Category Archives: home

Soul Food

Someone asked me back in January, “Don’t you get lonely living out there?” Amy and I live in a town with barely any other foreigners, much less Mennonites. We are about 4 hours away from the nearest big city with a substantial population of people with our skin tone and hair tone.

I thought for a bit and said, no. Our lives are packed with relationships, some deeper and more fulfilling than others. We are both fluent in Thai and can connect in Thai on a deep level. The little Karen church we attend has become a family for us. We get hugs when whenever we drop by. We are celebrated and loved more than we deserve. Sometimes there are too many relationships and people, and I feel the need to flee alone into the mountains for a quiet rainy day. (I don’t mean that I don’t miss my friends and church family in Chiang Mai, or friends at home in the USA. But missing people is not the same as being lonely.)

And yet, when I think of it, I do get lonely. Perhaps a better way to say it would be, “I am lonely.” But it’s not the kind of loneliness people think it is. I believe that no matter where I would go and who I would be with, I would still be lonely. Sometimes I blame it on being single, but deep down I think that if I would get married, I would still be lonely. I don’t know. Maybe I should experiment. 🙂

But in the end, it’s that loneliness that drives me back to Jesus and his beauty. It’s Him I am forced to lean on and depend on because nothing else is enough. Yet sometimes it’s the glimpses of His beauty that make me lonely in the first place.

In the past few weeks, I have been struck again by the beauty of the place I live in. Coming out of the dry, brown of the hot season, life is green again and the sky is blue. Sometimes too brightly a blue. It has rained some, enough to color the earth again, but the real rainy season hasn’t started yet. I am ready for the rain, the coolness of liquid falling from the sky all day long. I am ready to be able to take off my clothes at the end of the day like a normal person, rather than peeling them off like I am peeling a potato. But while I wait for those days, I find soul food in the details around me.

And because I love it so much, I can’t stand not sharing it with others. So here are a few pictures of life. (Note: Now that I am ready to hit the publish button, I am surprised at myself. What I planned as a photo post morphed into a full-blown poetry post. 🙂 It makes me smile. Maybe I should have split it up into 5 or 6 posts, but I can always do that some other time. )

The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon
The creeping cat, looked up. (WB Yeats)

Who loves the rain
And loves his home,
And looks on life with quiet eyes,
Him will I follow through the storm;
And at his hearth-fire keep me warm;
Nor hell nor heaven shall that soul surprise,
Who loves the rain,
And loves his home,
And looks on life with quiet eyes. (Frances Shaw)

Do not hurry as you walk with grief;
It does not help the journey. Walk slowly, pausing often:
Do not hurry as you walk with grief.
Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden.
Swiftly forgive; and let Christ speak for you
unspoken words. Unfinished conversation
will be resolved in Him. Be not disturbed.
Be gentle with the one who walks with grief.
If it is you, be gentle with yourself.
Swiftly forgive; walk slowly, pausing often.


Take time, be gentle as you walk with grief. (George MacDonald)

I am nobody.
Who are you?
Are you nobody too? (Emily Dickinson)

Four lovely ladies just visited us from Chiang Mai this Saturday and Sunday. They are the current Baanies. The name “Baanies” is a play on Thai/English words meaning the people you live with and is the name used to refer to the girls who work at Wisdom Tree Home in Chiang Mai. Read here about some of the original Baanies. The poem starts like this:

Oh, we live in a house of seven girls
And bonny lassies are we
Seven girls and a dog (who cries when we leave)
All footloose and fancy-free

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun. (J.R.R. Tolkien)

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. 
I have been one acquainted with the night. (Robert Frost)

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. (WB Yeats) (I like to listen to this one on Spotify, read byTheWanderingPaddy)

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go (Robert Burns)

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. (Robert Frost)

THE LITTLE Road says, Go,
The little House says, Stay:
And O, it’s bonny here at home,
But I must go away. (Jospehine Peabody)

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. (Wendell Berry)

Some of these I love best read out loud. Often on my drive to Chiang Mai once a month, I listen to them on Spotify: here

Delta 7850/KE36

Somewhere between Atlanta and Seoul I lost half a day.

I think it slipped out into the great infinity of sky– time leaking into the clouds, an hour here, an hour there,

The minutes dripping down like condensation pooling together onto the cumulonimbus floor of the sky, the seconds wisping into cloud dust.

I know they’ve tried to tell me many times how time works on international flights, but my mind cannot understand.

Perhaps the hours and the minutes and the seconds all find each other again, like a diaspora coming home, and quietly rain back down on my life later.

Or maybe those twelve hours are stored up somewhere in one of God’s bathroom cabinets behind where He keeps the vitamins in the same place he puts the tears that watered those lost minutes,

Lost minutes that ached of goodbyes, and pain that my hands cannot touch or heal no matter how much I long to span them around all the problems, and heal the hunger of hurting souls and the seduction of spiderwebbed thoughts.

Perhaps he mixes the lost minutes with the tears where they crystalize into jewels in the bottle marked with my name in the bathroom cabinet of God’s house where they wait for sometime when they are redeemed and I dare to clasp my hands around them and learn they were never really lost.

Perhaps so.

Painted Deserts

We walk our painted deserts on numbered days

In the shadow of mountains hemmed by time

We carry Your beauty crowned upon us

A tale that is told, a fleeting rhyme

We flourish as grass to fall and wither

Naked under wheeling desert suns

Lost in everlasting, a watch in the night

On captured seconds our course we run.

And this is our cry to the encircling sky

That girds our peregrine ways

Satisfy the yearning of hearts that are burning

And make us glad, oh make us glad all our days. 

For over a month now, I have been trying to give voice to what Psalms 90 means to me. I started to write it when I was still in Thailand in March, but somehow it didn’t seem to come together. Flying home, I traveled through Korea, landed in Los Angeles and then took the train from there to Hutchinson. This saved me money and gave me the time I needed to process and relax. It was just what the doctor ordered. I have irrevocably fallen in love with Amtrak now. We drove through a lot of deserts and grasslands and it served to give a bit of a frame for what I was trying to say. While the desert may seem boring to some, I find in it a wild beauty and tenacity that is impossible to find in most parts of the world. That, coupled with the wide open sky of my own prairie roots, makes it a place I actually find refreshing (for a short period of time, anyway).

Meditations of the Milkmaid

And it came to pass, in the 7th year of the reign of King Vajiralongkorn, in the third month, the Third Daughter of Daniel and the Eldest Daughter of Paul spake to one another.

And they said, Let us arise and go from this Country in which we sojourn, and let us rest for a Time in the Land of our Fathers, for here, the Smoke lies thick and the Heat is Blazing. Let us travel to the Land of our Fathers and return in the time of the rains, lest our Hearts wax Weary and our Brains become as Soup.

And so it came to pass that in the 4th month of the year, the Third Daughter of Daniel returned to her ancestral home. And lo, her journey was Long, for she rode on an airplane from the Kingdom of Thailand to the Kingdom of Korea and from thence to the State of California. And from the State of California, that state which knows so many Dangers to the Health of Man, she traveled by Train to her Home. And as she traveled, she encountered many things and consorted with Amish people on the Train who thought she was rather Strange and Old, and witnessed a forcible Removal of a certain lady on the Train, and had a Great Surprise when the Fourth Daughter of Daniel came aboard the train. And she said to herself that she would record All These Things when she arrived at her Home, but alas, when she arrived at home, her Heart was Weary and her Brain was as Soup, for she had stayed in the Heat of the Far Off Country a little Too Long.

But as the days passed, she revived and her Heart was filled with Joy at the sight of Spring and Flowers and Cows and Cats and Dogs and Nieces and Nephews. And of course, her Mother and Father. And one day she spoke to the Fourth Daughter of Daniel and said, If thou wilt sew me a dress, I will milk Cows for you, for I know how much you despair of Cows and you know how much I despair of Dresses. For long ago, the Third Daughter of Daniel tried her hand at Making Dresses, and many were the times when she lifted up her Voice and wept while picking out Seams.

And the Fourth Daughter of Daniel rejoiced and was exceedingly glad, and so it came to pass that the Third Daughter of Daniel milked the Cows by herself while the Fourth Daughter of Daniel sewed. And it is the Nature of the Third Daughter of Daniel to either meditate deeply when she is milking cows, or to lift up her Voice in Loud Praises, and this was the evening for meditating deeply. And Meditation in the Milkbarn by Maidens is a Worthy Pastime, so long as they do not Meditate too deeply and milk the Bull by accident.

And as she meditated, she remembered with Nostalgia her Life as a Child. And she marveled at the House of Daniel that each of the Children of Daniel, from the Eldest to the Youngest, still lived to speak of their Growing Up Years, for they had run with Scissors and drunk out of Hoses and Skinny-Dipped in the Water Tank and played with Fire.

And she meditated of the Eldest Daughter of Daniel, who rode the Copper-colored Pony when she was young, and when she saw her Father driving the Massey Tractor along the Road, she said to her Pony, Come, let us arise and race my Father. And she went like the Wind and her Father was astounded when the Maiden and the Pony swept past them at 30 miles an hour. And it was her that fell from the Wild Horse that no one could rightly tame and it was her that drove down the newly dug sides of the Lagoon on her bicycle and landed with a Resounding Crash at the Bottom. And it was also her when she was a Maiden milking Cows, who saw the Son of Lloyd coming to the door of the Barn, and said loudly, Get Out! And she knew not then that it was the Son of Lloyd, but thought it was One of the House of Daniel. And thankfully, the Son of Lloyd did not listen to her, but instead fell madly in Love with her and they are married to this day with many Flourishing Olive Plants and Arrows.

And as the Third Daughter of Daniel milked, she also meditated on the Second Daughter of Daniel. Now the Second Daughter of Daniel did not race Horses like the Eldest did, but drove a Wicked Lawnmower. And it came to pass as the Second Daughter of Daniel mowed the Lawn, she sang with Joy in her Heart and did not mow around a Newly-Planted Tree, but instead drove straight over it. And another time as she warbled on her Lawnmower, behold, her Lawnmower caught on the Swing and the Rear Tires of the Lawnmower kept on moving, and the front part of the Lawnmower went up towards the Heavens. And the Second Daughter of Daniel screamed, and the Screaming of the Second Daughter of Daniel is a Fearsome Thing indeed. And the Second Daughter of Daniel was also Fearless. For in those days, there was a Strange Milkman who liked to come into the House to ask to use the Phone. And as the Milkman used the Phone and the House of Daniel watched, the Second Daughter of Daniel sneaked up behind the Strange Milkman and stood on a Lunchbox and put her Fingers into Bunny Ears and gave the Milkman Bunny Ears as he unwittingly chatted on the Phone. And behold, grievous was the Shock to the Wife of Daniel as she watched.

And now we come to the Son of Daniel. And here lieth the Greatest Mystery of All, that the Son of Daniel survived to this day. For the Brain of the Son of Daniel sprouted many Great and Strange Ideas for Inventions and Things to Do. And he made a Chopper and a Silage Wagon for the Lawnmower, and he created a Sail for the Wagon to sail in the Wind on Windy Days and a Boat from an old Bicycle and Barrels. And he terrorized the Cats and used the Flower Garden for a Toilet, to the Consternation of the Wife of Daniel. And he built a Fire among the Trees and hunted for Treasure in all the Corners of the Old Farmhouse and made Teepees in the Tree Belt and Tree Houses in the Osage Orange Trees and hunted Sparrows and put them into Mud Pies. And he had many Grand Money-making Schemes and bought Guinea Hens and Dachshunds and Pigs and Rabbits. And lo, one day, his Rabbit was sick and it had Diarrhea. And the Son of Daniel gave the Rabbit Pepto Bismol to alleviate the Rabbit’s suffering and the Rabbit was then constipated and so the Son of Daniel gave the Rabbit a laxative. And then the Rabbit had Diarrhea again and it said to itself, This is Too Much, and gave up the ghost.

And it is only fair that the Third Daughter of Daniel think of herself. And in the days of her Youth, the Third Daughter of Daniel wanted a Donkey. And the Son of the Brother of the Wife of Daniel bought her a Donkey and the Third Daughter of Daniel loved the Donkey and she christened him, Jorge. And behold, the Donkey was stubborn and had two Speeds—Very Fast and Very Slow. And the Son of the Brother of the Wife of Daniel trained the Donkey and he spake to the Third Daughter of Daniel. And he spake thus, When thou drivest the Donkey, thou shalt not drive alone, but shalt drive with another Person who shall hold another Rope to the Donkey’s Halter to help when the Reins attached to the Bridle are not enough, and this Person shall be called your Emergency Brake. And so it came to pass that one day, the Third Daughter of Daniel and Fourth Daughter of Daniel drove the Donkey, and the Fourth Daughter of Daniel was the Emergency Brake, and they set forth on an expedition. And as they went, the Donkey heard a Fearsome Noise and waxed Sore Afraid and lo, the Donkey went like the Driving of Jehu. And the Emergency Brake flew off towards the South onto some very Rough Stones and the Third Daughter of Daniel steadfastly continued on the expedition and searched her heart and prepared to meet her Maker. And when the Donkey turned to go to its Home, the Third Daughter of Daniel did not and she flew off the Cart Towards the Going Down of the Sun and landed in a Soft Sand Pile. And the Daughters of Daniel lay where they landed for a Long Time and great was the Mirth of the Daughters of Daniel.

And we must not forget the Fourth Daughter of Daniel, who is of Small Stature, but of Great Spirit. And the Fourth Daughter of Daniel cultivated a Tendency to Fly, not only on Donkey Carts with Emergency Brakes but also on Bicycles without Brakes. And it came to pass that the House of Daniel and the House of Jacob and the House of Glendon and the House of Dean and many other Houses had a Holiday and they spent their Holiday on a Bike Trip in the Park. And behold, there was a Hill and a Road, and a Curve in the Road on the Bottom of the Hill, and a Creek after the Curve at the Bottom of the Hill. And lo, as the Fourth Daughter of Daniel coasted down the Hill, her Brakes gave out and at the Curve on the Bottom of the Hill, the Fourth Daughter of Daniel spread out her arms like that of a Great Eagle and she flew into the Creek at the Bottom of the Hill. And after her Extrication from the Creek, she was covered in Mud from the Top of her Head to the Tips of her Toes. And to this day, when the Second Son of Dean sees the Fourth Daughter of Daniel, he will ask her if she has flown into any Creeks lately.

And thus was the Manner of the Meditations of the Third Daughter of Daniel as she milked the Cows. And she marveled thus, that even with all the Flying and Speeding and Crashing and other Sundry Disasters,  the Children of the House of Daniel have every Bone intact and every Nose unbroken. And thought to herself that the Children of Daniel turned out Mostly Ok. While they may not be fat, they are flourishing and this Thought gave her Peace as she meditated and milked.

Thus end the Meditations of the Milkmaid, recorded in the 7th year of the reign of King Vajiralongkorn, in the 4th month of the Year.

Evening Palette

The mountain swallowed the sun tonight

Tugged it down from the sooty sky

Into the smoky red of horizon’s shade

And west into the shadows of Burma

And for a moment there was a fire in the town

Titian on the water, low and light

Between the sandy banks of the Yuam River

Rain-thirsty in the smoggy gloaming

Then the sun slipped into the mountain’s pocket

And all was gray again, until the kindly dusk

Purpled the world and wrapped my town in its arms

And with an indigo lullaby, rocked her to sleep

Let Peace Slip Down

Yellow cat is a pool of gold spilled on the blanket   

In the shadowed light of morning that fights the stony dark  

Black coffee is a bitter liquor brewed in the dark   

In the gray minutes of the dawning hours

Words are pale honey and scalding ebony, coursing hot

Down to my soul, settling deep and warm

Let peace slip down into my soul

Down between the fragments of yesterday’s hours,

And into the fragile bubble that is today.

Taste the silence—

Let peace slip down, let peace slip down into my soul.

Dustbeams is Released!

November wasn’t the kindest month of this year, with deaths, busyness, stress, and lots of cancelled plans. At the end, it threw the Covid bug at me, but I am grateful that I got Covid since it enabled me to spend hours finishing up my latest project. (Even though a large portion of the edits were done lying on my back.)

But now I am ecstatic to announce that my latest book, Dustbeams, is available on Kindle! Victory dance around the room while no one is looking!!! (No one should be looking because I am still in isolation).

The print version should be available on Amazon before too long, although I can’t give an exact date. I will send out another update when that is available. That will be available only on Amazon, but for those in the Hutchinson, Kansas area, there will be physical copies available in a few weeks from Blurb as well.

But for now, Kindle is available!! And because I love my Kindle and because this is my first book on Kindle, this makes me really excited (in case you haven’t noticed the surplus of exclamation points I am using. Normally I ration my exclamation points out quite conservatively).

!!!!

Dustbeams is similar to my last book, Through a Glass Darkly. It contains a mix of poetry and prose written over the past four years or so, with stories drawn from my experience in Thailand, especially in Saohin. One difference between the two books is the section dedicated to Kansas and home, called “Roots,” at the beginning of the book. The Kindle version contains 93 pages.

The edition is available here for $5.99. Below are some pictures of the book in Kindle version. Stay tuned to hear of the print release!

One of the main reasons I put Dustbeams together was as a fundraiser to help pay for my online course for teacher’s training that is coming up in January with Moreland University. After studying the course for nine months, I should, Lord Willing, be able to take the test to get my US teaching license, and then use that to finally get my Thai teaching license. So if you enjoy the book, be sure to leave a review and let friends know!

Feel free to share on social media!

Blessings and Merry Christmas!

Where the South Wind Blows

Oh, give me the gray autumn winds of Kansas

That steal across the burnt sienna of tallgrass,

Down over rolling plains, close by the Ninnescah,

In November, in November, in gray November’s day.

I wonder if they would know me, those November winds

That ghost from river to prairie to grove,

Where dying Texas sunflowers await the dawning winter,

And Osage orange trees pencil black against the sky.

Oh, give me gray winds haunting shorn fields

And over the umber colors of the riverland grass,

When the sky cups over the brooding prairie world

On a day in November where the south wind dwells.

Just Some Pictures

I realize that I haven’t been writing a lot lately.

My dad had open heart surgery on June 16 and it was excruciating to be so far away from home. During that time, I wrestled with 2 different urges. One was the urge to dump it all out, the other the urge to clam up and feel sorry for myself. And being pressed for time, I didn’t do the dumping out part.

But that time passed, and my dad is now safely recovering at home, although my sister reports that life at home is sort of like living in a nursing home, since my mom has also been to see the doctor several times recently, and my aunt has to go on a weekly basis for chemo.

But believe it or not, life goes on here in Thailand. And I realize that I take a lot of good pictures, or I like to think of them as good, but I don’t share them much.

And as the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words” so I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

These are students from our Gifted English program that just started this year. The room is on the same floor as the teacher’s office, so some of the students like to come over in the afternoon and practice their English and play Uno. I do believe the air conditioned room is a drawing factor as well. I recently bought a tiny model house to teach vocabulary to a class, but I didn’t have time to assemble it so these students helped me. We have listened to a lot of stories during this time, such as stories about evil spirits haunting houses and the whiskey used in spirit ceremonies. (While most Karen people are Buddhist or Christian, in the past, before Christianity was introduced or before the Karen integrated more fully into Thai culture, they were mostly animistic, with practices steeped in spirit worship. This is still a huge factor today, and many nominal Karen Christians wear amulets for luck or safety.)

Some of my former Saohin students came over to make cookies after going to church with me. I found it amusing and heartwarming how they sat in front of the oven to watch their cookies bake as if they were watching a movie.

There are times I wonder about my cat…..

Our pastor finished his doctor in theology and we had a celebration at the church. Taking pictures with each other at celebrations is an important thing in Thai culture.

Jiu, one of the girls at church, with Che Che (I think that’s his name).
Prayer time for our pastor

Yes, that spider is for real, and yes we found it in our kitchen. I think that might be an egg sac it was carrying underneath?

Rainy days are plentiful in July. Most days I make my afternoon coffee at school, but some days I splurge, especially if it is a particularly rainy day that calls for a hot latte.

No matter how the world might be behaving around me, I still find rest and relaxation in making a batch of good homemade chocolate chip cookies.

And enjoying cookie making is not exclusive to women either. One evening, before my birthday, several of my former Saohin students (this time the boys, not the two girls pictured earlier) called me. Can we come make cookies at your house?

The above picture is not mine, but one I found online. At the time that I found myself driving through these waters, I was too busy trying to stay upright and moving to take any photos. The picture was taken beside the Mae Chaem River between Hot and Mae Sariang on a day when various parts of Northern Thailand flooded.

Another picture that makes me shudder when I see the brown angry river to the left.

On the evening of Amy’s birthday we went to the church to practice the song we were singing with the youth group. The sky gave us an extra special display that evening.

These people make me happy. Most of the people in this picture are students who are staying at the church while they go to high school. On Thursday evenings, I have the privilege of teaching them English at the church. They are the most dedicated group of learners and laughers I have ever taught, I think I can say.

Every morning the national anthem is played at assembly and every morning the dogs at the school howl along with it.

This was not a fire, as it might look, but a random round of mosquito spraying in hopes of cutting down on dengue fever cases. I had just gotten to my class and started teaching when we were all told to evacuate and stay out of the building for about 25 minutes while they sprayed. Mae Hong Son is highest in the nation for dengue fever.

This shirt is special to me. One of my students who is an avid football player, asked me if I wanted a football shirt for my birthday. He then let me choose a color and gave me one of his own shirts. This young man is actually half Burmese, but lives in Thailand.

It’s not often I get to eat Mexican food, but on my last visit to Chiang Mai, some of my friends took Amy and I out for our birthdays and this is what we got. It was soooo good.

Mae Toe is a local tourist attraction about 60 kilometers from here. I have now visited there 4 times, twice just recently. In the middle of June, I went up with some students and then yesterday with some teachers. Someday, I think I should like to take a book along and simply curl up and read on top of the world.

So…. yesterday, I had thought the original plan was to park our bikes on the bottom and walk the rest of the way up, but it didn’t quite work out that way since the others in our group zoomed up before me. To make a long story short, I was trying to get up this hill like the people before me, but kept on stalling my bike. I got off and then managed to dump it on its side, and it being a heavy bike, couldn’t get it up again. With the help of Amy and this kind man, we got it to a place where we could park beside the road and then walked up. Driving on these concrete tracks is complicated because if you happen to stop, you are in trouble because there is simply no place to plant your feet to keep you from falling over. It doesn’t help if you are helplessly laughing either. I still have to giggle just to look at this picture…. and the expressions on our faces. Bless that man’s heart for stopping and helping (the others in our group were out of side beyond the next hill and curve)

The view was worth the hike, though.

We parked our bikes halfway up and walked the rest of the way….but these village boys who couldn’t be more than 12 had no such intentions.

Walking down from the 360 degree lookout.

Kaning and Mint, the two student interns, and Kru Jack, one of the Chinese teachers. Kru Jack’s method of hair control always makes me grin.

Amy on the top of the lookout, dreaming of Mr. Willoughby.

And me, probably dreaming about cookies.

Kansas (Vignettes of a Journey #6)

Only in sleep I see their faces,

Children I played with when I was a child.

Louise comes back with her brown hair braided,

Annie with ringlets warm and wild. “Only in Sleep” by Sara Teasdale

Nostalgia is one of the biggest emotions that hit me when I am home. Half of my time at home, I spend reminiscing and walking around old haunts or digging through shoeboxes of letters and photos and school papers. The above poem brings a lump to my throat as I think of my past visit home.

It was a memorable visit, filled with out-of-the-ordinary happenings, not all that were nice.

After traveling home from Reach, I got sick the first week. On the last day of March, it snowed enough to cover the ground and then it all melted by noon. The next week, my nephew fell off his horse and broke his wrist and we had high winds almost every day. The following week was windy again for a few days and then we had some really warm windy weather, along with hail, rain and then again, some snow! The day before Good Friday a gas plant in Haven blew up and some people could see the flames from our area. The last week I was home we had about one nice day, and the rest were cold and windy.

I loved the snow we got, though, even when others were quite glum about it. And there were other highlights to offset the unhappy surprises. My nieces and I took a little trip one day to the library and to the Dutch Kitchen. Sara and I spent a day at a coffee shop together and I also joined her at work one day. Our family got together for Good Friday, and Mom and Dad and Sara and I went out for supper one evening. I got to help at a community sale one Saturday, attended baptism services at our church one Sunday, and listened to a school program the last evening I was home. I visited my grandma’s grave one afternoon. Most Mondays I went with Aunt Miriam to the doctor where she did lab and chemo.

Wednesday evening before I left was a perfect spring evening, and my nephew Eric, the one who had not broken his wrist, and I went horseback riding. We saw 5 turkeys, one deer, and another animal that we decided was either a coyote or a mountain lion, both of which have a tail, a tawny color and a loping run. Both of us hoped it was the latter, but we weren’t close enough to make sure. Friday before I left on Saturday, I went with Grandpa and my Aunt Miriam and Dad to the doctor. In the evening, my nephew Davon, the one who had broken his wrist, came over with his .22 youth rifle and we went bird hunting in 40 mph winds, shouting to each other over the howl. I shot at several birds and was always secretly glad that I hit none. Somehow, shooting things does not have the same appeal as it used to, but I did pray that Davon would hit something and he did.

This time, saying goodbye harder than it had been for a long time. The last two times I had been home, Covid restrictions made it complicated and difficult to travel back to Thailand, so the last few days of my time at home had been spent stressing about travel back. This time was different, with eased restrictions. It was also the first time I was home after grandma’s death. This made it harder to say goodbye to my mom, since she seemed smaller and whiter than before.

Saturday morning dawned rainy. I am always glad when it is rainy the day I leave, since it fits my mood. Before I left, I ran out to the apple tree and cut some blossoms that had just appeared overnight.

And then I left for Wichita in the middle of the endless Kansas wind.