Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cooking for Company

Earlier today one of my cousins called and asked if it would be alright if he and his younger brother would  drop by for a short visit. I was happy that they were coming and invited them to stay for supper. Spending time with cousins has been a very rare occurance since we left the Amish and having a meal together even more rare. I was very happy when they accepted the offer.

I spent a little time planning the menu and then spent time cooking and baking the afternoon. I think I have everything under control and ready to put the finishing touches on our meal once it's closer to supper time.

Cooking for my Amish cousins made me think about the meals Mom and I used to cook when ever we invited company. The basic company meal would consist of fresh baked bread, home made butter and jam, potatoes, gravy, meat, salad, a vegetable, and noodles. For dessert there would be cake and fruit and several kinds of pies. If our company was someone we didn't see very often or extra important we would cook a full company meal. The table would be set with our very best dishes. After a silent prayer Daddy would reach for the platter filled with fresh bread and pass it around the table, there was butter, jam, sliced cheese and ham to eat with the bread.  After everyone had bread the main course would officially start. It consisted of potatoes, gravy, chicken, some kind of beef, two kinds of salad, and  two kinds of vegetables. With such a large first course it was hard to save enough room for dessert but we always tried. Dessert would start off with fruit, cake, bars, and cookies. Next a big bowl full of pudding made it's journey around the table. Finally it was time to pass the pie. With two kinds of fruit pie and two kinds of other pie it used to be hard to decide which pie to eat.

One of my favorite things about big company meals like that were the left overs we could enjoy later.

Since we have left the Amish I hardly ever cook like that. First course tonight will be a basic Amish company meal minus the pasta. Dessert will be a lot more simple. A warm peach cobbler and ice cream to finish off our meal will be just fine and a lot less work.

Monday, September 27, 2010


As our store kept getting busier Mom spent more and more time with customers while I went ahead with all the other work.

By the time I was eighteen the housework and garden was primarily my responsibility. I didn't mind and enjoyed working. my youngest brothers enjoyed tagging along and helping in any way they could. We spent days together singing as we weeded and hoed the garden and then harvesting and canning the vegetables.

Every Monday when I did the laundry they would hand me the pieces to hang on our pulley line clothes line. Standing on the front porch to hang up all the clothes I could see the customers as they came and went from the store, but I didn't pay too much attention to them as I kept  working.

One Monday as I was hanging up clothes Mom came out of the store and asked me to come, that there was a woman there that wanted to talk to me. I left the rest of the wet laundry in the basket and went to the store to see what she wanted.

As I entered the store the woman introduced herself to me and then came right to the point. She had been coming to our store frequently and was impressed how it seemed that I really enjoyed working. Her son, she continued was old enough to get married, and she wanted me to promise to be his bride. They would provide the wedding just as soon as I could get ready.

I was speechless, and then noticed her son sitting on a chair behind her looking uneasy as if he wished he could be any where except there. I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for him.

It didn't take me long to tell his mother that I was very happy being courted by LV and that I would not be accepting her offer. As I went back to my work I had plenty of time to think. I felt disappointed that my first marriage proposal was weird.

When there was a break in the customers Mom came into the house and told me how sorry she was and that she had no idea that was what that woman had wanted when she asked to talk to me. After I assured her I was okay we both had a good laugh as we headed out to the garden to work together till the next customer came.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Working With Grandpa

Ever since LV had started to come calling I spent most of my time looking forward to our next date. And since our church had a rule that you could only have a date on the boy's inbetween Sunday night it seemed like a very long time between dates.

Several months into our courtship I was less than thrilled when he told me that he was going on a trip to Montana for more than a week and he would be gone over our next date Sunday. I was happy for him that he got to go a a fun vacation and didn't want him to know how very disappointed I was that it would be a month before we got to have a date again.

The next two weeks dragged by and when Sunday came I felt more lonely than I had ever imagined possible. Instead of getting ready for a date at bedtime I had to go to bed too. As I lay in bed I couldn't sleep and finally got up and wrote a letter to LV. It felt good getting my thoughts on paper and I was able to go to sleep.

The next morning we got up extra early with plans to spend all days canning sweetcorn. There was a very heavy fog which matched how I felt. I was sure I would feel this way until I saw LV again. Daddy spent the early morning hours picking multiple wheelbarrow loads of sweetcorn and dumping them underneath the pine trees behind the house. I started husking it right away while Mom did the laundry. As I kept husking ear after ear of corn I started feeling as gloomy as the day.

A little later I was surprised when Grandpa and Vernie came out of the house to help me husk corn. I was happy to see them and enjoyed listening to Vernie talk about everything she had to say. before long Grandpa asked if something is bothering me or if I'm missing LV. I felt slightly embarrassed that it was so obvious that I was missing him and determined to not let any of my feelings ruin a day of working with Grandpa.

Though the heavy fog lingered I was soon enjoying my day to the fullest. Grandpa loved talking about his childhood and growing up years almost as much as I enjoyed listening to him. By the end of the day we had done all the sweetcorn. John hitched Fern to the buggy and took Grandpa and Vernie home. As I finished cleaning up the mess in the kitchen I thought of everything Grandpa had been talking about and hoped that I would be able to recall so many fond memories of my childhood once I was his age.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


It seemed that no matter how busy we were Mom and Daddy always kept there eyes open for other ways to make extra money.

After seeing an ad in our local paper from someone that needed people to make hair bows for them promising a potential of making a nice sum of money. I thought it would be interesting to try and after showing the ad to Mom and Daddy we sent for more information. It wasn't long before we received a letter in the mail with instructions how to make a hair bow and also an offer to buy a hair bow, all the materials it would take to make one, and secret tips to make it a little easier to make. All for only thirty dollars.

We bought tulle, ribbon, and the tiny beads and tried to make a hair bow with only the instructions but weren't successful. After multiple attempts we decided to go ahead and order the hair bow so we can inspect it and hopefully be able to make one too.

Once the hair bow arrived I felt a thrill at how very lovely it was and couldn't wait to try making one. That evening we followed the new detailed instructions. After following everything carefully we were still unable to make it. I vowed that I would try making a hair bow when ever I had a spare moment.

Day after day I would painstakingly work on trying to make a hair bow. Day after day I would think I'm finally going to get it done only to have it jump up off the work surface in a pile of snarls. After a month or so of trying we finally had to admit defeat and tucked the thirty dollar hair bow away. We could never use it but after paying that much for a single hair bow there was no way we wanted to throw it away.

It is still tucked away in my Mom's sewing room. I think of it at times when I see ads for opportunities to make money fast.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Future Mechanic?

The past few weeks Sailor has been working on piecing a bike together from parts that were strewn in the barn from the previous occupants of this property. After a lot of hard work and dedication he was quite happy with the results.

And now we will have to see if we can find tires for his bike soon. After all that work I would say he deserves to ride on something other than the rims.

Friday, September 17, 2010

When Daddy's Away

We had an oversized wagon that we used to transport some of the bigger pieces of furniture from one shop building to the next and to customer vehicles. We always thought it would be fun to try riding it but the only place where we could, would be the road and we didn't think that would be a good idea.

However when Mom and Daddy had to leave on a business trip and left us in charge of things at home we hurried with all our work so we could have the rest of the day to do what ever we wanted to. At noon John and David decided they would take the wagon and take it up the road a little ways to the top of the hill and coast down the road. Since it was down hill for the next three miles the decision was made that one of them would ride on the wagon and the other one would take the tractor and drive behind him. That way when they reached the bottom of the hill they wouldn't have to pull the wagon home for several miles.

David got to have the first ride with John driving the tractor behind him. The wagon started picking up speed fast and before long John couldn't even keep up with the tractor. As David kept going faster and faster he realized there was no way he could slow down and there was a car in front of him that he was catching up with. Not wanting to pass it he took his only other option and turned off the road into a field where he was finally able to come to a stop. He sat on the wagon and waited till John came. After tying the wagon to the back of the tractor they headed home.

Needless to say everyone found something much more productive to do with the rest of day.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another Wedding

My friend Elizabeth was getting married and asked me to be a table waiter at their noon reception. I happily agreed and secretly looked forward to the evening when the boys and girls paired up. Several months had passed since LV and I had started our courtship and so far we had been able to keep it a secret. Appearing together at the wedding would let everyone else know we were a couple.

The morning of the wedding arrived. It was a beautiful fall day. The trees looked gorgeous decked out in their brilliant red, orange, and gold. Everything was covered in a heavy frost. Since the wedding was in one of the other church districts we had to start for church early. As LV and I rode to church I tried to soak in the beauty of the day and the happy feeling of sitting next to someone who made me feel so special. I didn't want to forget any of it.

Once we got to the church house I went inside to the little room where the rest of the the table waiters and others that were included in the wedding party were waiting for their cue to enter the main room. Church services passed as usual and immediately after they said their vows the table waiters left to go get everything ready by the time guests started arriving at the reception.

I was in charge of a room right next to where the bridal party was sitting. throughout the day I couldn't help but notice how very happy Elizabeth looked and a little thrill went through me as I thought that someday that could be LV and me.

When evening came and all the youth arrived it was time for for the boys to choose which girl he would escort to the table. But first all the couples would go stand next to each other where they could then watch everyone else pair up. One by one the boys would come to the door where the girls were waiting and their girlfriend would go join them. When LV came to the door and I went to join him I was acutely aware of everyone whispering to each other as they discovered that there was a new couple in their midst. I could feel my cheeks getting too warm and knew that I was blushing. I did not want to look embarrassed and the more I tried to appear calm and happy the hotter my face felt.

Once everyone was paired up and we were told where to sit LV and I found ourselves sitting directly opposite from the bride and groom. As the evening progressed I was able to relax and enjoy it until I started getting the urge to sneeze. I managed to keep from sneezing but my suddenly runny nose wasn't as co-operative. I was glad when the meal was over and we were ready to go home. Unfortunately what should have been a very pleasant ride together I spent the majority of the time wiping my nose and trying to squelch my sneezing. I wrapped my shawl closer around me as I shivered all the way home. LV didn't seem to mind being next to me even though it was obvious that I was getting sick, and offered to let me wear his suit coat and gave a handkerchief for me to use.

Monday, September 13, 2010

After Life for a Train Car

After John graduated from school he helped work in Daddy's woodworking shop. But with the added full time help Daddy was faced with another problem. The air tanks that produced power to operate our many air powered machines simply couldn't keep up.

He went looking for bigger tanks. We already had two big propane tanks that he had converted to air tanks and didn't want to get a lot more to keep up with our production demands. After checking around he finally found what he needed. His brother in Lancaster had a friend that had a business of finding, cleaning up, and pressure testing tanks and converting them to air tanks to be used in Amish businesses. Daddy was excited about this tank because it was huge since used to be a tanker car on a train.

He hired someone with a flatbed to go pick it up. Mom and I spent the day in the sewing room while John worked at the lathe all day in the shop. But we all kept thinking of Daddy and wondering how he was going to get the tanker car home safely.

Bedtime came and Daddy still wasn't at home. I went to bed while Mom and John opted to wait up till Daddy got home. The next morning when I got up I looked out of my window and saw the huge tank sitting in the barnyard next to the barn. At the breakfast table they talked about the challenge they had faced to get it unloaded which made me shiver just listening to it. I was glad that I had been sleeping rather than watch that dangerous part.

Several days later Daddy had everything hooked up and it was time to fill it with air. Everything worked great and we finally had enough power for the shop. It worked so well that Daddy bought several more washing machines and hooked them up to work on air power. I was thrilled. Laundry day was so much more enjoyable since we could get it done in a third of the time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Earlier this summer the children found a baby frog in one of our flower beds. They were quite fascinated with it and enjoyed watching and playing with it.

We were gone for quite a while and when we got home last weekend they were amazed and a little creeped out at the great big toad that was sitting there waiting on them. Rosebud had the honors of taking a picture of it. But this was the closest that the girls wanted to get to it. No chance of having it turn into a prince.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Future Florist?

We really enjoyed the past few days in the mountains soaking up the gorgeous pre-autumn days. But one of the highlights for me was when the children invited me outside to their "house" to see the bouquets they had arranged for me.

Somehow these floral arrangements are sweeter to me than any beautiful bouquet a professional florist ever created.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Laundry Adventures

We have been camping out for the past month in an empty house with only very minimal comforts. Folding chairs and air matresses aren't the greatest but at least they help us get by.
Let me introduce you to a monster I have been dealing with since we have been here. Most people would probably call it a washing machine but I am convinced it has connections to other things as well. 
  1. Train engines. When ever it's running it sounds like a freight train is ready to plow into the house.
  2. Sprinkling systems. It leaks water so badly that it keeps me busy wiping the floor the whole time it's cleaning my laundry.
  3. Something really bad. When ever the spin cycle comes on the whole machine rocks so badly that I keep expecting it to either explode or lift off and fly away.
I don't have a dryer so everything needs to be hung out on the clothesline. Somehow even with all the aggravation nothing quite beats the sense of satisfaction I feel when I'm done doing the laundry and I can stand back and look at a clothesline full of clean laundry flapping in the breeze. I don't get that feeling from  using my own well behaved washer and dryer.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Date ~ Part Two

With the curtains closed I stood inside the sewing room door waiting until I hear LV's footsteps on the porch before I opened the door. For some reason I felt butterflies in my stomach as I waited. Before long I heard his footsteps and as I opened the door everything I had planned to say to welcome him inside left my mind. he looked so handsome standing there at the doorway. Behind him the sky was painted in one of the most beautiful summer sunsets I had ever seen.

I choked out a whispery little "Hi" and then stood there feeling awkward, as if I was huge and clumsy. Somehow I managed to invite him into the living room where we sat next to each other on the sofa. I was suddenly very aware of how quiet the house was and that Mom and Daddy were only a few feet away on the other side of the wall and with an open stairway I knew my brothers would be able to eavesdrop all they wanted to. Apparently my inability to talk above a whisper right away caught and before long we were lost in whispered conversation.

At 11 o'clock I happened to remember the pecan pie I had baked and asked him if he wanted a piece. And after carefully carrying the lamp out to the kitchen I went to the pantry to get the pie. I got it off the top shelf and was horrified to see that some one had already eaten a piece. I didn't want to serve a pie with a piece missing so I quickly grabbed several dessert plates and cut two pieces of pie and served it that way.

Before we knew it the clock was striking 12. Midnight had come much too soon and it was time for LV to leave. After saying good-bye he closed the door behind him and I quickly blew out the lamp and ran up to my room and looked out the window. With the full moon shining I watched him walk over our field and disappear into the woods.

As I got ready for bed I thought I was going to burst with happiness and looked forward to our next date.