Tuesday, August 04, 2015

A Wonderful Vacation in Wisconsin

So here we are, in a beautiful small city in southern Wisconsin, known for its world-class health facility, staying at a guest home run by a small religious sect partly named after an obscure 15th-century Dutch priest whose first name rhymes with memo.  His writings were called "Memoranda." (For the literal-minded, this part is not true. )I hate to be so cryptic, but I'm trying to avoid Mr. Google's miraculous powers of detection in case I want to be catty or unkind in some of my descriptions.  I know it would be far far preferable to avoid saying anything that might embarrass me, but it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. 

The cost of staying here is all of $40 a night for a small room, some with private baths,but including a "continental" breakfast. I don't know what continent invented these breakfasts, but they have included freshly-baked cinnamon rolls , baked oatmeal and home made granola.  The downside is that this is run as a religious mission, although as is typical for the followers of this obscure Dutch priest, the mission part is very low key.  There are  a dozen religious plaques around, and there is a prohibition against television, radio and alcohol.  Members of this sect can have computers only for business use, but there is a well-functioning Wi-Fi and no attempt to monitor guests' uses of their computers and smart phones. There is a sign stating the dress code, which includes no shorts, no tank tops, and no "scanty clothes."I am going to leave my spandex in my suitcase. English people with only a popular media knowledge of the Amish, might assume that these people are Amish but any aficionado of Amish culture would recognize that they are not Amish.  The women's head coverings are different, their dresses are handmade but colorful and well-fitted, the men's beards are different, they drive  cars and have modern conveniences.But, like Amish, they have their own elementary schools,eschew higher education and keep a tidy and spotless house.  
Our hosts, Bill and Sherry, are cattle ranchers from Montana.  To quote the Bible, they are the "salt of the earth."  They are unfailingly helpful, polite and gracious to a sometimes weird line of people who come through their doors. Bill nods and chuckles and refrains from offering advice to the desperately ill and hypochondriacs who come to their door for a cheap place to stay while waiting for or receiving treatment at the world-famous health care facility in their city.  They smile and listen and refrain from expressing incredulity at the stories told by some of their guests who seem to be competing with each other for most heart-wrenching story of sickness and disease.

One guest with whom I am closely acquainted tried to short cut another guest's gruesome story of failed surgeries, scar tissue and infections with the helpful suggestion that "You probably don't want to tell us all the details."  Undeterred, the suffering chronicler kept going. Finally, the listening guest with whom I am well acquainted interrupted again to state a little more forcefully, "Maybe, we don't want to hear all the details."  That still didn't deter the talker. The guest with whom I am well acquainted and who isn't known for tolerating fools gracefully was about to say something more drastic, when he realized that he would embarrass his gracious hosts, so he kept his lips zipped.  A rare instance of learning by example.

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