Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Summer is upon us this week in the Northern hemisphere. Tell us three things on your summer bucket list.

Three things on my summer bucket list are:

Visit Coopers Rock, WV
Spend more time outdoors, hiking.
Schedule and prepare as much of our upcoming school year as possible.

We have checked Coopers Rock off our list already. It was breathtakingly beautiful, but the sheer height made me dizzy even though I was completely safe.

The hiking part will have to wait to be checked off until fall, because I want to get as much of that done as possible.

I'm really enjoying the last part, even though it is labor intensive. It is so nice to be able to see at a glance exactly what I will need for a week of school. The library books I'll have to get, the craft supplies I'll need, and the things to do science experiments. Plus as usual all the extras I add to the curriculum in order to dig deeper.

2. Something fun you used to do as a kid in the summertime?

Summertime was busy with all the gardening and food preserving we did, but there was always some time for fun. We used to love riding down our long hill on our wagon. Summer wagon riding was more fun than sledding in winter.

3. Rooftop or backyard? Why?

Definitely backyard.

Heights make me really dizzy, no matter how safe they are.

4. Do you read food labels? Place importance on them? Make an effort to find out/care about where your food comes from?

I read some food labels, and depending what I'm looking to avoid I place quite a bit of importance on them. 

5. A song you'll have on repeat this summer?

I don't know. Usually I wake up with a song playing in my mind. It lasts all day, no matter what else I listen to. I will catch myself humming, whistling, and singing it throughout the entire day. Thankfully each day has its own song.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Since I mentioned our recent visit to Coopers Rock I thought I'd share a picture even though it doesn't begin to do it justice.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Good-bye Jim

John and I were walking home from school. The snow banks beside the road had dwindled down to sad dirty piles. The melting snow created a creek in what was usually an empty ditch. We dawdled along floating twigs in the stream and watched as the current carried them away, when we heard a horse and buggy approaching.

We looked up and were surprised to see Mom driving Jim. She stopped beside us and we climbed on the buggy wondering where we were going to, since a ride home from school was unheard of unless it was raining.

It didn't take long for us to notice that Mom seemed sad. When we asked her what was wrong she said a man was coming by that evening to buy Jim, and that she had wanted to drive him for one last time yet before he left us.

John and I weren't happy to hear that we would have to sell Jim. Mom assured us he was going to go to a good home and that he deserved to spend the rest of his life in a nice place where he would no longer have to pull our heavy buggy up and down those long hills.

Once we got home Daddy came out of the shop to unhitch Jim. Mom stood there stroking Jim and talking to him for a long time and then turned to go to the house. Her cheeks looked wet from tears and that was the last straw for me. The sobs I had been trying to choke back came. I went to pat Jim's velvety nose and tell him good-bye. He had been our faithful horse ever since I could remember and the thought that he would no longer be in the barn or out in his pasture to welcome us with his gentle whinny was almost more than I could bear to think about.

I went to the house to help Mom prepare supper. After we had eaten we heard a truck and trailer pull into the driveway. Daddy went outside to help load Jim. When he came back inside we got ready for bed.

The following days seemed a little sad when ever we went to the barn and saw Jim's stall with out Jim there waiting for us. Several weeks later we got a picture in the mail of Jim in a nice green pasture. He looked happy and it made me feel a lot better to know that he really was doing fine.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Picture My Week

We knew we had a litter of kittens somewhere, and Sharon spent a lot of time hunting for them. She finally found them this week. They're the cutest little things, but so wild. This was the only one they were able to hold.

There's a deer that keeps strolling across the hill behind the house. The picture isn't the greatest, but it's the best I've been able to do. Apparently it has not received the memo that holding still would produce a better photo.

I spy blueberries! Can't wait until they ripen and we get to enjoy freshly baked blueberry treats.

I spotted this book in the library and had to get it because ... Pioneer Woman! As it happened Steven loved it too. The illustrations amused him greatly.

We spent a few hours at one of our favorite outdoors spots. Steven had to check on the tadpoles that he hoped were still there, but had already grown up and hopped away.

I had been hoping the wild roses will be in full bloom, but sadly it appears I missed them this year. All that was left was one plant with several rain washed blooms.

I enjoyed the other flowers that were blooming.

Rosie Mae and one of her dear friend went off the beaten path and found an old stone house and had to sit in the window opening for a picture.

One afternoon we enjoyed wading near the edge of the lake and skipping rocks across the surface. 

Home made pizzas are the best! With LV and Kenneth gone for the day the four of us at home each made our own pizzas. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. What happens to the mail at your house?

Mail time is one of our favorite parts of the day. As the time approaches for the mailman to arrive the children tend to keep one eye on the window and then there's a race to be the first one out the door to get it.

Letters will be read, passed around for the rest of the family to read, and then tucked away to be read and reread as the years pass.

Bills are placed in their designated spot in our roll-top desk.

Catalogs are paged through, and then words and pictures harvested from them for future scrapbooking.

Junk mail has a variety of things happen to it. Pictures can be drawn on the blank backs of pieces of paper. Little notes are often scrawled on the backs of the envelopes. Paper airplanes are made and flown around the house, but ultimately it will end in the trash.

2. Something you always splurge on? Any guilt associated with the splurge?

Something I splurge on.  I'm not really a splurge-y kind of person. The only thing that comes to mind is butter. For years I cooked and baked with margarine instead of butter, but a little over a year ago I made the switch to all butter. It still feels a little splurge-y when I buy several pounds of butter every time we go grocery shopping, but there is no guilt involved.

3. There are many, but what are two important questions you think every bride and groom should ask/answer before they plan their walk down the aisle?

The biggest one to me would be that they are "equally yoked", making sure that both of them have a good relationship with God.

The second would have to do with their views on money ... how they spend and save it.

4. What's the best advice your father ever gave you?

"Never slam doors." 

There was a lot of things he told my siblings and me, but that's the first thing that popped in my mind, and probably the one thing that makes me think of him most often.

Not slamming doors was bigger than just the not slamming part. It involved respect, check of emotions, and more. I could probably make an entire blog post out of it.

5. Your favorite movie where a father features heavily in the storyline?

Apparently I don't watch enough movies, because I can't think of a single one. If the question included TV shows I would mention Little House on the Prairie.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Last week we attended the wedding of my youngest brother. It was the first time in over ten years that all my siblings were together.

The wedding was lovely, and I liked the fact that the same Amish bishop who had married us also married them.

So many emotions!

Monday, June 11, 2018


One day when we came home from school and went out to the barn to help Daddy with the chores we were surprised to see a new horse standing beside Jim. I didn't particularly care for the new horse. He was a burnt orange color and next to faithful Jim he looked awkward and out of place.

Daddy explained that he bought this two year old to train so Jim would no longer have to work so hard pulling our buggy up all these Somerset County hills. The horse didn't have a name so we got to help choose it. We went through a whole list of names and finally settled on Bob.

We used to hurry home from school to watch Daddy train Bob. He spent a lot of time talking and currying him and rubbing him down with old feed sacks. He explained that the feed sacks actually felt good to Bob and he needed to get used to seeing white things flutter close to him so he doesn't head for the ditch or try to run away if anything should happen to flap beside the road while he was hitched to the buggy. Bob's training progressed nicely. Once no part of the feed sack made him jumpy at all Daddy told us to bring an umbrella and open it right in front of Bob.

John and I ran to the house to get our big old black umbrella and took it out to the barn. Standing in front of Bob we opened it. It startled him and he jumped back. Daddy spoke calmly to him and then told us to do it again. It took a little while before Bob stood with out flinching the slightest bit as the umbrella opened and closed right in front of him.

Daddy was pleased at his progress because it would never do to have a skittish horse hitched to the buggy with the rest of his family at risk.

The day came when he tried a harness on him. Bob calmly accepted it and his training continued as Daddy walked behind him in the pasture holding the reins on the harness teaching him everything he needed to know to be a safe buggy horse.

Once Daddy was satisfied that he understood what was expected of him he hitched Jim to the buggy and tied Bob along side of him and took them for a drive down the road. When they came back Daddy was all smiles saying that Bob did really well and with several more weeks of running along beside Jim, Bob would be ready to go solo.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1.Describe your 30's in one sentence. If you're not yet 30 tell us one thing you hope to accomplish once you hit that particular decade.

So many changes, most of them good.

2. Is it harder for you to exercise or eat healthy?

Probably eating healthy presents the bigger challenge to me, though exercising isn't exactly my cup of tea either.

3. June 7th is National VCR Day. Huh? Anyway this reminded me of something I saw on Facebook listing household items we no longer have and the VCR was on it. I couldn't put my hands on that list, but found another list here of 21 items we all had ten years ago, but which are now obsolete-

bookshelves (WHAT!!???), drip coffee makers, alarm clocks, file cabinets, desktop computers, printers, printed phone books, answering machines, fax machines, paper shredders, a Rolodex, CD racks, CD burners, china cabinets, home phones, entertainment consoles, DVD players, calculators, takeout menus, incandescent light bulbs, and cable TV

Your thoughts? How many on the list do you still have? Still use?

I still have and use bookshelves. I can't imagine ever doing without them. My alarm clock gets me up every morning. Love our desktop computer, and our printer when it behaves properly. Our answering machine still collects messages when I don't answer the home phone, and my china cabinet is filled with pretty dishes. The rest of the things on the list I don't have. My method of making coffee is even more primitive than a drip coffee maker.

4. What's something you see disappearing in the next ten years?

I see checks disappearing. Credit cards and online bill pay already seem to be most popular.

5. How did you celebrate your birthday this past year? Is that typical?

This year we had a visitor arriving on my birthday so we waited to celebrate until he left over a week later.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Life with teenagers is never boring ...

The three oldest and I were out and about last evening. Rosie Mae drove to come home and as we bumped across the railroad tracks she apologized. "Sorry to turn you into a tossed salad."
Kenneth: Like waves on the ocean.
Rosie Mae: Salads do not belong in oceans.
Kenneth: Tell that to the seaweed.
Sharon: Oh ... kelp me!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Withdraw Thy Foot

Teacher Hannah had each of us students in school memorize a verse from the Bible each week and required us to recite it on Friday afternoon. Anyone who could do it perfectly would get a small prize. I used to spend lots of time rehearsing and practicing to make sure I would get my weekly prize.

One week we had to memorize a verse out of Proverbs. I brought the reference home and Mom helped me find it in the Bible and after she had read it she said something about what a nice verse it was and that we should have it on our wall.

That was all I needed to hear. I got a piece of paper and a blue permanent marker. I carefully copied the verse and tacked it on the wall above the kitchen table. After I was done I read a little more and was intrigued how each verse in Proverbs had it's own little nugget of wisdom and asked Mom if she minds if I find more verses to copy then we could rotate them and not be tired of any of them.

She gave me permission and I set to work to find verses that I especially liked. When Saturday came I happily removed my first verse and tacked up a new one. I noticed Mom and Daddy seemed a little amused at my choice but they didn't say anything.

The next day was our inbetween Sunday and much to our delight Mom's younger brother John Henry and his family came. He was a very special uncle and visits from them were always a treat. We were all having a good time when Mom suggested we all move to the kitchen for snacks and popcorn. As we settled on our chairs and resumed visiting John Henry got to his feet and said, "Well, I think it's time we head for home."

We were all surprised and then Mom noticed that he was reading the verse I had tacked to the wall which read. "Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbors house lest he grow weary of thee and so hate thee." She quickly assured him that we weren't tired of their company and that I had chosen that verse for this weeks motto.

He settled back in his chair and the rest of the afternoon passed swiftly. And once they were heading home Mom suggested that I find another verse that wouldn't risk offending anyone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Canning Time

Summer days were filled to the brim. With a growing family Mom had planted a bigger garden and days were filled with picking up any stones we could find between the rows of vegetables and piling them beside the garden for Daddy to use on one of his many projects. I enjoyed picking stones much more than pulling weeds which also thrived in abundance.

It was always fun to start the canning season. Peas were always the first vegetables ready to harvest. Shelling peas was a tiresome job. With several five gallon buckets heaped full, we would get bowls and sit on the front porch swing and start shelling them. To make a boring job more fun we often played guessing games while we worked or sang songs.

Once we were done shelling them Mom would wash them to remove any of the dirt that happened to get into the bowls of peas while John and I went to the attic to find the jars Mom needed. Once we found the jars, they needed to be scrubbed in hot soapy water, which I thought was a total waste of time since they looked clean already.

Once the jars were scrubbed to Mom's specifications we would fill them with peas and carefully measure a teaspoon of salt into each jar and then filled them with water and turned the lids on tightly. Mom would set the filled jars in a canner and cover them with water and light the burner under the canner. Once we saw a few puffs of steam escape from the canner we would check the clock and calculate the time the peas could be removed from the canner three hours later.

Several days later another batch of peas would be ready to can and we would go through the whole process again. And so it continued all summer long, as one vegetable ended another one started and by fall it seemed everything wanted to ripen before the first frost and days were hectically busy with piles of sweetcorn and bushels of tomatoes and green beans plus the fruit, peaches, pears, and early apples. We would no longer have time to pick rocks and the weeds used to wave victoriously at us as we worked from morning till night everyday canning food to take us through until the next summer.

Every once in a while after a particularly warm and tiring day Mom would send John and me to the corner grocery store in the village to buy a box of ice cream for a treat for supper. The half mile walk was worth it as we stood in McLaughlin's Store and Mr. McLaughlin would open the freezer and let us choose a box of ice-cream. He was a kindly old man and would often give us each a Popsicle to eat on the way home. We never could make those Popsicles last until we got home as we thoroughly enjoyed the refreshing cold sweetness they provided after working all day.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Wedding

The first wedding to be held in our new church house was scheduled to happen in less than a week. I was looking forward to it since we were also invited to the reception.

Mom went to help get ready a few days before the wedding. There was a lot of baking and food preparation to do to get ready for all the guests. Since we lived close to the bride's home they borrowed our fine china too in order to have all the tables set with pretty dishes.

Once the day of the wedding came we went to church. Everything seemed like a regular church service except the first bench facing the preachers was reserved for the bridal party which was still hidden away in one of the coatrooms in front of the church house.

The first song was finally done being sung and the 'Lob Lied' started. After the usual twenty minutes of singing it, it was time to sing the third song. Mom had told me to watch the door of the coat room carefully once they start singing the third line of the third song. I had been waiting for that line all morning and now as the first drawn out word faded and the next one followed all eyes were glued to the door as it opened and the bridal party came walking carefully into the room. I watched as they all stood in front of the bench and sat down at the same time. The bride looked very happy but I wasn't thinking about her happy face. I had happened to see that the girls all had to have their hand held by the boy that was escorting them, I nearly shuddered at the thought that I would ever have to do that and vowed I would never get married.

After two regular length sermons the bishop told them if they still wanted to be married they could come stand before him. He had a long row of questions to ask them to which they answered with a soft little yes. The rest of the church stood for a prayer and then the bishop joined their hands and pronounced them man and wife. They returned to their seats while the rest of the preachers gave them words of advice and commented on the sermons. The closing song was sung and it was finally time to go to the reception.

As we got to the home of the brides parents I looked in awe at all the tables that had been set with pretty dishes. There were lots of girls hurrying from the kitchen to the tables carrying bowls filled with steaming food. Everything looked really good and I looked forward to sitting down at one of those long pretty tables. I followed Mom upstairs where she placed our wedding gift on a bed that was heaped with gifts for the happy couple.

The brides father was in charge of seating the people. Close relatives got to be seated first and closest to the bridal table. Once we were seated I was happy to see that we had an excellent view of the bridal party from where we were sitting. Sitting right next to me was a little girl about my age. Once silent prayer was over and everyone started passing the food we started talking. Her name was Effie and she was a sister to the groom. Her mother was one of the cooks so she had to sit at the same table we were at, but she was happy to be able to see her big brother from where she was sitting.

It didn't take her long to eat everything on her plate and then she sat there gazing into the living room at all the other people. Directly across the table from us was a little three year old who was misbehaving and in a fit of anger threw his bread crust that his mother was trying to get him to eat right into Effie's plate. A little later Effie happened to notice the crust and hurriedly picked it up and ate it looking mortified that she still had a crust on her plate.

I felt sorry for her that she ate someone else's crust but I didn't tell her that it hadn't been hers. And as much as I had looked forward to that wedding it is the bread crust I remember the most vividly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Currently ...

Reading ... I'm almost finished with the book of Psalms in my morning Bible time. In fiction I'm half way through Marigold by L.M. Montgomery. At first I thought it was incredibly boring, but I'm glad I kept reading because it has become much better.

Playing ... not a lot lately, though I did tell Steven I'd play his choice of board game this afternoon.

Watching ...  Best Baker in America. I enjoy it, even though it gives me a an unneeded desire to bake and make pretty foods.

Cooking ... I have some hamburger thawing to make enchiladas for supper. Last night I made baby back ribs. They were okay, but not the best I've had. They had been on sale at Aldi, but even with the drastic price cut I'm not sure they were worth it.

Calling ... I don't remember the last time I called someone. This morning the phone rang and because I was expecting a call I picked up even though I did not recognize the number. The voice on the other end of the line asked if she could please speak to Jack Sparrow. I was surprised and immediately burst out laughing. I wish now I would have said something along the lines that he is out looking for Davy Jones locker.

Crafting ... we just finished up several fun diamond painting canvases. They're now ready to be framed. They turned out lovely.

Loving ... the warmer weather, and that it's not raining. I'm hoping my flowerbeds will finally dry off enough that I'll be able to transplant the flowers I got at the greenhouse several weeks ago already.

Disliking ... this stubborn cough/cold that Steven is recovering from.

Listening ... to the sound of the washer and dryer running in our laundry corner. The noise the pair makes drowns out the prettier sounds that I know are there, such as singing birds and a rushing waterfall.

Drinking ... water mostly, but also a less than delicious drink twice a day. It's not that bad, but will also never be a favorite. It's made with raw ginger, parsley, cinnamon, vinegar, lemon juice, and water.

Wanting ... to go to the library soon. We have things due back tomorrow. So far I have never had a library fine in my life, and I want to keep it that way.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Tasting Snow

One of the many games we enjoyed playing was using a jump rope and wear it over our shoulder and then under our arms and pretend we were a horse while someone else drove us.

One Saturday there was a few inches of fresh snow covering everything and John, David and I decided to play horse again. Our barn was a big old spruce tree that had branches that touched the ground on three sides, the other side had an old propane tank that had been converted to an air tank to run some of the smaller machinery in Daddy's wood working shop. The hooks on the tank worked great as a place to tie our 'horse.'

On this particular day John was the farmer and David and I were the horses. I stood under the tree waiting for John and David to get back from their little run and have my turn. I was hoping they don't go too far because I wanted some fresh snow to run through before we had all our little paths made.

Once they came back John unhitched David. As I prepared to have my turn David announced how great it was to have a fresh layer of snow that he can pretend to eat hay by licking the snow on the tank and proceeded to take a lick.

Unfortunately he didn't get to enjoy the snow because his tongue stuck to the tank and he couldn't get it to loosen. He started crying as I ran to get Mom, but before she could bring a pitcher of warm water he gave a hard yank and pulled himself loose, but cried even harder when he discovered he had left a good bit of his tongue still stuck to the tank.

Mom and Daddy tried to comfort him in any way they could think of. They were worried that he might never be able to taste again and have trouble speaking. For several weeks we had to put all his food through the baby food grinder but bit by bit his tongue healed until you could no longer tell anything had happened to it.

We had learned our lesson well and never tried licking snow on any metal surface again.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Birthday Cake

Mom's birthday was always a special occasion. Daddy used to have a nice gift for her and we children would try our hand at creating something special too.

The busy summer days were passing and as her birthday approached I kept trying to think what I could make for her this year. John and David were making a wooden shelf with a cute little rail around it, but so far I still couldn't think of anything.

I dug through boxes of fabric scraps hoping that I would become inspired but nothing seemed to work. Then one Saturday as we were doing our weekly baking I found a recipe book that had colored photos of desserts. As I paged through it I found what I was looking for. A beautiful marbled layer cake with thick fluffy frosting.

I knew Mom had a doctors appointment a few days before her birthday which would give me the golden opportunity to have the kitchen to myself to bake the cake while she was gone, and the mess cleaned away before she came home.

I took the cookbook to my room and pored over the recipe. I had visions of how pleased Mom would be when she saw and tasted the beautiful cake I was going to bake.

The day finally arrived when she had to go to her appointment. I kept watching out the window waiting for the driver to come. After what seemed like a long time I saw him appear over the hill. I told Mom he was coming and she hurried to get her bonnet and handbag and told me after I swept the kitchen floor I was free to play until it was time to peel potatoes for supper. I watched as they backed out the driveway and drove down the road.

I got the mixing bowl out and started on the cake. It wasn't long before I remembered I needed to preheat the oven. I opened the stove door that held the oven burners and pulled them out. After tipping the chimneys back I turn the wick up and carefully struck a match to light them. As the flame caught the wick and started spreading around it I lowered the chimney. It got stuck a little bit and as I jiggled it to loosen it, it suddenly dropped down and snuffed my flame. I tried it again but the same thing happened. After numerous attempts I finally gave up and went down in the shop and told Daddy what my plans were and how I couldn't get the burners lit. He came and lit them for me, and after I had adjusted the wick until the flame was burning a nice blue like Mom always did I was finally ready to continue with my cake.

I showed Daddy the picture of the cake I was planning to make. He smiled and said "It looks really good," as he patted my shoulder and then went back to his work in the shop.

I glanced at the clock and was dismayed to see that I had wasted quite a bit of time trying to get the burners lit and decided I would have to cut a few corners if I wanted to have the cake cooled enough to have it frosted before Mom came home. I decided to make only one layer instead of two. It didn't take very long to make the batter, and I was feeling better about my plans again. The recipe told me to melt some chocolate chips and stir them into part of the batter. To save time I decided to just pour the chocolate chips into the batter and let them melt while the cake was baking and have a lot of cute little swirls in the cake. I poured in the chips and stirred vigorously and then decided to pour another cupful of chips in to make it extra special.

As I poured the batter into the cake pan I had visions of Mom asking me how I ever managed to make so many little chocolate swirls in the cake, and how pleased she would be to find out how easy it was. I set the timer, and then turned to the frosting section in the cookbook to find the perfect recipe.

I wanted to try something different from the regular one Mom used to make, and it didn't take me long to find it. Lemon Flavored Icing. I got my bowl ready and dumped the powdered sugar in and added lemon juice. It wasn't turning out creamy and fluffy like I had hoped it would but I didn't have time to start another batch. The cake was now cooling in the refrigerator and I needed to get it frosted and hidden before Mom came home.

As I was washing the dishes I had used I thought of the perfect way to still make the cake beautiful. I would use food coloring. The back of the package had instructions on how to mix the colors to get a color other than the basic four. A lovely purple would look very pretty and be just the thing to help the cake become special since so far it wasn't co-operating with the one I had envisioned. I carefully measured in the drops of food coloring but instead of turning a lovely purple it turned into a sickly hideous brownish orange. I felt like crying as I looked at it.

There was no time to do anything because I heard the crunch of gravel on the driveway and when I looked out the window and saw that Mom was at home I quickly grabbed the cake and my bowl of frosting and ran upstairs to my room. I sat on the floor and poured the frosting on the cake. It was too thin and as hard as I tried to spread it evenly over the cake I soon found out it was impossible as it all wanted to pool around the edges. I hid it in one of my desk drawers and went downstairs and helped Mom get supper ready.

When her birthday arrived and I presented her with my miserable cake she smiled and beamed as if it actually looked pretty. She cut pieces for everyone. I was disappointed to see that the chocolate chips didn't melt and swirl like I intended that they should and since I had added more than double what the recipe had asked for the cake was crumbly. The icing wasn't much better since it had dried to a brittle lemony mess. Mom must have sensed that my dream cake had turned out all wrong because she asked for a second piece, commenting how nice it was to have a daughter old enough to make a cake all by herself.

I still wasn't happy with the cake, but Mom made me feel special and I vowed to make it up to her next year by making something really nice for her birthday instead of a cake.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What would you say is your biggest day to day challenge?

My biggest day to day challenge is trying to stay on top of the laundry. I could declare that the laundry basket is never empty for longer than five minutes. I try to remind myself of how much easier it is to do laundry than it used to be, but .... laundry! Sigh.

2. May 16th is National Biographers Day. What's a biography you really enjoyed reading? Is this a genre you read regularly?

There are several biography and memoirs that I have really enjoyed.

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Growing up Amish by Ira Wagler
Ten P's in a Pod by Arnold Pent

3. How important is keeping a clean house? Do you need to de-clutter your life?

It's important to me to have a clean house. Not spotless, but clean. Clutter makes me feel slightly claustrophobic, itchy, and anxiously overwhelmed. I function much better and happier when things are in order. The lived in look is fine, in fact I prefer it more than spotless or cluttered. Paint me a happy medium.

4. You're the 8th dwarf. What's your name?


I love words. Whether they are in books that I'm reading, things that I'm writing, talking or listening to someone talk. I'm all about the words.

5. What's surprised you the most about your life or life in general?

I think the thing that surprised me the most is how fast life goes by, and how many changes happen.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

It's been a weird morning. First I noticed there is nary a cow or calf in sight in the pasture. Then a very chattery squirrel was making his grievances known. He was joined by a noisy scolding wren, and then the perturbed angry honking of the pair of Canada geese that hang out here. Next there was excited barking of a large dog. I stepped out to see what was going on. All I could see was a fat brown chicken pecking at the edge of the yard, and the waterfall falling as usual. The chicken I have no idea where it came from since we haven't had any in over 14 years and as far as I know none of our neighbors have any either.

Monday, May 14, 2018

School Program

Every afternoon in school during December we had to practice for the Christmas program that would be held a few days before Christmas. We memorized poems and both Matthew and Luke's version of the Christmas story and more than a dozen Christmas carols.

We had to color Christmas-y pictures to cover the walls and spent hours cutting out snowflakes to hang from the ceiling. I loved the way the school house looked as Christmas approached. It was the one place in an Amish community where it was permissible to decorate for the holidays.

Once the day of the program arrived we started for school extra early carrying a bag filled with gifts for the teacher and the pupils. The teachers gift was always something very nice but the pupils only exchanged cheap little things.

The forenoon was spent practicing our program one last time to make sure there were no glitches, and right after noon buggies started driving into the school yard. Some of the parents set up a lot of benches and chairs in the back of the school room. Once everyone had arrived it was time to start.

I was glad that we had practiced everyday for so long because the crowd of people sitting there watching us was a little overwhelming. I was glad to be able to focus on Mom and Daddy's smiling faces. David was sitting happily beside them watching everything and looking forward to the next year when he would be old enough to also be a part of the program. Mahlon was sitting contentedly on Daddy's lap.

I got through my parts of the Christmas story and my poem with out messing up. But I still had to lead the song that had been assigned to me. When my turn came I managed to squeak out a quavery little sound and the rest of the children quickly joined in and helped me. There were only three verses and I breathed a sigh of relief once it was over.

The rest of the program went by with everyone remembering their parts. As we all filed back to our desks we sat down and teacher Hannah called us one by one to her desk to receive a gift from her. All the girls got a pretty glass bowl and the boys each got a game. Once we had all admired what she had given it was time for the pupils to exchange their gifts. Hannah would call one family at a time and they would go get their bag of gifts and give one to each child. Some families gave everyone an eraser, others gave a few pieces of candy or maybe a balloon or a pencil. The gifts were all very simple but we didn't mind and by the time everyone had passed out their gifts we all had quite an assortment of treats on our desk.

We placed them carefully in a bag and took them home where we divided everything with David and Mahlon. It had been fun but I was glad we only had to have a program once a year. Singing and reciting in front of so many people was not something I enjoyed doing.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Christmas Dinner

The wind was blowing the newly fallen snow and whipping it up into pretty drifts. Every morning Daddy would have to go outside and shovel the snow from the driveway in case any customers wanted to come.

This was New Year's morning and he was once again shoveling snow but only a path so we could walk to the buggy without getting a lot of snow inside our boots. Mom was putting the finishing touches on several platters of snack foods and candy and checking to make sure the Cut Glass pudding looked just right. My brothers and I were dressed in our new clothes that we had received for Christmas and were excitedly waiting until Daddy would get Jim hitched to the buggy and we could go to Grandpa Masts for the Mast Christmas dinner.

When he drove up we saw he had tied our new sleds to the back of the buggy. We all climbed into the buggy. John and David asked if they could sit on the sleds and ride to Grandpa's that way. Daddy gave them permission and they jumped out of the buggy and got situated on their sleds.

Jim started up the hill. The buggy wheels squealed their noisy song as they cut through the snow. I was happy to stay inside the buggy with Mom and Daddy and only peep out the back window to watch John and David enjoying their sled ride.

After we got to Grandpa's Mom and I hurried through the cold into the house where the aunts were all busy helping aunt Emma and Grandma cook, the menfolk were all sitting in the living room visiting and the cousins were in Vernie's bedroom playing. I went to join them and we played games until we were called to get ready to eat.

Grandma's table was stretched out to it's full length and there was room for everyone to sit at it. The table fairly groaned under the weight of all the good food, because every one's favorite dish had been prepared. I tried to look at everything to pick out the things I thought looked best as there was no possible way to be able to taste everything.

Once everyone was seated we all looked at Grandpa to see when he was ready to ask the blessing. He would bow his head and everyone else did also. I used to wonder if he either fell asleep or tried to name all the food on the table. It seemed his prayer wouldn't end. I used to peep several times to see if he still has his head bowed. My neck would start creaking and I thought I just can't sit here like this any longer when we finally heard Grandpa's loud sigh signaling that his prayer was done.

Everyone looked up and started passing the food around the table. The grown ups resumed their conversations and I felt warm and cozy as my plate filled up with delicious things and the noise of all the happy families surrounded me.

After we were done eating it was time to clean everything away. Aunt Vernie, cousins Emma and Esther and I would stack the dirty dishes on the sink while Mom and the aunts would divide the leftovers to be sent home with each family and the boys were outside riding their sleds. Once everything in the kitchen was cleaned up we would all sit in the living room where we sang all the Christmas carols that we knew.

Once we were done singing. Grandma would hand out paper plates and then Emma, Esther, and I would each take a platter of snacks and carefully carry it into the living room and take it from person to person letting them pick out any snacks they wanted to try. There were lots of platters since every family brought at least three. Once every platter had been passed around we would fill our own plates and sit in the living room and listen to the grown ups conversations.

There were no gifts. But just being with family and all the good food made the Mast Christmas dinner an event I looked forward to each year.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Christmas Memories

I used to start thinking and planning for Christmas soon after school started each fall. My options for gifts were limited since we never had an allowance so anything I wanted to give I had to make myself.

I wasn't good at running our scroll saw in the shop like my brothers were so making wooden things were out of the question. I was nine and Christmas was fast approaching and the only thing I had ready was a little picture book I had made for Mahlon by sewing pieces of paper together and gluing pretty pictures in it that I had found in old catalogs.

One evening as I was helping Mom unpack a new shipment of things and place them on our store shelves I had an idea. I asked her if I could have the empty box, after she granted me permission I took it upstairs where I carefully cut off a flap, and covered it with some old wall paper scraps. I then glued a plain sheet of paper in the middle and copied a poem about a mothers love onto it. There was still something lacking. I finally decided it still needs a pretty border. My teacher gave a sticker to anyone that got 100% in their lessons and I made up my mind to try extra hard to do my lessons carefully and use the stickers to create a border. It took quite awhile to save enough. Every evening I would run home from school with my hard earned stickers and carefully place them as a frame around the edges of the motto I was making for Mom.

I asked John to cut out some heart shaped pieces of wood and varnish them for me. I then painted a blue rose on the one and wrote Daddy on it. Then painted roses on the others and personalized them for John and David. I felt pleased with my efforts of creating gifts and hid them in a drawer until Christmas morning.

When Christmas morning arrived we were awake early but Mom and Daddy had told us to not get up until they called us. As the sun rose it seemed they would never be ready. Finally they called us and we went downstairs. The boys went out to the barn with Daddy to help with the chores while I helped Mom fix breakfast. We had our regular fried cornmeal mush with tomato gravy and eggs, and then oranges and a cold cereal for something special.

When Daddy and the boys came in from milking the cow and feeding all the animals, we all sat down for breakfast. After breakfast everyone helped with the dishes. And then Daddy got the Bible and read the Christmas story. It was the only day of the year that he would read to us so we all sat quietly and listened carefully. After he was done reading we children had to go back upstairs until they told us it was time to come down. We used to get the gifts we had made and put them in a grocery bag and sit on top of the stairs to try to listen what was happening in the kitchen.

When they called us we ran downstairs and at each of our places at the table was a pile of things covered with one of Mom's pretty kitchen towels. We uncovered the pile and found a plate filled with nuts to crack and a lot of different candy. The boys each got a new shirt and I had a new dress. We each had a little German songbook. We thanked them and then we noticed in the middle of the table was another covered pile. Daddy said that was for everyone to share. We uncovered it and found a pile of books. We were thrilled. We all loved reading and new books were something we all enjoyed.

John, David, and I gave the gifts we had made. Mom thanked me for the motto and hung it on her bedroom wall where it stayed until after I was married.

After we had cracked and eaten some of the nuts and read a chapter or two in our new books Daddy said slyly. I have a feeling we didn't find all our Christmas gifts yet. Why don't we all go down in the shop. We followed him downstairs and there in the lumber bin were three of the prettiest sleds I had ever seen. We hurriedly dressed ourselves in our warmest coats and went outside to try them out. We had a nice hill in the pasture behind the barn and for the rest of the afternoon we rode down that hill and trudged back up. The longer we played the longer the hill seemed when we had to pull our sleds back up but the ride down was so fun we kept on until we were too cold to continue.

We went inside and Mom opened the oven door in our Pioneer Maid cook stove and laid a thick towel on it. We pulled up chairs and rested our feet on it enjoying the delightful warmth that the oven poured over our feet. Mom popped some popcorn and peeled a bowlful of apples and we all sat around basking in the glow of happiness of having had another great Christmas.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What are your ingredients for a perfect Saturday?

A perfect Saturday for me is one with lovely weather, and having my husband at home. The past however many Saturdays he has been doing maintenance on machinery for a business so that everything is in order come Monday and the workers return for another week.

It looks as if this will be the theme of many Saturdays to come.
2. What skill do you wish more people took the time to learn?

A skill I wish more people used is to keep right on scrolling when they see something they don't agree with on Facebook or elsewhere on the internet. It's really not that hard.

A practical life skill ... cooking.

3. What's something you ate as a child you can't stand now as an adult?

It's nothing that exciting or a weird combination of anything. It's simply ... oatmeal. The older I get the more I loathe it.

Our children on the other hand, will have a better answer to this once they're older. At least I hope they'll grow out of loving peanut butter, chocolate chip, and mustard sandwiches.

4. Something parenting has taught you? If you're not a parent tell us one important lesson you learned from your own parents.

Parenting has taught me a lot but especially that time is extremely short. I think I may have approached it with the mind set that their childhood will be as long as I thought mine had been. I've learned time is precious and to not push off the things I want to do "someday".

5. Share a favorite quote or saying about mothers or motherhood.

Your children don't want or need a perfect Mom, they want a happy one. 

This is a quote that has meant a lot to me over the years. I'm far from perfect, but I can be happy.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Some of our favorite things to during on lovely spring afternoons is hiking or playing at the creek. Yesterday provided us with some time to do that before a rain shower popped up and chased us back to the house.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Great Grandmothers

Any excuse I had I enjoyed stopping in at Grandpa Masts. Aunt Emma was always working at something interesting. Vernie would be helping her or playing with her toys. Grandma would be working at her desk most of the time making scrapbooks for each of her grandchildren or writing a letter for one of her many friends.

There was however one room in Grandpa's house that I tried to avoid as much as possible. The room itself was cheerful and pretty but on the one side there was a hospital bed and in it was Grandma's mother. Great Grandma had suffered from a stroke several years earlier and ever since that day Grandma was taking care of her.

She was in her nineties and I was scared of her. When ever I stepped into her room to go into Grandma's scrap booking room she would reach out with her bony arm and ask whose little girl I was. I would hurriedly answer and dart back out of the room.

On Sundays however when we would all walk to Grandpa's house I would have to go into her room with Mom while she talked to her. I used to breathe a sigh of relief once that I was allowed to go play with Vernie.

Great Grandmother Swarey lived with one of her children. She was older than my other Great Grandma but she was still capable of taking care of herself to a certain extent.

Since she lived so far away I only ever got to meet her once. She was 103 at time. Several years later we got a letter from her son where she was living saying that she had put a pin between her lips while dressing herself as is so common among Amish women and had accidentally swallowed it.

They hadn't known about it until she complained about a pain and a trip to the doctor revealed the problem. They got the pin out, but at 106 it was too much for Great Grandmother.

Somewhere between age 9 and now, I have quit being frightened when I meet someone who has lived a full life. And I hope by the time I'm that old someone will be willing to let me have a room in their house just like my Great Grandmothers had.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond 
1. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Is there a flower you associate with a particular memory? Explain.

My childhood front yard had lots of shade, so Mom would fill our flowerbeds with shade loving Impatiens. I don't really have a particular memory I associate with them.

Yesterday I got to visit an Amish greenhouse and bought several trays of Impatiens. I'm looking forward to planting them under the big maple tree in front of the house.

2. Last time you helped someone? Tell us how.

If family counts, the last time I helped someone was this morning as I helped Kenneth get his lunch ready before he left for work.

3. It's National Salsa Month (the food, not the dance) so tell us, do you like salsa? Hot, medium, or mild? Homemade, store bought, or from your favorite restaurant only?

I'm not the biggest fan of salsa, but I will occasionally have some if it's mild. The salsa one of my friends makes is probably my favorite. I've never had salsa at a restaurant that I liked, usually it's too spicy for my taste.

4. When I was twelve years old...

I got to start shouldering a lot more responsibility. Gardening, laundry, housekeeping, cooking, baking, and more started being shifted my way more and more. Mom still helped and directed, but I was expected to continue when ever she had customers to care for.

5. It's the first of May so let's run with it-first things first, don't know the first thing about it, first dibs on something, first impression, first rate, first cousin, first string, first come first served, at first light-which phrase can best be applied to something in your life currently or even recently?

First things first ... is a phrase heard often in our house. Especially in the morning as we go over our plans for the day.

First cousin ... LV and I both have tons of first cousins. So many in fact that we don't know them all. Our parents came from large families, and most of their siblings went on to have large families, which means hundreds of first cousins between the two of us. Let's not even get into second cousins the sheer number of those makes my head swim.

We hope to get to see several first cousins later today.
6. Insert your own random thought here.

On Monday LV was working outside when he happened to notice a cow was about to give birth on the bank of the creek. And just like that the calf plopped down into the cold water. He jumped over the fence and ran to rescue it. As he reached for it he lost his balance and fell into the water next to it. Drenched from head to toe, he got up and lifted the calf out of what was sure to have been its watery grave and carried it safely to dry ground where its anxious mother took over her duties.

I had no idea what exciting things were happening until he came into the house looking all soggy. I'm sorry I missed seeing it all unfold, but happy the calf had its very own super hero.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Currently ...

Reading ... In my Bible, I'm reading through the book of Psalms. It's my favorite book in the Old Testament. In fiction I just finished reading The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg It was a quick, easy read. So different from anything I had ever read before, but I found I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading more books from this author. In non-fiction I'm reading a book by Erma Bombeck. I picked it up at the library on Friday after one of my readers mentioned her in a comment. So far I've really enjoyed her book as well.

Writing ... Other than the usual assortment of lists, and jotting things in my idea books, so far this week I've written emails, a letter, and blog posts. I have some story bits and pieces floating through my head that need to be written before they float away.

Playing ... Does an all out rubber band war count as playing? I have horrible aim, so on the off chance that I actually hit my target I always felt as if a celebration should be in order.

Watching ... Cooking shows, cooking and baking competitions, basically if it's food related I'll be interested. I've learned so much simply by watching these types of shows.

Listening ... to the happy, happy sound of many different kinds of birds singing. I never grow tired of hearing them.

Cooking ... For lunch I'm doing simple burgers ... LV likes plain burgers that the girls have lovingly dubbed "hockey pucks" for the rest of us I like adding this that keep them juicy and less puck-ish.

Eating ... I had deep fried cheesecake when LV took me out to eat for my belated birthday celebration. So, so good! I see it becoming a favorite go to for celebrations.

Drinking ... I'm boring .. it's still water, water, water.

Crafting ... some fun little art projects with Steven, and then I was trying my hand at some origami. It has not been turning out very well.

Wearing ... my favorite charcoal colored skirt and a brown patterned shirt that has an annoying clunky chain attached to it.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Paper Dolls

Winter evenings were the perfect time to get my box full of paper dolls out and play with them. It was fun dressing them in their many different outfits and pretend they were real. I would make them go on picnics and fine places in cities. The possibilities that my imagination came up with were endless and I spent many happy hours thus occupied.


One evening cousins Emma and Esther came to play. I had my paper dolls spread out and was in quite  another era when they came. They oohed and aahed about my lovely dolls and then we spent all evening playing with them. It was even more fun than usual, until it was time for them to go home. They helped me put my dolls away and then Mom said. "Mary Ann, why don't you divide the paper dolls and send some of them home with Emma and Esther?"

I looked at Mom, horrified at the very thought of having to part with some of my paper dolls. I loved each one and was sure I needed all of them to be able to play with them properly.

Mom was serious about sharing. I agonized over each doll but finally I chose half of them to send home with them, and gently put my half in my dresser drawer.

I have no idea if Emma and Esther played with their paper dolls but I could no longer enjoy mine. When ever I got the box out to play with them I missed the ones that were no longer there and so I would just put them away again.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Picture my Week

I got the year book pictures turned in. Out of the group of fifty or so pictures I took I was happy to end up with three that seemed to capture who they are,

LV's nephew from Seattle was in for a visit for a little over a week. He did a great job in decorating the house for Sharon's birthday.

Rosie Mae, my resident baker made the desserts.

We took the decorations down yesterday. Steven got slightly distracted from his schoolwork when the streamers came down. Being the son of a big truck mechanic the streamer became a truck horn. Each little thing completed in his workbook earned a celebratory honk, honk.

Friday, April 27, 2018

From a Pig Tail to Hot Water

Someone had given us a subscription to the Pennsylvania Farmer magazine and whenever it came we immediately flipped to the page titled Country Air where people shared humorous incidents that happened to  them while living in the country.

At the end of the page they used to ask to keep the stories coming and offered to pay for any that they published. So one evening Mom sat down and wrote about the time she had to help chase a stray pig soon after she was married. She sent it in the next morning and it wasn't long before she received a check in the mail. The magazine editors had loved it and planned to publish it in the next issue.

Mom was thrilled to have been able to earn a little extra money and when Daddy said she could use it to buy anything she wanted to it didn't take her long to know just what that would be. A coal fired water heater so that we could finally have hot running water.

Up until then we heated all our water on the cook stove to do most of our everyday things, but on Saturdays we would start a fire in the huge kettle in the basement to heat water for bathing which then had to be carried up two flights of stairs to the tub. And every Monday we would have to fill it up again to heat water to do the laundry. With a growing family it took an ever increasing amount of hot water and Mom was getting tired of lugging pails of water when ever we needed it.

Daddy went to an Amish hardware store that very evening and purchased everything he needed to hook up Moms water heater. When he came home he went right to work cutting pipes and fitting them to the cute little coal heater and the big tank that would soon be filled with hot water. John and I got to stay up late to watch him until he was done. I was hoping we could start a fire in the heater right away but Daddy told us to go to bed that he'll wake us in the morning once he is ready to start the fire.

He didn't have to wake us. By the time the first glow of sunrise had tinted the eastern sky we were up and ready to start the fire. We all went down to the basement and watch as Daddy scooped several hands full of coal into the heater and then laid some wood scraps on top. After studying it for a moment he sent John and I to gather some wood shavings from the shop. We hurriedly ran to do as he asked and then put our hands full of shavings on top of the wood and coal. Daddy lit a match and we all stood there watching as the shavings started smoldering slowly and then burst into flame Before long the wood scraps were burning and so was the coal. We stood there admiring the flames for a little while and then Daddy announced. "Why don't we go have breakfast now and by the time we're done there should be hot water to do the dishes."

I was suddenly filled with the uncommon desire to do the dishes on my own. I was sure it would be much more fun washing dishes with hot water from the faucet. Somehow it didn't dawn on me until too late that dirty dishes are dirty dishes no matter how the water was heated.

After breakfast we children ran through the house and tried all the hot water faucets and they all produced beautiful hot water. We were so excited.

A few weeks later when the magazine came we once again paged to the Country Air section and sure enough. There was Moms story titled "A Pig Tale About a Pig Tail" We all read it and chuckled about it. What we didn't know at the time was that almost every person in Somerset County subscribed to that magazine and Mom had to endure a lot of ribbing about the pig tail to which she always answered with a smile. "That tail gave us hot running water."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. They say you learn something new every day. What did you learn yesterday?

Yesterday I learned some news that isn't mine to share at the moment.

2. Have you ever had a now or never moment? Elaborate.

Birthdays are special events in our family. The birthday child gets to choose the food for the day, and doesn't have to do any chores.  There are gifts of course, and fun family activities of their choice as well as some we plan to surprise them. However we only do one "real" birthday party per child. This year was Sharon's actual party. It felt like a now or never event since she's right at the point where you can't exactly call her a child. (In the age sense of the word.)

3.  April 25th is National Telephone Day. Do you still have a land line or have you gone mobile only? When you receive a text message do you respond immediately? Last time you turned your phone off?  In two or three sentences share with us a story/memory/incident from your childhood (or something current if that's too hard) where the telephone is featured.

We still have a landline, though it seems to be used mostly as a means for telemarketers and scammers to try to get hold of us. I've been tempted numerous times to get rid of it, but most cell phones have no service at the house so we're keeping the landline.

I respond to text messages as soon as I see I have one.

I turn my cell phone off every night.

When my brother and I were three and five my Mom wanted to call her sister. Their phone was some distance from the house so she asked John to hold the receiver and listen for Aunt Emma to answer, and to call her once she did. She went to do something in the kitchen, after a few minutes Aunt Emma answered her phone and John bellowed "MOM!!!" into the receiver as loud as he could. He managed to scare poor Aunt Emma quite thoroughly.

4. Close call, at someone's beck and call, call the shots, call a meeting, call it quits, call in sick, call on the carpet, wake up call...which call have you 'heard' recently? Explain.

Close call ... A car load of teenagers had an ugly accident on the interstate just a little ahead of Kenneth as he was driving home from work. If he'd have been going just a little faster he would have been hit head on.

5. What subject do you wish you'd paid more attention to in school?

  Probably math. I'm average at it, in that I know the basics very well, but when some of the fancier stuff comes into play I have to study up on it. It's still my least favorite subject, which makes me thankful for the high school program we use that tutors the children through the more painful side of math ie algebra, geometry, etc.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

What happens when I leave the computer with a partially finished blogpost left open?

Rosie Mae sits down and writes the random thought for me. I decided not to delete it even though it's out there. Life with her is never boring.

  Birthday parties wear me out (they certainly aren't fashionable enough for me to wear outside, and unfortunately they still have the ability to wear me...out).
  Now...let me proceed to tell you my darkest secrets...
  1. I married the wee lad that I used to hate.
  2. I secretly detest seafood but I'm too sophisticated to say so.
  3. My toenails grow so quickly that I must clip them each time I use the bathroom...excuse me, I meant the powder room.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Mirrors at Midnight

     It seems as if every Amish community had some of their own pet superstitions they believed in. A common one was that if a lamp chimney suddenly broke or cracked for no apparent reason it was a sure sign that a loved one had passed away.

     One rainy afternoon at recess in school we were all bored with the games to play indoors and the conversation turned to superstitions. I listened with growing dread at all the terrible things that would happen if certain events took place. Like stepping inside a grain bin on January 6th at midnight and you would see the person you would end up marrying. I didn't believe it to begin with but several of the children assured me that it was most certainly true because some of their older siblings had tried it and they had seen someone. It had scared them really badly and they would never try it again but it definitely worked. I shivered and was glad we didn't have a grain bin and I was in no danger of having that happen to me.

     Then my friend Nancy said if you look into a mirror while the clock is striking at midnight you will see how you will look in your coffin. I shuddered at the thought as I envisioned peeking in my mirror and have an old wrinkly woman peering back at me.

     We had a big clock in the living-room that Daddy would wind up every evening at bedtime. Up until then I always enjoyed listening and counting the slow bong bongs as the clock would strike every hour. Tonight however it was different I counted every strike and pulled the covers up over my head as I thought of the ugly corpse that was waiting to look at me at midnight. The clock struck only nine and I breathed a sigh of relief and then got up and turned my mirror toward the wall. I wasn't going to risk having to glimpse anything at midnight.

     Weeks passed and I always made sure my mirror was facing the wall before I got into bed. And then one evening I forgot. That night I woke up as the clock started striking. I sat up in bed with my heart pounding as I counted every strike. 10...11.... and 12 I glanced in my mirror but all I could see was my own reflection. I fell back into bed thoroughly relieved and then the thought hit me. If that was how I would look in my coffin that meant I would die soon.

     Sleep was the last thing on my mind as I tossed and turned and wondered how I was going to die. I didn't want to die in the slightest little bit. I still had my whole life ahead of me, but surely the mirror wouldn't lie. When morning came I sat at my desk and wrote a will. I wanted John and David to have my books and games and Mahlon to have my dolls and that type of toys. Daddy and Mom could have the rest of my things.

    I got dressed and then picked up my will and took it down to the kitchen and gave it to Mom. She read it and wondered what was troubling me. I told her about the mirror and what I had seen when I peeked into it at midnight. She folded the will and put it into her pocket and told me not to worry. The mirror had done what it always does. Showed me my reflection and that I really shouldn't pay any attention to those superstitions, because most of them don't have anything to be based on.

     I felt relieved but I still vowed to not look in a mirror at midnight ever again.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Cape Dresses

    I watched with great interest as Mom carefully cut the purple fabric. She was making my first three piece dress suit and I was excited. I had not minded wearing my other dresses but to finally be able to wear a cape and apron made me feel just a little bit grown up.

     It didn't take Mom long to get it sewed and then carefully iron it pressing the pleats in the dress and apron so that they came to a point just above the hem. After she was done I hung it on the hook on my bedroom door. It was much too pretty to hide away in the closet. I wanted to be able to admire it until I could wear it to go to church the next Sunday.

     It seemed Sunday would never come. This Sunday was going to be extra special because not only would I get to wear a cape and apron but it would also be the first time I would be allowed to sit with the girls in church instead of beside Mom.

     Sunday morning arrived and Mom helped me get dressed. It was more complicated to try to get pins to close my dress neatly instead of the buttons I had been used to. Once everything was pinned to Mom's satisfaction we were ready to go to church. I went into the church house with Mom and hung my bonnet with hers and followed her like usual to shake hands with all the women that were already there. And once that was done I went to the coat room where the girls stood waiting until it was time to file into the church room.

     I was no longer so sure that this was such a great idea. I could see that the women had already found their usual seats. Mom smiled at me while Mahlon sat on her lap looking at a little book. I wished I would be little enough to sit on her lap instead of being dressed in an increasingly uncomfortable outfit and standing with all the girls. I was glad my friend Nancy was also there. She had started wearing a cape and apron and sitting with the girls a few months earlier, and seemed quite calm and relaxed.

     As I glanced out the window I could see the bishop and ministers and a long line of men following behind them make their way slowly and solemnly toward the church house. My heart starting beating faster at the thought that soon it would be our turn to file in.

    I stayed beside Nancy and followed her to our seat. Church proceeded as usual, but I couldn't concentrate on the preaching. The apron belt felt too tight around my waist. I looked forward to going home and changing into my old comfortable dress that fit loosely and didn't present the danger of being jabbed with a pin.

    Once we got home I was disappointed when Mom told me to hang the dress carefully because I would need to wear it to school the next week. I dreaded the thought of having to wear it again the next day. But that was only the start. The following week she sewed several more suits and I had to wear them constantly. Growing up wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be. And life stretched out before me clouded with years of wearing uncomfortable dresses. Thankfully after several weeks I got used to them and life once again looked good.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Alvins Move In

    Two years had passed since we had moved to Pennsylvania and I had made many new friends but that didn't put a damper on my excitement when I heard that Uncle Alvins would be moving on the farm right next to us. I could hardly wait to be able to play with cousin Emma again.

     When the day arrived that they moved in we all went to help them get settled. After the truck had been unloaded and all the other people had left for home Emma, Esther and I explored their little house. It was even smaller than ours had been. Aunt Lydia soon asked us to wash some of the dishes so they could be used for supper. We started filling our dishpan with water when the entire faucet popped off and a geyser of water shot for the ceiling. I thought it was hilarious, but Aunt Lydia didn't seem very impressed and Emma and Esther wished they would be back in their nice home in New York where faucets behaved properly. That put a quick end to my laughing because I didn't want to want them to move back to Dundee.

     A few days later school started and John and I were happy to be able to walk to school with our cousins. After we got to school and everyone had been assigned their desks for the new term I was happy to be sitting right behind Emma. I wasn't very happy that LV was once again sitting across the aisle from me but I was determined to ignore him completely and not let him spoil my school year this time.

     On the way home from school Emma and I talked about everything that had happened that day. It wasn't long before she started gushing about LV How smart and fun he is and much more daring than the other boys and how she really likes him. I told her what an awful boy he really was but she didn't seem to care. She was sure school would be a great place because he sat across the aisle from us. I couldn't believe that Emma, my best friend since we were both babies, could be so traitorous and actually have a crush on the one person that had so often made my life miserable.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. Three things on your spring bucket list? If you don't have an actual list that's fine, pretend you do.

1. Spend more time outdoors. That could include walking the trails, cleaning the yard, and playing by the creek with Steven.
2. Take pictures for the homeschool co-op yearbook. That's something I actually want to get done today. There may or may not have been a threat to have unflattering pictures of the Moms included if they don't get their children's pictures turned in.
3. Clean out the attic and donate or get rid of a lot of the stuff that I only ever see when I clean the attic.

2. Where do you find rest? What restores your soul? When was the last time you did whatever it was you answered here?

I find being out in nature rests and recharges me. I'm looking forward to being out and about more once the weather gets nicer. Spending time reading my Bible and praying restores my soul. The last time I did that was this morning.

3. April is National Celery Month. Who knew? Do you like celery? What's your favorite dish made with celery? On a veggie and dip platter which would you reach for first-carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumbers or cherry tomatoes?

I like celery occasionally, mostly as a snack to munch on. I don't make any dishes that use celery. LV doesn't care for it in any way shape or form, so I don't bother cooking with it. If it's included in a veggie and dip platter I'll take a piece or two, though I do enjoy carrots more.

4. I read here eight things to do before 8 am to make your day less hectic-Start one load of laundry, drink water, empty the dishwasher, read your Bible, know what you're having for dinner, get dressed, brain dump (two lists-one what you're thankful for and one what's weighing on your mind), and after the brain dump make your to-list for the day

How many of these are you currently doing? Which one do you think would help the most if you added it to your early morning routine?

Of the things I do on the list before 8 AM. I start a load of laundry, drink water, read my Bible, know what I'll be having for dinner, and get dressed.

We don't use a dishwasher, but dishes will be washed, dried, and put away before 8 AM.

I don't do the brain dump, and my to do lists are often created the day before.

5. Describe the view from your window.

The view from my window right now is this

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Yesterday we got to pick up one of LV's nephews from the airport. He flew in from Seattle to spend a little more than a week at our house. I see much laughter, games, food, and fun packed into these next few days.