Monthly Archives: December 2012


Jimmy decided to sit down and write a letter to Santa Clause. He started writing...

Dear Santa,
I have been very good this year.

After thinking about it, Jimmy thought; Santa knows whether I've been good. He'll know if I am not telling the truth. He crumpled up the letter and started over.


           Dear Santa,
           I tried really hard to be good this year. I didn't fight
           with my brother...

Again, he knew Santa would know better so he crumpled up this letter and started another.

          Dear Santa,
          This year I was pretty good, I improved over last year. 
          I didn't fight too much with my brother. I kept my
          room clean...

He crumpled up this letter, too. A pile of crumpled letters were scattered across the floor. Glancing over at the nativity scene on the mantle, Jimmy had an idea. He grabbed the figurine of Mary and wrapped her in tissue. He placed her in a box, taped it shut, and hid it under his bed. He started writing a new letter.
This time he decided to write to a higher authority.  He wrote...

             Dear God,
             If you ever want to see your mother again...

(Thank you to Pastor Hahn of the Norway Lutheran Church, St Olaf, IA for sharing this with our congregation)

Eating Our Weight in GMO's

This holiday season as you're snacking on cookies, cake, and candy do you know what else you're eating? According to a new Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of government data, Americans are eating their weight in genetically modified food every year.  EWG calculates that people eat an average of 193 pounds of genetically modified food over a 12 month period. That's more than the typical U.S. Adult weight of 179 pounds. The analysis is the first estimate of dietary intake of GMOs in the American population.  Source: Acres USA December, 2012

When I was a girl my dad made us a spectacular yard display of Disney characters that hung from a huge tinsel Christmas tree. It became the centerpiece of our yard every year. It was a mobile with handsomely painted cutouts that turned in the breeze.  Floodlights displayed every detail that my mom and dad painted into each piece. Once it was lit after Thanksgiving my sister and I knew knew Christmas was close. Putting up this display became our family tradition every year.

Christmas display

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!  Charles Dickens

Are you busy?  During the hectic schedule of the season have you forgotten a much loved tradition?  You never know when inspiration will strike you again. Keith was delivering beef this fall to customers in Cedar Rapids who asked if he'd like to see their train layout. It was spectacular. The details spoke volumes about the character and labor of love that went into this setup.  When the boys were younger Keith surprised them one Christmas morning with a train layout. It surrounded the Christmas tree and on the tracks were cars that reflected each of the boy's personalities. They were thrilled. The train circled the track and went through a mountain range. At the top of the mountain was the platform that held the tree. It was a small tree with monumental presence.  Ceramic houses, a bakery, toy store, and church lit up the layout. In the center of the town was the churchyard with a manger surrounded by Magi and angels. Street lights lined the path to the train station complete with Santa and his sleigh on the rooftop. For years Christmas mornings greeted us with a new train to welcome the day. Keith kept the new train a secret until morning. One year it was a Puffer Belly blowing smoke, another year it was a troop train from WWll. As the years passed the layout has become tired, in need of repair. It's been in the basement collecting dust and was almost forgotten until a spark of Christmas past ignited and reminded us of the joy in Christmas mornings. This Christmas it will be lovingly restored. I can't wait to see which train will greet us.

Merry Christmas!


Meat without Drugs

Consumers Union’s Meat Without Drugs ( campaigned
at a conference in front of Trader Joe’s Union Square store in New York City calling on the national specialty grocer to stop selling meat and poultry raised on antibiotics. The campaign, which included more than a dozen consumer, environmental, and animal welfare organizations, delivered a petition to Trader Joe’s signed by nearly 560,000 consumers.

My solution; if those 560,000 signers would find a local producer, who raises animals without antibiotics or hormones, they could boost their local economy. Voting for healthy products with their buying power  would send a  clear message. So, put your money where your mouth is. If you're opposed to factory farms, antibiotics in animal feed, and the horrific living conditions of confinement animals, than make a conscious effort to support the alternative. After residents voiced their opposition to a hog confinement facility moving into the area the  Linn County Board of Supervisors voted against it.

As for Trader Joe's,  the retailer has declined meeting with Consumers Union.  Representative Harry Waxman intends to introduce legislation in Congress that will help the Food and Drug Administration better understand how the overuse of antibiotics in food animals makes the drugs less effective for people. According to the FDA, an estimated 8o percent of all antibiotics sold in the United states are used in food animals, mostly to make them grow faster and to prevent disease in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Consumers Union is the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.