Sharing a glimpse of life in and around Holmes County, Ohio

La Vonne's Blog

Follow my Amish Country Blog for recaps of our motorcoach tours, photos in and around Holmes County, personal reflections and various happenings in our area.
You may contact me at lavonne@amishheartlandtours.com

Connecting through Facebook

Jul
16
2013
Connecting through Facebook


The passing of a friend
Facebook has its good and bad. People either love it or don't. It's like anything in life. When you use things for good, it produces good. What I have experienced recently goes beyond what I ever thought Facebook would bring into peoples lives.

About a year ago, I liked a page called "All Things Amish". It captured attention to me for the fact that I too have an interest in All Things Amish due to my tour business in Holmes County. I soon noticed frequent postings from a Dianna Bupp. She lived in Crystal Springs, Florida. She was from Ohio and loved Holmes County, Ohio. She could hardly wait to see who posted something from Holmes County. If someone posted about eating at a restaurant, she was one of the first to ask, "What did you eat?" I felt like she really did want to know. She took interest in people. She loved people. She loved cats.
She loved the Amish people. She kept up with the goings on in Holmes county and always knew what was going on. She drew you in no matter what she posted. People looked forward to seeing Dianna's posts.

We learned that she passed away last week. She went peacefully with her Bible in her hand and a Christian Radio Station still playing. No one expected the sudden passing. News spread like wildfire. People were shocked. Even though I never met her in person, I felt I knew her. Tonight, I am currently writing this blog as I am listening to a live radio blog in her honor and memory. Many people are expressing their experiences they had with her. The "All Things Amish" Facebook page became a community of friends. We lift each other up. There is caring and sharing. Dianna would be humbled to know how she has touched the lives of so many people.

I am thankful I got to "get to know" Dianna Bupp. She was a treasure and she is cheering us on from the grandstands of heaven.





A Flag and an Amish rug maker

Jun
27
2013
A Flag and an Amish rug maker


Lessons in Patriotism
Just when I think I understand Swartzentruber Amish, I am reminded of yet other elements in their Ordnung. (set of rules)

This evening I arrived at a family home of 12 children in the Kidron, Ohio area. They have been supplying me with creative, colorful, handmade rugs.
As we were talking about the various colors and designs to make, the mother in her 40's said she had an unusual request for a rug. She said an English man (Amish terms for non-Amish person) had stopped and ordered a 36" x 48" Flag rug. She said he wants it in Red, White and Blue. My comment back to her was, that will be a beautiful rug. Her next comment caught me off guard. "Do you know what a flag is, La Vonne?" I readily answered,
Oh, yes, I do." She said she never saw one and did not know how to arrange the red, white and blue colors. Without showing any sudden surprise, I offered to "google" an image of the flag on my iphone (which the children are very curious about) to show her the design. She told me she has never seen a flag and asked what the meaning of it was. As non-chalant as possible, I described the meaning of the 50 stars, 13 stripes and colors.
Her reaction I could tell, was somewhat of embarrassment. The children were eager to look at the photo on my phone, for this too, was new to their innocent minds and eyes.
It may be hard for us to believe, however, Amish aren't considered to be patriotic or display any patriotic symbolism. Living as con-sciencous objectors to war, saluting the flag in their eyes would represent putting something before God. The scripture would be referenced as found in the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not have any other Gods before me." Very few salute the flag or learn the National Anthem. I personally am very thankful for what the Flag represents. These stripes remind us of our proud beginnings and of our resolve to be free. Sometimes I wonder what their thoughts are about our men and women who fought and gave their lives for our (and their) freedom.














Using Talents

May
24
2013
Using Talents


Artisans of Holmes County
It only takes one visit to Holmes County to realize the variety of creative, talented residents. It can be seen even in the simplist form of a small hand made basket signed by a 6 year old Swartzentruber child or in the majestic styles of hardwood furniture. Either way, the talents show through.

Each weekend, a local couple fills up their buggy and makes an hour trip into Berlin to sell their handmade baskets.
A specific group of Amish, called Swartzentruber, are known for basket, quilt and rug making. Rarely would you find them employed at a local store. They need the "English" to buy their products. Known as the most austere, plain people, it may appear they avoid colors, in hopes not to drawn attention to themselves. However, color shows up with creative, beautiful quilts and handmade rugs, as well as the large variety of baskets of all sizes.

Last week, when visiting the family at their home, she made a comment that rang true. "I could not make a living sellling to the Amish, so I have to go where people are that will buy them." Her family allows us to bring our tours to her home. She understands tourism. She recently opened up her home (we actually go in her home) where she sells her baskets. Her children (10 in all) are eager to pick up a basket and show it in hopes someone will buy it, knowing they actually met the person who made it. Sometimes that works and other times, it's a cute memory of the visitor's experience.

Other Artisans find it necessary to find a busy traffic location such as Berlin in hopes that passer buyers will be lured to their craft through interest, interaction or curiousity.

Little by little, some artisans are finding a way to make sure the travelers can find them. They may have advertisements in local brochures, magazines or place a handmade sign by a road directing visitors to their home.

This photo depicts a Swartzentruber lady who chooses to travel to where the action is. As I observe her, it is paying off.






A Day To Rest

May
24
2013
A Day To Rest


Holmes County on a Sunday
I have traveled to major cities throughout the US and rarely am I concerned about what to do on a Sunday. Attractions and activities sometime overwhelm me. If only there was enough time to do everything I wanted.

In Holmes County, the pace is slow. You would never guess the day before would be bumper to bumper traffic with eager travelers hoping to have enough time to experience all that Holmes County has to offer.

Holmes County is about family, community and God. Sidewalks usually roll up at 5:00. Dinner bells silently ring in the homes where mom, dad and the children gather for a meal around the table, discussing the days happenings.
On Sundays, the clip-clop of horse and buggies are heard as they make their way to the locations of nearby church districts. English also fill the church pews around the area with the many Mennonite, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran and Catholic churches.

Wives prepare something for lunch unless plans are made to eat at Rhodes grocery store in Millersburg for a hot, cafeteria stlye meal, or fast food. Major family style restaurants such as Berlin Farmstead, Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen, Der Dutchman are closed to honor the Lord's Day. Chalet in The Valley, located on State Route 557, is open for lunch which is a rare find.

The photo reflects a scene in Berlin on a Sunday. Sometimes it makes me wonder where all the people have gone.





Sorting out the colors

May
18
2013
Sorting out the colors


I truly enjoy my job. The experiences with the local Amish community still keep me intrigued, amazed, surprised, and yet when I spend time with them, I do not feel any division or barrier. I always say, "We all need one another." Last evening I drove to the Amish family of 13 children to place an order for 2 rugs that a customer requested. I needed to go in person so I could help her know what colors the customer wants. Upon arrival, I knocked on the front screen door, but no one was around. I thought I heard voices, so I walked out back of the house. The family was in the barn doing chores. Once they saw an "English" women, it brought curiousity, and before I knew it, the whole family except for the husband and two boys in the field were by my side.

They invited me in the home where the fabrics and sewing took place. I walked thru the kitchen, where tin plates and cups were still waiting to be washed after their evening meal. The sewing room was full of color with regard to the fabric swatches. We proceeded to look through the various beiges and blues just to find their were many various shades. I had the customers phone number along and asked if I could call the customer to get a better idea of what shades she was looking for. I placed the call on my cell phone and used the speaker so she could be heard. All of a sudden, the children were giggling, and wanting to see where the voice from this small device was coming from. Once we ended the conversation, the mother told me this was the first time the children ever heard someone talk on a phone. As I looked around at the children, I saw a 15, 13, 11, 9, 7, 6, 3 year old staring at me. It is so hard for me to believe that, but putting things in its context reminds me that, yes indeed, I realize life as I know it is not always like others know it. They were curious to see other features. Just as I was showing them photos, a text came in and it happened to be from one of my Amish cooks asking about a count for a meal. This Amish lady had questions as to how the other Amish lady could text me. Interesting conversation to say the least!

Once we calmed down from the phone conversation, I noticed she had so many different fabric colors. I asked if she would not mind if I would stay and put together a swatch and name the colors. People often want to customize a rug, so by us both having the same color swatch along with the names, we can order a rug and the customer will know exactly what they will be getting.

As you see by the photo, we had fun and laughter as we came up with naming the swatches. I asked Anna where she got the fabric. She goes to thrift stores and find dresses, curtains, etc and cuts them up. The rugs come out beautifully!
When we were naming the blues, we came up with names like "wedding dress blue" ~ Bishop Blue, etc. I hope to remember that evening for years to come.





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