Monthly Archives: September 2008


  It has been quite a week at Shady Acres.

Last Sunday, I took Our Girl Audrey to see her mother.  “B” is in a nursing home, and had a birthday that Our Girl Audrey wanted to recognize.  Our Girl Audrey’s favorite pie is pumpkin, so we took her mom a piece of homemade pumpkin pie.  They had a nice visit together.  And I took a picture for Our Girl Audrey  and she hated it.  I think she looks wonderful — both she and her mom!  Especially to think that “B” is 84

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I have a young friend who is trying to learn to make pie.  So she came one day and helped me make pie crusts.  We filled her crusts, too, and she has a natural talent for making the crusts.  She came back another day and helped me can apple pie filling.  We also made a sojourn to Byler’s Store, The Amish Greenhouse that is just behind Byler’s, and also made a stop at the Amish store down the road from Byler’s that sells everything:  toys, puzzles, dry goods, games, boots, shoes, hair pins, diapers, books, song books for Amish singings, childrens books, coloring books, church toys, sandbox toys, etc., etc., etc..  It was a wonderful day.  Here is “A” handling pie crust like a pro:
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Middle Daughter, known more and more as “Beeba” finished the Thankful Wall this week:
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And it has already accumulated some signatures:
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Remember:  Anyone is welcome to stop by just to sign the wall if you can’t think of another reason.

On Friday, in the middle of canning apple pie filling, “A” and I had just stopped to make some lunch.  One of the fellows who is working on some remodeling in the chicken house appeared in our laundry room and asked to use the restroom.  That was no problem.  I noticed later that he had gone back to the chicken house, and “A” and I sat down to eat.  Suddenly there was another young man, handsome and clean cut standing in our laundry room and I heard him say, “Is it okay if we use your restroom?’  I looked up and started to say “Sure, go right ahead” to what I thought was another of the construction workers when the face registered in my fur brain and I felt my heart do this flip flop of extreme joy!  “What are you doing here?” I yelped as I scramble to hug my out of state nephew.  He and his beautiful wife and gorgeous children were “just passing through” and decided to stop.  Nothing could have pleased me more.  We brought in the rest of the family, took care of the bathroom needs and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kiddoes and chicken salad sandwiches for the adults.  There were chips and vegetable dip and canned peaches and sweet tea for a hurry-up lunch and then we brought out some ice cream to finish things off.  And then, just as quickly as they came, they were gone, but I will always treasure that unexpected, golden gift of “drop in family” in the middle of an ordinary Friday.
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Jadon and Lauren                Colin

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Mike and Heather and their precious family.

There were other things that this week brought — I took my Sweet Mama shopping on Wednesday, took Our Girl Audrey to the Doctor on Thursday — and finally, took myself to the Walk-in Health care facility because I was feeling so bad and my family doctor was out of state.  They confirmed what I already knew (that I had a raging Urinary Tract Infection) and gave me a prescription.  Thank God I was able to get some help.  I had tried to drown it out with water and Cranberry, but it seemed like I was getting nowhere fast — so now, thanks to their good help, I really do feel mostly recovered.

Which was just in time, too.   Because we were planning for a baby shower here yesterday.  For information on that, go over to http://www.xanga.com/Ikwa  or http://www.xanga.com/fatmarriedmama to see more but here are a few random shops:
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The food table
Ikwa made an impressive, wonderful spread of delicious food.  

And these are the faces around the circle:
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Aren’t friends wonderful things???
I am so thankful for the people who share my life in so many ways

It’s been such a wonderful week.
Thank God for the happy, happy days.

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It looks like Malinda’s Baby Shower will be inside — though the kids can still play outside if they want to.  Swings, bikes, basketball, horseshoes, tetherball, even soccer if there are enough and someone organizes it!  It’s just too damp for fine ladies to sit around outside.  (At least, as of this hour of evaluation.)

Time: 2:00 here at Shady Acres.

And it’s still not too late to tell me you are coming.

Even two o’clock isn’t too late to just show up!

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To our dear Xanga friends–

On Saturday, September 27th, we have a chance to get together for fun, food and fellowship — and to bless a fellow Xanga-sister.

Malinda Keesic Gray (www.Xanga.com/fatmarriedmama)  and her husband, Wes, are expecting their third child, a baby boy, soon.  They are living with her sister, Judi (www.xanga.com/Ikwa) and her husband and two little boys.  Malinda, thinking that two little boys was all she would have, gave away her baby stuff, — and well, you get the picture. 

So, for months, Ikwa and I have been conspiring together about doing a baby shower for her, and it has finally gotten planned.  We had hoped to make it a surprise, but that isn’t going to happen because of work schedules and such. 

Anyhow — this is an invitation to any Xanga Sister/friend who is interested in coming for the shower.  If the weather is nice, we will have it in the pavilion, here at Shady Acres.*  Kids are welcome, and there will be plenty for them to do.  But we need to know how many are coming.  You can either go over to Ikwa’s blog and message her, or you can message me here — or call me.  Also, if you need ideas, feel free to message or call me.

And Middle Daughter is hoping to have the Thankful Wall up by that time, so you will get to see and sign!

It’ll be fun.  Hope to see you here.

*If the weather isn’t agreeable, we will just move everything indoors. 

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OH, DEAR!!!
Oh, NO!

I stepped out my back door unto my deck and found one of my rail window boxes upside down on the deck.

We are almost to the time of the ending of the flowers. 

I do not think it will recover.

But guess what!!!  I think this is the first season that I haven’t had this happen sometime during mid-summer in a storm or wind or something.  And usually when one goes, there are three or four.

So, just ONE, this late in the season, is not so bad.

It does remind me that I should get my resourceful husband to think of a way to make them more stable.

He could do that, I bet!!!

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More Musings about Grateful Praise

I posted about my pilgrims yesterday afternoon, and then went out to talk to Certain Man about the state of things in the chicken house.  In the middle of his sermon yesterday, he stopped and said, “You are going to have to excuse me — Deborah, the chicken house alarm is going off, could you or Gary or someone go and check it for me please?”  And so Rachel, who is our chicken house gal, went home to check on things.

For those of you who were in Delaware yesterday, you know that it was an oppressively hot, humid day.  We have big chickens, and as carefully as Certain Man was to manage things properly, we still suffered a heat loss.  500 of our biggest, nicest birds.  Chicken growers know that heat always gets the biggest ones.

So I asked him what he was going to do about picking up the dead.  “Oh,” he said, matter of factly, “I’ve been throwing them to the doors all day.  It is just a matter of picking them up.”

“I’m going to come help,” I said. 

“No, you stay in the house.  It’s too hard for you.”  He smiled at me reassuringly and headed on out. 

The humidity was still high, the temp was still over 80, but he thought that since night was falling he might just as well get busy.  I took care of some in the house things, fielded a call from Youngest Son in Ohio (Who was out of electricity for almost 30 hours) and finally got out of my still Sunday dress and pulled on an old dress from the closet.  I found an old kerchief to put around my Sunday clean hair, and found my old chicken house sandals.  Beloved Son in Law is the one person who so often helps at a time like this, but he was out with an old friend.  Youngest Daughter was memorizing for Quiz team, Middle Daughter had disappeared into the upper story.  And  Eldest Son and His Beloved were at their home.  Eldest Daughter does not do Chicken House Stuff.  She had come to spend the evening with home folk while Beloved Son in Law was out with his friend.

“I’m going out to help Daddy pick up dead chickens,”  I said to Eldest Daughter as she sat with her laptop in her Daddy’s La-Z-Boy recliner.

“Nice do-rag!” she commented briefly, looking at my perky kerchief over the edge of her computer. 

“Yes, well — ” I said, and went out into the dusky light.  The magnificent sunset stopped me for a minute, but then I saw Certain Man out by the chicken house with his reliable little tractor and loader and knew I had best get on my way.  I came around the tractor to see a great pile of chickens inside the chicken house on the floor in front of the main door.  Certain Man was methodically throwing them, one by one, onto the loader.

“How’s it coming, Sweetheart?” I asked him.

“Well, it’s not going too bad,” said my husband.  (I never quite know just how things truly are by his responses.  Sometimes I think that something cataclysmic has happened because of what he says, and then I find out that it wasn’t really quite as earth-stopping as it sounded.  And then there are times when things are really, really awful, and he is unusually cheerful about it all.)

“Are you almost done?”

“Well, I’m done with house one, and have the worst half of house two done, and I have house three yet to go.  House three will be the worst.”

“What can I do?  How can I best help?”

“Suppose you drive the tractor!” he says with a gleam in his eye.

“I don’t know how to drive the tractor!” I say indignantly.  In my mind, I can see the posts to the compost bins come tumbling down while I try to dump the bucket load of chickens into what seems like an inordinately small space.

“Sure you can.  I’ll teach you!”

“Why don’t you drive the tractor and I’ll pick up chickens.”

“You should go in and get boots,” he said sternly, looking down at my chicken house sandals.  “These chickens have sharp claws.  You’re liable to get hurt.”

“I don’t have any chicken house boots,” I said cheerfully.  “Let me try and see how it goes, and if I need to go get shoes, I’ll do it.”

And so we set to work.  He loaded the chickens that were thrown to the door, and then came and helped me to pick up in the house.  Then, when there was a big pile by a door, he would go and load them up and take them to the compost bins.  One of the best blessings of our marriage has been that we can work together really well (once we settle who is doing what!) and the time passed with good camaraderie and cooperation.  We finished house two and went on to house three.  And it was worse than house two, but Certain Man had gone before, and many of the chickens were picked up and thrown to the doors.  There were still a number to pick up, but while he loaded and hauled the ones that were already gathered, I was able to finish covering the house and finally, we were down to the last door.  I stood on the inside, while he stood on the outside with both of us loading the last load.  That was when I noticed that he was only using his left hand to pitch them on except on very rare occasions.  Then his right arm would only bring them up to somewhere between his knee and waist, and with a wrench somewhere in my middle, I knew that his troublesome shoulder was giving him alot of pain.

“Sweetheart, is that shoulder really hurting?”

“Yeah, well, it is the way it is.  It’s been bothering me ever since this morning at church . . .It’ll be alright.”

We finished up, and he took the last load to the compost bins.  I went in to get a shower and wash my hair and get ready for bed.  It was already pretty late.  I was amazed again at how dirty a person can get, and how wonderful it feels to be clean.  I watched the dirt swirl down the drain and thought about pilgrims and clean houses and celebrating Harvest and keeping family traditions and being thankful.  And I thought about how my life holds so many incongruities and contradictions.  I can be in the middle of one beautiful thing and enjoying it to the fullest, and in such a short time be at an entirely different place with anything but beautiful and esthetic surroundings, and yet it is all life.  Even in (maybe especially in) the dirt and the smells of death.

Yesterday in that smelly, hot chicken house, I saw again how Certain Man’s courage and love give life and meaning to me and to our children.  How his example of keeping on when it’s hard and when it hurts and when it seems like you have to do it mostly by yourself is something that is beyond price.

And so, while I am glad for the finer reminders to be thankful in this Season of Grateful Praise, tonight I give thanks for a reminder I found among the losses strewn in the heat at a chicken farm in Delaware.

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More Pilgrims
If you were to come into our back door, this is one of the first things you would see.

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Almost everyone comes in through our garage and laundry room.  These pilgrims have sat the harvest season on my washer or dryer ever since I bought them.  They have a story, too.  I bought these when I felt I could hardly afford them.  They had been something I wanted for a long time, and finally they went on sale or I got them with a coupon or something.  I was so pleased.  When I went to the car, I couldn’t find my keys, so I was scrambling in my purse, trying to find them when I dropped the bag and these pilgrims shattered.  I brought them home and lovingly repaired them.  Thankfully, they were not the smooth, ceramic kind of pilgrims.  Now the scars and the irregularities remind me of how quickly things can be broken — not just pilgrims made out of synthetic materials, but real live people and hearts and things like trust and innocence.  We can never be too careful with the eternal things.  But I am thankful that God can repair even the most broken of things and make them a thing of beauty again.

Beside the washer and dryer, on the window sill, is this:

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This is a series of small Pilgrims and Indians that I think I got at the Dollar Tree.  There is a repeat of figurines, but they are so sprightly and make the window look so sweet.
There is another set of Pilgrims and Indians in the laundry room, but they are not my favorite, so I am not showing them.  You will be bored until I’m done, anyhow.
Into the kitchen, and on the window sill at one end is this set:
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And at the other end is this one:
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These two are more whimsical and they were gifts to me.  I find them perfect to brighten my day while I am doing kitchen chores, and they remind me that people come in all shapes and styles, but they can still bring light to the darkest corners.
On the bakers’ rack going into the dining/family room, there is this one:
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My kids call this my “Amish” one because the faces are not carved in detail.
Also on the bakers’ rack are these two precious pieces:

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. . . and I love the Pilgrim chill-jens
(as Youngest Son used to say)

Back when I was a child, these candle Pilgrims were very popular:
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These two are special to me because their noses are smashed flat.  When Beloved Son in Law was a young married chap, he brought the two of them together in an especially forceful “kiss” and it smashed their noses clean off.  He is not quite so impulsive, but he is still an affectionate and wonderful son in law and still very “beloved.”
Also, somewhere along the line, I found two sets of candles like these:
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And even thought it may not look like it, their noses are unscathed.

When we remodeled the family room, we not only put in two new windows where there were none before, but Certain Man complied with my request and made wide window sills.  Here, we also display Pilgrim couples and autumn flora.
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This little set I found at a store in Pennsylvania that sells liners, lids and accessories for Longaberger baskets.  They also carry some gift items, and this little set caught my eye.

In our Living room, there is a most ancient clock.  It is so old that it has wooden gears, and it is still in great condition.   It runs, it chimes, it keeps good time most of the time. Certain Man’s family had an old clock shelf that was of the same material as the old clock, and he, being the master of resources that he is, put the two together, and the effect is interesting and beautiful.  I don’t have my flowers and colors up yet, but the shelf has interesting corners and this is what we find there:
In the middle, under the clock:
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Then on the left side is this pair:
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And on the right is this roly poly set:

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And that is a tour of the Pilgrims — minus the two sets I showed you before.  I was at Good’s Store yesterday, and I found a cute little set and even had it in my cart, but it didn’t stand the test of time.  In other words, by the time I had trucked around the store a time or two, Eldest Daughter had said, “Mom, you’re a fiend!!!” often enough to make me rethink it and leave them there.  It was better, anyhow.  I had said that I wouldn’t be buying any more this year, so I really shouldn’t have even be thinking about buying another set.  I have room for more, but I don’t want to use it all up at once.   Besides, it is more fun to get a set that has a story with it instead of just accumulating.

Again, stop buy sometime and I will show you around.

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This was an account that I wrote six days after the attack on the Twin Towers.  I reread it in these past few days and realized that there were so many things I didn’t/couldn’t know at that time, but that there were things that I needed to think about even now, to revisit and check my heart and attitude about, and though I certainly haven’t figured everything out, I still believe that God’s children are called to be peacemakers and not war-mongers.

CMW and the Times that Be

    It was Monday.  The events of the last six days had been weighing heavy on the heart of Certain Man’s Wife (CMW).  On the sad, sad Tuesday before, she had been listening to the program  “Morning Edition” from National Public Radio as she drove Old Gertrude to an appointment. 
    At nine o’clock, as they finished out their morning broadcast they came back on to say, “This just in.  We have a report that an airplane has just crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City.”  Now CMW is pretty much “Slower Lower Delaware.”  It just didn’t register at first.  But the reports kept coming, and the sadness began to wash over her in ever increasing waves.  When the news flashes became two airplanes, then the Pentagon was burning, then there was another hijacking, it became too big to assimilate.
    From the very first, there was talk of WAR.  And the draft.  On that morning, as she drove home from the appointment, the implications and overwhelming possibilities put their stitches on every thought like a sewing machine with the tension too tight.  
    “Lord Jesus,”  She prayed, “what of our Country?  What shall we do?  How shall we respond?  And I have a nineteen year old son.  Whatever will become of him?  And all the other young men who find themselves in a position of peace and non-resistance?”   No answers, except the freeing sense of peace that none of this was out of the hands of the Father.
    And so the days passed.  The family talked and talked and talked.  Second Daughter wept much as she thought of her Muslim family in Bangladesh, some with family members state side.  Certain Man articulated strong feelings and Mennonite doctrine that didn’t always reconcile to his satisfaction.  Eldest Son was often pensive, not discussing things with anyone, listening over the edge of his book with a thoughtful eye.  Youngest Son was fierce in his passion that evil had been done, but struggled with his sense of justice tempered by a head commitment to non-resistance and his compassionate heart.  Youngest Daughter discussed much with her Hispanic friend just what had happened and what it meant.  CMW pondered and pondered and pondered.  Especially troubling to her was the treatment that innocent people were receiving at the hands of American Zealots.  Over and over her heart cried, “It isn’t right!”
    But Monday, she had an appointment in Dover.  Eldest Daughter was going along, and as they started out, she said to CMW, “Mom, do you need gas?”  
    CMW looked at her gas gauge with puzzlement and said, “Not particularly.  Why?”
    “Well, Mom,” she said.  “There is a gas station in Dover run by this man that looks Arab.  He wears a turban and ever since this happened, no one is buying gas from him, and I think we ought to go up there and fill up.”  
    CMW looked in respect at this adult-offspring.  “Christina, that’s a wonderful idea!  Let’s!!!”
    CMW knew about the gas station.  It is called US Gas.  It is a full-service station on Route 13 that does healthy business as a rule.  They have competitive prices, and still fill your tank for you.  The owner is a big man.  With turban and flowing locks, he has always seemed pretty foreboding and invincible to CMW.  She has even fancied that he walked with a swagger, and she has NEVER bought gas there before.  She never felt a need to.  His gasoline bays were usually full, and she has a perfectly useful gas station just a mile from her house.  
    But on this day, she made the decision to do as suggested by Eldest Daughter.  It seemed right to, somehow.  So she pulled up to the unusually empty gasoline pumps and waited.  A fresh-faced young man of Middle Eastern descent came out to pump her gas.  He made no conversation and did not clean her windshield, but dutifully stuck the nozzle into her tank and then disappeared.  The gas totaled up and stopped at $18.78 or some such odd number.  CMW took a twenty dollar bill from her wallet and waited.  
    “Mom,” said Eldest Daughter, “aren’t you going to give a tip?”  
    “A tip?  No, I’m not going to give a tip.  You don’t tip when you’re buying gasoline.”  
    “Yes, Mom.  You need to give a tip.  When it is full service, it is nice if you give a tip.  I think you should.”
    Now CMW does not agree with this.  She never has, and still doesn’t.  But it seemed as if the Lord spoke to her heart and said, “No Change, Mary Ann.  Just give the twenty and don’t take change.”  And so she agreed in her heart that she would take no change.  
    But the fresh-faced young attendant was nowhere to be seen.  Turbaned Man walked back and forth in front of his gas station.  He did not swagger.  He walked old and tired.  His shoulders spoke of burdens.  He finally walked over to the car, and topped off the tank at $19.00.  He came up to the window, and his face was guarded. CMW smiled into his bearded, brown face and handed him the twenty.  
    “No change.” she said, and began to close the window.  He didn’t understand and began to fumble with his roll of money.  
    She smiled her best at him and said again, “No change.  Just keep the change.” and averted her eyes and closed the window and left.
    Now Turbaned Man did not dance a jig or swagger.  He did not thank CMW and he did not act grateful.  (It was, after all, just a dollar.)   But the incident has rolled around all day in her heart and she has come to realize something very important in the hours since then.  
    It has nothing to do with dollars or tips or even gasoline.  It wasn’t for Turbaned Man that she needed to do this.  It was for her own heart.  To delineate where the allegiance really lies. To clarify what obedience to the Father truly means in (yes!) Slower Lower Delaware.  You see, it is all well and good for us to debate what should be done to the terrorists.  We can argue the abilities of our government to make good decisions or bad decisions.  We have the intelligence to see where given choices might lead us, and to determine whether they are worth the risk or not.  We have the right to chose our opinions and responses to the situation.  But any of these things will be just that– our determinations, our opinions, our choices.  The chances of that affecting how this tragedy is played out in the rest of the world are minimal.
    But before God, the thing all of us should do is to figure out how we can live fearlessly and lovingly in a world that has gone so wrong.  We need to determine what we can do to stop conflict and injustices that occur under our noses every day.  We need to watch for opportunities to exercise our hearts in ways that go beyond the hurts and fears and agony of these days and brings healing and restoration in our corner of the world.  We need to seek to be Jesus with skin on to those who see us every day.  That’s a lot harder to do than to have an opinion on what the Government should do about terrorism (at least it is for CMW).  But something hard is no less right.
    And that is the news from Shady Acres, where CM’s job has brought him face to face with this crisis in ways he never had to think of before,  where CMW needs to get off her soapbox and practice instead of preach, and where all the children will someday wake up and realize that they have lived in times that will be forever stamped in history.

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