Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Signing in VA

To all my friends in Virginia: I'm scheduled to have a book signing at Books of Merit at the Dayton Farmers Market on Saturday, December 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  I'll have my new books on hand.  Come say hello if you're in the area.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Desperate Home Remedy That Worked

Today a Facebook exchange triggered a faint memory and I'm hoping some other Yoders can help fill in the details.

Recently, you may recall, I posted this happy news:
It is now the 11th of December and I have not had any head-cold-turning-to-chest-cold-turning-to-bronchitis-and-please-let-me-die-now-asthma this fall like I had four times last fall/winter/spring.
Was it the flu shot?  More vitamin D?  More exercise?  God in his mercy deciding I'd suffered enough?
I don't know, but it is really nice, and I am grateful.

So, guess what.  A week later I got sick with the cold and flu that Jenny was just getting over.

I posted this on Facebook:
The battle is on. My cold vs. echinacea, Vitamin C, Goldenseal, Advair, Vitamin D, garlic, beclomethasone hypropionate, NyQuil, Albuterol, and ibuprofen. This is war.

Lots of folks cheered me on in the fight.  Some added remedies of their own: apple cider vinegar with blackstrap molasses.  1 teaspoon honey mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  I tried this, since I had both on hand.  The two don't combine well.  Jenny took one look and said, "That looks like when I spit at the warehouse."

Yes.  Well.

Of course we had one person who linked a story saying that studies have shown that most of my remedies don't work for the common cold.

This person is studying to be a nurse, so he will someday be the professional who tells moms that no, there is no way that teething can cause fevers.

Not that I carry grudges or anything.

Our friend Hans posted this: "I hope you survive the cures."

Later he added: "I would suggest also taking boiled extract of squirrel dung. It's all-natural, so it's good for you. And I heard it cures everything from Cancer to the Common Cold."

And suddenly, there was that little memory ringing dimly in the back of my head.

Dad told us the story many years ago.  It happened, I'm guessing, when he was a young teenager.  They lived on a farm in Oklahoma, and one of his brothers--I don't recall which one--got the measles.  He was very ill, and the family was desperate to help him.  Someone told Grandma that a cure for measles is "schof-gnuddla tae," or, God have mercy, tea from sheep turds.

Well.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  A neighbor had a flock of sheep.  After dark, Dad saddled the horse, rode to the neighbors, snuck out in the pasture, and gathered a supply of "gnuddla."

Grandma brewed the tea.  The sick boy drank it.  He recovered and obviously lived to a ripe old age, since all those uncles did.

As I recall, this remained a secret between Dad and his mom until he told us.

And now I've told the whole world.

Do any other siblings or cousins remember this tale?

And no, I am not yet desperate enough to try this myself.

Quote of the Day:
(text from Emily:
"There is for real grass growing on the floor of dad's car" 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why I Love Grocery Deals

For years, I have been on a quest to conquer occasional depression and every-winter SAD without resorting to prescription medicines.

This led to sitting in front of a special light for a grueling half hour every morning plus vitamins and potions of every description.

I've been most successful with a combination of Vitamin D, St. Johns Wort, and 5HTP.  But lately I felt like that wasn't quite cutting it for this stage of life.

My friend Judy recommended something called SAM-e.

When I hear that name, I always think of an Amish guy with a big bushy beard and glasses.  "Did you get some calves from Sam T. Yoder?  No, it was Sam E."

The stuff is expensive, but I like it and I think it's working.  Today I went to Walgreens and bought a one-month's-supply box of SAM-e for $41.  (Horrors)

I got a second box for half price.  (Still a lot)

Then I went breezing toward home but on the way I stopped at my friend Heidi's little bent-n-dent store, Grocery Deals.

I love that place.  You never know what you'll find.  Sometimes it's staples: flour, aspirin, honey.

Sometimes it's fun snacks.

Sometimes it's exotic-for-me foods like those little cards with little spice packets to make chicken cacciatore or shrimp alfredo.

And the price is always a fraction of what you'd pay at a regular grocery store.

Today I was almost ready to check out when I looked at the vitamin and medicine shelves.  Yes, aspirin for my migraine regimen, toothpaste for Steven.

And oh my stars.  One box of SAM-e.  Exactly like what I'd bought at Walgreens.

For $1.99.

I think Heidi will testify on my behalf that I did not actually dance and sing in the aisle, but I felt like it.  She helped me hunt for more boxes, but that was the only one.

She suggested I post about it.  I said I would.

I love Grocery Deals.  You will too.  It's in that little Tivoli Village complex on the south end of Junction City.

 Lookin' happy with SAM-e and Grocery Deals.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Glimpses of Life

Today Emily and I cleaned out the fridge.

You may recall that three of my children moved east in two weeks' time in September.

Years ago, I snickered mockingly at both my mom and mother-in-law, because when their children started leaving home they still bought huge amounts of groceries and cooked big cauldrons of food.  They just couldn't seem to help themselves.

At the time, I thought, Seriously, this is not rocket science.  Just buy and cook less.

I have now repented of that attitude.

*     *     *
Skype is wonderful when you have children away from home.  On Thanksgiving Day, there was Amy at her aunt Barb's house, carrying her computer around to give us a tour of the huge old house, and then Matt walked in and we got to see him too.

I connect with Ben in Toronto every now and then, listening to the words but also evaluating his image on the screen--is he happy? should I suggest a haircut?  And yesterday I talked with Matt all the way off in Washington, DC and "met" his landlord when Matt swiveled the screen.  And hmmm, Matt now has a beard.  I asked how he gets by with a beard if he's working for the Navy.  "I'm a civilian, Mom.  They don't care."

 Someday I will wish I had paper-and-ink letters from this era.  But we all know that Skype or no Skype, my boys wouldn't be writing many letters.

So we continue to appreciate Skype.

*     *     *

Another shooting, this time in Portland, at Clackamas Town Center.  It sounds like it was right at the spot where my SIL Geneva and I had lunch, once upon a time, back when she worked at Macy's.

There is no making sense of these things.

*     *     *

 It is not in Paul's nature to panic, but he got as close as he gets when it looked like a whooping cough epidemic was about to engulf our church school.  Should he shut down school, cancel the Christmas program, keep all the siblings home if one child got sick?

He contacted his sister the doctor and talked to the county health department.  I sleuthed for answers online, primarily to find out the risks for asthmatic adults exposed to whooping cough.

But then the two coughing boys were taken to the doctor and told they don't have whooping cough after all.  And the one diagnosed family was quarantined in time.

The relief is enormous.

*     *     *
Speaking of asthma and relief: It is now the 11th of December and I have not had any head-cold-turning-to-chest-cold-turning-to-bronchitis-and-please-let-me-die-now-asthma this fall like I had four times last fall/winter/spring.

 Was it the flu shot?  More vitamin D?  More exercise?  God in his mercy deciding I'd suffered enough?

I don't know, but it is really nice, and I am grateful.

*     *     *

My new book is selling well, so thank you to all of you who played a part in that.

And special thanks to the four fearless folks to went over to the Amazon page and left a review.

Today I was at the post office mailing a bunch of book orders.  A woman was there struggling with getting a package ready to send to her mom, so I helped her tape it up.  She noted my veil and said she likes to wear a pink knitted prayer shawl when she prays.

Then she said, "Do you know if Dorcas has written a book?  I met her in 2006."

I said, "Um...actually I'm Dorcas."

She engulfed me in a hug and said, "I was praying to Jesus that I'd run into you somewhere!"

Wow.  I'm not sure why she wanted to see me, but we had a nice chat and I put her on my list to get my column by email.

And it was nice to know I was the answer to someone's prayer.
*     *     *
Years ago Paul's grandpa used to follow me around and holler at me about a wonderful potion called DMSO oil.  Whyyyy, it would cure canzer and just about everything else.  You just rubbed it on your skin and it went right into your bloodstream!  (Etc etc etc.)

I wrote about this for an essay writing class I took through Lane Community College, way back in--I don't know--maybe 1997.

Then I also sent it around to be critiqued when I was in one of Verda Glick's famous Writers Workshops by Mail.

The other day Verda sent me an email.  "Dorcas, when I read this ad and watched the video (see below), it reminded me of the very first time I read your writing. It was that cute sketch about Paul’s grandfather and his DMSO oil. I was captivated by your writing then, and I still am."

I  watched the video.  It told tantalizingly of a miracle chemical that relieved pain and was absorbed rapidly through the skin and much more, and finally they said what it was called.  Yes.  DMSO.

*     *     * 

Emily glued a picture of Abraham Lincoln to the back of her phone so she could more easily distinguish it from mine.

Quote of the Day:
Steven: THAT'S a creepy guy!
Emily: Steven, that's Abraham Lincoln!  He freed you!
Steven: He didn't free me!
Emily: Well, he freed your ancestors' cousins!

Emily: I felt so clever when I said that.
Jenny: He looks more like Grandpa than Abraham Lincoln.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

December LFH

Today's Letter from Harrisburg is for you if you buy people gifts you think they ought to want.

Or if your mother does this to you.

Here it is.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Minister's Wife Finds a Job Description and Regrets It

Maybe the biggest lesson from this is that it's dangerous to clean off your desk.

This afternoon I took a nice Sunday-afternoon nap and then went in the office and checked Facebook.

Pretty soon Jenny came wandering in, holding a little black book.  She began to giggle.

"The sister whose husband is in the ministry has a very important role in the work of the church."

She stopped beside me and read further.  "'The faithful wife is clothed with meekness and quietness.'  Hahahahahaha!!!  'She is of a submissive spirit, obedient to her husband.  Her life will enhance his acceptability and usefulness.'"

More laughter.  "Oh, Mom, this is so not you."

"Jenny, what in the world?"

She waved the little black book.  "It's called a Ministers Manual.  Emily found it after Dad cleaned off his desk.  I guess it was down in under stuff."

"Wow," I said.  I may have rolled my eyes.

"It says it was given to Dad when he was ordained.  And there's this section in the back called 'The Minister's Wife.'"

She read on, howling.

"She is an example for all women in all things.  As a rare jewel, she ornaments the work of her husband."

Then, such gales of laughter as to render her hardly able to stand up: "Her house is in such order so as to enable the family to accomodate visitors and guests at any time."

This continued on for two more pages.

I just sighed.

Paul, from the recliner, wondered what was so funny.

Jenny read him some choice passages between spasms of giggles.

Paul didn't see what was so funny.  "What, you don't think Mom is an example for other women?"

As mentioned, I just sighed.

Is it any wonder no woman aspires to be a Mennonite minister's wife?

Seriously, I don't think there's been a Mennonite girl in recorded history who said, "Ooooh, wouldn't that be nice to be a minister's wife?"

In fact, I think it's more likely that girls look at their boyfriends with a critical eye, wondering how much chance there is that they'll be ordained someday*, and consider running for the hills if any signs point in that direction.

*Since we choose ministers out of the laity, as the need arises.

I'm sure I've mentioned before that one of my gripes with this role is that it doesn't come with a job description, only a few Scripture verses and a long list of unspoken expectations, largely from yourself and also from people in your church.  So you never feel that you're doing all you should.

So I really ought to be gratified to find a job description, written down.

But as we can see it is so far from my reality as to make my irreverent daughter stagger all over the office in shrieks of laughter.

Here's what I think the job description of a minister's wife should be:
1. Be there for your husband and support him like crazy.
2. Tell him the hard stuff that no one else will tell him.

I've often resented that last item and told Paul that I wish someone else would tell him this stuff.  But somehow the Mennonite church structure does not lend itself to anyone taking the minister aside and saying, "That is a really bad idea.  Don't do that."

Or: "Do you know that you hurt Jim and Grace very badly?"

Or, "You don't want Charles for that position.  He has an agenda and he's mean to his wife."

This is stuff you wish your husband would just KNOW.  But usually he doesn't.  And you wish someone, anyone, else would tell him.  But they don't.

So you have to, and it's not easy.

And you can quit hoping that those submission verses make it ok to just be quiet.  They don't.

I found it intriguing, watching my friend Rachel's funeral online, that in her husband's tribute to her he said something like, "Rachel, now that you're gone, who will talk straight to me?"

I thought: even you, Rachel, sweet and kind and fitting that Minister's Manual description a hundred times better than the rest of us, even you talked straight to your husband about the hard stuff he needed to hear.

It's a complicated thing, being a wife, and an even more complicated thing, being married to someone in leadership.

But if we have to be married to someone in the ministry, may we all be so fortunate as to be married to someone who loses the Minister's Manual in the piles on his desk and never tries to hold us up to the standards of that intimidating section in the back of the book.

And who listens to us even when it's hard.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Last Blog Tour Stop--#19

And with this fine review on Gina's blog, Home Joys, the blog tour is over and we pull into our driveway and we're home.

Gina writes about the practical side of homemaking.  Stop by for recipes, tips on gardening, and much more.

Many sincere thanks to the 19 folks who read the book, put together a review, and organized a giveaway.  I hope you all gained lots of new readers.

And thanks to everyone who followed the tour and commented on the posts.  Special thanks to everyone who read your posts and decided to order a book.