Reading #3 from “When The Roll is Called a Pyonder: Tales from a Mennonite Childhood”

Birthday month rolls on, and here’s another short reading to celebrate!  In this segment, learn about the danger that geese pose to little girls, discover my brief drumming career and find out how I resolve the dilemma of which is worse:  risking going to hell for having stolen something, or getting spanked for confessing it.

 

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Happy Birthday!

The other day, I had the most awesome idea.  Oh man.  It was a great one.  It was such a great idea that it pains me to tell you about it.  But I’m going to.  My book, “When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder:  Tales from A Mennonite Childhood” turns one year old this month, and I thought we should celebrate, somehow.  Somehow that does not involve me jumping up and down, trying clever new tricks to get you to buy my book without realizing that it was a clever trick.  Something that might feel like a celebration.

So, I decided to read to you.  How awesome is that?  Man, I am smart.  I decided to video myself reading from my book–the best and funniest parts–and post it right here.  One, each week through the remaining weeks of August.

I picked passages from the book, divide them into 4, and sat down to video myself reading.  It’s really cute.  I make funny faces when I read that I don’t generally make in the mirror, so it kind of cracked me up to watch it, myself.

Too bad you’ll never see it.  Wordpress won’t upload it.  It says it doesn’t upload that kind of file.

I’m smart enough to get good ideas, but I’m not smart enough to trouble-shoot their technical problems.  There’s probably a way to make it work.  But I don’t know what it is.  So–sorry about that.  I guess I get to keep the birthday present I made you.

As a consolation prize, the following is the short segment from which the title is taken, since everybody wants to know what a Pyonder is.  🙂  So do I!

 

I don’t know what a Pyonder is.  We have a song we sing in Church about When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder I’ll Be There.  A roll is sometimes called a bun but I never heard anyone call it a pyonder.  Or there are rolls like toilet paper rolls or rolls like rolling down the hill and I don’t know which one you’d call a Pyonder.  It’s kind of a funny song.  But I know it’s about Jesus coming back and I know we have to be ready for that any minute.

–from “When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder:  Tales From A Mennonite Childhood” by Diana R. Zimmerman, eLectio Publishing, 2014

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What To Drink With a Pyonder

Ever hear of The Drunken Menno Blog? Don’t miss it! It’s smart. It’s hilarious. It’s sometimes pissy and sometimes sweet, undeniably true and always historically correct. With an original Mennonite cocktail recipe to follow each post. Yes! Where has this kindred spirit been all my life? Um, somewhere in Canada.

I sent the author a copy of “When the Roll Is Called a Pyonder,” she read it and has come up with the perfect drink.  It’s called The “Green Stick.”  If the ironies are too much for you, my apologies. But you are over 21, aren’t you? Then you’re old enough to work it out.

http://imaginarynovelist.weebly.com/drunken-menno-blog/what-to-drink-with-a-pyonder

My favorite part is this:
“No one ever really thought about applying our public pacifism to the private realm until the middle of the twentieth century and even then it hasn’t been done consistently. Children posed something of a problem to early Anabaptists…”

I would not have referred to my childhood spankings as “beatings,” although The Drunken Menno does. And I guess if you’re getting smacked with a stick for the purpose of making you cry over something naughty you have done, what you call it is a matter of semantics.

Have a read.  Have a snicker.  Scratch your head…  Cheers!

The Green Stick, original Mennonite cocktail designed for you and me by The Drunken Menno.  Click the link for the recipe.

The Green Stick, original Mennonite cocktail designed for you and me by The Drunken Menno. Click the link for the recipe.

Flock / After the Mennonite Writing Conference

I graduated from Lancaster Mennonite High School many moons ago, so I must have passed my Mennonite History class. Did they not explain the difference between “ethnic” Mennonites (think Canada and the western portion of the USA) and “religious” Mennonites (of the pious Pennsylvania variety)? Or did I not get the memo? Most likely, even the teacher didn’t get it. I get it now.

I thought I had no flock, but I do have a flock. Imagine my surprise.  And I am not even the strangest bird in it.

The best part of all, was seeing a picture of myself reflected back by those around me, that looks like my own image of me. The other 361 days of the year, I am a WIC certifier with a weird pastime: scribbling in notebooks. But this last weekend, for 4 consecutive days, I got to be a writer with a day-job.  This, of course, is what I’ve secretly believed all along.  I just didn’t know anyone else was convinced.

It’s almost enough to make a girl start humming 606.

“When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder”–What Third Graders Want To Know

Adults who read my memoir, “When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder: Tales from a Mennonite Childhood,” often have questions:

Are you still Mennonite?  (click to read my answer) 
Do you attend church?
Do you consider yourself a Christian?
Are your sisters still Mennonite?
What was your purpose for writing this book?
What do your parents think about it?
Why did you change all the names?

Last week I had the opportunity to answer a different set of questions related to “When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder.” A friend of mine teaches 3rd grade at a local elementary school, and, skipping over unmentionables like the day I found out how Baby Michelle got into Mommy’s belly, and how it is that boys get to pee standing up, she has been reading my book to them out loud. On Thursday afternoon, we arranged for me pay a surprise visit to her class. She warned me that I should be prepared for lots of enthusiasm when I walk in the door, but I hadn’t exactly pictured getting mobbed by 23 bouncing, miniature people who are shouting out all of my secrets.

I knocked on the door, nervously, to be honest, and a little boy opened it to let me in. Mrs. Wytko looked up from their math lesson and smiled. “Look!” she said to them. “We have a special visitor today. Guess who this is…”

Somebody gasped, “Diana…??”

I said, “It’s me!”

They jumped out of their chairs and took two running steps toward me, then remembered that I’m actually sort of still a stranger, and stopped.

I sat down on one of the little desks, feeling entirely oversized, held out my arms, and said something like, “So I heard you guys like my book?”

That’s when I got mobbed—group-hugged by an entire 3rd grade class, everybody squealing, and jumping, and saying, “Remember when…?” and, “Why did you…?” then dashing to get their journals to show me the pictures they’ve drawn of my childhood escapades. They showed me their scars, and asked me if chocolate pudding still makes me throw up.

Eventually, Mrs. Wytko herded everyone back to their seats. I read a few pages from “When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder” to them, while they wrote in their little journals about what I was reading, or drew pictures of what it made them think of.

After that, we had Question Time. I sat in the front of the room, and each child had a turn to come to me to tell me something, or ask a question. There isn’t a Mennonite gene in one of their little bodies, but they didn’t seem to notice. Here in the Wild West, everyone is a recent decedent of an outlaw, an immigrant, or both. Forget whether or not I go to church, or what my mother thinks about it. This is what 3rd graders want to know:

Did you ever your mom about the money you took?
Why were the geese so mean?
Did you really kill all the ducks?
Why were the eggs rotten?
Why were you drowning the kitties?
How could you run faster than that truck?
Why is your dad scared of thunder?
Did you pet the snake?
Is there still a hole in your floor?
Why do you hate potato soup?
Remember that mean teacher you had?
Why did you want to kill your sister?
Why did you think you could fly?

I left with a pocket full of love notes, knowing that my book succeeded in communicating the innocence of childhood that hasn’t got anything at all to do with adult problems like religion. And I agree that whether or not chocolate pudding still makes me throw up is much more critical than whether or not I’m still Mennonite.

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