Friday, August 31, 2018

The Wedding ~ Part Two

As the last notes of the song faded away we watched for Vernon's signal and stood up in unison and walked to the coat room to get our bonnets, and hats. As we stood in line to get them LV kept holding my hand and I was secretly happy that he didn't let go the minute we got into the coat room.

Since Fannie's home was so close to the church house we all just walked to the reception and went upstairs to where her bed was piled with gifts. She started opening them until her Dad came and said the meal was ready and it was time to go downstairs.

It seemed like a happy daze that I was getting to sit at the most important table, the prettiest dishes were used for the bridal party, and the best food. As we settled into our chairs LV started visiting pleasantly as we watched the rest of the wedding guests being seated at the tables.

Once everyone had been seated the Bishop announced it was time to pray. After a silent prayer the table waiters started bringing bowls of steaming food to the tables. It was nice to not have to wait as we enjoyed special service in our corner.

Once the meal was over the married folks started singing. I thought they would never quit and we had to stay seated at the table until they were done. Finally once it was time for the farmers to go home and do their chores they quit and we were able to go. LV told me he had to hurry home and milk the cows. He would try to be back as soon as he could. I stood at the window and watched him walk across the yard and then break into a run as soon as he thought he was out of sight of the house.

I felt strangely alone when he left and wasn't sure what to do with myself, especially since the youth were never invited for the noon meal.  Vernon and Fannie were busy writing all the girls names on a piece of paper for the evening meal when all the boys and girls would pair up and sit together to sing for two hours and then have supper.

I looked forward to seeing who got to sit with whom and was glad that I didn't have to worry about having to spend several hours with someone I didn't even know.  I found a chair and sat down to wait until LV came back from doing their chores.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Wedding ~ Part One

As my best friend Fannie's wedding day approached I was filled with nervous anticipation. I found myself looking forward to being a bridesmaid and getting escorted by LV ever since we had that pleasant buggy ride.

When the morning of the wedding came John hitched our horse, Fern, to the buggy and took me to the church house where the rest of the bridal party was meeting for several hours before services began. As I walked into the coat room I felt a little overwhelmed that everyone was already there and waiting on me to start rehearsing.

After practicing how to hold hands, and walk with careful even steps and making sure we could all see Vernon's signal when to stand up or sit down we were all confident we knew what to do. After that we, along with the  six table waiters and the two boys that took care of the transportation for the bridal party gathered back inside the coatroom and shut the doors.  There was now nothing left to do except wait for everyone to arrive and church to start.

It was fun watching the buggies arrive and knowing that everyone else was wondering who the bride and groom had chosen to have part in their special day. After what seemed like a long time the ministers started to make their way to the church house and a little bit later the first song was announced. Fannie quickly went to the adjoining coat room and closed the door that opened into the main church house, and we all went over while Vernon and Fannie stayed to have a premarital session with the ministers.

After what seemed like a long time they came back, the expression on their faces made me wonder what all the session had entailed. There wasn't a lot of time to spend wondering as the third song was announced and as they started to sing it we stood ready to enter the church house once they started singing the third line.

The short distance between the door to the bench that had been reserved for us right in front of the ministers seemed long, but everything went just like we had rehearsed. As we sat down it seemed strange to not help sing as the rest of the church's voices rose and fell in the hauntingly beautiful wedding melody.

The service was much like any other church service and promptly at noon the Bishop announced that if they are both still willing to get married they can rise and come stand before him. After asking them a series of questions to which they answered with  a yes he asked the rest of the church to stand while he prayed a special wedding prayer from the little black prayer book. After the prayer everyone sat down while the bishop joined their hands and pronounced a blessing over them.

As they returned to their seat the rest of the ministers added their thoughts on the sermon. I was glad once the last song was announced and it was finally time to go to the reception.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Reader Hodgepodge

Thanks again to everyone who provided questions for me to answer, so we can do our own little hodgepodge of sorts while the regular Wednesday Hodgepodge creator is on summer break.

What family traditions do you have?

We have a number of different family traditions. For Christmas we have a huge breakfast and then don't cook the rest of the day. Instead we enjoy the left overs from breakfast and the snacks we prepared in the days leading up to Christmas.

For birthdays, the birthday child gets the day off of doing any chores or anything he or she doesn't want to do. He/she gets to have their favorite food, and gets to choose any activities for the day. Games, hiking, etc. and the rest of the family obliges them. There's usually an elaborate treasure hunt created for them to find their gift.

For a celebration once end of the school year evaluations are done we will stop at a store on the way home from the evaluations to get ice cream sandwiches.

Where’s the best / worst place you’ve lived?

This is actually a hard question. There were things I've loved about every place we have lived. The house I loved the most was in Missouri. I loved basically everything about it, and the fact it came with twenty acres of land and plenty of woods for Kenneth to play in made it even better. I loved the church / community of believers and friends we had there. I was a weepy mess the day we packed up to move here, even though I knew I would love it here as well.

The worst place I lived was also in Missouri, less than ten miles from the house I loved the most. The difference was worlds apart. The house was unique and nice, but life was miserable enough that the house didn't make up for it. We were part of an Amish community, and to this day those two years living there are a dark blob in my register of memories.

Do you usually listen to music, talk radio, podcasts, or silence while driving?

I like listening to Air1 while driving, but I also drive in silence a lot of the time. I've found conversations while driving can be some of the best, so it's never really stark silence.

What was your most epic cooking failure?

I've had my share of epic cooking failures. One of them was the time I made a Thanksgiving meal for LV before we were married. It involved flying drumsticks, lumpy burned mashed potatoes, and more. I'll have to do an entire blog post on that experience before long.

Where do you usually shop for clothes / shoes / groceries? Do you prefer shopping online or in person?

I like shopping for clothes and shoes at Gabes. Actually I don't like shopping for either, but I'm glad we have a Gabes store when the need to shop arises. Groceries I purchase mostly at Aldi and Walmart.

I enjoy online shopping. It certainly makes mail time more interesting. The only drawback is ... I can't touch and see the products before buying.

Random bit.

The big maple tree in front of the house has been dropping a few leaves. To a girl who likes to have everything in order, it means raking the yard ... already. If it were up to me, the yard wouldn't look nearly as neat.

Monday, August 27, 2018


A few weeks after I started attending the singings with the youth group I was approached by one of my best friends after church. She told me she and her boyfriend Vernon, were planning to get married and wanted me to be one of her brides maids, and be escorted by LV.

I told her I would be honored to be her bridesmaid and wondered how it would seem to be at LV's side for an entire day. The wedding date was still several months away so I didn't think about it very much. 

The following Sunday our youth group attended church and singing in a neighboring district. Since it was more than an hour's drive they borrowed a few buggies to make that we wouldn't be crowded and have only two people in each buggy.

I got up early and was ready by the time LV drove into our driveway. It was a beautiful morning and the ride was pleasant. We hadn't been on the road very long before LV asked if Fannie had said anything to me about being escorted by him at her wedding. I told him I had already told her I would be happy to be her bridesmaid. He seemed pleased, and we continued visiting all the way to the Summit Mills church house.

After church I went home with some of my friends while LV went to his cousin's house. The afternoon passed swiftly and when evening came so did LV to give me a ride to the singing. I tried to sort my feelings out as we once again had a very pleasant ride. He wasn't like he used to be in school, and I actually enjoyed his company.

After the singing was over and we were on our way home I was happy that we would have a long ride together. This had been one of the best days I had ever experienced. As we rode through the night the horse didn't seem to be in any particular hurry and for once LV didn't seem to mind letting him walk uphill and down.

Once we got home almost two hours later I thanked him for the ride and he told me I was more than welcome. That he was looking forward to the wedding and the fact we would be able to ride together without Vernon before long.  I was thrilled to hear him say that and as I stepped off his buggy my foot missed the step and I fell in a heap on the ground. He jumped out to see if I was okay but I couldn't even look at him as I hurried to the house and up to my room. I was so humiliated that I had to ruin what had otherwise been a perfect day by falling off his buggy for the last thing.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Yellow Billy

Right across the road from our house we had several acres of woods. They were filled with groves of hemlock trees, a pleasant little creek ran through it. There were loads of elderberry and blackberry bushes through out. Near the front stood what used to be my playhouse but it now served as a phone shanty ever since the church had decided to allow community phones. Towards the back of the woods green briers had started growing and were fast becoming a big nuisance. Daddy spent a lot of time in the evenings trying to rid the woods of the briers but it seemed like he was fighting a losing battle. Until one day a friend stopped by and offered to let us put his herd of thirty goats into the woods and let them take care of the briers and all the unwanted undergrowth.

Daddy accepted his offer and after adding a few more strands of wire to the fence to insure it was goat proof we were ready. They came on a Saturday afternoon. As the trailer backed into the pasture and the goats hopped off and went to investigate their new surroundings we watched them from the kitchen window. There were goats of all colors, but one of them stood out from the rest. He was a dirty yellow, his horns looked intimidating even from a distance and his long beard dangled impressively from his chin. He surveyed his new home with an air of disdain and shaking his head he stalked after the rest of the herd into the woods.

Monday arrived and once it was time to sit by the phone for the daily half hour in case any customers wanted to call.  I walked to the gate and noticed most of the goats were near the phone shanty including the yellow billy. He looked even uglier than he had from the kitchen window. As I closed the gate he bleated and lowered his head and came charging right at me. I darted into the phone shanty and locked the door. He bumped his head against it several times for good measure and then returned to the rest of the herd who had continued eating very unconcerned about what their leader had been doing.

Once it was time to go in I carefully checked my surroundings before running to the gate and hurrying to the other side safely. It wasn't long before the billy was there every day to greet me with his lowered head. I armed myself with a big stick and most days managed to ward him off. My little brother Mahlon, enjoyed going to the phone with me and I would often take a book along to read while we waited for customers to call. Ever since the billy was lurking around the phone shanty he had been hesitant about joining me but since I was successful in keeping him at bay with my stick he wanted to join me so we could resume our story time again.

As we entered the gate the billy came charging at us. I swung my stick and yelled at him. Mahlon ran for the shanty but before I could do anything the billy had turned and run after him and knocked him down. I ran over to Mahlon and wielding my stick I chased the billy off for a few yards and we went inside the shanty. Once we got settled Mahlon said "I wish we could throw a five gallon pail over his head! That way he couldn't see where we are."

I loved the idea and the next day when it was time to head for the phone Mahlon carried the stick while I carried a nice white five gallon pail. As usual the billy came charging toward us and I swung the pail and to my utter delight it slipped over his horns and stayed stuck on his head. He looked ridiculous as he shook his head trying to get rid of the pail. The other goats stopped feeding and came closer to get a better look at him as Mahlon and I went gleefully into the shanty. Once our half hour was up the billy had still not been able to rid the pail so we stopped in the shop on the way to the house to tell Daddy about it.

Daddy went out and managed to remove the pail and from that day on when ever it was time to go to the phone I armed myself with a pail. All the billy had to do was see it and he stayed a safe distance. He was still mean and ugly and would still charge anyone who dared venture in without a pail. But my days of having to worry about being butted by him were now over.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Reader Hodgepodge

Today I'm answering another hodgepodge of questions provided by my readers.

1. Have you ever had an imaginary friend?

I had several different imaginary friends when I was a child. One was a little girl who got lost from her family on their wagon train west. Never mind that the days of wagon trains were long past. To me it made perfect sense that she was my friend and I could share everything I had with her. She was great.

Another one was my imaginary sister. I created her by rolling up my blanket and dressing her in my favorite slip/dress, and a bonnet I had grown out of. I had her sitting on a chair in my room for quite a while, and would spend a lot of time talking to her. I named her Magdalena, but after a while my Mom started getting concerned about my obsession with her and turned her back into a blanket.

I was sad when that happened, and glad my wagon train friend was still there waiting for me now that I needed her again.

2. Are there any books you would really recommend I read?

I'm assuming you mean books other than the Bible, which I of course would recommend above all other books.

I love books, and could happily provide long lists of books I have enjoyed, but for today here are a few.

If you've never read the Anne of Green Gables series I would recommend it. It's still a favorite of mine even after all these years and reading them many, many times.

Created to be a Helpmeet. Women either love or hate this book. I happen to be one who really liked it when I read it. I don't usually recommend it because a lot of women find it offensive, but I do think it has a lot of good advice for those willing to read and learn.

The Hidden Rainbow by Christmas Carol Kauffman made a big impact on my life when I read it.

The Adventures of Lily Lapp series I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys Amish related anything.

3. What hobbies did you have when you were younger?

I loved sewing and reading. When ever I had a spare moment I could be found doing one or the other.

4.What social media platform do you spend the most time on? Who is the most interesting person you follow? What kinds of people do you follow?

My social media time is divided between Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. The one I spend the most time on varies from day to day.

I am spending a lot more time on Instagram than I used to. One of my favorite people to follow on there is Bryartonfarm (check it out) She is a homeschooling mother, but she shares so much more. Her daughters with their miniature horses and pet pig make some of the happiest most adorable photos ever.

On Facebook one of my favorite people to follow is Mrs. Gore's Diary the little daily happenings she shares from their family life have brought many a smile to my face, and the words of encouragement made me pause and think.

I don't have any favorites on Pinterest. I simply pin what I want from anyone and everyone.

5. What games did you play as a child?

Favorite board games included: The Old Shoe Game, Memory, Sorry, Monopoly, Scrabble, and Probe. Which are all the games we had as a child, but I loved them all.

Favorite outdoor games at school included Fox and Geese, Captain's Base, Wink Wave and Whistle, and 23 Extra. Recess was my least favorite part of the school day, and games such as baseball, dodgeball, etc were a nightmare to me.

6. Random bit.

I'm not the biggest fan of water and boats, but seeing this the other day has awakened the strangest urge in me to go fishing in a rowboat, on this lake.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

When Food Amuses

We needed a few items before our next weekly run into town, so when LV got home from work last evening we set out to get them, and decided we'll grab a bite to eat while we're there.

We got what we needed and then decided to try a different restaurant. We were seated and a smiling waitress came to take our drink orders while we pored over the menu.

LV picked out his choice of entrée, and when asked what he wants for sides he said, "green beans." I was surprised, but had to admit it would go well with his main course option.

I love seafood and opted for the seafood combo platter, thinking that if it's too much food I can always take the leftovers home and the children will consider it a treat.

As soon as the waitress left our table LV looked at me with almost panicked confusion, "I just said 'green beans' didn't I?" he asked.

"You did," I laughed, knowing how much he loathes them. I may have been a little too amused at it as he tried to come to grips with what he had just ordered.

When our food was brought to our table I felt my mouth drop open when I saw my seafood platter. Platter indeed. It should not have been called a platter, or even a plate. A saucer would have worked fine to hold my meal. Three tiny scallops were swimming in a little bowl of melted butter next to three small shrimp. A scrawny crab cake completed the combo.

There had to be a mistake, I was sure of it, especially considering the price, but nope ... that was my meal.

Somehow it struck my funny bone though, as I ate my scrawny little meal and LV bravely took a bite of his beans. It's been a while since we laughed that much over a food experience.

Unfortunately even with all the laughter, the restaurant has been placed on our "never again" list.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Joining the Youth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 17, 2018

Helping Out / First Job

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Reader Hodgepodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another question-- do you watch TV now?

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

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

Random bit ...

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

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Buggy Brakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 13, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wearing ... a brown flower patterned skirt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 11, 2018


Our church district needed another preacher in order to have enough preachers to ordain one of them to be the bishop of our local church. The weeks leading up to the ordination were sober as we wondered who would be chosen. It would be a big responsibility and change to who ever was ordained.

The day finally arrived and church seemed to drag on for the longest time. Finally after the last song was sung and the children were dismissed we all went outside and the doors were closed so that only the members would be there for the solemn event of voting and ordaining another preacher.

What seemed like a long time everyone came out of the church house and I could hardly wait to ask Mom and Daddy who the new preacher was. But when I saw Mom I could see that she was trying not to cry. On the way home they told us that Uncle John Henry was our new preacher.

I felt a little sorry for him but on the other hand I looked forward to hear him.

Several weeks later he preached his first sermon. It was really good and I looked forward to the next time it was his turn to preach.

A year or so later they ordained a bishop, chosen from the three preachers. Once again the lot fell on John Henry. I was happy to know my uncle would be performing all the important events. I still had several years to wait until I was old enough to be included in any of them but it was comforting to know once I was old enough it would be one of my favorite uncles performing the ceremonies.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Sandwich

As spring came Daddy decided to fence in our field across the road from our house and the several acres of woods that we had. In order to make the fence he first needed to make fence posts. A farmer right next to the school house had lots of fine locust trees just perfect for what Daddy was looking for to make fence posts. He was planning on clearing them away in order to make more cropland anyway and told Daddy if he gets them cut and hauled away within a certain time frame he can have how ever many he needs.

Daddy decided to ask a neighboring family if one of their boys could come help him so he could get it done faster. Much to my dismay he hired LV's brother Melvin. I would be sitting at my desk in school everyday and see Daddy and Melvin pass by with load after load of freshly cut locust posts. I couldn't figure out why it bothered me so much that Melvin was working for Daddy except that Melvin's family was so far above our league that I was always uncomfortable around them and with all the things I had endured from LV the previous school years I knew that Melvin was probably secretly making fun of Daddy and the very thought that he would do that gave me a sick feeling.

As the days passed Daddy seemed to enjoy working with Melvin and would often have stories to share at the supper table of their days accomplishments and the conversations they had. I was beginning to think everything was going to be alright even if he had someone from that family working for him.

But then one evening Daddy sat down at the table and as he was filling his plate he started chuckling and started telling us about his day. They had been on their way home with their last load of posts for the day and were beginning to get quite hungry. Since Mom always packed plenty of lunch for Daddy he reached into his lunch pail and got a sandwich and offered half of it to Melvin. As Daddy ate his, he watched out of the corner of his eye as Melvin carefully dropped the sandwich in front of the wheel when he thought Daddy wasn't looking.

I was absolutely horrified that Daddy would even think of sharing his sandwich. It had been made out of homemade whole wheat bread with thick slices of our canned hamburger. And I knew that Melvin's family always had white store bought bread with cheese or deli meats. I was sure that Melvin went home and told everyone else what an awful sandwich he had been offered and they were all probably laughing at us.

Daddy didn't seem concerned about that as he chuckled heartily that someone would think that Mom's delicious sandwich didn't look appetizing enough to even take a bite.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Readers Hodgepodge

Have you ever traveled in a boat? How do you feel about boats in general?

I've never travel traveled in a boat, but I have spent time in several different boats.
  • An old green rowboat at my grandparents farm pond. Every once in a while my parents would pack a picnic supper, and after we all got settled into the rowboat Dad would row out to the middle of the pond. We would eat our picnic food  while we fished.
  • I had a ride on The Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls. Even though it wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be, I'm glad to have experienced it.
  • We chartered a fishing boat on Lake Erie one summer soon after we were married. That was a lot of fun.
In general I prefer being on land rather than water. I'll be perfectly fine to not have a boat ride again.

Have you ever used a fire extinguisher? Do tell.

I have never had to use a fire extinguisher for any reason, thankfully. I've never had a fire that I needed to use it on, and the scary guy at the door turned out to not be so scary after all. He had no clue I was prepared to spray and then clunk if needed.

What time do you have dinner? And what's a dish that often makes an appearance at your dinner table?

We used to have dinner at the same time every night. Five-thirty. Things have changed though and now there is no set time for dinner. I'll usually let LV know how long it will take me to cook my planned dinner, and then he'll call and let me know in time so I can have everything ready once he is. His work hours are unpredictable so dinner can be anywhere from five-thirty to eight, and on rare occasions even later.

I try to keep things from getting boring when I menu plan, so it can be a while before we have any repeats. We do enjoy a nice salad with most meals.

Describe the coziest spot in your home.

I have a feeling each of my family members would have a different answer if I asked them this question.

My favorite cozy spot is the little corner in the living room where I usually sit. There's an ancient mustard yellow rocking recliner that I have covered with a piece of purple knit fabric I found in my fabric stash. Beside my chair there's a nightstand/end table with a lamp, a book, and a small doily that Rosie Mae crocheted for me for Christmas a number of years ago. I use it as a coaster for my constant glass of water.

If fear were not an issue, what is something you would like to try?

Probably sky diving. I used to really want to go sky diving, but my fear of heights seems to be getting stronger, so I'm actually very doubtful that I'll ever get to experience it.

Random bit.

I have found the strangest food combination that is actually surprisingly delicious. Feel free to try it if you like, or react as my children did: refuse to try it, and wonder what's wrong with me.


Cold leftover sausage gravy is delicious spooned over a chewy chocolate chip cookie.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Cookie

Elmer and Lucy were an elderly couple in our community. Elmer was a short heavyset man with a great sense of humor. He was friends with everyone and the sound of his laughter would alert us that he was nearby.

One Sunday we were invited to their house for lunch. We arrived in time to help Lucy with the preparations of her simple meal. There were potatoes, meat and gravy and some kind of vegetable. For dessert there was a bowl of peaches and a plate filled with oatmeal cookies.

We children sat on a bench at the back of the table and listened as the grown ups visited. Elmer was regaling us with stories from his younger years and everyone was enjoying themselves. As everyone finished their first course it was time to pass the cookies and peaches and a little pitcher of milk.

Everyone took a cookie and some peaches. As I bit into my cookie I was surprised how hard it was. It was difficult trying to gnaw a bite off. The conversation continued as Daddy and everyone else placed their cookie in their plate and poured milk over it and spooned peaches beside it. I watched as Daddy tried to pry a bite of the cookie off with his spoon. It was too hard and as he kept visiting he kept on trying to get his spoon to cut through the cookie. The cookie was so hard that even the milk that had been poured over it was having a hard time soaking into it. All of a sudden his spoon slipped and his entire cookie went flying across the table and landed in Lucy's plate.

Conversation stopped and Elmer started laughing. Daddy was embarrassed by what had just happened but Elmer continued laughing. Loud rolling laughter. His shoulders shook and tears streamed down his face as he tried to control himself but every time he was almost done laughing he had to start all over again.

Daddy finished his peaches and I had a sneaking suspicion that he was secretly glad he didn't have to eat that cookie.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Picture my Week

Steven spent a lot of time playing with his favorite cat.  I've never tried training a cat, but his patience seems to be paying off and the cat is beginning to do what he wants her to do.

It's been raining, and raining, and then raining some more. Just when you think it's finally over and it's nice and sunny the skies open up and it rains again. We have water every where. Running through the basement, miniature ponds, or giant puddles in the yard, and running down the walks like a tiny river.
In the middle of all this rain a bull decided to wander about and visit some cows outside of his pasture. The second fence was keeping him out though so he wandered up and down the road seeming to take great joy fearlessly staring down traffic. The incessant honking bothered me a lot more than him. Even a big log truck with its big log truck horn did nothing to intimidate him.
I tried reaching the owner to tell him what's happening. There was no way I wanted to go out and confront him myself. I'm too much of a chicken for that, and the fact that he didn't belong to us helped keep my chicken-ess quite chicken-y.

A neighbor and a few other men finally came by and got him back where he belonged without too much trouble, and no excitement. The owner came by later that afternoon and fixed the trampled down fence. Hopefully that will keep the roaming Mr. where he belongs.
Rosie Mae baked some lovely braided bread. It was delicious!
We finally remembered to take stale bread along to the library to feed the huge flock of ducks (80+)that hangs out there. They're so pretty! And quite tame considering they're Mallards.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Anniversary Thoughts

The girls and I were busy yesterday and by the time three o'clock rolled around we were in need of a snack and a break. Some freshly diced mangos and cottage cheese was perfect for the snack part, and then we decided to watch the newest episode of the Duggars while we relaxed and ate.

I don't know why we continue watching the show. It has so many moments that make me cringe, and yet still we continue recording and watching. Yes, it's clean, wholesome etc., but the cringe factor outweighs the enjoyment factor for me.

Yesterday we saw Ben and Jessa's anniversary, among other things, but it was their part I'll be talking about.

To celebrate, Jessa left her two little ones at home with Ben and went off to join her sisters to have their nails done. While she was gone Ben cooked a celebratory meal for her. After she got home and they ate, he gave her a necklace he had designed special for their third anniversary.

What did Jessa do for Ben? Nothing.

It's not just Ben and Jessa though. I have seen and heard often how women want their men to do special things for their anniversary. How their feelings were hurt if he forgot or did nothing, though they didn't do anything either.

I don't understand it. Maybe it's my Amish background that is making that I can't wrap my mind around it, or maybe there's a perfectly good reason that I have never had explained to me.

A wedding anniversary is about two people, right? Both husband and wife got married on their wedding day. Why aren't women spoiling their husband on their anniversary? Why is it all about the women?

To me anniversaries are a joint celebration. Either we both do something, or we both do nothing "together".

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Hodgepodge of Reader Questions

1. How long have you been married and how did you meet your husband? Also, how many children do you have?

LV and I have been married for nineteen years. On one hand it doesn't seem that long, but on the other hand thinking back to before we were married feels like a lifetime ago. You can read about the day I met my husband here.
We've been blessed with four children.

2. What is the best wedding gift you received?

You know, this is something I never really stopped to think about before. We received a lot of gifts that are still used regularly.
Mixing bowls, out of the 80+ that we received I use eight of them regularly.
I can't even begin to count the number of pies I have baked in my favorite blue and white speckled granite pie pans.
Two cookbooks The Basics and More and Favorite Amish Family Recipes. I still use both of these often even though my cookbook collection has grown quite large since then.
Pots and pans that I use to cook every day.
A lovely Victorian Rose china dinner ware set, that I display in the cupboard in the living room, and take out to use on special occasions. Christmas, birthdays, visitors, or any other occasion that feels a little more special.

3. How did you choose your name for your blog?

I wish I could have some deep meaningful answer to this question, but I don't. I simply sat down one April day back in 2009 and decided to begin a blog to share my childhood memories, thoughts, and day to day happening so my children can read them someday. As I started plugging in all the information needed to start a blog I was presented with the challenge to find a blog name. Looking around me for inspiration I noticed the condition of the house. The children had covered the floor of the living room and into the dining room with pictures they had cut out of magazines and catalogs to play paper dolls. Such chaos, but they were having so much fun, and just like that A Joyful Chaos was born.

4. What is a sound or noise you love?

There are a lot of sounds I love.
The sound of birds singing.  The sound of the rushing waterfall. The lovely chiming of the Corinthian Bells wind chime hanging on the front porch. The sound of footsteps on the stairs when LV comes into the house. The sound of children laughing. The girls singing around the house. The gentle pitter patter of summer rain. The whistling winds of winter. Katydids calling. Leaves rustling in the breeze, and in the fall the crunchy sound of fallen leaves as you walk across the yard.

5. When was the last time you had butterflies in your stomach?

Several weeks ago when we went on a short excursion we had to drive along a narrow winding road with steep cliffs and banks right beside it with no guard rails. I squeezed my eyes shut for a good portion of the ride, only peeking out now and then to see that yes, it's still necessary to squeeze my eyes shut. I had a whole bunch of terrified butterflies in my stomach then.

6. Random bit.

Speaking of enjoying listening to the waterfall. Last night it was thundering as it tried to carry away all the water from the flash flooding.