The Salt Shaker – July 2022

“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.  He knows your going through this great wilderness.  These forty years the Lord your God has been with you.  You have lacked nothing.”   Deuteronomy 2:7 ESV

Praises – Kitchen ceiling fan working, protection and great weather for travel days, memories with friends and family

Prayers – Truck starting trouble, mobile RV service people, recording and getting songs to web page, consistency in exercise and losing weight

Hello to our friends, family and followers:

July 2022 could be summed up as full of food, family, friends, and funerals along with two travel days.  We continued our June stay, adding another 102 hours this month on the sound booth expansion.  John finished up bracing the steps, plywood, drywall (including fixing Connie’s poor seams), braces for countertop and shelves, countertop design/installation, combining old and new oak trim (matched router design pretty well), and designing/modifying shelves.  There was a lot of time sanding wood and drywall, matching existing wood stains, and several coats of polyurethane for the wood parts as well as painting the drywall and a bit of touch-up on some old walls.

Connie helped repurpose some old materials, made stain mixes, finished wiring the new plugs, and dealt with all the media cords and wires.  The “sound” stuff was dismantled on a Monday morning, moved out of the way, and put back on the new countertop the following Saturday.  Thanks to prayers and lots of photos the sound check in the afternoon went very well (once we remembered to turn on the power strip) and after a glitch with the computer keyboard the projection worked as well.  This was a collective effort including many church participants with donations of materials, loaning of equipment, multiple minds for the “how-to-do’s” and labor!  Our thanks to all who helped us finish this expansion.

We enjoyed our Sundays at Lane Church as well as all our visits with so many friends in this area.  There were 2 invites for cookouts where we enjoyed grilled steak, chicken, bratwurst, and veggies along with chocolate and peach pie; many meals out with church friends; a visit with Connie’s puzzle friend in Weldon (the last city we lived in), and with a shut-in.  After sharing the saying on a plaque John saw somewhere we received a trailer-size travel-friendly version for our home. 

This month also included helping at the funeral dinner for an older member of the church as well as attending two funerals.  Another church member, about our age, planned his funeral in December when he went into hospice care.  He wanted his funeral to clearly present the message of eternal life for those who accept Jesus as their savior; it did and even included an altar call at the end.  The day before we left, we attended the funeral of our friend from the care facility.  This funeral was a celebration of life with fantastic piano and organ music, and we heard him sing “The King is Coming” at his own funeral.  All the funerals were exceptional as we learned more about these men of faith.  We added another thing-to-do to our list – plan our funerals since we never know when our last days and end of this life will be.  Who knows, perhaps we will sing at our own funerals or have an altar call.

These are some other notable events, in no particular order, from the month.  John’s coffee maker “died” causing much grief until a new one was found a week later.  The end of June and early July is strawberry time in the north, prompting a text from our oldest son in Phoenix (as well as a family chat) for Connie’s grandma’s shortcake recipe – we prefer a sweeter biscuit type shortcake covered with mashed strawberries and whip cream.  Our truck airbag recall was finally taken care of and John’s “new” bicycle was packed up and returned, in this case two strikes and you’re out.  The Illinois country roads for our commute to church are narrow, two lane, no center stripe, with lots of 45 degree turns – it was quite a surprise to see a helicopter at the end of a straight stretch.  It landed in the grassy outside corner of the turn and took off just as we rounded the bend, back to crop dusting!   

We had two opportunities for music this month.  The first was at Lane Church where we did a special piece along with the worship music for the service.  Our second program was at a new facility in Lincoln, IL.  Our former host and joke teller from the “Jolly Seniors” group was in this facility due to a stroke and his wife made the contact, knowing he would appreciate hearing us again.  However, we received a message from her that morning letting us know he had died.  Our choice of songs and ministry was very well received; we had forgotten how much residents of care facilities enjoy the older songs and chatter we bring! 

Connie had some time alone to finish up the curtains only to find new rods were needed as well as an end cap repair before they could be hung; new rods were ordered and the curtains laid aside for now.  She finished the shawl and researched weaving in the ends, but hasn’t tackled that yet (will make future yarn joins a bit different so this daunting task will not be needed!).  There was a deep cleaning day, cleaning both air conditioners and the kitchen ceiling fan (a bit greasy from previous owners).  The fan had quit opening up but to her surprise it worked fine after manually opening it to clean.  Right before packing, she pulled out all the stained glass pieces, printed off the patterns, and set aside pieces to use next month.

On Thursday, July 21 we had an enjoyable large breakfast before leaving at 11 am to go north to see more friends and family.  After an accident-prone morning (John ramming his big toe, scraping his arm, bumping his head, and breaking a finger nail as a water spigot broke) we had good travel weather and traffic.  We arrived and found we could pull through into our spot with great ease, got settled with the a/c on, then met friends for supper, great blessings to end our day.

We were in the Beloit, WI area for only a week so the eating out began as we visited with 10 people:  Connie’s old school friends, John’s first barber in the area, and owners of the bagel shop where we played on Saturday mornings getting a good foundation for our music ministry.  Our oldest son was in the area (from Phoenix) and he chauffeured us in his Tesla rental to see our grand-daughter’s day camp program (what a treat!).  Tesla’s are pretty neat, all kinds of gadgets and a “frunk!” (Front trunk).

We had a Sunday afternoon family gathering at Beckman Mill with 14 total for a potluck picnic followed by some photos.  We walked around the beautiful grounds and remembered many other events here that involved us.  Our “missing” son from Virginia was with us through a gift John received while at the picnic – a new job T-shirt advertising Paul Reed Smith guitars.  Our last evening, we were able to see Connie’s sister and husband and eat out one final time.  Our first choice had a car show but the food line was too long so we moved into town and enjoyed our time with them.  John enjoyed the car show, seeing a 1957 Studebaker Hawk, but preferred his ride in one (1960) while we were at one of our cookout invites. 

The weather in Beloit was quite warm and a bit muggy, we had two thunder storms, one leaving us with no power for a few hours but no damage.  We took a few walks in the evening, enjoyed 2 laps around the Lagoon in Beloit, and Connie had her first laundromat visit in a long time (3 loads and only lost $1 to faulty driers).  We accomplished our Wisconsin “must do” things – stock up on bagels from Bagels and More and get Prime Time calzone, leaving with over a dozen bagels in the freezer and calzone we ate for our travel lunch (the rest never made it to the freezer)!

Thursday, July 28 we were up early to finish packing, leaving at 10 am and enjoying calzone as we traveled south to our August SOWER project.  We arrived at 3:30, parked under a street lamp, and had just a few sprinkles as we finished.  Not as good a location as we hoped with a wifi/phone signal that comes and goes, and we (Connie) misjudged where the daytime sun would travel (north was not quite where she thought it was).  We are glad to be back to another of our “home” churches and were invited to lunch after Sunday’s service, with a total of 10 gathered – how wonderful to be a part of God’s HUGE family.

Here in Carlinville, IL, our humming birds have returned to our feeder (very aggressive), we picked up an insect that traveled 3 miles into town from the camp, replaced our old falling apart lawn chairs, and attended an ice cream social/community band concert with a bassoon but no bass clarinet (there is a 41-year-old story here) all in the first 3 days of our arrival.  The town square was full and there was a beautiful fiery orange-red brilliant sunset to finish the evening.

This has been a very precious time in our travels; our visits with family and friends old and new, creating wonderful new memories, and sharing remembrances of the past, both good and bad.  This is what makes up the fabric of life for all of us.  May we truly enjoy our time with each other when we can, there may not be another opportunity.

“ . . . your punishment is over. The Lord has forced your enemies to turn and retreat. Your Lord . . . stands at your side; you don’t have to worry about any more troubles. Your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and he will refresh your life with his love.”   Zephaniah 3:15, 17 paraphrased CEV 

Until next month – 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 –
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
Web site –

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site


  • July 28 – August 26 – SOWER Project, Carlinville, IL
  • August 26 – September 28 – Month off, Cross City RV Park, Corinth, MS
  • September 28 – December – SOWER Project, French Camp, Mississippi