Monthly Archives: July 2013

Here We Go Again

poison ivyThis wasn’t the post I had planned to write today…actually yesterday.  But sometimes things just don’t go as planned.

Angel Girl broke her glasses last week and she and I ended up driving the 45 minutes to the eye doctor to get a new pair.

Before we left in the morning I noticed a rash forming on my upper chest and a few spots on my legs.

Since I’m a little sensitive to the prickles on squash plants and I have been spending a lot of time in the patch squishing squash bugs, at first I thought it was just more squash rash. Itches for a few hours, is gone the next morning.

But by 1:00 it started burning.

By 4:00 I knew it was poison ivy.

By 7:00 I knew I was going to the doctor just as soon as the clinic opened.

By 9:00 I knew I wasn’t going to get any sleep.

I was right.

Some steroids and a prescription inch cream (the largest one they sell with 3 refills!) made things more endurable. Slightly.

But how in the world did I end up with poison ivy again? I have been so careful and hardly left the house. I’ve avoided all areas where the noxious weed is present.  And then I’ve faithfully washed with my poison ivy soap every time I’ve been out!

The answer was staring me in the face. The rash on my chest is in almost the exact outline of my work out shirt.

Every morning, I put on my work out clothes, gather the laundry and carry it to the basement, sort it, start it, and then exercise.

The guys have been in and out of poison ivy moving cows and pigs and fixing fence. There must of been some urushiol on their clothes that I unknowingly got all over my upper chest.

Then I worked out and sweated, which only made it worse, causing it to drip to other places, like all the way around my neck. (I knew I shouldn’t have done crunches!)

There must have been some on my shirt that I wiped on my face.

Then I showered, but didn’t use my poison ivy soap because I never knew I had been exposed.

So while I sit here in misery tonight, with the largest band of poison ivy rash I’ve ever had – covering my upper chest and wrapped around my neck like a boa, I’ve decided that the morale of this story is simple –

Don’t do laundry and don’t exercise.

At least not on the same day.

Amish Eggs

DSC_0123My new little layers just aren’t laying enough eggs yet to feed the family.

So now, once a week, I head over to the Amish produce stand to buy a few dozen Amish eggs.

This never fails to make me smile.

Every time I pull in, I’m greeted by some smiling Amish children.

I buy my eggs and maybe a melon or a cucumber and watch as they carefully count out my change. It’s worth the drive just to see that!

But my latest trip was the best yet. When I got to the stand I saw three little Amish girls, their height like stair steps, probably ages seven and five and three. But I didn’t see any eggs, so I asked about them.

The oldest of the three little girls had a look of panic, then a hurried consultation in Pennsylvania Dutch with the next biggest.

The middle girl took off across the driveway to the shop (I guess to ask mom or dad) , while the oldest smiled at me and said it would be just a minute. We then had a very interesting conversation about turkeys, squash bugs, green beans, sweet corn, and how much we needed rain.

I must say, I was impressed with her conversation skills!

All the while the youngest girl just stared at me with great big eyes underneath her prayer bonnet.

Then middle child rushed back in the stand, grabbed a long hoe from the back and rushed out again.

Oldest just smiled at me and said, “We’ll have some eggs soon.”

I was puzzled, wondering how a hoe could bring us eggs?

Then I heard a bell. As I stepped around the stand, I saw middle child with hoe in hand swinging it over her head for all she was worth, so the metal part would ring an old school bell that was missing it’s rope.

She hit it every other time. But it was just enough to bring someone out of the house.

A volley of Pennsylvania Dutch was exchanged and within 5 minutes a little Amish boy (obviously one step up the stair steps from the oldest girl) ran in with my eggs.  They then consulted over how much I owed them, even grabbing a piece of paper to do some figuring.

Another five minutes and I had my eggs, a zucchini, a cucumber, a handful of change, and a big smile.

Buying eggs at the grocery store was never this much fun!

Calling in the Cavalry

Many of you may remember that we frequently host a one day – all day Vacation Bible School here at Windy Ridge. And it’s all done outside, in tents and on the lawn.

Every year people ask what we will do if it rains. Every year I just smile and say we’ll figure that out when it happens. But it never did.

Until last year.

In the middle of the worst drought in 100 years (seriously , we hadn’t had any rain for almost 3 months!) yet the minute the kids step off the bus that morning it started to rain.

Then the wind picked up and it started to pour.

Then the lightning came and some really strong wind gusts.

We huddled together under the tents we had set up and watched the wading pools fly by.  After we saw the food tent fly by – we decided to quickly move all the kids back on the bus.

We were just in time to see the porta- potty blow over.

When the rain stopped, we moved back outside and enjoyed a great day.

But I determined then and there that we needed to have a back-up plan. What if they rain hadn’t stopped? We sure couldn’t spend all day in the bus!

My idea? The pole barn.

The only problem was that it, like all the other buildings on the property, was full of “treasures”.

But if we could simply rearrange the building to put all the storage items in the back half and keep all the easily moveable things in the front half (things like tractors, mowers, balers, etc..) Then, on VBS day, we could simply drive out the things in the front half , park them in the pasture and set up VBS in the now empty front half of the pole barn.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

All winter it seemed brilliant. All spring it seemed genius.

It really did seem like a wonderful plan until last week when we suddenly realized there were only 3 weeks till VBS and we still hadn’t started re-arranging.

We worked in the evenings – sorting, emptying – but the task was monumental.

The scrap guy hauled away 3 loads. THREE loads! God bless him.

We’ve had a fire going that would rival the eternal flame.

But still we had a massive job.

It was time to call in the cavalry – the kids in the youth group. Young, strong, and would work for food. Perfect.

They arrived Friday afternoon in the midst of heat and humidity.

And they worked. Hard.

They moved piles and piles of wood left over from remodeling. They toted and carried. Car parts and bike parts. An outboard motor. Many, many doors. They unearthed some very interesting artifacts.

I’m wishing now that I had made them sign a confidentiality statement.

They were covered with sweat and dust and old spider webs, but still they smiled.

Then I fed them all the hot dogs they could eat and they had a massive water fight well past dark.  And I smiled.

They earned it.

They got us over the hump. God bless them.

We spent another day doing the finishing touches, but now we’re ready.

So – maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

And maybe I need to bring those amazing youth group kids some ice cream. And cookies.  And squirt guns…

Battle of the Squash Bug

squash-bugs-1There’s a fierce battle raging inside my garden.

We call it the “Battle of the Squash Bug”.

Last year we had scorching heat and no rain for months. Our poor garden was withered and stunted despite the many hours we spent trying to keep it watered and alive.

We spent so much time watering that we had no time for insect control.

Weak and stressed plants attract varmints and one by one we watched our beloved squashes die. Butternut, spaghetti, acorn, even the prolific zucchini fell to the onslaught of the squash bug.

We retreated in defeat to focus on saving what we could in the rest of the garden. That, my friends, was a tactical error.

While we turned our attention to the tomatoes and corn and beans, those pesky varmints organized. They amassed thousands of new troops that quietly took cover over the winter.

And there they waited patiently for the first tender squash leaves of the season.

But this time – we were waiting, too.

Never again will we give up in defeat.

We are determined to be victorious this season!

We started with gloves and a bucket of rubbing alcohol, shuddering every time we plucked a bug and tossed him in the bucket to die. Hundreds, nay thousands died in that deadly chemical bath.

But it wasn’t enough – still they kept coming.

We painstakingly scraped the eggs off of the leaves and into the rubbing alcohol, and stamped out thousands of tiny blue nymphs, making this a battle that spans generations!

We plucked, we stepped on, we scraped. Yet the battle rages on.

Now – we’re in hand-to-hand combat.

Buddy and I pick them and squish them in our bare hands, relishing the stink of a dead squash bug.

Our focus is keen. Our passion is firm. Our cry is strong.

“Give me zucchini and give them death!”

One Last Good-Bye, Grandpa

We said our last goodbye to my Grandpa a little over a week ago.

Grandpa had Alzheimer’s for several years now – so in many ways it’s been a long, slow goodbye.

But, as one friend put it so beautifully, “even with slow good-byes, there is fresh pain at the end.”

And there was.

We shed many tears as we shared memories.

Good memories. Sweet memories.

Memories that brought back the Grandpa before Alzheimer’s, the strong, gentle man with the big smile and even bigger heart.

I have snapshots of Grandpa in my mind.

Slide 439

He was a farmer.

His wardrobe consisted of overalls or blue jeans with a blue cotton work  shirt.

And a smile. He always had a smile.

I can see him coming in the farmhouse for dinner (at noon), going into the washroom off the porch and changing from his dirty outside overalls into a clean pair and “washing up”. He’d come to the table with damp hair, his overall buttons open showing his BVD’s and a big grin.

I can see him sitting there at the head of the table, in one hand a big slice of bread (which was on the table at every meal) slathered in butter, in the other hand his fork.

Slide 419

I can see him standing him in the doorway greeting us as we drove in the yard to visit.  Then, since I was terrified of Smoke the dog (who was the biggest, gentlest, oldest dog ever) he would go and tie up him up so I would get out of the car.  He did it every time and never once told me it was silly to be afraid of dogs.

We were important to Grandpa.

Later in the afternoon, I can see him sitting beside us at the table for “lunch”  (this is the meal served mid-afternoon after dinner but before supper). He would distract us and then take our bowl of Schwan’s ice cream and hide it under the table.
I can still see his twinkling eyes as he told us not to drink that root beer because it would put hair on our chests.
He loved to tease.

Slide 418

That’s the picture I see most often in my mind – Grandpa’s great big grin and his twinkling eyes.

Grandpa loved us. I don’t ever remember hearing him say it. But we knew it. He showed us in so many ways.
He loved Grandma, too.

Most of my memories of Grandpa, like my memories of Grandma, are intertwined. They were such a team.  He was a bit of a character and Grandma balanced him perfectly. He would start something and Grandma would watch with a smile.

Even after 71 years of marriage as they were sitting in their wheel chairs at the nursing home…

Even after Grandma’s heart was weak and her breath shallow and Grandpa’s mind was gone…

Even then they held hands.

Even then they would look at each other with love in their eyes.

Even then.

And that is my favorite snapshot of all.

So this is one last goodbye, Grandpa.

Thank you for bringing us laughter and love.

For showing us what a strong and committed marriage looks like.

For being strong and gentle, tough and tender,  and fun.

I love you.

We were so blessed to have you in our lives.