Prairie View

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Smelly Situation

I get asked a lot of questions.  Yesterday Paul Y. called to see if I had any ideas about what to do for a client who apparently has a skunk living under his house.  The odor inside the house is bad.  He asked me because he remembered that we had some experience with a skunk.  I told that story here.

We talked about some possibilities for getting the skunk to leave, but didn't really come up with anything we knew was absolutely right for someone with few financial resources.  (Animal control does not control skunks)  I promised to do some research on how to rid the house of the smell.  The pest control company offered packs that could be placed in each room to rid it of the smell, but the money for that was a problem too.

Today we talked again, and I learned that he had hired a pest control company to remove the skunk.  In the meantime I had found some information on how to rid various things of the skunk smell.   I'm writing it here in case I ever need it.

Essential Oils was the first thing that came to mind.  Just recently I've begun learning about essential oils, and I thought an EO might work.  Very quickly I learned that the paper in those odor absorbing packs is Pine Oil and Eucalyptus Oil.  Bingo.   Saturating something absorbent like a cotton ball with those two oils and placing one  in each room should perform the same magic as those packs.  The oils (several drops in two cups of water) could also be dispensed through a diffuser or sprayed into the air as a fine mist from a spray bottle.  I'm  not knowledgeable about the mechanism in operation here but I understand the EO compounds bond to the smelly skunk compounds and render them inactive.

Later on I learned that skunk spray is an oily substance, so anything used to treat skin, a pet or fabrics that have absorbed skunk odors must contain some detergent or soap to dissolve the oils.  On this site from the University of Nebraska I found a research-based recipe for neutralizing skunk odor.

1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide (from an unopened container)
1/4 cup baking soda
1-2 T. liquid dishwashing soap (Dawn is often recommended)

Apply to people or pets and allow to remain for about 5 minutes and then rinse off.  (Don't leave it on hair too long unless you're trying for a bleach job.) For clothing, mix into water in washing machine and run through the entire cycle.  Expect an explosion if you ever leave the mixture in a closed container.  Mix it fresh and use it promptly.  Check out the Nebraska site above for the best information I found anywhere.

Siding and outdoor furniture can be sprayed with a 1:9 bleach and water mixture.

Also worth noting is that skunks are repelled by the smell of peppermint.  The source I read suggested dropping oils around the foundation of the house.  I wondered why you wouldn't just plant peppermint plants if you were worried about skunks.

I've heard anecdotally about successfully using ozone generators in intolerable situations inside a building.  The Nebraska site casts doubt on the effectiveness of this approach.  Unless you could rent a machine inexpensively, it's not likely to be worth the expense for Paul's client.

Do you have a proven remedy to share?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Wrap Up--June 20, 2016

I have a lot of catching up to do here since the last blog post.  To help overcome the inertia of a long silence I'll start by pasting two recent status posts on my Facebook page.

There's a strange wheat harvest going on just beyond our backyard. A miniature but very sophisticated combine drives along and stops every several yards before proceeding. LaVerne of Miller Seed says 300 separate small plots have been seeded in this field, and, identified by GPS location, those plots are now being harvested, and data is being recorded on the yield. A small sample for further analysis is being collected from each plot. It's part of the painstaking process of bringing new wheat varieties to market.

In this stretch of "heat advisory" days, I'm thinking of Shea, who walked past our place on Monday in her walk across America. She started in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Our dog Barney shared several miles of her walk. We learned this the next morning when she and sweet Glenna Dellenbach brought Barney home from Abbyville where Shea and Barney had spent the night. I got a hug from Shea before they left. Barney got a hug and several kisses. Stay safe, Shea!

The second post has a strange sequel.  Yesterday, three days after Barney's unauthorized absence and collusion with a cross-country walker, he did a repeat act.  Yes.  Really.

I was sleepily recovering in the recliner from an early morning rising and hard work in the heat when the doorbell rang.  Hiromi answered.  "Barney did it again," he said when he came back inside.  "A girl who is walking across the US came by our place and Barney walked with her to Abbyville.  She and her dad just brought him back."

What?  Two girls in the same week walking past here on their way across the country?  And Barney joins up with them and goes all the way to Abbyville? And they both kindly bring him home?

The second girl's dad was making the trip alongside her in a VW van, no doubt providing support along the way.  She is walking on behalf of Medical Network for Children--if Hiromi remembered the name right and if I'm repeating it right.  The first girl had no such connections--"just talking to people and listening to their stories."  Her supplies were in a small wheeled cart. She had walked west to Dallas and then north to here.

These walkers seemed happy to have Barney for company, but I think he'd be more likely to stay home if they faced him squarely, acted threatening and told him to go home.

I'm not sure how people find our road, but it's a good route west through this county.  It's paved and not highly traveled--past our place at least.  US 50 is only one mile away and, while the shoulders are paved and wide there, traffic moves much faster, and walking is probably less relaxing.


My tarragon debacle began several weeks ago when five of our six grandchildren were here for several hours.  The day before I had transplanted my tarragon plant from one spot in the backyard to another.  To increase its chances of surviving the transfer, I had cut off the stems about halfway down, reasoning that this will be the first herb harvest for that plant, so the timing of this pruning/harvesting made me feel quite clever.  I put the tarragon into a bowl, along with the pruners that I had used to harvest it, and set the bowl inside the patio door to keep from having to come into the house with my dirty shoes.  It was still there (drying naturally, I reasoned) when the grandchildren came over the next day.

Wyatt found the bowl with its contents and went right to work using the pruners to snip the stems into small pieces.  I saw him and decided that was OK since I'd have to do something like that myself at some point anyway.  When I spied a missing chunk from one of my houseplant Clivia leaves, however, with Wyatt still wielding the pruner, I had him give it to me.  The bowl stayed where it was.

Later, when the boys had all romped outside to play, and the girls stayed sedately behind for fear of Barney (who can be quite intimidating with his own romping behaviors), Arwen picked up the watering can that I had let Tristan use to help water my houseplants.  She wanted to water something, so I let her water plants too.  Then Lucia wanted to water plants, and I let her, directing her carefully and having her set down the watering can when she was done.

While I was trying to put on lunch, I spied Lucia with the watering can again, pouring water into the bowl containing tarragon.  Oh bother.  I'll have to drain that off and spread the tarragon out to dry.  I put the bowl on the kitchen counter, moved the watering can, and went on with cooking lunch.

Hiromi cleaned up the dishes.  My tarragon bowl was washed and left to dry in the drainer.  The tarragon was nowhere in sight.  I never saw it again.  Hiromi had put it in the compost pail.  Sad story.

On the bright side, the tarragon is growing out nicely, and a second harvest should soon be ready.


Last week I spent five days at the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains at the Earth Partnership for Schools training in Hesston.   Forty hours of classes and ten hours of driving time made the week seem very full.

On Thursday of that week I turned 64.  Several days later I posted this on my Facebook page, above a picture with all the others who were at the EPS training:

This is where I was on my birthday this year--at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, KS, during a week of training with other teachers. The "teacher of teachers" is Brad Guhr, on the far right. As he put it, our EPS class is the fifth generation of teachers "descended" from Aldo Leopold, the first great voice and advocate for prairie conservation. In other words, each of us can say I was taught by _________ who was taught by ______, and Aldo Leopold is the last name in the short list. I've read and admired Leopold for many years.
Here we had just planted prairie plants in an undeveloped part of the arboretum and had finished a "prairie birthday" celebration. Not a soul there except me knew that I was appropriating the celebration for my very own birthday as well. I can't imagine sharing a birthday with a better birthday partner.
Before we left Hesston, Brad gave each of us a Black Oak seedling (in the Red Oak family) to plant on our school grounds.  The oaks had grown from acorns harvested in Wisconsin from a tree planted by Aldo Leopold.

Those who complete the EPS training and have their application approved are usually awarded a $2,000 grant to help establish prairie plantings on school grounds.  The grant is funded by the chickadee checkoff on income tax returns, and is channeled through OWLS (Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site).  It's a fairly arduous application process, and, at the direction of the principal of our school, as I have time I will work further on this.


Our curriculum committee is still working on the Health and Physical Education component of our curriculum.  We've been meeting most weeks of late.


The Master Gardener's Garden tour took place last weekend.  I helped guide visitors to the Hutchinson Community College Demonstration Garden, which is where I have volunteered a number of times earlier this year.  I also had the opportunity to listen to three good lectures on garden topics.  One of the speakers was from Dyck Arboretum.  He had planned and directed the prairie planting we did.

I love the HCC garden, and the president of the college apparently is quite proud of it too.  Carter File showed up at the garden tour, and shook hands all around as one of the people in charge introduced us.  He thanked us and told us that he often brings visitors to the garden.  Recently it was a group of junior college presidents from around the state.  One of them wondered how he could get our group to take care of a garden on their campus.  "You can't," Dr. File told him.  

Coming at the end of the EPS training, the garden tour made a full week even more so, but it was a good day.


Yesterday, several students from my last Home Environment class helped me paint the walls in the Hands of Christ cottage.  Thanks to Sheri and Ruthie and my brother Marcus, Paul Y., and Matthew N. who did all of the prep work, we got it almost finished.


My painting stint followed several hours working the Master Gardener's information booth at the Farmer's Market.  I had accidentally double-booked the morning, but it worked out OK since the one other person who was helping at the booth could come in for the last half of the morning.

We were sharing information on pollinators.  Bob R.  was a pro on pollinators and Becky C. was a pro at working the crowd, so it was a fun learning experience.  I loved being able to cruise the aisles and make purchases from the vendors--many of whom were acquaintances from my own market vendor days.

Only last week at the Dyck Arboretum gift shop I had purchased one of the newest books on pollinators of native plants.  This topic is of concern to many who pay attention to the health of our natural world, as well as to the people who depend on insect pollination for production of various flowering farm and garden crops.

Honeybees are the most well-known pollinators, but many other pollinators perform a significant service.  Since honeybees are in decline due to Colony Collapse and other hard-to-pin-down causes, we do well to encourage other pollinators to visit our plants.  Fastidious suburban-style landscaping and maintenance habits, along with cleared-out fence rows and well-mowed roadsides are the bane of pollinators and those who value them.


A week ago we had a carry-in dinner at church following a dedicatory prayer for our new kitchen.  After more than 50 years of having only a family-sized kitchen in the basement, this ample ground level kitchen feels quite luxurious.  It's actually a cooking kitchen--not only a serving kitchen.

Some of us were talking afterward about how the cleanup happens after such events, and I told how they had done it at Plainview the Sunday we were there recently.  A designated cleanup group was announced before the serving began.  In this case it was the "No name" group.  It was made up of families.  Someone suggested that maybe our small groups could take turns doing the cleanup after a carry-in.  I liked that idea.


Paul Yoder is having his 70th birthday soon.  His siblings expect to help him celebrate next weekend.  One of his brothers, Lee (Levi), will have a book signing at King Street Center on Friday evening.  For a $15.00 donation which will go to Hands of Christ and to Hope Ministries (local charities led by Lee's brother and nephew) people can read the story of Lee's life.  He grew up Amish in this community and then left to work in IW service in Denver.  He married and stayed in the Denver area.  At some point, he moved beyond the rebellion of his  youth and began to follow the Lord.  The book tells the story of this transformation.


We've had a lot of rain recently.  In one 24-hour period beginning Friday night, 3.3 inches fell here.  Halstead  had more than five inches.  The rains brought wheat harvest to an abrupt halt for now.  A branch down in the back yard gave evidence of high winds during the night.


Last evening the Iwashiges were at Shane and Dorcas' place for pizza.  Mother's Day, Father's Day, Hiromi's birthday, and my birthday all happen within one month's time, and our children planned and provided this celebration in honor of those events.  They also gifted us with money and suggested we might want to use it for a nice sushi dinner at Mr. Cao's.  Yuuuummm.

We had a lovely evening, with only Grant being absent. He was on his way home in a rental car with some other truckers who left their rigs in OK before the next run to TX.

Tristan wanted to read me a story and he did so, from the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  He kept right on reading after that first story.  I had done the first few lessons with him here and then put it away for a while after he seemed to lose interest.  I got it out again after several months, and when I saw how fast he was racing through the lessons I sent it home with him.  Apparently he's kept right on racing along (with some help from his mother, I'm sure), and now, unknown to me till last night, he's got the sounding out words thing down pretty well.  He is 4 years old.

Tristan also has learned to ride the bike I bought from Vernon and Lena recently.  Training wheels were added to make the process go more smoothly, and he seems quite confident with his new skill.


I'm learning about changes coming to the high school, beginning this fall, when a gradual four-year transition to a mostly conventional high school will begin.  For me it will mean teaching some new classes.  The subject areas are language arts and social sciences, which interest me a great deal.  This will be a fun challenge.  I might occasionally be tempted to substitute other adjectives to describe the challenge, but I'm sure it will overall be a very good thing.


Mark N. gave me a book today which is to be passed on to others on the curriculum committee.  Pilgrims in Politics by Michael S. Martin has been a good read so far.  If I hadn't interrupted myself to go visit my dad on Father's Day (he was gone to visit David Wagler who had a stroke, so I visited with my brother Marcus instead) and if I hadn't written here, I might have it finished by now.  It's a topic on which we are in desperate need of clear thinking and godly convictions.  Martin is preaching to the choir with me as his audience, but I am already seeing connections and noting arguments that had not occurred to me.

Added Later:  Dad (and Linda) visited Melvin and Fannie Nisly instead, after they were unable to reach the Waglers by phone.  Fannie is living with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

Monday, June 06, 2016

Recommended Local Event

Please note several things:

1.  This event happens on Saturday of this week.
2.  Advance purchase of tickets saves you $2.00 on each ticket.

I have been working as a volunteer in the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden at HCC.  I love the garden and hope you take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy it.  The lectures there will be worthwhile.  I guarantee it.  I've heard past lectures from two of the three speakers.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Nehemiah, A Model Leader

Sunday School makes me really happy right now.  We have just begun studying the book of Nehemiah.

After having spent earlier parts of the Sunday School year teaching from Romans and Zechariah, this book feels easy to understand and relate to everyday life. Within the past several years I studied Nehemiah thoroughly for my own benefit.  I read through it a number of times in various translations.  I filled many notebook pages with handwritten notes.

My past reading of Nehemiah occurred in the middle of some trying circumstances, and I was actually reading the book expecting to feel chastened by it--given the fact that a critic suggested that I needed to do so.  Instead I was surprised by joy over and over during the readings.  I felt encouraged and affirmed.  A picture of Nehemiah's integrity and selfless inspiring leadership emerged, verse-stroke by stroke, and I was often deeply moved as I read.   My notebook was filled with observations on Leadership.  Nehemiah was an amazing model of Godly leadership.

I told Hiromi at home this morning that one thing bothers me about sharing in Sunday School what inspired me in my earlier reading:  making observations on Leadership can easily appear to be a critique of existing leadership--which is a miry clay situation, as we all know.  "Then don't say it," Hiromi advised, quickly reversing his own advice after we talked a bit more about the need to be willing to go wherever the Scripture and the Holy Spirit lead us.

Nehemiah's own example shows the way.  He took his deep distress to the Father.  Mourning, fasting, and praying on behalf of his suffering people occupied his thoughts, presumably while continuing to offer his service to the king who kept some of his people captive.  He acknowledged his own sin and reflected on the promises of God.  In that four-month-long crucible of distress was birthed a resolve for Nehemiah personally.   At the first opportunity and at great personal risk, he asked the king for permission to travel to Jerusalem to aid his downtrodden countrymen.

He would leave his cushy palace job to pursue a project in a dangerous place among a demoralized people--to do a job he seemed not to be well-prepared for.  As Shane put it in church this morning, Nehemiah knew a lot more about wine than about construction, but he would undertake the job of building a city wall.  Just so the Lord often builds us up in private to prepare us to serve the public in roles which require us to lean hard on Him, because our own smarts and skills are not enough.

Years of working in the king's palace gave Nehemiah an inside look into administration activities that must have been a help to him on his big wall building project.  Still, it was hardly those techniques that served as Nehemiah's most important tools.  His humility, integrity, compassion, and dependence on God proved more effective than any heathen king's strategies could have been.

I note also that Nehemiah sought good information before he acted.  He asked his "brother" (perhaps a flesh and blood brother actually) about the condition of the Jews in Jerusalem--those out-of-sight, but not out-of-mind kinsmen.  His brother Hanani offered a first-hand report.  A man by that name is recorded elsewhere to have been in charge of Jewish affairs during this time period.  Hanani was the expert on the matter, and Nehemiah knew him to be trustworthy, so asking Hanani made ever so much sense.

Today in church when the discussion leader asked for highlights on the first Sunday's study of Nehemiah, no one mentioned Nehemiah as a model of good leadership, although many other worthwhile things were mentioned.  It almost made me wonder if I was projecting my own thoughts onto the content.  But no.  Believing that would be to invalidate what I know certainly to have been hearing from God during the study of His Word.  In gratitude for that I wish to be faithful in sharing with others what He shared with me.  

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Events and Thoughts of the Past Week

I'll start with writing about some of the good things about the past week.  It was packed full of end-of-school activities which I could enjoy this year without the crushing work load usually associated with the end of the school year.  A host of non-school events also crowded in, mostly with pleasant effect.

Today we attended the baptism of our youngest son at Plainview.  We stayed afterward for the carry-in dinner and enjoyed interacting with others--some who attend there regularly and others who were also visitors.  That was one of the good events of the weekend--a long-prayed-for occasion.

Plainview has preaching first.  Because I needed to teach my Sunday School class during that time we could not be there for the preaching.  The cold weather prompted a change in plans for the baptism and it took place in the fellowship hall.  Their immersion mode involves quite a lot more drama than our "pouring" mode.  I made a few (slightly irreverent?) observations about the water-retention qualities of denim jeans.  I never knew water could come gushing out of the bottom of a pant leg like that--in the process of climbing out of the "stock tank" launching the jet far beyond the edge of the towel-on-plastic-tarp laid down to protect the carpet.

For the first time in memory I wondered whether having preaching first would be a good thing for us.  I see some potential in it for accomplishing good things--wakefulness, happy babies, motivation for prompt arrival, etc.  


Yesterday I attended the Pilgrim awards assembly in the forenoon and then came home for  lunch with Hiromi and an afternoon of working together outside.  With rain in the forecast over the next number of days, getting plants out of the greenhouse and into the garden and landscape had finally made it to the top of the priority list.  We got a lot done.  Not finished, but more nearly so.

The awards assembly featured a few changes in this first year after transitioning to a combined grade and high school.  The grade school tradition of recognizing character qualities in each student (in even numbered grades) extended this year to the high school students.  I especially enjoyed hearing this of those who have been  my students.  Also, this year the grade school graduation was part of the awards assembly.  Doing it this way simplified a lot of things.  I'm not sure that everyone likes it as well as I, but I doubt that anyone will wish to have it back to the earlier way as time goes on.


On Friday evening Hiromi and I attended the Pilgrim High School graduation and the reception following.  One of my favorite parts of the celebration is seeing the table-top displays prepared by each graduate.  It's a chance to glimpse who these people are outside of school.  Some of each gender like hunting.  Some love art and music and have acquired skills in these fields.  Many love to read.  Sports are important to a few.  One has a love for the sea and another a love for horses.  Colorful characters all.

Gideon Y., seventh and eighth grade teacher, gave the commencement address.  It was clear and profound and memorable.  His coming to this community three years ago from Poland where he had worked for several years was a good thing for us here.  I knew from his Sunday morning devotionals at church that this was going to be good.  He's thoughtful, reads widely, thinks rationally, and communicates effectively, with a deep commitment to eternal priorities.


Shortly before we left for the graduation ceremony, I opened a gift from Jim and Alex Potter.  They had dropped it off with Hiromi at work, so I didn't get to see it till I unwrapped it after he brought it home.  The gift is a mounted and framed print of a painting done by Alex, who is a professional artist.  The "Pepper Mandala" features a glass bowl of colorful peppers on a red napkin.  It's a "birds-eye" (top down) view, done in pastels.  When Jim interviewed me recently as part of his Master Gardeners series, he thought of this one of his wife's paintings when I described why I can never resist planting lots of colored peppers.

I'm beginning to learn about pastels as an art medium.  For the uninitiated, picture applying color with something like chalk except less powdery.  Pastels cannot be blended before and during application as watercolors, chalk or paint can be.  Applying a color obscures whatever color is already present in that spot.  This means that colors must be individually layered onto the cloth canvas, and shading and highlights will both require the use of carefully chosen individual colors that lend just the right color variations.  Pastels are almost pure pigments not blended with either oil or water.  I am in awe at what precision is possible within the "limitations" of this medium.  The colors are as vivid as--well, as vivid as jewel-toned peppers illuminated by sunshine, so it's proper also to note the stellar attributes of this medium.  In the hands of an artist, that is.

My print is much smaller than the original "Pepper Mandala" painting which was 36" x 36."  That explains partly how it was possible to create the fine details in the peppers' stem ends, in the glass bowl's scalloped rim, and in the stitching and weave of the cloth napkin.   While my print is roughly half of life size, the original must have been several times life-size.  The painting is so realistic that it looks like a photo, but is more sensuously appealing than a photo.

Alex's art was featured in an article in Focus/Santa Fe/April/May 1998. The "Pepper Mandala" was pictured in that article, and included details about how it was created.  A reprint, along with some other printed information about Alex's work, was included in the gift box that contained the painting.  This combination of words and images together is my favorite way to learn.

The peppers were from a neighbor's garden and the bowl and napkin belonged to Alex.  She had plunked the bowl with peppers onto her studio floor while she prepared to "pose" them on a table top for a still life composition.  Then, before she put them on the table, she noticed how luminous the bowl and its contents looked right where they were, with the sunlight streaming over it all.  So she put a napkin under the bowl and took pictures looking down on the arrangement.  That photo became the model for the painting.  It's easy to understand that the time required for finishing the painting would be too long for the peppers to stay fresh throughout the process.  Thus the need for camera-preserved peppers.

The gift of the painting prompted gratitude on many levels--for the kindness and generosity of friends, for the lavish beauty in garden produce--nutritious and delicious--but more than that, for the capacity to enjoy good gifts, for a God who made humans creators in his own image, for the skills an artist develops and uses to bless others.  So many reasons for delight in the here and now, and many reasons as well to anticipate the perfection that awaits God's people in heaven.


Several conversations during the graduation reception involved education.  I did not initiate either of the two conversations that I was involved in.  The first included a group of young men, some former students and one person I didn't know.  Apparently before Hiromi and I got there, the "stranger" had been bombarded with admonitions to stay in school past his sophomore year, contrary to the wish he had expressed.  I gathered that our arrival was welcomed by the "bombarders" who saw us as potential reinforcements.  We tried to oblige (without ganging up too much on the young man being bombarded), but I doubt that we were very convincing.  I've already thought of many good things I couldn't think to say then.  Story of my life--these tardy zingers.

The other conversation was with an administrator.  Part of what we talked about was relevant to the situation with the young man from the previous conversation--the one who didn't want to finish school.  I didn't make the connection till much later, and the first conversation did not come up in the second at all.  Story of my life again--these belated connections.

My desire to see people stay in school through twelfth grade is strong.  My desire to affirm those whose strengths lie in non-academic areas is strong also.  I wish to see our offerings at school challenge the academically gifted; I want those who are differently gifted to be challenged to excellence in the areas where they're capable of excelling.  It is this last group of people who I believe could be served much better than is happening now.

In some way, staying in school should be linked to excellence in non-academic life skills--at least for students who are not college-bound. That's perhaps the crux of the challenge in designing an effective education program.  I believe the reluctant student in the first conversation  could not see that finishing high school would benefit him in his working life, which is where he idealized being successful.  He might be more right than I wish he was.

There's another side to this issue.  Some adults who are successful despite not having finished high school seem unable to value learning by means other than hands-on experience, and seem not to value accomplishment that is not easily quantifiable in production terms.  I believe disdain for learning by reading-studying-researching can be a serious limitation--a character flaw even,  Failing to value non-material accomplishment can involve failing to value what God values. Bottom line?  Acquiring more academic skills and other soft skills would have been a good thing for these people--not because they needed it to become financially successful, but because they needed a bigger frame of reference by which to order their values, priorities, and interactions with people.  The reluctant student above should know that he needs a bigger frame of reference for living well than two years of high school are likely to offer him.

Striking the right balance between academic and practical offerings at school is not easy, and I certainly see no clear path forward in accomplishing it.   I'm thinking that it would likely necessitate the involvement of people not now usually considered part of school staff, and locations outside the walls of a brick and mortar school building.  The matter of assigning grades and credit might need reevaluation/reinvention.  I believe it would mean giving careful thought to meeting legal mandates in ways that also serve our purposes more precisely than is now the case.  At this point, I'd settle for agreement on the necessity of beginning the task and would welcome the application of many good minds to the matter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

TMI on Colic

Just a few days ago I remembered a theory I had read about what causes colic in babies (or did I actually see something on youtube--can't remember).  The person sharing information believed that babies' unexplained discomfort occurred because of a problem with their spinal alignment.  The problem was exacerbated by the diaper changing routine in which a baby's ankles are grasped with one hand, and the baby's body is lifted just enough to swap diapers.  This lifting calls for the baby's spine to bend quite a bit at a certain point.  The muscles are not yet developed enough along the spine to keep it aligned.  As the spine bones shift, nerves are pinched and pain results.

Around the age of three months, strengthening of the muscles means that less shifting of the spine occurs and diaper changing no longer triggers pain.  What is needed early on is careful spinal adjustment, repeated as needed (by a chiropractor, of course) and a modified diaper changing routine.  Rolling the baby from side to side--off the wet diaper and back onto a dry one, is one example of how this can be done.

I thought it made some sense, although I wasn't ready to become a big promoter of curing colic by chiropractic adjustments and a new diapering technique.

On the matter of chiropractic adjustments for babies I remembered what happened when our first grandchild was born.  Those first days he cried as if in great pain at every feeding.  Because of all that had occurred during a difficult delivery, I suggested that maybe seeing a chiropractor could set something right that had gone wrong during delivery.  The baby's parents took him to the person who has treated members of our family periodically over many years of time.  He treated the baby very gently, applying minimal pressure with one finger in the area where he discerned a problem with the alignment of his bones.  He explained that the bones of babies move very easily, and it really doesn't take much to set things right.

The crying at feeding time stopped immediately--a night and day difference.

In a very different vein, yesterday a Facebook friend linked to an article detailing the horrors of chiropractic adjustments for babies.  While being filmed during a manipulation, the infant being treated gave a loud cry just as an audible cracking sound was heard on the recording.  Accounts followed telling of permanent damage resulting from chiropractic adjustments for infants.  Medical doctors were calling for a ban on the practice.

This happened in Australia, but the article concluded by saying that things are just as bad in the US.

OOOOOOKAAAAAAY.  So what's going on here?  Is a chiropractic adjustment for a baby a good or a bad thing?  

In the Family Life magazine that came today a self-educated Central American woman wrote that she discovered after a lot of reading and time spent caring for colicky babies, that a thumb pressed firmly but gently on a baby's navel can stop the crying, often almost instantly.  Taping a wadded-up cotton ball tightly over the navel serves the same purpose.


In case  your own experience does not include caring for colicky babies, you should know that dealing with it can be ever-so-trying.  In general, medical practitioners don't seem to have a clue about how to address the problem.

In case anyone asks me for advice, I'll be happy to refer the parent of any infant in pain to a trusted chiropractor who treats as gently as ours does.  I think it would be a disservice to steer desperate parents and crying babies away from any possibility of finding help.  Remember?  Traditional practitioners often can't offer help for colic.  I am assuming, however, that a medical professional has been involved enough in the baby's care to have identified abnormalities or other obvious causes of discomfort.

If I were asked I think I might recommend trying the side-roll diapering technique.  If that didn't help, there's always the tape and cotton ball thing to try.  Surely none of these are any more ridiculous and dangerous than alternatives that might present themselves to the sleep-deprived mind of a caregiver who has listened for hours to incessant crying.  I'm familiar with these:  incessant jiggling, floor pacing, tummy rubbing, back patting, draping the baby lengthwise over your forearm, rocking, or, when you can't stand it any more, putting the baby in the crib and walking away for a minute or two.

Compiling that list in the last sentence clearly amounts to Too Much Ineffectiveness (TMI) in colic-relieving efforts.  I have no doubt that others could add to the list--things I didn't try or have forgotten.


Monday, May 09, 2016

Words and Connections

Fair Warning:  I'm wearing my teacher hat now and the lesson today is on often-mangled words or pronunciations.

First I'll have to confess having (silently at least) mispronounced "extant" all these years.  The emphasis is on the first syllable.  I didn't know that till I heard it in yesterday's sermon and looked it up afterward.  It means "still in existence," as in the case of an ancient Bible text, for example.

On the other hand, I did also look up Byzantine and found that I had been pronouncing it right all along.  The first syllable sounds like the first syllable of business.

A pair of words that has often confused me is this one:  interment/internment.  "Interment" usually happens in a cemetery and "internment" usually happens in a prison.  One letter makes a big difference.  The longer word is associated with the shorter duration--of bodies residing in specific locations.

I often hear tract and track confused when reference is made to the human body.  We have a digestive and respiratory tract.  Only in severe digestive distress does that tract resemble a race track where moving along toward the "finish line" happens at an accelerated pace.   Don't make me laugh by talking about anyone's digestive track.  The image is funny and an appropriately sober response might elude me.


When I arrived at Shane and Dorcas' house this morning to take care of the boys while Dorcas went to town, Carson was eating breakfast.  I noted that and asked Tristan if he already finished his breakfast.  His answer:  "Well, I had toast but I didn't have any protein yet and I'm still hungry."

He had apparently been offered an egg and had declined.  His surprised mother renewed the offer and prepared an egg for him in short order.

Shane is on a Choice Books trip to PA.  Tristan told me that this time he would be gone only one night.  Last time he was gone three nights.  They like this much better.


Here's my status post on Facebook today:

You know you're in a small-town post office when the postmaster offers you some of the peonies he cut at home and brought to the post office in a bucket. Yay for the Partridge postmaster! He made my day.

 More than 40 people like this--probably as much as I do.


I so love the surprising connections that sometimes happen in the course of living life.  Three such have happened this week.

Last week while we were working in the demonstration garden, one of the Master Gardeners introduced me to J----- J------, telling me that she (JJ) grew up in Africa.  It turned out that my cousins M and S, who have lived in Ethiopia for many years, knew JJ's brother very well.  They lived near each other in Ethiopia.  Two Master Gardener's connecting at HCC via Ethiopia is pretty amazing.


"Sheila's" has been mentioned often among Master Gardeners as the best place to buy plants from K-State's Prairie Star Annuals list.  These are plants that have been carefully trialed all over Kansas, and they have thrived.  I had gathered that Sheila's was somewhere about an hour northeast of here.  Yesterday when I finally set about trying to figure out how to get to Sheila's, I suddenly remembered a young single Holdeman lady I had befriended a number of years ago at a grower's meeting in Wichita.  She had just started a plants business and I almost remembered that her name was Sheila.  I began to wonder if this was one and the same person.

Everything I learned on the internet about "Sheila's" sounded Holdeman--the Galva address, the Wedel last name, the location on a farm in the country and having begun originally by cleaning out a shed on the farm and then adding greenhouses.  Her family and many friends had helped her.  Today I asked Pam (extension agent) if Sheila was Mennonite and she said yes.  Her business name is Sheila's Garden Market.  Tomorrow I want to drive over there.  I've invited my Dad to ride along, and he wants to do so.  I don't know if I'll see Sheila, but if I do it will be fun to chat.


When I sent the Master Gardener profile written by Jim Potter to my extended family, my brother Myron mentioned that their children had learned to play chess from Jim.  He had met every week with a number of homeschoolers in the area while he was a school resource officer for the Reno County Sheriff Department.

Steve and Evelyn M.'s children were also in that group.  I don't know who else, except that I believe Brandon N. was present too, although he was not homeschooled.

Today when I saw Jim I mentioned that my nephews were in the chess group, and he spoke of that time together as having been a great pleasure.

He had spoken at Pilgrim high school also at some point.  Ray Delahoy's children attended at the time, and that provided an easy connection since Ray was also with the county sheriff department.

So many connections we didn't know about earlier.

An Interview

My sister suggested that I post this in honor of my mother.  It's written by Jim Potter, a fellow Master Gardener who is undertaking interviews of various individuals in the group.  This interview took place last week in the Hutchinson Community College Master Gardener's Demonstration Garden, and the picture was taken there.  If you live in this area and have never seen this garden, do yourself a favor and stop by often.  During the summer it will be a quiet place.  Park near the southeast corner of the parking lot north of Lockman Hall (just off 14th street) and walk south toward the garden.  The tennis courts are to the east of the garden.  A few tables in the area could be used for a picnic.  

Miriam Iwashige: Verbena bonariensis
               “Verbena bonariensis,” she pronounced without hesitation. Then, when I asked, she spelled it for me like a by-gone Latin teacher or spelling bee champion.
Growing up, imagine having your mother refer to the plants in your garden by their botanical name! Later, you’d learn the plants had other, more common names.
“As long as I can remember I have loved anything to do with our garden or farm,” said Miriam. She learned from her mother and grandmother, who both had a great deal of knowledge of plants and the environment and were tremendous gardeners.
As an adult there were other teachers for Miriam, authors who shared their knowledge about growing plants that would survive in rough environments with harsh winters, hot summers and sudden hail storms (The Undaunted Garden: Planting for Weather Resilient Beauty (2011) by Lauren Springer Ogden, and Passionate Gardening: Good Advice for Challenging Climates (2000) by Lauren Springer and Rob Proctor).
               Miriam enjoys focusing on hardy landscape planting that attracts birds, so berries and red cedars are especially useful plants. Also, planting flowers allows her a handy natural resource for flower decorating. She started selling these “field grown cut flowers” at the Reno County Farmer’s Market in Hutchinson when she was looking for a way to “get out a little more and have more contact with people.” Because she was already comfortable with the market from her mother’s previous pie sales, Miriam figured, “Growing flowers and selling at market might be a good fit (for me).” As is Miriam’s modus operandi, she researched the idea. Books authored by Lynn Byczynski on growing for market were especially helpful (Market Farming Success: The Business of Growing & Selling Local Food, 2nd edition (2013) and The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower’s Guide to Raising & Selling Cut Flowers (2012). Thus, Miriam learned what plants were the backbone of the business and could be grown and marketed in Kansas. She recalls how one particular variety of Zinnias became one of her favorite flowers to use in cuttings due to its mildew resistance and long stems
For inspiration Miriam likes to study the Prairie Star (K-State Research and Extension) list of hardy plants as well as commercial botanical catalogs. If the plants she wants to buy are not available locally, she’ll find the closest nursery so the item will be as similar as possible to Reno County’s climate. Goumi is one shrub she found, similar to Autumn Olive used in windbreaks, that she planted this spring. It has tiny red fruit overlaid with tan freckles and she’s already looking forward to tasting it.
               “In my garden,” Miriam explains, “the two, no, three things I can never resist trying are different varieties of lettuce, tomatoes and peppers. I really love to eat tomatoes, probably my favorite.” Then Miriam describes her colorful peppers using words like “glossy, vivid, orange, white, yellow, lavender and purple.” Sounds to me like she’s painting a picture as decorative as her cut flowers.
Every year Miriam likes to grow different varieties of produce and compare the new product to her long time favorites. For example, Snow Crown, her standard cauliflower, will be compared to something newly planted this year. This constant evaluation keeps Miriam grounded. Another side of her horticulture fun is improving the landscape by deciding which “cheap and available” plant needs to be in a particular spot. It makes for an interesting adventure!
“I love the garden here (at Hutchinson Community College),” Miriam shares. “It’s therapeutic for me to work in the garden. I find myself with a smile on my face without trying when I’m in a place like this,” she continues. Miriam references Psalms 23 with its mention of the soul being restored in green pastures and beside still waters and concludes, “I know what He’s talking about, the beauty of being in places where things are grown. Man started in the garden. The natural environment was a place to feel connected with God. We were made to thrive in this environment.”