Giants & Pilgrims Great North Central Tour: Day 4

Day 4, captain’s log.

Morale is still high. Especially after the amount of hospitality we’ve experienced. This is the first day we’re not playing a show (the last four days having 6 engagements).

The shows themselves have been tremendous. Great times of song and story and community. Since leaving Omaha we’ve played in Milwaukee, led worship at Blackhawk Church Fitchburg, and entertained a coffee shop in Madison (Crescendo Espresso Bar & Music Cafe).

Here’s a favorite saying thus far on the trip (on Day 1 I posted Craig’s haiku’s… I hope to keep sharing tour jokes). This is one from Brian Claxton:

Making a cake is super simple.
Step 1: preheat the oven
Step 2: eat the cake

I laugh every time we say this or reference it. He started saying this in high school after being baffled by the intricacy of baking in a Martha Stewart episode. You know the one where she way overcomplicates the product? (it’s EVERY one).

I laugh at the joke but I’m also struck that there’s truth in the absurdity. We want everything to be so simple and fast. And that is not life. Reality is not pre-packaged, easy bake, and one-step. It’s quite complex. We’ve been talking about that at our shows as we share our Almanac songs. (That was also a major theme of the Blackhawk Church Fitchburg sermon, as they’re studying Proverbs!)

Hope you’re having a wonderfully rich and intricate day. Sometimes it goes down like a fine wine.

Many thanks to Kevin, Maddie, and Abbie (Wade for hosting!) for the Milwaukee times
John and Corrie Rosensteel, Bret and Lorraine Shillingstad for opportunities at Blackhawk and horseback riding
and Paul and Kate for hosting us at Crescendo!

It’s incredible the amount of kindness and support we’ve received from these people and others we’ve met so far. Helps keep that morale high.

Below is a photo by Kevin in Milwaukee. (We call this picture “Christmas in July”).

kevin image milwaukeechristine madison crescendo

Above photo by Christine Myers at Crescendo Espresso Bar & Music Cafe


Giants & Pilgrims Great North Central Tour: Day 1

We left Greeley, CO in a two car caravan heading towards Nebraska Friday, June 27th. Morale was high after breakfast burritos, morning pleasantries and luggage tetris.

During the first drive some things stood out worth writing here. One was our trumpet player, Craig Baserich, sharing some haikus he’d written about pizza:

Ate you for my lunch
Still can taste your dreamy sweat
Never wash my face

Hot, cheese, grease, sauce, meat
All of that on top of dough
Feed it to my soul

Frozen, take out, Mmm
Deep dish, thin crust, stuffed crust, Mmm
Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm

What else do I like?
Apple, chicken, carrots, No
I also like cake

Morale was even higher after he shared all these. I was sore from laughing after the session.

In the evening we pulled into Omaha and had a tremendously lovely house concert with friend Laura Preston.

Below are a couple pictures. One from travels (our first day of tour being sponsored by the soon to return “pretzel bacon cheeseburger”) and one from our house concert.

Stay tuned for Day 2 log coming soon. After Day 2…

photo 1 photo 2

Gourmet Lemonade Stand

Betony, Lucy, Hattie, and myself did this Gourmet Lemonade Stand as a family last summer. It was so fun as Lucy (then 4) championed herself as the chef).

We used the profits to buy school supplies for a drive that was going on in our city. It was one of those really wonderful days. And it was the first time we’d talked to Lucy about giving money towards charity rather than what you’d want. It made the trip to the store to buy the school supplies just as fun and meaningful as the stand.






Flavored Simple Syrups

Club Soda

A twist on the typical lemonade stand that’s pushing powdered,

insta-drink. Instead host a Gourmet Lemonade Stand!

Make some of your own simple syrups and get creative. Add carbonation to the drink, sprigs of mint, and so on. As you sell the beverages plan on making the summer day endeavor a charitable event. (Last summer our 4 year old made the hard sell AND played the part of chef. This was perhaps against child labor laws but effective. The monies collected went to buying school supplies for a drive that was going on that fall.)

Advertise on social media to get more than just neighborhood traffic and make an event of it.

Basic Simple Syrup


1 cup white sugar

1 cup water


In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.


Mint/Basil/Lemon Balm

Add a handful of mint leaves to the hot syrup and allow to steep/cool for 15-20 minutes. Strain


Add one cup blueberries to the basic simple syrup recipe. Simmer 15 minutes and then strain.


Add 3 Tbs dried or fresh culinary lavender flowers to the basic simple syrup recipe then strain.


Add 1/4 whole cardamom to the basic simple syrup recipe. Simmer 15 minutes and then strain.


4 oz fresh ginger – Peel the ginger root with a vegetable peeler, and cut into thin rounds. Simmer with water and sugar and then steep for 30 min.

Featured Artist: Wes Bruce

Bio: Hi, I’m Wes. Like everyone else, I’m a lot of different things. I’m a son, a husband, a friend, a soul, a supporter, a lover of mountains, rivers,and wild places. I’m a believer in the power of the human imagination. I’m an investigator of the human condition. I’m an artist, an educator, an illustrator, a designer, and a photographer. I’m also a poet, a climber of trees, and an advocate for play (for adults and kids). I’m a rememberer. I’m a protector and purveyor of walking trails, shared meals, and community engagement. I believe in others, and using art as a vessel for character development. I’m passionate, and deeply curious about the world around me. I was born and raised in the woods of Northern California, then spent 10 years in San Diego, and now live with my wife and best friend, Emi in Colorado. We live gratefully, and are aware of the threadedness between joy and mourning. We love libraries & swimming pools.

More Miraculous #mundania Pictures!

Here’s another week in pictures for our Instagram game called #mundania. We’ve all been posting pictures that deal with seeing the majestic in the mundane or the uncanny in the common- recognizing just how miraculous this “normal” life is.

Below are some highlights. The “best in show” that we choose at the end of the month will be winning 3 limited-edition art prints from Giants & Pilgrims! Thanks and keep posting.

Photo by Katrina Steele. “One PM”

1 pm

Photo by James Everett. “Pets”

pets everett


Photo by Sarah Hanselin. “Front Porch”

front porch


Photo by Shannon (@Skipgo on Instagram). “Coffee”


Summer Reading List

It’s that time of the year. Dusting off the front cover of books we’ve intended to read for a while or picking up something new for the big car ride is a great tradition around our house. Betony Coons made a list of some of her favorite summer reads for our June Almanac. Here’s to getting lost in the pages. Leave some of your favorite summer reads in the comments below.

Some of my Favorite all-time “Summery” reads – Betony

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The Giver by Louis Lowry

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The House of the Scorpian by Nancy Farmer

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kid

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

 A Natural History of the Senses  by Diane Ackerman

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Gift from the Sea  by Anne Morrow Linbergh

New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver

Best of the Week Pictures for #mundania

We’re doing a contest where people post photos catching everyday, normal things, but acknowledging those things as beautiful- the uncanny in the common, the noble in the nominal. You can read more about it here.

Here’s some of our favorites so far that people have posting on Instagram and Facebook! These photos are definitely in the running for the BEST OF prize that we’ll choose at the end of the contest, June 30th.

Keep the pictures coming, everyone! It’s quite wonderful to see glimpses into everyone’s everyday life and the true beauty that resides there.

Photo by Wes Sam-Bruce. “Common Things”



Photo by Andrea Mouser. “Where I Sleep”



Photo by Matt Sanders. “Favorite Place to Sit”


Reviews and Reaction to ALMANAC NO. 1 Album

Every couple months I like to share some things being said or created from our Almanac No. 1 project. Here’s four very cool/ fun things:

***Below is a review done in Ruminate Magazine. Ruminate is a fantastic publication of art, poetry, and writing centered in faith and life based in Fort Collins. You wouldn’t regret picking up a subscription:

***Then pastor and creator Steven Kurtz from Daphne, AL made this meditation video for “Shimmer No Waves”, the lead track off the record.

***Fellow musician Matthew Clark did a “walk-through” review of Almanac No. 1 that was really lovely! Stay at this site and check out Matthew’s music as well!

***One of my favorite comments about the album came from our Giants & Pilgrims trumpeter/instrumentalist, Craig Basercihct. A friend posted about liking the song “Shimmer No Waves” but didn’t know what it meant. Here’s Craig’s definition. He’s close…

Shimmer no waves is a tale written much in the style of The Iliad by Homer. Taking it’s listeners on a journey spanning over the centuries it unveils the truths of life, love, and liberty. It’s writing backbone is strongly influenced by numbers 3-7 of the Bill of Rights, authored by our fore fathers. 

The haunting voice of Dave Wilton providing background vocals is meant to encourage the listener to have feelings likening to those given by the Sirens of ancient Greek Mythology. It is meant to woo you, take you in, and encourage you to never leave.

One of Coons’ main influences is the driving rhythms of John Phillip Sousa which is why it is no surprise that he chooses to collaborate with trumpet on most tracks. Coons often compares his music to that of Chuck Mangione, Chris Botti, and Sousa.

Rally Those Hopes is about Off-Track Horse Betting.”

-Craig Bassonovich

Father’s Day Writing

There’s a strange story that I like to tell on Father’s Day.

When I was in 7th grade, I was duck hunting early in the morning with my dad and I shot my first duck. Our dog retrieved the bird and brought it back to the blind. I had wounded the bird but it was still alive, gasping for breath. I was uncertain what to do but certain I didn’t want to touch that duck. My dad stood up and quickly stepped on the bird’s neck, killing it and putting it out of it’s misery. It was a messy thing that fell on him to do to fix the situation.

Fast forward to a couple years ago. I now have my own wife and children.

We returned home one night to find blood and feathers all over our back porch. Our cat had mortally wounded a bird and was still toying with it.  My wife was horrified and uncertain what to do but certain she wanted to head inside with the kids. I agreed and, of course, obliged to take care of the porch. I kicked my cat away (Hard. You would have too). I quickly stepped on the bird’s neck, killing it, putting it out of it’s misery. I said a prayer and threw it into the river by our home. I swept and cleaned the porch.

It felt like a rite of passage, honestly. It was this messy thing that fell on me to do to fix the situation. I was glad to do it so my wife and kids didn’t have to.

And it made me feel like my dad.

I felt strong. I felt responsible. And I felt like I had entered a greater sense of fatherhood.

-Tim Coons

Recipe: Old Fashioned Soda

When the Coons family makes a summer trip to Dairy Queen, Betony will often ask for an “old fashioned soda.” Most of the time this is met with a blank stare that begs explanation. But every once in a while a seasoned employee smiles and nods. 

It’s what Betony’s grandfather, a great man affectionately called “Daddy” (short for Daddy Goose), would order. In the treat’s simple ingredients it’s easy to be nostalgic- for a time not overcomplicated with rich flavors and too much sugar- when going to DQ actually was a rare, special event.

It’s surprising just how good that simplicity tastes.

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Old-Fashioned Soda

1/4 cup milk

3 tablespoons chocolate syrup

1 cup vanilla ice cream ( or 1 large scoop)

club soda (cold) or seltzer water ( cold)

canned whipped cream

maraschino cherry


Pour the milk into one tall 16-ounce glass.

Stir in syrup. Add in ice cream and enough

soda water or seltzer to fill almost to top of glass.

Top with whipped cream and a cherry.

Serve with a long spoon and a big straw.

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