Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Farmers' Checks

This is the season of the year when the farmers start to pay for having their seed cleaned.
And this is what I find intriguing: the mailers and the deliverers.

We have only half a dozen farmers we clean for so I don’t have a big pool to observe. Some farmers in their uniform jeans and billed caps show up at the door to deliver their checks, taking a few minutes to chat. And the other checks come in the mail, with an "H-C Farms, Inc." logo or a neat "James Smucker" in the corner of the envelope. I wonder if the latter value efficiency more and the former value the human connection more. I don't know. I do know that we depend on them for our bread and butter; they depend on us to fill a very important step in the farming process. There’s a tacit acknowledgement of this in the little exchange about weather and orchardgrass prices at the front door.

We are very blessed to deal with farmers who are honest and considerate and who, with only one exception, value excellence. That would be the one I think of as Paul’s charity case, a struggling farmer who is always the last to harvest his seed and has the poorest crops. There are some verses in Proverbs that apply to him, like the one about a son who sleeps in harvest. But in the end he always pays what he owes, and I am thankful for that.

Quote of the Day:
"These benches are very orange!"
--Phebe, at church cleaning the other Saturday, after we spent a few hours cleaning the pews. I vacuumed them off, and she scootched around on her back all over the sanctuary floor, washing the legs and undersides. And we both were ready to not look at orange church pews for a good while.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Non-brilliant Thoughts

My lovely SIL Geneva called yesterday and said she was a bit worried because I hadn't done a real update in a week. I am very very blessed to have people like Geneva in my life who keep track of me.

I have not been updating much personal stuff because a) I was gone every night last week to special meetings at church which were great but utterly exhausting for this old bird who gets her feathers ruffled if she doesn't roost early and b) it's once again fall which means the rain clouds are moving in and the black cloud of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is descending and one of the symptoms is that I am far less creative and have fewer ideas and c) I am suddenly without the help of my two capable teenage girls and am feeling swamped with housework.

So--what's going on at our house:
--Emily is still sick and none of the many tests have been conclusive. She says she's not feeling better but I know she's sleeping less and doing more schoolwork.
--We got 8 chickens. Steven's project.
--Hansie is behaving, sort of.
--I haven't talked to Amy in a while as we have a very hard time connecting. Probably because of that I had my first Amy Dream the other night, like I used to have when she was in the Emirates. I come into the kitchen and there she is! And I say AAMMYYYYYYY! And I give her a big hug. And she says, Duh, Mom, of course I'm home, didn't you know that?
--I miss Matt, especially when the roaster needs to go up on the top shelf in the pantry.
--Ben and Steven are enjoying choir. We have to laugh at Steven, because when he's around people he acts very shy about singing and you can hardly hear him, but when he's on the lawn mower he sings so loud you can hear him in the house with the doors and windows shut. Ben said the other day Steven was mowing the little field west of the house, and he (Ben) was walking home from Leroy and Anita's (east of us) after he fed the dog, and halfway home he could tell what song Steven was singing.
--I never think of Jenny being so much like her dad but the other night I told Steven he's about the age Matt was when Jenny was born, meaning: Matt was almost 13, Steven is almost 13. Well, Jenny's mind immediately clicked into gear (just like Paul's) and she began to figure in her head ("Hmmm, oookaaaaay, let's seeee. . .)(just like Paul) exactly how many days' difference there was between Matt's age then and Steven's now.
--I have an article to write but this is much easier.

Quote of the Day:
"Do you ever feel sorry for the poor cold people in the mattress ads?"

Monday, October 29, 2007


My sister sent me this and I have to say I chuckled knowingly the whole way through--empty cars running in the parking lot at Fleets, unlocked houses, going "up north". . . Once a Minnesotan, always a Minnesotan, I guess.

Jeff Foxworthy on Minnesota :

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through
18 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by,
You might live in Minnesota.

If you're proud that your state makes the national news 96 nights
each year because International Falls is the coldest spot in the nation,
You might live in Minnesota.

If you have ever refused to buy something because it's "too spendy",
You might live in Minnesota.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March,
You might live in Minnesota .

If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there,
You might live in Minnesota.

If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the
middle of his forehead,
You might live in Minnesota .

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time,
You might live in Minnesota.

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches,
You might live in Minnesota.

If you know how to say...Wayzata...Mahtomedi .... Cloquet
Edina ... and Shakopee,
You might live in Minnesota.

If you think that ketchup is a little too spicy,
You might live in Minnesota.

If vacation means going "up north" for the weekend,
You might live in Minnesota.

You measure distance in hours,
You might live in Minnesota.

You know several people, who have hit deer more than once,
You might live in Minnesota.

You often switch from "Heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again,
You might live in Minnesota .

You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow
during a raging blizzard without flinching,
You might live in Minnesota.

You see people wearing hunting clothes at social events,
You might live in Minnesota.

You install security lights on your house and garage and
leave both unlocked,
You might live in Minnesota.

You carry jumper cables in your car, and your girlfriend knows
how to use them,
You might live in Minnesota.

There are 7 empty cars running in the parking lot at Mill's Fleet Farm
at any given time ,
You might live in Minnesota.

You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit,
You might live in Minnesota.

Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow,
You might live in Minnesota.

You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter,
and of course, road construction,
You might live in Minnesota.

You can identify a southern or eastern accent,
You might live in Minnesota.

Your idea of creative landscaping is a plastic deer next
to your blue spruce,
You might live in Minnesota.

If "Down South" to you means Iowa ,
You might live in Minnesota.

You know "a brat" is something you eat,
You might live in Minnesota.

You find -10 degrees "a little chilly",
You might live in Minnesota.

You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to all your Minnesota friends,
You DO live in Minnesota .

Saturday, October 27, 2007


The Oregon Ducks just beat USC 24-17.

You know, I think I've actually gotten to where I could have a conversation about sports, at least a short one.

I came up with these opinions all on my own in the recent past:
"I'll bet Matthew Hardy will be Player of the Game.'
"I feel so sorry for Joey Harrington. Nobody has appreciated him like Oregon did."
"I really think Phil Knight didn't like Bill Moos, so they got rid of him to make Phil Knight happy so he would give them that unbelievable $100,000,000."
and of course:
"Go Ducks!"

Quote of the Day:
"I don't see how the players on the field can stay calm when it's that close. I get so nervous just listening I about can't stand it."


Last night Emily told me she predicts that when she has a family of her own she will have three boys and Amy will have three boys and three girls.

That's a pretty specific prediction. But here's her reasoning:

My sister Becky has three boys. I have three of each gender.

My aunt Vina, Mom's only sister, had three boys. Mom had three boys and three girls.

So naturally Amy and Emily would carry on the tradition.

Amy, when Emily told her this, said, well, she'd rather have three of each than just three boys. And Emily thinks boys would be a lot easier to raise than girls.

Quote of the Day:
"Those aren't rewards, they're punishments."
--Ben, when he read my list of incentives ("Latte," "watch Pride and Prejudice") to reward myself for finishing each stage of fall cleaning ("Wash windows," "clean carport," etc.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Random Memory

Isn't it funny how a random memory can hit you out of nowhere?

This morning I was in a hurry and slicked my hair straight back rather than try to coax my poof into cooperating, and was struck by a sudden memory:

1981, Calvary Bible School, girls' restroom, one Saturday morning. I was washing my hands. Down the line of sinks was a girl--from Pennsylvania as I recall, cute, braces on her teeth, definitely cooler than I. She was distraught and weeping. Suddenly she turned to me and angrily burst out, "You have hair touching your ears!"

To say I was stunned is putting it gently. I don't recall if I pieced the story together from her or someone else, but it turned out she wasn't allowed to go away with her friends for the weekend because she kept combing her hair over her ears.

And she was right, I did have hair touching the tops of my ears. And I never got in trouble. I think she and I and the matron all knew this significant difference: I was just sloppy; she was deliberately pushing the boundaries.

I wonder who that girl was and who she is today. I'll bet she lives in Pennsylvania and is still cool and fashionable and has her hair slicked back and wouldn't dream of swooping it over her ears.

And I wonder if that rule is still in the handbook at CBS.

Quote of the Day:
Emily: You know how I like costumes so much? I think I should get married in a bride costume!
Ben: That'd be great! And then you could get your friends to dress in bridesmaid costumes!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Non-brilliant Thoughts

I've noticed that my friend Shannon's sister Shelley on her very interesting Xanga sometimes links to posts that have brilliant quotes or inspired lines or just make her think deeply. Sometimes I think that 25 years ago, back when I still thought deep and sometimes even brilliant thoughts, if I would have had a blog, and Shelley had been born, she would have linked me too.

Not now. I haven't thought a deep thought in quite a while. I just try to stay afloat rather then plumb the depths.

This is some of what's happening in my life:

At times I feel like I have three adolescent boys around here: Ben, Steven, and Hansie the enormous dog. I baked a huge beef roast in the crock pot one day not long ago. We ate less than half of it for supper and I had visions of beef stew the next day and barbecued beef sandwiches the next. Paul and I went to prayer meeting that evening and Ben did not, so I told him to just set the crock pot/meat in the furnace room, my "third fridge," since he was cleaning the kitchen.

The next morning Ben got some beef for sandwiches and allegedly left the lid off.
And Steven took a mousetrap out the back door to empty it and allegedly left the back door unlatched.
Sometime between 8:00 and 9:30 a.m. Hansie allegedly snuck in the unlatched back door and wound his way through the pantries to the furnace room and ate that whole huge lovely roast.
I found him lying regally out in the yard with two little bones in front of him.
I was very tempted to commit aggravated dogicide but how do you strangle a dog that weighs 20 lbs more than you do and has sharper teeth?


Bob and Myrea Miller from NYC are at our church this week to preach about missions and evangelism. They had met Amy when the seniors were in New York in '05. Myrea told me after church that she saw Jenny sitting in front of her and Bob, and she poked Bob and said, "That has to be Amy's sister!" And Jenny wasn't even sitting with our family. I thought that was cool. It is almost uncanny how alike those two are.


Emily was feeling better on Friday night, enough so that she was marching around the kitchen with a rolled-up newspaper, doing battle with crane flies, which she describes as "a little bit like an overgrown mosquito and a little bit like a daddy long legs with wings." Watching her, I had visions of both my mom (at 87) and my grandma before her marching around the kitchen with a flyswatter in hand and a murderous look in their eyes. And after Grandma smacked a fly she often said, "Alli-mol us muh un mook shwat komma sivva may zu de leicht." (Every time you swat a fly, seven more come to the funeral.)

So I was watching Emily as she swung and smacked, and I thought, Ok, if she leaps on a kitchen stool to reach a crane fly I will know that she is officially carrying the torch of her grandma and great-grandma. Sure enough, with a primal grunt she leaped up on the green stool in the corner and gave a satisfying smack, just like Mom and Mommie.

Read her version here.

Emily was worse again on Saturday. This evening a few of us got together and "anointed (her) with oil in the name of the Lord," a beautiful meaningful ritual.


I had a signing at Barnes and Noble yesterday and also a reading and Q&A session. Amazingly, no one asked me if my children mind being written about, and no one told me I was too small. Not sure what's happening. But one thing didn't change: Andrew the organizer gave me another box of Godiva chocolates.


We went to the Gospel Echoes Northwest prison ministry banquet last evening and Steven helped serve, his first time. He did very well, calmly holding a tray of pie slices while looking stately and aristocratic in a white shirt and black pants. And he didn't fuss about serving with a girl who wasn't a sister or cousin.


Matt was home for dinner today and ate lots of steak and asked me how to hardboil eggs. He also said:

Quote of the Day:
"I finally did laundry and all my socks and underwear have a greenish tinge to them, but otherwise I'm all right."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Emily, continued

After a glorious week of being well, Emily got sick again last weekend and is still down. Today I take her in for more blood tests (Lyme's disease, West Nile, etc). My nurse practitioner thinks we might be dealing with lingering effects from our months in Kenya so will test her for giardia and a few other beasties as well.

We have ruled out quite a number of things, including celiac disease and leukemia.

Our church family has been absolutely wonderful: flowers, phone calls, prayers, etc. Sometime soon we want to get a few church people together and have Emily anointed with oil and prayed for, recognizing that God is sovereign with all this.

The hardest thing for Emily is that she is a high school senior and so eager to be off to seek her fortune, but how in the world can she make plans for a job, college, or travel if she never knows when she'll be sick for a month? It's very discouraging for her.

A number of people have been giving ideas for diagnoses or treatment, which is wonderful. My own suspicions lean toward something environmental. We've lived in this house for seven years, and all Emily's weird illnesses have occurred here, with the exception of one bout in Kenya, which hardly counts, as Kenya with its tropical germs is bound to down anyone with a weak immune system.

Anyway--is it old lead paint, asbestos, molds, something in the water perhaps? Or is it all the sprays on the fields all around us? I don't know, and I don't know how to find out. I just have this hunch.

But I could be wrong, as I have been so many times before.

When I mentioned the environmental possibility to Karen H. at church last Sunday, she was all worried that we're going to move away. The greater likelihood would be that Emily would go somewhere else, not the whole family.

Your prayers are appreciated, for grace for all of us, wisdom and direction, healing for Emily. And you can pray that she would find productive things to do while she's sick and/or contribute ideas. She can tear and bundle seed-sack tags for Paul, which is nice, but not real high on the mentally-stimulating, personally-fulfilling scale.

Quote of the Day:
"Emily makes stuff more funner!"
--cousin Allison, at age 7. That's why we want her to get well--life is a lot more funner.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Deanna at Stories Happen tagged me for a book meme.

My current reading list:
The Seed from the East--Bertha Holt/David Wisner
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk--Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
The Ten Commandments--Dr. Laura Schlessinger
Writing Magic--Gail Carson Levine

Last book I've finished:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Five favorite books:

A Tangled Web and The Blue Castle--Lucy M. Montgomery
Pride and Prejudice

(Oh dear, I can't pick favorite books any more than I can pick a favorite child.)

(And can someone tell me why my post does this odd double-spacing after I save it as a draft?)

I will take the liberty of adding a few categories of my own:

Favorite books to read when I have the flu:
anything by James Herriott

Favorite books to read to children:
The Biggest Bear
The Story of Ping
Any Frances books, especially A Bargain for Frances
Any Dr. Seuss books, esp. Yertle the Turtle

Favorite books to read when I'm pregnant:
Any fluffy, shallow, ridiculous, Cool-Whip-on-Jello romance novel (but I don't think I have any in the house, seeing as it's been almost 9 years)

Most useful books:
More-with-Less cookbook
Roget's Thesaurus
Childhood Symptoms (tells you how to treat that bee sting or head injury, and whether or not you need to see a doctor)
100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades--William Sullivan

Quote of the Day:

That's for 87-year-old incontinent ladies, thank you very much!"

--my SIL Geneva, when I suggested she join the Red Hat Ladies for some fellowship

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Inspiring Story

Yesterday I drove down to the headquarters of Holt International Children's Services in Eugene. They have staff devotions once a week and had asked me to speak. I told our adoption story and shared a few lessons I've learned from it.

Afterwards, a woman named Maria gave me a tour of the place and told me some of Holt's fascinating history.

Basically, there was this farmer and his wife, Harry and Bertha Holt, and their six children living near Creswell, south of Eugene. One evening in the 1950's they "happened" to see a presentation by Bob Pierce of World Vision on the terrible state of the illegitimate children of UN soldiers born to Korean mothers.

The Holts felt compelled to do something and first sponsored a number of children, and then both Harry and Bertha, independently of each other, felt they should give some of these children a home and came up with the number of eight.

At this time, international adoption simply wasn't done. It's hard to imagine now, but there was no system in place, no international agencies, nothing. They truly were pioneers.

Harry decided to go to Korea and while on his way he felt very overwhelmed and discouraged and asked God for a sign. Without looking, he opened his Bible and put his thumb on a verse. It was Isaiah 43: 5,6,7--Fear not for I am with thee. I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west. . . bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth..."

Meanwhile, back in Oregon, Bertha wrote letters to people in Congress and within two months the Holt bill was passed that allowed them to bring the children, and Harry brought home eight children ages 4 and under.

Soon people came from all over wanting to do the same thing and within two years they had helped place hundreds of Korean children. Now Holt has a huge variety of ministries all over the world and has helped probably hundreds of thousands of children.

Obviously there's much more to the story than I can relate here. I was given a book by Bertha, The Seed From the East, that I recommend.

And if it hadn't been for the work the Holts did, who knows if we could have adopted Steven some 50 years later. And they were just ordinary farmers who did what they felt God was telling them to do. I find that inspiring.

Quote of the Day:
"If it be Thy will, give us some way of serving thee; a humble way, a way of Thine own choosing that will glorify Thy name. . ."
--a prayer the Holt family often repeated that was answered in a remarkable way in 1955

Emily's Test Results

Emily is as healthy as a horse, at least if her blood tests are to be believed.

No mono, no anemia, no infection, no leukemia, no liver issues, no kidney issues, no thyroid issues, and now I need to stop because she doesn't like to have too many personal details about her internal congiplations spread to the whole world.

So. Why was she sick for three weeks? One commenter suggested Lyme disease. Actually, if you Google "child headache fever achy" you learn that she might have Lyme disease, leukemia, or so many other horrible things that you pitch your teacup at the computer and run shrieking from the room.

Since the nurse practitioner has no idea where to go from here based on the blood test results, our decision is to focus on treating symptoms as they come up, and if she has another bout of "Emily-flu" before Christmas, we go see a naturopath.

Quote of the Day:
"Yay! Noise again!"
--Jenny, when Paul and the boys came home from a weekend of camping

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Randy to the Rescue

It's fall in Oregon, the rains have begun, and as always, the mice are moving in. Just a few minutes ago I heard a mouse scratching in my wastebasket/broom cupboard, which is one place they like to hang out, along with the pantries.

They don't normally venture into other parts of the house, but yesterday I saw a fat mouse scuttle through the office, and later I saw it dash from the closet in our bedroom to the skirt around the bed. Horrors.

So I set a trap in the closet and at bedtime it still wasn't caught. I reset the trap in the office and went to bed with horrible visions of a mouse getting up on the bed at night, into my hair, etc etc, not a good chain of thoughts to induce sleep.

The boys checked the trap this morning. Still no mouse.

After the children left for school I checked again and yes! this time a mouse was caught. But to my horror the mouse, caught to the shoulders in the trap, suddenly started humping and hopping around.

Shaking, I scuttled to the kitchen. Paul and the younger boys were at school, Matt was way off in Corvallis. Who could I call? Uncle James? I felt too silly. Maybe TJ, one of our employees. But I couldn't find his cell number.

Aha! Randy! He is Paul's nephew and works at the pellet mill just down the road. I called his number. Sure, he'd put just a few more scoops in and then he'd be right down.

A few minutes later Randy came running up the sidewalk. I pointed him in the right direction and soon he went outside, trap in hand, and did the dreadful deed.

Grinning, he brought the trap inside and I gave him a bag of monster cookies and thanked him profusely. And he went back to work.

If anyone out there--potential employer, possible girlfriend, private investigator, whatever--needs a reference for Randy's character, just come to me.

Quote of the Day:
"If I didn't know better I'd think he was pregnant."
--Matt, after Steven made a bagel-scrambled egg-cheese-chocolate cake-ketchup sandwich for breakfast on Saturday

(edited to add: here's a picture of Randy. Just fyi, he's 23. He looked a bit more scrubbed and polished at his brother's wedding)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Family Update

The Walmart post generated a flurry of responses, both online and off, from Jane who amen-ed me about teenagers going to the mall, to nephew Randy who thinks someone needs to open a Mennonite bakery in Harrisburg or even out at the freeway at the old Hungry Farmer restaurant. "Man, you'd have more business than you knew what to do with, especially if you put the name Mennonite in there."

I have a feeling I am thinking and talking about stores and such things so that I don't think about what's really on my mind: my kids leaving home.
Amy as you all know is living in South Carolina and even picking up the lingo. I miss her, but in a sweet sad way and not a devastating-grief way.
Matt finished his pre-engineering course at Linn-Benton Community College last June, and was then accepted into Oregon State University's engineering program. OSU is in Corvallis, which is about 45 minutes away. He has talked for a long time about getting an apartment in Corvallis, especially since he was working for an engineer there for over a year.

This engineer, a single man in his 50s named Ricardo, took their finished project to India and installed it, and now he's with family in Florida for a while. Matt emailed him recently and wondered when he'll be back and whether or not he'll have work for Matt when he gets back. And Ricardo emailed back and said he won't be back for a while and would Matt like to house-sit for him, since his 4-bedroom house is sitting empty. And then he can keep renting a room after Ricardo returns.
Matt leaped for the idea and discussed it with us. Paul made sure Matt asked Ricardo the right questions about the parameters and costs and all. I moped around tearfully and moaned that I've known this was coming but I'm still not ready, etc etc.
So Matt packed his car full of stuff and I packed a box of food so he wouldn't starve.
Me: Here, Matt, this is at least a day's worth of meals. (sniff)
Matt: That's a day's worth of meals for a family of eight!
I went to sewing circle and had a pity party with the two moms, Bonnie and Rachel, whose sons Randy and Justin moved into a 4-plex in Harrisburg this week.

Matt will be home today to work in the warehouse a few hours and also eat supper. Paul says we'll probably see more of him now than when he lived at home. I know that. And I know that Matt's 21 years old. And I knew this was coming. And I know he loves us and left on good terms. So why is this so hard??
Ok I might as well update everyone on the whole crew:
Ruth S. was at school recently and took photographs for the yearbook, so here's My Guy Paul:

and Ben

and Steven

Ben and Steven are both singing in Joyful Noise this year. That's their Aunt Rosie's choir)

And Jenny keeps growing up as fast as she can and keeping us entertained.

Emily didn't have her picture taken at school because she's a senior and will have a Real Portrait. She is finally finally getting over her worst bout of Emily-flu in years--three weeks of tired and achy and feverish and headachy. So far the blood tests say no leukemia (praise God), no infection, no allergies, no liver problems, no diabetes, no electrolyte issues. More test results are on the way. But today, at last, at last, she's starting to fly again. (See her Xanga for details)

Quote of the Day:

"Ben's a true warehouse worker now. A hole in the seat of his pants is fixed with duct tape."

--Emily, sorting laundry

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Walmart Thoughts

I realize right off that it's dangerous in some circles to talk about Walmart, since I once mentioned in a newspaper column that we shop at Walmart and I got about eight letters ranging from entreating to vicious.

I have never really researched this but I believe the biggest complaints that people have about Walmart are that they push smaller businesses out of town (definitely true) and that they exploit someone--I'm not sure if it's their workers or the foreign workers that make their products.

If it's the foreign workers, I don't really understand why people single out Walmart. I would guess that almost every big American company overseas exploits their workers. We've all heard the stories about Nike, and I've read about the garment suppliers for Gap and Tommy Hilfiger and others who aren't any better.

I do as little shopping as possible but I do still on occasion go to Walmart. In fact, yesterday I had a marathon day in town and hit Walmart, the biggest mall in town, Heinke's the bathroom fan supplier, St. Vinnie's, Goodwill, and a bunch of other places.

(Stepping on soapbox here). . . If we're going to boycott places because of how they exploit people, let's all boycott the mall. As I walked down the hallway I saw a group of wild-haired multi-pierced fishnet-stockinged combat-booted girls sashaying along near Abercrombie and Fitch, where an enormous poster of a buff undressed guy attempted unsuccessfully to lure me inside.

The message that the mall shouts is that you have to have the right words on your sweatshirt, the right shoes, the right expensive everything, or you are uncool, worthless, outside the inner circle, the lowest mockery of humanity.

At Walmart, jeans-and-sweatshirted people bought popcorn and light bulbs. The message that Walmart sends is, "Hey, you're out of shampoo. Why don't you get the store brand, it's just as good as Head&Shoulders?"

So where do you think I would rather send my children, and where will they be exploited the most?

(Steps off soapbox)

Walmart has filled a niche by supplying Basic Stuff. I think the people who don't like how they go about it need to seriously think about providing an alternative. If I need basic white cotton socks for Jenny, I know I can go to Walmart and they'll be there.

Also, Walmart has fabric, one of the few such places left in town. JoAnn's has gone over to bridal fabric and Pittsburgh Steelers fabric and stretchy sequined fabric, but at Walmart you can still buy the basics.

And they still have that dollar-a-yard table, so if you have a daughter learning to sew, you can have her experiment on something cheap.

But now Walmart is phasing out their fabric departments. The new stores don't have any at all, and the rumor is that the rest are closing down in the next year. I talked to the clerk at Walmart about it yesterday. It's all decided back in Arkansas, she said. They have very little to do with the decision.

I have often said that what this area needs is a good fabric store, catering to everyone from quilters to Mennonites to people just learning to sew. There are quilt shops with $7-a-yard cottons, but no place with a good variety and particularly not with pretty dress fabrics.

If I weren't so busy with writing and all it entails, I could probably start a fabric store at this time in my life. Since I'm not ready to give up writing just yet, maybe someone else will step into the gap here. There are some vacant stores in Harrisburg just waiting for you. And if no one else does, I guess I have a decision to make. . .

Quote of the Day:
Ben: What's something a good Mennonite housewife does that applies to physics?
Me: I don't know, popping popcorn?
Ben: No, canning! Cuz you know the whole thing of pressure, temperature, and volume?
Me: Indeed.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Glenn Yoder is a dumpy little guy who lived in the same house, between here and Harrisburg, for 80 years, I'm told. His mom was a sister to Paul's grandma Lena.
Glenn never married or travelled or did any number of other things the rest of us do to make our lives interesting. Instead he stood out in his front yard day after day, in his overalls, a bit hunched over, with a little bemused smile on his face, and watched people go by on Diamond Hill Drive and waved at them.
He also saved things. When he was moved to a nursing home recently, cleaning his house was a huge job, I was told.
His nieces held a sale a few days ago, and I stopped by. The amount of old stuff was astonishing, and this was after the family and various antique dealers had been through it. A table full of old calendars from the 1940's on. Old shaving brushes. Rusted galvanized buckets. A cream separator. A milk stool. Ink bottles. Wooden barrels. Sauerkraut crocks. And much much more.
Since we live in the original house where Glenn's mom and Paul's grandma grew up, one of Glenn's nieces pulled me aside and offered me a picture they had found that must have belonged to Paul's great-grandma before she ever married. It is about 8"x10" and has a black mat around a print of red roses in a glass vase. It is beautiful and in good condition, and on the back it still says, in proper old-fashioned handwriting, "Annie Hochstetler."
Of course I got it. I want to frame it and hang it around here somewhere, and wouldn't that be something if I managed to put it right where Annie herself hung it when she lived here?

Quote of the Day:
"We Smuckers should be ruling the world, if you ask me."