Things I Learned at Summer Camp This Year

  1. You really need to boil the carrots a long, long time when you make wild carrot stew. No camper song goes on quite long enough to accomplish this feat.
  2. Queen Anne ’s lace roots are edible (if you boil them for a really long time, see number 1)—they are wild carrots, but you better know your plants because there are others in the parsnip family that are quite dangerous to ingest, or even pick.alnc_h
  3. A red-tailed hawk gets its meal about 2 out of every 10 tries; an owl 9 out of 10.
  4. You can make friends for life in one week. Some of them might even be from the opposite side of the world.
  5. Nothing compares to climbing your favorite willow tree.
  6. Continue reading

To Boldly Ask What No One Has Ever Asked Before

Playing in the dirt from a young age

Playing in the dirt from a young age

We had just passed a road construction site on the small two-lane state highway on the way from our hotel to my Dad’s house. The new road cuts and construction revealed bright red dirt— really red dirt, even by the standards of the Piedmont Plateau in Georgia.

From the back seat my daughter asked, “Mom, what kinds of worms do they have here in Georgia?”

“The same species that we have in Wisconsin, why?” I answered.

There was a thoughtful silence, then “But they poop out red dirt?”

It is truly a miracle that my husband managed to keep the rental car on the road.

Actually, it was an insightful question. Continue reading

A Definite Article

iStock_000012148387XSmallI was sitting, stumped by the blank Word doc that glared at me from my computer screen. No inspiration was coming for this week’s article. Every time I would think of something to write, I would look a back at my log of recent articles and find that I had written about that topic already.

All of the writing gurus advise “write what you know”. Okay. I’ll start there. What do I know this week? Continue reading

To Grandma and Papa’s She Goes

easter_cMy daughter spent two days with Grandma and Papa this spring break.

On Friday immediately after coming home from school, she marched upstairs and started packing. By bedtime on Friday night, she started hauling down suitcases and bags full of stuff from her bedroom to take on her trip. This continued all weekend. Mariah, our dog, could barely find her food bowl now because of all of the stuff that was going to Grandma’s—which was staged in our kitchen.

My daughter even wanted to go to bed early on Sunday night so that she could wake up extra early on Monday morning to leave.

She even gave her engineer Daddy directions on how best to pack things in the car—for maximum efficiency.

My daughter was just a little excited. Continue reading

Sybil Ludington’s Ride

Ludington statue 800
On the last day of March, one of my college friends wrote an article about “famous” women whose stories many of us don’t know. I was happy that I did recognize most of the women she wrote about in her article, but there was one, Sybil Ludington, that I had not heard of before. She has quite a story and I want to share it with you this week. I do so with no apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, because, frankly this is the poem he should have written (in my not-so-humble opinion).

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of a hero more amazing than Paul Revere
A 16-year old girl, Sybil, and her horse named Star
Rode through a the night sounding alarms near and far

Two thousand British had arrived on shore
Twenty transports and six warships ready for war
Inland they marched to Danbury
Looking for the supplies of the Continental Army

In barns and storerooms they found food, cots, and clothes
Wine and rum too, which they used to warm their toes
Houses of British loyal were marked with chalk
Unmarked buildings were burned like dried corn stalks Continue reading

Feast of Humble Beginnings

st_jos_bThis weekend, as we have done around March 19th for the last several years, our family visited Papa Calvagna’s home parish in Rockford for the Feast of St. Joseph. The Feast of St. Joseph is a tradition that began in Sicily many centuries ago. After a particularly long and difficult period of drought and famine, the Sicilians turned to St. Joseph in prayer for help. Rains came, crops grew and yielded fruit, and the Sicilians said thank you in the most Sicilian of ways—with food.
Continue reading