A grab-bag of thoughts and stories for the weekend.  Enjoy!

Rhymemaster B

“Full of action, traction and a lot of satisfaction.”  So replied Amishman “Rhymie Aaron” when asked how he was feeling.  “Rhymie Aaron” was the nickname of Aaron Beiler, who lived most his life in Lancaster County before passing away in 1964.  I recently came across an article about him dating to last year.  Sounds like a guy to make both hip-hop artists and scribblers of iambic pentameter green with envy.

Blue in the Big Valley

People who first visit Lancaster County and then travel to the Amish settlement at Big Valley, 2 hours away in the heart of the state, are often struck by the differences.

The Big Valley community, home to 3 distinct affiliations of Amish (Renno, Byler, and Nebraska Amish) has a much more isolated and “off-the-beaten path” feel.  This can be pegged to geography and location–getting there just takes a lot longer, and the 30-mile-long valley only has a few entrances.

Penn Live is running a story on the valley’s economic woes, much of it tied to the closure of a local plant.  In the video below, you can hear locals, all of whom bear ‘Amish’ last names (Zook, Smoker, Schwartz) explaining how they’ve fared.

At about the 3 minute mark, a woman discusses the Amish community, noting that the area will never see the tourist popularity of Lancaster, “because our Amish are more…Amish.”  I don’t know how my Lancaster friends would react to that statement, but I think I know what she was getting at.

Thank you

A warm thanks to all who voted for my book in the recent contest.  It didn’t quite crack the top 10, finishing at #16, but not a bad showing in a field of 100+ nominees.  Consolation prize: a couple days ago Success Made Simple was named to the “Best Business Books of 2010” short list at 800-CEO-READ.

Mule-powered miracle heaters?

Where I’m sitting, the mercury is parked at a toasty 12 degrees.  Winter storms have ravaged the Midwest, and my buddy Sherry Gore in Sarasota speaks of harrowing frosts even reaching her normally balmy location.

Perhaps inspired by all the frigidity, reader IJ has asked how Amish heat their homes in winter.  Coal, wood, propane gas, kerosene are all used as fuels in various heaters and stoves found in Amish homes.  Here’s a bit more on how Amish stay warm if you’re interested how the Plain community keeps its toes from freezing.

Winter wheels

What can I say, your photo of the day, a snowy ride in PA (Where’s the hay?):

amish winter snowPhoto credit: Joel Galbraith

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