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It took me almost 40 years to master the technique, but I finally got it right.

According to my grandmother, a good sugar cream pie has two layers. The top should be a light custard. The second layer needs to be rich and even a little syrupy.The result is a totally decadent blend of flavor and texture.

When my grandparents owned the Wawasee Restaurant during the ’40s (which is before I was born), my grandmother’s “old-fashioned cream” pie was the signature dessert. She also served it at family gatherings; as did my mother. When I was a new bride, this was the first recipe I copied into the blank pages of my brand-new cookbook.

It was and always will be my favorite pie.

Although sugar cream pie is associated with the Amish, the recipe has been traced back to 1816, the year Indiana became a state and long before the Amish came to this area.  Virtually unheard of outside of  Indiana, Sugar Cream pie officially became Indiana’s State Pie on January 23, 2009.

I definitely believe Sugar Cream pie is more than worthy of the honor.  

But, I think there is an over-abundance of gloppy (where you can really taste the flour) custard pies being passed off as Hoosier Sugar Creams. Basically,they are custard pies–only with a LOT of flour substituted for the eggs. They don’t do the dessert justice.

If the recipe sounds a bit artery-clogging, my mother makes her pie with 2% milk instead of cream. It is still wonderful.

Enjoy!

REAL HOOSIER CREAM SUGAR PIE

¼ Cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 generous tablespoon butter

1 egg yolk

2 heaping tablespoons flour

1 pinch salt”

Milk or Cream (1-1 ½ cups…enough to fill pie shell) Preheat oven to 410 degrees. Mix brown and white sugar with flour. Sprinkle flour/sugar mixture over pie crust. Beat egg yolk with milk. Fill pie shell. Take a spoon and swirl it through the milk mixture a couple of times. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg.

Bake at 410 degrees for 10 minutes.Then bake at 350 for 45 minutes. The filling should be bubbling. The center should still jiggle. Be careful not to overcook or the filling will not set.

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They trimmed the trees every day it didn’t rain while we were in Fort Lauderdale. The hood of the poor little silver car under the tree took a battering.

We are staying in a five-star resort.

That is a good thing, right?

Well… 

Our room is gorgeous. It’s beautifully decorated. The layout is cute and trendy. There is a whirlpool bathtub I love. However, the widescreen television has a grainy picture. And worse yet…

We don’t have internet in our rooms.

Everyone has internet! Everyone! The resort management assured us we WILL be able to go online. They tell us how to get to the internet room for guests which is conveniently located blocks away in the resort office.

DH and I check it out.

The room is not large. Jam-packed, with 6 computers on desks pushed end-to-end and people waiting, it is a little crowded. We are told to be considerate of other guests and not to take up more than 15 minutes of time. YIKES!

The resort does offer classes. I can learn to make a vacation scrapbook. I can do morning stretches in the pool at 6 a.m. I can play bingo or take the shuttle bus to tourist attractions.

But, I want to read books outside…preferably on a beach with warm breezes.  Unfortunately, the company that booked our vacation didn’t book a resort on the beach for our time in Fort Lauderdale. We are in a building six stories high that is one of over a hundred. People are everywhere. There is a pool. But you have to get up early to snag a lounge chair. You also have to be able to ignore the tree trimming going on by the pool.  (See the youtube video at the top of this post.)

It didn’t help that we had days of rain in Fort Lauderdale accompanied by tornado watches and warnings.

We also had some excitement when an ambulance was called to our building in the early hours of the morning.  Just like with Britney Spears there were cops and a young woman that was eventually strapped down to a stretcher and taken away.

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An ambulance was called to the room below ours.

But, the worst trouble in our Fort Lauderdale paradise happened at a convenience store/gas station.

My husband got gas, ordered a “drive-through” carwash and paid for both at the gas pump. 

Only there was no carwash code on his receipt. My husband tried to go in the store to get either a code or refund. The door was locked.

It was noon.

My husband and another customer (who’d also ordered a carwash) could  see a cashier at the register inside the store. They knocked on the window. The cashier ignored them. 

My husband called the cashier on his cell phone.

 “We’re closed.” said the cashier.

“We need either a carwash code or our money back,” said my husband.

The door stayed shut.

I know a good story for my blog when I see one. I started taking pictures of the gas station. And…the cashier opened the door and gave my husband and the other customer carwash codes.

We’d won.

Sort of…

The other customer who’d ordered a carwash was a lady. So my husband let her go first.

Which was lucky for us.

Halfway through washing the lady’s SUV, the “drive-through” carwash broke down. The lady’s SUV was covered with soap and green chemicals. And, while the clerk had left the door to the store unlocked, she refused to do more. She didn’t  offer the lady with the SUV a hose or bucket of water to rinse her vehicle. I didn’t see her give the lady a refund.

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This poor SUV is covered with soap and green chemicals.

We left. We didn’t get our Jeep washed that day. I don’t know what happened to the lady with soap all over her SUV.

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This is “the” gas station.

But, in my opinion, this gas station earned its place on my blog.

Fortunately, rainbows often follow rain. After Fort Lauderdale we headed for Ft. Myers Beach

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Fort Myers beach.

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“It’s called muffin-top” says my daughter who keeps up with all the latest terminology and gives great graphic descriptions.

My mother is more reassuring. “You look fine.” But, I remember a story she used to tell about ladies from her square dancing class who bought stretch shorts and had to wear them backwards As they got older the lady’s fannies had flattened and shrank. Their weight had gone to their middles forcing tummies to pooch out the front.

I used to find that story cute. But, I’ve been going through clothes and not liking anything.

Soon, I’m going on vacation. We will be away from the horrible snow and cold. We’re heading for sunshine. Which I love. But it’s also the land of swimsuits and short shorts and college girls in string bikinis.

Everything I own has been thrown to the bottom of my closet floor in disgust.

I’ve been wearing big comfy overalls around the house this winter and the goldfish has expanded to fill the bowl. I refuse to buy bigger sizes. But, I dig through my husband’s t-shirts and his shorts. The look is casual & faded…perfect…maybe.

“Why aren’t you eating?” my husband asks watching me pick at my food. He worries I’ll make myself sick. Later he sits beside me on the couch with a snicker’s bar.

I can smell the chocolate and the nuts.

“Would you like a bite?” he offers.

“Ummmm…well, yeah, just a bite….”

He’s going to be sorry when he sees the granny pants I bought. Those are pants made to accommodate eating Snicker’s bars. Lots of them…

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My new sexy “granny pants” undies.

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These bar cookies are not only delicious, they are FOOLPROOF. The recipe is my daughter’s. When she was a teenager she liked to bake and made these cookies often.

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DH’s grandmother Helen’s Dream Cake recipe from her hand-written cookbook. The recipe is similar to my daughter’s bar cookie recipe.

OLD FASHIONED HOLIDAY BAR COOKIES

Crust:

½ cup butter

½ cup light brown sugar

1 cup sifted flour

Filling:

2 eggs

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp. Vanilla

3 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

1 can (3 ½ oz.) coconut

Preheat oven to 350. Mix butter, sugar and flour until smooth. Pat into bottom of 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake 10 minutes or until golden. Cool.

To make filling: beat eggs until light; gradually add sugar. Add vanilla, flour, salt and baking powder. Stir until combined. Add coconut and nuts. Spread evenly over crust and bake 25 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly.

Cut into bars while still warm.

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The crust is patted down on the bottom of the pan, baked and ready for my “flourless filling”.

“Noooo,” I shrieked like a shrew. 

My poor husband was trying to help. But, he was instead further ruining the treats I was making for him.

I didn’t realize until AFTER I spread  the filling over my cooled cookie crust that I had forgotten to include flour in the filling.

DH said it was not a problem, he could stir the flour in with a fork. I was afraid the fragile crust might break up and get in the filling…my daughter’s recipe specifically called for a crust.

But, DH seemed confident, so  I sprinkled about a tablespoon of flour over the cookies.  DH got a fork and started stirring. Vigorously, he stirred the crust right INTO the filling.

Which was reason I made enough noise to scare our animals out of the kitchen.

My scream also stopped DH from doing more cookie damage.

I put the cookies in the oven and hoped for the best. 

Fortunately, the best was fantastic. The cookies were wonderful.

The recipe is FOOLPROOF.

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Sarah J.’s tombstone.

DH is a collector of stuff. Ask him for anything and he probably has one. He even has a gravestone, which appropriately enough, right before Halloween, has become my latest project.

It is a mystery to be solved,  with grave robbing, a secret society and fascinating historical detail.

Why did the I.O.O.F. Lodge take Sarah Jane Cole’s tombstone? 

Why did they use the other side of it for the cornerstone of their lodge? 

Who are the I.O.O.F.? Who was Sarah Jane?

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The other side of Sarah Jane’s tombstone, which the I.O.O.F. made into a building cornerstone with their masonic emblem and name.

DH aquired the “tombstone/cornerstone” in 1983. Fueled by rising oil prices Texas was booming. Houses couldn’t be built fast enough for the oil executives of Houston and Dallas. Rustic, weathered & aged bricks were especially-desired building materials  for newly rich oilmen wanting  to look like old money. Which meant the former I.O.O.F. Lodge in Windfall, Indiana, three layers deep in bricks, was coming down.

A contractor was hired. Teenage workers and kids started cleaning up the bricks, brick by brick, for fifteen cents a brick. During the painfully slow and tedious procedure, Sarah’s perfectly carved tombstone was found on the other side of the building’s I.O.O.F. embellished cornerstone. The contractor, a friend of DH’s, had no use for it.  He thought my husband might want it.

DH did.

 And now I am on a quest. I am trying to find out everything I can about Sarah Jane Orem Cole and the people who took her tombstone.

The “1850 Federal Census” listed Sarah Jane as a 15 year old living in Prairie township in Tipton County, Indiana. She shared her home with her father, Josiah Orem, 43, her mother, Ann, 34, two sisters and four brothers.

Originally part of the Miami Reservation, much of Tipton County was not opened up to settlers until 1847. In their early years in Prairie township, Sarah Jane’s family would have depended very largely upon game for their chief substinence.

 G.K. Berry describes pioneer days in Tipton County, “Wild animals of all kinds infested the woods, and every settlers table was supplied with choice meat. Venison was no rarity, but served as a staple article of food, deer being so numerous as to cause, great injury to the crops. Some bear were found by the early hunters. To kill one of these animals was considered a mark of superior skill, and the man who was fortunate enough to bring down a bruin enjoyed an enviable reputation in the community. Three of these animals were killed by Samuel Baldwin a short distance east of Windfall, in the year 1847. Wolves were especially numerous, and for several years all domestic stock had to be tightly penned at night in order to protect them from the fangs of these gaunt scourges. During very cold winters, they became voracious, and old settlers tell of having to take their dogs into the house to keep them from being torn to pieces.”

According to the “United States Federal Census of 1860“, Sarah Jane Orem married Newton Cole in 1853. In 1860, they had two children, Martha A., 3 years old and Mary J., 1 year old.

December 1, 1866, Sarah Jane Orem Cole died.

By 1880, Newton was remarried to Nancy Elizabeth Vargus. According to the “1880 Federal Census“, he was an engineer. Martha, listed as single, lived with her father and stepmother. Josiah Cole, 19 years old, also shared the home. He must have been Sarah’s last child.

Did Newton fight in the civil war? No children were conceived during the war years. And what about Mary? Mary wasn’t listed as part of her father’s household in the 1880 census. I wonder if she married before her older sister? Or did Mary succumb to a childhood disease or accident?

A Mary J. Cole was buried in 1865 in Sarah’s hometown. Was she Sarah’s Mary? Did the heartbreak from losing her little girl contribute to Sarah’s early death? Or did Sarah Jane die from childbirth, a year after her husband’s return home from the war? Or both?

Did Newton ever take Sarah’s children to visit their mother’s gravesite?

And what about the people who took Sarah Jane’s tombstone?

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The Independent-Order-Of-Oddfellows’ Lodge Emblem. The three chain links are carved into a  eye on the I.O.O.F. Cornerstone.

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The I.O.O.F. Masonic Eye Emblem.

fullshield.gif The Full Shield…the Odd Fellow is introduced to universal symbols important to the teachings. All symbols are regarded as derived from a common source of symbolism and are said to scintillate with meaning.

Historical Origins of Secret Associations

From the I.O.O.F. Lodge Philosophy and History site , “History records the existance of secret associations among nearly all the nations of the earth. They have accompanied and been a part of the advancement of civilizations. They have served as the conservators and promoters of religious, scientific and political life.

Associations have their beginnings in ancient cultures where they were a means of passing on teachings to the un-initiated. These teachings included writing, arts and sciences. Associations provided a means of education and training in philosophical matters of conscious human existence. This required both theoretical learning and rituals. The ancient societies where associations originated include the Egyptians, Babylonians, Jews, Greeks, Persians, and other Eastern cultures.

The motto of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows has always been ‘to elevate the character of mankind under the Fatherhood of God and within the brotherhood of man’. The Lodge existed for decades as the only source of security for working families, and provided a crucial social safety net in times of unregulated labour markets and fledgling government services.”

To Improve and Elevate the Character of Man

In 17th century England, it was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and of pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind. Those who belonged to such an organization were called “Odd Fellows“. Odd Fellows are also known as “The Three Link Fraternity” which stands for Friendship, Love and Truth.

Odd Fellows have also been linked to an organization known as the Ancient Order of Bucks which thrived in England in the 18th Century, and had as its emblem three bucks with their antlers intertwined. These men had as their leader a “Most Noble Grand” and met in club rooms and taverns. One of their principal emblems was “a bundle of sticks,” familiar to modern Odd Fellows as signifying strength in union. They dropped “Bucks” from the name in 1802. 

Among the first records of the Order in America is that of five Brothers of the English Order who met in New York City in 1806, and formed Shakespeare Lodge No. 1. The founders were three boat builders, a comedian and a vocalist – a group befitting the name “Odd Fellows,” indeed.

 Windfall Lodge, No. 438, I. O. O. F., was instituted November 20, 1873, with the following charter members: F. S. Zeek, George Dunn, William Brooks, G. W. Boyer, W. S. Armstrong, Joel Reece, S. G. Young and H. H. Lindley. The first officers were J. H. Zehner, N. G.; John B. Thorn, V. G.; F. S. Zeek, Secretary, and T. J. Lindley, Treasurer. Meetings were held in a hall belonging to the lodge.

 Charter Member and first I.O.O.F. officer J.H. Zehner was elected president of Windfall’s town council when Windfall was incorporated in 1871. I.O.O.F. officer, F.S. Zeek was also elected to Windfall’s town council. By 1888, Sarah Jane’s tombstone had been removed from the cemetery and become the I.O.O.F. Lodge’s cornerstone. Without a grave marker, her burial site wasn’t noted by those compiling genealogical and historical society records.

Sarah Jane doesn’t come up on cemetery search sites . None of her family can visit her grave.

Why? Did the stonemason take the tombstone from an unkept grave for extra profit? Or was there a symbolic reason for Sara’s grave marker becoming the back of a cornerstone?

I wonder how Sara died? I wonder how Martha got along as the “maiden” daughter living at home with a new stepmother? Did she ever marry? What happened to Mary? Or Josiah?

This is a puzzle for conspiracy addicts, history buffs, genealogy researchers,  or anyone who would like to help Sarah’s Cole’s descendents who may be searching for information, burial records…or a tombstone.

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I have been tagged by paperseedblog of http://paperseed.wordpress.com/ and asked to post 7 honest things about myself. It sounds easy,  but I’ve been putting it off. Until now.

I am a homebody. Crowds make me uncomfortable. I hate shopping malls and supersized “one-stop” groceries. Give me a little shop anyday. I dread parties. My home is warm and cozy. It has my husband, my animals, my books, my computer, my hi-def tv and all of my favorite foods. I love my house and being in my house.

 I hate small talk. I am not good at it. I feel awkward and tongue-tied. My mind drifts. When I was single I suggested movies for first dates to avoid conversation.

 With  friends and family or when talking about things I care about, I am a chatterbox. My poor husband sometimes has to wait to get in a word edgewise.

I like old things better than new. I have a passion for antiques. Only I want to use them instead of storing and preserving them. I read the old books, display the arrowheads, work with the kitchen tools and stir my cakes in antique bowls. These items have a history and I like adding to it.

blog-pictures-001.jpg I don’t love all of my animals the same. I secretly love Abby and Simba the most. I love Abby because she has become my dog. I love Simba because he smells so good and because he snuggles. Simba would rather be DH’s cat, but sometimes he bestows himself upon me and purrs and cuddles. I love smelling his fur and hearing his purr.

Sometimes, when DH asks me to go for walks I say no and make excuses. There is always something else I’d rather do. But, “if “I go, I am always glad I did. A walk through our woods is more relaxing than a tranquilizer.

“All the Critters” has a quiz (http://allthecritters.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/take-this-quiz-to-find-out-what-animal-you-are/) to find out what kind of “animal” you are.

I took the quiz.

I am a “pale giraffe” — an introvert. Imagine.

What kind of animal are you?

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I got this book at a garage sale years ago. It was fun to read.

Dating Advice and cutting edge medicine from “The Favorite Medical Receipt Book and Home Doctor”…

About Marriage — Now I am going to speak to you on a delicate and difficult subject, wrote Dr. Warner M.D. in 1904.

You are thinking of marriage; it is right that you should. To be married to a good man, sound in body and mind, whom you sincerely love, is the best fortune that can come to you

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Dr. Warner was ahead of her time.

— It is better you die an old maid than marry a man that is fast. —
 
You are limited in your choice of a husband to the men who have signified their wish to marry you, but it is better that you should die an old maid than marry a man who is “fast” as your friends say, i.e., dissipated. Of course in marriage there are many considerations besides those of health, but those of health are the only ones on which I undertake to advise you.

There are two forms of dissipation which are to be avoided in a husband on the score of health — habitual use of alcoholic drinks to excess, and the habit of association with immoral women. It is not very common for a young man to be what is called a habitual drunkard, but a man who is frequently intoxicated when young will, in all human probability, be a habitual drinker before he is forty

  — Marriage to a man who drinks can cause your children to have nervous troubles, hysterics, epilepsy, and sometimes idiocy —

If you imagine you can reform such a man, you are greatly mistaken; he will grow worse and not better. He will not injure your health directly, only so far as misery, want and distress are likely to do it; but your children will suffer. They are likely to have all sorts of nervous troubles, hysterics, epilepsy, and sometimes idiocy.

The second form of dissipation is even more dangerous. It is quite common for a young man of that sort to contract diseases as a result of his bad habits, which, if you marry him, would be very likely to be communicated to you or to any children that you might have by him. Do not allow yourself to become interested in such a man, even if he has beautiful eyes and fascinating manners.

Choose for associates sober, steady young men. Do not be afraid to give them a little kindly encouragement if they are shy and awkward.

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Morphine, quinine and a slew of other ingredients took care of neuralogical disorders in 1904.

As to Diet —You should eat good, simple food. Avoid rich cake, gravies, rich pastry and preserves. Ices in moderation are wholesome enough. Eat all the fruit you want, provided it is ripe and sound, but do not eat too much candy. It would be better not to eat any, but that is too much to expect of you, for candy is a girl’s greatest temptation in the eating line. Hot breads and buckwheat cakes are good to the taste, but trying to the digestion. Use tea and coffee with great moderation; they are nerve stimulants, which you do not in the least need. A cup of weak coffee you can have in the morning, if you want it, but save the tea till you are an older woman.

Take plenty of time for your meals, and masticate your food thoroughly.

Cosmetics, Powder, Rouge, etc. —Scorn everything of this kind.

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I wonder if this receipt is where Smith Bros.’ Cough Drops began?

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The editor explains the purpose of the book as well as the receipt and information sources.

NOTE: This was cutting edge medicine from the leading physicians at the beginning of the 20th century. It shows how far we have come as well as how little has changed.

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My neighbor and friend, Freeda, working in her kitchen.

Monday through Friday, while their mother works, 89 year old Freeda babysits for her two year old, 4 year old and 6 year old great-grandchildren. She also gardens, keeps house and quilts. When I talked to her today she had made grape jelly and grape juice from her homegrown grapes.  She also told me about freezing her special cucumber and onion mix. 

When she is not busy with chores, Freeda says she loves to read.

Today, I got one of Freeda’s almost impossibe to get quilts. Freeda only accepts a few orders per year so her waiting list is years long. But, this was my lucky day. One of Freeda’s customers failed to pick up an order and Freeda thought I might be interested.

I was not a hard sell.


My new quilt is cream with a wedding ring pattern in shades of lavender with green accents.

While DH and I were admiring some of Freeda’s other quilts, she talked about growing up and living Amish. I was spellbound. I was also hoping Freeda would reveal her secret to being such a youthful almost 90 (in December) year old.

Freeda grew up in North Dakota during a time of dust storms and the depression. She was the fifth child from a family of eleven. Her nearest neighbors were a mile away.

“We raised most of our food,” says Freeda, “mother always had a big garden. We had small fruits like strawberries, currants, red and black raspberries, gooseberries and Juneberries. We had our chores to do.  We carried wood, coal and water.

“We had chickens to feed, eggs to gather and cows to milk. I started milking when I was ten.

“Mother set her own hens — sometimes 24 hens at one time. She also had turkeys, ducks and geese. The little peeps were my job when I was old enough to do it. I would feed them clabbered milk and hard boiled eggs with chick powder mixed in. In the winter, chickens, calves, cows, sheep, pigs, sheep, cats, dogs and horses were all in the same barn. When the doors were opened, the steam rolled out. Frost gathered on the inside of the walls so thick that we would write our names there while doing chores and it would stay there until spring.”


The barn was 100 feet long. In the summer cooking was done in the summer kitchen in front of the barn.

In 1936 Freeda married Eli and by 1959, they had eight children. Then they further expanded their family by taking in foster children needing a home. Over the next 25 years Freeda and Eli took in 46 children including those with handicaps and serious illnesses.

 “Several children came that were so undernourished,” says Freeda, ” one girl was hit on the head by her daddy and was blind and paralyzed because of it. She had surgery on her head and was able to see and walk again. She was soon adopted after that.

“It’s hard to give up children in foster care. They never left without tears and a prayer, knowing that God would take care of them wherever they are.

“After 25 years we quit foster care. Five years later they wanted us to start up again, but in the meantime, friends and neighbors had started bringing in their babies and I started daycare. I did not realize it would last until now, over 20 years later. I just thank God for my health so I can continue to have the children since it helps pass the time and the days are not so long.”


Eli’s first horse and buggy.

 In 1981, Freeda and Eli traveled to Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and Denmark. In 1987 they took a 6 week trip to Alaska. They went up to see the pipeline. While in Fairbanks, they saw an eskimo lady sweeping the sidewalks.

She said, “Are you what we call Amish?” She told Freeda and Eli that she had read about the Amish and that there were just a few left. Freeda told her there were Amish in almost every state in the United States.

Says Freeda, “She had the Shaker people in mind. There are just a few of them left.”

In 1990, when Eli was 80 years old, he and Freeda went to Paraguay, South America for two weeks for a wedding. In 1993, Eli had flu symptoms and a pain in his side.

Only it wasn’t the flu. Eli had had an abdominal aneurysm. Freeda and Eli had been married 57 years when he died. Together they had bought and paid for their farm. They had traveled around the world. They had raised 8 children and fostered 46. In addition, Freeda has 20 grandchildren and 24 greatgrandchildren.

“We had a good life,” says Freeda, “It was a busy one, I’m still busy and I have no regrets. The Lord has been good to me and for that I am grateful and truly at peace.”

Freeda’s Frozen Cucumber and Onion Mix

Slice your cucumbers and onions

Cover cucumbers and onions with 2 tablespoons of salt.

Let sit 2 hours.

Then drain the salt off.

Boil sugar and water to taste.

Put cucumbers and onions into freezer container and cover them with boiled sugar water.

Freeze.

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Kitty is trying to kill himself.

It’s a dangerous situation.

Kitty is so happy when he thinks his people are coming home he runs under the front wheels of every vehicle pulling into our drive. If you look for him, when it gets dark he’s hard to see.

We don’t know how to break Kitty of his new habit. Some of the visitors to our house are older and have enough trouble negotiating around our trees, shrubs or the barn to consider watching out for our little cat.

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Kitty’s about to throw himself beneath a jeep wheel. Notice the tire tracks where he’s walking.

This week our horses kicked holes in the barn. We don’t keep them locked inside stalls. They can go inside or out at will. They’ve got free access to a big round bale of hay. They have a fan inside the barn. They have bug zappers. They have a drinking fountain.

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The kicked out side of our barn.

I think the horses and Kitty are missing DH.

DH loves having a farm and spends his days as if he were a paid hand. He mows, works in the barn, trims trees, cleans up trails, fixes fences and as he does chores, the horse’s noses are right up his back or over his shoulder. When DH is outside their pasture, the horses watch his every move from the closest fence corner.

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The not very remorseful barn kickers beg for treats.

Kitty lived wild and feral in DH’s woods for an entire year before DH was able to get close to him. He still spends most days outside. Only instead of being the cat that walked and lived alone, Kitty now follows DH like a dog. He is up and down ladders, running ahead of DH on paths in the woods and springing out from behind weeds to grab DH’s legs.

Lately though, DH has had obligations that have prevented him from being as available outside for our animals.

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Simba’s found a sack and total bliss.

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Biggs enjoys her favorite chair.

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The newest member of our family, Scooter, the hummingbird, sips nectar and entices Biggs who is watching out the window.

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Buster and DH greet Mr. Miller, the repairman who will be fixing our barn. The children soon are petting our horses although Mr. Miller said their horse is a new one. According to Mr. Miller, the new horse isn’t very well trained and behaved badly on the drive to look over our barn.

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It’s that time of year and animal hair is everywhere. Abby watches me sweep.

It is shedding season and over the past week with my daughter visiting, every day was a reminder that I really need to check out the animal Dyson vacuum cleaner. Dog and cat hair were everywhere and clinging to our clothes everytime we left the house.

 Our pets are a lot of work and a responsibility. They aren’t cheap with vet visits, expensive and endless desires for Fancy Feast, hay, treats, toys and barn destroying. But, their joy, when we come home, is so overwhelming you cannot help but know it’s love in its  purest and most unselfish  form.

Simba may mostly be DH’s cat, but this week it was my face he snuggled up to every night. And in the mornings  DH made coffee and Abby came and nuzzled my arm so I’d wake up right before it was ready. Somehow, someway, those pets instinctively became nurturing and extra affectionate.

Are our pets worth the inconvenience and expense?

Absolutely. We don’t miss or think about their cost in time or money.

But, we’d sure miss them.

More dog stories:

Two dogs and a cat go to the vet

My Big Fat Animals

“Bad Boy Buster” and Dog Whispering

More cat stories:

Two dogs and a cat go to the vet

The Cat Box

Cat Ladder

DH’s Cat Ladder Goes International

More Horse Stories:

Give me a kiss

Horses , Skipper Rears

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I would like to thank each and every person who commented on “Courage Defined”. Yes, I cried. But, I needed to. I cannot express how much of a comfort your words were.

A message from paperseedblog: Life is so fleeting, and its good to be reminded to feel blessed and savor every single moment; almost exactly quotes my father’s last words to my daughter.

Today, I reread a  poem my son wrote from Iraq a year ago.  In that poem I was surprised to also find my father’s message of appreciating every moment of life we are granted,  whatever our circumstances.

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My youngest child, the poet,  who also became a new father the week before my father died.

“Lady in Black”

I see her in every harvest crop
On every crumbling mountain top
In storming wind which rocks the trees
In eyes of men bowed upon knees.

With every second screaming by
With unsaid words long left to die
Who knows what face or purpose be
Behind she which sleeps eternally?

Some may court her to end their sorrow
For the rest she’ll wait beyond tomorrow
From there haunting your every dream
And the tangled web of thoughts you ream
For all men fear, and rightly so
This face one day we’ll come to know.

I know one day I’ll pass her gates
Which guard the path to God’s estates
Till then I’ll savor every breath
Before that date with Lady Death
.

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