A new hobby for hubby

We used to have a dining room. Then I saw a pink sewing machine labeled, “Does not work, make an offer.” I definitely needed a pink machine.

“I doubt you want what I have to offer,” I said pulling out a five. She took it. I lugged that heavy, all metal machine home. It really did not work. The gears had frozen in position.

“Would you like me to try to fix it?” hubby asked. Thinking of the price I had recently paid a professional, I gulped, “You can use this machine to learn. It only cost five.”

A friend advised, “drench it with penetrating oil.”

That’s when I lost the dining room area. He placed the sewing machine on the dining room table and drenched it. Oil dripped onto the table and floor. The house smelled of oil. We twisted the wheel. The needle moved. I threaded it and tried sewing. The upper thread did not pick up the bottom thread. A Youtube video said adjust the shaft holding the needle. He did.

It stitched! We high fived until we realized it could not sew in reverse.

He puzzled over that for three days. I asked about a little compartment under the bobbin. He opened and cleaned out thread, lint and grease. Still no reverse. Over the next couple weeks he learned about the cams, timing and the workings of the stitch length regulator. I threaded the machine to test it innumerable times.

It did not quite work right.

“I don’t have to have a pink machine. I just want one,” I sighed. We found a video on cleaning the age stained plastic top, “Apply hydrogen peroxide, place in a plastic bag and leave in the sun.” Three days of sun bleached out the age. It did not fix the stitch.

I found another machine frozen from years of disuse. Hubby agreed to try again. He sprayed on penetrating oil, cleaned, oiled and greased it. It worked beautifully.

“Way to go!” I said.

I received a free machine in a cabinet. I hauled it inside our living room. Three weeks of penetrating oil and it did not move until Hubby got out his big screwdriver.

My cousin called, “Do you want Grandma’s sewing machine?” she asked.

With four vintage machines that work and the three that did not, of course I said, “Yes.”

Grandma closed that cabinet before 1982 and no one has opened it since. Layers of dust became layers of dirt. Bugs and rodents found it and added their debris.

We squeezed it in beside the other cabinet sewing machine in the living room. Hubby wiped off the grime. Trash fell on the hard wood floor. He baptized it with penetrating oil. Our living room rug will never be the same.

“Come and check this out,” He said. I threaded the machine. It hummed but did not move. He fiddled with it again and still nothing moved. Three hours later, I pushed the foot pedal and it slowly chugged a stitch.

“That does not make sense. It should work,” we said. I pressed the pedal. It chugged. I held it down, watching it slowly chug for 30 or 40 seconds. Suddenly it took off like a race car and made a perfectly formed stitch.

“It’s fixed! Time to make something with it.” I headed to the sewing room for fabric.

Now as soon as hubby figures out the glitch on the pink sewing machine sitting behind the couch, finds the part for the free machine and looks at the one hiding in the garage, we will have a living room again – until the next time a frozen machine calls my name.

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Praying over the little things

Frustrated as I searched for something, I grabbed my phone and texted a short message to my son, “Please pray that I will find this lost item.”

He believes in the power of prayer. At least he does now. Years ago, he seemed skeptical. A couple months into the school year I realized he needed more slacks. On our “Stay-at-home-mom” budget, I worked hard to stretch the dollars so that we could live on one income. That meant that shortly after we moved to El Dorado, I visited all the grocery stores with a page or two of basic items written on the lines. I went through the stores filling in prices on my homemade spread sheet. I wanted to know the lowest place to purchase each. I also shopped sales and stocked up when possible and haunted yard sales for clothes, fun stuff and basics.

So as I prepared for a morning of yard sales that day, I told the my son, “you need more slacks for school. I am going to pray that I find some for you at the yard sales today.”

He looked at me as if I had a hole in my head. I could almost hear him thinking, “New jeans come from the store, not yard sales.”

I can pray about that,” I assured him.

I could also go to the store and pick up the slacks if necessary, but, as I said, I considered it my job to stretch the impossible budget. He left for school. I gathered up my list of Friday yard sale addresses and my purse.

Before I ever crossed the city line, I spotted a yard sale alongside the highway with tables of clothes. I hit the brakes and pulled over.

I spotted a stack of boy’s jeans in various colors. Today jeans only come in blue, torn blue and shredded blue and now some companies are actually charging top dollar for deliberately dirty blue. Back then stores sold whole, clean jeans.

Do you have any little boys’ jeans?” I asked.

Yes, we do. My son just went through a growth spurt right after I bought him plenty of jeans for the year. I think he wore them maybe once, and then they did not fit.” She walked over to the edge of the table where she had laid seven pairs of neatly folded jeans.

I picked up the top pair, read the size and the price. All seven pairs would cost as much as one pair of new jeans from the store. They looked and felt brand new. I didn’t usually buy seven pairs at a time, but such a bargain he could have an extra pair or two. God provided above all that I had asked or considered.

I’ll take all of them,” I said.

I didn’t find anything else at that sale. I didn’t need to. I already had found more than I had requested in my prayer.

So when I texted him recently, “Pray that I would find something I need to have it by tomorrow afternoon,” he prayed. Later he texted back, “did you find it?”

Good question. I had looked high and low, emptied out drawers and straightened closets. I even cleared the cubbies in the car and found nothing.

After I sent the text, my husband mentioned, “Did you look in the laundry room on the shelves?”

I walked in, looked up and there on the overflowing shelf my search ended.

Thank you, Lord,” I whispered, then I called and told my no longer skeptical son that God does care about things like school clothes and lost articles.

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House on the Rocks

Some people go to museums We went to the House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wis. built on a mountain pinnacle by Alex Jordan. We went to see his house and his collections of collections: dolls, circus dioramas, church organs, carousel horses, guns, armor, model ships, books and more that I have forgotten.

It takes two hours to simply walk through, more if you sit and enjoy the carousel or mechanized musical machines. Jordan collected player pianos and designed an entire orchestra with mannequins that played instruments. The mechanized self-playing violas intrigued me. The violas stand in front of chairs with an arrangement of pulleys, levers and springs that pull the bow across the strings or hold the finger positions. Bladders behind the saxophone expand and contract to push air as mechanized fingers press keys.

The House on the Rock began after Jordan realized he wanted more than a tent to enjoy his favorite spot on the mountain. He backpacked the tools and lumber he needed to began building in 1945. The lay of the land dictated the architecture. He finished a sitting room and added rooms until he had 13 including the infinity room: a long hall of windows that appears to go on forever. That might have been the end of his build but folks wanted to see it. In 1959 he charged the exorbitant price of 50 cents admission. Folks paid and loved what they saw.

The original rooms have low ceilings, few windows and sparse furnishings because Jordan actually only slept in the house four nights. He lived in a modest two-room apartment in Madison, Wis. He spent his days designing his massive hoax including a huge collection of vintage European armor, all made in America. Although he never went to Europe, the house displays replicas of the English royal crowns – in glass cases. The instruments play themselves with the back-up of synthesizers. The constantly circling carousel has not one horse among the 269 animals. Guests never touch or ride on the 80 feet-wide platform but we watch it or study the hundreds of carousel horses that covered the walls and ceiling around the carousel. A few rooms later dolls rode a multi-tiered small carousel. He had so much of everything including a long hall filled with elaborate doll houses of every size and era.

After opening the door for the first customer, Jordan spent the rest of his life developing more ideas. Once he opened a new display, he watched visitors’ reactions. If the room did not trigger a “Wow!” factor, he reworked it. Amazingly he used only the money generated from showing the house to buy, build and expand.

His final display of 200 model ships surrounds a massive squid fighting a whale. It’s longer than the height of the Statue of Liberty. Shortly before he died in 1989, he sat in the mouth of the whale for his last photograph. Walking around the display, I read the placards for each model. Most had sunk.

Some of the stuff is odd. For instance, the massive room filled with vats and mechanics from boilers and factories interspersed with three of the world’s largest church organs collected from around the world. We strolled down a replica of an 1800s cobblestone street peeking in windows of fully furnished shops and homes.

Even the bathrooms and in-house cafes include displays of dolls or dioramas. Building sized posters advertising magicians loom over the tables in the active snack shop where we had lunch. We came, we saw, we checked it off our list of things to see, photograph and remember.

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A breakfast conversation

Bored after the night shift at the hotel desk, the night clerk “Mack” eagerly greeted us as the first guests arriving for breakfast.

I have three sons and three jobs,” he said. His list included three nights a week at the hotel desk and part time, light work on construction sites.

I can’t do heavy lifting since I nearly lost my leg 10 years ago,” he said.

What happened?”

He related the following.

I worked for a company that went around the country putting together tongue and groove log cabins that use big lag bolts and screws to hold them in place. The contractor insisted that his crew be provided a house with a bedroom for each man.

“We ate breakfast at the house, had lunch meat in the refrigerator for lunches, and his wife would make us a supper each night. I didn’t have to pay for room and board. I was making good money and enjoying it.”

The contractor took the crew to an island off Maine to build and live during the build. They had no way to leave the island. Since the men spent their days building, it worked well. Or it did until Mack developed a pain in his leg. He could barely stand it hurt so much. The contractor insisted he was faking to get out of work.

I wasn’t. I was literally curled up in misery,” Mack said.

Still he forced himself to try to keep up with the job until he could not stand on the leg. It hurt so much. 

I need to go to the mainland. I need to go to a doctor,” he pled with the boss.

The contractor negated him as a shiftless, lazy bum.

When the contractor left, the man’s wife quietly said, “Come, I’ll take you to shore.”

She took him to the door of the emergency room and left him saying, “I have to get back.” He hopped in alone.

I was like an episode of the TV show ‘House.’ They could not figure out what was wrong with me. The diagnosis they gave me basically meant that they did not know what caused it.” He could see the red streaks of infection creeping up his leg and medications did not help.

If this does not get better we will have to cut off your leg to save your life,” the doctor said.

Mack got scared and mad. He called the doctor names. He threw a fit. He picked up the phone and called his own doctor back in Indiana.

I know what you need, you need prednisone,” the Indiana doctor said after hearing the situation.

Mack told the Maine doctor he needed prednisone.

The doctor rejected the idea. Mac called his Indiana doctor. The Indiana doctor talked with the doctor in Maine. Mack got the prednisone and the infection subsided.

The Indiana doctor gently scolded Mack, “You were rather rough on the doctor.”

Yes, I was, but it’s my leg and my life we are talking about. She was not listening.

She is a young fairly new doctor don’t be so rough on her.”

Mack improved, hired a taxi to take him to the airport and flew home to Indiana.

He spent the next three years in therapy rebuilding the leg. “I could not take a shower for three years. When I finally took a shower, I crumbled to the floor in pain. The doctor said it was because the damaged nerves felt all the water droplets.”

Now, every time I see my doctor, I thank him for saving my life,” Mack concluded.

His days of heavy lifting jobs in construction are over, but Mack is alive, has both legs, three sons and a story to tell travelers in the early hours of the day.

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healing to help others

Our trip compass pointed north, so we added boxes of Christian literature and Bibles and planned a detour to Love Packages in Butler, Ill. I like to read and share books so I collect to give to Love Packages which provides literature for individuals, churches, schools and pastors in third world countries. At the warehouse, we backed up to the delivery dock and, with the secretary’s help, hoisted boxes of books into bins.

“How’s Steve doing?” I asked as I passed a box of books.

“He’s fine. He had surgery and is here today.”


It seemed only a couple weeks ago he asked for prayer after a diagnosis of throat cancer. The doctor said the cancer’s location ruled out surgery because it could damage his vocal chords and rob him of speech. Not good news for Steve Schmidt who preaches often about God directing his prayers, the ministry and shipments of books since the 1970s.

“Yes, he is here. You can go speak with him. He is on the forklift helping load the shipping container.” She walked us to the loading dock where Steve manipulated a fork lift to wedge boxes into a metal shipping container. He slid off the forklift. A volunteer took his seat. The left side of his neck bore a long surgical wound. “They tried to cut off my head,” he joked before explaining. “My PET scan lit up with cancer. Monday, the doctor planned a biopsy to determine the kind of cancer and treatment.”

The day of his outpatient surgery, as Steve prepared to go, he said, “I thought about people who had said that their cancer was just hanging by a thread. I started to pray, ‘Lord make it so it is just hanging by a thread. I stopped. That didn’t seem right. I stopped and began again, ‘may it just be hanging there.’ That seemed like the way to pray.”

Steven went into the operating theater for his 15 minute biopsy. The anesthesiologist inserted the IV to put him to sleep for a short time. The doctor touched the nodule to snip it. It moved. “It’s just dangling there. Let’s take it out today,” he said.

The staff stared at him.

“You know what to do. I know what to do. I’ve done it many times before. We have what we need here. You get him ready. I am going to go talk with his wife.”

Steve’s wife Jeanie listened to the surgeon and with her sons’ input agreed to have the dangling cancer removed immediately. Four hours later, Steve woke to learn that instead of a 15 minute biopsy, he had had a dangling cancerous node removed along with 10 other lymph nodes.

“Unless there was a stray cancer cell, I am 99.99 percent sure you are cancer free,” the surgeon told him.

Steve stayed in the hospital that night and went home the next. Two days after surgery he was back at Love Packages. “I’m just operating the fork life. After we finish, I will work in the office until noon and then go home to rest.”

With tons of books, Bibles, Christian literature and lessons awaiting shipment to folks who desperately need them, Steve has no time to waste.

We praised God with him and returned to our van where the rural route mail carrier waited in her SUV for our van to leave the receiving dock. She needed to unload dozens of boxes of Christian literature packed into her SUV. As we drove away we saw the mail lady and secretary unloading boxes from across the country. Each held Bibles and books that churches and individuals had shipped to Love Packages to share around the world.

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a time to gather, a time to distribute

The rotary cutter I needed hid somewhere in the pile of quilting fabric. A box overflowing with cloth that could not fit into the overstuffed fabric closet blocked my path. I shoved aside quilt blocks to find the sewing machine. The time had long since come for me to re-organize and reduce my stash of fabric, sewing notions, equipment and spools of thread. I put away the quilt project and began sorting.

I don’t know why I bought that fabric, I do not even like it,” I muttered as I tossed it into the give away pile.

Why would anyone fold fabric to hide the ragged edges after cutting out a blouse?” I sighed and slashed off strips too small for even a string quilt.

I don’t need four large spools of green thread. I have never used this tool,” I added them to yet another large tote box. It was time to talk with family members who sew. I found four who eagerly volunteered to relieve me of anything and everything: fabric, zippers, buttons, patterns, “Oh, and by the way do you have a sewing machine you could contribute?” one asked.

Well, I might,” I studied the seven sewing machines in the sewing room before choosing one to share. I did not consider sharing the two sewing machines on the work bench.

I folded fabric, packaged zippers and bagged buttons. I filled a rolling sewing case with fabric, thread, accessories and a sewing machine. We lined up boxes for the anticipated deliveries. 

Time donate to the thrift stores where I buy fabric,” I said. I proudly surveyed my clean shelves with neatly re-folded fabric organized by colors and themes. It only took four days to clean deep enough to dust the corners usually blocked with fabric. 

I am done!” I announced, walking out of a room that now echoed my footsteps.

The doorbell rang.

Do you want some fabric for the sewing group?” my smiling friend asked. She had just sorted out her excess sewing supplies. 

The fabriholic inside me jumped up and down with joy! More fabric. I like fabric.

We chatted as I picked up various fibers, mentally cataloging where each piece needed to go. After she left, I began adding her surplus to the piles.

The size and number of piles overwhelmed me. It was time to pack for our drive to deliver stuff. Before we packed, I went to one of my sewing groups to use a special sewing machine. They welcomed me with open arms, “We have been waiting for you! We saved this fabric for you,” they indicated a heap of fabric, thread and other notions. “We knew you would know where to take it.”

I took a deep breath, thought about the size of our van, my very tidy sewing room and how very much I like fabric and sewing stuff. “Let me look.”

The entire lot filled my car’s trunk and back seat. Having just completed a four day training in sorting, I carried everything into my living room and quickly arranged more piles including a bundle for yet another sewing group. I only slipped a few pieces into my personal stash. Half a bushel of spools of thread became half a dozen designated piles. I filled and delivered bags to my favorite thrift stores and kept my sewing room neat, tidy and echoing footsteps.

A day later I went to four estate sales. I didn’t need a thing. I just wanted to look. I came home with another sewing basket. It really helps reduce the echo of footsteps in the sewing room.

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Is it hot enough?

“Is it hot enough for you?”

Yes, it is. It’s hot enough to stay inside, squeeze a lemon and sip ice cold lemonade under the ceiling fan. It’s hot enough to remember being a teenager and tossing hay bales in upstate New York and be thankful I don’t have to do that anymore. Very few farmers do it that way now with today’s technology.

It’s hot enough to recall a summer in Arizona when my brothers earned extra money picking grapefruit in the citrus orchards. Even with the desert’s nearly nil humidity, in that heat I preferred an afternoon at the swimming pool over cash.

Is it hot enough for you?

Well, my son-in-love didn’t think it was too hot when he signed up for the annual July New York City Triathlon. To prepare for these grueling races, he runs up and down the hills of Arkansas, pedals vigorously on his bike and cools off with laps in the pool. He practices through the chill of winter and the heat of summer so he has the endurance to participate in Triathlons. He didn’t think it was too hot to take his four children and my daughter to NYC for walking tours of the city in the days before and after the race.

The kids whine, “It’s hot!” as they strolled down the streets of New York exploring the stores, the sites and the history.

“We walked nine miles today,” my daughter reported the day before the race. The kids complained about the heat until they saw a street performer doing gymnastics and invited an audience member to join them. One granddaughter raised her hand, tucked in her shirt and copied him in movements and somersaults down the sidewalk. It wasn’t too hot to move then.

But weather predictions looked too hot for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. He asked the directors of the triathlon to call it off. The directors considered all the racers coming from around the city and the nation. They decided the predicted heat wave was hot enough to call off the race three days before the event.

The decision came too late for the racers, like my son-in-love, who had already arrived for the race. Not everyone was happy to cancel a year of planning because someone else decided, “It’s hot enough for us.” Or, as my daughter protested the day of the cancellation, “It was cool today!”

The directors canceled this year but they still plan on holding it in July next year simply because these things have to be scheduled two and three years in advance. Other race directors joined the NYC-Tri in canceling long scheduled weekend races. According to Runners World, races included the NYC marathon training race, horse races in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Even auto racing in Kalamazoo, Michigan was canceled due to concerns of drivers overheating.

Is it hot enough for you?

Well it is a deadly heat this summer as we realized with the news that former Arkansas football player Mitch Petrus, 32, died after suffering a heat-related illness. He reported feeling sick after working outside all day and in the shop. The official cause of his death is listed as heat stroke, according to the Associated Press. While the thermometer read in the 90s, the heat index that day rose over 100. That’s too hot and humid for even trained athletes on a day when conditions match the temperatures expected on the days of the canceled races.

Is it hot enough for you? Yes, it is folks, Hot enough for you to stay in the shade, drink plenty of lemonade and keep cool. Before you know it someone will ask, “is it cold enough for you?”

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Nothing can go wrong

I have no need for another cookbook and yet for fifty cents at a yard sale, I could not resist buying two: “The Non-chew Cookbook” and “The Four Ingredient Cookbook.” 

Non-chewing cooking tickled my funny bone. Chewing always follows cooking, right? I laughed until I read the introduction. This is a serious cookbook for folks prescribed a soft diet for some digestive issue. My uncle actually could have used some of its ideas the year he had his broken jaw wired shut and drank his meals while it healed. He did not feast that Thanksgiving. And Uncle let the preacher know so when he rhetorically asked from the pulpit, “We all had more than enough to eat on Thursday, right?” My uncle raised his hand and shook his head. Everyone in the church laughed.

With that in mind, I studied the book and found some soft casseroles that I mentally marked to try.

My granddaughter, Caroline, 10, studied and marked recipes in the complete collection of “Four Ingredients Cookbooks” by Coffee and Cale. The authors included everything from appetizers to dessert. She marked recipes because I had asked earlier if she would like to do a video of her cooking and testing the recipes on her family. 

Yes!” She agreed.

I took the book when I went to visit. She propped the cookbook against her knees and turned the pages looking for a recipe with the ingredients her mom already had.

Caramel popcorn looks good,” she mused, flipping the pages

Or how about this?” she showed her mom a dish, “Do we have the ingredients?”

No. Keep looking.”

They settled on Mexican Hamburgers: ground meat, tomato soup, chili powder and a large onion. How can anything go wrong? 

If you want Grandma to stop the video, just stand still and smile,” her mom advised. 

I tapped the video option.

She opened with a big smile, “Welcome to ‘Cooking with Caroline.’ Today we are going to make Mexican Hambugers.” She listed the ingredients, stopped and smiled. I stopped.

Her mom said, “Let me show you a trick I learned for cutting an onion.” She pinched her fingers into a claw to hold the onion while she halved and chopped half of the onion. On video, Caroline repeated the claw hold as she chopped with the other half. She scraped the onion bits off the chopping board and stirred them into the ground meat.

She smiled. We stopped to let the meat brown while she measured out the chili seasoning and opened the soup.

Caroline yanked the soup can’s ring back and forth, pulling it off. She looked at me, “now what do I do?”

You take the handle of a spoon and pry it off the rest of the way,” I demonstrated.

We returned to filming her pouring, stirring, and tasting. She pursed her lips, “too much spice. I need to stir this more.” She washed the spoon, tested again and pronounced it ready. Scooping meat, she spread it on hamburger buns, closed it, neatly sliced off a polite bite, tasted and smiled her approval and completion. I pushed stop.

Now I just have to figure out how to edit it. First, let’s look at what we have,” I hit play.

One bright and smiling 10 year-old held up the cookbook. Her lips moved but we heard nothing the entire15 minutes. It took a while to discover I had never chosen the option to record sound on my new phone.

Something could go wrong when I was in charge of the project, but Caroline did just fine with the Mexican Hamburgers. She is looking for another recipe to try, and next time I will push the button. We may even try cooking and eating a recipe from the Non-chew Cookbook, just for fun.

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Katie wants to help cook

The results may not be pretty, but with practice, a child’s household skills do improve. 

My daughter encourages eagerness. So when Katie, 3, shoved the chair to the counter at my house saying, “I wanna help cook” I said, “you can cut up these peaches.” 

I have to wash my hands first,” she held out her hands for the ritual before taking the knife to cut fruit. She finished and watched me measure waffle mix, “I wanna help.”

Okay.” I placed the bowl of waffle mix in the sink so she could stir without splattering everywhere. 

Do you know how to break an egg?” She nodded, took the egg and smashed it on the counter.

I guess you haven’t done that very often,” I mumbled. I tossed the shell in the trash, scooped up egg goo and added it to the waffle batter. She stirred, splashed batter and announced, “It’s done.”

I gave it another swirl and poured it on the waffle iron.

When her sisters and brother asked if they could do a chore and earn a couple dollars, I said, “Will you wash the bathroom and kitchen floors?” I hate that chore. They agreed, took turns filling a bucket and scrubbing floors on their hands and knees.

At their mom’s insistence they also, for no pay, set the table, cleared the dishwasher and swept the floor. Everyone has to do a chore everyday at their house.

Katie’s chore is to match up and put away clean silverware. She emphatically told me, “I do not like to take care of the silverware.” I already knew that. I have seen her fuss about the simple task. 

No pouts though when cooking begins. She shoves her chair close, “I wanna help.”

Okay, you can help me make 7-Up biscuits.” I gathered biscuit mix, sour cream and lemon-lime soda.

I need an apron.” she informed me.

I found the pink apron her mom had tied on her the day before and slipped it over her head. I pulled the strings around to tie in front.

It’s not s’posed to be like that.”

I re-tied it in the back.

It’s too tight.”

I loosened it. Satisfied, she waited while I plopped sour cream on top of the biscuit mix and handed her a chopper to mix it all together. 

She tapped the chopper lightly into the biscuit mix. Flour flew out of the bowl to the counter. I swept it back into the bowl and helped her finish mixing.

Now let’s pour in the soda.”

Katie poured and watched the soda foam across the top of the biscuit mix. We stirred it again. “Now we have to knead the dough,” I scraped it all onto a well floured pastry sheet. Katie touched the dough and pulled her hand back, “It’s sticky!”

Yes, it is. Let’s add a bit more flour,” I said and began kneading it into the mix.

I wanna help,” Katie kneaded the dough. Looked at her hands and said, “I need to wash my hands.”

You need to rub your hands with flour,” I said.

The sticky disappeared and we patted out dough to cut biscuits. She aimed the cutter for the middle of the dough. I directed her hand to the edge of the dough.

She cut. I lifted raw biscuits to the pan.

She aimed for the middle of the dough again. I moved her hand to the edge of the dough again.

The third time she began at the edge of the dough and after cutting it insisted, “I want to put it in the pan.”

It wasn’t a perfect biscuit, but it was her biscuit that went into the oven to bake. While it baked, we added ham and jam, and the breakfast Katie had helped make was ready to eat.


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What’s in a name? A lot of fun evidently

If you ask my husband his name be prepared to settle down for a long, long, long discourse of an answer.

“Well, my first name was Hershberger,” he responds.

They look at him a bit puzzled. “Hershberger?”

“Yes, before I was born and before they knew whether I was a boy or girl, I already had the name Hershberger after my father’s side of the family.”

“Oh, yes,” they stutter.

“And then my second name was supposed to be Rosemary. After having had two boys, my parents were sure that this time it would be a girl and so they intended to call me Rosemary.

“Obviously I was not a girl,” says this father of six. “So they chose the next best thing to it ‘Marion’ and tacked on my father’s name of ‘Joseph’ so I was named Marion Joseph at birth.”

“And you know it is a Biblical name,” he goes on to say,

Before they can puzzle that out, he tells about one of his pastors who asked everyone with a Bible name to stand up.

“I stood up. The pastor looked at me and asked, ‘What is your biblical name?’”

“Marion Joseph.”

The pastor started to dismiss him as another overly eager little kid.

“You know, Mary ‘n’ Joseph, but no baby Jesus,” my punster laughs.

The pastor gave him the look that said, “You have had your fun, now sit down.”

He thought it was funny then and the older he gets, the more he laughs.

Everyone for years called him Marion. Through school, through half a dozen different jobs he was ‘Marion’. Then he met me. I already had two Marions in my family – an Aunt Marion, my mother’s sister, and Marian, the mother of a cousin my age. I could not call a guy Marion with an ‘a’ or an ‘o’. For the longest time I simply called him Mr. Hershberger or Hershberger or Hershy.

When we became engaged my friend thought I needed to change that.

“I will call you ‘Joseph’,” I declared. One of his older brothers uses his middle name, so I extended the practice to the third son, then my finance and now my husband.

So the saga of answering the question about his name continues, “Then, when I met Joan I became ‘Joseph.’”

He’s right. I changed the name for calling him to supper. I have persisted with the nomenclature ‘Joseph’ except when I am angry, then he becomes “Marion.” Or if I am really weary his long story about his first name being ‘Hershberger’, he becomes, “Mr. Hershberger.” Plus, I have a few other names for him depending on the day’s mood. Hershey, Hershenberger or even Josephus all suffice, but never ‘Joe.’ That was his dad’s name.

Somehow in the south where many have two names, there are folks who find it nearly impossible to add that second syllable to his name. So he is ‘Joe’ to folks who know both of us in Arkansas; ‘Marion’ to those who knew him in Arkansas in the work place and always ‘Marion’ to the family and friends from his Indiana home town.

Take it or leave it, my husband, with a name reflecting the adults in the holy family, whose first name always was Hershberger, really does fit the name Joseph as far as I’m concerned. As he says, I gave him the name because he’s a dreamer. He has had great dreams for lots of traveling, remodeling, and finding as many people as he can who will listen to his pun and the saga he spiels when asked, “what is your name?”

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