Saturday, February 17, 2018

Picture my Week

Rosie Mae tried her hand at created a Neapolitan type cupcake. They turned out well.
Early one morning just as the sun was coming up, we looked out the back door to see this.

The girls and I have been making slow progress on the spring house cleaning. This week that included my sewing machine cabinet, the sewing boxes, and some of the sewing notions. Sharon couldn't resist modeling a pair of googly eyes for us.

The book shelf Kenneth made was moved inside, and before it could be placed on top of the cupboard where we wanted it Steven had to check it out in his own way.

LV managed to bring this bouquet in and set it on the table as I was working. Much to his amusement I walked past it multiple times before I noticed it. Apparently if you want to hide something from me all you have to do is plop it in plain sight.

We had some really nice spring like weather for a little more than a day. Steven took the opportunity to take one of his science related things outside to do. He had been waiting weeks to finally be able to so.

Friday, February 16, 2018

School Begins

     John and I were excited about starting back to school. The summer had been busy for all of us. We had spent a lot of time pinching off all the blossoms from the strawberry plants. That took a long time since we had an acre to cover and they bloomed profusely. The new garden had a lot of stones that we had to pick up and pile on the wheelbarrow for Daddy to dump once he got home from work.

    Daddy piled all the stones beside the barn for future use. Once he had more time he would take them one by one and smash them with his sledge hammer to make gravel for the driveway in the barnyard.

     But today we didn't have to worry about picking rocks, pulling weeds, or any of the other things we were used to doing. It was time to go to school. Mom had sewed new clothes for us and we each had a brand new lunch box. Mine was yellow with flowers around the edges and a little elf girl sitting on a lily pad with the words "Herself the Elf" Elf fun is for everyone.

     We each had a pack of new crayons and a ruler. The school would supply anything else we needed.

     We started off early. We no longer needed anyone to walk with us. The morning was beautiful as we said good-bye to Mom and David on the front porch and started up the road. We turned into the small dirt road and turned to wave one last time before we rounded the bend. Black Eyed Susan's were growing in the ditch and we gathered a handful to give to the teacher. We were talking and thoroughly enjoying ourselves when our peaceful morning got disrupted by the barking of three huge dogs as they came flying out a neighbors driveway. We dropped the flowers we had picked and ran as fast as we could go. The dogs followed us for a short distance and then turned around and loped back.

    We managed to catch our breath and hurried on to school. We arrived in plenty of time and we got to explore the new schoolhouse before the bell rang. It was situated on top of a steep hill. The front door was a nice walk in without any steps. At the back of the schoolhouse there was a fire escape with ten steps and a basement door. There was a big sandbox in the basement for rainy days and a furnace. In a little side room there was a big pile of coal and an area to stack firewood.

     School started with everyone saying the Lord's Prayer and singing three songs. As soon as that was done we got our arithmetic assignments. The forenoon passed quickly and it was time for lunch. Mom had fixed an egg sandwich and a small bowl of peaches for our lunch. I closed my lunch box as I was eating my sandwich so I could admire the picture on the front. LV  was sitting across the aisle and happened to see what it said and called out to one of his friends "Hey Norman, MaryAnn's lunch box says Herself the Elf, Elf fun is for everyone." Everyone laughed as I cringed in my seat and wished I could disappear.

     I hurriedly finished my lunch and ran outside. I was still in the entrance when LV and some of the other boys came out and gathered around me chanting "Elf, elf, elf. Herself the elf." I felt like crying and managed to get away and run to the girls outhouse where I vowed to stay  until recess was over.

The school house is still in use 30 years later.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Currently I'm ...

Opting not to participate in the usual Wednesday Hodgepodge and instead do a post about various other things in my life right now.

Reading ... I just finished The Lady in the Attic by Tara Randel. It was such a waste of time. I started reading it at one of Sharon's piano lessons. The first few pages intrigued me as Annie inherited her grandmother's house. It had the prospects of being great. By page 37 I was beginning to get bored, but I kept reading because it was praised as being a cozy mystery. Surely something mysterious and exciting had to happen soon, right? Wrong. Reading about a needlepoint club was almost as bad as having to be in one. The mystery became all about trying to figure out who could the lady be, in a cross stitch piece found in the attic. Boring! I kept going, thinking that surely it has to get better, but it didn't. The entire book was flat, dull, and so boring. If it wouldn't have been a library book I would have given it to Rosie Mae to butcher and up-cycle in one of her many craft projects. Since it was a library book it went back yesterday for the next unsuspecting reader, who will hopefully either enjoy it a great deal more than I did, or be smart enough to not read the entire thing if they're bored.

Playing ... round after round of The Old Shoe Game with Steven. He loves it, probably because he wins 90% of the time.

Watching ... some of the Olympic games in the evenings after supper. I'm fast losing interest in them though so I don't know how much longer we'll be doing that.

Cooking ... Mexican rice, chicken, and salad was on the menu last evening. I had been wanting to make guacamole to go with it, but my avocadoes, while lovely on the outside, turned out to be streaked with black on the inside so I had to do without.

Eating ... for lunch I enjoyed leftovers from last evening.

Drinking ... water, water, and water. I've been taking apple cider vinegar in a little water before and after we go out where it's people-y. But that's not so much drinking as it is taking a gulp or two. It hasn't worked to keep the stomach virus away, but at least it has kept us from getting a cold.

Calling ... the last call I made was to schedule an appointment for Rosie Mae's physical. It's a requirement in our state before teens can get a driving permit.

Crafting ... a beaded mobile / wind chime thing-y that a friend ordered. I have made many already, but this is the first time I'm doing one in solid red. A ruby red, which I think will actually look quite pretty once it's done.

Loving ... the weather right now. It has really warmed up and all the treacherous ice appears to have melted. As much as I love winter, there's something about spring in the air that I really love.

Disliking ... all the mud involved in this warmer weather. As much as we try to be careful, somehow it seems some always manages to get tracked inside.

Celebrating ... I should probably say, Valentine's Day given that today is February the 14th, but we don't do much for it. I'm planning to make some heart shaped krispie treats, but other than that it's like any other day around here.

Feeling ... tired. The stomach bug, though long gone, has left me feeling easily tired.

Listening ... to the refrigerator humming in the kitchen, the furnace humming even louder in the basement. Rosie Mae chattering on about zippers and possible ways to try to fix one on a favorite purse. Sharon singing in the kitchen as she puts the last of the dishes away, and Steven playing with a truck.

Considering ... some possible blog posts that have been rolling around in my head for a while already. I almost did a running diary type post yesterday, I may one of these days.

Wanting ... to get the book shelf Kenneth made for me, filled up later today. It finally got moved into the house this morning.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Summer of Building

    The first summer in Somerset County was very busy. Not only were we trying to get our 15 acres  looking better, there was a large garden to take care of, and a new one acre strawberry patch to start and keep weeded. We also were adding a large L shaped addition to the house that was almost twice as big as the house was right now. The blue back porch was torn away a number of fruit trees and lilac bushes removed and a neighbor came over with his bulldozer and started digging away at the ground behind the house to make a basement. John, David, and I enjoyed watching as the earth was moved from the ever increasing hole in the ground to a big pile in the pasture.

     Once it was finally deep enough Daddy dug a footer by hand and the cement truck came. Uncle David came to help pour the concrete for the footer and then the basement floor. As soon as the cement had dried we played on it with our wagon. Daddy did the cement work, laying the blocks by himself. He gave John and me each a small tool to smooth the concrete that showed between the blocks. Once the walls were too high for us to reach he did it by himself.

     Once the blocks were all laid we had a frolic to get the floor, walls and roof on. We soon learned that the Somerset Amish were true to their farming roots and really had no idea what to do unless they were told. It was a very frustrating day with only a fraction of the things done that we had been hoping to get accomplished in one day.

     Once chore time came and everyone went home to milk their cows Enos Lee stayed behind a little longer and offered that his oldest son could help out as long as Daddy needed him. We were very glad to accept the offer. The following days Edwin would arrive right after breakfast and help with what ever Daddy had planned. The addition progressed slowly, there were quite a number of days that nothing was done at it until evenings because there were lots of other frolics going that summer and Daddy always went. One was to build a new school house and the other one was to build a church house.

     The church house was painfully slow in getting built since most of the older men thought it had to be built exactly like the ones in the other districts that had been built in 1881. They had a big fuss about finding square nails and old windows and who knows what kind of siding. They finally compromised somehow and our church house got vinyl siding and normal nails. They managed to find old windows somewhere and ancient stoves to heat it. Daddy used to come home from a frolic at the church house and when Mom asked him how his day went he would just shake his head. We children knew they wouldn't talk about it in front of us but if we managed to stay awake long enough we could hear them talk about everything once they thought we were asleep.

     Our addition finally got done and we move our kitchen sink and cupboards into our new kitchen. It looked strange with it's bright orange counter top since there were no matching orange doors and walls any longer. We also had a large pantry now and so the refrigerator could be moved in from the front porch and into the pantry. The rule in the Somerset Amish is that you can not have a refrigerator in your kitchen. So for seven months we had to go outside whenever we needed something. It seemed really nice to have it indoors once again.

     There was a nice sewing room at the one end of the addition. A really big kitchen and then a cement porch. It was supposed to be turned into a laundry room in the future but for now it would be enjoyed as a porch.

     Our old kitchen was turned into the master bedroom. So now I had a room of my own upstairs and no longer had to sleep in the hallway. It seemed really great. The new school house was done too and John and I were looking forward to starting back in a few weeks. The church house still wasn't completed but we were looking forward to that too. I had never been inside of a church house before and could hardly wait to see how it would seem.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Grandpa and the Tractor

    When spring finally came to stay Daddy and Mom spent the evenings clearing off an area beside the house for a garden. Since there were plants and trees growing everywhere, it took some planning to decide where the perfect spot would be.

     They picked out the spot and proceeded to remove several old crab apple trees and all the other bushes and plants that were in the way.

     The Amish in Somerset County use tractors for most of their farm work, and one evening when John and I were walking home from school we could see that there was a little blue tractor with a harrow behind it working up the area for our garden. As we got closer we could see it was Daddy driving the tractor. Mom and David were outside watching him. Once we got there we stood beside them and watched in amazement as Daddy drove back and forth across our new garden turning the overgrown patch of yard into a patch of rich fertile soil perfect for growing vegetables.

    Once he was done he jumped down and said with a big smile, "Well, what do you think of our new tractor?" John wanted to sit on the seat right away and Daddy let him climb up to see how it is. Not to be outdone by my little brother I had to have a turn too. After we looked at everything Daddy lectured us on the importance of never playing with it.

     Several days later Grandpa Mast came to use our tractor and harrow to work up a garden plot for them. Mom asked him if he knows how to operate it and he assured her that he does. John and I ran outside with him as he climbed on the tractor and started it. He started off very slowly and then stopped and asked us if we know how to make it go faster. John and I helpfully climbed up and pointed out the levers and tried to tell him how. And then stood under a tree to watch him try it again. He started the tractor and pulled and pushed at levers and went flying backwards. He stopped the tractor and laughed a little shakily and said "I guess I'll just have to drive slowly."

     We watched as the tractor inched slowly up the road. Until Grandpa drove that tractor I had no idea it was possible to have it move so slowly.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. February can be a little bit tricky given the weather and the winter and the whatnot. I read a list (here) of things you can do to make your February brighter which included-start planning your next trip, take more baths, make your own chocolate covered strawberries, and exercise in preparation for swimsuit season. Anything on the list you might try? Which suggestion on the list appeals to you most? Tell us something not on the list that helps make your February brighter.

Making my own chocolate covered strawberries sounds the best to me. I love strawberries and chocolate. And strawberries dipped in melted milk chocolate are somewhere near the top of the list of yummy treats I enjoy occasionally. I don't like the chocolate fountain chocolate though. Any event I've ever been to that had one of those, the chocolate was sadly lacking in being chocolate-y.

February doesn't bother me. I love being able to dig out crafts and sewing projects to work on that stay tucked away during warmer weather. Then there are books, and games, and puzzles, and coloring that we get to enjoy in the evenings. It's also the perfect time to get creative in the kitchen.  Actually the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that I'm a big fan of February.

2. Tell us about something you've seen or done recently that you'd say was 'super'?

For years already I've been wishfully thinking and dreaming of a bookshelf of sorts that I could set on top of an existing cupboard we have. On Monday Kenneth invited me out to the garage to see something he's been working on. I knew he was working on a tractor, it's not something I get all that excited about, but I do try to cheer on his projects. He opened the garage door, and there in front of me was a lovely shelf he built. It still needs paint, but I think it's super! Having a teenaged son building it is pretty super as well.

3. Best thing you ate in a 'bowl' last week?

The best thing I ate in a bowl last week was a spinach artichoke dip. The recipe I use is supposedly a copycat of Applebee's and it's ridiculously delicious.

4. Something you're 'cheering' for right now?

I'm cheering for my children as they continue to try out their wings and pursue their goals and dreams.

5. The Winter Olympics begin Friday, February 9th in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being all in and 1 being no interest whatsoever) how interested are you in the games? Which event do you most want to see (you'll find a list here).

I enjoy watching the skiing, and will probably watch some. I don't really know what number to assign to my interest level though.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

When I signed up for Pinterest a number of years ago, I selected the option to have them send me suggestions of boards I like based on the things I have pinned. I have enjoyed those weekly emails and have found a lot of good things because of them, but the latest one has left me scratching my head.

Pinterest in all of it's Pinterest-y wisdom sent me an email suggesting boards filled with cowboy hats that they're sure I will love. Um ... no. I'm not interested in cowboy hats in the least. It's like they don't know me at all.

Monday, February 5, 2018

New Covering

    One of the things I admired the most after moving to Somerset County was the coverings the girls wore. The fabric was a shiny black satin and the strings to tie them were wide black satin ribbon which, when tied, produced lovely big bows under their chins.
     I looked forward to the day when I could trade in my dull, thin covering for one of these new ones.
     After Mom found out that Emmy was giving me a hard time at school because of the covering I was wearing, she took time out of her busy schedule to make a new one for me according to the rules of the churches in Somerset.
     One day John and I got home from school to our regular after school snacks waiting on the kitchen table. I starting eating mine, but when Mom told me she has a new covering waiting for me to try on as soon as I'm done, my hunger vanished. I handed my snacks to John, who happily munched them down, and ran to try on this beautiful new creation.
      Mom placed the covering on my head and tied the ribbons. It felt weird. For starters it was much heavier than the one I had been used to, but even worse it was noisy. Coverings weren't supposed to make noise, but this one did. A weird rattling, rustling, squeaky type of noise. Every move of my head caused it to make a sound. Talking, chewing food, any little movement and I could hear it.
     "How do you like it?" Mom asked.
     How could I tell her it was awful? She had taken the time to make it, and I had so desperately wanted one just like the others girls.
      "It rattles," I said.
       She looked puzzled and then lifted it up to her ears. "You can hear it," she chuckled. "I think you'll get used to it soon."
       I wasn't convinced about that as I wore it to go to school the next day. It rattled, and rustled, and squeaked all day long. By the time the school day was over I was ready to throw it away. Not wearing anything wouldn't be as terrible as having to listen to it for the rest of my life.
      I don't remember how long it took, but Mom was right. I got used to it, and the sounds it made no longer registered and I was able to enjoy life again.