Monday, August 20, 2018

Joining the Youth

I looked forward to my sixteenth birthday more than any other birthday I ever had. I would finally be considered old enough to join the youth group. As was customary for our community the only way you could join the youth group was to start taking instruction class to become a member of the church.

A few weeks after my birthday the annual instruction classes started. I was very nervous thinking about having to get up while the rest of the congregation was singing and join the preachers in their little conference room where they would talk to us about the doctrines of faith and what was required of us to become members of the Amish church.

Once Sunday morning arrived we all got ready for church. When we arrived I was glad to see my friend Nancy was already there and was looking every bit as nervous as I felt. It was comforting to know we would be together for the classes. Once everyone was seated and the bishop had announced it was time to start church services, Daddy announced the first song and started singing in his clear, deep voice. A shiver ran up and down my back as the rest of the congregation joined in and helped sing the rest of the line. As Daddy started singing the second line the preachers got up and went into their little room. My hands felt cold and clammy and my heart beat faster. When the third line started it was time for us to get up and go join the preachers.  It felt as if all eyes in the building were watching us as we walked to the front of the church house and entered the little room. Since I was the youngest I had to close the door once we were all inside.

I closed it but much to my dismay it popped right back open. The bishop got up and closed it properly and then sat down and asked us if we were ready to denounce the world, the devil, and our own desires and turn to God and the church. We each answered with a yes and then he proceeded to go through the first two articles of faith and explain everything to us. Once he was done the other preachers each had a turn to add their thoughts and admonitions. Preacher Benny went on and on. I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying as I listened to the singing on the other side of the door, I could hear they were nearing the end of the Lob Lied and we should be dismissed I was hoping he would hurry up so that we wouldn't have to walk back to our seats between songs while everything was quiet.

Benny finally got done and just as I was afraid it would happen the last notes of the Lob Lied had faded and everyone was sitting quietly waiting until the next song was announced. We filed back to our seats and the next song was announced and sung.

Once church was over we stayed to visit for a little while before going home to eat lunch. I was looking forward to attend my first singing as one of the youth group. The only drawback was I didn't have a brother older than myself that I could ride with and had to ride with someone else.

Once evening came and a buggy drove into our driveway I wasn't sure how to react that I would have to ride with LV and his brother. As I climbed into the buggy I wished with all my heart that John would be old enough to take me to the singing. I was a little envious that Nancy could ride with her older brother and sister and didn't have to worry about riding with someone else.

Once we got to the singing I forgot about my awkward ride and enjoyed being with my friends. The two hours of singing that followed were great and I enjoyed it immensely. Once the singing was over we headed for home right away. Again there were hardly any words spoken and it was a relief to get off the buggy. After thanking LV and Vernon for the ride I hurried into the house to where Mom was waiting to hear all about my first night of being with the youth group.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Helping Out / First Job

Even though I had graduated from school, the Somerset County Amish still had what they called vocational classes which we had to attend every Wednesday forenoon until our fifteenth birthday. We had to keep a diary of everything we did during the week and hand it in to the teacher, and then we had algebra and German and English lessons. I was glad to be able to go back to school the first day since I had always loved school but it soon became an aggravation to deal with every Wednesday when I had other things that I would have rather been doing.

After school had been going for a few weeks and things were getting into routine at home. I was starting to really like not having to go to school everyday. It seemed nice to be at home with Mom and being able to visit without being interrupted by my younger brothers. There was still a lot of canning to do with sweetcorn, beans, peaches and apples.

One afternoon as we were canning peaches we heard a buggy pull into the driveway. When we looked to see who it was we saw a neighbor that lived right next to the schoolhouse. Daddy went to see what he wanted while Mom and I kept on peeling peaches.

As the buggy drove away Daddy came and said that Joe wanted to know if they could hire me to help out with the canning since his wife had too much work to handle on her own especially with so many little children. I wasn't enthused about the idea at all. Everything was always so dirty around their home that I cringed at the very thought of having to work there. When Daddy asked Mom if she could spare me for a week or two she didn't answer right away, so I voiced my opinion of how there was no way I wanted to go work for that family.

That was all it took. Mom's mouth set in a firm line and said. "Yes, I think I can manage just fine. It would be a good experience for Mary Ann."

I wished I had kept my big mouth shut but knew the matter was settled.

The next morning I walked to school with my brothers and stopped at Joe's house. As I went to the door his wife came to meet me. As I stepped inside I could see she really did need help. There were multiple bushels of peaches on the floor waiting to be canned. Dishes were piled high on the sink, the floors and walls looked as if they hadn't seen water and soap for years, the children hung on her skirts and looked at me with their dirty faces and their clothes were even dirtier. In another corner there were several burlap feed sacks filled with gnarled wormy apples. But worst of all were the flies. They were swarming over everything I tried to keep them off of me but soon gave up since the only way to get any work done was to ignore them even if they crawled and buzzed all around and over you.

The first thing she wanted to have done was have the dishes washed. I surveyed the endless stack and started in bravely. After spending most of the forenoon doing dishes I was relieved once I was done and she sent me to sort the peaches. All the ones that had soft spots or were starting to rot had to be canned first.

I filled up a big dishpan and sat down to start peeling them. The children had lost all sense of shyness and crowded around me to watch as I peeled peaches. They would take bites out of most of the halves before their mother put them in jars to can. I secretly vowed to not eat any peaches for lunch.

I thought the day would never end. The flies, and all the filth were almost more than I could handle as I thought of Mom at home in our clean and tidy house canning peaches by herself. Just when I thought things couldn't be more miserable I heard their five year old spitting. When I looked she was sitting on the floor and spitting on the corner of their hand towel. I didn't pay to much attention to her as she continued spitting until the next thing I knew she wiped the spit soaked corner over my face and then stood there and giggled. That was the last straw. I got up to go wash my face just as my brothers knocked on the door on their way home from school and it was time for me to go.

I was sure once Mom and Daddy heard about my day they wouldn't make me go back, but they weren't very sympathetic and the next morning found me knocking at their door again. This time  she wanted to get all those apples turned into apple sauce. As I cut the first one open I tried not to gag at the little worms and hurriedly cut them out of the apple along with the core. Since the apples were so small and gnarled there wasn't much left. She laughed and said. "Oh, we don't worry about the worms. Just quarter the apples and once they are boiled no one will even know there had been any worms there. I tried to suppress a shudder as I did what she told me but now vowed I would never eat any apple sauce at their house.

The day passed much the same as it had the previous day. The flies were almost unbearable but what annoyed me the most was that Joe was in the house all day on a chair sitting right next to me. He didn't help work but talked almost non-stop. He told a lot of utterly lame jokes and tried to show me a lot of tricks that he could do with toothpicks and various other things.

When I got home that evening I didn't even bother to ask if I had to go back because Daddy had told Joe I could work there for a few weeks until canning season was over. As I got ready for bed the days ahead looked long and bleak and I couldn't wait until my job there was done.

The next day Joe once again sat right beside me all day. This time he started commenting about what pretty hands I have. I felt like giving him a big smack, but instead tried to ignore him as I quartered apples as fast as I could. By the end of the day I was fuming and once  got home I told Daddy how frustrating it was to have Joe sitting beside me all day long. He asked me to tell him all about my day and I told him everything, not sparing any details.

This time Daddy's expression became determined and he marched out to the barn and hitched the horse to the buggy and went to tell Joe that he could help his own wife do the canning and that I would not be coming back. When he got home he handed me the money that Joe had paid for my three days of work. Two dollars a day. Daddy muttered that it wasn't enough for what I had to endure but I didn't really care as long as I didn't have to go back to that miserable house everything was fine again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Reader Hodgepodge

While the creator of the Wednesday Hodgepodge is on a summer break, I have turned to my readers for questions to do our own little hodgepodge. Thanks so much to everyone who has provided questions for me to answer.

If you had one day to yourself what would you do?

It's been years and years since I had a day to myself. What would I do other than miss my family? The idea of having hours to do nothing but read, or craft, or do any fun little thing I like sounds nice, but I'm guessing if that actually happened I'd probably clean, prepare some type of special food for everyone to enjoy at the end of this "me" day, watch the clock to count down the hours, and try to get some writing done.

Do you prefer dresses, skirts, jeans, or leggings?

I wear mostly skirts, they're my favorite. I have several dresses I wear occasionally. I do wear jeans when out and about hiking etc. I have never, nor do I hope to ever wear leggings. I won't go into my opinion of them, suffice it to say they're definitely not a part of my or my daughters' wardrobe.

Would you ever return to the Amish?
Never say never ... right? But no, I don't see us ever returning to the Amish. We would have to renounce our believer's baptism as well as other parts of our faith and we can't do that. The lifestyle itself I could live with, but being Amish is much more than the lifestyle.

Another question-- do you watch TV now?

Yes, we watch some TV. We record almost everything we watch so we don't have to see commercials. We watch a lot of cooking shows and competitions. Our favorite being, The Great British Baking Show. Another favorite is How it's Made among a variety of others. The Hallmark channel is supposed to be a good one, but I find I really don't like it. I don't care for the way they portray love, commitment, and relationships. In almost every movie I've watched the main character is in a serious relationship, often even engaged until they meet someone so much better, fall in love, then break it off with the original person they were with to go live their happily ever after. I don't think that's sweet and innocent.

Any picky eaters in your family?
Steven is our pickiest eater, though he will eat everything. He simply doesn't care for vegetables and fruit. He'll eat them first and fast and then settle in to enjoy the rest of his meal. We all have some things we would rather not eat. For me that's steak. Beef in general I don't really care for, but steak is the worst. Oh, and oatmeal I just can't!

Random bit ...

The birds all seem extra happy this morning. The trees around the house seem alive with their sweet songs. I think they're happy to have a sunny morning once again.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Buggy Brakes

News spread through the community. Fifteen year old Andy, a severely handicapped boy, had died and preparations had to be made for the funeral. Daddy and several other men were asked to dig the grave by hand. Daddy started for the graveyard right after breakfast in hopes that they would be able to dig the grave in one day.

Mom offered to send me to help with the preparations at the home since I was fourteen and out of school and now considered to be old enough to participate when ever needs like this arose. Daddy dropped me off at Grandpa Masts house on his way to the graveyard then I could ride with aunt Emma.

Grandpa hitched his horse, Blaze, to the buggy and aunt Emma and I started off. It was a beautiful day and we had the doors and storm front open on the buggy as Blaze trotted down the road. It took a while to get there since there were numerous long hills that Blaze had to slow down to a walk to get to the top.

Once we finally got there someone came to take care of the horse while Emma and I went inside to help work. There was lots of things to be done. All the windows had to be washed and general spring house cleaning done. The hickory shop had to be cleaned out in order to set up enough tables for all the visitors that came to the funeral. There was loads of food to prepare and serve and pies to bake.

By evening we had done most of the cleaning and plans were made to come back the next day to help with all the food preparations. As Emma and I left I sighed with relief as I sank into my side of the buggy seat and looked forward to the long ride home. It shouldn't take as long since all the hills the horse had to climb in the morning were now ready for us to go down at a nice trot.

As we were ready to descend the first hill Emma pumped the brakes but nothing happened, so she drew back on the reins to slow Blaze down to a walk and we inched down the hill. The same thing happened for the next hills. We were no longer chatting as Emma focused everything on getting down the hills slowly without the buggy running into the back of the horse, or the horse stumbling. I began to think of the long steep hill that was coming up and wondered how she was going to drive down without having a panic attack since it was so much worse than any of the others had been. I didn't have long to wonder. As we got to the top of the hill she stopped the horse and asked me to get out and hang onto the back of the buggy to try and keep it from wanting to roll as fast.

I wasn't sure I had heard correctly, but that was exactly what Emma wanted me to do. I got out and grabbed hold of the springs at the back of the buggy and we started down the hill at a slow walk, but Blaze soon picked up speed and the closer we got to the bottom of the hill the faster we went. I had never run so fast in my life. I clung to the buggy for dear life not daring to loose my grip and go tumbling onto the road. Taking huge steps it almost felt like I was ready to lift off and start flying since so much distance was covered with each step. My big black bonnet flapped crazily behind me held only by its strings.

Once we got to the bottom of the hill Emma stopped and I climbed wearily back into the buggy highly doubtful that the descent had been slowed because of me hanging onto the back.

Once I got home I told Mom and Daddy about my adventure and they made sure that Emma could use our little open buggy the next day with brakes that worked fine.

Monday, August 13, 2018


Reading ... I'm reading through Luke in my morning Bible time. A verse that stood out to me this morning is how God gives the Holy Spirit to us if/when we ask. In nonfiction I just finished Eve in Exile by Rebekah Merkle. It had been recommended to me with glowing reports of how life changing and inspiring it is. I picked it up at the library, and yes, it's a good book, but apparently I approached it with expectations that were too high. I didn't learn anything new, so it wasn't life changing for me. I would recommend it though for anyone who is looking to learn more about Biblical womanhood.

Writing ... the girls and I have been dedicating two hours a day to writing. It's been a good thing to actually have a time carved out to sit down and write. As a lot of things do around here, it has turned somewhat competitive to see who gets the most written in those two hours. On Thursday the report at the end of our two hours was: Sharon 2000+ words, Rosie Mae 1500+, and me .... a whopping 84. Thankfully not everyday is like that for me.

Watching ... I watched I Can Only Imagine on a DVD I had borrowed from the library. It was good. My expectations going in weren't that high, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I'll probably watch it again someday.

Listening ... to Air1 mostly. I'm really enjoying one of their newer songs, which means I'll get YouTube up several times a day to listen to it.

Cooking ... Mexican for dinner tonight. That will include fried rice, quesadillas, and a salad.

Drinking ... surprise, surprise! I actually had something other than water yesterday when I enjoyed a glass of lemonade.

Wearing ... a brown flower patterned skirt.

It has pockets! Let's take a minute and let that sink in .... pockets!! I love pockets, and have been perplexed at the lack of them in women's clothing. That is something I miss about my Amish clothes. I always had plenty of pockets on them.

Loving ... the misty, moisty weather we are experiencing this morning. It makes me feel like crafting, reading, singing, and baking. Basically all the good housebound related activities.

Playing ... I haven't played anything this week, but a healthy game of Construction was enjoyed one evening when Kenneth's fiancée was here.

Wanting ... a housekeeper. Actually, probably not. It would annoy me having someone else poking around my house even if they were cleaning it.

Needing ... a few ingredients I forgot to pick up when I went grocery shopping. It's for a school project for Sharon, so we'll just set it aside until after my next grocery run.

Crafting ... some fun paper craft projects for Steven's art.

Disliking ... this horrible virus we're still dealing with.

Later today ... I need to go on a paint and parts run for LV. I never dreamed a day would come when the people at an auto parts store would know me by name.