Amish Village Visit

I had a great four day Labor Day weekend.  I met friends, went out, listened to great music, had great food and best of all, visited Lancaster County in Pennsylvania with a friend to see how the Amish live.  My friend and I first visited the Amish Village and were disappointed because this “Village” is just a replica of an Amish homestead and not an actual one.  However, our minds were changed for us once we had done a tour of the replica house and grounds as we learnt quite a lot from the tour guide.

We were informed that non-Amish are called ‘English’.  Even I am considered English so don’t be surprised if I change my block name to “English Lady”🙂

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I was surprised at how big Amish houses are – for some reason, I expected tiny ones.  Apparently, the Amish do not lack most of the mod cons that we have even though they use gas instead of electricity.  It was interesting to learn that they shun electricity because they do not want to be dependent on somebody.  They are less dependent on others when they use gas.

Amish kitchen….

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Amish women have four dresses (I didn’t believe this) which they use for specific purposes.  Their wedding dress comprises a dark dress and a white apron over it.  They next time they wear white is when they pass away.  For wedding shoes, they wear black booties – quite interesting.

Washing machine…..

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Summer kitchen which is in the cellar – this is the stove on which they cook food to be preserved.

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A short legged donkey, or so I thought, until I was told that it was actually and miniature horse…

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This was one sad mule, it had ‘tears’ dropping from its eye.  It was depressing to look at it.

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An interesting story about the milk house….

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Clothes on the line – I prefer drying my clothes this way as they smell fresh….

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We went to the schoolhouse and it was interesting to see that the students also learn their ‘mother tongue’, German.  Pardon the blurry photo…

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A buggy is the way the Amish mostly move around.  It was interesting to see a sleek one that young people use – something of a sports car in the conventional world.  For short distances, the Amish zoom around on kick scooters.  The Amish do not have cars and do not drive but hire them, get on buses and planes as long someone else is driving/flying.

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A buggy similar to the one we were on to visit an Amish homestead.  The only thing we really saw, however, was the store that the family runs and the grounds.

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Tobacco field

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Alfalfa – I learnt of Alfalfa decades ago in high school, forgot about it, and only got to see it now.  I always thought it was long grass!

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Windmill, of course.

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The Amish have generational housing and there are three generations in this house.  I like that idea as the grandparents have people around them to help out when they are infirm.  This homestead has three generations.

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The homestead has a dairy area.

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Tobacco being air dried.

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A statue of an Amish man at Hershey’s restaurant where we had dinner at.

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Our homestead guide was very knowledgeable about the Amish.  She said she had only met one bachelor (that is an older man) in her 18 years since she has lived in Lancaster County and he is a very grumpy man.  She thinks that he is either grumpy because he is not married or he is not married because he is grumpy.

I like the Amish life since they emphasize spending time with family instead of in front of the TV of computer, though I love my internet connection🙂, and bright lights everywhere.  I guess I would be used to hard work if that is all I knew.  I also like the hard work ethic they have.  My friend said that the Amish live as many people still do in poor countries.  The only difference is that the Amish have the opportunity and money to live conventional lives but choose not to.

I know I should not have been, but I was surprised that the Amish are wealthy – after all they do not spend money on frivolous things.  They also do not pay school tax as they have their own schools.  They do not have medical insurance and pay cash for all procedures, no matter how much they cost.

Our visit was very satisfactory and I would definitely recommend it to everyone.  It would have been nicer, though, to have the Amish themselves being the tour guides instead of the “English”.

I have food – I am grateful

From the time I was born to about 12 years, my family had all the food we needed.  I can’t remember ever being hungry before then.  There were snacks for our ‘four o’clock tea’.  However, rude reality came knocking when I was about 12 years old and stayed with my family for some years.  This was as a result of my parents having to move the family for security reasons from another country.  They had had to leave their jobs and small business and it was hard for them to start over.  My mother, a designer, who had made most of my clothes could no longer afford to buy the material needed.  My friends taunted me about that fact and I had started walking barefoot since I had no clothes.  I had not noticed before that I always had footwear even when I was playing.  The lack of shoes and clothes did not bother me as much as not having food.

Having to think about whether we would have our next meal was rough, especially since I was child – and one who never  knew hunger before.  My parents did talk to us about facts of life and tried to explain why we went hungry, but it was still tough.  I would go to school without eating and spend the whole day at school without food and it was tough, tough, tough.  On top of that I had to walk at least 8 kms round trip to school on an empty tummy.  Many times we would have to eat stale food because that is all that we had and thankfully, no running tummies followed.  The lack of food is one of the reasons why I stayed away from mischief as a youth so that I could finish my education and have as secure a future as possible.

My parents’ situation improved after a few years, but my fear of having no food had a very strong unhealthy hold on me for several years.  I have managed to deal with the fear, but at the back of my mind I always remember what being is like and so try to secure my future.  I do not want to be in a position where I do not know where my next meal is coming from.  I do not want to eat stale food ever again just because it’s the only thing available.

My lack of food at one point has made me appreciate the fact that I can have any food I want at any time.  I am grateful that I do not have to worry about what I will eat because that is tiring and scary.  I am grateful for the good health and job that I have because those keep me for lacking my daily bread.  I am also grateful that my immediate family also have food, because they too, know what being is like.

What are you grateful for today?

 

Urban hike in Queens, New York

I have been to NYC several times before, but it has always been to Manhattan.  I decided to join some friends for a hike to Queens, NYC just to have another perspective of NY and not just NYC.  We left DC by bus at about 2.00 am and arrived four hours later in time for breakfast.

  1.  Guy being loving to his girl – mural on passage to Queens subway.  There are many more interesting murals on in the passage.

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2.  Our first stop after getting off the metro, was Maple Grove Cemetery where we looked at various interesting tombstones.

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3.  There it is – Queens Museum

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4. A sailing club somewhere in the park that we walked through.

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We walked on to Flushing in Queens after the park.  At one point I had to pinch myself and ask the hike leader if we were still in NY or we had walked to Asia.  There were a lot of Asians!  To honor the area, we had lunch in a Korean restaurant, which everybody enjoyed, except me.  I wanted something more filling as the Korean dishes were most broths with your choice of veggies and meat.

5. We walked and rested a bit in Central Park.

 

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6.  I had told Trump that I would be in his neighborhood, but he was not home!

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7.  Titan Prometheus at Rockefeller Centre

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8.  Van Gogh’s Ear at Rockefeller Centre

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9.  Time Square

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10. The Garment Worker in the Garment District

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It was nice to see another part of New York and not the same old places I have seen before.

 

 

 

 

 

Homosexuality

Please pardon me if I use wrong words.  Know that there is no offence intended as I am still learning.

Isn’t it interesting how our attitudes change towards something/someone we knew of but had never met, seen or experienced?  One of the things I hated, was confused about, did not accept was homosexuality because not only does the Bible say it is a sin, but this never happened (at least overtly ) in the society I grew up in.  What I knew in my heart of hearts was that:

  • Gay people will go straight to hell, no two ways about it
  • I will and can never interact with a gay person
  • I will never have anything in common with a gay person

Homosexuality was something that I never knew about until I was in my early twenties, at least.  Zambia was very conservative and closed when I was growing up in the seventies and eighties and so I was not exposed to other lifestyles.  The first gay man I met was a German man who was my boss at one company.  At first I did not know what was ‘wrong with him’ but I used to laugh at his mannerisms because they were so feminine and looked weird to me.  Zambian society likes a macho man.  This German man very funny naturally and I just took it that being effeminate was part of him just being funny and silly.  It was not until someone mentioned that he was gay that I understood what was going on.  He actually married a man in South Africa.  I was in my early thirties at this time.  He moved away and for me that was that interacting with a gay person, or so I thought.

Well, being in the west, I now interact with a lot of homosexuals and I will tell you that I was actually shocked, but pleasantly surprised as well, that they are not weird human beings as I expected them to be previously.  They are just like me [said as if I am the best human specimen :)].  I came to realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them.  Yes, I have different beliefs but those are my beliefs and I don’t have to impose them on anyone else or expect them to agree with me.  I realize too that my beliefs (Christian, cultural, social, etc.) may be strange to someone else and I am fine as long as they also don’t try and impose them on me or expect me to agree with them.  Homosexuality is illegal in Zambia, but we are seeing or hearing of people who are gay/bisexual/bi-curious.

However, in spite of the positive things I have written above, I will help a girl friend of mine hold a grudge against one late famous gay male singer.  She had had a crush on from a young age until he passed on about 20 years later.  All she knew about his private life was that he was single, period.  It was only made public after his passing that he was gay and had kept his relationships private so that his career would not be jeopardized.  She was heartbroken when she heard this and vowed not to forgive him because he had wasted her time ‘letting’ her fantasize about him for all those years.  We laughed a lot about her broken heart and still laugh after ten years since his passing and yes, she claims that she is still mad.  Being a loyal friend, I am mad at him, too!🙂

It has been liberating to know gay people as I have learnt so much from knowing that we can have different beliefs, dispositions and preferences but still get along because there are many more points that we are similar in except this ‘small’ one.  I think it’s just like someone who I wonder what my 25 year old self would have thought to see me having this attitude towards gay people.  Isn’t gaining a little knowledge enlightening and liberating?

Pumpkins in my parents’ field

Growing pumpkins is a big part of Zambian farmers in Zambia, not just for the pumpkins themselves but for the delicious leaves.  My parents mix the pumpkin and maize seeds when planting.  I really enjoyed the tender leaves when I visited home.  (By the way, my mother has to collect the leaves for me as  I tell that that I am allergic to entering the field.  I am glad that she humors me and does the collecting for me🙂

  1. Pumpkin type 1

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2. Pumpkin type 2

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3. Pumpkin type 3

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My parents usually have a bumper harvest of pumpkins and they give various relatives.  Personally, I don’t bother about the pumpkins but just eat the leaves whether fresh or dry. Pumpkin leaves are definitely my favorite rain season produce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I don’t give charity online

I used to be very involved in giving to charity, be it through the church or otherwise.  I believe in giving to people I do not know because people that are near and dear to me continue being helped by others/strangers as I live far from them.

However, a few annoying experiences have made me from stop giving online or by swiping my card  with volunteers I find on the street.  Why?  I made a contribution to a humanitarian organization by card several years ago and of course, I had to enter my address which I innocently did.  Well, these guys ‘harassed’ me for several years by sending endless requests through letters and even sent me a penny so that I could send them another contribution.  In order to have them stop, I ignored them, “Returned to Sender” to no avail.  Fortunately, they stopped on their own accord after some years.

I had made an earlier contribution about eleven years ago to a Christian organization because I believed in a project they were doing, and guess what?  They too have harassed me with request upon request and when I moved back to DC after more than five years away, I found a letter that had just been delivered to my office with a prayer cloth.  What?!!  They still have my data in their system.  My life was and continues being fine without their prayer cloths.

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“My” prayer cloth?  Who said I accepted it for it to become mine?

I find it a shame that organizations, especially Christian ones, cannot get enough money but want to fleece you out of the little you have – at least that is how it feels when their CEOs get USD hundreds of thousands in salaries annually.  If those people reduced their salaries to a ‘mere’ USD70,000 per year and gave the balance to charity, they organizations would go a long way.  It’s unfortunate that the greed of organizations may make other people stop making donations because they do not want to be harassed, like me.

You just wonder about the Christian organization – why doesn’t it use the prayer cloths to boost its own finances.  They seem to believe that the cloths can correct any problem, so why don’t use them?

Missing my parents’ doggies

I can’t believe it, but I miss my parents’ dogs!  I, who never thought I would ever care for a pet, actually misses them!  Well, I guess people change with time and I am blaming it on my ‘old age’.

  1. I love, love and miss this young dog, Dublin.  She is very playful and full of energy.

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2. Spike is very mature and is the homestead’s main protector.  I hope my parents find another dog as ‘security conscious’ as Spike.

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3.  Brown, the quiet dog who, unfortunately is usually bullied by the other dogs.  This is the same dog that my father threatens to give away for free because he apparently does not work for his upkeep.  Since he is nameless, I asked my family to give him a proper name but none of them was willing to do so and just said his name is “Brown” because his color is brown.  I couldn’t argue with them.

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4.  Dublin again.  She is not a lady – just look at how she carelessly lies around in the heat!  I have tried telling her that she has to behave like a lady, to no avail.

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