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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

More From Our Back Roads Amish Tour

After our visit to the Amish school on September 26, our next stop was at an Amish home, where Lena, the woman of the house, talked with us about a typical day in the life of an Amish wife.

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Above is a picture of Lena's home. She actually met with us in a separate building, though, one she said they had built for family gatherings.

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Our bus driver, Jan, who is also an associate pastor at our church, didn't think I was taking enough pictures. So he grabbed my camera and began taking some shots, surreptitiously, because Amish don't like to have their pictures taken. The photo on the left above shows Lena, her two-year-old son, and our guide, Allen, from the Blue Gate. The photo on the right above shows part of our group and the room in which we met.

Jan easily relates to children, and the little boy was quickly drawn to him. When Jan teasingly asked him if he'd like to go home with him, Lena told Jan that her son probably had no idea what Jan was saying. She said Amish children are not normally taught English until they go to school, although she and her husband usually started them at about age five. Until then, they speak exclusively in German.

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Wash Day

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Our group with our church bus

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Cat in the flower bed, photo taken by Jan
Our final stop on this tour was at the home of an Amish bishop. As much as I enjoyed the previous two stops, this was my favorite by far. The bishop, Glen, and his wife, Carolyn, invited us into their home for the visit. The two of them sat at the kitchen table, while we sat on an assortment of chairs that had been provided for us in the same room.

Glen is 72 years old. His wife of fifty years had died a few years earlier, and he had married Carolyn, who is 20 years his junior, just over two years ago. Carolyn had never been married before and had worked among English most of her life. So English came easily to her. Not so with Glen, who rarely spoke anything but German. As a result, he occasionally had to look to Carolyn for help in finding the right words as he talked with us about his life as a bishop and the process by which an Amish bishop is chosen. 

Glen has been serving as the bishop of his church district for 30 years. Amish bishops receive no pay for holding that position and must earn their living by other means. Glen is a farmer and also raises deer, one of which is pictured below.

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As we left Glen and Carolyn's home, Carolyn gave each of us a freshly baked cinnamon roll that was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

Of course, that delicious cinnamon roll didn't keep us from stopping at a local restaurant for lunch afterward.

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Our Group at the 5 & 20 Restaurant
Lastly, we found time for a little shopping before heading for home. The following two photos were taken from the parking lot of the shopping complex.

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This is the second year that our church has taken this tour. Doug and I couldn't go last year. But I hope we'll be able to do it again next year.


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

An Amish Schoolhouse

On September 26, Doug and I joined other senior adults from our church for a Back Roads Amish Tour in Shipshewana, Indiana. The area in and around Shipshewana is home to the largest Amish settlement in the state, and the third-largest nationwide. 

The tour was arranged through Blue Gate, a major tourist attraction in Shipshewana, which includes motel, theater, and restaurant. Blue Gate provided a knowledgeable guide who made advance arrangements for our group to visit an Amish school, an Amish housewife, and an Amish bishop.

Today's post will focus on the Amish school.

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Amish Schoolhouse
The large classroom accommodates grades 1 through 8. The grades are divided between the father and daughter who serve as teachers, with the intent of giving each teacher approximately the same number of students. Since some grades have more students than others, the division isn't quite perfect. I believe the daughter had 15 on her side of the classroom, while the father had 17 on his side. A curtain can be drawn between the two sides to help reduce distractions between the groups, but it can also be pulled back to allow the groups to participate together in common activities such as singing.

There is an apartment on the second floor, to accommodate a teacher that might need it; but it isn't currently in use. 


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I'm not sure what the Amish would call this; but, when I was in school, we would have called it a "cloakroom." This side appeared to be for the girls' wraps and lunch containers. There was another room on the other side of the entrance for the boys' things.

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Each of these plastic cups had the name of one of the students written on it in permanent marker. This was on the side of the girls' cloakroom. I imagine there was another just like it in the boys' cloakroom. I was trying to be inconspicuous about my picture taking and didn't make it over to the boys' side.

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This is a little better picture of the front of the schoolhouse, taken as our group was leaving.

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And this last photo is a shot of the playground, with a slide, swings, and teeter-totters, as well as the bicycles which the students had ridden to school.

Amish, including the teachers, don't attend school beyond the 8th grade. Our guide told us later that the male teacher at this school had written the story problems for all the math books for all the grades, with each story problem dealing with things found in Amish culture.

Our group sat on benches at the back of the classroom, while the teacher provided information about the school and answered our questions. Then he led the students in a song for us before we left.

This has already become a long post, so I'll save the next two stops for the next post.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Oh Deer!

In all our visits to Ouabache State Park, we've never seen a deer there. Until last week. A doe wandered out through the tall weeds that have grown in the dry lake bed this summer. We were sitting under the trees bordering the lake, reading; and I just happened to look up in time to spot her. She stayed long enough for me to capture a few photos.

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A park employee told us that the beach construction that has caused the lake to remain drained all summer has been scheduled for completion next year. She said that another, larger, state park had a greater need which caused the beach project at Ouabache to be put on hold for now.

But the opportunity to see the deer last week made us glad for the dry lake bed that lured her out into the open.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Blogiversary...and Stuff

It was seven years ago today that I began blogging, at the urging of two friends who were then bloggers themselves but have since discontinued their blogs in favor of Facebook. 

I can't really lay claim to a seventh anniversary of blogging, though, because I took a year off in 2014-2015, when my brother-in-law was going through some serious health issues and needed our help. So, really, I can claim only six years. 😉

After my year away from blogging, I didn't know whether there would still be anyone who would even notice my return to it, but there were some dear blogging friends who were back visiting and commenting as if they'd been there all along, just waiting for my return. It warmed my heart.

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There haven't been many photos from the summer to share on the blog, but following are a few miscellaneous images to document some of our activities. 

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The above photo was taken in July at the annual Friends of Israel Prophecy Conference at Winona Lake, Indiana. Doug and I have been attending at least some of the sessions of the conference for several years. The picture shows us with one of the staff members of the Friends of Israel organization.

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Back in the sixties, the one place in town that would hire high school graduates with no prior experience was Lincoln National Life. The pay wasn't great; and many of the young women moved on to better-paying jobs after gaining the needed experience. So, generally speaking, we were all in our late teens and early twenties. It made for some great camaraderie among coworkers. Several of us even vacationed together a couple of times at Michigan dude ranches.

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Carole, Mary, Dorthea, Sandy, Linda
In 2005, the dude ranch friends organized a reunion when Mary, our only out-of-towner, came back to town to visit family. Since then, it's become an annual tradition to get together when Mary comes to town. The photo above is from this year's reunion on July 22nd.

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A new restaurant recently opened in our area, and we made plans to go there with our friends, Jim and Sandy, on August 12. Sandy decided to stop at the restaurant that afternoon, to see if they took reservations. When she pulled into the parking lot, she parked next to a classic car. Two men were standing nearby, and one of them (Don, as she learned later) quickly approached Sandy's car and opened the car door for her (apparently thinking she looked like the type that might bang her door against the classic car next to her).

Sandy asked Don and his friend (Dick, as she learned later) if they knew whether the restaurant took reservations. They said no but offered to hold a table for her.

Well, they weren't holding a table for us when we arrived for our dinner date, but they showed up while we were eating. They presented Sandy with a DVD of a movie called "Clerical Errors," in which Don had played the leading role.

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Don Offerle and my friend, Sandy
I did a little poking around on the internet after I got home, and it turns out that Don had appeared in two other movies, as well, before suffering serious injuries in a bicycle accident in 2015. In addition, I found this interesting article which had appeared in our local newspaper in January, 2016. It's a little long, but it made me glad I'd had this brief encounter with this gentle soul.

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Well, that's it for this anniversary post. I want you all to know how much I appreciate you. You're the ones who deserve a pat on the back!


Saturday, September 02, 2017

Fun and Miracles

Our friends, Terry and Diane, invited us to join them in Portland, Indiana on August 23, for what is billed as "the world's largest Gas Engine and Tractor Show." Well, I don't have any pictures from the show itself because Diane and I let the guys go there while she and I focused on the area garage sales. Next year, though, Lord willing, I'll try for some pictures from the show.

During a break from garage sales, Diane took me to the Jay County Courthouse, a beautiful structure both inside and out. 

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Jay County Courthouse
Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the inside of the courthouse that would do it justice. 

The yard of one of the homes having a garage sale was so beautiful that I just had to snap a couple of photos:

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As I've mentioned before, cataract surgeries and the related appointments have taken up much of the last three months for Doug and me. But, with Doug's second surgery this past Tuesday, the surgeries are finally behind us. And I've even gotten my new glasses already. Doug still has to wait a few weeks or longer to get his.

The opthalmologist who did our surgeries is Dr. J. Rex Parent. At the follow-up appointment on the day after the patient's first surgery, Dr. Parent likes to have a photo taken with the patient and family member, which he then presents to the patient along with a rose and a gift bag containing a coffee mug and a windbreaker jacket.

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Me with my rose on the left; Doug with his rose on the right
(I can't believe I wore the same thing on both occasions!)

I don't have a picture of my beautiful lavender rose because we ran errands that day before going home. It was a hot day, and the rose didn't survive the afternoon heat. But it perectly matched Dr. Parent's scrubs. I did, however, get some pictures of the rose given to Doug:

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Lastly, I just had to include my before and after eyeglass prescriptions:

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The numbers probably don't mean much to most of you, but let me tell you...the after-surgery prescription is a whole lot better than the before one. 

D.V. on the left refers to Distance Vision. 
O.D. is the right eye. 
O.S. is the left eye. 
Spherical indicates the degree of nearsightedness (-) or farsightedness (+).
Cylindrical indicates the amount of astigmatism.
Axis is a number between 0 and 180 degrees revealing the orientation of the astigmatism.

I can now see to get around nicely without glasses, which I could never have done before. I used to need glasses to find my glasses if I misplaced them. My new eyes do, however, need glasses for driving; and glasses are helpful for reading and computer work. 

The lenses on my new glasses are so thin! It's absolutely amazing to me because I've worn thick lenses for most of my life. 

I'm so grateful for this new ability to see...grateful to God first, of course, and grateful for the technology and doctors who made this miracle happen.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Butterflies & More

We visited Ouabache State Park on August 8, where I captured most of the following images:

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Not as pretty as a butterfly, but interesting nonetheless

The following photo is of a tiny bouquet that Doug brought in from our yard yesterday, with a few Rose of Sharon blossoms and some wild daisies. It was such a cheerful little grouping...and sweet of my hubby to bring it in for me.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

30 Years!

When Doug and I married in our forties, we never dreamed we'd live long enough to celebrate 30 years of marriage. But we did! We celebrated our 30th anniversary on Tuesday.

We've been so busy with our cataract surgeries that we weren't able to get away for any kind of a special celebration. But what we expected to be a very ordinary day turned out to be a very special one.

It happened to be the day of our church's monthly lunch and entertainment outreach to senior adults in the community (PEP). Vicki, one of our friends from church, was providing the musical entertainment for this month's PEP, along with a friend of hers from another church. And two dear friends, Terry and Diane, who live about an hour away, drove up to join us at PEP and to spend the day with us.

Vicki began an introduction to two songs that she said were in recognition of Doug and Linda's 30th anniversary. When she said that, I turned to look at Doug and saw him approaching me with a bouquet of red roses. He had managed to purchase them the day before, bring them to the church, and put them in a cooler to keep them fresh. Then he'd conspired with the pastors and with Vicki for just the right moment to present them to me.

The roses were a big enough surprise, but then Vicki began to sing "My Jesus, I Love Thee," a song that we had requested to be sung at our wedding. Doug had asked Vicki to sing that song at PEP, as another special anniversary surprise for me.

On our first anniversary, Doug had given me roses and a framed copy of the music for "My Jesus, I Love Thee," knowing it had special meaning for me.

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Our First Anniversary-1988

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Our 30th Anniversary-2017


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Denise & Vicki (the musicians), Bonnie, Doug, Me, another Linda, Diane, & Terry


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Associate Pastor, Dick B. (on the left) and Senior Pastor, Dave T. (in the middle of the four ladies)

After PEP, Terry and Diane went with us to visit the History Center in Fort Wayne, pictures of which were featured in my last post. I'm including a new picture below, taken from the rear of the building.

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The History Center (from the rear)
That awning you can see in the lower right corner of the picture of the History Center is part of a block-long area which is home to a Farmers' Market on Saturdays during the summer.

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At the History Center with Terry and Diane

After the History Center, we took Terry and Diane to another nearby community, where there's an observation tower overlooking a very large stone quarry.

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At the stone quarry with Terry (Diane took the picture)

Then we had supper at a restaurant in the same community where the stone quarry is located, after which, we returned to our house for dominoes and dessert.


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Playing Dominoes (Sorry, no pictures of the dessert)

It wasn't a typical way of celebrating a major anniversary; but, at the end of the day, I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather have done. (Although, when we were at the stone quarry, Diane did suggest that our next stop should be a junkyard. Diane's a funny lady.)


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Downtown Fort Wayne

There are some beautiful old buildings in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana and in the old neighborhoods close to the city. The main focus of today's post is The History Center.

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The cars, lines, and trees detract from the photo, but I wanted to include a view of this side of the building.
Built in 1893, the building originally housed the offices of city officials, as well as the municipal court and police department. At the south end of the building was the jail, or "calaboose." At the turn of the century the garage housed the city paddy wagon and hayloft for the horses which were stabled nearby.

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The front (North Side)
Originally known as "The Fort Wayne City Building" and later as "The Old City Hall," the building was abandoned in 1971, as the city offices were moved to a new facility.

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In 1979, the Historical Society rehabilitated the Old City Hall to create the Historical Museum, which was opened to the public in October, 1980.


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The History Center, with the Lincoln Tower in the background

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Lincoln Tower
The Lincoln Tower, built in 1929-1930 was, for decades, the tallest building in the state of Indiana with its 22 floors. It no longer holds that distinction, but it's still a beautiful structure. My mom worked for a law firm on the 17th floor of that building for years, so it holds a special place in my heart.

I'd been wanting to capture some images from the city to share here on the blog but never had much occasion to go downtown. Recently, though, all the appointments related to my cataract surgeries have been taking me there.  My doctor's office and surgical center are in the same block as The History Center, and I couldn't resist taking my camera with me one day and capturing these few images. Hopefully, there will be more forthcoming as there are many worthy architectural subjects to choose from in this city.

By the way, my eyes are now doing quite well. The doctor intentionally made my right eye a bit nearsighted, while giving me increased distance vision in the left eye. It allows me to see both far and near without glasses, which is a good plan. I'm finding it challenging to get my eyes synchronized with each other, but I'm seeing better now than I've ever seen before in my life. Hallelujah!


Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Pictures from the Park

We've found ourselves with limited no time for travels this summer, primarily due to doctor appointments. There's nothing major going on, just a full calendar. 

We've been able to work in a mini-vacation now and then, usually a day trip to Ouabache State Park about an hour away. These photos are all from that park.

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Oops. Hope I'm not interrupting anything.

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Male Eastern Bluebird

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Tattered White Butterfly

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Same Butterfly


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Interesting Mushroom
Some of what's been going on with Doug and me revolves around cataract surgeries for both of us. Several appointments are required, both before and after the surgeries. My first surgery was done on July 19 (right eye) and the second on August 1 (left eye). 

I've always had terrible vision. I was so nearsighted that, without glasses, nothing would come into focus until it was just inches from my face. I've looked forward to cataract surgery for several years, ever since my optometrist told me that a lens implant had been developed that could correct much of my severe astigmatism. Of course, I opted for that lens when I had my surgery. And now, following surgery, I do see so much better...but not great. 

I'm pretty sure I'm going to need glasses, but they want me to hold off getting them for several weeks, to allow time for the eyes to fully heal and settle into their optimal visual capability. 

It's going to be a challenge for me because I don't currently see well enough to drive.

Doug's going to get his cataracts removed this month, but I'm hoping his experience will go more smoothly than my own. He actually has very good distance vision and mostly needs glasses to read. Hopefully, his post-surgery vision will be 20/20 without glasses so that at least one of us will be able to drive.

Here's a statement I recently saw on Facebook: "I really don't mind getting old...but my body isn't taking it very well."

That statement resonates with me. Getting old isn't for sissies.


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