November 28, 2008

Early Winter Blahs

Category: News — Ira @ 6:05 pm


To shorten winter, borrow some money due in spring.

—W.J. Vogel

Not that I want to grumble or be surly in the dawn of a fresh new holiday season. I’ve got loads to be thankful for, heaven knows. Decent health, good job. Warm home. Family. Good friends. And a whole lot more.

But I do feel grumpy. Because it’s winter. I woke up last Friday with nothing more on my mind than a good day at the office, then the weekend. I bustled about, showered and got ready for work. Mixed and drank my Superfood. Pocketed my breakfast cookies. Packed my gym bag. Approached the front door to leave. And almost fell over backward. It had snowed. Not just flurries, either. Had AlGore happened to be standing in my kitchen at that moment, an admittedly remote possibility, I would have assailed him with some very harsh and unkind words. It’s not supposed to snow this early. Not according to his gospel.

But it had. And still was, in fact. Big Blue sat shivering on the drive, covered with about three inches of solid white. I felt bad for him. I’d let him down. Usually I park him inside the garage if snow is in the forecast.

That was the problem. No forecasters had called it. No warnings whatsoever. Not a word. I grumbled savagely as I skidded around my drive and swept my truck and scraped the windshield. Warmed up the engine, then finally left for work. It was COLD. And I hate cold. The back roads were slicker than snot. All I need, I thought to myself, is to slide around and get Big Blue banged up yet. But the truck held steady, and we made it safely.

It kept spitting snow off and on all day. And the next. Inches. I looked in disbelief. The moronic meteorologists babbled incoherently about chances of snow showers. What’s a snow shower? Never heard of such a thing. Either it snows, or it doesn’t.

Although most of the snow has now disappeared, the cold has not. Or the biting winds.
I am, of course, surrounded by strange people who illogically claim to love the snow and cold. Nothing like it, they gush and coo. Let it snow, let it snow, they bleat inanely. To each his own, but truth is, I am very suspicious of such people. Something about them just ain’t right.

My brother Nate has a pretty sound theory about why most of my siblings abhor winters. Even though some of us obstinately insist on living in northern climes. He claims it’s because when we were growing up, it was always cold. Aylmer had long cold winters back then. Biting winds swept in from Lake Erie. Blew right through you. I can still feel them, piercing to the bone. Our house was cold at night, the barn was cold when we did the chores, riding in the buggies was cold, and school was cold. Of course, we walked to school in the cold. We never warmed up. Not in winter. Just existed in a state of perpetual, incessant numbing cold.

Nate’s theory makes sense. After absorbing so much cold as children, we’re now on a belated, hopeless and endless quest to get warm and stay warm.

The holidays are here. Every year it’s the same old tune. Spring arrives with new life and lots of hope, then fades slowly into summer. Lazy summer pokes along and meanders into fall. Football season starts. And then the weeks begin to roll by in earnest. Suddenly it’s Thanksgiving. You know it’s coming, but always are mildly surprised when it arrives. And the year is pretty much over, as the days accelerate into Christmas. By the time you really grasp that, it’s New Year. And it all starts over again.

I spent Thanksgiving, at least the important part, at Steves. The Thanksgiving meal. Wilma served a huge delicious feast with all the fixings. Just their family and me. Among many other things, I’m thankful to have at least one sibling in the area.

I’ve always admired the old pickups and cars on the road. I mean the old Model T’s and Model A’s you see chugging along, usually when there’s a car show or local parade somewhere. I always think of the Joad family in “The Grapes of Wrath,” fleeing the Dust Bowl with all their belongings bundled and strapped onto their creaking and overloaded old jalopy. The movie is worth watching for its vintage vehicles alone. The old Tin Lizzies also remind me of what my father must have seen when he was a boy. Maybe even the very same vehicle.

I’ve never ridden in one. Until yesterday. While at brother Steves for lunch. He just bought a 1931 Model A pickup, original, fully restored. After the meal, we went outside and I inspected his new prize. Very proud, he is. We squeezed into the tiny cab, and he choked the engine and pushed the starter. It wheezed to life instantly. Three speed with reverse. Takes some effort to wrestle with the steering wheel, while simultan-eously clutching and shifting. Steve managed OK; I looked out for opposing traffic at all crossroads. Everyone we met reacted, one way or another. One guy stared at us as if he’d just eaten some bad turkey. The next guy almost fell out of his car, waving. We merrily puttered onward at about 30 mph.

Steve took driving lessons when he bought it. Driving the old truck is certainly not like driving a modern one. All he needs now is period clothing. Duster, goggles, old floppy hat.

Steve and his truck. Big Blue sulks in the background.

Ira and the truck. It has no name as of yet.
I’d suggest Little Green. Or Old Green.

Steve opens the gas line on the gravity flow tank.

On the road.

View from the passenger’s seat.

We stopped at an Amish friend’s place to show off. They weren’t home.

Today is Black Friday. Locally, the outlets opened at midnight or 1 AM, with huge sales to lure shoppers. From all accounts, retailers are expecting a dismal season. I have never fought the Black Friday crowds and don’t imagine I ever will. I usually wait for the post-Christmas 85% off sales. That’s when I do most of my clothes shopping for the year. At quality brand name retailers, too, not Wal Mart. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Wal Mart, other than you might get trampled to death by stampeding hordes of bargain hunters. As happened to some poor guy in New York this morning.)

I keep getting many bright glossy shopping catalogs in the mail from numerous hopeful companies. All are promptly deposited in the trash, along with the twice weekly desperate reminders from the “New Yorker” that it’s time to renew my subscription.

I had been perusing the “New Yorker” quite faithfully because of its generally well-written articles. But a few months ago, the magazine so blatantly spewed pro-Obama gibberish that I couldn’t stomach it anymore. Fried my brain. No mas, I said. Not now. Not ever again. The last ten issues are stacked on my kitchen table, unopened and unread. I won’t read them. And I won’t renew. Anyone who wants those issues, let me know and I’ll gladly gift them to you. Otherwise, I will trash them all soon. That’s where they belong anyway.

Last week my blog was linked to another high traffic site. Amish America. The blogger, Erik Wesner, linked to one of my old reflections on Amish church songs. I definitely noticed a substantial uptick in hits, and appreciate the exposure to a larger group of readers. I emailed Erik and thanked him. He responded quite graciously. Welcome to any readers who arrived at my site through his link.

By the way, anyone out there who has a blog and enjoys this one is welcome to link to it. It’s the only way I’ll ever get true widespread exposure.

Last weekend I finally nailed that cherry pie. From another Amish source. The kind housewife insisted that I take a whole pie, even though I protested quite vociferously. It was fresh out of the oven. Looked mouth watering. But I can’t eat a whole pie. Not even in a week’s time. Freeze it, she said. She prevailed. But on Sunday night I took what was left of it with me to Paul and Anne Marie Zooks for supper. Where it was polished off. Delicious, it was. Even though not entirely in sync with my regular diet.



  1. I remember those Aylmer winters. Just thinking of them still makes me shiver to the bone. I am also reading “The Grapes of Wrath” because of the times we are living in.

    Comment by Katie Troyer — November 28, 2008 @ 7:11 pm

  2. P.S. You bad little ex-Aylmer boys, out with a truck like that.

    Comment by Katie Troyer — November 28, 2008 @ 7:13 pm

  3. Occasionally I have had the privilege of reading the New Yorker, and in my experience they are a breath of fresh air in a news world dominated by Fox News, Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh. Perhaps the gibberish they were pushing will turn our country around.

    Ira’s response: Oh my. Such blatant heresy, from my own kin, yet. What would your mother say?

    Comment by Ronald W. — November 28, 2008 @ 8:48 pm

  4. I kinda like winter, except you can’t go barefoot outside. My, my, what will Stephen buy next, a horse and buggy?

    Comment by Rachel — November 28, 2008 @ 9:29 pm

  5. I was led here by Amish America. Very interesting writing. I also started out Amish and became a lawyer; still am, but if I could get a good job managing a building supply store, I’m about ready for a change too. I think we’re probably cousins. My great-grandmother was a Wagler from Daviess County. Do you have the Wagler book? If you’ll give me your grandfather and great- grandfather’s names I’ll figure out the relationship. (Oh, and how can you stop reading The New Yorker, after that anti-Obama cover? The New Yorker is the best magazine in America, bar none.)

    Ira’s response: Welcome. Glad you checked out my site and hope you will return. My grandfather was Joseph K. Wagler. Great grandfather was Christian Wagler. He committed suicide sometime in the late 1800s.

    The New Yorker is a liberal leftist rag. If that’s your cup of tea, that’s fine. But it is what it is.

    Comment by crockhead — November 28, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

  6. Had to chuckle at Big Blue in the background of the one picture. Ha.

    Comment by Ira Lee Wagler — November 29, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

  7. It appears Bro. Steve is suppressing a hidden desire for a horse & buggy. All you need there is a big lap blanket, to keep warm. Looks good though.

    I checked on the Popular blog you mentioned. A Question & Answer piece on an Amishman there does not seem very authentic to me.

    Ira’s response: Oh, I think it’s quite authentic. I think the guy has real contacts in a lot of Amish communities.

    Comment by Jess — November 29, 2008 @ 2:54 pm

  8. #6, Yeah me too, might have not been so noticeable if Big Blue was a Ford.

    Comment by Bear — November 29, 2008 @ 6:55 pm

  9. On those cold, wintery days, why not get into a book called The Shack by William P. Young and then let me know what you think about it…I would love to hear your thoughts it may have provoked.

    Comment by Krindee — November 30, 2008 @ 7:52 pm

  10. Thanks for the smiles! I couldn’t agree with you more about this drat weather!

    Comment by sms — December 1, 2008 @ 9:15 am

  11. Krindee, I cannot help but to think of a post touching on book you mentioned. After reading that, I have no desire to read “The Shack” at all. The following link will lead you to that post I mentioned.

    Ah, about the Q&A in Amish America blog… I do not find it very out of ordinary. I subscribe to Amish America. I’d not be too surprised to ‘hear’ that communities such like Manton, Evart, Kalona would talk like that. It really reeks of well-educated (easily can be self-taught) person who has experienced both sides of Amish and English world who understands principles as written in Bible well. I’m sure that all of you are fully aware that some Amish groups are “not running on all cylinders” when it comes to Salvation and living it. Those groups wouldn’t talk like that in that Q&A- they would find it hard to do so!

    Enough of my remarking and time to think about going to bed.

    Comment by Jean H — December 2, 2008 @ 12:11 am

  12. Ira, I just wanted to say hello, and that I enjoy your blog very much. I wish I had more time yet this morning to read further, but I’m a busy mamma of five and have things to do. I’ll be back later though; you’ve piqued my interest! :-)

    Comment by Moey — December 2, 2008 @ 10:03 am

  13. I agree with you on the New Yorker. I have read the Kansas City Star, or as Limbaugh calls it, the K.C. Scar, every day since I was 13 yrs old. I’m now 25 yrs old and after enduring another year of leftwing hogwash from a supposed unbiased media source, I quit reading the K.C. Scar. I subscribed to the Washington Times weekly edition several years ago and I love it! Like Hannity says, it’s the year journalism died. While I think McCain was a weak choice for the GOP, you also have to blame the media for their disgusting bias!

    Comment by Matt Yutzy — December 2, 2008 @ 1:11 pm

  14. If I was to describe the New Yorker, I’d call it stuffy and pretentious without much content.

    Comment by Jason Yutzy — December 2, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

  15. Good riddance, New Yorker.

    Though it is not as literary (doesn’t intend to be high brow), The New American is harder-hitting and at times years ahead of the curve (that is, when liberals finally have to admit their plans and have figured out how to spin them).

    Their new home page features AccuWeather link, stock ticker, headline news, plus access to selected TNA articles:

    Would you like a subscription for Christmas? Just reading the first 4 pages of each issue will make you more informed than most in 6 months, even if you turn off all other “news.”

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — December 3, 2008 @ 6:09 pm

  16. Hi Ira,

    I found you through Amish America and I’ve been reading your blog for a few months. I love your nostalgic stories from your Amish days. Please write more of them. When I was a little girl, I would sit with the “old folks” and listen to their tales from “glory days”. You bring back wonderul memories for me.

    Your family pictures are great. My dad has a 1928 Nash and a 1950 MG – TC ! They both need a little work. The Nash has wooden spokes and the tail light says STOP.

    I am an “Amish” junkie ! I have been interested in your culture since I was 18. I like Amish America, but that interview seems a little “off” to me. Please, if you have time reread it and let us know what you “really” think and don’t hold back. heehee.

    I have some things in common with you. Most of my family members are attorneys, my cousin is THE Public Defender in Tampa. My little brother is a TPD officer. I teach Kindergarten and my dad is retired from An. Busch. How’s that for family “Grand Conversations”!

    Keep Writing and Take Care.


    Comment by Michelle V. — December 3, 2008 @ 6:22 pm

  17. Jean H, thank you for your unsolicited opinion of a mere new, controversial book I was interested in hearing Ira’s comments on. I also am a Christian, believing in our Heavenly Father (male), Son, who came to earth to die to cover our sins with His blood and the blessed Holy Spirit He left us to guide us through our life, to know right from wrong, to comfort us.

    Comment by Krindee — December 3, 2008 @ 7:42 pm

  18. I have had several respected Christian friends recommend The Shack, and look forward to reading it someday. One is a counselor (conservative and Bible-based); he read it twice, and said it gave him remarkable insights. Another is a pastor with a true shepherd’s heart. FWIW.

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — December 4, 2008 @ 6:48 pm

  19. Hey,
    Where do you get these words? Vociferously? I’d never heard of it, but that’s not saying much.

    I had to laugh at “Big Blue sulks in the background.” Like he’s jealous of Steve’s Model A. Funny! When Big Blue was your new baby did you call him Little Boy Blue? You and that truck. “Big Blue sat shivering in the drive…” You’ve modernized “A man and his horse.” to “A man and his truck.” Well, I can’t pick on you too much since I’m in love with my Charger. Vroom! Vroom!

    Now I know why I don’t like the heat. Nate’s theory explains it all to a t. You and your sibs. were cold all the time and my life was the opposite. My mother’s recurrent nightmare was that one of her kids would be cold. To this day, my sister and I have savage flashbacks of one piece, zipper up the front, footed pajamas. When we see them in the store we dive under the clothes racks so as to not break out in a hot sweat. Our feet that is. There were many a nights laying on the bed, my eyes glazed over looking at the white ceiling, dog tired, but unable to sleep because my feet were so hot. How I coveted a good pair of scissors, but even that wouldn’t have helped. When you’re 7, or thereabouts, you have no rights. Nobody cares if your feet are hot. Mom would have wallopped me but good.
    So, you move to Pinecraft after you retire and I’ll bask with the grizzly bears and moose in Alaska. Just don’t forget to blog.

    Comment by Francine — April 15, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

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