July 24, 2009

Random Musings

Category: News — Ira @ 6:53 pm

photo-2-small.JPG

A deadline is negative inspiration. Still,
it’s better than no inspiration at all.

—Rita Mae Brown
_______________

I wonder sometimes, after posting another childhood sketch, what the reactions of my readers really are. A few comments always trickle in, but compared to the total number of readers each week, the feedback is pretty miniscule. And that’s not a slam at anyone individually or at all of you collectively. I appreciate all who take the time to read. I’m just saying, is all.

On the surface, the sketches are stories and memories of mundane everyday things that happened long ago in a world now long gone. But in the details of each sketch lurks the incessant hunger of a child to search and seize and explore the known world around him. His community, his family, his surroundings, and the events of an ordinary day. And the world outside his established boundaries. A world that beckons, calls, fascinates. A world into which he will one day venture on a quest to search for that magical land he had glimpsed only from afar.

It’s hard to reach back through the fog of years and try to recapture the essence of the things I saw and heard and felt so long ago. To shed the crusted cynicism of age and experience, and return again to the simple wonder and innocent unpretentiousness of the child. To get there, I have to be in the right frame of mind, kind of “in the zone.” A touch of brooding melancholy helps.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. You never see the failed attempts, the tattered incomplete scenes that get shelved for perhaps another try another day. But it’s been fun. A lot of work, but fun.

I’ve known a few adults who somehow kept alive the flame of childish wonder of their youth. Genuinely. Naturally. Some. But very few. And I’ve seen plenty who walk about with incessant exclamations of contrived wonder. There aren’t many spectacles sadder than that. Or more irritating.

For me, true childish wonder receded long ago. Only the memories remain.

Every week or two, it seems, another email pops up in my inbox. So and so wants to be your friend on Facebook, it informs me blithely. As if there would be scant possibility that I might not want to be that person’s friend and even less of a possibility that I might not have a Facebook account. I mean, how far back in the stone age could I be?

Pretty far, apparently. Because I don’t. Have an account, that is. I’ll be almost any-one’s friend, just not on Facebook. Many of my friends and relatives do have an account. And from what they tell me, it’s a beautiful thing. A great way to keep in touch and instantly share news gossip and opinions and comments. I think most Facebook people check their sites first thing in the morning for all the latest.

And from what I’ve heard, it’s a surefire way to reconnect with old friends from way back. People you haven’t heard from in years, maybe decades. I must confess, that would be intriguing. There’s a long, long trail of people out there I’ve lost touch with. Who knows who might pop out of the woodwork?

So I’ve considered it seriously. It would be cool to hear from old friends and to join the social network. I could even link to my blog and maybe increase my readership there.

But so far I’ve resisted the temptation. Where would I find the time? I’m too busy here, working on my writing. Besides, and this is the real reason, I’m just way too paranoid. I’ve read the fine print on the Agreement you enter when you sign up. Anything you post on Facebook is their property in perpetuity, or close to it. Which means forever.

That means all your pics, all your comments, your gossip, opinions, everything. Even if you take it down, it still exists on the main database. And it’s theirs to use as they see fit.

What about this website, you might be thinking. I post a lot of stuff here. True. But there’s a huge difference. This is a real website. I pay for the domain. It’s mine. I can take it down anytime. And when it’s down, it’s gone. Not saved in some huge database.

I don’t know. I might break down and open a very basic stripped-down Facebook account at some point. Just to check out that world and see if any old friends contact me. But for now, I’m pretty content where I am.

Most of you know I’m not a fan of our current President. I never watch him speak. Can’t stand the guy. But at the baseball All Star Game last week, as the President walked out to the mound to throw the ceremonial pitch, I rooted for him. Man to man. Throw it over the plate. Or at least to the plate. I felt a bit sorry for him as he stood there and waved to the crowd. He looked lost. Come on, man, I thought. Make me proud of this, at least. He wound up and threw. The announcers fell over themselves burbling about how he “got it to the plate.” But it was a bad throw. I don’t think he did get it over, or even to the plate. Otherwise, they would have shown it.

It happens now and then, and it never fails to jolt me a bit. When I’m in public some-where, in whatever setting, and some complete stranger walks up and tells me he/she reads my blog. The first time, I think, it happened at the mall in Lancaster late last summer. I was sitting and sipping a cup of coffee at the mall center, not a whole lot on my mind, when a young Mennonite girl approached timidly. Upswept hair topped by a little covering, she looked to be maybe twenty years old.

“Are you Ira?” She asked shyly.

“I am,” I admitted, startled.

“I read your blog,” she smiled. I smiled back and thanked her. It immediately struck me that she knew a heck of a lot more about me than I’ll ever know about her. We chatted a bit and she wandered on. I have no idea who she was.

And that’s how it goes sometimes. It happened again at a wedding I attended last Saturday. Almost all who introduce themselves are either plain or from a plain back-ground. Only once or twice was it a completely “English” stranger. So far no one’s asked for my autograph. Once someone does that, I will have arrived.

One of my sisters reproached me a few weeks ago at the Kentucky family gathering. I haven’t been fulfilling my reporterly duties in proclaiming all the new babies and upcoming weddings in the family. Been doing some serious slacking, she admonished. I bristled.

“I’m not The Budget,” I grumbled. “Read The Budget for that stuff. I got more important things to write.”

My brother Steve backed me up. “No, he’s not The Budget.” Steve said.

My sister was not convinced. Or satisfied in the least. She persisted. What can be more important than family?

“Not a fair question,” I grumbled again. “Of course family is most important. But the nature of the blog has changed over time. I don’t want to bore my readers with so many factual details about people they don’t even know.” Unless I can weave a story around it, I thought to myself. But I didn’t say that.

It was no use. My defense could not stand. So, in the interest of family peace and future harmony and all that, here goes:

CONGRATULATIONS TO:

Andrew (my nephew) and Marnita Yutzy on the birth of their daughter, Hadassah Ilene, born June 17, 2009.

Jason (my nephew) and Julie Yutzy on the birth of their son, Nicholas Klaus, born July 3, 2009.

Congrats to the proud parents. May your daughter and son prosper, along with your other children. I don’t have pictures of both babies, so I won’t post the one I do have. For continued harmony, and peace among the Freundschaft and all that.

AND CONGRATULATIONS TO:

Mervin Wagler (my nephew) and Mary Marlene Yoder, on their wedding, which was this very day in Worthington, IN. My regrets that I could not attend.

Jason Stutzman and Mary Ann Wagler (my niece) on their engagement. The wedding is planned for October 2, 2009, also to be in Worthington, IN. I plan to attend.

And there you have it. Sorry for my slackness. Family things, even the basic factual details, are very important. And I don’t want to lose sight of that. Ever.

I am a bit distracted this week. A lot of stuff going on. Things happening. Mostly good things. Some of which I hope to share before too long.

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(20 Comments) »

  1. You “need” face book! :) I made more fun of it and the folks that have it then I care to admit, but now I have one and I am addicted. It is a wonderful way to keep up with all your long lost friends (and those who are just there to gossip ;))
    you would enjoy it and you would have “time” for it too :)

    Comment by Dorothy — July 24, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

  2. Awe, I think it’s fun reading about your family, whether they’re your next of kin or a distant relative. And way to keep the family peace there – giving a shout out about the new babies and other announcements!! You know, I don’t have a Facebook either and sometimes I feel like someone from the old days who would say, “A computer!? Why on EARTH would I want a computer?!” It may just happen one day but I don’t really see it in my future for now either. I have a 17, 19, and 21 year old and they act like it’s “THEIR” thing and I’m just wayyyyyy too old to have a Facebook acct. Ummmm, not so, oh young ones – MY aunts and uncles have one! Take care and can’t wait to hear what “things” you’ve got going on ~

    Comment by Bethrusso — July 24, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  3. I’m one of those slackers who reads your blog every week but doesn’t comment very often (bashful, you know). We’re on the road right now and I had my wife drive so I could check your latest writings on my BlackBerry. Your sale barn blog last week took me back to my childhood. A couple of differences: the Kidron Auction is still going and I still live in the area, so I’m still a little kid when I hit the Thursday livestock auction (every month or so). And I never had to look both ways before buying a cassette tape (ganz hoch you know). The auctioneers are not great imposing unapproachable men anymore. They’re old buddies I grew up with! Times change, but there’s nothing like the weekly auction. Even better than baby announcements. Great blog, as usual.

    P.S. Will you be my friend?

    Comment by John Schmid — July 24, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

  4. Like many of your faithful readers, I do not always (or often) submit a comment. In fact, many times the writings that I do not comment on are the very ones that stay with with me the longest. Interesting stories from an interesting person. I am always commenting on your writings. I just may not be typing them in.

    As I was reading the updates on your family, well….it was like, well, reading The Budget. Keep it up and I might just not renew my Budget subscription. (only joking)

    FACEBOOK……I have a rough idea what it is, BUT… that seems distant future for me. I am amazed that I am able to connect to your website and send you a comment from time to time. Let me just get used to that for while.

    So, I’ll continue reading your site and occasionally commit a “random act of commenting.”

    Comment by Robert Miller — July 25, 2009 @ 2:05 am

  5. A lot of people think that Facebook (FB) is for young people. Well, it might be, but many, many older people like myself find it a very useful way to get and stay in touch with old (and young!) friends around the country (and world). I am going to suggest that you really need FB, you will be amazed by the connections you make. Now there are all kinds of games, quizzes, polls and other things like that on FB, and I just refuse to do that. I use it to connect to my friends and I love it. It is also amazing how many of my former Amish friends come out of the woodwork and become friends at one point or another. You can become my friend at http://www.facebook.com/lestergraber and I welcome anyone to come on board!

    Then there is also Twitter. I enjoy twitter because it is probably a better source of information than even Google itself. If I have a computer problem or something I can search the twitter database and find all of these postings, most of which probably aren’t very helpful but somewhere I usually find the answer. And when I solve a perplexing problem myself, I like to twitter about it so that perhaps others can be helped. It also keeps me in touch with co-workers scattered around the US (as well as does FB) but also keeps me in touch with the trucking world with all my truck driving friends, which is a career I really enjoyed and still enjoy following. I am @amishtrucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/amishtrucker. Come on board and be my friend, those of you who are interested.

    I suppose the Budget would still be interesting, I don’t know. I haven’t read it in years unless I happened across a copy at a friend or relatives house. Don’t miss it one bit. But right now I would miss FB and twitter!

    Ira, I just want to say that I really enjoy reading your blog because you take the time to write about topics that interest me and in a way that we find interesting. I see where people criticise you, but to me that usually tells me much more about the disposition of the criticiser than it does about you. Besides we shouldn’t live by the criticise or praise we get, but by our own standards and principles that we have developed over the years. The criticisers will soon move on. They are only trying to attract attention to themselves. And the rest of us can learn to stay away from the troublemakers.

    Comment by Lester Graber — July 25, 2009 @ 8:15 am

  6. You really need to get Facebook because people I don’t know keep friending me, thinking I’m you.

    Comment by Ira Lee Wagler — July 25, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  7. Tell that sister to FB family info herself! I have FB and did connect to a few old childhood friends… of whose friendship begun in first grade (33 years ago). I now get on FB frequently only because of its farming games it offered!!! No game? I’d at least check once each morning to see what else my friends felt to share. Even if it is about their own world which has nothing to do with me, it is part of who they are. Mark even have his own FB but he doesn’t contribute much to it- mainly using it as networking, not gossiping. I have Blogger and Xanga, both now very sadly neglected- waiting for me to get my writing inspiriations to recover. My most private musing I don’t post on FB or Blogger- that’s what Xanga is for.

    I don’t comment on most of your posts mostly because we don’t share similar upbringings even though a few similar experiences.

    Comment by JeanH — July 25, 2009 @ 11:38 am

  8. Hahaha! Ira Lee, I found you on FB but looking at profile picture I knew it is not THE Ira so I didn’t even try to “friend” you.

    Comment by JeanH — July 25, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  9. I use very advanced modeling software at work for predicting the energy performance of buildings yet to be built. Other engineers and designers at Gilmor + Doyle use the cutting edge drafting software, AutoCad Revit, to design the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems of buildings.

    I do not find computers to be much of an entertainment device and see them mainly as tools for my profession. This could be a similar attitude that I see in my livestock farmer friends and brethren whom see animals as living tools and do not keep pet animals.

    I prefer entertainment from a book and sometimes a DVD or online movie. I do have a FB account but rarely look at it. I visit Firehouse.com, National Review On Line and several financial web sites every business day to keep up with the news in firefighting, conservative circles and money. That may take up 30 minutes of my time during lunch. After that, the computer is a tool for my work.

    I foresee Ira getting a FB account but using much the same way that I do. One of the Waglers, maybe not Ira, could use their FB as the family gossip and news site.

    Is it now time for The Sugarcreek Budget On Line? Just think, a searchable data base where one could search for “Wagler”, “Worthington” or “Wedding” to see what Mervin is up to.

    Comment by Mark Hersch — July 25, 2009 @ 12:36 pm

  10. I enjoy reading your articles here in Kenja, Africa. I see it first thing on Sat. mornings. Thanks for your efforts.

    Comment by Sam Kauffman — July 25, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

  11. Facebook paranoia: remember the noia word means ‘mind’ (Greek) and so it’s not always a bad thing to think on a level beyond and analyze.

    I do have a FB page, but no identifying pictures. (I remember Gene Hackman in “Enemy of the State” not looking up so the helicopters could not have a way to read his face.) If persecution begins, think how quickly folks can access the inside of that database can find “co-conspirators,” people to question, etc. I’m dead serious. And amazed at what info people will broadcast to the world.

    I do not post, show, and rarely read inane personal “what I’m doing”-type Twitter (apt title, that). My friends have my email address for needed communication on that level.

    I consider my page a tool to help people discover information and sites for effective action, things I cannot say elsewhere. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.” He was serious, too (in a joyful way, of course!). We will win; God’s glory will cover the earth; but who: 1) believes that; 2) pursues it. (Recommended reading: The Reformation Manifesto by Cindy Jacobs – take the 7 cultural mountians for Christ, by Spiritual means.)

    Comment by LeRoy — July 25, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

  12. Proud parents and newlyweds generally enjoy seeing their names in cyberspace. For that reason alone, surely it would be worth continuing to post these events.

    Wedding update: Mervin and Marlene got married (they both had a healthy glow about them). They have gone missing (law enforcement has not been contacted yet). A large time was had by all.

    It’s time to check my facebook account again.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — July 25, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

  13. I don’t leave a lot of comments, either but I read each week. I enjoy the childhood ‘flashbacks’ the most, actually. As far as not commenting much- most of mine would be fairly inane- Oh, I liked this- (I think that’s what I said last week, actually) so I opt not to leave a comment. I’m not that full of witticism, really………..

    Comment by ann — July 26, 2009 @ 10:07 am

  14. I wonder how many people read your blog updates through a RSS reader like I do.

    Comment by RagPicker — July 26, 2009 @ 10:10 am

  15. The childhood stories are by far my favorite!! Keep remembering- for the enjoyment of all of us! :)

    Comment by HENRY — July 27, 2009 @ 7:42 am

  16. I read the blog on Google reader and then also the comments that way. You have to go to the web page to leave a comment.

    Comment by Lester Graber — July 27, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

  17. I must plead guilty; I am one to whom you write. I read your blogs faithfully and remark scarcely. I have learned so much about you, your childhood and your community, both past and present. And yes, I would have to say that it is somewhat unjust…smile.

    However, I will keep reading, processing and learning about you, Mr. Ira Wagler, and the astonishing and wonderful means by which you paint pictures for someone that has only had the pleasure of visiting the Amish community.

    For those of you who may think that I may be only seeing one view; Ira’s, do not be troubled. I must say, as I read and “see” the stories as Ira writes, I have a yearning to know more. Know more about Ira, his family, the Amish community and his love for writing. I feel blessed to have been introduced to a world which, prior to my meeting Ira, I had very little knowledge.

    Thank you, Ira for your writings…and if I were to comment and write of every thought that you have created and painted in my mind, as you allow me to enter your world, your readers would think me peculiar…which may not be too far off, but why let everyone know….?

    Maybe, one day…I may be fortunate to have the opportunity to live in what has been portrayed as a beloved, simple and very loving community. One thing I know is for certain, that although we may not look, work or live alike, we indeed have at least a few commonalities….Our love of the Lord and His Word. God bless you Ira…and your readers!

    Comment by Grace — July 28, 2009 @ 11:55 am

  18. I love to read your articles. Especially about Pete and his family since they are related but never met. So keep up the good writing, it is very good and I’m able to understand the things you describe.

    Comment by Connie — July 29, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  19. Ira, have you noticed that the Letting Go essay is not showing up on the Index of Posts? I wonder if there is a glitch somewheres…

    Comment by Vera — August 6, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

  20. Talk about being prehistoric, behind the times, out of the loop- that’s me. I’ve considered starting a blog. Even got books from the library to figure out how to do it. But I hesitate like you did with Facebook. I get a little squirrely when someone comments on my comment, let alone blasting me for a whole blog.

    I was flipping through some of Saloma Furlong’s posts, looking for one in paticular, and I saw someone had commented on my comment. She even addressed me by name, yikes!, because she didn’t like what I wrote. Double yikes! I read her response, quivered a bit, then became irritated. “Hmph! Who does she think she is? Tree hugger”. I told my husband about it and even read him the whole article, my comment, and her comment. He sided with me, of course. He’s always been smart that way.

    Now… pish!, who cares what someone thinks about my comment? Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I’ve learned something through my scrapes in the comment world. Whenever you put something out there someone will try to tear it down. And that’s easy, isn’t it? You simply jump on someone’s ideas, putting no effort into coming up with one of your own, and Splat!

    Well, I’ll keep chewing on the idea. And if I do start something up, it will be for myself.

    Comment by Francine — February 18, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

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