Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fish Stories

My husband with a good catch

Usually people brag about the one that got away, here is a news story of a man who has the right to brag about the one that didn’t get away. Last month a Michigan City, Indiana fisherman “accidently” broke the record for lake trout by pulling in a 37.55, 44 inch fish. Tyler Kreighbaum, age 25, owner/captain of Tightline Fishing Charters, thought he was hooked on the bottom and was about to cut his line when it came up without resistance.  The man was fishing with his family and didn’t immediately realize the significance of his catch until a state biologist declared that the fish, born in the 1970’s, was 8 pounds heavier than the record catch. The scientific reason for the odd catch so close inshore is that consistent southerly winds have made the shallower water colder than unusual. The fish made the sports page news and a photograph entitled Accidental Record. My fish stories aren’t that dramatic, but they’re dear to my heart. Perhaps they’ll amuse you.

In 1979 my husband headed up a church retreat in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. My husband had been to the area several times and we’d honeymooned there in October years before. At the time of the retreat, both of us still entertained delusions that I’d become a fisherwoman. We canoed out on a pristine lake and began casting for small mouth bass. The idea was that with a deep bottom, far from shore, I would not be able to hang up anything non-fish. It seemed to be working. My husband even entrusted his special broken back blue rapala lure to me. I was developing a nice wrist action and were doing pretty well. We moved to a new spot. After fifteen minutes, I was reeling my line in when the water swirled about the lure showing a huge northern pike. My husband yelled, “Get it out of there!” I tried, but the pike swirled again and swallowed the lure. Test line we were using was not meant to hold such a big fish. The line snapped. The pole tip flipped skyward. The fish took home my husband’s lure as a trophy of the humans he’d escaped.

Two years later, on a very cold spring day, our family of four hiked the block from Grandma’s house to the spot my husband used to fish when he was growing up. We followed in single file along the concrete seawall to the spot he chose. He handed me a pole and set to prepping our five-year-old daughter’s pole. Meanwhile our son had found a short piece of fishing line with a hook lying in the grass. He squatted on the seawall and dunked it in the water. When he brought it up there was a tiny fish barely bigger than the hook. That’s all it took. To an excited three-year-old on his first expedition, that fish must have seemed like a whale. Instantly a fisherman was born. Eager now, my daughter forgot how cold she was and cast her line. After a few throws she caught a fish big enough to eat. My bobber dipped and I brought up my catch. My husband finally got his line in the water and was answered by an immediate catch. Marveling at our success we headed up to Grandma’s to brag. Total fishing time: about fifteen minutes. That’s my kind of fishing trip.

The summer of 1986 my husband was working twelve – sixteen hour days so I took it upon myself to answer my son’s begging to fish. My hope was for some good mother/son bonding time. We carried our four poles and gear the two blocks to the beach where we swam every day. The first cast I tangled in an overhanging branch and broke the line getting it free. The second cast I caught on a submerged log and broke the line. I handed my son the third pole and told him he’d probably due better on his own. He cast successfully. I picked up the fourth pole and cast out some distance from my son. A breeze gusted up and tangled our lines. Trying to free them, I only made it worse. The tangled line ended up inside the casting mechanism. I spent the next thirty minutes unsuccessfully trying to fix the poles. I finally d to my son and said, “I’m sorry. This is something you’ll have to do with your Dad.” We packed up the gear and trod home. After that, I only picked up a fishing pole to carry it for someone else like my son’s children who like to fish. Perhaps, if I ever was able to fish for longer than fifteen minutes—nah. Loch Ness himself would probably rise up and take me and the pole. It’s not worth the risk.

Hoping you land some oversized fun experiences this summer!

Mary Allen

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Journey through an Indiana Storm

As I was driving through a storm recently, it reminded me of some awful things I've managed to survive in the past year. I made a video about it (below). One thing you should know, is that the storm hasn't defeated me. It's made me strong. I'm stronger than I've ever been. Broken? Yes, I was broken. But there is truth in the fact that when breaks heal, they heal stronger.

I pray that as you travel through your storms of life, you will be able to find peace as I did in praising the Lord in the midst of it. It's not easy. But oh, does it strengthen you. In ways you can never imagine.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Wisconsin State Parks - Aztalan State Park

Ah, history...the Preservation of important archaeological sites mingling with Conservation is right up my personal alley. Wisconsin tends to be sort of bloated on the southeast corner side. Most of the people in the state live here and for some reason it's generally ignored as far as recreational nature tourism. It's not like there isn't opportunity, it's just mostly that life is...different, busier, less rural and natural, I guess. 

But I digress. Aztalan State Park, also a national historic site, is a small oasis in Jefferson County. There is no camping in the 172-acre site, and the park itself is a wide prairie with two miles of trails around the Indian mound sites and man-made buildings. The Wisconsin Historical Markers blog is a great site to visit for more information and photos. I didn't take any pictures when I visited last. If you're on your way between Milwaukee, Madison, Janesville, Kenosha, it's a nice day, you're interested in Native American culture and history, it's an interesting place to stop to learn more about the ancient Middle Mississippi culture a thousand years ago who came up to the area from the current St. Louis area. Here's an article from the Milwaukee Journal newspaper from 2013 that talks about excavations at the site.

And, enjoy this sweet video (8:43 minutes) from the Wisconsin DNR.

Wisconsin State Park fees apply.
A separate museum that is not part of the park is nearby.

1213 S Main St
Lake Mills, Wisconsin   53551

Phone: 920-648-8774

Friday, July 8, 2016

What's In Your DNA?

by Shelley Wilburn

A few months ago my aunt sent away for the Ancestry DNA* kit.  Upon receiving her results, she called me in somewhat between panic and confusion to let me know what the results were.  I laughed.  Why?  Because everything we have grown up believing about our ancestry did not show up in her DNA results.

“You have to get yours done now!”  She was very adamant about me getting mine done.

You see, from birth it’s been said that I had all the markings and coloring of our supposed Cherokee ancestry.  As a baby I had black hair, olive complexion, dark eyes, and the trademark high cheekbones.  This was all said to come from my mother’s mother’s side of the family (that would be my maternal grandmother’s side).

However, on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family, we have German and most recently discovered Russian.  This would explain my two younger brothers’ fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes.  Both of my parents had dark hair and brown eyes.  Talk about confusing.

From as far back as I can remember, we were always told that my maternal grandmother had enough Cherokee blood in her that she had the papers stating her right to live on the reservation if she wanted to.  However, when we would ask to see the papers we were quickly told that they were “put away” …in the attic.  (That’s another story for another day.)

Imagine the hilarity (at least in my warped sense of humor) when dear auntie calls and says there is absolutely no Native American listed in her DNA.  Okay, maybe not so humorous for her.    But when it stated that a percentage of her DNA comes from Africa, a trace amount from Asia, and bits and pieces from here and there around the world, I began to calm down and see a pattern.  She on the other hand now thinks she was adopted.

But humorous as it is for me, I also know a tiny bit of truth to this conundrum.  It’s not such a difficult thing to imagine.  Considering the fact that we have never been able to track down Native American heritage in our ancestry, more poignantly Cherokee, the exact DNA in our history seems to have been altered.

Okay maybe that’s a little far fetched.  Or is it?  Check out what 1 Peter 1:18-19 says:

18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.

Jesus literally paid for us, for me, for my aunt with his BLOOD.  He paid for the inheritance that our ancestors left us.  Considering the fact that when God healed me, He negated every generational curse left to me by all previous generations.  That includes depression, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, obesity, and any other curse that has been passed down through the ages by the mere words “it runs in the family.”  They’re broken!

Therefore, wouldn’t our DNA be altered? I think so.  Maybe it seems like a fantasy.  I think not when compared to what God’s Word says.

My Ancestry DNA kit.
So, I ordered my Ancestry DNA kit.  It arrived in the mail July 7th.  I haven’t activated it yet.  I’ll have to read all the instructions first.  But the exciting part is that I will be sending it in very soon and will wait with ever so much impatience to see what my results are. 

I don’t really know how accurate the Ancestry DNA test is, but they’ve done a great job of promoting it.  However, regardless of what it says, I know who I am and to Whom I belong.  Needless to say, it will still be fun to see what happens.   

I’ll let you know.

*You can order your Ancestry DNA kit by going to

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Ode to July

July . . . it’s time for baseball and softball, going to camp, and summer evenings in the yard beside a fire that shoos away the mosquitoes. Time for sweet corn and tasty tomatoes, and green beans by the bushel. Look at this little guy watching his dad coach a young team!

This month, another writer has agreed to allow me to share something she penned a couple of years ago. I hope you enjoy—and have no doubt you will!

I suppose Iowa is a bit like my favorite old world wine. A wine that is reserved when you first meet—as the stark fields of northern Iowa greet you on your forty mile drive to the nearest grocery store (with more than four aisles.) New world wines are forward and floozy, revealing all in their aroma before the first sip—much like cities with all their culture, nightlife and opportunities within a half step of wherever you may happen to be.

Iowa is no floozy. It takes time for the intense beauty of a crisp glittering field of snow to fully register as you wait in sub-zero temperatures to be towed from a ditch after a harrowing encounter with black ice on the highway. And when you are awed by a majestic summer thunderstorm, you may find yourself on a mad dash to the cellar as that funnel cloud appears. 

Choosing to take time to take stock of and be thankful for your simply beautiful life (what else can you do - you’re sitting in a ditch or a cellar, after all) is really like that first sip of old world wine when aroma and taste buds work in harmony to reveal the full depth and complexity in its being.

So no one was more surprised than I when I realized Iowa had stolen into my heart. Romancing with the whisper of cool evening air that apologized for the day’s heat. Drawing me close as the sun relinquished the sky to velvet shades of indigo—arrayed by the sunset’s lingering fringes and a brilliant full moon. 

When mile after mile of corn and soybean fields began to flicker in a silent symphony of firefly light, it dawned on me. I had in fact fallen in love, and quite some time ago.

Oh, my—I like this essay more every time I read it. And I must give full credit to my daughter, artist Katie Wold. You can connect with her on FB at Market 124.

Happy midsummer, everyone!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Celebrating Cleveland, Ohio

June 19, 2016, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA World Championship. It was an amazing comeback for an amazing city that has begun to make quite a turnaround from its old reputation of years past.

I don't really like to watch basketball but who could resist watching that last game on Sunday. When the Kyrie Irving shot came, hope began to blossom. Would we really do it this time? And then came the buzzer and the announcer shouting that the Cavs had won. I think people all over the city were pinching themselves and the pinching continued until Wednesday when the Cavs and the city put on the first celebration parade the city has ever had.

Here is where I began to really feel pride in the city, the area, we call home. Not only was there very little trouble in the all night celebrating (they say only five people were arrested and one police car damaged) but a million plus happy people showed up on Wednesday for an all day celebration. Again, except for one incident, there were no problems. Considering the horror stories of some places who have won championships, I was very encouraged to see a great celebration with everyone having a good time even in the summer heat and testing patience with transportation.

Stories of people helping people. Lifting children on their shoulders so they could see and even a picture circulated of a group lifting a man in a wheelchair so he could see his hero Kyrie pass by. Those we know who were there said that it was amazing how polite and kind people were to each other. Cleveland's not such a bad place after all.

Friday, July 1, 2016

We Missed an Important Day!

by Connie Cortright

With all our rushing around we did last month, we missed celebrating National Fruit Cocktail Day on May 13th. Now that this has been brought to your attention, we should stop to remember this important event. Seriously??

To put in an alcoholic drink?
I never heard of a day to celebrate fruit cocktail, but as long as I heard about this important day, it's time to check out the history of this salad. Fruit cocktail is just another name for fruit salad, but most people think of the canned style fruit cocktail when those words are used.

Fruit cocktail was originally created "as a way to make use of fruit scraps when bruised or damaged fruits could not be used in canning" according to a Del Monte website. In 1893 a California fruit canner J.C. Ainsley put these pieces of fruit together in a can with sweetened syrup and called it fruit salad.

It's quite a mystery how these cans of fruit became known as fruit cocktail. It is speculated that the new moniker came about in 1902 when "Mrs. Rorer's New Cookbook" mentioned this product in a less than positive light: "In these latter days, many American cooks make a mixture of fruit, sugar and alcohol and serve them as 'salad.' These are not salads... they are heavy and rather unwholesome, and will never take the place of a salad. I prefer to call them fruit cocktails and serve them as a first course at a luncheon or a twelve o'clock breakfast."

Of course, the cans of fruit cocktail today do not contain alcohol, but at one time this type of salad must have, or Mrs. Rorer wouldn't have described them as such. In any case, the name fruit cocktail has stuck with the cans of fruit to this day. The contents of the cans are even regulated by the USDA, specifying the percentages of pears, grapes, cherries, peaches and pineapples that go in every can, but I won't bore you with that information.

The city of Sunnyvale, California will always remember May 13th at the Sunnyvale Industrial Park. They have a water tower in the shape of a can of fruit cocktail that was originally built by the Libby, McNeil and Libby cannery in 1906. The World's Largest Can of Fruit Cocktail still stands proud and tall to this day.

Personally, I was never really fond of fruit cocktail. All the fruit in the can somehow tasted the same when I ate it. (Maybe I should add a bit of gin or vodka to the fruit.) Give me a fresh fruit salad any day over a can of fruit cocktail. Sorry, Sunnyvale! Who agrees with me on this?

 Information taken from Fruit Cocktail: A reverie

Now aren't you glad I told you this useless tidbit of knowledge?


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