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Better-Than-Restaurant Loaded Potato Soup

Better-Than-Restaurant Loaded Potato Soup

I have experimented for years with trying to duplicate the kinds of yummy loaded potato soup you find in many restaurants and eateries. Basically my efforts were something I made for myself; my family never “got” my attempts: they were not fans. Actually what I grew up on was a very simple farmer’s potato soup. Mom cut up leftover boiled potatoes, added milk, added maybe chopped celery and salt and pepper and we poured that over buttered bread cubes in the bottom of our bowls. We may have had grilled cheese sandwiches with that. A very simple soup and meal but to me it was tasty, warm and filling. We all liked it.

Years ago, when I tried Mom’s soup on my daughters and husband once or twice, they were going “ehhhhh, what is this?” They politely ate some, if my memory serves, and then filled up on grilled cheese. I knew the soup itself wasn’t a go for this family.

So over the years, I experimented with several recipes for a more loaded potato soup, for a Saturday lunch, just for myself. Eventually I doctored up a one-person serving recipe that I shared over on Amish Wisdom.

Enter my friend Dianne who once owned a restaurant with her husband (now deceased). My husband and another Lion’s Club friend were doing some work at her home and for lunch she served them “Loaded Potato Soup.” My husband came home saying, “You’ve gotta get Dianne’s recipe.” I was shocked to hear he loved it! I went into action and tried it the first chance I got. It was the best loaded potato soup outside of a restaurant I have ever had. Just delightful!

It took me about an hour to assemble it; it needs frequent stirring—to make sure it doesn’t scorch. But well worth the time and I’m sure next time I can shave that time. This makes a huge batch for 15-16, but I’ve also included the pared back quantity I made for me and my husband, with plenty of leftovers.

Cubed potatoes, uncooked

For best results, use baking potatoes

1 package (16 oz.) bacon
1 ½ cups chopped onion
6 cups chicken broth
2 lbs. baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
2/3 cup butter
¾ cup flour
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fine pepper
1 cup diced, cooked ham (1/2 lb.)
8 oz. sour cream
2 ½ cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese (10 oz.)
¾ cup sliced green onions

  1. Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet. Cook onion in drippings until almost tender.

    Bacon–crumble up to use in soup.

  2. In 6-quart Dutch oven, mix onion, broth and potatoes. Heat to boiling, reduce heat. Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Meanwhile in same skillet where you cooked bacon and onions, melt butter and stir in

    Whisking butter and flour in skillet.

    flour. Stir with whisk until smooth. Cook and stir 1 minute. Gradually stir in 2 cups milk (will be very thick). Pour milk mixture into potato mix. Add other 2 cups of milk, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with whisk, until thick and bubbly.

    Mixture after you’ve added first 2 cups of milk to butter and flour mixture. Stir till smooth.

  4. Stir in ham, 1/2 of the bacon (crumbled), sour cream, 2 cups cheddar cheese, and ½ cup green onions. Cook til heated thru. Pour in serving bowl or individual bowls, and garnish with remaining bacon, ½ cup cheese and green onion.

 

 

 

 

 

Smaller quantity

For 10-12 servings  – I cut the above recipe down by 1/4

¾ package (12 oz.) bacon
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups chicken broth
1 3/4 lb. baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon fine pepper
3/4 cup diced, cooked ham (1/2 lb.)
6 oz. sour cream
2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese (7 oz.)
1/2 cup sliced green onions

(Recipe courtesy of Dianne Plunkett)

My bacon cooking tip: My standard method of cooking bacon is to spread bacon on parchment paper (learned this from a school cook) on a baking pan such as a cookie sheet with at least a half inch edge. Bake in 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. You don’t need to turn the bacon, just bake until your desired degree of doneness is reached.

For this soup, I cooked the bacon in the oven, then drained bacon on paper towels. I then poured drippings from my cookie sheet into a skillet as recipe calls for, to cook the onions in bacon drippings. Then go from there using the skillet as describe in Dianne’s recipe.

 

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Although spring has sprung, it’s still chilly where we live. What is your favorite soup, regardless of weather?

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Lovina Eicher has a loaded potato soup recipe in her most recent cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, a volume I was privileged to edit. You can catch a video made of a model cooking her recipe for loaded potato soup here (along with where to buy the cookbook).

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Getting Ready to Read

Another Way for week of March 22, 2019

Wildebeest on left. And stickers, always stickers, of course!

Getting Ready to Read

My oldest grandsons, both five, are learning to make their letters. As a writer, I’m excited to see them enter the world of forming words and copying simple sentences.

Happy Valentine’s Day card (where I supplied paper, envelope, stamp, and address sticker) and his mama supplied the “translation.” Love it all.

The oldest one sent his grandfather a birthday card this year that was hand lettered with a drawing he made of a wildebeest. I had also sent these boys, with their Valentine’s Day cards, letter writing supplies: paper, envelope, address sticker, and stamp to write back to us. I have no hopes of them ever really using old fashioned letter writing communication to be in touch with us as they grow, but it doesn’t hurt to acquaint them with the practice. Friends with older grandchildren say they enjoy texting back and forth with their grandkids.

Not sure what the meaning of the wildebeest in the birthday card was (neither was his mother) other than that we had visited the zoo with their family last fall and had enjoyed seeing this somewhat unusual African animal. I also enjoyed making, for both sets of grandchildren, photo “memory” books from our experiences with them, with a small storyline. They loved the books. The oldest one has either memorized the text, or learned to actually recognize the words in the book from frequent reading, and can “read” it now to his little brother.

I’m not one to push kids into reading, or academic rigor before they are ready. I remember our oldest daughter coming home from first grade asking us how Mrs. Proctor had been able to teach her to read. She called it “magic.” And in a way, it is. Michelle did not understand all of the work she had put into learning what sounds various letters make in words, how certain combined letters sound, and that some letters make no sound at all in some words. But all of a sudden, she realized she was reading books.

Today she absolutely loves to read. But she didn’t do that automatically either. There was a time when she was not keen on picking up a book just for leisure reading, but then she discovered the Boxcar Children books at school. We went to the public library and she found even more. And she was off, reading forevermore. I’m happy to say all of our daughters are avid readers, as time allows.

From Day One and before, our grandsons have been exposed to words, books, ABC’s, numbers, colors. They have been read to every night and naptime, and many times throughout the day as they want. We know that children who are not blessed with loving, attentive parents—especially those spending first months and years of life in an orphanage miss out on so much (as you might have read about last week in this column). Not only love, but hours and hours of hands on care and deep affection. Blessed are the foster parents and caregivers who share love, attention, food, and clean clothes with little ones when their birth parents are unable to take care of them for various reasons.

But back to ABCs. I was interested to discover that teaching the art and skill of cursive handwriting diminished when “Common Core” curriculum standards were introduced a few years ago (which ignored handwriting, I understand). In recent years some states and locations have incorporated the teaching of cursive again. Never mind that many adults have trouble writing neatly enough to even decipher it, but most official documents still require a handwritten signature, rather than printed. For lovers of history, being able to read cursive may come in handy exploring historic handwritten documents.

He did such a good job!

So yes, read to children, read for yourself, share the love of books and writing and all the great information out there at the tip of our googling fingers. While worldwide literacy rates are rising, in many cultures little girls especially are not taught to read nor educated beyond the ages of 10-12. That is another tragedy I’ll write about in a future column. What a blessing it is to be able to read, write, and learn about the world.

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If you have a little one in your house, family, or neighborhood, I have a free St. Patrick’s Day Word Tracer worksheet to download and print, or write for. Here’s the for the PDF: word tracer_st patrick. To receive one by mail, write to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834. You can find more educational resources, at Education.com.

How do you encourage reading and writing readiness in children?

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How long do you save cards? We recently recycled a bunch from my daughter and our own at a local agency, Pleasant View, Inc. which uses many resources for doing crafts with clients. Many retirement complexes also are happy to get them for craft and art activities.

 

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Father Left Us at the Orphanage [Guest post by Marge Thompson]

Another Way for week of March 15, 2019

No, this photo is not from Marge’s family, but a picture of my mother and her siblings from approximately the same era. Can we imagine dropping such tykes off at an orphanage?

My Father Left Us at the Orphanage

Guest Column by Marge Thompson

Editor’s note: Marge Thompson, 87, reads Another Way in The Goshen News, Ind., and wanted to share her story to help other struggling teens or families.

All was quiet as we rode down the dirt road not knowing where my Dad was taking my three brothers, my two sisters, and me, Marge. As we grew closer to the orphanage, I knew something wasn’t right. I sat in the back with my brothers and sisters, holding back tears and hoping we’d go right past the orphanage. He began to slow down. I knew all hope was gone. My brothers and sisters had no idea what was happening. I was the oldest, 11, and my sister, the youngest, was just two. As we got out, I felt as if a ton of weight was on my shoulders. At home I took care of my brothers and sisters and did lots of chores, but I didn’t mind.

As I watched him pull away, I felt more than anger or even hatred. I wanted to kill my parents, but I looked at my brothers and sisters and thought, “I’ve got to be strong.” I was so young,  asking, “Why me? Oh, God, why me?”

The nuns at the orphanage gave us clothes and showed us where to change and get washed up. The boys were in another part of the orphanage. When we came downstairs, I walked towards the boys and a nun stopped me and said, “No. You stay over here. They will be taken care of.”

I was so angry I just wanted to cry; no—kill. I just stood there in a daze, wondering, what did I do wrong? Is this my fault? My mom had lots of problems. She was basically insane and she might have hurt us. My dad was always gone drinking and a very handsome man.

The next day at the orphanage a girl was bugging my brothers. So I yelled at her to stop but she didn’t. I ran over and started hitting and saying, “How do you like it? How does it feel?” When I looked up, there were two nuns standing over me. I knew I was in BIG trouble. As one leaned down to grab my arm, I started to run. There was nowhere to go. I was trapped like an animal in a cage. I felt sick, and wanted to get away. I wanted to go home to my mom. The nun came closer and closer. I did what any normal kid would do. I started to scream and cry. She grabbed my arm and pulled me to my feet. Then she took me to my room and said “There will be no supper for you. Now think about what you’ve done.” So I thought about how I was going to get out of there—every day.

One winter when I was 13 or 14, I wanted to go ice skating; I got my skates and went out. I wasn’t supposed to, but did anyhow. When I was skating, I felt so free. I could have skated for hours, but it wasn’t long before one of the “penguins” as we called the nuns, came and dragged me into a huge room where the nuns dined and said, “Okay, you don’t want to listen, then we’ll play your way. You start scrubbing the dining room.” They decided I was getting older so they put me in an actual convent at 16.

I worked there for a year but one day got on a bus to South Bend where my mother lived, and stayed with her. I was trying to go to Riley High School and my mom became abusive. When I came home from school, she was gone. Someone had taken her to a mental hospital. The people she rented from told me and said I had to go back to the orphanage. I began to cry. Her landlords went to court to get custody of me. I was a sophomore in high school and worked at Bonnie Doon’s on weekends as a car hop. The woman made me give her ten dollars a week and I had to clean the house and pay for everything myself.

At Bonnie Doon’s I met my future husband at the age of 17. The lady told me I couldn’t go out with him because he was 24 and too old for me. She had a daughter she thought would be better for him. One night I came in at 1:30 and the lady told me I had to move. So I quit school to work full time. My future husband wanted to marry me, but I didn’t want him to marry me out of pity so I said no.

So we waited a year. We got married in 1950 when I was 18, almost 19, and Paul was 26. I’m 87 now and never forgot my background. There’s much more to my story but I’m thankful for my granddaughter who wrote this down for a class project. I’ve always wanted to help other troubled teens, and let them know: you can survive.

***

If you wish to respond to Marge’s story, send letters or email and I will see that she gets them. Send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

 

When Keeping Up Gets You Down

My cell phone history in brief from l to r: Current Samsung Galaxy 8, 2 months old; Motorla X, 2015-2019; LG, 2008-2015; first flip phone, LG, circa 2003-2008. And yes, that’s me snapping the picture reflected in my new phone.

Another Way for week of March 8, 2019

When Keeping Up Gets You Down

My husband bought me a new smart phone this past Christmas. It was beautiful but it took me until the end of January before I could finish activating it. I won’t go into details but I’ve got the shiny new one working now—mostly. There are things I need to change and settings to adjust, but I’m mostly rolling. The old one’s battery—my very first “smart” phone—was slowly becoming unable to maintain a charge.

But this morning I accidentally slipped my old phone in the pocket of my bathrobe as I went about getting ready for the day. The old one still works—not for phone or internet use but I can use the calculator, flashlight, and clock. When I took the phone out of my pocket to check something, I realized I had grabbed the old one. I ran my fingers tenderly over its used and worn case. It was almost like part of my body for these last 4+ years. It went everywhere I did and on occasions when I forgot and left it at home, it was panic and then, “Ok, yes, I can make it through the day … I’ll just email my daughters from my office computer, so they know,” etc.

Indeed, the several times I lost that phone were days of desperation. You may recall me writing about the time my husband was going having surgery and I had to run an errand and left my phone (stupidly) outside a door at my church. A friend found it and someone figured out how to get in touch with me.

The most recent time I lost it was traveling to Indiana. We made a rest stop at a roadside park. I took the phone in with me, as usual. After our break, we resumed driving and maybe 6-7 miles down the road I began to look for my phone. My heart sank. Could I have left it back at the rest stop? I started calling it with my husband’s phone. Nothing. Again. Nope. If it was there and someone was hearing it, they weren’t answering. We had to drive to the next exit to turn around to go back. So it was probably at least a half hour until we got back to the rest stop. My heart was thudding dully. I was so mad at myself. My husband, bless him, was not really angry at me for misplacing it yet again. Just worried and hoping against hope and praying like me.

I walked into the stall I had used. It was gone. Then I heard it ringing! Where?? My one deaf ear makes it very difficult for me to catch directional sound. I called out in the nearly empty restroom: “Anyone know where that phone is?” Someone called out, “Check the bench in the entry.” I hurried there, and laying on the arm of the bench, was my beautiful old blue-green case and phone. I don’t remember when I’ve been so grateful, so overwhelmed with joy. I went running to the car to tell my husband. He had been ringing for it. We couldn’t believe it was still there. Someone had taken it from the stall and put it in a more obvious place—but a place where someone could easily have walked off with a free phone—a phone I never locked.

Whew. I suppose someone could write a book of lost phone rescues. I could also write a complete book using past columns dealing with technology changes. Learning to use a computer. The office getting a fax machine and we stood around marveling. Going online at home with dear old America Old Line and listening to the buzzy sound as the phone line made the connection. When we were first “allowed” to use the Internet as part of our ordinary work day. If you remember some of these things you are probably as old as I am.

A reader wrote recently saying she wished she had a laptop; she’s only 55, has a disability, and can’t afford the technology. She said “Not being able to use technology makes me feel more isolated than my disability.” I’m sure that is true for so many, especially as we get older and “age out” of even hoping to keep up. So for as long as I continue this column, I plan to continue sharing a postal address where you can reach me in addition to email. I try to be mindful of others who simply can’t afford or choose not to use the latest technology.

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Do you love to have the latest technology, or are you a slower adopter?

Or perhaps you’ve opted not to do the smart phone thing at all, which may be very smart! Tell us here!

I’d love to hear your stories or comments. Send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

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Speaking of technology, here’s a thoughtful and informative book from a Christian viewpoint on what’s coming in technology, published by Herald Press, where I serve as a managing editor, including for this book. Great grist for small group and S.S. class discussions. Find it here.

 

Inward Journey: How God Loves Us

Inward Journey: How God Loves Us

If you’re a regular reader here, you know that I believe in God. I’ve never seen God, never touched or shook God’s hand, never hugged that Being, yet still I believe. As we begin again the Christian season of Lent, how can we grow in faith, love, and devotion to God?

How is it that we can feel the emotion of love towards a being that has no physical presence with us—not even in the past, like our loved ones who’ve died? Perhaps we can find metaphors and examples, thinking of those we love and how love is communicated.

Michelle when she was about 18-20 months.

When I was pregnant with our second child, our oldest daughter Michelle was probably about 20 months old and could talk a fair amount. One night—when I no longer rocked her to sleep—she wanted me to rock her. She was having trouble falling asleep, which wasn’t too surprising in light of the fact she had two naps that day, and usually she only had one. As we rocked, she sprawled on my lap; I began to stroke her little face to soothe her, round and round, lightly with my fingertips. An expression of pleasure and relaxation came over her face, like she was feeling tingly-good-all-over. I knew she was just loving it.

Later I wrote about this experience in my journal and said that as I looked down at her, I felt such love too—that there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her. Of course there were things I didn’t do for her (give her cookies all day, or rock her every night). There were things I wouldn’t let her do, (crawl way up on a dresser, or sofa back, or kitchen counter)—things that I judged weren’t good or safe for her overall being. And there were things I did to her or for her I wished I wouldn’t have to: like cleaning her drippy nose, or shampooing her hair. She dreaded shampoos and shook her head pathetically when she knew what was coming.

I think Psalm 103:13 says that God, too, wants to do good things for us, but life includes things like shampoos and nose wipes and worse. “As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.” God doesn’t want us to do things that are not good for us, like smoke, overeat, play loose with our bodies and affection, overwork or overplay.

On the positive side, what is the new thing God wants to do with me this Lent? Grow in love, spend more time in relaxed and mindful meditation: prayer, reading, reflection? Perhaps I can give up the late afternoon snacking when temptation is strongest, nibbling on things that aren’t good for me. Another verse in Psalm 103 is a good one to remember: “God fills my life with good things, so that I stay young and strong like an eagle” (verse 3, Good News Version).

As a young mother, I certainly felt like I had too little time to focus on my inner life—to take time to meditate and pray. When I was in high school and college, I went for long walks and reflected in solitude on God as my creator, and focused on where I felt God was leading or pulling me: lots of time for journaling and reflection. Yet, those times could be depressing and frustrating too, bordering at times on too much navel gazing: thinking more of myself—and not looking outward to others.

So whatever our season in life, we can aim for balance: take time for God, take time for others, take time for ourselves. We can strive for true knowledge, better judgement. Perhaps the last verse of Psalm 103 is apropos here: “The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting” (verse 17). I want to stand on that promise.

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What moments do you enjoy most with your children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews?

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What have you learned about God’s love as you’ve been around children?

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Any special disciplines or habits you want to take up during Lent?

 

You can download a free PDF of 7 Lenten devotionals that I shared two years ago online at https://findingharmonyblog.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/lenten-conversations-pdf.pdf.

 

Do You Still Watch the Evening News? Dear David Muir

Another Way for week of February 22, 2019

Photo from dailymail.co.uk

Do You Still Watch the Evening News?

Dear David Muir: I want to like you, I really do. Maybe I ought to say I like you but I have not actually liked your evening newscast for some time. Yet still we watch.

We are longtime ABC Evening News watchers. We loved your predecessor, Peter Jennings. Years ago, I once got to tour the ABC World News Washington D.C. studio, and actually saw a previous predecessor, Frank Reynolds, in the elevator. For a writer/editor/scriptwriter junkie like me, that pretty much makes a lifetime fan, when you’ve been in the actual studio. (When my group saw Reynolds, afterwords we all said, he’s so short!) But I digress.

The best thing on your newscast comes at the very end, where you share the good, the soul-stirring, the inspiring: moments of people being kind and strong. Your “Made in America” campaigns and frequent stories of factory workers who do just that is also marvelous—and always feels good for my husband who spent most of his working life in one factory or another including 30 years on a warehouse floor. You seem to genuinely appreciate and enjoy holding up the values and people who do make up the backbone of our country—and manufacture the things we use and wear every day.

But. You sell us short and I’m not blaming you for this—when your news shows are produced in such a way that all we really get is quick bites and pieces of stories—often strung out over three days or more, and repeated ad nauseum. Your producers constantly use teasers almost the whole broadcast, where brief “click bait” sentences keep viewers coming back after commercials. And then the “story” is nothing but a short clip of 10 seconds or less. Really?

Speaking of commercials, the first 16 minutes of the show without a commercial break is great. Brilliant innovation. But then we slog through endless (six to eight—really!) commercials and looooongg minutes of dealing with psoriasis, incontinence, high blood pressure, diabetes. I guess your colleagues have already given up on the under 50 crowd as viewers. And yes, someone has to pay for TV programming: the advertisers.

So why do I hear that even friends my age (I’m absolutely elderly) are no longer watching the news? That’s a shame. We want to be informed. But what we get mostly is video bait.

Which brings me to the constant use of home videos. Where are the professionals sent out on assignment? Where is the true investigative reporting? Rarely done anymore. Perhaps it saves money, and sure, usually a weather reporter is sent to cover the latest major weather story, always “affecting millions” in “20-35 states.” We get almost nothing of news from around the world—unless it is breaking (does

Photo by Jerry L. Holsopple

every show HAVE to start with “breaking news” said so breathlessly—with a rush of words it’s hard to catch everything?). The days of deliberate deliveries by bespectacled Walter Cronkite’s are gone forever I guess. Maybe there’s a speed between breathless and belabored.

The relentless pace almost makes me tired before the program is begun. I know: if I want world news, I can watch PBS, listen to NPR, or read the Washington Post or New York Times. And find it all online. There are many ways to be informed these days.

I’ve endeavored to see if the other major network newscasts are structured similarly and wasn’t too surprised to see that the answer is mostly yes. And yes, I know there are a lot of people who decide and tell you how to do news. Like a pastor or preacher, you get critiqued for how you wear your hair, your clothes, whether you’re too fat, too thin, or the wrong race or gender.

I guess I’m writing because I do like you, and I care about a better-informed public. On tonight’s broadcast, right after you shook hands with a 100-year-old World War II veteran from right across town in Brooklyn, New York, you adlibbed (I think), “… And that’s why I love my job.” I guess it is such moments that keep us coming back, too.

And that’s the way it is. Your mostly loyal watchers, Melodie and Stuart Davis

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Do you watch evening news on TV? What is your go-to news source?

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If you could change one thing about the evening news, what would it be?

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Is it time for the evening news TV broadcasts to go away and everyone get their news online or …. ?

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Comment here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

Piggy Love: Tales of My Dad

Another Way for week of February 8, 2019

Piggy Love: Tales of My Dad

Dad, holding a baby pig for Michelle, center, and Tanya, right, to pet.

My father would have celebrated his 102 birthday this week. He died in 2006. I ran across a treasured photo of Dad recently, where he was showing one of his darling piglets to my two oldest daughters. (Our third wasn’t born yet.) My younger child is hanging back from the piggy while the oldest one is reaching out with the look that she and my husband always get on their faces while petting a beloved cat. It’s a mixture of adoration (their love for the cat) and soothing relaxation (which the cat gives back to them, at least if the cat is in a petting mood). I wonder if anyone else sees that kind of love-look on the faces of the deep pet adorers in their family?

Dad was a farmer and over the years raised and tended beef cows, milk cows, pigs, sheep, goats (well, one goat, that’s enough), a pony or two, geese, chickens, and turkeys. Of this list, the pigs were his favorite: beloved I might say, and my mother would agree. She was never jealous of another woman but sometimes she’d complain about all the time Dad would spend in the barn with his mama pigs when they were farrowing—giving birth to baby pigs. Of course he was there to help in the rare instance that he was required—mainly to keep a heavy mama pig from accidentally rolling on or squashing one of her new little ones. And oh my goodness, the cuteness factor: they were delightful. In my mind I can see/hear them squealing and looking a bit bewildered while “rutching” (or in real German, “rutschen”) around under the heat lamps for a nipple. Piggies are adorable until they grow up and started loving mud and garbage.

I raised one mama pig until I sold her at auction when my family moved to Florida. Raising a pig was mainly under Dad’s watchful eye but if I fed and took care of her, he would let me have the money from her sale. Originally the idea was that I would have piggies to profit from but we moved before that happened, I think. So he taught me the business end too, subtracting an amount for the feed that was invested raising her. I would never have been found cuddling piggies in their pen however, as my sister could occasionally be found doing. My statement about that: she did so to escape other chores in the house—a standing joke in our family with a certain amount of truth.

I inherited one of Dad’s “piggy paraphernalia” gifts.

Dad’s love for his pigs resulted in all things “piggy” being given to him for every gift-giving occasion: Christmas, Father’s Day, birthday. There were kitchen towels, potholders, figurines, hats, posters, piggy banks (of course), all decorated with delightful pudgy pigs. I googled “what do you call people who collect pig paraphernalia” and of course I found a “Happy Pig Collectors Club.” Lest you think this is just a lowbrow American thing, I found an event in Quebec called Festival du Cochon (French for pig). Now, cochon can also refer to a dirty old man or slut, and my parents were neither! Dad may have come in filthy from cleaning the hog pen or smelly from tending new litters of piggies, but he was always an honorable and dedicated father and husband.

Dad’s love for living things certainly extended to all of us children, grandchildren and great grands. Especially after he had to retire from farming for health reasons, he built endless toys and kid entertainment: playhouses, elevated “treehouses,” doll houses, play barns, playfences, and dollhouse furniture. He also built wooden decorative tulips for the yard, trellises, and more. He needed to stay busy.

Still missing Dad, but I will say, I’m glad no one showers me (or Mom) with piggy paraphernalia for every gift giving occasion!

The dedication he had for his animals—and even more for his family—is something to savor and appreciate, realizing the love he gave to us all provided the foundation we needed to become solid citizens and persons of faith.

 

What memories does this bring to mind?

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Do you like animals? Favorites?

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After I posted this, my mother reminded me she raised baby pigs too, when we lived in north Florida and Daddy was helping run a mobile home factory. But she could never get them fat enough to sell well at auction! 

***

And I thank my Facebook friends who responded to my inquiry about spellings for  “rutching” (or in real German, “rutschen”) 

***

Comment here or send stories to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

 

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