Sweet Lorraine

Ready for a dose of sweet, sweet heartache?

Of course you are.

This is the kind of story that makes it feel like Valentine’s Day in August.


Image by L. Prang & Co. via Wikimedia Commons

After 96-year-old Fred Stobaugh lost his wife of 75 years, he did something he’d only done once before:

He wrote a song.

Inspired by loneliness and love, he sat alone in his Peoria, Illinois, home and penned “Oh, Sweet Lorraine.”

Oh, Sweet Lorraine

I wish we could do

The good times

All over again

Shortly after putting his love to lyrics, Fred spotted an ad in the local paper announcing a contest for singer-songwriters sponsored by Green Shoe Studio.

He didn’t suppose he fit either bill, but he just happened to have one song up his sleeve …

Oh, sweet Lorraine

Life only goes around


But never again

“I’ll just send a letter,” Fred remembers thinking, even though contestants were asked to send newfangled YouTube videos of their musical performances.

With old fashioned resolve, he sent his song on paper. He wrote on the envelope, “‘I don’t sing, I would scare people, haha!”

Fred assumed he wouldn’t hear back from young, hip Green Shoe Studio.

But you know he did.

This is just that kind of story.

Contest director Jacob Colgan contacted Fred to tell him that he would like to professionally record “Oh, Sweet Lorraine.”

“Why would you do this for me?” Fred asked.

The answer was plain, Jacob explained, “Your song touched us.”

My memories will always

Linger on

Oh, sweet Lorraine


Listen to the song in the video above, wipe your tears, then go and pick up your own copy of Fred’s song on iTunes. so that you can listen,

again and again and

think about how sweet life can be

if we just will, sweet Lorraine.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Hi Mary Jane from the ship heading along the fjords to Bergen! My wifi capacity is limited so the video won’t play but this is such a sweet story! I will make sure to listen when I get home next week. The rugged Norwegian coast along the Arctic Ocean and below is quite beautiful but the sailing gets rough as the storms blow in and out each day. The weather here is cold, rainy, and quite windy most days . But the scenery is breathtaking and the little pristine fishing villages along the coast are the real deal. Looking forward to getting off the ship today and spending the rest of the trip on the ground in Bergen and Oslo. Besides the Farmgirl wagon , stowed in the bow of ths ship is ready to get off and continue onward!!

  2. Deborah Granay says:

    Being a widow myself, I think Fred’s tribute to his wife is perfect and I hope that people everywhere download the song and know the story behind it.

    Thanks for this most rewarding few minutes of watching this video.

    God bless Green Shoe Studio!

  3. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Oh, the tears flow. A love so sweet is always the best. I’m glad you shared this. I don’t usually watch videos, as we have limited data, but my hubby & I sat in we just now & enjoyed it so-o-o much. Then we looked at each other with the same love that we did when we were dating 39 years ago. Thanks to Fred’s tribute to his wife, we are better for hearing it!

  4. karen says:

    Wow, that is just so amazing….75 years…isn’t that incredible? Such sweet love!

  5. Sabrina Spencer says:

    My heart breaks for Fred’s loss…yet rejoices in having such a wonderful love w/ his wife for 75 years. If all couples had their perspective on life and a marriage relationship wouldn’t it be a wonderful world. Thanks Fred for sharing your great love for your wife and exposing your heartbreak….I thank God for giving me such a love in my own life….God bless you Fred, Green Shoe Studio’s and Mary Jane who also seems to have a caring, loving spirit for her husband, family and the world around her….

  6. Bobee-Kay Clark says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Fred’s video was one of the best 10 minutes spent of my week. Fred reminded me how deeply profound love is and how powerful music can be.

  7. Paula Ann Leyva says:

    So very sweet! Loved his song! Wish everyone could know his Love and share it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

feedin’ my grandgirls

Looky at the surprise left on my doorstep. My grandgirls were here last night to harvest veggies for their household and thought to pick a bowl for me along with leaving me a sweet handwritten note. How about that heirloom tomato? It’s our best year ever for heirloom tomatoes—big, fat, sweet, red, gorgeous, and drippy-juicy, yummy good.



  1. Elizabeth says:

    Heirloom tomatoes are so tasty. My tomato belief is this: if a tomato doesn’t have a few cracks or an irregular shape than it probably doesn’t have much flavor.

    What can compare to a basket full of freshly grown goodies & hand picked with lots of love? Only a handwritten note from your adoring granddaughters:-) How special & sweet.

  2. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Oh, how special! And it all looks yummy.

  3. karlyne says:

    Your grandkids are almost as adorable as mine. High praise indeed!

  4. CJ Armstrong says:

    First of all, those veggies look so yummy!!!! Lucky you!
    What a sweet, precious gift from your grandgirls! Fortunate you!!!

  5. Betty J. says:

    My grandgirl is on her way to see me from California. She has never seen a garden like mine. I certainly hope she enjoys it. I have so much to teach that 4-year-old. Maybe she will be a farmgirl too!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Like O-M-G.

What’s up with G-M-Os?

(Genetically Modified Organisms, if ya didn’t know.)

Let’s focus on one thing today—corn.

Did you know that 85% (some studies show up to 99%) of non-organic corn grown today in the U.S. is genetically modified? It’s a Monsanto product called “Bt Corn,” and its genes have been modified so an insecticide, called Bacillus thuringiensis, is produced by the plant.

That’s right, it produces its own pesticide, that when eaten by certain insects, breaks open their stomachs.

Bt-toxin, from soil bacteria, has been used as a natural pesticide for years. The difference?

The GM version is built inside the plant—the toxin doesn’t wash off, you can’t avoid eating it, and it’s thousands of times more concentrated than the spray. It even failed the World Health Organization’s allergen screening tests.

This means, no matter how hard you scrub, you’re consuming high levels of this toxin. A recent study tested pregnant and non-pregnant Canadian females. It was accepted for publication in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, peer-reviewed, and proves the toxin isn’t breaking down in our gut like Monsanto claims, it’s showing up in the blood of those who eat it.

“Doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found the corn’s Bt-toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant women. (Specifically, the toxin was identified in 93% of 30 pregnant women, 80% of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67% of 39 non-pregnant women.)” Source: mercola.com 

Oh, and if you eat meat, remember that almost all cows and livestock in the U.S. are fed GMO corn (except my dairy cows, of course, who eat only local, non-GMO grass hay along with certified organic alfalfa pellets—sadly even alfalfa can be GMO now). More on how this affects these animals, and subsequently, you. Did I mention that GMOs are NEVER allowed in organic food production? ‘Nuff said?

Continue reading

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Incredibly hot-hot topic for me. First, I should say what a fantastic job I believe Rachel did of explaining her case against (or problems with) the lack of GMO labeling. Next up, did you take note of the host mentioning hydroponic tomatoes & the sad fact that the American consumer has little option of eating organic these days unless they grow their own or seek out “LABELED” organic products?

    Now, I wonder how many of our youth have actually had the opportunity to Taste an Heirloom Tomato & then a hydroponic tomato back to back…not many grocery stores even offer such variety, but I believe they are learning, slowly.

    No science is better than bad science. When someone asks, “What is a GMO?” perhaps the response should be: a pesticide laden food product which is not found in nature.

    So, they acknowledge Monsanto products do kill butterflies? We can assume then that those same pesticides are swimming around in the guts of humans?…So after considerable accumulation & years of pesticide use imbedded in the foods we eat, how far of a stretch is it to believe that we will suffer from pesticide poisoning as well?

    If Kevin’s only argument is that these GMO’s/pesticide infused foods are needed to save lives(?) now in other countries which do not have any/much food, then what is the reason to use GMO’s/pesticide food products in countries that are blessed with an abundance of food?

    …See what happens when Winnie goes on vacation;-)

    It was a compelling read & video, thanks for sharing.

    • Linda says:

      I agree with you, Elizabeth. Kevin kept mentioning starving countries around the world when that is not the focus of the problem here. Why are WE having to live with this toxic food, why are WE the guinea pigs for companies tinkering with nature? Surely if they are so concerned about these other countries and starvation there, then they should be focusing their work there and not throwing millions to deceive the people here and keep them in the dark about the deadly deeds they have been promulgating to the general American public. And I have to disagree about the the uselessness of labeling. If the foods are labeled, we would see just how fast these organic companies would multiply, when people finally realize that there are resources for clean food and where to find it.
      That young lady was amazing and held her own, toe to toe with someone out to shoot her down. I have a 16 year old son I would like her to meet…

  2. Kay (Old Cowgirl) Montoya says:

    I have been telling people about this since I learned of it last fall. I also take Garden class’s at a State Collage near by for the past 20 years, I did miss two how ever they also talked about the GMO’s and what to watch out for. My Daughter works for a food market and told me quite a few things I have seen the heirloom tomatoes but just one is about $3.00 each for one you can fit into your hand. Just to expensive for this old gal. I hope to have a small garden next year if I get moved. Love the extra info. Mary Jane and lets hope prices can come down on some of the Organics and start them labeling everything. They can claim it costs to much but the price is high enough now on everything that it should be covered.
    Love and good thoughts,

  3. Can not carry the items on the ma Wedding decoration flower chine were forced to use high green straws priced express. is concerned about the high price express Shenzhen Baoan Airport courier industry has been questioned passengers earn huge profits on March 24, Mr. Luo in Shenzhen Bao cheap paper straws an airport by plane to Fuzhou, but his body wit

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Okay, so you didn’t exactly relish the prospect of eating bugs when I introduced you to Ento’s avant-garde gourmet


Photo courtesy of Ento




could be heard far and wide.

But, here I am, bringing up bugs again.

Why, MJ? Why???

Hmmm … how do I put this delicately?

Crickets are an up-and-coming cuisine (yes, that IS a cricket tostado below).


Photo courtesy of Thrillist; http://www.thrillist.com/eat/new-york/nolita/10012/antojeria-la-popular#slide=2?slide=2

Better you should hear it from me, dear heart, than from strangers. We can work together to get our heads (appetites?) around this novel notion—I haven’t actually eaten crickets yet, either.

But my mind is open, and here’s why.

The impetus to eat insects is not merely based on curiosity or shock value. We’re talking about a much more dire motivation. As we struggle to feed this populous planet, we all know meat is incredibly costly in terms of energy consumption and environmental impact (read more on that topic here).


Photo by Jeff Vanuga, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, via Wikimedia Commons

While you know that I am not fundamentally opposed to meat farming, I do believe that it’s difficult to accomplish it sustainably on a super-size scale.

‘Nuff said.

This dilemma drives us to explore new frontiers of food and find alternative sources of protein.

So, you’re wondering, why crickets? Isn’t soy a perfectly suitable solution?


Tofu cooked Chinese style, Beijing, China. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; Fuzheado

Continue reading

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Hmmmmm, maybe I could talk myself into cricket granola bars. I like the theory and the sustainability of it all but, I gotta say that the shock factor will be huge for me!!

    Hello from the Arctic Ocean along the northern most tip of Norway! Can I just say thank God for Dramamine? It is cold and stormy here and we have been pitching to and for for the past 16 hours like a cork !! Yep, this FarmGirl on the Loose wishes she were in a farmwagon on THE GROUND! It is beautiful and wild up here and extremely remote. We are on a cargo ship stopping off at these little teeny fishing villages here and there providing them with a lifeline to the rest of the world. People really live here which is pretty amazing considering the weather and difficulty. The people on the boat say tomorrow weather is supposed to be better. I am praying they are right! One thing for sure, I know without reservation I was not ever cut out to be a fisherman on the seas!!

  2. karlyne says:

    I think the wiggly-looking legs are what make me ewwww at chrickets. Ground up in flour? Maybe….

    Wow! Winnie, you are really doing some traveling! I hope the weather cooperates for you. I’ve always wanted to see Norway, but maybe from land?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



  1. Kay (Old Cowgirl) Montoya says:

    Stargazer lily’s are so beautiful. I would rather look and smell one outside in the fresh air than in a floral shop or market.
    I am a gardener. Have been for 30 years. I have some Heirloom rose’s and I

  2. Kay (Old Cowgirl) Montoya says:

    Sorry my beautiful big girl (dog) Sophie just nudged my arm and of coarse the mouse hit “post comment”. She lets me know when I have been on this too long and she needs my attention. So what I was saying is I also garden Organically. When I get moved I intend to go after the Green Badge and the Garden badge. Can not wait.
    love you all and have a wonderful day and evening.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

the birds out my window

Waking up each morning, I’m greeted by the wild whips, whoops, tweets, and chirps of various indigenous birds.

Press “play” below for a minute preview of what I listen to. Some may call it a bother at 4 a.m., but I call it pure bliss!

While listening, I thought you might enjoy reading this poem—a favorite of mine.

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
Without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes
almost out of sight.

They seem to become natives of that element
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves,
an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo,
with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and muck
to move things forward,
as to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people
who submerge in the task,
who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is
common as mud.

Botched, it smears the hands,
crumbles to dust
But the thing worth doing
well done has a shape that
satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn,
are put in museums
but you know they were
made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water
to carry and a person for
work that is real.

From Circles on the Water by Marge Piercy
Copyright 1982 by Marge Piercy
Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

The bird you see when you listen to the audio is the Yellow Warbler, a regular visitor. We’ve had quite a few juveniles and older warbler-types flitting around the windows of the Design Studio lately.

(Rascal has enjoyed watching them, with reverent purring. I do believe she would love to give them a love bite … or two.)

Their pretty yellow color is similar to my lovely little canary, Daffodil, who passed away a couple of weeks ago.

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am with you here. The morning chatter from the birds is both comforting and energizing. When we can keep the windows open, I love waking to all the excitement of a new day as heralded by the local cardinals, carolina wrens, and chickadees. My Mr. Bump spends his days watching our birds in the yard, but I would categorize his purring as tickster instead of reverent!! Ha! He is not trust worthy in his intentions.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I am sorry to hear about your lovely canary, Daffodil passing away, MaryJane. Glad you have the beautiful songbirds to buoy your spirit.

    Sometimes when we experience a loss, being still & listening is the better choice.

    (Bible text at Luke 10:38-42)

    Martha and Mary offered hospitality to their friend Jesus of Nazareth, a respected but somewhat controversial Jewish rabbi. Their house was near Jerusalem, and Jesus often stayed there. Mary sat and listened to him as he talked, but Martha objected to the fact that she was left with all the work. Jesus told Martha not to worry about small things, but to concentrate on what was important.

  3. Paula says:

    What a treat! Thank you for sharing, Mary Jane!

  4. I’m always photographing birds through my kitchen windows – one of life’s finest little pleasures, along with listening to their songs. And the Marge Piercy poem has long been one of my favorites too. I’m sorry about Daffodil 🙁

  5. Kim Platt says:

    Let me tell you, there is nothing like hearing a chirping bird first thing in the morning! It would never be any bother to me. When I have to leave for my job, hearing those birds always lifts my spirits a trifle. I’m sorry about Daffodil, too. Thanks Mary Jane.

  6. Pingback: Bird Song | Raising Jane Journal

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *




  1. Winnie Nielsen says:


  2. Jarda Crane says:

    As the raindrops fill the cupped petals, so does the love fill my soul.

  3. Dawn says:

    Absolute perfection!

  4. Judy Lockhart says:

    The loving touch of nature upon nature. So simple and so beautiful.

  5. Lovely, what is it about roses that just makes ya smile?

  6. MaryBeth says:

    Wow! Must have been a gully washer. Lovely shot. MB

  7. PATSY WEICK says:

    I Love Roses, This Red Rose with the dew drops is Beautiful. I Love this Picture.

  8. Betsy Cline says:

    The picture is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I do have a question. Is there anyway to get a copy of Nature Knows Best? I never could find it in June before I left for an Alaskan cruise. I really want it to use toward badges. Thanks

    • Ace says:

      Hi Betsy!
      You betcha. 🙂 You’re in luck! Mountain Rose Herbs just sold out, but we have a few left and can hook you up with a copy. Just email your snail-mail address to ace@maryjanesfarm.org and we’ll mail one out to you. Happy Monday!

  9. carole says:

    perfection! beeeeeeeeeautiful!

  10. theresa beck says:

    Outstanding! I have many stories about roses and they are always positive and have lots of meaning for me. Thanks so much for posting.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ewwww de Toilet

How did that get there?

Just another day at the office—moo-ving between cows and grandkids and magazines and books—this lovely little, well, er, frienddeviantsmearing, smattering snuck its way onto my shoulder.

It whispered into my nostrils and those passing by me enjoyed its pungent pining.


Until luckily for all, it was sniffed out and properly IDed by Ace who pointed to it saying, “That’s downright purdy” (spoken with a T).”


  1. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve been birdie baptized a few times but have yet to receive a cow Christening.

    Gives new meaning to the phrase, “Taking your work home with you” 🙂

  2. Laurie Dimno says:

    I too have been “christened” with a birds love. I’ve been told it brings you good luck….hmmm…. . Heck, you sure were a good sport to let them photograph you smiling through it all! You wear it well Mary Jane- nothing can take away from your inner beauty! You have to laugh at the little things!
    Hugs to you!

  3. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Just another day at the farm, eh? You’re a good sport to let them take a picture. I’m surprised one of the grandgirls didn’t spot it; mine would have & made a B-I-G deal of it!

  4. karlyne says:

    This reminds me of the time a co-worker came back from lunch and complained about how bad the office smelled. No one else noticed anything unusual. And, then, a few hours later, she noticed the big blob of tuna salad on her collar… Still makes me laugh!

  5. CJ Armstrong says:

    Well, you’re beautiful, Mary Jane! I know EXACTLY how that feels, smells and looks as I’ve been there, done that! Had cow tails swishing all about my head and face and have had them step in the bucket of milk too. Ewwwwwww . . . but that’s the life!

  6. Denise says:

    I remember being hit by a birdie at an amusement park one time just as we walked through the front entrance. Fortunately the ladies room was just inside the park. It never did all come out of the shirt but it was shaped like a heart. My daughter said even though it was nasty it was kind of neat that it was shaped that way. Eww! I have had my share of jeans ruined by cow spatterings too. It’s the price you pay for loving to work with them though I would have to say in the end the payoff is worth it really.

  7. Christina B says:

    I love my spring facials. Green grass ahhhdoopooo. My husband tells me women pay big money for what I get for free and exercise.

  8. Betty J. says:

    I was birdie baptized when I was in the Navy. I was in boot camp in Maryland and we were marching in formation when: Oops, sniff, sniff, there was this blob on my tie. It was wretched and nowhere to go except keep on marching. When I got back to the barracks the tie immediately came off and was sent to the cleaners.

  9. MaryBeth says:

    Happening all the time on the farm. We have dogs, ducks, horses, kitties and goats and ourselves. I have been baptized many times. haha MB

  10. Sandi O'Connor says:

    Looking forward to NOT being “baptized” by my daughter’s flock while I birdsit them for a week! Any tips appreciated. She cuddles them so they love to pop atop a shoulder or head! I think I’m in for a surprise! Sandi P.S. MaryJane, you wear it well!

  11. Debbie says:

    I agree with CJ… your just as sparkling beautiful as ever or evah as they say here in the east!
    You look so happy even with that doodie on your shirt! 🙂

  12. Susan Laquintano says:

    I had a downright belly laugh when I read the post. I’m so sorry but it brought me back to some very fun times cleaning up after the horses. Thank you for that. I long for those times.

  13. Betty Thompson says:

    Rather than “cow love” I prefer the scent of horses. I can’t remember when I didn’t love horses, their tack smell, the stable smell .. to me that is what MY heaven would smell like. I have a friend, a city girl, who went with me to the stable one day and when I walked in, I took a deep breath and said “GREAT” and she said “what’s that stink”.

    Love to all, Betty

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


I can’t wait to tell you about a company that’s doing business in a revolutionary way—you know how I love trailblazers.

CanvasPop is a web-based company that converts photos into printed canvas art.


Photo courtesy of CanvasPop.com

That is pretty neat in itself, but wait … it gets better.

CanvasPop has just launched a new project called Remade that aims to transform pieces of waste canvas (inherent in the canvas art biz) into wow-your-socks-off photo-art wallets.


Photo courtesy of CanvasPop.com

In doing so, the company will reduce its manufacturing waste by 70 percent while simultaneously creating a whole new product.


CanvasPop is donating $5 from every wallet sale (which amounts to 100 percent of the company’s profit) to Charity: Water.

Can it get any more amazing?

Oh, yes. In fact, it can.

According to Alyssa Hanson at CanvasPop, “Each wallet is constructed by EcoEquitable Inc., a non-profit organization that provides employment and skill development to immigrant and underemployed women.”

­If you order a Remade wallet, you’ll also get a $30 CanvasPop gift voucher printed on plantable paper from Botanical Paperworks that will sprout wildflowers when planted.

Here’s a video of how all of this magic happens:

  1. Laurie Dimno says:

    How cool is this? The wallets are reasonably priced, and are so unique. It’s a win, win all around!
    Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Amazing! The design of this business includes winners all around. Like I have said many times, the creative and responsible entrepreneurship of many young people today is so inspiring!

  3. Kimberly Owens says:

    Thank you for sharing. I love this.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *