Monday, July 21, 2014

Sunday Evening Ramblings

Tonight I am going to be like my friend Miriam over at Prairie View, who often does a "Sunday Wrapup" blog post, except I am going to be less precise and profound than she is. She chooses her words very carefully.  You should follow her blog if you don't already.

Also I have a column deadline coming up and am convinced there's nothing happening about which I can assemble 1200 words, so if I list out a few things, who knows what inspiration may strike.

I've seen a lot of news items about the anniversary of the first moon landing.  How well I remember it happening, and now I think, it must have been HUGE news for these little Amish kids to know about it.  Or, more specifically, my brother Fred, who knelt by the tall upstairs window that evening and gazed out at the big glowing moon up in the sky above the buggy shed.  "They landed on the moon today," he said.

He gazed for a long time.  "Hey!" he said, "I think I see something!  I think I can see little black dots moving around on the moon!"

Rebecca, who was 8, and I, a year younger, rushed to the window and also gazed at that intriguing moon.  Pretty soon--why yes!--we could also see little black dots moving around!

Everyone who has been part of Fred's life for any length of time has a similar story.


We had our appropriately nicknamed friend Chip come and cut down a big pine tree south of the house this week.  We used to have five of these trees.  They were planted by my in-laws back when this house was moved onto mostly-bare property, and the trees had the advantages of being cheap and fast-growing.

They had the disadvantage of dropping pine cones that felt like the evil offspring of Legos and pincushions on bare feet.  And they grew long, long needles--probably the Native Americans wove laundry baskets out of them--that dropped by the billions every fall and had to be raked up while wearing protective footgear, as they also stabbed exposed feet at every opportunity.

Sometimes you've invested a lot of time and effort into a bad decision and you hate it but you also hate to see it go.

But in this case it's for the best.


I have been thinking about rest.

Because I seldom get to rest my mind, something that, I am seeing, is even more important to the sanity of ADD introverts like me than I had previously thought.

I was so spoiled during much of the last school year, with that house-to-myself alone time every morning that I could count on, in which I could have my Bible time and make phone calls and plan my day or week.

This summer, there are seven of us here.  The boys' schedules change every two weeks, Paul works all crazy hours, Dad is here and is an early riser, and Emily is driving a combine so works from about 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.  The Night Guy gets home just after 7 in the morning, dusty and tired and hungry.  He clunks his lunch box on the kitchen counter and slams the front door as he goes to get the paper.  Soon Dad is thumping through the kitchen with his cane in hand, eager for oatmeal.

The Evening Shift Guy comes home after 11 pm and also makes noises, such as creaking the ancient floors of this house when I am just falling asleep, plus, I am told by someone who was tempted to violence, he sometimes showers after midnight and SINGS IN THE SHOWER.

The in, out, slam, ring, talk, eat, clatter, creak continues all day long.  Especially the talk.

And I do not get to be alone, at home, to plan and think and work without interruption.

I love having the family around me, and I love everything about summer except this part, which you will get if you're introverted, and won't if you aren't.  I could take off and be alone somewhere else, but what I need is time to work and plan in the house where I can actually see what needs to be done.

So, while longing for brain-rest, I was thinking about the verse in Psalms--"My soul finds rest in God alone."

Is this longing for alone time actually a misguided longing for more of God, like so many other longings in my past, like that hunger for second-hand shopping that hit me in Kenya?  And if so, how does it work to fill it, since I can't exactly sit down and read the Word and meditate for any length of time, which is kind of the standard answer.


After steadily writing his life story on a lap desk for several weeks, my dad suddenly announced that he is finished.


"Yes, I've said pretty much everything I want to say."

I think: But there is so much more I want to know.

I suggested he write more about meeting Mom, and their courtship.  He wasn't sure he has more to say than what he's already said.

When I edit his story, I will be tempted to edit it into something it isn't, I'm afraid.  I want it to be somehow more romantic, more spiritual, more aware of how his decisions affected his children, more personal, more feely.

I must make peace with the fact that it is what it is, and it isn't mine to fix, and neither is his life.


Harvest is going well.  Paul figured out how to handle a full summer's crop despite the loss of storage space and an elevator in Steve's fire.  Emily enjoys driving combine for her uncle.  Paul is keeping up pretty well despite being tired after a mysterious fever that knocked him down for about two weeks and had us all pretty scared.


I take Dad around and show him stuff, like the Great Pyramids of grass seed stored outside at the warehouse, and nephew Austin sacking

As I processed these shots they suddenly reminded me of this silly meme that was circulating recently called Kim Jong Un Looking At Things.

Google it for about a thousand more examples.


Which brings me to This Stage of Life, when you have such a tangled birds' nest of memories in your brain that very odd wires connect at times, such as Dad and KJU.

Or like this person we saw who reminded me instantly of Dr. Goat in an old children's book I haven't read for probably 40 years.

A son and daughter who were with me confirmed the comparison.

Or like this conversation we had that Emily wrote down and posted on Facebook:
Me: What is the CAT doing in here?
Mom: Twining around your legs and meowing.
- later -
Me: Does "twine" just mean "twist?" Is twine just called "twine" because the threads are twined together?
Mom: I think so, because the Bible talks about "fine twined linen."
- later -
Mom: (singing) Zuckerman's famous pig!
Me: May I ask what put that song in your head?
Mom: When I said "fine twined linen," what popped into my head was, "fine swine, wish he was mine..."

When I'm writing, a detailed memory is a blessing. At other times, it can get a bit bizarre.

Now to see if any of these ramblings can balloon into a coherent column. . .

Quote of the Day:
". . .met your dad yesterday. For a man of his age, his taste in hats was excellent."
--Cam Passmore


  1. I am thinking about your father's writing. When our parents died both my husband and I learned significant things about our fathers that we didn't know. These were both men that we were close to. It hurt. Eventually I thought about what I would write about my life, if asked by my children, and realized that they would learn little from what is easily shared and the important is just too personal. Are you writing your story? How easy would you find the task to be?

  2. i like your ramblings. summers for me are the exact opposite of yours - days with very little human contact. i work from home and live by myself. Now i'm back in school and seeing people every day, but i still get plenty of time by myself - which i like.

  3. Great wrap up and choice of words.
    Also, thanks for the heads up on another blog to read. (in my spare time. HA!)

  4. Ha, I just loved those pictures of your dad looking at stuff. By all means do a series :)

    When I was a teenager I used to be so embarrassed of my Dad, being a 'dirty hick farmer' but now, as an 'authentic farmer/hillbilly storyteller' (at least to city people), he's really 'cool'. The fact that I'm even slightly kinder to my own father more, because of that, really hurts me. (Not saying that's your story; I was just reminded of it thinking how I would never take pictures of my own Dad when I was younger, but would now.)

    .. that was too serious; I love your blog!

  5. Whenever I see an email in my inbox with your blogpost, I smile in anticipation! And I am never disappointed.

    I totally identify for your need for quiet alone time, and other serious subjects; but the way you write about them leaves me feeling better, because someone else 'understands'; and I totally appreciate the humor, which leaves me smiling.

    Thank you for sharing!!

  6. Loved this blog entry! I want to know more about how you manage to feed all 7 people in the house who have varying schedules. For instance, the guy who comes in at 11...does he eat leftovers? The guy who comes in at 7 am probably wants dinner instead of breakfast, so I am curious about that too.

  7. to Anonymous who asked about meals--my basic strategy is to have a lot of food on hand and then people fix their own food a lot. We had a big pot roast on Sunday, with all of us together for that meal. Suppers are often all together also and i cook a LOT. Then the night guy packs leftovers for his midnight snack, and the morning guy packs more leftovers for his lunch. I cook oatmeal for my dad for breakfast. Jenny cooks lunch for her dad and grandpa and herself, sometimes grilled sandwiches or pasta-roni type foods. I eat a special diet for breakfast and lunch. My Mother in law used to make bacon and eggs for the night guy when he got up at 4pm but I am not that nice. So in short, I cook one big family meal a day and otherwise people feed themselves, pretty much.

  8. Dr Goat! What a great book! Haven't seen it for years, but I remember certain lines. I'd love to introduce it to my children....wonder if I could find a copy for a reasonable price. I'll have to look into it.
    I always enjoy your posts.
    I don't have much introvert in me, but I do understand the need for quiet/alone time.Your family's schedule seems pretty stressful for the matriarch who needs her (quiet) space. I'm sorry. I don't know that it stems entirely from a need for closeness with God, but it certainly can be an opportunity/reminder to call out to Him. "He is willing to aid you/ He will carry you through." Blessings!

  9. I love to read your books...I lived in Lancaster for 10 years and have Amish and ex Amish friends. I have family in Portland, or. Grew up on a farm. I am about to have my sixth child. So i feel like I have lots of ways to connect with your writing.