Boondock Ramblings

I remember the first time my son and I read a Maureen Wright book. It was “Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep,” the sweet story about a bear who is being reminded by Old Man Winter that he needs to sleep for the winter, but doesn’t seem to be able to hear him, so instead Big Bear ends up on a middle of the night adventure.

Each night we read it, we couldn’t only read it just once. My son would ask for it to be read again and again and it was one of the few books I didn’t mind repeating. The story is creative and catchy and the artwork by Will Hillenbrand is mesmerizing. Flash forward to now and there are now three Big Bear books and a collection of other books by Maureen that I now read to my 4-year-old daughter. Her current favorite is also Maureen’s best seller, “Sneezy the Snowman.”

What’s special about Maureen’s stories, beyond the fact they are a delight to read and the artwork is so stellar, is that they are written by someone who lives in the town my children and I now live in. Even though I’ve seen her often, either reading her book at the library, or selling her copies personally at local events, I still feel like I’m meeting a celebrity each time I see her, maybe because her stories have been such a part of the bonding time with my children.

I’m so thankful to Maureen for taking a few moments to answer some questions for this weeks Tell Me More About . . . feature and that I’m able to introduce her special books to my readers.

45095165_166161841001041_1170191499384586240_nCould you tell us a little bit about yourself, such as where you grew up, family, etc. ?

I grew up in Athens, PA. I met my husband, Don, at Main Elementary in Athens in fourth grade. We have three grown sons, two daughters-in-law, and three little grandsons We live in Athens Township in the old farmhouse his great-grandparents built in the 1880’s.

When did you realize you enjoyed writing?
I was in third grade when I knew I wanted to be a writer I was doing a writing homework assignment. I even remember where I was sitting in the house that I grew up in when this feeling came over me — an awareness that I loved to write.

 What made you decide to write books for children?

I loved reading books to my children when they were young It was my favorite thing to do with them.

What inspired you to write the Big Bear series?

I am a lot like Big Bear. We both usually think we are right and most of the time we are both wrong!

Which of your books seems to be the most popular among children?

“Sneezy the Snowman” is my best seller. I recently received a framed copy of the book from my publisher because it has sold over 100,000 copies. It was totally unexpected. At the time, I was waiting for my niece to mail me a picture frame. When I opened the package, I wondered, “Why did Anna put “Sneezy the Snowman” in the frame?” Then I read the plaque on the frame.

 What authors have inspired you over the years?

I have been inspired by any well-written rhyming book.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?

If I have a story I’m working on, I am excited to get out of bed in the morning to work on it. I read aloud my stories dozens and dozens of times to get the rhythm right. Whenever my cat Juanita hears me, she runs to my side and sits on the arm of the sofa. She is always the first one to hear my stories.

Do you have future projects coming up? Books or otherwise?

My next book is “Super Rooster to the Rescue” due out in August of 2020. Rob McClurkan is the illustrator. It will be my tenth picture book.

 Anything else you would like people to know about you or your books?

I love reading to children and encouraging them to follow their dreams. I was rejected by publishers for twenty years before an editor, Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish, took me under her wing. I will always be grateful to her for pulling my story out of “the slush pile.” (Unsolicited manuscripts on an editor’s desk.)


Do you know someone you think would be great for my Tell Me More About . . . feature? Maybe that someone is you! You, or the person you suggest, doesn’t need to be from my area to be featured. You can send any suggestions for features to lisahoweler@gmail.com or use the contact form at the top of the page.

When Dave Page found himself interested in growing a vineyard on his property in Columbia Crossroads, Pa., he had no idea the plot of land that he’d set aside for growing grapes would become a sought-after wedding destination for brides and grooms.

When you step outside the front door of Dave and Denise Page’s home there is a four-acre field lined with 1,800 grapevines of eight different varietals of grapes. Off to one side of what Dave calls “D’Vine Vineyard” (incorporating he and Denise’s names) is a handmade wooden pergola with a swing where brides and grooms pause to have their photos taken on their wedding day. Across the road from the vineyard is a rustic barn, sprawling cornfields, and a mini orchard of apple, peach and plum trees. Behind the barn is a pond that looks like a painting and an empty field perfect for setting up tents and tables for wedding receptions or other celebrations.

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DSC_2557Dave owns a total of 120 acres, part of which he rents out to a neighboring farmer to grow corn.

Denise says it was their niece who unwittingly started the now thriving wedding venue business in 2014 by telling the Pages she thought their rustic barn and the former working farm would be the perfect location for her wedding.

Though puzzled by the interest in the barn, built in 1907 by Dave’s great-grandfather, Fred, the Pages agreed to the request and began to prepare the space for wedding guests. The barn hadn’t been a working barn since Dave sold the cows off in the 1980s and was only being used to store equipment and hay. The Pages would soon learn that vintage, rustic, old-fashioned, or whichever term you might want to use, were becoming popular themes among young, and even older, couples as they looked for wedding venues.

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Their nieces’ wedding was photographed by Danielle Barden, a well-known wedding photographer from Tioga County, Pa., who shared the photos on social media, Denise says. The photos went semi-viral and more requests for the location began to flow in. The vineyard, located about 40 miles South of the New York Finger Lakes region, has booked close to 50 weddings and events since that first wedding in 2014.

DSC_2562The Pages were pleasantly surprised by the attention but didn’t make plans to quit their day jobs to start a full-time venue or event location.

Instead, Dave still works as a classifier for the American Holstein Association and Denise is a full-time nurse. A full-time event venue and winery may come someday, but not until they both retire, says Denise. For now, the pair books weddings or other events for the weekends, in a space where the renters do most of the work, including setting up and tearing down. Their children Brandon and Denee and daughter-in-law Cheryl help the Page’s run the business.

Denise and Dave never expected their site to become such an attraction, they say. The land began as a dairy farm more than 100 years ago and is one of only a few century farms in Bradford County. Five generations of Dave’s family farmed the land.

The farm was passed to Dave in the 1970s by his grandparents, Max and Louise VanVeghten. The barn is all the original wood, having only a new roof put on a couple of times over the years and some of the floorboards have been replaced. An addition was added around the time Dave took over. Dave has now turned the bottom of the barn, and part of the addition, into an area to press and ferment the wine, as well as a small bar area to be used to serve guests refreshments. The wine press is locked off from guests during events, per state law.

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Last year Dave also turned one of the old stalls into a changing room for the bride and her bridal party, complete with full-length mirrors, outlets for hairdryers and curling irons and even an old barber chair where hair stylists can prepare the bridal party members’ hair.

Dave added the deck to the back of the barn around the time of the first wedding.

Until he retires, Dave spends any free time he has testing wines, experimenting and sharing the results with a select few. He’s happy to show friends and family the wine bladder presses, the bulk milk tanks that he’s transformed to hold the wine, and the barrels where the wine ages, he says.

But for now he’s only making what he calls practice wine.

“We have a license in holding but we don’t bottle,” according to Denise. “We make wine for our own use. In the future probably we will do festivals.”

To learn more about booking D’Vine Vineyard visit their website at https://dvinevineyardandwinery.com/ or follow them on Facebook.

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Lisa Hurst is the author of a year long devotional she updates each week at 365 Days in the Presence. 

She also kindly wrote a guest post for this blog last year about victory.

Currently living in Athens, Pa., Lisa is a Southern girl (even if she is living in the North at the moment because, as “they” say, “you can take the girl out of the South but you can’t take the South out of the girl.”). She is the mom of four children and works from home in her and her husband’s business. She is a musician, worship leader, writer, and a strong woman of God.

Thank you, Lisa for letting me feature you on this installment of Tell Me More About…

000015__DSC9221Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am from Arkansas. The South has roots deep down inside my heart. In the same breath I am content and flourishing here in PA, while longing for the comforts of “home”. There is such beauty here, don’t get me wrong, but I think most people love their home state most. We all look forward to being able to move back there one day.

My husband and I run Hurst Consulting INC (HCI). We are blessed to be able to work side by side. When we were first married we discovered that we could work well together in a business setting, so deciding to have this business was not a big stretch for us, relationally speaking. We have 4 kids, Noah, Naomi, Micah, and Hannah. We adore them. I really love watching different personalities develop.

What fills your days?

My days are full. Ha ha. After I take the kids to school, I am either volunteering at school, working with Chris, writing, or planning and singing worship. It feels like this is the busiest my life has ever been, but it’s also the most satisfying. I love leading worship. It’s my first love.

000002__DSC9067---CopyHow did you become interested in writing? You are also a talented musician. How did you become involved in music and what inspires your musical passion? How do you use your talent?

Some of my earliest memories involve making up songs and humming tunes. Music has always moved me in a deep, deep place. After graduating High School, I went on to college and earned a Bachelors in Music with emphasis on vocal performance. That is where I really began to walk into my primary calling as a worship leader. The ups and downs of life almost took me over during the college years, and worship became an escape. Now, I take great pleasure in leading others into the Presence of the Lord through worship. I lead worship in several different venues, with a variety of age groups. I guess you could say my days are full of worship.

I began to write during college. When I hit rock bottom and began to search out what it meant to walk with Jesus, I got a devotional that also had a journaling section. That was the best decision ever. Writing became a release to me. Now writing is like a conversation. I talk to God, He talks to me. I just love it!

000001__DSC9062---CopyShortly after I married Chris, God began to tell me He wanted me to be a writer. I said, “You’re gonna have to make that happen. I have no idea where to start.” So, the last 13 years have been a journey toward developing as a writer and taking one small step of obedience after another. Writing 365 Days in the Presence devotional is one of those steps. As 2017 was nearing its end, I began to ask God for a word for my life in 2018.

Every year I ask Him for a word, and every year He gives one and I spend the next year watching that word develop in my life. But this time when I asked He said, “365 days in the Presence”. And I would say, “Ok. Now, what’s Your word for 2018?”. Once again, I heard, “365 Days in the Presence”. Then I saw in a snapshot, that He wanted me to commit to writing a devotional and publishing it weekly through 2018. I agreed and immediately after I went public with the idea, He spoke my word for 2018 to me. How cool is that? He wanted me to first obey a new calling, then He released a sweet word for my year.

What inspires you beyond your writing?

I am inspired by many things, but one thing I love more than most is watching kids and teens learn to hear from God. I wish I had been taught to hear and worship at that age, so it brings me great pleasure and encouragement to lead them into His presence. Kids can hear so easily. It’s truly humbling to listen to how God speaks so gently to their hearts.

000009__DSC9141.jpgWhat is the best part of being a Mom and home-based business owner?

The best part of being a mom and home-based business owner is the flexibility. Being mom is my first calling and priority. Working from home allows me the luxury of helping at school, and dropping off and picking up my kids from school. I like to encourage and pray with them in the mornings on the way to school, and I like being the one they process their day with on the way home from school. That is important and sacred time.

In a final note, I would say that one of the most important things I’ve discovered about being a wife and mother is, I must keep growing and “becoming” even while I’m taking care of everyone else. In other words, I can’t use being a mom as an excuse to not be continually walking with and being changed by God. In fact, I’ve watched my husband’s love for me increase the closer I walk with Jesus, and my kids act more stable and secure when I’m in constant communion with Him and ministering as He leads.

If you know a person, place, book or event that should be highlighted through a Tell Me More About feature let me know in the comments or at lisahoweler@gmail.com

Tell Me More About: Sven Berger, photographer

I’m so excited to welcome Sven Berger to my Tell Me More About. . . feature. Sven is a favorite photographer of mine who I first discovered on Flickr. He captures beautiful, whimsical images of his children and life in Germany. He is from Dresden, Germany where he lives with his three children and wife. His images have a magical, mysterious quality about them and I have to explore each inch of the frame when I see them. After seeing what’s in his camera bag I admit I’m jealous of his equipment. That 70-300? Sigh. I need to find a way to get one of those! 

Thank you for letting me feature you, Sven!

Tell us a little bit about you. Your background, where your from, etc.

I am a married photographer and father of three kids. Born in 1972, I grew up in Dresden, East Germany. My love for photography started early, when I was at school. I studied to become an IT professional. But after the birth of my first child photography became a passion for me again, as I tried to capture every second of the passing time. I am passionate about documenting real life moments and I am a long time contributor for Getty Images and specialize in people photography.  
 

How did you become interested in photography?

I was interested as a child in photography … at that time it was the film camera. I was using my SLR EXA1b camera but sold it after the reunion of Germany. With the birth of my first child I knew I had to take pictures – a lot of pictures – so bought my first digital camera – my Fuji FinePix E900. But I noticed very quickly that I need a DSLR  so thaf started my love affair with Canon.

What’s in your camera bag? 

Canon – still Canon. I am using my Canon 6D, most of the time with my 70-200 2.8L lens. It’s perfect when you want to capture children.  

What are your favorite subjects to photograph? 

I love to take photos of people – from the newborn age on up. I love to capture the daily moments and sometimes I do some fine art shoots. I am not a landscape photographer. I just started food photography too, something that  I really love.

What interests do you have beyond photography?

 I love nature. I love to be out there and I love music. I was born in 1972 so I am a fan of the 80s and a big fan of Depeche Mode.

What inspires you? In photography and in life.

In photography I got my inspiration from other photographers. There are so many awesome and great artists out there. It is such a great opportunity for us these days – we are able to got so much information and there is so much inspiration out there.  In life I got a lot of inspiration from many great persons in Germany just like Vera Birkenbihl, Wolf-Dieter Storl and Christian Bischoff. I am trying to have my very own opinion.

What advice do you have for other photographers or artists?

Find your way and don’t stop walking or moving forward. Do it and you will have fun and success.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

I adore Sally Manns work, Tytia Habing, Alain Laboile, Niki Boon, Cris Stephens. Yes all great black and white artists… and I know I forgot many.

Oh and I love the older work of Elena Shumilova and the magic which is Megan Loeks able to create. 

You can find Sven’s work at

www.svenberger.de

www.facebook.com/svenbergerfotografie

www.instagram.com/svenbergerfotografie

www.flickr.com/svenbergerfotografie