Friday, September 04, 2009

Why I haven't updated much

Pierre from France emailed me today and asked if all is well, since I hadn't posted for a while.* Yes, Pierre, thanks for asking, and all is reasonably well. Just a bit insane.

*As Jenny says, "Well, Mom, Emily might be ahead of you on Amazon but she doesn't have a fan from France!"

Insane, as I said, but interesting. Highlights:

Last week 51 Smuckers drove out to the coast and then up to Lincoln City and then inland, along 12 miles of twisty logging roads, to a beautiful retreat deep in the mountains--Drift Creek Camp. It reminded me of our Stirland Lake days, the isolation, the big main building with various smaller cabins, and especially the fact that the power went out at 11pm. [Except they graciously turned it back on for the folks staying up until 2 a.m. discussing the morality of tubal pregnancy surgery and such.]

Everyone in the family was there except Neil's widow and her two little ones. [Starla, if you read this, please know that we thought of you.]

Someone asked me if Paul actually made it for three days without talking on his cell phone. I had to say no--once or twice he drove down the road until he found phone service.

This being a Smucker gathering, competitive sports were important, and well organized. Basketball, volleyball, ping-pong, and horseshoe contests were all played with great spirit and skill and sportsmanship.

Paul's sister Barb organized a kickball game for all the little children (Jenny on down) and "sedentary adults that want to join us." That included Lois, Laura, myself. It was the most fun I've had playing an actual sport in many years, maybe ever. Trevin kept score, but the rest of us just played our hearts out without worrying about who was winning or losing. Best of all, in a complete fluke, I kicked a home run. Yes. For real. I still can't believe it, and neither can Jenny, who kept saying, "Oh Mom, I just can't believe you kicked a home run! That was so good! I don't understand how you could always be picked last in P.E. in high school!"

Oh my, and then a couple hours later to have Paul come up to me with a new appreciation in his eyes and say, "I heard you kicked a home run!" Oh, people, it was so healing.

Yes, well, on to other things. My favorite conversation was when we ladies, all in a cluster in the main room, went around and told our proposal stories. On a sand dune, in a candlelit cabin, on a hike. . . and in a car. Driving along somewhere in Virginia. With a noisy truck going by. So she had to say, "Huh? What did you say?" Laura told this story with such detail and skill that we were laughing until we almost cried, and Emily gave her the ultimate compliment--"Mom, you have to put that into your Mennonite novel!"

Then we came home. The next day I took Emily to the airport and she went back to Colorado. Overall, her month at home went better than we expected. However, she was very busy with lots of projects and activities, and she crashed, health-wise, during her last week. So that took most of the fun out of the reunion. She's feeling better since she's back in Colorado.

The next day Amy had two of her wisdom teeth cut out. I guess I posted about that.

Then I had to get cracking on my column for September, going through the normal contortions of what the kids call Mom-on-day-30 syndrome, and I got that off on Tuesday morning, and then I made tracks to get ready to leave for Bible Memory Camp at 1:00.

This is something the pastors at church do for the kids between 10 and 14--they memorize 50 assigned verses; we take them somewhere for 3 days. This time there were 8 boys and Jenny, who held her own fairly well but missed out on the slumber-party atmosphere at night.

We went to the house on Alsea Bay we've been to twice before. It is a beautiful place where you can basically step off the back deck onto the beach, and since it's by the bay rather than the ocean, it's a lot safer and the kids can go canoeing or kayaking. And we all know the drill of camp by now--morning treasure hunts [in our Bibles], great food sent by the moms, a sand-sculpture contest, fishing, crabbing, late-night fires on the sand, snores and other noises from a roomful of boys at night, cooking up the crabs in a big kettle outside the last night.

There on that balloon of land by Alsea Bay it seemed like every other house was for sale. So we checked out the closest one, a tall peach-colored building overlooking both the bay and ocean, with a separate apartment over the garage, and five bedrooms in all. Perfect for family gatherings and Bible Memory Camp. And it had been worth over $700,000 at the height of the real estate boom but is for sale for "only" $449,000 now. I wondered dreamily if there was any chance my publisher would offer me a half-million-dollar contract for my next book.

Then we met a woman who cleans houses in the area. "You need to come here in the middle of winter before you decide to buy a house here," she said ominously. The sand on the back deck piles up three feet high, she informed us. You have to rent a Bobcat thing and push it off every so often.

Strange, that the real estate lady didn't mention this detail.

We came home from camp yesterday around 4:30 I think. And this morning at 8:30 Paul fetched 9 big sacks of corn from a local farmer, and we all husked and blanched and cooled and cut and bagged corn for hours--77 quarts in all.

Tomorrow I clean; Sunday I'm church hostess and make dinner for any waifs or strays or whoever I decide to invite; Tuesday school starts.

And that, Pierre, is why I haven't had much time to post. Thanks for asking.

Quote of the Day:
Ben: After this one we'll be approximately 77.8 percent done.
Paul: Approximately?
Ben: Well, it's actually 77.7777777777. . . percent.
--while husking corn


  1. I love your posts. They are so refreshing, honest, funny...thanks for the effort you put forth.

  2. I'd been wondering as well. I checked your RSS feed several times a day.

    But I'm not from France.

    And I didn't ask.

    I do live right close to Yoder, though -- that ought to be really important, somehow.


  3. Happy to know that you are well.

    What a gathering you had!!!
    And thank you for all the details about the gathering

  4. I can totally understand why you haven't posted much! You've had a lot going on! Good things but, takes up time and makes a body tired! And all that corn! I am so envious! I haven't done any in years! My boys now call homegrown corn, Real Corn! :)
    I can so relate to your ego boost from the home run! I was always the last one chosen in P.E. too.:( Usually accompanied by a groan. I've recovered. :)

  5. Awww! Take me back to Drift Creek and all the fun we had there. You were too modest to mention Jenny's comment in the bathroom to me the next morning, "I still can't believe mom was so good that she kicked that home run." It was quite an impression you made. Laura