Hiromi is in the kitchen cooking up a batch of senbei, a slightly sweet peanuty dough fried like firm mini-pancakes. He says they're a snack, and he's been coveting them for several weeks. He found a recipe online. This is why he came home from shopping with items like salted peanuts, a nut chopper and biscuit mix over the past week or so. He also added butter, eggs, milk, and brown sugar, but no additional leavening. Senbei is actually a generic name for dry snacks of many kinds. They're good--not too sweet and not too salty.
Ovens are not standard equipment in a traditional Japanese kitchen, so the stove top is often used to cook foods similar to what we might prepare in an oven.
Watermelon is one of the very best ways to enjoy popcorn, or is it the other way around? I had them together this evening.
I was late to church on Wednesday evening and missed the opening show, but someone told me about it afterward. Shane led the singing, and had left Tristan waiting on the church bench till his duties were done. Either Tristan didn't quite get the message about what he was to do, or he was overwhelmed with the desire to be with his dad, so he quietly got up from his place near the back and walked up the center aisle to his dad. Shane tried to have him sit with one of the girls at the front--Christy maybe, since she helps at the house regularly--but it didn't work. So Tristan just stood quietly beside his dad while he finished his song leading.
Four of our minister's wives were Beachys who grew up in other states. That is, their maiden name (surname) was Beachy. Bertha grew up in Pennsylvania, Rosanna in Ohio, Susanna in Indiana, and Mom in Iowa. I'm sure they're all related (which means I'm related to them all), but I haven't figured it all out. They're not dangerously closely related, which is a good thing, since my son and Susanna's daughter got married to each other.
On Friday of this week, Hiromi and I will have been married for 33 years. We plan to spend a little extra time making the trip to Labette County for my nephew Christopher Miller and Rachel Yoder's wedding on Saturday, incorporating our own celebration into the events. It's the only trip on our agenda for this summer.
Before then I will need most of three days for meetings in connection with curriculum committee work or training for using the writing curriculum at the center of the new language arts part of the grade school curriculum.
Helping Dorcas can and freeze peaches, canning another batch of sweet pickles for me, making sauerkraut and putting pesto sauce in the freezer are also on my agenda for this week.
We got the auditorium ballot report today. It contained this information:
"53% marked that they were in favor of building a new auditorium
47% marked that they were in favor of no additional building now"
Along with about a page's worth of other good commentary, this sentence also appeared: "This vote gives us no clear mandate, but a challenge to continue our consensus building efforts."
We toured Nathan's garden and their family's orchard this past Monday. One tree on which hung beautiful almost-ripe peaches showed the good result of their herculean efforts last spring to save the blossoms from getting frozen during a cold snap. They strung "plugged-in" Christmas lights among the branches and then covered the tree with something--sheets or plastic?--and the blossoms were saved.
Nathan served us corn on the cob and Asian eggplant, pared and thinly sliced, then dipped into beaten egg and a mixture of flour and cornmeal, and fried. They were crisp and chip-like, and very good. We also had peach tea, made with the usual kind of iced tea, and pureed peaches from their trees. The requirement that all snacks be garden snacks has had wonderful, creative results so far.
The others went deer spotting afterward. I came home to see Hiromi before the day was over.
The only time I ever went deer spotting was with my co-teachers when we visited Esther King's home community in Belleville, PA when I was in my lower twenties. Jess Spicher took us. I didn't know you could do this in Kansas. They planned to ride on the back of a truck, unlike us, who all crammed into the cab of a truck--in double layers, as I recall.
I made the obligatory noises the other night about the need for safety, which Rhoda (Nathan's mom), reinforced privately by talking about their family's experience when her brother Titus dived into water in a farm pond and suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him for life. We both recognized that what strikes close home sticks in a person's mind forever. Otherwise, safety concerns are pretty easy for young people to dismiss. Rhoda assured me that the deer spotting was unlikely to get too wild since Sara, the game big sister, was going along.
I thought about the conversation today in church when we heard about the death of Perry Judy's great-nephew in Arkansas--a 14-year-old boy who died when he bounced out of a pickup bed because of the driver swerving to avoid hitting a large dog in the road. He was on his way home from swimming. No one in that community will ever look at riding on the back of a truck the same way, unless I miss my guess.
I haven't heard yet about the results of the efforts to gather information on my grandparents at the Beachy reunion in Iowa yesterday. Carolyn, who married into the family, was preparing to facilitate the recording of some memories from the people who attended.
One of the largely undocumented customs that are so very common in distinctive communities is the seating patterns during church services. In our church, children who have reached the age of twelve are considered sufficiently mature to sit away from their parents with others of their age and gender on the first row at the front.
When I was growing up, the age when this happened was quite a lot more fluid, as I recall. I think I sat up front when I was younger than 12.
Lately, I've noticed that some of the girls older than twelve are choosing occasionally to sit with their mother rather than up front. One mother told me today that she allows it when there's enough room, but says that it won't happen when it's too full in the back. That seems reasonable to me.
The Kansas Youth Chorus is embarking on their tour on Saturday of this week. They will cross the border into Mexico. Paul and Martha and Isaac and Susie Peters plan to accompany them.
Kansas has a very conservative governor, Sam Brownback. His fiscal policies are "tea party" all the way, including eliminating income taxes, with the hope that this will stimulate economic growth to the point that revenue from other taxes will fund all necessary government programs. So far, it doesn't seem to be working, and state revenue is disappearing. In what may be an unprecedented move, a large block of Republican legislators are supporting his Democratic opponent, Paul Davis, in the upcoming election.
Brownback deserves kudos for his leadership in addressing the problem of the depleted Ogallala Aquifer that underlies much of Kansas and parts of five other states in this area. Extensive pumping for field irrigation has caused the water level in the underground freshwater sea to drop precipitously in some areas. The problem is exacerbated by a lingering drought in areas southwest of here. While he was a US congressman, Brownback convened a group of people to study the problem and make recommendations. No meaningful followup occurred until now. Brownback is organizing many listening events and is soliciting the input of farmers and many others whose well-being and fortunes depend on an adequate water supply.
The miles of corn in Western Kansas fields could not grow without irrigation. Growing of that crop has an economic trickle-down in many forms. Having the water disappear would be devastating to an economy built on corn--a crop unsuited for growing here under natural conditions.
The Hutchinson News
is publishing a series of articles on the Ogalalla Aquifer. What I've seen so far is very good work.
The death of nearly 300 travelers who had the bad fortune to be in a plane flying over Ukraine when the plane was shot out of the sky by a war-head rocket is another news item that promises to stick around for a while in international news. As Shane observed early on, "Things are about to get very awkward for Putin." Evidence strongly points to Russian involvement in the attack.
Going to the dentist is one of my least favorite things to do. I'm always vastly relieved when I have no cavities and I need not return for another six months. This week I also had the good news that some of my deeper gum pockets had improved this time. It's hard to believe that simply paying more attention to careful flossing could have made that difference, but I'll take it . . .
I don't want to get my eyes checked, but I might have to. I literally couldn't read the words of the song book today when I was sharing it with my neighbor.