Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Winter Nights

     That first winter in New York was cold. We had a little wood stove in the living room that did its best to keep our drafty trailer warm. Even so the warmth from the stove did not reach our bedrooms.
     Mom sewed some extra big flannel night clothes for John and me, and our bedtime rituals would include snuggling on either Daddy or Mom's lap before being tucked into our bunk-bed under cozy comforters Mom had made that fall.
     On one particular night it was extremely cold, so Daddy lit the kerosene space heater and set it into our bedroom. As I lay in the top bunk I could see the glow of the heater and with the added warmth I soon drifted off to sleep.
     When the next morning arrived I slept right through breakfast and by noontime my parents were genuinely concerned that I was still sleeping, after efforts to wake me up failed they had to call someone to come take them and their sick daughter to the hospital. Imagine their pain when the doctor informed them that I had been poisoned by the fumes from the heater and gave them very little hope of my survival.
      God was watching over them and by evening I was awake, extremely weak, but on my way to recovery.
      It wasn't long before our routine was back to normal, and our evenings would be filled with various projects, puzzles, bedtime stories, singing, and popcorn. Life was good, Daddy and Mom loved, and worked, and played with us. What more could any child want?
      There was a lasting consequence to the poisoning though, ever since that day my sense of smell is gone.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Where it all Began

    Spring was cautiously trying to peep through, but winter still had a grip on the land. A young married couple looked with great love at the little bundle they had just welcomed into the world. The young dark haired woman glowed with the glow of new motherhood as her handsome blue eyed husband gently cradled their firstborn. A tiny baby girl. For now, their joy was complete.
    They had been married for only a year. Life was good. A precious little baby. A big successful pig farm. Friends and family all around them. They were part of the tight knit little group of Amish in a small northern community. They were happy, so happy, it truly seemed like all their dreams had come true.
     That little baby was me. The firstborn and only daughter my parents had. Five boys were added throughout the years, but we'll come to them later.
    Not long after I was born, a tornado went through the area, and my parents lost everything they had. Escaping with only their lives and their baby daughter. The Amish stepped up and provided them with whatever they needed, but after suffering such a financial loss they sold their land and moved into a little house right next to Grandpa Mast's big farm house.
     The few memories I have of living there are only little snippets. My parents lived there for a few years and then moved to New York in the Finger Lakes Region where a new Amish settlement was starting. They moved into a little trailer on a dairy farm where Daddy would milk the cows morning and evening in exchange for rent and then had a day job at Wixson's Honey where he bottled honey all day long. It might not have been his favorite job, but as he likes to say, it was his sweetest.
     In the evenings while Daddy was in the barn Mom would prepare supper and if we had to wait on Daddy to come in and eat she would sit on a chair in the living room and my brother John, who was two years younger than me, and I would stand in front of Mom and she would sing the "Lob Lied" in the long slow chant like we would sing in church. She would encourage us to help by watching her mouth. At the ages of only two and four we were taught our first Amish church song. After Daddy came in we would eat and then prepare for bedtime. We'd all sing together, hymns and church songs and then our bedtime song, "Mude ich bin ich geh zur ruh Schliesze meine augen zu Vater lasz die augen dein Uber meine bette sein."*

*I am tired I'm going to rest I'll close my eyes tight Father (God) let your eyes Watch over my bed

Monday, October 16, 2017

Begin Again

    When I started my blog eight years ago, I approached it with the vision of having a little spot to record my memories for our children to read and keep.
    Having left the Amish a few years prior, I wanted our children to still have a clear picture of what their heritage was, and I tackled the task day by day sharing the memories I had of my childhood, growing up, getting married, and what led us to eventually leave the Amish.
    Along the way I made many blogging friends who enjoyed popping in to journey along memory lane with me.
    Yesterday I opened my blog and noticed there are hundreds of missing posts. Upon closer investigation it appears every post I had labeled as Amish, is gone.
    I'll admit I felt violated and upset, and debated quitting my blog entirely, but after some thought I have decided not to give up that easily.
    To rewrite everything looks like a monumental task at the moment. Thankfully the first few years I always printed out each month's worth of blog posts just in case something were to happen with my blog and I lose everything, so that will help.
    Plans are to once again start at the beginning and share the story of a shy but happy, little Amish girl and the journey that brought her to where she is today. Still happy, but no longer Amish.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October Days

I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. ~ Anne Shirley

We've been thoroughly enjoying fall this year. The cooler temperatures, the lovely colored leaves, the nostalgic yet somehow eager atmosphere. What's not to love?

Kenneth, Rosie Mae, and I took a little day trip recently. The fall scenery was gorgeous and I got to thoroughly enjoy it from the passenger seat. (Still having to pinch myself occasionally that we have a child old enough to drive, and drives well enough that I can relax in the passenger seat even out on busy interstate highways!)

We stopped at a rest area along the way where Kenneth and Rosie Mae climbed up these stairs to enjoy the view from the top of the mountain, while I opted to not do the stairs and instead occupied myself with taking pictures of them and the various plant life growing beside the trail leading to the stairs.

We couldn't have asked for a prettier day for our little excursion, and we were able to make some lovely memories. That it happened to be October just added that sprinkle of perfection on an already fun outing.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1.  Have you ever spent time on a farm? Tell us a little bit about it. Have you ever grown your own pumpkin? Been on a hayride? Driven a tractor? Milked a cow?

The first seven years of marriage we lived on a farm. It was a lot of work, but I loved it.

I used to grow our own pumpkins. Even planting only one hill, I always ended up with more than we needed and would share the excess with our neighbors.

I've never been on an official "hayride" but I have had plenty of rides on wagons piled with hay.

I learned how to milk a cow by hand when I was thirteen. It became my evening chore from then until one of my brothers learned how several years later. We'd take turns after that because we both really enjoyed it.

After marrying a farmer I got to help milk a herd of cows twice a day, every day until we sold them and moved. We used mechanical milkers, but my ability to milk by hand came in useful whenever we had a cow that was being treated with medication and we didn't want its milk contaminating our milking equipment.
2. What's something younger you would like about you now? 

Younger me would be thrilled to know how happy I am now.
3. What are three things you'd like to do more often? Three things you'd like to do less often?
More often:
1) Read. I still love reading, I just don't get to sit down and read like I used to be able to.
2) Sew. I also still love sewing, but my sewing machine remains untouched for long periods of time.
3) Bake. I love baking, but hardly ever get a chance to actually bake anything, because the girls and their love of baking have taken over that area of the food preparation.

Less often:
1) Dusting. We live in an ancient farmhouse and it seems to be a pro at producing dust.
2) Sleep. Not that I want to go with less sleep, I just wish it wasn't necessary to sleep every night.
3) Pay bills. Need I say more about the subject?

4. What's on your nachos?

Occasionally I'll make nachos for Sunday evening. I use plenty of cheese, chili, green onions, and olives on them.

5. What's the most random thing in your purse or wallet? Does it need to stay there?

The most random thing in my purse at the moment is probably a pack of stationery. I usually carry a small notebook or two, but I had taken them out to write some of their contents in my "idea books" and in my desperation to have some type of writing paper available I grabbed a pack of stationery and shoved it into my purse as we headed out the door early Sunday morning.

It won't be staying there. I want my usual little notebooks instead.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

The reason we were leaving the house at 2 A.M. Sunday morning, was to travel out to Missouri for the funeral of LV's eleven year old nephew. We're still in shock that he died. He was a healthy, happy young boy, a friend to everyone he met, so full of life and energy. Without warning he died in his sleep.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Picture my Week

   The big maple tree in front of our house keeps dropping leaves. We try to keep after them, but it feels like a losing battle. Steven loved raking piles together so he could play in them.

Discovering just how big and pointy a nose shadow looked on the wall brought on gales of laughter one morning. The girls have this talent of seeing the funny in basically anything.

Steven picked a teensy tiny flower and on his quest to find a vase that would fit it, settled on a thimble. It made an adorable little centerpiece for the kitchen table.

Rosie Mae loves fall baking, and combined with her love of trying new recipes produced another winner. A spice cake topped with an apple cider cheesecake.

Kenneth likes to have a picture of every restoration project he participated in completing. I love his determination and enthusiasm for a job well done.

As much as I love green ferns covering the forest floors during summer, there is something about their autumn hues that really speaks to me.

 Listening to the older children's history lesson sparked Steven's creativity and he built an ancient structure. Quite different from his usual carefully planned out houses and barns.

Did I mention we have a hard time keeping after all the leaves? We started our week in pictures with Steven playing in leaves, and I think it's fitting to end it with another one.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


    Yesterday I happened to noticed the mallow plants are doing well. They grow unbidden anywhere they choose. This particular one is at the corner of the little spring house in our front yard.

     Growing up we used to go hunting for these and gather as much as possible every summer. The leaves, stems, and flowers were dried and then used to make tea to drink when we had a chest cold. After having finished drinking the tea, Mom would take the warm steeped leaves and create a poultice with them for us.
      The best part of these plants though used to be what we called the "little cheeses" They were tasty little treats to be enjoyed by who ever happened to get to them first.

    We'll be going on a little hunting adventure today to see if we can find more to dry for winter. It's just a little bit of knowledge that I want to pass on to my children before it gets lost like so many, many things do with the passing of time and generations.