Sunday, September 27, 2009

On a Personal Note

This book, "On a personal note, a guide to writing notes with style" is my newest book, [will be cross referenced at my regular blog] having received it for my recent birthday along with lots of note cards. I was told it has many good tips, and it does--most of which I already know. But it's a great review. Books on how to write letters and notes are a genre that go back a few centuries. What note and letter guides don't tell you is the effort that goes into it. Even for someone who writes as much as I do, I sometimes get discouraged by the task.

Here's how mine goes. First, I look through the list of names on my family list--siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, my own children, to jog my memory if I need to write something--encouragement for that elusive job, a wedding anniversary, a thank you note for a special favor, or a get well/thinking of you card. Since paper address books just don't do it anymore (although I still have my mother's, grandmother's and some old ones of mine), I usually have to go to my computer database and check the Christmas label list. Then I get out the last several issues of the church newsletter--hospitalizations, moved to care facility, baptisms, deaths, etc. Then I check off the people I know, and get out the directory for the people I don't know, or can't quite remember the face. The picture directory isn't as up to-date as the printed directory, so both have to be used. Then I get out the bound day-by-day calendar book (no year) in which I record who got a note and why on what date (I write in the year). This needs to be reviewed from time to time, because if a church member I don't know well comes up to me 2 months later and thanks me for the card, I don't want to say, "Who me?"

We were out of town for 10 weeks this summer, so yesterday I covered up the kitchen table and counter top with all my accoutrements, and wrote 25 notes and cards, using my new gift. I'm not done yet, but I ran out of stamps. So many people use e-mail these days, that a regular U.S. mail piece is a real treat. It's especially so for people who are residing in assisted care or a nursing home. Even if they no longer remember who you are by name, they can enjoy a pretty card. There's one family in church I don't know but have been sending notes for several years about their daughter who was in a terrible auto accident caused by a drunk driver. Many people must be writing to them, or calling, because I've received occasional updates on her condition. One man I never expected would leave the hospital is home and in remission. My friend Lynne crafts lovely cards and she has helped me out with special "guy type" cards which are a little difficult to find.

If you're on one of my lists, you'll probably be getting a note on my new birthday stationery soon. The handwriting isn't what it used to be, so I hope you can read it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Six months in Bible Lands

On August 2, 2009 I bought a "bag of books" for one dollar at the Women's Club book sale in Lakeside, Ohio. There wasn't much left when I got there and I just picked some up randomly. When I got home and went through the bag I found some real treasures, including a first edition of Edna St. Vincent Millay's letters. However, I also found a delightful book with a very long title,
    Six Months in Bible Lands and Around the World in Fourteen Months; observations and notes of travel in England, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Greece, Asia Minor, Constantinople, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, India, Ceylon, China and Japan. With fifty illustrations. Moral, practical and religious subjects are treated in harmony with the Bible. Wenger, A. D. Joseph B. Steiner, Mennonite Publisher, Doylestown, PA. 1902.

    Book Description from an internet used book site: Hard Cover. Book Condition: Good. Dark green cover, some light spots. cover slightly frayed at spine ends and corners. clean and tight. 550 pp. $14.00 (what the dealer wanted, plus shipping)
Wengers are in my family tree, so I first looked up Amos Daniel Wenger, and learned through a genealogy that he is a descendant of Christian Wenger, not Hans and Hannah Wenger, my first family Wenger in America. But they all arrived in the U.S. around the same time, the 1730s. Also in looking through internet genealogies, I learned that his wife of one year had died in 1898 and in January 1899 he began this around-the-world trip, returning in 1900, to recover from his grief. This is not mentioned in the passages I've read. He later married his second wife with whom he had 8 children all of whom either became ministers, missionaries or spouses of same. He edited his notes with research about the areas, and published the book in 1902.

He says in the introduction that no orthodox Mennonite had ever written a travel book of this type and it would fill a place in the church literature. Often I have a problem with the flowery purple prose of 100 years ago, but he is a delightful, easy read, and sounds like he went on our trips of the last few years. Before he even gets out of the U.S. he lets us know on page 3 that foolish claims of materialism and the worldly culture are claiming even Mennonites. Wenger has little use for magnificient buildings and would prefer to see the money go to feed the poor. More about that when he gets to Europe!

I blogged about this book here and here.