The secret to light, fluffy donuts is not to work too much flour into them. This dough should be too sticky to knead when it is mixed. When you're ready to shape them, work in just enough flour into the dough so it can be rolled out.
In all honesty, I must admit I haven't used this recipe for quite a few years. My deep fryer died, my husband is diabetic, and I don't need the calories. Getting rid of six dozen of these critters was no problem when I had six children in the house but it's just too many for the current state of affairs. So if you're young and healthy, enjoy them while you can! Fasnacht Day comes only once a year.