Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Encouragement for 212 pennies.

One of my treasures is my Grandma’s sewing machine. It was new in 1977, and had all the bells and whistles for the time. It’s forty years old now, but it’s my workhorse. All I ever have to do is send it to the shop for a tuneup and tension reset, and it’s good for another couple of years.

A few days ago, my bobbin winder stopped working. I googled “troubleshoot bobbin winder,” and it gave a few options. But the next time I sat down to sew, I had another problem—a high pitched whine, reminding me of the noises meerkats make (fan of Meerkat Manor here). I took off the top plate of the machine to see if something was stuck. I stepped on the presser foot, and...no noise. Upon further investigation, I noticed the little rubber ring around the bobbin filler thing was cracked. It actually crumbled as I removed it. However, after I removed it, the high-pitched whine stopped. Dear hubby went to the sewing machine store and got two rubber rings for the ridiculous price of $2.12, including tax.

Well, gotta say, that’s a great price. I did wonder why he got two rubber rings. I’m not sure I’ll still be sewing when the new rubber ring wears out. Also, the second ring will be forty years old by then, right?

So, I had me a little laugh and put the second ring in my sewing box, then went about my day.

Then, while I was sleeping, I began to think again about this forty-year business. In forty years, I would be 102 years old. Still, my Uncle John just celebrated his 101st birthday, so it is not out of the realm of the possible, right?

And that’s when I realized it. I am in what my sister calls Act III of my life.  Dividing your life into three parts, you have age 0-30 as prep time, 30-60 as the “doing” part of life, then from 60-on you are in Act III. Just as in a play, Act III is where all the little plot lines are resolved, and where Everything Comes Together. It is a great concept, right?

But when I think about having forty years left, man, that is encouraging! I’m not sure I want to live that long in this fallen world, but I am again reminded that I have Enough Time to finish everything that the Lord has for me to do. I have an “appointment” to die, and “miles to go before I sleep.” I may not know when my “appointment” is, but I can be confident that whether or not I ever get to use that second rubber ring, God’s got this.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Baby Talk.

My newest grandbaby is six days overdue. I dare not get too excited, because his or her big sister overstayed her welcome by seventeen days. Still, all other plans are conditional--yeah, we can go for coffee, Unless The Baby Comes.

This is probably apropos of nothing (hello: I don't get to use that phrase nearly often enough!),  except a headline came across my facebook newsfeed about one of the Duggar girls having a "honeymoon baby" (or WAS it? with eyeroll...).

The site was called Hollywood Gossip, so I can confidently predict the slant the article would take. And my first thought was that the writer probably had no idea, really, of the variables involved in estimating due dates, especially in "honeymoon" babies.

Way back in the day when I was growing up, there was a phenomenon called "seven month babies." Children were routinely born just seven months after a marriage. They were remarkably as large and fully developed as full-term babies. People knew that the couple had "had" to get married, but were polite about it, at least in public. (Oh, to have at least public civility again...) Gossip was left to women in their bridge clubs or over the backyard fence.

My mother got pregnant soon after her wedding, and lost the baby about eight months into her marriage. The baby was stillborn, five and a half months old. She told me, forty years later, how fearful she was that people would talk. There was only her word, after all, of the age of the baby. My daughter-in-law, Ashley, knew she would be ovulating on her honeymoon, and when she went to the doctor, found her due date to be eight months and twenty-six days after the wedding date. But her baby was overdue, and born nine months and four days after the wedding. The stigma of this is gone, of course, unless you claim to have waited till marriage for sex.

So here are a few scientific facts for you. Put them in your arsenal for judgmental friends, or for your own use if you tend toward gossip:

1. Due dates are calculated by the date of your last period. Although the interval between ovulation and the beginning of your next period is always 14 days, the time between Day One of your cycle and Ovulation Day can vary widely. So plotting a date by the "first day of your last period" can be problematic.

2. Sperm can live 3-5 days, and can fertilize an egg even when ovulation happens days after the actual sex. So even if you only had sex one time during the last cycle, you might have gotten pregnant days later. Not a perfect way to estimate a due date, either.

3. Pregnancy is not nine calendar months. It is 40 weeks, or 280 days. Nine 30-day months equal 270; even with 5 or 6 31-day months, you're still not at 280.

4. Babies don't always come right at 280 days. (Okay, you may already know that one.)

So remember: Don't judge. It's none of your business, anyway. A pregnant woman, married or single, young or old, first-time mom or twentieth-time mom, needs your support and congratulations. Period. God can handle the rest.

Monday, October 03, 2016

We can't all be idiots.

To my family and friends:

I am so very tired of all the articles this political season, from both sides: "Only an idiot would vote for Trump/Clinton." We are not all idiots, just because we disagree politically.

I am a lifelong conservative. That means, among other things, I believe government should be smaller and taxes lower, among other things. On the other side are the liberals, who believe that the government should be responsible for more, possibly resulting in higher taxes. That's okay--these are just two different worldviews. In America, just about 50% are on either side. That is why more elections are won by a margin of 51-49 or 52-48%, rather than, say, 80-20%. Even Reagan's landslide victory in 1984 was 58.8%.

In my birth family, I am part of basically a 100% majority of conservatives. In my marriage family, my husband and I are in an 80-20% minority. My immediate family (children and spouses, etc.) stands at about 70-30%, with a conservative majority. My church is almost entirely conservative; in my neighborhood, I am in a tiny, tiny minority.

The point is, someone will be elected President, and we will all be satisfied or not. Life will go on. What is important is that family on all sides will still love each other. Family always "trumps" politics, every day of every year.

I love you all, family and friends. Pray. Vote. Love.




Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shaking the Family Tree.

My grandfather was the youngest of thirteen children. He was born in 1900.
(on a side note: aren't these men HOT?)

My father taught me the Family Litany when I was quite young. He'd repeat it at least once a year, near the time of the Plasterer Family Reunion, always the last Sunday in August. My mother made an everlasting impression on all of the aunts, when she urged Daddy to go to the reunion on the very day after their wedding in 1941.
Ahhh, those family reunions! My great-aunts (those ladies in the photo above, or those who were still living while I was growing up, and the uncles' wives) really knew how to cook. Oh, the pans of fried chicken they brought! That taste does not exist on the planet anymore, I'm sure. Probably because they used lard, and possibly even used their own, home-grown chickens. My mother used to urge us not to eat the potato salad--she was not sure how long, or even if, it had been refrigerated after the making. And my mother had a great fear of Bad Mayonnaise. She didn't want us to eat a lot of things on that table, because flies would land on things. I just snuck those things onto my plate when she wasn't looking.

The shorter woman in the back row of the photograph, with the large white bow, is Aunt Maud. She was one of the ancient great-aunts at the family reunions. She was four-foot something in her old age, and she was a Cheek Pincher. I think that breed is probably extinct by now. Every summer, she would say How Much We'd Grown, and then pinch our cheeks horribly. Mother said we had to put up with it, because she was our grandfather's older sister. My brother got the worst of it, because he shared a birthday with Aunt Maud.

But I digress. I was going to tell you about the Family Litany. It goes like this:

"Heinrich and Anna Maria Plasterer came from Holland to the Port of Philadelphia on the ship Friendship in 1739, and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The generations go like this: Heinrich, Conrad, Conrad, George, Henry Clay, Richard (my grandfather), Robert (my Dad), Barbara." I am an eighth-generation American. I have grandchildren, who are tenth-generation; my sister has great-granchildren, so the eleventh generation is alive on the planet. And since my grandfather was the youngest of his family, and his oldest sibling was about 25 when he was born, maybe even generation twelve is out there. An interesting historical side-note is that the Amish came from Holland to Philadelphia and settled in Lancaster County between 1730 and 1740, so who knows? We may come from Amish!

My daughter and I have the ancestry.com addiction, and she found something out the other day that shakes that old family litany down to its foundations. She was looking at the ship's manifest of the ship Friendship, that indeed docked in Philly in 1739. But while Heinrich and Anna Maria were on the ship, and the families settled in Lancaster County, Anna Zimmerman was TEN YEARS OLD when she came. She married Heinrich five years later, when she was fifteen, and he twenty-four.

I don't even know what to do with this information. That "litany" was so ingrained, this kinda rocks my place in the world. Only not really. I'll get over it. We'll just have to add the phrase, "and married five years later," to the litany.

Excuse me, I must close this out. Ancestry.com is waiting...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Where were you?

Fifty years.

What a mind-boggling thought. Half a century. And yet, I know where I was fifty years ago today.

I was flower-girl at my beautiful sister Rosie's wedding!

Oh, there are photos, really cool ones, but they have never been scanned onto facebook. I don't even have possession of them all, but let me tell you how it was.

Because the wedding was during Christmas week, the church was already decorated with evergreens and red and green and gold. Naturally, Rosie's colors were red and green. My grandmother made everything--all the dresses, the pillbox hats, my headband, Rosie's dress and even her headpiece and veil (a huge rose, of course, for Rose Anne). The maid of honor, her best friend, and I wore red velveteen, and the bridesmaids (my sister Janet and Auntie Marylin) wore green. I remember feeling deprived in a few areas, however. The maid of honor and bridesmaids carried white rabbit fur muffs decorated with a poinsettia instead of flowers. I think I carried a basket. (I angst-ed over not having a muff for forty-five years, till my sister Janet blessed me by giving me hers!) The other girls also wore dyed-to-match satin heels; I had to wear plain ol' black patent Mary Janes. My mother wore champagne satin, with a black velvet pillbox hat. (I was so impressed with her dress, I wanted to have one as close to it as possible, when my own daughter got married!) It was very, very exciting to be part of the wedding party!

There was a buffet supper at our house after the rehearsal, and all the grown-ups were dancing afterward to phonograph records. Daddy left early the morning of the wedding to get sweet rolls from the bakery--my first ever pecan roll....I can still taste it, I think. The reception was in the school cafeteria, or what you might call the "church hall." Potato chips were in paper bowls on the tables, and we had fountain pop--a real treat! Of course, we had cake, and husband and wife opened their gifts at the reception, a tradition that I wish had never become passe.

Unfortunately, Rosie's marriage lasted only twelve years, but produced two beautiful children. But the glamour of that day stays with me (as you can see).

I have been both mother-of the-groom and mother-of-the-bride. That last one just 'bout kilt me. I think I didn't leave the house for six weeks afterward. When I think of my  Mom that day in 1962--not only mother-of-the-bride, but with an 18-month old and a 2 1/2 year old (and four other children, as well)--now, SHE was a Super-Woman.

Rosie passed away in 2001. My mother, father, and Auntie Marylin are gone, as well. But I thank the Lord for memories, because I can remember that special day, today, fifty years later.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Old Shoes.

I was reading a magazine the other day. I read very few magazines, outside of doctor's offices. Just no time, I guess. And I was, in fact, at a doctor's office, or rather, the County Health Clinic. I had a nice selection from which to choose: Redbook, Ladies' Home Journal, People. Of course, they were all ancient: Will and Kate's Upcoming Wedding!! I don't even remember which magazine I chose, but I was interested in an article about Keeping Your Marriage Fresh. I kinda took offense when the article began by talking about being Comfortable as an Old Shoe, because that would keep you from Having New Adventures.
You understand the saying, don't you? Being married a number of years, you, as a couple, become "comfortable as an old shoe." You fall into the "comfort rut," whatever that means.
I had a pair of shoes in high school. They were brown oxfords, and were the most comfortable shoes I think I've ever had. I had them repaired a number of times. New shoelaces (of course), new soles, had them re-sewn a few times, where the stitching had ripped. Even when the grommets started coming out, I was still wearing them. Finally, the holes where the grommets were started ripping, and I couldn't fix them anymore. It went sore against me to throw them away. I might have even had a funeral for them, but I don't remember.
I have never forgotten those shoes, and have been "on the lookout" for some to replace them ever since. (Mind you, I graduated almost forty. years. ago.) I finally saw some about five years ago that sorta looked the same. They were:
["Ontario" oxford by Eastland]
Carnival Shoes carried them for four years. Every time I went in the store, I'd look, but they never had my size. I finally looked for them on Zappos, but they no longer carried them. I did find them this fall and snapped. them. up. They are NOT, however, the "same" as my favorite shoes. They are very, very comfortable, but the leather is more rigid (my fav's were supple) and the sole is much heavier. But these may be the closest I'll ever find.
But I digress.
I wanted to talk about New Adventures that, for some reason, the magazine article thinks can't be had in Old Shoes. My first image of a new adventure would be, maybe, a hiking trip. And why would anyone in their right mind want to take a hiking trip in brand-new shoes that have yet to give a blister? I think that my mind would be on my feet, 'way more than my new adventure. Any adventure would be more fun if I wouldn't have to give a thought to what was going on on the foot-end, right? Obviously!
So, back to the idea of long-time married couples being in the "rut" of being old shoes. The comforting thought here is that, we know each other so well, we don't have to worry about "what will he think?" We know, for the most part, what each of us will "think" about just about any situation we could imagine. Now, imagine a New Adventure of any sort--we are already ahead of the curve of any dating couple or newlywed couple on the planet. Yes, for them, many things they do are New Adventures. Us, not so much, with the "vicissitudes of life" happening every day.  But when New Adventures happen, we only have to slip on our old-shoe-ness and take off.
Charming and I are in a transition season before one of our greatest adventures--that of the Empty Nest. We've taken longer than many couples, having our last child at almost-forty. And I am so, so, so looking forward to the Things that are Coming Ahead.
And I already have my comfy-shoes partner. Fortunately, I'll never have to throw him away. He's a keeper.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Man, I am so sick of political postings on Facebook. You know, I have never heard of anyone changing their political views because of what you are posting. And some of you are so vitriolic! I'm "hiding" a lot of posts these days.
[my beautiful mother. She'll be speaking to this issue later on in this post.]
And yet, we claim to be Christians. We make a show of "praying for our President and all of those in Washington," because "the Bible tells us to." But woe unto you if you consider voting for someone not "approved" by the church. (Now, don't get the idea that I'm speaking of myself, I am not disclosing my preferences, but you could probably tell what they are by my blog posts of the last seven or so years...)
Our church had a Harvest Party last week. My son-in-law thought it would be fun (and controversial--he likes to "stir up the pot") to put on a President Obama mask and use his pretty-darn-good President Obama voice imitation, and walk around. He thought maybe he'd get a few good-natured comments from the parents.
Boy, was I surprised at what happened.
One parent, who had brought two children to the party, told them to go over and "find out who is under that mask!" Other children came up to him and said, "you are going DOWN on Election Day!" Others (grownups)came up and said the most vitriolic things you could imagine, including "how could you come to a church party in the costume of such a wicked man?" It wasn't a Hitler mask or even a Bin Laden mask, folks. It was a mask of the President of the United States. Our President. Yeah, that one who we pray for every Sunday.
He further stirred up the pot by telling a few adults (no children present for this conversation) that he was thinking of voting for a write-in candidate instead of one of the two main choices. He got an earful of "how can you waste your vote like that? That is so irresponsible!!!"
This is where my Mother chimes in.
My mother, born in 1921, did not take voting lightly. Throughout her life, she treasured both her "right" and her "responsibility" to vote as part of the privilege of voting. Throughout her life, she told me this story:
"When I married your father, I promised to love, honor, and obey him. But there is one place where I do not have to obey him, and that is in the Voting Booth. In the voting booth, it is between me and God."
You are not "wasting your vote" if you are voting your conscience. If ninety million people vote for the Democrat, and ninety-one million vote for the Republican, then really, only one million of those votes "count," and one hundred eighty million people have "wasted their vote." In this country that is different from any other that has ever existed on the Earth, we have the privilege and honor of voting our conscience. Of voting for the candidate who best reflects our ideals. Don't you think that people around the world would give their right arms for the chance to "vote their conscience?"
In my opinion, you only waste your vote if you don't vote at all. And that, my friend, is irresponsible. I helped my mother vote for the last time, in her room in the nursing home, in 2004. And yes, I know for whom she voted, because I had to fill in the little circles. But I'm not telling you. How she voted is between her and God.