Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z ~ Zzzzz

Early to bed, early to rise seemed to be the motto among the Amish. Nine o'clock was considered to be late.

Even with getting plenty of sleep there was something about the long church services that seemed to put people to sleep. Usually when the second minister started preaching the boys would settle in to get as comfortable as possible to sleep. Married men might try to stay awake, but many of them dozed off.

Women weren't immune to sleeping in church either, but with have babies and little children to care for it didn't happen as often.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y ~ Yes

   There were times when an Amish woman was expected to say "yes" whether or not she meant it.

   When there were issues to vote on in church, the only thing women and girls were allowed to vote was "yes."

    For the women who happened to have a good husband, their role of being the submissive wife was no problem. Unfortunately there were some men that abused that power, and their poor wives did not enjoy a happy life.

    I have nothing against the word yes, when used by your own free will.

Monday, April 27, 2015

W ~ Walking

    We used to walk, a lot, when we were Amish. Our community didn't allow bicycles or scooters, and simply walking often seemed easier than having to get the horse and buggy ready.
    It had to be raining pretty hard before we got a ride to and from school. Otherwise we walked.
    Teens often chose to walk miles rather than ride in the family buggy.
     Yesterday a group passed our house, but even after they had disappeared our dog kept raising a fit. It was then that Sailor spotted one of the boys hiding beside our waterfall, peering at our house. He approached him at which point he jumped up and ran through the water at the top of the waterfall and ran up the road.
    Apparently the lives of an ex-Amish family seems interesting to an Amish teenager. We'll be staying a little more alert, to see if his spying is a habit. Since he walks to his hideout there is nothing that alerts us to his presence unless our dog starts pitching a fit again.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V ~ Vorsinger

At the front of the church house, the first bench facing the ministers was reserved for the vorsingers.

They were the men who would announce the songs we would be singing. Once the song was announced they waited for a few moments to give the rest of the church time to find the song in the little songbooks we used.

They led the first syllable of the first word of every line, and then the rest of the church would chime in and help sing the rest of the line.

I don't miss these slow church songs, but not much takes me back to those days more than listening to these old familiar songs.

Friday, April 24, 2015

U ~ Underlings

From the outside, the Amish in one community might all appear the same, and it appears to be a loving, accepting, forgiving environment.

Being a part of the Amish it looks quite different. Everyone is aware that not everyone is the same, and so far every community I have ever lived in had underlings.

Underlings weren't well accepted by the rest of the community. Their opinions counted for nothing, and it seemed no matter how much they tried they weren't well accepted and would often be in some kind of trouble simply because of who they were, and the family name they carried.

It was hard for the children from an underling family to find someone to court and marry. The family name was hard to shake, no matter how sweet or upstanding they were. Unless they moved to a community where their underling reputation was unknown they were fated to have a more miserable life

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T ~ Trouble

There seems to be an overly romanticized view of all things Amish, and more people than ever think it would be great to join them.

It is not an easy trouble free life they imagine it to be.

Amish are afflicted with the same kinds of troubles that anyone else faces.
  • Financial ~ Every family is responsible for their own finances, making mortgage payments, and paying any other bills they may have. 
  • Health ~ Contrary to some reports I have seen, Amish seem to have all health related issues that anyone else can have. Cancer, heart attacks, depression, etc. Plus they have some other problems that are basically unheard of outside of the Amish.
On top of troubles all mankind shares, they have a unique set of troubles that are kept hush-hush.
  • Rules that are enforced by public confessions and shunning.
  • Hidden sins that hurt others in the community, but are never dealt with properly.
  • Church problems that need to be handled by their own unique court system.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S ~ Salt of the Earth

In the community I grew up, the Amish were very concerned that we live as holy as possible. We were the salt of the earth and the fate of the world was depending on us.

The ministers and a lot of older people were concerned how so many Amish communities weren't being true to Jakob Ammann's vision when he started the Amish church. They'd shake their heads sadly and say "Once the salt has lost its savor, the end will come quickly." Apparently a lot of Amish churches were no longer salty enough. To make up for other communities backsliding or drifting they seemed to be constantly imposing more rules on us to ensure we could still be considered the salt of the earth.

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Have you ever had to wear a uniform? If yes, tell us more. Did you love it or hate it?

In my opinion, I've never had to wear a uniform.

Some people view Amish clothes as uniforms, and no, wearing them never bothered me.

2. April 22nd is Earth Day. What is one thing you do personally to be a good steward of planet Earth?

We never litter, ever. How hard is it to dispose of things properly? I don't understand why anyone would simply throw things out the window.

3. Brown rice, quinoa, or couscous...your healthy grain of choice? How often are one of the three on your menu at home?  Given a choice between white rice, brown rice, wild rice, and fried rice which would you go for

Tried couscous once, and didn't really care for it. Brown rice isn't a favorite either, and I've never had quinoa.

We like white rice, and have it at least once a week, often more.
4. In your opinion, who has the best job ever?

I can't imagine a better job than being a mother.
5. What's a situation in your life currently requiring patience? 

Probably being a mother. It seems as if I've given opportunities every day to practice patience.
6.  Do you live your life around days of the week? Explain.

We do. There are specific things we do each day of the week. There's a laundry day, a thorough cleaning day, grocery shopping day, church day, and the other three days each have their own set of need to do's as well.
7. In a nod to the A to Z challenge happening around town this month, what 'R word' best describes your April? 


I'm not sure how to best describe this, other than after stepping back and evaluating our life applying a message we heard about Green Pastures and a Shepherds look at the 23rd Psalms, well..... recharged seems to fit quite nicely.
8. Insert your own random thought here.

Spring is such a lovely time of year!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R ~ Raisins

For some Amish families, raisins were an important staple in their pantry. Cooked in oatmeal for breakfast and of-course oatmeal raisin cookies.

Raisins were often used as snacks for toddlers to eat during the long church services.

Some families seemed to be particularly fond of raisin pie, so fond in fact that they served them at weddings.

There were two variations of raisin pie, one with a custard type filling that was loaded with raisins. The other was simply raisins that were plumped in hot water and thickened with clearjel. None of which I found appealing.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q ~ Quiet

Growing up Amish we were used to quiet. Aside from the obvious of not having a television or radio to make noise, our house also didn't ever have the noise of a humming refrigerator or any other technology related noises.

Our house was a comfortable level of quiet, but staying overnight at my grandparents house took quiet to a whole new level. It was so quiet it almost felt loud.

Instead of the noise a family of eight creates, even in the middle of the night, there was absolutely nothing to be heard except the ticking of clocks, and weird night time creaks. As much as I loved my grandparents, I did not enjoy staying at their house overnight. The quiet was simply too much.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P ~ Pranks

Being the only girl in the family and having five brothers who all enjoyed a good prank I was often found at the receiving end of their shenanigans.

When LV and I started courting it felt as if their pranks were taken to the next level. They would wait at one of their bedroom windows that happened to be directly above the door where he would be standing until I opened it to invite him inside.

Being prepared to drop a big quilt down on top of him, or any other diabolical things they had rigged up to be triggered when the door opened, was their idea of a fun prank. It didn't take LV long to learn not to be too trusting and become very aware of his surroundings when approaching that door.

They took things a little further, by tucking embarrassing sound effect devices under the couch cushions which of course made their designated sounds when we sat down.

Life has changed a lot since then. I haven't been pranked for a long time, but I have to smile because they are now raising a new generation of pranksters. Maybe with a little whispered encouragement from their aunt, my nieces and nephews will turn the tables and prank their unsuspecting dads.

Friday, April 17, 2015

O ~ Old Maid

In the community I grew up in, the average age for a girl to get married was 19½.

If they weren't in a serious courtship by the age of twenty-one, their chances of ever getting married dropped dramatically, and most resigned themselves to the fact that they would most likely be an old maid.

Old maids didn't move out of their parent's homes. Instead they would be the ones then caring for the aging parents once that was necessary, even moving into a dawdy haus with them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N ~ Nerves

The clip clop of a horse's hoof beats, and the singing of steel buggy wheels coming down the road always made us look out the window to see who it might be. But when the horse slowed to a walk and turned into our driveway and we looked out the window to see several men climb out of the buggy and recognized them as the school board my nerves would react immediately.

My throat would close, making it almost impossible to speak audibly, my stomach would clench and I'd feel totally sick. My mind would run back over the past few days at school and wonder what I did or said that could warrant a visit from these three scary men.

Most of the time it had nothing what so ever to do with me, but the few times it did made that my nerves were shot when ever they appeared.

It was nice graduating and no longer panicking when ever the schoolboard showed up, but a few years later my nerves took on an even bigger hit when I became a member of the church. Now not only was I affected when ever a buggy pulled in with the bishop or one of the ministers, but every Sunday when members were asked to remain seated after church I was always nervous and afraid they would have come up with some type of new rule, or decided on something else that would now be deemed a sin and require church discipline.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M ~ Molasses

Molasses was an important staple in our pantry while I was growing up, and many other Amish pantries as well.

We used to get it from a bulk food store in five gallon pails.

After bringing it home, a gallon jar would be filled to make using it a little easier than having to lug a heavy five gallon pail around every time we needed some. The pails of molasses would be stored on the floor, tucked under one of the shelves in the pantry.

We used three different kinds of molasses.

Our most used was blackstrap molasses. We used it to bake bread, cookies, Shoo-Fly pie, and stirred it into milk to drink. Instead of having chocolate milk, we had blackstrap milk.

The second kind of molasses, some referred to as white molasses. In reality it was corn syrup. It was used for Pecan Pies, and church peanut butter.

The third was sorghum molasses which happened to be delicious spread on bread instead of honey or jams and jellies.

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Speaking of April 15th...what's the most 'taxing' thing you've done recently?

The most taxing thing I did recently was scour our house for an important item that was lost. It's still missing and I'm trying to deal with the possibility that it may have accidently been thrown into the trash, and figuring out how to proceed from here.

2. When did you last take a taxi somewhere and where was that somewhere?

I have never been in an actual taxi. However I have had plenty of experience going places with people who made a living driving Amish people.

The last time was probably a week or so before we left the Amish, and it would have been to go to town.

3. What's something you can do today that you couldn't do a year ago?

Have a conversation with Buddy. Three year olds are so much fun!

4. How often is chicken (in some form or fashion) on your menu at home? Which of the following would you most like to see on your table tonight...a chicken salad sandwich, your mom's fried chicken, a Chick-fil-A meal, Cracker Barrel's chicken n' dumplings, a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, or 'hold the chicken, I'm a vegetarian'...?

We have chicken almost every week. I had planned to make chicken n' dumplings tonight. But it's still frozen solid even though I had placed it in the refrigerator to thaw yesterday afternoon.

5. What was your favorite television program when you were a kid? What characters do you remember the most?

The only TV I got to see when I was a child was a hidden glance or two on the very rare occasion when I went shopping with Mom at a K-Mart.

6. What was the last piece of 'art' you made?

I haven't been very craft-y for quite a while. Does edible art count? I love creating beautiful food.

7. What frustrates you most about the Internet?

I get frustrated when it's not as fast as I want it to be, and pop up ads are always annoying.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

One of my favorite parts of spring is listening to the spring peepers every night. With a creek and the swampy-ness behind our waterfall there seems to be an abundance of them. They can get really loud which is fine, but when one decides to leave the rest and come up to the house to sing, it's a little annoying.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L ~ Lamps

When ever we go to visit our family who is still Amish I always dread dusk. That time of day when you can barely see, but because there is still a little bit of light they keep going until it's actually dark before they light their lamps.
A lamp using Coleman fuel was usually used in what ever room the family decided to gather in, in the evenings. The rest of the rooms were lit with dim oil lamps.
There was something comforting about winter evenings as we gathered in the kitchen to enjoy popcorn and apples as Mom would read a chapter or two from a book and the gas lamp would be hissing noisily. As the evening wore on the light would get dimmer and quieter, so Dad would take it down from where it was hanging above the table and pump more air into its tank.
Every Saturday we would get all the lamps and bring them into the kitchen where I would trim their wicks and wash the chimneys and fill them with kerosene.
Sunday evenings the soft glow from an oil lamp gave the perfect light for LV and I to enjoy our date.

Monday, April 13, 2015

K ~ Kissy

Sorry, this is not what you think.

I can't make myself write anything about kissing even when the characters in my story are obviously in love, so there is no way a post about kissing will be written for my blog.

However in the language the Amish speak kissy is something quite different. It's a pillow, any pillow.

So if you're ever in an Amish home and you happen to hear a child say the word kissy they are not asking for a kiss, they're asking for a pillow.

We used to have normal pillows for our beds when I was growing up, and several nice pillows for our sofa that we would bring out and use when we knew we would have visitors. 

My grandmother, and family in Lancaster and its daughter settlements used to have huge pillows for their beds. One pillow per bed was all they needed since it was as wide as the bed. These big pillows were homemade, often stuffed with feathers they had collected from their flock of geese.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J ~ Jell-O

Going through one of my kitchen cupboards this morning I stumbled across a small package of Jell-O.

I keep some on hand to use when I make the flavored marshmallow popcorn balls, but other than that we hardly ever use it.

That is quite different from when I was growing up and Jell-O was a very common choice for dessert. Jell-O puddings, Jell-O molds, Jell-O salads, Jell-O made with extra water so that it didn't set too firmly and then a lot of fruit added to it.

Some Amish communities serve these great big bowls of red and green Jell-O with pineapples at weddings.

My least favorite Jell-O concoction used to be when carrots were shredded and added to orange Jell-O. A very popular choice to be served during the winter when carrots needed to be used before they started going bad.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I ~ Ice Cream

Ice cream was a real treat while we were growing up.

On the rare occasion that Dad brought some home it would immediately be wrapped in heavy comforters to try to keep it from melting until we were ready to eat it

It didn't matter if it wasn't quite time to make supper. Mom and I would drop everything we were doing and immediately go make soup. We would eat it as soon as it was ready and then it was time to bring the ice cream out.

Mom would fill bowls with ice cream and we'd all dig in. After we had eaten until we couldn't  take another bite the melting left overs were given to our cats.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

H ~ Helping

The Amish seem to be known for how much they help each other. It's true they do help each other when there is a need, but it isn't every day, or every week. In fact, months can pass without the community coming together to help someone.

Gardening, canning, quilting, and almost everything is done alone with only the members of that particular household.

Hired help on the other hand is a lot more common. After a baby is born a girl will usually be hired for the next six weeks to take care of all the household duties and any other children in the family while the mother gets to relax and enjoy her new baby.

Farmers that don't have any children old enough to help with hay making and some other tasks around the farm will often hire young boys to help out.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G ~ Gelassenheit

Growing up Amish the word Gelassenheit was heard frequently. Translated to mean giving up oneself to higher authority, self-surrender, contented, calm.

Basically the opposite of individualism and self interest.

It seems to be at the core of the whole Amish belief system, and is harder to explain than I thought it would be.

I receive a lot of questions about the Amish from people wondering why they do this, but not that. And trying to figure out and make sense of the many rules applying to the Amish.

For many of those questions there really is no answer, other than Gelassenheit. To outsiders the rules make no sense, many seem to have no rhyme or reason. We were taught to practice Gelassenheit and therefore didn't question, we simply obeyed.

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Besides left over Easter goodies, what's something currently kept in a basket at your house?

We have a basket filled with Buddy's favorite books in the corner of the living room.

2. 'The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.' ~Michelangelo Buonarroti 

So which one are you...the one who aims too high, or the one who aims too low? Have you ever seen The Sistine Chapel? Did you know Michelangelo's surname prior to answering this question?

I have a tendency of aiming too high.
I have never seen The Sistine Chapel, and no, I didn't know Michelangelo's surname.

3. April 7th is National Beer Day. Hmmm...wonder how that's celebrated? Do you like beer? Have a favorite? If you're not a beer drinker do you have any recipes you enjoy cooking that call for beer?

I have never tasted a beer, but I can't imagine that I'd like it. I have never made any recipes that required beer.
4. When did you last travel somewhere new? Tell us where? How'd it go?

This doesn't exactly qualify, but about two weeks ago we had to go see a surgeon a little over an hour away. It was our first time in that city.

It went, let's say, interesting. After parking in the parking garage we headed for the elevators and almost got run over by a nun.

5. The value of _________________________is greatly overrated.

I have been sitting here for longer than I care admit trying to come up with something that won't offend people.

It's wearying trying to be politically correct, so I'm going with that.

The value of being politically correct is greatly overrated.

6. What's a pet peeve of yours when it comes to restaurant dining?

Eating at a restaurant is such a rare occurrence that I don't really have a pet peeve.

7. It's Poetry Month...share a favorite poem, either the title, a few lines you find meaningful, or the whole kit and caboodle.

My favorite poem is actually in German. Every verse ends with, Daniel's Gott lebt heute noch.

The favorite's from my childhood are:

The Hornet's Nest
When the Frost is on the Pumpkin

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I was looking through some older photos, and this one of Sailor giving Buddy a piggy back ride still makes me laugh.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F ~ Fabric

As summer came to an end and all the gardening and canning was over it was time to sit down and create a list of all the winter sewing projects that we wanted to get done.

First on the list was all the clothes we would need for another year.

The fabric store provided us with samples of all the fabric they had so those would be spread out over the table as we chose what colors we wanted to wear for the next year. Shades of blues and greens were the most popular, and I always chose to have a new purple dress.

Once the decisions had been made we would go buy the fabric. It helped to make the process faster, being armed with the samples we wanted and already knowing how many yards of each color we wanted.

We used to try having matching shirts for each of the boys, so that meant at minimum twelve yards of fabric of each color.

It used to be fun coming home and fitting all the fabric into the cupboards in our sewing room. It always felt as if we were now officially ready for winter to arrive.

Once all the clothes were made that we needed we would use the fabric scraps to make quilts, and other fun projects.

Monday, April 6, 2015

E ~ Easter Monday

The four day Easter weekend used to drag on for what seemed like much more than four days. It used to be a relief when Easter Monday rolled around and you knew the end was in sight and life would soon be back to normal.

Of the four days, Easter Monday was my favorite. Though we weren't allowed to work, it wasn't a day of fasting. If we weren't invited to someone's house, and didn't have anyone invited to our house we children would often go hiking.

A well known hiking/biking trail is near our house. It doesn't see a lot of use by the Amish, but with today being Easter Monday I expect to see a number of groups of Amish youth passing our house to go hiking.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

D ~ Desserts

Desserts used to be an important part of Amish life while I was growing up. Every meal ended with dessert, including breakfast where pie, cakes, and cookies were enjoyed with cereal or a cup of tea.

Saturday afternoons used to be spent creating a variety of desserts, because a typical Sunday dinner ended with a big dessert course. You never knew who might be stopping by, and you didn't want to be caught unprepared.

 Cake and fruit was the usual way of starting dessert. Bars, brownies, and cookies were often included in this part. Once everyone had finished that, it was time to serve pudding, which was often some elaborate creation. The final option used to be several kinds of pie.

Love for dessert is evident in Amish cookbooks, where the majority of the recipes will be for desserts.

Friday, April 3, 2015

C ~ Candy

In the living room, standing on top of the desk, was a large, beautiful, carnival glass candy bowl. It was never empty. We weren't allowed to touch it, but every Saturday Mom would lift it off and hold it down so we could choose a piece or two as a reward kind of thing for being good helpers.

It was something I looked forward to all week.

And then the most wonderful of things happened. A customer, intrigued by all things Amish, happened to stop in our store one day. She bought a little something, and then several days later she was back with her grandchildren so they could meet us as well.

I don't know if it was our large garden, our plain homemade clothes, or the fact that our main source of transportation was a horse and buggy, but for some reason she thought we would never have tasted candy before.

She presented each of us children with a brown paper grocery bag, filled to the brim with candy.

After she left Mom allowed us to choose a few pieces, and then the rest was tucked on the top shelf in the pantry. We could have one piece per day, and had to share a lot of it with our friends.

The lady continued to visit several times a month, always bearing things she thought we would not get to experience otherwise. Delicious cakes, cookies, jams and jellies, and always more candy.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B ~ Black

After the death of a loved one, Amish women will wear black for quite a while.

In the community where I grew up the rules for wearing black were strict.

If a grandparent, aunt, or uncle passed away, we were required to wear black when ever we went to church, or went visiting for the next six months.

If a friend passed we would wear black for a Sunday or two.

If it was a parent, child, or sibling, black was worn for an entire year.

With Amish families typically being quite large, it seemed the older you got the less you got to wear anything other than black, because chances were by the time you could quit wearing black for one person, someone else passed away. Not only did women have to wear black when one of their relatives passed away, they also had to wear it for the same length of time when one of their husband's relatives passed, which made the prospect of getting to wear some other color even slimmer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A ~ Asparagus

After months spent eating food we had preserved for the winter it was always nice to notice the first little spears of asparagus poke through the ground. Waiting for it to grow enough to be harvested was a little challenging and I would check on them every day in hopes we can have a meal that included something that was freshly grown. Canned vegetables, though good, simply couldn't measure up to something straight from the garden.

We weren't the only ones that seemed to be happy that the winter was over and there would be fresh vegetables to enjoy. The deer apparently kept tabs on asparagus as well and would come out at night to nibble on it. That is, until our dog decided she was going to spend her nights sleeping next to our asparagus patch. Her barking did the trick and we were able to enjoy several weeks having fresh asparagus every day.

Spring seems to have sprung here in our little corner of the world. Unfortunately we don't have an asparagus patch where we live right now. Sad, because I could go for a big bowl full prepared like my Mom used to.

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. In honor of the date...when were you last sent on a 'fool's errand'?

We wanted to go pick up some meat at a butcher shop and for some reason they were out of everything we wanted.

2. Peter Rabbit, Bugs Bunny, The Energizer Bunny, The Easter Bunny, Rabbit (Pooh's friend), White Rabbit (of Wonderland fame), or the Trix Rabbit...which of these 'famous' rabbits can you best relate to right now?

The Energizer Bunny because it seems like I keep going and going. So much to do, so little time to do it.

3. When did you last find yourself scrambling to get something done? Explain.

Last Thursday I was scrambling to get everything done before I had to go meet LV at his workplace so we could go to an appointment we had.

4. Last time you were up at the literal crack of dawn? Why? Last time you stayed up all night? Why?

I am up every morning at the crack of dawn. Actually I'm up before then since I need to get breakfast for LV at 4:30 so he can eat before he leaves for work.

The last time I was up all night was last summer when LV and Sailor were on their way home from Missouri and I had wanted to stay up till they got here.

5. Crack a book, crack a bottle, crack a joke, crack an egg...which have you done most recently?

Crack an egg. Three of them, for breakfast about an hour ago.
6. What's your favorite part of a typical weekend? Tell us why that's so.

My favorite part is Sunday afternoons when we're all gathered in the living room, reading, playing games, or what ever else strikes our fancy.

7. What's something I'd find on a bookshelf in your home? Other than a book I mean!

Nothing. The only things on our bookshelves are books. Hundreds and hundreds of books.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Woodpeckers have always fascinated me, and when LV stumbled across this tree I couldn't help but be amazed at the determination this woodpecker had to have to create all these holes.

The pile of shavings at the base of the tree was impressive as well.