A Fall

Last night, I watched myself fall in the mirror.

I had tried to stand next to the sink to brush my teeth, but something came over me. I wasn’t really lightheaded, and I didn’t black out–I just ceased to be a participant in my ability to physically function. I became merely an observer. Continue reading “A Fall”

Writing on Weakness and a Hospital Stay

It’s been hard to write lately.

When I poise my fingers over the keyboard, I squint, trying to focus on individual letters. Instead, words swim in front of me. Sometimes, my hands weaken, and I can barely move my fingers. My typing speed is slower than usual.

Sitting upright, bookcases drift right and left, and the kitchen table jolts backwards and forwards. I feel nauseous.

I try standing, but sometimes, I need help to rise from the couch. Walking means lilting to one side, crashing into door frames, stumbling, losing sense of reality, and nearly pitching headfirst into the side of the car.

I briefly tried medication, but it sent me into a mental spin, and I couldn’t make it past the first hymn last Sunday morning. We left the assembly and drove home.

I’ve barely driven for the last month and a half, relinquishing the steering wheel after dizziness advanced so suddenly during one trip to town that I couldn’t see the road. I pushed myself to drive through the woods to a safe pull-off overlooking the West Union Covered Bridge and sat in the shade for 45 minutes, nervously scrolling through Twitter to take my mind off of what had just happened.

After a month of this, double vision set in. Mysterious leg pain I’d previously attributed to wearing old work boots crept in again. I was convinced to go to the emergency room.

There, a bomb dropped: “We’re looking at M.S.” Continue reading “Writing on Weakness and a Hospital Stay”

I Moved, Christmas Music, and Philosophical Questions

I Moved, Christmas Music, and Philosophical Questions

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October sunset.

Blogging, oh blogging. Why have I neglected you for so long? 

Actually, I can answer that pretty easily: I moved.

For a little while, I lived in a town north of here, and it took 15 minutes to get to the farm. That doesn’t sound like much for any other job commute, but for the way I like to work, it was a lot of driving. I’d go to chores, go home, eat breakfast, go work on the farm again, go home. Most days, I’d just pack up everything I needed and worked online at my parents’ house. (I stayed disconnected at my old house.)

But then, a house opened up close to my family and the farm, so I moved back down here.

And I got Internet. Continue reading “I Moved, Christmas Music, and Philosophical Questions”

“If We Want to Save the Land, We Must Save the People”: Wendell Berry and Uplifting Rural Communities

“If We Want to Save the Land, We Must Save the People”: Wendell Berry and Uplifting Rural Communities

Continued from “Thoughts on Letters to a Young Farmer: Addressing Common Assumptions About Agriculture and Farming.” 

The essay by Wendell Berry had been written as a 2013 speech to the organization Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and reprinted in one of his books of essays two years later. The speech was then reprinted in the book Letters to a Young Farmer: On Food, Farming, and Our Future, where I discovered the words.

Berry is a Kentuckian whose writing can apply to rural areas across the United States. His writing is filled with advocacy for the farmer, the profession of farming, rural communities, and nature. I hadn’t read many of his essays before this, as I had trouble getting through them — not because the writing was difficult, but because I kept saying, “Yes!” to much of what he said and wanted to write it all down for future reference. I would begin scratching lines until I discovered I was about to copy an entire 20-page essay.

One reason Berry’s writing resonates so well is his frequent discussion on the connectedness of people and the land:

“…we must not speak or think of the land alone or of the people alone, but always and only of both together. If we want to save the land, we must save the people who belong to the land. If we want to save the people, we must save the land the people belong to….All of us who are living owe our lives directly to our connection to the land. I am not talking about the connection that is implied by such a term as ‘environmentalism.’ I am talking about the connection that we make economically, by work, by living, by making a living. This connection, as we see every day, is going to be either familiar, affectionate, and saving, or distant, uncaring, and destructive.” (p. 96)

Continue reading ““If We Want to Save the Land, We Must Save the People”: Wendell Berry and Uplifting Rural Communities”

My Parents Know More Than I Thought

One of my fondest memories of my father is from when I was 13 years old. We were standing outside the barn door after working together on a fencing project. I stood at his left-hand side, and he looked down and said, “That’ll do, pig.”

I grinned as I looked up through my massive owl-eyed glasses that took up half of my face.

Perhaps the addition of “pig” at the end of that sentiment sounds strange, but our family had recently adopted several phrases from the cult classic Babe: The Gallant Pig. We had seen the movie for the first time recently (I read the book later) and loved it, despite its agricultural inaccuracies (taking sows away in the manner the movie depicts in the beginning makes no animal care or economic sense to a farmer).

So the phrase “Well done, pig,” was some of the highest praise I could receive. Continue reading “My Parents Know More Than I Thought”

Brownies, the Most Beautiful Marquee Ever and Almost Crying in Walmart

Brownies, the Most Beautiful Marquee Ever and Almost Crying in Walmart

We are at last into Christmas break. Yesterday was our final day before a week and a half of staying home and eating a lot of cookies. As always, I will have to do some grading, but I will at least be able to do so at my own pace, a little each day.

Monday was a nice, relaxing day at work because I stayed in one place rather than traveling between school buildings. Last week, I graded stacks of homework as students worked on their final projects, and I felt more at ease because I had all that done.

During third hour, my 8th graders were quite comical. Continue reading “Brownies, the Most Beautiful Marquee Ever and Almost Crying in Walmart”

I didn’t take a picture of the sunset tonight.

Written Tuesday, November 24. 

I didn’t take a picture of the sunset tonight.

And that’s an unusual statement for a landscape and farm photographer to make.

It could be said that the reason was I only had a camera phone and the focus has not been cooperating for the last few weeks.

But I have been making it work and certainly could have made it work again.

It could be said that I didn’t take the picture because the colors don’t turn out right on my camera phone. The brilliant oranges are dulled, the deep pinks are washed out, and the entire picture gains a harsh tinge of yellow that shouldn’t be there.

But I could have edited the picture on my computer.

No. The real reason I didn’t take a photograph was this: Continue reading “I didn’t take a picture of the sunset tonight.”

From Substitute Teacher to Full-Fledged Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor

From Substitute Teacher to Full-Fledged Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor

Shooting Star by Juskteez Vu
Shooting Star by Juskteez Vu

On our way home from the district FFA kick-off last night, I saw a shooting star.

I leaned back in my bus seat and smiled. Shooting stars, to me, have always meant hope, home, life, God is listening. Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved looking up at the sky, especially after the chores were done on the coldest winter nights, and spying the showers of shooting stars streaking across the black bowl above.

And last night’s was a long one, burning bright for several seconds before fading out, far away. Continue reading “From Substitute Teacher to Full-Fledged Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor”

The Gift

The Gift

How do I love God? How do I prove my love for God? By doing beautifully the work I was given to do, by doing simply that which God has entrusted to me, in whatever form it may take.

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Photo taken by my grandfather.

I started baling hay when I was ten. My first job was dragging bales toward the back of the wagon. Then someone decided I was better off in the driver’s seat of our Massey Ferguson 1100. So I learned how to inch the tractor forward through the hay field next to a school classmate’s house with the New Holland square baler and wooden hay wagon attached. Turns were tricky, but I got through them with my dad’s help. “Take it wide!” he’d yell from the wagon, hands framing his mouth. “Swing it.”

So I did, and even though there were trees on the edge of that field, I went on through without much commotion. I soon took pride in my ability to let out the clutch gently without making the crew of cousins and other high schoolers stumble. Continue reading “The Gift”

The Fun, the Crazy and the Touching: Memorable Moments from Substitute Teaching

Singing “Yankee Doodle,” studying the physics of Frisbees and reading stories were just a few memorable moments from substitute teaching this past school year. Throughout my experiences, I posted several statuses about my adventures on Facebook. I’ve wanted to gather them all in one place for a while and have now recorded them all here for a memorable look at my random and crazy brain that manifested itself while substitute teaching.

December 5

First substitute teaching gig today. Here’s to remembering to call myself Miss Brown….

December 12

Wow. Elementary students who are IU fans sure make it known they don’t like your old gold and black winter cap.

December 15

Science and English focus in the elementary today, which meant that I showed a Bill Nye video on atoms and molecules, played the New Periodic Table Song (all of the elements to the tune of “Can-Can”), challenged the students to a game of “Write the Periodic Table Element Symbol on the Board,” talked about Toledo’s water ban this past summer from the algal blooms on Lake Erie and showed a video of the blooms from when I went up to Lake Erie last year. The students especially asked questions when it looked like something might blow up (e.g. Bill Nye demonstrated nitroglycerin…sort of). All of that combined meant that, when I was making a pizza crust tonight and poured vegetable oil at the bottom of a plastic bowl, I wondered, “What would happen if I had a match? Would the vegetable oil explode?”

(One commenter said, “Only if it’s…Vegetable…Oil…of SCIENCE!”)
Continue reading “The Fun, the Crazy and the Touching: Memorable Moments from Substitute Teaching”