Thursday, October 23, 2008

I saw Amish people

See that? In the window? See that Amish head? Total accident. I actually took four shots of this parked buggy, and in the last one I got a little happy surprise. I didn't want to actually try to take a picture of an Amish person because one of the premises of my book is treating Amish people like normal people and not circus freaks, and while the urge to snap is very strong when faced with the strangely bearded, I resisted and, in my opinion, was given a little present for my moral fortitude.

Ha ha. Anyway.

After we purchased our plane tickets for my grandmother's memorial service, I posted something about our trip East on Facebook. My editor then asked if we were headed to Amish country...and it got me to thinking.

Were there Amish in North Carolina?

I knew Grandma wouldn't mind. She would have rolled her eyes and drawled, "Honey, if you need to go see the Amish, go see the Amish." And that would have been that.

Technically, there is only supposed to be one settlement, in Union Grove, but the settlement we visited was in the much-closer town of Hamptonville. Goes to show that the Amish settlment censuses (censi?) aren't wildly accurate. We also saw...

A buggy sign...

...and a traveling buggy with real people in it...

...and Amish kittens.
The last two shots are brough to you by my cousin Melissa, seeing as how I shot a slew of photos without my memory card inside my camera. I have grieved the loss and moved on, although the shot I'm saddest about loosing is the black kitten walking through an Amish-carved spindle-thingy.

Grieved. Moved on.

Anyway, we stopped at the Shiloh General Store, where we ate Amish ice cream (good stuff), bought fudge and Strawberry-Rhubarb butter. The store was run by an Amishman; a young lady served us the ice cream. We chatted with the older gentleman for a little while - once he found out we were from Oregon, he asked if we'd ever been to Sisters. Aparently there's a farming periodical that's published out of Sisters, and it was the only connection he had with Oregon.

He also told us about his son-in-law who ran a woodshop down the street, so we hiked down a bit - that's where we found the kittens.

All in all, a great trip. I didn't work up the nerve to ask anyone any questions, although in hindsight there were several things I could have asked and sounded intelligent about. I mean, it's not like I haven't researched these people for the last several months.

For a change of pace, we went to the fair that evening. We watched pig races (winning piglet gets an oreo), and I got to pet a camel :

Also fed it a carrot round and nearly lost a finger (more user error than camel violence).

We had a wonderful trip. I got to see my grandpa, as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins I don't get to see very often. And we really want to go back, although the next trip will likely involve fewer Amish and more of the BMW factory tour...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In Memorium

My strong, sassy, southern grandmother, Anna Claire Manton went home to be with Jesus early October 4th, 2008. After many years of poor health, she passed peacefully while my aunt sang her hymns. She was 84.

She met my grandfather in February of 1952. Charles was taking roll call at choir; she was new. He noticed her long, dark brown hair and red shoes and decided "I want to get to know her." They married five months later. My father was born a year later.

Even after the arrival of my aunt and uncle, the family remained a family of choir members. My dad started singing in the church choir at a young age. One Sunday, he and my uncle were sitting in the balcony, playing around squeezing each other's hands in the hymnals. Grandma left the choir loft and went up to the balcony to restore peace. She told my father that if she didn't get to sing in choir, he wouldn't get to either.

That was enough.

She's the reason I had a blue-sequined tutu to wear to my "ballet" class. She moved heaven and earth to get herself and my grandfather to my high school graduation.

Danny and I flew out to North Carolina for the service. It was one of the services that's easiest to attend; the kind where the one who passed is at home with Jesus after living a life full of love. I'm sad that Danny never got to meet her. But by the time we met, my feisty grandma had little energy and less of the personality we all remembered. So Danny gets to hear the stories of how she was, and remains in our hearts.

I have my memories. The photo at the top was a part of our wedding slideshow. I have her mother's cameo, which she gave me at graduation. I carried her black felt clutch bag to her service. I'll miss her, but look forward to seeing her again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Trouble with Boots

Okay. I promise that I really will, at some point, write about my time in North Carolina and talking to Amish people and maybe even something about writing. But right now I'm still jet-lagged and spacey and feel like I about killed myself putting out 315 words yesterday. Not good.

So, although I can't get myself to sit down and organize the Amish pics I've got, I can riff on shoes for a moment.

Women's boots to be exact.

See, when I got my book advance, we stuck the bulk of it in savings but earmarked a small portion for "mad money." I really wanted a pair of tall boots, but had never been able to quite get myself to spend money on them. This is partly when I was still in my cheap shoe/bulk buying phase, a time when $20 bucks was a lot for a pair of shoes. Beautiful days, effectively ended by my physical therapist who insisted on supportive footwear.

(Actually, she really wanted me in running shoes, but I just couldn't get there. Wearing a beautiful, hand-knit lace sweater with running shoes? Why shouldn't I just wear pleather while I was at it!)

The Born shoes have really worked for me, so I went to the Born website (which features Nordic models with really awesome sweaters and blond dreadlocks) and found a pair of boots. Beautiful boots. Beautiful, really leather boots, with hand-stitching and a not-too-high heal. I called the local nice-shoe store and they ordered them in.

Which took forever. Seriously, I think they put them on the slow boat from Finland. I had dreams about these boots. They didn't fit right, they arrived and they looked completely different...something was wrong. I checked the website again, and they looked the way I remembered. And when I'd returned from North Carolina, the shoes had arrived in the store. I went down, zipped them up and...

They were too large in the calf. Waaaayyy too large. As in, Scandanavian women clearly have calves of unusual size.

Danny bought me the Anniversary Sleeping Beauty DVD, and we listed as Briar Rose opined that "if you dream a thing more than once, it's sure to come true." Well, I dreamed twice that there was something wrong with the boots. Sleeping Beauty totally called it.

I tried a couple other boots at the store. Same problem. Danny explained that night that I have unusually narrow calves for a woman. He knows this because he studied ski boots. But where most women's calves, apparently, curve out, mine stay the course to my knee.

Not to be discouraged, we (my mother/untiring shopping companion) went to the newly opened DSW store this morning. SAME PROBLEM. And if the calf fit, the shoe was incredibly uncomfortable. After DSW, she suggested Miss Meers in Oakway. Long story short, there are two pairs of the same Franco Sarto boots (same boot, different size) winging their way from the Corvallis Miss Meers store for my consideration (cool store, by the way. Great shop, especially if you're a shoe snob).

There's a bit of grieving. I really, really wanted leather boots, but the real-leather ones are the ones most likely to be cut for the women with Amazonian calves (whom I now envy).

Boots come Tuesday. Hopefully I won't dream of them. Will post more later.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Of Bikes and Ballrooms

Danny and I started our Intermediate Ballroom class last night. We took ballroom through the Hosanna dance studio all last Spring, and with a bit of chatting, Danny agreed to continue this fall.

Class starts off as usual, we discover we remember more of the foxtrot than we'd anticipated. Our fabulous instructor shares her plans for the class, and we agree that it's better to look smooth on the dancefloor and less like Cloris Leachman. (Of course, none of us are in our eighties, so if we did look like Cloris, there would be a problem).

Anyway, we're learning how to do inside and outside turns out of promenade position, and our instructor launches into a short lecture on proper head position, and the fact that we need to keep our heads up and pointed in the direction we want to go. If we look down at our feet, we'll become unstable. We go where we look. The eyes are the body are connected.

Danny and I had heard all this. We'd heard it in our motorcycle class. Had it nailed into our heads in our motorcycle class.

I never would have imagined, but it's true; there are similarities between Ballroom dancing and riding a motorcycle.

If only the shoes were similar too.