Prairie View

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Akachan and Other News

The akachan (ah-kah-chon--"baby" in Japanese) is getting cuter by the day. We had some good times this evening holding him to our heart's content, laughing at his accidental smiles and fierce frowns and perplexed expressions--all in his sleep. When his eyes were open, he ranged them all around the room, but didn't have the coordination to focus on anyone's face.

We've spotted evidence of Kuepfer genes. He has a massive cowlick. Just maybe it's the beginning of curly hair. That would be very un-Iwashige-like.


Today in Sunday School Rachel Y. told us about a special event recently in Montana, the home of members of her husband's family, including his parents.

At Easter, earlier this year, someone gave Rachel's parents-in-law a lily. After the flowers faded, Ella, the wife, planted the lily outside the house. A few weeks ago someone noticed a bud on the lily plant--completely out of season for an early summer blooming bulb.

"It'll freeze," Ella said, resigned to the inevitable. She was struggling with leukemia, and her husband had serious heart problems, and a lily freezing was no doubt low on her list of concerns, despite her love of flowers.

In a sudden downward spiral, Ella's condition worsened, and she died rather unexpectedly about two weeks ago. On the day her body was brought back to her home for the last time, the lily had burst into bloom. It was still fresh on the day of her funeral, and someone plucked the blossom and placed it into her hands. She was buried that way, in the presence of her children and all 61 grandchildren.

How good of God to provide this resurrection symbol when the reality of separation by death saddened Ella's family.


This was the weekend of youth retreat. Church seemed really empty because of it, and perhaps because four of our ministers preached elsewhere today. As further evidence of the dearth of people attending the regular service, I filled in as SS teacher for Grace Kuepfer, who traveled unexpectedly to Canada for Lorne's 14-year-old nephew's funeral. Before Sunday I got asked to teach another class (I said no.) and also got asked if Hiromi and I could go to the Manor service because Jolene and Sanford were scheduled to go and they were both teaching classes. I said no again. Our Sunday school class was about half its usual size, and the Center contingent at the Manor consisted of only Joel and Hilda. Oops.


This is the week for parent teacher conferences at school. I always enjoy this time, but this week looks maxed out from early to late each day through Wednesday. We have winter Bible school on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the remainder of the sessions next week on Wednesday through Friday.


We had our second hard freeze this week. I'm still canning tomatoes that are ripening gradually indoors.

Hiromi and I harvested the daikon radishes we usually grow as a fall crop, and we tied them by their leaves onto the panels that form our garden fence. The process of drying them this way is the first step in making them into a traditional Japanese pickle by a natural fermenting process. Think of it as a crock dill pickle variation, only there are no cucumbers and no dill--only salted giant white "icicle" radishes, and the naturally developing lactic acid bacteria that gives it a sharp, lively flavor.

On his next day off Hiromi plans to harvest the leaf mustard and let it dry outdoors for a day or so before beginning the pickling process, also with salt.

Each vegetable is placed, with salt, in a five-gallon bucket, and pressed under a heavy weight till the desired flavor develops.


Joel and Hilda plan to travel to see the Grand Canyon, probably leaving on Tuesday of this week.

They're mindful of their good friend Cookie Wiebe's worsening condition, and are aware that her likely-soon home-going could change their plans. She lives in Newton. Along with LeRoy H. and Elena they've shared good times together in the past as part of a discussion group. Cookie's husband David posted pictures of Joel and Hilda's wedding before any official photos were ready.
David and Cookie left for voluntary service in India shortly after the wedding, but not before they had biked across the U.S. together to raise money for MCC--quite a feat for a couple old enough to be grandparents.

Cookie also worked at Newton's MCC headquarters for a number of years, a familiar presence for the ladies from here who went there to volunteer occasionally.


Our group is rejoicing in the dismissal of all of Timo Miller's charges. I have yet to see any media reports of this development. Perhaps it's not considered as newsworthy as the initial filing of charges was considered to be.


The final farmer's market of the season is past. Craig went in Shane's place, while Shane brought his wife and baby home from the hospital. Fellow vendors were eager to hear whether Shane and Dorcas' baby had arrived, and Craig was able to give them the news they wanted to hear.

Shane offered a "Tristan Special" to honor the occasion in his meat sales.


Dan Schrag turns 90 this week, on Wednesday. Cards, calls, and visits in honor of the occasion would be a blessing to Betty, as well as Dan.


Family and friends of Loyal M. are heading to PA this week for the wedding of Loyal and Arlene. He is LaVerne and Rebecca's son.


At school, we've been watching the development of a number of Black Swallowtail butterflies that developed from larva that Mr. Schrock brought to school, along with parsley from the plant they were feeding on when he found them.

The butterflies have proven to be very entertaining, especially at the testing table, close to where they hatched. Last week Marvin had one perched on his pencil when it abruptly switched locations and perched on his nose. He could hardly get done scratching the itch after it flew away.

All of them have been released outdoors.

Last week, a special hot lunch and a bicycle ride on the trails in Carey and Rice Park rewarded those who ended the quarter on privilege. Earlier in the quarter everyone had gone to the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty Pageant, so we chose to do something cheaper and closer to home for the end-of-quarter activity.

The bike ride had one major snafu, resulting in a ride more than ten miles long instead of the planned seven mile ride for everyone. People weren't complaining though, perhaps because they realized the snafu was the students' fault--not the teachers'. Riding confidently off in the wrong direction without asking for guidance was their first mistake.


Does anyone know where the "Teaching Company" high school geometry course is? Grant used it, and John used it, and I don't know where it went after that. A student at Pilgrim is interested in taking the course if we can find it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Quote for the Day 10/28/2011

Shane (about his newborn son) : When he cries, half his face is mouth.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Birth Announcement

Tristan Scott Iwashige was born this evening at 5:39 to Shane and Dorcas. He weighed 7 lbs. and 7 oz.

Dorcas says he looks like Shane, and Shane says he looks like Hiromi. We all say he looks a little battered and will no doubt look more handsome as time goes on. I think both parents feel battered too, but as far as I know, they don't have their sights set on looking more handsome as time goes on. A good rest is what they do have their sights set on.

A little more than 25 years ago, Shane was born at the same hospital in Lyons, Kansas. The plans earlier were to have this baby at the birth center in Yoder, but Plan B seemed like a good idea as time (and more time) went on, so they self-transferred mid-stream. The good news is that a C-Section was not needed. I won't elaborate on the bad news. Suffice it to say that Shane said this afternoon that adoption seemed like a pretty good way to go for acquiring a family.

We left the hospital after spending some time with Shane and the baby, leaving Dorcas alone to rest and recover. The baby seems to have a few opinions already about what he wants in life--food, mostly, at this point.

Thank God we're on the done side of the birth event, with good days to look forward to.


How's this for weird? We Iwashige ladies had joked about trying to guess the name Shane and Dorcas had picked out for their baby boy, but they weren't telling. (Fred was the name they always used.) Earlier today, for the first time, I had a name in mind that I thought was a good guess. Trenton. That's just the kind of name they'd choose, I thought. Unknown to me, Clarissa was thinking the same thing all day today. Trenton. That was it.

Come to find out, Trenton Scott was a name Shane and Dorcas really liked, but they didn't want to copy Ken and Rochelle, so they settled on Tristan instead of Trenton.

Does this family have telepathy or what? I don't think we ever talked about these names.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Wrapup 10/23/2011

Yesterday Matthew and Andrea got married. We sat directly in front of the vocalists and got the full benefit of the catch-your-breath loveliness of the music. We also participated gladly in the worship time led by Lyle, interspersed as it was with Scripture, comments and congregational singing. We had more trouble following the sermon--mostly the fault of something in the acoustics or sound system, or both, in the building.


In a rant to Hiromi, I reinforced and articulated my belief that do-it-yourself Mennonites who undertake church building construction would do well to engage the services of professional architects or sound and lighting specialists--or have someone in the church group committed to doing the necessary research to get this right.

Hiromi pointed out that yesterday when the volume got turned up, we began to hear the whine of feedback--caused by speakers being located too close to the microphone. Hiromi has experience with running our church's sound system, so he was sympathetic to the person running the sound system yesterday. I just wanted someone to fix things so I could hear the sermon.


In the learning center at school, everyone who works there as part of a small group outside of school hours knows that it would be a benefit if only one end of the long room could be lit when a group is meeting around a table at either end--with the rest of the room empty. But it's not possible because the two switches that light the room turn on all the lights on either the long west or the east side of the room. The only choices are lighting the whole room brightly, lighting the whole room dimly, or leaving it dark. Lighting brightly only the small area in use is not an option. I think professional architects would have thought of this in the design and/or construction phase.

Shane, who frequently helps sing at weddings, knows exactly which buildings have good singing acoustics and which ones don't. Good acoustics aren't as important as singing from a worshipful heart, but construction materials and methods might just as well serve good "sound" purposes as frustrate them. I suspect the cost difference is minimal.

Don't get me started on the merits of planning for abundant natural lighting in schoolrooms . . .


I'd like to plant a big splash of red tulips on one side of the school entrance and a river of blue grape hyacinths on the other side before we mulch the beds for the winter. The church trustees are deliberating about the wisdom of this. I have a feeling we'll have a school spring without them.


We ended the first quarter at school on Thursday. Nearly everyone ended on privilege. I think everyone should have been able to do so. Grrrrrr. (Can you tell my patience had worn thin?) When I see some people working very hard to get their work done on time, and see others who have as much or more ability not make the effort it takes . . . well, that's when I wonder if exercising patience is the right approach.

Later: I realized today that I should not have lumped everyone who missed being on privilege into one group. It's failing to complete assignments that are already a month overdue that nearly push me over the edge--not failing to pass a test at the last minute.


Last week the comp students wrote a short essay on some memorable personal experience. Some of them were stellar essays, and I wish they could be made available to a wider audience.

Come to think of it--some years ago, when Andrew was our principal, we talked about establishing a website where such things could be posted. I don't think it ever went anywhere, but maybe it's time to look at that idea again.

Does anyone have a good idea on how this should be done? Perhaps a blog devoted to this purpose? Should a teacher do the posting or should students be allowed to post on their own initiative?


We had a hard frost last Wednesday night. The leaves on all the tomato plants are black and limp, but the stems are still healthy green, as are any tomatoes still left hanging there. We had gathered tubs of big green tomatoes, but left all the smaller ones there. I think we'll wait to see if any of them keep growing--or ripening at least--on the vine. Tomorrow the temperature is to be in the upper 80s--warm enough to perform some ripening action.

This October 19 freeze was quite close to the average first frost date, but it was hard this year to see it come because the past few weeks was the first time all summer that many of us were seeing an abundance of green beans and tomatoes. Most of the tomatoes did not have time to ripen between the temperature moderation in late August that allowed fruit set, and the end of the growing season, but green beans were bearing with gusto.


J. Sam and Brenda are grandparents. Their son Mark and his wife Esther have a baby boy, Ian Samuel. Sam and Brenda were in our church this morning, after having come for Matt and Andrea's wedding, and Sam announced the baby's arrival in church--bowing slightly in a delightful mock acceptance of adulation when he announced the middle name--his namesake--and the baby's long-gone great great grandfather's namesake.

This baby was due a week and a half after Shane and Dorcas'. Dorcas isn't quite sure the timing is fair here.


Hiromi went to market yesterday for the first time in quite a while. He reported that the "honey man" was back. We learned from the Hutch News why he had been missing for a while--because he was being treated for a malignancy on his one nostril. As part of the reconstructive surgery necessary, he had skin from his forehead removed and reattached alongside his nose so that it could be used to build "new" nose parts where the old ones had to be removed. He is comfortable in his own skin--to the point that he was happy to have pictures of the intermediate steps taken for the front page of the newspaper. Good for him. I wish him a full and speedy recovery.


LaVon B. is in the hospital again, as was Sue Nisly the last I heard. I don't know details of their current condition, but both of them have had a cancer diagnosis. I'm praying for them.


Sabrina Miller has passed the one-month mark when infection from her recent shunt repair surgery was most likely. She is making developmental progress, and is able to stand alone briefly. For a child with minimal feeling in her lower extremities (because of spina bifida) this is quite an accomplishment. She is about 15 months old.


Last week Wes brought several stems of huge deep purplish red velvety cockscomb to school--cut the evening before the freeze. He had grown them himself--the only flowers he grows, he said, except for Calla Lilies, which he likes too.

I have a big bouquet of Amazon cockscomb on my dining room table, a tall spiky variety I grow for bouquets. All the "brain" kinds I planted this year died before they produced flowers.


We're planning on starting our winter Bible school on Tuesday of next week. I realized today when this was announced that we might have a conflict with the planned parent-teacher conferences we always have after the end of the first quarter. I'm glad I'm not responsible for the scheduling.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quotes for the Day 10/19/2011

Marvin : (Staring at the computer screen in the typing room, ready to correct errors on his written report.) What must I do to be saved?

I don’t think he was too impressed with the grade I gave him, but he was trying to be a good sport. It was actually a fairly good report with some small errors and a bunch of points taken off because it was three days late.


Tonight when I got home, Shane was mowing the front yard with the bagger attachment on the push mower. The skid steer was crossways in the driveway, with the bucket receiving the clippings at the edge of the lawn as the bag filled and Shane dumped them.

Me: Are you feeding that to your cows?

Shane: Yeah. You know it’s a low time in agriculture when you eye your dad’s lawn as a source of feed for your cattle.

Me: Go over it again and you’ll get a lot more.

Shane: This stuff is a foot tall! I’m just cutting two-thirds of it.

This is embarrassing, but not foot-tall embarrassing. It didn't look that tall to me. Have I mentioned that we really miss Grant’s faithful shouldering of yard work responsibilities around here? Most of the summer the grass didn’t grow much, but we’ve had cool weather and some rain, and the grass has leaped up in gladness.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Celebrations, Reunions, and Conventions

Oh me, oh my. I just got home from a Partridge High School all-students reunion. This event followed a day of other kinds of immersion in the experience of being a Partridge area resident. The annual small town celebration kicked off rather unceremoniously for us this morning when we appeared in the church basement for our pancake and sausage breakfast and were told that the pancakes were all gone. We settled for what they offered us--four small sausage patties, coffee, and orange juice. No problem.

The parade soon followed, and then the unicycle hockey game. The goals were nets on a hockey goal-like frame and the puck was a foam block perhaps five inches square and several inches thick. The "sticks" were wrapped bicycle tires used for swatting the puck while pedaling and staying perched on the unicycle seat. No one got to hit the puck unless he was on his unicycle.

Then it was time for lunch, and I got what was the best potato salad ever (at such an event) as part of my burger meal deal. Plainview served lunch.

Hilda marshalled an army of girls from our church to help the younger children with fun little games that could earn them "gold" to be used for purchasing prizes.

As always, Jay Yoder provided much of the creativity and muscle power to pull off the big Pedal Party event that has come to characterize Partridge's celebration. He buys or receives donated bikes and refurbishes them to be given away in drawings. Other drawings offer people a chance to choose among a number of different biking accessories. Judges choose people for various awards, based on bikes they have engineered or decorated for judging. Jay and his wife Lisa always join the parade riding in some innovative take on standard bicycling. This year they rode down the street in wheeled versions of metal lawn chairs. One fine lady rode in a rickshaw pedaled by her husband. Someone else rode a bike with a wheel mounted off center, so his ride had a distinct up and down rhythm to it.

Throughout the day people wandered in and out of the room where Chris Terrill and others had set up a history display, especially in commemoration of Partridge's 125th birthday. As requested, I set up a section featuring the books authored and compiled by Pilgrim students from past composition classes. Chris is very encouraging of such efforts.

I got a sense for how indignant some of the good folks of the town must have been in the late 1800s when the county seat was decided for Reno County. A certain character whose last name was Hutchinson saw that the city named after him would lose a chance at this coveted designation--to Reno Center (the first name for what is now Partridge) if he did not act to influence the decision. Hutchinson was not eligible at first because it was not located nearly enough at the center of the county. So he finagled re-drawn county borders, shifting the borders farther north and east, and then pulled strings in the state legislature in Topeka, and voila! Hutchinson was declared the county seat. He also saw to it that the new railroad that was planned to go straight to Partridge, bypassing Hutchinson, would instead go straight to Hutchinson and bypass Partridge.

Partridge people couldn't change the county seat designation but they sure enough did something about the railroad route problem. They couldn't change the route so they moved the town a mile north. Creative. The church was jacked up and logs were placed underneath. Then horses were hitched to the building, and every time the building rolled forward far enough to expose logs at the back they were dragged around to the front and the horses pulled the building forward again.

Losing the county seat race was a major blow to Partridge, but the 1923 tornado that roared down Main Street, demolishing most of the businesses, proved to be nearly fatal. People had acquired cars by then and could go to Hutchinson to do business, and Partridge businesses that took the trouble to rebuild after the tornado did not have enough ongoing business to thrive. In 2010 the official population count for Partridge was 248 and Hutchinson was 42,080.


Park Coffey and another lady whose name I've forgotten were present at tonight's high school reunion. They graduated 72 years ago.

Also present tonight were four members of a Partridge basketball team that won the state championship one year. Danny Maxwell was among them. The championship game took place in the brand new Sports Arena in Hutchinson--the site for many years since then for the National Junior College Basketball tournament.

Partridge High School closed forever three years after I graduated in 1969. My sister Carol was in the final class. Tonight the MC read aloud the names of all the members of that class. I think Wayne Henderson was the only one present. Where were you J. Sam, Omar, and Carol?

Kent Moyer was at the reunion, coming from Florida. He came to visit his mother, who has cancer in her liver and elsewhere. She lives between us and Partridge, and has lived alone for the past number of months, ever since the son died who had lived with her. He was mildly handicapped, and needed his mother to help look out for him. He did a great deal to help her though by taking care of things on the outside of their farm home. Kent says that after Marc died, his mother lost one of her reasons for living.


Dale Conkling was at the reunion. His mother was buried earlier today.


Linda talked Lois and me into taking a "sisters" picture in the booth offering free photos. We were game, but were surprised to see a table piled high with funny hats and furs and tiaras and such like right outside the booth. Lois wanted to wear crazy hats. So we did. I think we were likely the only 50-ish people to do so. Lois had a flowery straw hat, I had a bright red hat with a red ribbon and rose, and Linda had a pink cowboy hat with a star in front. On the second round of pictures we took off the hats and peeked coyly from behind them for another set of pictures. Afterwards they printed and gave each of us a set of pictures. Silly us.


Before the parade this morning an Amish man I did not recognize came up to me and told me that he was a student in my class at Elreka the year I did student teaching there under Debbie Charter. It bothered me all day that I had no specific recollections of him in that class. He must have been a trouble free student. We talked about other members of the class, noting that all the girls except for one had a name ending in "a": Regina, Starla, Brenda, Sheila, Donna, and Sheryl. (I'm probably forgetting someone.) We caught up a bit on each others' families, and I learned that their family's journey has included dealing with handicaps. He spoke well of the help that has been provided in public schools, especially now that the older daughter is in a classroom in the Buhler district.

My former student mentioned two things he really appreciates at Buhler: 1) Students in the "regular" classes can sign up to spend time voluntarily with the special needs students, and there is a waiting list for students who wish to do so. 2) Students are learning life skills like working in the kitchen, doing laundry, and other self-help skills. I love hearing about things that are going right when people in situations like this could very likely be tempted to focus on things that are not going well.


Last week the teachers from Pilgrim attended the Associated Christian Schools International convention in Kansas City. I think we lucked out this year and found a bedbug-free motel.

Wes and I both attended several workshops on writing, and were both fired up with new inspiration for helping our students who struggle with writing. The Institute for Excellence in Writing has a system we covet.

In the motel room after the first day, we ladies rehashed our day, and on the way home after the second day we all told each other what we learned, reliving a lot of inspirational and hilarious moments in the process.

Phil Johnson and Hubert Hartzler were some of the speakers we especially enjoyed. Former ADHD kids grown up and gone good is how I peg some of these most interesting of speakers.

Being able to deliver one zinger after another with a perfectly straight face was a special talent of Johnson's. Everyone else regularly collapsed in laughter.

Hartzler told stories of his days as a school administrator, many of which made us all feel like we have a pretty tame life there at Pilgrim. Also, we think our parents get off pretty easy, with a minimum number of summons' to school for conferences with the principal. One of Hartzler's recurring themes was "Your child can come back to school after . . ." Hmm. I wonder what results we might get if we filled in that blank with some things I could think of . . .

Monday, October 10, 2011

Waiting on My Tomatoes

All together we had 1.8 inches of rain over the weekend. It came slow and easy, and soaked and soaked. This morning we woke to fog, a very rare phenomenon this year.

When I headed out for school this morning, the sun had just broken through, and every leaf glistened with moisture, and then it dripped off in showers below the trees. At the overpass west of Pleasantview I was surprised by fog again on the other side--just as if the fog had rolled itself up from east to west like a giant fluffy cloud of polyester quilt batting, and I had caught up with it before it rolled out of sight. I plunged down into the fog and marveled at how quickly the world turned gray and clingy. By the time I had turned the Stutzman corner and gotten to W. Mills Ave., I could see dim shadows on the ground, cast by strengthening sun behind the tall trees at the old "Eli Yutzy" corner. When I got to school, only a mile further along, it was sunny again. The rest of the day was glorious--sunny, with a high of 72.


One of Shane's cows chose the muddiest day in many months to cruise through the west garden. She did an amazingly good job of dodging the vegetables and flowers, but the paths were well churned up with hoof prints. The mulch mercifully covered many of her tracks. Hiromi and I interrupted our Sunday dinner preparations to don boots and head out into the rain to get her steered back to the herd. She had apparently pushed aside a panel to gain entrance. I got a bit of perverse pleasure imagining the deadly effect those hooves might have had on the voles or moles that have been crisscrossing the area all summer.


Dorcas' mother was much improved today--apparently back to where she had been before the low spell last week. Praise God. Life suddenly looks simpler again to Shane and Dorcas.


After school this evening I baked bread, canned a half bushel of tomatoes, emptied and refilled the dehydrator with apples, and did laundry. Now if those last jars in the canner would just finish I could go to bed.


Dwight and Karen have neck pumpkin at the potluck. I love these hunga hunga Butternut squash. The neck is about two feet long and slightly curved. The skin and flesh look just like Butternut squash, and the flavor is the same. I also bought kohlrabi there tonight, and while I was there, Karen came in with a five-gallon bucket of beautiful beans. I think she said they've filled 20 bushels worth of orders within the past few weeks. There's no frost in the forecast so far, so this fall may be the best gardening weather of the summer.


Saturday, October 08, 2011

Out and About in a Wet World

It's raining! The weather pattern in place looks like we're in for a nice long drippy time for the next day or two. So far we've had only about a quarter of an inch.

Last night when I got home around ten after Dorcas' baby shower, I noted with dismay that the sky overhead was starry. It was still starry when I got up this morning to get ready for market, and for some reason the weather site was down and I couldn't check the forecast. I wasn't at market long, however, before Duane, the Amish guy in the next stall said "It's coming! I saw lightening in the west."

In the dark and busy setup time, I sensed a reined-in excitement--everyone not sure whether it was time yet to start rejoicing. After all, we've had high hopes many times, and we've had to choke them down as yet another system slid around us on one side or the other. An hour or so later, one of the customers talked to Duane's wife, Norma, in such excited tones about the rain on the way that I wouldn't have been surprised if she had done a dance right then and there, in front of the Amish lady's stall. By that time I could see a darkening sky in the narrow space visible between buildings to the west of the market.

I headed over to the Mennonite Manor Benefit Sale after Dorcas came to help Shane finish out the market day, and it started sprinkling soon after I got there. I overheard a lady I didn't know say that she had her wipers going all the time on Partridge Road. That's our road. This was sounding good, except that I winced at the sight of all the wood and upholstered furniture lined up outdoors to be sold at auction. Umbrellas and plastic ponchos appeared, and, on my way out to the parking lot on my way home, I met Michael H., who had apparently poked a hole for his head in the bottom of the big plastic bag he was wearing. A bunch of grade school boys were just getting situated underneath an empty hay wagon as I passed by. "Is it dry under there?" I heard one of them ask as he peered underneath before diving in.

The Manor Benefit Day raises funds to add to the Continuing Care Endowment Fund. This is one way of funding the care of people who live for a time after their resources run out.

I met Sandra, a high school classmate of mine who works on the board with Joel. I didn't know that.

I watched the auction long enough to see the Mexican pottery rabbit sell that I thought might make a trouble-free permanent resident of my flower bed. It was a very fat brown rabbit--pregnant, the auctioneer surmised. I hadn't gotten a number and didn't bid. Auctions intimidate me, but I could have collared Myron or Lowell or Joel to bid for me if I had been desperate enough. I didn't hear Lowell auctioneer, but I saw he was wearing a microphone, so I suppose he may have done so at times. Myron is also on the Manor board.

I met Clarissa inside the "rummage sale" area, and she and Hilda and I roamed the area together part of the time. That ended up being the site of my best bargain finds of the day. Before I left I got carryout lunches for both Hiromi and me. Marsha, a student at school, was the first person in the serving line, and lots of other familiar faces were present. The food was very good.

I really should have bought a fresh, hot doughnut from the place where the Joe Yoder and Marvin Nisly families were cranking them out.

I didn't hear whining because of the rain at the benefit sale. Everyone knew, I think, that opening one's mouth in such a way would risk swift rebuke from most of the people around here who have been praying desperately for rain for a long time.


While I was gone this morning Hiromi was putting together the parts of my "new" computer. Can you feel the good vibes coming through as I type this? After it was up and running I found this note in my inbox, from my tech-savy son who was setting it up over the past few days:

"Hi there! I'm your new computer--or more precisely, the computer you'll be borrowing, probably on a long-term basis, from Joel. I'm a Dell Dimension XPS 420, and I'm big. I thought you might be interested in knowing that I'm waiting to meet you! Joel wanted to send a note along with my greetings."

More information followed about what had and had not been transferred over from the old computer.

The old keyboard didn't mesh with this computer, so Hiromi bought a new one yesterday. The hard drive came from Josh, Joel's co-worker, who offered it free after Joel mentioned needing one. I don't remember all the stats, but this machine used to be Joel's work computer, so I'm sure the stats are impressive.

When Joel was here Wed. eve. to deliver the CPU, he noted a small rectangular block-shaped computer part residing in my keyboard drawer. "That probably helps explain why it's slow," he said.

"What is it?" I asked.

"Well, running your computer without it is like running your car without a cooling system," he answered.

"Oh. Why is it in my drawer instead of on the computer?"

"Because it fell off and the bracket that held it in place broke off too."

I didn't remember when that happened, and apparently the small problem had dropped off the radar of everyone else who knew it at one time. So, no wonder my computer has been regularly serving up notices of Firefox crashes and scripts being busy, and just generally moving at a snail's pace, or lapsing into total paralysis. It was hot and bothered and couldn't think straight in that condition. I can relate.


Esther, Dorcas' mother, is not well. That has been the case for some time, of course, ever since she got a diagnosis of cancer in various places in her body--in May? In the past few days, however, things have gotten worse. She has had a fever, and her memory is very poor. Mark, Esther's husband, was taking her to the doctor yesterday, and promised to update the family after that. Shane and Dorcas had not heard by this morning.

Dorcas' due date is three weeks away. They have plans of going to VA before Thanksgiving, with Dorcas and the new baby staying there while Shane and the other Laudate singers practice in PA and tour in the area after Thanksgiving. Before then, Shane is to help sing at a wedding here, and he hoped to be at market every Saturday through the end of October. Rushing to Virginia now looks impossible, but the situation there looks grave. Prayers would be appreciated.


Sadie, the lady on our front porch, now has a pumpkin resting on her feet, to help her maintain her balance. I bought the pumpkin from Roman at market.

Fresh green beans were present today, after a long absence this summer. A few had reappeared in the past few weeks. They're selling for $3.00 a pound.

Monster sweet potatoes seem to be plentiful, and winter squash, radishes, and turnips have appeared. Donald has beautiful lettuce and spinach. In the whole market, he had the most homegrown, outdoor-grown tomatoes--a half tub. That's how it's been since early July.

My brother Lowell trundled out to Colorado this week and brought back a van load of tomatoes. Some of them were Fabulous, the wonderful, good-flavored variety we grew last summer. Unfortunately they were mixed in with Shady Lady and Celebrity, so they couldn't be marketed separately.

Shane sold some at market today after the local tomatoes were gone. There was actually a bit of a snafu when we had already gotten permission to start selling them, and then everyone realized that there were still some locally grown hydroponic tomatoes being offered at one stall. Shipped-in produce is not supposed to be sold in competition with locally grown produce of the same kind. I suppose a person could argue that hydroponic and outdoor-grown tomatoes are not quite the same product, but if I were a hydroponic grower, I would not welcome such an argument.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Family Patterns

Those of you who know my parental family well no doubt remember the very regular gender pattern of three girls, three boys, three girls, and three boys, in that order.

I've noticed a few other less obvious patterns. In one stretch, there are five whose children all have two Beachy preacher grandpas. One of them is my dad, of course. The other grandpas have these surnames: Yoder, Mast, Byler, Schrock, and Stutzman. They are the children of Lowell, Lois, Dorcas, Clara, and Ronald.

Some of us are still single. Of the remaining ones who are married, I am the only one who didn't marry someone whose surname starts with "H." The "H" surnames are Hass, Hodgson, and Hoover. Caleb, Carol, and Myron married those "H's."

Of those who were born to my parents, my sister Lois and my brother Lowell are the only ones who have never been a classroom teacher. Lois is a nurse, and Lowell has been in many church teaching assignments here (at Calvary Bible School) and abroad (Nicaragua and India). My brother Caleb started teaching later in life than most of us, but he is the only one who has taught every year since he started teaching--in about 1983 at Goshen College. He soon switched schools, but never left teaching.


Tonight our children and their spouses were here for our annual tempura feast. From them I heard a new term they're using for themselves: BK--Blogger's Kid. Unbeknownst to me they've been commiserating with others of their ilk.

I survived being a PK (Preacher's Kid). I guess they'll survive being BKs.


Hiromi has become very fond of Sadie. He especially likes her smile and couldn't resist bringing her here to live. At first he just called her "The Lady" till I said I thought she should have a proper name. So now she's Sadie, the lady.

Hiromi fell in love with Sadie at Wal-Mart, and she became his for a little less than $8.00. She is a scarecrow, and she's been manning her post next to the front door ever since he brought her home. That is, she's been manning the post when she's not lying flat on her face on the porch floor or when she's tilting a bit crazily sideways. The Kansas wind plays havoc with her balance, despite Hiromi's having tethered her with twine to the flower pot hooks on the porch wall, but the face plants, at least, are a thing of the past.

Sadie is wearing jeans and a farmerish checkered shirt. Why he thinks she's a lady is beyond me. Nothing about her is the slightest bit feminine, except perhaps that bewitching smile.

I suppose it's the same spirit that prompts Hiromi to refer to every annoying insect as a she. He hasn't quite conformed to the pattern of using masculine gender for every indefinite-gender creature. Way ahead of the feminists in this regard.


The grandbaby's due date is four weeks away. Yay!!!


The matter of Cedar Crest preachers is one of the late Ed and Lizzie Nisly extended family's trivia stories. One of their sons, Daniel, is a minister there. His nephew Leland (Lee) N. is the bishop. Another nephew, Donald (Don) M., is a minister. A third nephew, Brad N., was ordained just over a week ago. A niece, Janet, is married to the deacon, James S. None of them are Daniel's children, and none of them are siblings.

Six (unless I'm forgetting someone) other Nisly grandsons are ordained elsewhere. One of them is Daniel's son. Two are Janet's brothers, and one is Brad's brother. The other two have no siblings among the Cedar Crest minister's families. They come from seven different parental families. They serve in Canada, Costa Rica, New York City, Virginia, and at Center and Cornerstone in Kansas.

My uncle, Paul M., is the retired bishop at Cedar Crest. Paul and Daniel are first cousins.


I'm getting some very welcome responses to my request for articles on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thanks to Judith N., Valetta Y., and Keith T. for ideas and links. I used to teach and live with Keith's mom, Esther, and she passed along my request. He's living and serving among Muslims in a major US city. I'd still be happy for more articles.