A Bed, A Barn, and A Barefoot Woman

When selecting a mattress, one must decide some key factors before heading out to the store:

  1. What size do you need:  twin, full, queen, king, or California king?
  2. How much are you willing to spend?
  3. Do you need a box spring or will the mattress still be comfortable alone if it is to be placed upon a platform bed?
  4. Do you want the comfort of memory foam?  Spring coils?  Pillow top?  Or a combination of the these three?
  5. Will having a 2-sided mattress be important to you and the life of your mattress or do you desire maximum comfort in one-sided layers without the option of flipping it periodically?
  6. How thick of a mattress will work in your sleeping area?  Too high of a bed can cause accidents and require a step stool for the vertically challenged among us.
  7. How long is the warranty?
  8. Will you get a better deal all around if you buy locally from a barefoot woman?womans feet

Whaat?  Did I lose you with number 8?  I don’t really see why because after all, that was a HUGE factor in my purchase of a mattress on Friday!  Well, I didn’t think it would be a big factor until a most unusual circumstance arose.  Allow me to elaborate . . .

I asked some friends on Facebook for a suggestion of a place to purchase a relatively inexpensive queen-sized mattress.  Some additional factors due to my allergy sensitivities were:  minimal outgassing odors from synthetic materials, latex-free construction, plus the overall weight must be reasonable.  I had found a manufacturer in a city about 1 1/2 hours away who offered custom mattresses and was prepared to make a road trip to check it out while carting our old queen mattress in the bed of my truck.  Then when an acquaintance suggested a local business owner “at the corner of Hurshtown Rd. and Boger Rd.” who had provided her family with a great product and price point not too long ago, I decided to check it out.

The problem with this scenario unfolded quickly:  the streets intersected somewhere in the middle of no where by two smallish towns and in the heart of Amish country.  The phone number that she gave me didn’t work and she was unavailable on Facebook Messenger to clarify it.  Of course I didn’t have her cell number with me!  If the place was an Amish business then it could be possible that they would not be in the phone book or have a website.  Both proved to be true.  Yet the possibility was still intriguing  to me.  We have had local Amish craftsman build a cabinet for our bathroom, weld a custom seamless curtain rod for inside our bay window in our kitchen, and create two gorgeous custom trellises for our flagstone patio.  The experiences were fun for me to design and the finished products were excellent at fair pricing.  So to embark on an unknown adventure to find the right Amish-quality mattress was very appealing to me.  I decided to go for it!

My GPS located the intersection of the two streets in a remote area as I had suspected:  right in the heart of Amish country along blacktop roads littered with smooshed and sun-dried horse manure.  No signs were in sight to point the way to Ruben’s Mattress Warehouse!  Ahead of me was a horse-drawn buggy carrying two ladies about to exit a homestead onto Boger Road.  I stopped and asked what I thought was a friendly question.  “Hi there!”  I said as the driver looked shocked, all bundled up in black in the front seat of a two-seater, that this gal originally from Chicago would stop to speak to her from her warm and comfortable king cab truck.  “Is there a mattress business around here?”

“I think there’s a guy who sells them across the street,” was her sheepish reply.  Really?  Don’t all Amish folks in this area know each other?  Aren’t they almost all related either directly or indirectly, through inbreeding or something like that?  There must be a family squabble going on so I confirmed where she was pointing to and motioned that she could exit out of her parking lot of a driveway in front of me.  She bowed her head slightly and proceeded out and down the road.  O.k.  Now for the second part of the adventure:  which barn is it? 

I pulled into the homestead across the street, facing Hurshtown Rd.  Having visited many Amish families when providing occupational therapy home care visits, I was a little familiar their culture.  They are a private people so you don’t just go up and knock on the front door of the house or wander around the barns looking for someone official-looking.  I decided to wait in my truck while trying to contact my friend again via my smartphone and hope someone noticed the sound of a truck driving up.  Shortly thereafter, the barefoot woman appeared.

I confirmed that this indeed was the mattress place, that no, I didn’t phone ahead because I had the wrong phone number, and yes, it was o.k. to drive around the first barn to the entrance and come inside to check out their inventory.  Ruben makes the mattress frames for the Wolfe bedding company in Indianapolis, a 2-hour drive south of Fort Wayne near where we live, and sells the completed mattresses locally.  Their customers are generally from the Amish community and a few folks in the area who find them in a regional courier or by word of mouth.  Well cool beans.  The barefoot woman was kind and showed me her wares in her navy pleated dress:  carefully pinned together with straight pins per the dress code of their bishop and accompanied by a pleated white head covering.  Her adorable granddaughters followed us around the barn as I laid on a few samples that fit my criteria.  One was perfect and I wrote her a check for nearly half of what a department store would charge.  Cool beans again!

The women of this community have always struck me as being particularly hardy.  This was proven true once again when the barefoot grandmother and her tiny daughter loaded the 80+ pound queen-sized beast into the bed of my truck with yours truly helping some too.  The gravel parking lot, 60 degree weather, and risk of a mattress crushing her feet if it slipped made no difference in the order of business completed that afternoon.  I tried to be an encouragement to the girls who had shared that their mom was sick, before I knew that she would be summoned to help with the loading, and suggested that they could pray for her mother to be healed.  Earlier I was amazed that there was no synthetic smell whatsoever to the mattress and offered a spontaneous exaltation of praise to the Lord who surely led me to this expertly crafted barn of sleep-heavenly treasures!  “Praise the Lord” I exclaimed.  Truly my Jesus was providing for my every need that afternoon and I remain exceedingly grateful.

The barefoot woman and the girls retreated back into the house surely to attend to other household duties.  I proceeded home with the mattress hanging out the back end of my truck, musing about the wackiness of yet another adventure here in my beloved home state of Indiana . . .

Most folks who live in the outskirts of Fort Wayne would think nothing of the kind of experience that I have described for you here.  But for me it is still a wondrous process of discovery when a simple purchase becomes an adventure into the back roads of the surrounding countryside, a window into the daily lives of another culture, receipt of a quality product made by local craftsmen, and another confirmation that I might have always been meant to drive a white pick up truck!  It’s fun to haul stuff yourself!

I am so glad that my Knight in Shining Aluminum (aka Steve), my intended beloved brought me here to his home State of Indiana from the bulging metropolis of Chicagoland seven years ago.  I am so grateful that my dad bequeathed my brother and I his Nissan Frontier king cab truck so that I might trade in my Hyundai Tucson for one of my own.  And I am so glad for the ability to slow down and smell the scented barely-marked road ways along the way:  something once foreign to me sitting in big city and suburban traffic not long ago.

So the next time you are seeking to purchase a new bed or mattress set, think about the barefoot woman in the barn.  You too might find a steal of a deal in addition to a great night of sleep!  You might also find fodder for the grist mill for having travelled off the beaten path.  I did and I am glad.  :JJ

Amish buggy

The Burger on the Bathroom Floor

Sometimes there’s a bride carried in the front door at the same time there’s another bride carried out the back door . . .

Hi there.  My name is Julie and I have a wacky life.  Not that my life has ever been boring, mind you.  Lots of difficult things have kept me on my toes (or on my knees before the Lord) for a good portion of my days on this earth.  I used to say it was like cooking with all of the burners on the stove cranked up to the highest setting.  Then there was this network marketing book entitled, Mach 1 with your hair on fire that described things pretty well for me too.  Helen Keller wrote in her book The Open Door, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”  O.K.  You get the picture.  There is no rest for the weary so get over it, get on with it, and better get right with Jesus to see you through!

So what’s up with the burger on the bathroom floor, you ask?  Balancing my blood sugar is a key part of managing this crazy biotoxin illness that came on the heels of Lyme disease that came in through the backdoor of fibromyalgia many years ago.  Actually hypoglycemia came first followed by hypothyroidism, fibro, yada, yada, yada.  This all requires me to carry a protein snack and water with me virtually everywhere I go.  Popcorn doesn’t cut it very long.  I cheat sometimes with fatty veggie chips when grocery shopping only to follow-up with a chunk of lunchmeat from one of those ziplock bags from the deli counter usually at a stoplight when driving home.  Whatever.  Who needs a knife and fork anyways?

Dressed up for the wedding of my husband’s son yesterday and our friends’ son today, I opted for the bigger black leather purse (to match my shoes of course and the only other purse I own).  I could stash a butternut squash coconut muffin, some coconut cream, and a burger-lettuce roll-up secured in a Ziploc baggie in there and look like all of the rest of the women with maybe a little extra, er, baggage, if you know what I mean.  Who would know that I could survive an invasion of body snatchers for at least a day with no more than a twinge of hunger when it was all over?  I would be ready.  Unfortunately I did not plan on a wardrobe malfunction (a term coined in the USA after an egregious moment by Janet Jackson during the Super Bowl Half Time Show a few years ago.  I won’t go into it here).  Or rather a leather purse malfunction.  I barely made it through my own snafu with my dignity!

The D.J.s were cranking up the music at the Light Guard Armory to add some ambiance to the large plain, cinder-block walled room with metal doors pained beige to match and linoleum flooring that had been waxed for more years than I have seen the light of day.  The host families had done their best to decorate the place with table adornments inspired by nature and set up a simple, yet respectable snack table for later munching.  I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to eat any of it (can you say M&Ms and Reeses Pieces for dessert?) so I settled into the scene comfortable with the stash in my purse.  Surely the burger was o.k. unrefrigerated for a couple of hours.  The only problem was that I was getting very hungry!

What’s a gal to do waiting with all of the other guests for the wedding party to arrive, dressed up in her Sunday best with low blood sugar looming and a burger in her purse?  Well I learned a long time ago that if you need a moment of solace you can always escape to the bathroom.  No one usually questions your actions in there!  It’s a little different story, however, if you are a gal since gals tend to chat while tinkling, primping, washing their hands, and adjusting their bra straps not necessarily in that order! How do you fit in whipping out a burger in your purse?  Answer:  you don’t.

The next level of defense is to squirrel away in a bathroom stall, quietly unwrap the nourishment of choice, and snatch a few bites while crouched between the open areas on either side of the door.  If someone “accidentally” sees you wiping your fanny through the crack by the hinge it’s o.k. but eating in there?  EWWWWWW!  No way!  But who really cares anyways if you haven’t used the toilet just moments before and the place is clean.  I mean my hands were clean.  Oh yes, and one must make sure that no one else has camped there in the past hour either, if you know what I mean!  Once you have your sequencing down, you can hide your medical self care in this way if you so choose just like a diabetic might do the same when administering insulin in a public place.  Sometimes it’s just better to take care of it in the one private place to which you can always retreat.

I did not count on what happened next.  I was one large bite from finishing my life-giving, 1/2 burger wrapped in Romaine lettuce with a wedge of coconut spread when the burger went tumbling onto the floor.  Oh my goodness!  Not my precious sustenance!  Suddenly I became acutely aware of how really wrong it is to bring food into a bathroom.  Then trying to eat it there even in secret no longer seemed like a good idea.  Years of preserving my sense of social graces came to a screeeeeeching halt!  There’s a burger rolling on the bathroom floor and it came from my direction! 

Of course I did not count on what happened next either.  Just then I heard what seemed like a gaggle of women entering the restroom.  Holy crap!  (Pun might be intended here.)  In a flash I made a dash to pick up the chunk o’ meat, rinse it off in the sink, hide it in my hand, murmur something like, “excuse me my stuff is in there,” and retreat back into the stall with whatever style and grace I could preserve in my moment of horror.  How could I ever have explained a burger rolling on the floor?  Never mind.  Nothing came to mind.  I stuffed the once delectable beef/bison griller into the open piece of Saran wrap in my purse and zipped it closed.  Snack time was over.  I would have to survive on the bites consumed thus far.  I thought I would be o.k. with that so I walked “looking normal” out of the stall to wash my hands then leave.  The two unsuspecting witnesses left with their curious glances, having never stopped their conversation during their porcelain activities.  Cool beans.  I was now in the clear and free to leave as well.

Sigh.  Some things in life are strange at times.  You just gotta do what you gotta do and laugh about it if you possibly can.  Gentle Reader:  the next time you grab a burger off the grill try not to think of me munching somewhere in a bathroom stall, k?  It just might change your appetite a bit.  If you do try adding some more spicy mustard and you will be fine.  I promise.  JJ