Prairie View

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Floorcovering Dilemmas

Vinyl, Ceramic, Cork, Bamboo, or Nylon?

We're doing new floorcoverings at our Trail West house in the kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms, and a study. The oak hardwood floors in the living room and dining room will get a fresh coat of varnish.

All the rooms are relatively small, so we have the option of perhaps finding remnant pieces of carpet or sheet vinyl. Hiromi is certainly hoping so.

Clare prefers non-carpeted floors--both as a cleaning preference and for its allergy-minimizing potential. t's probably safe to say that anyone who has recently removed old carpeting understands its allergenic effects as evidenced by the mounds of dirt that are left behind. I'm certain that I'm not the kind of housekeeper that would be able to avoid the dirt accumulations under carpeting. We're willing to take Clare's preference into consideration, but we know how cold the floors in that house can get in the winter. The floors are apparently uninsulated, and there is no basement underneath. So carpeting has some appeal for its warmth. Hiromi regularly does floor exercises too--most comfortably so on a carpeted floor. But perhaps cork would be a reasonable compromise. It's very cushioned, easily cleaned, and especially suitable in "dry" rooms of the house. Not cheap though.

High quality bamboo flooring is harder than oak flooring. We're considering that for the study--the smallest "bedroom." The kind we'd be likely to get is "strand" bamboo, made by separating the "wood" into fibers and then mixing it with a binding agent and pressing and milling it into tongue and groove board shapes. Bamboo is, of course, a very familiar building material for Hiromi, and using it for flooring seems very right to him.

Bamboo and cork are both touted for their "green" qualities. Bamboo canes that are harvested for high quality flooring are 5-7 years old. Cork can be harvested every few years with no damage to the tree that produces it. So both are renewable. Cork flooring is apparently made from waste generated when bottle-stopping corks are manufactured. Both of them can have a factory-added ten-layer surface coating that makes it easy to clean and nearly impervious to liquids or damage from objects.

I hear that nylon carpet fibers are the most durable and easiest to keep clean. I haven't a clue whether such carpets are easy to find--especially in a coveted remnant piece of exactly the right size.

The kitchen floor will not be ceramic--too hard and cold. We were about to buy luxury vinyl tile, which can be laid and grouted like ceramic tile, but heard from Joe that theirs very promptly got nicks and gouges in it. The kitchen is only 8 feet by 15 ft. so buying sheet vinyl on a roll either involves seams or a huge amount of waste. That's why I think the plank types might deserve consideration. They are joined into a floating floorcover by narrow strips of glue along the sides of the planks. The main dilemma here is that most of the patterns are wood grains, in the heavier weights and more durable finishes, and that's not really what I idealize in the kitchen. We already put some of this (in a tile pattern) in the bathroom, but the HD special is not as heavy vinyl as seems ideal for a kitchen.

Is there anyone among my readers who has a floorcovering experience that you'd like to share? My dislike for shopping in general applies to shopping for floorcoverings in particular, so anything in your experience that would save me research or shopping time would be welcome.


Only a Mother

Clare was fascinated with the hail that fell here last week. "It's like little ice chunks," she exclaimed.

"Yeah . . . " Grant said. "What did you think hail was?"

"Well, at home it's tinier--like frozen rain."

"Sleet, you mean," Grant said.

"I guess so," Clare said.

She sent a telephone picture to her mother--of a marble-sized hailstone in the palm of her hand.

The text reply soon came back: "Whose hand was that? If it was your hand, you've gained weight." For Clare, that's a good thing. Undiagnosed food allergies have interfered with her nutrition in the past, and feeling better now that she eats differently is having a good effect on her all around.

Still, I suspect that only a mother could see a picture of a hand and know that it signified weight gain.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Marvin and More

We here in Kansas have many Marvins in our lives. Paired with Miller, there's Jay's Marvin, Roman's Marvin, Jerry's Marvin, and Ervin's Marvin (born here, but now living elsewhere). In our church we also have Marvins with the surname of Nisly, Yutzy, and Mast. Cedar Crest has someone with the last name of Eash. Last Wednesday evening in church, we heard about another Marvin in our life. Hands of Christ Ministries (HOCM) has helped this Marvin with cleaning up his yard, and moving some dead appliances off the property.

My ears perked up when I heard about this Marvin last Wed. evening. Hiromi used to work under him when they were both working for an ambulance manufacturer. Marvin L. had just moved from California, and was adjusting to life in Kansas when Hiromi learned to know him. He soon came to trust Marvin as a person of integrity and kindness. These qualities were in short supply in some of the other individuals Hiromi encountered in that workplace, and Marvin's character shone brightly in a sometimes-dark work environment.

Hiromi has not kept in close contact with his former boss, Marvin, but he knew that he was dealing with some health problems. As I recall, HOCM learned of Marvin's need through a referral from the "Trashy Yards" department of the city of Hutchinson. It's likely that he was simply overwhelmed with keeping things up, given the limitations he experienced.

My heart was warmed to know that this old friend was benefiting from the kindness of our own church brothers and sisters who support HOCM financially by paying the salary of Paul, the member who coordinates the ministry, and the individuals who provide labor and expertise to meet people's practical needs.


The black cat who's taken up residence here delivered a lesson to Brandi today, judging from the yelp that interrupted Brandi's excited barking. They were still facing off when Grant rushed out to investigate.

I think having dogs and cats coexist peaceably is a good thing, and the foundation for mutual respect is more solid if cats find an alternative to fleeing when they encounter a dog. A cat who stands its ground is no fun to chase, after all.

This black cat wears a collar, which is unusual for stray cats. She's not tame enough to make it possible to get close enough to examine the collar for help with identifying her owners. She apparently has kittens hidden somewhere--a factor that no doubt adds to her nervousness about having a dog on the premises.


Shane and Dorcas and the others in their entourage traveled to IN yesterday from VA. Tomorrow they plan to drive to KS from there.

Shane reports that Dorcas' mother really enjoyed the time with her family at home, but she did find it tiring, and will probably welcome the quiet now that half of her children have left. She spent a lot of time during the day lying on the couch and napping intermittently, and usually went to bed early.


Greg and Trish B. buried their stillborn son, Michael Gregory, this morning, after a memorial service at Arlington at 9:00. They expected his birth about a month from now, and realized quite recently that there was no longer movement or a heartbeat. He was their second son.

Trish is a close friend of Dorcas'. They grew up in the same community, and have kept up their friendship since they both married Kansas men.

Greg and Trish's baby's death is the third baby death among people close to Shane and/orDorcas--all in a time period of a little over a month. With Dorcas' mother's very serious illness also a reality to deal with, life offers some significant challenges at the moment.


Fresh produce at the market yesterday included the following: lettuce, spinach, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, chard, beets, turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, green onions, new potatoes, strawberries, rhubarb, and greenhouse tomatoes. I didn't see asparagus, but I assume someone might have offered it for sale. The season for that is nearly over.

Rosalyn was back (with David) helping in Roman's stall. They are here from Washington on a visit. They've been married almost a year. Roman's produce lasted past 9:00 this time.

It was windy yesterday, and my vase of flowers blew over three times--once landing on the floor. It didn't break, and the first two times I simply added more water and set it in place again. I gave up late in the morning and tucked it safely away in the "bags" tub.

Our lettuce and chard suffered considerably from the hail we had last week, and we took only a small amount of chard for the customer who always asks for it, and several tubs of lettuce from Shane's garden, where a great surplus has grown while they were gone. They apparently had no hail in Abbyville.

Donald's family had an impressive array of beautiful vegetables and starter plants in their booth on Saturday. If their operation continues to grow as it has so far, Roman may have fewer pangs of guilt if he feels the necessity of scaling back his operation in recognition of his diminished work family work force. With seven children between three and eighteen, Donald and Donna's work force has formidable potential for the next number of years.


"Bill" made Hiromi's day yesterday. He is a potter Hiromi met at the Spring Art Fair. Somehow he learned that he has a doctorate in pottery (I didn't even know that was possible.) and teaches on the college level. Yesterday when Bill and his wife came by our market booth, Hiromi whipped out the picture he carries of a tea bowl with the kind of glaze he idealizes. It appears on a bowl made by a Raku master in Japan in the 1600's. Bill told Hiromi exactly what he needs to do to get the same effect in his own pottery--all in a few minute's time.

Meanwhile, the potter's wife was picking out some of our plants to take home. When she was ready to pay for them, Hiromi promptly made an executive decision to give them as a gift. "You've saved me so much time," he said. He has many time consuming experiments fresh in his mind, and even patient Hiromi was tiring of the failures (although to hear him tell of it, this process was elevated to almost saintly proportions: Thomas Edison and the light bulb, you know . . . who measured success by the hundreds of things he discovered that didn't work.)

While Hiromi and Bill were visiting, Bill's wife told me, "The students in my art classes have used your colored peppers for their still life paintings." I didn't recognize her, but I remembered that someone told us several times that she was buying our peppers for that purpose. She glanced at the sign for Shane's pork, and told me that she recently read a book she knows I would like: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

"Oh, I've read it, and I did like it," I said. That, and Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma.

"I read that too," she answered. "Wasn't it wonderful?"

Hiromi grinned to himself at one bit of "wisdom" apparently perpetuated in pottery departments in American universities. Bill informed him that Raku pottery is a twentieth-century American invention.

Raku is, in fact, a Japanese family name. Many in this family were famous tea ceremony masters. They made tea bowls to be used in the tea ceremony. Their glazing and firing techniques were passed down within the family and not made public.

In the last few decades, American potters have experimented with a glazing/firing method which is, in some ways reminiscent of Japanese Raku. This usually involves using metallic glazes and clay that is very resistant to breakage with sudden temperature changes. It's fired to about 1500 (?) degrees and then removed from the kiln while still red hot, and then either buried in sawdust or dry leaves in a non-flammable container. The container is covered to smother the resulting fire, to allow smoke to darken the crackle lines that form in the glaze. Or it may be plunged into water to create an unsmoked crackle effect. Hiromi and I did Raku glazing like this in a pottery class we both took soon after we got married.

Traditional Japanese Raku did not use metallic glazes or sudden temperature changes to initiate crackling. The effects were achieved partly with smoke, however.

Bill can be forgiven for thinking of Raku as a recent American invention, but he's only partly right.


Tim Z . . r also came by our booth yesterday. Hiromi had met him at Wal-Mart when he checked out through his line. He was buying fresh sweet peppers and bemoaning the hefty price tag. Hiromi suggested that he visit the Farmer's Market and start buying locally grown vegetables as they become available during the season, or better yet, grow his own peppers, and dice and freeze them when they're plentiful during the summer.

So Tim followed through, and Hiromi introduced us to each other. Tim informed me that he grew up in the Kitchener/Waterloo area of Ontario. He lives in the Inman area now.

"When I met Hiromi, I wondered if he wasn't a Japanese Amish man," he told me. (I suppose his suspicions were confirmed without his having to ask--after he met me.) "You've got a good man there," he continued.

I had a feeling we could have gone further in playing the Mennonite game, if time and inclination had prompted that to happen. Hiromi had no idea, when he talked to him, that he had any Mennonite associations. Even "Kitchener/Waterloo" would have rung no bells with him, as they did for me. Tim was very cordial, and obviously quite knowledgeable about growing food.


Another pork vendor at market was selling sausage for $5.99/lb. That made Shane's sausage price look like a fire sale price. The other vendor was a very eager salesman, accosting passersby regularly with offers of a sample, and he sold a lot of sausage. Shane's sausage sales were flat, but other cuts were popular. Ham steaks especially sold well. I think the sausage sales will pick up too when people develop some sales resistance to the in-your-face sales approach, and think to compare prices.

One persistent inquirer will be glad to know that the smoke flavor in Shane's pork does not come from liquid meat smoke, but from the use of hickory wood chips in a smoke house. He doesn't like the artificial stuff, he told me.


Lowell told me last week that he thinks there will be a wheat crop of sorts this year, after all. The unusually cool weather this spring put fewer moisture demands on the wheat than hot, windy weather would have done, and, where there was little added moisture stress during sprouting and from double-cropping, the crop has done better than expected. This week's rain no doubt helped. There's a reason wheat is the most reliable crop in Kansas.


In bloom in the Illinois Ave. roadside ditch: Winecup (aka Purple Poppy Mallow), White Yarrow, Wild Four 0'Clock, Wild Salsify, clover, alfalfa, Daisy Fleabane. The Wild Barley is in its beautiful, ever-so-silky stage.


Harold N. has a diagnosis of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It's a tick-borne disease, and has occurred several times locally of late, according to health care professionals. He's home from the hospital, as of Friday, but is still quite weak.


After suffering intense pain, Uncle Fred had surgery this week for a perforated ulcer. His gall bladder was removed too. Yesterday he was still in ICU.


Ervin Miller is in the skilled nursing section of the hospital and expects to enter rehab soon.


Two family reunions are in progress here this weekend--the Melvin and Lydia Yoder family, and the William and Elizabeth Hershberger family.


Charity H. found the "state boards" a fairly grueling followup to having completed classes for RN training. She took the exam in Wichita last week.


Plans are in place for a new aspect of our association with the Zion church in Thomas, OK. Once a month one of our ministers has been traveling there to preach. A team of ministers also visits occasionally. The new venture will have lay brethren going once a month, in addition to what is already being done now. One lay brother from here will speak in the Sunday morning church service, and if two from here are present, another will likely lead the devotional. Lorne K. will speak there in two weeks. Those from the small OK congregation seem to welcome this development.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Two Good Things

So far so good. It's 7:00 pm and we've had a little rain (.45 in.), a little hail, some wind, and no tornado here. This morning's weather story on the NOAA page had us on the edge of an area marked "Area of greatest concern for possible long-track strong/violent tornadoes." Not reassuring. We have a tornado watch till 11:00 tonight.

A 69 mph wind gust was reported at the Hutchinson airport, and power lines and trees were down around Hutchinson. North of us, in Nickerson, it must have been more violent too. A tornado warning was issued for Barton County--to the northwest, with some tornado damage reported from there. Apparently quite a few people are without power in our county--customers from three different power companies. Several area graduations scheduled for tonight were called off.

Here at our house, I think we were both lucky and unlucky--no storm damage, but not much rain either. The first storm flew by at 75 mph, according to the weather service, and at that speed, there's not much time to drop rain in any one area.

I heard that Oklahoma had tornadoes west of Oklahoma City, but so far, I haven't heard more details.


We were watching the storm from the dining room, poised to hurry to the basement if necessary, when I saw something I've never seen on this place before--a hummingbird sipping from a feeder. I put it up last week, regretting that I hadn't gotten it done long before, and guessing that all the migrants had already passed by. Only once or twice have I ever seen a hummingbird here, but I've heard of a few people who have been able to attract them to feeders, and I wished I could manage it too. And now it's happened. This makes me ridiculously happy.

The light was bad at the time, and I couldn't really see any color, but I assume it was a Ruby-throat, since these are almost always what people see around here. Verna Mae once saw an Anna's, however.


The death toll from the Joplin tornado was at 116, according to this morning's paper. I also heard that the storm was officially classed as an F5--the strongest category.

It's hard for me to believe that some people in Joplin apparently heard the tornado sirens and took no measures to get to a safe place. They were that sure that no such terrible thing would happen there. A few of them survived to tell the tale. That's how I know it happened. This is carrying the "Show Me" state slogan a little too far, I think.

There's a joke about Kansans that says "If there's a tornado warning and you hurry outside to see where it is, you may be from Kansas." Although there's probably an uncomfortable amount of truth to that characterization of Kansans, I think there is also a very healthy respect for how dangerous tornadoes are. I can't imagine anyone "blowing off" a tornado warning, thinking it is OK to take no action whatsoever.


Harold N. is in the hospital with an infection, possibly caused by a tick bite he got about a week ago. I don't know further details about this, but am concerned and praying.


We invited Brandi into the house when the storm came through earlier today. She didn't respond eagerly to the invitation, but a short time later she discovered a bit of beef fat on a foam tray Hiromi had put by the trash can, planning to take out the trash right away. He got delayed somehow, and Brandi was quite proud of the treasure he left her. We put her out after the first weather wave passed and then invited her in again when the second one arrived. That time she was very pleased to come in, and trotted straight over to the spot where she hoped more good fortune awaited her. No such luck.

Shane left us some of the high quality dog food he always feeds his dogs, and we offered it to
Brandi in a dish on the porch. But Brandi has a mind of her own on the matter. She sneaks out to the back of the house for the cheap dog food Hiromi puts out for the cats. But it all works out because Bandit, who loves to follow the tractor and grinder over here with the hog feed, appreciates the good dog food he finds on the front porch when he visits.


It just started raining again in earnest, and we've had a pretty good peppering of pea to marble-sized hail, but it's all rain now--no hail. This is the heavy rain we've been dreaming of for months. Later: We've had another .7 inch!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Market and Miscellaneous

Anyone who has done marketing at a farmer's market knows how hectic the preparation for the first market of the season can be. Equipment that has been stored for six months has to be located. Some of it needs a good cleaning. The vehicle needs to be washed and vacuumed. Routines need dusting off as well. We make a trip to the bank for cash. We make a sign for each item offered, either at the computer or with markers at the dining room table. We harvest and wash vegetables. We plan to have everything ready early the evening before, so we can get a good night's rest before rising early the next morning to finish preparations, take care of our animals and open the greenhouse, eat breakfast, and hurry off in time to make the trip to town and get set up before the opening bell at 7:30 AM.

Hiromi worked from 12:30-8:30 on Friday, so I did the afternoon preparations solo. After I got home from Lizzie's house where I had gone to pick up some rhubarb we were selling for her, I heard a deflating (!) hissing sound when I got out of the minivan. It was coming from a rear tire, and I saw the tire shrink before my eyes. I called Grant immediately to see if he had any suggestions for me. I couldn't bear to think of trying to get to the spare, buried as it is underneath a very heavy plywood produce rack that resides in the back of the van. It was already loaded to the gills for market. Repair shops were closed, and I didn't have a way to take the tire anywhere anyway.

"See if you can find where the hissing is coming from and mark it," Grant said. "Maybe I can plug the hole temporarily. I'll be home before long." I hurried out, paint marker in hand. The hissing had stopped, and the rim rested on the gravel. It would have to wait for Grant. I didn't even try to think of options. There weren't any good ones.

But Grant came through with flying colors. He found two holes close together, as if a giant fence staple had created the puncture wounds. He plugged them and inflated the tire, and instructed me to make sure that someone takes the tire to a shop as soon as we get set up at market. That wasn't entirely a bright prospect, since I was already dreading Hiromi having to leave the market in time to be at work at 9:30, but it seemed workable, and certainly better than all the alternatives.

I continued to make preparations till Hiromi came home around 9:00. "Why isn't there any water?" he asked from the kitchen sink.

"I don't know. It was working till now."

"Well, it's not working now. I've got to eat something. I don't want to think about fixing this, but we've got to have water." After he had been revived with food, Hiromi changed clothes and armed himself with a cell phone, his electrical current tester, some basic tools, a flashlight and the battery-powered camping lantern, and headed for the well site in the alfalfa field south of the house. I kept plodding on, making signs.

He came back some time later. "It was a mouse again. It committed suicide inside the pressure switch," he said. For good measure, the mouse had left a piece of its toe behind--Hiromi's professional analysis-- in a crucial location, and Hiromi had to make a second attempt to restore unimpeded circuitry after he removed the mouse. All was well in the water department by 10:00.

I told Hiromi about the plan of action for fixing the tire the next morning. "I'll have to leave as soon as Cooper Tire opens--probably at 8:00," Hiromi said. Sigh.

I think we got to bed around 11:00, and set the alarm for 5:00.

Hiromi was dubious about the plan for him taking Shane's truck to market, but neither of us could see how three ice chests full of pork could fit into the van, in addition to the five 4-6 foot tables we were also hauling this first market day. Hiromi is still a bit traumatized from having had to acquire a trucker's license and learning to drive in Tokyo's clogged, narrow streets. Small is beautiful to Hiromi where vehicles are concerned. (His clunky '84 Chevy Caprice is an aberration.)

When Hiromi went out to load the truck in the morning, he saw that the gas tank was empty, and was pretty sure this was a sign that he shouldn't drive the truck. "Call Shane," I suggested. He was on his way to Virginia, and so we weren't getting him out of bed by calling early.

"Just switch it to the other tank," Shane instructed. "That one's full." With no excuses left, we ventured forth in two vehicles, me in the lead, so he could come to my rescue in case the tire didn't hold out till we got to town.

The place was teeming with activity when we got there--none too early. We got finished with our setup just as the opening bell sounded. Whew. No time to relax though. Customers filled the place immediately, and we answered questions and sold rhubarb, lettuce, chard, plants, and meat at a good clip. Hiromi left and returned about 30 minutes later with a repaired tire--$20.00 poorer, though. He helped in the market stall again, and made a round through the building to see what else was going on, and then left for work at Wal-Mart.

It was a marvelous morning--lovely weather, and lots of floor traffic. Roman sold out and left by 9:30. This is a far cry from several years ago, when vendors were few and customer traffic light during the first few market days of the season. Even at the peak of the season, the stalls were not all filled. This year on the first day, most of the stalls were full--with two rows instead of one down the center, as we used to have.

A hug for Kathy, a report on the plants I got from him for James T., our special cutflower zinnias for Pam P. and Mark R., chard for the man who always buys it, Shane's ham steaks for the chef at Wilder's, catching up with Norma--the Amish baked goods vendor beside us, cheery exchanged greetings with many customers and friends--what's not to love about being at the market?

I closed shop by myself, packing all the ice chests into the van and toting all the tables into the storage room. The vegetables were all sold, and the ice chests were lighter and the plant trays fewer, but there were still a lot of little things to pack into the van. I think I was the last to finish. And then I had to total the sales for the day. We had our highest sales total ever--even without counting the meat sales. That was a good way to finish.

The meat had to be unloaded back into the big freezer immediately after I got home, but I parked the minivan in the shade and decided that unloading the plants could wait. Hiromi did that after he got home. That parking location didn't seem like such a good idea this morning when we got in the van to go to church. It was apparently a popular overnight bird roosting spot, so we drove to church with many unsavory deposits on the windshield.


The Hutchinson News carried a nice article last week on the opening of the Farmer's Market. Twice in the article, "cold crops" were mentioned as being among the offerings at the market. I had the nerve to send an email to the reporter who wrote the article, protesting the use of a term that should have been "cole crops."

Here's what I wrote:

In the article "Raising their hopes" on page one of the May 29, 2011 paper, the term "cold crops" is used twice. I believe this is an incorrect term. The proper term is "cole crops." Cole crops are crops in the Brassica* genus, all of which happen to also be comparatively cold tolerant. If their cold tolerance is being emphasized, "cold crops" is not the best way to say that. "Cold tolerant" would be much better, or "early-season crops," or "cool weather crops." A one-word adjective to modify crops simply does not suffice--when temperature preferences are being addressed, at least.

We don't call tomatoes and melons "hot crops." We call them warm season crops, or season-long crops, or late-summer crops, but never "hot crops."

In my experience, even competent gardeners don't always get the "cold crop/cole crop" distinction right, so I don't suppose every newspaper staff member and editor will get it right, but, from now on, I'm guessing you will. The problem is complicated, of course, when people simply hear the term and misunderstand and then repeat it, or write what they think they heard, using the familiar "c-o-l-d" spelling.

I did appreciate the coverage of the opening of the Farmer's Market, and the article was informative otherwise. I used to handle publicity for the Farmer's Market, so I'm aware of how valuable this exposure is.

Thanks for bringing us this good news!

Miriam Iwashige

*The Free Online Dictionary directs you to this entry if you type in "cole crop:"


Any plant of the large genus Brassica, in the mustard family, containing about 40 Old World species and including the cabbages, mustards, and rapes. B. oleracea has many edible varieties, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi. Also included in this genus are the turnip (B. rapa), the rutabaga (B. napobrassica), and the Chinese cabbages (B. pekinensis and B. chinensis).

P.S. This plant family has many informal identifiers as well: Cruciferae (an older term than Brassica), Crucifers, Cabbage family, and Mustard family. (End of Quote)

When the reply came back, it began like this: "Thank ya, you are correct." I only mentally corrected the errors in the reply.

The writer and her editor had apparently had a discussion about whether "cold crops" was right, and she promised to convey to her editor what she learned.


The Kuepfer family in Virginia is all together now, since Shane and Joe and Marilyn arrived last evening. They plan to be there till the 29th, when the seven family members from Kansas (Thailand is also home to three of the Kansans.) return in Gary's minivan. That should be an interesting trip. Two pregnant ladies--one carrying twins, a toddler, and every seat in the seven-passenger van full. I think this will not be a trip for setting speed records, and hopefully family love will still be strong when the trip is over.

Shane's dog, Brandi, is staying here, and Lexi and her puppies are staying again at Josephs. With Lawrence's swimming lesson last time for one of the puppies (It turned out to be a near-death experience.) thoroughly addressed and presumably repented of, there's a lot of happy puppy cuddling time ahead for puppies and children alike while Shane and Dorcas are gone.


My parents and Linda, along with Henry and Lizzie Schrock returned this evening from having spent the weekend with my brother Ronald's family and others in Labette County. They had a big storm there this afternoon, mostly after they left. The storm was moving east, and possibly also north of there, and they drove home to the west. Storm chasers from Texas drove by Ronald's house, and Ronald reports that clouds swirled overhead, like watching a turbulent river from an underwater vantage point. Four to five inches of rain fell in their general area.

An article in a Kansas City newspaper reports softball-sized hail in Labette County this afternoon, and severe tornado damage in Joplin, MO just across the state line, with 24 deaths, and many injuries.

Linda says that the hospital where Mark Nisly works suffered some damage, but another hospital nearby was "de-roofed."

TV stations there are not operating, and telephone service is not working. Emergency service crews are converging on the area from surrounding towns.

I understand that there was severe weather elsewhere in the Midwest this afternoon. In contrast, we had a beautiful, calm, and sunny day here.


There's rain in the forecast again for next week--currently at 70% for Monday night. That sounds like a wonderful prospect, but it's amazing how much last week's rain has already lifted everyone's mood. We know now that the drought will not go on forever, and for a while, we all felt that it might.

I read somewhere that the La Nina weather pattern is weakening, and will likely have very little effect by the end of May. Perhaps we are already benefiting from this change.


Ervin Miller is recovering since his surgery last Sunday evening. No one is talking yet about a specific time for him being released from the hospital, and it's likely that he will need to spend some time in the skilled nursing area before he returns home.

It is a blessing that his three children who are traveling in Europe with their spouses can continue their trip plans without interruption.


My Uncle Edwin plans to move to Mennonite Manor on Tuesday of this week. With a lot of help from his family, especially Leanna, he has been able to live alone till now. He has Parkinson's Disease however; his eyesight is failing significantly, and he has fallen during the night and not been able to get up by himself. (He summoned help with a device he wears.) So it seems best now for him to be where someone is wakeful and on duty constantly. Edwin will be 90 in August. His mind is still very clear, and he enjoys visiting.


Today during share time at church Arlyn asked each person to share something. Starting at the center aisle, every two people on a bench were to team up, with groups of three at the end if there was an odd number of people.

In our group of three, Rhoda shared how she was blessed to see God's faithfulness during a recent time of caring for her mother who has Alzheimer's. "Her mind is mostly gone, but God is still faithful," she said.

Rose said that she was really moved recently when Shane led the song "Nearer My God, to Thee" after a sermon in which there was teaching on how suffering can draw us to God. She saw that the song was full of references to the life of Jacob, and that story of suffering and being drawn nearer to God became deeply meaningful. She sang the song several times during the following week, and the family sang it together.

I shared how I was blessed from the references in the last part of II Peter 1 (today's SS lesson) where Peter says in effect that he's writing because he knows that he will die soon, and he wants his teaching to be accessible after he's gone. I am deeply grateful for the printed Word. Scripture is precious, but so is the privilege of knowing the thoughts of many who are no longer among the living--because they wrote their thoughts down.

That three minutes of sharing was a good time.


Lucille Yoder died. She was the handicapped daughter of Fannie and the late Albert Yoder. The funeral is to be at Plainview. I would guess she may have been in her late 40s or early 50s. She has lived for many years in an institution outside of our community.


John Christener's mother also died, with the funeral being in Abilene this week. Although she never lived closer than the Salina area, she used to come to our church occasionally, with John, when he attended regularly, and later, rarely, to provide transportation for John and Esther's family who had moved to another part of Kansas. Her husband was a judge--at one time, at least. She was part of a Plymouth Brethren congregation, as I recall.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rain, Glorious Rain

It's raining! Thank you, thank you Father.

So far we've had .6 inch. About four miles NW of here at Lowell's place they had almost an inch. Two counties NW of us have flash flood warnings, so it must have been a highly variable rain.

Yesterday we had two little showers of the two and three-minute variety. But during the night I heard rain and it was still raining when I got up. Puddles shone in the driveway. I haven't seen puddles in a long time.

The weather forecast this morning looks just like yesterday's morning forecast--60% chance of rain, mostly after 1:00, with dire warnings for severe weather. Aside from window-rattling thunder, we didn't get any nasty stuff with this rain. They may have not fared so well everywhere. There were tornado warnings several counties away from us to the NW.

This rain probably came too late for the wheat, and it certainly came too late for the first cutting of hay. Milo, corn, soybeans, and the second cutting of alfalfa will benefit enormously. In general, the row crops had not yet germinated unless they were irrigated.

We're a little giddy and foolish this morning, as the following quotes will confirm:

Hiromi: We've got water in the basement.

Me: Well, that's encouraging!

We hadn't looked at the rain gauge yet and wondered how much rain we got. I also hadn't yet confessed to Hiromi that I had accidentally left the hose running all afternoon two days ago in the sad and droopy, usually tough-as-nails Vinca major right beside the house. No flooding then.


Grant: The Abbyville rodeo starts tonight.

Me: And if anyone complains about the rain . . .

Grant: They'll get beaten with a stick . . . or get the wildest bull to ride . . . or be burned at the stake. (As you can tell, his creative ideas puffed and billowed into a giant thunderhead as he went along.)

The Abbyville rodeo is a widely-anticipated annual event that prompts a scurry of tidying up in Abbyville, as well as at residences leading into town. It was our spring-cleanup deadline for the yard when we lived on Trail West road, with its steady stream of traffic on rodeo days.

Shane, who lives in Abbyville, borrowed our string trimmer to help get things up to snuff in their yard. They've been married almost three years, and have never yet been at home while the rodeo was in town. Tonight he and Joe and Marilyn are heading to VA to be with the rest of Dorcas and Joe's family for about a week.


Thanks to all of you who joined us in praying for rain. With a few hours for this to soak in, we'd be ready for a repeat this afternoon and evening. I don't anticipate any flash flood warnings being issued here, no matter how much we get--unless perhaps it comes by the bucketful instead of by the drop.


Shane has a freezer full of sausage and pork cuts ready to sell. We'll be offering it at Farmer's Market, starting tomorrow. He will also sell it otherwise. It can be picked up here at the farm. If you stop in on a day when the wind is in the SW, you won't have any doubts about at least one part of the statement on the price sheet: Raised on our farm near Partridge--without antibiotics or added hormones--with access to the outdoors. It's really wonderful meat--lean and flavorful. Prices are similar to or better than the prices for similar meat purchased elsewhere and processed at the same place.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Smiling into the Dark

I think people here are close to getting a weather-related complex. Moisture gathered in the sky dodges our area and finds a drain over areas south, north, east, and occasionally west of here, but here?--a soft mist last evening, a three-minute shower both of the last two nights, with all traces having disappeared by the next morning, except for little dimples in the driveway sand, minimal dust kicked up on the gravel roads early in the day, and a bit of moisture in the rain guage. In the wheat fields, I wonder if any of the drops even hit the soil, with all those bearded heads, stalks, and leaves crowding together and absorbing in their lifted welcoming parts the bit of moisture that was offered.

For this afternoon, we have a tornado watch. On the weather map, we're in the "Greatest Risk" section. The main caption on the map proclaims: "Severe Weather Likely for this Afternoon- Evening." The subtitles are: "Very Large Hail, Damaging Winds, Isolated Tornadoes." The text version helpfully clarifies that hail up to three inches in diameter is possible. This weather pattern is predicted to continue into tomorrow.

Rain chances for tonight and tomorrow are 60% (Been there several times recently with the aforementioned underwhelming results.)

With the dire predictions in place, it's tempting to think that if all that weather violence is a guaranteed accompaniment to whatever rain we get, we'll take a pass--yet again.

Last night after church on my way through the mist to the car, I couldn't help smiling. I wondered if I would have seen children dancing in the rain if I had exited the building before most of them left for home. In bed, listening to the rain begin, I grinned broadly into the dark.

It doesn't take anything dramatic to please us right now--a slow, steady, prolonged gray and gloomy rain sounds perfect--minus the fireworks, icy cannonballs, and straight or rotating gales.

Today we'll do again what we've done many times of late, tell God what we'd like, with begging and pleading not off-limits, and then we'll take whatever we get, and try to remember that God is good all the time, whether or not we get the rain we're so desperate for.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Wrapup--5/15/2011

I don't know how to fix the odd format of the previous post, so I guess I'll let it be. I keep forgetting that something like this usually happens when I cut and paste from another site.


Still no rain. The forecast for tomorrow calls for patchy frost. A definite case of insult being added to injury if that threat materializes. Hiromi drained all the hoses in preparation for having to start sprinklers before sunrise tomorrow.

My older sister's birthday is on May 14. She just turned 60. Years ago my mother said that we've never had frost after that date. So, if it happens tonight, according to Mom's informal record, it will be a first-time-in-60-years event. The average frost-free date occurred on April 15.

I'm reminding myself that drought and frost are not as devastating as the flooding along the Mississippi River is--where many square miles of farmland and farm homes have been intentionally inundated in an effort to spare the cities downstream. All it would take to restore our area to normalcy is rainfall. In flooded areas, massive cleanup is required, and farmland can be permanently altered by deposits of silt and junk. We've also been spared tornado and hail damage.

The rain chances for mid week keep increasing slightly. We're now at 40% for Wednesday night.


Shane went to PA this weekend to attend Cliff and Katrina's wedding. Dorcas planned to travel there from VA to meet him and attend the wedding together. He was to return to KS today, and will then drive to VA with Joe and Marilyn to be there for about a week before returning to KS again on about the 29th. Dorcas will return at that time, along with Craig and Rachel, who arrived there this past week from Thailand.

Joel and Hilda went to visit Hilda's brother Angelo and Anna this weekend. Angelo is in grad school--at Yale, I think. That's where he did his undergraduate work.

Grant and Clare are doing some registering for gifts at local stores this weekend. That's one getting-ready-for-a-wedding ritual I'm pleased to have been spared. I have enough trouble deciding what to buy for myself. How would I decide what other people should buy for me?


Josh and Misty's baby, Angel Hope, was born this week and died shortly after birth. She was born very prematurely. Our church family prayed for this child--both together and privately, and we grieve with Josh and Misty in the loss of their first child.

I love the name they chose. No, she won't be an angel in heaven; she'll be a person transformed in whatever way other human residents of heaven are. But her name is a reminder that she had angels watching over her during all of her short life just as all children have attending angels who always behold the face of the Father. And it's a reminder that she is being cared for by beings whose mission is to be ministering spirits.

The name "Hope" is a reminder that the great loss of this child is not the end of all good things in life. Hope is the birthright of every Christian--a precious thing in a journey that involves the giving up of many other "rights."

Josh and Misty no doubt had their own reasons for choosing the name Angel Hope, and someday maybe I'll hear what they were. But I don't have to hear their reasons to approve of their choice.


Oren and Jo and their family traveled to IN last week to attend the funeral of Mark Sweeney, who had lived in Jo's parents' home for 40 years. He arrived in their home at the age of 10, when he was placed there--by some social service agency, presumably. He had Down Syndrome, and lived in an institution prior to living in Laban and Agnes' family home.

A little over a year ago Mark had fallen--on ice, as I recall, and injured the spinal cord in his neck. He had a long recovery from that injury, and could not be at home during part of that time. He was at home again at the time of his death, apparently after a series of strokes.

Caring for Mark, of late, must have been quite a task for his over-80-year-old parents. He could not walk, but could support himself, at least partially, in moving from his bed to a wheelchair. This is probably the only time since their first child was born that his parents have been alone. For a number of years they also cared for their own parents. At least one of them lived past 100. What a service of care-giving they have offered to others, along with raising at least seven children born to them.

Jo told me today that Mark loved the job he was asked to do for the church after he became a member at Woodlawn. The offering was collected in envelopes in each individual Sunday School class, and it was Mark's job to collect all the envelopes. He could hardly wait till it was time to swing into action to get his job done.

Mark's baptism also occurred at the initiative of the bishop, who had prayed with Mark after he responded (yet again) after a public invitation. On that occasion, he repeatedly said, "I want Jesus," and Elmer felt that he was clearly making a decision to follow Christ.

Mark was different after his baptism, as many people attested to. He loved participating in communion, and seemed especially moved during his last communion service.

Jo said today that one of the things Mark taught her is that the things of God are understood with the spirit--not the intellect.

I'm blessed to see how Mark, with his limitations, could serve God. And I'm equally blessed to see how Mark thrived when Laban and Agnes offered him a Christian home, and Woodlawn offered him a church home. One "lost" child, one handicapped church member--not notable in any particular way, but having lived, made a difference for those who knew and loved him--and those of us who watched, and learned something about the grace of God as He extends it through His people.


Last night I attended Mary Beth's high school graduation at their family home. Also in attendance were three sets of grandparents, including the parents of her birth mother and her mother now. Local grandparents are William and Elizabeth, and at least one of the other sets of grandparents came from New York. Mary Beth's first mother died when she was a toddler. Joanna had been the mother's co-teacher when both of them were single, and, after she married John, she helped finish raising her friend's children. Three more children were born to John and Joanna.

I heard last night that before they married, John asked Joanna if she would be willing to homeschool their children. She did not welcome the prospect at first. But she realized that as the children's second mother, she did not have the bonding advantage of caring for them from birth, and homeschooling would give her additional time to win their heart. She feels certain now that the investment was not wasted.

Both Mary Beth and her older brother Zack have taken a number of classes at our high school. That's why high school staff were invited to the graduation. Aunts, uncles, and cousins and church leaders and friends made up most of the crowd.

Mary Beth was a good student. She was in my typing, home environment, and composition classes. She was diligent and responsible, and as is the case with all the homeschooled students I've taught at the high school, she was exceptionally appreciative of a teacher's help and effort, and she took care to maximize the learning opportunities she was offered.

The graduation took place on the patio, with entrance doors into the Rhiel residence and into the Daudy house wing where William and Elizabeth live. The location was a perfect shelter from the chilly northwest wind, but jackets and coats felt warm and welcome. The occasion had a nice mix of formality and casualness. Zack led the singing, Mary Beth and her sisters each played a piano piece, James, from church, had a short address, and then both of Mary Beth's parents spoke, and Mary Beth's Grandpa Hostetler led in the dismissal prayer, after a few comments. I got the feeling that these grandparents saw in Mary Beth the daughter they had lost years ago. The grandfather spoke especially of the giving spirit they saw in both of them.


On Wed. eve. we did work projects for the ministers and had an informal fellowship instead of having church. As it turned out, two minister's families could not be at home, and several other households received help as a result.

My parents at first thought that all that needed doing at their house was washing windows. But Linda and I worked with them to expand the list to include a number of other necessary tasks which weren't registering on their radar.

Cutting out seedling trees that had sprouted in the flower beds, and weeding and mulching in those areas, along with trimming honeysuckle vine where it was growing over the sidewalk all got done. Some of the ladies worked at cleaning out cupboards. Several others of us divided and re-potted Mom's big fern. By the way, there are still several unclaimed divisions of that fern. Call Linda, me, or Mom if you'd like one.


Hiromi notices that quite a few shoppers purchase fresh cilantro at Wal-Mart, but very few buy parsley. He usually keeps us supplied with both at all times. "It's cheap," he says, and I find ways to include them in many foods. They both have a bright, fresh taste--most welcome when fresh vegetables are in short supply during the winter.


Brandi is living here while Shane is gone. Lexi and her puppies went to Joseph's house where there were eager children waiting to play with the puppies. That sounded like a good arrangement all around.

I'm really impressed with the personality of Welsh Corgis. Grant is not so impressed with the droppings Brandi left in the driveway in front of the house. "Oh she's just marking the territory," I said.

"No, what she's doing is leaving piles of _____ for people to step in. Don't ask me for sympathy when you step in one of them."

I've been watching my step more carefully than usual out there. Thankfully the piles are flattened now by tires, and getting nicely dried out by the sun and wind. I knew this weather was good for something.


Joey called the other day and told me he had just seen a flock of Bobolinks along the road by the alfalfa field south of the house. When he called, I was getting ready to hurry off to Charity's pinning ceremony, so I couldn't go out to look for them, and I never did see them. It was a shame, since I've never seen a Bobolink.


At Charity's pinning, the student representative gave a list of some of the things that had transpired in the lives of the students during their years of nurse's training. The list included babies having been born to students--twins, in one case. Afterward, I saw two tiny babies in infant carriers parked next to the wall of the foyer where graduates were mingling with guests afterward.

I can't imagine trying to go to school while having twins.


In that same nurse's graduating class I recognized Sandra, who I learned to know when we were both homeschool moms. She must have decided to go back to school after her children were through school.

Another person I wondered about because she had a familiar, but uncommon, last name was apparently the widow of Myron's classmate, Rocky, who died recently of a brain tumor. I learned that she's a good friend of Linda, from our church.

I know Charity's story best of all, and I'm proud of her perseverance in becoming a registered nurse. She plans to take her state boards, get a nursing job, and enroll in a bachelor's degree program right away--through Tabor College. It's an 18-month program that requires classes one night a week. Charity's dad told me in the refreshments line that they're happy about having a nurse in the family. I can imagine. Our family is happy to have a nurse in the family too--several, in fact, especially when there is a medical crisis. Bill and Lois are "our" nurses.


I've gone to my last graduation of the season, and am looking forward to doing a lot of staying home this week. It's a great place to be.


Monday Morning P.S. The predicted overnight low was 38 degrees. It went down to 35 by 5:00 AM. The windshield on the car does not seem frosty, but Hiromi is getting the sprinklers going anyway. The overnight low was to occur at 7:00 AM. Something seems strange though because at 6:00 the reading is 38 degrees. Maybe it's the desperate prayers ascending . . .

I'm not sure what all would be affected in the fields by a frost, but I know that about half of what we have in the garden would be toast. We have all our warm season stuff out--okra, peppers, tomatoes, melons, zinnias, etc., and nothing except some of the tomatoes are under cover.

On Thursday we now have a 50% chance for rain. On this matter, hope doesn't quite spring eternal, but it's something to look forward to.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Weather, Animal Excursions, and Upchucking

This is the forecast for south central Kansas for Wednesday:

"Severe thunderstorms are expected to develop Wednesday afternoon along or west of Highway 14, then move northeast during the evening. The risk for severe storms is higher west of a line from Salina to Winfield, with the greatest risk across Pratt, Kingman, Barber and Harper counties. Large hail and damaging winds are likely and tornadoes are possible."

Highway 14 is five miles west of our home. We are west of the Salina to Winfield line, in Reno County. If these storms pass over us late enough in the day, perhaps there will be less chance of the most severe aspects striking here.

I'm adding prayers for safety to my prayers for rain.

Grant's cynical comment, after I read the above quoted paragraph aloud: "Well, maybe we'll get a little rain at the tail end of a big storm."

The National Weather Service site also reported that May 9 (yesterday) was the earliest date on record for temperatures having topped 100 degrees in Wichita. Exactly one week ago today we had patchy frost in the area--some of the cold severe enough to kill warm-season garden vegetables. On Friday and Saturday, the highs will be 68-70 degrees--ideal, in other words. We end up with some good averages in Kansas--enough extremes, and a few very moderate readings--but not too many, so as to avoid monotony.


Yesterday some of the hogs that reside on this farm went visiting the neighbors--all the way to Dwight's farm about a mile west of here.

We were first alerted to something being amiss when someone knocked on the door at 5:00. By the time Hiromi got dressed enough to go to the door, all he saw was the newspaper on the porch floor and the carrier's tail lights disappearing out the driveway. So he went back to bed. He had been sick during the night and needed more rest.

At 7:00 there was another knock, and Hiromi repeated the getting dressed routine. This time it was our neighbor, Jamie, who said the paper carrier had stopped to tell him that there were hogs out at the neighbor's place. So Jamie kindly came to tell us.

Hiromi called the home of the people who own the hogs. No one answered. I remembered that at least part of the family had gone to Colorado for the weekend, so Hiromi called their neighbor, Joe, to see if he knew who was doing their chores. Joe said the chore boys had not gone along, so he would go over to inform them. I don't know how that went, but before long, I saw James near the hog barn shading his eyes, peering intently toward the east. That was the wrong direction, as it turned out.

Thankfully the hogs did not take a side trip through the nearby garden--not ours, at least, and I presume--not Dwight's either.

I laughed when I realized that at least five househols, besides the paper carrier's, cooperated to get this little problem rectified.


Quote for the Day:

Yesterday morning--

Me (to Hiromi): You're the noisiest thrower-upper of anyone I've ever heard.

Hiromi: Me?

(to Grant): Did I wake you up?

Grant: It was loud enough to wake the dead. I don't think involvement of the vocal cords is necessarily required for throwing up.

At this point Grant performed a perfect roaring re-enactment--sound effects only. Hiromi had the good sense to laugh. He even asked for a demonstration of normal throwing up sounds. So Grant and I made discreet little gagging noises with abrupt cessations to show him how it could be done.

Grant had been sick the day before, at which time his throwing up sounds were more than role-playing. Fortunately, this ailment has come and gone within 24 hours for most of the people affected. Three people at Jared and Yolie's house had it the same week Grant got it. He works there, and Clare lives there right now. So far, I'm hale and hearty.


I'm off to water the garden.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Weather Forecast

Here is the weather forecast for today, May 9, 2011.

Sunny and hot, with a high near 102. Breezy, with a south southwest wind between 14 and 22 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph.

The ground is parched, and wide cracks appear in many places. But there is a 50% chance of rain on Wednesday. So we're hunkering down for today (and holding our noses--It's going to be a PS day.) and praying about Wednesday.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Student Exuberance

If there was any doubt in anyone's mind about whether our high school group is above average for exuberance, I suspect they have now been disabused of that misconception. Today the students chose songs for the group to sing at the awards assembly. Among the songs they chose was "I'm Like a Tree." Just as they have been doing all year when they sang that song, they stood on their chairs (the church benches, in this case) and faced the audience and waved their "branch" arms back and forth with abandon. I can not imagine having wanted to do that when I was in high school.

Later, I described for everyone some of the signs of excitement I've been noting at year's end. I had just finished saying that there's been lots of applause for no apparent reason, and I was interrupted with applause! At the end of my short speech, I asked the students to sing "Freedom is Coming" with the slight alteration they had used at dismissal time on Wednesday. So they sang "Summer is Coming," and the back row of students got up on the bench again to sing. And they clapped for themselves afterward again, just as they did when they sang at dismissal. (I think this is right, although some of the clapping sort of gets blurred in my memory.)

I forgot, unfortunately, to say anything specific about the typing class. The Lord knows there would have been plenty to say. I could have said that the entire class increased their adjusted words per minute (AWM) average by almost three AWM in the last week of school--for an average of almost 57 AWM. This was not the fastest class average I've encountered, but it was certainly respectable. If there had been a grade for vigorous social interactions, this class would have scored off the charts.

In the process of making comparisons with previous classes, I heard rumors of students in other years having gamed the system by repeating the same lessons over and over, and skipping some of the more difficult lessons. If I teach typing again next year, I'll have my antennae out for such maneuvers.

I'll also probably enforce some quiet time during typing class. Near the end of the year, this talkative class actually requested this "privilege." Not all the time, they assured me. Just for part of class, so they could really concentrate on increasing their speed.

I could also have said that, besides developing keyboard skills, the typing class did a variety of typing projects. We made tables and charts, documents using columns, posters, memos, business letters, formatted Bible memory passages and poems, formatted the various parts of a research paper, and made covers for church and school publications. We also produced projects using a spreadsheet program and a slide show program. At the end of the class, we looked at a database program, a math program, a drawing program, and the use of templates.


Last night after the graduation service was over, I was in my vehicle getting ready to leave when I saw another act of end-of-year exuberance. On the sidewalk where they were both walking along, Marvin came up behind MJ and put his hands on MJ's shoulders and in one smooth motion he had vaulted over the top of his head, and landed on his feet on the sidewalk just ahead of MJ. Then he did it again, just for fun. I don't know what you call this action--Stand-up-Leapfrog?


Wesley (our principal) and Jean Ann left immediately after the awards assembly to drive to Minnesota for the funeral of Wes' uncle by marriage--John C. Yoder. At least one van load of others from here traveled to the same funeral. John used to be a minister here, and he and his wife were both born here and they started their family here. My dad and he preached in the same Old Order Amish church district in the 1950s. Dad went to the funeral. My Uncle Fred took a van load of passengers.


We've heard more distressing news about daughter-in-law Dorcas' mother's cancer. It is apparently quite advanced, and more malignancies have been discovered besides the ones in her lungs and on her spine. Radiation is being used to reduce the size of the spinal tumor, to head off paralysis otherwise. Mark Kuepfer is calling for his children to come home as soon as possible, in order to have some good family time together with their mother, Esther. So Rachel is coming from Thailand on Wednesday, and the family will stay in the US until after their twins are born. Ruth hurried home from her teaching job in Georgia; Dorcas leaves from here tomorrow, and, in several weeks, after Joe and Marilyn return from their semester in Mexico, Shane and they will drive to VA together. Then, according to present plans, all except Ruth will return to Kansas around the end of May.

Esther is my age. Please join me in praying for the Kuepfer family.


One local farmer was told by his agronomist that if we don't get rain within a week, people probably won't need to bother getting their combines out at wheat harvest time. This is not a happy prospect. Shane said he checked inside a wheat head today and found the tiniest of wheat berries. There's still not a good rain prospect in the near future, but we keep on praying.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Prayer Request

Here's a Facebook post from a local young man. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Caleb E. Yoder
dear friends, on behalf of your Kansas farmer friends and relations, please earnestly entreat Jehovah to bless the earth with rain!!

    • Caleb E. Yoder I do not believe this is a selfish prayer as many families' livelihood will be greatly affected if the wheat they planted receives no rain...
      Sunday at 6:03pm
    • Caleb E. Yoder it would be a great blessing to many people!
      Sunday at 6:07pm

Tonight we have a 20% chance for rain. It's a little hard to pin too many hopes on these chances since we've been getting almost no rain of late, even with a much higher percentage chance of rain.

Sun and wind were in abundance today.

The wheat is headed out, and it waves like May wheat should, but the stalks are stubby and the heads are short. Some alfalfa is being cut, even though it's short too, and makes a fairly feeble-looking windrow.

On a whinier note, it's a P.S. day, and you might also pray for a change in wind direction. I'd prefer my baked chicken and potatoes for supper without the pervading aroma, even inside the house. If I knew the south wind was bringing rain, however, I could live with it. And I'll no doubt survive, even if it doesn't.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Cathartic Writing

If I were the worrying kind, I would be on high alert at the moment, or slogging through the mire. Cathartic writing, coming right up.

It's two weeks after the average frost free date, and we're under a frost advisory tonight. We have tomatoes and okra--many dozens of very frost sensitive plants--patiently awaiting their fate in the garden. Thankfully, we're behind schedule, and don't have any peppers, eggplant, or vine crops out. We've upended gallon-sized nursery pots over some of the tomatoes, and the rest are inside plastic-wrapped cages. Some of them have plywood lids, and we've stuffed sheets of newspapers in the gaping maw of the others. Hiromi is setting up a sprinkler to turn on over the okra rows.

The northeast wind is to diminish to nothing and the skies have cleared after a mostly cloudy day. This is a classic frosty-night setup.

We're still desperate for rain. We're about five inches short for this time of year. Spring-seeded crops have had trouble germinating, and over-wintered wheat and alfalfa are struggling to grow. Our front lawn is showing dry patches. We often have dry times in mid-summer, but this is the time of year when we usually have abundant rain.


My daughter-in-law's mother, Esther K. has had a recurrence of cancer, after five years of good health. This time the masses are in her lungs and on her spine. They await a conference with an oncologist tomorrow to learn more. The malignancies were confirmed by a biopsy last week.


Josh and Misty's unborn miracle baby is in need of another miracle. Misty is on complete bed rest, and the outlook is tenuous, apart from Divine intervention. That's what we're praying for.


My older sister travels this week to a New England state at taxpayer expense, in response to a summons to appear before a grand jury for questioning about a ticket she issued as part of her job as a travel agent. She is a witness called by the prosecution in a case involving charges against an individual who was involved in the purchase of a ticket issued through the agency she works for. I apologize for being vague, but that's the safest way, it seems.


My aunt, Judy, was in the hospital most of last week. She's home now, but not able to leave home without a lot of difficulty, partly because of the equipment she needs.


In this morning's communion service, several members who suffer from dementia had a lot of trouble figuring out what was happening. It took cooperation from ministers and lay members to help these people participate in the service. Dementia is a small inconvenience in a church service, but it's a very difficult dynamic in a home and family. Thinking about what it means for loved ones makes me sad.


My mother's "shingles" seem to be something else--severe muscle pain. Her doctor says he doesn't know the cause, but she has not been able to leave home much because of it. She did go next door to Linda's house today, however, for a family dinner.


My cousin's wife, Dorcas, has suffered from poor health for a number of years. They have a family of seven children, and a recent diagnosis has put them on a treatment trail that is both hopeful and frightening. The earlier Lyme Disease diagnosis is in question now, and what her doctor believes she has is an unfamiliar condition with some links to multiple sclerosis. A risky surgery is sometimes suggested for this condition.


Several young families who make a wonderful contribution here are considering moving to other states and countries. While I see how a move might fit in with Kingdom purposes, I'm sorry to think of them leaving.


Our local public school district is beginning a series of deliberations on closing certain attendance centers within the district. First on the slate are discussions about Haven Grade and Elreka-Partridge. Later meetings will focus on Mount Hope and Yoder Charter school. Incredibly, the only school with very little local patronage, Pleasantview Academy (formerly Elreka), is not on the chopping block list, probably because that school draws from a non-district population, and each student brings with them state funds that would not come to the district otherwise. Also, because they are a charter and a virtual school, they can operate with comparatively few teachers per student. Mount Hope and Partridge have nearly new buildings, and shuttering them would seem like a tremendous waste, besides being a huge blow to the small towns in which they're located. No final decisions have been made so far, and certainly not all the grade school attendance centers will be closed.

Programs and personnel are not likely to be completely spared either in this cost-cutting climate.


I'm thinking some positive thoughts too--like the fact that we have only one week of school left, the typing students already reached their typing speed increase goal which earns them a party, Shane's hopes for being able to market hormone and antibiotic-free, forage-fed beef and pork seem to be coming together, the Trail West house improvements are in progress, Hiromi got his kiln temp to 1750 degrees--the highest yet, Grant and Clare have set an August 20 wedding date, Hiromi and I are in good health, my job is intact for next year . . . . Remembering these things helps give me hope for the long list of things I could be worrying about. I intend to pray again about each of these things, and then enjoy a good night of rest.