The Power of 4-H

The power of 4-H. For those who fall in the category of thinking 4-H is just about agriculture and raising animals, you do not know the whole story. In Indiana, only about thirty percent of the total enrollment comes from farms, the rest from urban areas.
4-H is a chance for youth to handle responsibility, learn new things and work hard to achieve goals. The primary benefits of 4-H are leadership, citizenship and the opportunity for youth to learn things of interest at their own ability level.
Last year’s most popular projects were: Crafts, Foods, Photography, and Clothing. There are over fifty projects ranging from Aerospace to Creative Writing. All projects include hands-on activities and the manuals are being continuously updated.
My nephew opted to take The Horseless Horse Project. This allows him to learn all aspects of the animal, without the tremendous cost that comes with owning and caring for a horse. He attended the Horse Club meetings, did posters and filled out his workbooks. It was an especially great project for him as he couldn’t at this time own a horse. He wants to be a horse racing jockey.
A few years ago—more years than I would like to admit—I was in 4-H and have a few blue ribbons in the closet to prove it. I remember the Action Demonstration Project. It allowed members to compete in a certain category without having to be judged against other entries. I stood and gave my demonstration on the steps required to make a pie, but never actually put the finished pie product in competition. I was judged for the demonstration and not for the pie. Maybe that was a good thing. I doubt if I would have won any ribbons on my pie.
The 4-H program provides a learning environment for the youth of the community. They can test their skills with various projects and animals. Like this year’s motto proclaims, you must experience “The Power of 4-H” for yourself to truly understand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skating taught me to set a goal

Roller blades, also called in-line skates, are an increasingly popular summer activity for families. So I agreed to give them a try. “It’s a great way to get around and a fun way to exercise,” Ann said. “If I can do it, anybody can.” I wondered, would it be that easy to learn?

The cost and quality of in-line skates varies dramatically from store to store. You can get generic-looking skates for $30 to $60, while sports shops sell brand name rollerblades starting at $100 and up.

Basically, you get what you pay for. When you get the more expensive ones, you get a better grade of bearing, and it’s got a better grade of carriage underneath. Everything is better quality and lasts longer.

I was satisfied buying a discount pair. Fashion isn’t a main concern. I wear wrist, elbow and knee pads.

It’s Saturday afternoon: Ann and Nancee, two cousins, are skating around Northeast Elementary School in Greenwood. I will admit that I scooted around the parking lot until I gained confidence. At first the knees were shaky but my spirit soared.

Learning to control the brake was the most difficult part for me. I still don’t have the knack of speed and brake. It’s more like speed and spin to stop.

I did question what I would feel the first time I saw the pavement coming to meet me. Much to my surprise I got up faster than I thought I would. I was having too much fun not to.

Now I can say it. Roller blades are not for everyone, but yes if I can do it anyone can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dog and Suds Drive-In

 

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Today we live with fast food and drive-thru windows.

I recently took my nephew Doug, to a restaurant located not far from the Fort Wayne exit. The Dog and Suds Drive-In serves traditional all American food, such as hamburger, french fries, tenderloins, shakes, etc.

Our food was delivered by our car hop, Judy, who mentioned that the restaurant typically sells three perhaps four tons of hamburgers in one year alone. The Suds customers can guzzle as much as 1,700 gallons of root beer per year, all served in a frosty mug.

Once again, places you can go offering icy mugs of root beer, double-decker hamburgers and coleslaw served in clear plastic cups delivered to your car. The Dog and Suds eatery makes everyone over the age of 30 feel 16 again.

The neon bedecked sign advertising the drive-in has presided over cities for more than a decade. Within driving distance we have a new yet old restaurant whose owners spend long hours in the day slaving over the grills in 90 degree heat. The menu boasts more selections than many other drive-thru establishments.

The only difference I could see from years past is customers do not signal their need for service by turning on their headlights. Also the car hops do not wear roller skates, but after an evening of running trays to dozens of cars, I bet they wish they had.

In summer, vintage cars and four wheel drive trucks will line up beside motorcycles, sports cars, and vans. Each vehicle has patrons with a craving for food brought on a door hanging tray.

My only problem was when the car hop told my nephew, “Here is your mug,” he took it literally. “Sorry. . get that glass mug out of your backpack.   You cannot take it home.”

 

 

 

 

Life in the Big City

 

My great Aunt Sarah, stopped by last week. She lives in a tiny farming community in southern Indiana. We enjoyed her visit but late on Saturday night she mentioned that she was way too old to enjoy life in “a big city.”

True, we had spent most of the day in shopping malls, but it took me a moment or two to think of what she meant. No matter how you look at it, Greenwood can still relish the small town Midwest spirit.

Consider the changes she has witnessed:   She was born before television,  penicillin,  frozen foods,  contact lenses,  even  the Frisbee,  and  even  the  hula hoop.

Aunt Sarah and her friends were born before radar, credit cards, and ball point pens. Before pantyhose, and before man walked on the moon.

Bunnies were small rabbits and rabbits were not automobiles (Volkswagens). The electric typewriter was never spoken of. A “chip” meant a piece of wood, but hardware meant hardware, and software wasn’t even a word.

In school she never heard of FM radio, music CD’s, electric toothbrushes, or guys wearing earrings. When she went to the 5 and 10 cent store, she actually bought things for five and ten cents. Tupperware, electric blankets, air conditioners were unheard of.

McDonalds and instant coffee were unknown. She could buy a cup of coffee or mail a letter for a nickel. A new Ford cost around $600, but they couldn’t afford one. It’s a shame too, because gas was only 11 cents a gallon.

No wonder she can easily be confused. She lived through an age that saw far more inventions than one could ever dream of.

She is now  back  home.  Playing cards  and  living the life she knows best,  with  her own generation.   Leaving me in Greenwood, a town she refers to as “the big city.”

 

 

 

 

 

Touchdown . . . . ??

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My nephew is getting ready for his first big game.  He is a football player now.  When he first brought home his uniform, he wore it for most of the day. 

My little nephew  Doug,  came over and showed us  his football gear.    He looked so tiny in his football uniform.   I could almost cry when I saw how  the  mammoth equipment engulfed him.   His bright  red  jersey should intimidate any opposition team. 

He showed me his helmet.  He took special note of the face guard, chin strap and soft padding inside.  I was glad to see a plastic mouthpiece attached, leaving no emergency trip to the dentist.

Doug proudly shows a big number seven on the front and back of his jersey. He has shoulder pads under his shirt that adds a good six inches to his width.  With the hip, knee, and thigh pads in place he resembles a roly-poly about to tip over.  He waddles as he walks.  Only once did he step on my toes with his cleats.

I watched as my husband went out and showed him the right way to hold the football.  His little fingers barely covered the lacing.  When he brought up the ball so that it was just behind his ear to toss, it looked about the size of his head. 

His first lesson was to take the snap of the ball.  The football held high ready to throw then he lets his arm swing down in front.  He drops the ball more than a few times.  I yell that he should take the snap from his wrist.  One more try and then the ball sailed across the grass.

They decided to throw the football in the front yard. The little guy’s first few passes were wobbly.  I yell that my husband should move in closer.  Soon he was throwing the ball straight to his uncle.

Keeping his eyes on the ball, my nephew is ready to catch the ball with both hands.  More than once he missed it so I yell to my husband to move to the right.  Soon, the little guy caught it nearly each time.

They practiced passing the ball for a while and then started to punt it.  The instructions were simple:   Take a short step with your kicking foot, drop the ball as you step forward with the other foot, and then kick the ball with the outside of your foot.   Pow!  The nephew fell flat.   I yell that he needs to kick it before it touches the ground.    Two more attempts and my nephew kicked the football  into the air.

I was glad to be out in the front yard helping.  Each time I yell my husband rolls his eyes.  He suggests that I do NOT attend any of my nephews football practice sessions.  I wouldn’t want to embarrass him would I ?  He says it’s a “guy thing”.

Little Doug’s first football game was this week. Sitting on the bleachers I watched him play football and I did not yell.  Perhaps it was the way my husband grabbed my arm each time I tried to stand. 

They won the football game and he knows he has to practice hard for years and years to become a professional player. 

I wouldn’t save a place on the mantle for the Heisman Trophy just yet.

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Carving Opinions !

As Halloween approaches, the most single visible and popular symbol is the pumpkin. Or more commonly called – the jack-o-lantern.

Pumpkins are plucked from the vine then spark into flaming life with leering faces, while leaves die on their branches in bursts of red and gold.

I took my nephew to a local produce stand looking for the perfect pumpkin. Later at home we washed and dried it. A slippery pumpkin would be hard to work with. We then spread newspapers under the pumpkin.

We decided to save the pumpkin seeds. No, we didn’t want to get ahead of next summer’s crop. My mother has a recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds. She uses these toasted pumpkin seeds in breads or muffins, or just to eat as a snack.

The afternoon was turning out to be enjoyable up to this point. Other adults stopped by to visit. The little guy now had way too much help!

Uncle Bob thought I was silly that we carve out the jack-o-lantern. Why cut and clean out the pumpkin. He always painted faces on his pumpkins. “Oh no” says Aunt Linda. First you must decide on the face. Should it be scary? Happy? Silly? She made the little guy draw several rough drafts of his carving on paper first. Aunt Linda went inside and my nephew opted to draw on the pumpkin itself.

I always cut my jack-o-lanterns at the top. We begin to carve a circle around the stem to make a lid. My neighbor had stopped by. He always makes his cut on the pumpkin from the bottom. The neighbor leaves and we continue to carve from the top.

Suggestions were still flowing when my husband drove up and mentioned that we cut a hole in the center of the back of the pumpkin for ventilation.

Hopefully, next year we won’t have so much help. There was more to carving this pumpkin than first met the eye.

Regardless of the different opinions, we transformed an ordinary pumpkin into a magical, seasonal decoration with a frightful design. It should delight the neighborhood with Boo-tiful decoration for Halloween.

School Daze ! !

School has started.  There are some parents out there who are still doing a little dance.  Not my sister.  Her son started first grade Monday and neither mother nor aunt is handling it very well.

I am sure that in time he will recover from the embarrassment and shock  caused by his mother holding on to the back bumper of the school bus screaming, “Don’t take my baby!”

On his first day, I took off from the newspaper long enough to see him off to school.    When I arrived he was in line at the bus stop.   Along with his mother, I had hopes of taking him to school.  Neither of us got to take him, which didn’t bother him at all but nearly killed us.

Since neither of us actually got to take him, we hurried down to the school just to watch.  We wanted to see him.  We parked across from the school, watched him get off the bus, and go into the building.

Both his mother and I were able to walk into his first grade room.  I was not prepared for what I saw.  In kindergarten last year, he sat at a big table with the other students.  He looks so tiny now behind the big desk of his own.

I saw my sisters knees get weak and the room must have gotten fuzzy when she saw him sit down at his own desk.  He looked so much older and more mature than the little guy she laid out clothes for that morning.

He immediately started talking to old friends he hadn’t seen all summer.  My sister stood there a little dazed.  Her son did not even know she was in the room.  Odds are she wanted to go over and hug him.  I myself wanted to go comb his hair once again. 

But instead, she walked over to him and whispered something like “Mommy has to go.”  His response must have come as a blow, “Yeah, sure.  Bye.”

She pulled herself together and  walked in front of me out the door.   I gave her a hug in the hallway.  I thought she could use a little encouragement.

I stopped by their house on my way home from work.  I wanted to be there when he got off the bus in the afternoon.  We stayed on the porch when he got off the bus. I will admit that I had my camera. I didn’t care if it embarrassed him or not.  When he is married with children of his own, he might appreciate the picture.  I jumped off the porch and snapped a quick photo.

He spotted me, ran up the walk and gave me a hug.  Life is good in Indiana.