A few evenings ago, my friend and I sat together
on her porch. We were both wrapped
like a couple of pudgy burritos, in
a blanket each, watching a storm.
“This was going OK when it
was only raining. But I think the
thunder is scaring me,” she said.
“And I’m not a big fan of lightning,
I shrugged, enjoying the mist
of rain on my face as the wind got
stronger. I happen to be in love
with thunder and lightning, too.
I am the chick who places towels
on the floor so they will sop up
the wet when I open the window
to hear it all happen.
When the porch roof began
to leak, we both laughed. Giant
plunks of rain hit her on top of
the head, slid over my forehead
and nose and drenched the blanket
where it was wound around
my friend’s feet.
“That’s it,” she dragged her
soggy flannel toward the door.
“Aren’t you coming in?”
“Nope,” I said.
As the wind picked up and
the rain poured, the porch started
leaking in more places. I
moved my chair three times in an
effort to find at least one dry spot.
And that’s when I started to think
about the downpours in all areas
of our lives and the way we search
for at least one safe place during
times of crisis.
Rain now gushed off one
corner of the flimsy roof and
splashed as it hit the porch railing.
It was simple and beautiful
to see, dancing off the edge of the
railing, catching a sliver of silver
under the porch light.
Pretty soon my blanket was
damp and my hair was dripping
and plastered to my head. But I
wasn’t paying attention to that.
Instead, I was giving the little
floods all over the porch some
meaning. There by the pot of
daisies was fear. Over there by
the grill was a big pile of stress.
That spot where my friend’s dog
loves to sun himself- well, that
In life, just like those moments
in the storm on the porch,
we sometimes feel surrounded by
bad feelings, betrayal and pain,
too many worries and burdens to
I smiled to myself when I finally
managed to find one little
area on the porch that was dry.
One spot where, if I leaned a little
to the right, my hair wouldn’t get
drenched by a zillion leaks.
Those were some amazing
moments out there in the storm,
reflecting on life and how we
instinctively try to protect ourselves-
even if we don’t exactly
believe we can save ourselves from
hurtful things, from pain.
Yes it was much more than
simply being mesmerized by another
storm. It was a reminder- to
trust what is always safe, which is
faith. And to move to the middle
and curl up, hoping for rest and
A few evenings ago, my friend and I sat together
Standing behind the counter at Greenwood’s Boom Boom Pow, Mike Galardo explained that he sells only quality fireworks.
“If it didn’t impress us, it’s not in here,” he said with a grin. “And people don’t have to guess about what they are buying in here, either. We have all of our fireworks on video.”
If video clips won’t do and customers prefer to see and hear the real thing, they can show up after 9 pm most evenings in the store parking lot. That’s when Galardo heads outside with a sampling of products.
“We plan on playing a little bit tonight,” he said with a laugh.
“He knows what everything in the store will do,” said Shelly Johns, Galardo’s fiancé. “That’s just an excuse so he can play with the fireworks.”
Galardo, a construction worker by day, says that he comes by his passion for loud sky lighters in an honest way. “My dad was a police officer for 30 years,” he said. “He’s a guy that loved stuff that went ‘bang.’”
Boom Boom Pow is a fun trial run on a new business venture, Galardo said of the space he leased near the intersection of Main Street and State Road 135 in Greenwood.
Filling the night air on Independence Day with lots of color and noise, surrounded by good friends and family is an important tradition
for all Americans, he said. “Fireworks seem like the best way to celebrate
In 1925, William Atherton DuPuy wrote in his book, “Our Insect Friends and Foes” that the Japanese beetles arrived in Riverton, New Jersey in 1916. He wrote, “…a single nurseryman brought to the United States certain plants of the Japanese iris in which slumbered a few of the young of this beetle. The iris were planted at Riverton; the grubs developed into beetles, and this started the widening circle which has grown year by year.”
DuPuy also noted that by 1925, the Japanese beetles could be found in a 25-mile radius of Riverton and that “the Japanese beetle, now indestructibly dug in and prepared for an annual widening of the circle which cannot be stopped by force, cunning, or scientific understanding at present in existence, but which seems destined to go steadily forward creating a devastation more deadly than that of any Sherman march to the sea.”
Ninety five years later, we once again await with dread the emergence of the adult Japanese beetles. They’ve been living underground in the larval or grub stage since last July-August, eating on grass roots. In a few weeks, they’ll emerge as adults and begin feasting on their favorite plants, including roses, grapes, and birches.
The best we can hope for once the beetles emerge and begin eating is to try to control them, because we know we can never totally eliminate them. Some damage to plants is inevitable, especially if you are trying to limit the use of insecticides in your garden.
Some gardeners will attempt to trap beetles by hanging specially made traps. These attract more beetles than are trapped, and all those beetles will be hungry. Other gardeners will attempt to control the population by hand picking the beetles off plants and tossing them into soapy water.
One of the best defense mechanisms I know of, other than to develop some tolerance for Japanese beetle damage, is to kill the Japanese beetles while they are in the grub stage, feasting on grass roots. For this, there are both organic and chemical methods. Before resorting to either, remember that timing is critical and grubs should be present before you douse the lawn with biological or chemical controls.
Know your enemy. To find out more about the Japanese beetles and how to control them, check out the cooperative extension publication, “Japanese Beetles in the Urban Landscape”, viewable online at http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-75.pdf
Armed with aprons and an overabundance of grill secrets and recipes, Greenwood Library employees and self-described foodies, Kendra Auberry and Anna Roberts, bypass the book lined shelves this month to fire up the grill.
When they started the library’s Project Foodie series nearly two years ago, interested food lovers crowded into the classes, Auberry said.
“We found there are a lot of people here in Greenwood who are really passionate about food,” she said with a grin.
A variety of series topics, everything from bread making, to tea tastings, soup and salad creations and salsa creations lead up to this summer favorite for students-how to make the most of the family grill.
Once food fans discuss quick tips about vegetable preparation, marinades and seasoning, the class time gets to the good stuff- samples of grilled potatoes, one of Auberry’s favorites and individual foil feasts, created by Roberts.
“These ideas give families something else besides hot dogs when they go camping,” Roberts said with a smile.
Because no outdoor feast is complete without a sweet, Roberts will then provide appetites with a grilled desert. Using bananas, chocolate and marshmallows, this delicious favorite is actually a recipe passed down from Roberts’ mother’s days as a Girl Scout.
“The only requirement to attend the class is that people love food,” Auberry said with a laugh.
Had a brain freeze
the other day. No,
not the kind you get
when you try to eat
an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s
Cherry Garcia in one bite. I
mean the kind when your brain
abruptly stops working and
turns you into a mouth-breathing
Of course, this sudden attack
of “dunderheaditude” always
happens at the worst possible
time – although, truth be told,
any time it’s going to happen is
going to be pretty bad. When
do you ever hear someone say,
“What we need right now is
someone so dumb he can’t remember
his own telephone
number!”? OK, politics. But
Actually, in my case it wasn’t
my telephone number that went
missing, although I have had
those fly out of my ears just
when I needed them. Pretty
girls will do that to you.
No, this time it was my bank
machine passcode. I was standing
at the ATM, ready to do a
little low (as opposed to high)
finance. I inserted my bank card
and up came the screen asking
me to sign in.
At that moment, my brain
went into something akin to a
computer lockup. Everything
stopped working. The only difference
was, instead of having a
monitor frozen onto a page you
wouldn’t want your mom to see,
I had a face frozen in a glassyeyed
Of course, it happened when
there were about four other
people in line behind me, sighing
and clearing their throats in
the universal language of “Get
On With It Already!”
I tried several likely numbers
– birthdays, phone numbers,
house numbers, high school
locker combinations – but
nothing worked. The sighing
and throat clearing increased.
And so I skulked, humiliated,
to the back of the line. Where,
of course, I remembered the
So what happened? Was this
some sort of age-related brain
blip? A hidden medical problem?
A brief glimpse at the doofus
self I keep hidden under a
thin veneer of near-normalcy?
Nah. I think it was simply the
manifestation of something I’ve
been saying for a long time: We
have reached the point in our
existence when we have more
technology than a human brain
can reasonably handle.
Or maybe it’s just me.
I have at least three dozen
passcodes I have to remember,
from computer programs
to my garage
door opener. And
since I know what
it’s like to be on the
losing end of identity
theft (can you say “Nightmare?”)
I mix them up as much
The result? I mix me up as
much as possible, too. Three
dozen passcodes is about twoand-
a-half dozen over my limit.
They’re all jostling around in my
memory bank, and occasionally
– like when I am at the bank
machine trying to bring one out
of memory for practical use –
they refuse to cooperate. Hence,
the non-ice-cream style of brain
So what’s to be
done? Not much.
The tech genie is
out of the bottle
and getting bigger
by the second.
brains are perfectly fine with
that since they’re running the
show, but all I can do is try to
keep up, acknowledge that
freezes are going to occur from
time to time, apologize to the
people in line behind me, and
then go get some ice cream.
It seems like the makers of products designed
to give us better bodies are finally getting it.
For decades, the products developed and
marketed to people who are out of shape
(most of us) have evolved based on our wants and
demands. Some of the products available today
indicate two things: that these companies finally
understand what exactly we want and that we’re
beginning to admit that we’re incredibly lazy.
Consumer industries respond to the demands of
their potential customers. Americans have always
wanted to look better and be in better shape, so
it’s always been a matter of us telling them how
we want to do that and them making it possible.
For years, out-of-shape Americans have convinced
themselves that, if certain aspects of working out
were to be changed, they would do it more often.
And the companies in this industry, eager to make
money, have always been quick to give us what we
It started decades ago with the increased availability
of in-home exercise equipment. Fed up with
exercising in public, many Americans were probably
telling themselves and others “I really want to
work out. I just don’t want to go to the gym. If there
was some way I could do it at home, I would.”
In the next several years, we began buying
weight benches and treadmills for our homes, and
that kept us satisfied for a while. But eventually,
we realized that we weren’t really using our equipment
anymore and consequently were still out of
shape. There had to be some reason behind this.
“It’s great working out at home, but I can’t afford
to buy all of the equipment I need to get a good
workout. If I could get a more comprehensive
workout, I’d exercise more often.”
At this point we began seeing products like the
Bowflex and the Chuck Norris-endorsed Total
Gym hit the market. They were just what we wanted,
increasing the exercises we could perform at
home while combining several machines into one
awkward-looking piece of equipment. But even after
this improvement, there was something holding
“I know I only have one exercise machine now,
but it’s just too big. I’d rather have something small,
something I can store in the couch or closet.”
That one, we thought, would likely take manufacturers
a while to figure out, extending the life
of our “this is why I’m not exercising” excuses. But
then companies began rolling out small exercise
machines one after another: the Ab Rocket, Ab
Roller, Perfect Pushup, Shake Weight and so forth.
Out of excuses, it was time for us non-exercising
consumers to come clean with these manufacturers.
“Really, I just don’t want to work out at all. Is
there something that can make me look better
without putting forth any effort?”
Why didn’t we ask sooner? Like a genie, these
companies essentially replied to our requests with
“Consider it done.” There are currently a number
of no-effort products available on the market, including
multiple electrical-stimulation abdominal
belts and even the Slim T, an undershirt that can
supposedly give men a constant “sucking it in”
look. The efficacy of these products may be questionable,
but we’re really only just getting started.
That’s the problem.
If so many of us would have been honest with
ourselves long ago, we could have better products
today. By telling ourselves that, with the right piece
of equipment, we would work out regularly and get
in shape, we repeatedly sent manufacturers down
the wrong paths. They spent decades creating new
types of exercise equipment for people, like me,
who likely knew it would one day be used as a coat
rack. If we would have been honest with ourselves
and them from Day 1, we could today have products
that truly sculpt our abs during Law & Order
reruns or shirts strong enough to make the suckedin
But at least these companies seem to get it now.
No new exercise will be easier than doing nothing,
and that’s what we want. We’re on the right track
now, and it seems I and other non-exercisers may
be closer to achieving the
So here’s the deal. In all areas of my life, it is storming right now. In fact there’s not a single corner of my universe that doesn’t demand a giant antacid. Every time I think I’ve got a safe place to land…wham…. I get it again, right between the eyes. I am noticing something different about all the storming, though. I am older now so
I don’t bounce back as quickly when life sucker-punches me right in the psyche. My blood pressure, for example, is sky high. I’ve got a facial tic, too. So all of these issues led me to follow the advice of one of my hippie friends.
“You will love it,” she promised. “You will feel reborn.” Really?
With that thought in mind, I attended a yoga class for the very first time in my life. “Close your eyes and clear your mind,” the instructor said in this very soft voice that felt like a cloud in the air. Well let me tell you something-
I could NOT calm down. All the other women relaxed like noodles. But there I was, my hands in fists, my stomach in knots. I never closed my peepers, not one time. I squinted, actually. And that request to clear my mind? Well there’s not a mop big enough to wipe the heartaches and headaches off this brain. “Exhale all your worries,”
the peaceful yoga chick said in a sweet, sing-song voice. She repeated this request at least three times. “Exhale all your worries.” And every single time she said it, my mind jumped into a higher gear.
So there I was, stretched out on the floor like a tootight rubber band, with my squinty eyes, my balled-up
fists, unable to clear my mind, unable to exhale my worries. I could feel my blood pressure bubble as my head
spun into overdrive. Every single one of my problems clumped into a mountain in the middle of my cranium. I then got a stress knot in my neck. On top of all that, I realized I was not even trying to exhale. I was actually holding my breath. So suddenly I was squinting, tense, worried and dizzy, too. Then I began to worry that the peaceful-hearted instructor would kick me out of yoga class for being such a ball of nerve endings. I’m also very sure she wasn’t happy when I muttered cuss words while she and the other class members were humming “Ummmmmm.”
That fear of being booted from yoga only added more stress to my mess. “So how did it go?” my hippie friend chirped later that evening. “I suffered through an entire hour of silence,” I said. “I sprained my neck. I have a headache from the incense. And I could only focus on my problems. I left the class when I started to hyperventilate.
Next week I will try harder
Dressed in a patriotic shirt and red pants, Sister Sharon Bierman is far from the traditional image most would picture as a nun. A little history fact is that nuns have been able to dress without a habit since the Second Vatican in 1962. Her spiritual choice in life began when she was first introduced to the positive example of her St. Benedictine nun first grade teacher. She entered the monastery on September 6, 1960 and begins each morning with prayer and self-reflection to walk in Christ’s path.
After 33 years of service, Sister Bierman is retiring from St. Paul Hermitage as the Administrative Director. She started out as a physical therapist, which she knows was her life’s calling. Looking back, she says that her greatest accomplishment is helping two women heal past complete immobility to gaining independence and walking again.
Her favorite quote is St. Paul’s words, “for me to live is Christ.” So healing people to rise and walk, she feels that she exhibited Christ’s example.
“Physical therapy was the best ministry for me,” she said.
Sister Bierman encourages others to treat St. Paul Hermitage as a home. As the oldest of 10 siblings, she said she felt like she had already raised a family before becoming a nun.
“When a resident comes, St. Paul inherits a family,” she says with a smile, glancing at arriving visitors and residents.
With her mother as a resident, the place literally holds family for her. Every staff member is instilled with six core values: respect and dignity, teamwork, hospitality, honest communication, community building and person and professional growth. With these values always in mind, all residents and visitors are made to feel welcome with a positive environment from the moment they walk through the door. One of Sister Bierman’s favorite activities is to visit each table during lunch, talking with residents and staff on a more personal basis. This extra touch of personal contact may help them feel more comfortable to express concerns, she said.
In recognition of her years of service at St. Paul Hermitage, a prayer service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on June 25 with an open house following. Located at 501 N. 17th Ave., the community is invited to attend the prayer service as well as the open hose.
Since January, the staff has worked through weekly raffles to raise more than $4,000. This money will be used to send Sister Bierman to Italy this September. In the company of two other St. Benedictine Sisters, she will visit famous places traveled by St. Benedict and other saints, such as Montecassino.
Retiring does not mean that her work helping others is done, however.
“Sometimes God asks us to leave a community to help another,” Sister Bierman says. She hopes to be offered an employment opportunity at an area hospice program, to help people transition from this life to the next. Her mission regarding work with the terminally ill is for others to see the death experience as peaceful instead of frightening.
Sister Bierman pointed out that Jesus walked the Earth for 33 years. And after 33 years in service to St. Paul Hermitage, she has walked beside him all along.
If I’m remembering right, it seems that my Dad always managed to pick a ripe tomato from his vegetable garden around Father’s Day. His secret for being able to pick a tomato in mid-June was that he planted his tomato plants well before the last frost and then protected them any time there was a chance of below freezing temperatures. Some years he planted the tomatoes in two gallon or larger pots and then drug them out into the sun on warm days and back inside at night and on colder days. Often by the time May arrived, when other gardeners were just setting out thier six-inch tall tomato plants, my dad was planting tomato plants that were three feet tall.
Whether that memory is right or wrong, Father’s Day is the date by which I measure how late my tomatoes are each year. This year, my tomatoes will once again be very late. By early June, the plants were just tall enough to be tied to their stakes. I’m going to blame the crazy weather which kept me from planting my tomato plants until May 31st and my lack of initiative to drag tomato plants outside and back inside day after day starting in late April.
If I’m remembering right, my Dad’s geraniums (Pelargonium) were always very big and very red. Every year, he planted a row of them in a long planter box on the edge of our front porch. He said his secret for growing such big geraniums was that he bought the biggest and best plants that he could find. He often said the reason the neighbor down the street couldn’t get hers to grow as big as his was because “she bought the smallest, cheapest plants available.” He was also very meticulous about deadheading the spent blooms, which encouraged new blooms throughout the season.
I don’t grow many geraniums myself, but I always remember Dad’s secret, which applies to many other plants. If you want big, healthy plants in your garden, buy big healthy plants to start with and then tend to them, by regularly watering them, fertilizing them and removing spent blooms. Now that I’m much more likely to do!
When your children become grown-ups, they will not willingly eat what they were not offered as youngsters. Studies show eight to fifteen exposures are needed to gain acceptance of new foods.
Recently I saw a 30-something Mom and her three-year-old shopping the produce section. Instinctively, the little child was attracted by artfully arranged, colorful mountains of nature’s generous nurturing harvest. Focused on quarts of blueberries, she tugged mom’s shorts, pointing in curiosity at the blue orbs.
“Mommy, I wanna see bwuberry’s” was the perfect opportunity to cultivate responsible eating habits that set the foundation for future mental and physical health. My heart sank as Mom gently pushed down her daughter’s pointing hand, discouraging her child’s inborn interest,
“Oh, honey, you wouldn’t like those, we have Pop Tarts at home.”
Another nutritionally illiterate parent projecting their silly fears of fresh produce upon impressionable minds.
Unless you live buried under a pile of ‘Poop’ Tarts, we can all agree science says eating more plant foods has seriously groovy health benefits. Reduce your family’s intake of animal foods. Eating super-sized quantities of dead animals is linked to chronic diseases colonizing your holy temple.
Add a variety of fresh taste, texture, excitement and color to your loving tribe’s food fare by encouraging everyone to experiment with new foods and new combinations. Aesthetically arranged fruit and vegetable trays, turkey breast with arugula on wheat wraps, and low-fat bean chips are several ways to add health to a celebration. Produce provides key vitamins and pleasantly surprising taste experiences.
Try fresh avocado and tomato on your turkey burger or sub, or assemble a pretty bowl of vanilla yogurt, garnish it with local fresh fruit and walnuts, then serve it over whole wheat pancakes with Maple syrup. What ever happened to popping popcorn from scratch?
Parents, you’re missing the opportunity to create a memory and share a legacy of togetherness. I remember my siblings and me standing at the stove, each excitedly taking his turn shaking the popcorn popper until the last kernel exploded before dousing the hot corn with gobs of butter and hunkering down in front of the TV to watch Ed Sullivan, with all of us nibbling out of the same wooden bowl together. Not Ed, just us. Do you remember doing things like that?
Revisit your childhood with your own children. Not only will you help them make new discoveries, but you’ll also increase their motivation by realizing that celebratory meals can be adventurous, fun, healing, and delicious. (Of course, replace the butter on the popcorn with olive oil or a non-trans fat margarine, please!)
Add power foods to the family menu such as organic PBJ sammies with organic peanut butter, grain bread. Consider no-sugar-added jams, bean dips, wraps with shredded veggies, reduced-fat cheese, sorbet, watermelon wedges, blueberries in low-fat sour cream, apples slices spread with peanut butter, white-meat turkey chili, and deviled eggs made with reduced-fat mayonnaise. Or how about hummus with whole wheat pita bread, homemade whole wheat mini-pizza, and brown rice cakes with Galaxy Soy cheese topped with salsa? Think smaller and kick the vending machine mentality. You’re smarter than that.
Instead of trying to win the family popularity contest, why not use the shopping experience and dinner table to lovingly educate and teach respect for the Great Creator’s gifts rather than reinforcing destructive behavior to themselves as well as our earth..
Tradition, thy name is stubbornness. It’s got to change someday— but it has to begin at home, where the heart is. Maybe before couples are allowed to procreate, they must first take and pass a nutritional literacy exam, be given a house plant and a dog.
If both are still thriving after 6 weeks, then they can birth children.