Suzie’s salad dressing

Sue Moore made this salad dressing for several potlucks in the early 1970s. It was a favorite dressing, and, of course, it was served with iceberg lettuce, which was the only lettuce available in area grocery stores during this time.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup oil
½ cup white sugar
2/3 cup catsup
½ cup white vinegar
1 T lemon Juice
1 t paprika
2 T finely chopped onion
1 t pepper
1 t salt
1 t dry mustard

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine ingredients in a blender, or shake in a jar that seals well. Refrigerate. Shake well before serving.

A senior moment

By Danna Downing

The phrase “a senior moment” is often used to apologize for losing your train of thought or for not being able to find the right word or a person’s name in conversation. It has a negative connotation because it is linked to our fears of aging. So, I asked myself: “Is this a good name for a column that is intended to be helpful and uplifting?“ “YES,“ was the answer . That is because it catches people’s attention and is a very relatable phrase for most of us. It is also a phrase that invites a more positive attitude about aging.

The goal of this column is to share information that will help you navigate and enjoy your later years in life or those of your loved one. Another goal is to help us reframe our approach to the aging process. Over time, we want to share personal experiences, visit research and recommendations for healthy aging, and inspire each of us to be more intentional about what some call our second adulthood. The column is also one of my personal retirement adventures.

I did not really feel like a senior until I decided it was time to retire. The closer I got to retirement, the more concerned I became about what would I do with all my time. My work was my passion and very meaningful to me. Work and community life were a daily blend. I do not watch much television or play golf. I like to read, but that is a sedentary activity for a highly active person. Then came the pandemic!

The COVID-19 lockdown brought the gift of time and limited focus. I knew that I would have to concentrate on letting go of my work roles. I knew that being physically active was critical for me. I knew I needed to adjust my budget to live on a fixed income. I knew that I wanted to be of service to the community. I knew I was luckier than most. But I did not know quite where to start the retirement adventure.

One of the first things I did was to read an excellent book recommended to me by a very dear friend – “Women Rowing North”, written by Mary Pipher. The subtitle to the book is “Navigating Life’s Current and Flourishing as We Age”. Her work keeps the promise on the cover and was just what I needed. Pipher is a psychologist specializing in women and the effects of our culture on mental health. Like me, she is a fan of Barbara Kingsolver’s writing. She cites Kingsolver’s observations that “happy people have found a use for themselves.” This resonated with me deeply and seemed like a good starting point.

Through her work, Pipher has found that “all life stages present us with joys and miseries.“ She reminds us that it is “fate and circumstances that influence which stage is hardest for any given individual.

“But, most importantly,“ she adds, “attitude and intentionality are the governors of the process.” Her book provides important guidance about working on attitude and intentionality and was a great resource for me during my first year of retirement.

During this year I have carved out a niche for service to others that fits my situation. It builds upon my work in assisting seniors meet their needs during my career. It allows me to work with professionals who inspire me deeply. And, best of all, it allows me to help them achieve their goals for seniors like myself and others in my community.

I am fortunate to now be serving on the Kalamazoo County Older Adult Advisory Council (OASAC). Early in the pandemic, the group did not meet. However, by virtue of that affiliation, I was invited to help during the pandemic. It was a great comfort to see how Kalamazoo County’s public health department worked with our local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to be there for older adults in Kalamazoo during this critical time. The committee I am on (OASAC ), works with AAA staff and administration to advocate issues and concerns of older persons in their service area and meets monthly. In this position, my responsibility is to help build awareness of AAA services for older adults and convey the needs of South County senior residents and their caregivers to AAA.

I have also been appointed to represent our AAA at the state level. The State Advisory Council on Aging (SAC) is the research and advocacy arm to the Michigan Commission on Services to the Aging (CSA). Our research project for 2021 is on the topic of Aging in Place (AIP). This is a hot topic for most older adults because for most of us, there is no place like home.

“A Senior Moment” is intended to be a gift of information and a resource for persons who want to build the best possible life for themselves and their loved ones as they age. It can also serve as a conduit for connecting citizens and decision makers who advance older adult programming and services.

Each column will end with a lesson to share. The lesson to share for this month: The gift of time during retirement allows us to look at our skills and interests to determine if there are some we want or need to transplant into a new stage of life.

Each month we will explore a new topic and I would welcome you to share your thoughts, suggestions, and concerns with me to make this column one that you want to read – and one that will link you to key experts that care about what you have to say. My hope is that traveling together during our second childhood by using this column, will be beneficial to all involved. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Danna Downing is a member of the Kalamazoo County Older Adults Advisory Council and the Michigan State Advisory Council on Aging. Reach her at dannadowning@gmail.com.

Student wins online art competition


Vicksburg Middle School student Mason Kreitner is the winner of an Artist of the Week contest, a voting competition held on Artsonia.com, which claims to be the world’s largest collection of student art portfolios with more than 80 million pieces of student art. 

Mason said he was excited by the news. “It was pretty cool.” He said he enjoys trying different kinds of art.

“The students are the artist and are given as many choices as possible in order to create artwork that is personally meaningful to them,” said his teacher, Anna Lacey, who has taught the subject for 12 years. “Choice-based art education has become a passion of mine and I see students more free and happy when they are allowed to lead their learning. It makes me so proud to see that their hard work has paid off and earned them the recognition they deserve. Often times they don’t realize how good they are until something special comes about. It is a huge confidence booster.”

Lacey is one of thousands of art teachers from more than 100 countries who use Artsonia to showcase their student art, crowd-source lesson plans and help raise funds for their classrooms. Artsonia lets family and friends of student artists create and purchase organic keepsakes from the student art, and then gives back 20 percent of all revenue to the local art classroom, the company said in a press release.

Winners receive a $50 gift certificate; their school receives a $100 certificate. Both are from Blick Art Materials.

Local teen gets creative for a cause

Ella Johnson and her art.

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

When Ella Johnson’s babysitting money dried up last year with COVID restrictions, she knew she had to get creative to earn money to pay for the care of her pets. Her pets are numerous: three guinea pigs, two bunnies, three lizards, land snails, two dogs and a fish tank with a population of 40.

Johnson, a 16-year-old South County resident, discovered she could combine her interests and skills in the visual arts to build an online business. In the past, Johnson had used her parents’ Facebook page and auctioned some of her art. She then donated the proceeds to Generous Hands, a local non-profit created to help provide food for children during the weekend.

She was confident she could make some money to help with the food and care of her pets, and she soon began selling her art and some old clothes on Depop, an online marketplace where individuals can buy and sell unique merchandise. She also began posting her art on Pinterest.

Johnson has gained traction with about a million views on her tutorials on Pinterest which demonstrate how to make resin rings. She also has created videos demonstrating painting, found at https://www.pinterest.com/ellaspaintings. Her sales have gradually increased to over 500 transactions. And true to her heart, she has been giving back to the community: She continues donating to Generous Hands to support its backpack program, and she and her family have begun serving meals at the Kalamazoo homeless camp.

Johnson offers a few tips for people interested in marketing on these various platforms. “Look at what is selling at the time. Trends go in and out so fast, but if you are able to catch up and follow the trend, you can make some money.”

She also cautions against “under-selling” art, stressing it needs to be worth the time and effort spent. “Don’t be afraid to price your items. No one is making anyone buy it.” Johnson is entering her senior year at Portage Central High School and plans to North Central Michigan College to study business.

Student recognitions

Albion College
Kasmyn VanMaanen of Vicksburg recently graduated with a degree in biology education, a minor in psychology education and a concentration in the Fritz Shurmur Center for Teacher Development.

Concordia University, Nebraska
Nathan Johnson of Vicksburg, named to honors list for the spring 2021 semester.

Grand Valley State University
Julia Fagaly of Vicksburg, Academic Excellence for Cell and Molecular Biology
Logan Pauli of Vicksburg, Academic Excellence for General Business

Ohio University
Sandra West of Vicksburg graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Baccalaureate Nursing) from the College of Health Sciences and Professions.

Aviation collection: from plane seats to pilot’s jacket

Patrick Burnham is an avid collector of aviation-related items.

By Jef Rietsma

Collector? Patrick Burnham.

Collection? Aviation-related materials.

How did your collection begin? I’ve been interested in aviation my whole life. From the time I was old enough to drive, I’d go up to the Kalamazoo Airport and watch North Central’s [Convair] 580s come in. My collection started unintentionally, but it was at a thrift store up in Holland where I found a captain’s uniform jacket.

What is your best source for acquiring/trading/selling? I don’t really sell but my main interest is buying. I’ve acquired pilot uniform jackets mainly from just looking at thrift stores, and, of course, I’m always on the lookout for other aviation-related items. Pilot wings (pins) are very expensive and I look on eBay just to see what’s out there and what various items cost.

Your most unusual item? I have a set of airline seats from a McDonnell-Douglas DC-9. I was up in Oscoda at an air museum, where Kalitta Air (cargo) has a contract with a heavy-maintenance (Air Force) base. They have tons of planes and they’re always pulling out seats to convert into cargo planes. The seats are donated to the museum, which they turn around and sell to help support their operations. The seats were originally in the plane of a Florida-based regional airline.

What item or items are missing from your collection? I’d love to have a full Delta Airlines uniform. I work for Delta part-time in customer service, and I work at the counter and at the gate up at AZO, so I would really like to get my hands on a full pilot’s uniform.

What joy do you get from collecting aviation?
I’ll pick up anything that is aviation related. I just love the history of aviation and everything about flying.

Describe your most memorable acquisition. I’m a retired police officer and after that I went to work for the sheriff’s department. My assignment for three to four years was at the airport. I was there when they closed the old terminal in 2011 and opened the new one. I had occasion one day to be inside the old terminal before they tore it down and there were things scattered all over the counters, on the floor, just everywhere. They said I could take whatever I wanted because it was all going to get thrown away, so I picked up a lot of really unique stuff. I especially liked coming across the old arrivals and departures slides, where the name of the city is listed and used to be displayed at the gate before that all went digital.

What’s the most you ever paid for an item? I spent $85 on a captain’s hat. I’ve also driven to quite a few places around the state to get mannequins so I can display the pilot jackets and shirts. I pick up mannequins at places going out of business.

Are you on the Web? There’s a Facebook page called “Aviation Man Cave” and guys are always posting their stuff on there. I’m in contact with a lot of people and I enjoy the camaraderie. I’ve acquired a few things as a result of that Facebook page.

Footnotes: A Pickerel Lake resident, the 66-year-old Burnham went into the Air Force from high school and served for 12 years. He served 10 of the 12 years as a military police officer. He also has an impressive collection of Air Force memorabilia. Burnham’s collection now includes full uniforms with accessories from American Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Jet Blue.

Miniature Custom Manufacturing expands


By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Miniature Custom Manufacturing broke ground May 17 on a 30,000 square foot addition to its Leja Business Park site.

Co-owners Kevin Murphy and Steve Shoemaker called it a clear sign of the company’s success and their belief in investing in the future, adding that they’ve worked to build a culture based on their values of “people first, quality second and production third.” They attribute the company’s growth and success to a team whose members work tirelessly and support one another.

The addition, to be built by Kalamazoo-based Delta Design, is being financed in collaboration with the Village of Vicksburg, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Southwest Michigan First and First National Bank of Michigan.

In 2007, the two were looking for a facility that was affordable and would accommodate their machinery; Murphy says they looked for two or three months before they discovered an available space in the business park on Vicksburg’s west side. Village leaders Jim Mallery, Tim Frisbie and Ken Schippers made them feel welcome and helped connect them to resources. “We feel so lucky to be here. The village has been amazing to work with,” said Shoemaker.

Over the years, their automated injection molding company has grown. They have gradually added and accommodated new machinery. Business has gone from 49 employees in 2019 to 80 employees today, with 21 positions open and 10 to 15 more to be added by the year’s end. Murphy stressed, “We need people, and we train and compensate our employees well.” miniaturecustommfg.com.

Honoring Sue Moore’s legacy


By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

This issue marks one year without Sue Moore, and we at the South County News still feel the loss of our beloved editor and publisher. During the year, it’s been common for us to grapple with the answer to a question about our communities, businesses and organizations.

Sue would have known the answer in an instant.

We at the paper aren’t alone in missing Sue. Her family and close friends still expect to see her enter an event with her smile and trusty Canon camera. And the boards of several organizations are still learning to function without her. The Vicksburg Historical Society, the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation, the Vicksburg Rotary Club, the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market – all these groups have experienced the hole left by Sue’s death. Her public-relations experience, her advertising expertise, her contagious positivity and energy, her countless connections throughout the state are all a memory and part of the legacy she leaves behind.

She made a difference and worked to make life better in south county. Our recognition of Sue’s many projects challenges us to honor her legacy through following her example and contributing to the success of our communities.

Farmers’ Market opens Fridays at Vicksburg Pavilion

By John Kern

A joyful noise filled the air on the village’s northeast side in late May as an estimated 300-plus shoppers celebrated the start of the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market’s 12th season at the Vicksburg Community Pavilion.

Market-goers were treated to a wide array of high-quality meat, cheese and poultry options, and a variety of fresh produce, prepared baked goods, soaps and personal care items and crafts.

Looking for a return to normalcy after last year’s COVID shortened season, the market’s board continues to explore how to best build on the legacy of community building, fun, and the celebration of local food producers that has developed over the years.

“The difference between shopping at the Farmers’ Market and any other grocery outlet is night and day,” said Board President Stella Shearer. “This is a unique opportunity for shoppers to get to know the people who are producing their food. The quality is higher, fresh items last longer and taste better. It’s a unique experience and certainly one that is not available to every community the size of Vicksburg.”

She went on to point out that the current board is charged with the task of perpetuating the work begun by a small group of like-minded individuals nearly 15 years ago who had a vision of creating a place for community members to gather and enjoy the bounty of the local area.

In honor of the one-year anniversary of market co-founder Sue Moore’s passing, green and white ribbons denoting her alma mater were displayed at entrances to the Pavilion.

The Pavilion is located at 300 Richardson Street, next to the Brady Township Hall.

As the area continues on the road back to normalcy, there are some considerations that shoppers need to bear in mind as they venture out to the market.

In keeping with the latest guidelines offered by the Center for Disease Control and County Health Department, masks for vendors and patrons are now optional. Picnic tables, however, will remain outside the pavilion on the adjacent lawn.

Construction along Spruce Street will continue to impact traffic flow to the parking area, but the board and village government have worked together to ensure that shoppers can get into the lot just as they have in the past, entering on Spruce and exiting onto Richardson Street.

There are a number of returning and new elements added to the Market for the 2021 season as well.

Music will be returning later in the season as will a version of the very popular Kids’ Plate program. The Vicksburg Schools’ Big Read Machine will also make regular appearances, as will weekly food trucks.

The Vicksburg Farmers’ Market is open every Friday from 2 to 6 p.m., mid-May through September.

The Market is also a registered 501c3 non-profit organization. Anyone interested in donating to the Market can contact the board through the market’s website at vicksburgfarmersmarket.com

A hidden world of dragonflies and damselflies

An eastern amberwing dragonfly.

By Jeanne Church

I have been eagerly awaiting the return of the dragonflies and damselflies. They are surprisingly beautiful, endlessly fascinating, and yet largely unfamiliar to most of us.

To the casual observer, dragonflies and damselflies, collectively known as Odonata, probably look the same. Both have six legs, a head and an abdomen; both have two pairs of transparent wings, bulgy eyes and stick-like bodies. But there are a couple of features that will help you to easily differentiate the two: body shape and wing position.

Dragonflies have bodies that are much thicker and bulkier than damselflies and because of their heftier size, it’s more likely that you’ll notice a dragonfly long before you’ll ever see the tiny, delicate-looking damselflies.

When dragonflies are at rest, they hold their wings perpendicular to their bodies like an airplane. Damselflies, on the other hand, fold their wings up and hold them together across the top of their backs. Knowing these two features alone will make you an expert!

Before I started taking pictures of dragonflies and damselflies, I had no idea that there were so many different kinds, that they came in such a wide variety of colors, or that they have been here for over 300 million years!

Worldwide, there are well over 5,000 species of dragonflies and damselflies, with the dragons being more common than the damsels. Both are found on every continent except Antarctica.

If you take a closer look at the bodies of these beautiful insects, you’ll find a surprising assortment of colors including, red, white, blue, green, yellow, orange, black, brown and purple! When you take a closer look at their history, you’ll find that the earliest dragonflies had wingspans of over two feet!

Dragonflies and damselflies are not just amazing little insects to admire and photograph, they are also highly beneficial to have around. Nearly every minute of their day is spent devouring the insects that are most annoying to us – like mosquitoes and flies! One dragonfly alone can eat hundreds of mosquitoes a day!

If dragonflies and damselflies are eating all the smaller insects, who eats all the dragonflies and damselflies? Apparently, everything else! Before dragonflies and damselflies even emerge from their aquatic larval stage, they are being gobbled up by ducks, frogs, toads, newts, fish, and even bigger dragonfly larvae. When they finally emerge from the water and become airborne adults, dragons and damsels have even more predators. Birds are particularly fond of them, especially the more acrobatic fliers like flycatchers, swallows, kingfishers, falcons, and kites. Odonata are also a favorite snack for spiders, praying mantis, robber flies, fish, frogs, bees, bats, other dragonflies – as well as the carnivorous sundew plant.

Because I have been waiting so patiently for the dragonflies and damselflies to return, I started wondering, “Where will they be returning from?” Do they migrate? Do they hibernate? Where do they go during our long, cold Michigan winters?

Part of the answer lies in the life cycle of dragonflies. They lay their eggs in the water throughout the summer where they will hatch and grow into nymphs. Some of those nymphs will remain in the water over the winter and then emerge as adults the following summer. Some will remain in the water for years! A few dragonfly species in North America actually migrate. One of those migrants, the green darner, travels nearly a thousand miles on its two-inch wings, fluttering from Canada all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

During the month of May, I have spotted only the occasional dragonfly or damselfly but soon they will be abundant. Hopefully, I’ll find at least one that I’ve never seen before!

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