Monday, December 21, 2015


Regardless of one's theology, this is a rather amazing version of the song....

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


I have been meaning to write about Menno Pause, an "underground" newspaper that came out with two issues during my senior year at Goshen College.  I was one of the secondary group of folks who helped the primary five with some of the grunt work.  The five were the intellectual voice of the paper and the rest of us helped with printing, graphics, ideas for articles, etc.  Four of the five signed both issues of the paper, and not long after the second issue, they were all kicked out of school - Sam Steiner, Jim Wenger, Lowell Miller and Tom Harley. 

Jim Wenger, Tom Harley,  Sam Steiner & Lowell Miller

I write now because Sam Steiner recently wrote an article reflecting on his role in the publication of Menno Pause, an underground newspaper at Goshen College.  Read the whole article here.

A couple of clips from Sam's article:

 Jim Wenger was the intellectual leader of our little band.  He had studied the growing phenomenon of underground newspapers in spring 1967 for the Communication and Society course. He was a convinced adherent of the free speech movement, and wished for a living example at Goshen College. He also wanted to shake his “egghead” reputation because he had a near 4.0 grade average.

Jim drafted our purpose statement thusly: “The Menno-Pause is a gadfly (poking and prodding the GC sacred cows), a watchdog (checking and analysing disciplinary action), a critic (positive or negative analysis of GC education), an extended student opinion board–and general all-around crap.” We characterized ourselves as the “campus underground newspaper team.”

In early September the five of us began to plan, mostly in Yoder 201, often against the backdrop of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” By September 10 we were serious about producing an underground paper. Tom gave us the name of the paper. We co-opted others to help. They included Carol Beechy (women’s perspective), Doug Swartzendruber (design), Eric Yoder, and Bill Horrisberger.  We delegated Jim and Lowell to give Sue Clemmer a “head’s up” that our alternative publication was coming.

 I would encourage any of you with an interest to read Sam's entire article and the comments, as well as the linked article by Dan Hess who was a Professor of Communication at the time.  I added this comment to Sam's article:

Sam – thanks for sharing this reflection, and bring back many memories of our years at Goshen College. I indeed helped with the graphic of Menno Pause, and some of us secondary MP-ers helped with various aspects of the publication. My recollection was that one of the issues was printed after-hours at the Menno Travel Service offices downtown, with the help of Will Poyser and an MTS employee.

Jim Wenger was my assigned roommate for our freshman year; sort of the odd couple. Jim was very bright, a talented piano player and no particular interest in sports – me, average intellect, OK guitar player and always ready to play basketball, or whatever. We got along fine, but lined up new roommates for our second year. In retrospect, it is clear that Jim was dealing with his sexual identity in 1964. He would occasionally peruse a Playboy and had numerous dates with college girls, but did not seem particularly comfortable living that role. While it saddens me deeply that he as well as others such as Eric Alderfer, could not express their innate identities at Goshen, I was pleased that Jim was able to find a loving long term partner in Peter.

I have dug out my two issues of Menno Pause and also a manuscript by Stacy Vlasits who wrote a book entitled “The Menno-Pause Incident At Goshen College. And thanks for the reference to the Dan Hess article – both interesting and illuminating.

A few more thoughts:

Another recollection of Jim was that he was very fond of his mother, but not so much of his father who was a minister in Pennsylvania who no doubt had a very unaccepting view of homosexuality.  Goshen College's expulsion of the four ended what I believe would have been a stellar academic career for Jim.

A nickname for President Mininger was Pious Paul, and one late evening we spent a fair amount of time writing on the wooden fence surrounding the construction site of the Good Library outlining all of the things that Pious Paul Prevented [all starting with P].

A nickname for Sam was Pig-Pen, not disparaging but rather for his resemblance to the lovable Pig-Pen in the Peanuts cartoons.

Lastly, I, perhaps incorrectly, put part of the blame on Goshen College for the premature deaths of Jim and Eric Alderfer and perhaps others whose struggles with sexual identity could not be acknowledged and openly discussed.  By GC, I mean all of us because even though some of us were supportive of the expelled gang of four, there likely was more that we could have done on their behalf. 

Friday, November 20, 2015


Raise your hand if you are familiar with the Doctrine of Discovery, and add a comment about when you learned about it.  I am almost 70 and am pretty sure that I never learned about this in school.  We all learned the story of Custer's Last Stand, but we certainly did not learn about the Trail of Tears, Wounded Knee or Sand Creek.  After over 500 years of this immense injustice, I will join the call to have the Doctrine repudiated.  There is no way to make compensation or to reverse past injustices, but certainly we can acknowledge the travesties that grew out of the doctrine and try to head down a more just path.

The graphics will begin with a bit of commentary and then move on to a few examples of the results of the Doctrine of Discovery.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

MENNONITES LEAVING THE CHACO*kn6gMNtG*gD811Y*hyZvby96TY9r1Dg2YND2Sl-X5ARcTGjRfVgi75EehZ5jnoHsdeVeWoMDNg04eWYnf3blt/grancomunidadmenonitamexicovaloraemigrarLN2ToWs.jpg

For a long time, I have been aware of the Mennonites who migrated to Mexico to live and farm in The Chaco and elsewhere.  A nice summary is here.  Locations shown below.

Mennonite/Anabaptists have a long history of migration, generally to avoid conflict and religious persecution, but also to find new land for farming and family living.  The New York Times recently had a lengthy article about the Mennonites in Mexico, and of the conflicts there, and once again, looking to move on after many decades in Mexico.

Read the article given in the link, most of which is copied below:

 RIVA PALACIO, Mexico — On the edge of a high plain fringed by craggy sandstone hills, Johan Friesen’s small farm is a testament to the rural providence of his Mennonite people.

Neat fields of onion, soybean and yellow corn stretch behind his concrete and adobe house. In the farmyard, a few dozen cows stand in a corral, ready for milking, and a canary-colored reaper awaits repair. But beneath this valley of orderly farms in the center of Chihuahua State, the picture is less than serene, officials and farmers say.

Underground reservoirs have been drained by thirsty crops, like corn, that are the mainstay of the Mennonites’ success, they say. Competition for groundwater — which officials have warned could run out in 20 years — has strained relations between the pacifist, Low German-speaking Mennonites and other farmers and, on occasion, incited violence.

In Chihuahua, nearly a century after the Anabaptist Mennonites migrated from Canada and transformed this valley into a lush carpet of crops, hundreds are trading the land they call home for one where land is cheaper and water is more plentiful.

“People say the water is going to run out,” said Mr. Friesen, 44, who in the spring will join 25 Mennonite families who have begun a new colony in central Argentina. “Without water you can’t grow anything.”

Santa Rita, in Mexico’s Mennonite heartland, is a colony of one-story, pitched-roofed homes, clipped lawns and straight roads — a world away from a typical Mexican village.

On a recent Saturday, perhaps the loudest noise was that of a lawn mower, steered by a young woman wearing a long dress and a straw hat.
For all their good husbandry, though, Mennonite farmers have been prodigal consumers of groundwater, experts said.

“Water has been a source of wealth in Chihuahua, and while that wealth lasts, people are not thinking about how much they are using,” said Arturo Puente González, an agricultural economist.

Still, it was “very unfair” to blame the region’s water problems on the Mennonites, said Kamel Athié Flores, the head of the Chihuahua branch of the National Water Commission, known as Conagua, which regulates supply. He pointed to city dwellers and big non-Mennonite farms that produce apples and pecans — also thirsty crops.

Cornelius Banman, a farmer from the Manitoba colony, about 50 miles south of Santa Rita, said nobody complained about the pecan farmers because they were of Mexican descent and, unlike Mennonites, who do not vote, had political clout.

 “They look on us as foreigners,” he said.

The Mennonites live apart in their colonies and rarely marry outside, though they pay workers above-average wages. The most conservative eschew electricity and other devices that would link them to the outside world.

Others use WhatsApp, a messaging application, and research land prices on the Internet, but they discourage distractions like Facebook.

The women speak little Spanish, and children are raised for a “wholesome” rural life, attending Mennonite schools until eighth grade.

The Mennonites began digging wells for irrigation in the 1980s, said Víctor Quintana Silveyra, a sociologist and politician in Chihuahua City who has studied local water use. As their population grew — they estimate their number at 60,000 — they used credit from Mennonite banks to buy land in the desert and to install irrigation systems. Since 2000, irrigated land in Chihuahua has doubled, to about 1.3 million acres, and farmers are pumping water at an “exploitative” rate, Mr. Quintana said.

Farmers said wells had to be dug three times deeper today than they were 20 years ago, a process some cannot afford. To slow extraction, the government in 2013 ruled that all new wells require a permit.

“I can see a point, in my lifetime, when the water here is finished,” said Luís Armando Portillo, a farmer who is the president of the Technical Committee of Groundwater in Ciudad Cuauhtémoc.

A group of activists known as El Barzón has campaigned to shut down illegal wells and break dams on Mennonite land. Joaquín Solorio, a Barzón activist whose parents had to sell their cattle after their well, next to a Mennonite farm, dried up, said the group had lodged complaints about illegal water use. “It’s not just Mennonites,” he said.

Defending water rights can be deadly in Chihuahua, where links between organized crime, mining and farming are murky. Alberto Almeida Fernández, a former politician who protested against illegal wells and against a Canadian mining project, died after he was shot in February. Two other activists, Mr. Solorio’s brother and sister-in-law, were killed in 2012. The police have yet to solve the crimes, and members of Barzón — three of whom have state police escorts — discard a Mennonite connection. But the deaths have added to tensions.

“You think about buying land, and then you think, ‘I don’t want problems,’ ” said Johan Rempel, a leader of the Manitoba colony who is looking for land overseas for about 100 families.

In some ways, the Mennonites’ migration is another turn of history. Those who moved to Mexico from Canada had fled persecution in Russia. Over the years, some settled in other parts of Mexico, and conservative groups broke from the Mexican colonies and moved to Bolivia, Paraguay and Belize.

But with younger farmers facing new pressures — difficulty getting permits for wells, and soaring costs for irrigated land — some predict that they will look to find land elsewhere.

About 50 of the 300 families in Mr. Friesen’s colony, Santa Rita, will move to San Luis Province in Argentina, said Abraham Wiebe Klassen, the head of the colony. Other colonies have looked at land in Russia and Colombia.

The perception that Mennonites are more attached to their culture than to their country irks other farmers.

“Their world is everywhere,” Mr. Portillo said. “They arrive, they work the earth and when they need more, they move on.”

“This is my land,” he added. “My dead lie here. I won’t leave.”

Abraham Wiebe Wiebe, who was preparing to leave for Argentina with his wife and children, disagreed. “I’m 100 percent Mexican,” he said.

Sitting in his kitchen as his wife rolled out cookies, Mr. Wiebe, 49, said he had “lost a lot of sleep” over leaving. “But our children have no future here,” he said.

 Several Mennonite farmers said they were skeptical that Chihuahua would run dry. Water was God-given, one farmer said, and only God could take it away.
“Doesn’t water go in a cycle?” Mr. Wiebe asked. “You pull it from the ground, and then it rains from the sky.”

Others are less sanguine. Nicolas Wall, a Mennonite who farms 700 acres of corn with his brother, worries that there will not be enough water for his children to farm.

“I think there’ll be an end to it sometime,” Mr. Wall said. “But when?”

The real problem lies with the government, farmers and experts said. The water commission is a “den of corruption,” Mr. Klassen said, a place where officials take years to process paperwork and sell well permits for thousands of dollars.

Mr. Athié did not deny corruption, but said the problem was “older than Christ.”

Mr. Puente said Mexico needed to start a national conversation. People are turning to other energy sources, he said, adding: “But there is no alternative to water. Water is water.”

Mr. Friesen will trade such worries for the challenge of starting a new life on the 250 acres he bought in Argentina. Those already there have built some houses and bought cattle, he said. Three babies have been born.

Hard as it would be to leave “the homeland,” Mr. Friesen said, his five children would “put down roots” in a new place. Standing in the dairy barn as his wife, Gertruda, milked cows, he smiled.
“We’re going to create exactly the same world there that we built here,” he said.

Friday, October 30, 2015


 Unless you have been living in a cave, you likely know that the Republican candidates for POTUS gathered in Boulder on Wednesday for their third debate.  CU touted it as a great opportunity for the students, but not surprisingly, CNBC limited the number of tickets to students at about 100, and allowed an audience of only 1000 in a venue that seats 11,000 plus.  Like everyone else in the nation, the CU students had to decide whether or not to watch the debate on TV.  On the morning of the debate, there was an interesting full-page ad in the Boulder Daily Camera - blurb below from here:

BOULDER, Colo. — In an open letter published Wednesday as a full-page ad in the Boulder Daily Camera, 63 Colorado pastors and other evangelical leaders call on GOP presidential candidates to craft respectful, solutions-based messages on immigration.

In a key state for 2016, the letter counters harsh rhetoric toward immigrants from some presidential candidates and other political leaders.

“The immigrant community and our community are one and the same,” the letter states. “Together, for several years we have diligently worked to create space to dialogue and learn from one another about how the broken immigration system has affected our communities, keeping us divided. And, we have come to this shared conclusion: Immigrants are vital in our communities, and we must treat them with respect and dignity. Our laws must reflect that conclusion.”

“So many of us feel that we need to do something to stand up to the negativity around the immigration debate,” said Michelle Warren, an Evangelical Immigration Table leader in Colorado.

 “We are desperate for a conversation that welcomes immigrants with compassion.”

FULL LETTER - slightly better viewed in link as PDFsole Mennonite signator was Vern Remple.

Image could not be found!

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I know, I know, it's been quite a while [although no one mentioned it :-)].  Been quite busy with a new place in the mountains, shifting places in Boulder, etc.  But the eTown YouTube Channel just put up the videos of the Richie Furay and Friends session.  When we saw the initial announcement, we though "Well Furay will be good, and it will be interesting to see who the 'Friends' turn out to be."  Well we were not disappointed - it was a very enjoyable evening with Furay and his daughter,  the Friends Los Lobos and of course the eTown crew .  Below is just one video from the evening; the most iconic of the tunes, but visit the eTown Channel to see many great songs and interviews.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Here is a bit of little known history about my hometown of New Paris, Indiana.  Text taken from an article in the Elkhart Truth here.  I think that nearly all of us New Parisians know about Dwiggins Alfalfa, but likely were not aware of this story.


During World War II, men from Jamaica and other countries came to the U.S. to work on farms. The location of this photo from the Library of Congress is unknown. (Library of Congress)

In an Elkhart Truth article from June 8, 1943, a story chronicles the arrival of 18 men from Jamaica to New Paris. The reason they came to this area was to work at the Dwiggins and Sons alfalfa farm. The company, which ground alfalfa into meal for farm animals, was facing a labor problem before the Jamaicans arrived due to many of its workers fighting in World War II. The men were hired as laborers loading alfalfa onto trucks in the field, and unloading them into dehydrators and choppers back at the mill.

This piece of our county’s history is a small example of a much larger movement that took place throughout the country in order to keep food production during World War II going.

During World War II, the Farm Security Administration (FSA), first established as a New Deal program to assist rural poverty, looked to other nations to employ men to work on farms across the country. We all remember the stories of women entering the workforce as men were fighting in Europe or the Pacific, but there were still some jobs that people believed were too hard for women at the time. Farm work was one of those types of jobs. The U.S. government recognized that with many men being sent off to fight, farming and food production would suffer. They knew they needed to act in order to keep fueling the war effort by producing food and products for the nation.

To solve this problem, the FSA reached agreements with neighboring countries to send men to the United States to work on farms — in total, about 300,000 workers from Canada, Mexico, Barbados and Jamaica came to the United States and were sent to farms all across the county.

One group that worked in New Paris entered the country by way of New Orleans May 1, 1943. They were then sent to an old CCC camp in Brownstown, Ind., while they awaited job assignments. When they reached New Paris and the Dwiggins farm, John Dwiggins reportedly said the men were excited to work on a contract that was set to expire on Sept. 1, but could have been extended.

The men were required to work eight to 10 hours a day and would be paid overtime for all hours over 40 hours per week. The men, per their contracts, would be paid a minimum wage of $3 a day, but Dwiggins indicated they would be paid more than that. Other than being paid for their work, they were provided a number of benefits. They were provided housing by converting an apple butter plant into barracks that became known as the “Jamaican Ranch.” They also received food and any medical care they required.

Another interesting detail is that in their contracts, the Jamaican workers were required to send $1 of their earnings per day to the Jamaican government. They would send their wages to their families, which would then be turned in to their national government.

The “Jamaican Ranch” is a really interesting footnote in our community’s past that teaches us a new facet of World War II history on the home front. In school we all heard about “Rosie the Riverter” and the large waves of women working in factories, as well as the community drives to collect metal, but the national effort to bring in men from other countries is a largely unknown and fascinating piece of history. Not only did they work, but they shared their cultures with us. Imagine the undocumented stories and interactions that would have taken place in New Paris in 1943 between two groups of people that may not have known much about each other.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


The news was not surprising:

With MennoLink activity slowing to a crawl over the past several years, I have decided it is time to acknowledge that it has served its purpose and end the service.

I plan to turn the lights out on MennoLink at the end of December this year.  Until then, you have time to wrap up any loose ends you may have with topics that are unique to this forum. If there are people you connect with mainly on MennoLink, this is a time to find alternate ways to stay in touch.

The MennoLink bookstore is also closing. We are motivated to reduce our inventory as much as possible over the next several months. Visit

and order online or make Laura an offer by calling 507 427 3105. If it is in inventory, she is likely to accept any reasonable offer (usually there is only one copy of each title in inventory).

Jon Harder
Mountain Lake

When MennoLink was born, it was cutting edge regarding electronic discussions.  It grew and grew, with a variety of subcategories of discussion groups with hundreds of subscribers and many regular participants.  A couple of notables were Charlie Kraybill and Ross Bender, with Barry King as the conservative foil to the more liberal contributors.  As Jon Harder notes, the activity has slowed to a crawl, with presumably folks spending more time at other venues such as FaceBook or their own blogs.  However, I have not found any other forum where there is such a wide and deep discussion as there was at MennoLink.  I will miss it.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


Bizzy suggested that if I write about The Donald, there would be many comments. But, writing about religion might generate even more responses and opinions! So, time for a bit of a rant:

I must admit that I often shake my head in disagreement when I hear or see people thanking their God for a blessing that in my opinion is nothing more than dumb luck, serendipitous circumstance, or privilege. Let me run through some examples:

** I know people who believe that God is blessing them when they find a parking place, or don't run out of gas, or some other trifling thing - no, you were just lucky.  Similarly, if they are well-off financially, it is claimed to be a blessing - no, most likely privilege played an important part.  I find the prosperity gospel reprehensible.

** LeBron James [and countless other athletes] - "I was blessed with a God-given talent..."  No, LeBron, you are basically a genetic anomaly [I will avoid saying a freak of nature].  Walk down the street in Anywhere USA and tell me how many 6'8" 249 pound fellows with an incredible physique you see.  James won a genetic lottery that highly rewards over-sized people with basic coordination.  Admittedly James has skills, but so do I - if I had been 10 inches taller, I believe that I too could have been a basketball star - I blame it on short Ed and short Mary!

** And speaking of countless athletes, how many times do we see baseball players point to the heavens, thanking God for the home run or the winning hit.  Duh - if you think that God blessed you with such a fundamentally useless happening, what does it say about God and the pitcher?  It seems logical that God must have cursed the pitcher if he blessed the batter.  Does God really bless the winners?  Blessing one winner and abandoning countless losers does not seem very God-like.

** And what the hell do people mean when they say/sing God Bless America?  I think that most folks who mouth this really mean, make us prosperous, keep us safe from the foreign hoards, make sure that my version of Christianity prevails, etc.

** This is the one that bothers me the most:  "God blessed me for surviving this tragedy" [pick your tragedy].  Examples are abundant - plane crashes, theater shootings, tornadoes, ad infinitum.  If survival is a blessing, then it follows that all who died were not blessed.  Again, doesn't seem particularly God-like.

So, you are now possibly asking, so what is a blessing from God?  Nothing material, IMHO.  Here is my non-all-inclusive list - unconditional love, grace, forgiveness, reconciliation, justice, mercy, truth, fairness, knowledge, wisdom, joy - hopefully you get my point.

Blessings   :-)

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

MH 118 NEE 606

This is fairly parochial, but most Mennonites and fellow-travelers will be able to decipher the code of this post's title.  MH = Mennonite Hymnal, 118 = "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" in the Blue MH, and 606 is the same hymn in the older Red MH.  As noted in this interesting article, "In the 1969 volume The Mennonite Hymnal, number 606 is a four-part choral setting of the doxology ("Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow") that has become wildly popular among North American Mennonites."  It is not the traditional doxology, but rather a juiced-up version that is sometimes know as the Mennonite "Anthem".  I have included two versions below - the first one is sung in a quicker tempo, which I prefer.  The second is not so much for the song, but for the director, our friend Arlin Buller - note how Arlin really gets in to leading the group at the Rocky Mountain Relief Sale in Rock Ford, Colorado.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


One of the best things about working at Pepperdine was not the work but the play!  There was a stable core of noon-time basketball players, and I tried to make it to as many lunch-bunch gatherings as possible.  Summertime was particularly good because our gang was not competing with the Division I basketball and volleyball teams for court time at Firestone Field House. The "regulars" included Johnny, Aaron, James, Dennis, Rod, John, Mike, Vince, Kevin, Marcus, Lane, Ray and Barry, with a host of others who would sometimes join the fun - like Scott Wong, former star volleyball player at Pepperdine and a pretty good b-ball player as well .  We enjoyed playing so much that sometimes when the Field House was occupied, we would head to the outdoor courts to get our noon-time b-ball fix.  Just a few notes on the players - Johnny was known for his cagey inside moves; Aaron for his long range bombs; James for his very athletic game; Dennis for his incredible shooting; Rod for his determined hustle; John for his day-in day-out consistency; Mike for his Tasmanian Devil approach to the game; Vince for his strong play; Kevin for his patented turn-around jumper, Marcus for his Division I level skills, Lane for his all-around game, Ray for his smooth play, and Barry - well Barry is very tall and uses it well.  In addition to the regulars and semi-regulars, we were often joined by some more well-know locals - I got to play with fellows such as David Duchovny, Taye Diggs, Downtown Scotty Brown and Flea.  Word was that Adam Sandler would come and play now and then, but never did when I was there.  Summer time also brought around some pro players - they did not play with the lunch bunch - but I did rebound for Reggie Miller for about an hour!!  Here is a day in the life of our motley crew!!

Monday, July 27, 2015


Sometimes over the Fourth of July holiday, we travel to Evart, Michigan to help with a 5K race that is organized by Rhonda's brother Ken and sister-in-law Ann.  I previously wrote about Evart and the race here, here and here.  Each time we visit, we go out for a nice dinner after all of the work of the 5K is wrapped up, and this year we went to the Blue Lake Tavern in Mecosta.  

Although it is not particularly special looking from the road, the indoors and patio feature wonderful views of the lake.  Not great resolution on the photo below, but it's the best I could find that was not on Facebook.  FB shuts you down if you copy images from their pages.

Even better than the environs was the food!  Good drinks with craft brews on tap, a wonderful appetizer and a prime rib on special.  Rhonda and Ken went for the prime rib, Ann had a shrimp pasta, and I could not pass up the half-pound of fresh perch!  Flavorful fresh veggies gently cooked and great potatoes - all in all, a wonderful place. 

Although this is the pan-fried walleye, it gives a good idea of the food.

Friday, July 24, 2015


Each morning, I look forward to the cartoons in the Boulder Daily Camera - read most, but skip some that I find neither funny nor insightful.  However, the ones that I regularly read often make me laugh out loud.  This morning's Zits by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman did exactly that, probably because I can hear our children saying this about us!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


When driving along North Broadway in Boulder, we would often note this structure and wonder "What in the world is it?  A home, a museum, a business....."  So I finally got around to Google and see that it is an Art Home.  Link for Swoon Art House here.

Here is a piece of puff from the website - classic Planet Boulder:

An art house/studio for artist, Rebecca DiDomenico.

A transformative art space where expansive art pieces/installations are imagined and created.

A sustainable rammed earth building exclusively run with geothermal and solar energy designed by Rebecca DiDomenico collaborating with architect and builder Mike Moore from tres birds workshop ( building is intended to be an icon in a new generation of urban sustainable residences, using local materials with a focus on renewable resources. Ingredients include rammed earth, concrete, steel, glass and wood from recycled train car sides. The internal open architecture is in keeping with a design philosophy allowing space to encourage creative manifestations of living, such as needed for residence, studio and entertaining for the benefit of the arts and non-profit organizations.

Landscaping was designed in collaboration with Karla Dakin of K.Dakin Design and executed by Brian Carlson of Green Landscape Company ( . Fence and gate designed by Rebecca and fabricated by Mark Castator ( and Rob Hinde of Iron Artisan Ltd. Fountain feature by Brian Pulst of Spa Water Specialists Inc.

The residence is part of The Swoon/BMoCA International Artists Residency, a collaborative that provides international artists with the residence/studio space, resources, time, and freedom to realize expansive works of their imagination. The residency fosters the growth of emerging and established artists by encouraging them to take risks, experiment, and explore their creativity. Selection of artists by invitation only.

The new residence/studio will foster Rebecca’s vision of elevating the community’s cultural involvement, which have been a focus and passion for her personally and through her family’s foundation, the Compton Foundation. These areas include supporting non-profits committed to the environment, reproductive rights, peace and security, with an emphasis on the powerful way that the arts can further the mission and impact of these fields of interest.

Rebecca’s fervent wish is that the presence of Swoon in the North Boulder Art District (Nobo) will encourage other artists to create out-of-the-box ground breaking sustainable residence/studios, as a way to improve the cultural fabric of and thus create expansive experiences for our city.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


For the first time in 69 years, we celebrated Father's Day without the usual call and best wishes to father Ed.

This picture is of Ed overseeing the packing of their home on Kentfield Way as they prepared to move to Greencroft. 

Cousin Mark also noted that he too missed the annual call to Ed. Now I am the 'senior' father in our family, and we had a very nice family get together in Boulder for the day - Elias was the only one missing. Interestingly, the day after Father's Day, I had a dream that dad passed away again, but this time not in the hospital. Dreams are an amazing phenomenon, but that's a subject for another day.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Wednesday, June 03, 2015


In appreciation for his helpfulness, I took a good friend and colleague to lunch at Nobu as a thank you.  We had very tasty food, but that is not the point of this post.  It's about the cars.  Since we drove to Malibu for graduation and the first summer school block, we went to Nobu in our Subaru Impreza with bike racks.  At Nobu, where $10 valet parking is mandatory, the lot was flush with high-end cars, including Teslas which now seem to be de rigueur in Malibu.  When we came out, there was a blue Bentley convertible in the handicapped space - I guess one must have a blue Bentley to go along with the blue handicap parking tag.  I did not take the picture below, but you get the idea - that is not a Mustang horse. 

However, the best part of the whole scene was my friend's response as he looked over the cars and watched our Subaru being pulled up by the valet - he started to sing the Sesame Street song "One of these things is not like the others."  Still chuckle when I think of this.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I previously posted a song by the trio of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, After the Gold Rush.  Here is my favorite song from their album entitled Trio

They say a woman's a fool for weeping
A fool to break her own heart
But I can't hold the secret I'm keeping
I'm breaking apart

Can't seem to mind my own business
Whatever I try turns out wrong
I seem like my own false witness
And I can't go on
I cover my ears, I close my eyes
Still hear your voice and it's telling me lies
Telling me lies

You told me you needed my company
And I believed in your flattering ways
You told me you needed me forever
Nearly gave you the rest of my days

Should've seen you for what you are
Should never have come back for more
Should've locked up all my silver
Brought the key right to your door
I cover my ears, I close my eyes
Still hear your voice and it's telling me lies
Telling me lies

You don't know what a chance is
Until you have to seize one
You don't know what a man is
Until you have to please one
Don't put your life in the hands of a man
With a face for every season
Don't waste your time in the arms of a man
Who's no stranger to treason

I cover my ears, I close my eyes
Still hear your voice and it's telling me lies
Telling me lies

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Those of you who have been around here for a while might remember my previous post about Zuma Jay, found here.  Now that I have been back in Malibu for a few weeks, I again had the chance to play some basketball at Malibu High and Zuma is still kickin' with pretty much the same game as I described.  I likely would not have written again, but then in this week's Malibu Times, Jay joined the ranks of locals who are The Face of Malibu.  Go to the link for the whole story and interview - some excerpts below the portrait. I need to ask Jay what he thinks about the portrait - I think that he is significantly more handsome than this painting :-)

Jefferson ‘Zuma Jay’ Wagner

He’s a surfboard designer, Hollywood stuntman and practical effects specialist. He was the Marlboro Man for seven years. He was on the Malibu City Council and has a degree in law. He does E.O.D (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) for the U.S. Navy. He’s an author with a book at the Library of Congress. 

Sixty-two-year-old Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner is the owner of Zuma Jay Surfboards since 1975 and he designs all of the surfboards himself. He’s been an avid surfer all his life and became Jay from Zuma when he helped build The Whale Watch and first set up his shop next to it. He’s a joint master concessionaire for the Malibu Pier and in his spare time enjoys gardening, playing chess and knife throwing.

The Malibu Times got a chance to sit down with the man who does not text, tweet, use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or any other social media outlet. He believes communication should be done face to face.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Unless you have been living in the hinterland for the past few days, you likely know that Wednesday was David Letterman's last late night show, signing off after 33+ years.  The NYTimes review is here and there are a numerous online videos, etc. 

However, I am not writing about his farewell, but rather about a dream that I had at least 15 years ago - obviously memorable, and it still makes me chuckle.  It goes like this:

Rhonda and I were at the taping of a Letterman show and he asked if anyone was from Indiana [since that's where he is from].  We were the only ones who raised our hands, and thus were invited to stay after the show.  We were escorted backstage to Dave's private dressing room, and we had a nice chat about Hoosier stuff.  Then he said "Why don't you walk with me to the club that I always go to after the show?"  Of course we said yes, and we headed out to the streets of New York City.  We turned into an alley and there was an unmarked door with a small window.  Dave knocked, the window cover opened, and a voice said "Good afternoon Mr. Letterman."  We were very anxious and anticipatory as the door opened - and then Letterman, turned to us and said "Thanks, and we'll see you."  He walked in, we were left outside and I had to think - Classic Letterman!!!

Monday, May 18, 2015


One of the special music pieces at Father Ed's Memorial Service was Abide With Me, sung by a group from the Goshen College Men's Choir.  Sister Kay recorded the group as they practiced before the service [try to ignore the background whispering :-]

 [Not all of these lyrics were sung in the video]
  1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
  2. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
    Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
    Change and decay in all around I see—
    O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
  3. I need Thy presence every passing hour;
    What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
    Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
  4. I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
    Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
  5. Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
    Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
    In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
H/T to Cousin Steve for sending along the video which is also available on YouTube

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


At our father's memorial service, music was the major component.  As previously noted, Ed's most favorite hymn was Children of the Heavenly Father, and naturally we had the congregation sing that song.  Then mother Mary, sister Kay and I each chose a favorite hymn for the service, and mine was Number 26 in the Hymnal:  A Worship Book, Holy Spirit Come With Power. In the video below, the song does not start for a bit, but the intro is worthwhile - Tim is one of the guitar instructors at the Colorado Roots Music Camp, written about here. 
As I have written before, I am a tune person more that a lyric person, so this is among my favorites for the music more so than the words, but the words follow the video.  Another interesting tidbit about the song it is unusual in that Mennonites generally do not sing about the Holy Spirit. :-)

 Holy Spirit, come with power,
breathe into our aching night.
We expect you this glad hour,
waiting for your strength and light.
We are fearful, we are ailing,
we are weak and selfish too.
Break upon your congregation,
give us vigor, life anew.

Holy Spirit, come with fire,
burn us with your presence new.
Let us as one mighty choir
sing our hymn of praise to you.
Burn away our wasted sadness
and enflame us with your love.
Burst upon your congregation,
give us gladness from above.

Holy Spirit, bring your message,
burn and breathe each word anew
deep into our tired living
till we strive your work to do.
Teach us love and trusting kindness,
lend our hands to those who hurt.
Breathe upon your congregation
and inspire us with your word.

Friday, May 08, 2015


A Prairie Home Companion radio show recently did a live broadcast from Sauder Music Hall at Goshen College.  Go to the link here to listen to the entire broadcast or listen to or view select segments of the show.  We were driving down the highway and received a text from our niece that the show was in progress.  We listened to the remainder, but we are glad that the whole thing is available - lots of good music!!

Garrison Keillor leads the audience on “How Great Thou Art.”

Keillor Leading Congregational Singing

Sunday, April 26, 2015

100,000 AND GOING FOR 2

Not sure what makes some folks number-watchers, but the counter on the right side of this page has passed 100,000 Total Pageviews.  Compared to many blogs, that is a piddly number, but for something that does not have a singular focus or theme, it's not too bad [not too bad is a Midwest compliment!]To be perfectly honest, there are some net crawlers that every once in a while happen across this site - this can be seen in the daily graph of visits - a steady stream with a huge spike linked to statistics from some odd-ball place like Russia or Ukraine. 

So keep coming back for a visit now and then, and of course, your comments and opinions are appreciated.

The management.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Not sure where to begin, but the Nuggets are easy targets.  Some of you will remember my rants when the Nuggies fired George Karl, allowed Josh K to run the show, hired a clueless Brian Shaw as the coach, and then fired him, and ended up with a record of 30 and 52.  Let's see now, the last year of coach Karl, they were 57 and 25 and were 38 and 3 at home!!!   Kroenke is still an idiot.  They avoided the cellar in the NBA West because that's where the hapless Timberwolves reside.

Now, I really like the Avs, and I enjoyed watching them throughout their 39-31 season - which I cannot say the same for the Nuggets.  Yes they ended up dead last in their division, but they were in the playoff hunt fairly late into the season.  As opposed to the Nuggets, they actually looked like they knew what they were doing and were working hard to get it done.

One and done - no need to say anything more. 

Not sure where to start here - the Rox are a lot like the Nuggets - you just know that they are not going to be good.  They got off to an unusually good start, winning some games on the road, bull pen pitching well, etc., but anyone with a modicum of sense knew that it would not last.  And it didn't.  They are quickly moving toward the bottom of the NL West, parked at the midway point.  The way that they have been blowing games recently, it won't be long until they are once again cellar dwellers.

Now, should we talk about the losers at CU-Boulder???

Monday, April 13, 2015


This will likely be a rather long rambling post that may not be of interest to many - but - it will serve as a record of some of my personal memories of father Ed.  Also, I will try to add some pictures as time goes on.

Bicycles - I have seen several pictures of a young Ed with his trusty bicycle.  However, one of my first bike memories is of dad riding around our neighborhood in New Paris.  Even after a long day of work, he would often take a short cruise and return via the alley behind our house and down the path from the garage to the house.  His love of bike riding continued through the decades, and he added a stationary bike to his 'riding' so that the winter weather would not keep him from biking.  In his 80's, he would continue to ride on the streets of College Green, wending his way through Greencroft to the Goshen College campus where he could catch the trail that runs south all the way to Bethany Schools.  After a few spills, he gave up the bike but continued 'riding' the stationary bike 8 miles a day.  Even as his legs grew weaker, making walking difficult, he kept up the bike riding.  He would ride his electric scooter over to the bike, ride for many miles, and then scooter back to the Evergreen apartment.  It seemed unusual that dad could barely walk 20 steps but could ride for miles - guess it was because walking required weight-bearing whereas the riding just required leg movements.  The stationary bike made it at least once around the world.  One of the most unusual bikes that dad owned was a French contraption that had a gas motor mounted above the front tire.  The motor could be lowered with a lever and once you got rolling, lowering the motor would engage a friction wheel and start the motor.  You could ride like a regular cruiser bike, or when you needed a break, drop the motor.  We rode many miles on the roads around our place on County Road 142 in New Paris.

Games - Dad was not an avid game player, but he loved to play several games.  For many years, Ed and Mary, Ruth and Romaine Sherman, and Walt and Berdean Wogoman would regularly get together to play the Make A Million card game.  I don't remember the game format, but I do know that it was the men versus the women, and that the men would always cheat and the women would get upset.  More than one game ended with cards being thrown!!  It was during one card game that Shorty Whitehead showed up at our door in New Paris, dripping wet in the pouring rain, to tell us that a tornado ripped through our farm, taking half of the barn and a couple of chicken houses.  Another game that he loved was carom.  Many a Saturday night was spent snapping the shooters to pocket a carom, all the while munching on the huge portion of popcorn that mom would make.  Dad also loved ping pong and pool, and taught many cousins the finer aspects of the games.

Sports - I have almost no memories of dad playing sports.  In his youth, he was apparently a top notch hockey player and he often talked of his love for skating and playing hockey.  I do remember some church softball games in which Ed caught for his top-notch pitching brother Claude.  Ed gave up playing mainly because of his tendency to pull a hamstring muscle - seems to be a Swartzendruber trait!  One of my fondest memories related to sports is how he and mom were faithful attendees at all of my sports events.  It did not sink in to me until much later in life what a significant effort that was - to work hard all day and then head out to a basketball game in Middlebury or a baseball game at Jefferson or .....  He did like to swim, but I think it was more about sitting in the sun than about swimming.  He continued his sun-sitting throughout his years, often catching a nap while soaking up the rays.  Even at Evergreen, he would ride his scooter outdoors to a favorite spot, protected from the wind and facing the sun.

Chicken - Dad was well-know as both a chicken farmer and a chicken barbeque-er.  We had three large chicken houses, and sometimes he would lease others. One year he raised almost 500,000 chickens.  I and a lot of other young fellows spent many nights waiting for the dark to settle in to catch and crate chicken.  After tripping over many feeders, I finally figured out that my night vision is not too good!  For a couple of years, Ed figured out that he could make a little bit more money by selling some of the chickens as 'started pullets' ready for egg-laying.  On Saturdays, we would fence in a bunch of chickens, catch and crate them, load up the pickup and head out for delivery.  Since the days started quite early, dad would get sleepy on the trip back to New Paris.  We both drifted off one time heading north on IN-15 south of New Paris.  Fortunately, we veered slowly to the right and the bouncing truck woke up both of us - and thankfully that only happened once.  Many of you reading this have tasted Ed's BBQ chicken, and suffice it to say that I carry on the tradition with the same type of grill, same techniques and same sauce recipe.  Whenever we fire it up and the chicken begin to cook, the neighbors all come out for a 'look' :-)  Another chicken-related memory is again related to dad's entrepreneurship - he decided that he could make a bit of extra money by installing automatic feeders for large chicken houses.  So many a time, we would take the pick up to Zeeland, MI, get all of the parts, and head back to IN for the installation.  We could usually get it all one in one day.  Another interesting fact was that our collie dog got along just fine with baby chicks - whenever we would get a new batch of chicks, Queenie would lay in the house on the fresh straw and let the chicks roam around her.

Corn - Ed was the Elkhart County Corn King [and I was once the Junior Corn King, but only because the five acres that I entered in the contest turned out to be quite good - dumb luck].  As noted in the Narrative, dad was the first local farmer to install irrigation, and it was not too long before most other corn farmers joined in.  The main crop on the farm was corn, but we always had some wheat or oats primarily for the bales that we used for chicken house bedding.  I had the 'unique' opportunity of both spreading out the fresh bedding for a new round of chicks, and then shoveling out the old bedding after the chickens had been sold.  One year, dad was convinced by someone that there would be more money in tomatoes that in corn.  That was generally a disaster and lasted one year - or as Ed would often say, he did that twice - the first time and the last time!  Our first irrigation system used moveable piping, and I spent many days laying down and taking up piping.  It wasn't until that I was off to college that dad bought an automated irrigation system that did not require moving pipe.  Dang.

Giving - this section could be quite long, but many of you out there are well aware of Ed's generosity and I don't need to expand.  From a small loan to a niece to a grand piano for Goshen College to regular donations to College Mennonite and the missions of the Mennonite Church, dad was a dedicated giver.  He never really talked much about why he gave, but my sense is that he took Matthew 25 quite seriously and felt that he should share his prosperity.  He would likely say that what you believe is not in the words you say but in the life you live.  Dad also gave of his time, often using his skills as a butcher to help out with the MCC Caning Project or Relief Sale.  He loved the Mennonite Church - growing up we attended Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services as well as Sunday School and youth programs - and he was particularly fond of the four-part a cappella singing.  A side note on singing - dad learned to read music by shape notes - different notes for do-ra-mi, etc.  A nearly lost art.  The only memory that I have of dad talking about his faith was when he developed colon cancer and had cancer surgery [some of you remember that Ed and Mary went to the hospital at the same time for their cancer surgeries, about 18 years ago].  Dad would say "I told the Lord that if I survived and recovered, I would give away one half of everything that I earn every year."  And, he kept his promise.

Some of Ed's Favorites

Esau Wood sawed wood. Esau Wood would saw wood. All the wood Esau Wood saw, Esau Wood would saw. In other words, all the wood Esau saw to saw, Esau sought to saw. Oh, the wood Wood would saw! And, oh the wood-saw with which Wood would saw wood! But one day, Wood's wood-saw would saw no wood, and thus the wood Wood sawed was not the wood Wood would saw if Wood's wood-saw would saw wood. Now, Wood would saw wood with a wood-saw that would saw wood, so Esau sought a saw that would saw wood. One day, Esau saw a saw saw wood as no other wood-saw Wood saw would saw wood. In fact, of all the wood-saws Wood ever saw saw wood, Wood never saw a wood-saw that would saw wood as the wood-saw Wood saw saw wood would saw wood, and I never saw a wood-saw that would saw as the wood-saw Wood saw would saw until I saw Esau Wood saw wood with the wood-saw Wood saw saw wood. Now Wood saws wood with the wood-saw Wood saw saw wood.$GALLERYLARGE$
 The Chief

Everything is copacetic!