Prairie View

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rodeo on Partridge Road

All those who missed the Abbyville rodeo last weekend could have compensated by viewing the activity at 3015 South Partridge Road this evening.  My first hint that something was amiss was when I looked out the dining room window from my computer and saw two well-muscled Angus rear ends disappearing out the driveway onto the road.  I picked up the phone to call Shane, hoping he was still working outside here as he had been earlier in the day.

Nope.  Back home in Abbyville.  "Be right over," he said.  Well, actually he said "Those miserable  _______(n., plural--livestock waste)."  He only said he was coming over when I asked what he was going to do.

I exchanged my Birkenstocks for Crocs and hurried outside to monitor their movements.  Under the mulberry tree in the fence row on our side of the road.  No.  Heading south at a dead run.  Right turn into the alfalfa field, headed west.  At least they were on our property.

Shane walked out to head them back and instructed me to stand in a strategic place to keep them from escaping again onto the road.  I did, and kept them from escaping there.  Just as we had them within a few yards of the open gate where they were to enter, they made a break for it and headed east across the road into the neighbor's newly planted milo field.  I tried to head them off but Shane soon passed me up (Crocs are terrible running shoes, and I am not fleet of foot even in good shoes.) and got ahead of them on the east side.  I headed north when I saw a very sturdy-looking angel appear out of nowhere (He looked exactly like Caleb.) to keep them from going south.  West was the only logical place for the steers to go, right?  Wrong.  South it was, right past Caleb, who made a valiant effort to contain them, then circling west into the alfalfa field again.  Then they plowed through the pasture fence and got in with the other cattle.

Shane decided to borrow LaVerne's ATV to try to separate them out and bring them back.  I stationed myself where I was before, and the steers soon appeared from the west, with their strings of glittering slobber swayed north by the stiff south wind, Shane following on the four wheeler.  Before he got very close, they plowed right through the electric fence and made a beeline for freedom.  Things sort of become a blur somewhere about here, but I remember them racing through the neighbor's milo field again, heading south.  Shane went around by the road and confronted them before they could cross into the standing wheat south of the milo field and headed them back.  The one, whom we now know is totally berserk, headed back to the pasture to join the other cattle.  The other stood around the hog barn looking tired.

I decided maybe fatigue would make him cooperative, so I gently started steering him toward the gate.  Shane came back soon, having given up on Berserko.  We took up our positions again, but Mr. Fatigue headed west around the back of the house instead of north to the open gate.  I saw him plop down to rest just beyond the greenhouse.  He really was exhausted.  It would have been easy to get a rope on him at this point, but Shane wasn't sure what he would do after that.  Tie him to the clothesline post?  Nah.

We eased him up and guided him around the west and then the north side of the house to within a few yards of the gate by the shed before he took off again.  Around to the back of the house again.  Long story short, I think he must have burst through fences to get back to the herd.  That was the end of the rodeo.

Shane set about fixing electric fences.

When Shane had left here earlier this afternoon, those two steers were in a small pen with hay and water.  There were welded wire cattle panels and welded pipe panels all around, with a small barn on one side.  They jumped a cattle panel into the garden and then jumped another cattle panel to get out of the garden.  That's how they first gained their freedom.

The problems with these two steers all began on Friday, right after Shane took their three pen mates to the butcher.  They apparently couldn't stand having been left behind.  Feature that.  They were soon trying to follow.

Hiromi and I didn't need our exercise walk that morning.  Marriage counseling, perhaps, but not an exercise walk.  It turns out that Hiromi does not appreciate having it pointed out to him that when you want steers to run west, you do not stand north of them and yell and clap your hands and walk forward.  They do not have an overwhelming wish to make a right turn and go west toward home as can mistakenly be assumed by some who do not have extensive experience in anticipating bovine behavior.  They will run south very fast, at right angles to the route home.

That chase involved several trips across the road and down the road and through the alfalfa field, etc.  That time Shane came over on his way home from Yoder Meats (the butcher shop)  and decided to leave them with the other cattle after the steers barged through fences to get to them.  Later he patiently separated them off and put them in the most secure place he could think of.  That's where they escaped from  this afternoon. Keeping them penned separately  is necessary so he can feed them grain till they're butchering size.

Berzerko was too tired to resist anymore when Shane went after him in the pasture.  He would not turn aside or away from the ATV at all, even if Shane drove slowly up against him.  It's hard to keep chasing when the chasee won't take evasive action, so Shane prudently abandoned the effort.

The newest plan of action is to fortify the small paneled pen with several strands of  electric wire, and then pen the steers there till they learn some respect for a hot wire again.  I assume that Shane's offer to sell the troublemakers to me was not entirely serious.  Believe me, I was not tempted.

The steers' behavior probably evidences an extreme version of the herding instinct.  Why it's happening when they have each other's company is a mystery.  When Rambo, Shane's berserk 4H steer acted that way, we assumed it was because he was penned by himself.  Not only were these steers not left alone, they weren't even moved to a different pen.  They were in the same pen they've stayed in contentedly for several months--away from the other cattle.  Does anyone have insight into bovine behavior that would explain the trouble we're having?  Hiromi, Shane, and I are all lacking such insight.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Farmer's Market 5/19/2012

The first farmer's market of the season was amazing in various ways:  number of vendors, number of customers, and variety of products.  I remember other "first days" when we shivered inside warm coats and could hardly wait till it was time to go home.  At some of those times, vendors had little more than lettuce, spinach, radishes, and onions to sell, along with rhubarb and asparagus. This year all those things were present, except I don't remember seeing asparagus.  In addition, there was Chinese cabbage, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, turnips, daikon, new potatoes, beets, snow peas, zucchini, and yellow summer squash.

People were also selling plants, meat, baked goods, jams and jellies, and various handmade items--and flowers (me).  Shane's first day's meat sales were equivalent to a good day's sales later in the year last year.

Jeannie Neujahr, who is the very tiny wife of the president of the market board, belted out "The Star Spangled Banner" with great volume and gusto as she has every year recently, during the opening ceremonies.  I'm always amazed that she can do that.  It sounds good.

The Sunday Hutchinson News carried a Farmer's Market article that covered more than half the page.  I hadn't spotted the photographer or reporter at the market until the reporter greeted me by name while I was browsing in the booth of another vendor.  Even then I thought she was shopping, just as I was.  We visited for a bit, and I learned that she knew my cousin Duane from Colorado Springs.  Duane and her son are friends, and Duane works for a newspaper as Kathy Hanks does.  She had done an article about my flowers as part of an "Art on the Prairie" series she was writing when she first moved to Hutchinson about eight years ago.  We talked about this year's flowers, and at one point she said, "I'll have to put that in my article" as she reached for her notebook.  That was my first clue that she was there on assignment.  She quoted  me--well, almost.  It wasn't an exact quote, but it made sense.  Here's what my few lines said:  " . . . Saturday's market . . . included . . . Miriam Iwashige"s delicate cuttings of Larkspur and other cottage variety flowers.  'I always bring Sweet William, but it has already come and gone,' Iwashige said.

I wish I could always bring Sweet William, but I can't.  What I said was that I always like to have Sweet William for the first bouquets, but this year it has already come and gone.

I do the same thing with quotes that Kathy does.  I do my best to remember exact words, but sometimes I settle for the meaning of what was said and still put it in quotes.  I'm not sure that this is a good idea, but I reason that I don't do it to deceive, and sometimes quotes really fit much better than an explanatory approximation..

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring/Summer Transition

This graduation season saw two nieces and a nephew graduating from college.  Congratulations to Emily H. and Sterling and Joelle M.  who graduated in Kansas, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.  Sterling and Joelle are siblings and they graduated the same day in different states.  Since Caleb (their dad) is on the faculty of the school in PA where Joelle graduated, he attended her graduation, and Kara, their mother, attended Sterling's in Memphis.  Kara made the 15 hour drive by herself both ways.

Another nephew, Benji, is set to graduate at Faith Builders at the end of this week.

Dorcas' brother Joe K. also graduated last Saturday with a business degree from a school in Wichita.


Two of my Iowa aunts and an uncle came for last weekend--Joe and Mary B. and Esther Z.  The occasion was the memorial service for Harry Miller, a brother to Mary.  I was happy to see my cousins here from various places for the funeral--Joyce from IN, Landon and Evan from IA, Wilbur from OH, Kathleen from Canada, and, of course all of Harry's children and grandchildren from their far-flung residences.   My sister Carol and brother Ronald came from Eastern Kansas.


Joel and Hilda expect to come home from NYC at the end of this week.  It feels like they've been gone a long time.


Shane has finished installing a new (used) engine in the old Choice Books van they used to drive in CO, and I went with Shane on a test drive last evening.  Two large chest freezers full of meat live in the back of the truck.  When it's home, the freezers run off current in the shed.  On Farmer's Market Days they'll be unplugged here and plugged in again once the truck is in its appointed stall at the market.  If you're local and want to buy good quality meat from Shane, ask him how you can do so.


The wheat here is about as much gold as green, and it's obvious that harvest can't be too far away.  It seems incredibly early.  If we can get by without hail till then, chances look good for a great crop.

Timely rains this spring made a huge difference for the wheat and the first cutting of hay, but the hay crops are in need of moisture if there is to be a second cutting on schedule.


My young local nephews are on a birding roll.  Last week Bryant and Andrew saw a Black-Throated Blue Warbler at Quivira and took pictures of it.  They subsequently accidentally deleted the pictures, but they called Barry, the Quivira resident official to report the sighting--the first one ever at the refuge.  He was a bit reluctant to list it without more evidence, but he went out to where they had seen it and it was still there.  He got pictures and emailed them to Bryant and Andrew.

Hans took Bryant and Andrew and Joey and Dietrich (I presume D. went along.)  back to Quivira and they saw a bunch of birds again that I've never identified.  Today I got emailed pictures of a possible hybrid Scissor-tailed Flycatcher/Western Kingbird.  There's a well-documented case in OK from 1988, and the tail on this bird looks exactly like you'd expect the tail to look from that cross.  It's much longer than that of a WK, but a lot shorter than the STF.

Today Joey also sent me a list of confirmed nesting species, presumably sighted on their farm.  He's getting pretty good with the camera, so I get to see them too, from the comfort of my home.

The 11-13-year old boys keep adding species to their own life lists, and reporting to the Reno County lists.  I'm proud of their expertise, and delighted that they share their passion with  me.  Their uncle, Bill B. from NC, gets credit for helping nurture their interest, and their parents and Hans facilitate bird outings as well.


Today I finished averaging grades for the classes I teach.  I'm not sure it's quite soaked in yet that I'm really done with school for the year, except for some cleaning up and organizing.  I hope to finish that tomorrow.  I'm more ready than sometimes to put this year behind me, but already the mental gears are grinding out new and improved ways of doing things next year.  It's not entirely up to me to decide these things, however, and the discussions have hardly begun.  Class assignments might be shuffled significantly, and the student group will likely be bigger than it has been at any time in at least the past ten years.


Jae is getting married in Korea later this week, on May 19.  Hiromi was right about his bride's ethnicity, basing his deduction on how tall she is.  His sister writes that the bride-to-be is a good friend of hers.  Jae and she met about 2 years ago when she came to Japan to visit Jae's sister.  In the best news of all, Jae's sister says that Jae and his fiancee both enjoy a strong Christian faith.

Jae came here familiar with Christianity, and he made a personal commitment while he was here.  We didn't know much about what has happened since then, although we had some clues that he had not turned his back on Christianity.  His sister writes that "they started their relationship through Bible study."

Thank you to everyone here who befriended Jae and welcomed him into their circle of Christian friends.  To have a Christian journalist emissary equally at home in Korea and Japan is a very good thing.


Tonight I listened for at least the third time to a TED talk on creativity in education.  Here's the link. Understanding the British accent takes a little concentration, but the speech is quite entertaining and thought provoking.  Ken Robinson's main point is that, since we can't really know what life will be like in the future, it's important that we not follow the same old same old hierarchy of academic study that is followed all over the world:  math and language arts at the top, science and social studies below that, and the arts last of all.  In the arts, music and drawing are at the top of the hierarchy, and dance and drama are at the bottom.  Robinson says that since creativity will be the "skill" most in demand in learning to adapt to a world we can not yet imagine, the hierarchy should be upended, so that creativity is developed in school.

My bias says that school itself is often a great hindrance to the development of creativity, and learning in a more flexible environment facilitates creativity far more naturally.  Robinson also rightly identifies our current educational system as having its roots in the idealization of industrialization (mindless efficiency)--the antithesis of creativity.  I know, of course, that teachers do their best to develop their students' creativity, but the constraints of group learning are often too hard to overcome.


I cut my finger the other evening and Hannah did a masterful job of bandaging it for me.  TGhe bandage, however, is fairfly fatgf on gthe very end of my fingerf and I rfegularly hitg extgfra keys when I'm tgryinbg tgfo tgype.  Can you guess which fingerf has tghe b andage?  And do you apprfeciatgfe how much corrfectgfingv I've done on tgfhe previous paragrdaphs?

I really hatfe seeing a small piece of my finger lying on tgfhe cutfting boARD.  I'm squeamish aboutf such things and haven't had tfhe courage to change tghe bandage yetg.  I was racingv tgo cutgf letgftfuce up for a salad I was taking to Lowell's house to have a meal with Aunt Estgher and Uncle Joe and Aunt Mary.  I couldn't vgetg tgfhe b leedding tfo slow enough tgo pug on a b andage myself so I wrapped a paperf tgissue around itgf, and fastfened itf with tape and tfook off for Lowell's house and Hannah's ministgragtions.  TGhatgf girfls ougfhtf tfo b ecome  a nurfse.  Her motfher Judy and her grfandmotfher Marftgfha had tfhe same genes forf nursing.


We spent Mother's Day at Shane and Dorcas' house.  Dorcas and Clarissa provided the picnic meal.  It was a lovely treat.  I couldn't help sympathizing though with my daughters-in-law--none of whom were with their own mother on Mother's Day.  This is Dorcas' first Mother's Day since Tristan was born, but it is also the first Mother's Day since her own Mother died.  Clarissa's mother is far away in Washington, and Hilda was in NYC with her mother here.  I am privileged to have my mother nearby, and her aging provides opportunity to offer payback for the care she lavished on us early in life.


Our year-end activities took on a slightly different form at school this year because of the funeral service for the principal's father-in-law beginning at 11:30 on Saturday.  For the first time since I've started teaching, I did not need to prepare an end-of-the-year speech to be given at the Awards Assembly.  Usually I rather enjoy it, but this year I was glad to be able to skip it.  It was also the first time that I attended the grade school Awards Assembly.  Usually I'm busy helping get things shut down at the high school in time for the Assembly to begin there.  Some changes were unintentional.  I had prepared the "Merit Money" well ahead of time, but we all forgot to distribute it at the Awards Assembly.

This year for the first time, an award was given for one of last year's seniors who scored 32 or higher (out of a possible 36) on his ACT (College Entrance Test).  The certificate was mailed out by the state testing office.  Seth Y. got the award.  I know that Seth wasn't the first person from here to score at that level, but I'm happy for the recognition he got.

Monday, May 14, 2012

For Local House Plant Lovers

At school we have several hanging baskets that could live in someone's home over the summer.  They should probably not be outdoors, but could be in an enclosed porch or other place out of wind and direct sun.  They do best in bright light.   They are in self-watering pots, with a reservoir that can be filled from the bottom.  At school we water twice a week.    We have a Philodendron with a solid heart-shaped leaf, Pothos, and Boston Fern.  Norma has the final say about the Boston Fern.  A Hoya plant has already found a home.

Having them in someone else's home would save one of us from having to go back regularly during the summer to water it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Quote for the day 5/9/2012

At Stutzman Greenhouse, with Home Environment Students, during a "Find the Plant by its Botanical Name" activity--

Student:  Did anyone find the Amnesia?

Me:  Amsonia.

Student:  Oh.  Amsonia.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Sunday Wrap Up 5/6/2012

Several weeks ago, in connection with our high school's singing program, I referred to a student-led initiative to collect funds to send to Charity Water, a charitable organization that supplies clean water to people who would not have access to it otherwise.  After all three programs were over, the fund had grown to over $780.00.  At $20.00 required to supply one person for a lifetime, that money should provide water for 39 people.


This morning after church Hans took pictures of our entire congregation for Corey Anderson's new book on Amish Mennonite churches. I'm not sure of what all the book is to contain, but pictures of the buildings and information about the churches will presumably also be included.

At our church Hans set up a step ladder on the platform at the front of the church and climbed it and then set his camera to take a delayed picture, thrust the camera up high and we all held our pose till we heard the click. Then we trooped outside, row by row, and clustered on the ball field for another picture.  This time Hans climbed the ladder again, with his camera on a tripod, and thrust the tripod and camera high up from there to get the picture.

The ministers came trailing back indoors later, presumably after having their picture taken also.

A few people with mobility issues did not make the trek outside, and some of those who did needed help to walk.  Like all posed family pictures, there's probably never a good time to do church family pictures, but today it wasn't too hot or too bright or too fiercely windy.  I hope the historical record is worth it.


Calling hours and burial for Uncle Harry took place yesterday afternoon.  A memorial service, with a meal following, will happen this coming Saturday at 11:30.

These end-of-life events had an unusual combination of tradition and innovation.  In a conversation with Yvonne yesterday, I learned that Mike and Arlyn and their spouses have been quite involved in discussions about death and dying in their church group.  Mike had contacted a local mortuary earlier to get information on some of the options, and Harry's family had conversations about what might be appropriate when Harry dies.  In general, Mike and Arlyn felt that the typical handing off of all the post-death procedures to a mortician represented straying pretty far from the "dust to dust" scenario of Scripture.

Harry's family decided to forego embalming.  They washed and dressed Harry's body at home on the day he died, (This proved to be a precious and meaningful time, according to Yvonne.) and Wesley and Arlyn (the only two family men at home at the time) took the body to the funeral home for refrigeration.  The mortician had assured them that Saturday burial would be fine, under the circumstances.  Sunday might have worked, but would have been the outside limit of the suitable time frame.  Yesterday morning, before the calling hours, Leon, who had come from Ohio by then, and Arlyn went to pick up the body.  They used a locally-made coffin.  As is usually done, church people had dug the grave and saw to all the details of burial.

Orpha's nephew Ken M., and Harry's nephew, Gary M.  had part in the graveside service.  The pallbearers were sons, a son-in-law, and grandsons.  These people helped fill in the grave, alongside many others who took a turn: family members, pastors, and friends.  I always love seeing the cross-section of people connected with the deceased--young grandchildren, fellow-dairymen, lawyer, doctors, teachers, students, nurses, homemakers, accountant--all united in wishing to provide one last service to honor a precious life.

The long delay between burial and the memorial service is because of Erlis and Mike not being able to get home from Europe right away.  Erlis and his wife Gesine live in England, and they were traveling with Mike and Lois and their son John in Germany, where John lives right now, and where Gesine grew up.

I value the end-of-life traditions we honor, but I also appreciate the thoughtfulness and purposefulness of Harry's family's choices in departing from some of those traditions.  I suspect others may follow, now that this family has shown the way.


After the burial, while people were still standing around visiting, I had an impulse to join one conversation group--six of my old grade school classmates who were engaged in animated conversation.  I resisted the urge because of decorum expectations I follow most of the time.  Hiromi was not with me, and all those classmates were men--Gary, Oren, LaVerne, David, Leon, and Ellis.  Linda, Arlene, and Marlene, the ladies of the class, were not there.  Nevin had been at the viewing earlier, and Phil and the other LaVern live in other states.


While people were gathering at the cemetery, an accident 1/2 mile west on US 50 created some extra drama.  I saw at least three emergency vehicles headed there, and shortly, a helicopter landed on the road nearby.  When I went home, a car rested on its side in the south ditch, wheels and belly exposed to the passing traffic.  I don't know many details, but Marian said the accident occurred when someone traveling west, who missed getting onto K61 where the highway divides tried to make a left turn to get back to K61 via Riverton Road.  She thought the collision happened with another vehicle following the turning car.


When I got home, Dale C. was waiting here to pay for his community concert ticket.  I told him where I'd been, and he shared a memory he had of getting some straw bales from Harry.  Dale needed them for a "decorations" competition in which he ended up winning first prize.  I told Dale about some of Harry's recent health challenges, and Dale sympathized and ended by affirming what is a comfort to all who know Christ and part with another who also knows Him:  life is better after death than the day before death.  Dale's mother died fairly recently, and he was her caregiver.  A dear church friend also died recently, and Dale has apparently talked to others about his Source of comfort.  Dale told me his son said recently that if he keeps talking like "that" he'll have to make him a pulpit.

Good for Dale.  He grew up down the road from us, and the stories I remember from high school days did not point directly to what I see now--a man at peace with his Creator, and having heaven to look forward to.


In Washington, Rosalyn (Miller) D. gave birth to a baby, Annabelle Marie.  Rosalyn was a former Pilgrim student who moved to Washington when she got married.  The baby's grandmother, Ruth, showed us a picture of the baby on her cell phone on the day she was born.  She has loads of thick dark hair.  Ruth was about to leave for Washington to help out and get acquainted with the new granddaughter.

This week a farmer's market vendor, Pam, who must have known about the expected baby, asked Hiromi if the baby had arrived.  He said yes, but he couldn't remember whether it was a boy or girl.  Rosalyn had a loyal set of friends at the market.


Betty Schrag was back in church today after an absence of a month or two from having fallen and broken her hip.  She was at the Manor for recovery and rehab.  Her husband, Dan, is still there.  He had a similar accident only a short time before Betty's, but his rehab and recovery is taking a little longer.


At school, we've gotten along for almost two days without our principal being there, but it will be wonderful to have him back tomorrow.  We're discussing a possible alternative to the usual Saturday morning awards assembly for the high school.  While a small schedule adjustment would make it possible to have the assembly before the memorial service, I can't imagine how Wesley would be able to get ready all that he needs to do before then, plus spending necessary time with Jean Ann's family, and getting some sleep along the way.  I'm voting for an evening awards assembly the following week.


Tristan was not a bit impressed with the church house cleaning the Iwashiges did this week.  Putting him into a modern version of the walker I used to use for my babies at such times did not fill the bill at all.  He was overwhelmed by the strangeness of it and the strangeness of the big empty spaces, and no one but his parents could comfort him.  Part of the time he even wasn't too sure that his daddy would do.  We all missed Joel and Hilda's company and help.  But we got it done, and can wait a bit now for the next round.  By then Joel and Hilda will likely be gone to Asia and we won't have their help for that event either.

They're coming home in two weeks, and will leave again near the beginning of July.


Shane had devotions in church this morning and said, while introducing the writings of Solomon in Ecclesiastes, that his wife tells him that he is both an incurable pessimist (believing that anything that can go wrong will go wrong) and an unreasonable optimist (believing that everything will all work out in the end).  When he said that, I whispered to Grace, who was beside me, "He gets that from his dad."  Solomon was a little bit like that--going from the pessimistic "all is vanity" expression to the settled conclusion of what it would take to end well:  "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."

Shane also referred to something he read in the book From Good to Great, which is actually a book on business.  The book contains some of the wisdom acquired from a POW during the Viet Nam war.  He was the highest ranking naval officer imprisoned, and it lasted for seven years, as I recall.  He believed that he survived by acknowledging honestly the horror of his circumstances (He was tortured at least 20 times.), but always hanging on to the belief that, in the end, things would be OK.  In the meantime, he did what he could to encourage his fellow-prisoners.  Others, by contrast, would put on an optimistic air, repeatedly saying things like "We'll be out by Christmas," but dying a little when the hoped-for deliverance failed to materialize.  Most of them didn't survive till the end of the war--dying heartbroken because their optimism could not be sustained.


Yesterday I listened to a "personality types" speech online, which I found interesting.  This guy, Dr. Rohm, made it look pretty simple to identify your own and others' basic personality type.  Everyone fits first into one of two categories:  Outgoing or Reserved.  He represented this by a circle divided horizontally, with the "reserved" category on the bottom.  Each of those two categories divide further into "Task oriented" and "People oriented."  This was represented by a vertical line through the circle, with the task oriented on the left and the people oriented on the right.  Each quadrant had descriptors beginning with the same letter.  I remember only the first of them:  Upper left (outgoing-task)--Dominant;  Lower left (reserved-task)--Competent; Upper Right (outgoing-people)--Inspirational; Lower Right (reserved-people)--Supportive. People who answer a set of applicable questions can sort themselves into these categories and gain insight into their own way of operating and learn something about how to relate effectively to others who are different from themselves.

I know, of course, that people slice and dice variety in people in dozens of different ways, and I don't believe any one of them is a complete explanation.   This page will give a little more information on Dr. Rohm's approach.  If you have a chance, listen to some of Dr. Rohm's available video clips on youtube or elsewhere.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Mailbox Stuffing--Part 2

I loved my dad's diplomatic way of referring to the writer of the material we found in our church mailboxes:

He described him as having  "a strong corrective inclination."  (Disclaimer:  I can never remember that last word for sure--bent, motivation, tendency, impulse, etc.)

Dad (who read the paper, with some idea, but no certain knowledge, of who had placed it in the mailboxes) went on to say that he wasn't sure that there was anything new there.  He assumed it was common knowledge that the person in question could not be expected to be promoting distinctive Anabaptist values.

Dad also had fielded at least one phone call from someone he didn't know,in another state--who had apparently been alerted by a different local person  to our leadership's need for--enlightenment--I guess--because of a perceived less-than-ideal handling of a local situation.

To my dad's credit, he avoided "naming names" for most of the people involved, affirmed that the church should be the first caregiving resource when needs arise, recognized the need to reach beyond our local resources when further help is needed, and reiterated the need to be discerning about who we look to for help--all this with no casting of negative reflections on anyone's previous efforts to help--quite a feat, actually.   Most of what he said was in answer to my questions.  I did not ask him, however, for names to go with any information he shared.  The conversation with dad took place after the previous blog post.

After the mailbox stuffers identity was known, someone asked me if I planned to change anything on my previous post.

"No,"  I said.  "Everything I said is still true."

There was, however, one detail I did not refer to quite accurately.  When I wrote that there was accusation in the face of  overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it would have been accurate to say instead that there was (from the non-local writer) insistence on the need for action on a matter that had already, decades ago, been repented of, dealt with, and forsaken.


The person who placed the material in the mailboxes was apparently clueless about the proper protocol and had no intention to hide his identity.  He had someone else read a statement for him in church on Wed. and then spoke a few words himself.  As I said, before I knew who had done this, it would have made a huge difference for me in feeling open to reading the material if I had known who in our church identified with it.  It was, indeed, someone I appreciate and care about.

The minister who read the statement from the "distributor" reiterated the need for proper identification and communication with others in positions of responsibility before undertaking such projects in the future.

Maybe this will take care of things for another generation or so.


Why do I write all this local stuff for this blog's reading audience?  I'm sure that not everyone thinks this is a great idea, but I hope that it accomplishes several things that are important to me.  The all-around purposes of this blog apply here--pinning down memories and information, processing while writing, revealing something of what I value, speaking truth always, provoking others productively, and having some good times in the process.  If people find something offensive at times, I hope they also find something affirming at other times.

On the subject of this post, I'm happy to affirm and pass on my dad's wisdom.  I hope it helps local people process what they're experiencing.  I hope it gives non-local people a chance to think through their own ideas, actions, and loyalties in similar situations.  I hope it helps us remember that all our actions are open to examination and that we are always accountable to others.  While I have refrained from attaching names to what I've described, I know that those who are directly involved probably already know them, and the rest of the world may not need to know.  Anyone who wants to know more than I've said is certainly welcome to ask.  I will try to reply with as much discernment as my dad demonstrated.

Thursday, May 03, 2012


My uncle, Harry Miller, died this forenoon.  He was 86.  Besides his wife (Orpha Wagler), six children, and ten grandchildren,  he is survived by 10 siblings, including my father, David, and an identical twin brother, Perry.  The twins were the fourth and fifth children in their parental family.  Dad was the sixth.

Harry was the father-in-law of Wesley, the principal at the high school where I teach.  Soon after I got to school this morning, Wes was called home, and he was there when Harry died about an hour later.  They shared a residence with Orpha.  Although I doubt that a definitive cause of death has been identified, he had declined a good bit during the past few weeks, after years of living with dementia and Parkinson's disease.  Earlier this week, Hospice had helped move him home from the nursing home where he has lived for the past number of years.

Many from the Holmes County area will know one of Harry's sons,  Dr. Leon Miller.  Two other sons live here, and one lives in England.  Besides Jean Ann (local), there is also a daughter, Yvonne, from the Chicago area.  Regrettably, one of the local sons is far away right now-- in Germany, visiting his own son.

No funeral plans have been announced, due to the complications of planning with distant family members.

Last night, among the flowers in my garden, I found and captured a Gulf Fritillary butterfly.  I had never seen one before, although my nephew, Joey, has.  My field guide says they rarely travel northward from the Gulf coast where they are most common.

I took the beautiful butterfly to school today in a screen-topped jar, and showed it to the students.  Tonight I set it free.  When I did so, I thought of Uncle Harry--metamorphosis from earth dweller to heaven-resident complete, as of today.  Freedom in his spirit began long ago when he gave his life to his heavenly Father.  Today he was set free as well from the temporary  imprisonment of a failing body and mind.  He died  as he had lived--peacefully.  


Next week is our last week of school.  In the following week, Wes is scheduled to escort the German class on their trip to a German community in Steinbach, Manitoba.  Taking time off for a funeral is not easy now, but it would be even more difficult in the following weeks.