Category Archives: Amish Pithiness

The Horsehair Plaster Debate

Which is more important, intention or action? Should the two be separated? And where does horsehair plaster fit in?[pullquote] Is the road to hell paved with good intentions and horsehair plaster?[/pullquote]

Allow me to set the stage. My husband and I had hired a carpenter-friend to turn two small rooms into one. The job involved tearing out horsehair plaster, the bane of everyone who’s ever remodeled a nineteenth century building. To complicate things Continue reading The Horsehair Plaster Debate


Amish Logic Meets Big Business Egyptians

The Amish logic and work ethic mentioned in a previous post ran smack dab into its direct opposite when my daughter became an employee of corporate America or Big Business (BB).

Because she came fully equipped with her Amish mother’s practical, rational, literal Amish logic and learned that if something was worth doing it was worth doing right, Continue reading Amish Logic Meets Big Business Egyptians


Amish Logic

Work is primary in Amish life. If you want to eat, you raise your food. If you want clothing, you sew it. If you want to buy something, you make sure you have the money to pay for it. If you do not have, or cannot borrow, the money, you do not buy it. Everything is labor-intensive and involves everyone, from toddlers to great-grandparents.

The Amish are also literal and concrete, disregarding anything abstract or metaphysical. Even their religion is expressed in tangible ways, nothing is spiritualized.

Because that same Amish logic is innate in me, Continue reading Amish Logic


Do It Right for Goodness Sakes

You hear about quality control these days. My mother’s version of quality control was “doitrightforgoodnesssakes” and there were no gray areas. Something was either done right, or, it was not. And you guessed it, “right” was her way. [pullquote]I don’t have enough energy to do it twice[/pullquote].

If—excuse me—when a floor was worth sweeping—and of course it always was— Continue reading Do It Right for Goodness Sakes


Always Doing Something

 “You know,” a co-worker said as she turned toward me. “I was wondering something about you; do you think you got your work ethic from your Amish background?”

She and I had worked together for several months and she knew my background but she had never asked something so personal or specific before. Her question surprised me.

Responding with my usual candor, I laughed. Continue reading Always Doing Something


Use It Up, Wear It Out

My husband would make a good Amishman. He goes dumpster diving. Not because he is a thrifty Amishman but because he’s a non-Amish hoarder. Although I tease him about his dubious hobby and his “inventory,” I am glad that he shares my tendency to use it up and wear it out.

I recently helped him load up our white minivan and head off to the recycling center with half the contents of our back porch. Rather than get in his way, I stayed in the van as he sorted and dumped. In the midst of the dumping process, though, he suddenly opened the door beside me and thrust something at me. Continue reading Use It Up, Wear It Out


For Real

In general, Amish people do not engage in double-speak. They may seem antisocial, discourteous, and have a double-standard of behavior, but they do not beat around the bush or sugar-coat their words, or any other colloquialism you choose to use; instead they call it as they see it, they are succinct, concise, straightforward, and “for real.” I grew up firmly grounded in reality, to say directly what I meant, and to mean what I said.                          [pullquote]I know you believe you understand what you think . . . “[/pullquote] I remember being fascinated by a sentence my younger sister brought home from school one day: Continue reading For Real


Amish Antisocial Discourtesy

Not only are Amish people terse and action-oriented, some of them surpass terse heading straight toward taciturn and curtly discourteous; in fact they can be perceived as downright antisocial by non-Amish people. Social courtesies are a matter of cultural perspective, and generally speaking, the Amish subculture has two standards of what is and what is not, socially acceptable behavior: one for Amish and another for non-Amish. [pullquote]Social courtesy is a matter of perspective.[/pullquote]

My mother was an excellent example of this. Continue reading Amish Antisocial Discourtesy