Prairie View

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Today I Googled UTI Home Remedies. One interesting entry on the search page proclaimed help for urinary track infections.

I've heard of the fast track (to success or doom), the college prep track or the vocational track for high schoolers, the Mommy track for women in the work world, and now I've heard of the urinary track. I don't think I want to know where that one goes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Ramblings

My wrist watch disappeared last Saturday evening, a fact which dawned on me gradually throughout the next few days after one landing spot after another proved to be devoid of my watch. I determined that the most likely place for me and the watch to have parted company was in one of the plum thickets in the pasture fence row where I had gone to pick "Shelterbelt plums" for jelly.

"Go to town and buy yourself another watch," Hiromi advised. I delayed.

Tonight Hiromi and I went back to pick more plums, this time taking the sensible precaution of unplugging the electric fencer before we sallied forth.

Getting Hiromi to go along required some cajoling.

"Why would I want to do that?" he asked.

"Because you love your wife and want to spend time with her?" (I know--shameless manipulation here.)

"Did you see the email I sent you?" (Indirect answer and lack of affirmation provides quick evidence that the effort at manipulation failed.)

"You mean the one that said 'Edit this?' I tried to ignore it.


"I saw it but I didn't open it."

"Will you edit that tonight if I go with you to pick plums?"


"Is there a bull in the pasture?"

"I don't think so. I didn't check all the cattle out very carefully last week. But I walked right by them, and none of them seemed to notice." (Lowell brought a small herd of cattle last week. I think they are mostly cow-calf pairs.)

"Anything can happen. No animal gets the best of me, though." I looked to see if he had picked up some kind of weapon. He hadn't.

So now you know what it takes to get Hiromi to pick plums with me.

We waded through tall ragweed and smartweed in the pasture. I don't remember any of this being here when I was a kid. This pasture had low-growing grass and a patch of Prickly Pear cactus by the west fence, and a meandering little waterway through the middle. You could see a few old buffalo wallows too. Lots of rain of late and no cattle present most of the summer to graze it down must have created this prairie jungle.

The thickets along the west side had no more plums. A shame, since that's where all the biggest plums were last week. Along the north fence though, many of last week's green plums had grown and ripened by now, and they hung in heavy clusters. In about a half hour we had picked three small buckets full.

The best part happened shortly into our picking along the north side. "Here's your watch!" Hiromi called out. There it was--draped across some low twiggy branches about a foot off the ground. It looked nice and shiny, and none-the-worse for having been there during a downpour that gave us several inches of rain.

"Let's go home now. We've already saved lots of money by finding the watch." Nice try. He kept on picking though.


I'd rather edit a student's paper any day than Hiromi's writing. I find it hard to wade through the content and understand it, for starters, because it's often on subjects that I don't have a personal vision for--fine points of textual criticism. So understanding it is the first challenge. Then I have to figure out how to state it so other people can understand it too. Often it requires major reconstruction because of fractured English--no articles, for example. I often go through it, on the first round, inserting "a," "an," and "the" before many of the nouns.

He's quite appreciative, though, and I know I've done it right when he reads what I've written and says something like "That's what I wanted to say."


Every year I marvel at how long it takes to organize the cleaning jobs that the students do every week at school. I think I've spent most of five days this year on that project. The good thing is that the cleaning work for me is mostly over after the first of the year. Then the work for the students begins.


This morning during our share time at church Julian suggested that people might want to share what they like about our church. This was a followup to the topic on Wednesday evening which dealt with what parents can do to help their children desire to become a part of the church in which they grew up.

Quite a few people spoke up, with varying degrees of specificity about what they like. I was especially interested in some of the comments from people who are not members at Center. One young man (Jim) said he has no family within 1500 miles from here, but he has "family" here nonetheless. Another young mother (Dorthea) expressed her heartfelt agreement with the young man's words. She came from the Southwest part of the country with her husband and toddler under extenuating circumstances, and knew not a soul in this place when she first came over the time of Joel and Hilda's wedding. An elderly man in a wheelchair who, with his wife, was there for the very first time, gave God glory for his ability to walk again after a crippling accident that doctors said would make walking again impossible. Through Hands of Christ Ministries, people from our church constructed a wheelchair ramp at their new residence in Hutchinson and helped them move from Wichita. A grandpa (Owen) who was visiting today said he had become part of this church 39?? years ago when he came here to marry a woman who had grown up here.

Echoing Dwight's expression of appreciation for an atmosphere in which people can differ without feeling threatened or taking offense, Joel said he likes the "flavorful stew" that results when he can be with others of varying opinions. Harvey said he was invited to go elsewhere to church today, but he didn't want to be away from Center. He values our young people, as well as everyone else. Jana, who is going back to being a doctor in a clinic in El Salvador this week, said she likes the feeling of "home" she has when she comes here because her heart feels at home with people who share her heart's passions. Josh said he appreciates the way the leaders care for the people of the church, being willing to do what is best, even if that means departing from the way things have been done in the past. Loyal, who just returned from a year of voluntary service at Faith Mission Home took the opportunity to share some of what he has learned about serving others. Paul said he appreciated the warm welcome their family felt when they moved here from Belgium some time ago, and he appreciates now the financial support that makes possible his employment with Hands of Christ Ministries. Irene said she likes Sunday School classes--the privilege of discussing Scripture with sisters in Christ.

I would have said: good sermons, good singing, and being with people of integrity. I probably wouldn't have said it, but I appreciate too that the contribution of women is welcomed and valued here in a way that is not true everywhere.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Off-Topic in Typing Class

Rhinotillexomania--MJ had just spelled the word for everyone's benefit, then proceeded to give a definition.

MJ: It means picking your nose constantly.

Student: If you ever get that word in the spelling bee you'll know how to spell it.

2nd Student: Be sure to ask for a definition.

3rd Student: No. Ask for a demonstration.


About Yoder Days and riding in the parade--

Carolyn? (slight memory failure on my part here): I rode with my dad last year and threw out candy. It's kinda fun to throw out candy to all the little children. It's bad though if you happen to hit a Grandpa in the head.


I'm back to teaching typing this year and being privy to all the random things members of the class talk about throughout. It's a jolly time except when a computer locks up and refuses to budge, leaving its poor operator to languish while others are busily pecking away and gradually ramping up their speed.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Arlyn and Dwight were ordained tonight. It was the first time either of them were among the ministerial candidates here. That is understandable because neither of them lived here at first after they were married. They both moved here with families in tow. Lowell has been among the candidates several times--three times perhaps--I've lost track. He was gone during several of our ordinations.

Dwight and Karen have six children between eleven and three. Arlyn and Brenda have four children between the ages of seven and one. Their two daughters are five year old twins.

Lowell, Dwight, and Arlyn are all the heads of homeschooling families. In other ways, each of these men and their spouse have made very good choices for their family.

Lowell and his family spent five years together in Nicaragua. Arlyn and his family spent at least that many years in New York City. Arlyn was there before his marriage too. Dwight served at Faith Mission Home. He met Karen when they both taught school in Tennessee after that.

Lowell travels regularly to India to help conduct seminars for pastors. He was asked recently to join another ministry that conducts similar events elsewhere in Asia. He has also been a teacher at Calvary Bible School. He serves on the deacon committee in our church and he assists with our church-based lending/borrowing organization. Right now he is a Sunday School superintendent. It's likely that ordination would have curtailed some of these other involvements. At any rate, it feels good to view his not being ordained tonight as further direction for where he is to serve--not denial of his fitness for service.

I marvel at how the uncertainty before an ordination evaporates immediately afterward. I've never heard second-guessing the rightness of the outcome after the ordination service is over. That is the effect, I believe, of much prayer preceding the event, and the resultant drawing together of hearts open to the will and direction of God. Afterward, there is genuine gratitude for how God has revealed His plan. As time goes on, the rightness of the plan is confirmed repeatedly.

I don't doubt that there are other good ways to find church leaders, but I, for one, am not on a mission to replace the system we have now. The combination of church vote and use of the lot seem good to me. I especially value having people whose life we know serve as our leaders.
Overall, there is much rest in this way of doing.

About ten years ago I was present at Hesston College when David Kline met with a small group of faculty members and assorted other guests over lunch. He was there as a Staley lecturer--rather untypical stuff for an Amish bishop. (His writings as a naturalist and organic farmer have propelled him into the limelight outside Amish circles, and he has been quoted and is claimed as a friend of the likes of Wendell Berry, Gene Logsdon, and Barbara Kingsolver.) One Hesston faculty member asked David what pieces of Amish tradition or faith practice could be incorporated into Mennonite settings.

David zeroed in on the use of the lot for ordination and suggested that Mennonite congregations would find it a blessing to use the practice--in some small way at least. He mentioned some of the things that are very clear in the mind of members of our church right now--the drawing together of the church body, the blessing of sensing the Lord's direction, the solidness of choosing leaders from among our own number. Everyone there who followed this pattern of ordination in their own church gave assent to what David was saying, and the rest of the group seemed receptive.


Dwight's parents and a number of his siblings were here for the ordination, having traveled from Ohio, Arkansas, and Colorado. I was very happy for a chance to meet them again. Dwight and his siblings attended the school where I taught in Ohio between 1971 and 1978, and a number of them were my students. It's such a pleasure to see how God is using that bright and busy young family of those years in various capacities in His service now.


Someone told me in the weeks leading up to the voting and ordination "I look at the wife almost as much as the husband when I consider who to vote for." By that sentiment, which I share, Judy, Brenda, and Karen all got a vote of confidence too in the process of this ordination.

I think it's very sad to think that perhaps some capable men can not realistically be considered for leadership positions because their wife does not seem like a suitable companion for a minister. It's true, of course, that not all men need to be a minister, and not all women need to be a minster's wife, but if a little more care in how one lives life, and a little more support of one's husband's ministry--whatever it is--could open doors for service that are closed because of a wife's questionable choices or practices, it would be a good thing for a wife to make the necessary changes. What is there to lose by such care and support? Much could be gained.


Arlyn and Dwight have both been classroom teachers.

Dwight makes his living as a dairyman and produce farmer.

Arlyn is a travel agent. This livelihood seemed at one point like a detour, after an on-the-job injury to his back during a construction job derailed his work with his father in the business of doing basements and other types of building. He's a diligent home gardener as well.


Last night I trekked back to the fencerows along the pasture to check on the ripeness of the wild plums growing there. It was an arduous trek through way too many tall weeds, and punctuated twice with shocks from the electric fence, which Hiromi had told me wouldn't be hot because he had unplugged the fencer--the one around the sheep pen. "I think Lowell is running his fence off this one," he assured me. "He said the other fencer got zapped by lightening."

But Lowell had another fencer hooked up to the pasture fence, just as I suspected would be the case. However, I thought maybe Hiromi was right after I used my wire basket twice to lower the fence enough to step over without incident. (These must have been disconnected from the pasture fence.) The third time I felt a mild shock, so the next time I had to cross the fence I crawled under it, but my hands-and-knees profile wasn't low enough and the middle of my back got soundly zapped. I was not impressed. I had buried my nose in ragweed and planted my bare knees on prickly weed stems and probably made contact with chiggers for nothing.

It was getting dark as I scoured the bushes for ripe red plums. In a short time I got probably a gallon and a half. A lot of unripe ones remain. The ripe fruit is incredibly fragrant and tasty, but the skins are rather tough and astringent. I walked home with the nearly-full moon overhead, and the day having cooled off nicely. I walked gratefully through the hay field and around by the road--no electric fences by that route.


Hiromi is talking to his brother in Japan via Skype. I understood "Mr. Mom" but not much else.

Hiromi is fond of playing up the domestic skills he's perfecting since his retirement. He's a tomato canning pro by now. I was a bit offended the other night when I started to help get lids on jars, and he told me rather shortly, "Don't bother." Topsy-turvy roles come with hazards.

Mostly, Hiromi is typically ever-so-focused on the task at hand, and doesn't like disturbances while he's carrying them out. I think having someone to work with is great all by itself, and I gladly adapt my plans to include any willing helper. Can you tell he grew up as the youngest in a family of three and I grew up second oldest in a family of twelve?


Yesterday at market Hiromi sold tomatoes to a family from Denmark who moved here in the employ of Siemens, the wind generator manufacturer soon to be in operation in Hutchinson. Today that man and his family were featured in the Hutchinson News. Summer heat is one of their major adjustments. They come from a place where the temps rarely rise above the 70's. He grew up on a farm, and has family roots in Germany. Siemens is a German company, but the wind generator company they have now was originally a Danish company. The man at the market has worked for the same company under both owners.


The first day of school on Friday went off without major hitches although we realized we weren't quite ready for typing class when no one could log onto the computers since we hadn't created accounts for them yet on the network. We're ready now.

I like my headquarters back in the typing room where I started out eight years ago. I think I'll feel a little more connected with everyone than I did last year with my out-of-the-way desk in the library. That was nice too, though, in some ways.

The big freshman class is bringing lots of energy into the place, and I think a fun year is shaping up.

Before we cast our votes for ordination candidates, David (our bishop) told us that since four of the men on the minister's team are 58 or 59, there is a need for younger men to join the team now. No age was suggested as a minimum or maximum age, however.

Three men received more than 63% of the votes: Lowell M. (my brother), Dwight M. (married to my cousin Karen), and Arlyn N. (who used to live and teach in New York City). Lowell is 51, Dwight is 39 and Arlyn is 42. A number of other men were nominated and it's likely that some of them were younger than 39.

"I guess people's definition of "young" varies," someone told me yesterday after the voting results were announced.

"I think probably everyone younger than yourself seems young, and we have a lot of older people in our church," I replied.

So 51 seems young to some and 39 seems young to others. I also think that, when there are quite a few capable men in the candidate pool, those who have a longer track record stand out in people's minds above younger people who have had less time in public service of any kind.

Past ordinations in our church included at least one 25-year old (Gary), and one 27-year old (Dad). Dad was also in the lot two years earlier, when he was 25, so people here have certainly not always been averse to nominating younger people, and God has apparently been willing to have them serve as church leaders.

The service tonight will be accessible in a link at It starts at 7:00 Central Daylight Time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Obsess: An Overview

Obsess 2010 was the second annual summer event for 13-16-year-old girls at the Calvary Bible School campus. The activities are designed to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically stretching. As one of six ladies who were asked to address the group on assigned topics during general sessions, I can attest to every one of those triple stretching goals having been reached.

With their leaders’ blessing, a group of young ladies from the Cornerstone Mennonite Church at Harrison, AR plan and publicize the event. Some of the young men in these ladies’ lives help a lot with set-up tasks, and then at least one of them lurks mostly out of sight during the weekend–close enough though to be summoned quickly if an emergency develops. Older ladies from the church help with cooking. Cooks and speakers are urged to mingle with the girls as much as they desire, or as the girls request, and they are often recruited to help when there is a need for input on something the staff needs to decide or when the girls need counsel.

When the girls arrive they are divided into groups, with each group having one or two young adult counselors. These group leaders work very hard. They share all the activities the girls participate in during their stay, guiding with words and by their love and example.

Funding is handled on a donation basis, with the Cornerstone church standing by to fill in any gaps that remain if donations do not cover costs.

The girls arrive with the help of older people who provide transportation for them. These people disappear, usually to other church communities in the area, until the weekend is over–unless these people are playing a role in the planned events. Counselors and speakers who drive to the event often bring a load of girls with them.

As I understand it, Obsess started after some young girls from the Cornerstone church read the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. The book represents a “rebellion against low expectations.” The girls were impressed, and the book awakened a desire within them to be young people who act responsibly and unselfishly, with a passion for the things of God. They asked their mentors for help, and their mentors came up with a plan for a girls’ camp. The Obsess name reflects the intense focus on walking with Christ that is the aim of the Obsess event.

The element of mystery is part of the appeal of an event like Obsess, so I won’t give away too many secrets on what happened this year at Obsess. In general terms, however, the time (beyond sleeping and eating) is occupied with “sessions” and “initiatives.” The sessions were like a large Sunday School class in a tent, with a teacher (speaker) leading the way in thinking about a specific subject. Some time after the session ended, the counselors led the girls in an initiative--an activity that explored, elaborated on, and implemented an understanding of what the previous session addressed. Some of the initiatives were physically demanding, and, while that was probably what the girls initially thought the activity was about, along the way they had to interact productively with the rest of their group, or the activity just couldn’t happen. Often they had to make the best possible use of limited resources to accomplish their goal. In the process of this interaction, they had many opportunities to choose to exercise Christian graces or doom the activity by their refusal to do so.

Besides sessions and initiatives, some activities beyond the scheduled ones continued throughout the weekend–establishing kingdoms and guarding the treasure and acquiring more treasure for the kingdom, for example.

The natural setting at Calvary Bible School is perfect for an event like this–except that in August the place can be pretty hot and muggy, and chiggers and ticks and poison ivy all frequent the area. Shady woods and a shallow creek help people cool off. A lot of the initiatives this year involved some use of the creek.

Girls who wish to attend Obsess fill out an application beforehand. They also are asked to find people who will pray for them during the weekend. A list of verses for memorization is suggested. Campers bring their own bedding and towels. A photographer documents everything.
Although Obsess involves grueling, sweaty efforts, a significant amount of pampering occurs as well. I have never in my life had my hands and feet soaked and scrubbed and generally babied as I did at Obsess–by girls with a servant’s heart.

For everyone who attended Obsess this weekend, the most memorable part was entirely unscheduled–a time of revival on Saturday after the last event of the day was past. The girls gathered outside to sing, and one after the other, they were prompted to confess something to the group, to pray for or give encouragement to others, or to continue singing. Many of them sought out a counselor for help, and they would walk off together to pray elsewhere, and then return to the group.

The next morning during session, when–also not scheduled–the girls were invited to say something to the group if they wished, many of the girls who had made new commitments the night before were able to verbalize them before others. Through this time the work of revival continued and expanded.

In our vehicle on the way home, one of the girls said, “One thing I learned this weekend is that prayer works.” Amen. They talked about how glad they were for the people who prayed for them, and how wonderfully prayers were answered.

Obsess is really about the glory of God, and I think God noticed last weekend that a lot of glory was directed to Him from an obscure and often uninhabited place near Calico Rock, AR.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Debriefing: Obsess 2010 and the CFA Exam

I returned home around 3:30 AM from the weekend at the CBS campus in Arkansas where I spent a long weekend at Obsess, a camp/retreat weekend for girls 13-16 years of age. More later. Just this: it was one of the most encouraging times of my life--except for the trials of threading our way through the Ozarks in a boat of a vehicle--with Google Maps, Mapquest, and a GPS all conspiring to confuse us royally. Old-fashioned, well-thumbed Rand-McNally Road Atlas to the rescue.

On the way home Lois and I decided the trip itself was our "Initiative"--the word used at Obsess to describe the sometimes-grueling and character-building group activities that the girls participated in. With some good advice from a number of different people and many prayers along the way, the trip home went much better than the trip to CBS.

I think it's safe to say that everyone that was at Obsess 2010 will, for the rest of their life, regard it as a highpoint in their walk with God. For many it was a beginning. For others, it was a significant time of reflection and reordering of priorities and commitment to faithful discipleship. For all of us, it was an amazing demonstration of the Holy Spirit's work in response to intercessory prayer. The passion and investment on the part of those who planned the event and the staff who carried out the plans were important to the success of the project as well. Humility before God was evident all around, as was a realization that people's best efforts don't amount to much, apart from the blessing of God.

I was so proud of the girls who went with us from here, and am deeply respectful of their sincere and appropriate responses to what God had done. I think you would hardly believe what we saw and heard on our way home with them. There was much singing and prayer and reading aloud of Scripture to each other, along with some needed girl-to-girl challenging of perceptions that might take them off course--prayers on the spot for whoever was struggling, thinking about others who God might be calling to Himself and commitment to pray for them, gratitude for the people who prayed for them during the weekend, a plan for accountability, a wish to share with others what had happened in their hearts--I can't imagine what more anyone might have wanted to come from the time together.

Today we all love God and want to walk with him in a way we could not have imagined less than a week ago when we piled 12 of ourselves and our stuff into that 12-passenger van to head for the hills of Arkansas.


Not all was serious and sanctimonious on the way home, as the girls could vouch for after witnessing several serious giggling fits Lois and I experienced--the kind that are really best shared with a sister. Sisters are the most satisfying of all giggling partners. It's a little embarrassing to admit that the girls prayed and the ladies giggled, but that's at least partly how it was.


Joel got his CFA exam results this morning. He is now officially qualified to be awarded a Chartered Financial Analyst charter, and the formalities will likely soon be taken care of.

I've occasionally posted information about the grueling steps in the three-year process on the way to this milestone--three years, post-graduate, being the minimum number of years in which it can possibly be done. Four years of approved work experience in the financial sector are also required, as is being a member of the CFA Institute, and signing their ethics pledge. For him, the annual opportunity to sit for the exam has always come at the end of a schedule crisis--twice, shortly after a return from a stint in Bangladesh, and once after his own wedding. This year, the time between the return from Bangladesh and the exam in June was filled with more traveling, a family wedding on Hilda's side, a move to a new home, and I forget what all else.

We're all really happy that this demand on his time commitments is behind him. Perhaps it will become more evident as time goes on how this can fit into the plans God has for his life. For now, he is involved in several charitable and non-profit organizations where these skills are being put to use--on the Mennonite Manor board, a local wind energy organization, and as the administrator of Kansas Brotherhood Financial--a church-based plan for sharing with each other monetarily. He could, under the right conditions, also, with the charter as one step to approval, legally give financial advice and require payment for his services. Working as an independent financial adviser would involve procedures beyond that which would qualify him to work as a representative for an existing investment company, for example.


I'm off to school now to work on getting ready for the work night there tonight and the start of school on Friday. For now, no more time to emote and remember. Back into the harness . . . .

Thursday, August 12, 2010

On My Calendar

My sister Lois and I leave soon with ten girls (ages 13, 14, and 15) for a retreat at Calvary Bible School in Arkansas. It was planned by a local congregation in Harrison, AR. We're traveling in a 12 passenger van, and cramming it to the gills--but so glad to be able to travel in one vehicle and not have to pull a trailer. Driving the big van will be a stretch for both of us, neither of whom are "eat up the road" drivers. Pray for us.

The temperature here today is to climb to 104 degrees. There, it will cap out at a measly 100 degrees. Right now the humidity is 10 per cent higher there than here--at 77% and 87%.

Staying comfortable in that air-conditioner-less place will likely be a challenge. So we would appreciate prayers for a reasonably comfortable weekend.

I will speak on Modesty and Purity of Heart. I wonder if the girls will be able to hear anything on this subject from someone who is not young and chic--and who parented only boys. Maybe there was no one who is young and chic AND willing to talk about this. I know that "Courage" (Lois' topic) would have been a subject more to my liking. Again, this is an invitation to pray.

The other big event on the calendar, besides the impending start of school, is the double ordination planned for Aug. 22, one week after we get back. We will miss a day of prayer and fasting planned here on Saturday in preparation for that.

And now I'd better get something to eat and get ready to shove off.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Things I Learned at Farmer's Market 8/7/2010

I'm clearly in avoidance mode here with a Sunday School class to teach tomorrow and a speech to give at Obsess, the retreat for 13-16 year old girls at CBS this weekend--and I'm blogging instead of studying. But I'm afraid I'll forget these things if I don't write them now.


I know now how to deliver fresh, perfect Kansas-grown sweet corn. At least I know how Gaedderts does it. Arlyn, whose family has a market booth near the Gaedderts told me that they spray it aerially every other day. It's irrigated, of course, and harvested mechanically early on market day. High school students in need of a summer job help sort and pack it into crates and load it onto big low trailers to haul it to market. At market, they count out ears into bags for customers and, after $5.50 changes hands, the dozen ears go home with the customer.

I don't think we'll be gearing up to grow sweet corn for market any time soon. Neither an airplane or a corn harvester are on our shopping list.


I bought a jar of sand hill plum jelly from Cathy. I told her the plums in our pasture weren't nearly ripe when I checked them a week or so ago, and wondered where she found ripe plums to make her jelly. "Are there different kinds of sand hill plums?" I asked her.

"Earl told me there are seven different kinds in this area," Cathy said. "Each of them ripens at a slightly different time."

"Do they all get bright red when they're ripe?"

"No, there's one that's a peach color when it's ripe. It makes a lovely jelly. I always pick mine a little before they're completely ripe. That way I beat the bugs to them, and they ripen very nicely on the dining room table."


Someone told me today that she was at a K-State experiment station tour where she saw Malabar Spinach being grown. When she saw ours today, she was the only person who recognized it. When people asked about the flavor, if we gave them a taste, they always ended up buying the spinach. This is definitely a crop we will grow again for market next year.

The chef who served sample food with ingredients purchased at the market bought spinach at our booth. Later he brought a customer to our booth to show us where he got the spinach, but we were already sold out by that time. Hiromi may be sorry by now that he made me get rid of the last half of the plants, and I gave them to Donald's family so as not to see them going to waste. They brought some to market as well today.


Every single tomato of ours sold. I think this may have been the case with others vendors as well. We brought home only rhubarb and a few peppers. And flowers--way too many of them.


Some people like okra only several inches long. We've found that it's often still very tender even after it's about 5 inches long.


Colored peppers are a big hit at market, as are early peppers of all kinds. Note to self: Repeat growing early peppers next year.


After market was over today we talked with Pam, another vendor, about how much work marketing is. Pam said she does it because she loves to cook, and they couldn't possibly eat all the things at home that she loves to cook. Selling it gives her a way to indulge her hobby. I would guess there is some of that element in a lot of the reasons we punish ourselves so thoroughly and regularly with 5:00 or earlier risings, and slogging through blistering Saturday market days. It's the hobby factor and connecting with people that makes it worthwhile.


Otis, who is about 20 months old, must have remembered past visits to the market because he announced when they pulled up to the building, "Otis eat peach." I saw him, peach in hand and in mouth.


Quote from Mary, a former co-worker of Hiromi's: You've made a real farmer out of him."


It was windy enough to blow over one of my flower-filled vases today. Spilled floral preservative water makes the tablecloth very stiff as it dries so we had to wash and dry it when we got home.


"I love your curtains," someone told us today. They're made from green and white pin-striped Martha Stewart flat sheets I got at K-Mart at least five years ago. I cut them up to make curtains for the dressing room here at home, and used the leftover fabric to make a curtain to put up as a sun-block early in the day at market. We're on the east side, and otherwise customers can't look at our offerings without being nearly blinded by the bright sunshine.

Since the double row of vendors in the middle of the building has necessitated the outside rows being shoved further to the perimeter of the building, we had sunshine on our backs way too long on hot days. So I stole one set of curtains from the dressing room and added a lower tier of curtains that we position strategically behind us to provide cooling shade. Bungee cord which we bought in bulk provides the "curtain rod," and hooks secure it at the posts in the back corners of our stall.


"So that's Swiss Chard. I've been hearing about it on the food channel and I'm glad to know I can buy it here. I've never tasted it."--Another quote from a customer.


Three or four customers lamented having come to late to buy okra.


I met the grandson today of my high school bus driver. His last name is Perkins. He wishes someone would roast and serve hot peppers at the market like they did at the Great Bend market he used to go to. Hiromi urged him to do what it takes to provide such a service. I don't know how he could do it without a restaurant license. I wish people could do some such things without having to jump through so many hoops.


A fellow Hiromi used to bowl with about 30 years ago came to buy okra. He was inordinately pleased to find that this time we weren't sold out yet. It was the third time this year he had tried, with every previous attempt ending in failure.


No one provided any music at market today. I saw Mark R. and Ron N. talking, and I suspect they were trying to figure out what went wrong in the schedule, or perhaps they knew and were lamenting what happened. They usually are both involved in the planning of this part of the market day.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Murderous Triumph

I've been harvesting peaches and apples from our trees at the Trail West place the past several weeks, and every time I've done so, I've been repulsed by those giant Green June Bugs that chew away at the fruit, buzz noisily, and dive-bomb me for good measure. Today I got revenge.

I noticed that they were leaving the apples and peaches alone today. When I went to check on the pears, I found out why. On one fruit, packed tightly all over the surface was a chomping, squirming mass of those big bugs--probably at least a dozen on one fruit. I stared at them for a bit in total disgust. Then I had an idea. I went to the minivan and found a plastic bag in the farmer's market supplies box. I also grabbed a big scissors and headed back to the pear tree. Spreading the bag wide, I slipped it up over the bug-laden pear, and quickly closed up the bag around the twig the fruit hung from. Then I snipped the twig and dropped the fruit and bugs into the bag. They set up a mad vibrating protest, and I shuddered at the thought of how horrible it would be if they chewed their way out of the bag. So I found a freezer-weight zipper-topped bag and stuffed the first bag into the second and zipped it up.

I repeated this process two more times with other swarms of Green June Bugs. I had to use the ladder to reach one cluster.

On the way home I wondered what I was going to do with my catch when I got home. I couldn't just throw them into a trash bin because of that nagging feeling that they might nibble their way through the bag to freedom. Others are already making a big nuisance of themselves on our tomatoes, and we certainly do not need the population increased by dozens of imported pests.

I remembered a big, canister-sized, foil-coated, plastic-lidded cardboard container we had just thrown out, and I retrieved it from the trash bin. Then Hiromi opened each bag just far enough to squirt in a shot of insecticide he had on hand. We closed everything back up and stuffed them all in the canister. Later Hiromi checked on the results, and they were all dead.


I am SO ready for the next trip to check on the fruit at the Trail West place. But first I'll have to replenish the plastic bag supply. And I plan to take the canister and the insecticide along so as to dispatch with little risk and great efficiency any Green June Bugs I find. Wish me luck.