Friday, September 30, 2011


It's apple season and we are collecting containers for apple cider. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011


One of the therapeutic photos that I took Monday evening after my near internet-depravation-induced break-down.

Sunday afternoon our internet quit working.

It's very inconvenient to be without internet when you teach five hours of online classes each morning. 

It's very frustrating to be without the internet when you have students uploading documents and MP3 files for an assignment due Monday morning. 

It's very distressing to be without the internet when you are as addicted to it as I am.

It's very annoying to be without the internet when your alternative is to lug your laptop with you to the university and sit in the back of the room during a professional development meeting so that you can check your email and upload documents before class. It's also tiring when you stay late so that you can catch up on emails and blog and update your online class files.

Monday was a rough day. When I returned home from the university I inquired about the status of the internet. When I heard that the tech guy wasn't available until Wednesday afternoon, I almost cried.

Tuesday and Wednesday were rough too.

Wednesday afternoon the tech guy spent forty-five minutes examining wires and routers before determining that the antenna was the problem. He fixed it.

Wednesday afternoon I sang the Hallelujah chorus. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


After waiting an hour and a half, the urologist pronounced Betsy's kidneys and liver in working order. Between fifteen and twenty percent of her right kidney was permanently damaged in the accident. But the remaining part of her kidney and her other kidney are functioning normally, while her liver continues to heal.

Monday, September 26, 2011


My Dad and brothers formed a parade as they hauled trucks, trailers and equipment home on a recent Saturday. They spent the day tearing down a pole building to later reassemble on our farm. The boys plan to use the building as a shop.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


But who is able to build a temple for him, 
since the heavens, 
even the highest heavens
cannot contain him? 

2 Chronicles 2:6 NIV

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I knew Betsy didn't feel well, but I didn't know just how serious it was until I saw her crocheting project. She is fashioning an afghan from muted, earth tones. I suggested she pull on a pair of colored, striped socks for her health. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Battle smoke

This hall houses my shared office. My classroom is on the other side of campus. Sorry for the quality of the picture; I took it with my phone.

"You won the battle, but you haven't won the war," I told my students last week.

Since the beginning of the semester my students have been whining about needing a break. We have an hour and fifty minute class. I am not convinced by their pleas. Besides, other instructors have warned me that five minute breaks stretch to seven minutes and then eleven minutes and then fifteen minutes.

"No break," I told my students. I explained that if they needed to use the restroom they did not need permission; they could just quietly leave the room and then return when they were done.

When verbal negotiations failed to advance their cause, my students staged a surprise attack. About halfway through class I usually give the students an activity to get them out of their seats. They were supposed to be practicing asking each other questions when first one student and then another had to go to the "bathroom." Two-thirds of my class went to the "bathroom" at the same time. They sucked on breath mints when they came back, but still smelled so much like smoke it made me sneeze.

They won that battle. 

Next class we struck a compromise. A five minute break. Five minutes exactly. Not six, not eight, not eleven. Five minutes. I also instituted a one-person-at-a-time bathroom policy. 

I was surprised. The first day they all managed to slide through the doorway before the time expired. 

The next day, though, one student was one minute late. Inwardly, I cackled an evil-sounding laugh. But I was very professional when I announced, "No smoke break tomorrow."

"She's joking," they said. I wasn't.

I won that battle. But I doubt the war is over.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


I like black and white. But I didn't expect to like a monochrome image of a pink dahlia. Boy, was I surprised to find this image hidden beneath a splash of color. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011


He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters 
for a boundary between light and darkness.
Job 26:10 NIV

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011


After giving a quiz yesterday, I led my students across campus to a fair that showcased local organizations and businesses. It was way more fun to scarf candy and line dance than to discuss irregular noun plurals in grammar class. 

Here I am, stacking dice on a tongue depressor. 
Photo by one of my colleagues.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


On Saturday we closed the blueberry farm for the season.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Steam powered sawmill

Last week on Labor Day my family drove north to the two-hundred acre Erickson family homestead in Whittemore, Michigan to use a ninety-five-year-old machine. At least my brothers, grinning like little boys, operated the old invention, while I employed a much more recent machine to snap over five hundred digital photos. 

Our friendship with the Erickson family began with academics--Glen Erickson taught Betsy's A&P biology class, and Julie and Mandy Erickson (Glen's daughter-in-law) graduated from an accounting program together. But no textbooks were involved last Monday. Instead the event depended on the basic components of fire, water and a bunch of metal and wood. The Ericksons hosted their annual sawmill day, showcasing an old steam engine and sawmill. 

Driving north on the expressway we spotted lines of campers and vehicles hauling boats headed the other direction. We pulled off the main route and passed farms and then the huge tracks of land covered with rows and rows of trees, so characteristic of the northern part of Michigan's lower peninsula. Finally we turned onto a two-track and followed it through trees to a clearing. In the middle was a pavilion protecting the old sawmill. A belt stretched from the sawmill to an old steam engine nearby. Behind yellow caution tape, spectators sat in lawn-chairs to witness the occasion. 

Logan was the fireman for the day. He pumped water and fed wood into the engine. Glen Erickson, wearing a striped engineer's cap and obviously the big boss for the day, kept one eye on the pressure gauge and the other on the activity under the pavilion. Glen's son Jaron supervised the sawmill operation. Aaron and Brian, and a few of the Erickson's other family members and friends, helped to load the logs and then sort and stack the rough-cut lumber. By the end of the day, they had accumulated a pick-up truck load of rough-cut lumber. 

The steam engine, originally used to power a threshing operation, was manufactured around 1916 by the Rumely Company of Battle Creek, Michigan. Rumely and Advanced later merged into one company. According to Mandy, Glen and Jaron spent the Saturday before Labor Day cleaning the equipment and pressure testing the engine. 

On the other end of the operation, connected to the steam engine by a belt, was a 1940 A22 Belsaw. The once portable sawmill has cut thousands and thousands of square feet of lumber. Jaron's great-grandfather earned half of his livelihood from the sawmill, which he ran during the winter months. The sawmill was built to be powered by a tractor, but for the last couple of years, the Ericksons have used the much quieter (and more interesting) steam engine as a power source during the annual event. 

Around thirty people gathered to watch or help operate the steam engine and sawmill. Glen and Jean Erickson's grandchildren had a fabulous time and all missed their naps. Some of them toddled across the uneven ground, while the older ones chased their cousins or scrambled for a ride with an aunt or uncle on the Gator. But one little grandson confirmed that the steam engine tradition will continue to the next generation. He spent hours balancing on the operator's platform with his Grandpa. When the steam engine slowed he begged, "Grandpa make it go chuga-chuga."

Sunday, September 11, 2011


And forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matthew 6:12 NIV

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Storm at the Berry Barn

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


"What nationality are you?" a customer at the blueberry farm asked me on Saturday.

I blinked. "Uh, American," I replied. 

I had spent the week with international students, but didn't think that affected my appearance or speech. In class on Tuesday, one of my students confused "Are you an American?" with "Are you in America?" I quickly clarified that though he is in America he is still Chinese. 

The customer persisted. "No, I mean what nationality like religion?"

"Oh." I chose the simple answer, avoiding denominational complications, and replied, "Mennonite."

The customer launched into a monologue about a Mennonite restaurant that baked the best bread. I nodded politely. His question caught me off guard. I am asked a lot of different questions, but that was the first inquiry about my nationality.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mean green beans

"Oh, it's beans, beans, beans that make you feel so mean on the farm, on the farm," I hum when I think of our prolific green and yellow bean plants. The rows didn't seem quite so long this spring when Dad planted them.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


He gives strength to the weary 
and increases the power of the weak.
Isaiah 40:29 NIV

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Apple pie

Saturday is apple pie day. In an attempt to sell the fruit from more than a hundred apple trees, my mom and sisters designated Friday as baking day. Yesterday they peeled, sliced, mixed and rolled pie after pie. Some of the pies are destined for the farmer's market, some for our roadside stand, and a couple for the blueberry farm. Any leftovers may find their way to our Sunday dinner table.