Monday, November 20, 2017


      My Mom's sister Lydia and her family lived on a farm not too far from us. They also had a small bulkfood store, and whenever we needed flour or sugar Mom would hitch up Jim to the top buggy and we would drive over to them. John and I liked when the weather was warm enough that Mom put the storm front up and we could stand in the front of the buggy holding onto the dashboard. It was fun watching Jim's feet on the road and try to catch his tail when ever he swished it.
      We usually stayed for a few hours as Mom helped Lydia with whatever she had going, and John and I played with our cousins. Since there was only a few months difference in our ages, we had some of the best times whenever we got together.
      One day on our way home John and I were chattering away in our normal fashion, but Mom was not joining in as usual. When we turned around we noticed tears on her cheeks and we of-course wanted to know what was wrong. She said "Lydia has cancer."
      We had no idea what cancer was, but if it made Mom cry it must be bad.
      From then on we went over several times a week, Mom would do whatever work she could and make meals and do the laundry for them as Lydia got very weak and couldn't work at all.
      Cousin Emma was no longer as much fun. She always looked sad, and often when we arrived she had her dress on backwards so that she could button it herself. Mom would first make sure that all their children were clean and properly dressed before doing the days work.
     Then late one night uncle Alvin stopped in. He was carrying a tiny baby boy. He handed him to Mom. He talked a little and then went off into the night again. We fixed up the bassinet for the baby and Mom let me help fix his bottles. He was the cutest little baby.
      Alvin stopped in once a day with their children to see the baby, on their way to Grandpas where they would stay while he went to the hospital to be with Lydia. Since she had her baby the doctor's could finally do something for the cancer.
     By the time baby Reuben was three months old Lydia had won the battle with cancer and we had to give the baby back to his rightful home. That was hard as we were all quite attached to him by then. But we were all very happy that Lydia was going to be fine.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Picture my Week

I was thrilled to find this gorgeous splash of color on an otherwise drab November day. I never even knew a briar bush can become such a thing of beauty.

I have been trying to create the healthy habit of going on a walk every day. The girls and Steven made great walking companions, and I somehow even managed to get them to pose for me willingly.

We went to a different area every day for our walk. This one was one of my favorites of the week.

The girls gave me a tour of their childhood "country". We stopped to admire their general store/trading post/giant tree.

Steven's cat loves going on walks with us.

The most brilliant of sunrises was enjoyed this morning. I stayed in the house to take a picture of it through my dirty windows.

While the eastern sky was brilliant, Kenneth came in and announced that there's an equally brilliant rainbow in the western sky. LV ran out to get a picture of it. The picture doesn't do it justice. Who knew rainbows appear before 7 A.M. in the middle of November.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy ~ Winner

     Reading all your comments of things that bring you joy, was such fun. I've come to the conclusion that the little things are actually, really not that little.

     Now for the next step, let's head over to the random generator and see who the winner is for the book, Fragrant Whiffs of Joy.

     And drumroll please ....

     The winner is ...

     Comment #39

     butterflywoman57 said ... Sweet memories of my husband

Congratulations! Please email your mailing address to me and I will get the book sent to you. I hope you'll enjoy the book as much as I did.

I wish I could have given everyone a book, but since that's not possible I'm happy to be able to tell you that it is available for $12 per book plus $2 postage.  You can mail a check to Dorcas Smucker, 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446.  Or PayPal

Thursday, November 16, 2017

John Coffer

     One afternoon in early fall John and I were playing in the sandbox when the phone rang. Mom came hurrying outside to the "phone shanty" to answer it. It was Grandpa saying they had just witnessed a strange sight. A small covered wagon drawn by a team of oxen, an old fashioned "different" buggy hitched to a big slow horse, a cow, and two people that looked as if they had stepped right out of the pages of a "Little House on the Prairie" book had just passed their farm along 14 A and turned up Crawford Road and if we watch we should be able to see them soon.
      We all sat on the swing under our cedar trees and looked down the road to where Crawford Rd crossed our road. It wasn't long before a team of oxen appeared with a tall man and his wife and a black dog walking beside them. We could hardly believe our eyes. A covered wagon with a yellow chicken perched on the back, a cow and a horse and buggy that looked different from any buggy we had ever seen. Walking slowly along the road.
      They soon disappeared out of sight and we went back to the house, wondering who they were and where they were going.
      That evening when Daddy came home we told him all about it. Daddy said he saw smoke that appears as if someone would have a campfire and that they're probably camping along the road. So right after supper he asked Mom to wrap up some fresh homemade bread and we would all walk over to meet them.
      They were camped in a field beside the road cooking supper in a cast iron pot they had dangling above the fire. When they saw us coming they came to welcome us and introduced themselves as John and Sue Coffer. They had spent years travelling across America in this fashion and finally decided to settle down somewhere and had just purchased a piece of land that had a lot of timber and also a few meadows but no buildings or a well. They were hoping to build a cabin and dig a well yet before winter.
      Daddy offered to help, but Mr. Coffer turned it down wanting to do it all by themselves with a crosscut saw and an axe.
      It wasn't long before the sound of an axe filled the days and their little cabin progressed nicely. After they had moved in the next thing to do was get a well dug. Mr. Coffer did accept help for this as someone needed to be on the ground to pull up full buckets of dirt and then let the empty bucket back down to be filled up again. It took quite a long time but once he struck water it was worth it!
      John was intrigued with the whole pioneer thing and Mr. Coffer on one of their many visits to our house whittled a tiny yoke for him to play with his toy cows.
       The Amish settlement in Dundee eventually failed, but Mr. Coffer still lives there, still living the pioneer lifestyle.

John Coffer sitting in front of his cabin.

The side of his cabin also works as a place to hang the harnesses for his horses.

The cabin.
John Coffer with one of his beloved oxen.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. What takes you out of your comfort zone?

I feel very uncomfortable, uneasy, and decidedly out of my comfort zone when I hear women speak badly of their husband.

2. Your least favorite spice?

This was a hard question since I love cooking and using all kinds of spices. Curry in moderation is good, but is the one spice that I don't really get excited about using.

3. What's a small change you'd like to make?

A small change I want to make before long is rearranging the contents of our desk, filing cabinet, and a cupboard. I'm looking forward to having it done, it will be so much better all around, but the thought of having to do it isn't quite as pleasant.

4. Do you enjoy visiting historic homes? If so, of the homes you've visited which one was your favorite? What historic home near you is open to visitors? Have you been? Southern Living rounded up eleven of the best in the southern part of the US and they're as follows-

Monticello (Jefferson's home in Virginia), Nathaniel Russel House (Charleston SC), Swan House (Atlanta), Ernest Hemingway's home (Key West), The Biltmore (Vanderbilt home in Asheville NC), Mount Vernon (Washington's home in Virgina), San Francisco Plantation (Garyville, Louisiana), Windsor Ruins (Port Gibson Mississippi), Longue Vue House and Gardens (New Orleans), Whitehall (Palm Beach FL), and Pebble Hill Plantation (Thomasville GA)

Have you been to any on the list? Of the homes listed which would you most like to visit?

I haven't been to any historical homes, but would really like to see all the ones on the list, especially Biltmore.

5. What's something you think will be obsolete in ten years? Does that make you sad or glad?

Writing checks, maybe? Online bill pay and credit and debit cards seem to already be the preferred way to handle money for many people. I only see it getting more so over the next ten years.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Instead of my usual Picture my Week post on Saturday, I opted to do a giveaway instead. (You still have time to enter it here.) 

A picture from last week is of LV and Kenneth escorting a bull back to his pasture after he came to visit us, right up next to the house. If you look closely you can see some of the holes he poked in our yard.

I'm not a fan of bulls wandering about our yard, but thankfully he wasn't feeling mean, and didn't present a huge challenge to get him back where he belonged. The owner has now taken him to a different field, so hopefully we won't have to deal with him again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Mailbox

     Mail time was always looked forward to. Most days once the mailman left the mailbox and disappeared down the road John and I would run out to see what he left this time. Most of the time there was a letter or two, but what we really liked was the day the weekly grocery and K-Mart fliers would come.
      We would sit on the floor and study and dream about all the good food, and then we'd look at the toy section of the K-Mart flier. It was my dream to have a doll with a real face and hair, even though I loved my rag doll "Sally" very much.
     Then one week the mailman didn't stop and John and I were perplexed and troubled that we no longer get mail. We asked Mom why he no longer stops and she told us he would if we would put the flag up. We wanted to run out and put the flag up right away, but she told us we can't do that unless we put something in the mailbox first.
      We went on with our day with that new bit of information stored inside our little heads, and when the next day the mailman still didn't stop we took our own steps to rectify the problem. We dug a few carrots from the garden, gathered some pine cones, and selected a few of our favorite rocks from our collection and placed them in the mailbox and put the flag up.
      The next morning we waited anxiously for the mailman to come, we were sure with all the great things we put in the mailbox he would be sure to leave us a lot of mail in return. When he finally went we ran to the mailbox only to discover that not only didn't he leave any mail, he didn't like what we had put in the mailbox for him. He had scraped the whole mess out on the ground.
      We ran in to tell Mom all about it. That was the day we learned how the postal system worked, she explained everything and then helped us write a letter for Grandma. The next morning she helped us put it in the mailbox correctly and let us put up the flag. The mailman took our letter and several weeks later John and I got a letter of our own from Grandma.
      The system really worked just like Mom said it would.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Puppies and Naptime

      One evening after Daddy came home from work he told us to come outside to our shed and see something.
      We all followed him outside to find our dog Smokey in a corner proudly looking at and feeding ten little puppies. They were so cute. She didn't mind us oohing and ahhing over them, but Daddy told us not to hold them until they're several weeks old.
      We would go outside everyday to see them and finally we were allowed to hold and play with them. It was this event that finally got us totally over our fear of Smokey. She let us play with the puppies and we even got to the point where we'd pet and talk to her.
      One day we were all supposed to take a nap. Mom tucked John and me into our beds and then took David into her bedroom and put him in his crib and laid on her bed until he fell asleep. I thought naps were a waste of time and being five I no longer had to take one everyday.
     The sun was shining brightly and I could hear the puppies outside, I sat up and leaned over the edge and peeked into the bottom bunk of the bunk bed. John was already sleeping, so I pushed my covers off and climbed quietly down and tiptoed out through the kitchen and out the door. I found my three favorite puppies, gathered them up in my arms and ran to the shed and sat in a corner and played with them. It was so much more fun than taking a nap.
      After a while I heard Mom calling my name. I didn't want to have to go back to bed and a idea popped into my head. "If I don't answer, she won't know where I am , and I won't have to go to bed."
She called and called and finally came into the shed and found me hiding in the corner. She was crying by that time and I felt bad about that. I hadn't meant to make her cry, I just really didn't want a nap.
     She told me she thought she had heard a car start in our driveway and when she went to see who it was, nobody was there and when she looked in my bed I was no longer there either, and she was very worried. And that I may never go outside without telling her first.
     We got back to the house and she told me I have to spend the afternoon in my bed, so that next time I'll remember to answer when she calls and stay in bed if she tells me too.
     That was the longest afternoon I ever had. I could hear Mom sewing and talking to John and David. It sounded like everyone was having a great time and I had to lay there until Daddy got home from work.
     Daddy wasn't impressed about the scare I had given Mom either, and so I was admonished again. It was good to be with the others again and have supper and a little time to play before bedtime. But I learned my lesson well. If Mom calls. I answer. Spending all afternoon in bed is no fun!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy ~ Giveaway

    In our living room we have a huge oak cupboard. It was built by my oldest brother seventeen years ago after I had voiced my dream version of an "Amish entertainment center". A section of it holds our favorite books. These books are selected carefully and each one of them has to earn their right to call this cupboard their home.
    I just tucked a new book inside its doors. Fragrant Whiffs of Joy by one of my all time favorite authors, Dorcas Smucker. She cleverly weaves beautiful stories from her often touched by humor, ordinary life.

Fragrant Whiffs of Joy is a collection of short stories or essays if you will, which makes it a perfect book to pick up and read when you have a few minutes. Each chapter is sure to encourage, inspire, and maybe give you a new view on life, with a healthy amount of chuckles mixed in.

From outings to the beach that don't go as planned, serving food to loved ones, a heartfelt glimpse into the little known life of her son's birth Mom, and everything in between. I enjoyed every minute of reading this book.
I think you would enjoy it too, and I'm happy to be able to give away an autographed copy. If you would like a chance to win one, all you have to do is leave a comment telling me about something that gives you a whiff of joy.
For a second entry share a link to this post on your blog or Facebook and then come back and tell me about in another comment.
I will be using the random generator to choose a winner on Friday, November 17th.
If you are eager to start reading this book you can order it now.
Fragrant Whiffs of Joy is available for $12 per book plus $2 postage.  You can mail a check to Dorcas Smucker, 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446.  Or PayPal
Giveaway is now closed and a winner has been chosen.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Barn Raising

      Daddy and Mom managed to save up enough money to build a small woodworking shop, where he hoped to build furniture to sell and be able to work at home with his growing family.
      They bought all the lumber and supplies needed and then let all the Amish in the area know that they will be having a frolic on Saturday.
      We got up while it was still dark and hurried with our breakfast. By the time the sun was coming up, buggies were driving in the lane. The women and children came into the house and the men, after they had unhitched their horse and tied it to a tree, went to see what they could do to help.
      Before long the sounds of hammers and saws filled the air as the men tackled the job at hand, the women were visiting as they started preparing the huge noon meal, and we children couldn't decide where it was the most fun to be. In the house watching as vast amounts of food was being prepared or outside watching the shop grow under the steady pounding of hammers.
       Someone had brought the church benches to set up tables and provide enough seats for everyone. Daddy came and set up a few of them for us to slide on. That gave us something fun and out of the way of those who were working.
      At noon Mom sent some of the older children to tell Daddy that lunch was ready. She had us set out a row of bowls on a bench and then fill them with cold water from the garden hose. We laid a big clean towel beside each bowl and then watched as the men lined up and sloshed the water over their faces and arms, water dripped off their long beards as they reached for the towel to dry off.
      After everyone was washed up a few of the women quickly hung the towels on the clothes line until everyone was seated at the tables. Big platters of fried chicken and bowls heaped with steaming mashed potatoes and gravy, there was sweet corn and applesauce, stacks of fresh homemade bread, and plates filled with sliced tomatoes from the garden. And several kinds of pie for dessert.
       After the silent prayer was over everyone started filling their plates and visiting, the food soon disappeared and the men went back to work while the women cleared away the mess.
       By evening the shop was done. It looked beautiful with its white sides and green hip roof. There were stairs at the back on the outside that led up to an attic/loft that could be used for storage or an extra sleeping area when we got overnight guests.
      We were tired and happy as we got ready for bed. It had been a day filled to the brim with wonder and excitement and fun with friends.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Buttercup aka Jenny

     The Jersey cow that Grandpas had given Mom on her birthday was very sweet natured. We named her Buttercup.
     Every evening Mom would get the milk pail and announce. "Okay children, let's go milk Buttercup." We would head for the barn and scoop some grain into the feeding trough while Mom took a rope and headed for the pasture to lead the cow inside.
     Once she was tied in her pen John or I would stand behind her and hold her tail so she wouldn't swat Mom's face while she was milking her. Mom would get a little stool and sit down beside her and say "Easy Jenny" and then start milking. The ping ping of milk hitting the stainless steel pail soon changed to the sound of streams of milk being added to a pail of foamy milk. The cats would be sitting nearby waiting for their daily dish of fresh milk.
     When we were done Mom would give the cats their milk, and set the pail in a safe spot while she let Buttercup back out to pasture. Then we would head back to the house where she would strain the milk into a gallon jar and set it into the sink with cold water to cool it off before putting it into the refrigerator.
      Somewhere along the line we stopped calling the cow Buttercup at all and switched to only Jenny.
      Then one day a neighbor stopped in and said they think they just saw Jenny down the road in someone's Alfalfa field, and if she wants to, she can ride with her down to the field and bring her back. Mom looked into the pasture and saw that Jenny was indeed missing, so she fetched her lead rope and then told John and me to take care of David if he wakes up and be good until she gets back.
      We stood by the window and watched her leave. We were soon bored in the house waiting for her and went outside to sit on the swing under the cedar trees so we can see when she's coming home. After what seemed like a long time we saw her coming with Jenny walking slowly behind her. They reached our land and Jenny decided it's time to head for the barn, and fast. She started off at a gallop with Mom dragging over the ground behind her trying to get the rope untangled from around her hands. When she finally got loose Jenny ran straight for the barn and Mom got up with bad rope burns and all bloody from being dragged over the ground.
     John and I were crying, and by the time she limped into the house so was David. She sat on a rocking chair to take care of him while John and I tried to wash the blood off her arms and get her all patched up.
     She didn't work for the rest of the day. And called us her little heroes for doctoring and taking care of her till Daddy came home.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1.  In a rut, in a jam, in the groove, out of synch, off balance, out of touch...which saying best fits some area of your life currently (or recently)? Explain.

In the groove seems to fit my life quite well. School is going smoothly and our daily schedules seem to be flowing nicely. Most of 2017 had been in somewhat of a topsy turvy state, so to finally be in more of a groove feels lovely.

2. What is it about somebody else's style of work (coworker/employee/shared volunteer project/household chore) that makes you crazy? Why?

A certain child of mine who shall remain nameless drives me a little "crazy" by the way he/she holds a pencil when doing school work. Not the way I taught that a pencil should be held, but the work gets done so it continues being held uncomfortably.

3. What's a tradition that always makes you feel at home?

A daily tradition ... having the entire family gathered at the table to eat.

Holiday traditions ... we've made so many of our own, but one thing I've carried over from our previous life aka Amish is having our traditional Thanksgiving pudding. It's still my favorite Thanksgiving dessert.

4. A favorite song with a girl's name in the title or lyrics? Any reason why this is a particular favorite?

Mary did you Know, by the Pentatonix
Yes, it's a Christmas song, but I love it any time of the year. It gives me shivers, just listening to it, and the Pentatonix sing it beautifully.

5. Share a favorite quote, verse, or saying relating to gratitude or thanksgiving.

Gratitude helps us see what is; instead of what isn't.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Speaking of tradition. Every year I make a 45 Day Fruitcake. Every year I wonder why I mess with the aggravation of making it. Every year once it's time to eat it I think it was worth it. I'm at day 12 of 45 right now. At the beginning of the phase where I ask myself why I do this every year.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Buggy Ride of a Lifetime

      Grandpa Masts lived on a large dairy farm along a busy highway. Their driveway went up a steep grade and ran along side of the highway. It was fun looking down from the buggy and seeing the cars on the road.
     Uncle Eli and his wife Sadie lived in a trailer on Grandpa's farm and helped with the crops and some of the chores and then had a large sawmill yet.
     Uncle John Henry and his family lived on the same farm but on the other side of a ravine. There was a nice wooden bridge built across it that was fun to cross if my hand was firmly tucked inside my Mom's or one of the other grownups.
       Most times when Mom drove over to Grandpas we would take their field lane off of a small side road rather than face the traffic on the highway or the steep driveway.
       One rainy day Mom had to go to town, so she dropped the three of us children off at Grandpas while she did the errands on her own. We had fun playing with Grandma's rainy day toys and Grandpa sat on his rocking chair and let us comb his hair and his long beard.
       When Mom got back from town Grandpa helped all three of us into the front seat beside Mom because there were a few 100 lb bags of feed in the back and then advised her to take the driveway instead of the field lane since it was really muddy.
      We said our good-byes and started down the driveway. At the end we had to stop and wait for traffic. The buggy didn't have brakes and Mom kept an extra firm grip on the lines so Jim wouldn't start out in front of a vehicle. A semi passed, showering us with water and Jim eager to get home out of the rain didn't care for it at all, and started backing. Mom yelled whoa but then a milk truck passed and we got another shower and Jim backed faster. He didn't really care how or where he was backing, he just wanted out of there. The back wheel bumped over the edge and the buggy tipped precariously John, David, and I were starting to cry Jim backed a little more and we all went over the edge and down on our side right beside the highway. Mom was against the door and we three children landed on top of her. We started howling on the top of our lungs, somehow she convinced us to be quiet so as not to scare Jim and get him started kicking.
      Fortunately for us someone had seen us fall and stopped to help, and soon there were a lot of people there trying to lend a hand, Uncle Eli had realized something seemed amiss and came to see what was going on. He opened the storm front and lifted us out and took us back to the house to Grandma. Jim lay there quietly until they had him unhitched and then stood up and stood there waiting to see what 's next almost as if he was apologizing for the mess he got us into.
      Somehow the men got the buggy back on its wheels and Jim hitched up again and we went home bumped, and a little bruised, but what an exciting story to tell Daddy when he got home from work.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Playing Church

     After the garden slowed down a bit Mom starting looking for ways to help earn money. There was a store in our small town that said they'd be happy to buy all the baked goods she could make. Our little kitchen turned into a bakery where Mom would spend hours baking bread, cinnamon rolls, and pecan tarts.
     The first few days it was exciting to watch as she made all the delicious looking things, but after a while it became tiresome as she made the same things again and again. We would watch for a while but since it had to be perfect to sell, John and I couldn't help and we soon wandered off to find other things to occupy our time.
     We enjoyed pretending to play church. I would get my doll all wrapped up in blankets and then we would sit on Mom's rocking chair and rock as hard as we could, pretending it's our buggy. After we rocked long enough we would arrive at "church" and go into our little bedroom and sit in the lower bunk of the bunkbed and sing loud and long trying to imitate the songs we'd sing in church. After that John would get up and preach for awhile, usually some silly little sermon that ended up with us giggling and laughing. (which was a part we did not copy from Amish church services where you wouldn't even think of smiling.)
     We did this nearly everyday, and then one day after we had our rocking chair ride to church and got into our room I had the wonderful idea to open the bottom drawer of our dresser and use it for a church bench. We pulled it open and sat in it. Our weight was too much and the dresser tipped forward pinning us underneath, sending the kerosene lamp and everything else that had been setting on top crashing to the floor and breaking into pieces. We cried at the top of our lungs and Mom came hurrying in and lifted the dresser off of us. Amazingly we weren't hurt. Only frightened.
     She had us sit in the bunkbed while she cleaned up the mess so we wouldn't step on any broken glass. Once everything was back in order she got us settled at our little table with our coloring books and went back to her baking.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Memorable Moments

    I just got home, so today's post is a little late in getting posted. Not only that, but when pawing through this week's pictures and finding most of them lacking in what I deem to be in the worthy to be shared category I've decided to simply dub my post Memorable Moments and give y'all a glimpse into my week.

    We were serenaded every day by Sharon practicing on her keyboard. The video is from earlier this summer. It's still one of my favorite songs that she plays, though she is progressing beyond it.

      Rosie Mae whipped up treats in the kitchen, a batch of donuts on one day, chocolate chip cookies on another, and then topped it off with several dozen Cookies & Cream cupcakes that she shared with a group of friends.
     I displayed my skills at being a klutz in a rather spectacular fashion.
     It all started when I was rummaging through the refrigerator looking for something extra to add to our salad for lunch one day and found half of a pomegranate that I had forgotten we have. Usually we prepare the entire one, but hey, having pomegranate seeds to sprinkle on our salad would be a treat. Unfortunately it turned out to not look very appetizing so I went to pitch it over the fence into the cow pasture.
       The fence isn't far from the back door so instead of walking to the fence I tried to throw it as far into the pasture as I could without leaving the house, Exerting all the strength I could muster I smashed that poor thing into the door frame. I was stunned for a few seconds as pomegranate seeds showered everywhere and red juice went flying. My entire kitchen looked as if something horrible happened there.
      The girls and I looked at each other, utterly speechless and then burst into shrieks of laughter as we proceeded to clean up the mess.
      In the years to come I'm sure it will be the one memorable moment from this week that we will still remember.
      We made another library run, just in the nick of time to avoid paying fines on a book we had accidently missed getting back last week when we had been there. Steven was pleased to be able to see the ducks that congregate at the pond next to library parking lot. I have to remember to take some stale bread along next time so he can feed them like we've seen others do.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sunday Trains

     Church Sunday had come once again, and we were all up bright and early. The drive there was going to be a little farther than usual, but I was excited, because that meant it was finally time to have church at my friend Becky's house.
      Her home was extra special in that it had a pond, weeping willow trees, and a railroad track that went through the edge of their back yard. All three were things I viewed with a certain amount of awe.
       Church services took equally as long as usual, though it seemed a touch longer to me as I sat there thinking of all the wonderful things we would get to do that afternoon. I had visions of feeding the ducks at the pond and playing with our dolls under the sweeping branches of the weeping willows, and hopefully getting to watch a train or two rumble by.
       After the regular meal of peanut butter sandwiches all the little girls ran to play. Becky had plenty of dolls for us to play with and after we had bundled them up we headed outside.
      Instead of heading for the weeping willows Becky led us behind the house. "We can sit on the railroad ties and pretend they're church benches," she said.
      It seemed a little dangerous, but after she assured us that engineers all go to church on Sundays and trains won't be using the tracks that day the rest of us little girls all joined her.
       It was fun digging my toes into the gravel by the tracks as we sat down to proceed playing church with our dolls.
       In the middle of this we started to hear something. The noise grew louder and louder and we got up.
      "TRAIN!!" the little girls yelled and dashed off to safety.
       My legs wouldn't move and I stood frozen watching as a big blue engine rounded a bend and came directly toward me. The engineer blew his whistle, it was deafening loud, but even so I could hear the screams of my friends.
       The next thing I knew I was being swept through the air and was on the opposite side of the tracks being held securely in Daddy's arms as the train thundered by.
       When the train disappeared he walked back across the tracks and carried me into the house to Mom. "Let's go home," he told her.
       It was still early, but we all went out to the buggy as Daddy hitched up Jim and we left for home, driving past a group of somber faced little girls. As disappointed as I was to have what should have been a lovely afternoon cut short, it felt wonderful being in the safety of the buggy with the rest of my family, far away from any train.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

"An Gewachsen"

      David was only four months old when one of Daddy's sisters got married and we all went to the wedding. It was a thrill to be able to travel several hundred miles to the community where they lived and to see Grandpa And Grandma and all the aunts and uncles once again.
      The only draw back was that is was cold and the ride to church was especially so since the community where Grandpas lived did not have storm fronts in their buggies.
      Mom tried to keep David from getting too cold but the wind kept blowing into the buggy and by the time we got to the place where the wedding services were held we were all thoroughly chilled.
      After church started David was very cranky and Mom and I went into one of the bedrooms where she tried to comfort him, but nothing seemed to work and he kept crying lustily.
      Finally an older woman came to see if she could help. With twelve grown children she had lots of experience with children already. She asked Mom what seems to be the matter and she tried to explain how his little belly seems to be very tight. The lady reached for David and felt him and calmly stated that he is "An Gewachsen" Mom agreed that he had all the symptoms of the dreaded ailment that occasionally afflicts Amish babies between the ages of 6 weeks and 8 months usually after a long buggy ride.
       The lady said that there is something she could do to help him. I watched in horror as she took a firm hold at his ankles and held him upside down and gave him three hard shakes. Now instead of only crying he started howling and kept on until he was totally worn out and fell into a fitful sleep. From that point on he was a very fussy baby. And no wonder because the treatment he had received gave him a hiatal hernia at that young age.

      I grew up with a fear that babies can get the ailment of "An Gewachsen". It wasn't until after I had several of my own that I realized that it is only an old wives tale.
      The Amish definition of "An Gewachsen"... a condition in which a young child's intestines grows to the liver after an especially bumpy ride.
      In reality it is nothing more than a bad case of gas/indigestion from swallowing too much air.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. What does/did Halloween look like at your house this year? Did you decorate? Pick pumpkins? Carve pumpkins? Expect trick or treaters? Wear a costume to a party or event? Make a costume? Feel glad you didn't have to come up with a costume? Cook a Halloween themed treat? Eat all the leftover candy?

It looks like any other normal day. We don't do anything to observe or celebrate it in any way. I'm glad I don't have to come up with costumes, and as far as candy goes I'm actually glad I don't have a whole pile of it here. We've been trying to scale back some on our sugar intake and having a lot of candy wouldn't help that cause.

2. What are you waiting for? Elaborate

For our ship to come in. :)

More realistically, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other celebrations. It's been years since we've done it, but we're considering doing the 12 Days of Christmas this year, or at least our version of it. We're on a bit of a countdown while waiting to kick things off.

3. Do you wish you were friendlier, braver, more creative, more athletic, or something else? Explain.

Friendlier ... I'd like to think I'm friendly. I feel that way inside, but does it translate to everyone I meet? I hope so.
Braver ... I suppose I could use a dash or two of added bravery in my life. I've surprised myself in certain circumstances of how brave I can be, but then I spy a mouse somewhere and am reduced to a pathetic pile of shrieks and shivers.
More creative ... I have quite a bit of creativity, actually more than I have the time to actually do something with it all.
More athletic ... That would be great. I'm not very athletic at all.
Something else ... there seems to always be room for growth and improvement in my life.

4. When it comes time to paint are you a do-it-yourselfer or do you hire someone? What was the last paint job completed at your house? What room most needs painting now? How do you feel about wallpaper?

I'm a do-it-yourselfer. The last paint job I did was seven years ago when I painted our entire house just a little before we moved. The room in our house that most needs painting is probably our school/dining room. I don't care for wallpaper. Our kitchen, living room, and laundry corner all have wallpaper. I can live with it, but I would never choose to wallpaper anything.

5. What is one specific thing you felt gratitude for in the month of October?

The lovely fall colors.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

I earned several blisters yesterday when I sharpened, by hand, all 181 of our pencil colors. Yes, I counted.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


     Having an infant to care for plus a big garden can be a bit overwhelming at times for any young mother. After Aunt Susie had gone home, Grandpa Mast would bring Vernie over occasionally to help with the weeding, harvesting, and canning.
     She was a happy little helper for Mom as she would pull weeds, or break the green beans into pieces for canning, she would wash the canning jars, crank the victoria strainer to make tomato juice and applesauce.
     Her added help gave Mom a much needed boost.
     One afternoon we were canning peaches. Mom was peeling them, Vernie was washing the jars in preparation of filling them. John and I were standing on chairs by the table trying to fit the peach halves neatly into jars. In the middle of all this, Daddy came home from work. He came into the house and told us to come outside to see what he brought home.
     We all went and washed our hands and followed him outside to where he had a big friendly black dog tied to a tree. He wanted John and me to pet it but we were terrified, a dog was the last thing we would have put on our wish list.
     Daddy picked me up and carried me over to the dog to show me what a nice dog she was, but I was not impressed and started crying. Being the oldest if I set an example, John always followed, but his voice was a lot heartier than mine, he would practically bellow! So here John and I were howling away, and Vernie always hated seeing anyone cry so she had to cry too.
     Daddy looked disappointed that his surprise fell flat. We went back into the house and continued with our canning. Daddy helped with the remaining peaches and then went outside to hitch Jim to the buggy to take Vernie home. I got to go with them. After we had dropped Vernie off at Grandpa's I got to sit in the front seat with Daddy. That was the best place to be in the whole world as far as I was concerned. All the way home Daddy talked about dogs, the fun he used to have playing with his dog when he was a little boy, the benefits of having dogs that like children and how they help protect them, and how happy he is he found a fine dog for us, and that we'll grow to love her.
     We named the dog Smokey and it wasn't long before John and I tolerated her. We didn't play with her and she didn't bother us. It was something of an unspoken mutual agreement, you don't get too close and we won't cry, and with the noise we made when we cried she was happy to stay away.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The First Six Weeks

     A few days after David was born, one of Daddy's sisters, my Aunt Susie, came to help with all the work until Mom was able to manage on her own again. As tradition has it in all the older Amish settlements a single girl comes to do all the work while the mother stays in bed for a week to 10 days after her baby is born and then sits and enjoys her newborn and does light handwork etc. until the baby is six weeks old.
      Aunt Susie was a no nonsense and definitely not fun loving person. She did her work with a vengeance and had neither time nor patience for little children bothering her. It wasn't long before John and I stayed in the bedroom with Mom and played on the floor in there, rather than risking the disapproval of Aunt Susie.
      Susie took good care of the garden and the house, and when Mom could finally sit in the living room life seemed a lot better. But there was a strained atmosphere in the house until the day when Daddy and Mom paid and thanked her for helping out and sent her back home.
      That first evening alone was wonderful. Daddy and Mom laughed and talked like they used to and we were once more, a happy little family with a beautiful baby boy that made the previous six weeks worth living through after all.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Picture my Week

      We heard about the "Blue Spring" several years ago, it's somewhat of a local secret. There are no maps on how to get there, which helps keep it from becoming a spot clogged with visitors. We've searched for it a number of times, unsuccessfully. This week we finally found it. Pictures don't do it justice, the water is really clear, and really blue. I can't wait to see it next summer when everything is green, instead of dead and brown. We agree it was worth the effort it took to find it.

Steven spent hours playing with his cars, rolling them down a "bridge" he engineered.

The sunrises were lovely. Each uniquely different, and yet all enjoyed equally.

The girls were spending a few hours every day working on making Christmas ornaments. I think they're all turning out well, but I especially love the little "Snowman hats"

There was a lot happening this week, such as spending time with Amish people I hadn't seen in over twenty years, going to a Planetarium, the sewing class where I'm teaching an eager young group the joys of sewing, and much more. Those were all times when I was so involved in the moment I forgot I have a camera nearby.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Aunt Vernie

     Allow me to introduce you to my aunt Vernie. She was and is my most special aunt. She was born a Downs Syndrome child only a year younger than my Mom. She has the sweetest spirit of anyone I have ever met.
     As a child one of the perks of visiting Grandpa Masts was that I could play with Vernie. From the time I was a toddler to about 8 years old, she was my best friend. We would play with our dolls, and spend hours coloring, she would read her story books to us and give us rides on her wagon or swing, we would talk and sing and play any game we knew.
     Then the day came when I could read by myself, and discovered the books had a story completely different from what Vernie had always read to me, and tables turned a bit as I would read the books to her. She didn't seem to mind, but somehow the books got laid aside, and we focused on our dolls and coloring books.
      Time went on, and I no longer played with my dolls. I can still see her so plainly, eagerly coming to greet me with her dolls when ever I came, and I would tell her I'd rather help her color.
     She would look disappointed, but was still happy to spend time coloring together, and so it kept on. I was growing up and gradually leaving my childhood behind. And she could only stand there and watch me go where she could never join me, for she would always live in childhood.
     As one group of nieces and nephews grew up there was always another one and so the same cycle would repeat itself.
      There was always things we did together, like washing the dishes, working in the garden, cleaning house, food preparation for canning, and little odd jobs and we always had to sing a few songs.
      Some years ago I had the chance to once again spend time with her, and had to smile at how thrilled my own children were to play with her.
      Memories of her are bittersweet, sweet because, well, she was sweetness itself. But bitter because I could have made life a little nicer for her by not thinking I'm too big to play with her.
      I will always love her and have a very special place in my heart that only she can fill. I wish there was a way I could let her know.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Gift from God

     It was still dark outside when Daddy came into our bedroom early one Saturday morning. He gently shook us to wake us up and helped us get dressed. Packed a few clothes in a small suitcase and then hurried us out through the chilly night air to where Jim was patiently by the hitching rack hitched to our top buggy.
      We climbed into the front seat beside Daddy and off we went clip clopping through the night. We were soon at Grandpa Masts and Daddy helped us off the buggy and we went up to the house, which didn't look nearly as inviting in the middle of the night as it did during the day.
      Daddy knocked on the door and in a few minutes Grandpa and Grandma were standing there. Grandma asked Daddy "How is she?" and Daddy answered "She's alright but I need to hurry back."
Grandma nodded as Daddy turned around and knelt down beside us and gave us a hug and told us to be good little children until he comes back and then hurried out into the night again.
     Grandma made cozy little nests on the living room floor for John and me and went back into bed. We lay there in the dark, the clock was ticking loudly and nothing seemed right. There must be something wrong with Mom, she hadn't even said good-bye to us. A big choking lump formed in my throat and I wanted to cry more than anything else, but knew I shouldn't because Daddy had told us to be good.
     Somehow the night finally came to an end and morning looked a lot better. We helped Vernie set the table for breakfast and then had the whole day to play. When evening came so did Daddy smiling from ear to ear. We ran to meet him and he gave us a big hug and told us "Mom has a surprise for you at home." We loved surprises and hurried into the house to get our suitcase while Daddy talked to Grandma.
      When we got home Daddy took us into their bedroom where Mom was lying in bed. Beside her was the cutest little baby boy. Mom smiled at us and said, "Say hello to your brother David."
We stroked his hair and admired his tiny hands and feet and then asked the all important question, "Where did you get him?"
      "God gave him to us" they answered.
      How I wished I could have been home for that! Here God had come and given them a baby and I didn't even get to meet Him!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. What's surprised you most about your life or life in general?

I wouldn't necessarily say I've been surprised by life. Change comes gradually, even big changes are mostly premeditated. Sure there are unexpected happenings along the way, but that's life. Not exactly surprising.

But, if my teenaged self could have looked twenty some odd years into the future and seen the life I'm living now, that would have been surprising. Not being an Amish farmers wife like I was sure I would be and instead being decidedly not Amish, a homeschooling Mom, author of a book series, wife of a man who rebuilds semi trucks, and everything else our non Amish life involves I would have been stunned speechless.

2.  Sweet potato fries, sweet potato casserole, a baked sweet potato, a bowl of butternut squash soup, a caramel apple or a slice of pumpkin have to order one thing on this list right now. Which one do you go for?

I'd go for a slice of pumpkin pie, not the normal heavy orange stuff though, but a slice made with my Mom's recipe. A light, creamy, completely delicious treat of a pumpkin pie.

3. What's a famous book set in your home state? Have you read it? On a scale of 1-5 (5 is fantastic) how many stars does it rate?

Well ... Beverly Lewis, Suzanne Woods Fisher, and a lot of other Amish fiction authors have their books set in our home state. I have read all but the latest of Suzanne Woods Fisher's books. She is a very talented writer and when reviewing her books I would always rate them a five out of five.

4. There are 60 days until Christmas...have you started your shopping? How do you stay organized for the holidays?

I have started Christmas preparations, and already have a few gifts tucked away waiting to be wrapped. I keep my idea books/planners nearby. I love planning and organizing life in general and holidays even more so.

5. October 26th is National Tennessee Day. Have you ever lived or spent any time in Tennessee? Is this a state you'd like to visit one day? The top rated tourist attractions in Tennessee are-

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Gatlinburg area), Elvis's Graceland (Memphis), Birth of the Music Biz (Memphis and Nashville), Dollywood (Pigeon Forge), Tennessee's Military Heritage (many battlefields), The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's home), The Parthenon (Nashville), Oak Ridge American Museum of Science and Energy, Chattagnooa and the Tennessee Valley Railroad, Downtown Knoxville, Lookout Mountain, The Titanic Museum (Pigeon Forge), The Museum of Appalachia (Clinton), and The Lost Sea Adventure (Sweetwater)

How many on this list have you seen? Which one on the list would you most like to see?

The only thing I've really done in Tennessee is drive through it, but I would love to visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park someday.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

There's something about sunrises ... I love how no two mornings are the same. I also love how those few minutes our family will watch them in silent wonder, just soaking in the beauty.

 His mercies are new every morning.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hard Work and Birthdays

      That first summer was very busy. After the old house was torn down and cleared away they moved our little trailer onto their property to live in until they got a house built.
      Daddy was always looking for work to add to their meager income, and since they had moved he took any small job he could find. For several weeks he worked at a vineyard, and whenever Wixson's Honey needed him he would work there, but they still had to struggle to make ends meet. Then one day a big burly logger stopped in and asked if he could split firewood for him. Daddy was happy to do it. They brought big dump truck loads of firewood and dumped it behind the house and Daddy set to work swinging a big heavy ax. I loved watching him as he worked in a steady rhythm, every blow of the ax split a chunk of wood down the middle then he would split each of the halves yet. Hour after hour he would work, without rest, whistling as chopped wood for $4.00 an hour, happy to be providing money for his family.
      After several months of splitting wood, the logger offered Daddy the job of working for him in the woods for a much better salary. Daddy accepted, and it wasn't long before they had saved up enough money to build a little white barn with a green tin roof.
      John and I enjoyed playing in it. There was a stall for Jim, a pen for a cow they hoped to buy someday, and another pen for a few pigs. There was room to park our spring wagon, the top buggy, and our little open buggy, and a ladder that led up to the hay loft. We were not allowed to climb up to the loft unless Daddy was with us, but we didn't mind, there was enough fun to be had in a new clean barn without that.
      One day we were playing in the barn, when we heard a horse and buggy drive in. When we ran outside to see who it is, we saw Aunt Vernie sitting beside Grandma Mast who was driving their open buggy. Grandpa was sitting on the back holding a rope leading a cute Jersey cow.
      Mom came running out of the trailer to meet them and Grandpa handed the rope to her and said "Happy Birthday". Mom was delighted and hardly knew what to say. Her voice sounded funny as she thanked Grandpa.
      We followed her as she led the cow into the barn and put her in the pen Daddy had made. Then we helped her give it some hay. Grandpa tied his horse to the hitching rack and then they came into the barn too. Grandma gave Mom a shiny new milk bucket. It was the most beautiful pail I had ever seen. Shiny stainless steel that worked as a mirror. John and I sat down and made funny faces and watched as the reflection in the pail was contorted to make them look even funnier. Aunt Vernie joined us and we giggled and laughed for quite awhile until Grandma asked Vernie to take the birthday cake into the house. We all went inside and Grandma starting making a birthday supper for Mom, Vernie set the table and then helped us color in our coloring books.
      Throughout the next hour or so all the aunts and uncles and cousins that lived in the area arrived bringing desserts along for supper.
      Everything was ready to eat when Daddy came home from a hard day in the woods, his boss dropped him off at the end of the driveway and Daddy went to the back of the truck and got several big boxes off the back and set them on the ground. John and I and all our little cousins ran out to meet him. Daddy gave us a big hug then sent me to tell Mom to come outside to see her birthday gift. I ran inside and found Mom among all the other women and told her Daddy has a lot of birthday gifts for her and that he wants her to come see them now.
      We went back outside where everyone was waiting to see what is in these big boxes and John was telling Daddy about the cow in the barn and the shiny new pail. Daddy made us all stand back and watch as Mom opened the boxes, we could hardly contain our eagerness and were thrilled when Mom lifted out a black speckled hen. We crowded around the boxes then and admired the 23 others that were still in the boxes.
      Mom and I went back into the house and the uncles helped Daddy quickly build a small chicken coop from lumber that had been left over from our barn. And then everyone enjoyed a big birthday supper.
      The evening was soon over and everyone went home, as Daddy tucked me into bed I thought there couldn't be anyone as happy as we were. A new chicken coop filled with hens, and our own little brown cow, and the prospects of another exciting day tomorrow.

Monday, October 23, 2017


       Growing up in an Amish family, Sundays soon became the favorite day of the week.
       As with all Amish communities, we only had church services every other week and were held at different homes every month. On church Sundays we would all get up early and dress in our Sunday best. My favorite outfit was a purple dress and then the usual crisply starched white organdy apron.
      Daddy would hitch Jim to our top buggy and tie him to the hitching rack while Mom would scurry around clearing away the breakfast dishes and check and re-check our faces and ears. After everyone was clean enough for her satisfaction John and I would climb into the back of the buggy.
Our buggy had two seats but only one back which was shared by both seats. John and I didn't enjoy sitting and staring at the buggy door, so we would turn around and kneel on the seat and look over Daddy and Mom's shoulders and watch where we were going.
      After we arrived at church Daddy would stop at the house and Mom and I would go inside and remove our heavy black bonnets and shawls, and then she'd tip my face up and check it yet again and make sure my covering was tied. We would then go greet the women and girls that were already there and then stood and visited until almost 9 o'clock when we would all file into the room where services would be held and sit on wooden backless benches.
      I loved sitting beside Mom and felt very important as I held my hand out to shake hands with the three ministers as the made their way through all the benches shaking hands with the womenfolk.
Once they were done they would sit on the chairs that had been placed at the front of the room for them. The bishop would clear his throat and announce. "Since we're all gathered together we can start singing in the name of our Lord" There would be a general shuffling as everyone reached for their songbook and the song leader would announce which song to sing. He would sing the first syllable, of the first word by himself and then everyone else would join in and help. When the second line was started the ministers would stand up and go off to a little room by themselves to do whatever they do in those little rooms, pray, figure out whose turn it is to preach, and any other discussions they deem necessary.
      Mom would let me share her songbook and I would help sing as she would follow the words with her finger so I know where they are going. It used to take approximately five minutes to sing a stanza with seven lines.
      After the first song was over there would be a short pause and then the song leader would announce the page number for the "Lob Lied" which is the second song you sing no matter which Amish church you go to, and I've never seen it take less than twenty minutes to sing it.
      Usually by the end of that song the ministers would be done with their little meeting and file in and sit on their chairs again. After the last note faded away the first preacher would stand up and preach for half an hour and then we all turn around and kneel to pray. As a little girl, I would try to peek at everybody around me. It was always interesting to see how everyone else was kneeling unless there was a grownup sitting directly behind me blocking my view. A nudge from Mom would make me close my eyes and try to listen to the singsong chant of the prayer.
      After the second preacher was preaching I was allowed to play quietly with my flowery handkerchief. I would fold it to make a little mouse or twin babies in a cradle. It wasn't long until I would be tired and lay my head on Mom's lap and drift off to sleep to be awakened once the preaching was over and the last song was being sung.
      After sitting still for three hours it was great to be able to run and find your friends while the men set up tables by pushing several benches together and setting them on a specially designed pedestal thingies. The women would set bowls of mixed peanut butter and red beets or pickles and stacks of sliced homemade bread along the middle of the table, and then a cup, knife, and fork at each place. The men would sit at one table and the women at another one and after a short silent prayer everyone would reach for a slice of bread and start spreading peanut butter on it. Delicious creamy sweet peanut butter, one piece was never enough, I would ask for more but after several pieces Mom would tell me I had enough and then I'd have to sit there and watch longingly as others were still enjoying another piece.
      Once everyone was done there would be another short silent prayer and then we were free to play the rest of the afternoon while the adults visited. The men would set up a few benches for us to slide on and there were almost always dolls and coloring books to play with too. As evening approached Daddy would go hitch up Jim again and we'd head for home tired but happy.
      On the Sundays we didn't have church we would often go visit Grandpa Masts or one of our aunts or uncles. Other times we would stay at home and sing and play all day long, Daddy used to try to squeeze in a nap somewhere amid all our noisy fun.
      Sundays never lasted long enough and it took a whole week before another one rolled around, which to a child is a long time.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Picture my Week

      Our mornings have been chilly, actually cold would describe them better. Everything was coated with a layer of frost which looked so pretty as the sun came up.

      Kenneth spends one afternoon a week helping out our elderly neighbor. This week that day happened to be the same one that LV wrapped up the repairs and paint job on this truck and was ready to deliver it, which meant I got to be the one to follow him to give him a ride back home.

      I love carrot cake, but as a whole, cake is not a family favorite when it comes to desserts. Rosie Mae went ahead satisfied both preferences by making "Carrot Cake" cookies. They were ridiculously delicious.

      Rosie Mae had a late night and happened to fall asleep the next day. Steven took that as a challenge to see just how many things he can pile on her before she wakes up.

      Someone dumped off a stack of old magazines. The girls had a blast going through them and removing pictures and words that they want to use for one of their journaling projects. When they happened across this page they tore it out and convinced us all to take turns having our picture taken with it.

       I don't think I ever shared the story of two little girls who were supposed to wash up some dishes before guests arrived, and how after the kitchen was sparkling and we had welcomed our out of state visitors inside, I proceeded to start preparing a meal, while LV and the visiting man went outside to look around etc. As they walked behind the house they were greeted by a stack of dirty dishes!!!! Embarrassed doesn't quite cover how I felt, but it was understood that, that will not be happening again. But look what I found this week. Steven to the rescue.

      Steven makes a cute mechanic. The weather warmed up beautifully during the day, so he ran outside as soon as he got through with his school work to "help" his Papa and Kenneth.

     And here is the stack of papers I have with the remnants of my Amish memory posts. I wish I would have continued printing the posts out after every month, but at least I have a little over two years worth here. It will make my re-writing task considerably easier.

Friday, October 20, 2017


     As a child Saturdays were a day that I both looked forward to and dreaded.
     We used to start the day off by thoroughly cleaning the entire house. Mom would give dusting cloths to John and me and we would dust everything we could reach. Then we'd each be given a wet sponge and we'd help Mom wash the windows, what fun it was seeing who could make their sponge squeak the loudest against the window panes. After that Mom would let us sit in Daddy's recliner and look at picture books while she swept and mopped the floors. That used to be a real treat as it was the only day we were allowed to sit in Daddy's chair and the books also were saved for that event.
     Once the floors were dry though the dreaded part came. It was time to do my hair. I had very long hair that was braided and put into a bun and once a week Mom would take it down, wash, and re-braid it so it would be fresh and neat for Sunday.
     We had a tall bar stool that we referred to as the "braiding chair." Mom would set it in the kitchen and call me and I would hop up on it. She had a shoebox full of special little toys I could play with while she did my hair. She would undo my braids and start brushing my hair. I would try not to cry, but after a week without having had anything done to it there were always lots of snarls and hurt dreadfully.
     She would sing funny little songs about a dancing colt and a little boy who was thankful for each article of clothing he was wearing. She'd tell stories about a sneezing  horse, a ship lost at sea, and other stories I loved all of which were special and used only during hair time to try to keep my mind off of the pain, but it was never long before I was howling.
     After the snarls were all out I would lay on the counter while Mom washed my hair and then I had to go through that dreadful brushing again and be braided. After she was done I would hop off the chair, put the box of toys away, and rejoice in the fact that it would be a whole week before I have to go through that again.
     Now was when the real fun began. It was time to bake pie. John and I would each push a chair beside Mom and watch as she measured the flour and made the pie dough it was fun watching her roll it out and fit it carefully in the pan and then watch her fingers fairly fly around the edge leaving a trail of neat little braids , but the best part of all was when she was done with her pie and she would let me have the remaining dough to roll out.
     I would carefully roll it out and then cut it into pieces and spread strawberry jam on it. Then Mom would roll them up and bake them for us until they were a nice golden brown. We'd have to wait until they cooled off a little before we could eat them. They were delicious and would almost melt in your mouth. The perfect ending to a Saturday!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

New Dreams

     When spring arrived that first year and gardening time approached my parents went looking to find an acreage they could buy.
     They found one several miles away off of a narrow dirt road, 15 acres with an old tumble down house and grown up in weeds.
     Being young and full of dreams they didn't really see the hopelessness of the property but only their visions of how they would build a home here and raise their children.
     They wanted to do the work on their own rather than hire someone to do it. Every morning after chores and breakfast were over Daddy would hitch up our faithful horse, Jim, to our spring wagon, and fix blanket "nests" for John and me on the back, and off we would go through the fresh morning air.
     The first thing they worked on was getting all the overgrown weeds and brush cleared away so they could start a garden. What fun it was helping Mom drop the seeds into the long rows. We would carefully step in her tracks in the fresh dirt and happily plant peas and onions. The rest of the vegetables would be planted later once the days grew warmer.
     In the meantime Daddy was starting to tear down the old house. He was tearing the shingles off the roof, and the ladder was just too tempting to a little girl. When Mom wasn't looking I climbed up to help Daddy. Once I was up on the roof though I was petrified, it was dreadfully far from the ground! I was sitting there at the edge of the roof when Mom spied me, she called for Daddy and then hurried up the ladder after me. Daddy came over and scooped me up in his strong arms and carried me down, Mom was almost crying which made me feel really bad, I hadn't meant to scare everyone. I just wanted to help.
     After that day they would drop us off at Grandpa Masts where we would be well taken care of, and out of harm's way. Aunt Vernie would read stories to us, push us on the swing, and help us play whatever we wanted too. Aunt Emma would let us lick her cooking spoons and watch her weave rugs, Grandma would let us dry the dishes for her and occasionally we would run out to the harness shop and watch Grandpa work. By evening when Daddy and Mom came to pick us up we were tired out and usually went to sleep tucked into our blanket nest in the back of our slow moving, bouncing spring wagon, listening to our parents soft voices and the clip clop of Jim's hoofs.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Winter Nights

     That first winter in New York was cold. We had a little wood stove in the living room that did its best to keep our drafty trailer warm. Even so the warmth from the stove did not reach our bedrooms.
     Mom sewed some extra big flannel night clothes for John and me, and our bedtime rituals would include snuggling on either Daddy or Mom's lap before being tucked into our bunk-bed under cozy comforters Mom had made that fall.
     On one particular night it was extremely cold, so Daddy lit the kerosene space heater and set it into our bedroom. As I lay in the top bunk I could see the glow of the heater and with the added warmth I soon drifted off to sleep.
     When the next morning arrived I slept right through breakfast and by noontime my parents were genuinely concerned that I was still sleeping, after efforts to wake me up failed they had to call someone to come take them and their sick daughter to the hospital. Imagine their pain when the doctor informed them that I had been poisoned by the fumes from the heater and gave them very little hope of my survival.
      God was watching over them and by evening I was awake, extremely weak, but on my way to recovery.
      It wasn't long before our routine was back to normal, and our evenings would be filled with various projects, puzzles, bedtime stories, singing, and popcorn. Life was good, Daddy and Mom loved, and worked, and played with us. What more could any child want?
      There was a lasting consequence to the poisoning though, ever since that day my sense of smell is gone.