Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just Not Today

Get the flash player here:

Luke and Eric are getting the most out of life in Ithaca! So, in celebration, of college and life outside of college, here are some of Luke's current favorite country lyrics:

One of these days
We're goin' have to grow up
Have to get real jobs and be adults, someday
Just not today
Have to worry about things out of our control
Like kids, love and money and gettin' old, someday
Just not today, just not today

- Kenny Chesney

More Circus Pictures...

...can be found on the Poughkeepsie Journal website.

Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Nate, the ever-adventurous one!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sentire Cum Ecclesia

"Sentire Cum Ecclesia" is a term that was coined by St Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. It means "To think with the Church."

(Compliments of Uncle Mark)

Small Town America

The circus came to our small little town tonight! Dad wanted to celebrate, in true community spirit, his 53rd birthday at the circus, so we joined a crowd of neighbors and friends to celebrate autumn, life, wonder, laughter and Dad's birthday!

Get the flash player here:

"We Grow the Ivy and the Beef"

The above poster was made by Luke for his Beef Merchandizing class at Cornell. The advertisement for the sale follows. Website:

ITHACA, NY – Cornell University’s Beef Merchandising class is proud to announce that the 4th Annual Empire Heifer Development Program Bred Heifer Sale will be held on October 24th, 2009 at 1pm. It will take place at the Beef Unit at Cornell’s Teaching & Research facilities (Route 38, 5 miles south of Dryden, NY). This year, there will be over twenty lots of Angus, Hereford, Simmental, and Gelbvieh animals, with various crossbreds. Bred heifers, along with a few cow calf pairs will be available at this year’s sale. There will truly be something for everyone, whether you are looking for purebred or commercial, we have it all! We are offering high quality replacement heifers that are perfect for any size herd! Every animal sold is required to have thorough records available on her, so data such as ultrasound and temperament information will be accessible. So come join us on October 24th and support this years sale, there will be lunch available, starting at noon!

For more information, directions, or to request a sale catalog, please contact:

Mike Baker
Beef Extension Specialist
114 Morrison Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Monday, September 28, 2009

Upton Lake vs. Hyde Park Baptist

Rebecca's soccer team, Upton Lake, beat Hyde Park Baptist today 6-3 with friendly competition. It was a rainy game, so a lot of slipping and falling occured.

Celebrating One Year!

Isaac and Allie celebrated their happy one-year (dating!) anniversary on Sunday with a dinner date at Ithaca's stately Statler hotel!

Border for Quilt

Oh, I am so close to finishing! (Just the hand-stitching of the border for the quilt is left since I finished the machine portion today.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Missed My Sister... I went to go find her!

And My Brothers & Allie Too!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Don't Pretend

Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them. Romans 12:9

Earlier this week, a stranger with no home, Lorraine,* was dropped off on the road in front of Bentley Farm. Like many men and women without a home, she was deeply wounded by the hurt of her past to the point of great mental alteration. She was on a journey to Washington D.C. to see if she could secure an audience with the President.

When I picked up Lorraine, I thought that maybe she just needed a quick ride, but when I realized that Lorraine was going to D.C. and that I was going the 1/2 mile up the road to my home for dinner, I figured that I could at least ask her to join my family for a warm meal.

At the dinner table, Lorraine poured out the story of her life beginning with her childhood where she had been the victim of the most horrific and violent crime imaginable. Lorraine went on to tell us of all the hurt that she had caused others because of her own pain. She was raw, honest, real and also terribly confused.

As I listened to the dinner hour confessions, I was completely and utterly baffled about what to do next. I had no idea, absolutely no idea, how to help Lorraine.

It is easy for me to pretend to love. It is easy for me to love at an arm's distance, to drop a few coins in a can, to serve soup on Thanksgiving, to send presents at Christmas. It is easy, far too easy, for me to love out of obligation or duty.

But how do you piece together what is so, so broken? How do you mend what is so torn apart?

When Lorraine finally finished her cake and started to gather her coat to leave with my parents to the bus station, I caught a glimpse of love that wasn't pretend, of love that wasn't obliged, of love that was genuinely and honestly real.

My mom, who has the biggest heart in the whole world, walked over to Lorraine and wrapped her arms around her, and held her. It was a beautiful picture of love that was real, of love that embraced the humanity and worth of an utter stranger. It didn't matter to mom that Lorraine had been living on the streets, that she had committed violent crimes, that she hadn't found a shower for days, that all of her teeth had fallen out and disappeared.

None of that mattered. Mom just held Lorraine and said, "Sometimes you need a hug."

Lorraine didn't let go for the longest time.

* A pseudonym.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What Do the Elderly Offer to Community?

These past two weeks have been so busy as I have been readjusting to teaching. My decreased activity as photojournalist for the BFG may be explained by my increased need to devote myself to my chemistry students. (Click here to see a little bit of what I have been doing.) This post has been one that I have wanted to write for a while, especially as our life has been so meaningfully touched by our newest addition, Maryella.

It was a year ago, this month, that Grandpa Farmer passed away after having lived in our home for the previous eleven months. For those eleven months my grandpa could not speak, he very infrequently opened his eyes, he received all of his nutrition through a feeding tube, he could not bathe or use facilities, and for that matter he really could not move at all.

We aimed to make his life as varied as possible - we took him to meeting with us, he daily sat beside us in his converted lawn recliner/wheel chair for meals and vespers. We so much longed for him to interact with us -we often showed him pictures (for the brief moments that he would open his eyes) of his wedding day as we tucked him in for the night, asking him again and again, "Who's that?" as we pointed to his wife. Once, maybe twice, we could hear him mutter something and if we listened hard enough we thought that we may be able to distinguish the syllables of "E-liz-a-beth." These moments of almost apparent lucidity were very rare and most of the time we could only guess what Grandpa needed to be comfortable.

In all of the moments of offering care to Grandpa, I remember distinctly asking myself again and again, "What meaning does life have in this state?" I remember feeling so certain that life was never without meaning, even when it looked like this, but I could never quite articulate why life's meaning never departed, even when every physical and mental faculty was shut-down.

When Grandpa died a year ago, I think I was first surprised by how much I genuinely missed his presence. Of course I already knew that I missed the gregarious and energetic Grandpa that I knew as a young girl, but I think I was most surprised how I missed the Grandpa that was weak, that didn't talk, that closed his eyes all day and didn't move. Again, I found it difficult to put words to this emotion.

Recently, though, I think I finally found words that have helped me to understand life's meaning, even when it seems like all purpose would be gone. Maryella taught me this lesson in an unusual way; its depth and profundity are now inescapable.

The other evening, as I was helping Maryella get ready for bed, she was sitting on the toilet and I was sitting directly across from her on the bathtub. I was wishing that everything could hurry up so we could move on. This, however, was when Maryella decided to teach me the profound lesson that I had been trying to learn for the past year. She put her elbow on her lap, bent her head down to rest it on her hand and, then, as if she had all the time in the world, said to me, "Now, tell me all of your dreams for your wedding one day."

A quick interruption in this story is necessary to explain that Maryella struggles greatly with short-term memory loss. It is hugely unlikely that any conversation that she has will be remembered unless great effort is taken to reinforce the nature of the conversation. Some people would say that this makes conversation meaningless, but I tend to think otherwise, so sitting on the edge of a bathtub, realizing that I am now settling in for a long conversation, I engage her prompt, "I am going to wear a white dress, and I am going to marry the dearest man in the whole world, and we're going to sing because we are so happy, and I am going to see all of my friends...and you, Maryella, are going to be there. Maryella, tell me about the dress you want to wear to my wedding one day."

And so the long conversation continues; she asks another question and then another. Finally, she lifts her head off her hand, looks at me and says, "Don't you think we better be going?" It was as if we had been sitting long into the evening, not in a bathroom, but in a tea parlor, and the last drop of coffee had long been sipped and darkness was setting in, calling her to bid good-night before returning to her cottage down the little dirt lane.

As we washed up and eventually headed down the hall (not the little dirt lane) to her bed (not her cottage) I realized that I had just been taught the lesson that I had long been waiting to learn: Knowledge will pass away, but love remains.

It is so easy, in an era of information and consumerism, to believe that knowledge and productivity are what define our human existence. Living in community with the elderly teaches you quickly that this is not so. Maryella woke up the next morning with no memory of our long conversation in the bathroom the night before. Knowledge passes away.

But love remains. That's the beautiful part of aging - love doesn't disappear. Maryella will gladly ask me the same question again the next night as we prepare for bed, and just as attentively listen to me tell her about the white dress and the dear man and the singing and the friends, because love remains, even when knowledge is completely gone.

And I realized, too, that this was also the case with Grandpa. He couldn't show me his love, he couldn't even ask me to dream about my "wedding one day," because he could not even speak. But he could let me love him, and in so doing my Grandpa entered into the eternal constancy of the universe.

The eternal constancy of the universe is not knowledge, it is not money, it is not productivity. Love alone is constant eternally. That is what the elderly teach the young. May we not despise their offering.

Duggar Family Laundry Detergent Recipe

All right, I was skeptical... but I just washed my first batch of clothes using soap made from the Duggar family laundry detergent recipe, and I am now a believer!

This stuff is so, so cheap. Rebecca just made 10 gallons for under three dollars! We didn't even add any essential oils and I am convinced that my clothes are just as clean (and good smelling) as they would have been with the Tide that we replaced. Amazing!

Nine Partners Meetinghouse

Today, officially the last day of summer, was also the last day (for the season) of our Sunday meetings at the Nine Partners Meetinghouse. There is no heat at the meetinghouse...

But our accomodations are certainly creative!

Almost Reshingled!

The final stages of reshingling the east side of the house are calling for some advanced height lifting measures! These cedar shingles go up piece by piece, so it is a quite slow process, but the house should be ready and sealed again for winter. Now only part of the north side of the house remains to be reshingled. Good work Nate, Mark and Dad!

Oilfields Training in Rio de Janiero

Nate left one week ago for Rio de Janiero, Brazil where he began his training with Schlumberger, a global oilfields and information services company. He is currently en route to Gadalajara, Jalisco (Mexico) for a four-week Spanish immersion opportunity where he will be living with a local family. Then comes...Reynosa, Tamaulipas (Mexico)where he will actually begin working both on shore and off shore (on a rig in the Gulf). Here's hoping all the best for our world traveller! (The following pictures were taken in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.)

The Babydolls are Growing!

The sheep definitely have devoted themselves to their shepherdess! (Smudge is wearing a coat to hopefully ward off the possibility of early pregnancy as she is potentially fertile but not of strong enough constitution to bear young.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It's a Love Story

What mighty praise, O God...
belongs to You...
We will fulfill our vows to you...
for you answer all our prayers.
What joy for those you choose to bring near...
You faithfully answer all our prayers...
with awesome deeds.
O God our savior,
You are the hope of everyone on earth...
Those who live at the ends of the earth...
stand in awe of Your wonders.
The river of God has plenty of water.
It provides a bountiful harvest...
for You have ordered it so.
From where the sun rises...
to where it sets...
You inspire...
shouts of joy! (Psalm 65)