Recently, Michigan author Lou Hooker celebrated the nationwide release of his new book, “Puppies and Pet Crows,” a collection of farm stories filled with adventure, humor and history that will delight both children and adults. The book introduces readers to 11-year-old Louie, his parents, and seven brothers and sisters, who raise some peculiar pets, work together to complete their chores, go sledding during snowy Michigan winters, and even turn their farm into a golf course using nothing but tin cans, tennis balls and tree branches. Louie also learns some hard lessons. But even through harsh winters and farm accidents, he and his family find out how special it is to live on a farm that provides everything they need. The book offers a fascinating glimpse at farm life in Michigan during the 1940s. In a time long before video games, TV and shopping malls, one family discovers that all the entertainment they need is each other. Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the book is available through bookstores nationwide, from the publisher at www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore, or by visiting barnesandnoble.com or amazon.com. This is also an eLIVE title, meaning each book contains a code redeemable for a free audio book version from TatePublishing.com. Hooker lives with his wife, Verla, near Fremont, Mich. They have three children and eight grandchildren. During the 31 years Hooker spent as a schoolteacher in Michigan, he jotted down ideas for stories about his childhood home, an 80-acre farm near Fremont. These ideas eventually became the stories in “Puppies and Pet Crows.” For more information, visit louhooker.tateauthor.com.
July 14 2011
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL We live in a time nowadays described as “The Age of Entitlement.” Not so for a group of selfless Rockford area high school and college age students. This is Rockford United Methodist Church’s (RUMC) 22nd year of bringing a team of youth to serve one week in the Appalachia Mountains region in a home repair ministry under the auspices of the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). This amazing group, and those who have gone before, freely give one week of their summer vacation in offering up their time and enthusiasm to help in ASP’s effort to eradicate substandard and, oftentimes, third world housing in Central Appalachia. The 2011 RUMC team had the good fortune to be housed in a year-round regional ASP Center in Chavies, Ky., in Perry County, where they were fed and lodged for the week. Accommodations were dorm-like with bunk beds topped with sleeping bags brought from home. We mention they were fortunate because other ASP teams, not assigned to a regional center, oftentimes found themselves sleeping on floors, or if lucky, on cots. While on site, the RUMC team joined forces with another team of youth representing a Presbyterian church from Pennsylvania. The RUMC team was divided into six crews, each led by two adults, one nurturing and the other with home-building knowledge and each assigned a home very much in need of repair. Client families, either because of their age or abilities, or simply a lack of funds, are unable to do so for themselves. Many many of these families live below the federal poverty level. Over the course of the week, six the crews fanned out across the county and removed and replaced rotten floors and walls; built a wheelchair ramp and replaced parts of the roof; removed and replaced band joists, and the floors and walls of a condemned mobile home; tore down and replaced an entire room with flooring, insulation and drywall, then painted the walls and sided the house; replaced a roof with tin, sided the house, and painted the porch; dug a drainage ditch, landscaped, and built a deck on the back of a house in front of a door that previously had led to a drop-off; among many other things. […]
Scary! So what’s wrong with getting rid of the tax favors for the very rich? Those cuts were put through by President Bush’s sympathetic Congress. President Obama doesn’t have a sympathetic Congress to answer his call to end them. In 2010, we elected a Congress that now talks about shutting down the government rather than end the tax cuts for the rich. Scary. Congress okayed the tax cuts at the same time we were jumping into two expensive wars waged on borrowed money. (Personally, I thought that was pretty scary at the time.) Keeping those tax cuts (subsidies for corporate jets and the oil industry, for example) doesn’t make sense to me. But, then, I don’t have a corporate jet and I’m not raking in Exxon’s record-setting oil profits. Bet that goes for you, too. The Republicans say they want more tax cuts. From what I hear, they lean toward financing those cuts at the expense of Social Security and Medicare. Scary. I’d like to know more details on what other expenses they want to chop in order to finance tax cuts and to pay off our national debt. They seem to favor cutting wages, pensions, and contracts, all measures that would hurt the average guy. If they fire the air traffic controllers, I’m keeping my feet on the ground from now on. It’s scary enough down here just to observe Congress. Solving the Greek crisis The Greeks, too, have been spending beyond their means. The Greek government is talking of selling off its state-owned railroad system and electrical system. I think it would be smarter to lease out the Parthenon. They could call it the Acropolis Mall. It would have lots of shops and fast-food places and provide a tidy income for the government. The building is about 2,500 years old. They should think like capitalists and put it to use. Makes sense, #1 A friend’s husband works as a service technician for a large exterminating company. One of the rules of the company is to confirm each appointment by phoning the household the night before his service call. “Hi, this is Gary from A to Z Pest Control Company. Your wife phoned us,” he said one evening when a man answered. There was a long silence, and […]
New look at home mortgages I went to a seminar recently that forced me to think outside of my financial box, so to speak. I’m from West Michigan, so my financial box is pretty conservative. Dave Ramsey isn’t my idol—that spot is and always will be reserved for the Detroit Tiger’s great player, Al Kaline—but I do appreciate and agree with most of what he says. Dave isn’t from West Michigan, but he could be. When I say his financial box is very conservative, I might actually be understating his stance. What shook up my box concerned the speaker’s treatment of home mortgages. Dave says to get rid of the darned things as soon as possible. It’s prudent to make the term of the loan 15 years as opposed to 30; 10 would be better. Make use of strategies such as bi-weekly payments. At the very least, pay extra on the principal each month. If you can squeeze in an extra payment once a year, do it. If you can pay cash for a house, do it quickly. For goodness sakes, the higher down payment you can make on the house, the better. Don’t pay any more interest to a financial institution than you have to. The speaker at this seminar had a slightly different take on the subject of mortgages. In fact, he said there is no book of “Dave” in the bible, so don’t take everything Dave says as gospel. That got a few nervous laughs from the crowd, especially by those of us from West Michigan. Starting out, he said a 30-year term is not a bad thing for a mortgage. It may have a slightly higher interest rate than a 15-year term, but it has a substantially lower monthly payment. My thought was, regardless of the payment amount, how can a higher interest rate be okay? The speaker pointed out that the lower payment was the key. We tend to dwell on the wrong part of the equation. The lower payment allows the taxpayer to set aside the difference to use how that person wants to use the money. Over time, that difference could add up to a substantial amount and could be used to buy a car or pay for […]