Sunday, September 25, 2016

Never Curse The Rain


“Never curse the rain.”  Words my father used when my brothers and I complained that what we had planned we couldn’t do because of the rain.

 Our western Waushara County farm was sandy and droughty.  It always was in need of a good rain to raise any crops at all.  Some years the rains came regularly and our hay, oat, corn, and cash crop of potatoes did reasonably well.  But too many years the rains did not come regularly.  During the dust-bowl years of the Great Depression the rains came not at all.

I have always been one to welcome rain, celebrate it and let others know how important it is.  This last week stretched my long-held belief to near, but not quite, the breaking point.  From last Tuesday evening to Thursday morning, it rained seven inches at my farm—which is but two miles from where I grew up.  A small pond had emerged on the west side of my garden.  My un-paved driveway had puddles and little patches of mud where they had never been.  Water ran under my shed door and soaked the dirt floor—not really a problem as it soon disappeared.

Somewhat ironical, my recently completed filming of another public television documentary—you guessed it--is titled “Never Curse The Rain.”  The show is based on my new book with that same title to be published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.  Both the TV show and the book will be available in March 2017.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  Welcome the rain.  All living creatures depend on it.

Workshop: Writing From Your Life:  Offered at The Clearing, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on October 28.  Call 920-854-4088 to learn more and to register.

Upcoming Events:

September 29, Whitewater Library, 6:00 p.m. Roshara Journal.

October 1, 9-5,”How to tell your personal story.” Writing  Workshop, Edgerton, Masonic Lodge.  Call 608-884-3367 for further information.

October 2, Mystery to Me Book Store, Madison. 2:00 p.m. Roshara Journal.

October 6-7, Heartland Book Forum, Minneapolis.

October 15, 7:00 p.m. Wisconsin Writer’s Association, Riverwalk Hotel, 123 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Neenah, WI Keynote speech.

October 28, 9-4.  Writing from your life—writing workshop at the Clearing in Door County (see above for details)

November 3, 6:30.  Rock Springs Public Library, 6:30.

November 5, 11:00 a.m. Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose, Roshara Journal

November 10, 7:00 p.m. Menomonie Falls Public Library. One-Room Schools


Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them): 

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:

 Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
 Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
 The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835





Sunday, September 18, 2016

Barns of Wisconsin


I wrote the first edition of Barns of Wisconsin in 1977, soon 40 years ago. It has been available ever since.  Most recently, working with my son, Steve, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press published a third revised edition with Steve’s photos and much of the original material plus some updating.

I remember back in 1976, when I first worked on the book.  My publisher then, not WHSP was concerned that few people would be interested in a book about barns, even if it contained beautiful pictures.  We soon discovered that people were interested, and continue to be interested today.

With these words I tried to capture the reason why so many people continue to love the old barns:

“The barns of Wisconsin are history books in red paint, sociology with gable roofs, theology with lightning rods.  In many ways, barns are Wisconsin agriculture nailed together in buildings with cupolas on the top.  Here is where both life and death on the farm often occurred simultaneously; here is where farm boys and girls learned about responsibility; and where many a farmer began and ended  his day 365 days a year for his entire life.”

If interested in buying the book, stop by your local bookstore, or check my website, www.jerryapps.com  where you can also buy it.

Come  by the Albertson Library in Albany, WI Tuesday evening (9-20) (7:00 p.m.), where I’ll be showing pictures and talking about Wisconsin barns.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Save an old barn and you save a piece of history.

Workshop: Writing From Your Life:  Offered at The Clearing, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on October 28.  Call 920-854-4088 to learn more and to register.

Upcoming Events:

September 20, Albertson Memorial Library, 200 N. Water Street, Albany, WI.  7:00 p.m. Barns of Wisconsin.

September 21, Stonefield Village, Casville, WI. 11:00 a.m. Telling Your Story: Why it's important and how to do it.

September 29, Whitewater Library, 6:00 p.m. Roshara Journal.

October 1, 9-5,”How to tell your personal story.” Writing  Workshop, Edgerton, Masonic Lodge.  Call 608-884-3367 for further information.

October 2, Mystery to Me Book Store, Madison. 2:00 p.m. Roshara Journal.

October 6-7, Heartland Book Forum, Minneapolis.

October 15, 7:00 p.m. Wisconsin Writer’s Association, Riverwalk Hotel, 123 E. Wisconsin Avenue, Neenah, WI Keynote speech.

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them): 

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:
 Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
 Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
 The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835




Sunday, September 11, 2016

The White Cedar Teaching Award


Ruth and I have just returned from The Clearing Folk School near Ellison Bay, Door County where, at their annual awards picnic, I was honored to receive the Clearing’s 2016 White Cedar Teaching Award.  I have taught life story writing there for 27 years, with another workshop scheduled for October 28 (see below for details).  I was truly surprised and pleased to receive the award.

The award presentation included this information about why the teaching award was named after the white cedar tree:

The white cedar, or arborvitae, which means tree of life, is a remarkable tree.  At the Clearing, and along the entire span of the Niagara Escarpment—over 600 miles—white cedar grows on and in what appears to be solid limestone, gaining a toehold where it can, harvesting moisture when it can, defying the laws of both gravity and gardening.  It does so into great age, often several hundred years, occasionally over a thousand years.  The white cedars that grow along the Niagara Escarpment, including those at the Clearing, are the oldest trees in eastern North America—a remarkable feat considering the challenging environment in which they grow.

The White Cedar Award is given to those Clearing instructors who have been devoted to teaching, devoted to their students and devoted to the Clearing for many years.  Just as the white cedar represents the best of the Clearing’s natural landscape, those instructors who receive the White Cedar Award represent the best of the Clearing’s human and cultural Landscape.

I’ve found The Clearing Folk School one of the finest places I’ve known as a place to teach and to learn.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  When you think you are getting old, think of the age of many white cedars.

Workshop: Writing From Your Life:  Offered at The Clearing, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on October 28.  Call 920-854-4088 to learn more and to register.

Upcoming Events:


September 15, Midwest Master Gardeners, Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells.  Dinner Speaker, Whisper and Shadows.

September 18, 1-5, Markesan Heritage Days, Markesan, WI. Speaking at 2:00 p.m.  Books will be available.

September 20, Albertson Memorial Library, Albany, WI.  7:00 p.m. Barns of Wisconsin.

September 21, Stonefield Village, Casville, WI. 11:00 a.m. Telling Your Story: Why important and how to do it.

September 29, Whitewater Library, 6:00 p.m. Roshara Journal.

October 2, Mystery to Me Book Store, Madison. 2:00 p.m. Roshara Journal.


Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them): 
The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:
 Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
 Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
 The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835










Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Labor Day Garden Grades



            With schools starting for the fall term, it seemed appropriate to assign some grades to my vegetable garden on this Labor Day Weekend.  Different from the last couple of summers, we’ve had lots of rain and plenty of heat and sunshine.  But similar to past summers, some things did well and some didn’t do well at all.  Here are the grades:

Tomatoes: “A+” Wow.  What a tomato crop this season and they are not finished yet.  I’ve loosely kept track.  We’ve picked at least three  to four bushels so far this summer.  In recent weeks, late blight took out a few of the plants, but those remaining kept chugging along.  Lots of tomato soup, tomato juice, and salsa already on the cellar shelves.

Potatoes: “A+”  Good potato year; they like lots of rain.  We’ve dug about six bushels.

Green beans: “A”  We continue to pick them.  Wonderfully tasty.

Early sweet corn: “D”  Small ears, not many of them. Poor crop.

Late sweet corn: “A”  I planted it on the Fourth of July, after I harvested the peas.  It came along quickly, and yesterday we ate some of the first of this late crop.  Some of it blew half way over from one of our frequent rain storms, but it straightened out and did well.

Early Peas: “B”  Average crop, but oh so good eaten fresh.

Carrots: “F”  Poor crop this year.  Must try something different next year. Different variety.? New approach to planting?

Peppers: “F-“  Nothing.  Not one green pepper, not even a little scraggly one.  Need a different variety?

Onions: “C”  Good crop but nothing to brag about.

Cabbage: “A”  Excellent crop.  Lots of good coleslaw.  Even a batch of sauerkraut that Natasha is brewing.

Swiss chard: “A”  Still harvesting it.  Doing great.  Beautiful plants.

Leaf Lettuce: “A”  Finally harvested the last of it.

Broccoli: “A”  Even with the hot weather it hasn’t given up.

Cucumbers: “A”  I Picked several cukes again yesterday.  I grow the long, slicer types.  Not the stubby pickling varieties.

Squash and Pumpkins:  “Incomplete.”  They are still growing and look to be an average or maybe a little above average crop.

Zucchini:  “No grade.”  I’ve been heard to say that if you can’t grow zucchini you’d best turn to basket weaving.  Every week another armful of zucchini.  Ruth makes loaf after loaf of zucchini, which she freezes.  She also makes some really tasty zucchini muffins with raisins.

Sunflowers: “A”  Ten feet tall with huge  heads.  I have a long row alongside the south end of the garden.  They add a splash of yellow to the garden.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Oh, the mysteries and joys of vegetable gardening.

Workshop: Writing From Your Life:  Offered at The Clearing, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on October 28.  Call 920-854-4088 to learn more and to register.

Upcoming Events:

September 8, 7:00 p.m.  McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids. Workshop on memoir writing. Participants should have a copy of TELLING YOUR STORY as it will be used in the workshop. Book will be available for sale the evening of the workshop.

September 15, Midwest Master Gardeners, Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells.  Dinner Speaker, Whisper and Shadows.

September 18, 1-5, Markesan Heritage Days, Markesan, WI. Speaking at 2:00 p.m.  Books will be available.

September 20, Albertson Memorial Library, Albany, WI.  7:00 p.m. Barns of Wisconsin.

September 21, Stonefield Village, Casville, WI. 11:00 a.m. Telling Your Story: Why it's important and how to do it.

September 29, Whitewater Library, 6:00 p.m. Roshara Journal.

October 2, Mystery to Me Book Store, Madison. 2:00 p.m. Roshara Journal.


Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them): 
The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:
 Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
 Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
 The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835









Sunday, August 28, 2016

Harriet the Horrible


Never have I seen such aggressiveness.  Such a willingness to take over and be in charge.  Such a show-off attitude.

Before I go further, I must say that I’m talking about a zucchini plant that grows in my garden.  I call her Harriet the Horrible.  This is not an ordinary zucchini plant.  I’ve grown zucchini for thirty years, maybe more.  I’ve heard a litany of zucchini stories—I’ve got several of my own.  These stories are all about the fruit of the zucchini—don’t leave your car unlocked during zucchini season or you’ll find a pile of them on the backseat—stories like that.

I’m not talking about what Harriet the Horrible produces.  I would say she is average in that respect.  I’m talking about Harriet herself.  On the one hand, she is absolutely beautiful.  She is six feet wide, four feet tall, and her leaves are more than twenty inches wide.  Never have I grown such a specimen as Harriet.

On the other hand, it’s her personality that is in question, that is if you’ll allow me to say a zucchini plant has a personality.  She has completely crowded out a cluster of carrots.  She has killed several onion plants.   She has put fear and trepidation into four tomato plants that are scraggly and pitiful.  She has frightened the pole beans as they climb ever farther up their poles, trying to escape the wrath of Harriet.

This is only August.  What more damage can Harriet the Horrible do before frost comes and does her in?  She is clearly on the prowl, holding her leaves high, and proudly doing what I have not seen a zucchini plant do.

THE OLD TIMER ASKS:  Do you have a Harriet the Horrible in your garden?

Workshop: Writing From Your Life:  Offered at The Clearing, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on October 28.  Call 920-854-4088 to learn more and to register.

Upcoming Events:

August 29, 7:00 p.m. Wisconsin Public TV. The Land With Jerry Apps

August 30, 7:00 p.m. Milwaukee Public TV. Live appearance. The Land With Jerry Apps

September 8, 7:00 p.m.  McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids. Workshop on memoir writing. Participants should have a copy of TELLING YOUR STORY as it will be used in the workshop. Book will be available for sale the evening of the workshop.

September 15, Midwest Master Gardeners, Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells.  Dinner Speaker, Whisper and Shadows.

September 18, 1-5, Markesan Heritage Days, Markesan, WI.

September 24, Stonefield Village, Cassville.  11:00 a.m. How to tell your story.

October 5-7, Heartland Forum, Minneapolis (Book sellers convention)


Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them): 
The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:
 Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
 Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
 The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835








Sunday, August 21, 2016

Waupaca Art Fair


Last Saturday I attended Waupaca’s Arts on the Square, and what a fine event it was.  There was music, dance, and paintings; woodcarving, blacksmithing and quilting demonstrations, poetry readings and lots of food.

Colorful tents on either side and in back of the public library in downtown Waupaca sheltered people from the predicted rain, which never came, but hundreds of people did. I was privileged to be one of the presenters.  I talked about storytelling, how to do it, and why it was important for everyone to write their stories. 

On a table just beyond where I was talking, poet Paul Wiegel conducted a hands-on workshop with manual typewriters.  Paul collects these now antique machines and invited the young people in the audience to try typing on one. He provided the paper.

In an age of computers, smart phones and other electronic devices, typing on a manual typewriter (no electricity or batteries required) proved more than a little challenging for some of these young people.  A beginning problem—how do you put paper in the machine?

One of the featured typewriters was an upright L.C. Smith.  It was big brute of a machine that I remember fondly from my days of taking a typewriting class at Wild Rose High School many years ago.  Except for me, the class was all girls, who had long, slender fingers compared to my short, stubby ones.  But I soon discovered that I had an advantage over the girls in the class.  I was milking cows by hand in those days, and had strong fingers, a considerable asset when typing on a manual typewriter.  I came to really like typing, and as my readers know, I’ve never gotten over it.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: You never know what you’ll learn at an art fair.

Workshop: Writing From Your Life:  Offered at The Clearing, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on October 28.  Call 920-854-4088 to learn more and to register.

Upcoming Events:

August 22, 7:00 p.m., Twin Cities Public TV. Live appearance.  The Land With Jerry Apps

August 29, 7:00 p.m. Wisconsin Public TV. The Land With Jerry Apps

August 30, 7:00 p.m. Milwaukee Public TV. Live appearance. The Land With Jerry Apps

September 8, 7:00 p.m.  McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids. Workshop on memoir writing. Participants should have a copy of TELLING YOUR STORY as it will be used in the workshop. Book will be available for sale the evening of the workshop.

September 15, Midwest Master Gardeners, Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells.  Dinner Speaker, Whisper and Shadows.

September 18, 1-5, Markesan Heritage Days, Markesan, WI.


Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them): 
The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:
 Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
 Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
 The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835








Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Clearing


Ruth and I have just returned from Door County, where I taught a writing workshop at The Clearing, located on the bluffs above the waters of Green Bay, just north of Ellison Bay.  This is my 26th year teaching at The Clearing, which was founded in 1935 by Jens Jensen, a Danish-born landscape architect.  Jensen was 75 years old at the time, and had recently retired from his Chicago business.

Jensen believed that everyone should have an opportunity to have direct experience with nature, have an opportunity to express themselves creatively, and realize the importance of “thoughtful study and contemplation.”

I have taught week-long, and currently teach day-long workshops on what I call “Writing From Your Life,” a focus on one’s personal stories.  This year, 32 students met on Friday to plumb their memories, write their stories, and share them with each other.  There was laughter, lots of laughter, and yes, some tears, as people wrote and shared.  It was an invigorating and productive day.  And such wonderful stories.

We used my new book, TELLING YOUR STORY (Fulcrum Press) as a guide for the work.

For those who would like a similar experience, I will be teaching a similar workshop at The Clearing on Friday, October 28.


The Old Timer Says: It’s never too late to tell your Story..

Writing From Your Life:  Writing From Your Life Workshop. Offered at The Clearing, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on October 28.  Call 920-854-4088 to learn more and to register.

Upcoming Events:

August 20, 10:30-11:30 am.  Waupaca Annual Arts on the Square.  Story telling.

August 22, 7:00 p.m., Twin Cities Public TV. Live appearance.  The Land With Jerry Apps

August 29, 7:00 p.m. Wisconsin Public TV. The Land With Jerry Apps

August 30, 7:00 p.m. Milwaukee Public TV. Live appearance. The Land With Jerry Apps

September 8, 7:00 p.m.  McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids. Workshop on memoir writing. Participants should have a copy of TELLING YOUR STORY as it will be used in the workshop. Book will be available for sale the evening of the workshop.

September 15, Midwest Master Gardeners, Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells.  Dinner Speaker, Whisper and Shadows.

September 18, 1-5, Markesan Heritage Days, Markesan, WI.


Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them): 
The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs:
 Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps (based on The Quiet Season book.)
 Jerry Apps a Farm Story (based on Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm books.)
 The Land with Jerry Apps, (based on the book Whispers and Shadows.)
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including: Jerry’s newest novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County. and Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.
Jerry’s newest books, Roshara Journal (with photos by Steve Apps) and Telling Your Story—a guide book for those who want to write their stories—are also available.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835