Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Flash! Boom!


The Pyrotechnics Guild International Show, sponsored by firework manufacturers from all over, convened at the La Porte County Fairgrounds for a week of competitions.  Most of the firework displays included music, sky and set or ground works. One even had an impressive, long wall of fire surge skyward as heat and shock waves rolled over the fall out area, the VIP/ judge area, us and beyond. 
Competitors represented all fifty states. Classifications are determined by the size of the shell, which start larger than people can own legally without permits. Presentation, choreography, colors, (some I'd never seen displayed before) and the quality of shells. Presentations ran three-five songs or about fifteen minutes using aerial shells in a barrage, battery and fountains or bouquets or gerbs.

One youth group of 9-18 year olds dedicated their work to their retiring teacher/leader, who had 20 years of making these types of explosives and was noted for his innovative style. I found this pleasing display, including smiley face, particularly interesting.

To me, the Michigan group’s display was the best. Although it was not the most gaudy or spectacular, its presentation was delightful.
In another type of competition individual shells shot by presenters who packed their own shells were judged.

Some displays were crowd pleasers, not for competition. There were also ground fireworks with pinwheels, colorful American flags, and messages blazing, such as I remember from my early married years. The announcer explained these are rarely done anymore since huge sky pyrotechnics are preferred. I missed much of the ground works because I'm short, in the section behind the VIPs, and in a flat Indiana field. Too bad because I really wanted to see that woman from California dance in the fire.

Young children would weary of it and babies should not attend. The crying, whimpering babies near us were subjected to over three hours of brutal, scary noise, and sound. For the price per car paid people didn’t want to leave early. (On the nights we didn’t go, we heard the booming twenty miles away.)

Ear protection is necessary. I wore both soft ear plugs and professional ear protectors such as are available for shooting ranges. Together they made the noise level comfortable, yet I could understand the announcer. This is an experience I’m glad I had.
 I was with people who've seen some of the finest fireworks in the country and they said it was impressive. If the Pyrotechnics Guild International comes to your area next year, make a date to see them. Just, remember phone photos won't do them justice.

Enjoy your last moments of summer! Until next time,


Mary Allen

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Flying Hoosier Granny and Her Friend



I had the privilege of flying to Colorado Springs from Indiana over the summer. And since there are no direct flights from Fort Wayne, I got to first fly to Dallas. I was delighted to see the Midwest from the air.



Business travelers can spot us once-in-awhile flyers a mile away. I don't care. It's fun for me to press my nose on the window and gaze upon my little corner of the earth from on high. Only from this altitude can I enjoy farms laid out like quilts my grandmother made. Reminds me of where I grew up in Kansas. Flat farmland, and corn for miles. 




Whenever I fly I think about how small we are, and God's vantage point. I'm so glad He is omnipresent. He doesn't gaze upon us from afar, but face to face. When we accept Christ, He is in us and we in Him. Otherwise, how could He possibly know the number of hairs on our head?

"'Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth?' saith the Lord" Jeremiah 23:24.

"The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good"
Proverbs 15:3.


"Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit"

1 John 4:13.

I love to fly. On my way home, I got a shot of the moon. However, for some reason, it kept creating a second little moon to the right of it in the photo. Still, I liked the idea of God having lit it up as an eager beacon of welcome home, yes, just for me.


Because that's the kind of God I serve. He is very personal. And He gets a kick out of me. The Bible says so:

"The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing"
Zechariah 3:17



Tweet this: Hoosier Granny  and Friend fly over quilted landscape.



Karla Akins is the author of The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots and countless short stories, biographies and other books for middle grades. She currently serves as President of ACFW-Indiana Chapter and resides in North Manchester with her pastor-husband, twin adult sons with autism, and her mother-in-law with Alzheimer's. Her three dogs and two cats are attentive editors.


Friday, August 12, 2016

It's National Romance Awareness Month, Which Means...

Did you know that it's Romance Awareness Month? I wondered, as I made this discovery -- what in the world does that mean, anyway? Am I supposed to be aware of whether or not I feel romantic, or am I supposed to note the romances going on around me? Am I supposed to read a romance? This is all very mystifying. So, I Googled it, because that's what we do nowadays to find an answer to just about everything.

Low and behold, I found that Romance Awareness Month has been going on for a while now, and it's actually pretty legit. It's a time to look inward at our romantic relationship and find more ways to up the ante. In other words, it's time to take a look at our relational investment and add a little into the bank.

I like that. We hear preaching about that sort of thing occasionally, and lately there's been a Facebook rash of marriage and love promotion with the "Love Your Spouse Challenge". I've seen posts against taking part in it, because it makes some folks uncomfortable, but I feel like the occasional public shout out to and about our spouses is important, even if and especially if you have been through hard times. Sure, marriages are seldom perfect. Everyone goes through deep waters of one sort or another. But to make small investments like a Facebook kudo, or even easier ones like a shoulder rub, a specially made dinner, a note, or holding hands and taking a walk together is effort well spent.

Me and my honey, Inigo Montoya -- er -- Jeffrey Musch, one night after deer hunting, a month before our wedding, 1980

We had such a blast performing in this interactive mystery dinner together, 1998


Laughs around the bonfire in the back yard, 2014

A few nights ago, enjoying a malt and talking about all the kids' owning their own homes now.
Good years ahead!

So... National Romance Awareness Month is a good time to let the love flow. And if nothing else, if you don't have someone to be romantic with, then enjoy a good romance novel. I know some writers around the Barn Door who'd be happy to make recommendations. Wink, wink.

Love on~
Naomi Musch
www.naomimusch.com

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Wisconsin State Parks - Mirror Lake State Park

I first visited here with my good buddy Kay last summer when we were camping at Mill Buff State Park, which is more my kind of park, but I admit that I fell in love with Mirror Lake and have been working on my family to set up a summer group outing ever since. I've driven past it all my life always on the way to somewhere else, and finally decided to stop. Being close to Madison and the Dells, however, Mirror Lake, even at 220 acres surrounding a gorgeous namesake lake, is well-visited, and reservations for camping are expected for summer stays. In other words, it can be crowded, which is probably why my family has chosen to avoid it. I found there were lots of places to go, however, that didn't feel that crowded toward the end of a summer week, and wouldn't mind hanging out in the lovely camping areas or walking with the grandkids. The park is open year-round and there is winter camping advertised. :)

Trail bridge at Mirror Lake State Park.
The trails are nice, wide, good for all kinds of hikers from those with special needs to more rugged experienced walkers. Kay and I hiked the bluff trail and drove all over. We did another shorter nature hike, too. Here's a park map. It's set up for families with playgrounds, nice campsites, beaches and boat landing and fishing pier. There are three separate campgrounds and I could see families in groups, able to be near each other. All the modern conveniences--joy! Even a cottage to rent. The photo, right, is off the DNR website. We walked on that bridge.

So, while I've visited briefly, I do want to go back and hope to be able to do so soon. As you can see below, it has a Baraboo address, with all the distractions I didn't even get to in my previous post about Natural Bridge State Park.


For information, contact:
Mirror Lake State Park
E10320 Fern Dell Rd.
Baraboo WI, 53913
608-254-2333

Monday, August 8, 2016

CANDY!

by Shelley Wilburn

It has become an unwritten rule that any time I visit my beloved mountains in North Carolina; I must make a special trip over to the Mast General Store in Waynesville to get candy. What started out as an innocent, yet exciting purchase of some of the old fashioned candies we loved as kids has now turned into a make-sure-you-give-me-your-candy-list-before-I-go.  Each one of my kids and now even my grandkids have all put in their requests days before I even begin packing.

The Mast General Store is a lovely little Mercantile in the historic part of Waynesville, North Carolina. Complete with the popping, wooden floors the store is a clothing store on the main floor.  But walk down the steps and you step back in time somewhat.

 The first things you notice are the numerous old whiskey barrels full of various old fashioned candies. Peanut Butter Logs, Chick-O-Stick, Mary Jane’s, Root beer Barrels, along with Mint Patties, Dum Dum suckers, Saf-T-Pops, Tootsie Pops, Tootsie Rolls, Sixlets (my personal favorites), Smarties, you name it and they are there.

Of course, candy isn’t the only thing downstairs at the General Store. They also have a nice selection of vintage toys we all loved as kids, too. Original metal Slinky’s, Fisher Price telephone, record player, the tick-tock clock and many more grace the shelves along with old fashioned games, puzzles, and an assortment of modern toys as well. Not only that, but metal lunch boxes, old fashioned and modern kitchen gadgets, cast iron cookware, glasses, soaps, and all kinds of lovely things. But I was on a candy mission.

 On this trip, the kids got specific in what they wanted me to bring them. Even the big kids put in their order, “I want Peanut Butter Logs ONLY, Mom!” This came from my youngest daughter. She is twenty-nine.

As I’m walking through the aisles of barrels, looking to see what I want to get, I notice some shelves ahead of me with packages of candies. I never look at those because frankly, the candy in the barrels is sold by the pound. I can literally grab handfuls and put them in my basket, pour into a bowl on a scale at the checkout, and be done with it. However, something amazing caught my eye this time and I couldn’t pass them up.

Candy Buttons!

These little dots of candy stuck to a paper strip used to be my most favorite when I was a little girl. Not only did you get your allotment of sugar when you ate them, but you also got a nice serving of fiber from the paper you ate that stuck to the back of the candy button. Not much has changed in however many years.

Oh, the little candy dots as I used to call them. What a wonderful treat. I can remember when we could buy them in a long paper strip about the length of your arm. Of course back then, my arm wasn’t very long and for a nickel or a dime I could fill a tiny paper sack and I thought I was getting lots of candy. Actually, I probably was.

Penny Candy, we used to call it. For a penny you could buy a piece of candy or a couple of pieces of candy. If Grandma gave you a quarter the first thing she said was, “Go buy some candy.” How fun it was to be able to walk up to the corner store and stand at the candy counter and buy candy. I miss those days.

I so wish that I could take my grandkids to the candy store, let them stand at the candy counter with a quarter and pick out whatever they want. Today though, they give me a list of what they would like before I leave for the mountains. Then, when I get to the General Store, I pilfer through the candy barrels, load my basket, and then watch as the cashier rings up my total. It’s not uncommon for me to spend quite a bit of money on candy today. I don’t mind. It makes my kids smile. It’s worth the $7.99 a pound that I spend on candy. It’s only money, right?

See anything you like?


Friday, August 5, 2016

Busy Little Wrens



My husband captured photos of these wrens at work in mid-July. We think of spring as the hustle-bustle time for our feathered friends, but seems this wren just keeps at it. As with the cactus wren, the state bird of Arizona, making her house amidst the deadly spines of the cholla cactus, these females thrive on their labor.



Or maybe they're addicted to it? At any rate, these plain brown birds make a perfect metaphor for the midwest work ethic, which many would say laid the foundations of the society we enjoy today. When they encountered resistance, as this birdie did when the twig in her mouth refused to cooperate, they made changes … made do.
See how this mama turned sideways? On difficult days, we may feel we're doing that just to accomplish what needs to be done.

I've always enjoyed the word tenacious - tenacity involves optimism. As Colin Powell said,  "Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier."


We actually have two wrens, one in the little courtyard behind our house and the next in our lilac bushes to the south.


I wonder if they're related … one of those unanswerable questions. Besides working hard, they share another characteristic - chattering. Singing, I guess you call it, these mavens of TWITTER were faithfully communicating long before any human being heard of tweeting out messages.



They're the queens of trill, and we're amazed at their output. Rain or shine, singing and working seem to satisfy them.

For human beings, meaningful tasks and a hobby provide a daily sense of fulfillment, too. Our media sometimes lauds those who've "arrived" and no longer have to scrabble to make a living, so we're sometimes surprised when the "rich and famous" lack contentment.

Maybe we can take a lesson from these busy wrens.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Corn Sweat? Really?

A couple of weeks ago our weather man on a particularly hot and humid day was offering reasons for our thick muggy air. As I write this we have hit fifteen ninety degree days in our area and it looks like at least two more coming by the end of the week. I can take the heat. I can't take the humidity which is why we don't visit grandkids in Florida in the middle of summer. The weather man did have something to blame the humidity on though and it wasn't climate change. It was corn sweat. Really?

I thought he was joking but apparently there really is such a thing and for those of us in the midwestern states that have so many corn fields perhaps it makes sense. Now there is a fancier name for it--kind of like women who don't sweat but "glisten." For corn it's called evapotranspiration.

Just as people who exercise or are active in the heat begin to sweat the corn as it grows and pollinates takes in more water and "transpires" or releases moisture. Oh come on now, let's just say it sweats.

As temperatures rise the capacity to hold moisture grows and the dew points begin to reach the uncomfortable point. And we all know that higher dew points means more women will "glisten."

Glisten. Sweat. Transpire. Come the middle of January we'll wish for a little more of that.



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