Tuesday, April 29, 2008


When I was only a twinkle in my dad's eye, the Lavy family went to Northern Michigan in May, 1958. They were in search of the elusive morel, also known as a sponge mushroom. They are a delicacy in many people's opinion. When they found bags full of morels, this became a yearly trip and when I got big enough to know what was happening, I became a mushroom hunter.

In the 1970's, Dutch Elm disease devastated the American Elm population. For some reason, an elm that was dead for a few years produced morels. In those years, we would hunt in the woods mainly by looking for the next dead elm. At times we would find dozens of mushrooms around one tree. In some years we would come home with more than 3,000 in just a couple of day's hunting time. As the elm trees began to fall, mushrooms seemed to decrease in number. Since very few elms remain, we have had to adjust our hunting areas.

When we hunt now, we are looking for ash trees. Certain ash trees that are healthy are now morel producers. There a lot of variables that go into finding them, however. The ground cover is important along with soil and moisture. Temperatures are also quite important. A lot of things need to line up to make for a good mushrooming year.

A few years ago, Brent and I decided to go to Michigan and see if we could hit the jackpot. We didn't, but we found enough to have some meals of mushrooms and pork chops, and we brought a few home. In another year, Danette joined us for the trip. Then, Grandpa Lavy went north with Wayne, Lauren, Paul and me. Last year, just Grandpa and I went. So, it has come full circle. Grandpa got me hooked about fifty years ago, and now I have taken him to Wolverine, Michigan to hit the woods.

Danette, Ally, Jamie and I found 54 in a woods near our house last week. Finding them here gets you excited about finding the really big ones in Michigan. Here they were 2-3 inches in height. Up north, they can grow to 5 or 6 inches and bigger.

We have some tentative plans to go north in a few weeks. Time will tell if we will be able to take Grandpa to the north woods one more time.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

From The Hymnal

I am confident I am as guilty as anyone else, but recently I thought of how easy it is to listen to hymns without really paying attention to the words. I think I was watching David Phelps singing the following hymn when I was reminded of that fact. Would you read or sing these words with me and remind yourself to really comprehend the message?

There is a fountain filled with blood

Drawn from Immanuel's veins

And sinners plunged beneath that flood

Lose all their guilty stains

The dying thief rejoiced to see

That fountain in his day

And there may I though vile as he

Wash all my sins away

Dear dying Lamb,Thy precious blood

Shall never lose its power

'Til all the ransomed Church of God

Be saved to sin no more

E'er since by faith, I saw the stream

Thy flowing wounds supply

Redeeming love has been my theme

And shall be 'til I die

Then in a nobler, sweeter song

I'll sing Thy power to save

When this poor, lisping, stamm'ring tongue

Lies silent in the grave

There are a hundred other songs with just as powerful a message as that. If you are like me, you have heard them repeatedly at church. Once in a while, the message just jumps out at you in a wonderful way. If you would like, leave a comment and a favorite song title that you may recall from years ago...or from yesterday.

Friday, April 11, 2008


On April 8, 2008, our Australian Shepherd mix, Remax was put to sleep. He had been in failing health for a few years. Ally had convinced us that he wouldn't make it through the winter two or three years ago. That is partly how she got her Jack Russell, Dudley.
He was the cutest little ball of fur when we got him about sixteen years ago. We lived in Pleasant Hill at that time. He was never the friendliest of dogs, but nevertheless he was a part of the family. I don't think he ever bit anyone...maybe he nipped Dave Hilligoss once. But, that was understandable. Remember Dave and and animals don't get along too well. (see previous post about the crazy cat) I'm kidding about Dave not getting along with animals. Oh, I don't think he liked Uncle Cyrl real well either. 'Specially after that nasty little operation that Uncle Cyrl performed on him! It was nice to have a dog around the place that would make unwanted people think twice about bothering the house if we were not home.
After having some strokes, Remax just wasn't the same. In the last few days, he got to where he could hardly get up to walk. The night before he had to be taken away, he got off of the porch and walked out into the yard and lay down. I don't think he moved all night. In the morning, I thought I would just need to dig a hole and bury him. But, there he was, still struggling to get up and live!
I took his yellow blanket and covered him. He stood up, and I picked him up. What once was a sixty-five pound dog was now maybe thirty. I carried him to the truck and took him to Dr. Hartzell. After signing a consent form, I carried him to the door, handed him to a nurse dressed in purple and walked away. I know he was just an animal, but it was still hard to see to drive.
Maybe God gives us animals to help teach life lessons. All of us are travelling the same road when it comes to living and then dying. None of us are getting younger, that is for sure. Oh, well, I actually wasn't planning on this being too sappy of a story. Dudley and Jessie are just happy there is more food for them now. But, there is an empty place on the porch where Remax seemed to live for the past couple of years.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Honey, Water and Fire

Want to hear about my three brushes with disaster? No? Too bad, you're already reading and now you are hooked. Only one was truly too close for comfort, but all three were interesting.
Grandpa and I were across the creek at his house cleaning up brush. Merrill had built a small building there, and there was a pile of lumber. Remember the song that was sung by The Edwards Trio many years ago? It went something like this, "When the Canaanites hardened their hearts against God And grieved him because of their sin God sent along hornets to bring them to task And to help His own people to win The hornets persuaded them that it was best To go quickly and not to go slow They did not compel them to go against their will They just made them willing to go If a nest of live hornets were brought to this room And the creatures allowed to go free You would not need urging to make yourself scarce You'd want to get out don't you see? They would not lay hold and by force of their might Throw you out of the window, oh no They would not compel you to go against your will They would just make you willing to go!" Just understand this...Grandpa and I were the Canaanites that day. And, you know what? It is best to go quickly and not to go slow! We jumped into the same creek that Grandma and I nearly drowned in (see previous blog about fishing). Grandpa twisted an ankle getting into the creek, and he was also stung twenty or thirty times. However, we both survived.
Not too long after that episode, the creek rose to flood stage. Normally, Painter Creek is a peaceful stream, maybe three feet deep in its deepest parts, six inches in other areas. When it floods, it can be eight to ten feet deep. Grandpa and I were on the bridge that Gene Shields helped him put across the creek. The water was rushing mere inches from the bottom of the bridge. A large piece of wood that Grandpa thought could be used for firewood was floating toward the bridge. I grabbed an oar from our famous boat and attempted to stop the piece of wood. The force of the floating wood came too close to flipping me off the bridge into the water. Between bees and firewood, Grandpa and I had quite the experiences around the creek.
Everyone knows that you should NEVER throw gasoline on a fire, right? I know that, too. And, I wouldn't do it. But, the week before Kim Lavy Marshall's wedding, I was burning brush here at my home. I know you are thinking, "What a dummy he was!" But, just listen and tell me where you know that I went wrong. I had a fire going. It went out and was no longer burning at all. Approximately, five to ten feet away, I stacked a bunch of brush. I got the gas can from the garage ( I hear you, there is where I went wrong!) and poured a large quantity of gas on the pile of brush. After soaking it, I turned around, walked away a few feet to set the can down. Behind me, the brush pile exploded into flame! The only explanation is that the fumes from the gas I had poured travelled along the ground to where the previous fire was. Enough heat remained to ignite the fumes, and the Lord was watching out for me is all I can say about that. If it had exploded while I was pouring, you wouldn't be reading my blog!
Thanks for reading. See you next time.