Something very odd keeps happening. People say, "That is really a nice picture of that old barn."
"Oh. Sorry. It's a nice shot of your family too. But that is just a really neat old barn."
Yesterday was a Smucker lunch at the fellowship hall at church, complete with locals and the folks from John Day and Cousin Brian and his lively wife Twila and their even-livelier flock of daughters from Idaho, and also Paul's aunts Nadine and Allene, who among many other virtues tell great stories.
I believe it was Twila who commented about the nice shot of Grandpa's old barn.
Which led to a story about Aunt Wilma.
"Wilma wasn't afraid of anything. Not a thing. She'd pick up snakes and chase us. She thought that was so funny. And when Dad built that barn, Wilma climbed up to the very peak of the roof and reached underneath and painted that part up underneath there, under the roof."
The soffit, I think she meant. Just imagining it made me go weak in my legs.
"What, did she straddle the peak and lean down?" I said.
"No, she kind of lay down up there and reached around. She wasn't afraid of anything."
It's nice that feminism came along some 20 years later and freed Aunt Wilma from male oppression forcing her into stereotyped gender roles.
That cynical statement is born out of supporting Emily through a literature(!?) class this last term in which the teacher and all the other students assumed without question that in the vague "past," all married women were equally oppressed by their husbands, all black people in this country were equally downtrodden, all religious folks were equally deluded, and all women were equally forced into specific gender roles.
She also took a journalism class this term in which she was told you never make blanket statements or assumptions in your writing and you have to be able to verify, chapter and verse, every statement you make and every fact you present.
She decided she definitely prefers journalism to literature.
The aunts also told about the engaged couple who met at Walmart. "Yes! They met at Walmart! He prayed before he went. It never occurred to me to pray before I go to Walmart, that I'll meet someone, but I guess I should!"
We said, "Huh?"
Finally we pieced the story together, between two emphatic aunts injecting random bits of information.
She turns out to be Uncle James's children's aunt who has been widowed for a number of years. She was just going to Walmart on a normal shopping trip. She certainly didn't pray about a new husband before she left.
He was "Ralph Yoder's" brother, so we all know he comes from Mennonite stock but SHE had no way of knowing that when she kept running into him at Walmart that day. And she also didn't know that his wife had died a year ago. Or that before he left the house that day he prayed he'd meet someone.
They kept meeting up in the store in one aisle after another, and finally at about the third meeting she said, "Do I know you??" and they started talking.
And the rest is history.
And we will see if the Aunts decide to pray before they go to Walmart next time.
As a certain Smucker wife exclaimed, "I'll have to keep that in mind for if 'Nathan' ever dies!"
I am sorry if I hurt you with that recent post about fashion. Some people took it as making fun of fat people.
Of course I didn't mean to hurt anyone but most of the time I do a lot of damage before I have a clue of it, and I always have more to learn about how words come across.
Here are some of my thoughts, in hindsight.
1. Weight is a very volatile subject. Much more so than other human-body issues, such as gray hair, neck wrinkles, chin hairs, even tattooing and vaccinations. Offenses flare up quicker with weight than anything else, I think.
2. I may not be obese but I weigh more than I want to and I know about struggles with weight and how it's like holding a big beach ball underwater: hard continual effort and if you let go for a second it bobs right back up to where it was before.
3. A certain overweight person was heard to say, "It's who I am, and I can't help it." I'm sure all of us who would like to lose a few (or more) pounds would like to think we can't help it. "I've had babies, it's the Prednisone for my asthma, I'm 50 years old, it's my thyroid." However. If we all went on the Haiti diet, and had a mango for breakfast and then walked a mile and fetched a 5-gallon jug of water home on our heads and then ate a little bit of corn mush that we cooked over the fire and then hoed the garden all afternoon, we would all lose weight, Prednisone or not. So let's not kid ourselves.
4. We will lose weight when the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same. What keeps me from losing weight is that I don't like to think about food. I like to toss something in my mouth when I'm hungry. Losing weight will require a mindfulness that I haven't been willing to expend.
5. The attitude of my fine Amish forebears seemed to be that weight wasn't a big deal as long as you could work hard and were healthy. It would have been silly for a woman my age and size to obsess about getting skinny. However, it was NOT ok to be "mocklich fett" i.e. so "fett" that you could hardly get out of a chair.
Because then you could hardly work, either.
I pulled this picture of Amish people from Katie Troyer's Facebook. She also has a wonderful photo-blog called Project 365.
I'm intrigued with Mrs. Green Dress there in the middle. She is not model skinny but if she is anything like the Amish ladies I have known I really doubt it bothers her. And look at those arms. She looks like she could do a hard day's work by lunchtime and throw a full meal together for supper for unexpected company and if the situation required could probably smack a mouthy teenager into the middle of next week as well.
As for Mr. Lighter-Green Shirt a little to the left, I don't think you want to give him any trouble either, despite the gray in his beard and the slight paunch.
Oh wait. Never mind. The Amish are Gentle People who would only be Kind and Loving to Everyone. Sorry, I forgot.
Oh yes, as I was saying--maybe we could learn from the Amish here, that it ought to be about being healthy and hard-working rather than achieving a certain Look.
6. If I offend you on the Shoe, please send me a note and say, "I know you didn't mean to but this ("_______") hurt me because ______. If you would say it like this "_________" instead, it would not sound as bad."
Good for him.
And then there's this guy:
I don't read many basketball stories online, but my observant son Ben sent me this link, about a basketball player from Cameroon, and Ben told me to note the date and time when this young man came to America from Africa.
Close to midnight, Christmas Eve, 2004.
The same day and almost the exact time that Steven was arriving from Kenya.
God bless them both.
Quote of the Day:
Jenny: Mom, tell Steven to stop making fun of me!
Steven: I'm not making fun of you. I'm just, you know, LAUGHING.