Blog Archives

Missed Valentine’s Day? No Way!

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            OK I’ll admit it. It was me that the pastor used as an example last week. I’m the one who never buys Crystal candies for Valentine’s Day; at least not for the last 30 years or so. Furthermore, I rarely take her out on that day or other holidays. And yet, I’m pretty sure she still likes me.

            It’s bin a while since we talked about what makes marriage work. Being a chemist, I’d love to give you the formula. If I ever figure that out, I will gladly share…immediately after the patent clears (and for a reasonable donation). No, I don’t have the answers for you. I only know what works for us.

            Before you get the wrong idea, you should know that Crystal is perfectly fine with the way we celebrate. It will soon be February 15th. That’s right the day after, the day. My plan is to get up bright and early and drive into town. That’s when I buy twice as much chocolate at half price.

            Crystal and I also go out fairly often; usually on week days. We just don’t like crowds. For us, there is nothing more annoying, and less romantic than being on a date, and having to yell across the table to your date. That happened often when we were dating, and early in our marriage.

            The point isn’t that we are smarter than others; we just have learned about each other over time. It’s not like we never disagree (reference the earlier blog “The great Boot Fight”), we resolve and move on.

            Also, we do celebrate on holidays, usually at home, with a nice meal. This Valentine’s Day, I bought Crystal a nice card, and a couple of top-quality cake pans. Great gift, right! Oh, did I forget to mention that, I first used them to make a really tasty, cherry filled, white cake, with homemade buttercream frosting.

            I think she liked the pans. She loved the cake. Communication is the key. That and extra butter. Hope you enjoyed your holiday as much as we did.

Chocolates are nice, but it’s hard to beat a really good cake! And yes I got her flowers too.
Category: Make Marriage Last

Dad’s Germany

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            For me, writing our book was an act of love, a remembrance, a tribute to our parents and times long past. By the time I was nineteen I had visited Germany, and Europe four times. Dad was like the greatest tour guide ever. He drove around Europe, and spoke about its history, people and places as if it were his home, and he had never left.

            The red brick two floor, slate shingled building, on the Zirndorf cobblestone side street, looked so typical, and unremarkable. It had been, so many years earlier, the home of his youth. The graveyard, in the same town, served as a reminder of things past. I had previously, no idea about the depth of our family’s heritage, or how deeply German we were. I walked all the way back, in the section dedicated to our family, until the tiny (by American standards) headstones were illegible from weathering (around the 1700s).

            Even as I scribed, to the best of my abilities, his accounts of his youth, I could barely imagine what it must have been like. I was thirteen once; a spoiled, carefree, all American boy. At thirteen, he was torn from his small-town home, and sent, alone, to a foreign land, to Chicago, to live with relatives, until his parents came a few years later.

            Even as he assimilated well, there was a certain irony about his story. His return during WW2 must have been extremely difficult. He would be fighting a fight, which he knew had to be fought. However, he would also be fighting against some of the friends of his youth, members of his old soccer team, family acquaintances, teachers, etc.

            Even as he mouthed dirty krauts, and other derogatory wartime slurs, he knew better. I remember a 1985 song by Sting, “Russians”, where he asserts, ‘there is no such thing as a winnable war. Mothers love their children’, no matter what the politicians do. We are all, basically the same, at least in God’s eyes.

            I never thought about that, as I cheered for John Wayne, and the rest of the Green Barats, as they killed all of those Krauts on the silver screen.

            Even as it was his job to interrogate German prisoners, dad spoke, with some pride about those prisoners, drafted to service, who hated the war, and what their homeland had become.

            Sadly, these days, as our own country seems similarly divided, I am concerned. There is a saying; ‘those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it’. Also, ‘those who stand for nothing will fall for anything’.

            America was founded on principles of freedom and democracy for all. That is what our fathers fought to protect. What seems lost today is, we aren’t always going to agree with each other, but we need to respect those who disagree. I think that’s what is missing today, in politics, and on the streets of our country, mutual respect. I’m certain, if they were still here, our parents would have agreed.

            Someone once said, “love your neighbor as you love yourself”. I’m sure I heard that somewhere?

Now a message from our sponsor: We are thrilled with all of the personal and positive feedback from those of you whom have read the book. We would love it if you could review our book, on the Amazon web page. Good reviews will help more people to find us. Reviews are easy and don’t take much time. Let me know if you have any problems (Ron).

  1. Open the Amazon web site.
  2. Type 150 Years of Marriage into the search at the top of the page.
  3. Scroll down to find our book.
  4. Click on the picture of our book cover.
  5. Scroll down near the bottom of the page to the Customer Review section.
  6. Click on “Write a customer review”.
  7. Rate us and write a brief review.

We want to thank you in advance! Have a blessed day.

Dad’s youth soccer team Germany circa 1930: Coach’s left hand on dad.

           

Extra Extra, Read All About It!

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It’s Wednesday January 21st, 2021, and at least in Coshocton, Ohio, our book is big news. Separate articles published is the Coshocton County Tribune and the Coshocton County Beacon came out today.

Apparently, when you live in a small town, you rate slightly higher on the front page than President Biden. We just wanted to share, and thank you for your continued interest in this project: https://www.coshoctontribune.com/story/news/local/2021/01/27/warsaw-couple-shares-tales-150-years-marriage/4252281001/

Memoir Writing

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            First a progress report. Yesterday, Crystal and I were interviewed by the Coshocton Tribune paper. That article will come out next week. We have sold a few books locally and given away a number as well. It has recently gone for sale on Amazon, in both paperback and electronic forms.

            Sales are great, but they are not our only motive. Our plans (once things are more normal) include doing public readings, and speaking engagements. We feel strongly about supporting marriage and memoir writing.

            Since it’s inception, building strong marriages has been a consistent theme of this web page. Today I will to talk a little bit about memoir writing. Why write a memoir?

            My two most dreaded subjects early in my education were Writing and History. One of those I’ve kind of gotten over. The other, while I understand the necessity, still doesn’t float my boat.

            To me, History is just black and white, letters on a page.

            The 1967 Oak Lawn tornado outbreak was a destructive tornado outbreak and severe weather event that occurred on April 21, 1967, across the Upper Midwest, in particular the towns of Belvidere and Oak Lawn, Illinois. It was the most notable tornado outbreak of 1967 and one of the most notable to occur in the Chicago metropolitan area. Wikipedia

            I almost fell asleep reading that. A memoir, however, brings colors, emotions, and personal incite, which can bring history to life. To demonstrate, please enjoy this excerpt from our memoir:

            The second big event of 1967 was a true tragedy. I was riding my bike through a nice subdivision from my Boy Scout meeting around 5:30 p.m. April 21 when I looked up from Henry — my frequently abused, balloon-tired bike — and spotted a tornado in the distance. I felt proud that I recognized the distinctive form, which we had been warned about in school. No, this definitely was not just a triangle-shaped cloud. I looked down at my bike and said, “Look, Henry, a tornado.” As it appeared to veer off, I focused on pedaling the last mile, anticipating dinner.

             Before I could make it home, though, it started to hail. I was glad I had listened to my mom and wore a light jacket. The quarter-inch hail stung the back of my neck. It probably only lasted about fifteen or twenty seconds but was quite annoying. In addition to the stinging, the sound the ice pellets made on the street reminded me of machine gun fire in a war movie. Undaunted, I continued riding. As quickly as it had started, the banging of the hail gave way to the eeriest silence. It was too quiet, not even a trace of a breeze. Except for my bike squeaking, I could have been in an isolation booth.

That’s when it started. Slowly, as if someone were whispering in my ear, the sound of wind began to build, even though the air was still. Inexplicably, the sound grew louder and louder for the next ten to fifteen seconds. Finally, I looked around.

There it was!

            Do you see the difference! Memoirs are worth writing and reading They not only add color to events, they add depth and humanity. They are the permanent record, on a personal level, of stories easily lost in as little as one generation. Memoirs add multi-generational substance to your family tree like the beautiful leaves.

            It will, God willing, be part of our mission to encourage others, and share what we have learned during this journey.

What do you think his story might be? I was a perfectly happy tree when some evil person cut me down, and put this face on my bottom.

Writing and Publishing

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Hi, this is a post that is from 2011 which was never published. I thought, since it shows where we were and talks about the publishing process it might be worth posting.

Writing and Publishing Crystal and I are continuing to work on finding an agent for our book and developing our platform. Crystal does a great job researching agents to find ones who express interest in our type of book (memoir, historical nonfiction). She not only sees what they are looking for, but looks at books which have been published through their agency. I love her passion and attention to detail. So far, with all of that work, our query letter has been rejected three times. Each time she has been disappointed. I am not concerned. I know there is a market and a publisher for this book. These are not our failures, but part of a process. I do, however, feel some pity for those agents who aren’t even taking time to read past our query letter. I get it. There are formulas for successful books. Our book fits none of these. It is somewhat unique in style and format. This would be bothersome to most agents and publishers. Of course I am sure that, the same complaint could be registered by the twenty publishers who rejected William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the two dozen who rejected Stephen King’s Carrie, or the thirty-eight who rejected Gone with the Wind. While I’m not saying our book is on a level with those classics, I know there is a place for it. I am certain there were a lot of publishers and agents looking for new lines of work after those works went public. I don’t wish that on anybody. However, we didn’t write the book for any publishers/agents. We wrote it first, for our family, as documentation of first hand experiences and accounts from our parents, and us. Second, it is written as a story of life, growing pains, and love’s endurance, during different times and conditions. The universal appeal is inescapable. The trouble isn’t who will pick up this book, but who will put it down. As I said, this is a process, and so far I am enjoying it. I am meeting new and interesting people, discussing writing issues, and even getting involved in internet blogging. One of my friends at church even asked for my feedback on his writing effort. I barely consider myself a writer, and now people are coming to me for advice. Like I said, this is a journey. The destination is only relatively important. I feel that God has been with us in the writing and will continue to lead us in the publication. Crystal’s Corner: The search for an agent is like searching for hidden treasure. You want to find the gold, but there seems to be many obstacles in the way. I have rewritten the query letter about six times now. I always try to identify with the agent I am sending it to so that he/she will relate to us. I don’t think that we are being rejected because of the book. I think that there can be many things going on with the agencies. But it is frustrating when you believe you have found the right match and then they are not interested. I also have been reading and researching memoirs, recent ones, and ones that have been out there for years. I am finding many that I really like. I might be mentioning and describing some of them on this blog. I do look for agents and publishing companies when I read any book, fiction or non-fiction that I like. Many times the authors will be recognizing their agent, editor and publisher in the introduction or somewhere in the book. This is a good way to find names. Also, the Internet is very helpful because most agencies are listed and you can find out what they have been doing recently, which books they have gotten published, and also writers that you can research. My research also gives me encouragement and ideas. One author I read about shared that she sent out query letters to many agencies from April to August. She got several replies – all negative and nothing from other agencies. While she was on vacation she received a positive reply from an agent. Instead of jumping up and down and just going with that agent, she made a very smart move. She re-contacted all the agencies that she had sent the query letter to and informed them that an agent was interested. Surprise, surprise, some of them responded that they were interested also. She chose her agent because he was the most enthusiastic about her book and she liked him and the agency he represented. It was a good match for her project which is now published. The gold is out there. We are going to keep searching for it.

The Great Boot Fight of 2020!

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            As you know, if you have followed this site, Crystal and I are very pro-marriage. However, it occurred to me that, sometimes we come off a little too ‘it’s all good’, and not enough ‘what the heck is happening now?’ (real world).

            Through the years, we have stated numerous times that, we have a good marriage. But it is by no means perfect. Case and point, just a couple of weeks ago, we had a real Donnybrook (old people talk…look it up). Our daughter, Lisa is helping us declutter our home. She suggested I could get rid of some shoes from an overcrowded shoe rack in the hall. It sounded like a great idea, so I proceeded. I immediately recognized about four pairs of my old shoes. I knew I was never going to wear them again; so, I pitched them (too rotten for Good Will). On the end of the rack, I noticed a pair of dirty, cheap looking, pink and white snow boots. They appeared quite small. I was certain they were some of Lisa’s old ones. I pitched them too. BIG MISTAKE!!!

            Apparently, they were Crystal’s only winter boots. We didn’t get much snow last winter. I’m not sure she even wore them. But that wasn’t how Crystal saw it. The discussion quickly escalated. How could I not know they were her only boots? Don’t I even know her? Etc., etc. etc. I told her not to worry, it was going to be a surprise, but I had ordered her a very nice new pair for Christmas. That is when the fun really started. How could I order boots without her even trying them on; and in the picture, they looked like Army boots (her words, not mine). Although, to be fair, I was thinking practical not cute.

            Well, you get the idea. Additional talking wasn’t helping. While she probably had a good point about buying someone else’s shoes over the internet, it seemed like a thoughtful gift at the time. I certainly wasn’t ready to admit it at that particular time. I went for a drive instead. I’m not sure what she did. However, when I got home things had quieted a little. I checked the computer, and to my surprise, I was already getting supportive E-mails from other family members. I’m fairly certain she did as well. Sometimes I think our family is a little toooo close.

            When Crystal and I talked, and I apologized again, and offered to take her boot shopping, we were good again. Apparently, she had a lot on her mind, and the boots had been a tipping point. Details aren’t important; but in the year of Covid 19, missed plans, holiday stress, etc., little things can turn into big things. Besides I, like a lot of guys, tend to plow ahead without trying to understand the way my wife thinks. Hint: not always like I think. I get it now.

            So, we did buy brand new, Crystal approved, boots. Amazon happily took back the ones I had ordered; which Crystal agreed didn’t ‘totally’ look like Army boots. The ones she chose cost about one third as much…so win win. It also led to my New Year’s resolution. I resolve to look at Crystal’s feet more in 2021.

            The point, and reason for airing our dirty laundry, is that no marriage is perfect or without friction. How can the joining of two imperfect beings possibly be perfect? I have never been the most observant guy. The first time I talked to her at a party, I couldn’t tell you what she was wearing, except a short skirt, with a great pair of legs sticking out. She knows exactly what I wore. Crystal, on rare occasions, keeps things inside until they all come out at once. What counts is being able to work through and resolve differences. You must be able to not only accept your partner’s strengths, but their weaknesses. You help where you can, but also have to know when to back off.

            Marriage is a journey, which two people agree to take together. If you have ever walked through the woods, you know that there are occasional bumps, roots, and vines which might cause you to stumble. However, it is important to get up, dust yourself off, and complete your journey. It is as God intended.

This is why Crystal needed boots. A beautiful shot by Mohawk Damn (4 miles away) Dec. 2020

Just a reminder, our book is available on Amazon starting January 12th

What’s Next

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Have you ever had a really good dream, and when you wake up realize it was no dream? That’s kind of how Crystal and I feel. Seeing our book on Amazon, and available for pre-sales blows my mind! Do kids still say that?

            I know for a fact our parents were proud of our efforts, and would be even more so, if they could see the final product. Their stories, the ones they told us as we grew, are now and forever, recorded.

            Many of our best and worst days, as individuals, and families, can now be used to educate, amuse, and generally enrich the lives of others. I have always told our daughters, what you don’t learn here from your parents and family, the world will teach. Often it won’t love you nearly as much.

            Our hope is this book will not only preserve memories, but provide some incites into what families and marriages were intended to be. The final section of our book is somewhat dedicated to lessons we have learned about marriage and family, as God intended them to be.

            If you take a minute to check out our book on Amazon, you will also find links to Crystal and my, recently added, author’s pages.

            We would also like to get to know our readers. Please take a few minutes to connect with us on E-mail. If you look to the right on our blog main page, you will find a spot to put your name and E-mail address. Posts will be sent directly to your E-mail, and you may, from time to time, get some additional information/articles/etc. It is perfectly safe and free. We look forward to getting to know you a little better.

            If you are in need of reading material to help get you through this tough year, we have a reminder. If you check our blog page archives you will find over 160 of our previous posts, many with photographs.  There are many poignant and fun stories to enjoy as time and desire permit.

            Additionally, we will be increasing the number of new posts leading up to our publication date, adding a few excepts from the book, and bringing our blog front page up to date.

Thank you very much for your continued patronage and best wishes.

Ron and Crystal

This is the back cover of the book. Impressive, isn’t it? I love the subtitle “War Ends, Love Endures”

Thankful, for What?

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            Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. What’s not to love? There’s bountiful food, family, and football. My wife would add… and there’s a parade. This year, all I can say is…. Bah, Humbug! I made the reservations for Michelle, Alex, and my two wonderful granddaughters, Ayla and Ripley. Liz, Brad and their four progeny, Keylan, Jazmyn, Bradyn, and Elijah were coming. It would be another of our world-famous German Thanksgivings.

            Now it’s on to plan B, or should I say plan C for Corona. Oh, I will still make my sauerbraten, dumplings, red cabbage, etc. But today I cancelled the reservations and Liz’s family will drop by for brief food exchange. But at least we will see them. Our youngest daughter Lisa moved back home last week-end and is now living with us. We do like having her home.

            Maybe there are a few things for which to be thankful. OK, cue Tiny Tim. God bless us every one! I was worried that the change in plans would not be well received. While disappointment could not be hidden, we have a close  and fairly intelligent family,. There is still football, a bounty of food, and we are all healthy. I’ve also heard, there might still be some form of parade. We will undoubtable skype with Michelle and family. We will be warm and cozy in our nice 120-year-old home. And most of all, we all accept that mere time and distance will never diminish our love.        

            If nothing else, this holiday always makes me reflect on the ghost of Thanksgiving past. Growing up, this was a mom day. I remember Mimi waking up at the crack of dawn to begin the cooking ritual. Everything was made that day and from scratch. There were no canned cranberries from mom. She was always an exceptional cook, but this was her gold medal event. Except, possibly for the one time she put oysters in the stuffing, I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t perfect. She made enough food for the army; and there were just three of us. There was generally a short prayer before the gorging began. It was all wonderful. Sadly, as I reflect, dad and I generally spent too little time in appreciation before rushing back to the football game (especially if the Bears were playing).

            Mom seldom complained. She just washed dishes and bagged leftovers. I almost think I enjoyed those more than the first meal. And they lasted for days. I think mom was most thankful for her nice soft bed when it was over.

            I guess that is one more thing I can be thankful for. I had really good parents, and a very comfortable childhood. Today, after preparing a number of holiday meals for my family, I have a little more appreciation for what my parents gave me for all of those years. I was really lucky.

            I guess I still am. I am healthy, have a great family, am generally happy, have many freedoms (not present in other countries), and have more than most people in this world.

            I know this year is a little different, but all of that is temporary. Maybe this is a great time to be thankful, and to be thanking God, that we still have so much. Maybe this is His way of reminding us that we are not really in control, but depend on Him.

            Well, do your best to enjoy not only Thanksgiving, but every day with which you are blessed.

German Thanksgiving the way it used to be. Picture form 2017.
Category: Holidays

Finally!

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The book is real. It occurred to me the other day that, Crystal and I have been actively working on this project for almost twenty years now. Before that, as a matter of fact, we talked about the possibility of a book since before we were married (over forty years).

            Today, after finishing the editing, and seeing the cover, it seems very much like a dream come true. But more then that, we realize that we are entering a new phase. Up until now, everything has been geared to developing the best product possible. We interviewed all of our parents while they were with us. By the way, they were very glad we were doing this. We did all of the research. Without the research into details, this might just be a bunch of family stories, and not the substantial historical record we believe it to be.

We wrote, and rewrote every section numerous times. Then we hired the best editor (Susan Bryant), and rewrote some more. Finally, we found who we believe to be, the perfect publishing company (Light Messages Publishing). They believe in our book as much as we do. They have also agreed be with us for years to come.

Finally, as we look forward a final review and a publication date (currently some time in January 2021), it is time to focus on marketing.

First, we wish to thank all of you who faithfully follow us on this site. We hope you have enjoyed, and been enriched in sharing our lives, thoughts, and beliefs. We know how difficult it can be these days to find good, clean, family-oriented reading material.

That is all for now, except for a preview of our cover. So you can appreciate it as much as we do here are a few details. The wedding pictures, of course are from our three weddings. The medals were earned by my dad in WW2. The letters were sent during the war between Crystal’s parents from the Philippines and Kenosha Wisconsin. Those letters are how they fell in love. On the lower right is dad’s soccer team in Germany, and that’s me as a one year old, on the motor cycle with my grandparents in Germany.

Go With God

Typing

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            This is the first installment of news about our soon to be published book. We have overcome numerous obstacles in its creation.  I first felt the push from God, over twenty years ago. At the time I had numerous excuses. Just curious…have you ever had excuses when you felt like God asked you to do something?

            One of my first and best excuses was, ‘but I don’t type.’ Let’s go back a few years. We all had to take typing in seventh grade. I was terrible. My ten fingers just didn’t know what they were doing. To make matters worse, I was using my mom’s old typewriter. It was from her youth in Germany. I believe the bulky black instrument was made from a recycled WW1 Tank. While lugging it back and forth to school was great exercise, pushing its keys down wasn’t much better. It gave me new respect for my mom. At first, I had to use a second finger to help my little finger. It was too hard for just one. Mom could fly on it, with her years of practice.

            Another problem was that, being a German typewriter, some of the letters were in different positions than the American versions. So, when the book told me to repeat the sequence of letters, I had to change them. Unfortunately, my slight case of dyslexia didn’t help. By the time I finished my class I was totally frustrated, and swore I would never type again.

            My plan seemed to be working in High School, as there was no in class typing, and my mom could type any required reports. Somehow, I even managed to make it through college. I didn’t even have to pay to get typists. There was always some nice girl (my friends or friends of friends) who felt sorry for me. Eventually, Crystal (also known as Flying Fingers) took over. Years later, she went on to type hundreds of pages for my MBA classes and RN classes.

            My first job out of college, they bought me a rather expensive micro tape recorder (around $270 – a lot of money back then). I could record my reports and hand them to a secretary for typing. Yes, they had secretaries back then. Years later, I finally had to do some, very slow typing, on my own. Ahh the computer age.

            However, I did very little outside of what was absolutely required. More or less, my plan was working. Then came God. Now I know how Noah must have felt. What’s a cubit (inside joke)? I guess I could have hand written the rough draft, but that seemed like extra work. And of course, after my very rough first draft, Crystal helped a lot. Then she rewrote her sections.

            As I look back, typing was only one of many obstacles. We will save those for the future. At least I now know what our next book will be: Four Finger Typing or maybe Typing Therapy (What’s the Rush, You’ll Get There).

This is a stock photo of a typewriter like my first. Feel sorry for me yet?