Guest Blogger: Cowboys and Flyboys

By Dr. Micah Murphy

(Flyboys in training at Navy Air Station Corpus Christi, 1943-44, Grandpa Springer is in the front row on the far right.)

My grandfather, Donald Springer, lived through the depression and that experience taught him to work hard and be very frugal. I don’t think the frugal part caught on with us, his grandchildren, but he did pass on the importance of hard work and above all doing your duty. That duty could be to country, to company you work for, or your family. Doing your duty wasn’t really seen as a burden it was just life. Life and duty were the same. Duty was more like purpose and one thing he couldn’t stand was anyone who shirked their duty. Duty wasn’t just one way though. You owed others and they owed you. You owed your employer and your employer owed you. You owed your country and your country owed you. He once quit a job as an engineer with a wife at home, on the spot, when he learned of unfair pay practices. He’s probably single handedly responsible for one automaker not selling 100’s of vehicles because they wronged him and he told everyone for 30 years. Generations may not purchase from that automaker now.

Like lots of men in his generation, he was excited to do his part, his duty, in WWII. He joined the Navy and became a pilot hoping to go straight to war to fight the enemy. He did not see combat and it’s something, I know, he always regretted. Some Navy pilots needed to stay here in the U.S. though. His assignments involved going to airfields, usually on the east coast, and flying damaged or otherwise decommissioned planes to a junk yard called the boneyard. The yard was somewhere north of western Texas, I think. The job gave him plenty of experience flying all types of planes and working on them as a mechanic and he later used this experience when he taught flight lessons, worked on aircraft, and lived at and managed the Hastings Airport where he met my Grandmother, Maxine, while giving her lessons.

He had several stories of crashing in fields and walking miles to find a phone or a ride and sometimes a meal with a family somewhere. One of my favorite stories did not involve a crash and it seems more like a comedy show than real life.

I don’t remember the plane he was flying but I know it was a larger single prop plane. He landed near Dallas for fuel for the last leg of his trip. He hit the head, got some lunch, and went to start up the plane. He had power but the prop would not crank. He tinkered a bit but decided the engine might be seized up. By flying these planes to the boneyard he was saving a lot of manpower. If it couldn’t be flown it would be sitting on this pavement for awhile taking up space and eventually it would need to be partly disassembled and trucked to the junk yard, so he would put some considerable effort into getting to the boneyard by air.

While he was standing staring at the plane trying to figure out what to do a jeep drove up with a Captain driving. (I think Grandpa was a 1st Lieutenant at this time). The Captain asked him, “What’s the problem, let’s get this plane out of here?” Grandpa explained that he couldn’t get it to turn over. The Captain told him to get in the cockpit and turn the key on, he’d get it started. Grandpa, a little confused and about to argue watched as the Captain pulled a rope out of the back of the jeep. He formed a lasso and rodeo style lassoed the top of the prop. Grandpa climbed up in the plane while the Captain tied the other end of the rope to his Jeep. I should mention this jeep did not have a top; it was just an open Jeep. The Captain got in the Jeep turned and gave a thumbs up which Grandpa returned. I don’t know how long the rope was but the Captain gunned the Jeep and took off. When he hit the end of the rope the Jeep seemed to completely stop and the Captain went flying out the front onto the pavement. The prop, though, turned and the plane started up immediately. Grandpa saw the Captain get up, brush himself off, pull in the rope, get back in the Jeep and drive away. Mission accomplished.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Micah Murphy is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management Marketing at Eastern Michigan University.

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It’s Fast, Easy, and What’s for Dinner!

In the midst of all the snow days, I hoped for more time to write. Alas, “Life got in the way!” However, after listening to friends and family discuss home food delivery services and the time constraints to prepare weekly dinners, I decided to share this older post from 2013. Hopefully, this quick and easy recipe will become a tradition and time saver in your weeknight repertoire:

While I enjoy cooking, the weeknight rush is a challenge for me. Here is a quick meal that is among my kids’ favorites. Special thanks to “The Godfather” for sharing!

Baked Chicken in Cranberry Sauce

1-2 lbs. chicken (legs, breasts, thighs, boneless or bone-in, pretty much whatever is in the freezer)
1 bottle Catalina salad dressing (8 oz)
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix together cranberry sauce, dressing and onion soup mix
Cover 9×13 pan with some of the mix
Lay chicken pieces in pan and cover with remaining mixture
Bake at 350 degrees for 60 min (less if boneless, cooking times based on thawed chicken)

I usually serve this with a salad and either baked sweet potatoes or rice.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

How to Cope with Depression

Why are so many throwing it all away? I hope my story helps those out there who have walked the same road. I have suffered from depression from 1998: The combination of a traumatic delivery, my parent’s divorce, the national scandal, and my eccentricities created a perfect storm that needed to be dealt with. Over the years, I developed a collection of tools to help me cope. If you suffer from depression, I hope you find a few useful tips:

1. Get some exercise: It doesn’t have to be daily, and it doesn’t have to be sweaty or excessive. Go for a 20 minute walk, choose 3-6 sets and lift light weights for 10-15 minutes, whatever helps you move around a bit. Trust me, it makes a huge difference!

2. Find someone to talk with: Whether you rely on friends or a professional counselor, find someone to share those many moments of self-doubt and grief.

3. Eat healthy meals: Do you include a fruit or vegetable with every meal? If not, start now! Are you limiting foods that make you feel low? Are you including foods that bring you up?

4. Limit alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant and will just expand those feelings of hopelessness and grief. I know the first drink or two has the opposite effect, but trust me, limiting alcohol is a positive!

5. Embrace your passions: Do you have an activity that brings joy? Then do it! I love my music! Singing at our local Commission on Aging and performing with my local Irish girls’ band helps me forget the darker times and focus on more positive things.

6. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones: Spend the majority of your time with those who want what’s best for you. Of course, we should make time for our family. However, occasionally we have to spend time with family or family friends who are not kind; you do NOT have to devote excessive time to those who enjoy your discomfort. You have the right to head home early or pass on a get together.

7. Read The Untethered Soul: Do you have a frequent negative monologue? Read this book and learn how to cope with your “Watcher at the Gate.”

8. Have you thought about ending it all? First, take a deep breath. You have options and you are not alone. I strongly encourage you to reach out to someone and just talk, talk about what ever is on your mind, the last day’s adventures, your favorite meal. If you are not ready for that step, have you tried the steps listed above? You owe it to yourself to try. You are worth it!

Be kind to each other!

Saying Goodbye…

Here we are on the last day of April, and this month’s post remains incomplete. I planned to share pictures of our baby goat. However, I either recorded the dates incorrectly in my calendar, or that goat ain’t pregnant! I can always count on humorous chaos from the goats. It was appreciated this weekend.

Once or twice per year, I like to include an earlier, memorable post. After the loss of someone special over the weekend, I knew which post to share! Reflecting over the past few days, I encourage you to take time to connect with loved ones. Have time for a visit? Stop by! Too far to travel? Send a note or call! I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to spend a long weekend with Donna last summer, and while difficult this past weekend, I’m grateful that her son held the phone to her ear, so I could say a few last words. Has someone special been on your mind? Today is the perfect day to get in touch!

RIP, Donna

Seeing America: The Long Weekend Road Trip

Originally published, July 6, 2017

By Maggie Murphy

The summer remains a busy time around here with gardening, the farmers’ market, summer classes at the college, and the upcoming county fair. However, Chad and I recently found time to enjoy a long weekend in Tennessee. The primary reason for the trip was to visit an old friend, Donna. Growing up, the demands of my parents’ work kept them from home for months each year. Donna worked for my parents for over 25 years. She was there to greet me most mornings, often provided rides to Fowler’s farm where I boarded Goldy, was there for many overnights when Mom and Dad were fundraising for the college, and was always a phone call away for any of us kids.

Donna commanded respect. She was one of the few people who would tell Dad if she disapproved of his actions regarding the kids, and he would even seek her advice during our difficult teen years. Donna also never hesitated to put us kids or our friends in our place. When she used my first and middle name, I was in trouble!

We had time for several visits with her and dined at her son’s restaurant in Knoxville. We even arrived in time to watch the prep work for the smoker. Chad particularly enjoyed trading poultry smoking tips with Donna’s son, Randy. On a later visit, there was time for an impromptu concert for Donna and the other residents at the senior living center (Strumsticks are perfect for road trips!).

We stayed in a lovely one bedroom cabin, just a stone’s throw from Marble Springs, the home of Tennessee’s first Governor, John Sevier. We found time to hike the grounds and view the log cabins on the property. Our cabin also had a covered front porch with rocking chairs, perfect for sipping morning coffee, reading, and even playing music.

On our last day, we headed south to the Great Smoky Mountains and hiked Middle Prong trail and drove Rich Mountain seasonal road near Cade’s Cove. The long weekend went so quickly! I look forward to returning someday for more hiking, fishing, swimming, good eats, and perhaps even some white water rafting.

(The Sinks-A swimming hole near Townsend)

Thanks for reading!

(Traveling to Knoxville? Check out Mario’s Pizza and Grill-10943 Kingston Pike)

Move over Fondue: Introducing the Raclette Grill

We finally had the opportunity to try out a new foodie toy: The Raclette Grill. Historically, the Raclette referred to a block of hard cheese shepherds packed for long treks with their flocks. At the nightly camp fire, they would heat one side of the block and scrape softened cheese on their bread.

While this is one tasty aspect of the modern Raclette, many more food choices are available. This is similar to fondue, but rather than using pots of heated oil, people gather round a grill. Adding a light coating of oil and a dash of salt on the grill surface, diners enjoy a healthier option, avoiding the vast quantities of oil required for fondue. The Raclette also offers a broiler section with individual pans, so diners can utilize two cooking areas at the same time.

The broiler section is best for melting cheese, poured over potatoes or baguette slices. We also broiled pear slices with some dark chocolate and later topped with whipped cream.

Other items we enjoyed included steak, shrimp, oysters, mushrooms, zucchini, and summer squash. Items can be grilled individually or on skewers. There were even enough choices to keep our resident vegan busy!

Finally, Raclette Grills are affordable, ranging in price from $50-250 (Based on size and extra features, such as a marble cooking top). I highly recommend gathering around the table with friends or family and trying this wonderful tradition!

Thanks for reading!

A Message for All Americans

uncle-sam

I keep seeing stories about the protests and even cases of civil unrest after the election. While I don’t condone the violence or support students’ skipping class, I understand the sadness, confusion, and frustration. In fact, I remember voting in my first Presidential election, only to see my candidate lose. I remember sitting among fellow shocked classmates the next day. Our Economics professor entered, took one look at us, and focusing on economics, devoted the entire lecture to any questions we asked. While I lack the skill to create such an impromptu lecture, I decided to prepare a few words for my students:

The day after a Presidential election brings many emotions. Many of you just voted in your first Presidential election. If so, congratulations!!! I remember the joy of voting in my first election, the shock of watching my candidate lose, and in future years, the glee in watching my nominee win. Moving forward, my nudge to you is to think outside the box, look beyond the candidates, the political parties. Instead, which issues motivate you?

Take the time to learn about what motivates you! This is the same wisdom I share with the research class. If you truly want to understand a topic, you must examine and learn about both sides. If you study politics, that means you must devote time to look at what both the right and the left have to say. Look for flaws, strong points, bias, and identify the leaders of each issue. Examine both sides and determine what you truly believe. You might even want to take time to journal about these issues during class or start gathering data for future college essays (Hint Hint!).

As an educator, I’m reminded that while I might not agree with some students’ political views, I admire their passion and dedication for examining the issues. Their dedication only strengthens our nation! So during this holiday season, if the young members of your life want to discuss the issues, please listen, share what’s important to you, and attempt an amicable exchange.

Thanks for reading! Peace, friends.

A Girl and her Horse

High school and college football near completion, and the last of the garden harvest at Cairn Hill Farms continues (We ended up with more butternut squash than expected. Despite giving away much of it, we still have enough to dominate dinners for the next six months!!).

In addition, harvesting brussel sprouts over the past few days reminds me of my experience making pies from scratch, not worth the time! Since the garden is Chad’s “baby,” I hope he rethinks next year’s planting line-up.

MK also continues work with her Haflinger, Larken. This stout and sassy 13 year old mare was not ridden for the previous 18 months before joining our farm, so MK and her trainer, Jenn, developed a training regimen.

image

While horses were an important part of my life, watching MKs journey into training, observing, and interacting with equine behavior has been a learning experience. The past year provided many positive adventures. Witnessing her passionate pursuit even inspired a bit of micro poetry:

Four legs,
Long face,
Beginning smile,
Saving grace.

As fall enters its final act, take the time to enjoy the vibrant colors, crisp days, and tastes of the harvest. Thanks for reading!

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(My elderly pony, Goldy)