27 December 2007

NOT Wal-Mart, this time

No, this time it was Meijer flexing its corporate muscle in Michigan. Evidently after years of fighting with a township board to open a new Meijer store in the Traverse City area-Meijer managed to help fund a recall of the township board. Fortunately, it was a failed attempt to undermine our sacred democracy.

Who do these guys think they are? I guess when you boil it down, the same thing happened locally. A couple of fat cats, albeit local fat cats, threw their money at an election and got their way. I've decided to ban Meijer at our house now.......maybe I should hold the same standard with our local corporateers controlling my representational government!
What am I saying...........here in Indiana we throw our arms open to it. It is representational.

Terror at the Slots

Watching the news last night, you would have thought from the reporter hype that Northwest Indiana was a hot bed for terrorist activity. Evidently a man wanted in South America for terrorism (nothing linked to the U.S.) had used a fake driver's license to get into the Michigan City casino to play the slots. Thank goodness he was caught.

Now, I'm glad he was caught, but really...what's up with the hype?

I believe that when Evan Bayh began the downward gambling spiral in Indiana, some folks felt that casinos would become attractive nuisances for criminals. How right they were! And terrorists nonetheless! Maybe, ultimately, through the Daniels administration gambling will become so common place and diluted that there will no longer be criminal activity associated with it. Kinda like when Ron Paul is elected President, prostitution won't be outlawed-therefore it won't be a problem. The guy takes contributions from brothel owners and white supremacists and then calls Huckabee a fascist-well, I guess compared to Paul, Mother Theresa would be as well. I digress.

For some reason our local park department takes seniors to the boats to spend away their dough-so much for Depression era thinking. I'm not sure why......I guess it falls under "recreation". Why not Six Flags for the old folks?

We'll take Third

Finishing #3 in the country for the next great American band ain't so bad. Congrats to Denver & the Mile High Orchestra. I asked Adam Beck, trumpeter, to share in Sunday School his experience in California. He said he was not in a hurry to go back to Hollywood, that it seemed everyone was walking around trying to impress others. Not so back home. Denver & Adam, you've made your community proud! Now that Scott Skiles is out of the spot light-I guess that makes you two the most famous folks to come out of our town.

20 December 2007

Merry Christmas

Some recollections of Christmas past:

One Christmas Eve, when I was very young, our family drove into town and purchased some Christmas ornaments at the Big Blue Store. Dad said we could also each pick out a toy. At our Big Blue, you had to walk past all brands of tires to get to the rest of the merchandise. To this day, the smell of new rubber tires takes me back to that night when I was about 5.

Speaking of tires-my parents rented out our old house trailer from which we moved. My dad would buy Christmas gifts for the families who lived there, but would leave them on their steps anonymously. One year he decided the family needed new tires for their car and left them sit outside. The fellow showed dad the generous gift someone had left-which he placed in the bathtub for safe keeping. I don't think dad was happy about that.

My cousins and I thought we would be clever and give Grandpa a scare one Christmas day. We took smoke bombs, placed them in the barn loft, lit them and allowed the smoke to billow out the hay loft door. We informed Grandpa the barn was on fire.

One year I remember going to my grandparents on Christmas Eve without a flake of snow on the ground. Santa showed up to pass out gifts, with little black tufts of hair showing beneath his cap. My uncle asked "Santa, on what did your sleigh ride if there is no snow?" It marked the end of my childhood.

My great aunt called one Christmas Eve day and said she would be unable to make it to our house that night because the county roads were drifted shut. My brother and I wanted to see just how bad it was so we set out in my car. We got stuck within 200 feet of her house and had to call my dad to help get us out. It was a very silent night indeed.

Realizing I must add proof to the belief in Santa for our children, I concocted a brilliant scheme on the way home from my wife's grandparents on Christmas Eve a few years back. Outside our bedroom window I created what appeared to be reindeer tracks in the snow on the porch roof and left melted tootsie rolls in a neat pile. I told the kids on Christmas morning if Rudolph ever left a mess like that again, Santa would not be welcome at our house anymore.

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas & make some memories.......I'll be back next week.

18 December 2007

Holy Night

You know that red glow that appears on a white blanket of snow at the end of the day? Sunsets can be spectacular in any season, but it seems like some of the most colorful occur when the earth acts like a mirror; and while the earth below is cold, the fire in the sky warms the heart.

Consider for a moment what that holy night must have felt like, looked like......sounded like as the heavens were filled with voices crying out in joy.

I had a great conversation with a new friend who was asking a lot of questions about faith & God...and it seemed his most perplexing question was why.......why, if God knew that ultimately He would have to send His Son to earth........why did He create man in the first place? Divine intervention allowed me to answer. I said, I have to believe that God so desires to have a relationship with you, and I said his name, that the Sacrifice born in a manger was the only way to achieve it. Wow, where did that come from?

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

14 December 2007

last chance!

Tonight......should the votes have put them through tonight.......you have the last chance to vote to make Denver & the Mile High Orchestra (DMHO) the top American Band. If you haven't caught earlier posts-Denver Beirman and Adam Beck, lead singer and trumpeter in the band, are from our sleepy little town. Tonight on Fox you can vote them #1 in the country-9:00 EST. We receive email updates & pics from Adam regularly and it seems they are overwhelmed with the well wishes.

Best of luck guys!
attached is a pic sent by Adam with one of the Clark brothers

13 December 2007

911......cows on road

a three generation shot of Hoosier dairy farmers

That was a recent call from one of our rural county highways. Indiana.....home to the dairy farmer. I remember a cow vs. Fiero (remember those?) match on the highway several years ago. Neither cow nor car survived.

Dairy farms seem to be either phasing out operations or becoming giant cow milking sweat shops. We had some dairy farmer friends who sent their cows packing a few years back. I remember his comment was that if he ever won a million dollar lottery........he'd keep farming until the money was gone. My father-in-law grew up in the industry, but, evidently his wife put her foot down. Seemed he had the choice to be either married to the cows, or her.

Of recent concern is daylight savings time and the dairy farmer. Cows don't understand spring ahead and fall back. When it's time, it's time-and they aren't happy to wait around. Kudos to the farmers who keep the cows happy and provide me with whole milk.....none of that white water for me!

12 December 2007

Dismantling Indiana

It has been awhile since I took on any political issues, but, based on the direction it appears we are heading with the recommendations for government reform in Indiana.....I felt it was time to speak up.

Here are some key recommendations made by the blue ribbon panel to the Governor for streamlining Indiana government:

1. Getting rid of county commissioners and replacing them with one county executive
2. Having that executive appoint the county sheriff, auditor and assessor — those positions are elected now
3. Consolidating school corporations that have fewer than 2,000 students.
4. Consolidating libraries into a county-wide system.
5. Eliminating township governments altogether

Basically, while our Hoosier virtues tend to reflect Republican ideals......including local control....it appears we may be headed toward giving up local control to a consolidated, removed authority. This doesn't make any sense.......but then, inconsistency runs rampant nowadays.

1. If we replace a county commissioner board by one elected executive officer....the cost would probably be a wash and now, if you have a complaint-your representation and response will be cut by two-thirds.

2. Your single county executive appoints the sheriff, assessor and auditor.......again, removing your representation by election from the equation. Also smacks of good 'ol boy.....a scary thought especially in my county.

3. Consolidation of school corps with less than 2,000. Only one of seven school corporations in our county have over 2,000. Each community has its own identity and school pride......and again, local control of its schools.........and your going to take that away? Is this to save a few bucks (probably very few)? What about the quality of education, Mitch (smaller corps do better)? Or the value of hometown schools?

4. Consolidation of public libraries to a single county library corporation. Again, loss of control for towns who have done very well with their libraries.......the quality of which is bound to suffer and it certainly wouldn't make things cheaper.........look at the St. Joe County library system.

5. Township government elimination. Again, loss of local control........and again, won't make things cheaper. Someone will need to do the job of township assessors and trustees, so if they are consolidated under a county function additional employees will need to be hired. And those employees will not know the people of the township like local elected officials.

How unfortunate in Indiana Mitch Daniels has created an environment of knee-jerk governance that cannot be shown to benefit the state. Rather than developing the state into a place people want to live or invest financially, we seem to be rushing to initiate reform that does neither. Unless the Governor can prove that these reforms will make the Hoosier State a better place to raise a family-he ought to just leave things alone and worry about quality of life & marketing our state.

11 December 2007

big city architecture in Indiana

a detail on the outside of the Cummins office building

Columbus has a marketing line: "different by design", and if any of you have ever visited the small city in south central Indiana......you'd have to recognize something is different there. Columbus is ranked 6th in the nation for "architectural innovation and design" by the American Institute of Architects on a list that includes Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.. So how did this little bastion of architectural significance come to be?

The patron of architecture, like the Medicis of old, the Cummins Engine Foundation, offers to pay the architect's fee for a variety of public buildings such as schools, churches, etc. designed by an architect selected from a list supplied by the Foundation. World-known architects like Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, Richard Meier, and I.M. Pei have left an impressive mark on the small city. I highly recommend a visit to Columbus. I'd recommend a summer visit though, so that you can walk the streets and parks and allow yourself to enjoy all of the public sculpture and architecture the city has to offer.

I like this statement from Columbus' web site: "No one will call a community "good," unless it looks like a "good" community. By American tradition, a good city must be defined as one which provides the "good things" for all its residents -- schools, parks, churches, civic buildings, programs that meet community needs, and events that entertain. There is a commitment in Columbus to save the best of the old and build for the future in a quality way that everyone will consider worth saving. " Would that all cities and towns take even the smallest hint from Columbus on how to "do" public art and architecture right-Indiana would be a remarkable place.

fence row in winter

Around much of grampa's farm he had installed board fence for the horses. It was fence I painted frequently; and today, I spend much of my time painting picket fence around our home. Therapeutic, I guess.

There was one stretch of board fence that ran along the north line of his property, along the truckpatch; and along this board fence he had planted red pine in the 1960's. I walked this section frequently to and from grampa's, our home and the truckstop. I found it interesting in the winter to study the wildlife that found shelter and food in the dense brush and pine.....the tracks on the snow that disappeared into little snow caves created by arching branches covered from a new snowfall.

My cousins from North Carolina would come home over Christmas and spend a few weeks at my grandparents. We had a couple of traditions. One was to set up gramma's outdoor nativity set in her front yard. well, two sets really, some pieces were missing from each, so we did the best we could, but one set was about half-scale of the other. It was a very big baby Jesus that was born to the Virgin Mary, but we made due-and would construct elaborate stables because there was plenty of bails of straw. Another tradition was to "skate" (really slide around) on the frozen swamp, just down the road from gramp's house.

But one year, we thought we'd start a new tradition and that was to cut down our own Christmas tree. The only available trees were along that board fence row. So, saw and sled in tow, a few of us set out to get the family tree. We succeeded in taking down the tree, strange-it looked more glorious in the fence row, than the house-which is probably why it didn't stay.

10 December 2007

Latest from the field

We blew-out the old bird watching record around our house this past weekend......maybe it was due to being confined by the ice and flu, at any rate-25 species seen. Not bad for living in town, a few blocks from the downtown. A friend and fellow birder wonders if it doesn't have to do with the river being close by-forming a continual habitat linking some wetlands. This could be-along with the railroad that runs through no more than a stone's throw from our feeders.

The official list:

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, F (back)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker, M, F
Downy Woodpecker, M, F
Hairy Woodpecker, F
Northern Flicker, F
White breasted Nuthatch, 2
Red breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Bluebirds, 3
Slate colored Juncos, 5
Song Sparrow
House Sparrows, 13
Goldfinch, 4
House finch, 6
Tufted titmouse, 2
Black-capped Chickadee, 2
Carolina Wren
Mourning Dove, 11
Cardinal, M, F
Blue Jay
Crow, 2
Mallard, M, F
Canadian Geese, 3
Rough-legged Hawk
Cooper's Hawk, F (flew right over our heads)
Starlings, 13 (not welcome)

and a Partridge in a Pear tree.

08 December 2007

Denver moving on!

I hope everyone had a chance to vote after Next Great Band last night. Denver and the Mile High is in the final four! Will he make it to 3? Those little kids need to go-it would be a travesty if they won! Watch next Friday and keep voting...........hometown boys making it big!

07 December 2007

Operation Skywatch

This friend and I would try to find obscure-out of the way places to visit during summer breaks from college. He suggested we find some strange tower outside of Lafayette....something that people used to stand guard at, identifying any low-flying enemy aircraft. This sounded like a strange place indeed....so we drove to Cairo, Indiana to find Delta-Lima 3 Green or the DL3-G post. A recreated tower and a monument to the men and women, and evidently children, who participated in "Operation Skywatch".

A product of the Cold War, Operation Skywatch found its roots during WWII when folks in the states would be on watch for enemy aircraft. The program evolved and in 1952 President Truman renamed and expanded it to Operation Skywatch, calling on all red blooded Americans to participate. Now, I didn't grow up with atomic bomb drills, but I always was suspicious of the Soviets.....remember them? So this did sound a bit foreign to me.

Evidently Indiana was a hot spot for guard duty. It was felt that the Soviets would fly their aircraft at low altitudes, over the north pole and across Canada and down Lake Michigan undetected, to power station targets in Tennessee. I wonder how many other of these towers existed across the Hoosier heartland? In a project I am involved in, in our tallest building downtown that served as a Lodge, I found records of airplane activity and aircraft identification charts.........appeared to date to the early 1950's. Maybe the Lodge's members participated in Operation Skywatch from the roof of the three-story building? Cool.

05 December 2007

we called it spookin'

My friends and I had this past time in highschool-being that there's not much to do for country kids-it was certainly illegal, but we were never destructive. We called it "spookin'". All you needed was a truck, a creepy abandoned house or school, and a little bit of courage. We would identify creepy old places in the country and take tours of them late at night. Probably a stupid thing to do, but it was how we passed time on Friday nights.

Our favorite place was this giant, leaning victorian house that was once connected to a brewery. Left furnished, with pictures still on the walls and books on shelves.........we made up terrific stories about what must have happened to the owners and why it was left to rot. Unfortunately, the old place is gone now. Still, great memories.

And no, before you ask, I wouldn't want my kids doing this.

waking up to snow!

This is why I love Indiana. 6" on the ground this morning......welcome winter! There's just something about waking up to a fresh snowfall that hangs on the trees and fences.

03 December 2007

busy bird weekend

We log the different species of birds we see each weekend, and I'm not sure if it was because of the small snow/ice storm that landed on Saturday-but we logged in 20 different species-tying a record from May, 2006. I'm careful not to count the same birds twice, we count based on how many we see at a single time, or if the difference between the males and females is obvious. We also confine our counting to what we see from our home, or within two blocks to the river.
So for you other birders out there........here's our list:
House Finch 3, House Sparrow 13, Goldfinch 4, Bluebirds 3M 2F, Red Breasted Nuthatch 2, Slate Colored Juncos 4, White Breasted Nuthatch 2, Crow 2, Black Capped Chickadee 2, Blue Jay 2, Hairy Woodpecker 1F, Downy Woodpecker 1F 1M, Cardinals 3F 2M, Canadian Geese 5, Mallards 3, Tufted Titmouse 2, Red Bellied Woodpecker 1M 1F, Carolina Wren 1, Mourning Dove 1, Pigeons 3. But no Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, not this time, but I did attach the picture of the sighting.

tree hunting at Lowes

Yes, that's right, you read the headline correctly. We went to Lowes for our Christmas tree-or Holiday tree-I can't remember what they call it now. At least we didn't go to WalMart.

the picture on the right is from more authentic times

In my defense, my brother's family sent word that the place our family has gotten our tree my entire life had closed. There's been a time or two when we would go to a different place to cut down a real tree.........but it was nearly always Klotz's-way out there in the country, down the bumpy county road, over the creek and past my great grandparent's place. Yes, those were the good 'ol days, walking through the snow until your fingers and nose were numb-trying to find that perfect tree.

Well, there was no numb fingers or nose this season. We found the first tree-which was almost purchased until my son noted the crown was broken-my grandparent's star wouldn't stay on that. So, we found another, put it on a big cart, pushed it past home and garden supplies, past door and cabinet hardware, past paint supplies, then finally past lighting to check-out. The clerk scanned the tag and wished us a Merry Christmas.

Something just didn't seem right about all this. I think we'll be looking for a new Christmas tree farm for next year. But none of those commercialized places-that's not quite right either.

29 November 2007


We've got a couple of boys who have made it to the big time from our little town......and could be bigger yet if you help them out. Have you been watching the Next Great American Band competition on Fox? Denver and the Mile High Orchestra boasts two members from our sleepy little Hoosier town. Lead singer, Denver, and trumpeter Adam Beck both hail from our community and have made it to the big time playing modern big band music. But they need your help-so watch Fox every Friday night at 8 and vote Denver thru!
Geesh, the last famous folks from our town, as is widely accepted, were a couple of the 3 Stooges brothers. Oh yeah, and Scott Skiles-coach of the Chicago Bulls. I'm thinking we can do better than that.

front porch Indiana

One more throw at Fall

28 November 2007


a creek that feeds Yellowwood Lake, location of a bigfoot sighting

A few years back a friend and I headed to Yellowwood State Forest for a short camping excursion. Just weeks prior to our trip reports came from the area that folks in the back woods had spotted a bigfoot-like creature. As a kid, I made up stories for my friends about bigfoot sightings in our backyard and once it was spotted by the baseball diamond, near the concessions stand at the elementary school. And now, wow, the possibility that bigfoot may pay a visit to our campsite!

I contacted my buddy via email at BSU warning of the possibility of bigfoot joining us in the wilderness for a cup of joe. I also suggested that if bigfoot were looking for a mate, that he was the only eligible one. Matt replied that with a name like bigfoot, he figured he would already have a girlfriend, because, well....you know what they say about guys with bigfeet.

So, we embarked on our trip which was taken over Matt's spring break......in March. It was somewhat cold, and wet. When we arrived at Yellowwood, I requested using the cabin since it was not in use. The park manager said due to state budget cuts, the cabin could not be rented. I said, but I have money I am willing to give you to use it....what does that have to do with budget cuts? I recieved the same answer when I asked if we could rent a boat in order to fish. The boats were not being placed out for rent due to budget cuts. This is what prevented me from voting for that Governor's administration in 2004.

As we walked away from the park manager's cabin, Matt commented that she looked a little like she could be bigfoot's mate. Indeed, she could. We never saw bigfoot. I thought it was too cold and wet for beast to be out-only man, in a soaked tent.

Do you know what is unique about the Yellowwood tree in Indiana? Besides the heartwood being yellow? It is common in the south but only found in a small pocket this far north, in the Yellowwood State Forest area, and only in very specific habitat.

26 November 2007

my dad

First let me say, I love my dad....but you out there who know him, well, be prepared, because I will likely end up a lot like him. already so, if you ask my wife. But I need to share this story from Thanksgiving.

We were all sitting in the family room when I noticed he had his pocket knife out digging into his shoes. I dared to ask why. He said that the store never took the sensor out of the heel, so he has set off the alarm when he walks out of stores.

Then he went on to say that to avoid any appearance of impropriety on his part, he now waits near the exit for someone with a loaded down shopping cart, then walks out astride them. So when the alarm sounds, security automatically assumes it is person with the shopping cart and my dad walks away, undetected.

My dad.

fleeting days of fall

Just thought I would share a few last pictures of the season.

21 November 2007

reflections on Thanksgiving

Well, the cold rain has set in today....forecast is indicating the temperature will take a tumble and turn to snow, just in time for Thanksgiving. The warm fall that hung around so long left the colorful leaves in the trees until just this week when it seemed they all fell at once. Our town beat the rush and hung the Christmas decorations while the weather was a little more agreeable, and just in time for the town Christmas tree lighting the day after Thanksgiving. The grocery store is abuzz today, mothers-mostly grandmothers-going through their long lists of necessities for the big day, and, all of a sudden people just seem a little more.......reflective.

My best Thanksgiving memories stem from going to my grandparents home, in a woods on the edge of town. After my grandfather died, my grandma left the five generation farm and remarried a person of great Hoosier note who had built for himself a lodge of heavy barn timbers and an immense stone fireplace nestled among a grove of giant beech trees. I remember driving down the long winding gravel lane that led to the lodge, into the grove of beeches and it seems with always just a dusting of snow on the ground. We'd walk though the door and be met by a roaring, crackling fire and the smell of hickory smoke that permeated the old timbers. And the turkey, mmm, and sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. I add cranberry sauce to my pie for a little zing.

You know, our family never really fought at Thanksgiving, not that I can remember anyway. Seems like that's just more of a sacred day-a thankful day-thankful for family, a warm home, plenty of food. Thankful maybe that your crazy uncle seemed a little more subdued this year. Or that your mom didn't start to pick at what your plans were for the rest of the weekend while home from college. Thankful that you managed to skirt that one dreaded question-"so, when are you going to settle down, raise a family?"

Well I have now. And I love this holiday probably more than any. You don't have to cram in singing songs, opening gifts, or running to three other events. No, you just sit.....and talk....and eat. And maybe go for a walk in the woods. We have an important tradition in our family that dates back-well, all of about 10 years. We pass an ear of Indian corn around the dinner table and each person plucks a kernel off and drops it in a jar while telling the one thing they are most thankful for that year. One year, my wife and I used it as an opportunity to announce we were expecting-that was hard to top by anyone else at the table. I'm not sure about this year. Maybe, maybe just be thankful that God's been good, again, and that this has been my best year yet.

Hold those close to your heart near to you tomorrow. Give thanks for the people God has placed in your life and remember the abundance that we have in this country.....and those without.

20 November 2007

spiritual anniversary

It was exactly a year ago that God did something huge in my life-that set into motion probably the best year of my life. I thought I would be pretty transparent here and share something I penned last year.

The Decision - November, 2006

I'm finding that it is less about a decision whether or not to run for mayor, but rather a decision of how Christ is to be reflected in me. What I believe God is leading me to is broken-ness. The arrogance of my heart and what are my perceived "rights" to this calling are having an impact on my judgement and my ability to remain humble. I don't want to be like Saul-and I have been, for some months now.

I want to make an impact on people's lives-truly more than anything, but I must confess, that has recently become an agenda for me out of a desire to ascend, and not out of love as we are called. God forgive me. I do believe there is a calling on my life to serve in the public arena-I have no doubt of this. I am doubting my ability to reflect Christ in this, which has led me to some agonizing self-examination. I believe with God's help, I will learn to better reflect Christ. Would I be walking away from a calling? Yes and no-maybe for this period of time, but the calling will always be there, and should it be my life's ambition to see God glorified-I know He would not be by this vessel today. I've been throwing too many spears.

This is crushing to me personally and I have argued with God-but found that I was only asserting my rights to the throne as it were and not His nature. But what an exciting opportunity and revelation to build from-making me stronger in Him and more able to live out His calling on my life today and into the future. So long as I am held to this change of direction.

At this point, I am more certain than ever I could win the primary and likely the general election. It is difficult because so many are telling me to still run, which plays to my emotion and in agreement I think, yeah, I'll show them. But.....it has become so much less desirable because I don't like what I have become-and who that mayor would be.

Amazing as I reflect over the last year and what has happened recently with our elections, how I've grown due to the situation written about above. I did an entry a while back called "trying to be David". I'm still trying to be a guy after God's own heart, like David-and I'm a lot closer today-I think I might even be ready to slay some giants.
Thank God, I am a much different guy than I was a year ago. God is alive and working in men's hearts, today, right here, even in the Hoosier state.

19 November 2007


I may very well start a sister-blog dealing solely with naturalist topics from the Hoosier state because I realize this entry folks may not care much about.....but it was pretty exciting around our house Saturday.

We had just gotten home in the afternoon from a large indoor farm market and were preparing to head out to eat when I glanced out the window at our feeder and thought wonder what that could be?

Now, I've told you we're birders. And I would rate my ability-and even that of our kids, a little better than average for identifying birds. So, I checked and rechecked-but what we had for a little feathered visitor was a female Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. Very rare in this area-and my guess was heading south and maybe was a little off her well-traveled migration path. We've also had a pair of Red-Breasted Nuthatches hanging around for the last three weeks-certainly not as unusual, but birds we don't typically have. I hope they plan to stay all winter. For you birders out there-I bet your jealous!

16 November 2007

Basketball & Indiana

The two really go hand in hand, don't they? We're heading into the season again, when towns across the state will fill the gyms and crowds will roar from the stands. Basketball just tops any sport for excitement..........although recently I was introduced to an Indonesian style of kickboxing that looks pretty tough.

There really is just some kind of great "feel" to being in a packed gym with people on their feet screaming and clapping for that last 3 second shot that wins the game. And I've always respected the talent these young guys display...........I might be able to hit the hoop now and then, but I could never master dribbling.......well, it was never very pretty to watch anyway.

I always smile real wide when we drive down a country road and I see a hoop on the side of a barn. That is iconic Indiana. We had a hoop in the garage of the truckstop-not sure who put it there or why, seems like it had always been there.

Now, did we lose something when we switched to the class system? Our little city seems to think so, but that might be because we won state under the old system. ya know, kinda like the movie, Hoosiers. But, now that we've won again under the new system......I think folks are finally coming around. Hoosiers are slow to do that.

Get out to a local game and scream your lungs out. Whether it is winning or losing that close game-both can make you feel terribly alive.

15 November 2007

You know you're a Hoosier if:

the following appears in the news regarding a local Board of Zoning Appeals hearing:

Bloomer told the members of the BZA, “ This whole mess started when Neemith shot my dog and he had to move his hunting shack off of my property.”


14 November 2007

Great Hoosier Smoke-out

Well, since Hoosiers rank pretty high on the charts for smoking........across age brackets.......I thought it would be good to do an entry prior to the "Great American Smokeout" tomorrow. I have to admit here, I just don't get the allure in the first place-but I do get how one could get hooked. I'll also admit here that while most of the pics I put with my stories are my originals-occasionally I go looking online-the images "smokers" came up with were too disturbing to include-and maybe that would've been good.?

I remember once pulling into a service station so my roommate/good friend in college could buy a pack of smokes (his parents were from Great Britain-so I'm thankful he didn't call them 'fags'). We pulled away and he was starting to get a cig out of the packet and said, "geesh, I wish I could quit". I asked if I could see the pack-he handed it to me and I promptly threw it out the window. Wow-you should've seen the expression on his face.

Now, I'm not necessarily advocating for government bans; however, as a society we are becoming more conscious of the health risks of second hand smoke. It would seem that some level of protection from second hand smoke is overdue. Our county was presented information by some well meaning individuals (who were portrayed as Nazi doctors by local loud-mouth hotheads) about a year ago, asking for a county ban. Rather than take the high road, our county commissioners first threw the responsibility on the state-and then one county commissioner actually had the gall to say that to pass the ban "would be like spittin' in the face of our veterans who fought for our right to smoke". How absolutely astonishing an elected official would trivialize the sacrifices of our veterans. My grandfather served his country in WWII and he died from heart disease attributed to smoking and my grandmother from lung cancer attributed to second hand smoke. I think if grandad could come back-he'd tell the commissioners to wise up and pass some kind of a ban.

13 November 2007

ahh, tradition!

Now this is one tradition that even you guys out there can get into for the holiday season. It's fun for you and for the kids-or grandkids.

Our family celebrated for the third year in a row, our very own Charlie Brown Thanksgiving dinner. We typically do this on at least one or two Sunday evenings before Thanksgiving. What does the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving dinner consist of? Well, if you are familiar with this great little piece of work, and have watched it your whole life growing up (it's two years older than me), then you know how the story goes. Charlie Brown, by default, has to prepare a Thanksgiving feast; but at his age the best he can do is muster up some toast, popcorn, jelly beans and pretzels. Snoopy assists in the preparations and serving of the feast.

So, our family gets the same dishes together, sets up the card table and chairs in the living room and watches the film. Great fun for the kids, and I don't mind popcorn and jellybeans for dinner myself. Although, this year I noticed some kind of jello dessert on the animated table-which is something we have overlooked. It will be on the menu next year.

My wife and I decided that we will carry on this tradition well into the future. Even when our son and daughter come home from college with their dates-we will be certain to make little piles of these junk food treats on paper plates, hand them out at dinner, and expect everyone to join in the merriment!

12 November 2007

old barns

Old barns really portray some romance in the Hoosier state, don't they? California has its beaches, Colorado-the Rockies, Georgia-plantation mansions. Indiana has barns. And a wide variety of styles from various ethnic influences, maybe moreso than any other state (including being the round barn capital-thanks to Fulton County). My generation may well be the first generation removed from the barn. While I know I got to play in and around both my grampa's barns-that was a foreign concept to most of my friends growing up.

My mom took her two grandsons to visit the farm on which she was raised-and the old barn. The boys had a blast. Now, I make sure that my son is developing a good appreciation for these things; but I imagine most kids have never visited one of these masterpieces.

Barn builders were ingenious, innovative and true craftsmen. And the building of barns was the truest sense of community coming together and neighbor helping neighbor. What takes the place of this today? Seriously, what do we have that even becomes a pale comparison?

Barns are disappearing quickly from the landscape. Often they are impractical for today's farming operations. I sincerely thank those farmers out there who understand and appreciate these links to our past, preserving them for future generations. Here's a thought......Indiana will be celebrating our bicentennial in 2016 and ethanol is taking off (right?). So here's a proposition for the state. For every gallon of ethanol produced in the state, put a user fee of 1 cent to go into a fund to help save our rural, agrarian architecture. We could make some great saves! and help farmers, again!

08 November 2007

honoring our Veterans

My grandfather with Wrong Way Corrigan, pilot of the 1940's, in the South Pacific

This is from a letter to my Great Grandmother in 1945:

Dear Mrs. Bryant, I felt I needed to write this, I felt that you needed to know what happened the night your son Harold died. Harry and I were good pals so I wanted to tell you. It was so cold on Christmas Eve. Harry and I were dug down deep into our foxhole and he was missin' home real bad. He heard some boys in one of the holes dug aways from us and they were singing Christmas songs. He decided to join up with them and sing 'cause it was Christmas Eve and all, so he climbed over to them. And Mrs. Bryant, that's when the shell landed in their hole, and that's what happened to Harry. I wanted you to know this. I miss Harry.

My great uncle, Harold, was killed on Christmas Eve in the Battle of the Bulge. He was one of three brothers who served in WWII. My grandfather also served in the South Pacific. While at times I question our purpose in war (seems like more so these days), I never question the bravery, the courage and the sacrifice our men and women who serve our country exemplify.

Honor and thank our Veterans this weekend. We've benefited greatly from their sacrifices.

Community of Prayer

There is something awesome happening underfoot in our little town. I think it may be a transformation. Several weeks ago, a Latino church pulled together a community prayer time in our park. Several churches were present, but our church formed an immediate bond with the Latino church.

Which led to another time of community prayer last weekend at our church, again with a few other churches represented, but a large contingency from the Latino church again. We prayed for each other and sang together, both in Spanish and English, and just enjoyed being together in the presence of God into the wee morning hours.

I am pumped about the possibility that transformation could come to our community and that reconciliation can take place between Latinos and whites. Transformation of our community is what I pray for most these days, understanding if things are to change politically, economically or culturally, that a change of hearts must occur-and only God can do that.

A funny story about this time of coming together: two guys from Colorado and the tall Dominican Republic pastor of the Latino church were out at 6:00 a.m. to pray for the city and were doing so on the steps of the courthouse. These guys don't look like Hoosiers, clearly, so the police notice the activity and question them. Strange Colorado man said we're here to bless and pray for your city and the Latino pastor said "no speak englisia". Too strange to be made up by domestic terrorists, so the police let them go.

evidently pretty stupid

Yes, in record setting pace incumbent mayors across Indiana were thrown out in municipal elections due to blame being placed on them for the state property tax fiasco created by the state. I asked how stupid do these politicians think we are. Evidently they KNOW we ARE pretty stupid.

I just can't wait for our new mayor to cut my property taxes by the 22% he claimed the current mayor raised them by. Crafty little republicans! And indeed we do now have a puppet, let's hope the wizard helps him get a brain.

06 November 2007


Yes, snow had dusted the ground and barn roof this morning. Only three weeks ago I was asking where Fall was....maybe I should be asking that again. It could be the whole balance of the universe has been upset by daylight savings time.

Falling back.
Anyone notice how dark it is at the end of the work day now? I apologize, I had intended to forewarn my fellow Hoosiers of the time change this past weekend. We still haven't changed all our clocks. There are a few that I didn't change in the spring and they've finally caught up. We intentionally left our clocks go until after church Sunday. That way we could go to services a whole hour later.......and not be late for once.

The Wizard of Oz.
We took in the high school play this weekend. I never realized how many parallels can be made between this great story and politics. We have the man with no brain, the man with no heart, the one with no courage, the faceless great and mighty Wizard, wicked witches, etc. I may have to do an entry on this.

Election day for municipalities.
I voted, did you? I'm ready for it to be over and am preparing myself for the worse. I am most tired of hearing how all of these mayors are responsible for our property taxes skyrocketing. How dumb do these politicians think we are? I guess we find out tomorrow!

01 November 2007

wandering outside Indiana

My wife and I always go away for our anniversary-often times staying within the boundaries of the Hoosier state, but also wandering outside from time to time. It is healthy to go away and come back-see the larger world out there.

Our trip this year took us to Galena, IL, a great little river town in the northwestern part of the state. The town is quite picturesque, as is the rolling countryside. A few things stood out to me. One was the absolute and whole appreciation that area, all of Joe Davies County, had for their history. It was evident in the preservation of their architecture throughout the region, in buildings large and small. Well tended farms, residences, commercial buildings, even public amenities such as parks and streetscape all bear the mark of a genuinely thoughtful public. The second thing that stood out was how prosperous the small farms appeared....that the farmers didn't hurridly section off their land to sell for mobile homes. I can't imagine the quality of the land is that much better than Hoosier soil. So why were the farms intact and appear prosperous?

I love Indiana................but we've really got to change our thinking, and fast. We're tearing down, splitting up and parcelling off probably our best asset: our rural charm and character. My father-in-law was in a meeting with our Lt. Governor recently and she made it abundantly clear that Indiana towns have to start thinking about quality of life issues to make our state a desirable place to live. This doesn't happen by pinching every penny, but by a progressive approach to economic development. Progressive and Hoosier are non-synonymous terms. We've got a lot of work to do.

I have to put in a plug for Galena's annual Halloween Parade. Now this is something to see. It has burners on the baskets of hot air balloons scattered throughout the parade route, on floats. This creates great excitement as shadows are cast on the buildings along Main Street and the fire glows and reflects in the windows. I rate this event pretty high on a must do list in the Midwest.

30 October 2007

oh boy! Halloween!

Well, I have to admit.....this was always my favorite time of year in highschool. We'd have great, blow-out parties that usually ended with a trip to a haunted house or cemetery. This is what country kids do, deprived of big city fun. Two such parties stand out in my mind.

One year some friends and I constructed an elaborate haunted "village" and woods on my grandpa's farm for a party. My parents were out of town, so our house was used as the warming center. I had created some pretty nasty red goop for application to faces from which skin was to be deteriorating and falling off. A few of the guys stayed over that night and we started throwing it at each other and it landed on my parents new blue carpet. Did I mention it was red? I cleaned it as best I could, but then got the bright idea to add blue food coloring to override the red food coloring in the goo. This, of course, did not work and was pretty obvious to my folks upon their return. Add this to the broken lamp and scratches on the truck and I believe I got 4 weeks for this episode.

A few years later, another big party led about 20 of us to an isolated, abandoned cemetery in the country several miles away from home. The cemetery had one massive tree in it and sloped uphill pretty dramatically toward the rear of the cemetery. There was a single lane that you could drive on around the perimeter of the burial ground, leading from the road. Of course, I made up a fantastic tale of a mysterious fire in the church on the property that claimed the lives of parishioners, buried, right here.........below your FEET! As I was going into further detail of the poor Methodists ghosts who wander the cemetery, we heard a loud clank and a friend said..."that farmer's got a gun!"

We all scattered, hiding behind tombstones. Then we saw his headlights go on and we started running to the back of the cemetery. We came in four cars-only one car was parked in the back; it was an old clunker we called "Daisy". Everyone piled in and on the car.......it could not move. I think I lost my brother that night, if I recall correctly. And there was no gun-someone made that up too.

Life is short, get out and be a kid again tomorrow. Happy Halloween!

at its height!

23 October 2007

an old tradition now gaining ground

The farmer's market. My generation, and my parent's generation sure didn't grow up with this. But a resurgence in this wonderful community activity is being seen across the Hoosier state. And now my kids can appreciate the return of the market in their generation.

Our community's farmer's market just finished its second year. When it started, and I was privileged to be part of the steering committee, we wanted to achieve two things primarily. 1-to get healthy and nutritious food into our community and 2-to create an opportunity for "community" to happen. Both these goals have been realized, even beyond our expectations. People want a place to go and interact with their neighbors and friends. And people want fresh food. What a remarkable concept; seems like our grandparents knew what they were doing. We attended the last market of the season last Saturday and were entertained with square dancing, but did not participate. Our kids sorted through their piggy banks for quarters to buy their honey sticks.

Until next year.

a Dark Delay?

You guys know I'm no fan of Daylight Savings Time........and to add insult to injury, the feds pushed our return to normalcy back a week. My little 5 yr old girl asked this morning, after realizing it was still really dark when her big brother would be walking to the bus stop, if it was possible the school would issue a "Dark Delay".
You know, kinda like fog and snow can be dangerous. Out of the mouths of babes. Wish our elected officials had been that smart. Oh, that's right, they're golfers and can get an extra 9 in.

22 October 2007

humbling reminder

This past week brought a humbling reminder that we Hoosiers still live in Tornado Alley. The little town of Nappanee bore the brunt of a string of storms that brought destruction to this part of the state. Despite the incredible damage, 250 structures damaged with over a 100 totally destroyed, only 5 minor injuries were reported. A miracle.

With the Evansville tornado that claimed several lives just a few years ago, and now this, we have to remember our state lies in the path of the potential for amazing destruction. Those with memories of the Palm Sunday tornadoes of 1965 probably don't need the reminder-but my generation does. Brought up with tornado drills in our old elementary school....seems like something has shifted from the spring-type tornado awareness of our past. Tornadoes seem to be popping up in the fall now. Maybe we should switch the severe weather preparedness week from the spring to the fall.

I remember one storm in 1993, straight line winds or tornado-we are unsure, that dropped a dozen trees around my parents home and one tree each on grampa's house and barn. After checking on my parents who made a bee-lined for the bathtub, I checked on gramps. The tree had broken through the large picture window in the family room near where gramp's Lazy-Boy sat. Not knowing what I'd find when I went in the house-gramps was still sitting in the Lazy-Boy and said "when I got up to shut the window-whewy-that tree came right in at me!" I think he got a rush from it.

Say a prayer for the folks in Nappanee. My understanding is that over 5,000 volunteers came to this town on Sunday (nearly doubling the town's size) to help clean up before the police started turning people away. Good Hoosier folks. Over and over again, I heard comments that people were there to show God's love. The outpouring is even more amazing than the destruction.

19 October 2007

finding the perfect pumpkin

It's that season. Have you been to the pumpkin patch yet?
In my stellar academic and non-existent athletic career, I can claim one trophy. I received a small trophy in the third grade for a poem I wrote about a Jack-O-Lantern. I'm sure my mom kept it-somewhere. I remember one part........something about scooping its brains out and putting them in a cup. Good stuff.

My grampa grew some big pumpkins, due in large part to the horse manure additive. We kids would get to go to his truckpatch (that's a large garden in Indiana), pick out a couple pumpkins and carve them up. My folks try to carry on the tradition with our kids.....however, in the last year or two the pumpkin crop has been anything but productive so several mysterious pumpkins show up in the fields for the grandkid's fall party. No vines in sight.

Something about a good pumpkin and picking out just the right one. Makes even us 39 year olds feel like a kid again. Without the attempt to put it on my own head......won't do that again.

best of my life

I had a new experience last night, I found myself in a room with other dads.......who were younger than me...and were seeking advice. I can't be that guy; I'm not usually the oldest, unless I'm surrounded by kids. This couldn't have come at a worse time, considering I turned another year older this week.

But, at 39, I can honestly say I am in the best physical and spiritual shape of my life. I owe it to God working through a wonderful wife & kids, good friends and some folks who really don't like me. Had it not been for the trials......I wouldn't be able to make the statement that I'm at my best. I'll admit, there is a little gray....but no balding, sorry brother.

So, now in my last leg before the big 4-0, I can't wait for the year ahead. Been reading a lot of passages in Scripture about 4o's time periods that result in transformation & blessing. There is a song popular right now, a rendition of Amazing Grace, that says "my chains are gone, I've been set free". Too true for me this year and the year ahead.......waiting for my 40 time period.

A film came out earlier this year.....300......easily has become one of my all-time favorite films. I've seen it 3x to date and am thinking I'm about due again. Lot's of good analogies for life, and of course, lots of awesome fighting scenes. But there is one line that stirs the soul to action "remember, free men fought......". And they died-but what they fought for lived on in the lives of their children. What are you fighting for, Spartan?

18 October 2007

God change us..... Part IV of IV

The issues with poverty are so layered and complex we shouldn't kid ourselves in thinking any one or even multiple programs could pull folks finding themselves in poverty, out.

I believe there are five key elements that need addressed: addictive abuses (drugs, alcohol), financial management, nutrition, relationships and education. See how complex this becomes? But here is an idea not so complex:

Feed the hungry, cloth the poor, give shelter to the homeless........all found written in our guidebook for life, God's Word. Words spoken and lived out by Christ, our model. Unfortunately Christians abdicated their role to do this many years ago, and now a tyrannical attitude exists with some political activists that says the government (having taken over the responsibility from the churches) should drop it too. I doubt they, themselves, would follow Christ's model if government programs did cease.

In a local election, one candidate has on his web site "there are no free lunches"....I doubt he's really thought much about what this means. Sounds like he is repeating the party chairman's words I've heard spoken often. No free lunches......health care for those who can't afford it, housing assistance, WIC, kick those old folks out of the government subsidized apartments around town (that the chairman benefited from), because there are no free lunches.

Well, as much as it pangs me to say this.....there may be some validity in this from the government's point of view.....I guess it isn't the government (city or national) that should emulate the model of Christ. Christ didn't call governments to follow Him-He called us to do this. So it goes back to us.......feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, etc. But as Christians we have failed in this and have shown those in poverty.......we preach a good message (maybe) but we don't truly believe it.

I don't doubt for a second that some of the causes of poverty have to be dealt with by prayer-but unlike aforementioned politics and pride, Christians have to engage themselves to become the solution. Christians have to follow the words and model of Christ......right here, in this community. Which may go back to that issue of pride.

God forgive me for not helping when it was within my ability to help and give me your eyes to see people the way you do. Talk about a novel way to deal with poverty!
It's time to pray for transformation.
It's time for us, ourselves, to be transformed.

15 October 2007

God change us..... Part III of IV

I know I'll be plowing hard ground here, and due to my insight, may have a difficult time in addressing the issue of the political power struggle in a way people can understand. But here goes.

First, some background.
I had worked for about 18 months in preparing a mayoral run for our town. I worked within the GOP system as much as possible, but understood that many times I would offend the party bosses or other GOP elected officials, particularly in the county, by questioning their decisions or coming across too ethical or strong. But I was being led to believe the city party bosses still supported me. I was wrong. And found out when they tapped a member of my "team" to run for mayor and pulled the rug out from under me. It wasn't about what he could do for the city-it was about how they could control him and knew they couldn't control me. They further exerted their control in organizing my demise in the spring primary for council. And just to show how unwelcome I am in the party.....the city chair hasn't spoken to me since the primary, whereas before it was more than weekly. And wow, the hatred that was felt during the primary returns. One wife of a GOP candidate followed my wife and kids out into the foyer of the building we were in, after I lost, and glared intently at her. This woman has cancer........but it is her hatred that is killing her.

I guess this is politics, down and dirty, the nature of the game. In our community, though, it has reached epic proportions. Anonymous newsletters attacking city officials, bias seen in the media and well-timed "problems" arising at public meetings. There is a small group orchestrating this. It is a group of men who have such a hatred for "their man's" opponent that it no longer matters what is best for our community. Unfortunately our community is the last vestige, the last hold-out from their control. The county succumbed some years ago with their control of the majority of commissioners, who play as their pawns in attacking the city. The whole thing has become sick and twisted and the people of the community are suffering for it.

Being on the inside, briefly, I have witnessed the seething hatred because they cannot have influence or control. Most of these guys do not live in town, so voting is not an option. I believe it is tearing our community, even the whole county community, apart. The average person does not see this-if they did, we probably wouldn't be so daggone Republican here. By the way, it has nothing to do with GOP values.

The power grab has to stop and voting proves to be ineffective in solving this larger, behind the scenes issue. So I only know to say, when you pray, pray that the hearts of these men change or that God exposes or removes them fully from influencing the process. Their actions are causing intense strife in the community-with the media, unfortunately, being willing participants.

I pray and ask for forgiveness for my own participation in this.
It's time to pray for transformation.

they kept coming, and coming, and coming!

So, taking a tip from a reader, our family spent some quality time at the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Refuge near Medaryville Saturday watching the sandhill cranes come in. It was truly impressive. Line after line of these giants kept descending in the fields before us. An anticipated 1,400 cranes were to congregate this weekend. My wife was skeptical, but in the end admitted it was pretty cool. And we weren't the only ones taking the noisy spectacle in. I estimated about 70 folks had also congregated on the viewing platform to watch wave after wave fly in from all directions. The most impressive thing was when a line would fly directly overhead and land a few hundred feet in front of you. The only thing I could compare it to was when I was in Custer State Park in South Dakota, where the hills were literally covered with thousands of bison.

Evidently, the cranes are here briefly, but had not stopped in the area prior to 1982 since very early in the 1900's. Maybe my reader knows the correct date. It is an amazing thing to share this planet with all God's creatures. Unfortunately in Indiana our appreciation for this is small. How do we change that?

13 October 2007

God change us.....Part II of IV

"Pride goeth before destruction......."

What an unfortunate time this week has been for our community. A young man who many respect and admire, many students consider a mentor and friend & many of us in the christian community consider a brother in Christ.....resigned as the boys basketball coach for improper use of the internet at school. Everything seemed pretty from the outside.......as most things do in our town.

We have an incredibly attractive town. Our downtown is vibrant and beautifully restored. We have impressive parks and recreational facilities unparalleled in communities 5x our size. We have graceful streets lined with regal trees shading beautiful homes. We have economic prosperity seldom found in towns our size with McMansions built on our south hills and lakes. We have it all. And yet the core is rotten. I've made the comment often that you can put paint on a corpse, but it's still a corpse.

We believe we've got it together. Particularly with athletics and speech in our schools and with the prettiness of our city that economic fortune and intelligence has afforded. Yet, as seen this week, we have some real problems that need dealt with. Pornography is just one, albeit heavily present in our town; others are racism against Latinos, arrogance, alcohol provided by parents to their kids' friends while school leaders and those charged with enforcing our laws look the other way, lavish and wasteful use of money-I believe we probably have more Hummers per capita than any city in Indiana, adulterous affairs that have found their way into government offices, the schools and those charged with protecting us-breaking up homes. But we continue to cover all this up-and maybe it is because we ourselves know we are guilty.

The wealth and immorality is breaking down our homes as has become obvious and we need a purging.......maybe this week was the beginning. I believe it will begin in the church. Many of those guilty, and we are all guilty to some degree, profess Christ with their mouth but their heart is far from Him. The church needs to break free from our own arrogance, self-indulgent and immoral behaviour first and allow our families to heal in order to be effective tools to bring about change in others. Unfortunately, many people are rejoicing and deriving great pleasure in the demise of the young man I mentioned above.....as I know many did over my great public humiliation this year. Please pray for him and his family-everything he had hoped for in life, everything he wanted to be, came crashing down around him this week. And I can identify, at least in part, with that.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, says the Lord, I will heal their land."

God, forgive my own pride and make me your humble servant in changing this community.
It's time to pray for transformation.

11 October 2007

God change us..... Part I of IV

There has been something stirring in my soul for several weeks now. Fact is, I'm sure it started in me last November, but the urgency and the revelation has been realized more recently due to some time in prayer and things happening in our church and community.

Our community, our little city of 10,000 or so folks, is in desperate shape and may not recover. Our problems are enormous and may ultimately lead to our ruin if things don't change. So what are the problems?

Pride, Politics and Poverty.........and everything that goes with these. We have a beautiful, prosperous community that ranks high in athletics and extra-curricular programs. At the same time we are racist, arrogant and quickly sweep issues of alcoholism, poverty and things damaging our families under the surface.....where they fester and break down our community.

And there are those with an insatiable desire to control the community, that have so positioned themselves that they can manipulate people and media to make political gain. This is creating intense strife and hatred in our community and is breaking down how we should truly function-as an extended family.......real neighbors.

In all this, people are suffering........and those who suffer most are falling victim to pride and politics. We are ignoring people who are really in need because of drugs, alcohol, finances or abusive relationships. We throw our collective nose in the air and say "there are no free lunches" which is akin to "let them eat cake"

I plan to write about the three topics I listed above individually over the next week. I write this in full transparency knowing there is blame at my feet too. I'm thinking these will likely be my most controversial entries to date. But I believe, until we address some key issues that are making our community "sick", we will never move into the kind of "neighbors" God intended for us to be. My challenge to you is to be open minded and read this in the spirit it is intended-one to foster real change, with God's help. It's time to pray for transformation.

08 October 2007

where IS fall?

I was volunteering at a work day over the weekend, doing some outside work, then came home and painted our fence. By 5:00 p.m. I was drenched in sweat and had downed several glasses of water, a coke, a glass of milk and some juice. I think I lost about half those 18 lbs. I had gained.

Man, where is fall? I heard it is supposed to be here later this week, after a stretch of three 90 degree days. I don't care if you believe in global warming or not......this ain't normal. Sunday was too hot-we pretty much just stayed inside other than playing a little bit of catch with my daughter. Still, there are a few signs of fall, and the sunrise I caught Saturday morning was awesome.

04 October 2007

Ethanol: evidently NOT the right choice


Remember when I made my first cynical comments on ethanol? I likened the ethanol craze to intoxication. Well, evidently some farmers are waking up with a hang-over this fall. Reports are indicating that corn supply has far surpassed the demand by ethanol producers. And it is hurting the farmer's bottom line. I'm ready to pull out those green signs around the county that state Ethanol: the right choice.

We were watching the news last night when this report came across. Then they interviewed an old friend of mine.....which obviously sparked my interest. Dave decided to turn his farming operation into an entertainment venue with a corn maze and corn cannon to offset the sluggish corn demand. I feel bad for farmers, I really do, and I guess it is possible that demand may go up as more refineries come on line.......but I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket.

Here's a thought. Since our terribly conservative state is quickly heading down the gaming/entertainment path.......maybe we should take a lesson from my old friend Dave and put a few slot machines in the corn mazes too!

03 October 2007

Indiana INDOT Irony

Evidently today is International Walk to School Day and INDOT is encouraging Hoosier children to heed the call and walk to school. The idea is to promote physical activity in our youth and decrease traffic congestion among other things.

I see two problems with this. 1) it is still dark across much of the Hoosier state when kids would be walking to school-thank you very much daylight savings time! I guess it's a good thing the day doesn't fall any later in the year. This all seems contrary to promoting physical health for our kids.

The other problem with walking to school is one created by the state too. My understanding is that school corporations are required to have a minimum number of acres when constructing a new school that essentially removes the building from walkable neighborhoods. Then school corporations, in order to maximize assistance dollars, draw bizarre district boundaries for their schools not regarding neighborhoods, but to enable them to capture a disproportionate number of low income kids to upper income kids. Seems like this only encourages more driving-therefore traffic congestion!

In a recent school building and redistricting project in our community-this very thing happened. In fact, we can physically see our old neighborhood school at the end of our street, about 7 blocks away; but our children attend a new school about 1 1/2 miles away-no way to walk to that one. It split our proud neighborhood in half.

So I'm sorry, INDOT, our kids couldn't possibly walk to school today-like a high majority of other Hoosier children. It is disingenuous to make charges like this. Don't throw traffic congestion and "Get in Shape Indiana" hogwash our way until the state starts "walking" the talk.

01 October 2007

an oldy but goody

I have two or three favorite movies of all time. Arsenic & Old Lace, Tommy Boy and recently making my list is 300. It is a tradition with me to watch Arsenic & Old Lace about this time of the year.

If you're not familiar with the Frank Capra film starring Cary Grant, you need to go out and rent it. It's about two elderly women who do mercy killings and bury their victims in their basement. Their nephew, Cary Grant, learns about it and tries to protect his aunts by committing his brother, who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt. It takes place on Halloween in Brooklyn in 1944. A great comedy.

My wife rented it and had it waiting for me Friday night. We popped popcorn, lit the candles and it was as good the 50th time I watched it as the first. Get it in black and white though, don't go for the new-fangled color rendition. It just isn't as appealing. And geesh, I hope the photo isn't copyrighted......but it's not like I'm not singing its praises! Go rent it!

our very own Nature Center

Well, we are an outdoorsy kind of family. Our kids enjoy heading to the state park nature center near our home and we have tried to create a little bit of nature around our yard-which isn't far from a small river that runs through the town. We even had a turkey in our tree once!
We keep particularly accurate tabs on the birds that come to visit the feeders. Both our kids probably are more able to identify bird species at 5 and 7 than their mom, but she's learning. We have kept records for about 3 years and it is interesting to see how some species show up for a weekend or two and then are gone until the exact time the following year. The Red-Breasted Nuthatch made an appearance this weekend, exactly a year off from last. Two Brown Creepers are regular visitors over New Years each year.

The kids like to do nature crafts too........so, a few weeks ago, while mom was out of town, the kids and I got an idea to turn our mostly unused back room into our very own Nature Center. Mom had hoped it would be her craft room. We are busy collecting books and pictures and displaying jar after jar of shells, fossils and cool rocks we've collected from our travels.

All in time for birding season to begin again. And I am taking a tip from a reader, to head to the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Refuge to watch the cranes come back this fall. Mom sorta has a craft room......she has to work around sticks and stones and dead things.

Gafill Oil Company in Argos

My great-grandfather (above) may have started our family in the fuel business with his employment as the agent for an oil company in ...