Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

My first Wiley Cash novel will not be my last. Cash is a wonderful storyteller, entertaining while enlarging our knowledge. The story is compelling, the characters wonderfully drawn and real, the theme relevant.

The Last Ballad is the fictionalized story of the 1929 labor movement to unionize the mills of North Carolina. Ella May Wiggins struggles to provide for her family, working 12 hours a night, six days a week, for $9 a week. She lives in Stumptown, the black part of town, and her neighbor Violet is her friend and support.

Ella is drawn to the Union for the dream of a living wage, the ability to feed and clothe her children. The Northern organizers decide that Ella is the perfect 'face' for the local movement. Discovering that she sings and has written a ballad called The Mill Mother's Lament*, the organizers put Ella on the payroll.

Ella finds courage and discovers leadership skills. Her ballad brings her fame, and she goes on to write protest songs for the Union movement.

The mill workers go on strike. Joining the Union and going on strike is a hardship, and as known members of the community they are easily targeted. In 1929, unions were considered 'Red', socialist, communist, and most of all, anti-American. Ella complicates things--she wants to organize the African American mill workers into the movement. The Council attacks the platform of equality and laws against lynching, warning that the Union will destroy the Constitution, the church, and the justice system.

"We ask every man and woman in Gaston County to answer the following question: Will I allow these communists to gain control of Gaston County...? The time is at hand for every American to do his duty." Gaston Transom-Times, Thursday, April 4, 1929. From The Last Ballad

The union organizers are Northerners. Although their lives are threatened, they also can leave town when things get hot. Hampton, an African American Pullman porter, member of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and a Socialist, arrives to assist organizing the black workers. He is not trusted by the black community and is considered another 'outside agitator' by the  Council, a coalition of community leaders and police determined to squash the union. He is shocked to see the white mill workers living in dire poverty.

Ella works for the Loray Mill, whose owner is not an unjust man, although a clueless man who has never taken the time to question how things are. He thinks he does well by his mill workers and considers himself progressive. He is pressured to contribute funds to the Council. His wife, however, is compelled to understand. She befriends Ella without revealing her identity.

The Confederate Solders Reunion celebration in Charlotte on June 7, 1929 stirred the emotions of Albert Roach. Too young to have fought in WWI, he longs for valor and a chance to be important. He sees his chance to fight communism at home-- the Loray mill strikers. In a drunken rage, he violently lashes out in the crowd, which mostly consists of women, all become the enemy in his drunken and disordered mind.

The novel leads up to a thrilling and horrifying climax.

Cash brings us inside all the characters and sides of the story, so we understand how these characters came together on June 7 and its devastating events. I am grateful to have received a free book through Bookperk Page Turners.

*The Mill Mother's Lament

We leave our homes in the morning,
We kiss our children good-bye,
While we slave for the bosses,
Our children scream and cry.
And when we draw our money,
Our grocery bills to pay,
Not a cent to spend for clothing,
Not a cent to lay away.
And on that very evening
Our little son will say:
“I need some shoes, Mother,
And so does Sister May.”
How it grieves the heart of a mother,
You everyone must know.
But we can’t buy for our children,
Our wages are too low.
It is for our little children,
That seems to us so dear,
But for us nor them, dear workers,
The bosses do not care.
But understand, all workers,
Our union they do fear.
Let’s stand together, workers,
And have a union here.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Detroit Institute of Art: Church & Monet

From the exhibit: Monet Framing Life
This week we previewed the new exhibits at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Church: A Painter's Pilgrimage presented his Old World paintings that explored human history in the Middle East, Athens and Rome. Monet: Framing Life highlights Monet's life in Argenteuil between 1871 and 1878, the background of the DIA's painting Rounded Flower Bed, often called Gladioli. Since Monet and Church are two of my favorite painters, I was excited to see the exhibits!
Add caption
from the exhibit Church: A Painter's Pilgrimage

Monet portrait by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Monet painting of his hometown Argenteuil. Note the factory smokestacks on the horizon.

The Monet exhibit included paintings by Monet of his home in Argenteuil.

Argenteuil in winter scene
Side displays explained how paint was made and the kind of easel Monet used for his open air painting. Originally minerals and other color sources were hand ground and mixed with linseed oil to make oil paint.
The paint was stored in, literally, pigs bladders!
When Monet painted his house and garden he chose a view that did not show how built up the suburb was.

When Renoir painted Monet painting the above painting, he showed the other houses in the background.

The Detroit Museum of Art has one Monet in its permanent collection, Rounded Flower Bed. It shows Camille Monet in their garden.

Frederic Church and family toured the Middle East and Mediterranean in the late 1870s. While his paintings in North and Central America focused on the sublime and nature, including Niagara Falls and the Mexican volcano Coxtopaxi (which painting is in the DIA's permanent collection), these paintings were an exploration of history and ancient cities. The architecture and art he viewed influenced him to incorporate elements into his masterpiece Oloana, his home overlooking the Hudson Valley.

One of the larger paintings in the Church exhibit shows Jerusalem.
Forground details of olive trees and the rocky ground

This painting shows Church in conversation in the right foreground and the poet Whittier and his daughter under the arch.

Nature vs the manmade. Human work is fleeting, but nature is eternal.
These photographs cannot do justice to Church's masterful skills.

The Monet exhibit ends March 4, 2018. The Church exhibit ends January 15, 2018. The gift store items that accompany these exhibits include wonderful one of a kind items. I drooled over Monet inspired hand painted shades on glass or cement lamps!

Read about Mad Enchantment by Ross King on Monet's later career painting the Water Lilies during WWI at

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Accidental President: How Truman's First Four Months in Office Shaped the World

"Never had fate shoehorned so much history into such a short period." The Accidental President, A. J. Baime

His first response was "No." Truman did not want the position of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's new Vice President.

But FDR commanded it, and Harry S. Truman had to agree.

FDR was not a well man when he took office for a fourth term. And when he died on April 12, 1945, Truman said, "the whole weight of the moon and stars fell on me."

"Who the hell is Harry Truman?"

The Accidental President by A. J. Baime focuses on Truman's first four months in the presidency, portraying Truman as an unknown 'Everyman' kept out of FDR's loop, but who quickly gained the nation's trust and approval while tackling huge challenges. He came into the job with only a layman's knowledge of international politics but scrambled to catch up. Monumental decisions awaited.

Baime offers a condensed biography and profile of Truman and a detailed recreation of his first four months in the presidency. It is daunting to consider what this failed businessman with a high school degree had to contend with! His straight talking, systematic thinking, and unpretentious style was refreshing and his staff was surprised, and appreciative, of his competence.

When Truman took office, the U.S. Army was fifty-seven miles from Berlin. General Dwight Eisenhower had discovered the horrors of  Nazi death camps. General LeMay was ruthlessly firebombing Japan, while Japan was sending out mass suicide missions of Kamikaze pilots. Iwo Jima was captured but a third of the American landing force had died.

The Soviets had suffered huge losses battling the Nazis. They wanted payback. Liberating Poland and Austria, they installed puppet regimes. Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote, "An iron curtain is drawn down upon their front."

What to do with Germany had to be decided. Already the Soviets were plundering, hauling away everything they could. If the Soviets joined in war against Japan, they would want a part of Japan, too. Truman could not allow a Soviet presence in Japan.

All of Central Europe's infrastructure had collapsed. Seven million persons were displaced without food or coal for heating. Children suffered from malnutrition.

Yugoslavia wanted a piece of Italy. Chaing Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung had divided China.

The United Nations was yet to be organized, it's future unknown.

Would the U.S. recognize the new state of Israel?

The American wartime economy was thriving, but what would happen when the war contracts ended and servicemen returned home?

Churchill, who would soon lose his position as Prime Minister, Truman, and Stalin gathered at Potsdam. Truman need all his poker skills when facing off with Stalin. In his pocket was the upcoming test of the most terrible weapon ever known. If used against Japan, would it mean the end of civilization?

Reading about this tumultuous time was exciting and disconcerting. The whole world I grew up in was determined during these first months of 1945.

In his notes, Bamie states that history is a kind of myth that morphs through time as new evidence is unearthed and interpretations arise. The author spent three years sifting through original sources, diaries, and documents, ferreting out "new accession" including oral histories.

I enjoyed this highly readable and informative study.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair an unbiased review.

The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World
by A. J. Baime
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication October 24, 2017
Hardcover $30.00
ISBN 9780544617346

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Guide to Life in Space from Tim Peake

It is amazing to consider that since 1961 when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space that only 545 people have reached Earth's orbit. Tim Peake is one, having been on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015. His book Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space is as close as most of us will get to knowing what it is like.

When Tom Wolfe wrote The Right Stuff, he was talking about the first American astronauts who had come up from the ranks of pilots. Today's astronauts need very specific skills, including being good at language, since being in the ISS requires knowing Russian.

"NASA astronaut and ISS commander Scott Kelly told me that it is only the first ten years of studying Russian that are difficult."

The most important trait needed to be an astronaut is character and drive. Mike Massimino also wrote about that in his memoir Spaceman.

Peake wrote this book to answer the questions people ask all the time about being space. Chapters include Launch, Training, Life and Work on the ISS, Spacewalking, Earth and Space, Return to Earth, and Looking to the Future. There are great illustrations, diagrams, and color photographs.

I can't imagine living in 'a tin can' for months. And yet this is what today's astronauts do. And sharing that space with other people.

Okay, perhaps I can imagine that but I really can't imagine spacewalking. Leaving the 'safe haven' of the ISS for a black vacuum where temperatures can go from frigid to boiling in minutes, unprotected from various flying space stuff. One wrong move and--well, watch the movie Gravity and skip the happy ending. Peake notes it is actually quite easy to fall off the space station. The danger is palpable.

All this while wearing adult 'nappies'.

But other things can go wrong, too. In 1965 a Soviet astronaut was in space when his suit ballooned and stiffened. His hands and feet slipped from their places, and the only thing he could do was depressurize his suit. He was suffering from decompression sickness when, with much struggling, he entered the airlock.

Peake was part of a team to repair the ISS solar panel, restoring its electric power. Being in space gave him "the sensation of being a microscopic spectator in an immeasurably vast universe. It was, at the same time, the most astonishing and humbling experience of my life."

This is a great book for inquisitive minds, from the young to us older folk who grew up with the Space Race.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space
by Tim Peake
Little, Brown and Company
Hardcover $26.00
ISBN: 9780316512787
Publication Date: October 17, 2017

See the book trailor at:

from the publisher:
What happens when you sneeze in space? Was it fun to do a space walk? How squashed were you in the capsule on the way back? What were your feelings as you looked down on Earth for the first time? Were you ever scared? Where to next-the Moon, Mars, or beyond? 
Based on his historic mission to the International Space Station, Ask an Astronaut is Tim Peake's guide to life in space, and his answers to the thousands of questions he has been asked since his return to Earth. With explanations ranging from the mundane--how do you wash your clothes or go to the bathroom while in orbit?--to the profound-do humans have a duty to explore the unknown?--all written in Tim's characteristically warm style, Tim shares his thoughts on every aspect of space exploration.  
From training for the mission to launch, to his historic spacewalk, to re-entry, he reveals for readers of all ages the cutting-edge science behind his groundbreaking experiments, and the wonders of daily life on board the International Space Station. 
We invite the public to join us in submitting new questions using the hashtag #askanastronaut, and the most exciting will be answered by Tim in the book, along with illustrations, diagrams, and never-before-seen photos.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Read Aloud Classics: Peter Pan

Growing up I was always excited when the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan came to television. I loved the story and the songs and seeing people fly.

In Sixth Grade I found James Barrie's Peter Pan in the library. My heart ached for Wendy when she realizes she was too old for Neverland, knowing I was on the cusp of growing up myself. And I did not like the idea one bit.

I have been enjoying the Moondance Press Read Aloud Classics series which presents classic literature packaged for preschoolers ages 2 to 6. My own love of the classics came from the Classics Illustrated Comics, which inspired me to read the novels by junior high. The idea of introducing characters and story lines to even younger children is brilliant. Perhaps children will have cozy memories of the stories and when older will want to read them in their original form.

The newest volume in the series is Peter Pan. The illustrations by Victoria Tentler-Krylov are beautiful, with lots of colorful detail, interpreting the magic and adventure of Neverland.

Barrie's story is retold by Charles Nurnberg. The basic story we all know and love is presented. 

Peter entices Wendy and her brother to Neverland where they will have adventures with mermaids and pirates, Indians and the Lost Boys. After rescuing Tiger Lily from Captain Hook Wendy decides it is time to return home. She invites the Lost Boys to come with them and be adopted. 

Leaving the underground hideout they are captured by the pirates. Hook sneaks into the hideout and leaves "something in his water that will make him sick." And of course, Tinker Bell drinks the bad water and get sick. Peter asks, "Do you believe in fairies? Do you want to save Tinker Bell's Life? If so, clap your hands three times."

I can imagine sitting with a tot on my knee, clapping our hands together. Perhaps this one moment most of all captures children's imaginations: the empowerment of saving Tink's life is just so wonderful.

Peter saves Wendy and the boys by fighting the pirates. A frightened Hook jumps into the water where the crocodile is waiting. "And that was the end of Captain Hook."

Peter declines staying with the Darlings as it would mean growing up.

As a child the dream of staying a child forever was dear and precious. Who wants to leave a time when believe you can fly and  on a summer's day playing in the wading pool you imagine yourself a mermaid?

Childhood also has its fears and frights. There are pirates to battle and crocs that threaten. In Peter Pan, children always win and the dark and ugly parts of life are vanquished.

Learn about other books in the series:
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Around the World in 80 Days

I received a free ebook from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Read Aloud Classic: Peter Pan
J. M. Barrie, retold by Charles Nurnberg
illustrated by Victoria Tentler-Krylov
October 17, 2017
ISBN 9781633222229, 1633222225
Hardcover  28 pages $17.95

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf

Writers Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney were teaching in Japan when they met. They immediately connected and soon were regularly meeting and critiquing each other's writing.

As they collaborated on writing A Secret Sisterhood, they found happiness in spite of the stress. Their unfounded feared was that their 'bond between equals' would be threatened if one achieved success before the other.

When Margaret Atwood offered to write the forward for the book, it was proof that women writers do forge friendships of encouragement and support, in spite of historic stereotypes.

Jane Austen was mythologized into a happy spinster who hid her writing and relied only on her sister for support. Suppressed was her friendship with her rich brother's impoverished governess Anne Sharp, an amateur playwright.

Charlotte Bronte's friendship with boarding school friend Mary Taylor had its ups and downs, but it was Taylor who inspired Charlotte to travel abroad to continue her education. The intrepid Taylor became a feminist writer.

George Eliot, living 'in sin' with a married man, corresponded with clergyman's daughter and literary sensation Harriet Beecher Stowe. Over years, their closeness was stressed by life events, yet their regard for each other as artists prevailed.

Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield are remembered as rivals, their mutual regard and friendship overshadowed.

A Secret Sisterhood was an interesting book about the "rare sense of communion" between literary friends. One does not need to be well informed about the writers discussed for enough biographical information is included to understand the friendships in context of the authors' personal and professional lives.

I enjoyed the book and learned something about writers I am quite familiar with and a great deal about those I knew little.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf
by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Oct. 17, 2017
ISBN: 9780544883734
Hard cover $27.00

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Homeschooling Days

Our son's senior year photo
The decision to homeschool our son was monumental and yet the easiest decision to make. I later realized that from the beginning I was teaching our son at home. Reading, craft activities, nature studies, museums, games, educational magazines, and making up stories were part of our daily activities.

One day while driving in the countryside he asked me what the road signs said. I explained the no passing and passing zones. He started reading the signs and telling me, "You can pass now." He's been a back-seat driver ever since!

So, we knew he was reading before he started kindergarten. At Kindergarten Roundup he was put in Pre-K. He came home from Pre-K disappointed, and asked when he was going to learn "real science."

In Kindergarten he was inattentive. The teacher asked me to come to class and observe.

Hillsdale was a rural community with a good deal of poverty. The classroom was geared for children who did not come from enriched lives. The teacher read a book, explained the book, told the students how to draw a picture relating to the book. And after that, she discussed the book again. After the first reading, Chris lost attention. He whipped off his drawing and went back to wandering around. I saw that he was bored.

First Grade was promising at first. The young teacher was resolved to challenge our son and keep him busy. Day after day when we picked him up from school she complained about his lack of attention. The school assigned an aid to offer our son special one-on-one activities, mostly reading on a higher level.

We went to a family counselor who told us that our son needed to be in "his proper peer group." He encouraged us to have the school test him.

The principal agreed to the testing, but warned that jumping grades was rarely successful. In October of his First Grade year Chris underwent testing. The principal was surprised by the results. Our son was reading on a Fifth Grade, second semester level and had the math skills of a Second grader. We agreed to jump him to Second Grade after winter break. At first, he was to spend only half days in the new class. But once he was there, he would not leave. He knew it was where he belonged.

His Second Grade and Third Grade teachers were great, and he worked hard to stay in the top of the class. He encountered teasing and rejection at first, but in Third Grade that was all behind him. The teacher was great; he sent home weekly letters to parents, took the class on a nature walk, and taught special units on interesting subjects like Great Lakes Shipwrecks. Our son made friends and joined Cub Scouts and Little League.

Then we were moved to Lansing. It was a very different environment from that of a small town.

The Fourth Grade teacher was not as interactive with parents as we were used to. In fact, she seemed detached and burnt out. He was in a pull-out program for the gifted, but the program did not give him what he needed, and it made him a target for teasing. There were not enough math books for the students and they could not be taken home to study.

Our son tried to make friends, using techniques that had worked for him when he jumped from First to Second grade. But the cliques were set and closed. Our son also had to deal with a very different social atmosphere than the small town he had known. The school included kids from the upscale neighborhood we lived in, and from the poor neighborhood just south with many children from troubled families or with fathers in jail.

Our son was depressed. We found a family counselor who spoke with our son privately. The counselor suggested homeschooling to our son at that time, as had the counselor in Jackson, MI who had encouraged the academic testing.
Chris and his friend 'pigging out'
Fifth Grade went better, with a more involved, positive teacher. Our son met another new boy in school and they became best friends.
Chris and Marianna, his exchange student sister
When Chris was in Fifth Grade we hosted an exchange student. Mariana was the oldest daughter of my high school exchange student sister, Elina. The first months they got along quite well. But when Chris and Mariana went trick and treating an argument broke out. Suddenly they were acting like a 'real' brother and sister! Before long they were fighting like real siblings, vying for my attention.

Sixth Grade brought a school change to junior high school. At first everything seemed to be going great. Chris was in a group of boys and they had a lot of fun. But when he had classes with older kids they made him uncomfortable. He asked me why they were allowed to wear clothing with bad messages and allowed to use foul language. He encountered problems with teachers who insisted on his writing reports by hand; his fine motor skills were not good and writing was hard. He wanted to use the computer and type his reports.

One day our son corrected the social studies teacher who said WWII started in 1942. That's when America entered the war, but Chris knew the war started in 1939. The teacher did not like his correcting her!

A boy was bullying our son, and one day Chris picked up a stick to keep the the boy away. There was a no-violence policy and the boy turned our son in; he ended up in detention after school, removing graffiti from the walls.

After the Columbine school shooting, mimics were everywhere. One day our son didn't want to go to school because of rumors that a boy had threatened to bring a gun to school. He was literally afraid.

Our son's MEAP score took a dip and his grades were slipping. Chris asked us if we would homeschool him. Two counselors had said he was a good candidate for homeschooling.  A science teacher told us about his daughter who had 'dual exceptionalities', being both gifted and learning disabled. He was wary of our taking on homeschooling.

I found a distance school for gifted children out of Chicago that provided oversight, curriculum ideas, records keeping, and testing for homschooling. We signed up beginning in Seventh Grade. We took our son to a local testing service and discovered his strengths and weaknesses in learning and his I.Q. score. The school counselor advised us on courses and curriculum and handled paperwork and records.

That first year involved adjustment. I was suddenly our son's mother and teacher and friend. He wanted me to keep the roles separate. I saw everything as a teachable moment.

I was in my second year working from a home office for Jostens. So I was working 30 hours a week and homeschooling and a homemaker and a minister's wife! Gary's flexible schedule meant he could teacher several subjects, including logic and mathematics. I oversaw history, science, English, Latin, and gave I Chris piano lessons.

We decided not to continue with the oversight school for Eighth Grade. Jostens wanted the Office Manager to be available more hours and they wanted me to be more active in outside and inside sales. I quit the job to homeschool full time.

We joined a homeschool group. Every fall they had a series of Field Days with games and learning activities at a park.

While some moms organized and ran the activities, along with older homeschool students as helpers, the rest of us moms visited.
The Moms
Our family was concerned that our son would not be in 'the real world,' but even the homeschool group had differences in religious and political thinking that involved getting along and respecting others, as did our church.

The homeschool group sponsored educational trips, such as visiting the local GM plant, the Lansing State Journal, and the Kalamazoo Air Museum. We took advantage of classes that taught art and pottery. I offered classes to the homeschool group teaching some basic needlework skills including coloring on fabric and Redwork quilting.

I loved teaching. I loved relearning. I loved researching curriculum and setting lesson plans. I focused on curriculum to suit his learning style. We did hire a tutor for Algebra II and a mathematics review to prepare for standardized testing. By Senior High, our son could determine his own elective subjects and set his own plans.

Since the whole family was writing, we would read and critique each other. We were sure our son was going to be 'the writer' in the family. Both Gary and I had written as kids, and of course Gary wrote sermons and articles in his work and I wrote poetry and short stories for myself.

Homeschooling was efficient time-wise. Our son was able to complete his school work in four days. Gary had Fridays off, so we would schedule family activities for Friday afternoons, going to movies and dinner, taking day trips to museums, or having a family game and pizza nights. Homeschooling made us a closer family.

A homeschool group member, Jacob, organized a role playing gaming group which met at our house. Friday evenings brought a troop of boys coming in the front door, saying 'hi', and going to the finished basement for a few hours of gaming.

Chris and Gary had been playing the Magic:The Gathering card game and even taught me. So when Chris got to college, the first thing he did was to join the Alternate Reality gaming club. He made friendships there that have lasted to this day.

We made sure our son took the PSAT test available through local homeschool groups, and the ACT and the SAT.
Sunday School class play
Angel Alert Christmas Play
Our son was active at church and in community volunteering. He worked at the Lansing library resale store, and all summer volunteered as a counselor in training at the Woldumar Nature Center. His Senior year, he won a Target scholarship for college, based on his volunteer work.
The Youth Group raked leaves at the homes of the elderly
During our son's junior and senior year in high school I was the Senior High Sunday School Teacher. I had a great deal of fun. I think the kids did, too.
Senior High Sunday School Class kids hanging in the Youth Building
When it came time to apply to college he decided to apply to Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale, MI and Albion College, a small Methodist liberal arts college with scholarships for clergy children. We visited other colleges as well, including Alma and Western.

With his applications I submitted a summary of the entire homeschool records, including course descriptions with texts and reading materials. Albion College told us he was already working on a college level. He was accepted by both schools.

He was leaning toward Albion, which was close to Lansing and smaller. We suggested he visit each school again, this time to sit in on a class. Albion suggested he would have a lot of experience in journalism and the school paper there. He sat in on a literature class. But when he sat in on a writing critique class at GVSU he came out excited. That was what he wanted! And he accepted GVSU.
My homeschool mom friends 
Chris graduated a few weeks before we were moved again. The Bishop had informed Gary at the last moment that he was needed elsewhere. There was to be no questioning or disputing the move.

Our son at his graduation party with church friend Stacy
I had planned to return to work full time after our son graduated, sure I had contacts for good jobs. While homeschooling I worked several part-time jobs including a temp editing job, filling in when the church secretary was on leave, and scoring standardized tests for the Educational Testing Service from home. I continued to hone my desktop publishing skills through volunteer work as the quilt guild newspaper editor as as a school records keeper.

We thought we knew what our future was going to look like, but in the itinerant ministry, you can never be sure about anything.