24 July 2011

700 in 4

All right, it's time to look back. July 20th and this post mark another milestone for Hoosier Happenings. This past week HH celebrated 4 years of rambling and this post makes the 700th dribble. Both seem a bit hard to believe.....hard to believe I've kept this up for the last four years and have found 700 things to post about.

It's foggy out right now....but in that cool beautiful sort of way. It's also a bit foggy inside. I started this post yesterday and have kept going back to it in my head and have started over several times. Yesterday was a strange day. We woke up to news that my wife's grandmother passed away. Which it then dawned on me when my family gathered together to celebrate my mom's birthday last night that it was also same day my grandfather passed away. Add to that the sort of surreal nature of having our church service in the park with storms looming and then I began to understand why the former ending of this post went the way it did. So I re-wrote it, again. What you won't know is what is Sunday or Monday's tone.

Anyhow, (I don't know that I've ever typed that before) I searched Bing.com for images related to 700. I got photos of Pat Robertson and the 700 pound man. Neither seemed to relate to what I wanted to express, though Pat has been featured on past posts. So I settled on a "looking back" photo. When I started HH in July of 2007 I tried to maintain some anonymity, as well as some class. Many of the posts were raw and a few hit some nerves, I know. And I don't apologize. And as for anonymity-well, anyone who knows me has already figured out who Hoosier Reborn is.

Strangely enough, I still run into folks who tell me that they read this, even though most experts would say blogging is dead. Just last week at the fair I had someone say that they read this all the time. That was news to me. And at my school reunion I had more than one person tell me to keep blogging. So I figure I have roughly the same number of readers as our local paper, so of course I'm obligated to put out the news.

Lately my posts have centered around places and culture in Indiana. Which that's cool and all-but I'd like to get back to more stories on faith and let loose with some political banter. But I feel rather uninspired with those topics because it just seems pointless. Then I go back to.....why did I start this thing in the first place. Well, mostly for myself I guess. But at the same time, I'd like to think that exposing the few people who do read this to new ideas on faith and politics might just help shape change. I'm certain this is how the Tea Party got its start.

Recently I saw someone's blog turned into a book....like a real, live, paper filled with ink sort of book. That concept seems a bit strange since books are becoming paperless like a blog; regardless, I wondered what if I took all of those 700 random stories and aligned them into their general topics-could they be book-worthy? Probably not. But it did give me a very different way to think of blogging and maybe helped redefine my purpose a little.

I appreciate everyone who reads this. I'd like to be a bit more edgy when it comes to faith and politics. I'd like to be a bit more in depth when it comes to culture and cover a wider range of topics. But more than anything I'd like to know that I've pricked the consciousness of those who take the time to read this. I am not a good writer by any stretch of the imagination....I'm not even sure that anyhow is a word.....but just like most hobbies, blogging has brought a great deal of satisfaction personally. We'll have another self-evaluation at 1000.

22 July 2011

you did what? visited mausoleums?

Occasionally I have "firsts" even at 40+. Standing beside a woman in the Butler Mausoleum on Wednesday I admitted to another first and she seemed unable to believe I had never been in a mausoleum before. In fact, I think I said I was creeped out as we stood in front of one open, but thank God, empty, crypt.

My thinking is that I can't believe people have been.

But, there I was, standing toe to toe....well, sort of, with row upon row of folks who had passed to the other side. Thankfully they were sealed up tight in precast vaults with a piece of shiny white marble laid at their feet, or heads depending on which side of the aisle they were.

But, just like Pringles potato chips, I couldn't stop at one. No, in fact I visited four mausoleums that day, all in DeKalb County. Waterloo, Auburn, and Garret also have these apartments for the deceased. One we did not have the ability to go inside, the others I received the grand tour. Why would I do this? That's a good question. I was asked to survey their architectural design and make a few inquiries to their historical importance.

Now, maybe this goes to the whole look of surprise when I said I had never been in a mausoleum before, but for some reason the folks in DeKalb County jumped on the mausoleum bandwagon much earlier than most small towns in Indiana. One industrious fellow by the name of Frank Emerick (intombed in Butler's) promoted these for the Buckeye Mausoleum Company and the four were built between 1915 and 1922. And don't get the impression that these are small family vault style structures. These house 100+ deceased and one was so elaborate to even include a marble fireplace.....I guess if they get cold?

I'm not aware of, outside larger metro cities in Indiana, other structures like this from this early of a period existing anywhere else in Hoosierdom. These definitely are classy little places. Mosaic tiled floors, beautiful stained glass windows, tiled roofs, marble throughout, granite and limestone....these things were built with more pizazz than most churches or banks of their time. Still, I couldn't get over the urge to whisper and I stayed near the center of the aisle-just in case.

19 July 2011

a"round" the barn

After being hounded by the Thursday morning coffee clutchers to clean the remaining hay out of our barn, I set to task this past Saturday. I summoned a couple of hired hands to make the process go a little quicker. Four hours later we had made a sizable dent in the last and final bay filled with hay. A little less than half the hay remains. 40 whole bales were removed, and about 240 broken bales were forked onto the back of a truck and hauled to a pile in the pasture.

That will be some kind of fire.

Within an hour one of the hired hands lost a leg through a few open floor boards. A short time later I lost a leg, and was fortunate to not lose my whole self through the hole I "discovered". We turned our attention to the southeast corner of the barn and began pitching hay down to the truck below. Once we had the bed filled with the first load I suggested the guys unload it and I would stay back and pitch more hay over the side beams so that it would be easier to get to. And then I said:

"Do you hear that?"

"it's a car going by"

long pause......I put my head down closer to the pile of hay

"no, it isn't fading out"

"it sounds like water running through a storm pipe" of course, there is no water out at the barn, and it was hot and dry that day

hired hand leans in for a listen

"it sounds like bees" he says calmly

"bees!" I exclaim, and back away

We quit working in that corner. The three of us loaded into the cab of the old blue pickup truck and headed into town for lunch. Covered in hay dust and sweat we sauntered into Taco Bell and ordered the XXL combo. Yep, we looked the part of Hoosier farmers.

And I'm really looking forward to having the barn cleaned out, bees and all. Though having a hive around for the orchard would probably be a good thing.

a Hoosier "crop circle"

15 July 2011

For you city folk out there.....

The county 4H Fair is in full swing this week. There was the antique tractor parade and the country church orchestra peforming such songs as the theme to Star Trek-both events are always huge draws, but it was the "pig scramble" that had folks packing the grandstandsands Thursday night. So for the benefit of you city folk out there I decided to share what we allow our kids to do for fun on the farm. The goat dragging competition will follow. No pigs were harmed in the filming of this video.

11 July 2011

a spectacular find INDEEDsville

While Mexico may win the contest for most noticeable sign along 31, the little sign marked DEEDSVILLE pointing east stokes my curiosity each time I pass by. I had a project to visit in Wabash last Thursday and wanted to Mapquest it for my own peace of mind to know how much time to allot. Oddly enough Mapquest routed me through Deedsville, along a county road. That seemed odd to me and knowing that Mapquest has gotten me lost before, I switched the route to stay on the highways and it added time. So evidently the quickest way to Wabash from my house is through Deedsville.
So I left a cushion of time when I left the house just in case this shortcut wasn't all that Mapquest claimed it would be and drove at a crawl looking for the county road marked Deedsville thata way. And this is what I found in Deedsville.

The little town in northeast Miami County was platted by a couple of fellows named Deeds and Leedy who persuaded the Cincinnati, Chicago, and Louisville (later the Nickel Plate) Railroad to pass through their land in 1870. I wonder why Deeds got the honor of the town being named for him. Why not a combination of the two names? Deedleedville? or just Eedville? The town never grew beyond its original boundaries but remained the little hub for the larger farming community. A fire in 1941 wiped out much of the commercial center of town, though a few buildings remain-one housing the post office, and school consolidation took away the towns identity-though a muddled piece of their school history remains on the east side of town.

Today the Rochester to Peru bikeway runs through the heart of Deedsville, right past the old grain elevator and within eyeshot of the post office. I guess if you've picked up a post card on your bike trip-this would be a great place to mail it from....hey kids! We're passing through Deedsville!

Of course, not far beyond Deedsville where the county road joined with Highway 16, the state had the route detoured. Trusting in my own navigational instincts I traveled county roads until I found my way to highway 15. On my return trip I followed a different route which landed me on a gravel road only to have the woods open up in front of me to reveal this spectacular find.

The bridge on county road 950 North crosses the Eel River. A little sleuthing revealed that it is the oldest Pratt through truss bridge in Indiana fabricated by the Pan American Bridge Company in 1903. It is a real beauty.

05 July 2011

Define patriotism.

What is patriotism? I wonder if somewhere along the way we began to confuse, or maybe muddy the waters of our national understanding of what it means to be a patriot. I think most people accurately identify the men and women who serve in the armed forces as patriots. And I suppose love of country certainly has something to do with it.

But what are we in love with? Do we cheer for America as if it were our hometown basketball team on a Saturday night or the Colts on Sunday afternoon? Do we love the idea that we can buy anything we want or do anything we want? That seems like a pretty selfish mindset and selfishness would seem the opposite of patriot, which has to conjure up thoughts of selflessness and sacrifice. Do we wrap ourselves in the flag and treat patriotism as if it were some sort of cheap commodity to be identified with?

America has been heading down the wrong road for some time now, or maybe I should be more accurate and say that as a people we have been taking America down the wrong path. These freedoms that we enjoy and the corporate will to protect them is something entrusted to us from generation to generation. The ideals that set America apart from the rest of the world are packed with opportunity for good. But just as explosive are the possibilities for corruption, greed, and abuse.

Christians understand the term "freedom in Christ". It is used to describe the grace we are extended even when we make mistakes because we are God's own. Too often though freedom in Christ is abused as a license to do wrong, and unfortunately the rest of the world sees that and contemplates how we are any different.

I think freedoms come with great responsibility. In fact I think that "freedom" requires great restraint, compassion, discipline, ethics, tolerance, sacrifice, understanding, and maybe most importantly stewardship. I believe that these terms describe a patriot and acting in this way would then be "patriotism". So tell me, how do these words reflect Americans today? I know I've said before the greatest enemy of our democracy is capitalism without ethics.

I don't wholly accept that the America of my grandparents' generation, or of my earliest ancestors who landed in harbors along the east coast, was this land I long for. Comments like "returning this nation back to God" make me roll my eyes when I consider our past marked with slavery, segregation, or removal of the American Indians. The Church is who needs to return to God. No, instead I think that the ideals set out in 1776 are yet to be fully realized. If you ask me what I love about my country, I think that is it. It is the opportunity for good that corporately we possess. Not selfish ambition disguised as personal liberty, but the individual responsibility and freedom each of us has for compassion, tolerance, stewardship and all those others. I think in acting on those will we find true patriotism.