Monthly Archives: October 2010

Blustery days, birthdays and bonfires

The wind has been blustery today.  It came in on the trailing skirts of yesterday’s rain, brushing the rain clouds from the sky, and bringing a stellar day, bright and sunny and windy.  I looked out over the yard from my back door this morning and saw the fabric casing from a camp chair blowing across the yard.  I went out and rescued it and brought it into the garage where it can (maybe) get matched up with the proper chair.

The hammock, drying on the wash line was often straight out.

This is my birthday.  I’m 57!   My Sweet Mama, home again from a trip to visit my brother and his wife, Nel and Rose, said that I was born early in the morning.  So I got to really celebrate all day.  People from church as well as other friends are coming for a bonfire and hot dog roast and a hay ride tonight.  Certain Man and I have worried a bit about the wind, but it seems to be abating and it wouldn’t be worth having a bonfire if it wasn’t chilly!  Our brave souls will wrap themselves up and things should be just fine.

There was some chicken stock and deboned chicken in the garage fridge, so I decided that it would be a good day to make some soup.  Our family was on its last loaf of bread, too, so it seemed good to get a batch of bread going.  So morning hours were spent in the kitchen, and the soup and the bread got made.


The soup will help to warm chilled bones tonight, and the small pan of rolls, steamed to the finish, became an after work treat for Certain Man.  It’s called “Dumpf Knepf” (My spelling) and translation is “steam buttons” according to Certain Man.  He pours milk and honey on them and if he has fresh fruit, he puts that on, too.  He ate all but about a third of the pan and went out to get the fire started for tonight.   The bread got baked, some given away and the rest sliced for the freezer.

Every single one of The Offspringin’s called to wish me a happy birthday, and the wonderful wishes racked up all day on Facebook.  Then, in the middle of everything, our precious grandbaby came for a birthday hug for Grammy, and that pretty much made my good day even better!

Almost eighteen months, and very much her own person!


I headed out to the garden to pick some late tomatoes, and when I came back in, I found this sitting on my kitchen table:


Our neighbors brought me a birthday cake!  The timing was perfect, because I can share it tonight.   (This is the family of our little Latin Lupe Lou — far away in Guatemala.)
Her daddy had a birthday just a week ago, and I had made a big crock pot full of succotash for them.  I had discovered (quite by accident) that they loved my succotash made with our own lima beans and home frozen corn.  It seemed like a very small thing for a good friend’s birthday party, so I had sent the crock pot over, and this is what they gave back.  It is hard to outgive these people.  They are the most generous, open hearted people we’ve ever had in our trailer.

And now I am outta’ here to finish getting ready for this evening.
Good friends, good food, and a cold Autumn night.
What a wonderful way to celebrate a 57th birthday!!!



Filed under Uncategorized

Autumn Mornings



It’s a chilly morning at Shady Acres.  Autumn is in the air, and Certain Man’s Wife’s Flowers are probably having some of their last days for this season.

The nights are chilly, and Certain Man is drawn to his fire ring.  He pulls the outdoor chairs into a circle and invites people to come and bring their own food.  “I’ll have the fire and hot water for drinks” I heard him say on the phone.  “If you want to bring something to roast — hot dogs, s’mores or whatever — help yourself!”  A friend works at Dover Millworks and he sometimes brings scrap lumber to throw into the outside woodbox.  Certain Man loves these pieces of wood that catch fire so quickly and burn so evenly.  He sometimes finds chunks of wood to cut up with his chainsaw (Is there a man anywhere that doesn’t somehow love a chainsaw???) and he cuts the chunks into smaller chunks that he can split with his trusty hatchet.

The fire that draws us all in  . . .

. . . looses some of it’s intrigue by the light of day!

I took a morning tour of our yard this morning.
I am caught “flatfooted” by the things I saw and by the way Autumn is creeping up on us.


The little arbor that Certain Man put in towards the “Shady Way” frames the corridor of the seasons.


The leaves are already falling!




Over in the fence row, some of the roses are bravely trying to hang on!


I babied and babied these geraniums when I first planted them.
More recently, I can say that I’ve scarcely remembered they were there.
But they’ve thrived — in spite of my neglect!  

And these bad girls!!!  Let’s just say that they look better than
they ever have.  They just wouldn’t take off and grow! 
Then we put a soaker hose on them and forgot about them.
Maybe they’re just late bloomers.


One of my favorite Fall looks is this Coleus:

It grew up, volunteer-like, at the edge of our walk,
between the stones that edge our front garden and the black top.
I was loathe to pull it out, so I let it grow, and I’m so glad I did. 


Just above the Coleus, I have this planter:

My spindly geranium in this pot has survived in spite of extreme hardship —
Mainly that the person responsible for watering it (CMW) often forgot.


I have a few other pots that are still blooming:

This is an old pressure tank that Certain Man cut in half and I filled with Miracle Grow potting soil.
These flowers have bloomed their hearts out.  Red and White Pentas, blue Salvia and Vinca Vine have proved to be
a far better choice than I thought they might be when I bought them all on clearance in July.


About six weeks ago, I cut back this container of petunias that had gotten scraggly.

The result has been better than I dared hope for.
Also, I learned a few things about cutting back these forgiving flowers.
I think that next year, I’ll be quicker with the shears — but more discerning of the cut.


This is a strange container:

This Celosia is also volunteer.
When it started to grow in this container, I decided to see what it would do.

Sure enough, it got to be really showy!

I wish there were a few more in the container, then it might be a little more balanced looking.
But everytime I see it poking its head up like an important soldier, it makes me laugh.
And it really does have the look of Autumn to it.
It’s another volunteer that I am glad I left alone!

I have another container that I planted all my “left overs” in this year.
There are Zinnias, Snapdragons, Celosia, portulaca, even some lilies
in this brown bucket kind of thing.  The Zinnias and Celosia have done the best.


I planted this Shasta Daisy over by the barbecue pit.
I kid you not, it has been a mess all summer.
I thought at least three times that it wouldn’t live.
Now that the weather is cooler, and it is time to put the flowers to sleep,
It decided it was time to shine!

I have a few Zinnias in the same bed as the Shasta Daisy . . .

Most of them haven’t been my stellar picks,
But the color of this one is perfect for this time of year.

The leaves are beginning to fall in great numbers, even though there is plenty of green.
I look across the yard at the patio and appreciate the colors and the changing landscape.
There is a delicious nip to the air, and everything is changing every day.

I’m looking forward to the holidays.  Looking forward to having Youngest Daughter home for a week, and for the times for family to be together.  The nip in the air reminds me that Winter is coming.  Our family will experience the longest separation that we have so far, and that grips this mama’s heart with an icy hand.  I try hard to not think about it, and busy my hands and my head with the joyous preparations of the season.  The secrets of Christmas are already beginning to accumulate in my heart and in my Christmas room, and it delays the thinking (and dreading) of the coming parting.

And I know the Master of the Seasons.  There is the promise of Spring   There is the promise of New Life.  There is the Hope of Eternal Life.  And the Keeper of the Stars is the Keeper of Youngest Daughter and all my children, Certain Man, and me.

Romans 8:38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.






Filed under Uncategorized

Anybody out there who would like to go to a Pampered Chef party?

Oldest Daughter is having one tonight in our lovely church basement at 6:15.

The demonstrator is none other than my lovely niece,

Joni Slaubaugh Geissinger.

Anyone who wants to come could come as my guest!

I think it sounds like it will be a fun time with a great group of people!

Or you can order online at:

Just go to this website and click on “shop online”

then enter “Christina Bontrager” to find her party.

(You need to put her first name in the first block and her last name in the last block.  I seriously had a time when I went through the loops to see if I could get in — but I did it and you can, too!)


Filed under Uncategorized

Of Study Groups and Lima Beans


This week has been an extraordinarily “full of blessing” week.

For one thing, the Thursday Morning Women’s Study Group has begun to meet again.  And after a year off, I am remembering why it is something that I really don’t want to let fall by the wayside.

And the children!!!  May I just say that these gals have the nicest children?  We have a whole passel of lap babies — there’s Alex, and Amani, and Katie and Danika.  Alex is the oldest and he is not yet six months old.  Danika is the youngest.  She is less than three weeks.  These little ones are so precious. 

And then we have Victoria, Hannah, Derrick, Charis and Delaney.  Nine little ones all together.  Thank God for Ivy, our incredibly capable baby sitter!  She snapped some pictures for me on Thursday:

Mr. Daniel’s toy box is always more fun when you can get inside it!


Here ‘Laney, Victoria, Derrick and Hannah were enjoying their own “Bible Study”. 
(This was after we decided that the piano had to be closed down so the Moms in the other room could concentrate.)


You can always imagine that you are playing the piano —
Or leading a Bible Study —
Or directing the choir —
There is no limit to a good imagination!


When Study Group was over, I went out to my pole bean patch.

Oldest Daughter and I had picked just one row Wednesday night and it got cold and dark, so we decided that we would wait until Thursday afternoon to finish our little chore.  We were astounded that we got almost two bushels off of one row!  Certain Man, Beloved Son in Law, Eldest Daughter, and Our Girl Audrey and Certain Man’s Wife had gotten them all shelled and into a large stainless steel bowl in the fridge over night, awaiting the rest of the picking.

I got a pretty good start on things, and then Eldest Daughter came with our scrumptiously wonderful grandbaby, and we went over the rest of the patch.
Whew! a little over two more bushels, making over four in all from this picking. 
Friend Lynn had stopped earlier in the afternoon and had helped me shell the one five gallon bucket, but it did seem like the shelling of the lima beans was never going to stop!!! 
Certain Man, Beloved Son in Law, Oldest Daughter, Middle Daughter, Our Girl Audrey
certainly didn’t get off easy these two evenings.
They shelled and shelled and shelled.
Steadily and determinedly.
With minimal complaining.
(I think I can say that without telling an untruth . . .)

When there was only about a bushel left to shell,
I got busy with the washing of the shelled beans.
I had some really good help.

“Gimmie a chair pushed up to the sink,
a plastic apron from Grammy’s stash,
and we are ready to go!”



“Push up my sleeves and let me at’em!
Grammy gave me a bucket for a reason, I’m sure.
I think I’m supposed to move these beans one little handful at a time
from the sink over to my little bucket!”


“Uh-oh!  A wormie!
Grammy, why is he putting his head up like that?
I don’t think I like him much!”

“Oh, Well, back to work.
Grammy put the worm someplace else!”


“This is really hard work!
These beans are getting the stirring of their lives!”


“Grammy, am I doing this right?
I’m a good helper, am-n’t I?”


Come see me helping Grandma!
And look!
I like these raw lima beans!
One bite out of each one!”

“See, I can wash whole handfuls at a time!
Swish, swish, swish!”


I’m quite sure they couldn’t do this without me.
My busy little fingers certainly are making a difference!”


“Lookee, Lookee! —
And did you know that the water is really, really cold!?!?!”


“Grammy and me!
We’ll work, and work and work and work.
And soon, we’ll be all done!!
This is hard work!
I’m glad that I can be a helper!
Grammy is getting tired, and she really needs an extra pair of hands . . .
Swishy, Swishy, Swishy!
What fun!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


On a note of praise, I’ve kept a general record of how many beans we’ve gotten this year off our patch, and with what we’ve given away and last night’s tally included, we have gotten around 70 quarts off Certain Man’s 24 pole lima bean plants.  The plants are still hanging full.  If we don’t get frost before full moon, I can probably get at least one more picking. 

What a wonderful gift from God!  I truly give grateful praise.

And my Daddy would be so proud!





Filed under Uncategorized

“Thankful Wall Mural #17”

Our Middle Daughter just finished the latest “Thankful Wall” mural
and got it securely fastened to the wall.
“I think this part gets easier every year,” she said cheerfully.
(And it does!)

This shows the details a bit better.
I am so pleased with the results. 
But then, I always love her creations.
Every year I think it is my favoritest one of all!


Here is the “whole story”

If you should happen to be by our house in the next few months,
Please take a moment to sign our wall with your name
and something that you are thankful for from the year that is just past.

Even if you stop in to just sign the wall, you are welcome!
You will find the mural on the wall behind the door that comes into the utility room from the garage.
It will be a joy to have you!
(I’ll even fix you a cup of hot chocolate while you do your writing.)



Filed under Uncategorized

Home again!

The deck is coming right along.
Today there were three young men working on it.
tonight the flooring is finished and the steps are in.

Looking out the side door, I love the variety and the construction design that has emerged.



I am eager for the railing to get on, but like the wide open look we have here, too.



This I can visualize — a little bit.
a hanging bird feeder in front of the windows that are to our left.
Candle lights in the double windows on either side of the door
A cheery Christmas wreath on the door.


This view is from the side yard. 
I look forward to the railing
(and maybe)
being able to place some window boxes
that are still blooming profusely on the deck railing.

Once again, I am so thankful for Certain Man’s foresight and initiative when it comes to things like this.
I couldn’t have thought it up myself.
(Sure wish I could have!)


It is good to be back home after a whirlwind three days — almost 1500 miles since we left on Friday afternoon.  We got in a little before 4 am this morning, and bed was just so nice..  The day has been another cold and rainy day.  I’ve been doing laundry and trying to find my phone that I misplaced this morning.  Eldest Daughter is bringing some Broccoli Cheddar soup for supper, and I have been looking forward to it ever since she told me about it.  This is souper weather, and there is nothing nicer than a great bowl of soup with a side of Sweet Muffins:

Thank-you, Christi-girl!
I surely do love you. 


Filed under Uncategorized