Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our Memorial Weekend Adventure

We decided to go up to the cabin for Memorial Day weekend. Once again, we were packed to the gills. Jonalyn was literally wedged into her seat. The dog came with us and sat where my feet were supposed to go so I sat Indian style/pretzel style/criss-cross applesauce style the entire way.

The girls didn’t have a bed in their bedroom at the cabin, so we were hauling a mattress set and bed frame in our utility trailer.

Traffic was unbelievable. There was an accident on the interstate and we got caught in the gaper’s block. Yes, we gaped as we went past – a large boat had slid off its trailer.

We saw more flat tires than we could count – mostly trailers. Doug started laughing at all the ones we passed.

I don’t believe in Karma. At least, I didn’t. We were in between two towns when Brian called out that our trailer had a flat. Sure enough, the trailer listed toward the passenger side. Groans and laughs all the way around.

We pulled off the road. Even on this two-lane state highway, traffic was crazy. Large RVs whipped past us. We girls stayed in the truck, but I was nervous for the boys changing the tire.

The trouble was, our little jack wasn’t doing the job and the boys didn’t have the right tools to get off the lug nuts. Thankfully we have roadside assistance, so at last the guys admitted defeat and had me call them. That’s what we pay all that money for anyway.

The woman at the assistance center contacted a tow truck. She asked the color of our vehicle and told me the truck driver could see us. He’d just gone past and it took a few minutes to turn around and come to us, but he arrived shortly and in no time had the tire changed.

The trip, which should take about 2 ¼ hours, took almost 4 ½. No sooner had we pulled into the driveway then it started to rain. The story of our day!

Have you ever had an adventure on the road? Do share!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Home Town Honors its Heroes

My father-in-law is a Korean War vet. He is so proud of his service and his country.
His small town of Waupun is equally proud of its veterans.
Waupun, in the east central flatlands of Wisconsin, rubs shoulders with dairy farms and the world famous Horicon Marsh.
Every Memorial Day, this little community hosts a parade and a special service to honor those in the armed forces who died for their country, and those who are still living for it.

In the town where I grew up, Memorial Day services were attended by a couple of dozen people, and my family. My father hadn’t served in a war but he could never show enough gratitude and respect to those who had. It always broke his heart to see how few people attended the event.
In Waupun, about a tenth the size of my hometown, hundreds come to remember the heroes.

They say, ‘You have not died in vain, and you will not be forgotten.’

Yesterday, Memorial Day, thousands of communities across America joined Waupun in remembering the debt of gratitude owed those who, living or dead, counted the cost of defending their country and decided it was worth the price.

They are worth remembering.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Between the Pages

by Sandra Heska King

Sometimes fun stuff hides in the yellowed pages of old books. Like this well-used cookbook that belonged to my mother-in-law and holds many ink-altered recipes.

Mom loved to entertain and often had small groups in her (now our) home. In fact, she had two kitchens because the family lived in the basement for a year while the upstairs was remodeled. I still mourn the loss of pocket doors and wood floors and glass doorknobs and especially the beautiful old molding and corner blocks. Mom wanted modern.

Anyway, she helped serve 190 people at the Charlotte Grange fried chicken supper on October 14, 1941. Apparently, they ran out of chicken and potatoes, so if you got there late, you might have had to fill up on cottage cheese and applesauce--and maybe some pie. I think it's interesting that they diluted whipping cream for coffee.

But my favorite is the plan for the Kieser Farm Face Lifting Lunch on September 15, 1949--planned for 1000 people.

I wonder what a farm face lifting is.

The menu included barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs, fried cakes, home made pies, ice cream, coffee, potato chips, candy, and gum. She seems to have forgotten any fruit or veggies. And how do you eat barbecue sandwiches when you run out of buns? I suppose they used the more expensive hot dog buns.

They got the buns from Holsum Bread Company. I followed a rabbit trail to learn a little about the company. It's got kind of a fun history. And I learned that "the inner part of the bread encased by the crust is called the 'crumb'. This is why small bits of this part of the bread are called crumbs." And that the average American student will have consumed 1500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches upon graduation from high school.

Anyway, the next time I want to serve a large crowd, I've got blueprints already on hand, including Mrs. Fulton's barbecue recipe for 250 buns.

When I turned the page over, I found the whole table setup for the affair.

The barbecue and hot dog stoves and supplies were set up on the east end and the coffee supplies and stoves on the west. She stacked the supply of pies and fried cakes in the center. People were assigned serving stations, including my sister-in-law who had charge of one of the ice cream cup tables. She would have been about ten years old. I asked my husband what he did, but he didn't remember. He was four days shy of his second birthday.

The stream of people must have moved efficiently down each side picking up gum and candy first. I'll bet the kids loved that. Then you got your barbecue, hot dogs, mustard and catsup, potato chips and/or fried cakes, pie, ice cream, and coffee. Then you stopped at the cashier, so the shindig wasn't free.

But Mom, where's the Kool-Aid? 

Another rabbit trail for some fun history facts. Did you know Kool-Aid was first called Fruit Smack? And that the man who invented it also developed a product called Nix-O-Tine to put the smack-down on cigarette smoking?

Now where was I?

I don't know, but over here in the corner is a recipe for Vickie's prize-winning pie. I think it says something about grasshoppers.

What interesting stuff have you found in the pages of an old book?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

As A Mom, I'd Like to Know

       -  What my kids say to people on the other end when they get to the phone and answer (and hang up) before I do?

-         Why my kids put 81 bottles of red food coloring in the pancakes that they made for my Valentines’ Day Breakfast in Bed?

-         What was my sister thinking when she made a full-size macramé refrigerator for my birthday gift?

-         What was my neighbor thinking when he attached the baby stroller with a rope to his bicycle?

-         What was my husband thinking when he planted 1,700 watermelon seeds in our 4 inch x 4 inch garden plot?

-         Why the mayor won’t let me have goats in my city yard so I don’t have to mow the lawn?

-         Where are the tiny little green army men who are willing to scrub my dirty bathroom while I sleep?

-         Why the number of Bazooka Jo Bubblegum wrappers is over 1,000,000 just to get a free whistle?

-         Why the most wanted Christmas toy is always in big supply in a city 12,000 miles from me?

-         Why my kids put purple koolaid in the piñata hanging in the living room over the beige couch?

Join me for one of my Writing Conferences Part I or Part II 

Start Your Summer Out Write... 
Why take a book in your beach bag, when you can write a book at the beach? 

There is still time to sign up for Cheryl's Writing and Publishing Conference
Cheryl's Writing and Publishing Conference - Part I
Figure out and polish your idea

Wednesday and Thursday, May 30-31
8:30 Am - 3:15 Pm  
Panera on Rand Road in Arlington Heights, IL  60004 5 W Rand Road  (In the same plaza as Barnes and Noble and Trader Joes.)
Arlington Heights, IL 60004

Lunch: buy your own at Panera.
Beginners to Advanced writers.
No admission fee. A love offering will be taken for For Better For Worse For Keeps Ministries. 
For more information or questions and to R.S.V.P.:   

Identical Conference (Same as above) Monday through Wednesday, June 4, 5, and 6th.   
Cheryl's Writing and Publishing Conference - Part I
Figure out and polish your idea  
 8:30 Am - 3:15 Pm  NEW LOCATION:
Panera on Rand Road in Arlington Heights, IL  60004 5 W Rand Road  (In the same plaza as Barnes and Noble and Trader Joes.)
Arlington Heights, IL 60004

Lunch: buy your own at Panera.
Beginners to Advanced writers.
No admission fee. A love offering will be taken for For Better For Worse For Keeps Ministries. 
For more information or questions and to R.S.V.P.:

Idential Conference (Same as Above but evening conference) Monday through Wednesday, June 18, 19, and 20th 

Monday through Wednesday, June 18-20
5:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Panera Restaurant on Rand Road in Arlington Heights, IL  60004
5 W Rand Road  (In the same plaza as Barnes and Nobles and Trader Joes.)
Arlington Heights, IL 60004

Why is information about Writing, Publishing, ereader Publishing, Blogging, and Speaking treated as secrets that not everyone can know? Cheryl Moeller's conferences educate, motivate, and inspire.

Lunch: buy your own at Panera.
Beginners to Advanced writers.
No admission fee. A love offering will be taken for For Better For Worse For Keeps Ministries.

For more information or questions and to R.S.V.P.:

References from recent attendees:

"The writing conference was awesome!  SO much better than reading a "how to" book.  Cheryl provided such great information and insight, in a fun and personal way.  Can't wait for Part II!" 
- Sheri Davis All Natural Mom of 3  

"Cheryl Moeller's Writing Conference motivated me to do what I had wanted to do for so long - get my book in print.  Her understanding of publishing and marketing was a great resource for me and now I have a book that I can share with my children, grandchildren and the world."  
      - Kay Swatkowski, national speaking and writing ministry is now at American Grandma and author of One Endless Line of Faith: 30 Days of Prayer for our Grandchildren 

      "I thoroughly enjoyed my time at both your writing and marketing conferences. I found myself listening with rapt attention to all that was said. There is no such thing as boredom at this conference. The candidness with which Cheryl speaks is refreshing, and the help she extends to all is over the top. Cheryl is all about community.  Her ideas seem endless. Thanks for opening up my world to the possibilities that exist within the writing realm."   
     - Arlene Hughes   

Friday, May 25, 2012


Where can you view sci-fi movie posters in a mortuary, eat strawberry crepes in a parking lot, and kick a path through a circle of brown bark mulch on a warehouse floor? Art-A-Whirl, of course.

Art-A-Whirl is an art lovers extravaganza that takes place annually in Northeast Minneapolis, the third weekend of May. My favorite thing is that this event is free and open to the public.
This year more than 400 artists displayed their wares in over 20 different mediums including clay, drawing, fiber, furniture, glass, metal, multimedia, photography, printmaking, sculpture and also in wackier modes such as cars and vintage bottle caps. 

And artistic expression wasn't limited to just inanimate objects. There were plenty of human exhibitions ranging from ballroom dancing, to some kind of freaky ritual thing in a warehouse, and there was plenty of music on street corners, parking lots and restaurants.

One thing that was new this year was a screen print exhibition on a bicycle. Attached to the back was a small trailer that had every tool needed to print on fabric. And the price was sure right...FREE! I screened a pretty sweet scarf that turned out quite professional (though I suppose I should give the pro some credit for helping me). 

Their goal in offering the free prints is to collect donations for a book they're self-publishing about how to set up your own screen printing business in your apartment or other small area. Check out Screen Printing On The Cheap.
Art is soooo subjective!

But that's just one example of the many sights to see. Every year on this weekend, artists fling open their studio doors. Many host demonstrations. All give tons of information. Some have oodles of treats. Studio tours offer a great opportunity to ask questions, discuss techniques, experience art first-hand, and purchase works directly from the artists. 

You never know 
what you'll see 
at the Art-A-Whirl!

This might be a dog...I think.
I didn't happen to buy any magnificent new sculptures or pick up any grand statements of creation this year, but I did partake of lots of snacks. Technically, however, I suppose changing the size of my waistline could be consider a work in progress.

There is so much to see that you could seriously attend all three days and not have explored every possibility.

Art-A Whirl is sponsored by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association. To find out further information, click here.

So next May, if you happen to be in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, save open the third weekend. This is one show you are not going to want to miss.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Old-fashioned Plow Day

For many years the Dreesen family of Starke County has held an annual plow day. The event brings in farmers with teams of horses and all styles of old plows, 4-H Draft Horse members, and plenty of city slickers.

Some years the entire field gets plowed, but the main idea is to raise funds for 4-H while having a good time, exercising the horses, and educating the interested.

The grandchildren and I arrived too late to ride in the wagons, but not too late to pose with a plow team resting at the end of the field. The grands are familiar with horses and weren’t afraid to be close enough for a friendly nibble.

Plowing takes some skill, patience, and endurance. I kept thinking, my father actually plowed like this.It made the experience personal. I think he'd have gotten a kick out of being there, but he's otherwise engaged in heaven. 

Mary Allen lives in the Midwest with her husband and a German Short Hair Pointer. She loves God's Word which never changes and also enjoys playing with words which can be endlessly changed. She writes women's fiction and was La Porte County Poet Laureate from 2010-2011. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On a Day in June

On a Day in June by Lori Lipsky

comes the
perfect day in June
when green leaves flutter
strawberries ripen
impatiens creep
annuals bloom
mulch covers
birds chirp
early, and



photo credits: istockphoto/J. Pecha/Strathroy/Don Nichols

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Slice of Saturday

Saturdays at our place are unpredictable. We may set out to finish planting the garden...

which means stopping to admire the baby tomatoes, because you know all babies must be admired!

and the mower needs tweaking, so our middle son tackles that job, right next to the garden so Dad can guide as he plants potatoes....

Our oldest son was bush hogging (mowing tall grass with the tractor) beyond the yard and Old Faithful died. It dies regularly and they fix it and get it going again. When the boys couldn't fix it, they had to call in Dad...

who has a magic touch with the tractor. He should after all the years he's worked on it. LoL.

...much to our oldest son's disgust. He worked on it 30 minutes before calling for help. It only took Dad five minutes before the tractor turned over and fired up.

That's my man.

So tell me, what do you do on Saturdays?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blessing of the Bikes

Last month I had the privilege of praying for several riders and their motorcycles at a "Blessing of the Bikes."

Here's my prayer them and for all of you who enjoy riding your bike.

May God bless your going out & your coming in.
May the Lord be with you at home & on the road.
May all your rides be safe.
May God's grace, mercy & love always show you the way home to him.
In Jesus' name, Amen.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Faith Sprouts a Wing

 I love my home state. Its shape is unique to the rest of the nation. The lower peninsula, shaped like a mitten and the upper (in my opinion) is shaped like either a scarf flapping in the wind, or the tail of one of those cone hats I wore as a girl that dangled to my hips. Either way, it’s a wintery image I see right now.
Instead of the mitt finding its way to the storage bin, it has remained firmly in place, keeping me in my hoodies and sweats. The scarf/hat, I need periodically in my house when I sit to visit with my husband. Steamy cups of cocoa, coffee, or tea warm my hands as well.
I really don’t mind (usually) the lack of summer heat, but this Midwestern girl has been getting chilled easily and not thawing well.
So, as you read this, I am finishing my six day thaw in Southern California.
Quite honestly, I have no idea how this is going to happen. I’ve often looked in the mirror and said, “What on earth do you think you’re doing?”
I’ve mentioned cancelling. “This is foolish.” I tell friends, and hubby.
“God’s got something for you there.” They say. “You must go.”
So off I go, frightened that I’m presuming upon God's leading.
 Since I’m writing this through the pre-trip lens, I can’t say whether it’s an appointment with Bill Myers (author) or Mike Duran (author) at the Orange County Christian Writers’ Conference that God shows me His plan; or if it’s time spent with girlfriends at Disneyland; or if God’s going to make Himself known on the shores of Laguna or Newport Beach.
Or maybe it’s as a dear friend told me. “This is a time of rest for you. A new season is about to come upon you and you need to be ready.”
Whatever it is, I’m anxious to know.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May Flowers of Ohio

Yesterday afternoon I took pictures of the flowers blooming in our yard to share with you today. The peonies that bloom beside our garage are early this year.
 They aren't usually this lush until Memorial day.
Our weigela wine and roses  is a welcome sight in the back yard.
The day lilies are beginning to bloom.
I can get carried away with hostas.

 Three cultivars of hostas surround our Japanese maple.
Hostas thrive here.

Do you live in the mid-west? 
What plants do you grow in your yard?

Until next time . . . Sharon A Lavy

Friday, May 18, 2012

This Ain't Your Daddy's Corn Planter

This is where I was a few minutes ago. Merging hay while Son #4 chopped. I thought I have to get home and get my post for The Barn Door done. So, I am doing this with tractor dirt on my feet and pieces of hay in my hair.
I want to show you how we plant corn. Like the title says, This Ain't Your Daddy's Corn Planter.
I will do my best to be as correct as I can. Normally, I have Farmer proof when I'm getting all farmy to make sure it's correct, but he's out in the fields and probably won't be in before the midnight hour.
This first picture is the corn planter. It is a 12 row planter - meaning we plant twelve rows at a time. The yellow boxes are for the seed and the large tank in the middle holds the fertilizer.

I tried to get a picture with all the screens and controls but couldn't get it all to fit into the frame. This is on the right hand side of the steering wheel. Son #2 has to pay attention to these and more and regulate, correlate and just plain ate it all!

This picture is taken a little bit off to the side of the previous picture. These controls are all alongside my son's right arm. 

This is my son's I pad that is connected to other monitors in the tractor. The information for these screens comes from a GPS system. On this screen is a field that has been planted. The different colors show the different pressures that were used to plant that particular spot (this is a very simple explanation of a complex issue.)

This next picture shows all kind of stuff and I can't remember what exactly, but I think it has to do with the corn planter and how much corn and spacing and etc.

This monitor is for the tractor not the planter and it shows information concerning the way the tractor works.

The tractor and corn planter was parked and this monitor showed information about the corn planter and field. I think the red rectangles represent the seed boxes. They are red because there has not been corn planted there. If corn had already been planted the boxes would have been another color to show that corn was already in the ground. This is all GPS driven. When corn is planted it is marked and the information is sent back from satellites to all these monitors - how much, how deep and etc.

These levers and the screen have to do with the tractor and the hydraulic lifts and who knows what - all tractor.

These gauges are connected to air that regulates part of the corn planter. There are wheels that pack down or cover the corn once it's been cut into the ground and the hydraulics lift or press down the wheels to cover the corn properly.

This is the view out the back window of the tractor. The black box has something to do with the air hydraulics and the yellow tank holds fertilizer.

The cool fire truck is what we use to haul water to the fields.

The hose is adding water to the fertilizer tank.

This is the stack of books Son #2 has to consult and know in order to run this high tech machine.

So as you can see, it's a different world for Farmers today. And most of us don't realize this is all a vital step in milk production. When you drink that glass of milk remember all this technology that planted the corn that fed the cows that gave the milk.

P.S. This is by no means 100% technically correct. By the time Farmer gets around to reading this and correcting anything that needs it, there will be snow on the ground and no one will care anymore.

You can keep up with our regular "stuff" at


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