Saturday, 24 February 2018

Thank you for good comments about the Amish man and me in the Bank

I am grateful for your nice comments about my conversation with an Amish man in our Bank.

The Amish, being industrious people, first came to Sarasota to grow celery in the winter months when crop farming in more northern climes was impossible.

There is now a super wild life preserve in the area where they grew their celery.

It is called "Celery Fields" in honour of the Amish.

It's a great places for "birders", 'specially at day break and at twilight.


But who are the Amish?  What is their history? Why did some of them come to north American shores?   How do they prosper in 21st Century Canada and the U.S.A?

To move us from touristic and sentimental views of the Amish (horse and buggy in Pennsylvania, tricycles in Sarasota etc) I recommended this book: 

It is a dispassionate, concise, and scholarly introduction to the Amish (and it is very readable).

Published by the Johns Hopkins University  Press  (2016) it can be purchased from them, or from Google Books, or on Kindle.


Here is the superb "blurb" from JHUP.

The Amish
A Concise Introduction


There seems to be no end to our fascination with the Amish, a religious minority that has both placed itself outside the mainstream of American culture and flourished within it. Yet most people know very little about the nuanced relationship the Amish have with society or their own communities.
Drawing on more than twenty years of fieldwork and collaborative research, Steven M. Nolt’s The Amish: A Concise Introduction is a compact but richly detailed portrait of Amish life. In fewer than 150 pages, readers will come away with a clear understanding of the complexities of these simple people. Writing in engaging and accessible language, Nolt explains how the Amish at once operate within modern America and stand very much apart from the world. Arguing that Amish life is shaped equally by internal and external social, political, and economic contexts, Nolt explores Amish identity as emerging from a complex cultural negotiation with modernity. He takes on much-hyped topics such as Rumspringa and reveals the distinctive Amish approach to technology. He also explains how Amish principles stand in contrast to contemporary American values, including rational efficiency, large-scale organization, and Western notions of individuality.
Authoritative, informative, and illustrated, this guide provides a vivid introduction to a way of life many find fascinating but few truly understand.

Steven M. Nolt is a professor of history and Senior Scholar at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College. He is the author of A History of the Amish and the coauthor of The Amish.

Buy it if you have any interest in the American citizens 

who happen to be Amish.

Friday, 23 February 2018

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

This text from 1 Corinthians 13:13 has been in my mind today.  I'll tell you why.

I have a savings and a checking account  with the Everence Federal Credit Union (formerly known as Mennonite Financial Services), at the branch located in the Pinecraft area of Sarasota.

Pinecraft is the heart and centre of Sarasota's Amish/Mennonite population.

That population is swelled in the winter months when many northern Amish retirees become snow-birds!

No Horse and Buggy Amish here, instead they ride bicycles and tricycles.

(The popular lore is that Amish people ease up on their rigorous disciplines when they are here:  "What happens in Sarasota stays in Sarasota!) 

Naturally many of them do their banking at Everence.  I was there this morning, and boy was there a line, and a long wait.

One young man was at the counter for ages.  It seems that he was transacting a cash transfer with a very new cashier/teller who was unsure of some procedures and had to have frequent conversations with the only other teller/cashier on duty.

Ahead of me in line was first an Amish Man, then a Mennonite or Amish Woman, then another Amish man.

The two Amish men chatted in a delightful combination of old high German and English.

The Amish are very reserved in their encounters with non-Amish people  (they call us "the English"). (Remember their history of being persecuted by other Christians - no wonder they are reserved in our presence).

And Amish/Mennonite people are generally very gracious, so there was next to no grumbling about the long line.

The Amish man ahead of me was unusually "chatty".  I told him that I am not a very patient person, but that when I am in long lines (such as at the Bank this morning) I pretend to be patient, and in that pretense I become patient: ("fake it until you make it!")

He told me that Amish snow birds in Sarasota have a very relaxed way of life 'cause they do not need to be in a hurry about anything.

We left the Bank at the same time.  I told him that today is the birthday of my dear niece Anne whose life exemplifies faith, hope and love.

He responded "and the greatest of these is love".

What a glorious response. A conservative Amish man and this somewhat liberal Episcopalian Priest were brothers in faith, hope and love at the Bank today.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

We passed the test with flying colours!

Zion and I went today to an assisted living community about 11/2 miles from our home. There we visited the memory unit known as "Anchin Memory Care at Aviva" to be tested and assessed  as a Therapy Dog (and owner).

We passed with flying colours.  Zion was his usual gentle self. He brought many a smile to people with varying degrees of memory loss.

There's a bit of paperwork to be completed so that we can be formally certified as a  therapy team, after which Z and I will visit Anchin each Friday morning.

Our assessor (a fabulous English-born woman) fell in love with Zion.

And he brought such joy to various staff members as well as to residents.

I watched carefully and saw that Z. was tired after about 35 minutes.  Enough is enough. 

Here we are outside of Anchin

Who would not love his face!

'Twas good therapy for me too after having earlier attended (at St. Boniface Church) the funeral of the joyous and blessed Lea D. who died at aged 69 after her two year faith-filled journey with cancer. 


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Too much cod, and a Newfie Recipe.

Detwiler's (pronounced Detwlyers) is our local Mennonite owned Farm Market with three stores. 

(The FARM bit should be in inverted commas [quotation marks].  I believe  that they get much of their produce from a Tampa Bay area wholesaler).

Farm or not,  Detwiler's has a pretty good Fishmonger counter.  It was there that I bought some Cod at a fair price.  I asked for "that big piece". 

That big piece  weighed 2 lbs! 

I lb is in my freezer.   I used the other 1 lb to make Codfish and Potato cakes "Newfoundland Style"

Some of  ones I made

I gave some to my friends C and R.   C is of Newfie heritage.  She said "  "Authentic and delicious"

He said  "Best fish cakes ever"

Nothing to do with me, I just followed a recipe.  But I am glad that C and R enjoyed them.


Just in case you have forgotten, I have a splendid dog named Zion.

He loves to put his head on my leg.  That's hard to photograph, but here is my best effort.

I should be so lucky!

Of course the import of this post is less about Codfish/Potato cakes, and more about Mr Perfect (a.k.a. Zion).

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Re-cycled carrots (and a guilty but sorry dog)

I bought some 'baby" carrots thinking that Zion might like them as a snack (some dogs do).

He was not in the slightest bit interested, so I used them to make carrot and ginger soup.

The first batch had too much ginger, so I cooked and pureed some frozen carrots to supplement  the soup, and then added some heavy cream.


(Many years ago at St. James's in Porter Square, Cambridge, MA we had mid-week small group pot-lucks.  Parishioner Ann S made the best salads, I offered home made soups.  Both were well received.    Ann and I dreamed (fantasied) of opening a Soup and Salad  Cafe!)


Later in the day Zion (a.k.a. Mr. Perfect) tried to snitch some food from my kitchen counter.

I caught him in the act!

I am guilty.

He pleaded guilty.

And then he begged forgiveness.  I could not refuse!

I am guilty, but I am so very sorry

Monday, 19 February 2018

Fish Stew: Delicious lunch today (and for a few more days)

Home made Fish Stew  (Yum!)


My "off the cuff" recipe

10 - 12oz store bought Fish Stock.

A pinch of salt.

1 1/2 lbs Catfish  (cut up).

One large Zucchini (topped and tailed but not peeled)  cut into small pieces.

Five or six Plum Tomatoes cut into small pieces.

Six or seven baby Dutch Yellow potatoes (quartered).

Six or seven Pearl Onions.

8 oz un-skinned Chorizo, cut up.

A splash or two of Thai Yellow Curry Sauce.


Simmered for about 20 minutes.

Utterly delicious, and enough for three days.


Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Isobel Allende

At my advanced age I have become a devoted fan of the novels of Chilean/American author  Isobel Allende,

I have devoured her books "Eva Luna", and "Maya's Notebook".  

Now I am enjoying my way through "The Stories of Eva Luna".

Are there any other Isobel Allende fans out there?