Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Last year I started composition books with our two youngest. They each have their own. I would write a question and they would answer it. Then they returned it to me with a question. I answered, wrote another question, etc. (A sneaky way to get them to write.)
It was very interesting. They would ask some hard questions. And give some revealing answers.

This year I decided to use the books for math. I will give them problems to work and they will return the favor. I enjoy math but I figured sooner or later they will stump me. Sure enough Christopher went online with the search line, "hard word problems".

He got one for me that went clean over my head. I studied it awhile and decided to see where he got it. No help there except for the info, "Most tricky and tough algebra problems are covered here." Yikes!

Determined to master this, I searched for how to solve algebraic problems. (I'm the person who, if you tell me it isn't likely to be done, I'll master it. I was told in my younger days that, "Girls can't whistle with a blade of grass." Wrong thing to tell ME!)

So I settled down to GET THIS! I followed a couple tutorials online until it finally got through my head. A few simple steps and presto! There was the answer! Christopher said he hasn't seen me so excited in a long time. Well, I was! I can't describe the feeling of empowerment that came from mastering that problem.

And a piece of info I left out above from the "hard problems site"- "If you can solve these, you can probably solve any algebra problems." Obviously there are lots more on that site but to tackle and conquer something that seemed so impossible, was fantastic. Maybe I can do it again.

It was interesting to me how that feeling stayed with me even in other matters. Where something would before look impossible, I'm thinking, "Maybe I could get this!"

Here is the problem in Christopher's handwriting (he writes very faintly in pencil) and also copied and pasted from the site-
The cost of petrol rises by 2 cents a liter. last week a man bought 20 liters at the old price. This week he bought 10 liters at the new price. Altogether, the petrol costs $9.20. What was the old price for 1 liter?

Can you solve it?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Book Discussion

Ever an emotional person, I laugh or cry when I try to speak of things close to my heart. And I feel things deeply. I don't want to be seen when I read a book because I might cry and maybe even really sob, like head-in-my-hands kind of sobbing. Especially when children are hurt. Reading these books has been painful.

On Tuesday I read 
And it's been haunting me ever since. How could such atrocities take place? Why were the adults in his life who witnessed his mistreatment silent and absent? Why were the other children in his life not horrified enough to tell someone? Why was everyone so accepting of the evil? What enticed his mother to be so cruel?

A month ago I read this one
And I was horrified again at the injustice shown to blacks. I always hate to read books where the whites are allowed to do evil and blame it on the blacks. The story line was rich enough that I didn't feel suffocated by the evil. I started to read Uncle Tom's Cabin once but I wasn't very far along until I got that feeling of panic. That book will have to wait until my spirit is strong.

This morning I finished this one
And it kept me on edge a lot (panicky). As in, To Kill A Mockingbird, blacks are mistreated and in this case young adults. White adults stand by and watch; as well as encourage the mistreatment. There were a very few white people in Melba's life who stood by her. Otherwise her Grandmother was a source of strength to her, encouraging her to write out her thoughts to God. 

How can people get so warped that they encourage their children to mistreat another human being? Why did hundreds of people buy the lie that Negroes were animals? I admire the attitude of many black people as they awaited their deliverance. They put their faith and trust in God even if they never saw the longed-for equality. Many of them were examples of Christ to the white people around them.

Grandma told Melba to change up the game. Instead of allowing her tormentors to see how sad and terrified they made her, she turned to thanking them for their cruelties. It took the oomph out of their pranks and gave her a strength she didn't know was possible. 

Grandma believed Melba was born to the kingdom for just such a time and could be the "warrior" that God needed to effect change in the world. 

One more book this week
(And yes, or no, I didn't get much cleaning done! Sometimes one needs to Read! Read! Read!)

This book had me suffocating in another way. It was a story of wars and defeat. Spain controlled the Netherlands and was determined to eradicate Protestants. Because of their personal pride the Dutch couldn't get their act together to rid themselves of Spain.

Okay, I don't think we should go to war but if someone is going to fight, I mean they should get off their high horses and band together for the common good. Not one city was strong enough to throw off the incredible strength of Spain but they kept trying to do it on their own. 

When someone could get an army together they seldom knew how to work together to accomplish anything. So you see why I felt panicked? Thousands upon thousands of people dying by war or famine (in sieges) and Spain continuing to commit monstrous atrocities in the name of Catholicism.

G. A. Henty's books are in the public domain and are available for free on Kindle. He wrote a lot of historical fiction, bringing life to the stories of ancient (or not so ancient) times.

Both Henty and Melba speak of tolerance. They both speak of fighting intolerance. One group was using guns and swords while the other was moving forward non-violently (mostly), doing what was right to do. What will I do? 

These books invoked more thoughts that I may be able to write about at a later date. The subject this time was cruelty, injustice and intolerance. There are good things to speak of as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tuesday Meal Planning + Family Gathering

We were traveling yesterday and I was tired today, plus I'm going to town tomorrow so I decided to sit down and plan my menus once again. It is so helpful to know what to cook! 
Beans, rice, eggs
Bean dip and chips
Beef Roast
Baked potatoes
Lettuce salad
Potato, meat, egg quiche
Fruit & yogurt
Banana bread
Chicken enchiladas
Veggies & dip
No bake bars
Lettuce salad
Breakfast burritos
Hot dog sandwiches
Apples or grapes
Rice & chicken
Green beans
Apples and PB
Sausage gravy
Tomato soup
Potato salad
Mashed potatoes

Friday through Monday morning we had a surprise party for my mother who is turning 70 in December. We tried to pick a time of the year when it would work for most of us to get together. A cabin in Raphine, VA was where we gathered. A beautiful setting in the woods by the river. With a second small building to the side we had room for everyone to sleep indoors. Without having to sleep in the kitchen or dining room! Twenty-five people from TX, WV and OH.
Photo credit Sylvia Byler
And we actually managed to surprise Mama! This is not easy to do. She is a suspicious, questioning individual. Sister Rosetta took her on a trip through the New England states for the greater part of the week and she thought she would be coming home Friday. By the time she got to where we were, she was completely flummoxed. She told Rosetta, "It's a good thing I trust you! You could be abducting me!" And then her mouth dropped open as she beheld the family.
Tim grilling chicken while visiting with Mama
The sisters in Texas did an excellent job of planning the event. They assigned each sibling a meal and we all helped with the meal that was left. I brought enough leftovers home to help out with a few meals here.
Rosetta & Sylvia solving the world's problems

Chel's husband Jason kept a good campfire going
Maxie, Christopher and Gwen as we traveled to WV
My parents Noah & Mary Jane Schwartz
Photo credit Sylvia Byler

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

He's Off!

Here he is looking out over the Pacific
September 24th marked a new day in our lives. Our oldest son Stephen left for a year or more of voluntary service at Penn Valley Christian Retreat in PA. The dynamics of our family life have naturally changed with the oldest son gone. Especially one who is a dynamic leader and who wants constant activity.

Here is what the outdoors looks like at the retreat, from the front porch. I took panoramic shots from a seat on the porch.

Two hotels

Up on the hill is his apartment

As one of the two maintenance men, he is responsible for mowing and trimming, snow pushing, dish washing, setting up for events, cleaning and I really don't know what all. Go visit to see him at work. 

Here is my latest letter to Stephen, written yesterday-

Today is a cool, wet day. We actually have a fire in the wood stove since yesterday morning. I probably wouldn't have had one today but Daddy is at home working at the desk so he wants it warm. I went out to the garden barefooted and pulled weeds a little while.

The guys are more or less sitting around today. Matthew took the drain/garbage disposal out of the left sink in the crazy room. It was leaking into the cabinet below.

Melvin, Christopher and I did our Bible study and read-aloud before moving on to other things. We're reading the book about Laura Ingalls' school days under Miss Wilder. They both took up the book (at different times) after I quit reading today and were reading it to themselves. They couldn't wait for the next installment.

The last couple Sundays most of the ministers have been gone. Winstons, of course, are in Australia. Elmer is on a CLE trip. Steve was here but I guess he doesn't take full responsibility yet so Daddy was moderator again. Dan preached and he's still doing his ABC preaching. His subject was Knock. Speaking of Jesus knocking at our hearts and us knocking as in ask, seek and knock. 

Eldon's son Virlin and family were visiting. A lot of the youth were gone- Rosalyn and Chris, the Wengerds, Allens' youth and Dans' three youngest. Cynthia has been in Indiana for a couple weeks helping her Grandma who fractured her wrist. Some of the Miller girls were with Allens. Kim was home from SMBI but went back in the evening.

Four families are going to Miss Linda's wedding - Genes (also taking Dominic), Waynes, Dans and Allens. Monica can't travel right now, being quite large with child. Due soon.

Speaking of which... Sylvia will be helping her. Then Melody in TX wants Sylvia to help her after that. It's kind of a close shave if Monica is late with her baby. :( Praying it all works out. 

I just read Gladys' letter today and she said Ray is going to be at Penn Valley soon. That's my cousin Ray from TX. Just so you know.... :)

Last evening we had a local program at church. The theme was the Bible. Vernon opened by talking about fulfilled prophecies from the Bible. Then Keith and Randall had a Bible Quiz and Grandpa had children's class. We had snack afterward instead of a fellowship meal for lunch. Probably so the day wouldn't be quite so full, though I never did hear why they did it that way. We had "Chick Fil-A" sandwiches for snack/supper. Or Lori's version of it. We took chicken patties. Plus salties and sweets. 

Daddy had door jobs every day last week including Saturday. Austin worked at Orvals all week, painting the living room and kitchen area. She also wanted shutters painted outside. She said just the ones on the porch. Then she realized later that there are more on the front of the house so she wants those done now sometime. 

We took Grandpa to Dr Betsy on Wed for a checkup to find out why he's so bloated and miserable. She said his digestive system is in very poor shape and told him to stay away from all grains. She also gave him a bunch of supplements to take.

Grandma said, If we can just find something for him to eat instead of crackers! He said, You act like I eat a lot of crackers! She said, You do! He said, No, I don't! Lol

My secret sister gave me a large container filled with fruit (apples, pears, pineapple, oranges, grapes, bananas, lemons) and peanuts in the shell. Also some fruit candies throughout and a Snickers bar in the bottom. I said if it's who I think, she doesn't take me serious that I don't eat sugar or else she put the Snickers Bar in for Daddy. :)

Well, I better move on and get some laundry done and supper made. Though I have no clue what to make and it's already 4:30. What are you having to eat these days?

(Later- I made rice and stir fry and cherry cobbler.)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Back Again

West coast





Son leaving

School beginning

New business venture


Poor internet service


These are the many subjects that have kept me away from the computer. So I will attempt to tackle each one in turn soon.

God is good. All the time.