Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Business Venture

Grandma Mast used to make scrapbooks for each of her grandchildren. I used to really enjoy watching her work on them when ever I was allowed to spend several hours at their house.  She went through all the catalogs and magazines that came to their house and cut out any pictures and poems or sayings that she thought she might find use for.

I loved the little room she used for this hobby. It was very well organized with lots of boxes labeled carefully so she would know where to look for whatever she needed.  My favorite was a box of stickers. She had a huge variety and would allow me occasionally to look through all of them and choose a sheet to take home with me.

One day I asked her why she doesn't use more stickers instead of so many tiny pictures that she cut from catalogs, and she told me it would be much too expensive to buy that many. I could understand that but thought it was too bad that she couldn't find a source for cheaper stickers since they were much nicer to use.

A few weeks later I was cutting pictures out and gluing them on pieces of paper to make a little book when Mom called me. I went to see what she wanted and by the time I got back to my little project I discovered that I had put glue on a picture but forgot to to paste it to the paper and it had dried. On a whim I got a damp cloth and wiped it and was thrilled to discover that it moistened the glue enough that I was able to use it.

I was excited about my discovery and got a piece of paper and traced lots of cute pictures on it, after carefully coloring and cutting them out I spread Elmer's glue evenly on the back and left them to dry. I continued until I had fifty of them and then put them in a little box and took them over to Grandma's house where I showed my homemade stickers to her. She oohed and ahhed about them and when I told her she could buy them if she wanted to for only a penny a piece.

She went and got her purse and counted out fifty pennies and gave them to me. I felt quite rich as I ran home and promptly set to work to make another batch of stickers. A few days later when I took my next batch to her she carefully sorted through them and picked out only the very nicest ones, this time I carried only a few pennies and most of my stickers home. After a few more tries and earning only a few pennies I gave up making stickers.  Much to Grandma's relief I'm sure.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Coloring Contest

Every year a local store held a coloring contest for children under twelve. The prize was a twenty dollar gift card for their store.I used to enter every year and dream of what I would buy should I be the lucky winner. Year after year I always ended up disappointed when the winner was announced and it wasn't me.

One year the pictures were once again distributed and since I was too old to enter and my brothers David and Mahlon didn't want to color a picture I was ready to throw it in the trash when Ivan saw it and wanted to color it. I got the crayons for him and he sat down and painstakingly colored the picture. He colored the snowman orange and gave it a smudgy pink scarf. Almost everything was wrong and I knew there was no use sending it in to enter the contest. I had to admit he stayed in the lines very well for a three year old but that would never be enough to win.

Mom went ahead and sent it in for him anyway, and much to my surprise several weeks later Ivan was notified that he won the coloring contest. When his gift card arrived Mom and Daddy explained to him that he can buy whatever he wants to the next time they go to town. He didn't think very long and announced that he wants to buy a shovel just like Daddy has.

I was sure once he gets to the store and sees all the toys he would pick out something other than a shovel. As we entered the store he asked where the shovels are and we went back to where they were and he immediately wanted a big shovel. Right beside it was a smaller one much more his size but no, he had his mind set on a shovel just like Daddy has. After buying the shovel there was enough money left that he was still able to buy a a few things more age appropriate.

We were all happy for him and I wished there was one more chance for me to enter a coloring contest. I would try coloring everything wrong too.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blueberry Swamp

Several miles from us there used to be a swamp that covered several hundred acres, in it were huge blueberry bushes that produced the best blueberries. Since the Nature Conservacy owned the swamp it was open to anyone who wanted to venture inside it's spooky boundaries on foot and pick blueberries.

It was tricky trying to decide where it was safe to step without becoming bogged down, adding to the challenge we also had to be on the alert for bears who also enjoyed wandering in to eat their fill of blueberries.

Every summer we would take several evenings to go pick blueberries. We would hitch our horse to our open buggy and set several five gallon pails on the back. We would each take a piece of twine and tie it to an ice cream pail which we then hung from our neck, that way we could pick with both hands and get done so much faster.

Once the pails on the buggy were full we would head for home where we had to painstakingly sort all the berries and get them ready to can pie filling the next day. A good evening of picking would often yield a hundred quart or more which we always enjoyed eating during the winter. Nothing beats the flavor of big juicy wild blueberries.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wind Mills

Windmills were a part of my life for a long time. I used to love hearing the soft creak as it turned slowly on lazy summer days. Our windmill used to stand at the top of the hill and pumped water for our barn. If I got daring enough and chimbed up the side the views over the country side were breath taking.
Over the past ten years there have been a lot of wind farms starting to pop up in our area. They dot the horizon on most of the roads we travel. When they were working on the first ones I wasn't very thrilled about it since it ruined the scenic view we had from our farm on top of the mountain.  But they look spectacular compared to the one someone tried to build to produce power for their home and shop.

Needless to say it doesn't work and it has a lot of people wishing they would tear it down.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Apple Dumplings

Thanks to PW I finally managed to do something that I had been trying for the past eleven years.

Make the perfect apple dumplings. 

My mother-in-law made really good ones but I was unable to recreate her version and so every year my husband would request a pan full of her apple dumplings instead of a cake for his birthday. Since we were moving and I knew she would no longer be able to provide an apple dumpling filled birthday I went on a search to find some that are equally as good. I found PW's version on a friends blog and after reading her rave review I knew I have to try them too.

The first pan full I followed the recipe exactly, but we all agreed it had way too much butter for our taste and so with a little tweaking here is our version of PW's apple dumplings. They are so good that it's hard to have any leftovers and my husband gave the highest form of praise by saying they are even better than his mother's. What more can I say? They were promptly filed into the keeper file and we have enjoyed them numerous times since then.
Picture from PW's site
Apple Dumplings


Ingredients:

2 apples (we prefer Fuji)
2 cans (8oz) Crescent Rolls
1 stick butter
1 ½ cup sugar
½ cup hot water
1 teaspoon Vanilla
cinnamon
1  12 oz can Mountain Dew

Instructions:

Peels and core the apples and then cut them each into 8 slices.
Roll each apple slice into a crescent roll. Place in a 9x13 buttered pan. Melt butter, then add sugar, stir. Add the water and vanilla, stir and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream (if you want) and sprinkle some of the delicious sauce from the pan over it all.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Thank-you Daddy for always being there when I was growing up. When ever I had a problem I could count on you to help me take care of it.  When I was five you would come and chase the monsters from under my bed in the middle of the night. When I got older and was having trouble learning new math concepts you would sit with me in the evenings to help me get things figured out. You were there to teach me how to work and how to play. When I needed advice you always took time to stop and listen to what I had to say. Thank-you for knowing how to give advice. Always kind and sensible, never demanding.

Thank-you Daddy, for teaching me the value of family time. That the time we spent together was much more important than what we did. Thank-you for taking us on Sunday afternoon drives, thank you for sharing your love for nature, flowers, and other beautiful things.

Thank-you Daddy, for providing for your family in every way. Thank-you for loving Mom and making our home a happy one.

I miss you Daddy and dedicate this song to you.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Yellow Billy

Right across the road from our house we had several acres of woods. They were filled with groves of hemlock trees, a pleasant little creek ran through it. There were loads of elderberry and blackberry bushes through out. Near the front stood what used to be my playhouse but it now served as a phone shanty ever since the church had decided to allow community phones. Towards the back of the woods green briers had started growing and were fast becoming a big nuisance. Daddy spent a lot of time in the evenings trying to rid the woods of the briers but it seemed like he was fighting a losing battle. Until one day a friend stopped by and offered to let us put his herd of thirty goats into the woods and let them take care of the briers and all the unwanted undergrowth.

Daddy accepted his offer and after adding a few more strands of wire to the fence to insure it was goat proof we were ready. They came on a Saturday afternoon. As the trailer backed into the pasture and the goats hopped off and went to investigate their new surroundings we watched them from the kitchen window. There were goats of all colors, but one of them stood out from the rest. He was a dirty yellow, his horns looked intimidating even from a distance and his long beard dangled impressively from his chin. He surveyed his new home with an air of disdain and shaking his head he stalked after the rest of the herd into the woods.

Monday arrived and once it was time to sit by the phone for the daily half hour in case any customers wanted to call.  I walked to the gate and noticed most of the goats were near the phone shanty including the yellow billy. He looked even uglier than he had from the kitchen window. As I closed the gate he bleated and lowered his head and came charging right at me. I darted into the phone shanty and locked the door. He bumped his head against it several times for good measure and then returned to the rest of the herd who had continued eating very unconcerned about what their leader had been doing.

Once it was time to go in I carefully checked my surroundings before running to the gate and hurrying to the other side safely. It wasn't long before the billy was there every day to greet me with his lowered head. I armed myself with a big stick and most days managed to ward him off. My little brother Mahlon, enjoyed going to the phone with me and I would often take a book along to read while we waited for customers to call. Ever since the billy was lurking around the phone shanty he had been hesitant about joining me but since I was successful in keeping him at bay with my stick he wanted to join me so we could resume our story time again.

As we entered the gate the billy came charging at us. I swung my stick and yelled at him. Mahlon ran for the shanty but before I could do anything the billy had turned and run after him and knocked him down. I ran over to Mahlon and wielding my stick I chased the billy off for a few yards and we went inside the shanty. Once we got settled Mahlon said "I wish we could throw a five gallon pail over his head! That way he couldn't see where we are."

I loved the idea and the next day when it was time to head for the phone Mahlon carried the stick while I carried a nice white five gallon pail. As usual the billy came charging toward us and I swung the pail and to my utter delight it slipped over his horns and stayed stuck on his head. He looked ridiculous as he shook his head trying to get rid of the pail. The other goats stopped feeding and came closer to get a better look at him as Mahlon and I went gleefully into the shanty. Once our half hour was up the billy had still not been able to rid the pail so we stopped in the shop on the way to the house to tell Daddy about it.

Daddy went out and managed to remove the pail and from that day on when ever it was time to go to the phone I armed myself with a pail. All the billy had to do was see it and he stayed a safe distance. He was still mean and ugly and would still charge anyone who dared venture in without a pail. But my days of having to worry about being butted by him were now over.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Daybook June 15th

For Today... June 15th

Outside my window... There is a fog creeping in over the mountains. I'm hoping it doesn't stay very long but since this area is known for it's heavy fog that lasts for days on end I afraid that is wishful thinking.
I am thinking... that I need to try out a new recipe with the hamburger that is thawing for dinner tonight.
I am thankful... for our family and friends. They are what makes life sweet.
From the kitchen... An experiment with a new recipe, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and Cheesy Garlic Bites.
I am wearing... A comfy blouse and a not so comfy skirt. I really need to find some new ones.

I am creating... several different projects in hopes of opening my own Etsy store later this summer.

I am going... to the mall, have to get a few more supplies and of-course it's always fun to browse through the huge variety of things available.
I am reading... The Psalms, and Taste of Home's Hamburger cookbook. Reading the Walter Farley books to the children.
I am hoping... we will soon be able to see friends and church family that we left behind when we moved. That was the one big draw back to moving half way across the country.
I am hearing... Mama beef cows calling for their calves. Since the farmer moved them into the field right next to the house it can get quite musical around here.
Around the house... Things could use a little cleaning up. the kitchen is nice but my sewing area looks as if .... well as if I had been sewing.
One of my favorite things... Cold, sweet mountain water.
A few plans for the rest of the week.....Washing windows, and getting the house in tip top shape. Then planning a menu to serve when we have friends over for dinner on Friday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...



What a difference a year makes.  We are so thankful that Sunbeam has made a full recovery. She doesn't even have a limp. We are so very grateful.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chores.... Again

Calves are cute....... from a safe distance. You would think that after being married to someone who loves farming and animals I would have learned to enjoy being around calves but so far it hasn't worked. Ornery little critters is the phrase that I would use to describe them.

Tonight after my husband came home from work we hitched to our trailer and went to gather up a load of baby calves. I went along simply because I enjoy spending time together as a family and knew that gathering up a load of calves was going to take a sizable chunk of time out of our evening.

We like getting them from farms rather than a sale barn since they tend to be much healthier and less likely to cause trouble and get sick later on. As my husband pulled up to a barn I stayed in the truck with the girls while he went to look at the calves. We admired the view of rolling hills dotted with pretty farms and talked. In a pause in our conversation Rosebud asked me a mind boggling question. She broke the silence saying "Mom, if someone paid you ten thousand dollars which would you rather ride. A bull or a pig?"

I of-course chose the pig. Thankfully she realized it would take a lot of money to get me to ride either one but I'm still trying to figure out where she ever came up with that thought. The picture it paints in my mind is hilarious!

Once we got home with our load of calves Sailor was all excited and wanted to point out his favorite one to me. "It's the white one with a black face," was his identifying description. As I stepped up on the side of the trailer and peered in all I could see was a group of black and white calves.

He has inherited his Daddy's love for calves, and also his way of describing Holstein calves. My head is spinning trying to keep the black and white one with a white face separated from the white and black one. I think it would be much easier to identify them with their ear tags but apparently it's much easier to know them apart by having the perfect sequence of black and white memorized.  I decided it must be a guy thing and I'll leave it at that.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Plans

A few weeks after I started attending the singings with the youth group I was approached by one of my best friends after church. She told me she and her boyfriend Vernon, were planning to get married and wanted me to be one of her brides maids and be escorted by LV.

I told her I would be honored to be her bridesmaid and wondered how it would seem to be at LV's side for an entire day. The wedding date was still several months away so I didn't think about it very much. 

The following Sunday our youth group attended church and singing in a neighboring district since it was more than an hours drive they borrowed a few buggies to make that we wouldn't be crowded and have only two people in each buggy.

I got up early and was ready by the time LV drove into our driveway. I folded my shawl and took it along just in-case it would get cold on the way home. It was a beautiful morning and the ride was pleasant. We hadn't been on the road very long before LV asked if Fannie had said anything to me about being escorted by him at her wedding. I told him I had already told her I would be happy to be her bridesmaid. He seemed pleased, and we continued visiting all the way to the Summit Mills church house.

After church I went home with some of my friends while LV went to his cousins house. The afternoon passed swiftly and when evening came so did LV to give me a ride to the singing. I tried to sort my feelings out as we once again had a very pleasant ride. He wasn't like he used to be in school and I actually enjoyed his company.

After the singing was over and we were on our way home I was happy that we would have a long ride together. This had been one of the best days I had ever experienced. As we rode through the night the horse didn't seem to be in any particular hurry and for once LV didn't seem to mind letting him walk uphill and down.

Once we got home almost two hours later I thanked him for the ride and he told me I was more than welcome and he was looking forward to the wedding and that we would be able to ride together without Vernon before long.  I was thrilled to hear him say that and as I stepped off the buggy my foot missed the step and I fell down. He jumped out to see if I was okay but I couldn't even look at him as I hurried to the house and up to my room. I was so humiliated that I had to ruin what had otherwise been a perfect day by falling off his buggy for the last thing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Joining The Youth

I looked forward to my sixteenth birthday more than any other I ever had. I would finally be considered old enough to join the youth group. As was customary for our community the only way you could join the youth group was to start taking instruction class to become a member of the church.

A few weeks after my birthday the annual instruction classes started. I was very nervous thinking about having to get up while the rest of the congregation was singing and join the preachers in their little conference room where they would talk to us about the doctrines of faith and what was required of us to become members of the Amish church.

Once Sunday morning arrived we all got ready for church. Once we arrived I was glad to see my friend Nancy was already there and was looking every bit as nervous as I felt. It was comforting to know we would be together for the classes. Once everyone was seating and the bishop had announced it was time to start church services Daddy announced the first song and started singing in his clear deep voice. A shiver ran up and down my back as the rest of the congregation joined in and helped sing the rest of the line. As Daddy started singing the second line the preachers got up and went into their little room. My hands felt cold and clammy and my heart beat faster. When the third line started it was time for us to get up and go join the preachers.  It felt as if all eyes in the building were watching us as we walked to the front of the church house and entered the little room. Since I was the youngest I had to close the door once we were all inside.

I closed it but much to my dismay it popped right back open. The bishop got up and closed it properly and then sat down and asked us if we were ready to denounce the world, the devil, and our own desires and turn to God and the church. We each answered with a yes and then he proceeded to go through the first two articles of faith and explain everything to us. Once he was done the other preachers each had a turn to add their thoughts and admonitions. Preacher Benny went on and on. I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying as I listened to the singing on the other side of the door, I could hear they were nearing the end of the Lob Lied and we should be dismissed I was hoping he would hurry up so that we wouldn't have to walk back to our seats between songs while everything was quiet.

Benny finally got done and just as I was afraid it would happen the last notes of the Lob Leid had faded and everyone was sitting quietly waiting until the next song was announced. We filed back to our seats and the next song was announced and sung.

Once church was over we stayed to visit for a little while before going home to eat lunch. I was looking forward to attend my first singing as one of the youth group. The only drawback was I didn't have a brother older than myself that I could ride with and had to ride with someone else.

Once evening came and a buggy drove into our driveway I wasn't sure how to react that I would have to ride with LV and his brother. As I climbed into the buggy I wished with all my heart that John would be old enough to take me to the singing. I was a little envious that Nancy could ride with her older brother and sister and didn't have to worry about riding with someone else.

Once we got to the singing I forgot about my awkward ride and enjoyed being with my friends. The two hours of singing that followed were great and I enjoyed it immensely. Once the singing was over we headed for home right away. Again there were hardly any words spoken and it was a relief to get off the buggy after thanking LV and Vernon for the ride I hurried into the house to where Mom was waiting to hear all about my first night of being with the youth group.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Watching

We live at the outskirts of an Amish community so driving behind a buggy is not uncommon. Since the weather is warmer they usually have their doors and windows open which makes their ride more enjoyable.

 As a child it used to be especially fun leaning out the window, I used to prefer standing at the dashboard and watching the horse's feet and try braiding it's tail as we drove down the road. Our horse Jim was so gentle that he didn't mind but once we got our new horse there was no more tail braiding.

Once I got to big to stand in the front I used to kneel on the seat behind Mom and Daddy and watch out the window. When ever a vehicle came up behind us we would tell Daddy and he would guide the horse as far toward the ditch as it was safe to do to allow the people behind us to pass.

On Saturday we had to run a few errands and met numerous buggies on the road. When we came behind this one we had to chuckle at the little boy's expression as he contently watched out the back window.  It made me wish that I could be six again for just a little while and go on a Sunday afternoon drive with Mom and Daddy and our faithful horse Jim.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thoughts

There is a pair of Canada geese living right across the road from us. They are a loud noisy couple and their squawking and honking has been irritating to me.

This morning they were walking around the pasture with their off-spring, calmly enjoying a beautiful morning. I watched them for awhile and it got me thinking of families and life in general. And I realized they have many of the qualities that I admire and want for our own family.

  1. They don't mind what other people think about them. They will go ahead and enjoy their life in their home the best they know how.
  2. They value family time and both parents are actively teaching their children what they need to know to be successful once they grow up and leave their parents.
  3. They seem to enjoy the companionship of each other.
  4. Even though they're grown up they still know how to have fun. (Notice how they like to balance at the edge of the waterfall.)
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On a different note I finally read the instructions included with our hairdryer. It made my day. I can't quite picture myself going to bed with a hairdryer with plans of using it while I sleep.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Helping Out

Even though I had graduated from school, the Somerset County Amish still had what they called vocational classes which we had to attend every Wednesday forenoon until our fifteenth birthday. We had to keep a diary of everything we did during the week and hand it in to the teacher, and then we had algebra and German and English lessons. I was glad to be able to go back to school the first day since I had always loved school but it soon became an aggravation to deal with every Wednesday when I had other things that I would have rather been doing.

After school had been going for a few weeks and things were getting into routine at home. I was starting to really like not having to go to school everyday. It seemed nice to be at home with Mom and being able to visit without being interrupted by my younger brothers. There was still a lot of canning to do with sweetcorn, beans, peaches and apples.

One afternoon as we were canning peaches we heard a buggy pull into the driveway. When we looked to see who it was we saw a neighbor that lived right next to the schoolhouse. Daddy went to see what he wanted while Mom and I kept on peeling peaches.

As the buggy drove away Daddy came and said that Joe wanted to know if they could hire me to help out with the canning since his wife had too much work to handle on her own especially with so many little children. I wasn't enthused about the idea at all. Everything was always so dirty around their home that I cringed at the very thought of having to work there. When Daddy asked Mom if she could spare me for a week or two she didn't answer right away, so I voiced my opinion of how there was no way I wanted to go work for that family.

That was all it took. Mom's mouth set in a firm line and said. "Yes, I think I can manage just fine. It would be a good experience for Mary Ann."

I wished I had kept my big mouth shut but knew the matter was settled.

The next morning I walked to school with my brothers and stopped at Joe's house. As I went to the door his wife came to meet me. As I stepped inside I could see she really did need help. There were multiple bushels of peaches on the floor waiting to be canned. Dishes were piled high on the sink, the floors and walls looked as if they hadn't seen water and soap for years, the children hung on her skirts and looked at me with their dirty faces and their clothes were even dirtier. In another corner there were several burlap feed sacks filled with gnarled wormy apples. But worst of all were the flies. They were swarming over everything I tried to keep them off of me but soon gave up since the only way to get any work done was to ignore them even if they crawled and buzzed all around and over you.

The first thing she wanted to have done was have the dishes washed. I surveyed the endless stack and started in bravely. After spending most of the forenoon doing dishes I was relieved once I was done and she sent me to sort the peaches. All the ones that had soft spots or were starting to rot had to be canned first.

I filled up a big dishpan and sat down to start peeling them. The children had lost all sense of shyness and crowded around me to watch as I peeled peaches. They would take bites out of most of the halves before their mother put them in jars to can. I secretly vowed to not eat any peaches for lunch.

I thought the day would never end. The flies, and all the filth were almost more than I could handle as I thought of Mom at home in our clean and tidy house canning peaches by herself. Just when I thought things couldn't be more miserable I heard their five year old spitting. When I looked she was sitting on the floor and spitting on the corner of their hand towel. I didn't pay to much attention to her as she continued spitting until the next thing I knew she wiped the spit soaked corner over my face and then stood there and giggled. That was the last straw. I got up to go wash my face just as my brothers knocked on the door on their way home from school and it was time for me to go.

I was sure once Mom and Daddy heard about my day they wouldn't make me go back, but they weren't very sympathetic and the next morning found me knocking at their door again. This time  she wanted to get all those apples turned into apple sauce. As I cut the first one open I tried not to gag at the little worms and hurriedly cut them out of the apple along with the core. Since the apples were so small and gnarled there wasn't much left. She laughed and said. "Oh, we don't worry about the worms. Just quarter the apples and once they are boiled no one will even know there had been any worms there. I tried to suppress a shudder as I did what she told me but now vowed I would never eat any apple sauce at their house.

The day passed much the same as it had the previous day. the flies were almost unbearable but what annoyed me the most was that Joe was in the house all day on a chair sitting right next to me. He didn't help work but talked almost non-stop. He told a lot of utterly lame jokes and tried to show me a lot of tricks that he could do with toothpicks and various other things.

When I got home that evening I didn't even bother to ask if I had to go back because Daddy had told Joe I could work there for a few weeks until canning season was over. As I got ready for bed the days ahead looked long and bleak and I couldn't wait until my job there was done.

The next day Joe once again sat right beside me all day. This time he started commenting about what pretty hands I have. I felt like giving him a big smack, but instead tried to ignore him as I quartered apples as fast as I could. By the end of the day I was fuming and once  got home I told Daddy how frustrating it was to have Joe sitting beside me all day long. He asked me to tell him all about my day and I told him everything, not sparing any details.

This time Daddy's expression became determined and he marched out to the barn and hitched the horse to the buggy and went to tell Joe that he could help his own wife do the canning and that I would not be coming back. When he got home he handed me the money that Joe had paid for my three days of work. Two dollars a day. Daddy muttered that it wasn't enough for what I had to endure but I didn't really care as long as I didn't have to go back to that miserable house everything was fine again.