Monthly Archives: April 2014

Bluebirds and butterflies and birthdays

I was checking on the tulips out by the grape arbor and decided to check the rain gauge and my bluebird nest while I was at it. Image Before I got there, lying quite still and cold upon the ground was a daddy bluebird.  It was featherweight in my hand when I cradled it there.  I looked for injury but there was none to be seen.  I saw Certain Man out by the barn where he was trying to put the spring calves back into their pen, and I went to him with my find.  He, too, could find no injury or reason for its demise.  He took it from me, looked it over carefully  and then put it into the composter.  There was really nothing else to be done.  An especially virulent strain of bird influenza is about these days and he could not take any chances.  I understood, but it didn’t seem fitting, somehow.

I decided to check the birdhouse where there had been five blue eggs just a week ago, so I approached the box and knocked gently on the side.  No adult bird appeared, so I opened the turn nail and lifted the hinged door.  There were some sorry looking scraps of tiny birds huddled in a disheveled looking nest.  One or two of them struggled to raise their heads a bit but sank back down.  I felt sick.  I closed the box back up, went and got mealy worms for the feeder that was close at hand in the tree, rehung a waterer in the same tree and decided to leave things alone.  I felt the sadness, deep and penetrating.

“. . .nesting bird nor star in heaven, such a refuge e’re was given.”

It has been a pensive week.  Yesterday my brother (who has, from childhood, always been my friend) and his family buried a sixteen month old girlie.  It was also Mark, Jr.’s 58th birthday.  You don’t say “Happy Birthday” to a man on a day like yesterday.  But I can speak a blessing.

And this I do say:

May the years to come mark this day with a surge of joy as you remember a little girl who could light up a room with her smile.  May you be blessed to remember that God entrusted Ariel to your family and that you did not fail her on a single count of love or care or faith or nurture.  May your heart be light as you remember that you rejoiced over her with singing.  And may this day be remembered by something other than a small grave in a Delaware cemetery that holds only the chrysalis of a Heavenly Butterfly that is more alive now than any of us are or ever will be in this life.  May the memories that you have made this weekend as a family be the things you remember whenever these days come up in conversation, by inference or in the quiet remembering of your own soul.  Although mighty forces have waged war against you and your family, do not anything worry.  You already have the victory.”

And I surely do love you and yours!



April 29, 2014 · 10:51 pm

Those Purple Tulips

The tulips are gorgeous this year.  Tucked into an out of the way corner, I had a single purple tulip that came as part of a “Purple Flowering Plants” gift package from Arbor Day Foundation a few years ago. This year there were two blooms.  I plucked them from their spot the other day and brought them in and put them in their own vase on the kitchen window sill.


Certain Man, looking perplexed, said, “Why did you pick your only purple tulips?”

“Because I can,” I answered. “Because they were almost hidden where they were growing.”

“They weren’t hidden,” he said.

“They were right up by the front steps.” I said, argumentatively. “No one could see them.” I went to the front door and he followed. We both looked down at the tulip leaves that were sticking their empty, waxy leaves out to the morning sun.

“See,”  I say, unnecessarily, “they were right there by the front steps and the fence and other flowers are in the way, and no one could see them until they were almost past and . . . ”

He kinda shook his head and said, “People could see them. They were right THERE!”

“I know,” I said meekly. “But I couldn’t see them there unless I was going out to get the mail. I want to look at them. They cheer me up.”

“Whatever,” he said, not unkindly, and went back to “whatever” (it was that he was doing).

It’s another case of the differences between my good husband and me. He doesn’t like me to pick the flowers too much because then there aren’t any out there to make the outside look nice. The fact that these are the only purple tulips made him think they should be outside.  Where they grew. The fact that these are the only purple tulips made me think they should be inside.  Where I could see them.

“There are plenty of others out there for her to pick,” I can imagine he thinks, “I don’t know why she isn’t content to pick some of those and leave these alone.”



Well, I DO pick those (not enough to cause him too much angst) but there is something about these splashes of purple that just speak something hopeful and special to this Delaware Grammy.

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April 23, 2014 · 2:08 pm

Easter Story Cookies

Here is the post that goes with the photo album that is over on Facebook, called “Carrying on the tradition.” I had blogged the actual recipe with the scripture references back in April, 2006, and I’m reblogging for those of you who may want this recipe. NOTE: This was not the recipe we used for the Bible study children on Thursday.

Delaware Grammy

The following is a recipe that I got nearly ten years ago. I have used it over and over again with the children that have been a part of our family over the years. Youngest Daughter and “our” Hispanic children used to love to be involved with the making of the cookies.(I remember that one year, Vicente broke one of my wooden spoons while he was beating the pecans.) Just this morning, Lupe, who is now 18 mentioned wistfully that we haven’t done this for a number of years. I plan to do this tomorrow evening even if I have to do it all by myself. I put markers in my bible with the references on them sticking out so that I can find each verse without having to spend time looking for them. I hope that some of you will find this to be a blessing in your family.

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Catching the Spring


Nettie and Me.  Off on a golf cart ride, picking flowers from the grounds of Shady Acres Farm.  We inspect the bird houses.  One has the beginnings of a nest.  One has spiders and things that no self respecting bird would think of having in their home.  And one!  Ah, one!  has a finished bluebird nest and one egg already there.  Hope in a box with twigs and leaves.

Nettie has had a tough week.  Vague complaints of phantom pains in her stomach, legs, back, and frantic cries of “all over my body tingling.”  And then a brief psychotic episode that had me worried.  Lots of conversation.  Extra attention.  Time and Time and Time.  She is doing so much better, but still so fragile.

Certain Man took our trusty golf cart to the repair shop yesterday and got it fixed.  New batteries and a general all over check up.  It rides sweet and smooth.  He probably wouldn’t have done it, but he made promises to (grandsons) Simon, Liam and Frankie when we were in Ohio two weeks ago and it was too cold to take their beloved wagon rides with Grampa.

“Grampa is going to take the golf cart and get it fixed and when you come the weekend after Easter, we will go for a ride then!”

How Grammy’s heart sang to hear this.  That old golf cart, bought second handed for a good price, has saved many a step on the farm, and it is especially nice when the day has been long and yet another chicken house alarm is screaming for attention.  It’s been great for toting kids around, too.  When he brought it home yesterday, all fixed and smooth running, I was like one of the grandsons in my delight.  I could hardly wait for an excuse to take a ride.

Late yesterday afternoon, quite by accident, I found out that Nettie loves to ride the golf cart, too.

“Do you wanna’ go for a ride with me, Nettie?” I asked her on impulse. She was sitting in her room, her Saturday chores all done.   “I’m going out to see what Daniel is doing.”

“I’d like that,” she said in one of her rare decisive moments.

She got her shoes. We went out around the old manure shed, around the west end of the chicken houses and spotted Daniel spraying along his chicken houses.  We made a circle around the back pasture and then came up to the barn to find that two of the littlest calves had escaped their enclosure and were running free.  Daniel found one, picked it up and carried it back to safety.  We went after the other one with the golf cart, Nettie enjoying every minute, and when he wouldn’t stay put on the back of it, we helped Daniel herd him back to the barn and his fellow fence mates.  And then we returned to the house and Saturday chores for me and evening television for Nettie.

This afternoon, with Certain Man and Middle Daughter at a concert and Cecilia safely ensconced on a recliner in the sun room, Nettie and I set forth again.  She chatted amiably and made astute observations.  We checked on the asparagus (three more shoots peeking) and then did a circle of the yard, picking flowers and smelling smells of spring.  She carried the flowers, and brought them in and laid them carefully on the counter.  I found a vase for them and they are brightening a spot on the dining room table.

Winter is so hard for some of us who sometimes struggle for equilibrium in dark days.  But these days!  These gloriously gorgeous, perfectly beautiful days speak hope and future and GOD to the sadness.

And my heart gives grateful praise.



April 13, 2014 · 7:50 pm

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The cold is creeping in on the wind.  All day it has been colder than they promised.  I’m still recuperating from my latest sinus infection, and my energy is at low ebb. It feels like I have gotten precious little done today.  Outside, I hear Certain Man’s chain saw as he works at trimming back his burning bush at the edge of the house.  I stir around in the kitchen, making food for our church family’s potluck tomorrow.


A day that Certain Man and I have waited for with eager hearts for some time.  Tomorrow, our church installs Dale Keffer as our overseer and the position of Chairman of the Leadership Team gets passed to Joshua Slaubaugh.  I don’t expect that we will be less busy, but the weight of responsibility will be so different, and along with full support of our new overseer and church leader, we are both full of grateful praise.  Our church has been so kind to us.  So supportive.  And we have been blessed in the eight years since Certain Man has been “first among equals.”  But he is far more comfortable being a deacon than he is being chairman and it is the right time for this to happen.  I cannot begin to say how glad we are.

And now that I’ve sat a bit, and warmed up from my trek outside to see that good work that Certain Man was doing, I am going back to my kitchen.  It is almost time to call it a night.

One more night before a brand new day.  My heart gives grateful praise.


April 6, 2014 · 12:21 am

Grammy and the Legos  

Three is an abundance of Legos in the old farmhouse at Shady Acres.  When Eldest Son and Youngest Son were growing up, they spent many happy hours creating things and Youngest Son would even have contests with cousins and friends and things would get very interesting.  Especially if Delaware Grammy (who was “Mom” or “Mama” or “Momma” or even “Mo—OM!!!” then) was called upon to judge such creations and the eager eyes of Youngest Son or a nephew or a friend were watching with bated breath and anxious expressions. Over the years, Certain Man (now Delaware Grampa) and Certain Man’s Wife (now Delaware Grammy) added to the basic collections with smaller collections from land, sea, air and even space and the Legos overflowed their boxes and took up lodging in places never intended for the safe keeping of these diverse building blocks that are so mesmerizing to people regardless of their age and gender.

But I digress.  This was to make the point that there are LOTS of Legos.  There is the big red bucket full and a Tupperware container full, and always, always there were odds and ends around in strange places.  About a month ago, Delaware Grammy got tired of having Legos that were largely inaccessible and mostly uncontainable and extremely frustrating.  It was a real chore to get kids to pick them up if ever they were allowed to have them out, and it often ended up that at least some of them would be smuggled out of sight for someone to pick up “later.”  Of course, this made it difficult for Delaware Grammy to be enthusiastic about getting them out in the first place.  Because of this, the Legos were not getting much play time at all.  And that troubled Delaware Grammy because the grandkids were getting older, Legos are such educational toys and there was a considerable amount of financial investment in them as well.  It just seemed like a waste of something good to keep them stored away.

About the same time that Delaware Grammy got tired of the many containers of Legos, she commenced to clean out her study where most of them were stored.  In the process of cleaning the study, she had to move the Lego boxes around quite a few times and after about the fourth time, she decided to sally forth to the local department store and buy a big storage box for the Legos.  All of them.  Sure enough, in her favorite aisle that offers all sorts of storage bins and boxes, the perfect box was found.  It was an “Under the Bed” box, with wheels and a lid that folded up in the middle so that you could have half a box open at once if you so desired.  It was large enough that the Legos could be rooted through and they would be seen with enough clarity that dumping everything out on the rug could quite possibly become a thing of the past.

Aha!  Delaware Grammy seized upon it with delight and with great maneuverings and “Excuse Me, please,” and adept and fascinating quick moves, managed to tote it to the checkout without disaster.  Payment was made and the box of many qualities came home to the farmhouse at Shady Acres.  Delaware Grammy and Granddaughter Charis fetched all the Legos and dumped them into the container.  Glory be!  It was perfect for the job for which it was acquired.  The many Legos tumbled into the box and there were great exclamations of delight from all concerned.  However, Delaware Grammy found out almost immediately that one of its more unfavorable characteristics was that it was almost an inch too high to fit under a bed.  The only place that she could think of that was easily accessible and wasn’t already occupied was under Our Girl Nettie’s bed, but when she and Granddaughter Charis were storing it, they found that the new box just didn’t slide under with the ease that was hoped for.  Almost.  But not quite.

Delaware Grammy struggled a bit, then said, “I’m going to lift up this end and you can just slide it right under!”  And she did, and even though the bed that Nettie appeared to enjoy a bit more support than it had previously, Delaware Grammy thought that it was probably all for the best, and that having so snug a fit would prevent “just anyone” from dragging them out at any old time without permission.

There came a time, a week or so later, when Granddaughter, Charis had come for the night.  Grandpa was at a Men’s  meeting, and Grammy and Charis had the house to themselves.  Charis was playing with a great pile of Legos and Grammy was cleaning out her study.  There was this huge pile of family photo albums that Delaware Grammy wanted to transport from the study, through the side room, across a bit of kitchen floor, through the dining/family room and into a far corner of the living room.  The task looked indomitable – that is, until Delaware Grammy thought of piling the books onto her trusty, wheeled desk chair and using it to make one trip instead of a five or six.  Oh, boy!  An in house truck!

So, she loaded the big chair down and actually managed to get all 24 the albums on there.  It was a precarious stack but Delaware Grammy decided to make a go for it.  She did think a bit ruefully of Sweet Mama’s gentle admonition that she heard often as a child when such endeavors were attempted.  Often when there was a big load of anything that Delaware Grammy was struggling to move in just one trip, Sweet Mama would say, “That’s a lazy man’s load!” meaning that taking big, unsafe loads was actually trying to get out of work.  This was definitely a “Lazy Man’s Load!”

It was fairly easy going over the flat, worn out carpet in the study.  It was smooth sailing over the alcove and kitchen floor’s linoleum.  It was a bit more difficult over the bumpy carpet in the family room, but when DG got to the living room, the going was really tough.  Plus, there was a little girlie with her box of Legos spread out right in the walkway.

“Charis,” said Delaware Grammy excitedly, “look at Grammy’s truck!”

Charis looked up from her project and briefly acknowledged the unusual mode of transportation.  “Uh-huh!” she said, distracted by her project.

“Charis,” said Delaware Grammy, “Could you move your Legos and the box over so Grammy can push her truck through here to get over to the back corner?”

“Uh-huh,” said Charis, again a bit distractedly.  She made a few swipes at the Legos and tried to get things together.  It was going somewhat slower than Grammy wanted, so she left her position behind the truck and started scraping things together with her big foot.  That worked, a little, but the box was in the way.  The wonderful box that had wheels and lots of storage and was low enough to the ground to go under the bed sat solidly in its place.  Grammy took her foot and tried to move it along with a wide sweep of Legos.

This was a very bad idea, as she was just about to find out.  When her foot hit that box, it was at the end of a wide sweeping motion and Delaware Grammy’s balance was entirely off.  Suddenly, she was struggling to stay upright.  Except there was nowhere to go!  The box was in front of her, the truck was behind her, the post for the stairs was to  her right  and a coffee table was to the left.  She tried in vain to find her footing, dancing in the same spot for a brief instant, even turning towards the post, scrambling for a handhold to steady herself, but all was in vain.

Down she crashed in all her glory, landing squarely on her rear end on the edge of THAT BOX!  One thing she found out really quickly was that that box really was sturdy!  It did not give a single bit.  Didn’t bend, didn’t crack, didn’t break.  It seemed that it did eventually tip sideways and hit her in the back, but that certainly wasn’t the dilemma at the time.

“Grammy, you fell!” Announced a little voice from somewhere in the vicinity.  Delaware Grammy was dimly aware that she was fluttering anxiously about.  “Grammy!  You fell!” She said again, very worriedly.

“Yes, Grammy fell.  Silly old Grammy,” said Delaware Grammy as she floundered about looking for something substantial enough to get a hold of.  She eventually got herself up on her knees and got a firm hold on the bottom step of the stairs and hauled herself up.  Everything seemed to work, nothing appeared broken, but Wowser!!!  Something really hurt in the vicinity of her tail bone.  She recalled hearing something “pop” when she landed, but there was obviously nothing major amiss.

“That must have been the ‘pop’ you hear when you crack your fingers,” she decided and gingerly went about the rest of her evening.  Beloved Granddaughter seemed unscathed by the experience, and the photo albums were put into their designated spot.  And that was mostly the end of it.

Except for the fact that Delaware Grammy has had to be very careful where she sits and how she sits ever since.

“You would think,” she thought this morning as she carefully lowered herself into her favorite chair, that this bruise and bump would be gone by now.”  But it is still very much a consideration when Delaware Grammy is looking for a place to sit.  It is definitely better, and she made it to and from Ohio last weekend without too much pain and spent many happy hours on the road with Delaware Grampa and even more happy times with the Ohio Grandsons, so it is getting better, and one of these days, it will be but a dim memory.

And that is part of the news from Shady Acres, where the wind is blowing the laundry straight out, Beloved Granddaughter has been helping Grandpa plant some garden, and Delaware Grammy is loving this wonderfully sunny day!


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It has been an unusual three months for this Delaware Grammy.  I’ve had the flu, an infection in my mastoid sinuses, pink-eye, head cold, bronchitis and now another infection in my sinuses — the front ones this time.

I’ve always prided myself on not getting sick.  “I almost never get sick,” I would say, and sometimes quoted my friend, Louise Schlabach DiGennero who once said to me, “I think God allows Mommies to ‘get just enough’ sick to be merciful.”  That has been something that was pivotal for me as a parent.  When I was slightly miserable and sick, I would remember what Louise said and wonder how much worse the little bodies felt with what I had and a LOT more going on in their little bodies, and it was easier to be patient and understanding and even to clean up after them one. more. time. without losing my cool when I really just wanted them to get well and stay well.

And that is what I’ve wanted for me, too, these last few months.  But I need to face it.  Any attempts to say that I almost never get sick are futile attempts at self deception and downright dishonest.  I could be tried for perjury and would be found guilty.

So my sinuses have been acting up again — to the point where I can neither smell or taste.  There have been lots of attempts to correct this with essential oils as well as Musinex and even a once daily nasal spray.

Nothing appears to be living up to the claims on the sides of the boxes.

Today I took Nettie to an appointment in Lewes and since it is somewhat a tradition, and the hour was getting late, I stopped to get her lunch at Dunkin’ Donut.  They have good sandwiches on croissant rolls, and she decided that she wanted a tuna salad sandwich with a coffee.  Even though I can’t taste, I keep hoping that the next time I will eat something, the spell will be broken and I will be able to again enjoy some food.  I looked at the menu and decided to add a chicken salad sandwich and a small sweet tea.

The gal at the counter served us our lunch in a brown paper bag,  Two sandwiches in the bottom, packaged exactly alike.  Nettie wanted to sit in and eat, so we found ourselves a place beside the wall, and I brought out the first sandwich.  It looked like chicken salad.  I smelled it.  I couldn’t tell.  I took out the other one.  I smelled it.

“What you doin’?” asked Nettie, looking worried.

“I’m smelling this sandwich,” I tell her and have to laugh. “I can’t tell which one is the chicken salad and which is the tuna.”

“Humph!”  She says doubtfully.

“Here,” I say, putting one under her nose.  “What do you think?  Is this tuna or chicken?”

“I ‘on’t know,” she says, sniffing away.  “It might be tuna.  I think I smell fish.  I can’t tell.”

I smelled them both again, and gave her the one that she thought maybe smelled like fish.  We sat at the table in Dunkin’ Donuts and ate our sandwiches.  One bite into hers she thought it might be chicken.  I offered to trade.

“No,” she said.  “I can’t really tell.”

So we both ate our sandwiches, neither of us sure if we had chicken salad or tuna salad.  I kept taking long, deep, smelling breaths from my sandwich, but I never did know what I ate.  We drank our drinks –my sweet tea, and her coffee and she ate her donuts.  I cleaned up the mess, put away the trash and we came on home.  It was all okay.  Two Gals who couldn’t tell what they were eating but both eating it anyway and having a good time doing it.

Yepper!  That’s me and Our Girl Nettie.


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