Southern Friends Meet PA Dutch Dish


Plan A

The sweet aroma of ham-loaf baking wafts through the house as I hurry to welcome my Southern friends at the front door. They are in for a real treat: ham-loaf from Wenger’s Fine Meats in Elizabethtown, PA brought shrink-wrapped in my suitcase on the plane,


My menu will replicate my mother’s, a superb Lancaster County Mennonite cook if there ever was one. Even at 95, she still makes some family meals:


  • Melon balls with citrus mint
  • Ham-loaf
  • Dinner rolls
  • Bread and butter pickles
  • Buttered peas & carrots
  • Mashed potatoes with fresh chives
  • Frozen lemon cream pie
  • Coffee

The table is set with formal elegance: wedding china and crystal with a lemony centerpiece:


My friends are genuine Southern belles: Not a gray hair among them, their diamonds are real, their speech soft: “How y’all doin’? and “Bless yah heart!” is part of their verbal repertoire. They have given me an education in southern emBELLishments, so this evening I plan to guide the conversation by asking questions. Growing up, did you meet Mennonites? What was your impression? Do you know what Mennonites believe?

But my plans dissolve as I am greeted by friends with party hats, balloons, and sparkly gift bags, gleeful that they have surprised me royally. My birthday is five days away, but—bless their hearts!—they know it’s never too early to party.  They produce smart-phones and iPads to capture the moment as I embrace Plan B:

4 friends party hars


Table conversation takes a different track from the one planned, and how glad I am that it does. We dish about vacation plans, family, embarrassing moments, dreams. We don’t weigh words! Then we enjoy dessert after I open presents and read more about Plan B from the memo pad gift:

Plan A is always my first choice  . . .

the one where everything works out.

But more often than not, I find myself dealing with

the upside-down version

where nothing goes as it should.

It’s at this point the real test

of my character comes in. . .

Do I sink or do I swim?

Do I wallow in self-pity

or do I simply shift gears and

make the best of the situation?

The choice is mine.

Life really is all about

how you handle Plan B.

— Suzy Toronto

Each one of us around the table has had our taste of Plan B. We have all have had our share of heart-ache, disappointment, and loss. But all of us have learned to put a high priority on our faith, family, and friends. After all, “life really is all about how you handle Plan B.”

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men / Gang aft agley, / An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, / For promis’d joy!                                         – Robert Burns

Does your life experience resemble Plan A or Plan B?

How has your Plan B turned out for the better or worse? Share your story.


32 thoughts on “Southern Friends Meet PA Dutch Dish

  1. Marian, we are even Leos together. I’ve got a birthday coming up next week too.

    As for Plans A and B, I love that way of looking at life.

    For me the theme emerged right out of my memoir: “embrace the blush.” The blush is the difference, perhaps between plans A and B. Instead of lamenting the loss of A, embrace B. Instead of wanting to be someone else, be exactly who you are. Instead of wanting to be There, be Here. So easy to say, so hard to do.

    But so rewarding in the end.

    Happy birthday. Love how you party.


    1. Leos and possibly firstborns (?) too! Now that explains a lot, don’t you think.

      I think you will agree with Tennyson — “I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees.” Thank you for the good wishes. Once again, today I feel drenched in grace.


      1. Be careful how you say that. I do wellness screenings up there every once in a blue moon and they always give me a hotel for the night before the screening. I am just liable to crash your next party 🙂


  2. Although, my Plan B did not allow me to be there in presence, your blog helped me to be there in experience from your blog!!! Happy, Happy Birthday on today!!!!


  3. Hi Marian,Not sure exactly when your birthday is,July 29th?…… neighbor that I had when I was younger,well her birthday is on July 30th.I just had a new Grandson yesterday.He was born at 9:25 am at Womens and Babies Hospital.Where exactly do you live,and how are you related to the Metzlers? I recently changed my name back to my maiden name,Metzler.I live in Ephrata,Pa,I was born here,but did not live here till I was 12,on July 4th of this year I was 58.I was on the Henry Tour when we had the Reunion and when we got over to the house near Strasburg,someone said that Dr.Rutt lives there now,well,my Mother was a Rutt,she graduated from Ephrata in 1952,she died in 1973.My Greatgrandfather on my Moms side was Phares Rutt of new Holland,Pa.My greatuncle is Phares Rutt Jr.,he founded Rutt Custom Kitchens.Lots of my relatives on that side live at Landis Homes,Dr.John Rutts brother,Clarence Rutt Jr,and his sisters,Barbara(Rutt) Longenecker…….and Mary(Rutt) Enck……and the other relative on this side too is A.Richard Weaver(Ruth)………ok,this has been very difficult to get you these emails,my computer kept going off the screen,so I had to start over……….Deborah…..P.S. I very recently changed my last name back to my maiden name,which was Metzler.



    1. It sounds like we are connected through the family lineage and in other ways! Yes, I was on the Henry Metzler tour too. I am glad you found my blog. You may like to read my post on the reunion: Thanks for the comment. Do visit again!


    2. I sounds as though we were on the Henry Metzler tour bus together. Yes, we did share a Metzler lineage, for sure. You may want to read more about it on a recent blog post:

      Thanks for making a connection, Deborah!


  4. Plan A went out the window when I got pregnant at 16…If I can do it the hard way, I will. So I’ve learned (most of the time) to stop making plans and be content to follow where God leads. I love the Suzy Toronto poem!!!


  5. I had a really hard time finding your site because it is not on your gravatar, and when i click on your name in comments that is all I can see. It sends me to your gravatar instead of your site. You can add your site and email to your gravatar. We figured out the RSS thing…of course, it was extremely simple when it was demonstrated by a physics professor…HA


    1. Hi again, I added my link in Gravatar, and my husband says he now sees the RSS icon on his computer that goes directly to my site. How about you? (Fingers crossed–ha!)


  6. sknicholls is a buddy and strolls around helping us newbies. We are lucky to have her.
    Love your writing, your posts, your photos, Marian!
    You are just a smiling breath of fresh air.
    My middle name is Plan B:>) I was telling my friend yesterday, how amazing it is that after almost 4 years since my husband’s death, I still feel in limbo. Don’t yet feel as if I’ve actually landed on the ground.
    I very much enjoy your place here.


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