Monthly Archives: July 2010

All I want for my birthday: chocolate cake roll with peppermint ice cream

Dear Mother,

I hope you read this soon, so you can start planning. But I’m sure if you don’t see it, one of your FB friends (i.e. granddaughters/sons/etc.) will clue you in.

Just wanted to remind you that my birthday is less than two weeks away. I know I don’t really  have to remind you of the date, but just to clarify, mine is Wednesday, August 11, NOT Thursday, August 12. That’s John’s and since he’s in Kansas, you don’t have to bake him a cake. Rachel will. And it isn’t Friday, August 13, because that’s Don’s and Romaine can bake his.

WHICH….brings us to my point. All I want for my birthday this year (from you, that is — this doesn’t apply to Fred), is one of your super duper ice cream cake rolls. I really want a chocolate one with peppermint ice cream. If no one has peppermint ice cream, I’ll make it for you. Because I really want chocolate with peppermint. And since you’re the only one who makes these the way I like them, it’s up to you.

And oh yeah…sigh…if chocolate is out of the question, then I’ll settle for angel food for the cake part, but I still want peppermint ice cream. Isn’t it just too bad that PlainViewDairy isn’t open anymore? I guess Dietsch’s would have  peppermint, but….more sighs…their’s isn’t pink.

I know I’m being picky here, but well, you know how it’s been lately. You and I both need to celebrate with a really good birthday cake. Chocolate with peppermint. Oh yeah, I already said that, didn’t I?

I guess that’s all I have to say today. Chocolate cake…peppermint ice cream…wait, did I say that already? Sorry, I’m almost 54, I think, and I seem to be forgetting things. Am I really going to be 54? I could ask Kathy Bohn Kendrick since she’s a few months older than me, but she might not remember either. Speaking of 54…no need for candles…wax can play havoc with the cake.

Love you,


Annointing service intended to bring restoration of wholeness and health

Last week, my cousin, Doug, mentioned that his family had had an announting service for his older brother, who is struggling with some health issues. He suggested that I might find this comforting. Our church periodically has had annointing (healing) services for members who are ill, but also for those who are entering into some leadership position. However, those are usually done during or after a church service, with an entire congregation taking part.

I’m a little leery of feeling so “exposed” in front of a large group of people, so knew that wouldn’t work for me. So I talked with our associate pastor, Louise Wideman, about having a private annointing service with just family members, and in one of my favorite places — at the edge of a local quarry, which is no longer a working quarry, but has for years been filled with water. There is a path that leads to the water’s edge, where the village placed large square rocks, perfect for sitting on. It’s the place I go often during a walk or run, to sit and think about whatever I’m facing.

The timing was perfect, because two of my brothers and one sister-in-law were in town, so they were able to attend, along with my mom, my aunt, my husband, Louise and me. Oh. Right. And about a million cicadas. All voicing their opinions throughout the entire service. In fact, my husband taped it on the Flip, but the cicadas drowned out most of the human conversation. I figure that was just nature taking part.

In the days leading up to the service, Louise and I had a few conversations, during which she explained the history of announting services. This may help others understand.

*Biblically, anointing was used in the Old Testament for several reasons – leaders were anointed for their special roles; a person was anointed for comfort (Psalm 23:5); anointing oil was used in the cleansing ritual for lepers; and objects in the tabernacle were anointed for use in worship.   In the New Testament, Jesus had a ministry of healing people and James 5 includes instructions for anointing the sick with oil.

“In our Mennonite history, anointing services in the past have been very private and often with persons who are extremely ill.  Today however, several congregations offer anointing at the end or during a worship service in the context of the congregation for any variety of reasons – physical or emotional health and well being, commissioning for leadership and spiritual renewal.

 “We know there is a connection between the mind, body, and spirit – so that when a person is anointed, we are considering the whole person.   Anointing with oil for healing is a means of God’s grace and blessing intended to bring restoration of wholeness and health.”

Prior to the service, Louise asked me to reflect on my illness, my ongoing anxieties and fears relating to it, as well as my hopes for the upcoming weeks. This kind of thing is very hard for me to do openly. Somehow I managed to put down a few thoughts — mostly, I think, because I’d spent the week with some pretty indepth conversations with my brothers and of course, my husband. One thing I mentioned is that I recently asked my aunt for some advice on prayer. I’ve always been so awed by her very thoughtful prayers. They remind me of my grandfather’s — he was a pastor. Her very simple response eased my own thoughts about praying for personal things.

We began the service at 7 p.m., just as a fishing boat crossed the water. I think they sensed something private because they immediately moved to the far side of the lake. We began with my brother and SIL singing “Amazing Grace”, followed by Louise’s explanation of the annointing service, some scriptures, prayer, a song by Louise, my own statement. There was a brief “laying on of hands” and the others were invited to say something.

It was a brief, but meaningful service. For me — a very private person when it comes to faith — this was a new experience. All day today I’ve thought about it. I don’t feel greatly changed, but I do feel comforted. My anxiety is slowly easing, and I hope that over the next few weeks as I reflect on this, I’ll continue to relax and better focus on recovering with a more positive attitude.

Conversations with sibs and the truth about which one hid his pills

There’s this fun thing about blogs…one can reveal things about others that could or could not get one in trouble. But hey, that’s part of the fun!

So today two of my brothers stopped by to drag me out for a walk. They’re both in town for a weeklong visit and have made it their duty to make baby sister get her exercise. They ignore most of my excuses. Today, there was no getting around it so I went upstairs to get dressed. When I came back down, the comment was, “gee, you look like a normal person…with a gut.” This is typical of our conversations. I’m the baby sister….teasing is the norm.

Anyway, we were walking at my usual SLOW pace and Fred and I were trying to remember when I’d last taken my pain meds. Ooops. Maybe that’s why I had pain. Forgot to take them. That got us onto subject of my iron pills, which I’ve stopped taking because they may be the cause of another not-so-fun side effect.

James started laughing, looked at John, and asked him if he remembered the time when Tom hid his iron pills because he didn’t want to take them. This was while we were living on the farm — I was only three or four, so don’t remember this. (Just to clarify, my brothers are Phil 63, John 62, James 57, Tom 56. I’m almost 54.) Apparently, Tom had some “condition” that required him to take iron pills, which for a little kid, were big. They found them in the old registers, under beds, everywhere, probably in the barn. James told him he was supposed to take them, not hide them. His response was “I don’t like them.”

I feel that way about my potassium pills. They’re gargantuan, rough and taste like crap. In fact, they flavor almost everything I eat. My surgeon said that he make his students lick them so they know how bad they taste and tells them they could earn a Nobel prize if they invent something more flavorful.

I’m thinking about packing up all the pills I hate and sending them to Tom. He’s the scientist — maybe he can develop something better. Oh, but since he’s working on kangaroo rats right now, maybe that’s not such a good idea.

Anyway, it’s great to have some brothers and a sister-in-law around for awhile. We have all sorts of dumb conversations and they give me some good ideas to write about. Sometimes I wonder what other siblings talk about when they live far apart and don’t have daily conversations except by e-mail.

What do you talk about with your sibs?

On the mystery of porches and alligators

Porches hold a certain nostalgia and mystery for me, probably because I grew up in old houses fronted by large porches. The house that we lived in for most of my childhood had a huge wraparound porch with large arches and columns. The space between each column was the perfect size for sitting on to read. On the hot, lazy days of summer, we spent hours playing in the shade of the porch.

My friend, Maggie, reminded me recently that she wished we could sit on the porch swing and play alligator like we did when we were kids. Up popped my nostalgic bent. The idea was that the person who was it had to lie underneath the swing and everyone else sat or stood on the swing, while the alligator tried to nab someone’s foot or leg. I have no idea who created that game. Probably one of my brothers.

Mother taught piano lessons after school, so we were often relegated to the porch to keep the house quiet. Unfortunately for her, there was a small window that looked into the piano room from the porch so we spent most of our time annoying her by trying to distract whatever friend was taking a lesson.

Sometime during my early teens, my parents decided to enclose the porch to create an office for Dad. Big mistake. Don’t tell my mom. She probably realized it later on. We really missed that porch. All that remained was what city folk call a “stoop”. Not the same as a porch.

So when I got married, my first two houses had nice sized porches on which our kids often played. The white wicker swing on which we played the alligator game hung on both of those porches. I remember the day Maggie and I taught our four daughters (her two and my two) to play the alligator game.

Our third (and current) house, though, lacks a real porch. The front porch has enough room for one wooden slat chair and one large, pesky queen of a cat. It was replaced about 15 years ago after my left leg went through a weak spot, causing serious injury to the tendon (in the leg, not the porch). The back porch was even smaller and in recent years, sadly in need of serious repair (i.e. replacement). In fact, last summer we hung a “do not use” sign across it.

So there I was minding my own business in the hospital, 120 miles from home, when my wise friend, Mary Ann, called to chat. Had I talked to Jeff Laing about replacing the porch? I had, but that was months ago and long before he got busy with more important summer projects. She mumbled something about him working in her neighborhood, so she’d track him down and mention it for me.

This is small town at its best. A few days later, my husband called to say that he was trying to solve a mystery. He’d returned home from work to find a new porch had been installed on our back patio. He had his suspects, since he’d seen a few of Jeff’s workers strolling around our back yard earlier in the day.

So now there is a beautiful wooden porch on the back patio. Each time I use it, I think of that little boy I used to babysit for…now a contractor who stands about a foot taller than me and has a huge heart. 

There’s still no room for a swing on either of our porches. Sorry Mags. But that’s not to say there couldn’t be a bigger porch added to the front. Or maybe that’s for the next house. After all, there are a lot of kids in this neighborhood — including my favorite little Pannabecker cousins — who need to learn the family alligator game.

In the meantime, Jeff, thanks for the surprise.

Therapy, thy name is haircut

About three weeks ago, I was scheduled for a haircut. Unfortunately, about a half dozen surgeons and assorted medical personnel  were attempting to rid my abdomen of a nasty staph infection at the scheduled haircutting hour. This  might not seem like a big deal. And I’ll admit, at that time, a haircut really did seem pretty insignificant.

But a few weeks later, my usually-short easy-to-care-for do became not quite so easy to care for. In fact, trying to wash it in a sink in a hospital room proved to be less than fun. More than once I considered just shaving it all off but Alex-the-nurse-who-knows-all put the kibosh on that thought.

Two weeks later, back home, I took a quick gander at the nearest mirror. Eeek! What was that on my head? The husband/nurse/man of my dreams and chief source of positive reinforcement, assured me it looked just dandy. You have to understand, though, that he would say that about any hairstyle I tried. Well….almost any.

Even the two cherubs who have grown up watching me in assorted “dos” gave me their 20-something assurance that my hair did, indeedy, look quite “okay”.

But here’s the thing. We women have this thing about our hair. Maybe not all of “we women” but many of us know that a good or bad hair day can affect the rest of the day. Yes, this is vanity. I know this and this is not something of which I am terribly proud. But there you have it.

So last week, my dear hairstylist agreed to make a HOUSE CALL. This is true. At the appointed time, she popped through the front door, scissors and assorted equipment in hand…at the same time that my infusion pump went on the fritz. The haircut went down the pipes.

Another week passed before the stylist and I could meet up again…this time at the shop. Which — if you’ve never been to one — you’ve missed a true therapeutic experience.

I am convinced that many women (myself included) get haircuts more frequently than necessary more for the conversation, the laughter, and the personal care. Putting oneself in the hands of a well-trained stylist makes even the worst day brighten considerably.

And on the hottest day of summer, when it’s hard enough to stay cool, there is nothing like a great short cut to deal with the heat. And when one is somewhat challenged in the haircare department due to health issues, it’s best to keep things short and simple.

So Deb, cheers to you for making my day….and to the rest of the staff in your shop for putting a smile on their client’s faces.

Where in the world is Bluffton?

Having spent far too many days now in this hospital, I’ve gotten used to the inevitable question of “Where are you from?” This is often followed by “Where’s Bluffton?” But not always. Once in awhile, there is a glint of recognition.

It’s always fun to see what kind of connections one can make with strangers when out of town. This began on one of our first days here when my husband was wandering downstairs for something and ran into not a stranger, but Megan Watkins, a Bluffton native and classmate of our daughter. I’m not sure which one was more surprised.

One night, my new night nurse stopped in to introduce herself as Laura Manahan. Turns out her daughter, Emily, plays first base on the Bluffton University softball team. Emily, she says, “absolutely LOVES  Bluffton.”

Another nurse, Christina, is from Paulding and was familiar with the high school football rivalries between Paulding and Bluffton. We also discovered one name that was familiar to both of us — Goings. Mike Goings left Paulding after high school to play football at Bluffton University and later coached the Beavers.

Last night my nurse’s response to the question about my home was an “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.” That’s always a telltale sign. Turns out his brother attended Bluffton University for one year in the early ’80s. He’d gone there to play football, but for some reason didn’t hang around.

Then there’s Xu (Shoe). Xu really has no idea where Bluffton is; in fact, her knowledge of Ohio geography outside the Columbus area is pretty limited. But Xu is one of my favorite nurses. She’s very serious, very focused on what she is doing. We started talking one night after she discovered that my dad lived in China for the first 20 years of his life. Xu came to the U.S. just 10 years ago when her husband was accepted into a botany program at OSU. She too was a botany major, but decided to go into nursing. Her English is nearly impeccable, but there are words that catch her up and she ends up spelling them. She can spell the most complicated drug names perfectly — the ones most of us can’t pronounce.

Xu is tiny, but very strong, caring but no-nonsense. Her humor hides behind her seriousness. One night Lindsay and I asked if she had children. She grinned and said, “Oh yes, 19-month-old twins.”

Back to the Bluffton connections. One of my ID docs told me that her childhood friend, attended Bluffton University in the early 2000’s. Her name was Brooke Yoder. The name sounds vaguely familiar to me, but I’ve not heard confirmation from any of my coworkers.

One of the most interesting — and less obvious connections — is aural. Only my husband and I have heard it. My head ID doc is 6′ 4.5″, which isn’t really significant until you put that together with his voice. One day we heard him talking in the hallway and realized that he sounds JUST like Dr. Jim Harder, Bluffton president, especially when he says, “Well, theoretically…..”