Friday, May 30, 2008


I told Paul I'd organize the church rummage sale to raise funds for the school since I am the logical choice for this, after all, being the principal's wife and the local Garage Sale Queen. I know how important it is to have a nice solid bar for hanging shirts and things, and a pot of hot coffee, and the prices clearly marked.

However, I must add that I'm the queen of buying at garage sales and not of having them. Really good garage sale hosts are the women who buy clothes at Baby Gap that the kids never wear and get all these new gadgets they see advertised on TV and never use them. Women like me who buy used to start with and then use everything until it's worn to the bitter end don't have much to offer when we have a garage sale.

So as I clean and sort here I am in constant agonies. Is this just plain junk or can someone use it? These odd pieces of plexiglass that Matt had in his room for some purpose or another--will anyone need them? This suitcase that's so pretty and nice except for that missing wheel--I'll put it out for free but is even that a bit too Depression-era?

I keep coming back in my mind to last year's garage sales in Halsey, where I pounced on a dryer vent hose because ours had just developed a big hole, and the couple in charge laughed because Mr. was going to throw it away and Mrs. thought maybe someone could use it and Mr. said who on earth wants a dryer vent hose?

I win all the frugality prizes among my peers, thanks to being Amish plus being born to older parents whose formative years were during the Depression plus having traveled to poor countries. So maybe that's why I find it so frustrating that there are so few options for fixing things. The suitcase, for instance. So one wheel goes bad, which makes it useless in airports as I found out when it happened, and it seems the only option is to throw the whole thing away even though there are no holes and the zippers are all fine and it's this pretty teal besides.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were an old fix-it man in a little store in Harrisburg who could find a new wheel and screw it on for a few dollars and make it good for a few more years of travel? Or if I had some way to give it to a young man in Yemen taking the bus out to the village to see his family for the first time in a year who would be thrilled with something more dependable than a gunny sack to pack his clothes in and the gifts for his mom.

Ya vell. Those options don't exist so I will put it on the free table and hope no one smirks too cruelly at this old-fashioned and un-American woman who agonizes over wastefulness and hates to throw things away.

Quote of the Day:
"Anybody who's 100% normal is a little bit weird."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Robin tagged me recently with the following challenge:

1. Write the title to your own memoir using 6 words.
2. Post it on your blog.
3. Link to the person that tagged you.
4. Tag five more blogs.

I guess I've kind of done this already, having written two memoirs, but I think the assignment is really an autobiography title.

This is the problem: I am terrible with titles. That's one of the hardest parts of publishing my books: coming up with chapter titles. (And no, I can't use what was in the newspaper because often I don't like them [no, I don't write the headlines myself--lots of people ask me that] and also if the story is one column wide down the side of the page it has a shorter title than if it's spread out across four columns at the bottom.) I did come up with Ordinary Days as a book title but it's not what anyone could call exciting and the publisher wanted something a bit more intriguing for the second book, hence Upstairs the Peasants are Revolting.

Yes well.

I can, however, come up with titles for others. Amy: I Can Do It By Myself! Jenny: Life Is So Exciting And Fun!! And the other night we were sitting around discussing this and I thought, but did not say, that Paul's should be What Would Be The Point? when he announced, "I can't think of a more pointless exercise." So I said what I had been thinking and he said, "I don't think I've said that in 5 years." (I guess since we always rubbed his nose in it he's tried to quit saying it.) However, as Amy said, "It's easy to tell you're still thinking it even if you don't say it." Poor Paul, we are so hard on him.

Ok, how's this for me: By Faith Opening Doors, Walking Through
Or--Still In the Middle Of The Story

I think I like the second one best.

(Ok, not real picky with the six words rule I guess)

I tag Matt, Emily, Miriam, Margaret, and Ruth.

Quote of the Day:
(In case you wondered why Steven's sibs get annoyed at him)
Emily: AAAAAHHH!!! Steven come kill this spider!!
Steven: Why?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Post-grad ponderings

On Saturday I swept and mopped floors and did laundry with that vast relief that comes after a big event is over. Amy the efficient daughter scrubbed the downstairs bathroom and baked cookies and cinnamon rolls. I told her I'm in heaven, just so she knows, with all this work getting done and me not having to do it or to stay close and supervise. Emily said Amy coming home is like Scarlett coming back to save the plantation.

That evening Matt came by and we all piled in the van and went out for Chinese food, definitely a cup-runneth-over moment and I know they all need to leave home eventually but I just get a phenomenal joy out of having this river of beautiful young people pour out of the van, joking and jostling, and seeing the grandmas in the car beside us watching and smiling indulgently.

Matt's dreams of an air-conditioned job this summer were dashed, and hunger, the great motivator, has propelled him back to seedsacking. Not for Paul, who already has his crew, but for a guy named Jack Pym, over on Lake Creek Drive. He told Mr. Pym, in essence, that he's Orval's Wilton's Paul's Matt, and was hired largely on his pedigree.

So, since it's only a few miles away, Matt may be living at home again this summer. And if he does I will be feeding four seedsackers, those people who sometimes eat 8 hamburgers in one shift, since my nephew Zack will be living here and sacking for Paul. I am seriously going to look into having a delivery truck come from the grocery store every week or two.

But I am not complaining. All my chicks in the nest plus a nephew that I love and enjoy; Amy here to bake and cook; God supplying our daily bread; what's not to like?

Another subject: maybe I missed my calling in life. I followed a link today to this mom who makes and sells kids' clothes. Well. Maybe I'm just out of the loop but I was astonished at the prices for clothes that are really quite simple. You can see them here. $28-$48 for small top-and-capri sets. Wow.

Ok, I have sewed hundreds of garments over the years, many of them way more complicated than these. Maybe I should be sewing fun little outfits and selling them on the internet instead of anguishing over what to write each month.

Let's see...
Here we have a cute split skirt with a t-shirt with a coordinating heart on the front that you can't see (oops, maybe it was Emily who sewed this outfit. Oh well.) And then a charming apron, and we all know aprons are back "in" and adult aprons sell for $30 on the Ada's Adorable Aprons site.

And below is a split-skirt dress with frogs and such on it. Yes, I put Jenny in split skirts a lot, a nice compromise between femininity and jumping on trampolines.

I wonder if I could get $25 or $30 for something like this.

And below is something to give my big kids their Neanderthal-Mom snicker for the day. I clicked something wrong and as nearly as I can tell I can't remove this picture without deleting the whole post. Could I somehow make it relevant? Oh! The hat! I like to make Polarfleece hats. Maybe I could sell them for $10 or something, $15 with a tassel.

Quote of the Day:
"I don't like all these introductions and forwards because sometimes I accidentally read them."
--Emily, who likes to horrify her author mother

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Emily's Graduation

She doesn't see what the big deal is, really, and why everybody congratulates her. "I mean, after all, I still have a ton of work to do to finish up." Well. She survived the year, she worked hard when she felt horrible, she gave a speech that made people cry, she got her diploma. I say she deserves congratulations.

The rest of us were also involved, of course. I sewed her outfit and made food, Paul presented the seniors, her younger siblings sang, and Amy took the pictures.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Allen Troyer had an interesting meditation at Keith and JoNell's wedding on Biblical couples and the advice they might give us. Read more here.

For example:
Adam and Eve: "Your relationship with God must guide your relationship with each other."
Abraham and Sara: "Honor and leadership go together."
Jacob and Rachel: "Something good is worth working for."

Meanwhile, Matt sat there doodling on the back of his program, sketching the back of Grandma's head and also jotting down his own irreverent version of advice based on the couples Allen mentioned, such as "Don't marry your half sister," for Abraham and Sara.

My favorite advice of Allen's was from Joseph and Mary: "God's favor is far more important than a good reputation."

My favorite advice of Matt's was from Boaz and Ruth:

Quote of the Day:
"Sleep at the warehouse more often."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


"May I ask what you're doing with all these bananas?" asked the nice young lady at Price Chopper. No wonder, since I had 35 of them. I explained that they're for my daughter's graduation party tomorrow night.

I also bought, at Costco, where I couldn't locate any bananas--
36 apples
5 containers of grapes
12 kiwi
1 box of oranges
and some more stuff, for fruit trays for up to 175 people.

Now I need to make 3 pans of Oreo/ice cream dessert.

And tomorrow I need to go to school and cut up all that fruit plus mix 4 big cans of nacho cheese sauce with 3 jars of salsa and 9 pounds of sausage and put it all into my 2 big oval crock pots and also Sharon's 2 that I'm going to borrow, since she is a good Mennonite with a large crock pot collection.

22 hours til Amy comes home. (happy little jig)

The kids like to have a little snack when they come home from school. Yesterday Steven had 1 slice of cheesecake and 1 root beer float and was buttering 3 slices of bread when I came on the scene and squawked, so he put 1 slice back in the bag in an attempt at temperance.

He also likes to fry up 5 eggs for his breakfast.

As of today I have a 1 in 2139 chance of winning a house at the coast. This couple in Yachats wasn't able to sell their home so they are doing this contest where you write a 100-word essay about why you want this house and send them $200. They're hoping to collect 3000 entries and the market value of the house. The winner will be chosen by the essay and not random chance, so we decided it would not be gambling, and I wrung all the emotion I could out of those 100 words, including my sick daughter who is convinced a summer at the beach would make her better. If they don't get enough entries you get your money back, so if you want to increase my chances you can send in your check along with a badly-written entry. Read more here.

Quote of the Day:
"What do you call it if you don't like to be around someone who eats all the time?
Glutton intolerant!"

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Whining, Empathy, Sighs, etc.

I've gotten hints from two people (Amy, and Bernice from Kenya) that I really should post again, which makes me kind of "botsich" as my mom used to say, because it means someone actually reads this. Real people, too, not just anonymous forms from who-knows-where.

So I will rattle and ramble because I don't know what to post about, and most of this will be whining and complaining I'm afraid.

The opposite of botsich is humble, and there's plenty to keep me humble these days, such as the state of this house, which suddenly has erupted in clutter and dirt. What is the deal, do I ignore it all winter because I have SAD? Or does it just explode when the weather turns warm? Terrible, the dust in the shadows, and I can't catch up with it to save my life.

Other women always seem to have everything under control and if I let myself I can get really jealous. Such as my friend Rachel, who has a lovely clean house and fantastic flower beds and two little girls whose dresses are all sewed at the beginning of the season.

Rachel told me I can transplant my roses whenever I want. "Roses are so tough, they can take about anything." Well, famous last words, as Mom used to say. I transplanted 5 rose plants out of the bed and into a row beside the house, watering and fertilizing and babying them like everything, and they are dying like everything too. Arrgghh. Just withering up.

We've had the most indescribably gorgeous weather the last few days, even hitting a record-breaking 95 degrees which was a bit much but you can take anything after a long winter of cold and rain as long as you have a glass of iced tea. I've been spending hours outside in the flower beds which may be why the house is going to pot.

Last week Ben and Steven had two choir concerts and did tear-jerkingly well. And now they're done for the summer but Jenny will continue with piano and Steven will begin lessons as well, and Jenny is all botsich because she will actually be ahead of Steven in something.

Graduation is on Thursday night and Emily will graduate by the school board's mercy and finish her work later. It has been a long hard winter on so many levels, with Matt and Amy leaving home and Emily being sick and my SAD and all. I was very stoic for most of it but now that it's about over (at least winter's over and Amy's coming home Thursday) I suddenly have the weeps. Caring for a chronically ill child has to be one of the more emotionally draining jobs in the universe and thinking of all her losses is just plain hard.

Actually I wasn't doing so badly until on Sunday someone talked to me about it, which is nothing new, but this person had actually been through something very similar and her heartfelt empathy put me right over the edge and I have been honestly grieving like I haven't for the past 8 months. How odd is that.

Empathy is an interesting thing. Plenty of people talk to me about Emily's situation, and this is all good and I appreciate it, but I can tell in about 30 seconds who has experienced something like this and who hasn't. Many people provide sympathy, and they can care deeply and be very nice and helpful, but it's the empathetic people who crack my walls of determined bravery and let me cry all those tears I didn't even know were dammed up inside.

I don't know that I'd say it's my primary love language like it is for my sister Rebecca, but it's certainly on my list. (And no, Gary Chapman doesn't list it among his famous five but Gary Chapman doesn't know everything.)

I can't offer you much if your husband is cheating or you're afraid of spiders or you dread having devotions at sewing circle, but if you ever have to deal with long-term illness in yourself or a child, come to me and I'll give you more empathy than you ever asked for.

I think that was kind of a rabbit trail there.

This is how my life goes: Hansie is shedding so bad his yellow fur hangs in ragged tufts and gets scattered all over the yard. So the other day Steven brushed him good and gave him a bath. Ah, wonderful, another cleaning job off my list. Then Hansie promptly went up on the porch and shook himself and spattered cloudy doggy water all over the glass patio doors.

I made two cheesecakes on Saturday, one for the school picnic and one for Sunday dinner, in an attempt to rack up a few housewife points, using Bonnie the fantastic cook's recipe, which was supposed to be done in 50 minutes. An hour and a half later they still jiggled in the middle. After almost two hours I had to grab them out of the oven and go, and hot cheesecake isn't exactly a prizewinning dessert, and this is also how my life goes.

I often think of how most Western women in Kenya, and even the middle-class Kenyan women, would never in their wildest nightmares be solely responsible for a family, cleaning, cooking, laundry, yard work, animals, and cleaning vehicles. If this place were transported to Kenya I would have probably two inside and two outside workers, at least. In fact, they tended to be so overstaffed over there that you'd see a man outside slowly sweeping the flower petals off the driveway.

And yet other women around here do it. I wonder how. It's a mystery to me.

I did go speak to a ladies' group in Salem on Saturday, which I enjoyed as always and they laughed out loud and applauded and even bought a few books, so that was a bit of balm for my housewifely inferiority, but it doesn't get the upstairs shower scrubbed and of course none of the housewives that I compare myself with ever come hear me speak. Sigh.

"How do you conquer discouragement?" wondered the Sunday school teacher yesterday, and one man said, "Count your blessings" which I thought was very simplistic but maybe I should try it.
Emily still makes me laugh and the West Nile hasn't destroyed her humor, praise God.
Amy comes home Thursday and will no doubt help me whip the house into shape.
Paul never complains about my housekeeping and thinks I'm a good cook.
We've had beautiful green warm evenings in which we could eat supper on the porch.
Ah yes, life is good.

Quote of the Day:
(Outside, cleaning up this evening)
Me: Here, go put this hatchet away and don't scalp anyone on the way.
Ben: Oh man, why do you always gotta ruin all the fun?

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Ben and Steven stayed with our friends the Gerigs while we were gone to Colorado. On Sunday I got a call from Ben who wished me a happy Mothers Day and then informed me that he had been riding a bike the day before, trying to see how fast he could go downhill, without a helmet by the way, and he wiped out. Thank God he didn't hit his head or break any bones, but he had less skin on his body afterwards than before.

He was very matter-of-fact about all this, and tried to get me to see that all was not lost and it really wasn't so bad:

Quote of the Day:
(in all seriousness) "But I didn't damage my Seattle Mariners shirt."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

QOTD from Jenny

You have to understand, first of all, that Jenny is a very enthusiastic person, about many subjects.

--Horses! Oh, to have a horse, and to go galloping through the sagebrush, into the sunset! I had been looking for a cowgirl hat for her birthday and finally found one weeks later in, of all places, a truck stop in Idaho, with a wonderful rolled-up-at-the-sides brim. She loves it! And put together a cowgirl outfit with that tiered denim skirt her sisters bought her last summer. And Emily tied this pink fringed scarf around her shoulders and it just completed the look! Oh, to have a horse yet, that would be just every dream come true! And how terribly sad about Eight Belles!

--Dwight Howard! Oh, how wonderful he is, and how talented, and only 22, Matt’s age, and a Christian yet, and oh how terrible that the Orlando Magic lost on Sunday!

--Birds! Birds are soooo neat! And the other evening at the supper table she interrupted my story with a wild shriek when this bird! With a yellow stomach! And such bright colors! Flew into the grapevines! Oh, what was it?? A Western Tanager, said Dad. She looked it up in the encyclopedia and on the internet, and drew pictures of it. It was a truly wonderful bird!

--Piano! Oh, piano! Yes, she wants to take lessons all summer! And Mrs. Byers said she’s good at sight reading! And she is learning about slurs and the names of the lines and spaces!

So. Today I took Jenny to her piano lesson at Mrs. Byers’. She wore her complete cowgirl outfit, hat and all, beaming with pride. I dropped her off, did a bit of shopping and then parked in front of their house. The front door opened at 4:30 and out popped Jenny. She stopped abruptly on the front step and turned in her denim skirt and pink fringed scarf to very enthusiastically tell Mrs. Byers something. Her hands were gesturing and her eyes gleaming and her hat bobbing, and I caught the words "yellow stomach."

Finally she hopped in the car enthusiastically and I asked what she had been telling Mrs. Byers.

"Oh! I was just going out her door when I saw her two birds in the cages and that reminded me that I wanted to tell her about that bird we saw, you know that Western Turkaloo, because they were a little bit the same, you know, with the yellow stomach!"

That what??

"You remember, that Western Turkaloo we saw."

"But I thought it was a Western Tanager."

A very deflated sigh came from the back seat. "Ooooooohhhhh. You’re right."

"Where did you ever come up with a name like Turkaloo??" I said.

A very small, deflated voice in the back seat said, "That’s actually the name of this guy that plays for the Orlando Magic with Dwight Howard."

There was a pause. "Mrs. Byers said she’d never heard of that kind of bird before."

Another pause, and in a very small voice from under the cowgirl hat, "No wonder!"

+ + + + + +

(Later: Ben helped me Google this and it’s actually Hedo Turkoglu, pronounced "Turkaloo" who was born in Istanbul. And just fyi, Jenny wasn't sure about posting this story but said I can if I pay her a dollar. Deal.)

Jenny with Sun Raider

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I'm in Colorado at the moment gathering material for my novel about a Mennonite wedding. Oops, actually we're here in Delta/Montrose for Paul's nephew Keith's wedding to JoNell Kropf.

Last night we were at the rehearsal and as things were moving slowly I had plenty of time to observe and gather data. We had the groom's brother and his wife who have been married for almost two years and who tell hilarious stories about the catastrophes at their wedding which have an undertone of sadness as well, due to people being people, which I might include in the novel but change people's names of course.

Then we had the groom's parents who flew into Denver, rented a minivan, and headed for here. Two hours away they stopped for supper and Lois the mom dropped the key in her purse. When they returned, they discovered that there was no key in the ring, only a remote control thingy and an empty key ring. Many searches, prayers, phone calls, and action followed. Keith drove two hours to fetch them. The next morning the tow truck guy made the astounding discovery, which no one else had put together, that the remote itself started the engine, and there wasn't supposed to be a key. We wondered why in the world Enterprise Rent-a-car hadn't figured out what was going on. (Quote of the Day: "It's not their fault you're a redneck."--Lois's son Kevin)

Then of course there's the whole Menno-fashion scene, which I find endlessly fascinating for some reason. After a certain age we middle-aged women's clothes all look kind of the same, no matter what church we're from. But the young ladies--ahh, what a gold mine of color and intensity and variety. We have the cape dresses, which means they're from that sort of church, but they are in the brightest colors of large hibiscus prints, which would indicate this sort of that church, the lefter fringe. And there are the intriguing white coverings perched on the backs of heads like they're about to fall off the cliff, while a long string of hair dangles to the chin on the front.

The groom's brother Kevin has no patience with these ceremonies and procedures, and his disgust mounted as the evening wore on. (QOTD: "Let's face it, weddings weren't made for guys.) However, he restrained himself admirably, so much so that people took note: (QOTD: "Kevin's behaving so well today!" --Lois) (QOTD: Yeah, he's behaving better than he did at his own wedding."--Brenda T.)

Ok, after the wedding now.

Keith, the groom, looked completely stressed at the rehearsal, and not much better at the beginning of the wedding. However, his outlook slowly improved over the course of the wedding and reception, and by the end of the day he looked very happy with life.

The bride was lovely and the groom wore brown tennis-shoeish shoes with his tux. Lois reported that Grandma gasped almost as loud when she saw the brown shoes as she did when the ceremony was over and Keith swept JoNell off her feet and carried her down the aisle. Matt loved that last gesture and wants to do the same at his wedding, which means he's in the market for a girl that doesn't weigh more than about two sacks of grass seed, three at the very most.

Paul's sermon was a recycled version of four previous wedding sermons but still good, and he talked slowly enough for the vows, his only faux pas being that he forgot to join the couple's hands. But they are still legally married.

The bridesmaids wore pretty dresses in a color that I'm sure there's a name for, like Sunset Coral, along with very high-heeled brown shoes that they tended to take off before the reception. Paul, who is not into heels, declared that the girls had looked very uncomfortable going up and down the aisle. The bride's sister, JoLynn, overheard some of this and declared that the discomfort of heels is well worth it, because she loves how they look. Paul cannot comprehend this like a female can.

Jenny's dress turned out nicely despite the frustrating start, and she did a great job holding the pretty pen for people to sign the frame at the reception, and carrying the candles to the bridal table to light the unity candle.

Here's the preacher and his daughter. Awwww......

I wanted Matt and Emily to go to the traditional volleyball game after the reception for all the local and visiting youth. I mean, you can't get any more quintessential Mennonite than the volleyball game after a wedding, and what wonderful fodder for a novel. But they didn't want to. I wished I could go, just to observe, but I'm afraid I'd have been a leeeetle out of place, with a 3-year-old dress in Holdeman fabric and no ruffles on my sleeves or hair dangling in my face, and a poof yet.

Well, I'm in danger of losing my internet connection, but one more picture before I close. I have gotten to know Brenda T. from Ohio thanks to her connections with Paul's nephews. Two of her sons sat at our table at the reception, and I thought she really needed to see this photo:

He's roasting a jelly bean.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Jonah Day

Is there any other household in the universe where a hapless chicken is in danger of getting applesauce dumped on her head?

I didn't think so.

Today was a Jonah day, as Anne of Green Gables used to say, beginning with a long list of things I was determined to get done that progressed about as fast as running from a charging bull in a dream.

The phone kept ringing every time I turned around, yet by evening every one of our four cordless phones was lost. And a few hapless people called and never got an answer. Oh, yeah, the answering machine is messed up too.

I thought I would quickly whip out Jenny's dress for Keith and JoNell's wedding this Saturday, so I pinned a cute but easy pattern onto the green fabric and had the length all marked in pink chalk all around the circle skirt, when I discovered that I didn't have enough fabric left for the bodice. So I had to start all over with a different pattern.

Meanwhile, I started hosing off the porch and was boiling with resentment at Hansie the huge dog who makes my lovely porch so filthy and muddy all winter and spring it nearly makes me cry and I don't know what to do because getting rid of him is not an option and roping off the porch isn't either and neither is hosing it off when it's cold and nasty outside, not that I'm wimpy or anything.

Meanwhile the phone kept ringing.

Then we had a moms' meeting to discuss graduation details and I panicked at how much is left to do and also realized again how planning a big event is not my thing, because so little matters to me, and it matters to other people. The color of posterboard for the seniors' photo collage, how the chairs should be arranged, the color of the tablecloths. My theory is throw something together. Other women do not operate on this premise and actually want things to look coordinated and nice.

I came home from the meeting and the house reeked of fish because Steven had fried up his recent catch and the fishy bucket was left on the dishwasher and a plate of fishbones was left on the counter and the skillet was still gloppy and fishy and the drain smelled fishy and there were fishbones littered on top of the stove. Oh how a fishy smell and mess improves a Jonah day. Pun intended. Yes, Steven cleaned it up, but the smell still lingers.

Then my wonderful neighbor lady, She Who Teaches Parenting Classes About How to Teach Kids to Respect Adults, came over and Jenny kept interrupting our conversation with inane chatter about how many events she won last year at the school picnic, and oh yeah, she was second place in this one race but everything else she was first.

The crowning touch came after supper when I was cleaning a few things out of the fridge and sent Jenny out to give them to the chickens. She came back in distraught because she had, yes, dumped a container of applesauce right on top of a chicken. "I wasn't looking right then and I accidentally got it on her head and her wing and her back and I DIDN'T MEAN TO."

Well Ben was helping me and he and I paused for about two seconds and then reeled all over the kitchen howling with laughter. Jenny, who normally would laugh at this but I think suddenly has hormones now that she's nine, went out on the porch and cried. She came back in sniffing and I said, "Now listen. You have got to admit that that was funny." And she started giggling.

So Ben and Jenny went out to the chicken yard with a handful of napkins to wipe applesauce off the chicken.

I hope the whale spits me onto dry land tomorrow.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Paul was headed to a school board meeting this evening with six copies of a paper about a possible play area or gym (please please) for our school. He wrote it up today, explaining how the idea came about, the meetings that have been had, the options before us, and where we should go from here.

I did an extensive edit of his paper before he left because the unfortunate truth is that Paul is thorough but very wordy. "As we discussed these figures at the meeting it became evident that most at the meeting would lean a certain direction, but it also became evident that this decision encompasses the entire church and needs to be decided on by the entire church." Whack whack whack. And I think the result was a tight but thorough presentation.

(Paul asks for my editing and appreciates it, which is sweeter than I would be.)

One thing that amused me was his use of the word "facilities"--". . .outgrowing some parts of our school facilities" etc. It put me back to our little country church in Minnesota that we had inherited from the Methodists and which came complete with two little white outhouses beside it, back by the bushes, and we will not discuss what it was like to use these during Minnesota winters.

Finally the day came when people started pushing for decent restrooms. I think it ended up with a new wing out the south side of the church that included classrooms and a ping pong area and yes, heated restrooms with flush toilets.

This somehow could not come about without many long, protracted, extended meetings and poorly-chaired discussions that seemed to go nowhere, mostly after regular evening services, so I was obligated to attend.

Anyway. What I remember about those meetings is that the bishop seemed embarrassed to mention outhouses and restrooms and such. So he always called them "facilities." The current outdoor facilities, the need for indoor facilities, the kind of facilities we want.

As I said, the new wing was eventually built, and the old outhouses stood there for years, gently rotting, and to this day I will tell my kids that excuse me, I need to go use the facilities.

Quote of the Day:
Me: Hi Matt
Matt: Hi. (Pause, cheesy grin) Is that enough conversation for one day?
(after I had told him he needs to stop being such a hermit)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Amazing Story

So what happens if you're a young lady playing college softball and you hit it out of the park and promptly injure your knee? See if this story doesn't make you sniff and wipe your eyes.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

First of May

Today is the first of May, which makes me think of my mom, and how she told us she used to go outside in the morning on the first of May, when she was young, and wash herself with dew because it was supposed to take away her freckles.

I think it's so sad that back then red hair and freckles were considered ugly, and she always thought of herself as unattractive, because not only did she have red hair and freckles, she also had a Schlabach nose and chin.

To me, Mom is a beautiful woman.

I'm thankful that attitudes about red hair have changed and that my redheads were always complimented rather than pitied. (I also think it's cool that they all three managed the statistically improbable combination of red hair and brown eyes--read about the genetics of this here. Sadly, the red hair in this family tends to morph into ginger and auburn as they get older.)

My all-time favorite comment came from a friendly young lady named Lena Wagler (oops, Leanna) who visited at church with the SMBI choir, actually (MennoGame alert) a sister to Tommy Wagler whom we met briefly in Kenya. When she met Jenny she told us her mom used to say:

Quote of the Day:
"A face without freckles is like a night without stars."