Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer roars for motocross racer Jerry Lorenz (#881), living childhood dream on national circuit

By Susan G Parcheta, July 1, 2011 at

I am confident. I am bold. I am determined… and I will win.”

Motocross racer Jerry Lorenz of Morrice, MI leads off his website home page with words as bold as his dreams.  I’m not surprised.  I first met Jerry (now 23) when he was 11 years old, during an interview for the Fowlerville News and  Interviewing kids was always fun, but with Jerry (son of Jerry and Sandy Lorenz and brother of Dylan), you knew – even then – that he meant what he said.

One day, he’d told me, he’d be on the national motocross circuit. His dream was to be a professional racer; and now, he lives that dream. He lives the dream, not only because of his fierce determination, but also because of the support of his motocross-loving family. 
2009 Redbud Nationals photo of Jerry Lorenz #881 courtesy of Scott Kapfhamer of
For Jerry and Sandy L renz and sons, it’s been life in the fast lane of the world of motocross.

Besides having parents who stand fully behind his dreams, young Jerry benefits, as a racer, from his father’s mechanical expertise. Lorenz, Sr. (who is head mechanic and manager at Fowlerville Sunoco) keeps #881’s Kawasaki 450 in tip-top racing shape.

Strawberry Solstice Forever

(Posted by Susan G. Parcheta at LivingstonTalk June 24, 2011)

John Lennon may have had a soft spot in his heart for the phrase strawberry fields forever, but my strawberry image suggests a different twist. Here’s what I wrote about it for a blog at this beautiful season of celebrating summer and the strawberry fields of Michigan in June 2008.

Strawberry fields call to you in Michigan in June...

‘Strawberry Solstice Forever’

I’m not sure where I came up with my catch phrasestrawberry solstice forever; I think I was corresponding with a friend once, regarding June strawberry fever in Michigan, and I signed off with that. My equivalent, I guess, of a toast to strawberries. Somehow that sounds better than Cheers to strawberries!
It’s a fever forever for our family because of living in the vicinity of a favorite strawberry farm, DeGroot’s Strawberries (owned by Marsha and Roy DeGroot) near Fowlerville, MI.  It’s a fever because we get that “strawberry fever” every June about the time of our anniversary and our daughter’s birthday. It’s forever, because after three decades or so….well, it’s become an entrenched family tradition to go pick berries.

Marsha DeGroot weighs up strawberry memories
Not only has DeGroot’s been our favorite strawberry picking place, there’s also the subject of favorite ways to fix strawberry shortcake once we have them home.
Which do you prefer? Biscuits? Or pound cake? Talking to our daughter the night of our anniversary…thinking of restaurant strawberry desserts…we mulled the subject over again. That’s a tradition, too. Debating about which way we like strawberries the best.
She called to wish us Happy Anniversary. They were on their way to a 60s rock concert (near their Maryland home) thinking we’d know the band. We didn’t. The strawberry issue surfaced, as usual.

Strawberry Harvest: Berries a-plenty for biscuits or pound cake...
We’re for biscuits; our son-in-law’s favorite is pound cake. She laughed because she had to admit that she asks before she orders strawberry shortcake when eating out. “Do you serve them over biscuits or pound cake?”
Well, as I’m writing this, the summer solstice is upon us. June…you wish the long days of sunlight would go on forever. You wish strawberry season would go on forever…not just for a couple of weeks out of the year.
Of course, that makes the season special…the beginning of summer.  And traditions continue…for that June birthday person that requests strawberry shortcake to mark the special day.

Bringing home the harvest of a day in strawberry fields...with my father-in-law at DeGroots
When our kids were growing up, the storybook character ofStrawberry Shortcake was popular. Now it seems to have resurfaced for another generation. And I’m glad. Not because I have grandchildren. I don’t. But because I love the creativity of Strawberry Shortcake. I love the essence of fun her character embodies. I’ve been thinking of becoming a Strawberry Shortcakecollector, now that she’s on the market again. Just to remind myself to not take myself too seriously.
Bright, plump, red, juicy, sweet…sensational…heavenly…strawberries…aahhh.
I wish you pleasant dreams of strawberries – biscuits, or pound cake – and, here’s to Strawberry Solstice Forever.
* * *
Three years later, June strawberry season brings back all the memories again. This time, it begins as I arrive home from a long road trip, on the evening of our anniversary. My husband had received the u-pick reminder card in the mail that week. He was gone when I pulled into the driveway. I’d forgotten it was berry time, and was curious as to where he’d gone.  Seems he’d hurriedly rushed over to the strawberry patch after work to pick some of the beautiful gems.
Strawberry solstice, strawberry fields, strawberry anniversary. Oh, how lucky to have June to celebrate the sweetness of strawberries and raise a glass to the years together.

Forever June: Cheers to Strawberry Solstice Forever
Cheers to Michigan; cheers to strawberries; cheers to a beautiful summer ahead. But, better yet, strawberry solstice forever; or…may the joys of summer always live in your heart.

Walking a Mile in Your Shoes: Genesis House hosts 10th Annual Walkathon for Mental Health

Posted by Susan G. Parcheta at LivingstonTalk June 10, 2011)

Can we really walk a mile in someone else’s shoes?  Often, it’s challenging enough to find time to walk a mile in our own shoes.
At Genesis House in Fowlerville, MI — under the auspices of Livingston County Community Mental Health Services   — club members walk daily as part of the overall focus on wellness.  Then, once a year in May (National Mental Health Month) they invite the public to walk with them, in combination with their annual fundraiser for the clubhouse.
This year Genesis House (founded in Fowlerville in February 1999) passed a milestone — their 10th Annual Walkathon to raise awareness in the community regarding mental illness. Walking is a mainstay in recovery programs which emphasize the management of the symptoms of mental illness, as well as promoting a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

David Prain and Mike Leahy of Genesis House enjoy the springtime beauty of downtown Fowlerville on a daily fitness walk. Club members walk daily all year long, as part of the program emphasis on living a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Said clubhouse director Lee Kellogg, “I like the idea of mental health awareness and walking.  There is a big annual event at the capital in Lansing (in which Genesis House participates) called ‘Walk a Mile in my Shoes.’ We have consumers of mental health services from all over the state read a statement regarding mental health which ends with the phrase ‘walk a mile in my shoes.’”
While visiting the clubhouse on May 19 with my sister, Mary Reed, and my friend Clayton Klein, I was struck once again by the hospitality and welcoming atmosphere at the clubhouse.

Michelle Kozak greets visitors with Genesis House tour
Michelle Kozak treated us to a quick tour of the premises. She explained the history behind Genesis House and talked about current activities.  Kozak says she likes to call it the “Five Star” tour because of the clubhouse high standing in certification and recognition.
My sister remarked about being impressed with the club house staff and clients. “I really enjoyed meeting them all,” she said, adding, “I learned a lot of very interesting facts.”
Klein is Fowlerville’s “Walking Man,” known for his former annual walks down the State of Michigan from Paradise in the Upper Peninsula to Hell in Livingston County and on to the Ohio border. Averaging 20 miles a day, he’d walk the 420-mile trek throughout three weeks in September. Still walking daily,  the 94-year-old “Walking Man”  walks for exercise and health; and he enjoys sharing stories of his walking adventures over the years.  He is a regular guest each May to help kick off the Genesis House Walkathon.

Guest walkers May 19 at Genesis House from left: Susan Parcheta, Jody Buckholz, Mary Reed, Clayton Klein, Darlene Kimmel
The clubhouse also provides support to members for transitioning into employment opportunities. That day Jody Bucholz and Darlene Kimmel from Michigan Works in Howell joined in the Walkathon. Bucholz is on the Genesis House advisory board. “She is on our Employment Committee,” said Kellogg, “and is really helpful in our efforts to get members jobs.”
Kimmell and Bucholz  said they enjoyed the walk experience with the clubhouse members. Kimmel liked the idea of including the walking program as part of the Genesis House day. “We do that here,” she said [at Michigan Works], adding that it helps creates a lifestyle habit of walking. “It’s a wonderful habit.”
Kellogg said now that the totals are in for the 10th Walkathon, the club members have set a new personal best in the distance at 285 collective miles during the lunch break.
“The annual event has dual purposes,” said Kellogg. “The most important is to impact the health of all Genesis House colleagues.  By participating in the daily efforts of the Walkathon, many colleagues develop a daily walking routine that goes beyond the month of May.
The Clubhouse tracks the ‘frequent fliers’ (colleagues that walked more than five times during the month); and they set a personal best in this area too, with 24 colleagues logging multiple one mile walks during May.”
“The second part of the event is fund raising,” Kellogg added.  And, yes, you may donate anytime during the year to help the clubhouse. “The books are still open,” he said, “and we are optimistic that we will reach the stated goal of $1500 by the time the books are closed at the end of June.”
“These funds,” said Kellogg, “are used to assist colleagues in improving the quality of the program by attending Clubhouse training and conferences and also to help members attend social activities.” Kellogg said that donations may be given to the clubhouse at any time.
He deemed the 2011 Walkathon a success for personal best for distance (despite the wet weather).  “I think one of the big differences this year is the amount of repeat walkers (we had fewer total walkers than last year but will end up going further.)  Next year we will set a goal of number of members who walked 5 times or more per month, because the best outcome we could have is for walking to become a daily habit for even more of our members.”
“We’ve averaged about 13 walkers each day,” Kellogg noted. He also issued an invitation to anyone in the community to walk with them. “Yes,” said Kellogg, “we encourage guest walkers year round –anytime!”
I, too, like the emphasis on walking and mental health that Genesis House espouses. I like the Mirriam-Webster meaning of Genesis: “The origin, or coming into being of something.” When it comes to our health, we can have a “genesis” any time. We can always start over. We can begin again.
While the annual May Walkathon provides a community  focus on the clubhouse to raise awareness for mental health, every day for club members revolves around walking and a personal wellness focus.  Walking, with its many  benefits,  puts this activity at the top of any healthful living list. It’s a tool we always have with us.
One way to begin again, for a positive lifestyle choice, is to walk – putting one step in front of the other. As the Genesis House club members discover, pure movement helps us to begin again.
Links about walking and about Genesis House
Genesis Journal May/June 2009 Lee Kellogg explains the clubhouse emphasis on walking and overall health Find out the back story of Genesis House and current events.
Genesis House Journal The May –June issue 2011 includes a form on the last page for donations to the 2011 Walkathon.
Walking: It’s a Good Thing at Genesis House September 2010   Livingston Talk blog by Susan Parcheta

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Maybe it’ll be a ‘Star-Spangled Summer’ again…

(Posted by Susan G Parcheta 
on May 28, 2011 at
Waiting for the Memorial flag to wave

I’m hoping for another ‘Star-Spangled Summer ‘– like the summer of 2002.
That was an amazing summer – it was, after all, the summer after September 11, 2001. Here we are a decade later; and I don’t even have to explain what I mean. Unless you were born on another planet, you know or will know that part of our history.

I thought, given the anniversary coming around again, that I’d share – for the third time – my column ‘Star-Spangled Summer.’

No, I still haven’t gotten back to France; I’d like to go see the flag at the Smithsonian again; I wish I’d been working on my genealogy; this Memorial Day flowers were planted at the countryside  family cemetery; and, in town — a red geranium is marking the hometown plot  of  my mom’s Civil War Veteran uncle.  In that older, overgrown- with- grass part of the cemetery, the marker seemed a little lonelier this year. Now re-reading my column, I realize it’s because the little flag isn’t yet waving beside it, as it was then.

The second article reprint was in Steve Horton’s Fowlerville News & Views in 2009. Hence the note that preceded it here:

Note: the following column was first printed in the July/August 2002 issue of Horton’s Mid-Michigan Reader, published by Steve Horton. Seven years later we cherish even more, our flag and the land over which it waves. May your summer 2009 be star-spangled and beautiful. — Susan Parcheta

Star-Spangled Summer
By Susan Parcheta
The U.S.A. is star spangled this summer…with flags appearing everywhere since 9/11. As a people, we’re reconnecting with our national symbol in diverse ways. Symbols are important as a frame of reference. But what does a flag – a piece of cloth – mean?

The French tricolore, for example – besides being the national flag – implies liberté,  égalité fraternité – hallmarks of the French Revolution.

The Stars and Stripes is by dictionary definition: “the national flag of the United States of America, consisting of 13 horizontal stripes, which are alternately red and white, representing the original States, and of a blue field, containing 50 white stars, representing the present States.”

I haven’t been to France in 30 years, and I’m curious. Could the French possibly be using their red, white and blue symbol as much as we are?

The red, white, and blue is everywhere… from grocery bags to tissue boxes, from fashion jewelry, watches and pins to articles of clothing – bathing suits, tee shirts. Even on my computer screen, a downloaded- flag wallpaper is a reminder to me to be thankful for what I have.

There are flags on kids’ clothing, on beach umbrellas, towels and picnic ware, on planters and doormats. Even wind chimes come flag-shaped. Flags are everywhere…on dinnerware, tablecloths and 34-cent stamps. I saw it displayed the other day on a TV talk show.

After 9/11, seeing the flag was comforting, as if we’re all in agreement that this symbol infuses a sense of unity within us. We cherish our flag along with the past, present and future it represents for our nation.

At times, though, Americans are accused of being ultra-patriotic, constantly flag-waving. There have been times in recent years, when it seemed un-cool to display the flag so ubiquitously.

Flag-waving doesn’t have to mean ultra-nationalism, but rather a statement of our respect for what it stands for. Right now we need to know that it’s still flying, if not physically, then symbolically in our hearts. We need assurance that the principles our forefathers fought for are alive and well.

Keeping the symbol of the flag close to our hearts is the important thing.
The Star Spangled Banner – the real star-spangled banner – is housed at the Smithsonian American Museum of History in Washington, D.C. Perhaps you’ve seen it. I had no idea it was so gargantuan. Upon viewing it this spring [visiting our daughter and son-in-law  I could barely imagine it flying over Fort McHenry when Francis Scott Key wrote the words to our national anthem.

I wish we’d had time to go to Fort McHenry, a part of the National Park Service now. We never made it during our Baltimore harbor visit in 1985 when my husband was studying in Maryland. We did tour the U.S.S. Constellation, which defended Fort McHenry in 1812.  As it says on the cobalt blue glass bottle I bought then, it was the first ship of the U.S. Navy launched in Baltimore in 1797.
I should feel a special attachment to our flag simply because one of my ancestors was a Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Of course I have yet to do the required legwork to prove it with documentation. Had I done so, I could have helped my kids qualify for a college scholarship from the Descendants. I started to find out once, but busy lives got in the way. When will I ever do this? My office mate – who is very involved in genealogy — grits her teeth in frustration. She figures I’ll never get this done in her lifetime.

However, seeing the broad expanse of the Star Spangled Banner and the loving work being done on it, made me want to look back at the history of the flag and perhaps how it blended into my family and my (ancestor) Signer – William Williams. Perhaps if I toss this bottle to the waves, someone will send it back with a clue.
* * *
On Memorial Day weekend we traveled with my mom to the mid-Michigan cemeteries where descendants of those ancestors are buried. We’ve done so, time and again.

This year, the tiny Veteran’s flags waving next to the tombstones seemed to hold vastly more meaning, such as the one flying next to my mom’s uncle, whose flag was for the Civil War.

The cemetery flags wave down through the ages – symbols of that star-spangled night in 1812 and all that has followed.

One early May day we were browsing at WalMart and noticed the patriotic beach towels. A salesperson came up to us and remarked on how pretty they were, too. But then she said the same thing I’d often felt in years past.  “We never thought it would be so fashionable to wear the flag, on clothing, etc.”

Apparently, there’s been a sea change since 9/11.

After this I felt comfortable in getting out the cloth flag heart pin a friend had given me during the height of Desert Storm. Now, it seems more than just folk art to wear on the 4th of July.

I didn’t buy the beach towel, but I decided to buy a water jug with flags and hearts on it.

Keeping the symbol of the flag close to our hearts is the important thing.
This is definitely a red, white and blue summer!

Susan Parcheta is a journalist and writer who lives in Gregory.