Wednesday, February 29, 2012

THE Place

 "Nothing lasts longer than a happy memory."
- a quote on a fancy plate in Grandma Jean's china cabinet (that she graciously gave to me)
  Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls:
 May I present to you:
- the place that holds some of my happiest memories.
- the place that is one of my all time favorite places to visit.
- the place where families and friends are welcome to visit at any time.

Behold: THE Place I will always love... THE FARM
The Van Wie Farm in Canisteo, NY - Feb. 2012

My Grandpa Jerry bought this dairy farm for $35,000 back in 1948.  
He was 27 years old then and had recently married my Grandma Jean.
Grandpa Jerry's dad thought he was crazy for purchasing the farm.
I'm glad my Grandpa Jerry proved him wrong.  

Over the years, Grandpa has raised hundreds of cows and has been awarded for THE BEST TASTING SWEET CORN.  (I'm serious folks, he has the corn ear shaped trophy displayed in his kitchen to prove it).  Every year in the early fall, they have a family corn harvest day at the farm.  Grandpa and some of the boys would go out in the fields and load up the bed of Grandpa's truck with corn.  Then, they would husk the corn, put the corn in large buckets, and deliver it to the kitchen.  Grandma and my mom would stand and sweat at the stove as they boiled and cooled all the ears of corn.  Aunt Ruth and the girls would take the super warm ears of boiled corn, and take a knife to cut all the kernels off the corn, and scoop and seal the corn into freezer bags.  This process would repeat for the majority of the day.  We would just take a break to eat some pizza for lunch.  Each family would go home with enough "Grandpa Corn" to last them a whole year.

The farm has thrived all these years thanks to Grandpa, the farm's co-owner, Cliff, and to family members.  Late last September, the farm was chosen to host Steuben County's Annual Farm Days.  Around 5,000 people came to the visit the farm.  I heard 2,000 second graders were bussed to the farm for a special field trip.  Oh, how I wish I could have been there with Sam and my kids.  There was tours of the farm, a corn maze, special displays made about farming, live country music (played by my sister-in-law, Alice, and my cousins, Jerry and Barry), food booths, a pumpkin patch, etc.
Grandpa is one of the hardest workers I know.   He LOVES his career.  Grandpa told me that one of the hardest things he has ever done is when he sold the farm to his second hand man, Cliff just over a year ago.
This year, Grandpa Jerry will turn 91 years old.    He still makes it a point to go outside everyday (even if he needs to carry his oxygen tank on his back) and help out where he can. 

Here is Grandma and Grandpa's house.  This house was built in the 1800's.  One of the only things that has changed about their home since my childhood is the outside paint colors.  The wall colors, carpet, and furniture arrangement has remained the same since my childhood.  Grandma Jean informed me that her father built all the kitchen cupboards for her.  The kitchen has the same old gas stove and I'm assuming Grandma's father convinced her to get a dishwasher.  

On some of the walls of her house, Grandma still has the picture collages of family that I created for her.  When I was a teenager, I took on the collages as a project for my Personal Progress in the Young Women's program at church.  I remember this project taking hours because Grandma Jean would sit with me and tell me all of the stories behind the super old photos and about who the people were in the photos.  I'm glad that Grandma loves the collages.  
 A fabulous oil painting of Grandma and Grandpa's house is proudly displayed on their mantle.  
The painting is by Grandma Jean's niece, Jackie Stemple.

 My favorite two part surprise project that I did for Grandma and Grandpa is still mentioned frequently.  About 5 years ago, I emailed my extended family and asked them to email/mail me copies of photos that they had of the farm... photos of the family at the farm and photos showing how the farm has changed over the years.  I arranged the photos in chronological order and made it fit into a 16 x 20" frame.   Each photo has a label of the year it was taken.  This collage is proudly displayed in their dining room.  The second part of the project is the best.  I gathered all the photos everyone sent me.  I took hours scanning most of the old photos.  Once the photos were all on my computer, I used Windows Movie Maker to painstakingly arrange the photos in chronological order.  I put the photos into a slideshow format and had music that went along with it.  Some of the songs were recordings by my "Lightning Fiddler" cousin, Barry Van Wie.  The slideshow lasts about 15 minutes long.  I burned several copies of the slideshow on to DVDs for each family/cousin to keep. 

Maybe there's a way I could upload the slideshow on to YouTube or something?!  
Any suggestions are welcome.

Me and Grandma Jean - Feb. 2012

 Grandma Jean is a wonderful woman.  Here are some random facts about her:
- When she was younger, she told herself that she'd NEVER marry a farmer!
- Her first time ever touching a cow was last year during Farm Days.
- After having 5 kids, she went back to school to earn her teaching degree.  She taught 5th grade for several years.  Grandma was also a reading tutor.
- She cuts her fingernails into a sharp point.  When I was a really little girl, I thought those sharp nails made her look kind of like a witch.  I asked her why she cut her nails like that.  She said, "That's the way ladies would cut their nails back in my day."  (Hmm... To this day, I still wonder if that's really true?)
- In her later years, she joined line dancing and bone building classes.
- Grandma LOVES yard sales and antique stores!
- And to me, she is the founder of the famous cinnamon Jell-o.  It is a staple food item at her house.
- Grandma enjoys playing songs from her era on the piano.
- Grandma use to make quilts.  She'd take her fancier quilts to the Amish and have them "machine stitch" them into fancy designs.  Grandma also makes fancy crocheted blankets and sweaters.
- One thing that I taught her was that peanut butter toast tastes SO much better if you put a nice layer of butter on it first.
- Grandma is really good at Boggle.  (She's one of the only people in my family that can beat me at that game).
- She insists on calling couches "davenports."  Oh, and say she goes to get her hair permed.  To her, it's not a perm, but a "permanent."
- Oh, and I saved the best for last.  Grandma has passed down her family's CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPE.  I haven't met a single person that does not LOVE these cookies.  You should feel SO privileged to have access to this recipe.  Go ahead, print this recipe off, throw on your apron, and bake a batch of these cookies.  Pour a tall glass of milk and give the warm cookie a good dunk.  Your tummy (and the tummies of your family) will thank you... promise!

Van Wie's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies
From: Grandma Jean Van Wie

Cream together: 1 1/2 C. brown sugar,
1 1/2 C. white sugar
4 eggs
2 C. shortening
2 t. vanilla

In separate bowl mix:
3 C. flour
2 t. salt
2 t. baking soda

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Stir in 4 C. oatmeal, 2 C. chocolate chips.  Chill cookie dough in fridge.  Bake @ 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Refrigerate or freeze remaining dough.

 Katie and her Great Grandma Jean

On our recent trip to New York, Grandma Jean and Grandpa Jerry finally got to meet Katie.  I didn't think Katie would let her great grandma hold her.  Boy, was I wrong!  All Katie needed was her blanket and her thumb and she was just fine.  It was so sweet to see my Grandma hold my baby.  Grandma rocked Katie, held her close, and hummed in her ear.  Awww!  What a precious moment. 

Katie and  her Great Grandpa Jerry

I can just hear Grandpa now with his reverse version of This Little Piggy Went to Market:
"Penny Pete, Peta Lou, Lootle Listle, Listle Lossle, and old Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble."

Grandpa Jerry shared his grape Twizzlers with his great grandsons.  He mustered up the energy to take his great grandsons on a quick tour of the farm and on a tractor ride.  Brian and Tyler just raved about sitting on Grandpa's lap and taking turns driving (steering) the tractor.  Lucky boys!

What a great visit we had.  (Sam was there too.)  The time goes by so fast.  It's always hard to say good-bye to them after our visits because I just don't know how much longer they have on this earth.  But I must say that I am so grateful for such amazing grandparents. 

The windmills of Howard, NY on our drive back from the farm


Jenny said...

Great post Lisa! And it should be easy to upload it to YouTube.

Jenny said...

The farm video is what I'm referring to.

Lindsay said...

What a great granddaughter you make! What a sweet post about a special place and memories!

Jen said...

OH I love that post Lisa! So glad you got to see your gma and gpa!!