Friday, May 28, 2010

Migratory Birds

Last winter when the temperatures dipped into the single digits, we got on a plane and headed to southern California and Mexico for a 3 week (working) vacation. We wore sweaters in the morning and evening for the first half of the trip. We did hit a rainy spell in Mexico on that part of the trip but not ice and snow! The remaining winter weather in Pa was intense but short-lived after we returned home. The wild geese do not have a bad idea and we hope to follow their migration patterns in Jan 2011 again.

Currently we are in the middle of a PA heat wave but things seem to be headed in the right direction. Again, the birds seem to have the right idea...We have our sights set on a trip to Northwest Ontario where they have 70 degree weather instead of our 90 degrees. We plan to leave tomorrow with my sister and her husband. Lord willing, we will travel to OH where we will spend Sunday with my niece and family. On Memorial Day we will travel up to the top of the Michigan Penisula and spend the night at Mackinac City. The next day we will do some sight seeing in that area and then head west toward Sioux Lookout, Ontario. The main purpose of the trip is to visit my brother Merle and family. We expect to be with them from June 2-7. On the return trip we hope to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthplace at Pepin ,WI and the CaseIH tractor factory at Racine, WI. Marvin's Grandpa Landis had a Case dealership for many years and influenced his family for tractors that are a less popular make than the famous John Deere. From there we expect to set our sights on home and return on June 10. We may be just in time for another heat wave...
Oh well, in another ten years or so I might hibernate in heated /AC room with a supply of coffee and chips to keep me going the rest of my days...or better yet- move to my eternal home where there is no heat waves or freezing temperatures EVER! Meanwhile we enjoy the migratory flights. I don't expect we will migrate to Canada very often. Where can we go next summer? :D
We are blessed to have David and Karen here to look after things at home. We seem to be taking turns. Karen and David were in CA/MX in March and now she plans a Guatemala trip in July.
Guess the migratory gene has been passed on ....

Monday, May 24, 2010

Diary Writing

First the disclaimer....
I've been reminded that it has been awhile since my Christmas memories blog, and time for a new post. Well, the computer was in and out of the hospital during the winter months. It needed to be reformatted which meant backing everything up on CD's and then reinstalling everything.
So where does the title "Diaries" come in?
It is where I have been in the past months. I was reading the diaries that my husband's Aunt Emma kept from 1938-2003. If you do the math, that is 65 years worth of diaries with almost daily entries. Other late winter projects on my list came to a standstill while I read her diaries in preparation to fulfill a request to put her life in story form. Now 22 copies of forty-plus pages later, her story "All the Days of My Life" is ready for distribution to my husband's cousins when we meet in June. Aunt Emma recorded a lot of facts about her life which included the weather, the activities of her day, plus world, national, local, church and family events. Besides her diaries, she kept other records. She recorded the gifts she gave and received at Christmas, the cards and letters she sent and received. At one point she kept record of how many hours and minutes she slept each night. Can you believe there are so many records? On rare occasions she recorded her feelings about a situation or event. Although the project has consumed more winter hours than I expected, there is some value in understanding the times in which my husband lived in his formative years. It was also a time of gaining more appreciation for his childhood connections to his Landis grandparents and other family members. No wonder they enjoy their times together now! Having been in the family for nearly forty five years, they are "my cousins" too. His grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins all lived within walking distance of the Landis Valley Museum, with the exception of an aunt who served in Africa as a missionary nurse. (His grandparent's home is now part of the Museum's property.) In his childhood, the whole clan worshipped, worked and played together, making a contribution to who he is today.
But last week diary reading took me down a different path. I was reading my own early diaries and reliving memories. My sister was writing some of her childhood memoirs. I dug out some of my old diaries to answer her questions. I was surprised to discover that my first diary record begins on May 23, 1956 when I was ten years old. That means today, May 24, 2010, I am beginning my 55th year of diary writing! There are a few years when our older children were small that I did not write regularly. The only consolation is that I was writing a weekly letter to my mother during those precious years. She returned most of those letters to me which help to recapture little tidbits from that era of my life.
What good are old diaries? For one thing they recapture some of the "ordinary" that becomes only a " distant memory". For instance, one day when I had a bad sore throat, Dr Ridgway came to our home to give me a penicillin shot. What doctor makes house calls today?
There is the precious memory of the times in October 1956 when Daddy took me to see the unveiling of the new cars. The new models were transported on car carriers with huge tarps draped over them. Suspense built up as they were moved into dealer's showrooms under cover of darkness and remained covered inside the big show room window until a crowd gathered for the official unveiling at the appointed date. Daddy knew our 6th grade class was all hyped over the unveiling of each new 1957 model. That year he took me to see the new Fords at Denver, Chevys at Ephrata and Mercurys at Akron..and maybe more. Those memories stir up loving admiration for my dad and the time he took for my fleeting interest in cars.
The house of my childhood was demolished last summer to make way for a new housing development. But childhood memories can linger and bring enjoyment the rest of my life. Life was not "perfect" back in the good old days, and my desire to move forward toward the eternal goal is much stronger than the longings for past pleasures. Through my diaries and the vehicle of memory, I was riding bike, taking pony rides, dressing cats in doll clothes, playing in the creek, reading books and sometimes just loafing. Other times I was helping to pick corn by hand, welcoming a new baby sister and reliving the memorable 1958 blizzard when we had no electric for five days. The words brought back the people, surroundings, fragrances and feelings of the past. Feelings could be so bluntly honest. When I made my first home run at school I wrote "I am a little proud." When our family came home after a long day I wrote "we are all grouchy".
My diaries do include more feelings than Aunt Emma's, and I regret some words written in immaturity. But many years ago, I committed myself to writing words that do not slander or judge another person. For one thing, God is the only One who is right in all his judgments. There is always the possibility that I may be wrong in my evaluation of a person or situation because I only see in part while He knows in every detail.
Maybe no one else will ever want to read my diaries, but if they do, I want my written words to be a blessing, not a curse. In the past few years I have been using my diaries, letters written to my mother and photos to compile albums for our children which includes photos and stories from their childhood. I have gone from 1965-1975, 2007-2008 and currently I'm working on 2009. My style of scrap booking is not artistic like many of my friend's albums, but focuses telling the stories of life.
I still cannot imagine anyone wanting to wade through my two banana boxes of diaries in the attic. But between me and my God, they can still be a record of what He is doing for me and in me.
So here goes for my 55th year of diary writing. The remaining pages of the future are blank. I wonder what God will write on them! I can say like Moses, "If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." Exodus 33:15b