Category Archives: Memories

Dry Roasted Peanuts

Dry roasted peanuts are very tasty.  And the memories that come with a handful of these little nuggets of goodness are many.  Most of them revolve around my Dad.

He was known in our family for liking dry roasted peanuts in a variety of ways:  mixed with M&Ms; roasted with honey; in a trail mix; and just by themselves.  So, as you can imagine, I can’t eat dry roasted peanuts without a memory of my Dad having a jar of these at his side as he watched sports on weekend afternoons.

My wife just bought some of these dry roasted peanuts along with a bag of candy corns.  Believe it or not, the two of these mixed together tastes remarkably like a Butterfinger candy bar.  Once again, the memories flow.  My Dad’s dry roasted peanut legacy lives on.

But that’s not by any means the only thing my Dad left as a legacy.  What’s far more important is the fact that he touched so many lives when he was alive that quite a few people came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ at his funeral.  Nothing could be more important than an eternal difference made in someone’s life.

So what are you living for?  Yourself?  If not, why do you do anything at all?  Just for the sake of knowing that you made a difference somehow?  But for what reason?  It’s certainly a selfish and self-centered existence to be living for yourself alone.  But what guarantee do you have that anything else you do is going to last?  Our motives can be very revealing.

This all comes into sharp focus when you’re living out what God would have you do with your life.  An “eternity mindset”.  A realization that every day has the ability to count for someone’s eternity and where they will spend it.  My Dad had that kind of influence and I’m proud of that fact.  I know God is using my life even more so to that end.  And He is helping me to raise my two boys to be even more influential for His Kingdom than my life has been or will be.  And that means everything to me!

Hopefully your legacy consists of something more than just dry roasted peanuts.  If not, it can.  I would encourage you to really think about how you do that.  Regardless of what it is, it will have eternal consequences.  So choose wisely, my friend.  Your eternity depends on it!

What’s Up, Doc?

“What’s up, Doc?”  These are words that my generation loved to hear.  It is probably the most common phrase ever remembered from a cartoon character.  The now famous words of Bugs Bunny.

This brings to mind something my wife and I were just talking about.  As kids, we lived for Saturday morning cartoons!  Around mid-week the countdown would already begin for the unleashing of many hours of cartoon fun.  (I know for me and my brother, that countdown also was for the sugar cereals we would sometimes be able to have on Saturday mornings.)  So there was lots to look forward to every week!

What’s it like now?  B-o-o-r-r-r-i-n-g.  Where’s He-Man?  Where’s Superfriends?  Where’s Scooby Doo?  And best of all, where’s The Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Show?  I distinctly remember The Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Show being an hour and a half of full-length six- to eight-minute long cartoons–classic ones at that.  Like Foghorn Leghorn and the weasel; Yosemite Sam and the camel riding excursion in the desert; Daffy Duck as Robin Hood; Bugs Bunny and the forgetful wolf; and countless attempts by Wile E. Coyote to overcome and suppress his nemesis, The Roadrunner.

In spite of the attempts of some to say that these cartoons were too violent (Really?  Compared to what? The video games of today?), they still live on through certain cable channels and YouTube.  But what happened to our Saturday morning line-up?  The answer is that our education system got involved.

Through the antics of politics, money, and influence, the education system insisted that children must learn something educational when watching cartoons.  If a cartoon didn’t have that key ingredient in it somehow, it was thrown to the curb.  But let me ask you something:  What child wants to learn anything on a Saturday morning??  Saturday morning cartoons were an escape from having to do any of that!  A child spends his days in school all week long learning all kinds of things that typically in his mind are pointless, needless, and downright stupid.  He doesn’t look forward to Saturday morning cartoons to learn something more.  He looks forward to Saturday morning cartoons to escape into those worlds for a little while and enjoy the fun of doing that.  Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.  Or was.  Because it sure isn’t that way any more.

It’s sad because my kids won’t have that experience.  Granted, they can get on YouTube or a cable channel to see some of those same cartoons, but it’s just not the same.  (There was just something about knowing that come 9:30 a.m. you were going to be tied up for an hour and a half watching Bugs Bunny).  And as far as the cartoons of today, they certainly don’t have the same type of cartoons to choose from that we did!  It’s a bygone era that thankfully lives on in the memories we share with our kids and that can be backed up by watching certain episodes found on YouTube.

Though things do change, it’s great knowing we can still use today’s technology to keep the memories of yesterday alive!

Autumn In The Air

Autumn has definitely been in the air this week.  Cooler temps and shorter days certainly add to the feeling that the Holidays are just around the corner.  The sky itself–the position of the sun and even how the clouds look–lends to that Autumn feel in the air.

Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan

Our family loves this time of year.  The coziness that comes with the weather getting colder and the Autumn decorations coming out (excluding anything to do with Halloween) continues on into the Christmas season.  Even more so with all of the Christmas decorations that come out.  Some people and families don’t make this much of a big deal.  And that’s certainly ok for them.  But for us, it takes on a wonderful life of its own.

This time of year also means getting ready for home school.  And this year brings for us a new curriculum that we’re using.  That usually brings a little more stress to the situation since we aren’t familiar with the curriculum.  But compared to the stress teachers deal with in public school on a daily basis, what we endure is hardly worth mentioning.

My wife does Daycare out of the home and has watched kids for a number of school teachers over the years.  One of them was homeschooling her kids, even though she was a teacher!  If that doesn’t go to show how bad things have gotten in our school systems, I don’t think much else will.  That arena certainly is not what it used to be when I was a kid.  I wouldn’t want anything to do with it now, which is another reason we took the home school plunge years ago.

We certainly recognize that homeschooling isn’t for everyone,  but for those willing to do it, it’s very much worth the effort!  We have found it makes things far more flexible for us, allowing for trips to see family in Michigan certain times throughout the school year.

So, as we begin that process once again, it just goes to remind me that Autumn–my favorite time of the year–is here again!

Autumn at Sault Ste Marie, Michigan

Happy Autumn, my friend!

Coming of Age

Growing up brings many “coming of age” moments.  For our oldest son, he’s experiencing a pretty big one today:  Shaving for the first time.

I remember my first shave.  I was pretty nervous about it.  Of course, that may be also due to the fact that I was in fifth grade when that happened.  Yes, I shaved my mustache every two weeks at that point.  By middle school, I was dressing like a back woodsman with a beard down to my belly button and a deep, gravelly voice that drove the girls crazy.  (Ok, maybe I didn’t have the beard.  Or the backwoods clothing.  I had the deep voice, but no girls.  Fine…forget it.  Moving on.)

William will be shaving his rather thick mustache today.  My wife pointed out that he even has an inch-long hair or two on his throat under his chin.  Yup…it’s time to shave.  He’s pretty excited about it.  Monumental moments in the coming of age process and this is one of them.

Do you see them with your kids?  Unfortunately, my Dad wasn’t too keen on taking advantage of moments like this.  That’s not going to happen with my boys.  I just pray that God helps me see them when they come along (I’m certainly looking for them).  What kind of influence can a Dad have on a child during this coming of age process?  I totally believe it’s more than us Dads can possibly fathom.  What about our Heavenly Father?  He’s the Dad of all Dads, right?  You can bet He doesn’t miss a single one of these kind of moments in our walk with Him.  We are told very clearly in His Word that He has never failed us and He never will.

So when a coming of age moment like shaving for the first time comes up, look out!  Someone’s going to get cut.  And deal with ingrown hairs.  And sensitive skin.  But he’ll get used to it.  He’s got a good example to follow in his Dad.

Summer Memories

We’ve all got summer memories, right?  Memories of bike riding, games played outside, romps in the woods, and on and on it goes.  A rather disturbing thought is us older folk probably have more of those kinds of memories than our kids do today.

What would those kids that were us back then have to say to the kids of today?  (“You wear what? On where? Why??”)  What about the parents?  (“You let your kid wear that? On where? Why??”)  Especially when it comes to riding in a car! I have memories of moving all around our family van as my Dad cruised down the highway. Nowadays, you just about get arrested for that. At the very least, the video someone has taken on their phone in the car behind you of your kid moving all over your van gets posted on CNBC, Fox News and any other T.V. show that will have panel after panel of so-called “experts” deliberating and arguing back and forth about the merits and pitfalls of such actions in today’s society.

So what would they say about “Yard Darts”?

Remember those? Two colored plastic circular tubes the diameter of a pencil.  These made up two big rings that were the targets (the boring part); then, four darts–two sets of two different colored 12-inch long, plastic-finned, 3-sided tops with heavy metal bases that came to a point–completed the ensemble (the exciting part). Ours were in a cardboard box with those happy 1970’s family posers throwing the darts at the other team’s target. Nothing but good safe family fun, right?

What did kids do with this family-fun game when the parents weren’t around? What every kid did! Throw those sharp pieces of kid-dom fun straight up into the air as high as possible and try to calculate trajectories to see if they’ve gotta run like a banshee to avoid being pinned to the ground. We had a big side yard to do it in, too! As I recall, sometimes my brother and I would spread out on the side yard and lob them into the air to see how close we could come to the other brother without him actually having to move.

Yep….not smart. But it sure was fun. And very memorable. Mostly due to the fact that neither one of us ever got hurt playing with those things (God was certainly true to my mother’s prayers for our protection growing up). So what’s available now? Maybe a Nerf version of what used to be a thrill ride for a kid–something “safe” and non-threatening. That’s like giving a kid a chocolate cake without the frosting. No thanks. Give me the real thing. We’ve become too “safe-sensitive” in today’s culture–not that I want to go out and buy a real Yard Darts game for my kids. But I do recognize a tendency in myself and my parenting to be over-protective and unwilling to just let my boys be the kids that they are…kids that want to do things that in my adult mind seem unsafe and unwise. Yet what did I do as a kid? Some of the exact same things I catch them wanting to do.

Us adults need to remember what some of the joys of being a kid are. And when you stop and think about it, those childhood experiences really all come down to this:  Sometimes the best teacher for a kid is the freedom to experience something for himself.

Popcorn On The Ceiling

“Popcorn on the ceiling.”  A short little phrase that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense by itself.  Except to people who own a pop-up camper.

To these folks, uttering those four words evokes every memory of every time they’ve camped when it has rained.  Fond memories of trying to sleep with the ever-present POP-POP-POP popcorn sound the rain makes on the camper roof (the bunk-ends too) pounding all around.  Glowing memories of family time around the camper table playing card games.  This, of course, involved using sign language and baseball signals since the rain on the camper roof was so loud that no one could hear each other speak.  Throw in a couple arguments from the kids about whose turn it is or the very outspoken opinion from one that the other didn’t do something right, and memory-making opportunities abound.

As true as these things can be, they come with many other memories and events that are truly worth the popcorn on the ceiling.  Especially when experienced with other families.  We are camping this weekend with Rick and his family (yes, the very same Rick you’ve read about in other stories–particularly the one involving Grape-Nuts).  They own a pop-up as well, so the popcorn on the ceiling that we experienced last night was also experienced by them.

This is our first time camping with them.  Something we’ve tried to make happen for a couple of years now.  We met in the middle, so to speak, both families driving upwards of two hours to meet at a campground in northern Indiana.  Sure, it’s inconvenient that it’s raining off and on this weekend, but being with them more than makes up for any whims of the weather.

God is good!  To have a great friendship in high school continue all these many years later is highly unusual in my book.  It is something I never thought would mean as much as it does now.  Friendship is definitely a gift from God to be treasured.

See you soon!

A Bike Story

Everyone likes a good bike story.  It’s the middle of summer, which means it’s the middle of bike-riding season.  So I thought I would share with you a memory from an earlier post.  Enjoy!

You remember my telling you that we lived on a dirt road when we were in Bath? I’m pretty sure I mentioned that before….so…..we lived on a dirt road when we were in Bath. It was Drumheller Road. We had a big side yard on our property that was between our driveway and the gravel pit that was next door from an earlier story. At the end of our side yard and across Drumheller was another dirt road that ended on our road. This was Watson Road, and it ended in a very steep hill as it came up to Drumheller. Add to that the fact that our driveway also had a nice steep slope to the last 15 feet of it as it met the road, and you’ve got another “potent and high-risk” situation brewing.

Between my brother and I, one of us would be stationed at the end of the driveway (henceforth known as The Spotter) to warn the Evil Knieval wanna-be of any oncoming traffic–although I can remember more than once having no spotter to do this. The other brother (forthwith referred to as The Speed Freak) would race down the stone driveway, gathering momentum as the tires bit into the stones. The Speed Freak would tear down the sloping end of the driveway onto Drumheller, the bike’s tires spitting gravel up into the air as he turned left towards Watson Hill (this stretch of Drumheller had a slight downward slope of its own, so….brewing….it’s brewing). Then The Speed Freak would turn right onto Watson Road and commence a careening ride of trying to maintain control of a bike screaming over dirt and gravel as it keeps a more or less straight trajectory down Watson Road, The Speed Freak’s feet and pedals a dizzying blur as he gets as much speed as possible down the hill. Then, breathless and covered in sweat, bug guts (we weren’t wearing helmets) and tears of exhilaration, The Speed Freak would come to a complete stop.

Enter the “I-want-to-be-like-Calvin’s-bike” bike with the really cool banana seat.

There I am, in the starting blocks, listening to the announcer as he introduces the next racer. My engine is revved–I’m ready for takeoff. The “Christmas Tree” hasn’t lit up yet. Suddenly, there it is! Yellow, yellow, yellow, GREEN! I’m tearin’ it up, trying to get some air between the bike tires and the stone driveway before I’ve even hit Drumheller Road. I’ve got flames coming off my back tire as I fly past The Spotter onto Drumheller. As I turn onto Watson Hill, I’m barely keeping the bike on the ground as the tires begin to melt. It’s screaming down the road, gravel shooting out and ricocheting off the trees. Suddenly, it happens. The bike decides to steer for a huge piece of gravel that wasn’t even in my way. As it hits it, the really cool banana seat lets The Twins know that it’s there and that it doesn’t like twins. I bring my bike to a screeching halt, horizontal tear paths on my face (these are not tears of exhilaration). By the way, it’s extremely difficult to bring a bike to a stop while looking through tears–and my eyes were filled with them. I look down at The Twins to make sure they’re ok and what do I see? The long pointed end of the really cool banana seat–the accomplice to the “I-want-to-be-like-Calvin’s-bike” bike that committed this heinous act against innocent parties involved.

The really sad climax to this story is the fact that not only did I not learn the first time of what this bike’s evil intentions were, but I even tried many times going down Watson Hill no-handed (no racing, just riding). Who’s bright idea was it to put a metal bar right under the seat between the seat and the handlebars on a boys bike?? The bike knew that as well. So did the really cool banana seat. And so did The Twins. More than once. In extreme peril. And all I could do was try to bring the bike to a complete stop while trying to see through tear-filled eyes.

…..sigh…..The price of exhilaration.

Facing A Fear

Facing a fear.  It’s something we all hate to do because it’s so uncomfortable.  And yet, when we do face fear head-on, it brings an incredible sense of achievement, right?  Well, my brother and I faced one together many years ago that you may find interesting.

You might remember that I grew up with many a family card game of Progressive Rummy happening at my Grandma & Grandpa’s house.  My Grandma had a sister who everyone called “Aunt Shorty”.  For good reason, too, since she was all of about 4 feet 8 inches tall.  But her side of the family loved Progressive Rummy just as much as ours did.

My Dad had a cousin (Aunt Shorty’s son) named Bud.  Yup…..Bud.  He was a pretty laid back guy who took everything in stride.  He and his wife, Barb, lived a couple of hours away from us, so we occasionally drove over and visited.  When we did, the evening inevitably ended with the four adults playing cards late into the evening.  Since Bud and Barb didn’t have any kids, my bother and I were left to fend for ourselves for entertainment.

We were young enough at the time that we usually had pajamas with us to change into.  We eventually were laid down to sleep while the adults played on.  One night, however, after we already had our PJs on, we got bored while the adults were bantering back and forth.  We hadn’t brought anything of any real interest to keep our attention, so we looked around for something that qualified.

Then one of us saw the basement door.  We had been down in the basement earlier that evening for some reason (can’t possibly remember what that was at this point).  It was a big basement, mostly finished, with plenty of space to walk around.  I got this crazy notion that we should take turns going into the basement without the light on.

The goal was to walk (not run) the complete circle around the perimeter of the basement and back up the stairs without getting scared.  We decided we would keep the light on at the top of the stairs.  That way, with the door cracked about six inches, enough light shown down into the basement that we could just make out where we were going.

Because of two factors–me being the older brother and that this stupid idea originated with the same–I went first.  Once I got to the bottom of the basement stairs, I could hardly see a thing.  No sounds could be heard.  Just my own quick gasps for air as I fought the urge to hyper-ventilate while skirting the edges of the basement perimeter.  Shadows lurked here and there, some possibly moving in my peripheral vision, but I was determined to set the example for all to follow.  As I made my way back around to the bottom of the stairs, the desire to leap three stairs at a time was overwhelming.  I fought it back, though, and “calmly” climbed the stairs to light and the safety of my parents.

Then my brother went down.  He came back rather quickly, in my opinion, but stated for the record that he didn’t run and wasn’t scared.  So I went down again and tried to go even slower this time.  The thought of something lunging from behind to drag me back into the shadowy depths of the basement was there the whole time I climbed the stairs to victory.  But I did it!  We went back and forth with that journey into darkness for quite a while.  At least we did until the adults realized what we were doing and Uncle Bud put a kibosh on the whole thing.

So what’s your fear?  Can you take steps to face it?  Even baby steps? It’s worth the exhilaration you feel when you’ve taken steps to kick it in the teeth.  Try it!  You’ll like it.

Sitting Around The Campfire

Sitting around the campfire has to be the highlight of any camping experience.   We’re camping this weekend and this time with friends has been no exception.

At the campfire last night, the subject of a certain memory came up.  I shared this memory a couple of years ago, but it seems appropriate to reminisce about it now.  Enjoy!

I would have to say that my fondest memory of camping with our friends took place about three years ago.  We typically camp with three other families.  Although it has nothing to do with a campfire, one of the wives of these families had a rather interesting experience when she went to take a shower at the campground.  (For the sake of everyone involved and to protect the identity of innocent parties, we’ll just call her “Patty”.)

It was around 7:30 in the morning and Patty decided she was going to the shower.  As she approached the building, she couldn’t remember which side of the building the showers were on.  But since she noticed men were going to and from the right side of the building, she headed to the left side, saw a door marked “Showers” and walked right in.  She thought it odd that the undressing/dressing area would be completely open like it was with the showers being off to the side in separate stalls, but didn’t think much of it.  She was the only one in the whole shower room, so she took advantage of it by taking her time undressing, showering, towelling off and getting fresh clothes on for the day.

As she started heading for the door, a man walked in, saw her and they both stopped in their tracks.  She gave him a compassionate, knowing laugh and said, “I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  He, still looking at her like a deer in the headlights, said, “No, I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  She, now feeling a little perturbed at him, said, “Nooo, I think you walked into the wrong shower.”  He then said, as he backed up and checked the shower sign, “Nooo, you definitely walked into the wrong shower.”  And she said, “Nooooo!” in complete shock, embarrassment and amazement as she walked to the door–a door that clearly said “MEN” under the word “SHOWERS”.  She took all that time to do all that she did in there without one man entering that shower room!

God is merciful…

White Pine Trees and Moms

What do White Pine Trees and Moms have to do with each other?  In honor of Mother’s Day coming up, I’d like to share a story I wrote a couple of years ago that will answer that question.

White Pines are beautiful trees! These aren’t Austrian Pines that you usually find along highways and everywhere in-between. While White Pines are also common, they are much more pleasing to the eye than Austrian Pines are. White Pines are used for construction, cabinetry, natural medicinal purposes and even Christmas trees.

So I got this White Pine sapling in kindergarten–my very own tree. I found myself looking forward to many years of watching it grow in front of my eyes. As I said before, it even went with us when we moved. Shortly after the tree was replanted, however, something peculiar began to occur. This took a while to notice, but the White Pine began to take on an odd growth pattern.

Enter Major.

Apparently, once settled upon our new property, Major felt it was his duty, his mission–nay, his life’s purpose bequeathed to him by God Himself–to hike his leg and pee on the north side of that tree. He was committed. He was focused. He wasn’t letting anyone or anything detract him from what he was called to do with his life in this new place. And he saw it through to his dying day.

As a result, we noticed as the tree grew that the north side of it was developing a significant stunting in its growth. I really thought during those first few years that I was going to have my very own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. As it matured, though, it really began to fill out. Except for the north side of it.

To this day, you can drive by the old house in Bath and see a beautiful twenty-five foot White Pine tree in the front yard.  Still with a significantly stunted upper portion on its north side, the permanent marks of a dedicated and unrelenting Flat-Coated Retriever. I think Major wanted to leave a mark, something that would endure long after he was gone. And he did just that–literally.

Keep in mind that this is the same dog who bullied a couple of young kids in the winter and gave them ball-less head gear to wear. He would take his beloved “Babe” (the female) on romantic romps in the gravel pit next door and bring her back absolutely exhausted.  (Black fur on hot days in a gravel pit…..nice.)  He even took her on a nature walk, with us in tow, and frolicked on ahead of us with his sweetheart.  They no sooner disappeared and he brought her back absolutely covered with ground bees. All I remember at that point is Mom yelling at us to turn around and run the other way. Good advice, except that dogs run faster than humans do.

So my brother and I are beatin’ feet down the trail back to the car. We look behind us only to see a dog with yellow dots all over it trotting along behind us. I don’t remember if it was Major or Babe, but the distinct memory of seeing a black dog with a smile on its face–it’s tail almost wagging as it trots along after us–has never left me (seeing that smile….it had to be Major). Thing is, I don’t remember any dogs covered with bees catching up to my brother and I. Which means that Mom probably did what moms are known to do: She put herself in the line of fire for her kids. I do seem to remember that she had been stung a few times. Thanks, Mom.

But, regardless, he was a good dog (for the most part). And his “mark” on his life spent with us lives on….