Tuesday, June 30, 2009

She's home

After fifty-six hours of travel Julie arrived home yesterday afternoon. She was scheduled to return on Sunday, but she missed her flight in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

We spent Saturday preparing for Julie's homecoming. I vacuumed our room and arranged bouquets of flowers on the bookshelf, sewing machine and windowsill. Brian, Betsy, LIbby and Naomi cleaned Julie's car. I baked poppy seed bread and prepared biscuits. We bought ingredients for ice cream that we planned to crank on Sunday afternoon. Then we received phone calls from Malawi and South Africa with the devastating news that Julie was stranded in Johannesburg.

But we saved the ice cream. After an eighteen hour hour flight Julie arrived in Washington D.C. at six o'clock in the morning. Two more short flights brought her home to Michigan. We greeted her at the airport and after completing paperwork regarding her missing luggage, brought her home where we swapped stories and cranked ice cream. Then as the bossy big sister, I ushered her upstairs for a shower and a nap.

Monday, June 29, 2009


How many guys does it take to change a lightbulb?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Girls' camp out

Yesterday and today was our tenth annual girls camp out. Each year girls from our church lug sleeping bags, tents and s'more ingredients to our campsite near the wood behind our house. This year we made pizza pies over the campfire for dinner. After playing on the seesaw we cranked homemade strawberry ice cream for desert. Some of Betsy's friends from InterVarsity joined us. Before the girls crawled in their sleeping bags for the night, Mom led a Bible study around the campfire. 

Friday, June 26, 2009


Brother John was surprised to find a filly in his pasture. My brothers were helping put up hay when Brian noticed an extra horse in the pen. It was a newborn filly. The boys helped round up the mother and daughter and deposit them in the barn. Bekah promptly named the newborn "Miracle."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ice cream break

So much for Michigan being the cool state.

It was miserably hot yesterday. So miserably hot that I raided our tip jar and bought ice cream. Mom, Libby, Naomi and I packed the cherry-vanilla ice cream and Snickers ice cream in a cooler and hauled it to a field where the boys, Dad and Betsy were baling hay this afternoon. We sought out a tiny bit of shade along the fencerow and slurped our partially melted treat. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Soo Locks

In honor of Logan's thirteenth birthday, we drove up to the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Sue Saint Marie) Monday. Sault Ste. Marie is the northernmost town on I75, the interstate highway that that runs vertically from Michigan to Florida across the United States. 

The five-mile Mackinac Bridge (pronounced Mackinaw) connects Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas. Michigan acquired the U.P. after the brief and non-bloody Toledo War with Ohio. Ohio was awarded the Toledo Strip, and the mineral rich Upper Peninsula became a part of Michigan. It is a three hour drive from where we live either to the Mackinac Bridge or the Michigan-Ohio border. It's an hour drive from the "Big Mac" to Sault Ste. Marie.

Oops! Spelling mistake. It should be Detroit.

Michiganders always have a map with them. Most of Michigan's 10,000,000 residents live in the Lower Peninsula, "Mitten," where we explain where we live by pointing to our hands. Michigan is surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes--Michigan, Superior, Huron and Erie. The Great Lakes comprise 95% of the entire nation's fresh water. 

Every day from March to January, freighters and tour boats are raised and lowered in the Soo Locks. The St. Marys River, the border between the U.S. and Canada at Sault Ste. Marie, drops 21 feet in rapids. Until the locks were constructed it was impossible for ships to sail from Lake Superior to Lake Michigan. The locks are long narrow passages with gates at both sides. The water level in the canal on the west side of the locks is twenty-feet higher than the water on the east side of the locks. When a ship enters the locks, the gates are closed and water is forced in or out of the locks to raise or lower the vessel.

Iron ore is one of the minerals shipped on Great Lake freighters. During WWII a fort was constructed near the Soo Locks to protect the water route that supplied factories with raw materials. The fort later became the home of Lake Superior State University.

This 730 foot long freighter enters the MacAruther Lock, one of two functional locks in Sault Ste. Marie. The larger Poe Lock can accommodate 1,000 foot long vessels. The first lock was constructed by the Northwest Fur Company in 1789. When Michigan was granted statehood in 1837, immediate plans were enacted to build a lock for $112,500. The locks are now controlled by the United States Army Corp of Engineers.

The Soo Locks opened on March 25th this year and will remain in operation until January. Before opening in the spring, steam is used to melt ice in the locks. During the shipping year, Great Lakes freighters will make many trips through the locks.

As water enters the lock, this empty freighter rises twenty feet to continue its journey to Lake Superior. The water level of the lock is controlled by holes in the floor that either allow water in or force water out of the locks. The nearby Edison Sault Electric Company powers the locks. Three percent of the electricity produced is used by the locks, the remaining 97% provides electricity for the Eastern U.P.

The freighter leaves the locks to continue to Duluth, Minnesota. The International Bridge, that connects Michigan and Ontario, Canada can be seen in the distance. Sault Ste. Marie is the name of cities on both sides of the bridge. The Canadian Sault Ste. Marie is bigger and more industrial than its Michigan twin. Before 9-11 border passage was relatively easy between Michigan and Canada. With new laws, a passport or special Michigan Driver's License is required for entry to the United States. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


June days are long in Michigan. According to the newspaper, the sun rose this morning at 5:56 a.m. and will set at 9:22 p.m. As the days have gotten longer, the temperature has warmed; today the predicted high is 87˚ F (31˚ C) with a high of 93˚ F (34˚ C) tomorrow. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hop, straddle, jump

We were never allowed to jump on the bed--until last week. The old mattress and box-springs from Logan's bed were waiting to be hauled out to the end of the road to be picked up by the trash-man when inspiration intervened. We dragged the bed into the front yard and jumped and jumped and jumped. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009


              any good books lately?

Three titles recently added to my worth-reading list:

Secret Believers by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen
A Greater Call by Harvey Yoder
Safely Home by Randy Alcorn

Friday, June 19, 2009

For Julie

from Libby

Libby wished Julie were here to enjoy the fragrant blossoms from her flower garden. Since we can't send roses to Africa, I suggested we take a picture to email her. 

Julie is recovering from a bout with Malaria earlier this week. And our family--on opposite sides of the globe--is counting the days until we are reunited.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Loganton, Pennsylvania

Creation Museum, Kentucky

Creation Museum, Kentucky

Loganton, Pennsylvania

Providence Canyon, Georgia

Global Village, Americus, Georgia

Andersonville, Georgia

Montezuma, Georgia

Moravian Falls, North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

...and I missed the black snake in North Carolina. Amanda wasn't so fortunate.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Susie was like a little monkey--hopping up and down the rocky Pennsylvania slopes in her bare feet.

Of all the sights on our nearly 3,000 mile trip, I was most excited by the familiar scenery of the last few miles. Roads straight for as far as I could see. Chemical plant, cooling pond, Lutheran church with the statue of Jesus out front. Trees, fields, railroad tracks and the bridge that used to dip in the middle. After fifteen days we had reached my favorite part of traveling--coming home.

Aunt Gera preparing watermelon and mango for breakfast.

Amanda's cousins feeding carp at a marina in North Carolina.

We crossed this railroad track on our Sunday morning walk to the Americus Mennonite Fellowship in Georgia.

Home--where my sister said, "Now that you're home are you going to post good pictures to your blog again?" Home. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Covered bridge

We kissed our niece goodbye yesterday morning and head north and west, toward home. Along the way we stopped for a visit with our friends the Engles and to take whirlwind tour of the countryside. As we wound along the country roads, we searched for Amish clotheslines, wildflowers in rocks and a covered bridge. The red covered bridge we found was cute and functional. We watched as an Amish man guided his team of horses, pulling a load of hay, through the bridge.