Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Fiction: Conversation with Ellen

Welcome to Friday Fiction! Those who know me know that one of my favorite places on earth to visit is Malabar Farm. It is lovely and has a fantastic view of Pleasant Valley and my corner of the world. But my main reason for going there is for inspiration. Malabar was the home of Louis Bromfield. He was a famous writer in the 1920's-1950's; in fact, he earned a Pulitzer Prize for his work! He wrote scripts and was quite successful in Hollywood, too.

When I go to Malabar, I like to look at his office...I like to breathe in the atmosphere of another writer's air...peruse his books and get a feel for a writer's world in times past. Though he has been gone a long time, there is something about seeing his desk and touching his typewriter and gazing at that Pulitzer Prize that inspires me!

This fictionalized story was written after I had a brief chat with his daughter (who is herself a writer) when she was having her book signing in her old family home. She was wistful and contemplative about returning home, and she also inspired me by being a wonderful writer and a lovely person.

I hope you enjoy this story, and for more great fiction, head on over to Julie's place!

Conversation With Ellen
©By Dee Yoder

In my mind I see Ellen as she sat that day on the screened-in porch. Her book signing materials surrounded her, and her time-speckled hands rested together peacefully before her on the table. She had put on her “thank-you-for-buying-my-book smile, but I noticed by the lines around her mouth that she was feeling stiff and tired.

I walked up to her, and she glanced up respectfully as I approached.

“Thank you for coming,” I said simply.

She returned my friendly smile, and then her eyes lit up. “I remember your grandparents!” she exclaimed.

“Yes. They lived on the next farm over,” I turned and pointed toward the back yard. “That way.”

She nodded vigorously. “Yes, they hosted a few hayrides when I was younger. You were just a little girl, but those freckles,” she laughed. “They can’t be disguised, can they?” Her face had gone from pale to rosy, and I asked if she minded if I sat with her for a bit.

“Please, do.” She helped pull a metal folding chair to her side behind the table and glanced around quickly to see if anyone else was approaching us.

“I like coming home, but it causes me some heartache every time,” she said suddenly.

“I didn’t know that, Ellen.”

She looked toward the big salon as the visitors roaming through her childhood home touched the furnishings and examined the art work. The fame of her Pulitzer-prize-winning father still brought the tourists by the droves to his Malabar Farm.

“Your dad was a special man,” I said.

Her smile grew wistful. “Yes, but without this house filled with my parents or my friends, it’s sad and lonely to come here.” She picked up her book and tilted the cover for me to see the picture. “This is really my home now. This scene…right here…that’s the view I have from the fazenda. The land and the farmers and the Amazon forests and flat fields of Brazil have become my Malabar.” She glanced at the wide expanse of green yard right outside our little room. “This is the farm of my youth and the ideals of my father, but his real legacy is what I’ve achieved on my own at Fazenda Pau d’ Alho. It’s beautiful and rich, and the variety of people astound me sometimes still.”

“I read in the paper that you and your husband have spent many years trying to get the framers there to contour plow.” I laughed. “That would make your dad happy!” She grinned back at me and patted my hand.

“You don’t know the half of it. Dad had farmers with small hills to contend with, but the farmers in Brazil have large mountainous areas to farm, and having them plow over the tops, instead of around the hillsides, has stripped their lands of topsoil beyond repair. And in the rainy seasons, the good soil pours off the hillsides in sheets, using the paths of the plow like roadways to the streams.” She shook her head. “It took Carlos and me years of their seeing the results of our own good crops before many of them would believe it makes a difference.” She sighed. “In that, Dad and I shared a common struggle. But his days of convincing the dust bowl farmers to stop ruining their own lands are far in the past.” She turned her blue eyes to me, and a look of sorrow filled them. “I still miss him. I wish he had lived to see our success at the fazenda.”

“He’d have loved to see you carry on his work of sustainable farming, Ellen. And besides, just the fun of having him around down there in the Amazon would have been priceless!”

She laughed. “Oh my! I can only imagine what he would have done with a jeep on those hills.” We shared a grin, and then I noticed that a line was forming in front of the table. As I stood to leave, she caught my arm, and, quickly opening a book, she signed it and handed it to me. “I’ve enjoyed our chat. If you ever get to Brazil…”

“I’ll be sure to look you up,” I finished.

I left her sitting among the fragrance of the flowering vines on the patio and turned her book over in my hands. Her love of her home, her fazenda, was apparent, even in the title, and I knew her dad would be proud.

Fazenda: is a Portuguese word for 'farm', but is sometimes used in the English language for the coffee estates that spread within the interior of Brazil. (Wikipedia)

Author’s Note: This story is based upon a conversation I had with Ellen Bromfield Geld when she visited her parent’s home in the Midwest. She is the daughter of the late Pulitzer-prize winning author, Louis Bromfield. His farm, Malabar, is now a State Park near my hometown and, as a writer, it is my joy and privilege to visit this place. I never fail to be inspired by his works or his life-long passion for the sustainable farm. (Fun fact: Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart were married at Malabar farm.) His daughter spent her adult years in Brazil, but the legacy of her father traveled with her. For more information about this remarkable pair of writers, go to the Malabar Farm State Park website or Louis Bromfield and Ellen Bromfield Geld.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thinking of Dixie

As I opened my refrigerator today, I glanced at the picture I have posted on the door of my grandmother, Dixie Muncy Bates. The photo is a bad copy of another picture taken at one of her many birthday parties in the past. It's a faded image, but I love the little spark that is still evident on her face.

Grandma was a feisty, but proper lady. I only remember a few times that she even wore slacks. Once, when her kids and grand-kids got together to celebrate her birthday at the end of August as usual, a daughter had the idea that we should take Grandma bowling. But she would have to wear slacks. So out came a brightly wrapped gift box containing, what else, Grandma's first official pair of pants. (She informed us later that she had often worn coveralls as a kid down on the farm--but we decided that didn't count.) So Grandma put on her pants, which in the 1970's were actually part of a pant SUIT, and we went bowling. Isn't it funny? I don't remember the actual bowling. The "pants thing" was the remarkable event that my brain turned into a permanent memory.

When I was really little, Grandma and her husband, my step-grandfather, moved into an old farm house that had no indoor plumbing. Their plan was to fix it up and sell for a profit. Well, that was Mr. Bates' plan anyway. (We kids called him Grandpa Bates, but the adults all called him MISTER Bates. Never "dad".) Wow. That farmhouse needed up-dating, for sure, but what a marvelous adventure for this suburb kid to go visit and discover what an outhouse was!

I distinctly remember the long trek to that little building right before we climbed into the soft downy feather bed we three grand-kids slept in. My dad would gather us together and march us all down the path, waving his flashlight back and forth as we went. He'd call out "We're coming! Any snakes or wild cats better get out of here!"

I'm convinced now that he did this to add to the drama, and it worked because I often felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck on that short night journey. Then, to add to the other-worldliness of that ritual, we had to go in the back room when we came in from the outhouse and pour cool well water from a pitcher into a bowl. The whole contraption sat on a little dresser. A rail stood up at the back of the dresser and a crisp white linen towel hung there. After a few of us grand-kids got done with that towel, it wasn't crisp or white anymore.

Grandma had a huge garden at the old farmhouse. She took me out with her to collect tomatoes that were growing there. I helped her pick some of the warm fruit, and to this day, I'm transported back in time when I pick a warm tomato out of my own garden. As I hold a heavy red ripe tomato, I can see in my memory the halo of sunshine on Grandma's shoulders, and the way she tilted her head to call to the tiny kitten she'd spied hiding under the shade of one of her potato plants. She wanted it to come close enough so that I could pet it since she knew I was awfully fond of cats. But the tiny thing was half wild and wouldn't budge toward her cajoling voice. I can still see her throw up her hands in defeat and laugh.

Grandma loved to make food for us. We knew that at her house, she'd always have a slice of angel food cake and a dip or two of pineapple sherbet ready for us when we came in the door from our long journey to visit her. I buy both of those at the grocery sometimes when I'm feeling nostalgic.

Grandma was a lovely lady. She had her ornery side, but the good things about her stick with me, and some of her sayings do, too. (Like: "Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas." And: "They had a bitin' dog."--the epitome of antisocial behavior, in her eyes.)

Grandma loved to write. I used to go to her apartment (after Mr. Bates died, she moved closer to us), and type out her short columns that she sent to the Big Sandy News. It was a paper in her hometown that printed out of town reports from former natives. We had many mentions in that newspaper. She wrote things like: "My grand-kids came and stayed with me today. The girls helped me wash the windows and hunt down dust bunnies." Or "The Thompson family invited their pastor and his family over for dinner today. A good time was had by all." I felt such teen angst at her "news" and was very glad it wasn't MY hometown paper she was sending these riveting items to. I helped her type out her autobiography, and one of my cousins had it printed in a notebook form. I love to get it out and read the stories of her early days and the struggles she encountered raising her family. She was so proud of that book!

Grandma went to heaven a few years ago when she was 93. This is the time of year that our family used to celebrate her birthday. She was born in a coal camp, so she never really knew her exact birth date--she said it was either August 28th or 29th. It didn't matter. We got together every year and had cake and ice cream and a big dinner. And sometimes, we went bowling.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Is There Anything Cuter Than Baby Bunnies?

In our backyard, near the edge of the old swing set, we discovered a tiny bunny nest tonight. When we carefully moved aside some dead grass and bunny fur, inside were two sets of tiny brown bunny eyes looking back at us. The wee bunnies sat very still and barely breathed. We managed to snap a couple of pictures (one fuzzy and one clearer), but then we carefully covered the tiny rabbits again.

When I was little, I remember my dad made sure he looked the yard over before he began to mow. He had previous experience that bunnies will sometimes put their nests right in the middle of the yard--any place where there is a dip or tiny hole. I remember how he came into the house and led us three kids out to the bunny nest. He showed us the little critters inside and told us how the mother was protecting her babies with fur and grass.

We watched the nest for a few days, and one day, the baby bunnies jumped out of their cozy home and scampered in every direction. I remember how puzzled I was when I cornered one. He stood very still--not a whisker twitched...he acted like I couldn't even see him! Silly bunny. Eventually, I got bored watching him (Dad had given us strict instructions to not handle them), so I left to go play with something else. As I turned to leave, I heard a soft scratch of the grass and glanced behind in time to see the timid bunny leap frantically into the bushes at the edge of the yard.

I'm so glad God made baby bunnies. I'm glad they're a part of summer, and green grass, and soft blue skies. I'm glad He decided to put beauty into each creature and a sense of awe in our human hearts for the awesomely made animals that share our world.

How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. Psalms 104:24 & 27, The Holy Bible, NIV

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Fiction: Ghosts of 3-Finger Brown and Company

Welcome to my blog! Today's Friday Fiction is hosted by Lynne at her Faith, Fiction, Fun, and Fanciful blog. Be sure to check in there to read more great fiction, or if you'd like to add your own link to your fiction, just go to the bottom and add your link to McLinky. Enjoy!

Ghosts of 3-Finger Brown and Company
©By Dee Yoder

The air blowing in off Lake Erie isn’t chilly yet, and the sun shining on my shoulders feels like a nice warm blanket. I can’t believe I’m FINALLY at the park! The winter snow and ice are mere memories. I’m hanging with my buds and eating as many ballpark hot dogs, slathered in Stadium mustard, as I can get my hands on. It’s opening day and I’m having a blast!

In the seat, under my newly freed-from-snow-pants tush, is the one little reminder that spring is a fickle friend here in Northeast Ohio—my jacket. Still, nothin’ is gonna spoil this day, even the probability that it WILL get cold before the game is over.

The crowd is rowdy and feeling its oats as THE team takes the field. I wipe the lens of my binoculars and look my Indians over with a rush of optimism I know I’ll probably never feel again after today.

I see my favorites lined up and ready. They look strong and bold. They look undefeatable and brassy. This is MY team, and I just know that this year we’re gonna be ridin’ high in the World Series, come fall!

When the crowd stands up to salute and cheer the team, I join their raucous tribute and wave my Indians’ cap in the air. The camera of the jumbo-tron scans the crowd and I see my face, giant-sized mouth wide open, in a jubilant yell. My aisle mates point and everybody laughs good-naturedly.

The game gets under way as my team trots nonchalantly to their places on the field. The pitcher winds up and throws a fast ball to the inside corner…whoosh! Strike one! We cheer and stamp madly—let the games begin!

Fourth inning: the Indians are down three to zip, and some of the enthusiasm is beginning to wane. With it goes some of the sun, too, and a little pattern of scaly clouds begins to fill the darkening sky. It’s not very late and, already, the flag flying over the score board is blowing steadily. Its colors are unfurled, and its flapping is beginning to keep time with the strikes called by the umpire against my favorite players. I gesture for another hot dog and nurse it slowly as I watch the teams change places: three up, three down—again.

Seventh inning stretch: we all stand and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”—fervently, just to keep our lips from chattering as the Lake Erie winds whip over our measly jackets. As I sit back down, I huddle miserably and wipe an errant snowflake off my nose. The Indians are now down six to nothing, and I’m screaming like my row mates at how wimpy the team appears against a FLORIDA team. “C’mon, you bums!” screeches a fat guy hanging over the bullpen. “You’re playin’ against guys who never SEE snow!”

Ninth inning: I watch my team, their rears dragging, as they empty the field for the last time. I sigh. Why do I bother? I think as I shove my trash under the seat.

While I watch the Indians leave, I wipe the moisture off my binoculars, and something eerie shows in the round lenses: I see ghosts! Line after line of wispy gray matter, shapes like 3-Finger Brown, Lefty Groves, Babe Ruth, and is that Ted? Ted Williams! I watch in disbelief as all the old-timers, with the players of yesterday— drift off the field alongside my Indians team.

I train my binoculars on the crowd and see more ghosts! Boys in Red Ball Jets, girls in pink frilly dresses with patent leather shoes, men in suit coats and fedoras, women wearing swirl skirts and high heels-- dressed to the nines for a day at the park.

I blink and rub my eyes. Then it hits me. This is why I come to the park; that ever-present hope of spring--baseball and the promise of a nice long American summer in the stands. Hot dogs and Cracker Jacks…cokes and nachos…score cards and the All Star game. I love it!

I stand and take a last long look over the field—snow flurries are dimming my view, but I know spring has sprung, and nasty ol’ Lake Erie won’t rage forever. Soon, the sun will shine, and sunburns instead of chilblains will be the bane of the crowd, and all will be right with my world again. I tie my hood tightly against my frozen cheeks and smile.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The "I's" Have It!

I've started my revisions and also written my first 1300 words in first person. I like it! The story has immediately been brought closer to my way of thinking, and I'm finding it much easier to describe events, persons, and settings in a much more colorful manner.

Getting myself to sit down and start working again was harder than I thought it would be. Once I had read all the up-dates on the Faithwriter message boards (about the THINGS game, of course), Tweeted a little, Facebooked a little, and even walked for thirty minutes on the Beast (AKA the treadmill), I sat down and started writing.

The story progressed easily and I even enjoyed looking ahead to the next chapter. Chapter twelve officially finished--well, for now, and I'm ready to start on thirteen tomorrow.

I hope to post a sample of the new and improved POV later, once I get a few edits done. Let me know, once it's up here, what you think!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I went to the Faithwriters Writing Conference last weekend and I came away with a better insight as to how I write. I also got some personal writing critique and suggestions as to my "natural" writing voice and style and this led me to re-think the POV I've been using for my Amish novel, The Miting.

I'm not one who is comfortable changes horses in the middle of the stream, but I recognize good advice when I see it, and this advice has renewed my energy toward this book. I can hardly WAIT to get in there and start writing this story from the first person POV. But-oh, the time factor! This just happens to be that time of year (I know many of you feel it, too) when so many new projects and school events begin to be added to the calendar. I homeschool, so my role as teacher steps up the pace during August and September.

We tend to settle into a nice pace around here by the middle of September, but my "screaming muse" doesn't want to wait that long, and neither do I. To that end, I hope to put myself on a schedule by week's end--so much time slotted for writing EVERY day. That will be good for both mind and spirit, don't you think?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Fiction: Flying Up

I almost forgot about Friday Fiction! Here's my contribution. If you've ever suffered elementary angst--the odd one out--the unpopular one, you'll be able to relate to this story! I wrote it for Faithwriter's Writing Challenge when the topic was "bridge". Head on over to Rick's Pod Tales and Ponderings blog to add your own story or read more great fiction. Happy reading!

Flying Up
©By Dee Yoder

In 1963 I was a scrawny, knobby-kneed girl with stringy hair and a perpetual squint (My parents would find out in 1966 that I was as blind as a bat). I started first grade with a distinct disadvantage in that I’d been living in the boondocks and couldn’t attend kindergarten. I didn’t know anything about school, and I proved myself as inept as I felt during the first month or two.

By the time November came, I was more knowledgeable about the caste system of the American elementary school. I knew I was definitely not in the cool, rich, or teacher’s pet groups. I was smack in the middle of mediocrity in all ways, socially and academically, except for one thing: I could read like a fiend.

On the first day of school the teacher had discovered my prolific reading ability and had promptly passed me through three reading circles, right to the top of the class. I was proud of myself for weeks until I realized that being among the nerdy readers plunged my mediocre popularity status straight to the bottom of the heap.

Though I was humiliated, I knew I couldn’t give up reading, so I began to look around for something that would bump my rank up a notch or two. That’s when I noticed the girls in uniform, the Brownies.

When they came to class in their little brown uniforms with their beanie Brownie caps, they walked with an air of authority and elementary mystique. This observance prompted me to approach the most popular girl in class at lunch one day.


No response.

“Um…I’d like to join the Brownies. Which teacher do I ask?”

No response.

I stared. She chewed. Finally, with a sigh and a jerk of her Brownie beanie-topped head, she reluctantly pointed her haughty finger toward the sponsoring teacher.

After obtaining the information I needed, I couldn’t wait to get home and ask my parents about joining. They gave me the Ok, but I couldn’t get a Brownie uniform. Mom thought it would be wasteful until I got in Girl Scouts because the uniform is the same for years after that. Well, that killed about two-thirds of the cool factor, but I was still hopeful of climbing the social ladder a rung or two.

The first meeting I attended was the beeswax candle-making session, and I soon discovered that sitting at the back of the room meant I couldn’t see the directions written on the board. I spent the night stealing surreptitious glances to figure out what I was supposed to be doing to the bumpy, waxy rectangle, lying flat in front of me. My candle turned out floppy and loose, which let the wick drop out of the bottom before I could even get it home. Mom was nice, but puzzled, when I handed her my waxy tube.

Not such a good start and, really, the rest of the year was just as dismal. I was the only one that sold a single box of GS cookies (to my parents, of course), the only one who kept dropping the egg in the Egg Race game, the only one who couldn’t recite the Brownie pledge without peeking in the book, and the only who didn’t have a Brownie beanie perched proudly atop her head.

But I kept going, and it was finally time for the “Flying Up” ceremony, in which I would walk solemnly across a fake bridge, kneel down by a mirrored fake pond, and recite the GS pledge. Then I would get my Brownie pin and officially be a Girl Scout.

On the auspicious night of the Flying Up ceremony, my knobby knees were knocking like a bad engine. I waited nervously at the edge of the bridge, and when my turn came to cross it, I stumbled and slid on my knees to the edge of the “pond”. Even the teacher laughed, though she tried not to.

I was so flummoxed that I couldn’t remember my pledge, and after two minutes of painful silence, I was allowed to “fly up” out of mercy. A Mercy Girl Scout. Ugh.

That summer, my dad was transferred for his job and I was relieved to know that I’d get a fresh start in a different school in the fall. I learned my lesson about social climbing, and though I didn’t get my Brownie beanie cap, I still have my pin. It’s tucked away in a box with the unfortunate wax tube.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Woo-Hoo! What a Conference!

I returned from the Faithwriter's Writing Conference in Livonia, Michigan on Sunday. It was a wonderful and up-lifting experience!

Sometimes, as a writer, I feel very alone, sitting here at my family in other one watching or sometimes even knowing what I'm doing in here, and I sure wish I could have a connection to people who care about writing. I have my friends on Facebook and in my Yahoo group, but somehow, just being able to sit across from someone and watch the expressions and emotions as we talk, is just not replaceable. In Livonia this past weekend, I experienced all of the first-hand expressions and emotions. It was great!

Getting to know my friends, in person, from Faithwriters was fun, heart-warming, and encouraging. I haven't had the chance to load my pictures yet, but I hope to soon! Stay tuned for that--I plan to get that accomplished this week!

In the meantime, if you're a writer and you have those lonely moments, why not think about attending the next conference with Faithwriters? You won't be sorry. This is a family of Christian writers that are loving, accepting, and concerned for the WHOLE writer--not just your skills!

Hope to be playing "Things" with you after sessions hours at the NEXT conference! (Watch for photos for an explanation!)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Fiction: The Persecuted Church

This story is about a little known piece of American history involving the Amish and what happened to them during World War I because of their pacifist beliefs. More great reading is at Stina Rose's Scroll Bag blog. Thanks for reading!

The Persecuted Church
©By Dee Yoder

My name is Daniel Keim. I write now of things that happened to me during World War I.

I am Amish, and because of the religious belief my church holds of peace and nonresistance, I was taken to a camp and put in with a group of other Amish. We were called Conscientious Objectors, or CO’s. Soldiers guarded us and tried to teach us another way of thinking. Ja, they did try, but my faith and the teachings of the Ordnung kept me from joining their ranks. Many of my fellow CO’s also had to endure much suffering for their stand, but from our view, we had no choice.

I got my notice of conscription, as it is called, in the fall. I remember how my wife, Katie, cried when I read it to her. The kinna were leaning against her skirts, and I was broken hearted to think of leaving them. I was worried for my family because a few Englisher boys had already taken to making sput of our religion when we came to town. Our neighbor, Paul Mast, woke one day to a mess on his barn. The boys had painted the Englisher word, “Slacker” with red paint on the wall facing the road.

I expected some troubles from the soldiers at the camp, but I did not know how bad it would be.

My fellow CO’s and I would gather on Sundays to read the Bible and to sing a few hymns. We learned very quickly not to sing too loud or to bring attention to ourselves. The first time we met together, one of the soldiers who was guarding our barrack heard us singing in Deitch. He came right away into the room and stood next to me with his rifle up, like he wanted to scare me. And he did. But that was not enough for him. He yelled at us to “Shut up talking that vulgar language!” and “What are you; friends of the Kaiser?” It made us angry, but what could we do? We sat and said nothing.

One night, a man who had been upset with us when we first came to the camp began to shout and push us as we went to the showers. He was angry about our beards. He told us, that “No self-respecting man wears a beard like yours,” and he ran into the latrine. When he came out, he was carrying a strop and razor. He sharpened the razor against the strop while he laughed at us. Then he and another soldier grabbed Walter Kraybill and forced him to the floor. By the time they were finished with him, Walter had blood oozing from cuts all over his chin. Most of his beard was gone, but I noticed two or three tufts of hair poking out at the bottom of his face. I felt much sorrow for Walter. He was so ashamed.

One Sunday we were assembled in our barrack reading Mathew 5. Walter just started to read “whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also,”when suddenly a group of five soldiers rushed in and grabbed me. They began to drag me to the latrine.

I fought against them at first, digging in my heals, but I heard Walter call out to me, “Whosoever shall smite thee, Daniel!” I went limp and let them take me into the latrine. They dragged me to the toilet and dunked my head in the bowl over and over. They laughed and told me they were “baptizing” me, making sput of my Anabaptist heritage.

A day came when another Amish man, Josef Schwartz, was thrown onto his cot after he had been scrubbed down with a wire brush. His arms and legs were bare and the blood bits showed bright against his pale skin. His clothing had been removed because he refused to wear a military uniform. I remember how he turned his head to the wall and tried to keep us from hearing his humiliated sobs.

We were made to stand outside, with just our Amish clothes on, until our hands and ears were raw with the cold. I made myself think only of Katie that day, and I wondered if she had to suffer, too. I prayed she did not.

I never told her all of the things that were done to me, but these are my memories of World War I in America.

kinna: children
sput: make fun of, mock
The Holy Bible, King James Version
The Amish were persecuted in Europe for not accepting infant baptism; they fled to America in the mid 1700’s.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Countdown Begins...

The Faithwriter Writer's Conference is coming up this weekend! I'm looking forward to renewing friendships and making new friends! But there are so many things to do before we leave on Thursday.

The A/C in our house is STILL being tweaked--and the A/C guys will be here again tomorrow to finally do the last repair to get the system up and running. I can't live without my A/C! It'll be good to have it running the way it should.

The grass got lots of rain this week and that caused an explosion of growth. My hubby ALMOST got the yard mowed, but an unexpected meeting with wasps by our son interrupted that mission. Poor son. He got stung four times, but it was a blessing it wasn't more since the HUGE hive was hanging from a tree right near our house. It was filled with wasps and they were mad. Since I have severe allergies to stings, I was worried about how his body would react, but after Benedryl and soothing baking soda poultices, the swelling went down and he's was fine. But the wasps were too riled up for anyone to go back out and try to finish mowing. Hubby applied a good spray of pesticide to the nest, so maybe by tomorrow, things will be calmer out there for the two of them to finish the task!

I have my budget set for August, but still have to write out the checks and mail the bills...even though I hate that job, at least we have the finances to pay them. Always a positive! I can't wait to cross that chore off my list, though.

I home educate my son, and this is the time of year to notify our local school district, send in copies of his standardized tests, and get books together for the coming year. But glitches always pop up, and it seems that I overlooked the fact that his test results never came in the mail! Oh boy. Now it's going to be a scramble to get all the needed documents together before school starts for our district. Sigh.

All in all, this first week of August feels very full and very stressful, not to mention that summer is quickly coming to a close. In Ohio, we view August as our last hurrah of summer. The nights are already getting chillier and we'll soon see the shaggy ends of summer show up in the yards and flowers and trees. But we have many things to look forward to in the coming weeks, and once the details get worked out, it's going to be a good month. Happy August!