Random Acts of Green

Remember the joy of finding a penny on the sidewalk when you were a kid? Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck! Such a simple find, free for the taking. I had the good fortune to feel that girlish glee again recently. On a hectic business trip to the big city, I stopped by a cafe for lunch, and as I was leaving, I noticed a book lying on top of a trash bin just outside the door. Hardbound, clean dust jacket, popular fiction. Was it lost? I picked it up with the notion that I’d take it inside to the cashier. But a small yellow sticker on the spine of the book caught my eye. The sticker read, “Traveling Book! Look inside…”
As it turned out, the mystery book was not lost at all. It was on a journey, and by the grace of someone else’s generosity, it had found its way to me. It’s all part of a blossoming phenomenon called “book crossing.” Continue reading

Adventures in After-School Snacking

As fall begins to really move in, afternoons are focused on the famous after-school snack.  Afternoon snacks are important to school age children because many have eaten lunch in the late morning and their systems are ready to crash.  To children of the preschool age, daily snacks are even more important and can be a challenge.  Many preschoolers get as much as one-third of their total daily calories from snacks.  It is almost impossible for kids to get all the nutrients they need in just three meals.  Some easy tips and plans can make your preschoolers’ snacking go smoothly.

Pairing carbs with proteins makes a long-lasting energy snack.  Start your snack with a carbohydrate like sliced fruit, crackers, or bread and add a protein like peanut butter, bean dip, or a slice of cheese.

Crunchy Apple Snacks
1 crisp apple
3 tbs. orange juice
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 tbs. honey

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Get ready!

Milton Hershey as an old man, with one of the children from the orphanage he sponsored.

I like to read biographies of American entrepreneurs. It’s amazing what you can learn by studying the mistakes of successful people. My latest interest is the life of Milton Hershey, the founder of Hershey’s.

One of his earliest memories was during the Civil War. Robert E Lee’s Confederate army was approaching from the south, headed to the Battle of Gettysburg. The fighting came close enough that Hershey would remember hearing the artillery fire for the rest of his life.

The local paper, the Lancaster Inquirer, reported, “If our Army should be defeated we should have no hope.” That night, the dinner table conversation revolved around the threat of the invading army. Hundreds of families fled north. Hershey’s family stayed in their home, but five-year-old Milton Hershey knew that SOMETHING had to be done.

So, he took his most valuable possessions, a few coins he had saved, and buried them in a coffee can in the garden. The only problem was that after the danger passed, Hershey couldn’t remember where he buried the can. He dug holes for days but never did find those coins.

This got me thinking about how we get ready when danger threatens. Some hope for the best and do nothing (like Hershey’s parents). Some run for the hills, like their neighbors did. But the ones I uphold are the ones who know that SOMETHING has to be done. Starting at that very young age, Hershey was always one to have a plan. Even as an old man, at at time when his company sold as much as 90% of the chocolate consumed in America, he was still trying to figure out ways to make a better chocolate bar. Continue reading

Purple Martin Passion, Part II

I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer a little over a year ago.  A non-smoker, this all came as a huge, life-changing event.  Thankfully, my oncology doctors have never given me a time-frame for living.  This has allowed me to choose life and to live for the future.  Interestingly, my quest for purple martins has played nicely into this, helping me project hope and not catastrophe.  In all fairness to my Creator, I’ve put total confidence in the life He has given me whether purple martins come or not.  For those who know the redeeming work of Christ and the abiding presence of the Spirit, joy can rout despair, and hope can be projected into the future.

Now back to my purple martin passion.  I’ve kept an annual log of when I begin playing CD’s, when birds visit, how long they stay, and whether they are adult or juvenile birds.  I’ve learned that if I don’t get martins in the spring, I can play the “Daytime Chatter” in late summer and draw in young birds (HY = Hatching Year) on their migration south over Kidron, Ohio.  This summer was a banner year for juvenile birds stopping in for a visit.  Even now as I peck away on this keyboard, there are five HY martins out back on the perch above the gourds. Continue reading

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Apples, apples, apples! (3 things to do if you’ve got lots)

ApplesThere is nothing quite like the harvest time, but some fall seasons can bring an embarrassment of riches. Not so long ago, the neighborhood where I live was one of California’s premiere apple growing regions. Even though most of the old farms have given way to more lucrative wine grape cultivation, the months of October, November and December still bring thousands of pounds of fresh local apples to the marketplace.

The familiar popular varieties are all there – your Fuji, your Rome, your Delicious (red and golden), your Granny Smith – but who among us knows the delights of the Bellflower? Or the Star-king? Or the Hortley? In an apple growing region you can sample the lusty Stayman Winesap, the doughty Arkansas Black, the versatile Gravenstein, the stupendous Black Twig, or even the beguiling Sleeping Beauty, and buy of each in quantity.

True to the American commercial tradition, you can save a lot of money under the unit price if you purchase in bulk, so a whole box is always the best buy – and yet the iron that entered the soul when all those 50-pound crates of apples were purchased at the orchard tends to oxidize when those boxes are lugged into the kitchen and just sit there, waiting for you to DO something with them.

Three handy solutions are: DRY ‘EM, PIE ‘EM, AND BUTTER ‘EM. Continue reading

Sustainable Farm uses Lehman’s Grist Mill

Alice and Tim Mills, of Athens, GA, are incorporating some Amish ideals into their farm. They say that many small-scale farms are incorporating old ideas about horse-power (the kind that comes from horses) with modern farming.

It’s all about sustainability. Tim Mills said, “What if tomorrow doesn’t turn out like today? Will you be able to survive?” It’s also about saving money and reducing environmental impact.

Why? Because “farmers are inventive,” says Susannah Carter of Harvest Moon Garden.

To read the full story, click here.

Enjoy a starry, starry night this fall

One of my favorite things to do at night is to go outside and look at the stars. I don’t look for a long time on winter nights, unless I’m in a car, but in the summer, and especially on those clear, chilly fall nights, it’s great to walk out and stare at the night sky and just soak in the brilliant lights above.

Where we live, now, I have to turn away from the yard light but then there are very few other lights to interfere, so the stars are very bright.

When we lived in South Dakota, we had no yard light and had a wonderful view of the whole sky. I loved walking out on the prairie and watching for falling stars.

But the memory of watching stars that is the strongest is when I was very little. My folks liked to travel at night; most likely this was because there were four children and we slept at night but were noisy and restless during the day. Because my dad was in the Air Force, we moved to many different places but would travel “home” to North Dakota for holidays quite often. Continue reading

To Learn From A Tree…



I love trees.  Some more than others, but I’m always amazed at the bloom of the Redbuds in the spring, the wonderfully straight and tall Tuliptrees when reaching for light dominance in a cluster, Sycamores coursing alongside a stream, and the sinewy musculature of the trunk of a Blue Beech (American Hornbeam).

In our backyard, we have a bird feeding area sheltered within a variety of trees: a too-large Blue Spruce, two Redbuds, a clump of Silky Dogwoods, a Baldcyprus and a Hemlock.  It’s a maze and something has to go. Joyce is adamant about letting them be, I can’t wait to clean out the mess.  Every time we walk out back, we discuss which one is going to go.
Someday we will come to a consensus. Continue reading

Simple, Fun Fall Crafts for Children

Fall is a time of beautiful colors and bountiful harvests, and Mother Nature provides almost everything you need to make some interesting fall crafts.  Take advantage of the crimson colored leaves, bright orange pumpkins, shiny red apples, and golden sunflowers to create variety of fun crafts.

Make apple-themed note cards.  Cut an apple in half and remove the seed.  Have your child dip it in red paint and press it against a piece of heavy weight paper, folded in half.  Draw leaves with a green marker and glue the apple seeds onto the card.

Create fingerprint apple trees.  Use brown ink for the trunk and stems and green for the leaves.  Press your child’s finger into the ink and let them create.  Paint apple seeds red and glue them to the trees for apples.

Make a fragrant garland by sprinkling apple slices with cinnamon and setting them out to dry for a few days.  Thread them on string and your garland is ready.
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Visit “the town that doesn’t exist!”

Now you know why you can’t find us on your GPS!

Kidron, a tiny village tucked away in the idyllic farm country of northeastern Ohio, was never legally incorporated and therefore doesn’t exist. Which is why Lehman’s is often difficult to find using today’s technology.

Don’t tell that to the hundreds of Amish and Mennonites that live here. In fact, this part of Ohio (not Lancaster, PA, as many believe) is home to the world’s largest Amish settlement.

For over 100 years, Kidron has been the area’s market place, social gathering spot and supply depot. When “horseless carriages” came in, the hitching rail stayed. Even after the railroad left town in the 1930s, Kidron remained a vibrant center for the community. Continue reading