Friday, December 28, 2007

New Year Thoughts

As we look forward to a new year, with all of its challenges and opportunities, I am reminded of something that Albert Einstein wrote: "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."

The Old Timer says: "Don't forget how important it is to just sit awhile and think."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Memories

As we grow older, Christmas memories abound:

I remember Christmas morning, when I was a kid growing up on a farm, with a stack of presents under the tree that couldn't be opened until the morning milking was done. Of receiving new socks and mittens that grandmother had knitted, and a new pair of skates, the type that clamped onto the bottom of my shoes and were tightened with a key.

I remember walking a mile with my dad to a neighbor's with a small present and a freshly baked pie, because we knew that his wife had passed away and his children had grown and moved to the city, and he was there alone on Christmas day.

The Old Timer says: "Listen to the laughter of children, and remember when you were a kid."

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Rhythm of the Seasons

The long winter in the north is settling in allowing time for resting, rejuvenating. remembering, contemplating--but mostly enjoying. Winter is for slowing down.

But so many of us still hurry. We can't accept the rhythm of the seasons.

The Old Timer Says:"Why is it that patience is in such short supply these days?"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pickles and Onions

Pickles and onions. Not a bad combination for those with cast iron stomachs. But I'm talking about The Onion. a national very funny newspaper that pokes fun at about everything. Except in the December 7 issue they talked about my book, In a Pickle: A Family Farm Story.

The mention was part of a "Wisconsin Gift Guide" feature. They said my book was "For literary snobs who doubt the inspirational power of pickles." They concluded the review with, "It's not the first American novel to pit country wisdom against corporate sliminess, but when was the last time a good story taught you this much about the pickle-curing process?"

The Old Timer says: "Everything has an end, except a sausage, which has two."

Monday, December 03, 2007


It blew in from the southwest, from Iowa, a few flakes at first, in late morning. Then more flakes as the storm increased, got stronger, grew bolder. Soon I couldn't see the road that trails by the cabin, couldn't glimpse the pasture field just beyond the driveway. Couldn't see the tops of the now naked black willow trees that windbreak the cabin.

First big snow of the season. About six inches dumped before it moved on east, giving those folks a taste of winter as well.

Nearly put the Pickle Party in a pickle--but it didn't. Sturdy Wisconsinites know how to drive in snow, even when the road disappears in front of them. Four-wheel drive weather. More than 50 turned out to celebrate pickles, pickle patches, and pickle factories--and hear about IN A PICKLE: A FAMILY FARM STORY.

The Old Timer Says: "There are no shortcuts to important places."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Windy Day in Fall

The wind came up in the night. Strong. Cold. The dead leaves of autumn fly ahead of it. The bare branches of the willows and the maples and the aspens protest it. The temperature drops all day, pushing toward the single digits.

I walk in the wind, smelling fall, but tasting winter as well. And I'm reminded of the old Irish blessing: "May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be ever at your back."

The Old Timer Says: "There is no need to fear the wind if your haystack is tied down."

Don't forget the Pickle Party December 1, 1:00 pm at Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, WI. I'll be sharing some pickle stories.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Home Made Pumpkin Pie

We grow pumpkins in the farm garden, enough so the grandkids have jack-O-lanterns and we have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Real pumpkin pie.

Here's the recipe Ruth uses:
2 eggs--beaten
Add the following ingredients to the beaten eggs, combine:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each of nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon

Now add and blend thoroughly:
2 cups pumpkin pulp
1 cup milk

Put mixture into a single pie crust.

Bake 425 degrees for 15 minutes
Then 350 degrees until done (about 30-40 minutes)

The pie is done when the top surface is set and not sticky.

Enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Old Timer Says: "You don't learn patience by hurrying."

Friday, November 16, 2007

When Better Trumps Bigger

"Bigger is Better." It's a cliche. We've heard it for years. Bigger this, that and the other thing--and if it's bigger it's got to be better.

Not always so. Especially not with cucumbers. It's the little ones, the number ones, the gherkins that bring the most money to the grower. The big ones, those honkers that remind you of a green football turning yellow, well, we sometimes left them in the field. Didn't even haul them to the pickle station because nobody wanted a big, old yellow cucumber.

Learn more about these important matters at the big Pickle Party at the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, WI, December 1, starting around 1:00 p.m. That's a Saturday.

The Old Timer says: "If bigger is better, why is a dime worth more than a nickel?"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gherkins and Such

What's a gherkin? You don't know? If you grew up picking cucumbers you remember people talking about gherkins--they are the little ones. The number "ones" that fall through the pickle sorter first and command the highest price.

One reference I checked said the word, "gherkin" originated with the Persians, and eventually came to us from the Dutch. It literally means "a small cucumber."

Oh, bet you didn't know that Thomas Jefferson favored pickled gherkins, and they became a popular product in France as early as the 1820s.

Learn more about gherkins and other important cucumber information at Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose,Saturday December 1, 1:00 p.m. Come early and look at the pickle exhibits.

And learn about my new book IN A PICKLE: A FAMILY FARM STORY.

The Old Timer says: A pocketful of common sense is worth a wagon-load of learning.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pickle Party at Wild Rose

Mark your calendar! We are having a big pickle party at Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose on Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 1:00 p.m.

We'll talk about pickle days in Wild Rose's history, the pickle stations that operated there, and reminisce about the little "pickle patches" found on about every farm at one time.

And I'll read a little from IN A PICKLE:A FAMILY FARM STORY. Here's a chance to learn the story behind the story--who was Andy Meyer? And that preacher, was there a preacher like that in Wild Rose in the mid-1950s.

It's a fund raiser for the library; I'll be signing books with proceeds going to the Patterson Memorial Library.

The Old Timer says: "There are no shortcuts to important places."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Falling Leaves

A brisk northwest wind comes up in the night and the colorful leaves of autumn tumble to the ground. A new season has arrived, with no turning back, with nothing but memories remaining. Like so much of life itself, as each of us turns a new page and looks ahead with anticipation of what is next.

The Old Timer says: "As in cards, we must play the hand dealt us in life. Winning isn't as important as playing a poor hand well."

For those interested in my "Writing From Your Life" writing workshop at The Clearing in Door County, the 2008 dates are: August 3-9.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wood Stove Chili

Ruth cooked up a pot of chili on our wood burning cook stove on Saturday. Took me right back to my growing up years on the farm when Ma cooked everything on such a stove. Something about the smell of chili simmering mixing in with the hint of wood smoke that makes the experience special.

Ruth used my mother's recipe, which is found in my LIVING A COUNTRY YEAR book.

Here's the recipe:

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion
1 cup macaroni
1 quart V-8 vegetable juice
1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (could use more)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sugar

Brown ground beef and onion. Drain excess fat.
Cook macaroni in boiling, salted water for about 8 minutes.
Drain. Place V-8 juice in large kettle.
Add beans, meat, onion, and cooked macaroni.
Stir in spices and sugar and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add a little water if too thick.
Serves four people.

Goes especially well with a thick slice of home-made bread, buttered.

The Old Timer says: "Whether climbing up a ladder or coming down, it is equally frightening."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Making Wood

Steve and I spent two days last week "making wood" at the farm. We heat our cabin with two wood stoves, including a wood-burning cook stove we use for some of our cooking when we are there. Nothing beats bacon and eggs sizzling in a cast iron skillet heated by a wood stove.

I mentioned our "making wood" project to someone the other day who promptly corrected me. She said, "Trees make wood; people chop wood." I didn't argue with her. Never thought of it before, but"making wood" is likely country talk in the same category as "making hay."

The old timer says: "Those who heat with wood stoves are twice warmed."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Wisconsin Book Festival-2007

Sat in on Michael Perry's delightful performance at Border's Madison West last Thursday evening (Oct. 11) as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival. And what a crowd turned out. Learn more about Mike's work by going to He's a "comer" in the writing business, no doubt about it.

I read a little from my novel, IN A PICKLE, at a Book Festival offering called "Renewing the Countryside and Celebrating Wisconsin" at Madison's main library on Saturday afternoon.

I shared the podium with Jan Joannides from Minneapolis, who, along with Jerry Hembd and Jody Padgham edited an informative and beautifully illustrated book, RENEWING THE COUNTRYSIDE OF WISCONSIN. The book is available from The University of Wisconsin Press.

Michelle Miller from the University of Wisconsin's Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems moderated the program. Check out the group, they are doing interesting work.

Following our presentations, we had an interesting discussion with many questions from the substantial audience.

Interest in rural life and examining ways of preserving it appears on the increase.

The Old Timer Says: "Do nothing in haste, except running away from an angry dog."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Old and New

Too often these days, in our haste to embrace what is new, whether it be a new building, a new piece of technology, or a new approach to doing things, we fail to recall what of the old should be retained--an old building refurbished, an old idea revisited, a long standing set of values maintained.

When decisions are made about change, in my humble judgment, we should slow down and ask: What of the old is worth keeping, what of the new should be rejected?

The Old Timer says: "The land not only nourishes our bodies, but feeds our souls."

Any and all comments welcome.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Disappearing Family Farms

IN A PICKLE presentations and book signings going well. This week at Cobb, WI and New Berlin, WI public libraries.

Questions about the family farm, what it was like, what it meant to rural America. Discussion moved around to what of the old is worthy of keeping and what of the new should be avoided.

What beliefs and values emerged from these small family farms that we ought to hold onto today, as change engulfs society? Preserving the land. Pride in workmanship. Love for family. Maintaining neighborhoods. Understanding the importance of community.

The Old Timer says: "Hard to know where you're headed unless you know where you've been."

Upcoming Events:

Midwest Booksellers Association, Oct 6, Minneapolis Convention Center.

Westfield, WI Historical Society, Oct 8, 6:30 p.m.

Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Bayshore (Milwaukee), Oct 9, 7:00 p.m.

Sheboygan Falls Public Library, Oct 13, 9:30 a.m.

Wisconsin Book Festival, Madison Public Library, Oct 13, 2:00 p.m.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Garden Season Over

I put my vegetable garden to bed for the winter. This meant I dug the potatoes (good crop this year), forked out the rutabagas, rounded up the scattered gourds, chopped the dried sweet corn stalks, cut the remaining heads of red cabbage (it had done well this year), pulled the tomato vines and took down my deer fence. Then I hooked my tractor to the disc and turned over the soil. Finally, I planted the entire garden to winter wheat, which I will plow down next spring.

I have followed this same ritual for many years. Putting the garden to bed is in the same category as geese flying south for the winter, and sandhill cranes migrating--a sign of the winter to come.

The Old Timer says: "Some of us have a terrible time stepping out from behind ourselves."

Officially launch of IN A PICKLE: A FAMILY FARM STORY last week. More than a hundred people turned out at Barnes & Noble West in Madison. Watch for upcoming IN A PICKLE events.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Potato Picking

It's time to dig my potatoes--the four long rows I have in my garden. I remember when I was a kid we had 20 acres of spuds on the home farm. Pa dug them with a six-tine fork and my brothers, Don and Darrel and I picked them by hand. It would take us most of two weeks to do the task.

In those days, our country school in Waushara County Wisconsin had a two-week "potato vacation" so all the kids could pick potatoes. Some vacation.

The Old Timer says: "When the horse dies, it's time to climb off."

Coming events:

Cobb Public Library, Oct 2, 6:00 p.m.
New Berlin Public Library, Oct 3, 6:30
Midwest Booksellers , Minneapolis, Oct. 6
Westfield Historical Society, Oct. 8, 6:30
Barnes and Noble, Bayshore (Milwaukee) Oct. 9, 6:30

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Slowing Down

Fall is creeping up, and what a beautiful time it is. The trees are beginning to turn color--the maples are some of the first to showoff. The woodbine is a brilliant red--it's an all but invisible vine that crawls up trees in summer, and in fall shouts its presence. The pungent, earthy smells of fall surround us we walk in the woods. And soon, very soon, we'll hear the call of wild geese winging high overhead, on their way south for the winter.

Remember, the songbirds are beginning to migrate. Keep your bird feeder filled.

It's a time to slow down and listen, look, smell, feel, and taste too, as you sink your teeth into a a freshly picked apple.

The Old Timer says: "Take time to: watch the sunset, find humor when nothing seems funny, do something extra for the special person in your life, walk in the rain, and occasionally do nothing--and enjoy it."

Reminder: The launch for my new novel, IN A PICKLE, is Thursday Sept. 27, 7:00 p.m. at Barnes and Noble West in Madison. We're planning a pickle counting contest, pickle pins for all, pickle snacks--and a reading.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Telling Our Stories

We each have a story to tell. And the obligation to tell it. If we don't tell our stories, no one else will. It's never too late to start. Write about your growing-up years. About your school memories, first job, first love, and people who made a difference in your life. Tell about where you lived when you were ten years old, your special toy (mine was a home-made Teddy bear), your favorite aunt (assuming you had one).

If writing is not your thing, tape record your stories. Give the stories to your children and grandchildren for Christmas presents. They will be forever grateful to you.

The Old Timer Says: "Hey, sit down and rest for a minute, I've got a story to tell you."

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cool, Clear Days of Early Fall

Those wonderful cool, clear days of fall have returned. It's time to look for the sweaters and jackets, harvest the squash and dig the potatoes.

The cucumbers having given up for the year, as have the green beans, and zucchini--yes even the over productive zucchini are calling it quits for another season.

The Old Timer says: "Doin' something that is especially hard gets a lot harder if you do too much thinkin' about it."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Boundary Waters Canoe Area

My son, Steve and I just returned from a week in Northern Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Wilderness camping, paddling, fishing--and doing a little writing with loon music in the background. And lots of reading, too.

Survived a 4-5 inch rain with loud thunder and lightning. Never quite so close to nature than sleeping in a tent with rain beating on the canvas.

The Old Timer says:

"Slow down on dark, rainy days. Dawdle over a second cup of coffee. Read parts of the newspaper you usually skip. Listen to classical music on the public radio station. A rainy morning is nature's way of interrupting the headlong rush that seems to be the fate for most of us."

Sunday, September 02, 2007

In a Pickle Appearances

Scratch down the following dates on your calendar, if you would like to hear me (I hope you would) talk about, cucumber growing, small family farms, and my new book, IN A PICKLE: A FAMILY FARM STORY.

September 13: Apple Blossom Books, Oshkosh. 11:30-2:00 p.m.

September 27: Barnes and Noble West, Madison. 7:00 p.m.

I'll share more dates and places as they come a bit closer.

The Old Timer says: "Watch out for them fellas that use a lot of big words. Like as not if they knew what they were talkin' about, they wouldn't do that."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Remembering the Pickle Patch

Back when I was a kid on a farm near Wild Rose, Wisconsin, by now in the season our pickle patch was beginning to look a little ragged from the twice a week pickings since July. By Labor Day the pickle picking season was about over. If the season had been good, my brothers Donald and Darrel and I had new bib overalls and new shoes for school, and maybe even a new Daisy BB gun or a shiny new hunting knife we'd eyed in the Sears Catalog for weeks.

The Old Timers says:

"Knew this blind fellow once. He could see more than most of us."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In a Pickle on WI Public Radio

Tune in Wisconsin Public Radio on 11:45 Thursday, August 30 when host Larry Meiller and I will discuss my new novel, IN A PICKLE. Be prepared to call in and share your pickle picking stories.

Thoughts from the Old Timer:

"Patience is something you just can't have too much of. Most things don't happen near as fast as we'd like them to."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What is In A Pickle?

Several people have asked recently, "Just what is that new novel of yours about?"

In a few words, IN A PICKLE is about small family farms and why we have so few of them these days.

In the book, the newspaper editor of the Link Lake Gazette, writes in response to questions about disappearing family farms: "Don't you realize what we are giving up when we lose a family farm? It's a way of life, but so much more. We lose people who who know the land and how to care for it, who know livestock and how to raise it, who know machinery and how to keep operating, and who know what community means. That's what will be lost when these family farms disappear."

If any of you have comments, please respond. I would enjoy a discussion about the family farm.

Old timer comment: "Life is like a river. There are twists and turns, quiet spots and rapids, deep pools and shallow flats. But a river is always moving. Always the same but always different. Just like people."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Writing From Your Life

I've just returned from a great week at The Clearing in Door County, Wisconsin where I taught a workshop on "Writing From Your Life." Fifteen students from younger to older wrote their stories and shared them for critique. What fun it was.

I'm doing a one day intro workshop on the topic Saturday, September 15. Check my website and the Clearing's website for details.

Old timer Wisdom.

"When it comes to talking about something--if you can't put it in simple words, better keep your mouth shut until you can."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Pickle Patches

This past week I drove past several huge cucumber fields in Waushara County, Wisconsin with migrant workers hunched over picking cucumbers as they have for many years. Try as they might, inventors have not come up with a cucumber picking machine that works as well as human hands.

Take a look at my new novel, IN A PICKLE: A FAMILY FARM STORY. It's all about cucumber growing in the 1950s in central Wisconsin, when nearly every farmer had a small "pickle patch" as we called them.

An old timer shared this with me the other day: "Being old is mostly not a bad thing. It's for sure better than being dead. But never having been dead, I can't speak with much authority."

Monday, July 30, 2007

In a Pickle Out

In a Pickle is in the bookstores. Saw it for the first time in a bookstore last week in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

It's all about small family farms and why we have so few of them today.

And, to continue with old timer wisdom. Heard this one the other day:

Fella had a willing team of horses. One horse was willing to pull and the other one was willing to let him.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Having Fun

An old timer shared this with me a while back. Thought you might enjoy it as I did.

"If you ain't havin' fun doing something, you won't think much of what you've done."

Oh, just heard that IN A PICKLE is on its way to bookstores. You might want to look for it. Read more about the book on my website, especially in the press kit that UW Press put together. Click on my Biography section to find it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Travels of Increase Joseph & In a Pickle

THE TRAVELS OF INCREASE JOSEPH was the title of my first novel. Folks have asked me if Increase Joseph is at all related to my new novel, IN A PICKLE. Yup, there's a relationship. Both novels take place in the fictional town of Link Lake Wisconsin. Increase Joseph takes place from the early 1850s to 1900--the years that Link Lake was getting established.

IN A PICKLE takes place in 1955, about 100 years later. In the first book we see family farms becoming established. In the second we begin to see them disappearing.

An old timer shared this with me the other day: "You don't get it done 'till you get at it." Seems to make sense.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wis Dairy Farming Changing

It's not difficult to see how farming has changed in Wisconsin; you need only to drive around the state and see the many abandoned dairy barns. The numbers can help put what you see into perspective.

Wisconsin Dairy Farms


But, interestingly enough, Wisconsin has nearly as many dairy cows in 2007 (1.25 million) as it had in 2002 (1.24 million). In 1974, Wisconsin farmers had 1.73 million cows.

Dairy farms are fewer but larger, no question about it. In 2007 the average number of cows per dairy farm was 88 cows. During World War II, when I was a kid, our dairy herd numbered 15 cows, which we milked by hand because we hadn't yet gotten electricity on our farm. (Numbers are from the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service)

My new novel, IN A PICKLE: A FAMILY FARM STORY looks at some of the changes in family farms, and the effects on rural communities.

"If you put all your eggs in one basket, be sure to keep your eye on the basket."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Family Farm

I've long been interested in the small family farm. Some of my interest goes back to my childhood when I grew up on a farm near Wild Rose, Wisconsin. There I milked cows by hand, hoed a cucumber patch in summer, helped make hay, threshed grain, husked corn and all the rest.

My interest goes deeper. Many of the values still prevalent in our country have their roots in these small farms. The importance of hard work, doing more than what is asked of you, showing up on time, looking out for your neighbors, and taking care of the land are a few examples.

My new novel, IN A PICKLE: A FAMILY FARM STORY is about family farm life in the 1950s. Check my website for more detail.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Ringling Bros. History

Interested in circus history? Want to learn more about the famous Ringling Bros. and their circus?
Did you know that the Ringling circus spent its winters for many years in Baraboo, WI?
Are you aware that the Ringlings once employed 1200 people? That they had 500 horses?

On Wednesday, July 11, 2:00 p.m. stop by Barnes and Noble West in Madison and learn about these famous brothers that made circus history--and a lot of money as well. And for the kids, a free circus clown nose.

See you there.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Lovers of Old Barns

Here's an opportunity to see how an old dairy barn has been remodeled for new uses. Henk Newenhouse of The Merry Farm in rural Lone Rock, Wisconsin is hosting a field day on Tuesday Evening, July 10 from 6-9 p.m.

If you are the owner of an old barn or simply interested in the history and future of old barns in Wisconsin, you will enjoy this workshop.

Directions to the farm: From Madison, WI travel west on Highway 14 past Lone Rock and Gotham. Turn north on Fairview Road and left on Slow Lane, which leads directly to Merry Farm.

Oh, almost forgot. I will be sharing some history of old barns and their interesting past.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Oh, those cukes.

When we weren't calling cucumbers "pickles," we called them "cukes." During the 1940s and 1950s, nearly every farmer in the sand country of central Wisconsin had a pickle patch. For some reason we never called them cuke patches.
These pickle patches ranged from a quarter acre to sometimes as much as two acres, all picked by hand. You could guess the size of a farm family by driving by and checking the size of the pickle patch. The bigger the patch, the more kids in the family.

My upcoming new novel, IN A PICKLE, digs into the pickle business and its many fascinating dimensions.

Words for the day:

My wife says I never listen to her. At least that's what I think she said.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Pickle Patch

When I was a kid we had a pickle patch on our farm. Our city relatives pointed out that we really had a cucumber patch, and that cucumbers needed processing before they could be called pickles. We listened patiently. When the relatives left, Pa said, "Those city relatives, what do they know? They never picked a pickle in their lives."

Look for my new book--IN A PICKLE--it's all about pickles . . .I mean cucumbers. Check my website for a description.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Personal Stories

We all have a story to tell. Yup, each and everyone of us. Want to learn how to put those stories down on paper?

Consider enrolling in the one-day workshop I'm teaching at The Clearing in Door County Wisconsin. The date is Saturday, September 15. Give The Clearing a call at 877-854-3225 for registration details. The title of the workshop is "Writing From Your Life."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cheese and the History Channel

Want to learn a bit more about cheese? More interesting than you think. Tune in the History Channel on Wednesday, June 27 9:00 p.m. Central (10:00 p.m. Eastern). Folks from Los Angeles flew out here to Madison a few months ago and interviewed a bunch of Wisconsin people, including yours truly. I suspect I'll be on for all of 30 seconds, but the process was fun.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wisconsin Eye Interview

Something new in Wisconsin. The State's answer to C-Span. It's called Wisconsin Eye. I recently did an interview with them, which you can listen to, or watch online. Their Internet address is Once you reach their home page, click on video archives, then on book programs.

Joan Sanstadt, with Wisconsin Eye, queried me about my book, LIVING A COUNTRY YEAR. All kinds of background stuff about the book, as well as life on the farm when I was a kid. Joan knows how to pull out details I don't ordinarily share.

Give it a listen.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ringling Brothers Circus History

Interested in learning more about those famous Wisconsin boys who ran the great Ringling Bros. Circus?

I'll be sharing some circus history at the following:

Barnes & Noble Madison East June 26, 2:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bayshore (Milwaukee) June 27, 1:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Madison West, July 11, 1:00 p.m.

Bring the kids. Each child will receive a free circus clown red nose.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Strawberry Pie

Oh, how tasty those Wisconsin strawberries. Tonight I enjoyed strawberry pie, first one of the season.

Check LIVING A COUNTRY YEAR for the recipe. It's on page 113. All that's needed is one quart of fresh strawberries--and a few other things. Easy enough to make. And the taste, well I don't have the words.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rain in June is a Silver Spoon

The home farm was quite sandy and it seemed we never had quite enough rain to grow our crops. Dad had a series of sayings about the spring rains that I have never forgotten:

April showers bring May flowers
Rain in May is a barn full of hay
Rain in June is a Silver Spoon.

Upcoming Events:

Chilton Public Library, Chilton, WI 6:00 p.m. June 20.
Oshkosh Public Museum, Oshkosh 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. June 23. (Sponsored by Apple Blossom Books)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

June is Strawberry Month

When I was growing up, we had a big strawberry patch on the home farm. June was strawberry month. We ate strawberries three times a day, and I enjoyed every mouthful.

My favorite was my mother's strawberry pie; the recipe is included in my new book, LIVING A COUNTRY YEAR.

We also enjoyed strawberry sandwiches. To make a strawberry sandwich, start with two thick slices of homemade bread. Cover each slice with butter. Then put three or four or more strawberries on one of the slices. Smash the strawberries with a kitchen fork. Sprinkle on a little sugar before putting the sandwich together. Take a big bite--don't worry if a little strawberry juice slips down the side of your face. Now, that is living!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Jerry's Appearances

Upcoming appearances, featuring Living a Country Year:

Barnes and Noble, Racine, WI Thursday, June 14, 6:30 p.m.

Chilton Public Library, Chilton, WI, June 20, 6:00 p.m.

Oshkosh Public Museum, Oshkosh, WI, June 23, 10:30-1:30 (Hosted by Apple Blossom Books).

"Some People never let grass grow under their feet because they never move out of their tracks."

Living a Country Year.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Leaf Lettuce Salad Recipe

I cut the first leaf lettuce of the season from my garden this past weekend. And pulled the first radishes as well. Home grown garden produce has always been a treat for our family--especially the first crops of the season.

My mother had a special recipe for leaf lettuce salad, which is in my LIVING A COUNTRY YEAR BOOK. Here is her recipe, which she had never written down.

4-6 cups of leaf lettuce
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon sugar
5 teaspoons vinegar
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Wash and dry lettuce and place in serving bowl.
In a separate small bowl, stir together the milk and sugar.
Add vinegar to the milk mixture and stir until mixture thickens.
Add pepper.
Pour mixture over lettuce and serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6 people.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thank You

A big thank you to each of the more than 100 people who attended the launch for Living a Country Year at Barnes & Noble West in Madison on Wednesday, May 30.

Also, a special thank you to Sherry Klinkner, Community Relations Manager at Barnes & Noble West who is retiring after eleven and one-half years at the store. She has been of great help to many writers.

What you think is right may not be what your neighbor thinks is right. There is always the possibility, as remote as it may seem, that you may be wrong. (From Living a Country Year)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Launch for Living a Country Year

"Many of us, whether we live in a city or a small town, are searching for the simplicity that was once country Life."

Those are the words I use to introduce my new book, Living a Country Year. The launch party for the book is Wednesday evening, May 30, 7:00 p.m. at Barnes and Noble West in Madison, WI. Hope I have a chance to see you there. Oh, by the way, my wife, Ruth, has prepared some of the recipes from the book. Free samples available.

Monday, May 21, 2007

May Baskets

I remember May baskets, homemade paper baskets that we made in school and filled with spring flowers. We hung them on a neighbor's door, yelled "May basket," then ran with the hope that the youngsters inside would chase us and catch us and join up as we walked to the next neighbor to repeat the spring ritual. With neighbors more than a half mile apart, the evening was more walking than hanging baskets.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Book Events:: Living a Country Year

Mark your calendars:

Following are upcoming events for Living a Country Year.

Book Signings

Saturday, May 26: Bookworms Bookstore, Wautoma, WI 11:00-2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 30: Barnes and Noble West, Madison, WI 7:00 p.m. This will be a big launch party with food, stories and much more.

Tuesday, June 5: Barnes and Noble Bayshore (Milwaukee) 7:00 p.m.

Thursday June 14: Barnes and Noble Racine, WI 6:30 p.m.

Stop by for a visit; I would enjoy meeting you.

Radio Show:

June 7, 11:00 a.m. Larry Meiller Show, Wisconsin Public Radio

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Rainy Day

On this rainy day in May, I'm reminded of one of my father's sayings:

"Rain in May is a barn full of hay." Of course farmers always hoped for a barn full of hay to get them through a long Wisconsin winter.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Living a Country Year Available

I just received my advance copy of Living a Country Year. It should be in your bookstore in a few days. If you don't see it, ask for it. Also, you may order a copy directly from my website.

The design people did a wonderful job with the cover and the interior arrangement. I must also say (I'm bragging now) the content is pretty good, too. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Keep an eye on the rhubarb

Keep an eye on the rhubarb as it quickly pushes out of the ground, bold, fearless of freezing nights, a reminder that spring is truly here. It is time for pie, sauce, and rhubarb crisp from what the old timers called "pie plant" and what Pa called nature's "spring tonic."

Monday, April 23, 2007

To Know What's Up Ahead

To know what's up ahead, talk to people on their way back.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Spending Time in the Woods

I enjoy spending time in the woods, away from the barrier of walls and windows. Among the trees, I am close to nature--a part of it, not apart from it. I go to the woods to think, to clear my mind of the burdens of the day, to cultivate the humbleness that comes from standing among century-old trees. I go to the woods to renew my humanity, to contemplate my place among all nature's creatures.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Remembering Earth Day

Remember Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day. The first one was April 22, 1970.

Monday, April 09, 2007

April Musing

Some four-letter words to ponder:

Friday, April 06, 2007

Spring Thoughts

Nobody is making any more land. What we've got is what we've got, so we'd better take care of it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fool's Day Thought

Getting into something is usually easier than getting out of it.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

April Thoughts

Worry is like being stuck in deep mud. The wheels keep turning, but nothing happens.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Late March Comment

From the soon to be published, Living a Country Year:

I marvel at what an all-night rain in late March can do. It washes away the last remnants of old snow, wakes up the dormant grass in front of the cabin, sends spring flowers leaping out of the ground, and causes my spirits to soar.

Friday, March 23, 2007

March Thoughts

Some additional March thoughts from Living a Country Year:

March is a good month to create something new--a poem, a story, a wood carving, a quilt, a painting, a photograph, a piece of music--and feel better about yourself.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Launch for Living a Country Year

Mark your calendars. The launch party for Living a Country Year is scheduled for Wednesday, May 30, 7:00 p.m. at Barnes and Noble West in Madison. I'll share some stories, give some background of the book. And we'll have some food, from recipes in the book.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Living a Country Year

I've tried something new with my upcoming book, LIVING A COUNTRY YEAR, (Voyageur Press) which comes out in late May this year. I've combined story-telling with several what I call witticisms and advice--for each month of the year. Then, by digging into my grandmother's and my mother's old recipe boxes, I've added an appropriate recipe here and there.

For instance for March I wrote:

--When you begin too much, you accomplish little.

--I met a fellow the other day who talked nonstop and didn't say a thing.

--It's okay to not know and admit it. Not knowing is the beginning of great Wisdom

More Later.