Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Life Goes On

As the school term ended Mom turned down the request to teach grammar classes again the next year. I was a little sad that she wouldn't be back but I knew she would be extra busy once the baby came.

Summer passed swiftly with a lot of work that needed to be done, our garden was even bigger than the previous year, customers to our store were increasing steadily and there were baby clothes that needed to be made.

When school started I was amazed at how relaxing it seemed to be in the eighth grade and not have to worry about LV since he had graduated. Everything was in a comfortable routine and I was enjoying school more than I ever had before. I did wish I could be at home to cuddle our new baby once it arrived.

A few days before Christmas we were once again awakened early and sent to Grandpa Masts. I was excited knowing that finally after waiting for so long I would be getting my baby sister. Mom and Daddy had told me if it's a girl I would be allowed to choose the name. I already had it picked out and was looking forward to announcing it. There was a pile of pink blankets and sleepers waiting to welcome her.

When we came home from school Mom was in her bed waiting to show us the new baby. As we stood around the bed she handed the baby to me and said. "Say hello to Ivan."  I held him and wondered how it's possible a newborn could be that ugly. Not only was he red and wrinkly but on his forehead there was an ugly birthmark.

I immediately knew it was my fault Ivan had a birthmark because I had talked about the accident Mom had at school when we had been playing baseball. Once the boys had gone back to the shop with Daddy I told Mom I was sorry that I caused the birthmark. She assured me it wasn't my fault. I asked if it always leaves a birthmark when a mother gets hurt before the baby is born. She said it doesn't always happen that way but it can. The birthmark on Aunt Emma's arm came from Grandma spilling some boiling water on her arm before Emma had been born. One of my friends was blind in her one eye because her mother had panicked and over reacted when a rooster had pecked her son's eye.

Thankfully Ivan's birthmark faded and by the time he was several months old there was only a faint mark there and with time even that disappeared.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Teacher Mom

We were soon able to get into a comfortable routine in the evenings after school. Mom would spend time preparing the next days lessons and checking the ones that had been done that day.  I thought it was interesting to see how the other children did, especially when ever there had been an assignment to write stories or poems.

I found it rather disturbing though that Mom thought LV was her star student. He was unusually polite and considerate when ever she was there and he excelled in all his school work. After hearing Mom's praise of his story and poem writing skills I renewed my efforts to do better and try harder with everything because it certainly wouldn't do to have LV do better at school than I did.

Most times when Mom came to teach grammar classes she stayed inside during recess to get everything ready for the next classes. When spring came and we were once again playing baseball at recess we got her convinced to come pitch for us. She was as good at pitching as she was at teaching grammar and we all enjoyed it immensely when she had time to help us play. At one noon recess we were once again playing baseball. Daniel, an eighth grader was up to bat. We all heard the satisfying crack as the ball and bat met but instead of everything progressing like normal we were all stunned to see Mom stagger and fall. Daniel helped her into the school house while everyone else stood there not really knowing what to do.

Somehow I came to my senses and ran into the schoolhouse to see how Mom was. She was sitting on her chair and when I asked her how she feels she assured me she was going to be fine. I felt rather dubious about that since the lump on her head looked nasty. Her glasses were bent, and when she tried to stand up dizziness made her sit down again.

Recess was extended until she was feeling a little better, but I couldn't wait until it was time to go home. I was sure Daddy would know what to do to make Mom feel better.

Once we got home Mom sat on her rocking chair while I made supper. When I again brought up the subject of how badly her head must be hurting, she asked me to please not talk about it too much. She then shared that we were going to have another baby and it was important for her to not think of how painful her head really is because she doesn't want the baby to have a birthmark.

I didn't say anything about her accident again, I still felt sorry for her but I was very excited about the news that another baby was on the way. I was sure that this time I would finally be getting the sister I wanted so badly.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Picture my Week

We had lots and lots of rain, so when the sun came out for a little while Sharon had to grab a blanket and run outside to pet her favorite kitten.

The eastern sky after another rainstorm was scuttling away. Somehow I love barns with dark skies. It didn't last long, and I was happy I managed to capture it before it faded into a friendlier light gray.

We enjoy trying new foods. I took a quick picture of my plate before I ate this week's new fare. The broccoli wasn't new, but it's my favorite vegetable. The fries are actually yucca root cut to look like fries, tossed in olive oil and seasonings before being baked. It was our first time trying them. I loved them, they were slightly sweet kind of like a sweet potato, but more fibrous. I could happily make it a weekly addition to our menu, except that the rest of the family didn't enjoy it as much as I did. The rice noodles were another first for us. They were a hit.
With all the rain we've been having, trying to get a daily walk in has been challenging. We've been heading outside at the first break between showers. All the wild flowers seem to be thriving under these wet conditions.

Sharon thought it would be really cool to try to get a picture of a water balloon popping, so we filled up a giant bowl with balloons and headed outside. I did my best, and out of almost a hundred pictures I finally managed to get a fairly decent one. We both loved how it appeared there was a ball of water hanging there.

Rosie Mae made some yummy savory pastries for lunch the one day. The filling consisted of broccoli, ham, and cheese.
And since this is my favorite picture I took this week, I am sharing it again.

Friday, July 27, 2018


As I entered seventh grade we had again had a new teacher. She had been a teacher for years at a special needs school and wanted to have the experience of being a teacher at a regular school. The only problem was she wasn't qualified to teach English/grammar.

Day after day horse and buggies would arrive at our house. We'd look out the window and watch as members of the school board would make their way inside and then Mom and Daddy would spend hours visiting with them while we children tried to be quiet in another room. We wondered what they wanted but since we didn't get into trouble after they left we were kept wondering. We knew what ever it was must be important, because the visits kept happening, only now it included the ministers and eventually the bishop.

Finally one evening after we had our evening devotions Daddy announced that after a lot of thought and consideration they decided to tell the school board that Mom would teach the English/grammar classes several afternoons each week for the next school term.

John, David, and I sat there speechless. Mom wasn't supposed to be our school teacher. She was supposed to be at home sewing, baking, taking care of customers in our store, and everything else that mothers do, but certainly not be a school teacher. I jumped up and ran upstairs to my room, flopped on my bed and cried. I had no doubts that Mom would be a great teacher. I really loved her and I wanted to keep her for myself, not share her with a lot of other children.

Daddy came upstairs to see what was troubling me, but I couldn't seem to find a way to tell him. It sounded too silly to put into words. He sat on the side of my bed for a while and talked to me assuring me that we would all work together. Mom would need a lot more help around the house since she had to make lessons for school, and that the afternoons that she came to teach would soon be my favorite times at school.

Daddy was right. The afternoons when English/grammar classes were taught became the highlights of the school weeks. Everyone loved having Mom as teacher and some how everything was fine even if a lot of other children learned to love her too.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Another Milestone

One summer evening Daddy announced that it was time that I learn how to milk the cow. It always looked easy when ever I watched Mom or Daddy milk our little Jersey and I looked forward to being able to milk her on my own.

I brought the cow in from her pasture and carefully measured her usual amount of grain into her little trough. After washing her udder with warm soapy water I was ready to start milking. I set the pail on the floor and held it with my knees to keep it from tipping over if Pansy should happen to bump it. Daddy showed me the correct way to squeeze so that a nice stream of milk shot into the pail. I tried it but the stream of milk I got wasn't very impressive.  I kept on trying. The pail gradually filled up, but my arms ached so badly I could hardly keep on.

Pansy had finished eating her grain and was getting impatient to go back out to her pasture. Daddy finally offered to finish milking her and I was happy to hand the pail and milk stool over to him.  The next evening I tried again, and Daddy again had to finish milking her.

After several weeks with Daddy always finishing the milking I finally succeeded in doing it by myself. I was so happy about that, that after I had given the cats their bowlful of fresh milk I sent the pail into the house with one of my brothers while I borrowed a pocket knife from John and climbing up to a beam I carefully carved the words, "I milked Pansy all by myself." I then added the date in hopes that someday once I was old I could look at it and be reminded of the night I reached this specific milestone.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thinking About the Hodgepodge

I have this little idea floating around my mind. You know how I often answer a list of questions every Wednesday, aptly called the "Wednesday Hodgepodge." Well ... the creator of the list is going on a long break so I thought it could be fun doing a different version of this where I'll answer your questions.

They can be anything and everything. What ever topic you choose, funny, serious, interesting, and yes, even Amish related if you wish. You can ask as many questions as you wish.

Over the next weeks I will take Wednesdays to choose some of your questions to answer, and it can be our own little Hodgepodge of sorts.

I'm getting excited, so fire away. The more the merrier.

As always if you have a question you'd like to ask without the whole world knowing it was you, feel free to send me an email or use the anonymous option to leave a comment here.

And now, because this is kind of a boring little post, I'm adding a picture of the covered bridge we visited recently, to brighten it up a little.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


Reading ... I'm reading through the book of Mark in the Bible. In fiction, I picked up Akin to Anne by L.M. Montgomery, at the library. It's a  book of short stories. Each chapter is its own little story with new characters to meet. It's written in true L.M. Montgomery fashion which I enjoy, but somehow this book is beginning to wear on me. So many orphans, so many impossible happy endings. I'm sad to say it's beginning to get to be too much for me. In non-fiction Steven and I have been enjoying reading through a world atlas book that is filled with fun facts. He chose it as his bedtime story book instead of one of the many children's books he could have chosen from. Who am I to argue his choice?

Writing ... so far this week the only things I've written are two blog posts, a few words on Instagram and Facebook, answered an email, and created several schedules and to-do lists.

Watching ... nothing at the moment. There was a baseball game going last night, but I think I may have only taken a handful of short glances at it.

Listening ...  to the rustling of pages being turned, and the fun scratchy noise of pencils traveling across paper. We have started our new year of school.

Cooking ... we're not having much for lunch today. A nice salad and then I'll heat up some left over fish.

Drinking ... lots and lots of water.

Wearing ... a pink and black top, and a slate gray skirt.

Loving ... the roses that are blooming right now. We have numerous rose bushes, but somehow they seem to take turns blooming. Last evening we had quite a bit of rain, when it had slowed down to a fast sprinkle I dashed outside to take a picture of the roses while they still have raindrops on them.

Playing ... Steven found an old Chutes and Ladder game board. I have no idea where it comes from, but it's missing the box and all the playing pieces. That didn't deter him though. He set it up with toy animals for games pieces, dug out a die, and asked me to play. I set aside what I was doing and helped him play. I am decidedly not a fan of the game. It goes on and on and on and on. Every time the end was in sight we'd land on a chute and go sliding way back. I may have finally invented some new rules that made that his toy animal was strong enough to climb up chutes as well as the ladders. Surprise, surprise! He won!

Wanting ... some fun journaling supplies.

Needing ... to get some things thawed so I can make supper tonight for my hungry family.

Crafting ... some fun little projects that tie in with Steven's history.

Feeling ... happy, hungry, and just a touch sleepy. My alarm clock got me up half an hour earlier than planned this morning. The idea of missing that sleep is making me sleepier than the actual loss of 30 minutes of sleep.

Disliking ... this ugly virus that is making its rounds through our area. Currently four out of the six of us have had a turn. Here's hoping the remaining two will somehow be able to escape catching it.

Thinking ...  about the whole blogging thing. When I started nine years ago the blogging world was filled with tons of fun blogs that I loved to visit. They shared their life, their thoughts, ideas, tips, encouragement, and anything else that happened to be on their mind when they sat down to write another post.

That type of blog is getting harder and harder to find, being replaced by those who have carved out a specific niche for themselves and stick firmly to it hoping to earn a living through the ads, product reviews, and affiliate links they share. That's perfectly fine, but I miss getting to know the writers and I will usually not visit those regularly.

That said ... I've felt somewhat confined with this blog ever since I wrote my first book. I need to keep it Amish related I was told. It took some of the joy out of writing when I had so many things tumbling through my head, and I had to sift through them all to find something more "niche" related.

One day I decided to start another blog. One where I can be just me, and write anything and everything I feel like. I have loved it. But this blog, A Joyful Chaos, is still the dearest to my heart. I was considering this for a while already, and this morning as I sat down to write another post for my other blog, instead of posting I closed it, shut it down, it's over.

So in the future you can expect much more of a variety of posts here. Yes, I'll continue sharing memories of growing up Amish and the journey that brought us to where we are today, as well as other Amish related things. But there will also be anything and everything else.

Monday, July 23, 2018

School Hike

Every spring, a few weeks before school was dismissed for summer vacation the teacher would pick a day for our annual hike and picnic in the woods. It was the highlight of every school year.

On the morning of the hike, right after our usual scripture reading and singing our three song requirement. we would all grab our lunches boxes and head down the hill behind the school house, across the creek, and into the woods. There was a perfect spot in the woods where a creek ran through, and a nice pond surrounded by lots of hemlock trees awaited us.  Once we arrived at this spot we would stash our lunch boxes under a tree and start playing games. Some of our favorites were Hide and Seek, and a pioneer game we invented.

There were so many great places to hide for Hide and Seek. The big mountain laurels were excellent since they were filled with glossy leaves making hiding under them perfect. Once we got tired of that we would go hunting for the little red berries that were almost tasteless, but quite edible. We girls would gather as many as we could while the boys tried to build a bridge over the creek and catch minnows in its shallow waters.

It was so much fun playing, that the day never seemed to last long enough. We would head home tired but happy.

The following day we used to have to write a report about our hike which wasn't nearly as fun, but worth the effort since it was a required part of taking the hike.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

From this Side of the Pond
1. I feel most energized when I _______________________.

I love the energy, anticipation, and enthusiasm I feel when I wake up well rested on a Monday morning with an entire week of possibilities waiting ahead of me.

2. Where were you ten years ago?

Ten years ago we were living in Missouri. I was a fairly new homeschool Mom still trying to figure out what works and what doesn't. At the time I thought it was going as well as could be expected, but I so wish now that I could go back and do those first few years over again. I was not yet introduced to the world of blogging, and would have been speechless and excited if someone told me that I would be a published author of a series of four books within the next ten years.

3. July 17th is World Emoji Day. Do you use emojis? Which one's your favorite? Your most used?

I very seldom use emojis. Some form of the smiley face would be my most used one. I can't say that I have a favorite.

4. What song would you put on a wedding DO NOT PLAY list?

A bunch of silly little children's songs come to mind as some that I would not want played at a wedding.

5. What deserves less of your attention? More of your attention?

Social media deserves less of my attention. More of my attention? ... I'll go with family. Can never have too much attention there, can we?

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Lately I've been looking at different planners. So many fun options out there, but none of them offer exactly what I'm looking for. Do you have a favorite planner you would recommend?

Monday, July 16, 2018

In Which I Learn

Ever since Mom had a Country Air story published in the Pennsylvania Farmer magazine we looked forward to reading that section even more. One day when we came home from school we noticed that the latest issue had arrived. We hurried to change our clothes and then settled down to read it.

This time it was about a man that had a bull that he couldn't fatten, so he finally fed it a lot of bran and then just before it was time to take him to the sale-barn he let him drink water, the bull of-course bloated up and he got a nice price for him. The new owner was disappointed when a few hours later his nice bull was very skinny again.  For some reason this story and the way it was written really amused us and I tucked it away in my memory for future reference.

Several months later Mom's brother David and his wife Barbara came to visit us one Sunday afternoon. They had been married for almost a year, and I always enjoyed having Barbara around. She was so pretty, her laughter so musical, and she always made sure to visit with me personally. She was fast becoming one of my favorite aunts.

Today how ever I noticed that she no longer looked as slender as she used to. She was still fun to be around though and the afternoon was passing by with everyone visiting pleasantly, when all of a sudden I blurted out. "It looks like Uncle David fed bran to Barbara."  The conversation stopped as Barbara turned bright pink and Mom looked absolutely horrified. Daddy quickly started talking about something else and Mom asked me to come help her mix up a fresh batch of lemonade.

When we were by ourselves she explained that David and Barbara would soon have a baby and that is the reason why Barbara looks that way. I felt mortified that I had opened my big mouth, and was sure I couldn't go back to where everyone else was visiting and face Barbara after I had been so rude. Mom told me to help serve the lemonade, as I handed the glass to Barbara I was relieved to note that she didn't seem upset with me as she smiled her usual bright smile as she thanked me.

I was quiet for the rest of the afternoon as I mulled over the many questions I had to ask Mom once I got an opportunity.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Sleeping in the Barn

In one of our school reading books there was a story about several children who slept in a barn on fresh hay during the summer. It was something that I found very intriguing and wished that I could sleep in our barn too.

We talked about it to Mom and Daddy. They seemed a little amused that we would rather sleep in the barn than in our nice comfortable beds, but they agreed that we could on Saturday night before our in-between Sunday. That way we could sleep as long as we wanted to.

For the rest of the week we looked forward to Saturday night and once it finally arrived we headed to the barn before our usual bedtime. Daddy went with us and spread out several buggy blankets on the hay. Mom brought out a few old quilts and pillows and after they said goodnight we settled down in our little nests. We talked for a little while and then lay there listening to the sleepy goodnight clucks from the hens, the goats were laying in their pen chewing their cud. Their sharp little teeth sounded quite noisy as darkness started to envelope us and we could see stars through the cracks in the barn wall.

Our cats couldn't understand why we didn't want to play with them and they continually walked over our blankets and rubbed against our faces. They finally gave up and went to do what ever farm cats do during the night. As we nestled under our blankets we finally fell asleep only to be awakened a little later to a loud thump and a high pitched terrified scream of an animal. We all sat up, John had a flashlight and we all looked trying to see where the noise had come from. The light fell on one of our cats, and we watched horrified as it played and teased a terrified little mouse that kept screaming.  I couldn't stand watching it and lay down and pulled the covers up over my head to try and block out the noise. A little later it was quiet and then the sounds of a cat eating the mouse started which wasn't much better.

We finally drifted off to sleep again but awoke later in the night. The barn that had soaked up the warmth from a pleasant summer day had changed as the cold mountain night air seeped in through the cracks. We got up and added all our blankets to one nest and all lay shivering in it until the first streaks of a sunrise stole across the sky.

We hurried back to the house, but didn't really know what to do with ourselves since Mom and Daddy were still sleeping. Once they got up they asked how our night was and we told them about everything. I helped Mom fix breakfast while John, David, and Mahlon went to the barn with Daddy to do the chores and bring all our blankets in.  At breakfast Daddy asked if we want to sleep in the barn again in two weeks, but we all assured him that our beds really were the best place to sleep.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wednesday Hodgepodge

 1. What's something in your house you'd like to get rid of but can't?

I'd love to get rid of the carpeted floors, but I can't.

If I were ever to build a new house there wouldn't be any carpeting involved. I would much rather sweep and mop, than vacuum. And know my floors are clean. I never feel as if my floors are clean even though they get vacuumed at least once a day, often more.

2. When is the last time you experienced a sense of nostalgia? Elaborate.

Probably at my brother's wedding. Hearing all the old Amish wedding songs. (You can listen to a snippet of it here.) Seeing the same bishop who married us, marry them. It brought back waves of nostalgia and emotions.

3. You're only allowed three apps on your smart phone or tablet...which three do you keep?

I only downloaded two apps. Instagram which I happen to really like. You can find me here. The second app is Inkpad. I love it to be able to take quick notes and reminders for myself. The third app came preinstalled, but it's my favorite. The camera.

4. July 11th is National Blueberry Muffin Day. Who knew? Do you like blueberry muffins? If you were going to have a muffin would blueberry be your choice? What's the last thing you baked?

Muffins aren't really my thing, having had way too many of those dry-ish crumbly things as a child. If I had to eat a muffin, a blueberry one would be my choice.

The last thing I baked was a Stromboli. The last thing that was baked in my kitchen were these delicious blueberry cream cheese treats. Rosie Mae and Steven made them.

5. What's the biggest way you've changed since you were a child? In what way are you still the same?

One of the biggest ways I've changed is by no longer being Amish. Other less blatantly obvious changes are that I'm less shy, less agile, more confident, and I no longer have to be on a crazy hard diet.

A way that I'm still the same. I still love, love, love the feel of a pen in my hand and a new notebook ready and waiting to be filled.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Last week there was a run away garbage truck down the mountain. It ended badly. The driver survived, but the truck did not. As badly as I feel for the driver and his helper guys that had been hanging onto the back of the truck ... I am not enjoying the growing pile of garbage out by the road that is still waiting to be picked up.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Circle Letter

Several times a month an envelope filled with letters would arrive and Mom would take a few moments to read all of then before continuing with her work. She was a member of numerous circle letters. One of them was for all her Mast girl cousins close to her age, another one was for her siblings, several others were for some of her school friends, and a variety of others. And hardly a Sunday afternoon or evening passed that she didn't have to write a letter for one of the circle letters.

I dreamed of the day I would be old enough to be in a circle letter. Mom told me I would have to be able to write well before I could join one so when ever I had spare time in school I would often write a letter to Mom and Daddy or my Grandparents.

I kept hoping that Mom would announce that I was ready to join a circle letter but she didn't say anything about it and I knew it was useless to beg for one. But on the morning of my tenth birthday as I came into the kitchen I noticed a gift bag beside my plate on the table. I hurried over to see what I had received. The first thing I found was a box with three of the cutest little "dishes" that I would use to keep my pins in since I now wore cape dresses regularly.

I was thrilled with them, but the next packet I found I could barely contain myself with joy of having one of my most cherished dreams realized. There was a tablet of paper, a box of envelopes,  a book of stamps, and a pretty piece of paper that Mom had written Address Sheet along the top and the numbers from 1 to 10 written along the side. I quickly sat down and carefully wrote my name and address beside the 1 and then entered names and addresses of several cousins and best friends in the remaining slots.

That day in school I wrote my first letter for a circle letter, and mailed it the next day. Several weeks later I received an envelope nicely fat from being filled with letters from nine of my friends. I read everyone's letter and removed the letter I had written and put it into a box to keep like Mom always did with her letters and then quickly wrote a new one so it would be ready to mail the next day. Years passed and I joined lots of other circle letters but none of them were ever as exciting as the first one I had.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Magazine Article

One lovely summer day we were pleasantly surprised when a vehicle drove in the lane and Daddy's brother Ezra  got out. Daddy quickly went to meet him and they stood there visiting for a little while and then Daddy noticed that Ezra's wife and children were waiting in the van so he invited everyone to come into the house.

It was a short day as we played with our cousins and Mom and Daddy visited with Ezra and his wife. Their driver, Jerry, spent most of his day with them which we all considered annoying. A good driver never tried to follow his passengers around or sit with them when they were visiting with family and friends.

Several weeks later we received a letter from Jerry and we were surprised to find out that not only did he do a little taxi work for the Amish but he was a professional photographer and would often write articles for different magazines. He had been impressed with our woodworking shop and wondered if Daddy would consider allowing him to come and interview him, take a few pictures and do an article for the WOOD magazine about our shop. Mom and Daddy talked it over and decided to do it, since it would be some free advertising and Jerry had assured them that he wouldn't take pictures of them.

Several weeks later Jerry came and set up his cameras in the shop. He asked lots of questions and took even more pictures. He got Daddy to go ahead and work and he would take pictures being careful to only get his hands. As the day passed Daddy started getting suspicious that Jerry was taking pictures of more than just his hands as he worked. Jerry assured him that he wouldn't even dream of taking advantage of this opportunity and take pictures that we didn't want to have taken.

It was a long day and when he finally wrapped everything up and left we breathed a sigh of relief.

Almost a year later the article was published and we felt betrayed and insulted when we read it. Not only had he lied and taken lots of pictures but the entire article held almost no truth. He even had our address wrong where people could write to for more information about our furniture.

Daddy assembling a chair with John's help and David watching.
Daddy hid the magazine and told all of us that we would take this as a lesson and never again allow anyone to do an interview or write an article about us unless we know them personally and can trust them. Over the years he would look at the pictures again and enjoy them, but time never did remove the sting of  what Jerry had written in the article.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


Reading ... In the Bible I'm still reading Matthew. In fiction I'm about to finish up Magic for Marigold, by L.M. Montgomery. I've been carrying it around in my purse for a while already, and usually read it while I'm waiting at Sharon's piano lessons. It's a book that works great to be picked up and enjoyed, but doesn't insist on being continued in every little spare moment. I'll most likely finish it at the next lesson. In non-fiction I'm loving a delightful book called Beautiful Homemaking by Charlene Johnson. I really can't recommend it enough. Reading it is like sitting down with a sweet friend and discussing life. I've already decided it's a book I want both of my daughters to read, and hopefully someday have a copy of their own. I'll have to keep my eyes open for an opportunity to buy them, since finding a copy in good condition is challenging.

Writing ... I have too many writing projects going, really. I can't ignore them though. I've tried, but they seem to call my name and insist on being written.

Watching ... nothing at the moment. Life is too busy. There are a few things recorded waiting to be watched. One of them is, The Great British Baking Show, which Rosie Mae and I happen to love. It's such a friendly competition, the people are kind, friendly, and simply a delight to watch. Their accents and word choices are great as well. On top of inspiring us to learn how to bake new things, we've also been inspired to expand our everyday vocabulary.

Listening ... to the hum of the refrigerator, birds singing merrily in the trees outside the window, and the sound of grinders, sanders, and other mechanic-y things as LV and Kenneth work on preparing another truck to be painted.

Cooking ... rice casserole for lunch. Steven has been asking for it, and I'm in the mood for it once again as well. We don't have anything really holiday related on the menu for today. Somehow I hadn't thought of that when I was creating this week's menu.

Drinking ... for me it's still water. We've been making lemonade and Kool-aid as well for the guys to drink as they work outside in the summer heat. Anything to keep them hydrated and feeling well.

Wearing ... a summery sleeveless dress. Sleeveless + me isn't a combination I ever thought would happen, but I love it here at home.

Yesterday ... Rosie Mae and I went on a quest to find a gray dress. She received a last minute request to have part in a wedding. Finding a dress on such short notice is challenging to say the least. I lost count on how many stores we went to, but we finally found something that will have to do. It's not what either of us had in mind, but since the only requirement the bride had was that it be gray, it will work.

Later today ... I want to fill up the hummingbird feeder and hang it out on our front porch. We moved here eight years ago, and it was only last week that I finally found the humming bird feeder! I thought we had everything unpacked a long time ago, but there was still a box in the corner of the basement that had managed to go unnoticed. I thought it contained empty canning jars, and hadn't bothered to check for eight years! It's almost embarrassing.

Loving ... a new to us Amish grocery store we found. A little over a week ago we saw a propped up sign for this store at what we thought was the end of a driveway. We couldn't stop in then, but I knew I'd have to go back and check it out later. I finally got it done. The "driveway" turned out to be a narrow dirt road that we followed for about a mile, to the next sign. We followed it down an even more narrow dirt road until we found the store. I'm in love with their prices, and happily loaded my cart with things to restock our food supply in the basement.

Monday, July 2, 2018


"We'll be having the singing tonight" Daddy announced one Sunday on the way home from church. John, David, and I looked at each other in the back seat and smiled. It was always special to have the singing at our house. The families in our district took turns opening our home to the youth to spend an evening singing German hymns. Since the only time there were singings was on the Sundays we had church our turn to host came only once a year.

Once we got home we had our usual after church lunch and once the dishes had been cleared away we all went to take a nap so that Mom and Daddy would hopefully let us stay up until the singing was over.

As evening approached Mom made a simple supper. Daddy went to the attic to find our backless bench and set it behind the table that had been opened to it's full length. Mom spread a table cloth over it and set out one of her pretty water sets and several salt shakers. Before long we could hear buggies drive into the lane, the girls came inside while the boys unhitched their horses and then stood visiting in the barn until it was time for the singing to start.

Once seven o'clock arrived everyone came and found a seat at the table. John, David, and I sat on our own little chairs a little distance from the table with Mom and Daddy. For the next two hours there would be no talking as one song after the other was announced and sung. After an hour or so they would pass the salt shakers and who ever was feeling a little hoarse would make a little pile of salt next to their songbook or in the palm of their hand. They would moisten their fingertips and then lick the salt which seemed to do the trick and they continued singing.

I loved singing and was always sad when after two hours the closing hymn was announced. As the boys went to hitch up the horses again and the girls stood chattering until their ride drove up to the house I looked forward to the time I would be old enough to go to the singings every time, but I made up my mind I would never lick any salt.