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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


    One of the highlights of every month was the day Irene came. Irene was a lady that loved yard-saling and made her own little business of buying anything she thought the Amish might be interested in which she then organized and loaded in the back of her vehicle and drove from one Amish home to the next to sell the treasures she had found.

    One Saturday we were canning peaches when I looked out the window and saw Irene's familiar blue vehicle pull into our driveway. "Irene is here." I called to Mom. She set the pan of peaches aside and washed her hands and asked me to come with her to see what Irene has today.

    On the way out she told that I did a really good job baby sitting Mahlon all summer and I can choose whatever I want and she will buy it for me.

    I was thrilled. It would be the first time I ever was allowed to choose something to buy. Irene opened the back of her vehicle and there before my eyes was the most beautiful selection of dishes and toys that I had ever seen. There was so much to choose from I thought I could never make up my mind. There were beautiful china dishes with pink  flowers and lovely water and berry sets. And then I saw it. The perfect thing. A cute sugar and creamer set that were standing on a little platter. I knew immediately that is what I want. I pointed it out to Mom and said that is what I want. She asked me if I'm sure, that I can choose anything at all. But I had made up my mind that was what I wanted.

    Mom bought it and I carried it carefully to my room and set it on top of the curio. I was so pleased to be the owner of some nice dishes. It was several years later before it dawned on me that I might not have made the wisest choice when I chose that humble little set from all the beautiful dishes available. But I still love it.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Raw Potatoes

    One day when we came home from school there was a postcard resting on top of the pile of mail on the kitchen table. It was an invitation to the wedding of one of my oldest cousins.

    Mom and Daddy talked about the upcoming wedding at the supper table and decided to attend. With the wedding being in Michigan they would have to be gone for several days. They didn't want us to miss school and since Grandpa Masts and the rest of Mom's brothers and families were all planning to attend the wedding as well it was decided to ask one of the teen-aged girls from a neighboring church district to come and stay with us while they were gone.

   John, David, and I were excited to stay at home and felt only a little bit sorry for Mahlon who was still to little to stay with us. The evening before they left Daddy and John went to bring her to our home so she would be there before they left soon after midnight.

    When Daddy came home he dropped off the girl at the end of the driveway and then he and John drove on out to the barn to unhitch Jim. I peeped out the kitchen window to see who came but I didn't know who it was. Mom went out to the porch to welcome her inside. She was carrying an old brown battered suitcase that she set down inside the door. Mom introduced us to her saying, "Susan this is MaryAnn and David" She proceeded to tell her what our chores were each day, and what she had for her to work on while we were in school.

    I wished we could stay at home. Susan looked like she knew how to have fun. When Daddy came into the house we all got ready for bed. I thought I wouldn't be able to sleep but the first thing I knew we were waking up and Daddy and Mom had left.

    Susan got up and said we need to go do the chores before breakfast. We all went to the barn with her and watched as she sat down beside Jenny and tried to milk her. It must have been her first attempt to try milking a cow because it was the most pitiful sight I had ever seen as she pulled and squeezed but only a few drops of milk plunked noisily into the stainless steel pail. John and I tried to show her how but it wasn't as easy as it looked when we watched Daddy or Mom do it. Susan finally managed to get almost  a quart of milk and decided it was good enough.

    We went inside and saw it had taken much longer to do the chores than we had anticipated and it was almost time to leave for school. We quickly changed and ate a banana while Susan packed a lunch for us. School passed uneventfully enough and when we came home Susan was ready to try the chores right away. It didn't go much better than it had that morning she got a little more than a quart of milk but not much.

    Once we got back to the house she asked us what we would like to have for supper. We wanted potatoes and meat. I went to the basement to get a bowlful of potatoes and once they were peeled I got a great idea. We would eat them raw. We used to each have a slice sprinkled with salt as a snack every evening while Mom peeled the potatoes for supper, but only one slice. Tonight we would get to eat all the raw potatoes we wanted. Susan looked a little dubious about our idea but with all three of us enthusiastically wanting a bowlful of raw potatoes she sliced them and set them on the table.

    As we sat down I couldn't wait to be able to eat all the crunchy salty potatoes I wanted. We passed them and each took a generous helping. I sprinkled salt on a slice and ate it. It was delicious. I sprinkled salt on the next slice and ate it. Still good. The third slice wasn't a treat any longer and I would rather not have eaten the forth. As I eyed the pile of raw potatoes on my plate and the bowl that was still almost full I knew I couldn't eat them any longer. John and David were having the same problem I was. We ate our meat, but we all agreed we had more than our fill of raw potatoes.

    Susan took all of them and put them in a bigger bowl and covered them with water to be used to make mashed potatoes the next day. Our grand adventure of staying at home without Daddy and Mom didn't feel very grand anymore and we could hardly wait until they came home again.

    Ever since that day raw potatoes no longer look tempting.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. April is National Jazz Appreciation Month. Are you a fan? If so what's a favorite you'd recommend to someone new to jazz listening?

I haven't listened to enough jazz to make any recommendations.
2. Mandolin, ukulele, harp, accordion or banjo...which would you be most interested in learning to play? Or do you already play one of the instruments listed?

I don't play any musical instruments. I would love to be able to pick up any musical instrument and play it well, but I don't have the time or the patience to actually learn how to play something. The harp or accordion are my favorites of the ones listed.

3. Do you judge a book by it's cover? Elaborate. You may answer in either/both the literal or figurative sense of the word.

Actual books. That depends. If it's by an author I have read and liked in the past, cover design doesn't matter to me. If it's by someone new, the cover is the first thing that grabs my attention and has a big part in deciding whether or not I'll pull it off the shelf to find out a little more about it.

4. According to a recent studythe ten  most nutritious foods are-almonds, cherimoya (supposed to taste like a cross between a pineapple/banana), ocean perch, flatfish (such as flounder and halibut), chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, swiss chard, pork fat (shocking! but I don't think they mean bacon), beet greens, and red snapper. Are any of these foods a regular part of your diet? Any you've never ever tasted? Which would you be most inclined to add to your diet?

None of these are a regular part of our diet. We do eat halibut and flounder occasionally. Almonds, once in a while.

I've never tasted beet greens, swiss chard, cherimoya, or chia seeds.

Somehow I don't feel particularly inclined to add any of these options to our diet.

5. Besides a major holiday what is the most recent thing you've celebrated with your people? Tell us how.

A birthday would have to be the most recent thing celebrated.
How? The usual ...  food, games, visiting, laughter.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I'll need to get a new colander the next time I go shopping. This happened yesterday.


I thought a Pioneer Woman one would make a nice replacement, but now I'm hearing they chip easily. That makes me sad, because they're so pretty!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Aunt Ella, Her Nieces, and Ice Cream

    Once a year we would all go to Canada to visit Grandpa Swareys and all of Daddy's brothers and sisters. It was something we all really looked forward to. Grandpas had such a cozy little house that was built beside Uncle Solomons house. Aunt Susie and Ella still lived with them. Grandma was short and plump and very cheerful. I loved visiting with her because she had a way to talk that made you feel like you were equals and could share everything that was on your mind without the fear of being secretly laughed at.

    Susie would spend most of the time cleaning vigorously or sewing quilt tops. She would let me snip the threads that held the string of sewn patches but that wasn't nearly as fun as spending time with Grandma or Aunt Ella.

    Ella was not your typical aunt. As a teenager she had polio and suffered devastating effects because of it. But she was always cheerful, delightfully humorous and an all around pleasure to know. A definite favorite to her nieces and nephews. She always had the way of viewing life from the perspective of the age group she was mingling with.

    I couldn't wait to show baby Mahlon to her. I knew she would love him as much as I did. When we arrived everyone came out to welcome us and I wasn't disappointed at how she and Grandma fussed over Mahlon. We unloaded the van and sent the driver to a neighbor who was willing to share a room in their house for him. It wasn't long before more vans came bringing more of Daddy's brothers and their families from several different states. The noise that came with them was delightful and we cousins went to play leaving the grownups to their grownup conversations.

    The day passed swiftly and the next morning brought the rest of Daddy's siblings for a family reunion. What a noisy gathering it was. The women were cooking loads of food and the men were each cranking an ice cream freezer and we cousins were having the time of our lives.

    I don't remember what we had to eat except when it came time be served the ice cream. Seven of us girls approached the line of ice cream freezers where the uncles were doling out portions of all different kinds of flavors, by the time we reached the end of the line our plates were piled high.

    We sat on a bench under a shade tree and started eating, but had barely made a dent in the mountains of ice cream when we were simply too full to eat another bite. We sat there in pure misery trying to eat it. Taking our plates to our mothers never crossed our minds as we had all been taught to eat everything that we had been served. Finally one of us got a bright idea.... at this point it should be brought to attention that Grandpas did not have indoor plumbing. They had a nice little building that accommodated four.

    We casually walked toward the outhouse bearing our heaping plates of ice cream and hurriedly scraped it down the holes. We were ready to leave when who should appear at the door but aunt Ella. She relieved our guilt by saying, "They gave you way too much. Didn't they?" She then proceeded to collect our empty plates and took them inside to be washed. She never told anyone what we did.

Thursday, April 5, 2018


    Summer was always busy, but the summer that Mahlon was a baby was especially so because Mom and Daddy had planted three acres of sweetcorn to sell plus an acre of strawberries and our own vegetable garden.

    Most days when Mom, John, and David went to pick strawberries or hoe the sweetcorn I would have to stay in the house to babysit Mahlon. I enjoyed it most of the time but there were days I wished I could go outside and run and play instead of having to sit on the floor and play with Mahlon.

    And then the time came when the strawberry season was over and the corn no longer needed to be hoed. Mom had picked green beans and we helped get them ready to can. Once they were all in cans she told us we can have the rest of the day off.

    We ran outside and I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I found an old gallon paint pail and we ran behind the barn to where there was an old dry creek bed and all along the banks there were hundreds of burdock plants. We picked pail after pail of the pretty pink and purple burrs and then climbed into the corn-crib and dumped them out until we had a large pile. We sat down and started making baskets with the burrs . We had a whole row of varying sizes of baskets when I decided to make one that was extra big. I started with the sides  and as I was ready to make the bottom it struck me how much it looked like a crown. I lifted it up for John and David to admire too and then set it on top of David's head.

    David was pleased to be wearing it as John and I admired him and then I wanted it back to finish my basket. But now it didn't want to let go of his hair. I pulled at it and I got a few hands full of burdocks and the rest stayed stuck to his hair. John tried to help as we pulled and tugged to get it off David began crying and started running to Mom.

    We followed him, leaving our finished baskets forgotten in the corn-crib. Once we got to the house David found Mom. She took one look at him and set him on a youth chair and started painstakingly picking the burrs from his hair. She got a lot of them but there were many more that were so hopelessly stuck that she had to cut them out. And for several weeks David looked funny with his choppy haircut.

    I don't remember that Mom gave us a lecture but we never tried wearing a burdock crown again.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Gas Thieves

     Since Daddy had started a woodworking shop he had bought several fuel tanks and set them up under our pine trees behind the house. He had allowed us children to paint them a shiny silver and once they were dry he wrote GAS in big black letters on one of them in order to not confuse it with the one holding diesel fuel right next to it.

     It took quite a lot more diesel than gas to run the machinery in the shop but somehow the gas tank got empty before the diesel. Daddy asked all of us if we had opened the valves or if we have any idea why the tank was empty already. We were all clueless about what could be happening to the gas.

     Daddy kept having to fill the gas tank once a month, and then winter came and one morning we woke up to fresh tracks in the snow in front of the gas tank. Daddy wasn't very happy about the idea that someone was stealing gas and decided he is going to try to watch the tank and catch the thieves in the act.

    Sure enough several nights later as he peeped out the kitchen window he saw our neighbors two teen-aged boys filling their gas cans. He hurried down to the basement and out through the shop stopping in the engine room long enough to pick up our gas can.

     He walked up to them and said "Here's some more gas you can have." They jumped and turned around to see who was there. Daddy repeated. "Here is another can of gas for you," and held it out to them. They stammered around a bit and refused to accept it.

     They offered to pay for the gas in their cans but Daddy refused to take any of their money and told them the next time they really need gas to come to the house and he will be glad to give them what ever they need.

     He told them goodnight and came back into the house. They stood there for awhile and then walked home with their gas. But from that night on we never had any problems with gas disappearing and they never came to accept Daddy's offer of free gas either.