Friday, April 26, 2013

Seven Eleven

Scheduling posts is kind of fun...

James and I bravely (or foolishly) raised seven children, five boys and two girls, but my Great Grandma and Grandpa Shafer did us better and raised eleven. I know families were generally larger one hundred years ago, but eleven is still a rather hefty quiver. James and I had our children young. We were only 31 when Hannah was born and then we were finished having babies, but Great Grandpa Joseph Shafer didn't start having babies until he was nearly 40. By the time his youngest child was born he was 58 years old.

I love these old photos taken one Christmas on one of the farms up in the hills above Angelica, NY, probably on Peavy Rd. The first photo is Matilda and Joesph Shafer and their eleven children. My grandma, Florence, is second in the back row (next to Uncle Joe). She was the third child and second daughter. Grandpa Joe had to have been nearly 80 and Grandma a much younger 60.

I'm glad they didn't stop at taking pictures of just their immediate family. They took a second Christmas photo of their in laws and grandchildren. (This is helpful in determining when the picture was taken. That's Jim Torpey there being held by his father Gene.) My dad is the cute one. ;) He's second from the end in the front row. Eleven children, six in laws, and fourteen grandchildren (and they weren't near finished). Not too bad!

There's that picture of  Great Grandma hanging on the wall behind them. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Taking Off

It's almost time, almost time to pile into the car and take that ride to the airport. We are going to Minnesota! Some of us have already begun the journey. Dave and Leta, along with Lucas and Josiah, left yesterday morning. They're driving. Bethany and Jacob flew off this morning in time to attend Michele's Bridal Luncheon, and another eight of us will meet up at the airport tomorrow morning and arrive in Minneapolis around 9:30 am. We're going to a wedding!

We'll only be gone four days, but with how my head is spinning, you'd think it was much longer. My mom and Sofie are going to stay with Rachel, and I've made arrangements for Jasmine (my three-legged dog) to stay with Martin. That's where she goes when she gets tired of the shenanigans here at home. She decided long ago that Martin is a pretty cool guy to hang out with and, although there is just a twinge of jealousy, we mostly let her visit him at will. My cats can take care of themselves for a few days as long as I leave enough food and fill up the fishbowl.

I scarcely know today whether to be stressed out over preparations or to relax and enjoy the ride. (Actually, I do know. The question is how to relax and still get it all done.) I am anticipating a wonderful weekend and I'm sure there will be some fun pictures when we get back. One, two, three, go!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

O is for Old

O is for old, in this case old news.

For some strange and unknown reason I have been searching for old news online. Old news can be interesting sometimes, especially if one knows who the tidbits of information concern. I googled my grandfather's name and came up with old town newspapers, pages that read something like a gossip column or Facebook newsfeed.

Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Plotzker and two children of Rochester were Sunday guests of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Emil Plotzker.

Mrs. Emil Plotzker is able to be out again after having been confined to her home with the grip.

-The Herald Mail, Fairport, NY Thursday February 9, 1933

My father was just a baby...

And then this one. It's even older.

Penfield, March 26- Mr. and Mrs. Arndt attended the confirming of their grandson, Arthur Plotzker in Rochester Sunday.

Monroe County Mail, Thursday, March 28, 1918

(I'm guessing this old photo of my grandpa, a late addition to this post,  is either a graduation of some kind or that confirmation the newspaper mentioned.)

 Upstairs in my bookcase was an old book with Grandpa's name on it. I went to look and there was his Common Service Book, the proof of his confirmation At St. John's Lutheran Church in Rochester, NY. And just now I am realizing the ceremony took place on his fourteenth birthday. Interesting.

 For more ABC Wednesday posts, click here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Travel Plans

In just a few days we will board a plane and fly to the lovely Land of the Thousand Lakes for the wedding of our oldest son. I am the kind of person who fends off excitement until I just can't deny it any longer, and now I am excited. All those little details that have been brushed out of my mind until now are flooding in. I am likely to wake at night, toss and turn, and think of all that needs to be done, but mostly I will be excited for my son and his beautiful fiance'.

We won't be spending an excessive amount of time in Minnesota, at least not this time, but we will be there long enough to celebrate the addition of a new daughter in law, and still have a bit of time for me to catch up with my friend, Kristina, who lives just a few miles from where the wedding will take place. (How cool is that?) I wish my sisters could have made the trip too since we have all been bloggy buddies with Kristina since 2006, but this gives Kristina a very good reason to visit us in NY instead. And, since I will be welcoming a new grandson in August, perhaps there will be another opportunity for us to gather in Minnesota.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Going Green and Family Connections

We've had a bit of rain this past week and as suspected, it turned our world green, or at least got the process in motion. No longer does the grass look brown and lifeless. Instead we have a green, grass carpet with multitudes of daffodils scattering spots of sunshine throughout. Warm temperatures have encouraged trees and bushes to bud too and soon we will have an entire world that is green and growing. If only my allergies to everything green and growing didn't leave me sprawled on the couch with throbbing ears and aching eyes. Ah well, I have recently built up my allergy arsenal. Hopefully that nasal spray kicks in and starts working soon.

Every once in a while I go on an internet ancestry search and such was the case yesterday. I was looking for information on my great grandfather, Joseph Edson Shafer, when I stumbled across a memorial page for his sister Hattie. I found a little bit of my own grandma staring back at me in her face. I learned that Hattie had lost a son in the first world war and traveled to France a few years prior to her own death to visit his grave. I sent an email to an address on the listing, and a few of my own photographs, including a photo of Hattie in France, and received a note back this morning from a very distant cousin.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Hair

Today was haircut day. It was a low-key kind of appointment with the daughter of a childhood friend. Amanda's mom is also my husband's cousin, but that only makes things confusing to explain... Rather than go into the shop where she works, I met Amanda at home on her day off. Conversation was casual and relaxed. Very nice. I think I even liked the fact that there was no mirror staring back at me the entire haircut. That girl int he mirror can make me a little uneasy sometimes and she is my worst critic.

I like my new haircut. It still has plenty of length, and I can pull it back into a barrette if I want to. It's just slightly layered and my long bangs go off to the left side of my face. Pretty simple, but fresh and new. We'll see if I can make it look the same tomorrow morning.

I think I may have found myself a new hair stylist. The only problem is paying her. She says she always cuts hair free for family. I didn't intend to go away without paying her, but she did suggest that perhaps I could make her a pie, a chocolate pie. Sounds like a good deal to me, and just maybe I'll find a nice gift card to go along with it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I grew up in the age of the "Pixie Cut". Every little girl had one, except the lucky ones, like my sisters. I hated my pixie cut. I thought it made me look like a boy and I desperately wanted to have long feminine hair. I wanted curls and ribbons, ponytails and braids, and I cried whenever it came time for the dreaded haircut.

For most of my early years I had short hair. Even as a teen my mom insisted my hair looked much better short. My early married years were filled with babies, toddlers, and small children, and since I didn't know how to take care of long hair, I continued to keep it short. It was easy to wash, easy to comb, and easy to style. It didn't blow into my food at windy picnics, it didn't get closed in car door or rolled up in windows, and I didn't find it wrapped around dishcloths as I washed plates in the the sink, but when my youngest daughter turned four all that began to change.

For the past fourteen years I have had longish and long hair. I've been tempted to cut it all off and been encouraged by others to keep it long. Years back I had a favorite hairdresser, but when Rhonda cut back her working hours I began to search for haircuts elsewhere. Four years ago I had a bad, bad haircut and ever since I have been terrified of having my hair styled. I've had it trimmed here and there, but each time with fear and trepidation. Well, tomorrow I am headed out for a haircut again. I'm a little apprehensive, but I know it needs to be done.

Wouldn't you know, my mother, the one who always had my hair chopped off short, short, said to me this morning, "I wouldn't let them take too much off." Sometimes I really wonder who this woman is!

Going for a Walk

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
Colossians 2:6 

 A recent Bible study on walking got me to thinking. Not only have I been thinking about my walk with God, but I have had physical walking on my mind too. In some ways the two kinds of walking can go hand in hand.

For many years I have come up with some pretty good excuses not to do much walking; home schooling, babies/small children, bad weather, ailing mother... Unfortunately, the effect of sitting on my one's butt too much makes itself known, usually in decreased energy levels and larger pant sizes. It's too late to lose that 20 pounds (or so) I'd hoped to shed before my son's wedding, but it's not too late to start doing something about my health.

I've really no excuse for not walking. With a treadmill in the corner of my living room, I can walk at any time of day and in any weather. The other night I went for a 2 1/2 mile walk in spite of it being dark out. It was cold and rainy too, but I stayed warm and dry. Walking takes only a strong will and determination. It also helps to distract myself with a good television show like reruns of The Amazing Race.

I've been walking at least 2 miles for the past six nights. My legs get tired and my feet hurt, but I'm hoping that by the time nice weather arrives, I will have at least built up a little bit of endurance for some great hiking. It would also be great if Icould fit into some of those jeans I have packed away in my closet.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Narcissus

N is for Narcissus, which is really just another name for "daffodil".

The weather turned wonderfully warm yesterday making my daffodils.. er,... I mean, Narcissus, very happy. They were just bursting with happiness! With the arrival of blooming daffodils comes the official feeling of spring and the tulips can't be far behind.

For more ABC Wednesday posts, click here.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Unwrapping Gifts

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 
James 1:17

Although I've stopped numbering and writing down "gifts", I have not stopped noticing them.  Friday afternoon, after days of cold and rain, the sun broke through and lit up our world for a little while. I gazed out the kitchen window toward the driveway and a little patch of yellow spots caught my eye. I knew they weren't flowers, but in the late afternoon sunshine they almost appeared to be. I went out to investigate.

There at the base of our silver maple tree were several little patches of moss catching the sunlight and tossing it back toward the sky. Since I've been imagining fairy gardens and homes, this little patch of life made me smile. It also made me think once again of that list I stopped keeping. I think maybe I should start all over again. I'm pretty sure God doesn't mind me picking up at one again...

1. Patches of moss catching afternoon sunlight.

2.  Spring rain turning grass green.

3. Seedlings sprouting.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wishy Washy Weather

The weather has been nothing short of wishy washy. I'll take the wishy, but really could do without the washy. It's a good thing for bright, sunny windowsills and green, growing things. With some background sunshine (the wishy part) and a little green on the shelf, I can almost make believe it's warm outside. I know warm weather is coming, it almost always does, but in the meantime we have to put up with the rain (washy).

The seeds I planted a couple weeks back have sprouted and are as eager for sunshine as the rest of us. The are quite happy with the shelf James installed in my laundry room, but are eager to have a better look out the window. I keep having to turn them around.

I wasn't quick enough with my garlic and some of the cloves have started to sprout so I found them a home in a soggy spot along with my Romaine. It's another experiment. I've never grown garlic, but since it's still too cold outside for starting a garden, I did the next best thing. Too bad I don't have more spots for them. I certainly have enough windows.

In my kitchen window is a small Elfin child. She holds a ladybug on her lap and keeps guard over a tiny garden of marigold seedlings. It's a quiet, relaxing kind of job which she rather enjoys. I've not heard her utter one complaint as she sits in silence, staring at the sprouting seeds. In fact, I think she's smiling.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Today would have been my dad's 81st birthday. It's hard to believe he's been gone over three years now. Just thinking about him can still make my eyes sting and my throat tighten up, but I know he wouldn't want us to live our lives in constant grief, and most days I am able to smile a the memories and thank God for the gift of an incredibly wonderful dad. He was one of the best! No doubt I will miss him until we meet again.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Relax and Enjoy

It's cold outside, but most of you probably don't need me to tell you that. The icy rain has arrived in western NY and I've got a fire (probably the last of the season) started in the wood stove. "Relax and enjoy."

I have one small flower dancing about the house today. She's been scratched by the cat (not good...) and is now proudly showing her battle wounds to Grandma. I can hardly wait until her daddy comes... (read sarcasm here). She's told me already that I am the queen and she and Grandma are the princesses. She has a small plastic, curly haired doll who she's named "Pahvala", and very nice little "baby" lion who has been an almost constant companion the past few days. "Relax and enjoy, relax and enjoy."

Oreo is looking out the window. I thought perhaps he was watching some birds hop about in the cold rain, but there is nothing out there but wet, dead leaves. "Relax and enjoy."

I've got my cup of coffee here in a snowman cup. It seemed a good choice for today... If I forget it's April ("Relax and enjoy") and just listen to the endless chatter of one small child, I may find myself not so stressed by the end of the day. I may even find myself smiling.

PS. Thanks, Betsy. :0)

PPS. Listening to Rocky torment Grandma... "Relax and enjoy." ;0)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Flower Pot

The "garden" at my house is very small these days. Not many "small plants" make their way in and out each day, but some days the "vase" has more "flowers" than others.

Yesterday morning, just before leaving for Ladies' Prayer, I got a message from the mom of my friend Vinegar. Could he come and play while she went to MOPS? He doesn't do so well there and would much rather play with Hannah. We ended up meeting at the church, acquired one small and much loved little boy, and went home later with two small "flowers", Rocky and Vinegar.

 I'm still not quite sure what to do with "The Garden". Some- times I des- perately want to do something else, and sometimes I get great satisfaction from the tales and antics of small children. Perhaps it is all in my perspective.

M is for Martha

M is for Martha! (Of course.)

Last night I was checking out old Sesame Street clips, you know, the ones where kids were actually allowed to run, play, and climb, and I was reminded of Martha. She was pretty marvelous! At least I thought so.

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

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Eyes, Eye Drops, and Eye Doctors

We're in the home stretch now. Perhaps there really is an end of eye drops in sight. The vision in Mom's left eye is not as improved as in the right eye (which got the expensive Toric lens), but it is improved none the less. We saw the optometrist again yesterday and have been given a prescription for new bifocals. One more week of drops in the left eye (one drop 3X's a day), and another trip to see Dr. Lerner in one month. We're almost done with the Eye Surgery Adventure. (Did you hear me breathe a sigh of relief?)

I will say Mom has been enjoying her jigsaw puzzles more, and her eyes look brighter. Sadly, we still face those daily struggles with communication, and the other night I found that FAIL sticker, bright and bold, once again attached to my forehead. Sometimes a bad memory and deafness on her part, and a bad headache, fatigue, and no patience on my part make for a bad combination. Such was the case Saturday night. Let's just say I failed the patience test that time. Thankfully, a bad memory (hers) also comes in handy when I fail because by morning the incident is mostly forgotten, at least by her.

I think often of my friend Judi and wonder how her days are going. She doesn't show up here often anymore, but I think I understand why. It's a rough road some days. I love you, Judi.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Happy Birthday Party!

The birthday was really yesterday, and possibly even part of the day before (since he was born in Tokyo...), but we celebrated today. Not everyone could be here, but those who came were rewarded with Orange Creamsicle cupcakes (a boxed mix) and ice cream. I'd intended to bake a pie, but one of those nasty nauseating headaches landed me on the couch instead. Cupcakes seemed a viable option, and they looked good wearing blue candles. It was a low-key affair with just two grandchildren, four children, and a favorite son in law. After the party dissipated and Grandma had settled into working on her puzzle, James and I took our first orchard walk of the season. It felt so good to be out walking and climbing hills.


Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
Matthew 6:19

Down around back, behind the barn, is the "burn pile" where we drag all the sticks and brush that collect up when we attempt to clean the grounds. At the back of the pile is My Darling's metal collection, items pulled from the ashes, perhaps headed for a recycling center someday. Makes me think a bit of the sermon I heard years ago where someone said, "It's all gonna burn." It was a son talking to his father who was fuming about the scratch on his new car. Yup, at the end of the line that's about how it goes.Thankfully, at the end of life's line there is also "Recycling Center" where He makes all things new.

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 
Revelation 21:5

Friday, April 05, 2013

Revamping My Gnome Home

The dirt was dry and clumped together. Half the plants had died. Spider-webby things hung on the house and remaining plants. When I tried to water the small garden, the water ran down through the cracks and out onto the floor. I decided to take my little garden apart and start over. Sometimes you've got to do that, start over.

After digging up three jade plants and removing all the paraphernalia, I filled two  big bowls with the dirt and poured in a whole bunch of water. The soil was dry and thirsty.I stirred it up with a big spoon until it was suitable for planting in again.

This time I lined my little drawer box with a sheet of aluminum foil and embedded five yogurt cups of moist soil in the other dirt. These are my watering spots. Now I don't have to keep the entire box moist and watered, just the yogurt containers where I planted my marigold seeds. If they get too big and unruly, I can always remove them and find them a home in my outside flower gardens. Now I'm just waiting for them to grow.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

A Little More on the Positive Side

My last post was not very cheery. Sometimes real life slips into blog posts. Lest you think I live in Utopia, let me assure you I do not. *sigh*

The past few weeks have found me hoping for spring and thinking about gardens. Not only have I started some seeds (tomatoes and marigolds), but I have been having a bit of fun with what I've been referring to as a "Gahh-bage Gahh-den". So far I'm working on rejuvenating a few Romaine stumps and the stub from some leftover celery. Whether or not they make it into an actual outside garden and end up bearing "fruit" remains to be seen. For now they provide a cheery bit of green.

My egg carton seed planters have found a rather warm and sunny spot in my powder room/ laundry facility. My Darling installed a nice narrow board shelf in the space between my laundry appliances and the bathroom window. It's warm and it's bright, perfect for starting seeds. I just hope they don't end up growing mold like my previous attempts. Think positive, think positive.

It's been a long weeks of spring break here on the farm. There have been no cold weather outings aside from Tuesday morning's jaunt to Ladies' Prayer, and no wonderfully special kid friendly activities. Perhaps this is why I am finding myself tired of playing referee to a couple of small girls who cannot co-exist without some kind of competition going on. If you had told me years ago when I was playing referee between my own children that I would voluntarily do it again with someone else's children, I'd have never believed it. There is hope though. Most of my kids eventually learned how to get along.

Hard Times

We all have hard times. I struggle daily with both caring for my mother, and finding the patience to deal with small children, but this week I have friends who desperately need prayer and encouragement.

My friend and Tuesday morning prayer leader (J) lost her 36 year old son to a drug overdose on Monday. He had struggled for years and just couldn't seem to break free of the habit that clawed at his life. My friend is heartbroken. On Tuesday morning she was surrounded by a Circle of Sisters who loved and encouraged her, held her close, and lifted her in prayer before the One Who Heals the brokenhearted. M's passing leaves us stunned and sad.

Another friend is dealing with a broken relationship. Her son's girlfriend has left him and taken their three babies; a one and a half year old girl and twin 8 month old boys. Grandma has been unfriended on Facebook and now not only can't see her grandchildren in person, but no longer sees pictures either. I know her heartache.

Today my childhood friends found out the trial of their adopted brother has been put off once again as he makes a request for new, high profile lawyers to represent his case, rather than the district attorney originally appointed. It has been almost 16 months since he set the fatal early December fire that took the lives of his father and two adopted brothers, and injured both his mother and sister. It hurts to even imagine him being acquitted.

Sometimes life leaves us staggering in disbelief, wondering if and when justice will ever come. The reality is, sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes it takes so long in getting here that by the time it arrives, the waiting has already taken more of a toll than the original offense.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

L is for Ladybug

L is for Ladybug.

I like ladybugs. They are my favorite insect. Some of my friends find ladybugs to be an annoyance. They say ladybugs smell funny and they bite. I guess they do bite occasionally, and maybe they have a peculiar odor, but they are still the prettiest bug around. I find them cheery and entertaining, even in mass quantities. I have often thought about building a Ladybug House, but so far it hasn't happened. I let them live in my daughter's playhouse instead. They seem to like it there.

Last year I captured a ladybug exploring my milkweed stalks and blossoms. They move fast so I had to be quick with the camera. And, I have even been known to rescue one from certain death in banana bread batter. (Maybe you heard that story...)

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

Monday, April 01, 2013

Vole-y Pole-y

Today was full of children. Bethany had no sooner arrived and set Jake's carseat down in the kitchen, then she started screaming, jumping about, and yelling something about Sofie. Sofie was running excitedly about the kitchen, kind of like she does when she sees a reflection of light flash across the floor. Bethany continued to hop about and Sofie continued to chase something small and furry. The small and furry object attempted to escape through a gap between two adjoining cabinets, but Sofie was quicker. Giving up on escape number one, the hunted made a futile effort to squeeze underneath the refrigerator, but Sofie wouldn't have it. By now the frightened and exhausted creature was letting out squeaks of pain and fright.

I grabbed an empty salad container and lid and scooped the pathetic creature from the floor. Now I had it contained and had to decide what to do with it. I deposited it outside where I am fairly certain it likely perished from it's injuries, at least I hope so. Upon my return to the house I found Sofie looking slightly bewildered as to what had become of her new toy, and Oreo, the sometimes mighty hunter, asleep on the back of the couch.

After a little bit of Google searching I've decided that the small and furry creature, which we originally called a mouse, was none other than a vole, which I have discovered can be extremely prolific and highly destructive when it comes to plants and gardens. "Hey, Oreo! No sleeping on the job!

PS. We are being infested with strange creatures. Rocky and her sister found a roly-poly pill bug on the rug this morning and carried it around in a plastic container for over an hour before I decided to toss it out into the garden.


There is a serious blog post simmering deep inside. It just hasn't bubbled up to the surface yet. Of course, in the midst of shouting children and endless eye drops, there is not much time to sit and actually organize my thoughts into any semblance of order. I haven't decided yet whether that is a good thing or not. Perhaps not getting my thoughts into words will keep me out of trouble, or at least prevent me getting into any more.

Yesterday was Easter. Since Mom was at Rachel's for the weekend, we went to the early service at church, stayed for breakfast, and then Sunday school and the regular church service too.  Midway through the afternoon we headed over to my sister Priscilla's house for an Easter dinner of ham and potatoes, bread, and tossed salad. There was some good conversation, and a yummy apple crisp with whipped cream for dessert. I ate too much (again) and thoroughly enjoyed the time with my sister.

Now we have a week off school and some wintery weather to contend with. I'm still optimistic that spring is close at hand though it certainly doesn't feel that way today. In fact, if I was into eating them, it just might be a very good day for baking cookies.