Wednesday, July 29, 2015


It's a stealth move, you know, your kids growing up. One moment you're hunched over, grasping their tiny hands as they precariously navigate their first steps, and the next you know they're traipsing around college campuses, discussing the merits of a large school over a smaller one. It takes my breath away.

 I have no regrets. Sure, there were (and continue to be) plenty of things I am doing wrong. I second guess myself at least once a day, and I realize he still has a lot of growing to do, but after this final year, the bulk of it will happen away from me. Realizing my time with him in my home full time is nearly over, I decided to spend some of it college hunting Kansas style!

I grew up in the great state of Kansas. It is still, to this day, the prettiest state in the Union to me, with its waving fields of wheat, inspiring horizons, and blazing sunflowers. I love it!

A Kansas farm pond

 So, in the early, early morning, my son and I loaded up and headed out to Kansas, to Grandpa, and to new possibilities.
He's faking it. He's not awake.

 The alarm startled me awake at 3:30 A.M., and 30 minutes later we headed to the airport. By 10:00 in the morning we had landed at the new airport in Wichita, Kansas, and Grandpa was ready and waiting for us. We caught lunch in Yoder, a small Amish community. The tempting scent of home-cooked food made our stomachs rumble uncomfortably as we waited for our meal to be delivered. I gobbled up a hot roast beef sandwich that reminded me of my younger days.
After a satisfying lunch!

 All that sustenance was needed, though, because we had a full schedule of activities that began first thing in the morning with a visit to Bethany College. Bethany is a small Lutheran liberal arts college situated nicely in my hometown of Lindsborg, KS. Back in the day when I was a high school student, Bethany wasn't even on my radar for two reasons:  1. We couldn't afford it, and 2. It was exactly two blocks away from my childhood home. I wanted to spread my wings and fly away, and that's exactly what I did when I decided to attend The University of Kansas (tour stop number 2).
Before the tour
Bethany pulled out all the stops, and my son loved the experience! He especially enjoyed visiting with Dr. Melody Steed, Assistant Academic Dean for the college about the things he particularly cares about- books and World War II!

Jacob enjoyed the campus, but he especially loved feeling like his presence mattered. He appreciated the care and time put into his tour and how it was personalized just for him. I enjoyed seeing Bethany through different, younger eyes. Rather than seeing it as a small, limited, and claustrophobic college, I saw it for what it really is, an opportunity to live and learn in a small town that values its Swedish heritage, its rich history of art and music, and its quality education.

Day two brought college tour number two and a dramatically different experience, for this time we traveled east to tour my and my husband's alma mater, the fabulous University of Kansas.

Lawrence, Kansas is located all the way over on the eastern side of the state, and to get there we drove on I-70 through the Konza Prairie and the Flint Hills. The prairie is maintained by Kansas State University. To me this is some of the loveliest land in the nation with its rolling hills, expansive skies, and stunning sunsets. Seeing it again made me positively giddy, and I couldn't help but imagine a stately Indian topping a ridge on horseback. Time hasn't changed the land.

Time has certainly changed Lawrence, though! The campus was undergoing a lot of renovation. My dorm, McCollum Hall, is slated for demolition later this fall. Jayhawk Boulevard is torn up, and scaffolding obscures the view of many stately old buildings. Nevertheless, it remains one of my favorite places on earth!

Here's a view of my old hangout, Watson Library, complete with construction!

Wescoe Hall, the sight of many of my larger survey classes, still ugly as always.

Strong Hall, venerable and stately.
The Burning Bush as photographed from inside the library of Smith Hall,
where I had many classes in Religion.

McCollum Hall. My room was the one directly above the trailer.
Library table in the
stacks where I

And library table on the floor where I studied.

Memorial Drive, overlooking Marvin Grove and the Campanile Bell Tower

 The highlight of the day was without a doubt visiting with my instructor from my own college days, Dr. Mary Klayder! This wonderful woman is who ignited my passion for English, and because of her I switched from being a psychology major to English and never looked back. She was one of my instructors for my British Summer Institute Experience (1990) as well. I love her still!
Such a treasure to share Mary with Jacob! It's a dream come true!
We met Mary in the Student Union. As busy as she was, she took time out of her schedule to do lunch. She and Jacob chatted novels as we reminisced about the days when we were each younger. It was a special interlude for me, and Jacob really enjoyed it as well, as he feels he has come to know Mary as a friend by the way I have talked about her through the years.

All too soon it was time to leave. A final hug and wave good-bye and we were back in the truck and exploring the town. I found my old apartment and snapped a shot of it.
It was the basement one. Yeah, it's ugly. That's student
apartment living for you.

 We drove past Joe's Doughnuts. We didn't stop. We made it to Mass Street and to Mecca- the Yarn Barn of Kansas! This store was there when I was a student on campus, but I wasn't a knitter. In the time since I picked the craft up, I've been dreaming of visiting, so of course we made time for it!
Spinning wheels, spinning wheels...

And more spinning wheels!

And of course lots of yarn!

 It was almost too much for me! In the end, I picked up three skeins of a locally dyed merino that I will likely knit into a shawl. When I wear it, I'll think of our special day together.

Soon enough it was time to head for home. We were both tired, but the day had been a beautiful one.

So where will Jacob end up? It's too early to tell, but I think he's leaning towards a smaller school experience. He had favorable impressions of both schools, and I know he would do well in either place. He's got time to decide. I say, it's a special time- enjoy the journey!

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