Friday, October 29, 2010

Seeing Dad

It's kind of funny what watching one's own children grow up will do. I begin to see my own parents looking back at me through them. This time it was my father peering out at me from behind Nate's eyes. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there he is, not in whole, but in part.

Once upon a time my father was young and in love. His hair was blond, his body young and strong, his heart full of hopes and dreams. Mom's "Music Man" was just starting out in life, a guitar or harmonica a constant companion. He had no idea where life would take him or how long the journey would last.

Nate and Sabrina are just beginning their adventure. There will be obstacles along the way, just like there were for Mom and Dad. They will need our love and encouragement as they travel the road. My dad missed the opportunity to really meet Sabrina and get to know her, but I know how he would have responded because Dad loved each one who crossed his path. He knew how to make everyone feel special. Maybe one day I too will learn how to fill a tiny part of those shoes Dad left behind and as I learn I will enjoy finding him in the lives and faces of my family as well.

Three Years Old!

Today is Joshua's birthday and he is three. What a fun three years it has been. It's amazing to see the years fly by as grandchildren grow up much faster than one's own do, and oh so much faster than we did ourselves. I can still recall someone asking me how old I was and being proud to hold up three fingers. It felt so much more grown up than two...

In honor of Josh and his third birthday, I give you three things about Josh.

1. He loves his dad. Wait a minute, he adores his dad. He loves to be with him, to help him, and I think he wants to be just like him.

2. Josh is a Buffalo Sabre's fan. He has a Sabre's hat, a Sabre's coat, and a hockey puck that once belonged to his grandfather. (No, it is not a Buffalo Sabre's hockey puck.)

3. Josh likes ride on lawn mowers. He is quite happy to report that they have a ride on lawn mower. Of course, he has liked lawnmowers in general from the time he could walk so this is not a big surprise. What guy doesn't like a tractor?


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leaf Hoppers

It was another gorgeous Wednesday. I had a houseful of little boys. Bethany and I were busy making pies, but I kept looking out the window at the sunshine and leaf covered lawn. At noon we finally had a chance to go outside. I found a leaf rake and piled up some leaves. What fun! (Lucas looks a bit distressed here. It is because of the strange sounds emanating from and antics being performed by his Aunt Bethany in order to get everyone's attention...)

There is nothing quite like a sunny autumn day and a pile of leaves! My Little Guy wasn't too sure about having leaves thrown at him, but he found it great fun to throw them around himself. I think there is nothing quite like having a few children on a sunny autumn day. They make it all the more fun.

Bethany and I managed to assemble 17 pies today. Two are hiding away in my freezer awaiting Thanksgiving Day. :) The rest are being sold to raise money for that missions trip she has planned.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ABC Wednesday- Letter O

O is for Ontario, Lake Ontario.

From the upstairs window I can see the waters of Lake Ontario. It is the last in the line of Great Lakes on the way to the Atlantic Ocean and has been my "neighbor" for my entire life. Often that which is familiar is forgotten or taken for granted and such has often been the case here.

I am happy to say that the blessing of this Great Lake was realized several years back and I have since endeavored to appreciate its presence. It is almost like living by the ocean except the tide doesn't go in and out.

PS. That is the Oswego Lighthouse.

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

Jazz of Mine

Jasmine the disappearing dog is home today. She came out of the barn when some of my little ones were arriving this morning. She is a strange beast who comes and goes at will much to the distress of my sister who thinks she should stay home where she belongs. If it wasn't for the fact that she has been doing this for so long and I now know where she goes, I might be distressed too. But, as far as I know, Martin lives alone and Jazz provides him with a little company. I catch her sleeping in his yard as I drive past some days. If she notices, she lifts her head to watch us go by. Sometimes I wave but I never stop anymore to load her into the van and take her back home. She returns when she's good and ready, sometimes looking for a bowl of food and other times flopping herself down in front of the wood stove for a nap.

Jazz is a three-legged dog. She broke her leg in an unfortunate encounter with an automobile on a dark winter night almost nine years ago. We made the tough decision to have it amputated and have loved her as though she was whole ever since. For many years she had little difficulty but as she grows older the loss of a limb has put a strain on her body. She falls down often, especially in long grass, and can no longer keep up with us on long orchard walks. She rests a lot in her travels, sometimes stopping to lay in the grass across the street before making it all the way home.

I know she won't be with us forever and I am concerned for her well being. I wrote her name and phone number on her collar with a permanent black marker and next month will gather her up for a trip to the vet so I can renew her license. She's a funny dog and still does somersaults when we reach down to pet her just like she did in the animal shelter when I first saw her as a puppy ten years ago.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Today is my daughter's twenty-fifth birthday and so I give you 25 things about Bethany.

1. She is the one in the photo without glasses...
2. She is my third child and first daughter.
3. I was prepared to have a third boy, to the point where I was almost (I said "almost") disappointed to find out she was a girl.
4. Bethany was very reluctant to grow hair and was therefore pretty much bald until she was almost 3 years old.
5. She was hard to keep clean and I called her "Mudcake."
6. She was surrounded by brothers for nearly ten years.
7. She prayed for a sister...
8. ... and cried when Ben was born.
9. She got over it.
10. She enjoyed playing soccer with the other homeschoolers in high school.
11. She ran the boys down and thought little of it.
12. She is competitive.
13. She married Adam in December of 2005.
14. They have an almost three year old son.
15. She works hard and rarely sits still.
16. She makes beautiful pies.
17. We make a good pie making team.
18. She loves her dad.
19. She enjoys gardening, both flowers and vegetables.
20. She plays the piano.
21. She sings pretty.
22. I miss her.
23. She did lots of housework. :)
24. She does not want pie for her birthday.
25. But Joe does...


Friday, October 22, 2010

My Great Grandfathers

When I was a little girl there were two portraits hiding around the corner at Great Grandma's house. One was of Great Grandpa and the other was his father. Both these men were complete strangers to me, their photographs a curiosity.

My great grandfather, Joseph Shafer, was born on August 9, 1862. His mother, Mittie Jennings, died on Christmas day when Joseph was just four months old. Her parents eventually petitioned the court for custody of their two young grandchildren, my grandpa and his sister Hattie. By the time Joseph married Great Grandma, he was already 39 years old, she was almost 19. Together they had eleven children, 7 girls and 4 boys. Joseph was a farmer in the hills above Angelica, NY and raised horses. He taught my father to play the harmonica and loved to work in his garden. When he died in 1950, he left behind and old autograph book that found a home in Great Grandma's living room. When Dad took us to visit I would find the little book and read it.

I know very little of my great great grandfather, Garret Fred Shafer. According to my father's cousin, Janice, he was born in September of 1832 in Thomkins County, NY. Garret's own father disappeared when he was young and his mother was not well. The children were farmed out to other families and Garret was said to have been raised by the Van Campens. Garret married Mittie Jennings and they had two children, a girl and a boy. After his first wife died, Garret remarried and had other children. According to Great Grandma, the second wife was not kind to Joseph and Hattie. Garret eventually traveled west and died in April of 1905 in Altoona, Missouri.

Several years back my father was given the portrait of his great grandfather, Garret. The photo hangs in my parent's dining room and bears an uncanny resemblance to Dad. When Mom was still doing daycare the children often remarked on the picture of "Uncle Al."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Change is in the Air

The scenery is changing. In a few weeks time the colors have brightened and the world has taken on a golden hue. So pretty...
I think that maybe I will make the orchard across the street the focus of a seasonal survey. In another month or so it will still be beautiful, just covered with snow.

Looking Forward

I hope my mother comes with toys. She has a great little collection of Playmobil people and furniture that she shares on occasion. They are "play at the table" toys which helps to keep the pieces from getting scattered about the house. they are also one of Alicia's (Priscilla's youngest daughter) favorite things to look at while visiting Grandma.
Em had a great time one day when we visited Grandma's house back in the spring. I see some fun times ahead.

Hey, look, Rachel! Maybe we do have pictures of the china in the cabinet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Baking Day

It was a beautiful morning at the bus stop. It's almost too bad I had to put the girls on the bus as it would have been a wonderful day to go out gallivanting. The sun was bright and the temperatures comfortable, but I had no time to run about in the sunshine today. I had plans.

My Little Guy waved good bye to the bus as he does every morning and we headed back in the house. It was another pie making day and Bethany would be arriving before too long. While we waited I had some breakfast, made a pot of coffee, and set up the kitchen. Little Guy ate a couple of graham crackers.

Bethany arrived a little after 10 am, just after Hannah left to clean a house with Leta. (No Lucas and Simon today, they stayed home with their daddy.) We got right to work peeling, slicing, and spicing apples. When the bowls were full we started on the crusts. I mixed crust, Bethany rolled and assembled.

We made eighteen pies, all but two were apple. We baked six pies, four apple, a pumpkin, and a squash pie (special order). In the midst of the baking and assembling, Hannah returned home and my girls came back from school. We fed four children lunch, Hannah read them some stories, and they all went down for a nap. By 3:30 pm Bethany was wrapping pies to deliver or freeze. Would you believe there is not one pie left in my house tonight? Phew!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just Fine China

Rachel brought Mom over today and together we unpacked, washed, and dried her china, and attempted to put it all back into the cabinet. Even Mom wasn't quite sure where everything went. I suppose there may be some rearranging of plates, cups, and bowls in the days ahead, but for now they are all safely ticked behind the door.

Please pray for Mom as she adjusts to another major change in her life. It can't be easy leaving her home of fifty-two years, but she has not complained. One day soon we will get her settled in and then maybe she and I can have some fun together. Maybe she'll teach me how to crochet...

ABC Wednesday- Letter N

N is for New; New Mexico. (Not to be confused with Texas or Arizona...)

I was raised in upstate New York a few miles from the southern shore of Lake Ontario, so when I got married and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, I found myself in somewhat of a culture shock. To my husband it was home, to me everything was new.

Though there were no language barriers, there were still many new experiences for me in the six months I lived so far from my own family. New Mexico is desert with cacti and tumble weeds. Most trees are short and stubby. Front yards consist of stone, rock, and dirt unless there is an sprinkler system installed. Most houses are one story and covered in stucco. The residents dine on a seeming constant diet of chile peppers; red and green. Tortillas are a staple, and restaurants serve sopapillas with the meal instead of rolls.

Although we haven't lived there for many years (We have been back in NY since Christmas of 1981), I have come to love New Mexico too. I love the chile, I love the cacti, I love the mountains. And I love the family from New Mexico who became mine so many years ago.

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why We Should All Know CPR

Good Samaritans come to aid of ailing runner

Sruthi Gottipati • Staff writer • October 16, 2010

VICTOR — Good Samaritans came to the rescue in Fishers Park when a man running on an off-road trail suffered cardiac arrest this morning.

Brendan Byrne, 49, of Brighton was in the final leg of the annual Black Diamond Duathlon, which consists of a two-mile run, followed by a 10-mile bicycle course and a second two-mile run, when he was found unresponsive on the trail, according to the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office.

Fellow race participants began to administer CPR and rescue breathing to him. An Ontario County Sheriff’s deputy who was directing traffic for the race administered one shock with a defibrillator before emergency medical crews arrived and brought Byrne out of cardiac arrest.

Officials said Byrne was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in guarded condition tonight, a hospital spokeswoman said.

I am blessed to know my brother in law was used to help save this man's life. What an incredible feeling that must be.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Looking Out the Window

There is nothing prettier than autumn in upstate NY. In another week or so the colors will be gone. The trees will be bare and the ground covered with a carpet of gold. It has been a beautiful weekend, brisk and sunny, with plenty of color. Maybe by the end of the week there will be enough leaves on the ground for the kids to rake up and jump in.

On Saturday afternoon Rachel and I took an hour or so to wrap my mother's china and depression glass in newspaper and pack it into boxes. Her china cabinet is now standing in the corner of my former dining room waiting to be refilled. The move has begun.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Feeding Frenzy

On Thursday morning when the girls got on the school bus, I was left with two little boys. Ben was gone to work, so Hannah and I decided to visit the farm market. We took the boys to our favorite fall place and Hannah made sure to bring along plenty of quarters so we could feed our friends.

My little guy wasn't nervous about feeding the animals. He thought it was great fun. I helped him flatten out his hand and keep his fingers straight, but these animals are so gentle that I don't worry much either, and all the animals come up to the fence looking for a handout; sheep, goats, donkeys, even the deer.

I was surprised to find some new friends at Powers Farm Market this year, a pair of alpacas. They look very much like baby llamas, but I think they are probably better behaved or they wouldn't be out where children are encouraged to feed them. Josh thought they were pretty cool too.

In the past we have typically spent a very relaxed day wandering about, feeding the animals, looking in the store, braving the giant tee pee, and musing over pumpkins. Sometimes we visit the fish hatchery or pick up a box of fried cakes and a gallon of apple cider, and spend a leisurely day enjoying the outdoors, but we needed to be home for the girls and so we cut our visit short. We did however, take a moment to stop on the way home for a few fried cakes and a gallon of cider which we shared with Grandma before heading home.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Today is my son's twenty-seventh birthday. (He is the one with the frog... and I think he was seven at the time.) It has been a rough week for us, but I pray that things are getting better. Being a parent continually presents new challenges and opportunities for both failure and success, for pride and disappointment in both our own selves and our children. I have had to take a giant step backward and reevaluate my own heart this week and found myself severely lacking.

In spite of our trouble, and the fact that he is working both tonight and tomorrow and has plans on Sunday, I decided to make him a pie. I rolled and pinched the crust and wrapped it in plastic wrap and foil, mixed all the ingredients for pumpkin filling except evaporated milk, sealed it in a bag, and delivered it it to his home to be mixed, baked, and eaten. We might not be together this time around, but at least he has his pie. I can't let a birthday go by without pie.

Happy Birthday, Dave.
I love you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Our trip to Angelica took us through Naples, NY. Naples is famous around here for not only being a quaint little town, but for Widmer's Wine Cellars and grape pies. We missed the grape festival this year or our drive to the southern tier would have been increased by a half hour or so. The grape festival is very popular. On the way home we stopped at a farm market. The smell of grapes tempted me to buy a basket but since I am not feeling up to making jam and I do not care for grape pie, I resisted. Instead I tasted a couple sample grapes and decided I prefer to drink grape juice and eat seedless grapes.

A Long and Winding Road

This week has already brought about as much as I can bear. There have been many tears and much heart ache. There has been a searching of the soul and a testing of the spirit. In the stress of these situations, communication often breaks down and there are words and actions on both parts that have been either misunderstood or simply unnecessary. I know God is in the midst, changing me and growing me in ways I never imagined. I only wish it wasn't so painful. I pray the worst is over and there are brighter days ahead. I hope I have learned something in the process.This morning all I could do was wrap my arms around my daughter in law and cry. There is a healing balm in tears.

PS. My Uncle Chuck came through his surgery which included a triple bypass. He is now in the hospital recovering. Thank you for your prayers.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ABC Wednesday- Letter M

M is for Mom. Mom is the word.

She was there long before my heart started beating and dreamed of me even before I took my first breath. She has always been there to calm my fears, to whisper in my ear, to wrap me tight and warm in her arms. She held me close and yet taught me how to stand. She took my hand when I was unsteady and walked along. She dried my tears and cried along with me. She gave me direction, encouraged me along the way, and answered many questions. Though I didn't always understand, she always had my best interest at heart. She applauded my successes, grieved over my failures, and forgave my offenses. She hasn't always known what to do or how to respond, but she has always loved me. She is my mom.

Through the years she has remained constant. There have been times when I have become angry and frustrated with her, and others when she has been my best friend and confidant. She has misunderstood and been misunderstood. She has prayed for me and offered guidance. Now the years have taken her youth, turned her hair gray, and left her tethered to an oxygen tank. Last year they took her best friend and left her a widow. She often asks the same question several times and finds it hard to remember little details. I don't always know what to do or how to respond, but I do know I love her. She is my mom.

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

The Poo on the Shoe

Today I am the poo on the shoe. It's a stinky place to be.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Take a Hike

Part of our Sister Day this past Saturday included a hike at one of Priscilla's favorite parks. It was a good ending to our day out together.

We trekked up the hill at Onanda Park where Priscilla likes to take her dog, and looked out over Canandaigua Lake from a platform near the top. I could use a walk like this every day but unfortunately I don't have a hill quite like this within a short distance. I will have to settle for orchard walks instead, and you know, I really don't mind that too much.

PS. Please pray for Uncle Chuck who is having heart surgery tomorrow (Tuesday).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Taste of Home

Tonight I am tired. It has been an exhausting day and I will be relieved to fall into bed when the time comes. In the meanwhile, I give you another little taste of yesterday...

The Angelica Bakery caught my eye yesterday. The bakery itself was not open, in fact it appeared as though it might not have been open for years, but there were sacks of flour stacked inside and bread pans covered the counter, waiting for the next baking day. A sign outside the building told me I might find a loaf or two of salt rising bread at the Sweet Shop across the street.

I tried to take a picture of my own salt rising bread, but then I found the Cuba Cheese Shoppe already had a really nice photo online. It's the real thing, baked in the Angelica Bakery. Mmm! Good!!!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Out Galavanting

We are back from the deep south, the south of NY state that is and we had a nice day together.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Stopping to Catch My Breath

It was a quiet kind of day. It may seem like I didn't accomplish much, but I did wash a whole lot of dishes. I also held a sleeping boy, read some stories, and kissed two little girls good night. I wanted to play outside, but the wind was relentless and cold. By the time the warm weather reached us, it was late afternoon.

Tomorrow I have plans to go out for the day with my sisters, both of them. We had planned to take Mom along, but she has been out several times already this week and is concerned about her oxygen supply. I think maybe we'll have to plan a trip for her a little closer to home.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys!

It was a busy day. These little guys kept Hannah and I hopping most of the morning. When it was lunch time, I pulled the high chair out and three small boys started getting excited. I have two booster seats, one of which is always strapped to a kitchen chair. I went in the other room to get a folding chair for the other one. On my return to the kitchen I found Lucas sitting in the high chair, tray in place...
I turned around to look for Hannah. She was sitting in the other room and had not put the him into the chair. I guess he got so excited about lunch, and so eager to not be left out, that he scrambled into the chair himself. He must have climbed right up the front and over the tray. (I'm kind of sorry I missed it...)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Pies in My Eyes

Many pies have come and gone. In the past three weeks my kitchen table has seen probably thirty pies. Most of them have been wrapped securely and carried out the door, but a few have stayed to be enjoyed by us.

Today, after my girls climbed on the school bus, I put on a pot of coffee (decaf, of course), and began the task of peeling and slicing apples. Bethany arrived soon after I started, and we proceeded to mix and assemble pies. There were apple pies (of course), elderberry pies, blueberry pies, and even a couple of peach pies. Most of it went along with no trouble, but I did manage to burn a pot of elderberry filling. At the end of the day I had two pumpkin pies wafting their goodness through my house. One is still here, purchased by Ben and Hannah. I hope they'll share a piece...

I must admit I scarcely feel as though I really completed any pie making today. It must have been the house full of "foliage" that kept me slightly distracted. There were squabbles to be settled, snacks to be distributed, noses to be wiped, and a bottle to be held. While Bethany took Ben to his class I fed little "flowers" their lunch, changed a diaper or two, read a couple of stories, and kissed a few foreheads. Everyone got a nap today except for my "sleepless one." His mother came and took him out of bed and home for a nap instead. Bethany really did most of the work. She rolled every pie crust and put together every pie. She is a master pie maker. I wonder where she got it?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

ABC Wednesday- Letter L

L is for "Little Kid Television Shows..."

I am feeling rather lazy and lethargic this evening. I hope you don't mind one of my wanderings down memory lane...

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

Apples in My Eye

The apple trees are gradually being relieved of their burdens. On Sunday afternoon James and I went for a short walk back behind our house. We hadn't gone far when we noticed we had company. Jasmine our wayward, three-legged dog was hobbling down the road behind us. She spends more time away from home now than she does with us. She is not pleased with the fluffy white addition who came to live with us over two years ago and has found herself a "home away from home" down the road. Though I don't worry about her like I once did, her difficulty in getting around as she ages is a concern. She can on longer easily manage long grass and once we got off the dirt road she fell on her face repeatedly. James finally took pity on her and carried her up the hill and back to the road. Yesterday she decided she had put up with Sofie long enough and went back to Martin's house.

The apple orchards surrounding our house are a great incentive to get out there and buy apples (or pick a few). I think I bought a few too many and may have to convince Bethany to use some of mine in her pie making, fundraiser endeavors. I've already baked two pies of my own this week, one yesterday and one today, and they are just impossible for me to resist eating though I do eat the "diet" version, the one with no ice cream.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Missing of the Miracle

I missed the miracle, but assume it occurred sometime yesterday when the sun was bright, the air a touch warmer than today, and the wind less boisterous. I have yet to witness firsthand the birth of a monarch, the one where a butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, and it is slightly disconcerting to me that I missed this particular butterfly's appearance.

"... when summer is over and temperatures drop drastically, a special generation of Monarch Butterflies is born; this new group will have to assume the titanic mission of traveling to Mexico, to warmer latitudes so they can hibernate, feed, mate, and then travel back home. This different kind of Monarch is known as the Methuselah generation."

Today the chrysalis is but a papery leftover twirling in the wind, a sign that life goes on and another Monarch generation is headed for the mountains of Mexico. Maybe I didn't miss the miracle after all.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


The morning was bright and sunny with a bit of a nip in the air. It was tough to decide what to do on my only full free day of the week. This time of year I begin to panic as I realize just how few bright, sunny days are left before the long winter sets in. I tossed four 20 ounce apples in a bag and headed to Mom's house. It is my mother who years ago taught me how to make pie. She was pretty particular about how to make the crust and I have found it wise to follow her instructions without question. Mom also always used 20 ounce apples in her pies and so I have done the same.

I had Mom help me peel the apples. I cut them into slices and mixed up the filling while Mom measured flour for the crust. When the shortening was cut in, I added water to the dough, rolled it out, and put the pie together. Half an hour later the aroma of baking pie filled her house as we worked on a puzzle together. I left without cutting the pie but I do know it was enjoyed with vanilla ice cream this evening.

Tonight, after making pizza for my family, I whipped up another apple pie. It's in the kitchen cooling right now and my house is smelling quite yummy too.

Auntie Martha's pie making slide show can be seen here.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Too Much To Take

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Ever felt like life was just too much? Too many things weighing you down? Got a burden you just can't bear? Maybe you have taken on more than you could handle?

James and I like to walk way back into the orchard. It gives us a chance to be alone, to talk, and to share our hearts with each other. When we moved here nearly ten years ago the orchards were filled with old apple trees; gnarly, yet majestic, old, yet fruitful. Walking back into the orchard was like stepping back in time to a day when life was simpler and folks were a little bit closer to God and nature. There was a certain calm and peace that couldn't quite be explained.

In recent years many of the old trees have been removed and replaced with new stock. This is the way of life. The torch is always passed from one generation to the next, but we're finding this next crop of trees to be struggling.

These trees are meant to be small and bear as much fruit, or nearly as much, as the older varieties. Because of their size, more trees can be planted in the same amount of acreage, at least that is how I understand it. The problem is the trees, though expected to stand up, aren't always able to do so. It is not at all uncommon to find them sprawled on the ground, covered with the fruit that so obviously is the cause of their struggle.

The sad thing is that I can see a correlation between these poor trees and people. Whether it be sports, education, or other responsibilities, many of us just aren't able to bear the load. We drag and droop, we struggle and sag, and sometimes we break. We often carry a load we were never designed to bear...

I am thankful for a God who knows just how much I am able to bear, and when the burdens grow too heavy, He is there to carry them.