Happy Birthday Abe & so on!

lincoln statue

If you are from anywhere near central Illinois you know that February 12th was the birthday of our 16th President. Above is a statue of Lincoln outside of the Lincoln Heritage Museum.  On Lincoln’s Birthday there are any number of Lincoln sites to visit in central Illinois to celebrate the birthday of our famous son.

Monday, Feb. 15th is President’s Day and the day is celebrated, the schools and banks are closed and  no mail is delivered. The 15th is also George Washington’s Birthday, the first president of the United States of America.

As we ponder the presidential election in 2016, it is interesting to look back and see who our presidents were and where they came from. Were they farmers, lawyers, were they married, did they serve in a war, did they have children and what did they believe in? All these questions roll around in my brain like dice toss from a Yahtzee roll. Do the presidents we elect come to power because of a fluke, like the roll of the dice, or was it a carefully thought out process by the voters and those in power that nominated the candidates in the first place? I really don’t know. 2016 brings candidates unlike those that have gone before, we will just have to see how this political theater plays out.

What will you do to celebrate President’s day? Did you celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday? I admit to letting Lincoln’s birthday pass by without a lot of effort on my part, but I think I will ponder a bit of Washington’s birthday and try to do something patriotic on Monday to remember the day. Thank a solder, salute the flag, or maybe, I will just rise in the morning, turn to my spouse and break into God Bless America!

A couple of weeks ago, I was antiquing with my friend Annie Jansen and at a cool shop in Bloomington, Illinois I ran across a book couldn’t resist, I had to have it. Now I will leave you with a couple facts about presidents that the author David Louis imparted. First, “Franklin D. Roosevelt’s birthday is a legal holiday in the Virgin Islands.”

Second, “The teddy bear was named for Theodore Roosevelt. When presented with a koala from Australia, Roosevelt whose fondness for animals was well known so praised the creature that a copy of it was made for children. Called the “teddy bear” in the President’s honor, the toy soon caught on and became a standard item on every child’s shelf.”

And last, “Grover Cleveland is the only United States President to have been married in the White House.”

Mull it over and make President’s day your own!

Categories: Arts & Culture, Food, Historical Travel, Holiday travel, holidays, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday!

Fat Tuesday is a day celebrated by many with rich foods and frolic before the beginning of the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday is always a somber day bringing the true meaning of Lent into perspective.

Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday also goes by another name. I reported this last year, but it bears repeating, today is also Pancake Day! Shrove comes from the word shrive, meaning to do penance and be absolved of sins. The day marks the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar and pancakes became a way of using up rich foods, like eggs, milk and sugar, before the 40 days of fasting that follow.

While Lent is often thought of as a Catholic tradition, it is a Lutheran one as well. We too celebrate Ash Wednesday. I found great humor in a post on Facebook today where a friend was giving up Mean People and Beets for the Lenten season. I agree, it is good to give something up, to take the time to think about what Christ did for us.

Tonight we are going to have pancakes, rich, pancakes filled with either pecans or blueberries with the Pearcy family tradition of peanut butter and syrup on top.

There is much I am sure to do penance for and if I can’t think of what I have done, I am sure my spouse, mom and children would be glad to remind me. Whether you pour the rich batter at home or a diner, whether you dish up a piece of King Cake and Mardi Gras with the best of them, celebrate the day.

These days since I lost my father a year ago, I am big on traditions and Holidays. Life is too short, celebrate the coming of spring, the tooth fairy, your child or grandchild’s part in a play, whatever the reason, kick up your heels and have on heck of a Fat Tuesday before the Shrove part sets in!

Categories: Arts & Culture, Food, holidays, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Red dress dash – volunteering and learning about heart health

February 3rd was a chance to help out my daughter Carrie who works for the American Heart Association AHA.  After just writing about heart failure for Senior News & Times and Farm World I am more aware of the dangers of cardiac issues so I was glad to help out.

The event was held at the Old State Capitol downtown Springfield and the dash was down the steps and out under a heart arch that Carrie and Karen who also works for the AHA labored over prior to the event.  Some dashed a bit further on this brisk winter day, but we all joined together to raise our heart rate for a moment or two for a good cause.red dress dash

My job was just to help set up and hand out.  Radio personalities, media from television and newspaper all came to cover the event and Victoria Ringer gave a heartfelt story of her own heart scare that touched me deeply.

As a woman this Go Red for Women issue hit home.  Carrie reported to the media that, “Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That’s approximately one woman every minute! But it doesn’t affect all women alike, and the warning signs for women aren’t the same in men. What’s more: These facts only begin to scratch the surface.”

The day was both educational and fun.  Learning about this heart health issue just reconfirmed what I already knew that we can’t take our health for granted.  So I had on my red shirt and dashed with the group down the historic Old State Capitol steps where Abraham Lincoln has trod and walked under the heart arch that the AHA worked so hard on.

Yes, I was a mom trying to help out a daughter, but more, I was a volunteer who wants to help share the news about heart disease.  To travel requires a modicum of health and I plan to take the risks more seriously in 2016 so I can get off the couch and hit the road!


Categories: Arts & Culture, Travel Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ground Hog predicts spring!


I know I shouldn’t and that there is no science based evidence that the ground hog can predict the melting of snow, the temperatures rise and winter’s exit, but, in spite of all odds, I believe.  I have this faith in the furry beast that he can look into some kind of a critter crystal ball and pull spring out of his hat like a magician in a side show act.

Maybe it is because February is filled with dreary days of grey skies and grey ground like the fog that shrouded my drive on the way home tonight after watching my grandson.  We couldn’t see more than two feet in front of us, and my husband, that knows these roads like the back of his hand, had trouble maintaining a straight path.  Perhaps it is because we lost a dear family member this week and next week will be the anniversary of my father’s death.  Maybe it is all of that, but I want, no I need to believe in spring.

God brings forth life from the cold earth.  Trees green, flowers sprout, water gurgles, children run and  even my dog prances with a beat of the youth he may remember from days gone by.  Winter’s harsh beauty makes way for a softer, gentler loveliness reminding us of God’s mercies and love.

The ground hog brought a lightness to my step today in spite of the bad news we have had lately.  He helped restore a bit of hope that road trips and the colors of spring may be in the near future.

Bless you ground hog.  I will remember you in my prayers tonight!

Categories: Arts & Culture, holidays, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Delray Open House – Memories and dreams combine

ben ladage

What better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than an open house for friends and family?  Our cousin’s son Ben Ladage along with his business partner David Ray just opened an auction house/reception hall.  The hall is named Delray for Ben’s late grandfather Delmar Ladage and for David Ray.  This is a partnership based on not only business, but heritage. At Delmar’s funeral, over 500 people attended the combination wake/funeral and like his grandpa, Ben has the gift of gab.

The hall was filled with people coming to wish Ben and his wife and David and his new bride well.  The building was once long ago a restaurant called The Only Place which as of late was a sad place, an empty building that had been many things, but now with Ben and David has been brought back to life.

The Ladage family is a large one and the Trinity Lutheran church family between Auburn  and Chatham is also a large extended family.  When we arrived, the building was converted to a lovely open place where new memories and great auctions will take place.

Check out those open houses, reconnect with old friends and family!  We did.  Log onto http://www.benladage.com.  to see what is coming up.  A toy auction is scheduled for the first of March!

Categories: Arts & Culture, Family Fun, Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gateway Mid-America Toy Show-the link from winter to spring

Last year we didn’t get to attend the Gateway Mid-America Toy Show and the transition from winter into spring wasn’t quite complete. This year will be the 35th show. which will be held on February 5-7, 2016 at the Sheraton Lakeside Chalet in St. Louis’s West Port Plaza. This year -Lord willing and the creek don’t rise- we are going!

While we enjoy the farm toys, this show offers a chance to see some new and different custom builders plus my favorite, the farm layout and scratch built contest.  Every year there is something I never saw before.  In years past we saw a grain elevator built by a young man that used the elevator to carry a ring to his fiancée when he proposed. We saw a cotton gin and cranberry harvester to name a few.  Of course there is also the competition for the ugly toy.

If I wasn’t writing about them for Toy Farmer,  and Farm World, I would try to find something to enter in this category I am always amazed to see how ugly a toy can really be.

Reality hits when you don’t see collectors from the past whether due to passing away or retiring. This past year I lost my dad in the midst of the show and I look forward to going to help alleviate the sorrow of the year anniversary that is coming up.  We always meet with dear friends and go to dinner.  It has become a tradition and missing it last year nothing was quite the same. But then, after a loss, nothing ever is the same, we just adjust to a new reality.

Anyway, I will be set up with my books at the show and checking out all the exciting toys, layouts and literature and memorabilia.  This show always has a salesman sample or two as well that knocks my socks off.

The show is hosted by Roy Lee Baker, a member of the National Farm Toy Hall of Fame, his wife Audrey and Faye Baker Knoche. Roy Lee shared what most collectors say is their favorite part of this annual event, “We enjoy seeing the people every year.”

Seeing Roy Lee and his family makes my day every time. Roy Lee always has something to share and directs me to see a sight I may have otherwise missed along the way.

According to their press release from http://www.gatewaytoyshow.com, “This family friendly event will begin with exhibitor spaces and room trading opening Friday February 5th at 10:00 a.m. in the morning, and will remain open until 6:00 p.m.     Thousands of farm toys will be set up in 150 hotel rooms along with 200 exhibitor tables.     Trading rooms #101-#350 have the option to remain open after 6:00 p.m. for after-hours room trading. This is a time when friendships are forged and bargains are found! “We have 150 trading rooms and probably 200 exhibitor tables in the 18,500 square feet of floor space in the Versailles Ballroom, Matterhorn, St. Moritz, Bern, Alpine, Lugano and Zermatt board rooms. “We take up the entire hotel,” Roy Lee said.

Saturday February 6th is the Farm Toy Consignment Auction with Mark Sypherd of Aumann Auctions Inc. auctioneering in the 5,040 square feet Zurich Ballroom. The auction features over 450+ collectible farm toys and related merchandise for sale. Item viewing begins at 7:00 a.m. The auction begins at 9:00 a.m. and typically runs until 4:00 p.m. Exhibitor tables and room trading open from 7 a.m. till 6 p.m. Room trading optional to ??.

The press release continues, “Saturday is also the day of both the Model Contest and Farm Layout Contest.     “We have our model show all day long on Saturday.     People bring barns, farm scenes and make their own toys. There are a variety of high quality 1/64th thru 1/8th scale models crafted by some of the nation’s most talented and innovative craftsman on display for your enjoyment.” Roy Lee added.

The show continues on Sunday February 7th and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A pedal tractor drawing is held at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Come and see me in the Versailles room and check out one of my books, or the children’s farm books that Jane Aumann and I have written.

A stop at this iconic show will help ease the winter blues, offer a chance to see old friends or make new ones.  If nothing else, it will get you out of the house and put a smile on your face.  I hope to see you there.





Categories: Agricultural, Arts & Culture, Family Fun, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Pulling fun!

This past weekend I was working on a story about pulling tucks and tractors at the National Farm Machinery Show for Farm World. I had the chance to interview a couple young women that pulled.  Patricia Justison from the Hillsboro area  (in the picture below with my brother-in-law Wayne) and Bethany Nelson from Altamont, Illinois.


The interview was eye opening seeing the machinery and the dedication it takes to be part of this sport was amazing.  These young women are part of an adventurous breed of pullers that are family oriented, farm loving individuals who had great stories.

The pullers seem to travel with their families and many claim the pullers and their families as extended families.  The family aspect speaks home to me because my husband Keith and his brother Wayne and I loaded up and headed out across the snowy Illinois landscape for these interviews allowing the three of us a bit of family time together

We are amazed by the size of the machinery and the dedication these pullers have to their hobby.  Bethany Nelson pulls with her husband and they along with their three children will be at Louisville where Bethany and Jared Nelson will both be competing.


Both young women were raised on the farm and Patricia continues to work on the farm.  She came home after college and put her new skills to work on the Justison farm which is just a short drive away from where we live.

Jared and Bethany run a trucking operation and as we left the homes of both pullers I think my brother-in-law said it best, “I don’t know how they have the time to get anything done.”

Youth I think was my answer.  Anyway, both young women let me sit in the hot seat so I could see what it would feel like to pull.corn fed.JPG

While I don’t see myself hurtling down the track anytime soon, I went home with a picture of cheering crowds calling out my name! Thank you Patricia and thank you Bethany for letting me dream.

Cheer on both young women at the Farm Machinery pull if you go and watch for my story in the Farm World National Farm Machinery show supplement out right before the show debuts

Categories: Adventure Travel, Agricultural, Arts & Culture, sports, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carlinville Historic Jail – a castle like fortress

carlinville old jail

I am not quite sure what you would expect to find when viewing an old jail, but this castle like structure built in 1869 that served as the Macoupin County Jail is not it.  This structure has the look of a fairytale fortress.  Designed by E.E. Meyers the jail was built the Carlinville Chamber of Commerce says, “using the “cannon ball” method which prevented jail breaks by making it nearly impossible to remove the blocks”

The cannon ball method was just that.  With only a few years after the Civil War, remaining cannon balls were literally placed in the walls between layers of stone!

With its Gothic Revival design the jail features a scalloped parapet with multiple arched windows.  The jail sits across from the “million dollar” courthouse that cost much more than anticipated, but provides a lovely building that is still in use today.  E.E. Myers was also the architect for the courthouse that was a pet project of Judge Loomis and part of his reelection campaign.

The jail over the 119 years of use served as an apartment for the jailer and his wife with prisoners in the bottom section.  Over the century plus that the jail was in use only one prisoner escaped, but was caught only a few blocks away.  This historic structure was finally retired when the new county jail was built and dedicated in 1988.

Right now the only view is a drive or walk by because the beautiful old jail is currently being rehabilitated and is not available for tours.

I am amazed at the creativity that went into buildings of the past and just wonder what stories the jailers and prisoners that stayed there would tell.


Categories: Arts & Culture, Civil War history, Historical Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Q & A with John Golicz, the founder of theTravel & Adventure Show

The Chicago Travel & Adventure show is coming to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont January 23-24, 2016.  I had the chance to do a Q & A with John Golicz the founder of the Travel & Adventure show series to find out just what a visitor could gain by attending.

“There will be about 400 different exhibitors with multiple booths,” Golicz said.  He added that theses booths will be staffed by 1500 experienced local and international experts that fly into Chicago to help visitors plan their vacation.

Because they represent areas where they live or are experts on Golicz said, “They understand the destination and can provide information you can’t hear anywhere else.”

Chicago is just one of seven shows that take place during the first quarter of the year. When I interviewed John Golicz, he was in Las Angeles.  There are travels shows in Chicago, Dallas, Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay area and Philadelpia.

I was curious how the Travel & Adventure shows began.  Golicz said, “About 14 years ago I had been doing business to business events for years.  I love to travel and I am a boating enthusiast.  I looked for a travel show and couldn’t find one.”

When Golicz could not find a travel show to answer his questions about the best places to go and how to get there and where to stay, he decided to provide his own.  “The first show was in New York,” he said.  “26,000 people came and it was 5 below zero.  It was very exciting.”

When so many people came out for the first show in all types of weather, Golicz knew he had a winner and the upcoming Chicago show may be just what you need to find your special destination in the upcoming year.  Golicz said over time the exhibitors have become friends and going to the shows is like old home week.  He looks forward to welcoming visitors to the Chicago show where they can learn details of the places they may have imagined, or find out about places they had never thought about.

The travel shows are very successful.  “About 74% of those attending will find a trip and book it within a month and they keep coming back,” Golicz said about the success of the shows.

Along with exhibitors and tourist boards ready to provide details of their destinations, there will also be speakers.  Many of the speakers are celebrities, authors of guide books or the family that travel like nomads around the world.  There is music, a tasting with chefs cooking and serving and travel tips to top it all off.

Before heading out to a show head to the website http://travelshows.com/shows/chicago and explore it because Golicz warned the show goes very quickly and you want to plan your time wisely.  “You can download the app if your want,” Golicz shared.  “Plan your day, wear comfy shoes and travel the world.”

That is what I plan to do, maybe I will see you there!


Categories: Adventure Travel, Agricultural, Arts & Culture, Family Fun, Food, Historical Travel, Holiday travel, Travel Tips, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A piece and a memory of a flea market find.


Jewelry, I love it.  I just finished an article for the Prairieland Buzz about using jewelry as my travel souvenir, a practice I started long ago.  This necklace though is special, it stands out not only because of it’s beauty, but because of the story behind it.

This last summer we traveled to Pinckneyville, Illinois to a flea market at the American Thresher’s Reunion.  Pinckneyville is special to me because I was born here, and my father was a teacher for a very short time in the nearby town of Nashville.

While at the flea market, I spied this lovely bauble but deemed it too pricey for my pocketbook at the time.  While it was not out of line, I was reluctant to buy something that I truly didn’t need although I lamented loudly that I wanted it.

I told my husband Keith about it and we went on.  Our friends the Elliots were at the show and Jane and I went our way and Keith and Kent went theirs.  It wasn’t until November on my birthday when I opened a lovely velvet box that I found this necklace inside.

Keith had looked all over the flea market for this necklace and finally found the one he thought was it.  He struck pay dirt with me.  This piece is so lovely.  I had a larger clasp put on it and our local jeweler thought it was European and hand made.

While the beauty of the necklace, at least in my eyes, is undisputable, it is the fact that Keith searched the flea market for it for me, when this is a place that carries many treasures he holds dear.  This could have been the wrong piece, or the ugliest piece ever, but the fact that he searched it out for me when tractors, toys and farm literature abounded, would have made it special indeed no matter what he brought home.

The fact that is was THE NECKLACE was just the icing on the cake.

Categories: Agricultural, Arts & Culture, Family Fun, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 42 other followers