Winter night

They’re living the dog version of the American dream. ~Andre

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What matters right now?

A woman I follow on Instagram recently wrote a post about how when she was trying to find her calling and purpose in life, it gave her anxiety to think about questions like, “What lights you up?” or Mary Oliver’s “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

So she changed the questions to “What matters to me right now?” And that simplified her purpose and calling.

I like that idea.

What matter to you Right Now? You don’t need to overthink or write something profound. It could be as simple as getting your house ready for guests or as hard as working on a difficult relationship.

In no particular order of priority and with a valiant attempt not to be long and wordy, here are a few things that matter to me right now.

A marriage of mutual respect and joy in each other. (Sometimes it feels like we are both so flawed that this is out of our reach. But then there are moments of preciousness and understanding that make all the effort worthwhile. I know. You didn’t know we struggle, did you?)

The warmth, safety and stability of the homeless/mentally ill/addicted in our hometown. It gets COLD and the needs are many and heartbreaking. I don’t really know what to do about this, but it matters.

Open, trusting relationships with my children and church family

My closets, freezers, and other spaces needing serious attention

Finding beauty. Always.

Compassion and empathy 

Holy Spirit guidance 

And now it is onward and forward to creating organization out of some of the chaos of my home.

Facebook post

Tonight I posted this on Facebook:

“Dan’s latest thing is making zucchini bread at crazy hours. He doesn’t get tired of eating the same thing like I do.

We were gone this evening and when we came home the 3 youngest kids were downstairs practicing Christmas music at the piano. Of course my heart is thoroughly warmed.

I’m overwhelmed with your responses on my last blog post. I don’t know how to go about letting you know how I appreciated each of your comments, humour, and insights.

One thing is clear. We are very passionate about death and how it’s treated. It’s understandable. When our hearts are twisted with grief and emotions are so terribly raw or numb, we have big feelings about how things should be done. Or strong feelings that something is amiss.

Now let me retreat for a bit and think about my own funeral directives.”

Thank you so much to those of you who weighed in here on the blog too. You are appreciated!

On burial again

Recently in a fit of writing whatever came to my mind (I’m good at that) I asked my readers what they’re likely to be buried in. I was mostly just being lighthearted about me and my Mennonite clothes and how I’ll probably live and die in them.

Most of the responses came on Facebook comments. Some said white, some said anything but black, some said floral, some said they didn’t want to think about it.

Somehow that discussion has made me think about viewings and funerals. Our children haven’t been at a lot of funerals that they remember and they just don’t understand why anyone would want to view a deceased person. I’m kind of with them on that sentiment.

I haven’t been at a lot of funerals either, but nothing is a harder experience for me than being in those long lines of people heading up to the front of a church or hall to view a body. To me it almost feels sacrilegious.

But I know that is not at all how many people see it and I want to be understanding. For many people, viewing a body brings closure and healing.

Dan’s roots are with the Wissler Mennonites in Indiana and you haven’t really been to a viewing if you haven’t been to one of theirs. Death is sacred and shared with many in this culture. Long, long lines of friends and relatives wait their turn to view the body and greet the family of the deceased. Viewings last for hours and hours. There will often be an open casket at the funeral as well. I can’t imagine the exhaustion of grieving people having to stand and meet people offering their condolences for that long. But there must be a reason for it. Perhaps being surrounded by so many people who care brings healing in a way I know nothing about.

Another culture that views death in a similar way is the Russian Mennonite community. It is not uncommon for them to take pictures of the deceased and treasure them. And funerals and viewings seem to hold a similar preeminence.

I tell my kids that if they lose someone very close to them, they may feel differently about viewings. They remain unconvinced.

I kind of grew up thinking cremation was wrong. I had a vague sense, whether taught or just imagined, that people chose it because they didn’t want their bodies to rise to eternal life or damnation.

I hope it’s not indecent to say that it now seems like a good option and sacred in its own way. I have no doubt that God could put my body back together when He so wills.

A person named Jenn commented on my previous blog post and said she’d like to be buried in an old pine box under a tree or wrapped in a cozy quilt. I loved the quilt idea. Why do we dress dead bodies austerely? Why not in something comfortable and soft?

I don’t know much at all, really. I don’t know how I’d feel about dressing my child or my husband for burial should they pass before me. I think that death is a deeply personal matter and we all grieve differently and have our ways of bringing closure and healing. Is there a right or wrong way to do this? I think not.

I’d love a discussion on this topic. What is your personal experience with viewing and burial?

If it’s not weird of me…

Just meandering

We’ve been having quiet Sunday evenings this summer because Dan is often doing a baptismal class at church in the late afternoons and then he doesn’t feel a lot like being sociable in the evenings. I have a love/hate relationship with quiet Sundays. I love them, but easily get restless with too many in a row.

I took a lovely long walk and read this afternoon. The youth group got together tonight, so that means Liesl is the only child at home. I did a few dishes and now I’m drinking vanilla rooibus tea and thanking God that my taste and smell are coming back a week post Covid.

(Yeah, we had a round of *that*. Nothing major, but definitely not fun.)

Maybe due in part to being sick, I have a restless feeling and just want to GO somewhere and DO something. (But I’m not sure where or what.)

We did stick pretty close to home this summer and I didn’t mind much at all. It was such a beautiful summer in countless ways. And now we’re having a gorgeous fall.

One of my friends commented that I look like I have extra long covering strings on this picture. Sometime when I am rich, I will buy some cordless earbuds. But for now these work just fine.

There are pumpkins all about the house and I just got my tomatoes out of the freezer to thaw for a day of making marinara sauce tomorrow. I freeze them as they ripen and then have a big day of canning them.

I just ate a piece of very nutty zucchini bread. What is your vote? With or without nuts? We have strong feelings about both in our family.

Other random things:

I was told last week that I have beautiful eyes. Even though one droops and the droopy one also has a little skin tag on the lower lid (if it’s called a lid on the bottom), which you can see in the picture above. So that was nice.

In his Sunday school devotional at church today, Andrew asked us what was the nicest thing someone ever told us. I had to think a while on that one and I’m not sure I came up with a final answer. But I wondered if I’ve ever told someone the nicest thing they’ve ever heard. I hope so. I’m going to work on perfecting that.

Dan is listening to a podcast by one of his favourite soil health experts, Gabe Brown. Gabe is from North Dakota. Just in case you were wondering.

I wonder if I shall ever be a world changer or if I’ll always sit up north here making zucchini bread and marinara sauce and going to BayTree church and shopping at No Frills and photographing sunsets. I will likely be buried in my cape dress and placed next to my dad and brother in the little Briar Ridge Cemetery that our kids mow every summer.

Hopefully I will be remembered as a kind soul.

I’m not sure how this post turned morbid. That’s what happens when you don’t have a Point for writing and just let it meander along.

I’m sure you’ve all seem enough fall photos, but here’s another one.

I made the mistake of telling my children that “grody” was a common word when I was a teen and that “grody to the max” was also used. They hooted at the hilarity and now they use it themselves.

I miss the old days of blogging my heart out about busy mom life and hilarious kid snippets and all the deep and doubtful things I thought about.

There’s a settledness and weariness and acceptance that comes with getting older. It’s mostly good. But I don’t want to become old and boring and some days it just creeps up on me. But I’m still playing Wordle, so there’s that.

What are you doing to keep from becoming old and set in your ways? What will you be buried in? And how do you like your zucchini bread?

Monday morning

Canadian Thanksgiving day.
Windy.
Recovering from being sick.
Dishes to put away.
Missed yesterday’s turkey dinner at church, but will celebrate with waffle brunch and family.
On my grateful list: Physical health, mental health, my dishwasher, my kids, friendships, fall, purpose, grace.

It’s also World Mental Health Day, which I of course didn’t know till I read it on social media.😄
It’s a subject very precious to me.
Postpartum depression and family with mental health issues and spending time in a psychiatric ward after a manic episode and then several years of crippling depression have left me raw and ragged and with more questions than answers about mental health. I am left with super sensitive feelers out for other people who may be struggling.

I think that if something has worked well for us or someone we know, we tend to think it will work for everyone. (I got this thought from my sister Twila.)
Counselling. Plexus. Casting out demons. Diet changes. Exercise. Immersing in the Word. Repentance. Medication.
In truth, we are complex beings with bodies, souls, and spirits.
Our mental health issues may be spiritual, physical, or emotional. And they may be a complex combination of any/all of the above.
“We may even know what will help, but not have the drive or energy or motivation to act on that knowledge.” #diaryofanhonestmom
For me, medication has helped me to think more clearly to address spiritual issues and get the exercise I need. Reaching beyond myself and giving to others has been huge. (Forgive me for referring to my beloved job at Networks Ministries ONCE AGAIN. 🤪😊)

If you struggle with seeing the light or know of someone else who is in that place, please ask for help. Keep checking in with your friend you’re worried about. Listen without judgment. (I know this sounds like all the other things you read about how to respond. But those words are there because they’re true.)

Happy thanksgiving if you’re Canadian.
Happy Monday if you’re not.
Be kind today. ❤️

The long winter

Andre took this picture of Dan and me shelling our dry dragon tongue beans again tonight.

It’s been a bonding experience and somehow reminiscent of Pa and Laura twisting prairie grass for fuel in The Long Winter, similar in that the the yield is very small for the intensive labour.

The last few evenings’ yield saved us about $3.

They’ll make nice baked beans for our own long winter. We can maybe make them last for four meals. Or even eight if the winter is exceptionally hard.

😄

Warning: Mennonite slanted post

My children and I were talking the other night about Mennonites and our unique ways. This is something we do often.

Our kids have me who never learned how to play volleyball in our little youth group at BayTree for a mom. I dreaded it and failed miserably at trying to learn at Maranatha Bible School. I’m not an athletic person at the best of times, though I did have a mean throw in softball when I was 14. I always wondered how I’d have made out if I’d grown up with strong emphasis on physical education. I don’t swim or play tennis. I do like to hike and I used to adore skating. But mostly I’m a bookish Peachey.

Dan was never fast on his feet either. His physique is not light and athletic. As you all know. 😊(But his strength made him hit home runs occasionally and he was a pretty decent force in hockey in his day.)

Any way you look at it, we’re just not that fun almost 50 year old couple who play a lot of volleyball with the youth group and wow people with our softball skills on the last day of school.

We raised children who would rather sit around discussing Mennonite idiosyncrasies and faith and politics and listening to music and audio books than doing wholesome things like hiking and playing spike ball.

(They are musical and hardworking and smart and sensitive. But that’s for another day.)

Anyway.

One of the kids was talking about how they don’t want to be a poor sport, but volleyball just Is Not Their Thing. I was telling them the usual things like you have more chances to learn to play than I did and it’s okay to not be the best at everything and you don’t want to go off to Bible school and just not play because you’ll miss out on so much social life. And it’s good to be stretched and do things outside of our comfort zones.

And I said, “What about the people who can’t sing but still have to try or don’t do well at math for all their school days? What about the person who isn’t a public speaker by nature but is forced into a situation where they need to speak?”

The child agreed with me. But then they said that what bugs them is that if you can’t sing, it’s okay. You don’t have to do special songs at church or sing solos in choirs. But as a Mennonite youth, you basically have to play volleyball or you don’t fit in.

Tonight I was asking the children if I can talk about this subject on Facebook and I got to thinking about if you’re a Mennonite youth and you can neither sing nor play volleyball. And I remembered Josh Bechtel writing about the painfulness of that for him as a young person.

I’m really not sure why I’m writing this post. I know it doesn’t hurt a person to be stretched and grown in things like learning to play volleyball. Or singing or speaking or cooking, for that matter. But how well are we doing with people who don’t fit the mold we’ve created?
(And SHOULD we be making our kids play volleyball?)

while I procrastinate

Not exciting photos:
1) A pile of leaves outside our main door that I won’t sweep up because they’re so pretty.
2) Despite risk of frost, flowers are still blooming and I’m still watering.
3,4,5) The propagation of plants amazes me. New leaves, new babies, new roots.

I’m procrastinating with frying some chicken for tomorrow’s lunch, partly because I don’t want to mess up the stove which Natalia meticulously cleaned yesterday.

It’s autumn and blustery and I feel like writing something. Liesl is playing scales downstairs on the piano. The big kids all went out with the youth group.

I will fry plantain for lunch tomorrow and I’m afraid our Ohio guests might not like it. But I’m making it because Bryant was missing Belizean food.

Let’s talk about ugly and annoying September things: FLIES. I go about the house with murder on the brain and flyswatter in hand. But they’re so quick. And they sit on windows where I don’t want to swat them. And on white trim. UGH. I know it’s a small affliction and you’re bearing bravely with them. But still. I must complain about them to someone.

Alec, Andre and I went to town today for a fundraiser BBQ at Networks Ministries and we also went shirt shopping for Andre. It was fun. I don’t think I’ve ever really shopped with that combination of kids.

Well, I procrastinated long enough. Must fry chicken.
And go down and clean the church.
And swat a fly or 10.
And heat leftovers for Dan’s supper when he comes in late from seeding rye.

Fall is really windy here. Is it the same where you live?

Are flies driving you crazy?

Do you procrastinate?

Do your teenagers and 20-year-olds help you decide what’s appropriate to wear like mine sometimes do?

What’s on tomorrow’s lunch menu for you?

Happy fall, happy weekend, happy fly swatting.

Hi September

Oh my. I haven’t written a blog post in so long, even though I’ve been active on other forms of social media. Minus the week I took off of all of it for our Peachey family reunion.

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and I’m soaking in the quiet before another busy week. I’m sitting in the big brown chair and there’s a strong breeze coming in through the open living room windows. I’m armed with the fly swatter because the flies have been simply terrible the last few weeks.

I could tell you about our summer (a very happy one) or post pictures of the Peachey family reunion (also a happy experience) or bemoan the fleeting passing of time.

I won’t do any of the above today.

Well maybe a picture or three.

I think I canned about 60 quarts of dill pickles this year so far. My kids inhale pickles like people in the south eat watermelon.

We took the evening on Saturday to do a little Labour Day celebrating since the guys here will be working like normal tomorrow. We started out at Brown’s Social House, where I ordered a tuna poke bowl.

Ignorant me. I did no research and didn’t know that poke is raw fish.

I took one bite of that marinated tuna and knew it was not for me. We had a super nice waitress and she brought me a bowl of nicely browned fish after I scraped the first entree off.

The cooked tuna bowl was good. And now I know what poke is.

After eating we went bowling and then to Dairy Queen, where the girls and I all got pumpkin pie blizzards. I am not really a blizzard person, as I like DQ’s smooth ice cream and a blizzard spoils that. But the pumpkin pie ones are an exception.

Food details aside, I wonder what else you’d like to hear about from our place.

I always feel like my best writing has come during hard times. (Ugh. Even saying that sounds presumptuous. Like I think I’m a writer of sorts.)

Anyway. Life is flowing along fairly smoothly at the moment. I seem to be in a good place mentally. It’s summer. Maybe I’m in the elusive “sweet spot” with medication that the psychiatrist talks about.

My job at Networks Ministries continues to inspire and keep me going. The children who are at home are fun and challenging and interesting, but not causing a lot of great difficulties at present.

Dan brings me too many things from the garden to preserve, but that’s just another sign of how fortunate we are.

But there’s not a pile of conflict to write about. So often that conflict has been in my brain and it’s been brutal.

Maybe I’m in the phase that the end of this quote by Helen Keller describes.

These days Ive taken to writing about sunsets and zinnias and too much zucchini.

And I’ll take it for now. Thank you, Lord Jesus.

I really must clean out my cold room this week. Now THAT is something to get excited about. 🤪😩