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Friendship: A Lifelong Journey

Another Way for week of January 27, 2023

Friendship: A Lifelong Journey

Editor’s note: First in a five-week series on friendship.

How are you as a friend?

I used to be quite jealous of friends who I felt were more outgoing, more chatty, friendly, and genuinely caring and helpful in their relationships. I value friendship and therefore I’m launching this series looking at what it means to work on being a better friend. 

Over the years I hope I have grown but I am still not as friendly or as sociable as I’d like to be.

Some 35 years ago, I wrote a book on friendship, because personally I wanted to be more outgoing, more personable, a better friend—instead of the introvert that I felt I was. I had written for a radio program on the topic and some of us whirled it into a book idea.

An aside: This was long before the launch of that long running comedy TV show, “Friends.” It ran for 10 very popular years, 1994 to 2004 plus forever in reruns. When it had its initial run I felt it was too mature for my daughters, especially the youngest who was only eight.

I’m still not the world’s greatest friend although I work at it. It’s hard for me to remember names, to launch conversations (sometimes), and to initiate times spent with friends.

Perhaps my ultimate image of a friend was a young woman I knew in the 70s who was so bubbly, so glowing, and quite beautiful that next to her I felt dowdy even if I was dressed for a night out. Thankfully, she was also a wonderful friend to people and just plain nice, such that you couldn’t possibly dislike or be jealous of her. Ok, I think was jealous but she was able to listen and encourage and laugh with you and make you feel good.

Think of the people you like to be around. What makes them enjoyable? A good friend takes interest in others, probably has a good sense of humor. I always found it interesting that my friends enjoyed being around my mother. They would say, “We like your mom. She laughs at herself and is not afraid to act dumb or silly with us.”

Our third baby, not too happy on Easter Sunday: by the time the third child comes around, photos are few and far between.

Now that I’m older I especially appreciate the value of having friends or family who are readily there for you in down times—and hope I have learned to be there for others. I remember a time when we had a new baby in the house—our third. My mother could not come to help us at that time like she had after our two older daughters were born, due to my father’s health situation. This was in February and flu was going around. We had fevers in the family that hung on for three weeks, and in the delivery room my husband was spiking a fever. A week after birth, the baby was jaundiced and not nursing or sleeping well at night.

One morning when it seemed like I’d been up all night, the older girls were clamoring for breakfast, the baby was wanting to be nursed, and a knock came at the door. I thought to myself, “Oh no, there’s no way I can let anyone see me like this.”

Older siblings can be a friend to younger sibs.

But it was my wonderful next-door neighbor and the jig was up. As I let her in, I collapsed on her shoulder explaining, “The baby’s been up all night and I’m exhausted.” It felt wonderful to let down that floodgate. She held me, and I remembered how my shoulder had served the same purpose for her not many years before when her husband died suddenly. I think it was because she had let me see her vulnerable side too, that I felt free to be genuine with her. She helped me pull breakfast together for the girls before she dashed off to her teaching job, and the rest of the day went much better because of Barbara. I will never forget it.  

Memories and experiences like this make me want to spruce up my connections and friendship with others. Being and becoming a better friend means working on yourself.

Sharing coffee or a treat with neighbors or friends is a great way to cement friendships.

Do you recall a time when a friend or family member came through for you when you were desperately needing a friend?

On the other hand, any memories of when you were able to step in and help in an appreciated way?

What do you enjoy doing with a friend?

Your stories or experience? Write to me at Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

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The Roads Much Traveled

Another Way for week of January 20, 2023

The Roads Much Traveled

Is there a certain road that has carried you places over many years? Even to various “hometowns?” What memories do those roads bring to mind?

Cousins playing “car” in Indiana.

There’s a fairly long-standing highway which snakes for 709 miles all the way from northern Indiana, to almost the Atlantic Coast down near Norfolk, Virginia. It is known as Route 33 (sometimes called the Lincoln Highway). But we think it is kind of cool that we can hop on Highway 33, about nine miles from where we live, and drive straight to where my mother lived for the last 15 years of her life.

Not that we actually did that. Oh we went to where she lived, but used various roads. Let me explain.

We long ago learned that to follow Highway 33 all the way takes you through the deep hills and hollers of West Virginia—which are lovely, but not when you’re trying to get somewhere quickly. So, there are other roads we used especially since it’s so easy to map out your route on your smart phone. (Always keep in mind that you do have to be smarter than your phone so when it takes you a questionable way, you override it, right?) And now one of my daughters lives almost along Route 33 near Columbus, Ohio, so that’s another touchpoint.

But this Highway 33 in my growing up years was a main thoroughfare very near where we went to church in Goshen, Indiana, and where I went to high school for three years. On the other end in Virginia—Highway 33 takes us to the places where we shop, buy groceries, eat fast food, and to recreational areas. We used to follow it down through Richmond, Virginia where it now ends, to take our daughter to college in Williamsburg, Va.

***

Wikipedia tells me Highway 33 roughly follows “a historic trail used by Native Americans from Chesapeake Bay to Lake Michigan.”

You may not live anywhere near any of these places but you probably live in North America. It is healthy to recall that so much of the land we love was once used by indigenous people who lived here first. Often tribes were moved farther and farther west, north and south. I will not say they “owned,” the land because it was a very important concept among those tribes of people: the lands were something they lived on and used but didn’t look at as something they owned.

A stretch of road out west in the U.S.

***

But back to the roads you traveled as a child. In our family, we children would sometimes close our eyes driving to or from church and we could usually detect exactly where we were on that somewhat curvy, hilly road. The path along the road was in our bones or bodies, so we knew when we were going “over Mitterling’s hill” or curving by Groves’ farm. Maybe you had a road you were allowed to walk down or drive your bike to visit friends a short distance away.

Traveling with Grandpa down Great Grandma’s hall, a few years back. Route 33 was less than a half mile away.

We were blessed that although we lived in the country, some of our best friends lived about a half mile away, and at the time the roads were deemed safe enough for us to walk. When we got older we rode bikes. Sometimes in the summer we trespassed on a neighbor’s field walking through tall corn rows, which was quicker and probably safer.

Those who live in large cities get used to the layers of cloverleafs and bridges and underpasses that confound us when we country folk reach them and almost panic: “How will we be able to get through this?” With great care and tension, we navigate those curves and exits. That is also like life. Our friends and relatives help us along. 

Nearing the Atlantic Ocean.

***

Over the next couple weeks I’m launching a series on friendship, using stories and thoughts from a variety of sources. I hope you’ll travel along with me as we work on nurturing precious relationships.

***

What road, lane, or highway stands out in your memory?

Comments here or send to me at Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

A Retirement Diary: What Does Your Day Look Like?

Another Way for week of January 13, 2023

A Retirement Diary: What Does Your Day Look Like?

I have a friend and fellow columnist, Lovina Eicher, who occasionally writes a diary of her day, which is always interesting because it gives a window into the life of an Amish writer, mother, wife, grandmother. So, I’m going to copy her.

Morning. This happens to be on the grounds of where Stuart had his leg surgery.

5:30 ish: Get up. If I’m lucky, my husband has the coffee made and waiting for me. He likes to keep the coffee thermos hot by first heating up water to put in the thermos to warm it up, and then places a cover over the top of the thermos to keep the heat in more. He is less concerned about putting away all the coffee paraphernalia so I clean up the counter corner where we do coffee.

5:45: This winter, I scurry to the basement to remake the fire in our wood stove. Ordinarily Stuart would do this too, but right now he’s recovering from knee replacement surgery and it is harder to walk steps. I don’t mind the job, because I love standing by the fire/wood stove. Our daughters used to put their arms around the stainless-steel chimney at our old house where we had our wood stove, and jokingly called the warm wood stove “my boyfriend.”

6:15 ish: I sit down at my laptop to check email, scan Facebook, and early in the week, make sure I have a solid idea going for this newspaper column by Monday or Tuesday. I usually have several ideas jotted down weeks ahead but occasionally the well goes dry (so to speak). I like to have the column finished by Wednesday so it can “rest” a day before I do several final proofings—before I send it to newspapers early on Thursday.

7:00: I usually eat my smallish breakfast of Kashi cereal topped with slivered almonds. In the old days, before retirement, I would shower and leave for work by 7:40 or so, heading to Mennonite Media where I worked for 43 years. I should explain technically I only “worked” 42 years because of three maternity leaves (three months each), and one three month “professional” internship—in the “news” department of a poultry processing plant.

9:00: I might have a “second breakfast” (as in Lord of the Rings) of a small piece of toast with some leftover scrambled egg from Sunday.

9:30: Three or four days a week we head to a wellness center with a pool for water exercise—me with a class of women similar to my age, and Stuart doing his own water routines. These folks have become valued friends we chat with and care about. We never never expected to be doing this in our later years. Stuart started at the pool while I was still working, upon the recommendation of a physical therapist. This routine gets us out of the house—along with enjoying exercise and friends.

12:00: We have lunch of PB&J, grilled cheese, or ham sandwich for my husband, and I usually choose a tortilla browned in skillet with cheese and a slice of some lunch meat. Both of us have chips, and a few veggies.

1:30 to 4:30: At some point in the afternoon, both of us take naps, Stuart in the recliner and me on our bed. I usually ask “Siri” to set my phone to wake me after 20 – 30 minutes. I also do writing, laundry, tidy up things, or tackle projects.

4:30: I start prepping for our main meal of the day, supper. I have tried for the last year to have menus sketched out for the week, which eases the “what should we have for dinner?” stress considerably.

5:45: Most days we sit down to supper together, take turns praying, and in short order, finish our supper with news playing in the background. I would rather have music, but that’s marriage, give and take. Our out-loud prayers give each other keys to what the other is thinking about, concerned about, and praying for. Highly recommended!

9-10 p.m: I like to read and am usually in bed before 10. Husband may not get there till 11. Good night, folks!

What does your average day look like?

What does a really great day look like?

Comment here or write to me at Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com.

Just for the fun of it, here’s one of Lovina’s “A Day in the Life” columns.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

What Do You Hope For

Another Way for week of January 6, 2023

What Do You Hope For?

When I think about my father, one of the things that comes to mind is that he was a wonderfully positive and hopeful person. He would look on the bright side of things, and put his energies into changing the world. He literally wanted to help “feed the hungry people of the world” and engaged in projects to do that.

He also tried, in the 1950s, to reach across racial and cultural divides with friendship and understanding—in a very white town/community at the time. Later, he tried to bring employment opportunities to one community in the deep south and believed resolutely that pursuing peaceful resolutions to national and world problems was possible. He was not perfect, and did at one point have a time of situational depression, but he was able to come through that and chart new paths for himself and our family.

Dad

I like to think I was born with a little of his hopeful nature. But in all my years of writing this column (since 1987), I don’t think I’ve ever written one on “hope.” Other apt words for hope are optimism, expectation, confidence, anticipation, and courage.

When God created the universe, God shared with us the awesome gift of hope.

There are many beautiful things in this world (along with a lot of not-so-wonderful things) but let’s focus a few minutes on what hope brings to our lives.

Hope keeps us going when times are hard. Hope births imagination and creativity. None of us are too old to have hope, and none of us are too tiny or young to not possess it.

Our first baby, Michelle, looks around the kitchen.

Speaking of birth, one of the joys of becoming a mother was holding my little girls just minutes or hours after they had emerged from my body, and watching them look around. I know that a baby’s vision is not very good in those early hours or even days and weeks, but as their days continue in a safe and loving atmosphere, they begin to see the world and its people and begin to smile. Sure, they cry plenty too, but the smiles soon come and I think that a smile conveys hope, as well as love, comfort, and joy.

My Dad as very small boy, baby of the family, standing in front. One older sister, Susie, is second from right. The other women are friends or relatives.

So in the early days of this new year, consider what gives you the hope, anticipation, and joy of a newborn. We can be like babies or new earthlings, eager to test out what our days will hold for us.

That can be hard, for surely we are also burdened with work to do, problems to solve, aches and pains to bear, anger and issues to resolve. Even in the darkest moments of life, there is hope for eternal life.

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world,” said Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the early 1800s. Her confidence led to helping other women speak up and lead those looking for hope and change in the early decades of our country.

Many mentions in the Bible give us something to hang on to in the (sometimes) bleak midwinter. Here are some personal favorites:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 13

I will end with this from Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in God, so that you may overflow with hope.”

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What gives you hope? Comment here or write to me at Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

Kimberly’s Cheese Ball

Recipe

Kimberly’s Cheese Ball

So, party season and snacky things are winding down, right? But there’s an important baby shower coming up.

Even though I had never made a cheese ball, I was happy to try my hand at it since one of the recipes in my book Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime (Herald Press, 2010) has my co-worker Kimberly Metzler’s recipe in it. I shouldn’t call it hers, she got it from a friend at church, but that’s how recipes get around, right? I made a few changes for mine.

It was much easier to do than I expected and delicious too. Go for it!

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons fresh (or dried) chives, chopped; or, I substituted 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
3 ounces chipped beef or ham, chopped
1 cup Colby or sharp cheddar cheese, grated, fresh
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ – 1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Mix all ingredients except chipped beef and nuts in a mixer. Add meat and stir until well combined. Spray hands with cooking spray and shape the mixture into a ball. Roll in chopped nuts. Refrigerate. Serve with crackers.

Cheese ball before chopped nuts.

Have you tried a new recipe lately, or made a cheese ball?

Haven’t heard of this book?

Find out more here.

Who or What Inspires You?

Another Way for week of December 30, 2022

Who or What Inspires You?

At year’s end, we look ahead, right? We’ve got to explore the hope and joy that may fill the New Year, especially after the last couple years we’ve had. Yes, sure, there will be trauma and drama in the year ahead but let’s leave our imaginations soar for a few minutes.

What do you envision for your year ahead?

A lot depends on your age, your health, your family, for sure. If you are blessed with working a job (or cursed if it’s a job you hate), your life certainly revolves around the demands of getting up every day and driving off (or secluding yourself) in a home workplace. The title of my recent book, Memoir of an Unimagined Career may sound like the opposite of this theme “imagine” but looking back, I can see how as a teenager I began to imagine bit by bit what I could maybe work at: a job that involved writing, which was one of my loves.

Back in the day when an electric typewriter reigned.

A lot of us who still read daily newspapers—especially in the newsprint format, are retired. So we get more choice in how we spend our days than driving off to work at 7:30 a.m. or, like my husband had to do for a number of years, leaving around 4 a.m. to make it to his 5 a.m. job.

One of the opportunities on my job for almost thirty years was writing a newspaper column as a very small part of my work on my employer’s dime. Then in 2016, my wonderful boss, a woman, asked me to take on the role of managing editor for the publishing arm, and that would mean not writing my column on company time. So that’s when I spun off to “syndicating” my own column. It has worked out well. So although I don’t have to go to “work,” I’m happy to continue writing.

Some of my 1820 newspaper columns from 35 years. I tried not to do re-runs and estimate I’ve only repeated columns 8-10 times. I did use guest writers from time to time.

They say that the happiest people in retirement are ones who have hobbies, or volunteer, or have side gigs that keep them energized and involved. Probably the happiest people are ones who have learned all along the way that what you do or become in life is something you are responsible for. Succumbing to boredom, drugs and chaos brings discord and pain. In some ways, we make our own destiny, although many have illnesses, disabilities, or mental challenges that affect our journeys greatly. We marvel and take our hats off to those who’ve dealt with loss of limbs or paralysis and persevere in having a happy life. We salute the service men and women who experienced lifelong sacrifices from disability or illness.

I’ve had the opportunity to twice interview a local man Josh Sundquist, who lost his entire leg to cancer at the age of nine. Eventually he became a motivational speaker, a skilled writer/author, a comedian at clubs and on YouTube, and is now married and lives in southern California. Recently he became the director and producer of an Apple TV video series “Best Foot Forward.” It features another amputee who lost his leg at the age of nine, and explores what kid encounters with this huge loss of a major limb, at school and out in the world where stares and prying questions are commonplace. 

I personally cannot imagine living with one leg, and pursuing such a career as Josh has. He in turn—and the young real-life boy who only has one leg as well—are giving us all a bigger idea of how we can live with the trials that face us.

Who inspires you? What do you want to do in this precious year—perhaps find a new skill, hobby, or pastime? The year is yours!

***

So …. I’d love to hear your stories.

Or a fav story about someone else, if you have permission to share or change the name.

Or, what do you want to do in this precious year?

Comment here or contact me at Another Way, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834, or email at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

While Waiting: Pay Attention, Give Praise

Another Way for week of Dec. 23, 2022

While Waiting: Pay Attention, Give Praise

The countdown to Christmas is now over: precious days that are too busy. But as we get older many of us need to celebrate Christmas after the 25th (families with small children want to be able to experience the “Christmas morning magic” in their own homes). Grandpas and Grandmas who live farther away must wait for the magic that bursts out of the minivans when the children and grands arrive a couple days later. Each moment is precious and we pause to pay attention to the little ones and can now enjoy generous hugs again.

One of my favorite authors/bloggers/speakers is Heather Lende, who writes from Haines, Alaska, a small town we were fortunate to visit in 2019. Her husband runs the ACE Hardware there and my husband had to visit it, just because he loves hardware. We browsed the store and bought one thing: a pack of ear plugs to help us cancel out noise on the long plane rides home.

On a recent blog post, Heather shared a quote from another (even more famous) writer, John Updike, that I love: Ancient religion and modern science agree: we are here to give praise. Or to slightly tip the expression, to pay attention.

In Heather’s blog post with this quote, her grandchildren are looking out to the water at her home and watching a whale’s fin appear. How cool is that to look out your living room window and see whales.

How can we do a better job of truly paying attention to the wonder that is around us? I often marvel at the morning sky. We live far enough out in the country that on a clear night, the stars and the constellations look like they’re, just say, a mile or two away instead of 244 light years away. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, and according to Google, “Light zips through space at 186,000 miles per second and 5.88 trillion miles per year.” Whew. We can’t even realistically wrap our heads around that, right?

One of the young fathers took his children out to see the stars every night while they were here. 🙂

Back to our small acreage: early morning I can frequently see a jet flying overhead with some of its landing lights already on, heading to Dulles Airport near Washington D.C. I say hi and wave (silly old lady that I am) and send a prayer that they land safely. It may be a small thing, but it makes me feel connected with the larger universe and God: paying attention.

So … the night Jesus was born and the astrologers who studied the stars back then noticed something and started on a trek (silly old guys that they were) which probably took months to complete. The story in the Bible goes on to say that when they finally reached Joseph and Mary and the baby, they bowed down and praised this heaven-sent being, the baby Jesus, likely five or six months old by then.

A grandson pays rapt attention as his grandfather fixes the train that is always under our tree.

Whew. The gifts God has given are eternal and free and full of surprises.

How do you pay attention to God’s marvelous gift and plan? How do we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child while experiencing so much violence and hatred and persecution in the world? Another writer, Melissa Florer-Bixler in a book How to Have an Enemy: Righteous Anger and the Work of Peace, reminds us that the suffering and loss we see in the world will one day come to an end, and God “will wipe away all tears from our eyes.”

We await a still more wonderful outcome as we faithfully follow in the footsteps of Jesus who reminds us, in the words of still another writer and composer, George Frideric Handel in The Messiah, “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.”

Wrap your head around that! Hoping you had a meaningful Christmas, whatever your circumstances.

***

Highlights of your Christmas?

I know today is New Year’s Eve; if you haven’t taken time to enjoy the Hallelujah chorus yet this Christmas, here’s a link!

Share here or send to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career: 43 Years Inside Mennonite Media. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

Hark the Harold

Another Way for week of December 16, 2022

Hark the Harold

No, that is not a misspelling of a familiar Christmas carol.

Our neighbor just across the road from us was named Harold and he had a booming laugh that we could hear from our house, earning him this “title.” I would give anything to hear that laughter ring out from his porch or around our dining room table again.

Harold became a dear friend of my husband and Stuart considered him like a favorite uncle. Stuart’s own Dad died back in 1998. We moved across from Harold in 2007 and my husband and Stuart soon connected and shared many hours-long chats and conversations. Both of them were/are quite the talkers, as locals know.

Harold and wife Willie celebrating his 94th birthday on their porch this past April. It was a chilly day.

Harold did not go far in school and grew up during the Great Depression. But he was very smart, hardworking, had a memory like an elephant, and managed his chicken and cattle farm with dedication. In addition, he worked for twenty years for Walker Manufacturing here in Harrisonburg, a muffler factory. The pastor conducting the funeral noted that Harold often had a sparkle or mischief in his eye, was practical, down-to-earth, and loved his family.

Harold knew his stuff and Stuart went to him with all kinds of questions and stories: boy did they swap tales. I would often leave them talking on Harold’s porch to hurry home to make supper or do other chores but I have a feeling it was my loss. His wife Willie was my friend as well and she’s still living, but unfortunately deals with dementia making it hard to have a conversation. The four of us enjoyed going out to eat several times a year or took drives where Harold would share what and who he knew throughout our rural landscape. Last year he led us to a nearby relative’s farm where we cut down a free cedar tree for Christmas.

One of our favorite stories was the summer that a skunk walked into the live trap we had set in our garden for varmints like ground hogs and raccoons. Oh dear. How do you get a skunk out of a trap or handle it to move somewhere without getting sprayed?

Harold told Stuart to just move in very very slowly and unhook the door. Which Stuart did, with some trepidation. He got the door unhooked and left the area, checking it several times through the day. The skunk still sat in the cage. Finally, overnight, the skunk moved out without spraying anyone.

Like all of us, Harold admitted he had faults. When I talked to him about matters of faith, he would sometimes mention the years he spent smoking and now regrets. But he lived to be 94, so that’s not bad. And we assured him that we believe the good Lord would not hold smoking or chewing tobacco against him.

Harold loved his wife Willie with the passion of a teenager, which he was when he first went to ask Willie’s father if he could date her. She is a bit older than Harold, and I’m told that after the father thought about it a bit, he said “I reckon it would be alright.” An endearing photo of the two of them—very good looking and much younger, went into his casket forever. I wish I had a copy.

At the funeral luncheon (his church provided sandwiches, veggie soup, cake and fruit), stories flowed. Lois, a woman I met when I was 18 and entering voluntary service, we both attended a two-week orientation in Indiana where she was my roommate. This Lois, a Virginia native, grew up with Harold and Willie’s sons in their church’s youth group, but I never knew that. Lois led the congregational singing with two hymns Harold wanted to have sung at his funeral, and Lois’ husband, Robert, a pastor, conducted the service.

Harold made an eternal impact on us and we both will miss him greatly. I’m sure we’ll meet him on the other side someday.

Harold raking the hay on our small acreage this past September. At the age of 94.

***

P.S. I cannot look at these photos now without having tears come to my eyes. These were beloved neighbors. Willie is still living and we pray for her well-being in the weeks and months ahead, and the family members who care for her.

***

What are your memories or experiences with special neighbors.

We have been blessed with others over the years! I hope you have too!

What kind of neighbor do you aspire to be?

Share here or send your memories or comments to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career: 43 Years Inside Mennonite Media. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

To the Dump, To the Dump

Another Way for week of December 2, 2022

To the Dump, To the Dump

I’m using a takeoff from “The Lone Ranger” TV show theme song as the title for this column because we used to sing something like “To the Dump, To the Dump, To the Dump Dump Dump” on Saturday morning excursions to our local dump or landfill when the children were small. (If you listened to the song above, good luck getting that earworm out of your head!)

We used to load our trash into barrels (old 55-gallon glue barrels my husband got free from the wood products factory where he worked) on the back of our truck. That was always a major chore/undertaking. We even took our dog. Stuart would say, “Jump, Wendy,” and she would excitedly jump onto the back end and he’d close the tailgate. She adored a trip to the dump.  

Our first dog, Wendy, excited to go anywhere, especially the dump.

As our family grew, the dump was sometimes a place we would even find toys such as a very small merry-go-round, or metal for some project my husband was working on—this was in the days when scavenging was actually allowed. It was gross though, rummaging through stuff. I was secretly very glad when they put a stop to that.

On a recent visit to our greatly updated landfill, a young woman working at the recycling bins surprised me.

Our local landfill and container site.

“How long have you been recycling?” she asked amicably. I knew she was doing “community service” work (likely for getting into some kind of trouble). The workers are usually teens and their role is basically to straighten out things put in the wrong container, and clean up scraps people accidentally leave behind.

Usually, they don’t interact with me so I was pretty stunned that she opened a conversation. I started figuring. “Oh, probably close to 40 years now,” I said, recalling that widespread recycling came into the picture somewhere in the 80s.

She expressed surprise and I would have loved to talk to her longer but I didn’t want to infringe on her privacy or time. I wanted to ask if she knew whether the recycled items actually made it to a place that recycled them, or if they were just dumped in the landfill, as the rumor goes.

Unfortunately, I do understand that as little as six to nine percent of the plastics that are placed in recycling bins get recycled due to various factors: some get incinerated, some is too dirty or contaminated with food scraps etc. and is not usable. Plus, some of the higher numbers of plastics beyond type 1 and 2 get mixed in with the 1’s and 2’s which means the recycling center has to reject it for their purposes. Cardboard and newspaper have a much higher rate of being recycled, something like 68 percent according to Judith Enck, a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official.

Pizza boxes will get tossed out of cardboard recycling bins: if it has grease on it, out it goes.

I’m glad that many children seem to be interested in recycling. One day our four-year-old grandson was walking with us to our car from an impromptu picnic near my office (at the time). James swooped down to pick up a piece of litter on the sidewalk. I appreciated his concern and effort, but was a bit appalled at the dirt and germs.

Recycling pop cans (either glass bottles or aluminum) was part of early recycling. As a kid my husband remembers going to summer carnivals or “lawn parties” as we call them here in Virginia, and picked up bottles and got paid for each one he turned in. I also remember the days when Scouts would canvas neighborhoods collecting newspapers to recycle.

Most of us could do better, at least recycling water bottles and other plastic containers at home numerous times. For instance, refill and reuse the same water bottle, or store leftovers in things like sour cream or cottage cheese containers. That saves money and plastic. I recently noticed that my favorite jars of Kirkland mixed nuts—a treat I only dare keep in my pantry at Christmas—are now packaged in reusable “pouches” or bags made of 30 percent post-consumer recycled content. It will be interesting to see what develops in years to come.

***

What do you recycle? Where? What do you wish was recyclable?

What do you know/can you share about what gets re-used as post-consumer waste

and what gets pushed into a landfill? I’m curious!

***

Or for more information online go to www.how2recycle.info.

Comment here or write to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

Thanksgiving Leaves

Another Way for November 25, 2022

Thanksgiving Leaves

This year for the first time in about 16 years, I raked a couple of baskets of leaves in our front yard a week or so before Thanksgiving.

Why the lapse of time? After moving to a new home about 15 years ago and planting several trees in our front yard, we finally have trees big enough to make a couple baskets of leaves. Somehow the strong winds from the southwest corner of our property that normally blow the leaves northeasterly (out to the hay field) didn’t hit at the right time. Or whatever.

I didn’t mind raking them, and if you read my recent column, you know my husband is not exactly in any condition to rake leaves at the moment. In earlier years he would mow any leaves we did have and shoot them out toward the hayfield as well.

***

I’m not a big fan of battery or gas tools for my outside work, and the raking exercise quickly transports me back to the days when we raked a high pile (at our first home) and then called the kiddos to come jump in them. Is there anything more delightful as a child unless it is making snow angels or snowmen?

Daughters Michelle and Tanya

More on a different kind of “leaving.” As we age, we are saddened with the memories this particular fall holiday brings: the year that my sister-in-law’s father died while hunting which of course wrecked the holiday for them and all of us. I remember arriving at her house anticipating her normal sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner and someone hurried out to tell us the sad news, to warn us of the Barbara’s huge loss. We were all still young and stricken with the reality and pain she was experiencing in the loss of her father on one of the best holiday weekends of the year.D

Many years later, our son-in-law also lost his father to cancer the week of Thanksgiving. I am saddened with two church members’ deaths last week (on the same night) and of course sickened by the recent shooting of three football players in the nearby city of Charlottesville, Va.

We also take nervous glances at the house across the road where our beloved neighbor man is likely closer to heaven with each day. His wife too. But what can we do? Their daughter-in-law tells me stories of her own memories of too many loved ones dying on or near Thanksgiving. I ask if there is anything we can do for her in-laws. Her father-in-law has been like a second Dad for my husband these last 15 years. “Just pray,” she says. Yes, we can do that and we know there is power in prayer to somehow lift people above their grief and exhaustion as they seek to provide home care for these folks in their mid-nineties.

***

This was to be my Thanksgiving column and I am sure we’re not the only ones in the same boat, feeling loss and anxiety and pain. Yet we also find deep gratitude within our spirits: a freezer and canning shelves stocked with food—some from our garden and nearby orchards. A warm home with plenty of stacked wood because of my husband’s vigorous wood cutting. Children and grandchildren and siblings and cousins we’ve been able to visit and cherish. Deep faith in the God who carries us all through the difficult times of stress, loss, and tears. We know that God has provided a heavenly home around a huge Thanksgiving table stretching across eternity.

May we focus on good thoughts with love and care over the Thanksgiving weekend.

***

How did your Thanksgiving festivities go, or not? What did you learn or regret or ponder?

***

Reminder: Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.   

Comments or reflections? Share here or send to anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career: 43 Years Inside Mennonite Media.

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