Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Rose Concepcion Sackett

3 Sep

Rose was my sister-in-love for over two decades. My brother John adored her, and she was a loving, feisty wife to him. Theirs was a true love match. Our family thanks the military for stationing John in the Philippines so he and Rose could meet. She brought delightful diversity into our already expanding family.

There were summers when Rose, John, and Janine would come east to visit the Sackett farm and relatives. Rose and my husband Jay bonded over their common love of fishing. They went fishing together a lot, bringing the rest of us, or the children with them. We ate many a summer meal cooked together fresh from the garden and pond. Rose taught me how to cook small fish whole in water, vinegar, salt, sugar, onions and spices until it fell from the bones and the liquid became a sauce. We ate it with rice and fresh lettuce leaves, making our own wraps. She taught me how to chop vegetables _small_ enough.

Rose love shopping– much more than I do. And she was good at it. When she came to church with us she would like to tell me what to wear– remaking me in her own image. Which was fine with me since I saw her so infrequently. Once, when she knew I was on the worship team and would be singing we went shopping and she insisted on new shoes because everyone would see my feet. Lovely stylish (painful) high heels that I wore only a couple times. Ha!

We shared the joys and trials of raising children. Visits from Auntie Rose and Uncle John and Janine were highly anticipated events. Everything became fun when Rose was here. Rose was a loving doting mother. Janine might say –too doting. Our children were jealous that Rose was her mother, and not theirs. Janine had more fun, and more stuff, and and and…

I am sad that Janine and Rose will not have future years to grow and mature their mother-daughter relationship. But God knows we can not hurry things just because time is short. Janine, you know your mother and your father loved you and made sure to provide for you in their absence. We love you and will be here for you as you grieve and grow and face life without either father or mother.

Rose shared her family history. What a testimony of God’s blessing and mercy towards her and our family! What good gifts God gave to her, and what a gift she was to us.

We prayed together and spoke about dreams and visions and hopes. We cried over our loss of loved ones. God answers the prayers of those who love Him. She mourned the death of John for so many years and prayed to God that she could be with him. I asked her not to do so. It seems to me now God answered her prayer. But she has left Janine and us all behind. Which I am not happy about, but resigned to. We will all miss her terribly.

We watched movies– the last one we watched in a theatre together was ‘Chennai Express’- a silly Bollywood film- when she and Janine came East four years ago.

Rose influenced my parents– her in laws. John Sackett, my father, her John’s father, writes this to share with you all:

“Rose C. Sackett: wife, mother, our children’s sister in law, daughter in law, famous cook, and friend to all that knew her. She had many friends– with many here today. Some twenty four years ago our oldest sons John surprised us with his marriage to Rose. We never thought John would marry. Rose was a fantastic wife and the living mother of Janine. Jean and I are missing Rose for the many occasions she visited our farm home and we visited her home.

Rose wanted a Corvette automobile– and she had one. He weekly or semiweekly card games with friends were legendary! Rose was a definite Christian with all the Christian attributes! We honor her memory. May God, Jesus Christ be with Rose today and always.”


Thank you so much, Sarah


23 Aug

These are not two words I associate each other, and I was surprised when we were served fish.  I should have remembered the photos of the big hauls of large fish my Mongolian friend has caught for in both Kazakhstan and Mongolia lakes and rivers contain numerous fish.  Kazakhstan also has the Caspian Sea as a western border and the Aral Sea in the southwest; there are numerous large and small lakes in the southeast and north.

IMG_0611 We went with our host family to Burabay National Nature Park one weekend.  A three hour drive north from Astana through the steppe on a brand-new six lane highway, it is a summer vacation destination.  Along the highway, in rest stops, parking areas, or just wherever, people come from local villages vending locally harvested mushrooms (pickled) and honey (absolutely delicious). Burabay was full of people.

IMG_0613In one of the bazaars it finally dawned on me that the local lakes were not just for swimming.

IMG_0612These huge crayfish were boiled.  And delicious.

IMG_0839We eventually went swimming at a smaller lake which was not crowded further away through the steppe.   And came back to our rented log home to eat a feast out doors which included dried smoked fish.  Also delicious.

The other event where fish was served was the large gathering of women to celebrate and bless my goddaughter.  During the first course, there were little tarts filled with some cheese and topped with roe and two kinds of cured fish.


The third course was this beautiful presentation:

IMG_1737Salmon on rice in cream with a parley-oil emulsion and roe.  Quite marvelous.

Astana also  has a wonderful Oceanarium, the furthest from any ocean in the world.  One walks through a tunnel with fish enclosing you on both sides and from above.  The fish found in the Oceanarium are not natives.  Nor are they eaten.


There was a man in scuba gear feeding fish when we went.


Growing Up

8 Jul


Below are remarks made at Isaac’s memorial service by Susan Barr.  Susan taught and worked with Isaac in 4-H public speaking, church plays and summer children’s programs among others.

Smile of Christ


Isaac had a smile that was bigger than his face.  Of all the faces in our congregation, Isaac’s reminded me most of Christ.  His eyes were gentle, his face welcoming, his smile genuine.
Isaac was an enthusiastic children’s church worker in middle school.  He was gentle, encouraging, and compassionate.  He loved the younger children and enjoyed being useful.  Isaac was resourceful.  When glitches arose, he was one of the teens who jumped to resolve them.
I saw Isaac often when he came home from college.  He hurried over to chat in church and at Target.  He was cheerful and full of plans.  He still had a big heart, big ideas.  He knew he was disappointing his parents; there was sadness and wonder in his eyes when he said that.  But he thought he could straddle two worlds.
I knew the world was tempting him.
Parents wish our children came with guarantees.  Do these things, follow these steps, and your children will be safe.  Because what we pray for is faithful followers of Christ.  Jay and Deborah were devoted parents: kind, loving, firm, encouraging, creative, fun, sincere.  They got most things right.  Yet the world dazzles.  Our kids get the idea that Christ can be reduced to something small and manageable, folded into their back pocket, or stored on a shelf for later.  That they can manage two masters.
And so Isaac continued with all his gifts, yet walked a path that caused his friends to worry and pray.
Isaac was a talented pianist.  He played Easter services while he was in high school.  I asked him to play last year and his eyes lit up, a joyful yes.  Deborah was surprised and gratified at his faithfulness in practicing.  Easter morning we waited, . . . and Isaac never came.  He slept through his alarm.  This was a snapshot of his life at that moment.  Joy and potential, acknowledgement of Our Savior, yet missed opportunities, disappointments.
Of all the faces in our congregation, Isaac’s reminded me most of Christ.

No Red Efts

13 Jun


The restless wind woke me up early, due in part to a mirroring, echoing turmoil inside me.  This time of year it really is light enough to walk at 5.30AM, so out Hawthorne, Pounce and I went.
The year my brother became ill was when I first really noticed the red efts.  They appeared any warm mid-May  morning in the northern edge of the corn field from the woods.  Damp encouraged, rather than deterred them. Their numbers swelled to a couple dozen eft individuals for a few days, then gradually dropped to single digits, disappearing for another year by the end of June.
My brother’s birthday was June first.  Since his death, it has seemed to me that peak numbers of efts occur around and on this date.  They are tiny blazing bits of color; living, moving, breathing exclamation points.  ”  I am here.  Small, insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  Beautiful.  Dutiful.”
Efts , for me, exude hope and beauty.  They are a blessing-  they bring happiness and joy.  They indicate our lives have purpose and meaning.  God has given me life.  How shall I spend it?
A line in one book  read over a few months this winter still has me thinking: ‘We tend to forget that time is linear, that a new day will come.”
This is so true of me.  Most days it seems time is not marching on, but dragging baggage into today from the days before.  Or from months ago.  Or years gone by.
It may be a new day, but the worries come from a series of yesterdays.
What could I have done differently so we would not find ourselves in this hard place?  Could I have done anything?
We did the best we could, we put one foot in front of the other: how did we come to this bog?
It is now mid-June. There has not been one red eft out in the field-woods boundary.  Nor in the woods.  Each day I scout the ground for one.  I forget to look up at the running clouds and twirling sky, at the newly-dressed trees massing like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in their finest before a concert.  And they are waving to get my attention.
Where are those little sparks of hope?  I keep looking for them thinking they may be what can buoy my spirit with beauty.  And each day almost miss the meadow grass, now blooming and hip deep, or the elderly cat coming through those green waves to be carried and cosseted, or the first poppy popping.
God brings new blessings, new beauties and hopes as time marches on. They may not look like last year’s.  The blessings may come disguised.
At the far end of the field, as I pondered all these things, something caught my eye: a living red-orange exclamation point, a blazing beauty mark  glanced back at me from the dark soil.



19 Jun

‘Chawn’ is a new word I made up.  It has been useful and successful in private use, so it is here presented for public consumption, so to speak.  Equal parts chewed and sawn, with a little of the word broken in the meaning, chawn is an irregular past tense verb indicating the involvement of an active agent and is especially useful in the gardening context.  “Something has chawn those pea plants.”  “Oh, no!  The buds on the pink rose have been chawn off.” “I see the army worms have chawn through that wheat field.”

Please let me know if you find it useful.


The half-sized, darkly colored red eft found wandering on the far side of the corn field from all his fellows was being carried home on my palm for installation in the home garden.  Since it was in an unusual location already, I felt little qualm about relocating it further.  Then I saw the new hatched Black Swallowtail butterfly, with its globular abdomen and not-quite-yet-fully-sized wings on a tall stem of orchard grass and stopped to take a closer look.  The eft saw his chance and took it.  It left my palm and disappeared into the messy understory of the meadow. 


One of the silliest, most time wasting chores I ever encountered was during a summer job working for a professor doing corn photosynthesis research.  Three students were employed by this man one summer.  We spent one whole day planting corn seedlings by hand in rows to mimic a miniature corn field.  The point of this exercise: to make sure the leaves all lined up in the right (the same) direction.  Really.

Anyone besides me ever notice that corn plants align their leaves efficiently all on their own? Even when planted by being flung into the soil willy-nilly by a mechanized corn planter.  Maybe profs in Cornell towers do not have time to notice such trivialities.

Walking daily through a growing corn field and a meadow has given rise to thoughts on political economic and social engineering theories.  Those corn seeds were planned before germination for a specific job: high scale production of dry matter and seed protein. Each seed is equal; the environment for its growth is prepared and maintained by outside governing forces. There are differences among varieties, but within a field there is little to distinguish an individual plant except by negatives: some have been broken off, eaten, chawn by insects or animals. Who cares about individuals, anyway?  A corn field is about the collective, not the individual; a vast uniform green growing in lock step. 

Oh, there are some small bits of interest: intrepid spiders who fling silk across the rows, ant hills, certain winged or crawling insects hunting or eating there.  And some weeds persist; those which are more noxious, which live through the herbicide spray, and which do better without competition. But overall a cornfield is an environmentally uniform sterile sort of place.  It reminds one of descriptions of cities of former Eastern Bloc countries; or of huge drab apartment buildings left behind by the Soviets in Ulaan Baator; large, boring, useful, regular, and regulated.

A meadow, on the other hand, is a delightful, colorful mess of life.  The list of plant varieties found there would go on for a couple pages.  Then we could start on the insects, the birds, the vertebrates, the invertebrates; bird nests and beetles, deer beds and dragonflies, fireflies and field mice. Meadows are constantly morphing. Some plant or other is always in bloom, giving off pollen, in bud, in decline. No plant is ever “equal.” The motto of meadows may be “Variety is the Spice of Life”.  There is no bare soil; something is living on every square inch of it. It is a Mom and Pop store sort of place where one could write unlimited novels on the rise and decline of plant families, their histories, their turf wars with other plants. Those noxious weeds which are the bullies of the cornfield live here too, but only a few; they are usually small and insignificant since they have to compete.  Ah, competition!  It brings diversity and strife and beauty. Each step you take brings different sights to view.  There is never a dull moment, unless you close your eyes and stop your ears and drift off. 

 One could argue, if one were so inclined, that the production level from a meadow living in such beauteous, irregular disarray would be much lower than from a cornfield.  But one would be wrong. Individually, each plant cannot compete with a corn plant for production: individual plants are not meadows.  Meadows are communities made up of myriads of individuals. Meadows, you see, are cut and come again propositions.  Knock them down, bale them up, and they spring right back.  In a good year three cuttings if you so chose.  Repeat each and every year.  The quantity and quality of protein and dry matter can compete with a corn field.  It is not nearly as easy or neat to get.  And that, I think, is what corn fields are best at. Corn fields are a version of what the 99%ers think they want. Every individual plant grows just as high as every other; gets treated just the same as every other. That neat orderly cornfield: one bumper harvest leaves behind stalk stubs, noxious weed seed, and bare soil that will have to be cultivated and replanted before yielding anything more.  Think again, anyone?

And if you wish to take a nap, or hide out from someone, or just enjoy the day I highly recommend a grassy meadow.   A nearly mature corn field is good for hiding.  But not enjoyable; don’t lie down or you will get dirty; you may even get lost because everything looks the same.

Birthday Young Men

11 Jan


Sloughing Off

22 Dec

When growing up and running around barefoot all summer the skin on the bottom of my toes and balls of my feet would peel off after a month of wearing shoes for school.

Since they are at it again that makes me feel like maybe nothing scary is happening.  The trip to Israel and Jordan was a shock for my feet.  Shoes are usually worn on these tootsies only when leaving the house or walking.  On the trip I wore boots from the time I was up until I went to bed.

So now the top half of the bottoms are sloughing off in quite an impressive fashion. Flayed feet. Each night I peel off a bit more from the raggedy edges.  Separate peeling areas are now joining into (relatively) vast new areas of fresh rosy pink skin.

Can you imagine what it must be like to be a snake? The skin of your whole body gets dry and rough and separates; even your nictitating eyelids peel off…

%d bloggers like this: