Friday, October 20, 2017

Flashback Friday - Five Generations

Yes, here we are on another Flashback Friday. I found some amazing pictures of the older generations and thought it would be cool to compare to the current generation. It took way longer than I thought it would to find the more recent pictures. I think I need to get my daughter to join me in a photo shoot and recreate some of these. 

Anna Wagner Steinbach, my great-grandmother
Lena Steinbach Jahn, my grandmother.  
 Margaret Jahn Loehmer, my mother. 
  Chris Loehmer Kincaid, me!
Valerie Confer Kelch, my daughter.
Five generations of strong (ie stubborn) women. How cool, huh?

I think that when it got to me, I picked up a lot more from my father’s side of the family. And my daughter picked up a lot of genes from her dad. Still really neat pictures. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Scene #5 from the discarded files

I haven’t shared any of the deleted scenes from my novel in over a month. Since I started writing Where the Sky Meets the Sand nearly seven years ago, I have totally forgotten a lot of the scenes, such as this one. Here, Ole the boy has just arrived at the safari camp with Jenny and the others. He has much to learn about the ways of the white people.

“Boy,” the driver called to him. “As long as you are up there already, untie the bags and pass them down.”
The boy did as he was told. The canvas bags were relatively light considering their large size and he gently handed them down into waiting arms. Then he swung himself to the ground with one fluid movement.
The woman and one of the white men were talking to a different man, someone who looked like the driver and was wearing similar clothes, short sleeved shirt and long pants, all the color of chai. He was taller and heavier and stood with the authority of a tribal leader. The woman occasionally gestured to the boy and slowly he walked closer to them, waiting for their conversation to end. 
The black man finally turned to the boy. “I am Reuben. I run this camp.” This man didn’t seem to know his language as well as the man who drove the jeep. This man spoke slowly, his voice gruff and rumbly. Maybe he didn’t think that the boy would understand him. “These white people.  They want you to find lions tomorrow. They ask if your family worries about you.”
As he began to speak, the boy kept his eyes trained on the ground. “My mother will not expect me for many days, if at all. Many boys never return when they hunt the lion.”
The boy could feel Reuben staring at him, his eyes traveling up and down the boy’s thin frame. The boy tried to stand taller even as his eyes stayed glued to the man’s dusty shoes. Something about Rueben reminded him of someone else, someone who had caused him great pain.
“You must not hunt the lion now. You must keep these people happy. Do what they want. Do you understand?”
“Yes sir.” 
My daughter Val took this picture on our first trip to Kenya in 2006. It is of two Maasai boys at the village of Mosiro, boys who could be Ole. Just like the above excerpt, I’ve forgotten ever seeing this picture.
If you want to read more about the boy Ole, you can order your copy of “Where the Sky Meets the Sand” from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. Or ask your local bookstore to order it for you. You can also send me a message if you want me to get you a personally signed copy.
If you have read the book already, don’t forgot to write a review for Amazon.com. The more reviews a book gets, even the negative ones (be honest – if you didn’t like the book, I’d like to know that too), the more people will see it and possibly buy their own copy. I need all the help I can get. Thanks. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Flashback Friday - Great-Aunt Edie

I haven’t shared a Flashback Friday in quite a while, and since I found another one of my mom’s photo albums from back in the day, I thought I would share some of the pictures I found there.

Oh, dear, and just now I fell into the rabbit hole, reading through the old obituaries, trying to put Mom’s family together. Okay, focus, Chris. You were going to just share one of the relatives today, worry about the others another time.

Here we are. My mom’s mom, Pauline “Lena” Steinbach Jahn, was one of eight children. She had two sisters, Edith, better known as Edie, and Elsie.  















Of all the old pictures of the old relatives, Aunt Edie is the easiest to pick out, thanks mostly to her short stature. 








All three sisters worked at logging camps in the Northwoods back in the nineteen-teens. 



 She married Otto Long in 1921. My mom always said that at the time Uncle Otto wasn’t yet a citizen, and everyone thought that he along with Aunt Edie would get deported back to Germany.














They never had any kids. But because they lived on a farm just up the road from the house I grew up, I probably visited them more than the rest of the aunts and uncles.
 In the living room of their house, Aunt Edie had a rocking chair which had had the curve of the rockers planed off so that it didn’t rock. I could never figure that out.
They didn’t have running water in that house for a long time. I remember the summer my dad installed a bathroom for them. I don’t know how old I was, but it must have been in the late sixties, because I remember it so clearly. I even remember using their outhouse before Dad put in the bathroom. 



Aunt Edie passed away in 1972 and Uncle Otto followed her to heaven in 1976. 

That's feels so long ago. I'm sure other family members have more memories of them. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Beauty in a Cloudy Day

I’ve told you about our fall vacation the middle of September, the whirlwind trip through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. After a day home to rest up, we took off again on the Friday of that week, for a ride up to our favorite spot. The forecast was for sunny skies and highs in the sixties. It had been an unseasonably warm week for the rest of our travels, so we jumped in the SUV with high hopes of another beautiful day. 
 Roadside Park along the Ontonagon River. The skies don’t look too promising, but all will be fine once we reach Lake Superior. 
 No matter how dreary the weather, a single daisy still looks like a bouquet to me. 
 Driving down the hill into Houghton/Hancock, the Franklin mine on the opposite hill. Coming down this hill still gives me the same thrill it always did when I was a kid.  
 Got to our beach at Calumet Waterworks Park. I was okay with the lower than expected temperatures and the clouds. 
 Even a few drops of rain wouldn’t keep us from letting Dino have his swim. Then some lightning struck. We decided it was time to head back to the SUV and up the road. 
 Jacob Falls. Our goal for the day being the Jampot just down the road.
  Once again bought way too many baked goods from the monks. But they make some good cookies and muffins. Brownies too. 
 A few of the times we stopped along Lake Superior, we could see this boat barreling along. 
  Don’t know what kind of ship it was – much smaller than the frequent freighters we see far out in the lake. But it was really booking. 
 I’ve always loved the shore of Lake Superior along this stretch of road.
Don’t know if Dino appreciated it, but he did appreciate spending the day with us. 
 One of our last stops was at Lake Medora. The ducks came quacking up to us begging for a handout. 
 Apparently, there is no hunting breed in Dino, as I had always thought. He couldn’t care less about those ducks; he just wanted to swim.   
Despite the cloudy skies, it was a beautiful day, because remember, beauty isn’t just what’s on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

When Plans Change

“What we plan for ourselves isn't always what life has planned for us”. (Unknown, but I really did try tracking down who first said this.)

A month or so ago, I signed up for a one-day medical assistant conference. I had never been to this one before, but it was inexpensive, I knew some women who were going, it wasn’t much of a drive and in fact I could ride with one of these women. And at the time, I had nothing else going on that day.

Last week, my niece called to say she was planning a surprise birthday party for my sister the same day. The conference would get over at 3:30 and the party was starting at 2, a few miles down the road. I figured, I could either go late, or skip the last speaker. Also, my husband was scheduled to work, so I would go by myself and everything would be good.

Then Hubby’s back went out and he’ll be off work for a couple weeks. Friday morning, we were trying to figure out the logistics of both of us getting to the party on time, when one of my cousins called. Another cousin from out of state, who I haven’t seen in forever, was going to be in town on Saturday. They were all meeting at his house in the morning and did I have any plans for the day? Other than my sister’s party, which he was going to as well?

It only took a nano-second to say, “nope, no plans for me. I will be there.” I called the woman I was going to be riding with and cancelled on her, then emailed the conference planner and cancelled on her. (Bonus – they’re going to refund my money.)

Had a wonderful day. Lots of visiting and catching up with lots of relatives, some long lost and some regulars. 

Moral of this story – sometimes plans change and you have to go with it, no looking back, no second-guessing yourself. Life is short and family always trumps everything else.

"The Cousins." 
Fred and Georgia (on the left) are first cousins to my mom. Me and Don (on the right) are first cousins and second cousins to the other two.
Not the best picture, but whatcha gonna do. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fall Vacation Blog Entry #5

This will be my last entry from our short vacation this fall when we visited Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. I could spend much more time in any of these states. Of course, as you know, it takes very little to amuse me.

 Driving home from Iowa, we detoured through Illinois, stopping at Galena. We’ve been here several times before, but I think it was always with our son Nick, while he was in college, so it seems our motives didn’t revolve around me wandering about taking pictures. 
 Can you read this sign? It says that one family lived in this cabin from 1921 to 1970 and raised six children there. 1970? Is that right?
 I remember where I was living in 1970, and though it wasn’t a palace, it was far from a log cabin. 
 Ok, the house I grew up in was a two-room log cabin in its infancy, but that’s a story for another time.
 Just up the hill from the cabin is the Ulysses S Grant home. Built in 1860 and presented to the Grant family in 1865, they only spent a few years in the house and Ulysses never really lived there.
In fact, from what I found on the internet, he didn’t spend a whole lot of time in Galena at all, traveling for either work or with the military.
 There is a beautiful view of Galena from the house. I’d live there if I could. 
 Just a little way up the street from the Grant House . . .
 I discovered this much more fascinating home. The elegant redbrick mansion was built in 1858 and most recently was the Stillman Inn bed-and-breakfast, with an adjacent wedding chapel on its two acres.
 I wish I could have discovered more about this home, but maybe on my next trip.
 It appears that quite recently it was sold to the Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society, so I will have to check it out more closely next time.
 Yup, next time.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Great Wait

You may have heard much of this story before, but now that it has come to completion, I can see that this was how it was supposed to turn out. I found a lot of humor in it at the end.

Where the Sky Meets the Sand”, my first novel, my fondest baby, was released as an ebook on July 12. The print version was released on September 1. People who ordered it on-line began receiving their copies in the mail soon after that.

When I signed the contract with my publisher nearly a year ago, I ordered 300 copies to sell myself. Silly me thought that I would receive mine early, or at least as others were getting theirs. In retrospect, it makes sense that mine would take a while to print and be delivered because it was such a large order.

Back in the day, printers had to run off that many copies or more at one time to make it worth their while. Now, with on-demand printing, they roll out only the copies they need at any one time. Printing my copies would be a slow process, and in the meantime, I imagine they were sending out one copy here or two copies there.

My catch phrase is “Words Written in God’s Time”, but perhaps it is a reminder that everything else happens in God’s time as well.

On September 20, I finally got an email from my publisher that the books were ready to be shipped and asking what number the shipper could reach me at if they needed to contact me. I thought that was an odd request – just drop the books off on my doorstep, right?

But who cares? The books were on their way, right?

A few more days went by and I had to continually tell myself to turn it over to God. Everything was going to be all right.

I got a message from R&L Carriers on September 28 that the books were ready to be delivered and would someone be available the next day to sign for them.

“Just let me know what time, and I will be there.” Because I wasn’t working that day. If they would have tried delivering them the week before, when Hubby and I were out of town, those books would have been sitting in a warehouse all week.

At 12:59 Friday afternoon the phone rang. “This is R&L Carriers. I’m at the end of your driveway with your delivery, but I can’t make it up your driveway with my semi-truck.”

Semi-truck? I asked myself. I just hadn’t pictured my 300 books needing to arrive by semi-truck.

I jumped in Hubby’s Santa Fe and drove to the end of our one-tenth of a mile long driveway.

Sure enough, there was the semi-truck and trailer. Taking up half of our country road. Better yet was when the driver opened the back of the trailer and there was my little pallet of seven boxes of books, along with two other items in the cavernous space. Wish I would have thought to take my camera with me. The driver would have thought I was nuts for sure. As it was, when he asked what was in the boxes and I told him “books I had written”, he appeared impressed, but was probably really thinking, “that explains it, she’s an eccentric writer.”

He and I loaded the boxes in to the back of the Santa Fe, I bid him a fond farewell (ok, I said, “thanks so much and have a great weekend”).

With minimal help from the Hubby (as his back was out), we hauled the books into the house and into the spare bedroom. I cracked open the first box.

“Do you feel better now?” Hubby asked.

“Yea, I guess I do. It all worked out the way it was meant to.”

And right now, there are only four books left in that first box. Yep, things worked out the way God meant them to.  
At a Maasai village when I was in Kenya two years ago. One of the visions I had for the book's cover.
The Maasai boys who were the inspiration for the boy in the book, from my first trip to Kenya in 2006. 


The Maasai village of Saikeri, where my daughter stayed in 2010 and which I visited twice since, which was the village in the book.

In my impatience, I ordered a copy for myself from Amazon. 
The back cover of that first book.

Those seven boxes in the back of the Santa Fe. 

Those seven boxes in my spare bedroom. 

Cracking the first box, the one that wasn't quite full. 

The first book is birthed.