Saturday, May 21, 2011

On a Roll: More Quotes

Somehow the notable quotes just keep accumulating around here.

I saw a young multi-pierced man in Eugene standing on a street corner holding two cardboard signs, one in each hand. But instead of the usual, "Need work, need help, God bless," they said, in one hand, "Rock" and in the other hand, "Hard place."

Surely with such a clever mind he could find a real job.

"Make Tea Not War"
--a bumper sticker in Eugene. I like this.

"How do you walk with poise, yet humbleness?"
--Jenny, reading the very detailed manual as she prepared for her platform event at the ACE Junior Convention

"I know what we should name Steven's cat--UFO!! Unnamed Feline Offspring."
--Jenny of course

"There were these potatoes with this fatty saucy stuff with like green cloves, and underneath was chicken."
--Jenny, describing what Sharon K. had brought for supper one night while I was in Minnesota. I'll have to get that recipe. Everyone liked it, despite the cloves.

"One thing will be the same at my wedding as the Royal Wedding: Fergie the Duchess of York will not be invited."

And while we're on the subject:
"I mean, some things are exciting to watch, but a royal wedding, you already know the outcome."

"Compost. Free samples."
--a sign on Goltra Road that makes my girls happy, since they so seldom see interesting signs in Oregon, like they saw all over in Kenya.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ancestor-Hunting--Can you help?

I received an email today from a woman in Eugene who is researching her ancestry. I understand her curiosity, having just recently learned so much about my dad's past in Oklahoma.

Unfortunately this lady's dad is now gone and she can't ask him any more questions. She did find out to her surprise that her grandma had been Mennonite. So she's been delving into that whole scene, full of Erbs and Ebys and such. The family was from Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, and later moved to Michigan.

I've never been to K/W in my life and wouldn't be much help with her research, but I know I have readers with ties to those areas, so I think I'll just cut and paste part of her letter:

Over the past year, I've been digging up information about her through the wonders of and finding a long trail of Mennonite families. I know from whom I'm descended, but I don't know any of their history. I'm picking up little bits and pieces about some of them, their arrival in Pennsylvania, including land grants from William Penn. They immigrated from Switzerland in the late 1600s and early 1700s and many of them were the first settlers and religious leaders in Germantown, Skippack, Montgomery Co and Lancaster Co before they immigrated to Ontario in the 1800s. My grandmother's family was settled in Waterloo/Kitchener where I believe there is still a large Mennonite community. My great-grandparents relocated the family to Michigan in 1892, but I don't know why.
My grandmother was a Clemens (descended from Gerhart Clemens). Her mother was a Snyder/Schneider. There are myriad Erbs, Ebys, Brickers, Bachmans, Longenegger/Longnecker/Longacres, and so on. While I can identify individuals, I have no historical information on them. I would love to know more about the Mennonite communities where they lived, the family histories and their assimilation (such as it was). I'm wondering if you can recommend any historical societies, or reading materials that might help me? I know that your family is based in the mid-West, so I don't think we necessarily cross paths (no sign of Yoders in my tree), but I'm hoping you have some ideas of where I can look. I didn't ask my father the right questions while he was alive, so I'm attempting to honor his family history now. Any assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated!

If you have anything to offer this lady, please comment or email me at


And we close with an anecdote I've entitled, "And They Think Americans Are Crazy." Yesterday I ran into my friend JoAnn in town and she told me her mother-in-law in Holland had passed away recently. She had lived and died in her own home, and always refused to go to a nursing home, partly because she was an independent person and partly because she was afraid of Holland's practice of euthanasia.
I related this at the supper table.
Jenny wondered what euthanasia was.
I told her.
She exclaimed:

Quote of the Day:
"So you can't have a slingshot in Holland but you can kill old people??!!"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


You know who the Knox Brothers are, right? They're a Southern Gospel group from Oregon who have been around for years and are still going strong, despite [false] rumors of retirement and the occasional person who says, "Wait. The Knox Brothers? They're still alive?"

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, they grew up in this very house and most of them live just down Powerline Road.

I see their big bus now and then and hear about people who sign up for their yearly cruise to Alaska.

But I never go to their concerts, kind of like I've spent almost 20 years of my life in Oregon and have been to Crater Lake only once.

I think Paul and I went to a Knox Brothers concert at a gym in Harrisburg before we were married, and every year we hear them sing at the gazebo in Harrisburg on the Fourth of July, while we wait for the fireworks, which is a wonderful tradition. And they sang at their mom's funeral which we attended since Elsie the mom was a sister to Paul's grandpa. I cleaned her house one summer and she would always say, in her happy-chirpy way, "Do you wanna listen to some music? You wanna listen to The Boys?" Of course I would say yes because it made her happy.

You know, a good Mennonite mom doesn't say, "My sons are amazing. I am so proud of them." But it's ok to say it sideways by saying, "You wanna listen to The Boys?"

Somewhere along the way I realized that neither the Knox Brothers nor I were getting any younger and if they died or retired I would regret having lived this close this long and not gone to hear them sing.

So I did my research for several months and no date ever worked out, until yesterday. Paul would have gone with me to make me happy but concerts are not his thing, so I let him be happy at home and I took my friend Arlene and we went to Grace Bible in Tangent and listened to the Knox Brothers and also the guest group, the LeFevre Quartet which were half the age and twice the tempo of the KBs.

But I liked the Knox Brothers better.

I am no connoisseur of music but I can tell nice from ugly and their singing was nice. A mix of familiar and new, of traditional and creative. They enjoyed themselves. Arnold was as excellent on the piano as I've heard. And Wayne, who also raised his family in this house, has snow-white hair and played a wild-looking red and white guitar with those swoopy horn things at the top, which was a bit jarring to the eyes.

I don't know if I'll go hear them again, but I'm glad I went.

The LeFevre group is from Georgia, which lends itself to memorable quotes like this:

Quote of the Day:
"Y'all are just a-grinnin. . . Now there's a couple of you, looks lahk someone licked the red off your sucker. . ."
--Mike LeFevre

Saturday, May 14, 2011

More Quotes and a Question

I stole this from Emily's Facebook status:

‎"(Steven walks by with a towel around his waist) Me: Nice skirt. Steven: You like my skirt? Me: not really. Steven: It's a nice skirt! Me: Not if you catch it on a nail. Steven: That's why I walk on the out-skirts."

I've just figured out why I haven't been able to write that novel I keep thinking about. Jan Karon, who wrote the Mitford series, was asked, "Where do you write?" and she answered:

"My studio stretches across the back of my little house. It has eight windows that look out on a copse of trees. I can see the blue outline of the mountains in the distance. Where I write is exceedingly important to me. I am never comfortable unless I am in a room that pleases me. I need the pictures on the wall to be hanging straight. I have to do my housekeeping before I can sit down at the computer. Things need to be in order in my mind and in the place where I write."
She also said,
"Being a writer requires a lot of solitude."

Apparently, then, having a nest of ants crawling in the printer beside the computer and Jenny dumping kittens in my lap while she practices piano 4 feet away and Emily wandering in to tell me about her latest dreams and Ben impatiently waiting for the computer so he can download something for college and Paul printing off seed test results at my elbow and Steven running around the house hunting for his shirt for the concert and both phones ringing and Amy coming in to ask if I was expecting her to make supper is not exactly a "lot of solitude" or the ideal life for a writer.

Somehow I already knew that.

Now the question:

How much do you, my fine readers, talk to strangers and just get involved?

I am descended from parents who are of two extremes. Dad talks to anyone, anywhere. He asks them where they're from and what they do and are they Swedish or Norwegian? This might be other people having family gatherings at the park, people in town, the doctor's receptionist.

Mom says polite hellos and responds to comments about the weather.


When I flew to Minnesota I was waiting at the gate at PDX when I saw a 30-something couple with a boy maybe 8 years old standing in the hallway. I couldn't hear all the conversation but the tension and anger were so obvious that people started glancing at them and then at each other like, "Whoa, can you believe that?"

The boy held onto his mom's hand and glared at the dad. The mom looked like if she weren't in polite company she'd start yelling. And the dad looked ready to hit somebody.

The mom was saying stuff like, "Is this our gate?" "Is this where we're supposed to be?" "Well, go check! Ask somebody!"

And the man was insisting, "I already did!" and, "No! You go!"

Obviously the tones of voice and looks of eye were much worse than the actual words.

And we all sat there awkwardly and did nothing.

I was casting about in my mind if I should say something to them--ask if I can help, point them to the right gate, tell them to grow up and get their act together for the sake of the child and quit being so selfish.

I know it's dangerous to wade into marital disputes but I've also found that wearing a long skirt and veil affords me a bit of respect/protection because people often assume I'm a nun.

I didn't say anything, and regretted it.

Wouldn't you know it, when I got to the boarding area in Chicago almost a week later to fly home, there was that same man, minus the wife and child. Oh my, was this my sign to talk with him?

So I prayed that if I was supposed to, I'd end up beside him on the plane. Instead, I ended up with a young mom with two children.

Ok, whatever. But what would YOU have done?

Two days ago I was in WinCo getting my last item for my overloaded cart, a box of 5 dozen eggs, but I had to wait on the guy ahead of me at the glass doors. He was short and stocky, with a trimmed white beard, and he wore a sea-green shirt with dark green pants. I had a wild impulse to tell him, "You look just like a leprechaun," but I didn't, and my guess is you wouldn't have either.

But maybe I'm wrong.

Oh--and someone found my blog by Googling:

"Christian cats"

Monday, May 09, 2011

Quotes of the Day

"Numi Certified Organic Sweet African Red Green Rooibos Herbal Teasan"
--the little envelope containing the tea bag that Jenny brewed this evening

My brother Marcus clips and saves items from the Budget now and then. The Budget is a nationwide Amish/Mennonite newspaper that, if you're part of the culture, your grandma used to read and you made fun of, but now you sometimes read it on the sly as a guilty pleasure. The Budget has an editor, I'm told, but sometimes things slip through the cracks, and Marcus, as mentioned, clips them. Such as these, with names slightly altered for obvious reasons:

"Announcing a card shower for Miss Amanda Troyer, age 17, of Greenville, Tennessee, who had an appendectomy to relieve her boredom."


"John Martin has moved onto the old Sam Miller property with his new bride, which will need a lot of cleanup both inside and out."

Yesterday we were explaining to Jenny that there really is no way we can keep all six of those kitties plus Cleo the mom. So Jenny was explaining all this to Cleo and I overheard:

"I guess you're wondering why Mom never had to sell any of her babies. . ."

I've had lots of comments over the years on my head covering but none quite like the one from the doctor who came up behind me in the hall of the Paynesville Hospital in Minnesota and announced:

"Well! That's a fancy hat! What's it for?"

My sis Rebecca reports that President Saleh of Yemen, who is habitually dishonest, at least was being honest when he stated publicly:

"Leading Yemen is like dancing on the heads of snakes."

Someone found my blog recently by Googling this:

"Biblical story of the woman who lived in the shoe"

[Wasn't that found in Hezekiah 3?]

And we close with this conversation, typical in its respective logic and verbiage:

Emily: "Did you read about this local TV station in Arizona or wherever that adopted a cat? And it'll just walk across the desk in the middle of a broadcast. I think the big networks should try that, just to be more personable."
Ben: "I don't think it would really work for the Food Network."

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mothers Day LFH

Today's column is about motherhood, of course, and how it yanks you from being a girl to being a woman, as illustrated by Jenny's cat Cleopatra.

Here it is.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Quick Update

Sitting at MSP. Boarding soon.


Mom fell down the stairs at church last Sunday and hurt both ankles. I flew home the next day to help take care of her.

One leg has a bruise the size of her hand and an open wound the size of her nose.

The other leg has a bone chipped off which isn't as big a deal as the "very very bad sprain" [doctor quote] that has turned her leg from knee to heel a lot of colors you never saw on a human before.

First she was in a wheelchair. This made for a whole new way of life for both her and me. Every task takes three times as long. But I was happy to learn the ropes and she was happy to let me help, except in the middle of the night when she slowly groped her way out to the thermostat to turn it up and over to the microwave to heat up her rice bag. I was sleeping on the couch. "MOM! WHY didn't you wake me up???" I fussed the next morning.

"Oh, you were sleeping so nice, I hated to wake you up."

Once a mom, always a mom. Happy Mothers Day to Mom and all the rest who qualify.

Now her worst leg is in a big black boot and she can get around with a walker. This makes things much easier but she also tries dangerous stuff like going down the steps to lock the front door at night.

Minnesota: where you lock the front door but leave the car keys in the ignition 24/7.

Dad is doing amazingly well. He has prostate surgery next week. The Lord willing.

Dad wears black leather high top lace up shoes that he bought secondhand in Montana in 1964.

Mom and Dad's house is being invaded by ladybugs. I bet I vacuumed up a thousand dead bugs.

Our former bishop, John C. Yoder, died while I was there. I hated to miss his funeral and all the old friends and acquaintances who will be there.

But I am going home for Mothers Day, yes I am.

Now in Chicago Midway.

More news:

My sis Rebecca, after dithering for months about whether things were bad enough that they should leave Yemen or not, and of course this was not a straightforward go-or-stay decision but had many tentacles of weighty things to balance, decided this is her sign, and she is coming. Yes she is. When I heard this I thought of the chapter in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice where Jane is home holding things together and then Elizabeth rushes home and Jane says, "Oh, Lizzy, I am so happy to see you!"

Not that things get into an uproar much at Mom and Dad's, but I wanted a sister there real bad, and a sister who is a nurse and one of the most supportive people ever, well, I was very happy to see her.

I picked her up at the airport on Thursday evening. Driving back to Grove City, history repeated itself:
in snazzy little red rental car
headed west
on Highway 55
stopped for speeding
and let off with a warning.


Off to Portland.