Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Date ~ Part One

For my seventeenth birthday Mom gave me enough fabric to make a new dress. It was a lovely jewel blue crepe and I couldn't wait to start sewing. Jewel blue was lighter than what could be worn to go to church but it would be fine to wear to go traveling or on a date. At the moment I wasn't too concerned about the traveling part.

As I worked on cutting and sewing my dress I couldn't wait to wear it for the first time when LV came calling several weeks later.

The Amish in Somerset County are only allowed to have a three hour long date every other Sunday evening on the Sunday that the boy's district didn't have church services. I was glad LV and I were both in the same church district which meant our dates would be on my inbetween Sunday too.

On Saturday afternoon I took special pains in baking the perfect pecan pie to serve. It turned out beautiful and I carefully placed it on the top shelf in the pantry out of reach of my hungry little brothers. I made sure that the house was spotless and placed several new rugs in the living room in front of the sofa. I brought my pretty lamp downstairs and set it on the end table.

Sunday morning arrived and I got up with a sense of eager anticipation. By mid morning Daddy suggested we all drive to the old train tunnel and have a fun day of hiking and then have a picnic beside the creek. I helped pack the picnic lunch but opted to stay at home and read and try to take a nap to make sure that I wouldn't be sleepy on our first date.

By late afternoon they came home happy and tired from their day of hiking. Mahlon had caught a little minnow and brought it home and happily put it in an old glass bowl filled with water and set it in the living room on the end table. I didn't want it there and determined to hide it in the laundry room once everyone else had gone to bed.

At eight o'clock Daddy announced it was time for to get ready for bed. I took special care in getting ready and then went downstairs to make sure that the fish got removed from the living room and then wait till nine o'clock when our date would begin. Mom and Daddy were still in the kitchen when I got there. Daddy got up from the chair he was sitting in and smiled at me as he said "It doesn't seem possible that our little baby is already old enough to be courted." Mom added that they hope I have a very nice time and then they headed for their bedroom and I was left in the kitchen alone.

It wasn't quite nine yet but everything was ready and I went ahead and closed all the curtains which was the preplanned signal so that LV would know when it was safe to come into the house.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day Among the Amish (Guest Post)

Hello bloggers and friends. I’m Beth, from The imPerfect Housewife. Since MaryAnn has a very full plate right now with activities on the domestic front, she asked if I’d be interested in doing a guest post. I had to think about it for all of 2 seconds – YES! I’ve been a follower of hers from the beginning and look forward to every post just as much as you all do. Over time, we’ve developed a “long distance” friendship and I can’t wait until the day when we can spend the whole day together in person chatting and eating and talking about our lives (and husbands) and of course recipes.

Since A Joyful Chaos is a combination of MaryAnn’s current life and stories of her former Amish life, I had what I thought was a good tie-in post since I just visited an Amish community outside St. Louis a few weekends ago.

Do I want to BE Amish…no. I have to be honest with you – no air conditioning would make me crabby. Not to mention, the settlements with outdoor plumbing…negative. These are actually some of the reasons I don’t like camping either now that I think of it, which has nothing to do with this. I do like peace and quiet though. And I can’t help but feel bad for the kids who want to stay Amish, but also maybe want to be a doctor or nurse or something that requires higher education. That’s definitely not an option – it’s one or the other.

OK, onto my day trip to Bowling Green, Missouri…

I’m pretty sure this sign means watch out for cowboys and Amish people. Or maybe it means watch out for the Lone Ranger and the Amish.

I’ve been there before but it’s not a tourist destination by any means. Just like any group of people, some are talkers (mostly the women) and some are just answerers (mostly the men). I always like to know the little things like do the parents really NOT know who their teens are “dating” or going with, like in the books? Or how come men can have buttons and women have to use pins? Or do they “secretly” have a photo or two of family members?

According to two different moms from two different Amish communities, yes, they do know who their teens are going with. Maybe it’s not like that everywhere though. The buttons vs. pins thing – the answer is always the same…”That’s just how it is.” Photos….shhh, many have one or two stashed away.

One thing that stood out is that EVERY house I saw had these white gourd birdhouses for the purple martins. I don’t mean just one or two – but lines of them all over. It was pretty cute actually…

This picture cracks me up because I guess the horse turned just as I was taking the picture and he looks headless! And again, more gourds…

Does it look like I’m stalking this couple? OK, I was, but don’t tell them. I kept hoping they’d kiss because that would be the money shot, but nope. One lady told me in this settlement they wore the black bonnets before they got married and then the white prayer kapps after they were married.  They wear a heavier black bonnet over their prayer kapp when they need to run errands or go visiting.

  One little shop owner was quite a talker and asked where I was from and when I said St. Louis, she said, “And you came all this way by yourself?” (it’s about an hour and 20 minutes away). I told her I had and the reason was, to be perfectly honest, that my husband was getting on my nerves and I needed to get out of the house for a bit. Well she LOVED that! She thought that was hilarious. She said, “Yes, well, they do that sometimes.”

The schools were all closed up for the summer…

I came home with a few treasures from my day. All the bakery had left by the time I got there (and by bakery, I mean this lady’s back room) was some bread and pickles. OK by me. And of course I had to get a little faceless doll. I couldn’t decide which one to get because they had different colored dresses on. The lady was a hoot, she said she knew how hard it was to decide because she has a hard time deciding which color dress to wear to church each week. She said, “My husband doesn’t understand because he always just wears black and white every week, and tells me to just pick one.” Wow, men are alike all over aren’t they?
 We’re different on the outside but we sure do share more similarities on the inside than you think. I asked “Kate” (the shop owner and mother of twelve) if she thought I’d worry less about my 18 and 20 year old daughters if they were out in a horse and buggy rather than a car and she said not at all. Parents worry, she said, and we just have to pray. Well said.

Thanks to MaryAnn for letting me spend some time here and I hope you all have a good week

Friday, August 27, 2010


I missed having a garden this year and enjoying the satisfaction of harvesting delicious fresh vegetables. The children usually have a small garden of their own to care for and were disappointed when that wasn't possible this summer.

So when a neighbor called and asked for Sailor and Rosebud to come harvest her garden they were excited. Their smiles show how much they enjoy working in a garden.

We are already looking forward to growing our own vegetables next year.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I was nearing my seventeenth birthday and the time was getting closer for LV and me to have our first date. Our house had never been a nice one but it had never bothered me up to this point. But knowing that LV would soon be coming to call on me all the obvious flaws of the house were glaringly magnified.

The drop ceiling tiles in the living room were stained and ugly,the windows were so old that looking through the glass made everything appear wavy. The trim and windowsills had paint worn off.

The little room at the top of the basement stairs between the living room and kitchen was horrible. The floor consisted of unfinished plywood with gaps between the sheets. Three of the walls were ancient gray two by fours and the fourth wall had lattice that was trying to hold in crumbling plaster that kept releasing little bits onto the floor. There was a a sizable hole in the floor along the edge that used to serve as my dustpan when I was nine and ten. There were nails pounded into one of the walls on which we hung all of our coats and boots were lined up neatly underneath. The door to the basement was white and orange striped and never latched.

The linoleum in the living was cracked and worn with several areas worn all the way through. The kitchen was better since it was a new addition but it had never been finished with trim around the windows or baseboard.

I knew I couldn't do anything about the little room except put a clean rug down in hopes it would distract from the cracks and try to hang a curtain of sorts to hide most of the walls and our coats. I asked Mom for permission to make curtains for the room. She didn't answer immediately but told me I could paint the woodwork in the living room and if I wanted to I could take the drop ceiling tiles down and paint them too.

I was happy to make any improvements and proceeded to take the tile down. Several hours later Daddy came into the living room to view my progress and then started to measure the little room. A little later a driver came and Daddy left with him.

When he came home that evening I was thrilled to see that he had bought things to transform the ugly little corner. Under his capable hands a closet emerged and the walls were covered with beautiful mahogany. The floor was fixed and new linoleum put down. I could hardly believe how something that had looked so awful for all these years was suddenly the nicest spot in the house.

We pulled out the old linoleum from the living room and were happy to find that over the years the previous owners used to lay new linoleum on top of the old without gluing it down or anything. The third layer was a soft golden brown in a pattern to make it look like a rug. It didn't appear to have much wear so we left it. With several coats of wax it became gleaming and with fresh paint on all the woodwork I was pleased with how the living room looked.

Daddy said the trim for the kitchen would have to wait a while yet, but I didn't mind. I was deeply grateful that he had taken time from his busy woodworking shop to make the house a little nicer before LV came for the first time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guest Post

My friend Monica kindly agreed to do a guest post for me. If you have never visited her blog I would suggest that you check it out. She is a great writer and I always enjoy my visits there.

Thanks to Maryann for selecting me as a guest-poster. I'm sincerely honored! Having had a recent experience with an errant mini pony that turned into a minor fiasco, I'd like to share this remembrance of a horse I encountered in my childhood, almost twenty years ago.

For my tenth birthday, my parents gave me an unlikely gift. Horseback riding lessons. I say this was unusual since it wasn't anything I had asked for, and I did not have any great interest in horses. I liked horses in the way that all animals intrigued me, but hadn't shown much equine interest beyond petting a horse. Besides, in the public school I attended girls talked of dance lessons and Girl Scout memberships, both things that I had asked to be part of to no avail. My parents would tell me that we didn't have the money, but more likely the truth lay closer to those things not being in sync with who we were as "a separate people". To say that my parents valued the practical would be a colossal understatement. But I didn't push for those things either, as there were more important things to lobby for such as not having to wear knee socks every day to school.

Every Saturday morning I would pull on a pair of blue jeans under my long dress and be dropped off a few miles away at some stables where a young woman named Cheryl taught me to ride horses. Actually, we started with a pony named Copper. Cheryl taught me how to saddle Copper, how to hold the reins, and how to hold my hand out flat when feeding the pony an apple so he didn't bite my fingers off. Sometimes, after the morning's lesson after my hair had become undone, Cheryl would braid my hair while I stood behind Copper braiding his tail, as he quietly slept while standing up in his stall. Yes, I came to love Copper.

During my final lessons, I graduated to riding tall, beautiful, glossy horses that appeared enormous to me in size and impossibly powerful. Cheryl and I would trot our horses through the woods on the edge of the pasture while I wondered whether horses would become a permanent part of my life. When my lessons ended, I was sad though my mother told me we could always visit Copper and bring him an apple.

Not long after my lessons, my father and I were visiting his cousin whose neighbor had some riding horses. It was a sunny, Saturday afternoon and dad thought it would be nice for us to spend the afternoon riding horses together. The neighbor's daughter saddled the horses for us and helped me on to a lovely dark Quarter horse. Things were good at first, but after only a few minutes, something in the horse's temperament changed drastically. It would not respond to my "gee" and "haw" commands and instead broke into a straight gallop. Suddenly, the horse worked up to a full run as I held tight and leaned in closer. I knew the horse was out of control, and remember looking down at the ground trying to weigh my choice of jumping off and possibly getting hurt, or staying on, and possibly getting hurt. At the back pasture, my cousin Elam (working as a hired man at the neighbor's) was kneeling on the ground mending some fence. The horse charged for him, and I looked down to see his surprised face as the horse leaped over Elam and the fence in a graceful and unexpected jump. And then, just as suddenly as my runaway horse started, he slowed to a trot and circled back stopping not far from a group of adults who had helplessly witnessed the spectacle. There is little doubt that they let out a collective exhale as I dismounted the temperamental horse. Later, dad said that I had looked like a racehorse jockey on the back of that horse, and commended me on the decision to not jump off when the horse bolted.

I did not do much horseback riding after that, finding activities such as swimming and helping the boys to build tree forts in the woods behind our house much more interesting. But years later, I was grateful that my parents had arranged for those lessons. When I went to live with my Old Order aunt and uncle, I was not in the least intimidated by the driving horses, and could confront a team of Belgian drafts with ease. Now, interaction with horses is rare for me, but I'm still fond of horses and remain vigilant for their surprise appearances in my life. They seem to remain on the periphery and then pop up at unexpected moments, the very definition of a "dark horse".

Monday, August 23, 2010

Prayers for Friends

How do you deal with things that weigh heavily on your mind?  Do you turn to food for comfort? Do you dig in and work hard deep cleaning everything in sight? Do you feel tired and listless and want nothing more than taking a long nap? Or do you turn to meditation and your Bible?

I have to admit that I turn to all four options. And recently there has been a lot weighing on our minds.  One of our very best friends needs a heart transplant. The doctors saying that is the only hope of survival. Surgery is today and I can't think of much else. I'm sure the family would appreciate any prayers on their behalf.

We are waiting for another friend to regain consciousness after suffering serious head injuries from a horrible accident a little over a week ago.

It makes our own problems look small in comparison and reminds me of how very fragile and uncertain life can be.

Thanks for taking time to read this.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

Time to choose the winner for this great little book. I had so much fun reading all of your favorite quotes. thanks so much to all who entered.

I once again turned to random generator to choose the winner, and the lucky comment was....

Number 21... Laura said.......
Good Morning!

Thank you for having this giveaway.
One of my favorite quotes is...
As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord...
Have a blessed day,
  Congratulations Laura! If you send me your address we will send you the book. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have.
Thanks again to everyone who entered.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Shopping Trip

For a week I had been really looking forward to this day. Mom and I were going on a shopping spree she had won to a variety of stores in the town of Somerset.

I had never been to Somerset before and could hardly wait to experience a town much bigger than the small ones surrounding us.

As I watched the windows for the driver to come I could scarcely contain my excitement. Mom was sweeping our already clean kitchen floor for the third time that morning and I suddenly realized she was just as excited as I was about our day of shopping.

When the driver came we said hurried good-byes to Daddy and we were on our way.

The Georgian Place mall was more lovely than I had ever imagined. Situated on top of the mountain it looking out across the lake. After using our gift certificates at the mall buying new towels, dishes, books, and many other things we discovered we were quite hungry and went to a nice restaurant and then headed to Wal-Mart where we had a nice big gift card to spend.

We stocked up on a lot of things, but the best thing in the cart were several rolls of paper towels. Up to this point in my life we had never had paper towels in our home and putting them on the check-out counter made me feel rich.

We got home and put everything away and found space on the kitchen counter for our paper towels. We used them sparingly, saving them only to clean up the messiest of messes. After they had all been used we didn't want to go back to using rags and from that point on, paper towels made a regular appearance on our grocery lists.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To Town

Fern was a gentle little horse and after Daddy drove her for a little while he pronounced her safe for me to drive to town on my own.

One Monday morning in early fall Daddy and Mom had things that needed to be done in town. They asked John and me if we wanted to go and we jumped at the chance.

After John hitched Fern to the buggy we headed down the road to the little town of Meyersdale 10 miles away. We agreed that I could drive on the way in and he would drive on the way back. The drive in was short as we talked and enjoyed the scenery and each others company.

Once we got to town we tied Fern to the hitching rack that was situated close to the middle of town. Right next to it was a small park with several benches, an old ugly statue, and a nice fountain.

We walked to the stores and then had to carry all our purchases back to the buggy before we went to the next store. On our last trip back to the buggy we were surprise to see a man standing on one of the benches shouting something on top of his lungs. As we placed the groceries into the buggy we stood and listened to him for a while.

"You have to repent!" he yelled. "You have to accept Jesus as your Saviour and become saved!" he bellowed. "You are all on your way to hell!" he continued.  We untied Fern and sat in the buggy and watched him jump around on the bench and swing his arms wildly as he kept repeating his three lines over and over at the top of his lungs.

As we drove away I tried to repress a shudder. Somehow the day didn't seem quite as bright anymore. I was glad that I was amish and didn't have to worry about what the bellowing man had been saying.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Giveaway Time

I was thrilled when I recently received the latest book from Suzanne Woods Fisher. It is one of the sweetest little books I have ever had the pleasure to read.

It is filled with over 200 pages of great "proverbs" and lots of gorgeous pictures. I found quite a few that I was familiar with that my parents and grandparents used to quote and many more that were new to me.

Suzanne has generously offered to give a book to one of my readers. All you have to do to have a chance to win one of these great little books is leave a comment sharing one of your favorite quotes.

For an additional entry post a link on your blog and come back and leave another comment telling me you did.

Be sure to make that I have a way to contact you if you are the winner.

I will draw the winner on Friday the 20th with Random Generator.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Rival

It was a lovely Sunday afternoon and we had all walked to our nearest neighbors to see their new baby.

I was sitting upstairs in the room my friend Katherine was staying in since she had been hired to help out for six weeks.

We were talking about anything and everything and I was enjoying her company intil she announced that she thinks LV is the most handsome and greatest boy in Somerset County and that since she was working in our church district she meant to make him fall in love with her.

I couldn't make myself tell her that LV had already asked for permission to come calling as soon as I was old enough. Somehow it seemed too sweet and precious to share with someone who was bold enough to say they meant to make someone fall in love with her.

The next Sunday evening LV stopped in to get me to go to the singing and I wasn't too thrilled when he said we would have to give Katherine a ride. She was waiting when we drove into the driveway and before I could say anything she hopped into the buggy and plopped on the seat between me and LV. She started chattering immediately and talked all the way to the singing.

After the singing she made sure to hop into the buggy first again and talked all the way home. I was glad once she was off the buggy and doubly glad when LV said he thought it seemed as if we would never get her home and we could be by ourselves once again.

The six weeks seemed to drag by slowly with Katherine always sitting in the middle and talking as much as possible and LV and I always breathing a sigh of relief once she was off the buggy and when we got home the horse would stand patiently in the driveway while we sat there and visited for a while yet.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Elmer and Lucy lived in a small addition to their son's farmhouse. They were a friendly old couple and every one enjoyed visits from them.

News spread fast through out the community. Lucy had been badly burned when she mistook a can of gas for kerosene when she was lighting their stove which had caused an explosion.

She was in the hospital but things didn't look good. A few days later news came that Lucy had passed away.

For the second time our district had to plan and prepare for a funeral. Daddy was still one of the men that had to help dig the grave by hand. And I again went to help with all the cleaning and food preparation.

Working at Elmer's house without hearing his laughter felt eerie and oppressive and I breathed a sigh of relief when evening came and it was time to go home.

On the day of the funeral I sat with my friends. As people started filing past the casket my stomach knotted when I saw Elmer sitting next to the casket, his shoulders shaking from silent sobs. I felt all choked up and wished for just one time people could break their solemn traditions and pause for a moment to say a few comforting words to Elmer but the lines of people kept on going and everyone peered into the casket for one last glimpse of Lucy but they all ignored Elmer sitting there next to her.

I shuddered as I thought that someday it could be me in that casket and the thought of people staring at me and ignoring my loved ones made me cringe. I was glad when the three seated buggy drove up to the porch and it was time for the girls who would be serving lunch to leave.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Who Did It?

The new addition to our woodworking shop made everything much nicer for us. We could still hear the machinery from the house but the noise wasn't as bad since it was no longer in the basement.

The basement now held several large lumber bins and stored all the other shop supplies.

It had taken quite some time to get all the hydraulic and air systems hooked up and the dust collecting system connected. But once everything was ready Daddy always liked to get up early and walk through the shop and showroom every morning before breakfast to make sure everything was in order.

One winter morning as he sat down at the breakfast table he asked us who had been playing in the finishing room. We all said we hadn't been in the finishing room.  Daddy told us rather sternly that someone had been in the finishing room and drilled a hole through the wall and there was sawdust on a newly finished table top and he would now have to refinish the table.  We still all denied knowing anything about it.

Daddy pushed his plate back and asked us to come with him. As we entered the finishing room we saw the hole he had been talking about. and felt bad that a new table had to be redone because of the sawdust that had dried into the finish.

As we all stood there looking at it none of us knew who drilled the hole, when all of a sudden Daddy noticed another hole in the opposite wall close to the ceiling. At that discovery we looked around some more and discovered a hole in the windowsill. The holes were all lined up with each other so we went into the showroom and looked to see if we could find any more holes.

Following the path we found a chair with a hole in it's back and finally in the far wall we found a lodged bullet.

Daddy bent down and retrieved the bullet and then turned and looked at us.He apologized for immediately thinking one of us had drilled a hole in the wall and said how thankful he was that no one had been in the way when that bullet had made it's journey through the building.

We never found out who was responsible for the straying bullet but always assumed that since it had been deer season at the time it was only bad aim by some careless hunter.

Friday, August 6, 2010

After The Interview

I can't remember when my tongue ever felt closer to a piece of cotton than it did yesterday afternoon in the last minute or so before my interview started with author and radio host Suzanne Woods Fisher.

She was very sweet and after my initial moments of panic I was almost able to forget I was on air and it seemed more as if I was talking to a friend. Which proved to be much friendlier for my tongue!

If you would like to to listen you can visit http://toginet.com/shows/amishwisdom  and listen to the podcast.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Several months ago I agreed to be interviewed on an hour long radio program on August 5th. And ready or not that happens to be tomorrow.

You can tune in tomorrow and listen live at 4 PM Central time here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Backdoor Visitors

I was surprised recently when I stepped outside our back door and saw three baby raccoons. They hurried up a nearby tree but the one had to pause long enough to curiously watch me take his picture.

I think raccons are cute but there was a time when our family did not feel that way. 

It all started when my 9 year old brother Mahlon was walking to school by himself and was surprised to be greeted by a snarling raccoon that came hissing madly at him. At first he tried to scare it away but he couldn't persuade it to leave as it kept trying to bite him.

After quite a tussle which involved Mahlon using his pocket knife and feet he actually killed it. He felt quite victorious and jubilant at his accomplishment and bore his scratched hands with boyish pride until he came home from school and told Mom and Daddy about it and they were of-course immediately afraid the 'coon had rabies.

After telling the health department about it they came and got the 'coon and tested it and we all groaned when the results came back positive for rabies. Mahlon had already gotten one shot as a precaution but now he would have to get a series of shots to keep him healthy.

We were all relieved when that period of time was over and Though I still think raccoons are cute I always make sure to keep my distance from any I happen to see.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I was glad once "ordnungs" church and communion were over and the youth could once again gather for their hymn singings. It had been six weeks since we had last had a singing and I missed the rides to and from the singings with LV.

A few days after communion I had to go help one of my aunts can lima beans. As we were in the garden picking beans their son Mervin came and asked if I had heard about LV's accident. I froze and choked out that no I hadn't heard anything and wondered what had happened.

Anna looked at me a little strangely and must have read between the lines. She sent Mervin to go play and then told me what had happened.

The previous evening LV had ridden his brothers horse to go get a quart of goat milk from them and on his way home something went wrong and he couldn't get the horse to slow down before turning onto the gravel road and the horse fell and LV was hurt quite badly. All they had heard was that he had a big puncture wound in his side, and that his thumb was torn off.

I shivered at the news and wanted so much to be able to go see LV instead of spending the rest of the day picking and canning beans. I was also afraid that maybe because of the accident we wouldn't be able to ride to the singings together.

When Sunday came I was happy to see LV at church. His left hand was bandaged but otherwise he still looked like he always did. After we got home from church John told me that LV would stop by to take me to the singing. And I looked forward to seeing evening come.

The ride to the singing was great as we caught up on six weeks worth of conversation, as the horse walked slowly all the way.