Monthly Archives: November 2014

My Turn, My Book

One of the byproducts of reviewing Dorcas Smucker’s book is that people have remembered that I also have a book and I’ve had had a resurgence of (well, actually TWO) orders for my very own book.

A little over a year ago, I self published a book of stories that have happened right here in Delaware on this chicken farm that belongs to Certain Man and me.  I still have quite a few available — somehow it was cheaper to print 500 than it was to print 200.  Don’t ask me why, but that is how it works.  I discovered after I had self-published that most book sellers will not handle self-published books.  I will know better next time — if, in fact, there is a next time.  I will also look for a title that has a little more catch and a LOT less bulk.  🙂

But for now, this book is still available:

book front coverBook Back

The cost is $14.00 each if you pick it up at our house or have somewhere that I can drop it off.

If you want it mailed, shipping and handling is 2.50 for the first book and if you order more than one, each additional one is an extra .50 for shipping.

You can order it by sending a check to

Mary Ann Yutzy

7484 Shawnee Road

Milford, DE 19963

You can order it through my e-mail which is MaryAnnYutzy@gmail.com.  However, my Beloved Son in Law has made it clear that I should have the check in hand before shipping the book — so I guess I had better listen to him.

 

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We Have a WINNER!!!

First of all THANKS to all of you who read my blog and made a comment.  It turned out that EVERYONE left a comment, not just their names — so you were all on equal ground when it came time to choose.  I printed out all the names (64 entries!  YES!!!)–

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and cut them into individual little strips and put them into my leaf platter:

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And we (sure enough!) have a winner!

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This is Mary’s entry:
“I love Dorcas’ blogs– she says what I felt but didn’t know how to word.  I live in Canada, and hope that doesn’t disqualify me.”

Well, Mary, at least for this reviewer, it does not disqualify you.  I will be glad to send you out a book.  If you could e-mail me you address at MaryAnnYutzy@gmail.com, I will get it out to you pronto!  And I know that you will enjoy it.

The rest of you, go ahead and order it.  It will be well worth it!

So that wraps it up, readers.  What fun!  Over 650 readers of the “giveaway post” and over 75 comments.  I’d call that a great success.  Thanks, Dorcas, for allowing me to be a part of announcing the new book.  It is almost as good as announcing the birth of a beloved child.  I pray that the influence of the family whose lives are portrayed in this book will expand the borders of God’s Kingdom here on earth and the population of Heaven when the stories here are all told and we gather there for some even better ones.

What a day THAT will be!

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A Delmarvalous Giveaway from an Oregon Author

The books came in my mail at the beginning of a week that had just climaxed with the memorial service for my sister in law, Frieda.  I was more than ready for a diversion.  The dishes sat, unwashed in the sink.  There was laundry to fold and company extras to put away.  I sat in my chair and held the book like a precious gift.

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And so, I read.  I laughed.  I cried.  I snagged Certain Man and read to him about heartache and infertility and redemption and adoption and weddings and families committing to going ahead with joy when the Locusts have eaten so much — too much, claiming the promise that is in Joel 2:25.  We sat quiet and reminiscent and full of realization of what God has done for our own family.

I finally had to put it away so I could get something done in my house, but the first opportunity found me at it again.  Youngest Daughter was home from College and I snagged her and read to her about Grandma’s indignation over those “unfaschtandich Beatles!” while we both laughed and laughed.  Then Eldest Daughter got drawn into the story about the Californian wine maker who pronounced Dorcas a “beautiful woman” and produced a plastic recorder and played a song.  Just for her. Under very unusual circumstances.  Again, the words were rich, the mind pictures inescapable, and the mirth was warm and companionable.

“Hey Jesse,” shouted Oldest Daughter to her long suffering spouse in the next room.  “How come you never played a song, just for me, on your recorder?”

Of course, this produced great bewilderment on the part of Beloved Son in Law, and we had to explain all about Dorcas Smucker’s new book.

Explain about Dorcas Smucker’s new book.  Well, that is kinda’ what I am trying to do right now.  Even if you haven’t grown up conservative Mennonite, or raised a big family while trying to keep family values and traditions intact, you cannot help but relate to this honest and transparent account of a Mama who tries to do it “right” — whether that is relating to adult children who haven’t made choices that she is comfortable with, or teenage daughters trying to make cookies without help, picking berries with reluctant helpers, giving gifts that people “ought to want,” being a daughter to aged and independent parents, being a sister in law to a family that doesn’t know how to tell stories, traveling across the globe in world — and mind–and heart stretching experience, and the list goes on and on.

The thing I love is that in all of this, Mrs. Smucker’s heart comes through.  I haven’t begun to touch on the subjects that are covered in this book of  183 pages and 35 stories, divided into five sections.  So great for those of us who find that we need some stopping places sometimes — and for those of us whose reading preference is short stories.

Just so you know, Dorcas.  You really do know how to tell a story “right.” (And for those of you who haven’t already perused her blog, you can find those rightly told stories here:  www.dorcassmucker.blogspot.com.)

And so, I’m giving away a copy of Mrs. Smucker’s new book.  Just leave me a comment (if you can’t manage a comment, then leave your name as a comment– although an honest to goodness comment is going to warrant TWO entries)  HERE.  On my blog.  In the comments section.  (A comment on Facebook won’t count!)  and I will draw a winner by Monday, November 17, 2014 and attempt to send it out on Tuesday morning.

If you don’t wish to wait to see if you win a book, or if you don’t win and want one, here is the information from the publisher:
Footprints on the Ceiling is available for $15 per book, postage included.  You can mail a check to Dorcas Smucker, 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446.  US addresses only.  To order a copy for Canada or overseas, email Dorcas at dorcassmucker@gmail.com.

The book is also available from amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Footprints-Ceiling-Dorcas-Smucker/dp/0988332949/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415764987&sr=1-3

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Down from the Lofties

It was at least the fourth phone call from the grandma in the trailer.  There was no heat, no electric, no cookstove, little furniture.  Mostly there was no hope.  A $2100.00 electric bill needed paying before they could have the electric hooked up.  On oxygen, she was using a gas run generator to run the necessary things to keep the house livable.  Six adults lived there, and most of their stuff was in storage, and only one had a drivers license.  There was no vehicle.

Certain Man has helped this family for many years, and sometimes we would like to tear our hair and gnash our teeth.  The health issues of the Grandma is what keeps us from cutting them off and leaving them out in the cold.  That and the fact that this next generation truly is just living what they’ve learned.  Poor choices repeated over and over again add up to so much sadness and struggle and poverty and brokenness.  And it isn’t that Certain Man hasn’t instructed and exampled and been encouraging and kind, but they just don’t get it.

So, last night, the food was all.  There was an inch of fuel left in the generator.  Things were desperate.  She has to have her oxygen.  Certain Man groaned within himself, considered and prayers were offered, desperate pleas for wisdom and such.  And he came to the conclusion that we needed to do something to help.  So we sallied forth, and carefully bought five gallons of fuel, and groceries that could mostly withstand no refrigeration or could be cooked on a hot plate.  There were also two gallons of milk and a gallon of juice that would take the available space in the two dormitory refrigerators they had stacked on top of each other.

On the way to make the delivery, Certain Man stopped at another house where there had been a young woman with a passel of children, her own and her siblings and a boyfriend.  He wanted to check if this family was in need of a Thanksgiving box this year.  The pit bulls bellowed and brayed and the holes in the driveway were deep enough to swallow a small car.  Certain Man maneuvered his truck around the mammoth holes and turned off his headlights.  Everything was swallowed in darkness.  He turned them back on.

“I’m staying here until you know something,” I said,  thinking of a stiff little baby I had tried to cuddle on our last visit.  It didn’t look like the same family lived here.  Certain Man made his way up to the gate.  The dogs barked and barked and finally a woman came to the door and then came out to talk to him.  He seemed to be gone a long time.  When he came back, the stories were once again disappointing and sad.  But this was one house that didn’t need a Thanksgiving Box this year.

On the road again, I was feeling grumpy.  Sick to my bones of the broken children, broken hearts, broken lives, poverty, bad choices and feeling so impatient about the adults who just don’t get it.

In the quiet of the van, I reached over and took Certain Man’s hand.  “Do you mind if I pray” I asked in the darkness.

“Not at all,” said my good man.

And so I prayed.  I prayed for wisdom for him and the situations that face him over and over.  I prayed for  the  family and that there would be redemption.  And then I felt convicted of my attitude.

“. . . and Lord Jesus,” I prayed.  “Help us not to be condescending or to look down on these people.  May we be loving in what we say and do tonight and free us from feeling better than they are.”

And then we were at the trailer.  The lights were dim, and the adult son was standing at the door waiting for us.  He and another person came out to help carry and to discuss about the five gallons of fuel for the generator.  Between Certain Man and the two of them, they took most of the groceries and the fuel and went in.  I looked at the remaining two gallons of milk and the one of juice and a light bag of groceries and decided that I could manage that load.  I picked them up and made my way to the trailer.  Certain Man came out just as I got there and would have taken one of my gallons, but I had a firm grip and I was doing just fine.  Three steps up to the trailer with no handrail and then a final one into the trailer.

I lifted my right foot to make the final step, realized too late that this step had an extra almost three inches over the others, caught the front of my sandal on the metal lip and down I went like a cow on wet cement.  I was dimly aware of a very satisfying splatting noise as three plastic gallons of liquid hit the floor, and the general alarmed outcry as I landed pretty much on my hands and knees on the floor of the trailer.  My first concern was whether there was any spillage.  There was none.

“Miss Mary Ann, oh, Miss Mary Ann!!!  Are you hurt??? Are you okay???”

Behind me, I heard my husband say, “No, she is NOT OKAY!!!”

This deserved attention.  “Yes, I am,” I said with great conviction, “I really am.  I am not hurt.”  Helpful hands picked up the gallons of milk and juice and carried them to the rickety cupboard, and someone rescued the bag of groceries.  I assessed the damage and got myself up.

“Are you sure you are okay?” I was asked over and over again and I reassured them in like manner.  I wasn’t injured much at all.  It felt like there might have been a brush burn on my one knee and the palms of my hand had a stinging sensation, but other than that, there was no bleeding, no skin missing, no bruises.

Except for one thing.  My condescension had taken a terrible blow.  It never reared its ugly head one time while Certain Man discussed practicalities and possibilities and how he could best help the family.  It is hard to look down on people who have witnessed the embarrassment of you being sprawled all over their living room floor.   I stood there in the cluttered, chaotic living room with the smells of poverty all around me and wondered at God’s incredible grace to me and my family.

And wished that God wouldn’t take me so much at my word.

Then acknowledged that I really did deserve that comeuppance.

“Oh, Lord Jesus.  May it be with a humble and grateful heart that I remember.”

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Old gifts, Good Memories

It was spring of 1973.  I pulled my Volkswagen Beetle into the driveway of Dr. and Mrs. Crabb where I worked as a mother’s helper and was surprised to see that Dr. Crabb was still home.

“H-m-m-m-m,” I thought.  “I’m later than usual. He should already be at the office.”

He was leaving though, and as he backed his sports car out of the garage, he stopped long enough to roll down his window.  He was grinning, his eyes alive with mischief.

“The cat–” he said.  “That cat made a terrible mess in the dining room on the oriental rug.  Could you please clean it up first thing?”

Oh, no!  Not again.  That stupid Siamese cat.  One of a small herd of cats in the Crabb home, but the ruler of them all, and probably the one that was always peeing in the bean bag chair.  The oldest Crabb son would go flying into the bean bag chair on his way to watch a favorite TV show and come up sputtering.  And wet.  And often disgruntled.  Mrs. Crabb was so sick, fighting her last brave battle against the breast cancer that would take her life in another few months.  She loved kids and animals and could never bear to turn anything away that was lonely or hurting or in need of care.  The Siamese was the exception of the motley crew when it came to beauty and lineage.  The rest were pretty much nondescript mixes of mongrel and feral that showed up at the door and were taken in and loved and given pretty much free reign in the stately house that was home to this family of six.

And now, another mess on the beautiful oriental rug in the formal dining room.  And why was Dr. Crabb so happy about it???  Oh, well.  I loved this family.  I loved working for them.  This animal business was the one draw back.  I got myself together and entered the house.  Mrs. Crabb was sitting at the table in the breakfast nook.

She looked up and said, “Oh, Mary Ann!  There’s a mess –”

“I know.  Dr. Crabb told me.”

She followed me with her disease impacted gait as I went through the little hallway to the formal dining room and there was no mess!  Instead, the table was set like it was ready for a formal dinner for eight.  The delighted eyes of Mrs. Crabb were beyond mischief.  Pure unadulterated joy shown there.

“It’s your wedding present,” she breathed.  “The silverware is your wedding gift.  Dr. Crabb drove to Philly last night to pick it up so we could set the table for you to show it off.  He wanted to see you when you saw it, that’s why he is late, but he couldn’t wait any longer.”

It was beautiful silverware.  American Colonial, an expensive, heavy, beautiful stainless steel set that shown with a soft luster in the morning light.  I was ecstatic. It was beyond my wildest dreams.  Then Mrs. Crabb’s father, Mr. Martin, gave me a serving set for a wedding gift and the perfect set of silverware was mine.

Ten days before Daniel and I were married, Mrs. Crabb died.  36 years old, mother of four children, Jennifer, Colin, Jim and Mary.  I mourned deeply, but I was getting married and moving to Ohio and life made such a drastic change for me.  A good friend, Faith Cox (now Zencak) had taken over my spot as mother’s helper a few weeks before Fran’s  death, and I left them in capable hands.  My memories were so warm and good and even helpful as I remembered the things that Mrs. Crabb had taught me in her better times.  And every time I set a “company table” with that gorgeous tableware, I would think of her and the wonderful gift that she gave me.

As time went on, I found that eight place settings just weren’t enough for a company table and I found a fairly nice set for sixteen at JCPenney’s one year on clearance and purchased it to use for guests.  I loved the American Colonial, but when I priced it out, the cost was prohibitive, rising at one point to $100.00 a place setting.  I never, ever thought of selling my set, but I knew that I couldn’t afford to add to it.  Especially when the JCPenney one was doing just fine.

Then came the time a few years ago, when Middle Daughter began to peruse the internet in search of the replacements for some the pieces of my wedding china that have gotten broken.  I wasn’t interested.  I have been using plain white Corelleware, open stock, for quite some time.  (Might even sell that china, to be honest.)  Unknown to me, she was also looking for American Colonial silverware. When she came up with a service for twelve, reasonably priced with an offer to pay for some of it for a birthday gift, I was ecstatic.   We were able to get it and with the eight I already had, I had service for 20 — the same number of Corelleware that I have in my china cupboard.  This was one happy gal.

Last night we had company for an early Thanksgiving Dinner.  Youngest Son and his Girl with a Beautiful Heart brought friends from Washington D.C. and Alexandria, VA to Delaware for some country time and for some home cooking.  The day went well, and in late afternoon, Certain Man set the table for me while I finished up some food in the kitchen.

He spread out the long white tablecloth.  It is literally over twenty-five years old.  Years ago, Sister in Law, Ruby Yoder, gave me a long, long piece of lace and said it was for a tablecloth.  Sister Sarah Slaubaugh bought me five yards of 60 inch wide, white, bottom-weight material and I sewed a tablecloth that was long enough to cover and hang down on all sides of the 13 foot family table that Certain Man’s father, Ralph Yutzy made almost 50 years ago for his family.  This tablecloth has seen a LOT of living, but it is still beautiful.  I wash it in hot water, bleach it when it seems necessary, and it just keeps on holding up.  I don’t think I ever say, “Use the long white cloth” without thinking of my brave sister in law and her gift to me so many years ago.

And then he spread out the plates and tumblers and salad bowls.  I looked down the long table and it was so full of happy memories.  The tumblers were made possible through a beloved niece, Joni Geissinger, and her Pampered Chef business.  Always looking out for me in sales and discounts, she helped me until I got 20 of these beautiful glasses.  Actually there are 40, because they are mine in two sizes, both juice and large drinking size.  They bring sparkle and light to a table, and I think of her and am so grateful.  They are sturdy enough for a dishwasher, coming out crystal clear each time.  The crystal salad bowls were gifts from another sister in law, Polly Heatwole Yoder, and I use them and use them and use them.  Also, I am so grateful that there are 20 of them, as well.  They come in so handy when there is a LOT of food and more than one salad, or the famous Delaware limas with lots of juice that demand a bowl of their own.

Then, looking down over the expanse of table, I mention that since there is an overwhelming amount of white, we will use Thanksgiving napkins.  So Certain Man puts down colorful (flamboyant!) Thanksgiving napkins and carefully places the silverware at each setting.  Fork on the left, knife and spoon lined up on the right.

And I think again, of Frances Crabb.  She loved to cook.  She liked having people over to her house when she was well enough to set a pretty table and make a great meal.  She missed out on so much because of her illness and so did her family.  But I like to think that there is a way where some of it gets passed on when there is a pretty table set at Shady Acres, when family and new friends and old friends gather round and enjoy time together, and eat off of a set of silverware that was given to a 19 year old bride who had no idea of its value.  Nor did I know the value of the life lessons I learned as I watched Fran Crabb live the last two years of her life.

She’s been gone for over 41 years now.  I still see Dr. Crabb on occasion, but I’ve lost track of the children.  Jennifer, the oldest, passed away a year or two ago.  I think that Frieda’s passing with the same insidious disease that took Mrs. Crabb has brought back memories from those two years that I haven’t thought about in a long time.  And some of the memories make me – oh!  So sad!

That is when it is time to bring out a long white tablecloth, set the table with memories, make some good food, invite some people over, and thank God for reminders of the happy times and the rich legacy I’ve been given.

My heart gives grateful praise.

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Thankful Wall

Our Thankful Wall is up.  It is a bit later than we usually put it up, but this past month has been anything but ordinary.  When Middle Daughter realized that her time grew short to get ready for her excursion, she said to me, “Mama, there is almost no way that I am going to get the Thankful Wall done.  What shall we do?”

I had been thinking about that, and I was wondering, too, just what we would do.  It is no secret at this house that the Wife of Certain Man has almost no artistic ability whatsoever.  However, several of our children have pronounced talent and enjoy creating things with canvas and paint.  They got that from their father, and even though he hasn’t developed his capacity, he often has ideas and a sense of design that far surpass my feeble attempts.

“Well,” I said to Middle Daughter, “I’ve been thinking of asking Daddy if he would consider doing it for us this year.”

“Oh, Mom!  Do you think he would?  He wouldn’t have to do it like I do it, just so we aren’t putting a blank piece of paper up there!”

That caused me to rather ruefully think of the year that Deborah was in Bangladesh or some other faraway place, and I had just scrawled, “We Give Thanks” across the top and that was the extent of it.  People still signed it, but it lacked something.  I decided to see if Certain Man might consider doing the job.

“Hon,” I said the other night, “Beebs doesn’t think she is going to get the wall done before she leaves.  Is there any chance that you would consider taking that project on?”

He looked thoughtful and then said, “Yeah, I might be able to do that.  At least, I could try!  It won’t be as good as hers, but I could probably get something up there.”

I bought the brown paper that we always use and last evening he got started.  He first penciled in the words on an angle.  They were words that we’ve never used before on our Thankful Wall, and my heart gave a lurch when I saw what his choice was:

“With Grateful Hearts . . .”

I looked at those words and thought about hearing them sung by a choir made up of my cousins at the funeral of our beloved sister in law, Frieda:

“If on a quiet sea, towards Heaven we calmly sail
With Grateful Hearts, oh God, to Thee, we’ll own the favoring gale.
With Grateful Hearts, oh God, to Thee, we’ll own the favoring gale.”

They have been so forcefully branded on my heart and brain.  Almost every Yoder relative that we’ve buried in the last ten years has had that sung at their funeral.  It started with my Grandpa Dave fifty-eight years ago, and when it has been possible and asked for by the family, those of the cousins (and sometimes uncles) who can, usually seem honored to help sing in the cousins choir.  I think there were somewhere close to 30 family members who sang on Sunday at the memorial service.  I did not.  I could not.  I cannot even sing that song in church without crying, and I knew I would be in no position to sing in front of a crowd of almost 400.  I opted to stay in my seat.  It was good I did.  My husband’s strong arm held me close, his tears mingling with mine as I sobbed in the seat beside him while my cousins sang.

And now, he chose a phrase from that song for the Thankful Wall this year.  “With Grateful Hearts . . .”  It settled into my heart and felt so appropriate.  That is what I need to do in this present storm.  Own the gale with a grateful heart and believe that it will be a “favoring” one.  The truth is, I DO believe that this storm will somehow accomplish purposes that wouldn’t have been brought to fruition otherwise, and I do believe that somewhere, Frieda knows and is pleased.  More importantly, our Heaven Father knows.  He has a plan.  May He be pleased.

Certain Man let the paper lie on the kitchen table overnight while he mulled about the picture that he hoped to put up in the corner.  Tonight he grabbed the pencils and finished it up, checked to make sure it fit properly and securely fastened it into place.  It is done.  Ready for the first signatures.  So drop by and fill it up.  The beauty of this wall is always the individual praises, written in many colors for such a diversity of people.

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My heart gives such grateful praise.

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Das Alte Seese Grumvalda (That old sweet potato)

Middle Daughter brought home a couple of sweet potatoes last Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I let them lie on my kitchen cupboard for a very long time.  Months, in fact.  Several times I asked her what she was planning for them, but the answers were vague — something about sweet potato fries.  And mumblings about looking up a special recipe.  Certain Man said that she didn’t have to worry about him taking them when she wasn’t looking.  He was convinced that he didn’t like sweet potatoes.

 

So the months went by.  (Yes, MONTHS)  And then the largest of the sweet potatoes showed signs of life.  Little sprouts started to appear and it shriveled up and looked pitiful.  One day, when one of my outside planters was looking rather bare, I gathered it up, dug a quick hole in the planter and put it in.  Didn’t ask, didn’t tell until some time later when a gorgeous vine had started to spring forth.  There was more relief than anything else on the part of Middle Daughter.  She was tired of looking at them, and tired of me asking her to do something with them.

 

For several months, I’ve watched and watered and fertilized and envisioned what might be going on in that big brown planter.  I planted some mums in there to give some color and they are blooming for the second time.  Several times I asked people if they thought it might be producing a crop of sweet potatoes down there.  I was especially interested because we have discovered that Certain Man is not as adverse to them as he thought he was.  I kept waiting and waiting and over the last week, the vine looked like it was wilting.  I was so excited.  I was thinking there could be so many sweet potatoes in there that there wasn’t hardly enough room for them all.  I was sure they would be a few in there as big as my hand, and they would be smooth and sweet and wonderful.

 

Tonight was the night that Middle Daughter left for her next big adventure.  As she was pulling out of the driveway (on her way to Youngest Son’s house, then to the airport, then to Miami where she meets her Aunt Lena, then on to Buenos Aires , then on to ANTARCTICA!!!)  she paused when she saw that I was beginning to dig into the brown planter.

 

“Oh, Mom,” she said, “I was hoping that you would dig that up I want to see!”
I pulled up the plant.  Nothing on the end of it that was remarkable.

 

“There’s nothing there,” intoned Certain Man, also watching with great interest.

 

“I’m pretty sure there is,” I insisted, and began to dig deep into the soft dirt.  Sure enough, I came up with one that was about a quarter of the size I was hoping for.  I dug deeper and deeper, came up with a few more puny ones and that was it.

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I don’t expect that they will make much of anything too pretentious for a company dinner.  I think they will taste good, but there just isn’t enough of them.

 

Next year, I just might see if Certain Man will plant a few in the garden.  If we could do this good by accident, just think what we might do on purpose.

 

And that is the news from Shady Acres where Middle Daughter has gone off on her excursion without doing our Thankful Wall, where Certain Man is working on it while we speak, and this Delaware Grammy is so grateful for the blessings of this time and this place.

 

My heart gives grateful praise.

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