Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Lincoln Highway the Main Street America

In the early 1900’s, Hoosier car maker, Carl Fischer, dreamed of connecting New York with San Francisco. Working with others, the Lincoln Highway evolved. The undertaking to cross the country was a risky adventure. Roads often petered out in a cow pasture. Food and petrol had to be packed because fuel stations were few and far between. However, the dream to travel inspired the nation to be adventurous. Traveling became popular and others profited from the travelers.

The route that pioneer drivers used remains with some changes for safey’s sake or for better traveling. Highways are user-friendly, but you can still find some of the establishments that helped draw early drivers along the 3, 389 mile trek.

In La Porte, Indiana one such place is B&J’s American Café, located on Lincoln Way, the main thoroughfare. Ownership has changed hands, but the ambiance and nostalgia remain. Noted for their coffee and pies, this cozy café plays big band era music and greets its customers with a friendly downhome smile that makes you want to keep returning.

Two blocks away is the kiosk Jim Bevins, a local member of The Lincoln Highway Association designed and built to highlight some of the points of interest in the City of La Porte and in La Porte County.

Lincoln Highway, marked by the red, white, and blue signs, blazes through the Midwest states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska and still calls people to find adventure. Drive a bit of the Lincoln Highway near you and share its history with your kids or grandkids.

If you come through La Porte,
 I hope you let me know.
I'd love to meet my fellow writers. - Mary Allen

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Road Signs in Life

Ever been cruising right along in life, enjoying the quiet calm and the scenery as you pass it by...

...Until you see this thing?
We may not understand at first why we're being forced to slow down or risk getting in trouble, but a little farther down the road from a sign like this one, I also saw this sign:

Now the other sign makes a little more sense, doesn't it? Of course, taking in the surroundings could also help you understand why the speed limit was lowered and you had to go slower. In this instance, it was on a college campus. In life, the signs telling us to slow down and be careful may not be quite as obvious as these signs, but they're still there if we look for them.

And speaking of college campuses, here's another sign that's seen a lot. No parking. Yeesh. I can't count the times I've been running late for class and saw the perfect parking spot close to the building...but when I've gone to pull in, there's a sign that says I can't park there for one reason or another. Usually because they don't consider me handicapped (shhh, they don't know I have voices in my head telling me to do crazy things) or because the parking space is reserved for a particular person or group of people.
In life, the no parking signs are posted all around the places where it's better to just keep going and not stop at. Sometimes we go ahead and park there for a little bit anyway, and it usually ends up with some not-so-fun consequences.

Do not enter. Stay away. Don't go past here.
Why do we so often ignore these signs in life, like the no parking signs? Does the grass look greener on the other side of the fence? Is there some object we think we just have to have or some place we absolutely have to go, so we disregard the signs telling us not to go there or get it?
I'll be the first to admit, I've ignored that sign more than once in life, and so far, it hasn't once turned out good. It's like touching an electrical fence while it's running. You may miss the first electrical current, but eventually one will come along and shock you and hurt you.

The lovely stop and go times and crossroads of life. Often, these wonderful stop signs will come right out of the fog and hit you from nowhere. They can leave you sitting there, upset that you're stopped and not going anywhere, but these signs have their purpose in life, just like any other sign. At times, they save your life, sometimes they give you a momentary respite from life's hectic pace, and other times they just give you a chance to practice your patience.

The dreaded emergency that comes out of the blue to hit you or a friend or family member. It's not always easy to get through the emergency times of life. We may be running from the time we open our eyes in the morning until we crash and fall asleep at night, working jobs, going to school, taking care of a family... but sometimes those things you just don't expect come up and leave you reeling.
Those emergency times may be to get your attention if you're doing something you know you shouldn't, if you're pushing yourself beyond the breaking point too often, or other reasons. They can be hard to work through, but just like this picture shows an emergency call station, we have friends and family to call for help when life throws tough things at us.

What are some of the interesting signs you've seen in your life?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Best Season? by Suzanne M. Brazil

Fall in the Midwest is a gift.  The smell of burning leaves, the sweet and spicy taste of apple cider, and crisp, harvest moon nights tantalize the senses. But what I’m really excited about is the new TV season!

It’s become fashionable for many of us to look down our noses at television; to claim we don’t watch much. I’m not sure we’re all being honest.  I, for one, have so many shows on my list, I often lose track of them.  I’m a voracious reader, a practicing writer and…I also happen to love television.

Remember the days of only three channels and boring summer reruns?  Thank goodness those days are over.  You could be watching the first season of Outlander on Starz or catching up with a binge of Downton Abbey.  Maybe you can’t wait for The Walking Dead or another season of Sheldon Cooper and The Big Bang Theory.  Nowadays, you can tailor viewing to suit your needs and many of us do so year-round.

But there’s still a draw for the Fall Kick-Off.  Call it a tradition or addiction, summer’s end still means a new TV year for many of us.  From season 3 of The Mindy Project to a clean slate for my favorite NFL teams (Bears and Steelers), I’m ready for it.  Think of it as a delicious buffet right before you dig in.

What shows are you most looking forward to?  Which cancelled shows will you miss?  Do you have a guilty pleasure?  Maybe a reality show or The Vampire Diaries?  Let me know what’s on your plate and bon appétit!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's a dog's (and cat's) life

Living in the Midwest as I have all my life, I've always wanted a farm. But the closest I'll ever get is having cats and dogs. (Unless I can finally convince Mr. Himself to let me have some chickens.) I would love to have a doggy daycare. I sort of do right now, actually. The nice thing about living rural in a small town is that people don't monitor the pet situation all that closely.

This is the only picture I have of my three rascals together. Christmas several years ago. Left to Right: Chevy, Frankie and Jake

We adopted two kittens in May. My twin sons, age 19, have autism and live with us. They've wanted cats for a long time, so we adopted twin kittens. Isaac named his, the male, Spook. Isaiah named his cat, a female, Janelle.

Janelle (left) and Spook (right)
Last night my another adult son, who is staying with us until his house is ready, brought home a stray. He knows I'm a sucker for a pet on its way to a shelter. So now I really do have a dog ranch. Spending the day today with four dogs and two cats learning to get along has been a trip. I haven't gotten much writing done. Jake (the Boston Terrier) hasn't been very nice to Jezzi (the new dog).

Jezzi making herself at home on my writing chair!
In defense of Jake, Jezzi has been stealing his toys and chasing the kittens. I think Jake may be trying to protect his space, but then again, Jake is rather narcissistic and I can never tell with him. Everything is all about Jake all the time.

Jake the Narcissist
But it's not all Jake's fault. Jake came to me as the result of his owner passing away from a lung disease. One of his owner's dying wishes was for Jake to come live with me. Jake's dad, Bill, read my blog about my other pooches and knew I loved dogs. I was honored to accept this little guy into my home. However, Jake was raised as an only dog where the world revolved around him. He's convinced that we're all on this planet to meet his needs and his alone.

Jake giving me the "stop what you're doing and play NOW" look
 Jake's worldview is as follows:
  • If you enter a room where Jake is present, you have done so to play ball with Jake
  • Every sack that comes into the house from the store has items in it for Jake. Therefore, he has a God-given right to paw through them and claim said items as his own
  • Every meal that is prepared is for the nourishment of Jake
  • Every errand run in the car is done so that Jake can go for a ride
  • If you enter a room where Jake is present, you have done so to play ball with Jake
  • Each bed in the house is for Jake. He simply gives one the privilege of sleeping with him
  • Visitors who come to the door have come to see Jake and play ball with him. If you want to visit, too, you may, but don't interrupt the ball game
  • If you enter a room where Jake is present, you have done so to play ball with Jake
  • Drive-through restaurants were invented for the sole purpose of acquiring hamburgers and/or fries for Jake
  • Humans only swim in the the pool so that they can throw the wet ball that Jake drops into the pool so he can retrieve it. Over. And over. And over. get the picture
  • Sitting on the couch is done so that Jake can have your legs to sit on. The fact that you're doing something else such as watching TV or writing on your laptop is irrelevant
  • When you go to the bank's drive up window, you have done so to obtain a treat for Jake. The fact that you made a deposit or withdrawal is simply a nice side-benefit
  • If you enter a room where Jake is present, you have done so to play ball with Jake.
"You get it." "No way, you get it."
The list is immense, and I dare not post the whole thing here. If you want to learn more about Jake, he's so self-centered he has his own blog: My Name Is Jake. (He hasn't posted much lately. I'll have to talk to him about that.)

Jake Blogging
Chevy has an equally interesting story. Chevy is my gentle giant dog. He doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body but his bark sounds ferocious. He's scared of his shadow and new people. But he's never given an indication of fear biting. I love this dog.

Chevy and Trinity, my granddaughter, several years ago
Chevy is a "designer breed" dog, a Golden Doodle (or Goldendoodle). He's half Golden Retriever and half Standard Poodle. He's just a big ball of love.

The reason Chevy is so skittish is that he was raised in a cage for most of his puppy-hood and never socialized. The way I found Chevy was through searching the Internet for rescue Goldendoodles. I had seen one on a motorcycle trip and fell in love with it. When I got home, my Internet search turned up this awesome dog. We drove from Indiana to Kentucky to pick him up. It was love at first lick/pet/snuggle.

Chevy in a new 'do
The pug dog, Frankie, has a less dramatic story. He was one of a litter of puppies my daughter's dog had. I guess it's sort of dramatic that he was born in Arkansas and arrived at our house in Indiana the day my oldest son got married ten years ago. If that doesn't have you on the edge of your seat, well, that's pretty much how Frankie lives his life. Frankie is content to snuggle and snooze. When people say "it's a dog's life" they are probably referring to a dog like Frankie. Life is good for this little guy.


I love my pets. I think dogs and cats are just two of God's great ideas. My dogs bring everything down to a manageable, simple level. They remind us how to truly live life:
  • Give lots of kisses
  • Dance when it's supper time
  • Greet people with enthusiasm and they'll respond likewise
  • Sleep when you're tired
  • Eat when you're hungry
  • Drink when you're thirsty
  • Play hard, 
  • Work hard
  • Be loyal
  • Be faithful
  • Protect those you love
  • Make friends with those who love those you love
  • Repeat the above list everyday
 "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast" Proverbs 12:10a.

Karla Akins is an award-winning, prolific writer of books, short stories, plays, poems, songs, and countless nonfiction articles. Her biography for middle grades, Jacques Cartier, went #1 in its category on Amazon. Her first fiction novel, The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots, was released in 2013. Her book on autism will be released in April of 2015. You can find her short stories in several magazines including Havok and Splickety. When she's not reading she's writing. When she's not writing she is zooming along on her motorcycle looking for treasure. Learn more at

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mackinac Island Memories

Lying between Michigan’s two peninsulas, Mackinac Island is a beautiful national park and home of several historic landmarks. It’s also on my list of favorite places to visit, which we did early in August this year.

With no roads or bridges to the island, the only way to Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw, not to be confused with Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula) is by boat or plane. During winter, the Straits of Mackinac usually freeze, preventing boats and the daily passenger ferries from crossing. By February, the tourists have left and 400 permanent residents remain. An “ice bridge” forms between the island and St. Ignace, in the Upper Peninsula, and residents make the crossing on snowmobiles.
Ferry approaching Mackinac Island

No cars are allowed on Mackinac, giving the island studded with Victorian homes the feel of a time gone by. Bikes and horses take the place of cars. Many visitors ride their bikes around the outer perimeter of the island, a distance of about nine miles. Tall cliffs and deep green forests on one side, and the rocky shoreline and a view of Lake Huron on the other make the ride one of my favorite things to do.

The island used to be a key stopping point for fur traders on the Great Lakes, which led to the building of Fort Mackinac by the British during the Revolutionary War. In the 19th century, Mackinac Island became a popular place for tourists to visit. Grand Hotel was constructed, and is still the largest summer hotel in the world. Guests at the hotel have included Mark Twain, Vladimir Putin, several U.S. presidents, and many movie and sports legends.
Grand Hotel

A visit to Mackinac Island may include browsing in the shops and sampling fudge along Main Street, savoring a gigantic cinnamon roll or fresh whitefish sandwich, flying a kite near Mission Point, relaxing in Marquette Park, learning about island history at the fort, taking a carriage ride, or many other fun activities. I’ve been to the island countless times, but there’s always something new to enjoy and always plenty of old favorites I want to experience again.

Carriages on Main Street

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Fall is a time of changes. School, football, weather, they all start or change. We don't have kids in school anymore but the fall still brings its own changes here. Harvest starts, we farm corn and soybeans. Hubby is BUSY with that.

 I am trying to get the last of summer gardening canned or frozen. I get the itch to sew. My studio, otherwise known as the basement, really needs cleaned up before I get too involved. And of course writing.

I've taken the summer off and now must settle down and schedule time each day to write. After the freedom of messing around most of the summer it's rather hard for me to put the iPad down, closing out the book I'm reading or game I'm playing.

I have plans for additions to what I write. I will be adding special content in the form of emails to those who sign up on my website, This will be exclusive content in the form of short stories, devotional readings, and what ever else I come up with. Sample chapters of new books will be first sent to subscribers before being posted on the blog. Any new book will be announced in the emails first. So sign up for these emails. You may even get a coupon for a free or discounted novel.

A new project I’m doing is Christian Author Interviews. These will be podcasts of audio interviews with indie and traditional published authors, those you know and will introduce you to others. The goal is to begin posting in November. Stay tuned for more news on that front.

As you can see, along with the change in the season, I have changed my goals and activities. Come along for the ride and see what our dear Lord has for me to do. I’m excited about the months to come.

Sign up for the emails here:


Sophie Dawson is an award winning Christian author. She's released seven novels which are available at amazon, barnes and noble, kobo, ibookstore, and other online retailers. Print and large print as well as digital copies are offered.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Little Ol' Tree Farmer Me

Fall planting means different things to different people, depending upon where you live. Here in the great lakes region, we can't plant much. Maybe we move around a few perennials, maybe poke a few spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, or hyacinths into the dirt. But one thing we can plant -- and it's actually one of the best times to do it -- is trees.

I'm an old tree farmer from way back when. What that mean, is that I want my own orchard, and unfortunately, I've had to replace quite a few trees over time because of *Goats (the #1 destroyer of young trees, hostas, and all your other favorite flowers and bushes) *Winter (the brute!) *Storms (winter's cousins) *Visiting Children (who think a small tree is something to be whacked with a stick or chopped) *Old Age & Sickness (We all have to go sometime.)

Because it seems I'm forever either hauling home trees from the greenhouse, waiting for them to arrive in the mail, or even digging them up in the woods to drag home in a wagon, I've learned that there isn't anything to prevent a tree farmer from gaining her quarry. Guess which car belongs to the country girl?

In my car I've hauled kids, chickens, pigeons, and even a few small pigs, so what's to prevent me from making a tree fit in the back seat? Kudos to the tiny woman at the greenhouse who helped me muscle this 8 foot, 100 pound, sod packed pear tree into my back seat! I had to drive the 22 mile trip home reeeally slowly.

And then the fun began! I would tell you how to properly plant a tree, but others have already taken the time to write exhaustively on the subject. Here's a great how-to link: How to Plant a Tree

Tree and Dirt Inspector "Little Mew"

My little tree was the last pear tree for sale in the lot. You need to types of pears for germination, and my other tree is getting pretty big. I'm so excited for pears! I also have a young apple tree in the picture. Isn't my little front yard orchard pretty?

Now that it's planted, I'm turning my hand to picking apples off my mature stock. 'Tis the season!

I hope your September is beautiful and fruitful!
Hey, this just in: Paint Me Althena is now available in paperback too!


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