June 15, 2007

Life….and The End of Life

Category: News — Ira @ 3:29 pm

—Thomas Wolfe
“They had been young and full of pain and combat, and now all this was dead in them: they smiled mildly, feebly, gently, they spoke in thin voices, and they looked at one another with eyes dead to desire, hostility, and passion……and their memory was all of little things.”

“They no longer wanted to excel or to be first; they were no longer mad and jealous; they no longer hated rivals; they no longer wanted fame; they no longer cared for work or grew drunk on hope; they no longer turned into the dark and struck their bloody knuckles at the wall; they no longer writhed with shame upon their beds, cursed at the memory of defeat and desolation, or ripped the sheets between convulsive fingers. Could they not speak? Had they forgotten?”

“……They had known pain, death and madness, yet all their words were stale and rusty. They had known the wilderness, the savage land, the blood of the murdered men ran down into the earth that gave no answer; and they had seen it, they had shed it. Where were the passion, pain and pride, the million living moments of their lives? Was all this lost? Were they all tongueless? …..Or were they simply devoured with satiety, with weariness and indifference? Did they refuse to speak because they could not speak, because even memory had gone lifeless in them?”

“Yes. Words echoed in their throat but they were tongueless. For them the past was dead: they poured into our hands a handful of dry dust and ashes.”

-Thomas Wolfe “Of Time and the River”

Available at Amazon.com
On Saturday evening, June 9, I hosted another one of my famous garage cookouts. It was about as perfect a June night as one could want, clear, cool and just a bit windy. This time, no family, just a diverse (not the PC version of diverse, just diverse) group of friends, some of whom had never met each other. Patrick and Mary June Miller, Vern and Rosie Stoltzfus, Steve and Ada Beiler, and Sam and Cathy Gingerich, all with their respective families. The total number of people, including children, was around twenty-five. My house is located on a ¾ acre lot on the corner of Rt. 23 and Voganville Road. There is a lot of road traffic and limited space in the yard for children to play. But they did an admirable job in playing with the various balls (football, beach ball, soccer ball, tennis ball) I have lying around, even though the balls had a pronounced inclination to roll across Voganville Road on their own accord. Occasionally there was a great clatter with the resounding roar of a little one reacting to getting whacked about while playing, falling down, or whatever. But it was good.

Master Griller (by self-acclamation)

Once again, I grilled “Steve Beiler” organic sausages, both smoked and unsmoked. They are simply the best around, in my opinion, and certainly the most nutritious. Each family graciously brought a covered dish, including fresh garden salad, Ohio potato salad (if you have to ask, you don’t know what you’re missing), a camp-cooked multi-bean goulash and carrot cake and ice cream, my favorite dessert. So there was ample food for all. Afterward, we all lounged around outside the garage and drank coffee and laughed and chatted and just had a good old time. Or I guess it was a good time, as nobody left until after 10 PM. As an added bonus, I was able to skillfully nab (all right, beg) some of the leftover food, so I’m good for the week. (The blue cooler still awaits any food donors in the garage. Just thought I’d mention that.)

After the enjoyable and pleasantly exhausting evening, I retired late and slept in until the shameful hour of 10 o’clock Sunday morning. No church for me, I decided, stumbling around bleary-eyed. I meandered about and cleaned the mess in the garage and generally communed with myself for the day and read the Sunday News and watched the rain-delayed Pocono 500 (which was won by the oily and resurgent Jeff Gordon). One has to have a do-nothing day every once in awhile.

The third and final Triple Crown Race, the Belmont Stakes, was run during the cookout. Again. We had just begun eating, when the starting gun sounded at about 6:30. Most of the men huddled around my little TV in the garage, while the women calmly sat outside eating, pretending our behavior was completely normal. At 1-1/2 miles, the Belmont is the longest of the Triple Crown races. The horses seemed to be almost trudging at the halfway point. At the end the filly Rags to Riches just pulled out by a nose in front of Curlin, the Preakness winner. She was the first filly to win the Belmont since 1905, more than a hundred years. Now THAT’S the last of my horse-racing stories until next year.

Did everyone hear about the new Nascar driver with Amish roots? For real. Working his way up the ranks, he is. Quite the crowd favorite, too. Yonie Beiler or Yonie Stoltzfus or some such Lancaster County name. His racing rig is pictured below. And we all know pictures don’t lie. I understand he gets a 1-to-50 lap handicap. His pit stops are unusual only in that he changes horses, not tires. It’s quite the sight; four Amishmen plunging around unhitching one horse and hooking up another. In 14 seconds. And he has to keep his flashing lights on at all times. Just like on our Lancaster County roads.

amish-nascar-small.jpgAmish Nascar
Thanks to Mark Markiewicz for forwarding this photo.

Baseball Update: Believe it or not, the Phillies swept the Mets last week (June 5-7). In New York. Even more unbelievably, I was cheering them on. I figured if the Mets lost, the Braves could creep up into first place. But no such luck. The Braves just putzed around and lost two out of three and five of six. And Bobby Cox, I think, has just set the record for most evictions for a head coach. But the season is long, not half over yet, and much baseball remains to be played. And I see that the ancient and decrepit Roger Clemens cast aside his walking cane long enough to win one for the Bleepin’ Yankees (may they rot). You gotta hand it to ‘em, they never die until the stake is driven forcefully through their vile, black hearts. Hopefully the evil empire will be decimated this year well before the World Series.

General Sports Notes: The Anaheim Mighty Ducks pulled it out and won the Stanley Cup in five games. Not that anyone noticed. Hockey has spiraled from obscurity into oblivion since the unfortunate strike of 2005. In the eternally long but now blessedly shortened NBA playoffs, the Cavs were unceremoniously swept by the Spurs. Too bad, you Ohioans. In my opinion, basketball is the most unwatchable, imbecilic game ever devised. I can’t imagine anyone getting excited about it, but that’s just me.

Someone, I guess it was my nephew Andrew, commented that the Super Chip I installed on my truck will void the warranty. My response: What warranty? I bought the truck used from a private party. It has 56,000 miles. So no warranty exists. Besides, if you install a Super Chip on a warrantied truck, you can place all the settings back to factory standards when you take the truck in for service or trade-in, and no one can tell you ever installed the Super Chip. My last tank of gas got me 13-1/2 plus mpg, so I’m still very enthused about it.

Last week (actual date: Sunday, June 3), this site had its 10,000th hit. Whoever it was did not contact me, so I celebrate the milestone with the anonymous “man behind the mask,” even though the hit might have been made by a woman or a child. Thanks again to all my readers. Now let’s go for 20,000.

mystery-man-small.jpgThe 10,000th hit

Since March, I have expended considerable bachelor-strength energy in keeping my domicile habitable. (A little legalese there. It means “I’ve spent some time and effort keeping my house clean enough to live in.”) The flower beds remain untouched and are returning to the wilds. In the house, dust bunnies frolic and scamper to and fro, feeding on who knows what (dust, I guess). I am struggling to decide whether or not I should just tame them and keep them as pets. But I do swipe a broom about now and then, much to the dust bunnies’ disgust. Meanwhile, the ancient clothes-dryer has taken to squealing like a stuck pig lately; I am afraid to use it lest it burn down the house. And that’s about all I would need in my life right now. But at the cookout, none of the women seemed too horrified at inside-the-house conditions. Either that, or they hid their horror well, probably so I wouldn’t suggest a neighborhood “cleaning day” and they’d feel obligated to come back and help.

On June 8, I observed my 2-year anniversary being alcohol free. Not a drop. To celebrate such a monumental achievement, I mixed and enjoyed a large Fruited Plain drink (JUST KIDDING).




  1. Uncle Ira congrats on your 2 year anniversary, keep it up.Your cookouts sound very scrumptious, as I also like grilling and cooking-out, etc. I see you had Sam’s family over, what’s his latest idea? What did the gas gizmo cost, my F-150 gets maybe 15 mi. a gallon. Very poor if you ask me. When I bought it the salesman said at at least 20 mi. a gallon. ha. ha. Hope I dont start more ranting on salesman, as I am a salesman.

    Comment by Andrew — June 15, 2007 @ 6:44 pm

  2. Congrats on a successful cookout; I invited several friends over to celebrate 2 years of living in the same house (which I’m leaving next week). Congrats on 2 years alcohol free; I’m about a year point five without a cigarrette (still working on the alcohol thing). You set a good standard.

    Dale Jr and Jeff Gordon as teammates; even the conspiracy theorists couldn’t have dreamed that one up.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — June 15, 2007 @ 6:51 pm

  3. What a great section of literature! It seems your blogs get less response when you write about the hard stuff you are facing (Like last week). Larry Crabb’s book “Shattered Dreams” is really worth reading. He discusses some very difficult questions we ask in times like this. Some excerpts from P. 100 the chapter entitled “The Elusive God.”

    “Our search for God is an inward search … We must block out the noise of life and become aware of our interior world if we’re to find God. Beneath every heartache, beneath every moral failure, beneath every shattered dream a divine Presence is waiting to be discovered… Only when we discover a desire for Him that is stronger than our desire for relief from pain will we pay the price necessary to find Him.” May you find Him clearer and dearer.

    I heard from the attendees of your picnic that it was a smashing success!! You are courageous.


    Comment by frieda — June 15, 2007 @ 7:52 pm

  4. On your 2 yr. anniversary of ditching vices, I will take the liberty to celebrate with you. The month of June marks 18 mo. since I have dropped the dreadful habit of smoking. Not a whiff, not a puff, not a drop, and now not a temptation! May the demise of Philip Morris be swift and sure!

    Comment by John Wagler — June 15, 2007 @ 8:28 pm

  5. Congrats to all of you on your “mile markers”..
    I am proud to be a part of such a courageous family!
    Love to all, Dorothy

    Comment by Dorothy — June 15, 2007 @ 10:31 pm

  6. Well, we now are preparing to go on our summer camping gig. Yes, the gas stays home, as I feel like real grill-cooks use charcoal when afield. At home too, if he has patience. Ira, it looks like that’s what you were using too, but isn’t that a rather small grill? Hey, Steves, why not meet us halfways or so. Around Cherokee N.C.?…….Janice whirled through here last weekend, was here for Sun. lunch. We enjoyed having her & Steve here. She mentioned it was 108′ hot out there in AZ. Wow, wonder how long a bag of ice would last on a cartop? We picked up a used fridge at a yard sale, and behold, the icemaker works. It didn’t at first, or seemed not to, for about 3 hrs after I hooked it up. Then clunkity clunk, here comes the ice. It’s been several yrs. since we’ve had an icemaker that worked. I have learned through the yrs. that if an icemaker quits, it’s best to ignore it, as no matter what you try on it, it will never ever work again. Also to clarify, it is a used fridge, but still newer than our other 2. Makes us a 3 fridge family, I suppose.

    Comment by uncle jess from S.C. — June 15, 2007 @ 10:31 pm

  7. Ira, update on Doddys (yes all you Waglers, Doddys are in PA.) they are arriving at Ella’s house at 7:00 tonight, after supper he said. We plan to go over awhile then. Then tomorrow rest at Ella’s house, you are welcome to join us there for lunch, Ira (yes! Ella has to make it!!) Then at 1:00 come over here & go on to Franklin Co. in eve. Then Mon. it’s Sidling Hill.

    We have a very small welcoming committee here, just Carrie, Ira’s in Pittsburgh for the wk.end, Clifford left with the youth for New Orleans this morn. for a week of singing& working &Elaine is still in Jamaica (by the way all you relatives should drop her a line at lana455@aol.com and also visit her xanga; http://www.xanga.com/lane86 to see what she’s doing there for 6 mos.) Thanks! Curtis & Ella leave tomorrow p.m. for their slightly delayed anniversary trip, (3 yrs. ago a bunch of roaring Waglers were here!!).

    One more thing, Jesse has the meet us half way at Cherokee thing way wrong, it was nice when we got there but more like three fourth way.

    Comment by Wilma W. — June 16, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

  8. How come you’re on such a big Thomas Wolfe tear right now? A number of years ago I heard you recommend Ayn Rand pretty heavily, so I thought I’d read some. I got about halfway through ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and got SO depressed with it that I gave up in DISGUST! I assume it has some good ending but I never went back to find out. What other authors do you like?

    Comment by jason yutzy — June 18, 2007 @ 4:32 pm

  9. Its now mid-week, things seem a little slow, Uncle Jess is planning his corporate takeover of Amana or is it GE/Hotpoint and I’ve been doing an Abe Lincoln on my response to these unwarranted and scurrulous attacks on the finest team in all of baseball – the New York Yankees for those west of NJ. In the recent 10 days, the Yankees have reduced the lead of the red sox by five and a half games (let me state that in numbers – 8 fdown rom 13.5) even while the red sox have been playing at level good enough to win almost any other division in either the Al or NL. (It seems to me, the red sox s have had a rather nice stay in Atlanta recently feasting on some good AAA pitching.)

    That A-Rod is having (and could possibly be putting together) one of the finest seasons by a right handed batter ever is icing on the cake. And this “age” argument is such a waste of breath. There is a saying that “Age and Experience will overcome youth and enthusiasm any day.” ( I’ve cleaned that one up a touch.) Roger Clemens may be in his mid-forties, but he throws harder, with more consistency, tenacity and heart than 98% of the AL pitchers who are half his age. It’s like the old bull and the young bull sitting on top of the hill surveying a herd of heifers below. The young bull wants to run down to the herd and round up one heifer. The old one says lets walk and do them all. That’s the Yankees – age, experience and a desire to get the job done over the long haul.

    These criticisms of short term matters do not necessarily project out over the long haul. They may make for interesting cooler discussions, but generally little else. Its a shame to have to quash and dash the hopes of all those who persistently root against something rather than for something. But, alas, it must be done,



    Comment by Thorne — June 19, 2007 @ 8:40 am

  10. three boos for the yankees

    Comment by jason yutzy — June 20, 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  11. “Yutzy is as Yutzy does”.

    -Forrest Gump-

    Comment by Thorne — June 20, 2007 @ 11:13 pm

  12. How I long for a 3/4 acre lot. I want to plant a vegetable garden, a pear and apple tree, and get some chickens for fresh eggs and meat. Dang it!

    Seeing you grilling is making me hungry for Spring. A trip this past weekend to Springfield, IL to visit the Lincoln Museum proved interesting. On the way it was bright, sunny, and all around pleasant. Our spirits were high. The museum was awesome, top notch. The Irish restaurant we ate at was spectacular. A wonderful day.

    Then came snowy Sunday. And it came down fast and hard. An hour of hell awaited us on the slick snow covered I-55. The other two hours were good. My point is- Where the heck is Spring?

    I can’t stay away from your blog.

    Comment by Francine — March 28, 2013 @ 12:09 am

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