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Jerry Apps

Weblog for author, Jerry Apps.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

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Writing Your Story

For those who tuned in my program on Wisconsin Public Radio last week (Larry Meiller Show at 11:00 a.m.), I promised to share some storytelling tips. Program host Jim Packard’s asked: “What are the elements of a good story.”
--People
--Action
--Conflict
--Suspense
--A sense of time and place
--A beginning, middle and an end.

Everyone has a story to tell of childhood years, first jobs, military service, life-changing events and never told secrets. These are the stories that your children and grandchildren will cherish, and additionally will add a special addition to the history of your community when you file your stories at your library or local historical society. Oh, if you’re wondering. It’s never too late to begin writing your stories.

First day of spring! Says so right on the calendar. But I when I look outside this morning, my daffodils and tulips are but little green spears poking through two inches of snow. Mother Nature obviously doesn’t read the calendar. Patience. Patience. It’s still March.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: In spring we shake loose the shackles of winter and make big plans and think big thoughts. We celebrate what has passed and look forward to the future with joy and hope.

WRITING WORKSHOPS

My week-long writing workshop at The Clearing in Door County for 2010 is set for
August 8-14.

A one-day, Saturday writing workshop is scheduled for October 30.
Contact www.theclearing.org for further information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

UW-Baraboo, “Add Learning to Your Life” workshop for those 55 and older. March 25, 11:30 a.m. (Stories From the Land) Call 608-355-5234 for further information.

Westfield Public Library. March 31, 12:45-1:30. (Ames County Novels featuring Blue Shadows Farm))

Oakwood Retirement Center, Madison, April 6, 3:00 p.m. (The Good Old Days?)

Fox Cities Book Festival, April 13, 7:00 p.m., Menasha Public Library. (Blue Shadows Farm and Ames County Novels)

Hatch Public Library, Mauston, April 14, 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.(Ames County Novels, featuring Blue Shadows Farm)

Nature Book Bash, Saturday, April 17, 5:00 p.m. Wisconsin Rapids Community Theater at Rapids Mall in Wisconsin Rapids. (Old Farm)

Walworth-Big Foot Prairie Historical Society, banquet, April 22, 6:00 p.m., Village Supper Club, Delevan Lake, Delevan. (One-Room Country Schools)

UW-Madison, Day on Campus: Food Summit, April 23, 2010. Memorial Union. Keynote speaker: 11:00 a.m. George McGovern. 3:00 p.m. A Brief Look at Wisconsin’s Agricultural History (Apps)

Kiel Public Library, April 28, 7:00 p.m. (Ames County Novels, featuring Blue Shadows Farm)

WEAC-Retired, April 30, 10:45-11:45 & 1:10-2:10. Sheraton Madison Hotel. (Stories From the Land)

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Feet Touching The Ground

When I was still teaching, we interviewed a young man from Florida for a position in our department. We talked to him in January when we had a couple feet of snow on the ground, and after spending a day with him, I asked him if would like to come work for us in Wisconsin. I’d noticed he seemed uncomfortable all the time he was here, and I couldn’t put my finger on his concern.

His answer told all. He said, “I don’t think I could work in a place where my feet wouldn’t touch the ground for three months of the year.” He was referring to our snow-covered landscape.

My feet touched the ground this week as our snow has mostly disappeared. Can there be a surer sign of spring? Several readers responded to my request for signs of spring. Here are a couple of them.

“We saw our first robin last week and our tulips and daffodils on the south side of the house are about three inches up. Always love your observations about nature and the seasons. I can tell that like me, you are longing for spring. I look forward to hearing the birds start singing at four in the morning, from the comfort of my bed of course.” Sharon of Plymouth

“A recent morning as I was getting into my car, a cardinal was carrying on nearby with such jubilation I had to smile! In spite of the chilly wind, his frisky notes held such positive hope of the nearly spring. I couldn't help but grin to myself. We in the Midwest don't appreciate the cardinals’ cheery songs. I've heard people in Texas express such joy when they've seen or heard a rare cardinal!” Kay Moore

Interested in a good story? Tune in Wisconsin Public Radio next Thursday, March 18 at 11:00. Larry Meiller and I will be doing another session on Wisconsin stories and story-telling. Got a story to share? Call in.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: The coming of spring, so much like all of life, is two steps forward and one step back.

WRITING WORKSHOPS

My week-long writing workshop at The Clearing in Door County for 2010 is set for
August 8-14.

A one-day, Saturday writing workshop is scheduled for October 30.
Contact www.theclearing.org for further information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Wisconsin Studio, Overture Center, Madison, WI, Sunday, March 21, 1:00 p.m. (Old
Farm)

UW-Baraboo, “Add Learning to Your Life” workshop for those 55 and older. March 25, 11:30 a.m. (Stories From the Land) Call 608-355-5234 for further information.

Westfield Public Library. March 31, 12:45-1:30. (Ames County Novels featuring Blue Shadows Farm))

Oakwood Retirement Center, Madison, April 6, 3:00 p.m. (The Good Old Days?)

Fox Cities Book Festival, April 13, 7:00 p.m., Menasha Public Library. (Blue Shadows Farm and Ames County Novels)

Hatch Public Library, Mauston, April 14, 1:00 p.m. (Ames County Novels, featuring Blue Shadows Farm)

Nature Book Bash, Saturday, April 17, 5:00 p.m. Wisconsin Rapids Community Theater at Rapids Mall in Wisconsin Rapids. (Old Farm)

Walworth-Big Foot Prairie Historical Society, banquet, April 22, 6:00 p.m., Village Supper Club, Delevan Lake. (One-Room Country Schools)

UW-Madison, Day on Campus: Food Summit, April 23, 2010. Memorial Union. Keynote speaker: 11:00 a.m. George McGovern. 3:00 p.m. A Brief Look at Wisconsin’s Agricultural History (Apps)

Kiel Public Library, April 28, 7:00 p.m. (Ames County Novels, featuring Blue Shadows Farm)

WEAC-Retired, April 30, 10:45-11:45 & 1:10-2:10. Sheraton Madison Hotel. (Stories From the Land)

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Aldo Leopold Celebration

Last Saturday I had the privilege of speaking at the Lake Geneva Library’s Aldo Leopold Celebration. Leopold, who died April 21, 1948, is best known for his book, A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC, published after his death in 1949. The library looked out on the lake, a special place for the celebration.

I have an original edition of A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC and read from it often. Fitting for the season, Leopold wrote this about spring: “One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.”

With Leopold, I look forward each spring to the geese flying high overhead in long V’s as they wing their way to their summer nesting grounds. I enjoy seeing them in the daytime, listening to their calls as their flocks sometimes spread from horizon to horizon. I especially enjoy hearing them on a still spring night, confidently moving north, announcing spring. Sometimes, if the moon is full and the sky is clear, I will see them flying in the moonlight. What a treat it is.

What are your first signs of spring? The return of the sandhill cranes? Bird song in the morning? The blush on a weeping willow tree? Pussy willows in the marshes? Click on comment and let us know.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: To value the land and the natural world demands an appreciation that goes deeper than knowing, deeper even than understanding—to the level that involves not only the head but also the heart.

WRITING WORKSHOP: The dates for my writing workshop at The Clearing in Door
County for 2010 are August 8-14. Contact www.theclearing.org for further information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Wisconsin Studio, Overture Center, Madison, WI, Sunday, March 21, 1:30 p.m. (Old
Farm)

UW-Baraboo, “Add Learning to Your Life” workshop for those 55 and older. March 25, 11:30 a.m. (Stories From the Land) Call 608-355-5234 for further information.

Westfield Public Library. March 31, 12:45-1:30. (Ames County Novels featuring Blue Shadows Farm)

Oakwood Retirement Center, Madison, April 6, 3:00 p.m. (The Good Old Days?)

Fox Cities Book Festival, April 13, 7:00 p.m., Menasha Public Library. (Blue Shadows Farm and Ames County Novels)

Hatch Public Library, Mauston, April 14, 1:00 p.m. (Ames County Novels, featuring Blue Shadows Farm)

Nature Book Bash, Saturday, April 17, 5:00 p.m. Wisconsin Rapids Community Theater at Rapids Mall in Wisconsin Rapids. (Old Farm)

Walworth-Big Foot Prairie Historical Society, banquet, April 22, 6:00 p.m. Walworth. Place to be announced. (One-Room Country Schools)

UW-Madison, Day on Campus: Food Summit, April 23, 2010. Memorial Union. Keynote speaker: 11:00 a.m. George McGovern. 3:00 p.m. A Brief Look at Wisconsin’s Agricultural History (Apps)

Kiel Public Library, April 28, 7:00 p.m. (Ames County Novels, featuring Blue Shadows Farm)

WEAC-Retired, April 30, 10:45-11:45 & 1:10-2:10. Sheraton Madison Hotel. (Stories From the Land)

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Discover Wisconsin: March 6-7

On a warm day last November, a production crew from the TV-Series, “Discover Wisconsin” stopped by my farm for a few hours. They asked me to be part of a program they planned called “Booked into Wisconsin.” (The program will air March 6 & 7 on TV stations throughout the upper Midwest. See the station listing at the end of this blog.)

Program host, Stephanie Klett interviewed me about my Ames County Novels, a series of historical fiction books I have written about the history of agriculture in central Wisconsin. Four novels so far comprise the series, “The Travels of Increase Joseph,” “In a Pickle,” “Blue Shadows Farm,” and soon to be published, “Cranberry Red.” All are published by University of Wisconsin Press and are or will be available in book stores and can be ordered directly from my website.

Here is a brief rundown of each novel:


1. The Travels of Increase Joseph (Time Period: 1850-1900) Published in 2003 & 2010.

The Travels of Increase Joseph tells of the first settlers coming to central Wisconsin in 1852, settling Ames County and naming their village Link Lake. These settlers followed an unusual preacher, Increase Joseph Link, from New York State to Wisconsin. Increase Joseph, tossed out of Harvard College for his liberal thinking, preaches, “The land comes first.” The novel emphasizes the environmental challenges of the time, with many applications to today’s situation.


2. In a Pickle: A Family Farm Story (Time Period: 1955) Published in 2007.

This novel takes place in Ames County in 1955, when nearly every small farmer in the western part of the county grew a small patch of cucumbers. The book focuses on the forces that caused many small family farmers to leave the land.

3. Blue Shadows Farm (Time Period: 1866-present time) Published in 2009.

Blue Shadows Farm follows three generations of the Starkweather family as they try to make a living on a farm in the Link Lake Community of Ames County. It is about connecting to the land both past and present. A contemporary sub-plot concerns environmental education in the schools and the importance of children having first hand contact with nature and the out-of-doors.

4. Cranberry Red (Time Period: the present.) Publication date: Fall 2010.

Isaac Osborne University (a for-profit institution) discovers a new chemical called “Cranberry Red” that promises to drastically improve cranberry growth. It also claims that consuming these treated cranberries will prevent heart disease, reduce brain damage from strokes, and ward off Alzheimer’s. Ben Wesley, the Research Application Specialist for Osborne University, must sell the new substance to cranberry growers in Ames County and other Wisconsin Counties. However, the chemical has not been tested adequately, and Wesley remains apprehensive about promoting the substance since research results seem limited and overstated. While the chemical does all that the University claims it will do, it also creates some disturbing side-affects,

The story focuses on the push and pull of big businesses’ need for fast profit, a community’s need for safety, and how people can be caught in the debate of balancing efficiency with morality.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Great truths are often revealed in fiction.

WRITING WORKSHOP: The dates for my writing workshop at The Clearing in Door
County for 2010 are August 8-14. Contact www.theclearing.org for further information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Eau Claire Farm Show, Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center, March 3, 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (Stories From The Land)

Aldo Leopold celebration, Lake Geneva Public Library, March 6, 10:30 a.m. (Old Farm and Ames County novels.)

Wisconsin Studio, Overture Center, Madison, WI, Sunday, March 21, 1:00 p.m. (Old
Farm)

UW-Baraboo, “Add Learning to Your Life” workshop for those 55 and older. March 25, 11:30 a.m. (Stories From the Land) Call 608-355-5234 for further information.

Westfield Public Library. March 31, 12:45-1:30. (Ames County Novels)


DISCOVER WISCONSIN SCHEDULE: MARCH 6-7

The Discover Wisconsin – America's Dairyland "Booked Into Wisconsin" episode will air throughout the upper Midwest on the following stations during the times noted below:


Wausau WAOW TV 9 (ABC)
Saturdays 6:30 p.m.

Wisconsin (Statewide) FSN - Wisconsin
Saturdays 10:00 a.m. Outdoor Block

Baraboo WRPQ TV 43
Saturdays 1:30 PM & Mondays 10:00 PM

Cedar Rapids/Dubuque IA KFXA 28 (FOX)
Saturdays 6:30 p.m.

Chicago Comcast SportsNet
Saturdays 10:00 a.m.

Eagle River WYOW TV 34 (ABC)
Saturdays 6:30 p.m.

Eau Claire WQOW TV 18 (ABC)
Sundays 5:00 p.m.

Green Bay WFRV Ch 5 (CBS)
Saturdays 6:00 p.m

Hibbing, MN WIRT TV 13 (ABC)
Sundays 5:30 p.m.

La Crosse WXOW TV 19 (ABC)
Sundays 5:00 p.m.

Madison WKOW TV 27 (ABC)
Saturdays 6:30 p.m.

Milwaukee WITI TV 6 (FOX)
Sundays 9:00 a.m.

Minneapolis/MN FSN - North
Saturdays 10:00 a.m. Outdoor Block

Rochester/Austin FSN - North
Saturdays 10:00 a.m

Rockford WIFR TV 23 (CBS)
Saturdays 6:30 p.m.

Superior/Duluth WDIO TV 10 (ABC)
Sundays 5:30 p.m.

Tomah, WI WIBU - TV
Mondays 5:00 p.m

Upper Michigan - Escanaba, MI WJMN Ch 3 (CBS)
Saturdays 6:00 CST/7:00 EST

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring in the Air

I’m sitting by my wood stove, looking out over my snow covered fields and enjoying a cup of coffee. I’ve finished plowing my driveway—it has taken me an hour. The sun is bright, the outside temperature is warm (in the mid-thirties) and the snow is piled high, higher than I remember for most winters. It’s a fine winter day.

But I’ve had enough. I’m ready for spring. I thought I could feel spring in the air while I plowed, maybe I did. But spring is a fickle season. A teasing hussy. One moment she shows a little of herself, then runs away to hide while old man winter once more huffs and puffs and continues to show who is in charge.

I watch a doe deer walk down the hill just beyond the cabin. She appears to have wintered well, so far anyway. She looks toward the cabin, her head high and ears flicking. I’ll bet she’s also looking forward to spring.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Learn how to leave some things alone.

WRITING WORKSHOP: The dates for my writing workshop at The Clearing in Door
County for 2010 are August 8-14. Contact www.theclearing.org for further information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Eau Claire Farm Show, Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center, March 3, 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (Stories From The Land)

Aldo Leopold celebration, Lake Geneva Public Library, March 6, 10:30 a.m. (Old Farm and Ames County novels.)

Wisconsin Studio, Overture Center, Madison, WI, Sunday, March 21, 1:30 p.m. (Old
Farm)

UW-Baraboo, “Add Learning to Your Life” workshop for those 55 and older. March 25, 11:30 a.m. (Stories From the Land) Call 608-355-5234 for further information.

Westfield Public Library. March 31, 12:45-1:30. (Ames County Novels)

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cardinal Song

I heard a cardinal call this morning. The sun was but a hint of red in the east, the wind was down and the temperature hung at zero. The male cardinal sang his song of love on this cold Valentine’s day.

I wait for the cardinal’s song each year, for when I hear it I know we’ve turned the corner on winter and spring hides just around the corner. Well maybe not quite that close.

We’ve had as many as five cardinal pairs at our feeder all winter. Splashes of red against a landscape of white. Now in mid-February, they and I patiently wait for spring. These red birds feel the seasonal change coming and announce it boldly with their calls. Scientists tell us increasing daylight triggers their calling. No matter what causes it, at this time in winter I welcome any hint of spring.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: 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. Like life itself.


WRITING WORKSHOP: The dates for my writing workshop at The Clearing in Door
County for 2010 are August 8-14. Contact www.theclearing.org for further information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Eau Claire Farm Show, Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center, March 3, 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (Stories From The Land)

Aldo Leopold celebration, Lake Geneva Public Library, March 6, 10:30 a.m. (Old Farm and Ames County novels.)

Wisconsin Studio, Overture Center, Madison, WI, Sunday, March 21, 1:30 p.m. (Old
Farm)

UW-Baraboo, “Add Learning to Your Life” workshop for those 55 and older. March 25, 11:30 a.m. (Stories From the Land) Call 608-355-5234 for further information.

Westfield Public Library. March 31, 12:45-1:30. (Ames County Novels)

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Warm Weather Search

We went looking for warmer weather last week. First stop, Tampa, Florida. No warm weather there—temperature barely made it to 50 degrees. Next to Key West, Florida. Fifties there as well. Person at the museum in Key West said it was one of the coldest winters on record. Cold killed many tropical plants.

Next stop Belize—getting warmer. In the 70s. Then to Honduras. Down right hot and muggy. Mid 80s. And finally to Costa Maya, Mexico. High 80s, humidity in the 90s. A reminder of Wisconsin in July. Way too hot.

Back home. Snowing. Twenty-six degrees. Beautiful winter day. At heart we are winter people, although it was fun to walk around with sleeves rolled up and the sun shining hot on our backs for a few days.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Stand in a snowstorm and watch snowflakes accumulate on your sleeve. Each snowflake is different, each one special—a reminder of nature’s creative magnificence.


WRITING WORKSHOP: The dates for my writing workshop at The Clearing in Door
County for 2010 are August 8-14. Contact www.theclearing.org for further information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Oakwood East Community Center, Madison. Saturday, February 13, 9:30 a.m. (Delta Kappa Gamma—Educational fraternity) (Stories from the One-Room School)

Eau Claire Farm Show, Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center, March 3, 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (Stories From The Land)

Aldo Leopold celebration, Lake Geneva Public Library, March 6, 10:30 a.m. (Old Farm and Ames County novels.)

Wisconsin Studio, Overture Center, Madison, WI, Sunday, March 21, 1:30 p.m. (Old
Farm)

UW-Baraboo, “Add Learning to Your Life” workshop for those 55 and older. March 25, 11:30 a.m. (Stories From the Land) Call 608-355-5234 for further information.

Westfield Public Library. March 31, 12:45-1:30. (Ames County Novels)

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