Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween, then and now

I haven’t dressed up for Halloween since I was in college, when Jean, Brenda, Jeanne, and I dressed up like the characters from The Wizard of Oz for our dorm Halloween party. I cannot believe that I have no pictures of Dorothy (me!). I wore a fetchin’ lavender dress with pinafore. 

But that was waaaay before digital photography. It was 1981, and remember I was a child prodigy, so I am not really as old as you think.

 How else do you think I was chosen to play Dorothy. Hmm. Good thing there are no pictures of me from then, I guess.

Anywho, I do not know what came over me this year. Except that maybe my co-workers from Whoville were contagious.
Or when a co-worker suggested that we dress as minions and the doctor I work for dress as Gru, I couldn’t resist. It was an easy costume to put together.
I really can have fun when I want to. 
 It helps to work with a great bunch of people.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

What Jesus Says

You may not be aware of this, but Tuesday, October 31, marks the 500th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther tacked his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. All us good Lutherans are supposed to know all about this and that this event marked the beginning of the reformation and a splitting away from the Catholic church.

I was going to write more about that event today, do some research, study up on Martin Luther, maybe tell you something you’ve never heard before. Instead as I was reading through various Bible passages, looking for just the right one which would make one of Luther’s points (such as “you can’t buy your way into heaven”), I ended up in the following chapter from the book of Luke. I don’t know if these are passages which Luther used as ammunition against the church leaders of 1517 or not. It doesn’t matter; I like them.

 22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. (Luke 12:22-33 New International Version)

 As usual, Jesus says it all better than I ever could.  

Friday, October 27, 2017

What Pops Up in Your Hometown?

As I was driving to work yesterday, I was hit with the realization of the changing of the seasons. Sure, the temperatures have been around freezing every morning the last few days and the forecast is for flurries, even possible accumulations of an inch of snow. But what hits me every year is the morning I drive past the county garage and they have all of the snow plows out getting them ready for winter.

As I continued my drive to work I spied something else along the side of the road which got me thinking. You know how occasionally, often in the spring and in the fall, the city announces garbage pickup day, where you can put your larger items of junk at the curb and the city will pick them up? Or at any time of the year, you might see an item on the curb with a sign on it saying “FREE”, even though the item is just more junk where the possibility of you bringing it into  your home is about the same as bringing in an escaped convict.

Yesterday, I spied next to the road a baby carrier, no sign on it and no baby in it, at least I was pretty sure there wasn’t as I drove by at 29 mph. I wondered if it was an item at the curb to be swooped up by anyone desperate enough to adopt a total stranger’s baby carrier for their own child. Or had a sleep-deprived father forgotten it there when he lifted out his wailing six month old at some odd hour of the night?

I do not know.

I studied the streets the rest of the way to work thinking maybe I would see a third noteworthy thing. The only other entity, as I was pulling into the hospital parking lot, was the ambulance pulling out, its lights and sirens on. For the second day in a row. I have no idea what is significant about that, except that most ambulance calls are not for happy occasions. And we need a lot more happy occasions.

Snow plows, baby carriers and ambulances. I have no idea how any of them are related, except that they all pop up in my hometown. 
I didn't get any pictures yesterday morning. This picture is from November 4, 2014, same scene as I just witnessed. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

A Recipe from the Non-Cook

I haven’t posted any recipes in a while. I like to type them on my blog and then save them on Pinterest so that I don’t lose them. I can always pull up my favorite recipes wherever I am as long as I have internet. Yup, I’m getting just like the kids. Hard to believe that at one time I did all my typing on a Smith-Corona manual typewriter, back when our black and white TV picked up three stations, but you had to move the rabbit ears to pick up channel 12. Yup, I’m that old.

Anyway, we had a potluck last week for a co-worker who was retiring. I don’t usually participate in potlucks because I have no luck coming up with food to contribute. This time, for some unknown reason, I signed up and said I’d bring popcorn salad.

Another co-worker who retired a few years ago had made it once for a potluck and gave me the recipe. We all thought it was pretty unique and no one had had it before. Turns out the exact recipe popped up as the first one on a Google search for “popcorn salad recipe”.


1 Bag of Old Dutch White Gourmet Popcorn
2 Bunches of Green Onions, chopped
2 Cups of Celery, chopped
2 Cans of Sliced Water Chestnuts, chopped
2 lbs. of Cooked Bacon, crumbled
2 Cups of Shredded Cheddar Cheese

2 Cups of Mayonnaise
2/3 Cups of Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Vinegar

Mix mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar and refrigerate overnight.
In a large bowl mix together green onions, celery, bacon, and shredded cheese.
Just before serving mix the popcorn and mixture, then add the dressing. 
I cheat and use bacon bits and I don’t know how big their bag of popcorn is, but I only use half of mine and it’s some off brand. 

Bonus = popcorn left to eat!

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (New International Version)

As anyone knows who lives where the seasons change, it is that time of year when you can’t get a handle on the leaves covering your yard. Last week Hubby spent a couple hours every day raking and leaf-blowing our leaves into piles all over the yard. Some he hauled away, but the rest were supposed to be my responsibility. I kind of shirked it. Plus, more leaves fell from the trees. When he got home from work yesterday, he started the leaf-blower for me and I blew out a tiny portion of the lawn, one of the portions he had done already. It doesn’t seem like I made a dent.

A daunting task awaits us. How will we ever finish picking up the leaves before snow falls (which is forecasted for the end of next week, with not much but cloudy skies and rain showers before then).

Whether or not the yardwork gets done this fall, this reminds me how all things are possible with God. Without even lifting a finger, He could pick up these leaves, as well as clean my house! Of course, He doesn’t. He gave us our world and our work so that we can stay busy and be productive, so that we have a reason to get up in the morning. Maybe I should have instead picked a Bible verse about the perils of laziness!

In any event, my yard is what it is. A blessing from God. Whether covered in leaves or green grass or snow.

Thank You, God, for giving me all that I have and for giving me the ability to maintain it. Amen.  

(As I wrote the title for this post, I suddenly remembered that my chosen word for this year was “possibility”. Huh. Only took me ten months to remember that!)

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.