Tuesday, October 31, 2017


     Having an infant to care for plus a big garden can be a bit overwhelming at times for any young mother. After Aunt Susie had gone home, Grandpa Mast would bring Vernie over occasionally to help with the weeding, harvesting, and canning.
     She was a happy little helper for Mom as she would pull weeds, or break the green beans into pieces for canning, she would wash the canning jars, crank the victoria strainer to make tomato juice and applesauce.
     Her added help gave Mom a much needed boost.
     One afternoon we were canning peaches. Mom was peeling them, Vernie was washing the jars in preparation of filling them. John and I were standing on chairs by the table trying to fit the peach halves neatly into jars. In the middle of all this, Daddy came home from work. He came into the house and told us to come outside to see what he brought home.
     We all went and washed our hands and followed him outside to where he had a big friendly black dog tied to a tree. He wanted John and me to pet it but we were terrified, a dog was the last thing we would have put on our wish list.
     Daddy picked me up and carried me over to the dog to show me what a nice dog she was, but I was not impressed and started crying. Being the oldest if I set an example, John always followed, but his voice was a lot heartier than mine, he would practically bellow! So here John and I were howling away, and Vernie always hated seeing anyone cry so she had to cry too.
     Daddy looked disappointed that his surprise fell flat. We went back into the house and continued with our canning. Daddy helped with the remaining peaches and then went outside to hitch Jim to the buggy to take Vernie home. I got to go with them. After we had dropped Vernie off at Grandpa's I got to sit in the front seat with Daddy. That was the best place to be in the whole world as far as I was concerned. All the way home Daddy talked about dogs, the fun he used to have playing with his dog when he was a little boy, the benefits of having dogs that like children and how they help protect them, and how happy he is he found a fine dog for us, and that we'll grow to love her.
     We named the dog Smokey and it wasn't long before John and I tolerated her. We didn't play with her and she didn't bother us. It was something of an unspoken mutual agreement, you don't get too close and we won't cry, and with the noise we made when we cried she was happy to stay away.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The First Six Weeks

     A few days after David was born, one of Daddy's sisters, my Aunt Susie, came to help with all the work until Mom was able to manage on her own again. As tradition has it in all the older Amish settlements a single girl comes to do all the work while the mother stays in bed for a week to 10 days after her baby is born and then sits and enjoys her newborn and does light handwork etc. until the baby is six weeks old.
      Aunt Susie was a no nonsense and definitely not fun loving person. She did her work with a vengeance and had neither time nor patience for little children bothering her. It wasn't long before John and I stayed in the bedroom with Mom and played on the floor in there, rather than risking the disapproval of Aunt Susie.
      Susie took good care of the garden and the house, and when Mom could finally sit in the living room life seemed a lot better. But there was a strained atmosphere in the house until the day when Daddy and Mom paid and thanked her for helping out and sent her back home.
      That first evening alone was wonderful. Daddy and Mom laughed and talked like they used to and we were once more, a happy little family with a beautiful baby boy that made the previous six weeks worth living through after all.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Picture my Week

      We heard about the "Blue Spring" several years ago, it's somewhat of a local secret. There are no maps on how to get there, which helps keep it from becoming a spot clogged with visitors. We've searched for it a number of times, unsuccessfully. This week we finally found it. Pictures don't do it justice, the water is really clear, and really blue. I can't wait to see it next summer when everything is green, instead of dead and brown. We agree it was worth the effort it took to find it.

Steven spent hours playing with his cars, rolling them down a "bridge" he engineered.

The sunrises were lovely. Each uniquely different, and yet all enjoyed equally.

The girls were spending a few hours every day working on making Christmas ornaments. I think they're all turning out well, but I especially love the little "Snowman hats"

There was a lot happening this week, such as spending time with Amish people I hadn't seen in over twenty years, going to a Planetarium, the sewing class where I'm teaching an eager young group the joys of sewing, and much more. Those were all times when I was so involved in the moment I forgot I have a camera nearby.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Aunt Vernie

     Allow me to introduce you to my aunt Vernie. She was and is my most special aunt. She was born a Downs Syndrome child only a year younger than my Mom. She has the sweetest spirit of anyone I have ever met.
     As a child one of the perks of visiting Grandpa Masts was that I could play with Vernie. From the time I was a toddler to about 8 years old, she was my best friend. We would play with our dolls, and spend hours coloring, she would read her story books to us and give us rides on her wagon or swing, we would talk and sing and play any game we knew.
     Then the day came when I could read by myself, and discovered the books had a story completely different from what Vernie had always read to me, and tables turned a bit as I would read the books to her. She didn't seem to mind, but somehow the books got laid aside, and we focused on our dolls and coloring books.
      Time went on, and I no longer played with my dolls. I can still see her so plainly, eagerly coming to greet me with her dolls when ever I came, and I would tell her I'd rather help her color.
     She would look disappointed, but was still happy to spend time coloring together, and so it kept on. I was growing up and gradually leaving my childhood behind. And she could only stand there and watch me go where she could never join me, for she would always live in childhood.
     As one group of nieces and nephews grew up there was always another one and so the same cycle would repeat itself.
      There was always things we did together, like washing the dishes, working in the garden, cleaning house, food preparation for canning, and little odd jobs and we always had to sing a few songs.
      Some years ago I had the chance to once again spend time with her, and had to smile at how thrilled my own children were to play with her.
      Memories of her are bittersweet, sweet because, well, she was sweetness itself. But bitter because I could have made life a little nicer for her by not thinking I'm too big to play with her.
      I will always love her and have a very special place in my heart that only she can fill. I wish there was a way I could let her know.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Gift from God

     It was still dark outside when Daddy came into our bedroom early one Saturday morning. He gently shook us to wake us up and helped us get dressed. Packed a few clothes in a small suitcase and then hurried us out through the chilly night air to where Jim was patiently by the hitching rack hitched to our top buggy.
      We climbed into the front seat beside Daddy and off we went clip clopping through the night. We were soon at Grandpa Masts and Daddy helped us off the buggy and we went up to the house, which didn't look nearly as inviting in the middle of the night as it did during the day.
      Daddy knocked on the door and in a few minutes Grandpa and Grandma were standing there. Grandma asked Daddy "How is she?" and Daddy answered "She's alright but I need to hurry back."
Grandma nodded as Daddy turned around and knelt down beside us and gave us a hug and told us to be good little children until he comes back and then hurried out into the night again.
     Grandma made cozy little nests on the living room floor for John and me and went back into bed. We lay there in the dark, the clock was ticking loudly and nothing seemed right. There must be something wrong with Mom, she hadn't even said good-bye to us. A big choking lump formed in my throat and I wanted to cry more than anything else, but knew I shouldn't because Daddy had told us to be good.
     Somehow the night finally came to an end and morning looked a lot better. We helped Vernie set the table for breakfast and then had the whole day to play. When evening came so did Daddy smiling from ear to ear. We ran to meet him and he gave us a big hug and told us "Mom has a surprise for you at home." We loved surprises and hurried into the house to get our suitcase while Daddy talked to Grandma.
      When we got home Daddy took us into their bedroom where Mom was lying in bed. Beside her was the cutest little baby boy. Mom smiled at us and said, "Say hello to your brother David."
We stroked his hair and admired his tiny hands and feet and then asked the all important question, "Where did you get him?"
      "God gave him to us" they answered.
      How I wished I could have been home for that! Here God had come and given them a baby and I didn't even get to meet Him!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. What's surprised you most about your life or life in general?

I wouldn't necessarily say I've been surprised by life. Change comes gradually, even big changes are mostly premeditated. Sure there are unexpected happenings along the way, but that's life. Not exactly surprising.

But, if my teenaged self could have looked twenty some odd years into the future and seen the life I'm living now, that would have been surprising. Not being an Amish farmers wife like I was sure I would be and instead being decidedly not Amish, a homeschooling Mom, author of a book series, wife of a man who rebuilds semi trucks, and everything else our non Amish life involves I would have been stunned speechless.

2.  Sweet potato fries, sweet potato casserole, a baked sweet potato, a bowl of butternut squash soup, a caramel apple or a slice of pumpkin pie...you have to order one thing on this list right now. Which one do you go for?

I'd go for a slice of pumpkin pie, not the normal heavy orange stuff though, but a slice made with my Mom's recipe. A light, creamy, completely delicious treat of a pumpkin pie.

3. What's a famous book set in your home state? Have you read it? On a scale of 1-5 (5 is fantastic) how many stars does it rate?

Well ... Beverly Lewis, Suzanne Woods Fisher, and a lot of other Amish fiction authors have their books set in our home state. I have read all but the latest of Suzanne Woods Fisher's books. She is a very talented writer and when reviewing her books I would always rate them a five out of five.

4. There are 60 days until Christmas...have you started your shopping? How do you stay organized for the holidays?

I have started Christmas preparations, and already have a few gifts tucked away waiting to be wrapped. I keep my idea books/planners nearby. I love planning and organizing life in general and holidays even more so.

5. October 26th is National Tennessee Day. Have you ever lived or spent any time in Tennessee? Is this a state you'd like to visit one day? The top rated tourist attractions in Tennessee are-

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Gatlinburg area), Elvis's Graceland (Memphis), Birth of the Music Biz (Memphis and Nashville), Dollywood (Pigeon Forge), Tennessee's Military Heritage (many battlefields), The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's home), The Parthenon (Nashville), Oak Ridge American Museum of Science and Energy, Chattagnooa and the Tennessee Valley Railroad, Downtown Knoxville, Lookout Mountain, The Titanic Museum (Pigeon Forge), The Museum of Appalachia (Clinton), and The Lost Sea Adventure (Sweetwater)

How many on this list have you seen? Which one on the list would you most like to see?

The only thing I've really done in Tennessee is drive through it, but I would love to visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park someday.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

There's something about sunrises ... I love how no two mornings are the same. I also love how those few minutes our family will watch them in silent wonder, just soaking in the beauty.

 His mercies are new every morning.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hard Work and Birthdays

      That first summer was very busy. After the old house was torn down and cleared away they moved our little trailer onto their property to live in until they got a house built.
      Daddy was always looking for work to add to their meager income, and since they had moved he took any small job he could find. For several weeks he worked at a vineyard, and whenever Wixson's Honey needed him he would work there, but they still had to struggle to make ends meet. Then one day a big burly logger stopped in and asked if he could split firewood for him. Daddy was happy to do it. They brought big dump truck loads of firewood and dumped it behind the house and Daddy set to work swinging a big heavy ax. I loved watching him as he worked in a steady rhythm, every blow of the ax split a chunk of wood down the middle then he would split each of the halves yet. Hour after hour he would work, without rest, whistling as chopped wood for $4.00 an hour, happy to be providing money for his family.
      After several months of splitting wood, the logger offered Daddy the job of working for him in the woods for a much better salary. Daddy accepted, and it wasn't long before they had saved up enough money to build a little white barn with a green tin roof.
      John and I enjoyed playing in it. There was a stall for Jim, a pen for a cow they hoped to buy someday, and another pen for a few pigs. There was room to park our spring wagon, the top buggy, and our little open buggy, and a ladder that led up to the hay loft. We were not allowed to climb up to the loft unless Daddy was with us, but we didn't mind, there was enough fun to be had in a new clean barn without that.
      One day we were playing in the barn, when we heard a horse and buggy drive in. When we ran outside to see who it is, we saw Aunt Vernie sitting beside Grandma Mast who was driving their open buggy. Grandpa was sitting on the back holding a rope leading a cute Jersey cow.
      Mom came running out of the trailer to meet them and Grandpa handed the rope to her and said "Happy Birthday". Mom was delighted and hardly knew what to say. Her voice sounded funny as she thanked Grandpa.
      We followed her as she led the cow into the barn and put her in the pen Daddy had made. Then we helped her give it some hay. Grandpa tied his horse to the hitching rack and then they came into the barn too. Grandma gave Mom a shiny new milk bucket. It was the most beautiful pail I had ever seen. Shiny stainless steel that worked as a mirror. John and I sat down and made funny faces and watched as the reflection in the pail was contorted to make them look even funnier. Aunt Vernie joined us and we giggled and laughed for quite awhile until Grandma asked Vernie to take the birthday cake into the house. We all went inside and Grandma starting making a birthday supper for Mom, Vernie set the table and then helped us color in our coloring books.
      Throughout the next hour or so all the aunts and uncles and cousins that lived in the area arrived bringing desserts along for supper.
      Everything was ready to eat when Daddy came home from a hard day in the woods, his boss dropped him off at the end of the driveway and Daddy went to the back of the truck and got several big boxes off the back and set them on the ground. John and I and all our little cousins ran out to meet him. Daddy gave us a big hug then sent me to tell Mom to come outside to see her birthday gift. I ran inside and found Mom among all the other women and told her Daddy has a lot of birthday gifts for her and that he wants her to come see them now.
      We went back outside where everyone was waiting to see what is in these big boxes and John was telling Daddy about the cow in the barn and the shiny new pail. Daddy made us all stand back and watch as Mom opened the boxes, we could hardly contain our eagerness and were thrilled when Mom lifted out a black speckled hen. We crowded around the boxes then and admired the 23 others that were still in the boxes.
      Mom and I went back into the house and the uncles helped Daddy quickly build a small chicken coop from lumber that had been left over from our barn. And then everyone enjoyed a big birthday supper.
      The evening was soon over and everyone went home, as Daddy tucked me into bed I thought there couldn't be anyone as happy as we were. A new chicken coop filled with hens, and our own little brown cow, and the prospects of another exciting day tomorrow.

Monday, October 23, 2017


       Growing up in an Amish family, Sundays soon became the favorite day of the week.
       As with all Amish communities, we only had church services every other week and were held at different homes every month. On church Sundays we would all get up early and dress in our Sunday best. My favorite outfit was a purple dress and then the usual crisply starched white organdy apron.
      Daddy would hitch Jim to our top buggy and tie him to the hitching rack while Mom would scurry around clearing away the breakfast dishes and check and re-check our faces and ears. After everyone was clean enough for her satisfaction John and I would climb into the back of the buggy.
Our buggy had two seats but only one back which was shared by both seats. John and I didn't enjoy sitting and staring at the buggy door, so we would turn around and kneel on the seat and look over Daddy and Mom's shoulders and watch where we were going.
      After we arrived at church Daddy would stop at the house and Mom and I would go inside and remove our heavy black bonnets and shawls, and then she'd tip my face up and check it yet again and make sure my covering was tied. We would then go greet the women and girls that were already there and then stood and visited until almost 9 o'clock when we would all file into the room where services would be held and sit on wooden backless benches.
      I loved sitting beside Mom and felt very important as I held my hand out to shake hands with the three ministers as the made their way through all the benches shaking hands with the womenfolk.
Once they were done they would sit on the chairs that had been placed at the front of the room for them. The bishop would clear his throat and announce. "Since we're all gathered together we can start singing in the name of our Lord" There would be a general shuffling as everyone reached for their songbook and the song leader would announce which song to sing. He would sing the first syllable, of the first word by himself and then everyone else would join in and help. When the second line was started the ministers would stand up and go off to a little room by themselves to do whatever they do in those little rooms, pray, figure out whose turn it is to preach, and any other discussions they deem necessary.
      Mom would let me share her songbook and I would help sing as she would follow the words with her finger so I know where they are going. It used to take approximately five minutes to sing a stanza with seven lines.
      After the first song was over there would be a short pause and then the song leader would announce the page number for the "Lob Lied" which is the second song you sing no matter which Amish church you go to, and I've never seen it take less than twenty minutes to sing it.
      Usually by the end of that song the ministers would be done with their little meeting and file in and sit on their chairs again. After the last note faded away the first preacher would stand up and preach for half an hour and then we all turn around and kneel to pray. As a little girl, I would try to peek at everybody around me. It was always interesting to see how everyone else was kneeling unless there was a grownup sitting directly behind me blocking my view. A nudge from Mom would make me close my eyes and try to listen to the singsong chant of the prayer.
      After the second preacher was preaching I was allowed to play quietly with my flowery handkerchief. I would fold it to make a little mouse or twin babies in a cradle. It wasn't long until I would be tired and lay my head on Mom's lap and drift off to sleep to be awakened once the preaching was over and the last song was being sung.
      After sitting still for three hours it was great to be able to run and find your friends while the men set up tables by pushing several benches together and setting them on a specially designed pedestal thingies. The women would set bowls of mixed peanut butter and red beets or pickles and stacks of sliced homemade bread along the middle of the table, and then a cup, knife, and fork at each place. The men would sit at one table and the women at another one and after a short silent prayer everyone would reach for a slice of bread and start spreading peanut butter on it. Delicious creamy sweet peanut butter, one piece was never enough, I would ask for more but after several pieces Mom would tell me I had enough and then I'd have to sit there and watch longingly as others were still enjoying another piece.
      Once everyone was done there would be another short silent prayer and then we were free to play the rest of the afternoon while the adults visited. The men would set up a few benches for us to slide on and there were almost always dolls and coloring books to play with too. As evening approached Daddy would go hitch up Jim again and we'd head for home tired but happy.
      On the Sundays we didn't have church we would often go visit Grandpa Masts or one of our aunts or uncles. Other times we would stay at home and sing and play all day long, Daddy used to try to squeeze in a nap somewhere amid all our noisy fun.
      Sundays never lasted long enough and it took a whole week before another one rolled around, which to a child is a long time.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Picture my Week

      Our mornings have been chilly, actually cold would describe them better. Everything was coated with a layer of frost which looked so pretty as the sun came up.

      Kenneth spends one afternoon a week helping out our elderly neighbor. This week that day happened to be the same one that LV wrapped up the repairs and paint job on this truck and was ready to deliver it, which meant I got to be the one to follow him to give him a ride back home.

      I love carrot cake, but as a whole, cake is not a family favorite when it comes to desserts. Rosie Mae went ahead satisfied both preferences by making "Carrot Cake" cookies. They were ridiculously delicious.

      Rosie Mae had a late night and happened to fall asleep the next day. Steven took that as a challenge to see just how many things he can pile on her before she wakes up.

      Someone dumped off a stack of old magazines. The girls had a blast going through them and removing pictures and words that they want to use for one of their journaling projects. When they happened across this page they tore it out and convinced us all to take turns having our picture taken with it.

       I don't think I ever shared the story of two little girls who were supposed to wash up some dishes before guests arrived, and how after the kitchen was sparkling and we had welcomed our out of state visitors inside, I proceeded to start preparing a meal, while LV and the visiting man went outside to look around etc. As they walked behind the house they were greeted by a stack of dirty dishes!!!! Embarrassed doesn't quite cover how I felt, but it was understood that, that will not be happening again. But look what I found this week. Steven to the rescue.

      Steven makes a cute mechanic. The weather warmed up beautifully during the day, so he ran outside as soon as he got through with his school work to "help" his Papa and Kenneth.

     And here is the stack of papers I have with the remnants of my Amish memory posts. I wish I would have continued printing the posts out after every month, but at least I have a little over two years worth here. It will make my re-writing task considerably easier.

Friday, October 20, 2017


     As a child Saturdays were a day that I both looked forward to and dreaded.
     We used to start the day off by thoroughly cleaning the entire house. Mom would give dusting cloths to John and me and we would dust everything we could reach. Then we'd each be given a wet sponge and we'd help Mom wash the windows, what fun it was seeing who could make their sponge squeak the loudest against the window panes. After that Mom would let us sit in Daddy's recliner and look at picture books while she swept and mopped the floors. That used to be a real treat as it was the only day we were allowed to sit in Daddy's chair and the books also were saved for that event.
     Once the floors were dry though the dreaded part came. It was time to do my hair. I had very long hair that was braided and put into a bun and once a week Mom would take it down, wash, and re-braid it so it would be fresh and neat for Sunday.
     We had a tall bar stool that we referred to as the "braiding chair." Mom would set it in the kitchen and call me and I would hop up on it. She had a shoebox full of special little toys I could play with while she did my hair. She would undo my braids and start brushing my hair. I would try not to cry, but after a week without having had anything done to it there were always lots of snarls and hurt dreadfully.
     She would sing funny little songs about a dancing colt and a little boy who was thankful for each article of clothing he was wearing. She'd tell stories about a sneezing  horse, a ship lost at sea, and other stories I loved all of which were special and used only during hair time to try to keep my mind off of the pain, but it was never long before I was howling.
     After the snarls were all out I would lay on the counter while Mom washed my hair and then I had to go through that dreadful brushing again and be braided. After she was done I would hop off the chair, put the box of toys away, and rejoice in the fact that it would be a whole week before I have to go through that again.
     Now was when the real fun began. It was time to bake pie. John and I would each push a chair beside Mom and watch as she measured the flour and made the pie dough it was fun watching her roll it out and fit it carefully in the pan and then watch her fingers fairly fly around the edge leaving a trail of neat little braids , but the best part of all was when she was done with her pie and she would let me have the remaining dough to roll out.
     I would carefully roll it out and then cut it into pieces and spread strawberry jam on it. Then Mom would roll them up and bake them for us until they were a nice golden brown. We'd have to wait until they cooled off a little before we could eat them. They were delicious and would almost melt in your mouth. The perfect ending to a Saturday!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

New Dreams

     When spring arrived that first year and gardening time approached my parents went looking to find an acreage they could buy.
     They found one several miles away off of a narrow dirt road, 15 acres with an old tumble down house and grown up in weeds.
     Being young and full of dreams they didn't really see the hopelessness of the property but only their visions of how they would build a home here and raise their children.
     They wanted to do the work on their own rather than hire someone to do it. Every morning after chores and breakfast were over Daddy would hitch up our faithful horse, Jim, to our spring wagon, and fix blanket "nests" for John and me on the back, and off we would go through the fresh morning air.
     The first thing they worked on was getting all the overgrown weeds and brush cleared away so they could start a garden. What fun it was helping Mom drop the seeds into the long rows. We would carefully step in her tracks in the fresh dirt and happily plant peas and onions. The rest of the vegetables would be planted later once the days grew warmer.
     In the meantime Daddy was starting to tear down the old house. He was tearing the shingles off the roof, and the ladder was just too tempting to a little girl. When Mom wasn't looking I climbed up to help Daddy. Once I was up on the roof though I was petrified, it was dreadfully far from the ground! I was sitting there at the edge of the roof when Mom spied me, she called for Daddy and then hurried up the ladder after me. Daddy came over and scooped me up in his strong arms and carried me down, Mom was almost crying which made me feel really bad, I hadn't meant to scare everyone. I just wanted to help.
     After that day they would drop us off at Grandpa Masts where we would be well taken care of, and out of harm's way. Aunt Vernie would read stories to us, push us on the swing, and help us play whatever we wanted too. Aunt Emma would let us lick her cooking spoons and watch her weave rugs, Grandma would let us dry the dishes for her and occasionally we would run out to the harness shop and watch Grandpa work. By evening when Daddy and Mom came to pick us up we were tired out and usually went to sleep tucked into our blanket nest in the back of our slow moving, bouncing spring wagon, listening to our parents soft voices and the clip clop of Jim's hoofs.

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.