Newsletter 19 Fall/Winter 2009
Around the Farm
Well, the biggest news on the farm is our youngest daughter, Kelly, being selected to join the Peace Corps. It was a long, arduous process. Forms, interviews, more forms and more interviews. She went through a rigorous health evaluation and after all that, she had to just sit and wait…patiently. The process takes from 6 – 12 months. Last year approximately 19,000 people applied and roughly 2,800 accepted, an acceptance rate of only 19%. And our Kelly was selected. We are so proud. Her placement is in Tonga, the South Pacific. She will be teaching grade 4 – 6. Not a bad gig, eh? Yes, we are planning to visit her before her 27-month tour is up. She does have a blog. Click on http://vanfrankenhuyzenk.shutterfly.com/ . It will ask for an email (username). Type in: email@example.com and then type in the password which is: password1. You can see pictures, journals and blogs etc. Granddaughter, Noorah Cole will be one-year old this November. She also has her own blog www.noorahcole.blogspot.com if you want to check out how absolutely adorable she is. Kelly and I visited her in Maine in September just in time to celebrate Heather’s birthday. Heather has taken to motherhood so naturally. She is taking web design classes so that she can design her boutiques web site. Between her store, classes and Noorah, she keeps very busy. We are very proud of both of our daughters. Now to the farm. I don’t know about your neck of the woods but this was the summer that never was. Cool, wet weather most of the time. Bad for the garden but perfect conditions for a bazillion mosquitoes. My daily walks in the back 40 were an exercise in speed walking and slapping. If I were at all ambitious, this would have been the year to take up jogging in order to outrun the nasty bloodsuckers. That is the only "Pollyannish" way to look at the !#x*! mosquitoes. The weather also contributed to three rows of dead tomato plants. Yup..we got the blight. When I returned from Bangor late September (just an 8-day trip), all my plants were either dead or dying. I burned (not composted) all the debris and will not plant tomatoes in that infected area for 3 years, as suggested. Very disappointing. The weather was good for the prairie…Nick’s pride and joy. It has tripled in size and he continues to harvest seed to spread to new and expanded areas. He weeds and seeds all by hand. It is truly a labor of love. Hazel Ridge Farm continues to be an informal learning center for kids and adults. Tours for birders, botanists, teachers, photographers, students and painters are just a few of the groups that have walked and enjoyed the property. Everyone shares their love and knowledge of Mother Nature. We spotted a Pileated Woodpecker on 3 different occasions, secretly watched mink at the back pond and continually flushed turkey and pheasant. Nick also kept an ongoing journal of an unusual female red-winged blackbird. She had the bright orange wing patches of a male. He observed her build a nest, lay and incubate 3 eggs and raise the hatchlings. The richness and diversity of nature is amazing. It looks like we are going to finally wrap up the paperwork that creates a conservation easement for the farm. We will rest easy knowing that no further building or development will ever take place on this 40-acres. If you need information regarding a conservation easement for your land, talk to us. We will share with you our positive experience with the organization. Nick is having fun with a night camera in our orchard. A visual journal, so to speak. He mounts the camera to an apple tree and the motion detector captures the nighttime raiders. Lots of does, rabbits and several very majestic 8-pointers. I have been studying several new healing methods. I am nearing the end of a yearlong Shaman Apprenticeship taught by an amazing Master Shaman, Colleen Deatsman. I will include her web site chocked full of enlightening information. Specifically, the link is to her explanation of Shamanism. She and her training have enriched my life and has taught me much about the power of intent, focus and energy. http://www.colleendeatsman.com/articles.html . I have also completed Level 1 Esoteric Healing.
Just more tools in my toolbox to connect and heal the mind, body and spirit.
This June Nick and Kelly spent 4 days in Washington D.C. researching for a book he just completed. S is for Smithsonian. It was a tough one but he is very happy with the final product and it should be out spring 2010. As a bonus, he and Kelly had some wonderful dad and daughter time before she left in October for her Peace Corps gig in Tonga. This spring Itsy Bitsy and Teeny, the 4th in our Hazel Ridge series was released and has already received honors from April/May 2010 Storytelling Magazine/Storytelling. A couple of past titles have won honors. Mackinac Bridge: The Story of the Five Mile Poem: 2007/08 Great Lakes Book Award Finalist, and W is for Woof the 2009 Elementary California Collection and also the 2009 Kansas State Reading Circle catalog selection.
People always comment on our "busy" lives but when you’re having fun it doesn’t seem so busy. It’s just one adventure after another..and always with like-minded folks. Our philosophy is "make your hobby your career" and our work and playtime reflect that. This spring and fall we presented at the Grand Traverse Resort for librarians and media specialist. Teachers and librarians are ground zero in reaching the curious minds of our kids and we are honored to be a part of their conferences. They are always fun gigs. With the ongoing popularity of the books, demand for author and illustrator visits to schools have not lessened. We stay booked and busy sharing our passion for reading, writing, drawing and following your dreams! Nick visited schools for an entire week in the Iron Mountain area. His visit was all made possible by one generous benefactor who valued the importance of reading and art. Our summer "up north" book signing tour was a success and a great way to reconnect with many of the independent bookstores that support our books. We slogged though a very wet Charlevoix Art festival this year. But despite the cool wet weather, the crowd showed up and shopped. Nick spoke at the Harris Nature Center in Okemos as part of the Centers way to connect and share with the community. The rain (again) didn’t dampen folks’ attendance or their enthusiasm and support for the Center. Nick and 4 other artist will show their works at the Lansing Art Gallery from November 3 – December 23. It is titled "Michigan Wildlife Art Masters". The opening reception is November 6th from 7p.m. to 9 p.m. More information at www.lansingartgallery.org. Nick is especially looking forward to his one-man show at the Mackinac Island Library. The show will hang from July 2 – July 30, with an opening reception on July 6th. He will also do a "book talk" at the library on July 30th. The show will include all the originals and sketches from our book "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny" as well and many new pieces from around the farm. We are really excited and honored to be showing on the island. What a great summer treat! And finally our Holiday Open House:
December 9 - 13, 2009
Wednesday - Friday 4:00 p.m. – 7 p.m. (limited goodies)
Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. (big hoopla)
Nick has found an author that really speaks his language. David Grayson (a.k.a. Ray Stannard Baker) is a distant relative of one of Nick’s favorite students, Rosie Baker. She introduced him to Grayson’s work and Nick can’t get enough of him. To get a taste of his style, try The Countryman’s Year. He writes of the pleasures of the simple life in journal style. It is a thoughtful, warm journey to simpler times. We found many of his titles on www.abebooks.com. I would like to end with a quote from the Countryman’s Year: "Everything is in anything: be still, then, sit where you are: beauty and wisdom are here. Serenity is not intellectual: it is centered emotion."
May there be joy, laughter and dancing in your life,
Nick and Robbyn from Hazel Ridge Farm