Schooners shed light on ancient winter solstice celebration

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News At Schooner Farms, they do things their own way. “Nothing we do out here is considered normal. It’s even weird to some people,” Don Schooner said. “But we like being a little different. We like bringing some of these old methodologies back. It’s not that hard especially if you marry them with these new technologies. It’s easier than it’s ever been.” That’s the approach Schooner and Becky White-Schooner are taking in their new holiday celebration. Next week for four nights, the Schooners are welcoming folks to come out to Schooner Farms to celebrate the winter solstice  just as northern people have been doing for eons. The Winter Solstice Luminaria Walk will be held nightly from Thursday, Dec. 20 through Sunday, Dec. 23 at Schooner Farms in Weston of Ohio 235 at the intersection with U.S. 6. There will be two events each night, one at 5:30 and another at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 a vehicle carrying up to six people. The space limitation is the parking lot. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Click here. ( The event will be canceled only in the event of a Level 1 snow emergency. The celebration will give visitors a chance to wander around the farms’ Serpent Mound and Lavender Labyrinth along paths lit by luminaries, 1,100 of them, each illuminated by a battery-powered light. There’ll be a bonfire, and Schooner is planning on setting out some Swedish torches, logs that have been split down the middle and set on fire. People can stand around them for warmth and to converse. “That’s what community is all about.” Along with the bonfire these will provide light in the long winter night as well as warmth. An eclectic mix of seasonal music, not your usual pop tunes, Schooner said, will be played over speakers. Infinite Zen Coffee & Noshery will be on hand with their food truck serving warm drinks and food. The farm’s gift shop will also be open. “We pay a lot of attention to the seasons and changing of the seasons,” Schooner said. “We thought it would be something people would enjoy, something out of town, out in the country in a little different setting.” People have been marking the solstice, when the nights stop getting longer, and the days begin, however imperceptibly, to grow longer. “People just need to get back outside,” Schooner said….

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78th Nutcracker marks new alliance between Toledo Ballet and symphony

From TOLEDO BALLET  On Tuesday, September 18, 2018, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) and Toledo Ballet announced plans to merge the area’s oldest performing arts institutions forming the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA). This year, the two organizations will work closer than ever before in Toledo Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, its 78th annual presentation of Tchaikovsky’s beloved masterpiece, and the first as a newly combined organization. “It was Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker that originally brought together Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony,” says Zak Vassar, President & CEO of the Toledo Symphony. “This year, more than others, there’s something symbolic about joining forces with our new siblings at Toledo Ballet. We all want to present one of the best Nutcrackers in our joined history. There’s just such a sense of excitement in the air!” TAPA is a partnership rooted in history, as Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony have  collaborated artistically on The Nutcracker since the late 1940s. Toledo Ballet will present The Nutcracker with the full Toledo Symphony in the orchestra pit on December 8-9, 2018. This makes Toledo Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker the only local production to include a full orchestra of professional musicians. “This year’s Nutcracker is more exciting than ever because of the merging of Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony Orchestra,” says Lisa Mayer-Lang, Artistic Director for Toledo Ballet.” “This historic merger has both organizations, as well as the Toledo community buzzing with excitement. Our dancers are thrilled that they will be dancing again to the live music of the Symphony in a heightened sense of unity.” Toledo Ballet is proud to announce Chris Caputo (Caputo & Associates), Jay Berschback (WTVG13 Weatherman), Pat Bowe (President & CEO, The Andersons), and Zak Vassar (President & CEO, Toledo Symphony Orchestra) as Mother Gingers for this season’s 78th annual production of The Nutcracker. In Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, appearance of Mother Ginger in Act Two brings a light-hearted distraction from the more serious roles in the ballet. Best recognized by her enormous hoop skirt from which her Gingersnap children spill out at the beginning of their dance, Mother Ginger’s antics delight audiences with equal part hilarity and cute-factor from the children. The role of Mother Ginger is a long-standing coveted comic role for Toledo leaders.

Picture perfect day for annual Holiday Parade in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It doesn’t get much more perfect for parade day than Saturday. As the bands tuned up their instruments, the twirlers perfected their hair buns, and the spectators claimed their spots along the route, people kept commenting on the weather. “No wind. No ice. No rain. No snow. We got lucky,” said Brian Craft, director of the city’s public works department. The 40 degree morning was a gift wrapped up in a bow, compared to last year’s icy weather that canceled the parade. The weather and wonder of the holiday parade resulted in thick crowds on the curbs along the route. Joan Steinmiller, of Bowling Green, and her family got to the parade route nearly 90 minutes before start time, to stake out their spot on South Main Street. They came with their hot coffee and breakfast from McDonald’s. This is a family tradition. “I’m all decked out,” Steinmiller said, showing her sequined Santa sweater and her Santa slippers. Down the street a bit was Thomas Gerschutz and his family.   “We come to support the community,” Gerschutz said. His daughter, Sara Keith, bundled up her 4-year-old son, Oliver – expecting it to be colder. “I have him doubled up in pants. I’m thinking it’s not that cold,” Keith said. While the adults came for the community, many kids came for the confections. Keith’s daughter Emma, 11, was prepared for the cornucopia of candy. “She emptied her pockets for it,” Keith said. “And we have a bag for it. We’re ready.” The mild temperatures were welcomed, not only by the spectators, but also by many of the parade participants. “This is a great day – a nice, crisp fall-like day,” said Eastwood band director Brian Myers as his band waited for the parade to begin. Frigid temperatures can cause problems for marchers, he said. “If it’s really cold, the brass mouthpieces can stick,” Myers said – reminiscent of the tongue frozen to the flagpole scene in “The Christmas Story.” At a nearby float for Work Leads to Independence, Missy Toney was relieved at the relatively warm temperatures. She had encouraged those on the float to wear hats, gloves and long johns. She brought blankets and extra coats – just in case. “It’s not raining. It’s not even snowing,” Toney said with a smile. The twirlers with Twizzle Baton, from Maumee, wore gloves with…

Downtown BG announces Holly Days winners

Submitted by DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN It’s been a wonderful holiday season for Downtown Bowling Green and we are excited to announce winners of our Holly Days Drawings and Merchant Window Decorating Competition. There is still time to see the beautiful windows that our merchants dressed for the holidays in hopes to be selected the favorite.  Those that participating in our competition were:  Almar Property Mgmt, Evans Home Loans & Insurance, Farm Girls Vintage Boutique, Coyote Beads, Art-a-Site, Rock’em Sock’em Retro, Ace Hardware, Ben Franklin, Eden Fashion Boutique, Homeworks, For Keeps, Mode Elle, Painted Clovers, Waddington Jewelers and Blush-a bridal boutique.  Only one could be a winner and our shoppers voted 184 times of over 1000 votes placed for The Farm Girls Vintage Boutique.  They will have lunch delivered for 10 courtesy of Qdoba.  Many thanks to all the merchants for making the downtown so festive. One person was drawn from all the ballots cast for the windows to win $100 in Downtown Dollars.  That winner is Joseph Hein. Big dollars were available for any shopper to win in our annual Downtown Dollars Give Away.  By simply dropping an entry into a bag, you were entered.  Three lucky shoppers are going to be excited to shop, dine or enjoy one of the many services available with Downtown Dollars.  Winners are Deb Harrington $200, Jamie Alt $100 and Cindy Hollinger $50.   A visit to Santa Claus was profitable for Cooper King.  He won $50 in Downtown Dollars in the drawing for the children that visited Santa at the Four Corners Center.   Winners will be contacted by the Downtown BG office on how they can collect their prizes.    

Christmas truce was moment of peace in brutal WWI

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wars have always churned out scores of stories, some true, some not. One story that stuck from World War I is the Christmas truce of 1914 – when troops on both sides left their miserable trenches to spend one magical day celebrating the holiday with their enemies. Though many of the details have grown foggy over the decades, there is much truth to the truce saga, according to Michael McMaster, educational program coordinator for the Wood County Historical Center. McMaster recently presented a program on the Christmas truce of 1914 during one of the historical center’s “teas” at the museum which has dedicated its entire site this year and next to WWI and its impact on Wood County. “It’s not a question of if the Christmas truce occurred,” McMaster said. “It is a question of how the Christmas truce occurred.” One of the reasons the details may be so thin, is that the truce was unsanctioned by leadership on either side of the war. In fact, the commanders disapproved of the truce, believing it could soften their troops. But it occurred in spite of censure from the higher ranks. The men in the trenches took it upon themselves to cautiously reach out to their enemies for a one-day reprieve from fighting. “It was a spontaneous and unofficial truce,” McMaster said. In 2005, a Scottish soldier at age 109 recalled the truce that he witnessed as a soldier. “It was a short peace in a terrible war,” McMaster said the man remembered. WWI had started in July of 1914, and fighting on the Western Front had been particularly brutal between August and December. This was the first time that trench warfare was used so extensively. In August alone, an estimated 75,000 French soldiers had been killed. The Germans were poised to take Paris, but the French dug in. Before long, the German fatalities numbered 40,000, McMaster said. By December, there was a stalemate, with 12,000 miles of Allied trenches, and 13,000 miles of German trenches. “There was almost no movement of this line,” McMaster said. Making matters worse, the troops not only fought in the trenches, but also lived in them. “The weather was terrible. The mud was terrible. The living conditions were terrible,” McMaster said. The idea of a Christmas truce was introduced by the newly named Pope Benedict XV. Officials from…

Finnish coffee table staple has becomes our family’s holiday tradition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Before I ever met my wife, Linda, I had tasted her Finnish sweet bread. At least, I was supposed to. She’d gone to the home of mutual friend, to bake the bread known as pulla. It was Christmas time, and that friend, Barbara, then my girlfriend, gave me a loaf as a gift. Two days later, she spotted that loaf still sitting on the shelf in my truck. I was right and properly scolded. A Christmas memory. I’m sure, though, that the bread still tasted wonderful toasted. That was the Christmas of 1973. Now it’s the Christmas of 2017, and Linda is still baking pulla. Lots of it. This year 32 loaves for family and friends near and far. For that matter, Barbara, still a close friend, bakes it as well, serving to her fellow cast members in the Christmas Revels held in Hanover, New Hampshire. For all that, Linda will point out: Pulla is not a Christmas treat. In Finland it is a year-round staple. There’s always a loaf in the bread box to serve with coffee. To serve coffee without pulla, is considered “bare coffee.” Noting “bare” about pulla, a white bread rich with milk, eggs, butter, sugar, and seasoned with cardamom. Growing up on the Keweenaw Peninsula, which is the upper peninsula of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she remembers her mother making throughout the year. Not always. It was a special treat. The bread was not called “pulla,” it was “nisu,” an archaic word for wheat. The Finnish spoken on the Keweenaw is rich with archaic words spoken by those like Linda’s grandparents who came to the Copper Country at the end of the 19th century. When Linda’s Aunt Gertrude traveled to Finland in the 1970s, she confused the Finns with her fluent Finnish. “Ma’am, when did you leave Finland?” they wondered. Linda doesn’t remember when she started to help making the bread. Age 6, maybe? She loved to punch down the dough after the first rising. Maybe she would help knead, or mix in flour. When she was older she would help remove the cardamom seeds from the pods. This is the secret of a good pulla. (After spending two years in Finland, Linda adopted that name, though on the Keweenaw it’s still known as nisu.) “Don’t skimp on the cardamom.” That’s the watchword. Linda uses the same recipe as her…