31 October 2008

the legend of Little Egypt

A way out in the country, down a secluded gravel road lies a small cemetery perched on a knoll, around which the road makes four severe turns as it passes around the cemetery. The small cemetery is known as "Little Egypt" and has been known as this since my grandparent's day. So legendary is it that a local television station once ran a segment on it.

There is much local lore to Little Egypt. Ask any teenager today and you will get the same story that has been passed down from generation to generation. Little Egypt becomes a popular place this time of year......with the purported hauntings and sightings one would encounter particularly at Halloween.

As a teenager, some friends and I had to put this legend to the test. It was a warm Halloween night back in 1986....I remember a moist wind blowing around the few leaves left on the trees that were at the corner of the cemetery. Legend has it that as you enter the swampy woods through which the gravel lane passes on your way to Little Egypt, the knoll you can see in the distance, a young man as white as a ghost will dart out in front of your car.......with no time to stop you hit the apparition, only to learn that nothing is there. Terrified you continue down the gravel road, now coming out of the woods, moonlight beaming down on the slight rise in front of you that leads to the knoll on which Little Egypt was established.

The crunch of the gravel beneath the tires makes your heart beat a little faster as you begin to wind around the cemetery, nearly at a dead stop in the turns. Suddenly figures appear to be climbing and hanging from the old trees in the corner of the cemetery......you speed up, leaving a trail of dust as you look out the rear view mirror at tombstones reflecting the moonlight. Then you enter another woods......this time the apparition appears again, standing along the road, staring at you, and covered with blood. You emerge from the woods again and come to stop on a small bridge over a winding creek. Legend has it if you turn off your car and whisper "hamburger, hamburger, hamburger" the car will fail to start again. Just as you move beyond the bridge, suddenly lights appear to mysteriously turn on in the old brick church ahead of you....and then just as suddenly, go out!

Unfortunately, none of this happened to us in 1986. Friends would later reason that it was because my ancestors started the cemetery, back in 1861, and they were somehow protecting us. We did make a return trip a few years later (remember PNW Hoosier?) only to find ourselves being chased away by a pair of headlights.....talk about heart-thumping!

Every community has these legends or local lore........what is yours?

Happy Halloween!

29 October 2008

in a Philly pub, 1776

"George, John, Ben! Have a seat my comrades!"

"Thanks Tom, old friend!"

"Well, we have our work cut out for us, this sovereign nation business is taxing!"

"Ha, good one Ben!"

"Tom, now tell your friends here what you told me, about these worrisome prophesies in your sleep at night"

"well, John, I don't know how much weight to give to these hauntings....probably a piece of undigested venison"

"tell us Thomas.....what troubles you?"

"well, men, we sit here planning the course for a new nation....creating laws to govern well into the future, as a representative democracy....."

"yes, a democracy! Nothing like that under the crown!"

"George, hush, listen to Tom"

"Thanks Ben....you always were the smart one. Well, suppose 200 years from now the men of this country become desperately ignorant, void of the ability to wisely choose their representation?"

"Tom! We are men of the enlightenment! We shall only see more wisdom and thoughtfulness given to casting a ballot for representation."

"well, maybe, John, maybe. But, let us ponder this: what if men of vast fortune wish to sway voters with continuous, misleading propaganda!"

"what, through courier? through the printed page? Hardly an effective way to reach masses"

"True, but what if technology increases to where information is readily available to all our citizenry?"

"what is technology?"

"Ben, it's like the thing you did with the key & lightning"

"oh, of course George"

"yeah, who's the smart one now?"

"well, but Tom, surely with this tremendous exchange of readily available information, the public will only have their appetite increased for information, to be fully aware of the things that shall affect their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness!"

"you had to throw that in there, didn't you John? I happen to like that phrase! What if the citizenry become apathetic? What if they buy lies spread through propaganda by elitists?

"Tom, you worry for nothing. Good men of good integrity-only those are worthy to serve this democracy.....this government of and by the people.....men with this character would never allow lies to be told"

"Ben, I want to believe that......but it haunts me. The Romans-leisure and apathy brought down their empire.......surely we are not above this!"

"well, they also began to believe that their empire was holy, that what they did in the name of God was perfectly righteous. We don't believe this!"

"No, George, WE do not believe this, but will there come a day when the Almighty is invoked with our actions? Such as a manifest destiny of this nation?"

"hardly possible with the great range of religion we see from commonwealth to commonwealth"

"Men, we have done all that we can do. We must rely on the character of men and the guiding arm of our Creator to lead this nation during transitions. Thoughtful men will see through the magic of deceptive lies."

"I hope that you are right John. Suppose if not, how long do you give this experiment in democracy?"

"200 years......plus or minus. Remember patriotism is the last great hiding place for scoundrels, but no doubt, people will also see through this."

they don't just fade away

Well, I'm faced with a real tragedy right now.

Have you ever had that perfect pair of jeans, or t-shirt, or sweatshirt that you wore until its really just rags held together by a few stubborn strands? Ordinarily I mow in shorts....you know, when it was summer just two weeks ago, but last week it was a bit nippy out and I decided to wear an old pair of jeans I've resisted throwing out. They have been my all-time favorite jeans-perfect fit.

Both knees had blown out two years ago, about the same time the bottom cuff of the legs also had let loose and often got caught between the ground and the heel of my shoe. Then a tear began on one corner of a pocket.....then hit the other corner. Finally that tear worked its way over to the all important center seam up the, er uh, center of the backside this spring. They were rendered unsuitable for public wearings by my wife at that point, since she preferred my Calvins be hidden from view. So, they were occasionally brought out for backyard use......with only the neighbors turning their heads in disgust.

Oh yeah, mowing last week. I pulled my faithful sidekick(s?) out of the closet, pulled them on-bent down to put on my shoes and I heard a slight rip. I figured, aw, nothin'-like an old house settling. I went on about my business of mowing the front yard and our "cottage", came back to mow our back yard, but wanted a drink first. So I kicked off my shoes by our outside step, quenched my thirst....went back out and sat down on the back step to put my shoes back on.

BIG riiiiiiiiiiiipppppppp! I felt the cold of the concrete step now on my cheek. Uh oh. I reached back and yes, the center seam had all opened up. I finished mowing regardless.....sorry neighbors! I came back inside and my wife asked if I had been mowing "like that". I said yes and she rolled her eyes. I took them off and said, what do you think? "Well, I could patch them....maybe."

I put my head down, and said, no, it's probably time to let them go. Farewell-I will always remember you.

27 October 2008

one week to go!!!

I shall refrain, unlike other widely read media sources, to actually give endorsements to any candidates running in next week's elections. I would, however, like to relate some observations from the past week.....now that we are down to the wire.

Our congressional district: Pucket vs. Donnelly. Pucket being the new kid on the block, vying for a congressional seat against the incumbent, Donnelly. One of the saddest things I think I've seen to date, on Pucket's yard signs is this statement "DRILL HERE. DRILL NOW. PAY LESS". How incredibly unfortunate that someone would base their campaign strategy on our gluttonous, short-sighted demands on our natural resources. I also think he underestimated the economy's impact on gas prices. It hardly is a factor now, is it? Simple factors of supply and demand......the GOP should be the last to insist we tamper with the free market by supplying more oil to our lifestyle addiction.

Our state senate district: Charbonneau, the incumbent, vs. Balmer. While I wasn't certain who I would vote for in this race, Charbonneau had acted with class, kept his campaign clean....until the last week. We've received to mailers, the first was humorous in that Charbonneau wanted to make me believe that somehow, in his state senate roll, he could/would have prevented the federal $700 billion bail-out......unlike the "other guys"........saying that "Hoosiers were right to have been against this". Well, it didn't stop there. Over the weekend Charbonneau continued his now misleading campaign style by actually making the statement that his opponent, "Balmer was quiet when it came time to have a property tax relief plan". My gosh, are people this stupid? Hello, Charbonneau...Balmer isn't my state senate representative-YOU ARE. And his misleading ad continued on the back with random questions that would make idiots think that Balmer was somehow asleep at the wheel as Indiana's economy was in shambles. Balmer isn't elected to anything. Well, Charbonneau certainly lost my vote now. My only guess is that he went negative because (1) he's well financed (2) with a week to go, it's hard to respond and (3) his tele-data may be telling him he's in trouble and (4) WE ARE IDIOTS!

The presidential race: While in southern Indiana we heard an awful lot of misleading, incendiary NRA supported anti-Obama ads being run......the most disturbing one was when a good ol' boy made this strong, guttural statement........"WE LOVE OUR GOD AND WE LOVE OUR GUNS". Oh geesh, what Bible has this guy been reading out of? The Koran? (that's right, I said it). My wife was at a party during which a friend of ours commented how pleased she was with her six year old son saying "Obama is a baby killer". And I'm afraid to say, they go to our church. Why would you teach your six year old to hate? Where is that in the Bible?

Something is desperately wrong in our society.........in our churches, in our government, in our business world.......in our homes. We have so degenerated our integrity to the point where we believe it is ok to make money at anyone's expense, it is ok for politicians to make completely false and misleading ads "because all is fair...." (ie. Mitch & river city mayor), and it is ok to instill hate in our children so long as we marry this hate to our faith. I didn't mean for this to become a sermon, just a political update.....but SOMEONE needs to start preaching this.

21 October 2008

still holdin' on

To the love of my life.

This Friday will mark our 10th anniversary. While that may not seem much to those silver and golden anniversary folks, in today's terms......we've made it.

I had given up on finding love in river city.......and she was biding time until she could move away. And then, oddly enough, we found each other. A pathetic double-date I set her up with a friend, while I was out with her friend-ended rather nicely when the two of us got together.

And then just a few weeks after our first date-I was a wreck in love. And a few weeks after that, we were engaged and five months later-married. And this was our song, the summer of '98.

We love each other more each day-with each passing month and year, weathering every storm that has come our way.....laughing with and sometimes at our kids.........we continue to grow together, not apart like too often happens as couples in love......somehow fall out of love.

There may have been a time or two when it would have been easier to walk away. I think because both our parents have stayed together almost 45 and 50 years, we've learned that it takes love, fun, faithfulness and Christ in the center of our lives to be able to ride out the storms. Our first commitment to each other, before our commitment in front of an altar, was to live simple lives. And I believe this is why we can say we are so blessed.

Why she puts up with me........I'll never know. I'm not the same guy she married, that's for sure. She finds my interests and chatter endearing and never tires of my stupid humor or random, unscheduled stops at cool places. And she still finds me irresistible at 40. Whew.

She holds my heart in her hands. Her breath is my life.

19 October 2008

Salvation of Jacoby Church

Then the deterioration of the old Jacoby Church turned a corner.

A dedicated group of volunteers stepped in to work with the township who ulitmately owned the structure to save it from what seemed to be its certain fate in 2005. Three years of restoration saw a new roof, restored siding and windows, one corner jacked up by nearly a foot and foundation repairs.

While the exterior saw great changes, it was the interior that saw the greatest transformation. The original wood 1860's ceiling was exposed and restored, original pot-bellied stoves put back in place, plaster restored, original pews and furnishings cleaned. She's looking beautiful these days.....just a couple years shy of her 150th birthday.

The church ties for oldest public building in Marshall County with Summit School, from an earlier post......both buildings saved and restored by Wythougan Valley Preservation Council. Wythougan is Native American for the Yellow River that runs through Marshall County. Jacoby Church was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

While spending a few hours doing some work by myself in Jacoby, having the hymn "Come Thou Fount", going through my head with me whistling along.......I found a shredded scrap from a hymnal with that very song on it. Sweet.

An event this past Saturday night was the first the church building has seen in many, many years. Over 100 people attended an evening of food, live folk music, stories of the church at its official unveiling to the public. A former member of one congregation that met there prayed in the invocation that the building that was built to glorify God, would now continue to do so in its new found life.


16 October 2008

in Christ I stand...at 40

There's a song that has gripped my heart for some time now. When we sing it in church-it's all I can do to get through it. And it seemed only fitting to use it to reflect on a life filled with change, some good and some bad, but how through it all I can see God's hand....directing & blessing. And knowing In Christ Alone....I stand.

In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song

And to know, today, despite upheaval and uncertainty over the last few years........as I shared with a good friend this morning.......to know that I am in the very best place of my life.

This cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

The best health, best in my career path, best in my relationships with family and friends....and while He and I sometimes don't see eye to eye.......am in my closest walk with my great big Dad upstairs.

What heights of love, what depths of peace,When fears are stilled, when strivings cease! My comforter, my all in all—Here in the love of Christ I stand.

To what do I owe this amazing life....these first 40 years? It's complicated. I owe a whole lot to my family, my mom and dad and grandparents. I am who I am, because of them. I owe a heck of a lot to some very good friends.....I began to count all the friends in my life who have made an impact on me, who I feel very close to and had over thirty names before I gave up and thought-wow-God-how I am blessed. And of course I owe my beautiful wife and kids probably the most, second to God. Thank you, everyone.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe! This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones He came to save.

I remember the insecure little kid, who at about 8 yrs. old bought fire insurance to stay out of hell. I remember the guy I was back in highschool. I was a jerk......given who I am now, I don't think I would have hung out with myself. And the mess of a kid I was in college, struggling with thousands of thoughts that contradicted themselves from faith to politics.......that made me begin to realize life wasn't black and white like I had been taught. Life was a gift.......and I began to realize, mostly because of a good friend's death........my life wasn't mine to live.

Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied; For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—Here in the death of Christ I live.

And when I finally got on with my life and started down a career path, I tried so hard to understand God's love and my role in this world. And He led me to my wife......who gave me my kids..........and even in our loss, or maybe because of the loss........I figured out what love was.

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain; Then bursting forth in glorious day, Up from the grave He rose again! And as He stands in victory, Sin's curse has lost its grip on me; For I am His and He is mine—Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

And I remember two years ago now, how I thought I knew the role I was to have in this world....changed so abruptly.......and I became angry with God for the first time. And He has now shown me.......son, I have the best.........the best........planned for you. Trust me.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—This is the pow'r of Christ in me; From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand; Till He returns or calls me home—Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

Then it came time to trust Him......more fully than I ever had to before. And here I am today, standing, blessed beyond what I could have expected.....by His providence. Standing as a true testament of God's faithfulness & love. And understanding more fully, my life isn't my own. Give it away........and you will know the best God has for you.

"In Christ Alone"

So........this 40th birthday. I'm ok with it. And I think, maybe, the first 40 years was a time of preparation. Preparation for the big fight..........or maybe like wandering in the desert for 40 years........or maybe like being taken away captive from your dreams or passions, your homeland for 40 years. Now come the real blessings.......the real purpose God has called me to.......

.....how awesome is that?

the little school on the summit

In Tippecanoe Township, of Marshall County there's a place where Highway 10 makes a steep climb above the Tippecanoe River valley below.....it is known as Summit Hill, the edge of a glacial moraine. And on Summit Hill in 1844, the township's first burial ground began, along with the township's first school and church. From this point you can get a magnificent 270 degree panoramic view of the valley below you, and it's quite something to imagine the pioneers looking down on Chief Benack's village of Pottawatomie camped near the Tippy to the south.

The first school was a log structure that burned and was replaced with a frame building in about 1860. It's been told that windows on the west side of the building were closed in because children were too distracted with funerals in the cemetery around the building; having been on the hill during a cold west wind, I think it may have been for other reasons! And it's also rumor, undocumented, that an Indian brave is buried in the cemetery who was a scout for the U.S. Cavalry. Tyler McWhorter, who died in 1858, was a veteran of the Mexican War. While the little white schoolhouse has gone through some renovations that removed the bell tower and added the front vestibule, it still embodies life in pioneer days. A faithful group of volunteers cared for the structure for many years after school consolidation, and today, having been restored by a local organization, the building has invited school children, young and old, and community folk back for ice cream socials and chili suppers.

The schoolhouse was rededicated in 2004 with over 120 people in attendance, including three former students......one coming from Florida, who was the last pupil to attend through the 8th grade. The Summit School & cemetery were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in June of this year. Many more years to her!

14 October 2008

In good company for 40

I know, I know.....I'm fixated on this upcoming birthday.

But, I did a search for who else would be joining me in turning 40 this year and found out I was in pretty good company of baby boys welcomed into 1968. Now if I could just pull down the salaries these guys do!
My birthday bros......Sammy Sosa, Barry Sanders, Marc Anthony, Kenny Chesny, Will Smith, LL Cool J, Brendan Fraser & Cuba Gooding Jr. And no, you haven't heard the last of this topic.

13 October 2008

Health insurance, HSAs, IRS & SS

The last two months have been relatively nightmarish in dealing with bureaucracy. First it was acquiring health insurance, then confusion on my social security/earnings, then a small problem with our HSA and now back to health insurance again.

So, if I could take just a few lines to gripe a little.......as if this is new.........I will show why health insurance companies are the devil and why using a tele-computer operator should be against the law.

Health insurance....remember, I was turned down. I finally was able to get some inkling why after much phone time with a machine....it was because I had sought chiropractic attention for the muscle I pulled in my neck while working out. Absolutely remarkable. So, in order to appeal this decision by my health insurance company of 10 years I had to round up letters from my doctor and that brief stint with the chiropractor. I sent everything in again.......with a stellar health record.....only to be informed that, sure, they'd accept me, but I was considered high risk and my premiums are nearly double what they should be. I'm not sure why I exercise and don't drink, binge eat and smoke given this.

So, now that I'm accepted along with the rest of the family, Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield wanted me to also pay for September, the month that I was not covered by them...because the policy was retro-active. I called Friday and tried to get a good answer as to why I should pay for a service that their company had refused to give me, and if they would reimburse me for having to find interim insurance. She said she'd get back to me that day. She didn't. So I called today and first talked to the computer, then sat on hold for an hour before I got someone else who couldn't give me an answer and was forwarded to another person who evidently knows what to do with irate callers..........give in to their demands. Although her solution makes me a little leery - like it might end up costing more than if I had just paid September. I know based on my hourly billing, had I been working, it would have been cheaper to pay the amount they were swindling me for.

on a side note.....I will have to admit I think McCain's health insurance plan would be more beneficial to our family specifically. Didn't see that one coming, did you?

And then there's this whole Social Security mess. I received a statement from SS on my earnings and potential benefits. For some reason, the last three year's earnings were not listed. So, I call and the computer can't understand my mother's maiden name nor can it understand my issue and kept repeating questions......finally I started to get mouthy with the computer and it conceded and said it would direct me to an operator. Twenty minutes later I had a very friendly operator who said she'd send a form for me to file through the mail immediately. I completed the form and mailed it to the local SS office as it directed me to. Then I called the local office a week later to verify they had it.......and after at least a dozen attempts (no lie) I finally go through and they said they would have the person in charge call me back. I never heard from them. So, I called the DC office again....going through the same game and she said she'd have the local office call me within 3 days. They never did, but I did receive a statement from the local office within about 8 days.

They corrected 2 of the 3 years. Dangit! Now, another call to SS and they said I should contact the local and I said politely......."mam, I can never, ever get through". So she emailed me another form which I completed and sent out last week, she also suggested I call the IRS. I don't have it in me to call this week.

And then we noticed something fishy on our HSA......like someone else's name on our account. Hmmm. So I contacted my good friend at the local bank branch and they took care of it right away......evidently we shared an account number with some strangers in Lake County, who I'm sure were wondering why they were paying bills in river city.

I'm just wondering if I could check outa the whole system......live off the land and all, kinda like the Amish. I promise-my only rant for the week!

12 October 2008

10 October 2008

Hog hunts & cherry pie

I don't know of anyone who can rightly call themselves a Hoosier if they haven't had to help round up escaped hogs.

The call came in to the church just as youth group was dismissing Wednesday night that one parishioner's hogs had escaped. I rounded up some young men and said "boys, we're goin' on a hog hunt".......yee hah!

So we loaded up in Josh's pick-up truck, the five of us, rounded up some waders.....long rubber boots.....and headed out to the farm. With flashlights in hand we went to get our marching orders from farmer at the hog barn, after making it clear that youth group had ended and they were on their own.

One problem.....I think most of the 16 hogs had already come back to the barn and it soon was obvious we were just in the way. Awwman! I was really looking forward to this dark of night hog hunt. I hadn't rounded up hogs since I was a kid on my grampa's farm. I think the boys were disappointed to.......so, to make up for it........as we were standing around I said "I feel like pie".


"yeah, pie?"

"where are we going to get pie this time of night?"

I knew exactly where, so we loaded back into the pick-up, drove to the diner and I asked the owner if a bunch of rowdy guys would be welcome for pie.

"sure.....I'll set you in the back"

So we ordered one whole cherry pie.............and three sides of bacon. And I said, this shall forever be done in the remembrance of the great hog hunt of 2008.

I don't get it.....

Could someone fill me in here?

I got this from the local Republican Party.....who evidently has kept me on their mailing list. I'm also wondering if they aren't out of touch with reality slightly. What does it mean the tide has shifted back to us - let's finish this off? I see the potential for Democrats to do well in this staunchly Republican county; Obama continues to increase his lead in the polls and Jill Long Thompson is holding her own against an incredibly well financed Mitch machine.

Is the barracuda flattering to Sarah?

09 October 2008

a groupie because of my Irish roots

me, the #1 groupie with two of Fonn Mor


As the countdown continues to the big 4-0, my wife pulled off the only surprise-well, good surprise-anyone has ever pulled on me by arranging some good friends of ours to meet us at the house and head north to South Bend to Fiddler's Hearth last Friday. A band that I incredibly enjoy-Fonn Mor-was playing at the Irish pub, sending ND fans into a frenzy just before the Stanford game. Fiddler's Hearth is probably downtown South Bend's second most important asset only to the South Bend Chocolate Company.

I LOVE Irish/Celtic music and this band is awesome. They have a beautiful way of blending a more up-tempo beat to traditional Irish sounds......so cool. I have their cd. The place was packed when we got there and they don't take reservations....so what was the table that became available for the 6 of us? Center and front with the band. Then of course, it didn't stop there as my buddies encouraged the band members to take a picture with their "#1 groupie" they called me. And then the kicker was when my wife had prearranged Fonn Mor to wish/sing me a happy birthday in Celtic style. Too much fun. Except when the ca. 60 year old woman started dancing around me, I couldn't tell if she was coming on to me or what.

Great Grandad & Gramma Ervin Crothers

So, I blame my insatiable need for Irish music on my Irish roots. Our family always celebrates St. Patrick's Day, even though I have no Catholic ancestors. I am fascinated with old Celtic mythology and lore, and am even considering risking my life to fly overseas just to see the Emerald Isle. The truth is I had planned to go to Ireland if I had turned 30 and not yet been married so I could bring back an Irish lass.

Great Grandad Bryant (on left) with his brothers and dad

I have gallons of Irish and Scottish blood pumping through my veins, though many of my ancestors came to this country long before the potato famine of the 1800's. Family surnames include Bryant, Crothers, Carey, Mahurin, Laramore, Bailey, Joyce, Moore, Ervin and Tracy. I haven't figured out if I'm a lover or fighter yet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8SktnSlpqI to enjoy a little Fonn Mor.

08 October 2008

Pinhook Church

I know, I'm on a run here with old churches. I recently came across this gem, which is particularly early for Indiana, and certainly so for this part of the state. My business travels took me to the tiny village of Pinhook in LaPorte County where I came across the Pinhook Methodist Church, constructed in 1847. The small frame building has to thank for its heroines two older ladies by the names of Phyllis and Julia, who weren't about to let it slip into just the memories of townsfolk.

A fellow by the name of William Garwood donated the land in 1846 for the purpose of a church stating "I give this land for the purpose of a church. It shall be used for that purpose forever and forever". Carpenters by the names of McLung and Barnard built the Greek-Revival structure......McLung being the first to be buried in the nearby cemetery in 1850. The building did serve "forever" as a church until 1968; but even now can be used for weddings and special events....and they aren't bashful at all about showing her off.

The Pinhook Church is now seeking National Register status, being the oldest existing church structure in LaPorte County, and maybe much of Northern Indiana. I was pleased to see the care given to the outside of the building, but marveled at the quality of care and restoration given to the inside.

"Pinhook" was actually a derogatory name given to the village of New Durham, established in 1837, by a rival community in the 1840's. But, Pinhook stuck, as the case may be.......the rival village of Flood's Grove, however, has been washed off the maps.

Kudos to the sentries of Pinhook Church.

07 October 2008

it's begun already

I turn 40 next week. I don't look, act, feel or consider myself that old. I've tried to tell myself that I will do so with grace and dignity......but I'm not sure that's going to happen. In the mean time, some friends thought they'd celebrate a little early for me with some random, humorous purchases - a harmonica to sing the blues, fortune cookies and a night out. I might add here that only two of the fortunes are true.

I'm always freezing in the winter......have for 20 years!
Work is definitely more fun these days!

And the one that is DEFINITELY not true is that my doctors are younger than me. My doctors are all MUCH, MUCH older than me. Considerably older! Like 40 is a distant memory for them! gotcha.

More on 40 soon.

06 October 2008

those quazy Quakers!

Mary Bogue Bundy

I've always been a family history buff. I have generations upon generations compiled in every family lineage direction, at least back 7 generations or more. One line I take particularly great pride in is my Quaker roots. Incredible records were kept by the Society of Friends of deaths, births, marriages, and migration through their "Monthly Meeting Minutes". The heavy migration of Quakers to Indiana, particularly Wayne and Henry Counties between about 1810-1840 was due in large part to Indiana forming as a state and the religious beliefs of the Society of Friends against slavery....wanting the fledgling State of Indiana to remain a "free state".

Enter my ancestors. Several branches of the family tree came from North Carolina Quaker stock, their lines dating to about 1730 in that state....moving to Indiana as early as 1815, before statehood, and settling in Salisbury, Wayne County. Later, several moved into the Spiceland area of Henry County. These families were the Halls, Nicholsons, Bogues and Bundys. The Bogues were of particular note because of their quiet fight against slavery. The Bogue family, and Bundys, positioned themselves across the state from north to south to aid escaped slaves find freedom in Michigan, along the Michigan Road. There is a stone memorial dedicated to the Bogues in Cassopolis, Michigan for their efforts in securing freedom for escaped slaves via the "Underground Railroad".

Why, if Indiana was a free state, was the Underground Railroad so important here? Because, unlike most free states, state laws during that time permitted bounty hunters to capture escaping slaves in the state and return them to their so-called owners. So the Negroes weren't truly safe in Indiana despite its "free" status.

Stephan G. Hall

I'm proud of my Quaker roots......talk about real mavericks! I was asked to portray my 4x great grandfather, Stephan Hall who came with his Quaker family from North Carolina in 1815, this past weekend at a cemetery tour nearby. I don't look bad for being 200 years old next year.

04 October 2008

seeing red in green

lies. about. results.
I just don't know if I'll be able to make it to election day without losing my religion. Coming off complete aggravation regarding the bailout.....I am now bombarded with Mitch Daniels "saviour of the state" ads that, frankly, are misleading dim-witted Hoosiers into believing this guy!
One of the first claims in his Star Wars-esque advertisement is that he:
balanced the state budget
Without Raising Taxes
Uh, hello Hoosiers?
Do you remember the
increase in sales tax this year?
How can a man with any integrity at all allow that to go on his ad? This has become a sad state of affairs in American politics. At one time, it was simply about spinning the message........now it's about out-right lying to the public. And so long as you have enough money to throw at it........people will believe what you say, regardless of your actions. I guess we should blame the voter for being so uninformed, but it just rubs me raw.......once Mitch made that claim, can you believe ANYTHING he says?
Kinda like River City's mayor's race.
Speaking of........my folks witnessed our reputable mayor dumping his stale coffee out on the street prior to a visit to the coffee shop. Pretty shoddy.......but I guess he never claimed he would clean up the town.

03 October 2008

mastodon digs

If there's one thing our county is famous for in our little corner of Indiana-it's mastodon digs. Seems like we can hardly turn around to dig a pond or septic field without turning up one of these giants. We've had two found in the last three years alone.
I like to try to imagine these big guys roaming across the wetlands and scrub forests of the state....it really hasn't been that long ago in terms of the age of the earth-only 10,000 years ago. The thing that disappoints me most is that our mastodons never get to stay here; they're always shipped off to a museum some distance away,
such as the state museum. I think the next one that turns up......
we get to keep. I think if we took the loft out of my barn it would probably fit....and then I'd charge a nickel to get to see the great beast......and have loud trumpeting calls recorded to add to the ambiance.

Hmmm.....I'm liking this.

01 October 2008

Kayaking the Tippy

Having found this new fondness of kayaking, after a great trip on Sugar Creek just a month ago, it was not difficult at all to be talked into a camping/kayaking trip by the guys. We headed to the Tippecanoe River by Winamac for an overnight stay at Tippecanoe River State Park and kayaking the next morning.

I've canoed the Yellow River before, but, unfortunately Yellow River fans, the Tippy has it all over our beloved Wythougan. The river is broader, cleaner.......and you're not afraid to get out (or fall out) of the boat and wade. While I still believe Sugar Creek at Turkey Run & Shades is the real kayaking gem of Indiana, not many rivers could be outdone by the Tippecanoe.

And....I come away with this belief, more resolved than ever, that our state tree should be the sycamore and our state bird, the Great Blue Heron. These majestic trees line our riverways as if sentries of the natural beauty of Indiana. And just as you round a bend in the river, the Great Blue takes flight with its wide stretching wingspan as if a living prehistoric relic of ancient times when the glaciers had just subsided.

So what's your favorite river?