Prairie View

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Winning Poems

Ever since the Partridge Pedal Party, when several students in our school won prizes in the poetry contest, I have wanted to post their poems here.  Each student gave me permission, and I'm delighted to have enough time to post them now.  I was very pleased with their success, and bless them for their hard work.

Honorable Mention went to Nathan Yutzy,  son of Marvin and Rhoda, who is actually a former comp student.  He's a senior this year, and entering a poem was voluntary.  In a subtitle line, Nathan quoted I Peter 5:7 (NKJV):  "Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you."

Jesus Cares for All  
by Nathan Yutzy

Our pain--He bore it all.
Not only bore, but still He bears
Our heavy burdens, fears, and cares.
Our sadness, shame, He gladly shares.
Our pain--He bears it all.

Our tears--He felt them all.
Not only felt, but still He feels
Our weeping anguish as we kneel.
Our open wounds He gently heals.
Our tears--He feels them all.

Our sins--He pardoned all.
Not only did, but pardons yet
The tainted past we so regret,
Unsparing, frees us from our debt.
Our sins--He pardons all.


Second Place winner was Jordan Nisly, son of Marvin and Rosa.  He won a $10.00 cash prize.

Kansas Drought
by Jordan Nisly

The quenching rains abruptly stop.
The farmers know not why.
Their faded fields turn brown and crisp,
And crumple as they die.

"How can we manage to provide?"
They question God in prayer.
In unity they ask for rain;
The drought is hard to bear.

Crops fail because of glaring heat,
And life is far from fair.
But finally cooling, lavish rains,
Refresh the stifling air.

The world is green with spirit now.
Plants grow and strut with pride,
Opening wide their leaves and pores.
They're glad, for God provides.


First place winner was Lois Yoder, daughter of Richard and Susan.  Cash prize for this poem was $15.00.

Ripening Day
by Lois Yoder

The sun arises from the East,
And glitters bright on dewy green.
It soon illumines tender sprouts,
And sparkles bold in every sheen.

A green expanse across the plain
Is marred by clumps of shatter-cane.
The sun is high as plants stretch out--
But kernels grow as comes the rain.

The Kansas sun is parching now.
As mighty winds come scorching through.
It drives the moisture down to "nine."
Awakens berries' golden hue.

The rolling combines, wind-rows leave.
The baler's gobbling mouth creates
Bales on the stubble-studded field.
The sun has set; hot wind abates.

Amid its bed of starry hosts,
A harvest moon begins to peep,
Revealing what's already past.
It shines on fields now fast asleep.


Entering a poem in the contest is mandatory for my composition class students, and thereby some self-confirmed non-poets have undergone a metamorphosis.

As is typical, the comp students agonized considerably over incorporating the poetic devices that seem to flow effortlessly in great poetry.  Teaching "monster" that I am, I required some rhyme and rhythm in their poetry writing, and they delivered.  Imagery and alliteration are present in their poems also--even several layers of imagery, as demonstrated in Lois' poem.  I know that poetry can be good without these elements, but having included these will forever give the students respect for other poets who use these devices masterfully.  Respect for such poets is in order.

I'll be sure to pass along any encouraging words you might have for these student poets.  Respect for them is in order also.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Quote for the Day 10/26/2013

Hiromi (loud grunt from in front of the bathroom mirror):  Ohhhh.  STUPID.

Me:  What?

Hiromi:  I just put toothpaste on my ear.

Me:  Why?

Hiromi:  I just picked up the wrong tube.  (After a pause, during which he was probably scrubbing off the toothpaste) Well, who knows?  Maybe that will do more good than the right stuff would have.  Toothpaste is alkaline.  That might be exactly what I need.

Hiromi is faithfully applying a prescription ointment to his ear, in an effort to clear up a skin infection.  Today, his mistake happened when he was in a big hurry to leave for work.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Link for Marian's Funeral

Here's the link for Marian's funeral. 

It starts at 2:00 CDT.  A bulletin may be posted somewhere before the service, but I don't have a link for that yet.

I was present for the calling hours tonight.  I'm so not ready for Marian to be gone from my life, even though we had the blessing of having time to prepare for this . . .  

Thursday, October 17, 2013


At 5:20 this evening, heaven gained a new resident--my dear friend Marian.  I've called her my dear friend a number of times recently, and it seems cliche, but I can never think of a better way to refer to her.

Marian told someone a week or more ago "It would be such a relief to wake up in glory." I'm glad that she does not have to wake up one more time still bound to her diseased and weakened body.  I'm glad too that she does not have to struggle one more time to breathe, to speak, or to cough up the phlegm that clogged her air passages.

Beyond the physical ailments she endured, I rejoice that she will never carry another burden for the welfare of loved ones.  She told me several weeks ago that God can take care of all those things that she'd like to stay and help fix.  She had learned long ago, however, and spoke of it often--that only God can fix many of the things that are wrong in the world.

Marian loved beauty.  She found it often where others would have missed it, and she created it out of things others would have discarded.  With her vision, the old buggy shed became a delightful tea house, and the battered bureau a gleaming curvaceous piece of furniture in her parents' bedroom.  She told me it was the first piece she ever refinished, and more recently it stood in the bedroom where Marian spent her final days.  Pottery she had collected here and there graced the bureau top.  She probably found it at thrift stores and garage sales.  She certainly did not pay art fair prices for her treasures.

The gauzy white curtains in Marian's sickroom were made from the stash of fabric her mother never got sewed up.  They draped scarf-like at the windows and moved softly in the breeze.  Marian told me with quiet joy that through those windows in two walls of her room she could see the moon at night and the sunset in the evening.   In that visit we also laughed at some of the indignities of living with a malfunctioning body.  It was the best giggle we'd had together in a long time.

I told Marian at that visit that I had prayed especially that, regarding further treatment, the road ahead would become very clear.  By this time, she had been told by an oncologist that he had nothing more to offer her.  She told me she's "so glad for that prayer."  That expression was typical of her ever-grateful spirit.  I also told her that the Lord gave me a word regarding her future when I hardly knew how to pray for her.  The word was "Deliverance" and I "saw" it happening for her, although I still didn't know for sure at that time how deliverance would come.  

When I asked Marian if there's anything I can do for her, she said she'd like to be able to read some books on heaven to Lanie, her four-year-old great-niece (more like a granddaughter, actually).  "Could you find something like that?"

I asked her what she had in mind and then looked for books with pretty pictures and simple, true words.  I picked out and ordered three books from Amazon, and one from a local bookstore and delivered them to the door one of the last times I stopped in.  On the visit just previous to that, I had walked into her room just long enough to ask Marian if I could pray with her and for her, and she said "yes."  I held her hand and prayed for angels to surround her bed and her room, and that she could feel the presence of Jesus, and for relief of her pain, and she thanked me.  It was the last time I saw her.  

Today the Kansas wind stopped, and this evening, right by our house, a very long and noisy train slowed and finally stopped and waited silently for a long time.  School stopped a day early this week for a teacher's work day tomorrow at the end of the first quarter.  Everything feels a little hushed and motionless right now.  It's one fitting way to honor the occasion of Marian's waking up in glory.


One of my favorite poems on heaven is this one:

“Stepping Ashore”

Oh! Think to step ashore,
And find it Heaven;

To clasp a hand outstretched,
And find it God’s hand!

To breathe new air,
And that celestial air,

To feel refreshed,
And find it immortality;

Ah, think to step from storm and stress,
To one unbroken calm:

To awake and find it Home.

Robert E. Selle

I can "see" Marian in every couplet, and I rejoice in her great blessing.


Marian was 59.  She was the second to youngest in a family of 11 children.  Her mother, Lydia, survives, as do nine of her 10 siblings.  The surviving siblings are Calvin, Menno, Abe, David, Joe, and Rosa Yoder, Anna Weaver (Clayton), Wilma Beachy (Paul), and Judy King (Calvin).  A brother William is deceased.  Her father, Melvin, died in his early 90s.

Rosa has been Marian's housemate for many years.  They moved in with their aged parents when their father became ill and they stayed there ever since.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Quote of the Day--10/15/2013

I love it when my typing students make each other laugh.

Today Wesley was the main funny-bone tickler.  Usually he's the quietest of the boys, and quieter than some of the girls.  I regret having missed what came just ahead of this statement, but I heard something like this:

Wesley:  That's not what I said.  You guys all need hearing aids, and I can give you mine--if you buy me new ones.

If anyone else had said this, it's unlikely that anyone would have laughed, but Wesley is uniquely qualified to use hearing aids as a verbal weapon, since he's the only one in the class who actually wears hearing aids.  

When everyone was laughing, and one of the girls (who talks more than Wesley) said she thinks we should let Wesley talk more often, Travis demonstrated how girls always laugh.  He gave a long audible decelerating sigh at the end of a hearty laugh.  It sounded so funny that everyone wanted to laugh again, but most of the girls didn't dare, for fear of doing exactly what Travis said girls always do when they laugh.

What a hoot!


I read a description of where Kansas can expect an overnight frost or freeze tonight--along and north of US 50 and west of K14.  I'm not positive which K14 is meant, since that designation was recently given to a road farther east than the older designation.  We live, however, very near to where those two roads intersect--roughly two miles from the old 14 and one mile from the 50.  Just in case, I went out to pick all the tomatoes and peppers that had started ripening.  I doubt that it will kill the plants since the temperature is predicted to go down only to 37 and a breeze is predicted to blow all night, but still, I didn't want all those huge, beautiful tomatoes and peppers to go to waste.


Some big animal is creating huge holes all over the west end of the garden.  For the most part, it isn't bothering the vegetables, but some of the holes are a foot deep and several feet across.  What could it be?  Any ideas?

Poetry Contest

At this very late date, I'm posting this for locals who wish to enter the Partridge Pedal Party Poetry Contest.  (How's that for the finest alliteration in the poetic device department?)  The deadline is tomorrow, Wed., Oct. 16.  Anyone from first grade through adulthood may enter.  Cash awards are offered.  Contact me for more information if you're interested and have no better means of getting information.

In  my defense . . . I did pass on information a long time ago to the high school students, and also shared information with the grade school principal and the homeschool administrator.  I'm not sure how much farther that information went.  I'm afraid there may have been some glitches in the communication process.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Blame C. S. Lewis

In grading the written reports our students wrote this month on The Screwtape Letters, I realized that I've been agitated for years over something C. S. Lewis nailed eloquently years ago, and I'm only now catching on what to call the source of my agitation.  Actually, it's likely that the notion stuck in my craw years ago when I first read The Screwtape Letters, and I remembered the concept and forgot the term or the source--which happens very often to me.  It's one of the crosses of being incapable of remembering many details, and having a generally poor memory.

I wonder if my daughter-in-law Clarissa read Lewis too.  Part of our conversation over canning apples the other day indicated she might have done so.   Her contribution to the discussion was to recount what she observed when she was growing up.  One of her friends, the only daughter in a family of many boys, always had a great many food preservation chores to do with her mother.  Clare sympathized with her, knowing how much work it was, until the day when she realized that much of what her friend and the friend's mother were occupied with qualified in Clare's mind as being slightly ridiculous and very unnecessary.  "They canned way  more than was necessary, and they took the long way around on everything.  Instead of scalding the peaches and slipping off the skins easily, they peeled them all by hand.  They didn't need to can Danish Dessert and all kinds of pie filling.  When I realized this, I decided I don't pity you any more.  I really don't appreciate people acting like food snobs. As though only certain brands or certain ways of doing things with food are good enough." She's a girl after my own heart--that Clare.  I promise, though, that I did nothing in this conversation to prompt Clare's sentiments.

Lewis calls food snobbery the Gluttony of Delicacy, in contrast to the Gluttony of Excess.   Read all about it in chapter 17, or listen to the chapter read aloud here.  Listening to it will take a little more than six minutes.  Basically, the mentor Demon Screwtape is telling his apprentice demon nephew Wormwood that he must take full advantage of the desire people have to indulge in food made exactly to their own liking, and served in the amount they prefer.  The patient's mother is an example.  She is "always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sigh and a smile 'Oh please, please . . . all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest, weeniest bit of really crisp toast.'"

Lewis calls it "the 'All-I-want' state of mind.  All she wants is a cup of tea properly made, or an egg properly boiled, or a slice of bread properly toasted.  But she never finds any servant or  any friend who can do these simple things 'properly'--because her 'properly' conceals an insatiable demand for the exact . . . "  She has no regard for the inconvenience her demands cause other people.  

Please God, spare me from the Gluttony of Delicacy.  And thanks, God, for giving C.S. Lewis that insight about gluttony, and the ability to put it into compelling words.   

He's a funny man, that C. S. Lewis, but I like him.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Notice to "Kansas Expats"

Mary Louise Krenzin (99) died recently.  She taught first grade at Elreka from roughly 1964 to the late 1970s.  In my family, I believe Lowell was the first one to have her for a teacher.

Mrs. Krenzin's daughter, Linda, welcomes any memories any former students would like to share.  Although another avenue might open up at some point, for now, she is asking that written memories be dropped into the card basket at the funeral.  (I can think of a few tales I've heard that I'm not sure Linda wants to hear.)  She was widely appreciated for her competence and common sense.

Elliot Mortuary is handling the arrangements, so it's possible that their website might have further information or opportunity to leave a message.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wrap Up Kinds of Things

Hiromi had surgery on his right hand today to correct a "trigger-finger" problem.  He had a similar surgery several years ago on another finger on the same hand.  These problems are leftovers from his years of toting heavy dishpan-shaped buckets of steel parts for many years in his work at TSW.  As a cashier, he uses his right hand a lot, although not usually for heavy work, so he needed relief.  He'll be off work for several weeks.


This past week I attended a baby shower for Clare, our daughter-in-law, who is expecting a baby in January.  It was a fun evening, and a good chance to meet some of  her church friends whose paths don't frequently cross ours.


On Wednesday evening our small group from church did a work project at Harvey N.'s place.  He works hard, but, by himself, it's impossible to keep up with everything.  The ladies worked on cleaning the house, and the men worked outside.  Harvey hopes to rent out the main part of the house to help provide some income.  With a spacious kitchen and living room and enclosed porch and two bedrooms and a large bathroom, it should make a nice space for someone to call home.


Joel and Hilda's house needs tenants.  It's a very nice place in good condition in Partridge--two bedrooms.  If you're local and you know of someone who needs a place like this, contact Shane.


My brother Caleb says they've had 8.65 inches of rain since yesterday morning.  Since a creek runs through the campus where he teaches and where Brady attends school, some flooding occurs about once  a year there.  Although they're on fall break, and thus were not on campus today, they've learned that flooding is indeed happening there right now.  It's still raining in Mechanicsburg, PA.  The previously dry weather has resulted in less flooding than might have been the case otherwise.


We're hoping for rain over the weekend.  The weather pattern seems to offer good chances for rain, along with colder weather.  Harvest of milo and corn is well underway, and perhaps some soybeans.  Some wheat is up, and some hay is down (both alfalfa and sudan).  The fall crops are generally far better than what was harvested in the past two years--especially on dryland crops.


One of the features of our place is a cave cellar that Hiromi outfitted years ago with shelves for our canned goods.  It's also provided refuge when violent weather threatened.  The wooden door he made and the steps my brother Caleb built rotted away during the time others lived here, so Hiromi has been busy replacing those.  He was happy to be able to use the old stairway as a pattern for the new one, and it's close enough to being finished that we were able to move the apples, okra pickles, and tomato juice down there.  Our kitchen is looking relieved at being rid of all those full jars that clogged the counters.


Hiromi is going to great lengths to attract birds to our feeders.  He plays recorded bird sounds for them.  He fills the nearby bird baths with water.  He's hung a brand new Droll Yankee thistle feeder, along with a suet feeder, a platform feeder, a hummingbird feeder, a "house" feeder and a tube feeder.


We're concerned about my brother Marcus.  He has made some bad choices recently, and his housing situation is not stable.  We'd appreciate your prayers for him.


Matt Y. spoke to our students today about "Voice of the Martyrs," an  organization he is personally involved with.  It was an eye-opening look at the lives of far away Christian brothers and sisters.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Sunday Wrap Up 10/6/2013

I'm sorry for all of you who missed Dwight's sermon at Center this morning--especially farmers and others interested in care of the earth and stewardship issues.  Dwight is preaching through the creation account in Genesis, focusing each sermon on what was created during one day of creation week.  Today it was Day 3, when the waters under the heavens gathered together in one place and dry land appeared.  Dwight unwrapped layers of detail concerning soil, and the life lessons we can learn from studying it.

He issued some disclaimers about one section and then shared his own reservations about synthetic fertilizers and genetically modified organisms.  He also talked about Sabbath rest for the land.  It was one farmer talking to other farmers, with gardeners and property owners and others listening in.

I was partly listening with the ears of current and recent high school students, and was delighted to hear  affirmation on some of what we've been learning about in our most recent current events study on problems in the American food supply.  Some of them were no doubt thinking that Dwight was expressing things very cautiously, in contrast to some of the research they came across elsewhere.

The bottom line for Dwight is that all of what we do is to be done as "unto the Lord." Short-term gains should not be prioritized over long-term benefits, and productivity should not be the only measure of success.  I could not agree more.


Pilgrim Christian Schools staff held a retreat from Thursday evening till Friday evening at Oasis Ranch and Retreat Center between Abbyville and Plevna, about six miles straight west of our place.  The activities were planned by the two principals, and the food was planned and prepared by their wives.  It was an overnight stay for most participants.

The activities were a good mix of social interaction, inspiration, and professional development.  Aaron's leading of songs from Hymns of the Church was much more suited to our worship preferences than the high volume, heavily instrumented, words-on-a-screen singing typical of conventions.  Also, kneeling, or bowing, or prostrating ourselves during group prayer would not have been nearly as natural or doable at convention as it was in the gathering room in the upstairs at Oasis.  Animated visiting around the tables at mealtime took place sans the interruptions of going through crowded, far-from-the-table buffet lines.  Also, after two years in a row of encountering bedbugs in hotel rooms, sleeping in commercial establishments has lost some of its appeal, so a little country place seems pretty nice.

I'm not qualified to speak for everyone, but I, for one, think this was an improvement on the past several years' participation in the ACSI convention.  Hiromi and I came home for the night, and being able to do so removed a lot of the negatives of a trip to Topeka or Kansas City.  No hours on the road (for me, less than ten nearly traffic-free minutes to the destination), no packing, no sleeping in a strange bed, no disturbing others by snoring or being disturbed by the same, no waiting on the shower, and no lunch to pack.  Hiromi could participate in part of the event, and he never did so when it involved travel.


Our school day that ended with the beginning of retreat was one for the annals.  My first clue that it was not an ordinary day presented itself when I arrived and parked on the west side of the building where I usually park.  All the windows in the learning center were open, and Micheal Jon's face appeared at the window closest to me.  He cheerfully greeted me with, "Mrs, I, you're in for a surprise."  Was I ever.

Instead of creeping quietly past the Bible class usually in session, I stood and stared when I opened the door to a soggy mess.  Barefoot upperclassmen were wielding brooms (for sweeping water out the door), and mops for sopping it up.  A water pipe had burst during the night under a sink in the kitchen, and water had flooded the kitchen, the south third of the learning center, the typing room, the supplies room, the lab, and the office.  All those rooms are carpeted except the kitchen and the lab.  The basement was flooded too, with water finding its way there via openings in the concrete ceiling/floor.

Mr. Schrock called for reinforcements, and shop vacs and dehumidifiers and fans soon appeared, with a crew to help man the tools and move furniture and boxes from the floor.  The file cabinets in the office were the most daunting things to  move, and the boxes on the floor of the supplies room and the ones on the floor of the closet in the typing room were the messiest.  Typing class could not be held as usual, since my teacher's desk had been shoved into the space in the center of the room, blocking the place where students normally walk to get to their computers.  Composition class took place in the school library.

Eventually, the computers came to life again, and I regained access to my desk.  Students capitalized on the chaos by shunning shoes and socks for the entire day, and no one reproved them.  The teachers wore shoes all day.  My steps made some squishing and sloshing noises early in the day, but I didn't get wet feet, so I doubt that the barefoot business was strictly necessary.  Nor did the bare feet interfere unnecessarily with the business of having school, so it was all good.

Wes and I noted how much more distressing the flooding would have been if the water had been dirty floodwater or sewage-contaminated water.  At least this water was nice and clean.  

When I left, there were still at least three fans and one dehumidifier running in the typing room, and my desk was still parked in the center of the room.  I trust that things will have been put to rights by the time school starts tomorrow.  Not having school on Friday was well-timed for facilitating the drying out process.


Tristan and Carson stayed with me on Friday evening after the retreat when Shane and Dorcas had their first evening out since the baby arrived.  This time I took Carson with me when I accompanied Tristan out to sit on the seat of Grandpa's mower.  He was snugly wrapped in a blanket and slept through most of our time outdoors.   Later that evening the weather turned sharply colder, and keeping him outside would no longer have seemed like such a great idea.

Hiromi came home from work in time to help with babysitting for the last half of the evening, and we all had a good time together.  It helped that Carson willingly took the bottle I offered him.


Canning apples with Clarissa and Dorcas on Saturday was followed by coming home to pick and can tomatoes.  I probably had close to a bushel of tomatoes to can.  I'm still marveling that it happened.

The Fabulous tomatoes are huge and the plants are very productive, but something has happened with the flavor.  It's not as good as it was in previous years.  We're trying to figure out why.  Different soil?  Late in the season?  Any ideas out there?


Marian Y. is almost home.  The hospice nurse observed signs near the end of the week leading her to believe that her body is shutting down.  Yesterday Marian was hearing singing and seeing babies that were not present in the room, so it seems that she's been close enough to look into heaven, and hear some of what's happening there.

I do not like having to face the prospect of life without Marian, but I look forward to seeing her delivered from what has, of late, become a trail-filled life. No one earns heaven, but she has lived and served as well as any of us could ever hope to do, and it's good to know that rest is ahead for her.  She's reminded herself and those around her many times that only God can fix what's wrong in the world, and that awareness is helping to give her peace now.  For those who needed her, she was willing to stay and endure the nastiness of cancer treatment, but, now that it's clear that she does not need to stay, she's trusting God to take care of what concerns her here, and she's turning her attention to heaven.

No one outside my family has done more than Marian to make my life at school possible.  By helping me for several hours each week for most of the past ten years, she has helped keep our home a welcoming refuge.  When she had surgery early last spring and never recovered enough to work, our house suffered.  Not having her help in preparing to move and getting settled afterward has delayed every step of the process and made it more cumbersome and less efficient.  I have not been able to bring myself so far to hire someone else, but I need to.

I wasn't always here when Marian came, but when I was, we had wonderful times of getting caught up on each others' lives.  She was an encouraging friend, and I could share anything with her in complete confidence that she would not use any bad thing against me.

Marian told me several weeks ago that the girls in the families that have shared so much of life in the past are still such good friends to her.  She named David L.'s girls, Ora's girls, and Alvin's girls.  Those of you who know our community will understand how our lives intersected.  Marian had many other friends as well, but yes, this circle of friends is an ever-so-comfortable circle for all of us.

Christopher Bagby, who has lived in David and Susanna's apartment for several months, and attended church at Center, has gone back to his family in California.  He hopes to stay in contact with the fellowship that Verlyn Miller from here is part of.  He left with kind words of appreciation for his time here.  He is a believer, and wanted to learn more about what it means to live in a community of believers.