Monday, January 29, 2007

the children

Here is why we support Dr. Morquette, our church and the World Relief Organization's work in Haiti....because of the children.

My father visited Haiti in 1951 and not much has changed over the years. It has gotten worse perhaps because in the intervening years the countryside has been stripped of trees in the search for fuel for cooking. Haiti has perhaps the lowest doctor per capita ratio in the western hemisphere. I've searched for those numbers unsuccessfully, but let's just say you'd be shocked. It's one doctor per thousands and thousands of individuals.

We support Dr. Morquette and his efforts because we don't believe in ever giving up and we believe that the future of this place lies in it's children. Through Dr. Morquette's efforts these children are receiving an education and perhaps they will continue in the west or in Europe and then return as he and his wife Junie have, to make a difference in their country.

Many thanks to my guest photographer Tony Pecararo, and to him and the other volunteers who spend their vacations and share their talents to try and make Haiti a better place.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I admire the resourcefulness and ingenuity of people who have to make do.

Here's another image from my guest photographer Tony Pecararo. The purpose of Tony's trip to Haiti was to help construct a new roof on a local church. In our travels in the Caribbean and Central America we've found some interesting construction sites. One site in Belize featured a three-story tall scaffolding system made entirely of bamboo and strong branches.

As you can see these Haitians have constructed a stick framework with which to support their project.

I call it the "McGuyver" method of getting things done.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

guest photographer

Believe me when I say that things are dull and grey in mid-winter northern Illinois. There aren't any interesting people to photograph either because everyone is hunkered down inside their houses, trying to stay warm.

I thought this was a good time to feature some photos by a guest photographer. So, for the next few days we're going to travel to the Caribbean with my friend Tony Pecararo. No we're not going to the spot where they serve drinks with colorful umbrellas, we're going to the other Caribbean.

Tony works in the construction industry and volunteers, spending his vacations working in Haiti for Dr. Hubert Morquette who runs the World Relief Organizations efforts in and around Port Au Prince. Our church facilitates missions to Dr. Morquette's King's Garden Orphanage, which is home to about 36 children, with another 30 or so attending classes during the day and returning home in the evening.

My husband and I support 5 year old James, an orphan living at Kings Garden. We, along with Tony and a group at the church are strongly committed to making a difference (however small) in Haiti - the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Income for Haitians is about $345 per year, AIDS is rampant, there is no healthcare to speak of, very little education on modern sanitation methods and governments have basically pulled out - the U.S. Peace Corps was removed in 2005 with no plans to return due to security issues. The only ones left in Haiti are the faith based organizations.

This woman is preparing dinner for Tony and the other Americans who, last November, spent a week constructing a new roof on their church.

In addition to all his carpentry skills, Tony has an eye for photography.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

ashes to ashes....

Someone was being laid to rest yesterday in the small Whitney cemetery. It was a sunny day but the wind was biting cold. The tent was set up with the closed portion facing west and south in an attempt to protect the mourners from the freezing blast.

My own father died and was buried in December, but honestly I cannot remember much from that day. Did we stand out in the cold? Was there a tent such as this? I guess my mind was not on such details.

Friday, January 19, 2007

red vacuum

This gentleman has a red vacuum to keep him company while he waits for the crowds to descend upon Margie's Estate Sale.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

mission statement

My husband assures me that every endeavor should have a mission statement. I guess they're not just for corporate American anymore!

A mission statement is in fact, a good idea. It states your purpose, defines your project and referring to it over time will help maintain your focus.

So I've thought a bit about my mission statement and why I started this project.

My mission is to record and produce a record over time, of the people and places that make up my community. Change is fast approaching and transforming our landscape and our lives even as we speak. My intention is to provide a platform for people all over the world to view this place and come to know the honest, simple and hard working people who have built our community and made it a strong and desirable place to live.

Already many of the barns, farmhouses and outbuildings have blown over or been paved over with new construction and retail development. All that remains are some images and memories.

This woman epitomizes the pioneer spirit and true grit that characterizes our rural community. I have the greatest respect for her and all those like her, who work hard every day, "getting it done". She's a local antique and estate dealer who cooks a wonderful lunch for those who help her in setting up her operation for a sale. The lunch is for the helpers, but she always provides free coffee and cookies for her customers. Not only does she run an antique busines, but she hauls hay to the animals and maintains a sizable rural property.

She's holding a sale at the Kane County Fairground building this weekend. She's always got some interesting things for sale so if you're in the area (northern Illinois) stop by and say hello.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

wind break

I suppose that people from other parts of the globe would find our winter landscape bleak, what with empty fields stretching from horizon to horizon.

Trees were planted many years ago as a wind break in an attempt to slow the effects of erosion and brake the wind before it reached the farmhouse, barns and outbuildings. This stand of lonely looking trees is about a quarter mile from a farm complex.

Sparse beauty perhaps?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

snowy creek

If you practice patience during the weeks of dull, grey overcast weather there's the possibility that you will be rewarded with scenes of natures beauty.

It sleeted and later snowed lightly yesterday afternoon and through the evening. This morning we awoke to a fairy land of trees lightly glazed in crystal clear ice and a landscape covered with fresh snow.

Winters light casts magical shadows of blue and purple.

This is the headwater of tiny Indian Creek. As I've mentioned before, if adventure called I could reach any shore in the world from this tiny waterway. This leads to Ferson Creek, to the Fox & Illinois rivers, to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.

Anybody interested in building a raft?

Monday, January 15, 2007


It is, once again, that grey time of the year. It's difficult to find anything of interest to photograph. Only today we've been receiving a beautiful white blanket of snow and tomorrow promises some beautiful Currier & Ives images.

For today we will look at the remnants of the fall harvest. Some corn cobs, some loose kernels of corn and weeds are all that is left of what was once a verdant field. This particular field is dotted with stakes and bright pink surveyors tape, so there's no telling what next spring will bring.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

used christmas

You simply have to wonder how a slightly used Christmas tree found it's way into the middle of a harvested cornfield.

The Christmas tree is resting quite a distance from the road and there are no tire marks in the damp and unfrozen soil. Illinois is renowned for its winds, but we certainly haven't had anything significant enough to blow a Christmas a long distance. To drag the tree into the middle of the field would require a great expense of energy, certainly more than would be required to dispose of the tree properly.

And so the mystery remains just that - a used Christmas mystery.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

ice raft

Water still moves swiftly down the Fox River. Usually ice bound, the frozen areas reach less than an arms length from shore. A driftwood log marks the boundary between open water and a paper thin layer of ice.

As the water passes quickly along the small ice shelf it makes a strange noise, something akin to styrofoam rubbing together. Frozen water forms a chandelier on thin branches.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

the snow fence

Snow fences were put in place quite awhile ago. They continue to stand at the ready for a major snowstorm to hit.

The weather is cyclical and for the past number of years there hasn't been much snow to speak of. Eight years ago or so it would have been a different story, as it seemed every week we were digging out from a major hit.

Snow fences are erected in strategic positions next to roadways, almost always running north-south. The snow fence captures snow and slows down the blowing and drifting effect on the highway.

Monday, January 01, 2007

corn drop 2007

Those of you who have been reading the Farmers Wife for awhile know that the reports of a yellow and green UFO flying over the American midwest meant that once again....the corn dropped.

Neighbors and former Long Islanders Ed Kurtz Jr. and Bryan Jack decided that we needed a fitting celebration for New Years Eve. What could be more fitting than a take on the New York City ball drop.

A couple of years ago Bryan and Ed devised a 4 foot tall ear of corn, made entirely of tiny Christmas lights. They mount it on a high pole and drop the corn at midnight. The display has changed over the past three years. Last year they added a countdown displayed on a large screen. This year they devised and built a very large countdown board, complete with disco ball, lighted and computerized countdown numbers, stars and more. It's American ingenuity and good old fashioned engineering skill at it's best.

We party inside the house and depending on the weather head outside some time before midnight. We huddle together in the cold, clutching our glasses of champagne and ring in the New Year in typical rural midwest style.

I think Bryan and Ed would be awesome on next year's David Letterman show. If anybody knows one of his producers, give me a hollar.

May you have a healthy and prosperous New Year - whereever you call home.