Prairie View

Friday, September 30, 2011

Articles Needed

I am in need of a number of articles on the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The articles can have editorial content, historical content, or they can be news reports. Recent news articles will likely be about the Palestinian bid for recognition of statehood by the UN, and I'd like some information on that, but not that only.

I've clipped and/or copied recent articles on the subject in Time and The Hutchinson News, so I don't need articles from those two sources. If you could send relevant online links to or give me a heads up with enough information so that I can find it myself, I would be grateful. Local folks have some additional options for informing me. Print copies would be useful, but not essential.

If anyone has first hand observations to share, I would welcome those too. I'd love to hear your commentary on any articles you pass along, but that's certainly optional.

I can, of course, search online myself, and I will do so if no one else's eyes and ears have already spotted something worthy of sharing.

The articles will be put to use at our high school. Sources will be cited.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Good Job

Last Wednesday evening Harold had a topic on "Employer/employee" relationships. He had done a good piece of homework by gathering information from church people on both sides of the equation, and it was an interesting evening.

My dad quoted the president (not sure of his exact title) of Krause Plow, a local manufacturer of farm equipment, who had said publicly that they have trouble hiring well qualified people. In a phone call that Dad initiated, Mr. Brown named two reasons for why they usually have to process 25 applications in order to end up with one good employee a year later: 1) People in the work force often arrive with a sense of entitlement 2) People with a college education expect to be paid better than if they had none, even if the job and the education have no correlation.

I don't suppose this is the intended take-away lesson, but I think it's worth noting that if you want a good job, a college education isn't necessarily the ticket to that event. Especially if you equate "good job" with "high pay," you're likely to be disappointed, at least in the short term. If you dig all the money for a college education out of your own pocket, it's very likely that you'll spend years and many dollars during the first years of employment to pay it all back. Besides that, you've lost four years of time in which you might have been acquiring work-related skills on the job, and you might even have begun climbing whatever ladders you find within your field of work.

Compare that to the disappointment of having a pricey degree in hand and no one around hiring people with pricey degrees. The reality is that people with experience AND a degree are in a better position to get a job than people who have only a degree. This makes it seem advisable to get some job experience before college. Doing this has the added benefit of helping to clarify goals, and increases the chances that the degree earned is actually the one that will be the most help in a chosen career.

The take-away lesson for me is that if you want to attend college, do it with a goal other than a big income. Resolve to be satisfied with your choice, even if the big income never materializes. If you can't do that, don't waste your money. Education can be acquired in various ways, and the state-sanctioned way is not always the best way.

Joel added to the good employer list "Provision for Growth." That's one that's not on the radar for a lot of Mennonite-owned businesses, unless I'm misinformed, but it's ever-so-welcome, from an employee standpoint.

Good interpersonal skills, a solid work ethic, and a willingness to learn are qualities every employer appreciates--unless, of course, it's an employer who is not looking for good people, but instead is looking for automatons, who are good at NOT thinking--only good at working robotically. The Henry Ford-famous assembly line invention works best with this kind of employee. I think it's OK to resist being sucked into this kind of work arrangement, if there are other options. Such an environment is inhumane, and leaves one diminished instead of enriched.

Hard physical labor is not a disgrace, but it's a disgrace to treat other people as though they had only muscles and no heart or brain. Physical damage eventually results from interminable repetitive motions, and other kinds of damage have probably occurred long before the physical damage becomes apparent.

I wonder if anyone besides me thinks about the irony of having a topic on employer/employee relationships in an Amish Mennonite group, when there is no corresponding examination of the merits and challenges of being self-employed, or being a business owner without employees. This is one area in which we Amish people are not doing very well anymore at being Amish--to the detriment of our traditional way of life, I believe.

Fifty years ago, or less, the majority of family heads in our church would have fit into the latter category--not the employer/employee one. I wonder sometimes why we're not more proactive about encouraging the small family business way of life. I suspect that too many of the shakers and movers among us are also employers who have a vision mostly for growing their own business, and it's not directly to their benefit if the employment pool shrinks because of men choosing to work at or from home.

These business owners do offer a valuable service to people who will always be more comfortable working for someone else, or people whose employment years are just beginning. But, as a matter of principle, it would seem admirable to provide support and encouragement for other men to enjoy the same family friendly benefits as business owners enjoy. For them to do this would be like being a schoolteacher advocating for and providing support for homeschooling. Been there, done that.

Economics is probably not the biggest benefit of family businesses. Freedom for parents and children to work alongside each other ranks high on my list of benefits.

Being able to participate in volunteer service opportunities is also a benefit. I don't have any illusions about home business owners having lots of extra time. It feels very different, however, for a man who has worked with his family all week to volunteer a day of work away from home on a Saturday than it does for a man who has only Saturday to work alongside his family. If we value these "helping each other" traditions, can't we see how family businesses facilitate them, as well as other aspects of church body life? We feel better about going to an evening meeting when we've been home all day than if we've landed there just long enough to get ready to go away again.

How about the apprenticeship model of learning a trade? Does this no longer hold any appeal for us? It's true, of course, that learning a trade from one's parents is not the only possible apprenticeship arrangement, but learning that first has benefits that often transfer easily to learning a new skill later in life.

I've often prayed for the growth of a vision among us for helping each other establish family friendly ways of earning a living. I think I'll keep right on praying.


During Harold's topic several people shared Fred Mast anecdotes about work:

In a conversation Fred had with someone who was talking of hiring him, the man answered a question about how much he would pay Fred. "Whatever you're worth," he said.

"I won't work that cheap," Fred replied.

Another time when Fred inquired about a job, he made it clear that what he really wanted was a position--not work.

Fred was a member of our church when he died a a number of years ago. We miss his slightly offbeat sense of humor. He never actually worked for anyone else in my memory, and was probably well off financially, although you couldn't have told by his lifestyle. He was easygoing and generous, which endeared him to many.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

On Freddie and Solzhenitsyn

OK, that's a fairly lame title. Probably not as lame as Sunday Wrapup 9/18/2011 though, which is what it would have been otherwise.


We got six tenths inch of rain last night. It was an occasion for thanksgiving in church this morning, and long before then, no doubt, for whoever heard the rain during the night. The troubles are not over for the long term, however, as today's National Weather Service story proclaimed: Severe To Exceptional Drought Continues Over the Southern Half of Kansas.


My sister Carol is much improved and returned home after almost two days in the hospital. The last I heard, there was no definitive diagnosis, although a blood clot was considered a possible cause of the pain.


Today we were at David and Susanna's for Sunday dinner, along with the Choice Books guys who attend Center regularly, and several others. It was a pleasant afternoon, and helped me avoid my Sunday afternoon nap without regret.


Yesterday Freddie and his best doggie friend from down the road at Cliff's house must have taken each other for a walk. They ended up at a residence across the section to the west.

Freddie is a Welsh Corgi, and Mrs. Southards thought perhaps he was our dog. She has biked past our place in the past and seen Shane's dogs here, one of whom is a tri-colored Corgi named Brandi. Freddie has similar coloration.

From Jonny, who owns Freddie, I've heard tales about how much Freddie loves Gator rides. (I think that's an All-Terrain Vehicle.) This causes a training dilemma when Freddie strays. They usually retrieve him with the Gator, inadvertently rewarding him for his naughtiness.

Freddie has been known to sneak into the shed or garage where the Gator is stored, whenever the door opens. Then he climbs onto the seat and waits for someone to indulge him by giving him a ride. Silly, irresistible dog.


The "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" program we have used for typing class at school for years is giving us fits this year. Maybe it's not the program itself, but something about the computers running it. It locks up repeatedly, and necessitates a start-over. I think I'm getting as tired of having to bother Mr. Schrock as he is tired of being bothered. The students, of course, are as tired of it as anyone. We've been in contact with the business that maintains our equipment, so maybe there's help on the way. I hope so.


Here at home, I am dealing with my own set of computer problems.

Hiromi has given me almost daily admonitions about getting rid of old emails, with solemn intonations about when a hard drive is clogged up like this, all the little bits of information have to be stored in the tiny spaces wherever there's room, so it takes a long time to find available storage and then retrieve it later. (I've taken to asking him if this is lecture number 5--or whatever--and he says yes to whatever I ask.) So I have deleted thousands of old emails. It doesn't help. Firefox still regularly crashes and all its functions are as slow as a caterpillar crossing the road. I can't even delete anything fast.

Joel is offering us the use of a machine he used to use at work. It needs a new hard drive, but $40.00 should get us up and running.


We cleaned the church again this week. Ditto the message from two weeks ago about clogged toilets, except this time it was in the ladies restroom.

There was an apparent glitch in one part of the process. Hiromi told me tonight rather casually that his cleaning didn't pass inspection. Shane, who is one of the Sunday School superintendents and sits up front on Sunday mornings, apparently came upon an un-swept-up dirt pile somewhere near the front of the sanctuary. He suggested to Hiromi after church that maybe he'll want to slip over before church on Wednesday evening to sweep it up.

Hiromi is actually a very efficient and through worker, and we all know that forgotten details like this are quite untypical of him, so no lectures on the matter are necessary.


Earlier this summer I had done some reading on making sourdough starter with flour and liquid, which, when everything works right, eventually provides leavening for stellar, zesty-flavored breads. I have memories of my grandmother and my aunts making sourdough bread, and I was fascinated by the challenge.

I carefully printed out the instructions on how to do it, using pineapple juice as the liquid. The rationale for using this instead of water or milk was fascinating--documented by a home baker who also works as a microbiologist. I even borrowed my sister's grain mill so that I could use fresh-ground flour. Then life happened, and we went to Grant's wedding and school started and Saturdays were market days, and I didn't get the starter started.

But today, over Sunday dinner, Lovell, who is into all sorts of natural foods, talked about sourdough bread, and I was reminded of my unfinished project. So I'm almost ready again. Sourdough bread, here we come.


Yesterday was the first Saturday since the middle of May that I didn't go to Farmer's Market, necessitating a rising time of 5:00 or earlier. I think it was the most relaxing day ever. I had forgotten that it was possible to sleep till 9:30. (My high school students could no doubt have reminded me.) I woke up several times at more reasonable getting up times, but every time I smiled because I didn't have to get up. Then I rolled over and kept right on sleeping. If this is a perk of being empty nesters, maybe I'll be OK with it after all.

Shane and Dorcas manned the market booth. It was cool enough for someone in the third trimester of pregnancy to avoid overheating.


Hiromi is moving a bit painfully the past few days. His back hurts.

"Does Mark have back problems?" Hiromi asked tonight. Before I could think where he was going with this, he reminded me that if Mark is in this back-problems group, that gives all our sons and their wives a dad with back problems. Maybe our grandchildren will be subjected early to back-muscle strengthening exercises.

None of our boys have had back injuries, which was not the case with either Hiromi or Bob by the same age as our boys have now.


I was saddened to learn of the death of Atlee Troyer from Sugarcreek, Ohio. He was the husband of my dear friend Clara (Ropp) who was my co-teacher and housemate when I taught school in Ohio.

He had a stroke about a week ago, and when it became apparent that he was unlikely to recover, he went home from the hospital and died there several days later. I don't have plans to attend the funeral, but my thoughts will be there and I'm praying for the family. Being a thousand miles away at such a time is a significant hurdle in time and money.


I'm wading through the 500+ page Too Big to Fail book, and am still finding it really interesting. I'm also wading through the written reports the students wrote on America's Finances. This would be a lot faster if I didn't have to evaluate and assign a grade to them.

This week I came across an online BBC news report with the title "Is Greece the Next Lehman Brothers?" and reflected on the fact that such a title would have a host of meanings and associations for our students, whereas a month ago, nothing about that headline would likely have clicked with them.

I wonder if September 2011 will someday be viewed as Europe's watershed event as September 2008 was America's. September 15 was the date that Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.

I consider it one of the perks of teaching that I have an excuse to learn about things like this. I'm certainly more engaged with the events in Europe now than I would be otherwise. For them, there are political implications that weren't in play in the U.S. The integrity of the European Union as a political entity is in question if Greece, and then likely also Italy and Spain go down in financial flameouts.

In the online reviews of Too Big to Fail, someone complained that the author doesn't assign blame for the catastrophic events. The reviewer claimed that the author had not done his job right since he did not reach a conclusion and present it in writing. I beg to differ. I like a book like this that tells exactly what happened and lets the reader make up his own mind. I don't need that author to tell me what to think. If he had felt compelled to boil it all down to a simple good guys/bad guys formula, the story would have been much diminished. Every character involved had some good and bad traits and made some good and bad choices. That's true to life.

My most sweeping analysis of the characters involved in the near-meltdown of America's finances is that most of them needed their mouth washed out with soap when they were children. Either that, or they acquired a foul mouth in adulthood and should have repented of it by their own choice.


My cousin Duane recently quoted Soltzhenitsyn in a discussion of politics on Facebook: " . . . the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. ..." That insight should temper whatever inclination we have to pin succinct labels on people with a prominent public profile--or without one, for that matter.

"Judge not that ye be not judged" the Bible says. That simple injunction is apropos for any situation.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Quote for the Day 9/17/2011

Background: W------, who works as a plumber, came to church on Wed. eve. in his work clothes. The day's work must have involved navigating some crawl spaces on his stomach, judging by how the clothes looked on the front side.

David Y. (our bishop), shaking W------'s hand after church : Good evening, W------. Thank you for coming.


Euni (to W------) : Wow, you're making A----- [his girlfriend] look really good.

W------ : She doesn't need my help to look good.


Good one, W------. A zinger of a compliment, and a shunting aside of the focus on his appearance--all in one easy application.

Vastly amusing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Wrapup 9/11/2011

I'm worried just now about my sister Carol. She is in the emergency room in the Kansas City area with severe pain in both legs, and is hardly able to walk. They're giving her anti-inflammatory medication and doing further testing.

I'm thankful that her husband Roberto is home. His job takes him to churches all over the country, and Carol is often alone, now that her girls are grown up.

Carol is next to me in the family--just younger.


The state fair in Hutchinson is underway. Rain during the fair is a long-standing tradition. This year especially we hope the tradition is honored.


Here's an excerpt from Facebook that I found interesting. The first poster is Kathy, who is from our church. She is working at Faith Builders currently, and the announcement she heard is about a program for which my father is partially responsible. I've omitted some identifying details.
Today I visited the Plainview Beachy church,and the person who was making announcements was talking about the CASP program and how they're needing some more volunteers for next January and February. He said that this is in Hutchinson, KS. He paused,and then continued,"If any of you know where that is. It's out on the prairie somewhere...."

    • Aaron M I advise you to find that man and show him on the map exactly where Hutchinson, KS is. Make sure he knows how awesome of a place this is.

    • Kathy, tell him we can mail him a map so he can find us:)

      Kathleen T You could suggest that he come to Hutchinson for the CASP program to experience our wonderful state.

    • Gene L M Not all bad that not everyone knows/ appreciates the beauty KS and its people; we don't want everyone moving out here and turning it into another Mennotropolis!

    • Jared S It's outside PA, how was he supposed to know anything about it?

    • Kore B What's the fuss? It's true isn't it? :)

    • Danny Y What a sad, sheltered life

    • Kathleen T Kore, The Hutchinson, Kansas is much more than just the beauty of a wide open sky and beautiful fields of sunflowers and golden wheat. Our Mennonite community is an extremely accepting and caring group of people. I not only am a transplant from an eastern community, but also from non-Mennonite background and I would never want to live anywhere else.

    • Kathleen T That was suppose to read The Hutchinson, Kansas community.

To most Mennonites, we here in Kansas appear to be on the fringes of civilization, when in reality, we are smack in the middle of the country and the heaviest concentrations of Mennonites are far toward the eastern fringe.


Davy and Luann M. have spent the summer here with their family. Tomorrow they leave Kansas to return to their home in S. Carolina. They lived next to my sister Linda and across the street from my parents, so they and Davy's brother Marvin's family will especially miss them.

On Labor Day I heard Davy tell the story of his young son Alex's fascination with trash trucks. Alex went so far as to fantasize about how ideal it would be if he had a fatal accident that would result in him going to heaven where he was pretty sure he would be allowed to drive a trash truck.

Marvin N. from our church heads up the trash service his father established more than 50 years ago, and made Alex very happy when he directed one of his employees to pick up Alex and take him along on part of his route through Partridge.


This is the week Dr. Jana flies home from El Salvador to have hip replacement surgery. She experiences a lot of pain, and I pray her trip is manageable and her problem can be corrected. A lot of people depend on her for medical care, but for a time, she will need to depend on others for care.

America's Finances, the subject of this month's current events/issues study at school, is proving to be far more interesting to me than I anticipated. I am sooooo not a numbers person, but Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin is written with enough human interest and drama to keep me engrossed.

A decade from now, I suspect that the events of September 2008 will appear in retrospect to be almost as game-changing for Americans as was September 11, 2001.

If we are to believe what investigative reporters and leading economists say, our country came very close to a complete meltdown in September 2008--a time when no one anywhere could have withdrawn money from any bank. An infusion of government cash into some of the largest investment banks averted the disaster of one bank after another falling like dominoes, filtering down eventually to all the local banks in this country and abroad.

Was it fair that taxpayers came to the rescue of people who acted irresponsibly with their own and other people's money? Of course not. Would it have been better to withhold the cash and let the big banks go down the tubes along with a whole world of people, most of whom had not contributed to the problem? I think not.

Saving the banks ultimately kept the financial system churning along--not well, but not totally incapacitated. Most of us can go to our banks and withdraw our deposits if we decide to. Fareed Zakaria says that the government aid is working exactly as it was designed to work. The banks were supposed to recover first. Only then could businesses and consumers access funds to supply their own needs and to help the economy grow. Understandably, this rankles people on Main Street who see that people on Wall Street are doing very well, while Main street is still suffering.


I listened to Obama's Thursday night jobs speech on YouTube. Watching John Boehner's response was pretty funny sometimes. Flanking the president on the other side was Joe Biden, who did a lot of clapping and a lot of standing up to clap. No such enthusiasm on Boehner's part. Stoicism was much in evidence. I concede that the clapping and standing ovations were probably overdone, and somewhere between Biden and Boehner there should have been a happy medium.

I really enjoyed Obama's speech--reasonable, in my opinion--direct, clear, and passionate. I don't know if any of what he wishes to see happen is possible, given the realities of political machinations and paralysis. I'm not positive that his proposals chart the best possible course of action, but I have the sense that they're preferable to both intransigence and repetitious utterances of mind numbing talk show or political rally mantras.

I also liked a Huffington Post writer's analysis of how Obama's speech clarified which former president Obama was most likely to emulate as he continues to define himself before the next election. So far the possibilities have focused on FDR and Reagan. The HP writer declared that the debate determined that it would be neither. Instead it would be Truman--"Give 'em ______ Harry" or, in this case "Give 'em __________ Barry."

On a side note, I noticed that many of the female members of Congress wore red to listen to Obama's speech. In the sea of dark suits, the red ladies fairly shouted their presence. Maybe wearing red makes them feel powerful.


The National Weather Service had several stories this week on their website about the heat and drought of the summer of 2011. Each article named states that were especially hard hit. Kansas was not mentioned in either list.

This made sense to me when I thought of how much rain fell in Kansas this year only slightly north, west, and east of here. Overall, the state averages were probably not that different from usual.

Another article on the same page says that La Nina (How do you make an enya?) looks like it will be in place again next year just as it was this year. When I read this, my heart "stank" (as Harry S. used to say). I really am not hoping for a repeat of the past season's weather pattern. Usually the north gets more moisture than usual and the south gets less if this pattern is in place. Lord, have mercy.


Last winter we had a field full of rodeo animals across the road east of our place. They were owned by the Krafts of Abbyville. This past week was the funeral of 28-year old Bronc Kraft, who was involved in the family's rodeo stock business. He was pulling two trailers when his vehicle stalled on the railroad tracks. When a train approached, he left the vehicle, but was hit with flying debris from the collision between the train and the stalled vehicle. He called his father to tell him he had had a little accident. Then he dialed 911. He died later in the hospital.


Grant and Clarissa crept into the house at about 11:30 pm to look at their wedding pictures on Grant's computer. They don't have internet access or a computer at their house, so they keep coming here to use it. I think it's nice they have a good reason to keep coming back.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Dreaming Big

Overheard yesterday over lunch, outside:

Unidentified student: My head hurts.

Brandon: My head hurts too. It's because of the halo trying to grow there. My lower back hurts too. I've got two jet engines trying to grow there. Someday I'll be able to just reach back there and start them up, and go flying off on my own.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Quote for the Day 9/7/2011

At the Labor Day church picnic, when I told the people at my table about the thick standing wheat and the wide, deep windrows of cut hay we saw in Eastern Washington several weeks ago:

Joe Y. : I think that would have made me cry. I've had such a longing to see a nice thick hay windrow . . .

Joe has a custom haying business. Because of the summer-long drought, hay has hardly grown, and very little has been harvested, so income for the business has been sparse as well. Joe described how frustrating it has been to hardly be able to see the skimpy windrow, especially in the dark, when he's found himself wandering around because he couldn't see where he wanted to drive.


Right now we're in a week-long stretch of perfect weather. Rain would add to the perfection, and help make the view as beautiful as the temperature and atmosphere.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Fall Weather and a Brain on Vacation

I loved Doris M.'s Facebook post where she mused that "You might be from Kansas if you're praying for rain while hanging out laundry." The rain did indeed pass us by one more time this weekend, but we're still smiling about the weather.

Last week we had one 107 degree day and other days over 100, but today, and throughout all of this week, the high is to be around 80. Nights range from a predicted low of 49 tonight to just under 60 some nights this week. Can you imagine how welcome this change feels? The wind is from the north and sounds like a winter wind. Snuggling under the covers at night feels good.


Tonight I'm hearing a cricket in the house for the first time this season. Hiromi said, "Good. That'll save me money." He's making a playful reference to having bought a pet cricket as a child. He kept it in a tiny cricket cage and fed it little bits of cucumber.

"If you catch that cricket in the kitchen, it's fine with me if you want to keep it in a cage."


We just got home from attending a housewarming and grocery shower for Grant and Clarissa. I overheard one of the men say, "If you're too proud to have goats, and too poor to have cattle, you get Dexters instead." Shane was the only one in that crowd who owns Dexters, so I suppose the comment was for his benefit.


My brain seems to have gone on vacation during part of this weekend. I forgot to take the scale and the cash box to market on Saturday. They are the two most essential pieces of equipment in our booth. Hiromi brought them out, after a phone call which interrupted his leisurely breakfast preparations here at home. He didn't complain or scold or anything. He just did what needed doing.

The drama had begun the evening before when I got home from the staff appreciation supper the school board provided, with my flowers still unpicked. Hiromi to the rescue again. He held the flashlight and held the flowers after I picked them. We were out in the west garden when we saw a light bobbing along the fence row in the cows' grazing area. "Shane, is that you?" It was. He had built some electric fence and had only to turn it on before he went home. Except that when he turned on the fencer, it was very dead. So he walked the fence after dark, checking for problems by the light of his cell phone. While he was doing that, Dorcas called him, too tired to figure out by herself what to do with the contents of a jar of salsa that had broken when she put it into the canner.

Hiromi's misspent time occurred when he joined the staff appreciation supper after he got off work. I had told him it was at Center, which is what I was told. Just before I left home I got a phone call with the corrected location--Cedar Crest. I couldn't get word to Hiromi so I put a note on the door at Center. He never found it, but when he saw that Center was deserted, he went to Cedar Crest instead. It's a good thing they're not so very far apart.

Tonight I showed up at Grant's house without the paperware I had agreed to bring. I really thought someone else was bringing these things, but after having my memory jogged, I realized that yes, indeed, the duty was mine, and I failed to carry it out. Shane went home and got some from their house.

I also forgot about how not having our kitchen stove leveled would affect the baking of a large Texas Sheet Cake for the rescue mission. It came out of the oven very high along the one side and very low along the other. I gave Lois a heads up that the pieces might have to be adjusted when it was time to cut the cake--big pieces along the low side and smaller ones along the high side. This was not an ego boosting experience.

Perhaps it was just as well that the brain wasn't very sharp when I encountered a clogged toilet in the men's restroom while doing my bit to clean the church on Saturday evening. Being able to avoid breathing through your nose is a more useful skill in such cases than is a fertile imagination.


This early in the school year we've already seen heartwarming evidence of maturity and openness in some of our students. Despite difficult personal challenges, they're reaching out for help, without casting blame on others or being vindictive, although the temptation to do both must be very real. Someone they trust must be working and walking with them in a way that makes this kind of response possible. I love seeing people come together to help those who are hurting.


My sister-in-law Kara's mother died last week at the age of 90. She had moved a number of years ago from Fort Madison, Iowa, where they had raised their family to Pennsylvania where Caleb and Kara live. A funeral service was held today in Pennsylvania, and a second service will take place on Wednesday in Iowa, with burial there following. She was a widow, and her husband is also buried in Fort Madison.

Coming at the beginning of the school year complicates things for Caleb's family. Caleb, Sterling, and Joelle are all in college as teacher or student.

Sarah Hass was a sweet and gentle Christian lady, and an accomplished fabric artist. Her specialty was quilted wall hangings--not primarily geometric shapes, but scenes (There's probably a better way to describe this, but I lack the proper quilter's vocabulary.). Some of her work was featured in magazines and books.

Fort Madison is on the Amtrak line between here and Chicago, so going there by train from Hutchinson would be very simple. The town is on the eastern border of the state, on the Mississippi River.


Little Sabrina Miller needs another surgery this week to replace one section of the shunt that drains excess fluid from her brain. She just passed her first birthday, and has seemed to be doing well of late. Shunt failure, however, threatens to result in extra pressure on her brain, and must be avoided if her brain is to develop as normally as possible. She was born with Spina bifida and had multiple surgeries in the first few months of her life. She's a plump little girl, and is obviously thriving on the good care she's getting.


Tomorrow is the annual Labor Day church picnic. Hiromi has to work, but I plan to go. First, though, I plan to go to bed without setting an alarm. For me, the labor will wait.