November 30, 2012

The Other Cheek…

Category: News — admin @ 6:00 pm

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What things are these, what shells and curios of outworn
custom, what relics here of old, forgotten time?

—Thomas Wolfe
_______________

It was such a small thing when it happened that I didn’t think about it much at the time. No reason to, really. But later, I analyzed the incident a bit. And one thing led to another, in my head. And when that happens, you never know where you’ll end up.

I get those messages now and then. Through Facebook, or my email address, which is posted on this blog. Hey. What would it take, to get a signed copy of your book? Would you consider that, sending me one if I paid for it? And I always respond. Of course. I always have copies on hand. Send twenty bucks to my work address, and I’ll get you a signed copy. Made out to you, or to anyone you say.

And so it is that once in a while, every couple of weeks or so, I slip by the local post office in Christiana, and walk in with a few signed books to mail. I always take one of those nice little padded envelopes from the rack there, that they offer for sale. I slip the book in, and seal the little adhesive flap. Slap on the mailing sticker I prepared back at the office. And walla, it’s ready. With book-rate postage, the whole thing costs four bucks and change.

A few weeks back, I walked in one day with a couple of books to mail. The postmaster lady is used to seeing me. She always smiles in welcome. She got so curious about seeing me mail so many books that she asked about it a few months ago. Then she bought a copy for herself and read it. Claimed she really enjoyed it. So we have a nice little friendship. That day, though, she wasn’t around. Some young guy, a part timer, waited on me. I did the usual. Grabbed two padded envelopes from the wall, stuck in my books, sealed them, and passed them over the counter to him. Book rate, I said. He jabbed at his computer screen, and printed out my postage stickers. Then gave me the total. Four bucks and change. For both books. Something was wrong.

That’s not enough, I said. He looked at me strangely. “It’s the price of the postage,” he answered. I almost turned and left. But then it hit me. The envelopes, I said. You forgot to charge me for those. “Oh, you got those here?” he asked. Well, yes. I always do. He quickly scanned the envelopes, and I handed him the money. He thanked me for telling him. Not a problem, I said.

And it wasn’t a big deal at all, in my mind. That’s just what you do, when a mistake like that comes at you. You make it right, that’s what I was always taught. There is no agonizing, there are no questions about whether or not it’s the right thing to do. It always is the right thing.

But that wasn’t what struck me, when I thought about it later. What struck me was, what if it’s you on the other side of that equation? What if someone actually tries to rip you off? Comes at you with that intent from the get-go? What then? How do you handle that?

And I thought back to years ago, of how it was when my father was running his metal sales business back home in Bloomfield.

The summer before we moved there, Dad built a brand new dairy barn. Laid it out with all kinds of newfangled but untested ideas, almost all of which eventually proved entirely worthless. But that’s a bunny trail. He had to order the metal roofing and siding for the barn from the only local supplier. Bloomfield Lumber. And they delivered a quality product. Sure, it took some time, because they had to order everything in. And their prices were right up there.

After we moved and were settling in, Dad had other building projects. He wasn’t particularly satisfied with the product, mostly the prices, of Bloomfield Lumber’s offerings. He still bought from them, those first few years. But something stirred, in his mind.

Why not find metal roofing and siding at a better price? And he made some calls, found a dealer in Missouri. A guy who would ship it in for a lot cheaper. And Dad put the word out, in the community. I got good metal prices. Order from me. I’ll save you money. I don’t think he mentioned the grade or quality of the metal. Metal roofing was metal roofing.

It was never planned, this business. And that’s the beauty of it. It just sprouted on its own, because Dad saw a need and provided for it. During those first few years, in the late 1970s, he got a load together every month or two. It was seconds metal, if I remember right. You couldn’t order a specific color, necessarily, even. It was mostly white or off-white. But the price was so low, compared to Bloomfield Lumber’s, that it didn’t matter. It was metal, it would cover your buildings, and it was cheap. During those first few years, the loads were delivered from somewhere in southern Missouri on a battered old single axle white International flatbed truck. Russell Krause, the one-armed driver, usually arrived during the night and slept slumped in his truck. And he usually ate breakfast with us. The boys, my brothers and me, went out after breakfast and unloaded the metal sheets by hand. The whole load, stacks and stacks. Hundreds and hundreds of sheets.

Russell Krause was a pure southern Missouri hillbilly, probably in his mid-50s or so, wizened and stooped and one-armed. He was the only person who was ever allowed to smoke inside our home, near as I can recall. And that’s because he didn’t ask, he just lit up. Filterless Camels. Mom always just smiled and gave him a Mason jar lid for an ashtray. He sat at the breakfast table, devouring Mom’s delicious food, and told large tales of the things he had seen and done. And it always got a little uncomfortable for him after we finished eating. Because that’s when Dad would take up his Bible and read a passage or two. And then we would all kneel for the morning prayer. Except Russell. He never knelt. Just leaned over, on his chair, like he was kneeling. It was a natural reaction for him, I guess, in an unfamiliar setting. Just bending over. But we saw it, that he didn’t kneel. And we judged him for it. We figured he was probably not a Christian. Maybe even a wicked man, seeing that he smoked and all.

It was all a bit of a ramshackle affair, but Dad’s metal business grew steadily over the next few years. Actually, it was just plain primitive. The whole setup. We piled the metal in stacks on the south side of our new machinery shed. Outside, in the weather, which is a huge no-no. And during the summers, great weeds sprouted among the stacks, sometimes almost overwhelming them. We built a rack inside the shed, to hold a small selection of trim.

When a customer arrived, we boys took care of him, most often. He would tell us what he wanted, and we’d find the closest thing we had to that. We’d hand load the metal, then write out a bill of sale on a little white and yellow pad. White to the customer. Yellow for the record. Those were heady days, when wads of cash flowed in and out of our pockets. Some small bits of it stayed there, now and then, as Dad’s bookkeeping was also very primitive. He wouldn’t miss a $20 bill now and then, we figured. We were right. He was so disorganized that he rarely caught on. But he sold a lot of product, because his prices were low, way lower than those at surrounding English lumber yards. And you couldn’t beat his hours. Any time during daylight hours, six days a week. No Sunday sales. That was just assumed. And they came, locals from all around, and many non-locals from out of state, to buy at discount prices from Wagler Metals.

Dad advertised, and his metal business grew and grew. By the time I left for good in the late 1980s, it was his main source of income. Long before that, he had switched suppliers. Russell Krause no longer came up from southern Missouri in his old rattletrap International. Instead, Graber Post Buildings from Daviess County now delivered Dad’s inventory by the tractor-trailer load. And about then, my brother Joseph bought a share of the business and took over the day to day operations. I’m not sure of the exact timeline of some of these events, but it’s not important. They built a brand new but somewhat ramshackle building halfway out the drive to keep their metal in. And people flocked in from miles around and bought. Wagler Metals was a flourishing business in Bloomfield.

And 99.9% of those people who came and bought were honest customers who paid with honest money. Dad took cash and checks. The checks were almost always good. Once in a while, though, some hoodlum would pass off a bad check that bounced. Sometimes, that was not done on purpose. And when that happened, the customer made good. But from a few, those bad checks were planned. Those few refused to make good. They figured Dad was Amish, and he wouldn’t do anything about it. For such a trivial thing, they sold out their good name. Which they had probably done long before, so it wasn’t that big a deal to them anymore, I think.

Dad’s position on such matters was pretty much what the official Amish position has always been. You don’t get the law involved. You don’t sue, or hire a collection agency to go after your unpaid bills. In most places, I think that’s still their position. And as far a I know, Dad never once got the law involved in any way, to fight for his rights. He didn’t believe in calling the cops for any reason. And he never did.

But in today’s fast paced business world, I know that’s really tough to do sometimes. Especially when a large sum is involved. It’s tough, to just stand by and let a wrong go, when it might take down your business.

But they never did go after the bad guys, neither Dad nor Joseph. And once, when I was home visiting for Christmas, Joseph told me the classic tale of how it all comes down, when one sets out to rip off an Amish business.

It all happened one fine afternoon when a dilapidated old pickup rattled into the long drive of the old home farm out north of West Grove. A redneck coming to buy some metal roofing. Joseph told me his name, which I don’t remember and wouldn’t write here if I did. But the guy came from up north of Drakesville somewhere.

He was loud and jolly, Joseph told me. And he needed a couple of different lengths of metal. For the sake of this tale, we’ll say ten footers and twelve footers. So Joseph showed him what he had and the redneck bought a stack of each length. Twenty or thirty sheets of each. They loaded the metal on his now-sagging pickup, and the guy pulled out his checkbook. “You’ll take a check, won’t you?” he asked. Joseph said he would.

The guy paid and left. Disappeared over the steep hill to the north, heading back to Drakesville. Joseph returned to what he was doing. But then, about twenty minutes later, he looked out toward the road. And behold, the dilapidated old sagging pickup was staggering back into the drive. The redneck pulled up to the yard and braked. Stepped out, smiling sheepishly.

“You know what, Joe?” He said loudly. “I just got to thinking. I’m going to hold back on that one part of the roof, for now. I really don’t need all these ten foot sheets I bought. Would it be too much trouble to unload them and put them back in stock?”

Joseph probably sensed something was wrong. But he couldn’t put his finger on it. Sure, he’d take the metal back. “Sure, we’ll unload it,” he said. “I’ll give your check back. You can just write me another.”

The man was a fine actor. Or maybe Joseph was just easily fooled. I don’t know. We all want to believe in the best in people. And the Amish are especially susceptible to frauds, seems like. Because they trust people easily, in everyday life. It’s just how they were taught. The redneck made a great exaggerated expression of dismay.

“Ah, man, Joe,” he exclaimed regretfully. “That was my last check, the one I gave you. Any way you could just write a check back to me, for the difference?” And so the trap was set. And Joseph, bless his heart, walked right on in. Completely unassuming. Sure. Sure, he’d do that. And that’s what happened. They unloaded the ten footers, all twenty or thirty of them. And Joseph handed the redneck a check for them.

You don’t have to think too hard to figure out what happened next. The redneck from up north of Drakesville, that man’s check was bad. Worthless. Not only did he get all his twelve foot metal for free, he also got a good chunk of cash from Wagler Metals when he cashed Joseph’s check. Which was exactly what he set out to do when he came for the twelve footers he actually needed. Which is exactly the kind of scheme he and generations of his thieving blood had pulled off countless times before, I’m pretty sure.

I gaped at Joseph as he finished his tale. Told with all the relish and detail and vocal inflections any respectable Wagler would come up with. What? Are you insane? I hollered. (We talk to each other like that, it’s all good.) You still have the guy’s check in your hand, and you won’t go after him? All you have to do is give it to the cops. It’s a crime, what he did. Here. Give it to me. I’ll take it in to them right now. Come on. You can’t just let him get away with outright theft like that.

“Nope, nope,” Joseph grinned nervously, as he tends to do. “No. That’s not what we do. Yeah, a man stopped by the other day. He runs a collection business. He wanted all my bad checks. He’d go collect the debts, take his percentage, and give me the rest. But I told him no.”

And I could only sputter in frustration at my brother. There it was, an easy solution. Give someone else the right to collect your debts, and you’re not directly involved. But still, he wouldn’t even do that. I would, I told him. That redneck needs to be stopped. He’s just going to keep on doing it, until someone does stop him. It’s justice. Do it. And my brother had a comeback even for that.

“No, he’s known now, in the community,” he said. “People know his name is bad, they know now who he is. That his word can’t be trusted. Sure, it’s hard. Of course it is. I want that money I’m owed. But I won’t go after it. A higher power will deal with that man. I don’t need to concern myself about it, however much I want to.”

I stood there, still shaking my head in disbelief. And I still told him in no uncertain terms what I thought he should do. You bet I did. Go after the guy. Make him pay. It’s the only sensible thing to do. Surely you can see that. But I’ve thought about it now and then, in the years that have passed. Thought about my brother’s obstinance. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Still doesn’t, not from where I am. But it doesn’t have to. He knew where he stood. And that’s all that matters, in the end. It was his business. Not mine.

But still, I figure it is my business, to think about it. And I keep thinking, who made the best choices? The redneck from up north of Drakesville, a guy with a thieving heart, a guy who started out his day plotting to steal, in a way that would be known? And did just that, to get what he wanted. Because that’s how he lived. Or a guy like my brother Joseph, who somehow found the internal fortitude, the strength to actually follow through with what he claimed to believe? To let it go, even when someone did something bad like that to him. To turn the other cheek, even when it was hard to do. Even when it was especially hard to do, because of the way he’d been taken across.

And I’m thinking, who would you choose to be, if you had only those two choices? Sure, to outsiders looking in, there are plenty of other options. But that’s beside the point. Because in this little tale, the details can’t be changed. They are what they are. Two flawed people made conscious decisions to do what they did, all the way through the story. Who made the best choices?

And I’m thinking, it’s pretty strange, looking back. How some of that stuff you walked away from makes a little more sense now than it used to.

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November 16, 2012

The “Writer”

Category: News — admin @ 6:48 pm

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Before we knew that we must die, before we had seen
our father’s face, before we had sought the print of
his foot….Who are we, that must follow in the footsteps
of the king? Who are we, that had no kings to follow?

—Thomas Wolfe
_______________

It’s probably that deep-seated Amish reticence inside me. I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it much before, because it hasn’t seemed that important. Except I’ve thought about it a good bit lately. In all the years of posting this blog, writing a book, and just generally throwing out whatever came to mind at the moment, I have never been particularly concerned about proclaiming myself a “writer” out there in public.

I’ve written a good deal about how the process works for me, sure. And why I write. I’ve called myself a redneck who can write. But that focuses on the redneck part and warns the reader of what my perspectives might be, not so much the writing. Don’t get me wrong, here. I absolutely do not judge those who do identify themselves as writers in public. As in, Ira Wagler, writer. Or Author Ira Wagler. I don’t fault that in any way. Especially for those who depend on their craft for some or all of their income. You’d about have to, then, especially in this wired age of Twitter, Facebook, and who knows what all else I’ve never heard of. You have to build your platform, get your name and your stuff out there in an extremely competitive market.

But I don’t have to write, to make my living. I don’t. Like my father didn’t before me. He was always out there, knocking around, plunging this way and that, launching business after business. A great many of them fizzled or just flat out failed. Which didn’t faze him one bit. He just plowed right on to the next one. Some few of them succeeded. And one or two of those are all you need. So he didn’t have to write, not for the money. He never had that pressure.

Of course, he had to write because he had to write, which I understand completely. But I can’t remember that he ever called himself a writer, either. He’d stand there with folded arms and smile when some stranger from some other Amish community asked if he was David Wagler, the famous author. Famous founder of Family Life. Famous Budget scribe. One or any combination of all of those, the stranger would ask. “Oh, I write a bit, here and there,” Dad would say deprecatingly, as the stranger gaped in rapturous awe, overjoyed at the privilege of merely standing in the presence of such a famous man. (I am not making this stuff up. It really happened. I saw it with my own eyes many times.)

So I probably get a bit of my reticence from him. I don’t know. I’ve never processed it this far before. But still, I’ve always thought to myself. Don’t label yourself a writer. Just write. Your readers will decide if you are one or not. Not necessarily by calling you that, but by reading your stuff. It’s not something to concern yourself about, the label.

And from that foundation, I suppose, was born my deep natural suspicion of anything “writerly.” And the very term, “conference,” always brings to my mind a great dull blob of just numbing boredom. Which is what conferences mostly are, from my limited experiences, from what I’ve seen. And a writer’s conference, well, combine what I’ve seen with what I’ve always hesitated to speak, and you have a perfect formula for something to be avoided at all costs. Writer’s conferences. Blech.

But now I have experienced something along that line. Not a conference. But its baby brother, maybe. And that was the writer’s breakfast arranged by my friend Shawn Smucker.

I had never hung out with a group of writers before, so I had no idea what to expect, and didn’t think about it, much, until the day approached. I nudged Shawn with an email. You’re “interviewing” me, right? I don’t do well, standing up there and talking on my own. “It’ll be informal,” Shawn assured me. “It’s just a loose bunch of local writers, hanging out. I’ll guide you through with questions, and you can branch out any way you like.” Still, I was a little intimidated. I mean, why would people want to hear what I have to say about much of anything? When it comes to pole buildings, I might consider myself an expert, maybe. Fat chance, though, that anyone would ever want to hear that. But on writing? I’ve never studied that subject at all, the hows and whys of it. Never heard any lectures on it either, not since college.

But still, it would be fun, I figured, to go talk about what happened to me. I arrived at Angela’s Café just before 9:30. A very cool little place, perfect setting for writers to gather. Kind of artsy, with plenty of room off to the one side where the group was assembling. Shawn greeted me and made a few introductions. Some people were already there, more were coming. We’d hang and socialize for half an hour, then get started. I wandered about, greeting people and signing copies of my book some had brought with them.

It was a pretty diverse crowd of probably fifteen to twenty people. Shawn and I moved a tall round table to one side and set chairs behind it. And right at ten, Shawn called the group to attention. “Today we have Ira Wagler with us. I have some questions for him, then he will take your questions, too.” And off we went.

In that kind of setting, where we’re sitting with questions prompting me, I’m OK. It’s just talking. But when I have to stand behind a podium with a “presentation,” that’s when I stutter and stammer. Shawn introduced me and got started, talking about my blog. “Ira broke every rule of blogging. He posted once a week, and then on Friday nights, yet. The lowest traffic of any week night.” People laughed. And I laughed, too.

And I just kind of launched in, telling him and all of them the story of how it all came down. How the blog got started, and when. What triggered it. How I found my voice for the first time ever. I’ve written it all before, so I won’t bore you with those details here. And we just chatted right along, from one subject to the next. I strolled freely down little bunny trails, getting bogged down in the brambles sometimes. But I made one thing clear. It was a perfect storm, the way Growing Up Amish came about. The perfect combination of all the necessary forces. A rare, rare thing indeed. A big part of that perfect storm happened because I had a “hot” marketable story, I said. The Amish. I’d come from them. And I could write it, tell of it.

I told them of how it came about, the writing of the book itself. In monthly submissions. How I’d worked hard to keep my blog voice. How I try to write like I’m just talking. With a lot of fragments. How I detest exclamation points. How I weeded them out by the dozen, seemed like, from the edited version of the manuscript. Someone had stuck them in there. The writing should be the exclamation point. No need to tell the reader you’re using it. Kind of like you don’t need to tell people you’re a writer, I guess. Same concept.

And I told of how it was, to work with real, truly professional people. The best in the business, in my opinion. How my Tyndale “team” took my raw stuff and sifted and refined and fused it into the book you see today.

But it was when Shawn asked about the next book, the sequel, that I stopped and thought a bit. How could it be explained, where I am?

I don’t know, I said. I’ve never been here before. Right now, I know what needs to be written. I know the story. But I just can’t speak it. Not now. It’s not stuff you can just crank out, that kind of writing. It has to be there, inside, you have to “feel” it out. I think it’s coming. No, I know it’s coming. I just don’t know when. I catch glimpses of slivers of it now and then, out of the corner of my eye. When it shows up, I’ll write it. I don’t think of it as being “stuck.” It’s just not ready, yet, to be told. And yeah, I think sometimes too that maybe I’m just intimidated, trying to match the success of my first effort. It’s all mixed together in one big jumble in my head.

I’m writing my blog right now, because it’s a safe place, I told them. It’s always been a safe place, the place I can go back home to and be myself. It’s where I’d write if I had a hundred readers. Or ten. Right now, I’m just living. And speaking on my blog. Live. Write. And while you’re living, don’t always be thinking about what you can write when it’s happening to you. Because that will detract from living. Live. The writing of it will come on its own. (Like this blog right here. It’s not what I started out with, but it’s what came. So I wrote it.) I think every writer needs a place like that, a blog to be who you are. It’s the test, I think, of any writer. Would you write anyway, or are you out there so focused on promoting yourself that you forget what it is to write what you live?

And strangely, my audience didn’t look at me as if I were insane. Not at anything I said. Actually, they looked and listened intently.

And after Shawn was done, he opened up for questions. They came. Good, thoughtful incisive questions. These people knew my world, when it came to the mysteries of writing. The most startling question, something I had never considered before: “Did working with the Tyndale editors affect the way you write right now?” I had never thought of that. No, I don’t think so, was my first response. But then I thought a bit. Yes. Yes it does affect my writing now. I’m more conscious about using fragments. They edited out a bunch of those from my original manuscript, to make the remaining ones stronger. That’s what they told me. So yes. Except maybe when I’m getting really intense about something, then I revert to my instinctive style. I’d say that’s how it is. Great, great question.

Soon after eleven, we wrapped it up, and I hung out for another half an hour, chatting. A few people requested my book, so I went out to my truck and fetched a dozen copies. Sold and signed most of them. And then it was over.

And you know what? It was a lot of fun, hanging out with other writers. It really was. These people are my peers, in various stages of their own journeys. They have struggled and triumphed too, in their own battles with the muse. They understood where I was coming from, what I was saying. I should do it more, I guess, hanging out, I mean. Maybe, I’m thinking, I might even be ready for my first writer’s conference. But then again, maybe not. At least not just yet.
******************************************************

A few words after the election in a bitterly divided nation. We will have to endure the smirking faces of the destructive Left for four more long weary years. Worse, we’ll all be directly affected by their destructive and abhorrent policies. They won the dogfight. I don’t think there ever was any chance they wouldn’t. (And I’m not defending Romney in any way, here. I spoke my piece against him in my last blog. He lost. He’s a non-factor, now.)

I’m not a prophet. But this once, I’m going to make like one. We are done. Period. We are finished. I’m not saying it’s imminent. But bad, bad things are coming. The plunderers in this country now outnumber the producers. When that tipping point is passed, you don’t have to be a prophet to see what the future holds.

There will be no peace. The land will not heal, not with this bunch in power. (As it wouldn’t have with the other bunch, either) And it’s already begun, the thrashing beast of the state in its death throes. It always devours its wealthiest citizens first, through class warfare. It’s happening, and the process will only accelerate. Until the wealthy are consumed, and then the beast will turn to devour the rest of us. This particular scenario has unfolded so many times in history that it’s not even debatable, what’s coming. Those who cannot or will not see this are simply blind.

It’s kind of humorous to hear the pious braying from the trenches on the Left. The election’s over, and we all need to work together to get something done. Yeah, sure. As if they would have stepped right into line, had Romney won. They would not have. They would have doubled down. So I’m thinking, nah, not so much. With my voice, at least, I will oppose Obama’s domestic policies at every turn. At every point. I know who he is. I know what the Left stands for, when it comes to my personal freedoms here at home. Leave me alone, to live my life. That’s all I want. Just leave me be.

They won’t, of course, the meddlers who know what’s best for me better than I do. But I’ll dissent until they shut me up. Which may well happen. It’s pretty scary out there, what’s coming. They may shut me up, but they will never enslave my mind. Because my mind is free. It will remain free. About the only bright spot I see ahead is that the great liberty warrior, Ron Paul, will be touring and speaking at college campuses. Brilliant strategy. Take back the youth the statists have ensnared and claimed for generations. Tell them what freedom is. Show them liberty can be theirs, if they refuse to accept the statist lies. It has to take root in the youth, freedom does, to flourish. And I believe it will.

And in my own small way with my own small voice, I want to do what Ron Paul has done all his adult life. Cry freedom. Cry liberty. Stand and proclaim it. It doesn’t matter, the darkness that surrounds us. Speak the truth, regardless of the times. But speak it with a heart that is free of hatred toward any person. It’s OK to hate the state, which is an entity of real, pure evil. But it’s not OK to hate the people who preach and plant its insidious and destructive seeds that will produce only the bitterest of harvests. Or the people enforcing its tyrannical dictates. Sure, you can stand up to them, call them what they are. In anger, certainly. With righteous rage, too, sometimes. But not with hate. Because it’s never OK to hate people. Ever, for any reason. Period.

Wherever you are, live free. Because you can, in your mind. And in your heart.

And so, with good cheer and confidence, we move on into future. Yep. I said good cheer. A funny thing happened at the writer’s breakfast. After my talk, I was chatting with a lovely lady who approached me. We discussed this and that. Suddenly she said, “You are so relaxed, so cheerful. I’m surprised. Your blog writings are so…” And she paused. But then she said it. “Your blog writings are often so morose.” I laughed. Yeah, I said. That’s just my voice, I guess. The melancholy in me coming out. I get all brooding with my writing. In person, I’m actually quite cheerful. She seemed astounded, but she agreed.

Through all the black noise and political tensions, it’s a little surreal to realize that Thanksgiving is coming right up. One more year. More turkey, more football. I’m looking forward to it. The Wagler clan will gather in Hutchinson, Kansas. Where Marvin and Rhoda and Lester and Rachel (my sisters and their husbands) and their families live. Last year we gathered in Bloomfield at my nephew John Wagler’s home, and I made it. This year, well, I’ve used up more than my allotted vacation days already, because of the book. Besides, it’s a two day drive out there to Kansas. Too far, for a two day stay. So I’m passing. I’ll hang out at my brother Steve’s house with him and his family. That’s always good times and great food.

In this time and at this place, I am deeply and humbly grateful to the Lord for all my blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.

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