Thursday, September 30, 2010

Apples to Apples

It is pie making season; apple pies and pumpkin pies. Today is not a good orchard walking day and therefore I am considering a trip to the farm market down the road. I need a box of apples... or maybe two, and Brownell's on Lake Rd is where I typically go. Once in a while I gather a few from the orchard behind my house but not boxes full.

It is forecast to rain all day. Whoever is manning the farm stand would probably enjoy a visit and my family always enjoys fresh apples and baked goods. My "flowers" like them too, except for Andrew who refuses to eat apple pieces. One day I bet he'll decide he likes them too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

ABC Wednesday- Letter K

K is for kinfolk.

Up in my bedroom closet is a box full of old family photographs. I'm glad the pictures aren't all taken in a studio because so many bring a smile to my face and give me a glimpse into the lives of my relatives and ancestors.

My grandma grew up on a farm in the hills of Allegany county in southern New York state. She was the third of eleven children and was about eleven years old when this photo was taken in 1916. The back of the picture says "Shafer's Nine."

I am guessing about the next photo. It looks to be several of the same group out on the farm with some animal friends. I'm fairly certain the young boy on the end with a chicken under his arm was the baby in the previous photo.

My great grandpa dressed in his raggedy coat really makes me smile. He reminds me a bit of my own father; it's the eyes and hands. Grandma said that Grandpa "didn't know enough to come in out of the rain." He loved his vegetable garden. (Maybe because it was quiet out there...)

I don't know the story here either but I'm pretty sure I could make something up. I love the overalls, the bare feet, the dirt on the dress, and the little ring on the girl's finger. She is one of my father's many aunts but I'm not sure which one.

This is a photo I asked my dad about. These two look like a couple of moonshiners, but were actually my great grandma's brothers, Herb and Charlie. Dad thought they were old bachelors but my research showed that they had both been married and were widowers. One lost his wife in the flu epidemic along with an infant son.

Finally, one of my favorites. Uncle Al holding a piglet. When my father was a little boy he climbed into the pigpen where he was once chased by an angry sow. He ran screaming from one end of the pen to the other, jumping up on the fence before rushing back to the other side. His mother came running out and saved him.

I wish I knew more about these people of my past and their stories. I love the character that shows through in the photos and find it interesting that many of my father's aunts were artists. Some even painted pictures of childhood scenes.

K, kinfolk.

To see the other participants in the new round of ABC Wednesday, click here!

One Year Ago...

It has been a full year since Dad crossed the finish line. I have not been feeling particularly melancholy, but it has been on my mind. I suppose there will be more firsts without him yet to come, but we have now already faced the major events. Maybe my biggest fear is that I will allow those thoughts and feeling from last years to dissipate. I want to hold them in my heart for the rest of my life and never forget the lessons I learned. I want to pass them on to my children and grandchildren and I want to one day face my own mortality with the same determination that my father did. I want to keep my eyes on Jesus as he did and have full confidence that all is in His control. I want my last words to my family to be those of encouragement in the faith. Last year I said he was a hero, and though he may not agree, he will always remain a hero to me.

I stopped at the store this morning and bought a card. I wanted my mom to know she is in my thoughts today. I want her to know that she is loved and treasured. I want her to be assured that we intend to take care of her and are honored to do so. On my way out of the store I bought a Mylar balloon with butterflies on it. It said "Thinking of you." I know Lucas will want to claim it as his own, and I'm pretty sure she'll share it, but I hope it makes her smile.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Glamor Girls

A couple of movie stars showed up at my house this afternoon. They let me take their picture, but I forgot to ask for their autographs.

Busy Day in the Garden

All is quiet in the "garden" now but we did have a busy morning. While waiting for the bus, one dear little "flower" suddenly had to go potty. She couldn't wait so the bus had to, but only for a minute. No sooner had I spoken to the driver then she came running back down the driveway followed by Sofie.

Mid morning the house filled up with small boys. We played cars, Beanie Babies, and Duplos, ate graham crackers and Cheerios, and listened to a little bluegrass. There was a little bit of grabbing, some loud squeals, and a tear or two. We changed some diapers, washed some faces, and passed out plenty of hugs and kisses. There were no bleeding lips or bruised noggins today...

The girls appeared out of nowhere. They came smiling through the back door just as I was thinking it was time to watch for the bus. There was time for them to eat lunch and play before we settled down to read a couple of stories. Now three little boys have gone home and two little girls are snuggled up on the couches taking a snooze.

The house, dark and quiet aside from the hum of my clothes dryer, smells of simmering chili and applesauce cake. I have a load of laundry waiting to be folded and I think I just might make it to the nursing home tonight. A busy day, but it feels good.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Starship Apple Pies

Bethany is planning a trip. She wants to go to Indonesia to see the girl she has been supporting through Compassion International. There is a trip planned and she hopes to go along in February. To raise money she is working an extra day each week. She is also making and selling pies. Today we put nine apple pies together. Hannah peeled and cut apples, I mixed up dough, and Bethany assembled the pies. They will be frozen and she will soon be taking orders from friends and acquaintances. Pumpkin pies are next on the list.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bob Frapplez

It has been a busy week and I am ready to sleep in a little tomorrow morning. This afternoon my neighbor brought over two bushels of apples. They're Macintosh drops, "good for making applesauce" he says. I thought they looked good for making cider but since we no longer have a means to grind the apples, we started the job of washing, peeling, cutting, and cooking. There is now a big, bubbling pot of applesauce on the stove. It took a half bushel of apples. Looks like I will be washing, peeling, cutting, and cooking tomorrow too... maybe.

It was a summer day in September, about 90 degrees. Felt like July.

My Boy's Birthday

Twenty-nine years ago I became mom to a beautiful 6 pound 12 ounce baby boy. It was a little hard to believe they were actually going to let me take the tiny child home from the hospital. It seemed an awesome responsibility and it was. I learned quickly how to take care of a baby and fell head over heels in love. Today my boy celebrates another birthday far from home. I pray he has a wonderful day, enjoys some apple pie, and thinks of his mom for at least a moment or two.

Happy Birthday, Jim! I love you!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Busy Week and Pie in a Jar

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is Friday. Where did the week go? Tuesday afternoon my friend Pam came over and we had a most wonderful visit. The day was bright and sunny, perfect for sitting on the back porch. She brought me some coffee from Dunkin Donuts, something sweet, creamy, and vanilla. It was yummy.

Yesterday I tended of "garden" of six. One "grandflower" again refused a nap, but the others slept in spite of his fussing. Wednesdays are the busy day of the week making Thursday and Friday a breeze. We went grocery shopping this morning and this afternoon I took three little ones for a walk in the orchard across the street. They thought it was great!

Tonight I made an apple pie. It's still waiting in the kitchen. Wait until James finds out we don't have any ice cream... I am waiting to find out about the Pies in a Jar I sent to Jim. They arrived safely but he hasn't tried them yet. I should have had a photo of the packing job. You would laugh; plastic grocery bags, rolled up cardboard box, and empty water bottles. If they are successful I will be shipping out a few more.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

ABC Wednesday- Letter J

J is for journal.

Packed away in the attic at Mom's house I found a treasure, two old journals written by my father when he was fifteen. They are a priceless treasure; a glimpse into the past and a peek into my father's young heart. Through his written words I gain a better understanding of who my father was and how God made him into the man I knew and loved, and how God works ahead of time to bless His children in ways unthinkable.

Dad also left behind a several diaries. They tell of his teenage escapades, him meeting and dating my mother, the struggles with my handicapped brother, and the births of myself and my sisters. Last year I decided to keep a journal too. Who knows what life-changing events may one day be recorded there...

To see the other participants in the new round of ABC Wednesday, click here!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Point Me to My Pillow

Last week I had a migraine, so I was blessed to experience a weekend full of sunshine and void of headaches. I was outside in the fresh air and sunshine most all day Saturday. I don't know what happened this morning. Maybe I forgot to take my allergy medicine yesterday? Whatever the cause the migraine has returned... on the other side of my head leaving me with tired eyes and a queasy stomach.

I made it through the day in spite of myself and even managed to wash and fold the laundry, two loads. We had five "flowers" one of which refused to take a nap. He decided to holler for an extended period of time instead. The "grandflowers" can prove to be a challenge some days... They just don't have the same routine as the others and likely never will. I think they must get up a couple hours later than the others and therefore are not ready to sleep directly after lunch.

I stayed home from the nursing home again this week. Once my baked goods are out of the oven, I am going to take some sleepy medicine and put myself to bed. No headaches are allowed tomorrow. I have plans.


"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Bit of Nothing

Nothing much to say tonight. Took one picture on this beautiful weekend. More wild velcro.

Made some soup last night. Threw in some stew beef, onion soup mix, fresh beets, and baby carrots. Hannah said it looked like "People Soup." Stained pink with beet juice those baby carrots looked like fingers... Sorry, no pictures. :)

Tonight we had French toast with peach syrup. I ran out of pectin and needed to cook up the rest of my peaches the other day, so I made peach syrup.

Went to the Pultneyville garage sales this weekend. Didn't buy a thing just did a lot of looking. Does that make me a good garage saler or a bad one?

Tomorrow is Monday and I'll be working in the "garden" again. I just love those "flowers!"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Apple Cider

It was a beautiful sunny day. This afternoon the teens at church were scheduled to make apple cider. I decided to hang around and watch. The apples were rather ugly but they made some good apple cider proving "you can't judge a book by it's cover." (Or something like that...)

First we gathered the apples. We picked what we could reach on the trees and then one of the guys got up there and gave the tree a good shaking. The apples rained down and then we picked up some more. We filled bins which were then hauled away to the cider press.

The apples were dumped out, washed, and sorted. We picked out leaves, grass, and little slugs. Any dirt was wiped off and the "bad apples" were tossed aside.

For the first half of the adventure there were a bunch of kids helping, but as the afternoon wore on they began to disappear. Even the Nepali teen group who came out to see how cider is made had ventured off. I think they were getting a tour of the grounds. So some of the adults pitched in and "kept the presses running."

Everyone was given a chance to taste the cider. I had a couple of cups myself. I don't know how many gallon jugs they filled in the few hours we were there, but it must have been at least a couple dozen.

It was a nice day. I didn't get my grocery shopping done, but I did get a chance to soak up some autumn sunshine. I hope next Saturday is just as nice.

*Pictures courtesy of Mikaela.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Looking Forward

Completing a task brings a sense of relief. I am relieved tonight. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders and, though there is a touch of sadness, I am satisfied with the events of the evening. We gathered at the cemetery, prayed together, shared some thoughts and scriptures, and sang a song; "Abide With Me" (of course).

Picture This

A picture to go with the song below.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Life's Railway

Please forgive the sound quality. I don't know how to fix it. There is no video, but this is my kids and a friend singing at my dad's memorial service last year. I'm getting sentimental as we approach the one year mark.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ABC Wednesday- Letter I

I is for ideas, and imagination.

One thing I love about children is their capacity for ideas and imagination. I have seven children and believe me they are full of ideas. What one doesn't think of, another does. Which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what it is. They have all kinds of ideas when it comes to group photos.

Imagination is what makes life interesting. It brings a healthy dose of laughter and laughter can be infectious. You may think my kids are being immature, but their antics bring a smile to my face even years later.

Imagine my surprise when my little daughter came downstairs dressed like this! Incredible! Yes, life with children is always interesting.

(Phew! I am rather relieved to have completed the Letter I. And here I was finding it impossible.)

To see the other participants in the new round of ABC Wednesday, click here!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Remembering Dan

Today would have been my big brother's 53rd birthday. I still have days when I miss him.

I recognize the cake plate. It's the one my mother had the dream about. She dreamed one of the little glass balls broke off the edge. It was a wedding present and Mom was really disappointed. Dad told her he would fix it and took it out to the garage. When he came back inside she found he had taken a hammer and knocked off all the little glass balls. She was livid! What a funny dream. I'm glad it didn't really happen. You know what? She still has that plate.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oh, D-D-D-Deer! (and an Orchard Walk or Two)

Deer seem to run in groups of two or three. Such was the case last evening when we took Mom back home while the kids watched a movie together. James was in the driver's seat when a shadow crossed the road ahead of us. He slowed way down as two more not so shadowy figures ran across the road in front of us. The last of the three took the lens cover off the passenger-side headlight before disappearing into the darkness. Phew! That could have been a mess! Bet he has one sore backside.

It is not only time to watch for crazy animals running through the darkness, it is time for orchard walks. James and I have been walking again. We took a long walk the other evening and another this afternoon. The weather has been perfect, not too hot and not too cold.

The orchards are busy again. Some of the trees have already been relieved of their burden and others are bearing heavy loads. I thought I heard this one let out a groan as I walked by.

And then there was this little tree. It obviously isn't quite like the others, but is still doing the job it was created to do. I'm not sure whether to be impressed or feel sorry for it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Foreign Postcard

Yesterday I got a postcard in the mail. It came all the way from Berlin! What a surprise to find a note from my friend Judy who has been in Germany with her husband, Daniel Hauben. They stayed in a little apartment in the tower of an old church and one day Judy walked the Berlin Wall. I have appreciated being invited along on her travels. Once upon a time we traveled together. We drove an old farm tractor down country roads in Franklinville, NY and sang silly songs at the top of our lungs. We walked home from her grandma's house on the railroad tracks and played in the nearby creek. It's been a long, long time since I last saw Judy. Now she lives in NY City, but maybe one day we'll catch up again. That would be fun.

Friday, September 10, 2010

On Being Born Twice

A monarch gets two chances at life. The first time he is born as a caterpillar. He has to crawl around on his belly and eat milkweed leaves and such. One day he realizes it is time for a change so he finds what seems like a good spot and turns himself into a nice little chrysalis. About ten days later he is totally transformed. He breaks open the chrysalis shell and crawls out to spread his wings. Life is never the same again for now he has wings and a totally new perspective on life...

So, this afternoon we headed out into the sunshine. Ivy sat on the swing hoping for a push. Suddenly she said, "Martha, what's that green thing?" I didn't see anything, but then I wasn't really sure where she was looking. I was rather surprised to find a monarch chrysalis hanging in the middle of my swing set. I've never found one out in my yard, though I have seen lots of butterflies and a few caterpillars. I do think it's pretty cool to find one, I just wish the silly creature had picked a little safer, more out of the way location. Well, we'll check on it every day and see how the progress goes. Maybe by this time next week my worries will have been in vain.

+ This was a Methuselah Generation Chrysalis which didn't mature until October. Check here for the rest of the story.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Off and Running

School started this week. I am far from settled into a schedule, but I'm working on it. One can only do so much when dealing with others...

We had 5 "flowers" on Tuesday; Bella, Ivy, Andrew, Lucas, and Simon. The girls each had a visit with their pre-kindergarten class; one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

On Wednesday I had 5 "flowers." Ivy and Emma got on the morning pre-kindergarten bus which is actually the regular elementary school bus. It was the first day and I failed the bus safety test... Didn't wait for the driver's okay to cross the road. (There weren't any cars coming...) I wasn't even sure it was their bus... I'm just the "gardener."

Once the girls were gone, I tended a "garden" of 3; Andrew, Lucas, and Simon. Both pre-kindergarten buses stopped here around 12:30 pm. The first was the one Bella should be boarding on Tuesdays and Thursdays but will likely rarely catch. The driver saw me walking down the driveway, thought I wanted to talk to him, and stopped. I thought it was the bus dropping off Ivy and Emma... I can't tell which is which when they're coming down the road so when the girls didn't get off, I climbed on to see why.... I found out. There was some confusion about naps and lunches too, but everyone got fed and the sleepy ones finally slept. Well, every sleepy one but me... I went to bed early.

Just 3 "flowers" today. No Bella after all... Do I look surprised? While 2 of my "flowers" were at school, Hannah and I took 1 "flower" out to the bank and store. He slept in the van with Hannah while I was in Wegman's and on the way home as well. Bella's bus stopped to pick her up around 12:30 pm. (I thought it was the returning "flowers" again...) and I had to tell him she was not here. When the other "flowers" returned, we ate some lunch, read a story, and are now having some quiet rest time. One "flower" is still awake. She probably hears my keyboard... Then again, after a long summer of no naps, she may never feel the need for an afternoon snooze again.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Time Machine

Where did the time go? What does God do with this collection of years? Does He keep them in a bottle? Is there a journal of my life reserved somewhere in the annals of time? I'm finding myself sentimental tonight...

It was this photo that did it. Only a few years have passed since I was a little girl sitting on the couch next to this woman I called "mommy." It wasn't so long ago I placed my tiny newborn son into her arms for the very first time. It seems just yesterday she cooked up a batch of Boston brown bread for Thanksgiving dinner. When did she grow old? How did it happen?

The sands of time are slipping though the hour glass. Eleven years ago my Grandpa was dying. I went to visit him in the hospital. I came into the room and when he saw me he said, "Oh, there you are!" I almost wondered if he thought I was someone else... "Don't go too far," he told me. I have often reflected back on that night and thought "we're not too far behind."

I looked in the mirror today. I didn't see "old" yet, just "more mature." There are days when I certainly feel old and days, like today, when I am just plain tired. Today slipped by all too fast too. It was busy and full of "little flowers." I sure hope we get into a good schedule soon. I can't go without a nap every day! Okay, so maybe I am getting old. :)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

ABC Wednesday- Letter H

H is for house, home, and hope.

In their lifetime my parents purchased one house. Back in 1958 the house sold for about $7,500. I'm told it was seven years old and in pretty bad shape when they bought it. My grandpa knocked on the walls and proclaimed it was made of cardboard, but my parents came to love the little house and turned it into a home.

A home is much more than just a roof over one's head. It is a place where family gathers, where memories are made, and where love grows. As the years ticked by, along with the family, the little house grew. Dad made a bedroom for my brother in the attic and, with my uncle's help, built a garage. A family room was added on the back of the little house making it big enough to shelter a family and welcome friends.

It's hard to believe that the little house we know as "home" may one day belong to someone else. If I live another forty years it will still be home. How could it be anything else?

And hope... Hope is my mother's middle name. She was born with a rare type of spina bifida, high on her back between her shoulder blades. Back then the doctors weren't quite sure what to do. They told her parents to take her home and "hope" for the best.

To see the other participants in the new round of ABC Wednesday, click here!


He doesn't say much so this was pretty impressive.

He's a ventriloquist!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Day By Day

Keep praying...

The Tackle Box

Lest anyone think I may have gone completely over the edge, I am here to assure you I am really okay. Life just dishes up tests and trials which must be tackled and dealt with. This is what we are doing. It is a relief to know that God is control when circumstances appear to be out of ours.

Not long ago I asked God to make me a prayer warrior. I think He is answering that prayer and for this I am thankful. There is no better way to tackle life's troubles than to pray, and there is no better way to get us on our knees than a trial.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A Nudge in a New Direction

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

God is at work again. My heart is hurting and I want to go into my room and have a good long cry, but I am not undone. I choose to trust the Lord is moving in my life and the lives of those around me. I believe that if life never brought us pain or discomfort we would be content to stay right where we are at. He does not choose to leave us to ourselves but rather to work in our lives, to mold and shape us, and to make us a little more like Him every day.

When God moved Joseph to Egypt, there was pain. When God moved the Children of Israel out of Egypt, there was pain. The pain resulted in action, the action brought about change. In the same way God works in the lives of His children today. Tonight I hurt. In the days to come that pain will bring about an action, and that action will move me and those I love a little closer to where God wants us to be.

Yes, there are times when I feel overwhelmed, there are times when I am just plain tired, and there are times when I am sure I can't take another step, but He is with me. When moving forward seems impossible, He is there to carry me and I can rest by putting my trust in Him.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Who Turned Off the Heat?

Yesterday's high temperature was about 95 degrees, or so I am told. It was hot and felt like mid-July. It was the perfect day for walking in the cool waters of a creek. The water was refreshing yesterday, today it would send a chill into my bones. I am grateful we had the chance to go while the weather was still hot. This evening I had to give in and find myself a pair of socks. I had already donned a fleece jacket but there is something about bare feet that makes the whole body cold.

So, while walking back down the creek, Ben decided to look for some crayfish. He found one, a big one, but it was none too lively, in fact it was dead. He looks like a granddaddy crayfish! I wonder where the rest of his family was hiding? Probably under a rock praying that no one would step on it and crush them to death.

We weren't the only ones walking the creek yesterday. There were plenty of others taking advantage the cool water and shadowy woods.

I brought my mom home for a few hours this afternoon. It was nice to have her here.