The Salt Shaker ~ December 2021

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching . . .things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us . . . We will not hide them . . . but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done . . . so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God . . . 
Psalm 78:1-8 ESV

Praises – Time of rest, spending a few months reconnecting with old friends

Prayers – Family members having difficulty and health problems; trailer repairs/parts completed; ministry opportunities; recording time

Hello to our followers, friends, and family:

December was a wonderful busy, stressful, and restful month “off” of volunteer work.  By the end of the month, we had a semblance of routine but most days were relaxed with no particular time schedule.  About the third morning John found the cause of the slight scratching Connie heard the night before – there was a medium size (to her) lizard on the curtain above John’s chair.  Without alarming his not-so-brave wife, he captured the friendly critter in a plastic bowl, and after the photos, released him outside to our landscaped yard.  We did find our lot to be quite busy and noisy as the days and nights went by with several motorcycles inside this park, a busy county highway behind the trailer, and the entrance/exit road along the side of our trailer.

We kept very busy with music this month.  We were scheduled twice at First Christian Church and once at Leesburg Church of the Nazarene for special music and 10 minute preludes.  Since we don’t have a lot of instrumental Christmas music, we found six carols and adapted them to mountain dulcimer and guitar or autoharp.  With lots of practice we had our 7+ minute medley ready for December 5th.  We had three special music (singing) opportunities and it was hard to decide which old carols to share because we like them all.  We were able to have lunch with several friends, visit some friends from the camp we volunteered at in 2019, enjoy a lunch after church with two retired pastors and their wives, and a working lunch to plan for church service music with one of the Pastors.  We also enjoyed Captain D’s Sunday senior special lunch and were asked on one occasion if we were the couple that played the wonderful music at their church the previous Sunday.  It still amazes us that our simple songs and words are a blessing to others.

Our location (slightly northeast of Leesburg, FL) had lots of lakes, canals, and moisture.  There was a week of 80’s with high humidity where we needed to run the air conditioner, and many comfortable temperature days that we tried to keep fans going but resorted to air conditioning to keep the humidity down in the trailer because our instruments, even in cases, kept going sharp.  We had many weather warnings for foggy mornings with low visibility but eventually the sun would shine through and the days were beautiful.  We walked once or twice a day, zig-zagging through the park roads usually discussing our recording progress or problems.

Connie completed the tutorials from the recording software, learning many short cuts and getting quite proficient in smooth editing.  John spent many hours recording and singing, as well as listening to choose the best parts.  His timing is getting better as he works with playing with some type of rhythm track in the background.  By the end of the month, we had two original songs almost completed. 

Once the bicycles were unloaded and tires pumped up we drove over to Silver Lake where there is a residential road that circles the lake.  We rode around two times, enjoying the fancy houses on one side and the scenery and docks on the other side of the road.  We went to a weekly bonfire at our camp, only once, finding the mosquitoes have a feeding frenzy for about 15 minutes around 6 pm, undeterred by smoke or heat from the fire.  There were a few evening walks that we didn’t time very well where we were again attacked.  We were able to see the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus aligned; quite impressive the first night even with Venus disappearing into the tree tops, but not as close together the next evening.

After hanging our Christmas wreath (much too small for this trailer), we made our list of 8 trailer parts needed for some minor fixes.  It was presented to a trailer service center, knowing with parts shortages and Christmas coming it would be hard to get them all.  After sending lots of photos and clarifying sizes, etc. we only got two parts at the end of the month.  We also posted our revolving list of sell items on CraigsList (we haven’t gotten into the “current” marketing era) and were pleasantly surprised to sell one item after Christmas.

You know all those TV adds warning, suggesting, even threatening, for Medicare insurance?  Well Connie spent a day researching (just in case she could get “money back to your social security check”) and signed up on the deadline day.  Decisions, not fun.  She also did some more experimenting with our instant pot air fryer, with some successes and some failures.  The bagels weren’t so bad, tasting and texture were fine, but a lot of work kneading.

A dear friend of ours in Decatur, IL died this month after many days in the hospital.  We had promised him several times that we would be there for his funeral music and eulogy.  We checked into a rental car and driving, and were prepared to make the trip once the date was set but the plans changed.  We very quickly tried recording the three songs he requested, “On the Wings of a Dove,” “Whispering Hope,” and “What a Day That Will Be” which was one we had to learn (a great gospel song).  After about 20 hours we decided “Whispering Hope” had no hope, and finished off the other two songs, learning a lot about recording the hard way, and sent them to the funeral home.  Connie also recorded a message and sent that as well.  During this intense recording time the park decided to blow leaves and our neighbor sat outside with her radio on; both loud enough in our recording room to postpone recording.  We also had a glitch in our system with no playback sound, sending us into a panic of course.  We inadvertently routed our speakers to play from the computer rather than the software audio box, oops!

The week before Christmas we always try to avoid shopping of any kind.  It was easier this year because John’s other ear decided to be a problem, mostly in the jaw this time, and he ate a lot of soft foods.  By Christmas Eve he felt better and we played the instrumental prelude for the service.  Christmas Day we planned coconut shrimp, spring rolls, asparagus, broccoli, baked potatoes, (more air fryer experiments), and ice cream.  His jaw was well enough for us to enjoy our Christmas Dinner of real food!

The week after Christmas we visited Bourlay Historic Nature Park and walked around seeing the old family home, lake front, and some fantastic trees.  The mature live oak trees, with moss, are always amazing to walk under.  Many of these trees in our RV park have “faces” that we enjoyed during our walks.  On our walks around our RV park we could watch boats from the 640’ pier along Haines Creek (more like a canal with a lock going between two larger lakes).  There was also “Fred” the park dinosaur that moved from spot to spot, greeting the regulars as they arrived for their winter retreat.  Each arrival would add tinsel, lights, and decorations and Fred was most elegantly dressed for Christmas. 

The final week of December we talked about where spring and summer would take us, and “signed up” for volunteer projects for March and April.  We also looked back over 2021, counting our blessings, friendships, and accomplishments.  We have been so blessed!  It is easy to get grumpy (lots of holiday traffic noise throughout the night, emergency vehicle sirens, and New Year’s Eve fireworks this last week) but one of our devotions put it all in perspective: “life on earth may be shaken, but eternity is built on a solid foundation.” 

Our final Sunday in the Leesburg area we attended church with some retired SOWER friends.  The First Baptist Church of Okahumpka had a missionary speaker from Suriname with about the same message as the quote above.  We had lunch together, picked up a few groceries, and traveled home to finish packing up for our travels Monday morning!  

. . . the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news . . . sent me to make the brokenhearted well, to proclaim freedom . . . to comfort all who are sad, provide for those who grieve . . . They (those in need) will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.  Isaiah 61:1-3 paraphrased, multiple versions

Thanks for traveling with us! 
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:      Mail:  John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry,
3916 N. Potsdam Ave. #3962, Sioux Falls, SD  57104

Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912
Email – SaltyStrings@hotmail.com
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
Web site – SaltyStrings.com

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site

TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS

  • Jan 3-March 3 – Time off, River Palms, Thonotosassa, FL; friends, music engagements
  • March 3-4 – Travel to Conyers, GA (east Atlanta) for a volunteer project
  • March 5-31 – Volunteer SOWER Project
  • April 1-28 – Travel to French Camp, Mississippi for Volunteer SOWER Project

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