Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Maybe there's an advantage in being unmusical: I can listen to music and be blissfully unaware of a loose note here or a dangling harmony over there. Or whatever.

Three or four groups sang at the reception on Saturday. I was enjoying listening to them when I had the sudden thought: "I wonder if they're actually good."

So I asked Byran afterwards. "Well, this one group blended really well, and this other one...naaah, they weren't so good, and..."

That was all news to me.

I classify music as either ugly or pretty. I love listening to music but I can't pick out different parts to save my life (except I can identify Konrad's bass on AHQ cd's), I think all my children sing wonderfully and have to be informed by their Aunt Rosie which ones are more gifted than others, and I still lip-sync convincingly when singing beside Rosie-type singers at church.

But then, I can listen to mediocre groups and get teary-eyed because they sound so nice. It's not all bad, not being musical.

Quote of the Day:
"I will be here..."
--one of the groups at the wedding that made me teary-eyed. Hey, anyone can sing that song and I start sniffing.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Wedding Impressions

The bride was tiny and beautiful.
The groom was big and handsome.
The colors were gorgeous—yellow, periwinkle, and I believe blueberry.
Paul sat up on the judges’ bench in a white shirt beside four men in plain coats. But he looked just as stern as all the others, neph Randy and I noted, giggling irreverently.
Paul preached the sermon which thankfully was well received. I was much more nervous than he was.
The reception was in a non-airconditioned building. It was extremely warm.
Lois, who is not one to complain, complained.
All of us Oregon people had issues with the heat.
Barb and Byran drove all night to get there.
The decorations were simple, daisy-themed and lovely.
50 servers efficiently served the meal to the 300 guests.
The couple left for their honeymoon at the Grand Canyon.

(Note to non-Mennonites: a plain coat looks something like a suit jacket with a clerical collar rather than lapels. It holds great significance in identifying what sort of Mennonite you are. )

Quote of the Day:
"I do. I am. I will."
--Kevin and Brenda

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Off to the Wedding

Paul’s nephew, Kevin, is getting married to a lovely young lady named Brenda this Saturday. He is the first grandchild on Paul’s side to do so, and Paul and I are flying to Missouri tomorrow for the occasion.

Here is a partial list of what I need to do today to get ready:
Finish hemming Paul’s pants (he’s preaching, thus warranting the torture of trying on new dress pants at JCPenney)
Delete the pictures off the digital-camera card and make sure all batteries are charged (I’m photographer—insert brief interlude of panic here)
Pack clothes and toothbrushes for the three youngest children and hope that Matt delivers the right child and things to the right house tomorrow
Undo the damage from Bible Memory Camp (read about it here) which finished yesterday—tons of laundry and clean out the van
Pick the corn for Rita—it was ready TODAY, what great timing, and she said she would take it off my hands.
Make sure we have all the plane, rental car, and motel papers
And about 50 more things

Is it worth it? Of course. It has been a joy to see Kevin become an overcomer and to be a little bit involved in their courtship. (Remember the post about Smucker men?) This is an occasion worth celebrating.

Yay for nephews and romance and nervous brides and lots of details and a new house in Ohio and doing it all God’s way.

Quote of the Day:
"Nah, I’m not nervous. I wish I was, so I’d lose some weight."

Sunday, August 21, 2005


The recent discussion on anonymous comments at Joyful Noise got me to thinking. I haven't blogged long enough to know much about blogging rules and protocol, but I have learned a little bit about anonymity in the paper-and-ink writing/publishing world:

As I understand it, writing pseudonymously or anonymously is acceptable if:
--You are sitting on great political secrets (remember Primary Colors?)
--You churn out six romances a year for Harlequin, and they don’t want your name oversaturating the market
--You are a Saudi princess who could be killed for telling your story*
--You are writing a painful personal story and don’t want to hurt the real people involved.

Pen names are much more common with fiction than with non-fiction. In general, authors are expected to stand behind what they write by using their real names. This means being willing to take the criticism as well as the praise.

I think the "by Sister Lou" or "by a concerned brother" bylines in certain Sunday school papers are really tacky.

And commenting anonymously on blogs somehow brings out the worst in people. Using a pseudonym doesn't seem to have quite the same effect--probably because names, even if they're pen names, develop a reputation.

*Even then, you run into trouble with authenticity. Some of you may have read Princess by Jean Sasson, supposedly the true as-told-to of a Saudi princess. That and Sasson's subsequent books have been clouded with controversy. A woman my sis has connections with, from Kuwait, says she wrote a book once upon a time, and sent it to a publisher in NYC. It was rejected. A few years later, she was reading Princess and realized that big chunks of the narrative had been lifted right out of her manuscript. There was a big hullaballoo about that and maybe a lawsuit, but Jean Sasson is still churning out the books that she insists are true and authentic, but people who are In The Know about the Middle East view them skeptically.

Quote of the Day:
"I could kill a deer and seriously wound a cow."
--Amy’s friend Carrie, while the two of them were out camping, the bushes started rustling, and Carrie grabbed a hatchet

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Eyes on the Prize

The buzz around here is of course Paul’s nephew Byran and his New Meaningful Relationship (Girlfriend). Paul, who is not the most sentimental soul in the world, wonders why we are all fluttering about it and calling each other. I mean, most young men eventually get girlfriends.

Well, Byran is special, and he—and we—waited a long time for this. He has always had a way of making us feel involved in his life, as though he valued our input in his life, which is a great way to earn points with your aunt and uncle.

Which makes me reminisce about when I was dating and marrying Paul, because he also had a whole list of people in his life who thought he was someone really special. I can think off hand of three preachers and an English teacher who let me know that this guy meant a lot to them and that I was really getting a prize. They also had a disconcerting way of looking me over sternly as though they were evaluating whether or not I was really good enough for him.

The English teacher was especially intimidating, and I honestly think she was in love with him herself even though she was at least 20 years older. And I don’t think I quite passed muster with her. We visited her once after we were married and she talked to Paul for about three hours while ignoring me.* I still don’t quite understand all this, because she was an absolute stickler for grammar and punctuation and spelling. Paul is a math and science guy, and English is probably his weakest academic area.

When the day comes that we meet Miss Amy, I hope she won’t feel like she’s under the microscope, and I hope we all can let Byran know that he got a prize as well.

*I was a bit annoyed, but not jealous. After all, he married me and not her.

Quote of the Day:
"If so, we’ll just call you Nostrodorcas."
--Matt, when I predicted that Byran would find a Special Someone at the Faith Builders college students’ seminar. I didn't mind being wrong. FYI, Nostrodamus was a famous guy many years ago who made lots of strange predictions that seem to have come true if you have a big imagination.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


I am one of those unfortunate people who throws up easily.

I prefer the front seat because I’m less likely to get carsick, and I remember all those rides in small planes, back in our Canada days, as nauseous ordeals during which I fingered the sic-sac in my lap while praying desperate entreaties.

Then there was the little matter of five pregnancies which involved throwing up I would guess well over a thousand times in all.

All that to explain why I’ve felt queasy ever since Ben told me about his midnight snack.

Last night Ben and Steven’s friend Preston had the two of them plus about 9 other boys at his place for a campout.

Ben and a few others were still awake at 2a.m. They were also hungry. So some of them went back to the house for food and the others stirred up the fire. The first ones returned with leftover hamburgers and hot dogs from supper, which they warmed over the fire with tongs and then ate.

The thought of eating warmed-over hot dogs at 2:00 in the morning is almost more than I can handle. Blecchhh.

Quote of the Day:
"Why don’t you just buy Smucker’s jam?"
--the clerk at BiMart, when I bought pectin and lemon juice, and she read my name on the credit card (which, don’t worry, we pay off in full every month, unlike that irresponsible ITF guy).

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

My Rough Life

It’s a rough life to be both hard of hearing and dense.

So many times someone says something to me that calls for a quick and witty response and all I can manage is "Huh??"

Last Sunday we had a potluck after the baptism for all the family and friends who came. I was rattling around the church kitchen when my friend Sharon’s neighbor, John, came up to me and said, "So you’re the blonde lady?"

(Blonde lady? What on earth? I have been many things but never blonde.)
"Excuse me?"
"The blonde lady."

In the background, Sharon said, "Yeah, that’s her."

John went on, "Yeah, we read your blog, discuss it…"

Oh forevermore, he meant BLOG lady.

I tried to recover my tattered dignity. "Heh heh, how nice, thank you."

* * *
Some people are safe and others are dangerous. Paul is a safe person, calm and dignified, no big surprises, nothing sly.

The abovementioned Sharon, on the other hand, is a dangerous person. She says the abovementioned John is too, but she deserves everything he does and says.

Sharon has this wild and wicked sense of humor that brings out the worst in people, especially the minister’s wife who is trying to maintain an illusion of being sober, grave, holy, and temperate.

Sharon and her sidekick, Rachel, have this dreadful way of staying about ten feet away from me when I’m trying to have an earnest conversation with someone after church. They put their heads together and talk too quietly for me to hear, but every few seconds they up the volume, insert my name in the conversation, and look at me like conspiring seventh-graders. "Pssshh psshh DORCAS murmur murmur DORCAS (sideways glance at me) pssh pssh pssh DORCAS."

Well, it drives me crazy, and I can’t carry on an intelligent conversation to save my life. So I am driven to measures that are not sober, grave, holy, or temperate, such as (horrified whisper) chucking a wet napkin at Sharon in the fellowship hall, and then I feel guilty for a day and a half.

It’s a rough life.

Quote of the Day:
"Note as I’m accelerating the cheeseballs would go BACK."
--Matt, when he was driving me to the VBS program, the others having gone earlier, and I thought he was driving too wildly and was worried the cheeseballs and crackers in the back seat were going to slide off into destruction

Monday, August 15, 2005

Tapes and Onions

Whenever I get in certain situations, a tape player in my head clicks and whirs and pretty soon I hear it playing and replaying something Mom or Dad used to say.

When I have my hair down in the kitchen, I hear Mom saying, “Ach, shlanga net dei hawr de kich room!” (“Ach, fling not your hair the kitchen around.”)

Or when I stay up late I hear my dad saying, “Ach, maet, gehnt ins bett!” (Ach, girls, go to bed.)

I deduce from this that the things I tell my kids now are going to play again and again in the tapes in their heads someday, even if they don’t make much of an impression now.

One of the commands I keep hammering is, “Think about how your behavior affects other people.” They hear this when they run through the foyer at church, talk loudly when someone’s trying to sleep, or want to wear something inappropriate.

Scene 2: I love fresh green onions out of the garden. Mmmmmm. Unfortunately, they percolate down below and release some terrible chemical that bubbles upward and makes me very unpleasant to talk to for half a day. My children have gently made me aware of this.

So, the other day we had tacos for lunch and one of the available toppings was a little dish of chopped green onions. Mmmmmm. Gotta have ‘em. I started piling them on my taco and said, “Hey, guys, just to warn you, I’m eating these green onions.”

There was a chorus of voices from around the table, almost in unison. “MOM!! THINK ABOUT HOW YOUR BEHAVIOR AFFECTS OTHER PEOPLE!”

Quote of the Day:
“What’s a dh? Usually when I think of a dh I think of a designated hitter.”
--Ben, reading my friend Arlene’s blog over my shoulder. I think her dh is a dear husband.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Emily's Picture

Here's Emily eating breakfast on the way to church and her baptism.


Emily was baptized today.

She sat on a folding chair in front of the front row at church, elegant and grown-up in her new blue satiny dress with sweeping, Grecian sleeves. Beside her were the two other baptizees, Stephanie and Phebe.

They all stood by the microphone and gave articulate and moving testimonies of God’s work in their lives and their decision to follow Him.

My heart was in my throat when it was Emily’s turn to be baptized because she is so easily startled. You can tap her on the shoulder and she jumps six inches and screams. I was afraid she would leap and screech when the water touched her. But she only flinched visibly, a suspenseful and amusing touch to a holy moment.

They vowed to follow Jesus all their days. I imagined angels all around, rejoicing with us.

Quote of the Day:
"Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost…"

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Yea and Nay

Yea for:
--my front porch and especially the swing
--grass-straw dust on the breeze
--being married to Paul for 21 years
--the brother who offered to teach Paul's class last night so he could take me out for our anniversary
--Torero's in Harrisburg. Hbg has about four convenience stores, two espresso stands, and a little pizza place. Not real out-for-supper places. Then along came this nice little Mexican restaurant with great food.
--another evening home alone
--cellular phones. I know, I know, they are such an intrusion and they speed up the pace of life so much and all that. But: I can reach my husband during harvest.
--the book my friend Arlene loaned me: Approval Addiction, by Joyce Meyer
--my vibrant petunia pots hanging along the porch

Nay for:
--my approval addiction
--forgetting more than I remember
--my sickly rose bed. Some short-sighted person planted it on the other side of the grapevine so I can't see it from the house all summer and forget to keep it up.

Quote of the Day:
"If you go somewhere when it's dark, you'll come home with some kind of food."
--Steven, who saw another take-out container of leftovers in the fridge this morning

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Time Alone

I am home alone.

Paul, Amy, and Emily are teaching vacation Bible school. Ben, Steven, and Jenny are attending VBS. Matt is working at the warehouse.

I haven't been home alone for this long since...well, since...let me see--I honestly can't remember when I was last home by myself. I'm guessing it's been years.

Last night a friend came to visit and soon after she left I got a visit from my cousin Glenn Yoder and his family from Missouri that I hadn't seen since Grandma's funeral in 1988. That was a treat, but so is this.

This evening, I went on a walk, took a bath, watered the flowers, and started cutting out a dress for Emily.

And I still have about an hour to go. My doctor told me I need to take care of myself. This ought to qualify.

Quote of the Day:
"Ewww. Yuck. Gross. Nasty. Revolting."
--Emily, about taking some old food to the compost pile

Sunday, August 07, 2005


My Letter from Harrisburg for August is available here.

And a few thoughts on Husbands Treating Wounds: when I told a group of my friends about Steven hurting his hand, most of them assumed that I let Paul take care of binding the wounds because they always turn the bloody projects over to their hubbies. Well, honestly, it no more occurred to me to have Paul take care of that injury than it would occur to Paul to have me check out that funny noise in the van engine.

Odd how we divide up the duties without really thinking about it.

Incidentally, I know a woman who raised four children and never once pulled out a sliver. She always had her husband do it. Wow. Can't imagine.

Quote of the Day:
"It doesn't take much to be Emily's knight in shining armor."
--Matt, after Emily saw a huge fly in the pantry and SCREEEEAMED, and he came and killed it

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Steven's Hand

How hard it is to see a child suffer.

Two nights ago we attended a descendants-of-Orval-Smucker picnic in Halsey and came home after dark. Steven came to my van door and asked what he should take inside (what a sweetie) and as he did so he put his left hand on the door frame. Amy didn't see him and shut the sliding door right on his hand.

Any of my other kids would have screamed so loud the neighbors would have come running, but Steven just gasped and doubled over in pain. I grabbed his hand and we ran inside, dripping blood in a trail across the kitchen floor.

He hardly made a sound as I cleaned and bandaged his hand, but these big tears kept rolling down his cheeks which made it far more agonizing for me than if he would have hollered and yelled.

His first two fingers are still stiff and swollen today but the wounds are scabbing and everything is looking better.

The good thing in all this is that it was one more stitch binding us as mother-and-son.

Quote of the Day:
"The difference between me and Emily at this stage is that I was strong-willed and logical, and Emily is just strong-willed."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Jenny's Photo

Here she is, our constant source of entertainment and inspiration.

Jenny's Conscience

How do you deal with a child with a too-sensitive conscience?

When Jenny does something wrong she feels bad completely out of proportion to the offense. Yesterday she and I were out in the garden and she accidentally pulled out part of a tomato plant, thinking it was a weed. She confessed in tears, hugged me, apologized, hugged me again, cried some more. And later, despite all my reassurances, she again told me she was so sorry before she went to bed.

This is a stark contrast to some of her siblings who I would have sworn/affirmed didn’t even have a conscience at her age. I could scold, explain, punish, and talk til the cows came home and it wouldn’t matter to them that they had hurt someone else or their property.

I was starting to conclude that a conscience must be something that kids inherit from dads and not moms, since none of my children had my hyper-sensitive conscience issues and could have used a little bit in my opinion.

But now Jenny is acting like this.

Quote of the Day:
“Mom, when cats are eating a mouse, there’s always this sound that sounds like you when you eat bread.”
(Ok, I know my jaw clicks when I eat but I didn’t know it was THAT bad.)