29 November 2007

Homegrown!

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

Bigfoot?

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

Yeller-bellied

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.”


Priceless.

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

Miscellaney

Snow.
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.