This is a follow-up on my post of July 23, 2011 where I wrote of our move to the ''big house''. We have many happy memories associated with this house which are rekindled as we drive past it which we do frequently on our way up 5th street. It is the only one of the 9 places we have lived during our married years that we see often. The fence was moved down from our "little house". It was made out of old plaster lath that came out of an old farm house that was being demolished. This picture was taken before Mr. Kemper built an arch-way for us that was placed over the walk between the house and the sidewalk and provided a support for climbing roses. While the front of the house was on 5th street, Lincoln was a narrow street on the side of the house. It was a little used street as evidenced by having my Ford parked illegally. Driving past the old place brings back memories and so do pictures. Here is Carolyn with her 3 cakes for her 3rd birthday. The picture is also a reminder that Elaine still occasionally uses the tray that supports the cakes.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
I don't know the name of this vine but it has certainly been a "bright spot" in our back yard this summer. Carolyn gave it to Elaine for Mother's Day. I built a trellis attached to the clothesline post next to the deck. It was slow in "taking off" but during the past couple weeks, it has grown rapidly. Whether it's tentacles can reach out to the Finch feeder is still in question. Unseen on the picture are tentacles on their way down two of the four clothes line wires. Today it has many more flowers than show on the picture. I don't believe there has been a day when it hasn't had blooms. As desirable as it is, I can't help but wonder what it might metamorphose into. Kudzu being a prime example but there are many others. Multiflora rose and Kudzu both were highly recommended by SCS as a way of controlling erosion and providing wildlife habitat. When I was a youngster, we ordered "Burning bush" from the Gurney Nursery in South Dakota. It is now well know as "tumble weed" though it is Kochia of the Goosefoot Family. Our "Nebraska Weeds" book refers to it as "... an escaped ornamental which has become a troublesome weed." After all we have domesticated many weeds into important plants so it's only appropriate that some of our plants become weeds. And, it has been said that a weed is just a plant growing out of place.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
This has not been a good spring for annual flowers but our perennials have come through with their normal great colors. We do not expect to get to 90 degrees today which will break a 15 consecutive day run of temperatures over 90 and the heat index well over 100. We have only run our lawn sprinklers twice so far this summer, and we're very fortunate in receiving 0.40" of rain early yesterday morning and another 1.50" during last night. That amount of rain will help the farm crops considerably as well as our lawns and gardens in town. There was wind along with the rain last night which blew over the top half of a 45-year old Spruce tree at the golf course. There was also a trampoline blown on to the course from the adjoining residential area. We have had a busy day with playing golf, doing "Home Delivered Meals", visiting Carolyn to see her room redecorating, and attending the Potato Bake at the Senior Center. The mail brought the bi-monthly ARSCE (Association of Retired Soil Conservation Employees) newsletter which took over an hour to get through. A few minutes ago I had a call with an opportunity to join a discussion underway with Senator Johanns and Representative Fortenberry. After listening for a short while, I decided to write this blog sheet and not raise my stress level by "helping" them solve the national debt problem. That's what they're getting paid to do; to make decisions "For the Good of the Country".
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
This picture was taken in our backyard 20 years ago. Granddaughter Julie and the Blue Spruce tree have both grown since then. Julie and her mother gave me the tree for Father's day when she was 3 years old and about the same height as the tree setting in it's pot. It continues to be a stalwart among the plantings in our back yard. The Red Dogwood that is visible behind the tree has long since been removed. I did plant a Japanese Maple to the right and its bright red leaves provide an attractive color contrast. The tree is now between 25-30 feet in height and the home of many nesting pairs of birds. Two years ago we noticed that some of the lower branches were missing needles and further inspection led us to Bag worms. It was September when we first noticed them and proceeded to pick off all that we could find. Last year we found only 4 or 5 which we picked off and thought we were rid of them. Now we find many more out there and have picked off 20-25. I learned this morning that they live in a 2-year cycle and are in the "bag" during the day and come out at night to feed. It may be necessary to spray for them but will plan to continue picking them off for a while to see if we can control them. I would appreciate hearing of any ones experience with them.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
During my days with the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission in the 1980's we did a study on the Nebraska sandhills. We focused on Garfield and Wheeler Counties. Elaine was able to accompany me on some of our sojourns into the area. Our study was prompted partially by the conversion of the native vegetation to cultivated cropland. The area now faces the threat of the Keystone XL pipeline traversing the eastern region which would include the area of this picture. As a member of the Seward, NE City Council, we were very concerned a few years ago when Trans Canada laid a 30'' Keystone pipeline within the 5-year zone of influence of some of our city wells. We negotiated an agreement that provided the city as much protection as possible but were unable to change it's location even from it passing under some of our main water lines between our wells and the city. It did appear that Trans Canada did a "good construction job" in laying the pipeline through our area. As concerned as I, and many others would be, if an alternative route of the Keystone XL being placed parallel to and within the same easement of the existing line, I believe it to be less environmentally threatening to the State of Nebraska than the proposed sandhills route.
Monday, July 25, 2011
It takes very little space to grow a bucket of potatoes. When we took some shrubs out from the south side of our house a couple years ago and found it was difficult to get grass growing, we went to potatoes. Elaine and I both grew up in the country and it was taken for granted that you raised your own potatoes, as well as much of the rest of your food. As a kid during the "hard times" a meal of new potatoes, creamed peas and fried chicken with home made bread, was a pretty standard meal. I just didn't realize how special it was; even though I had turned the "Daisy churn" to make the butter for the bread. We would put as much as 30-40 bushel of potatoes in the cave during the fall of the year, and they would last our family of 7 throughout the year. The difference between the self reliance of people in those days compared to today is frightening. I hope a resolution to the debt ceiling can be reached.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
We moved to our "big house" in Seward during the spring of 1955. It was a great 5 bedroom bungalow and a real step-up from our first little 2-bedroom house. At the time, we didn't realize how much we accomplished in our first 6 years of marriage. We had 4 kids, a '52 Chevy that we bought new and I was well established in my job as a USDA SCS Conservation Technician. Elaine was working part-time at the local movie theater which provided us with free passes and I was selling and planting landscaping material for Nebraska Nurseries on a part time basis. We were doing well enough financially that I bought this 1936 Ford Victoria as a 2nd car. It had belonged to a lady here in Seward and was in excellent condition. We always left it parked on the street and was handy to jump into rather than getting the other car out of the garage. One morning, Elaine, Verlon, Tim & Carolyn got in the car and rushed off to Sunday School with Tim in the back seat. As they went around the corner on 5th street, Tim's door flew open and he went rolling out onto the street. Ironically, I was in the living room with Jon and saw the whole thing unfold. I ran out in my pajamas and picked him up off the street. Fortunately he was not hurt but a little shook up. We "dusted him off" and sent them on their way. Elaine doesn't remember much about her lesson that morning but can be sure that it included some "Thanks" for Tim's well-being and might have even included some request for me to get rid of the car.
Friday, July 22, 2011
This was taken at the Manassas battlefield in the mid '60's when brother Don and his family came back to Virginia to visit. MaryBeth was a little girl with red shoes. I doubt that Jon had any thoughts that he would be participating in the 150th anniversary of the Battle at Manassas as he will be doing this weekend. It was the first major battle of the Civil War and many expected it to be a skirmish that would end the hostilities. Over 1,000 spectators went out from Washington, D. C. just to watch and were caught up in the retreat of the Union Soldiers. I have advised Jon to use caution in his reenactment activities since the weather is to be very hot. He doesn't have to be out in the heat "like a stonewall" as General Jackson of the Confederate Army was described.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Carolyn was proud of her new winter coat with a fur collar. On Thanksgiving morning 1964 we went to church and when we got home had a phone call from Dale that Aunt Dixie had died in her sleep the night before. Elaine and Jon caught the United 6:20 flight out of Friendship airport for Omaha. Elaine already had the turkey fixed in a paper bag which the other 3 kids and I enjoyed. Tim had basketball practice the next day and Carolyn spent time with Michelle while Iwas at work. On Saturday I took Carolyn to the Korvette store where she got a white wool sweater and I left 2 tires to be recapped. Elaine called that evening and said it was a nice funeral service for Dixie. I took the 3 kids and went to early church on Sunday where Carolyn was given a gold cross for being able to recite all 39 books of the Old Testament. For some reason, we just took it for granted that all of our Kids would be well above average.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
You will recognize that this picture was taken last fall and not this morning by the way we are dressed. But, would you believe that the same 5 of us had a 7:40 tee time this morning which is the first time this year that the 5 of us have played together. Dale is teeing off on #4 at the Seward Country Club. Charlie and Eldy are waiting to hit, Ken is sitting in his cart and I took the picture. It was well that we played early today because the temperature hit 100 degrees with the heat index in the 110 range. There are very few ideal golfing days in Nebraska so that's just another one of the hazards.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
With the weather as hot as it has been, it seemed appropriate to put on a "cool" picture. This was taken up at our little house when Verlon was about 18 months old. We had a very heavy, wet snow and I built a framework of Orange crate and lath on which to pack the snow. I don't believe the snowhorse lasted very long after pictures were taken but Verlon enjoyed the ride. Our neighbor, whose house is shown in the background lived alone and would demonstrate to the kids that though he was in his 70's, he could still stand on his head.
Monday, July 18, 2011
There is a lot more going on “behind the scenes” than what shows in this picture. Carolyn was about 16 months old and we were staying out at the grandparents house for a few days after Mother and a new baby (Jon) came home from the hospital. Her sense of humor and a bit of devilment shows through by her facial expression. She delighted in standing on the piano bench and setting down on the keys. She caught on quickly that the harder she sat down, the louder “music” she could make. For some reason she favored the keys at the lower end on the scale. What do you suppose the box of corn starch setting on the piano near the baby basket was used for??
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Elaine's Dad, Albert could not only turn the cream separator like no one else, and operate a thrashing machine, but he also excelled with other machines. Here he is cutting down a tree with a circular saw blade mounted on his Ford tractor. The blade could also be turned to cut vertically as well as horizontally as shown.
It never really worked as well as advertised but Albert never admitted it. The concept was the forerunner of saws that now also have an arm to hold the tree or log in place while being sawed. After he retired from the farm he operated this Motor Grader for the county maintaining roads. He liked his machinery and was an excellent operator. Perhaps his greatest virtue though fit in with our morning's scripture reading, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43. While he openly expressed his opinion on machines, and reluctantly on policy issues, I don't recall him ever making disparaging remarks about individuals. He left those judgements to a higher level.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
A little girl thats just about 3-years old can look and act pretty much like a lady when she is going with her Mother to a Bridal shower. Even when the shower is at the "B" town hall in Bee, Nebraska. It was for one of her favorite aunts and aunt Vivian is holding the door open for Mother and daughter.
But even dignified little girls don't have to be lady-like all of the time. After all, what is one to do if you don't like the old neighborhood cat setting on your front porch. Even at almost 3, you know better than to try to shoo it away with your hands, so the only reasonable thing to do is kick at it. (I wonder if a loving Mother was involved with the fancy shoe stringing and a matching green hair ribbon.)
Friday, July 15, 2011
This is a continuation of yesterday's blog in which I attempted to relate some of Elaine's respect for her Dad and his ability to do things to make her feel he was very exceptional. She grew up with him having a thrashing machine and a "D" John Deere. This meant that he had a "thrashing run" with 5-6 neighbors.
One neighbor dropped out of the group when he learned that another neighbor had a patch of bindweed. She was about 16 years old when photographed with her Dad, Mother and brother Dale. The love and respect for her Dad even shows through on the picture. It was probably a year or so after the picture was taken that Dale introduced Elaine to a friend of mine at a dance. He was not anxious to dance with her so I volunteered. Things have not been the same since. They have been better.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
I wish that every little girl could grow up being as proud of their Dads as Elaine has been of hers. Sometimes our daughters know us too well and recognize our many foibles but still love and respect us for who we are. Elaine has never compared me to her Dad and has always helped to bolster my image, particularly when our four children were at the formative stage. However, there are some things that no one could do as well as Albert. In fact there were quite a few things. One that she has talked about for years had to do with his ability to turn a cream separator. Her family milked cows and sold cream, dressed chickens and eggs to people in Seward during the days of her childhood. As her story goes, “Daddy was the only one that turned the handle on the cream separator because he could turn it at just the right speed to separate out cream that when cooled, would hold up a knife. And, that is what their customers expected”. I have heard that story over the years as part of the history of her growing up on the farm during hard times. Though dubious, I never questioned its authenticity. Elaine’s older brother (and he has a PhD in Agronomy) were out for lunch last week so I asked him if he ever turned the cream separator as a young man and he gave us the same story Elaine has been telling. After lunch we all went up to help her older sister Joyce celebrate her 92nd birthday. At an appropriate time, I asked her if she remembered anything about their cream separator and selling cream during the depression years. Would you believe she repeated Elaine’s story word-for-word. What a wonderful memory of a Dad who could do something that so impressed his children that they all recall the details after 70 years.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The last piece of a good cake is always the best and here is the last piece of the best cake that we ever have around our house. I have been “spoiled” by having some of it with ice cream each afternoon when getting home from the golf course, but now it's gone. This white coconut cake, made about 3 days ahead, refrigerated and sealed in a tupperware container, seasons through to make it a moist, flavorful cake for a special occasion. It is messy to cut, but good to eat. (Recipe: Page 47 of the Vrana Cookbook)
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I have reached the stage in life where very few things I buy, or are given to me, are as satisfying as the items they are replacing. A few years ago the question was being asked: “How many Senior Citizens does it take to change a light bulb”. The answer was 100. It takes 1 person to change the bulb and the other 99 to tell how good the old one was. That may be an exaggeration but my last computer, camera, phone, pair of shoes, golf glove, straw hat, etc. didn't seem to be as good as the old one. (At least not for a while.) However, I was recently pleased with the purchase of 4 new pairs of sox. We got them at the J. C. Penney store in Lincoln. They are the easiest to pull on and off, most comfortable sox I have ever had. They are Dr. Scholl's Crew sox, consisting of 95% Polyester, 3% Nylon, and 2% Spandex. It may be the Spandex that sets them apart. I understand it has some elastic features. They were made in China with satisfaction guaranteed by Dr. Scholl's Sox in Mt. Airy, NC. The sox carry the seal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. And yes, they were on sale when we bought them.
Monday, July 11, 2011
The Seward Bandshell celebrated it's 75th anniversary a year ago. Just a half block off the “square”, it has been the “jewel” of downtown Seward since it was built. New mental benches have been installed and major structural renovations were made during the past year. In his Stories about Seward, Harold Davisson gives a lot of credit to then Mayor George Thomas, for the bandshell's existence. “The old Wickersham livery stable, the John Fleener poultry house, and the bottling works, then owned by Jake Imig were torn down and dirt from the property (City Recycling Center) south of Homer Houdersheldt's Skating Rink was hauled in to fill up the hole and build up the place for the spectators.“ Davisson goes on to say that Harry Jones and T. Norval covered a considerable amount of the expense of construction. The first time I walked across the stage of the bandshell was in the spring of 1938 to receive my 8th grade graduation certificate. It was a thrill to be involved in the graduation of 8th graders from all the Country Schools in Seward County. Going on to High School in those days was considered a privilege and this event marked the completion of formal education for many youngsters. It is used frequently these days for a variety of events but the City Band Concerts are the big draw. Thanks, Mayor Thomas.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
My Brother Don takes pride in pointing out that he plays from the White Tees at his home course and I play from the Yellows when we compare golf scores. Likewise, I took considerable comfort in reading a recent article about Jack Nicklaus being involved in the, “Tee it Forward” program. He is quoted as saying: “We constantly encourage golfers to play the proper tees, but too often they want to bite off as much of the course as they can. What ends up suffering is their scorecard and their overall enjoyment. This program should help stimulate people to play the proper tees and maximize the golf enjoyment”. The article goes on to say that: “If you can hit a Driver 275 yards on average, then the recommended 18-hole yardage is between 6,700 and 6,900 yards”. An accompanying chart shows:
250 yards 6,200-6,400.
225 yards 5,800-6,000.
200 yards 5,200-5,400.
175 yards 4,400-4,600.
150 yards 3,500-3,700.
Our Seward Course is 6,552 from the Black tees, 6,250 from the White, 5,228 from the Yellow and 4,862 from the Reds. This implies that I should average 200 yards with my Driver. I wish I could but still have no plans to start playing from the Reds. But with the temperature pushing 100 and humidity in the 70% range, we only played 9 holes this afternoon.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
When a friend recently learned of the connection between “The Crow’s Nest” and my last name, he sponsored me for membership in ASCAR (American Society of Crows and Ravens). It is an international disorganization of some 700 individuals. Their association is based on, “shared attitudes and appetites but markedly diverse interest - appreciative, scientific, aesthetic, literary and mythic - in crows, ravens and their significance both ecological and metaphoric”. Members receive a copy of the Corvi Chronicle “which is published irregularly by Corvis with an interest in or need for doing so”. The Society has no officers, rules or regulations; does not keep records or levy dues. When conducting Society or other business, Corvis prefer to use only a number, i.e. Corvi # 25, 39, 457, or whatever. All members are encouraged to send notes, essays, tales, clippings, sketches or photos to the editor of the Chronicle for publication. The accompanying example is a sheet from the 10 page, Spring 2011 edition which speaks to the intelligence of Crows. I remember my Dad telling about splitting a Crow’s tongue when he was a boy and teaching it to talk. I never really believed it but am convinced they are pretty smart birds.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Maintenance, it’s something we don’t always think about when making a purchase or acquiring property. A year ago we replaced our nearly 40 year old central air conditioning unit after several years of “high maintenance”. I turned on the water for our underground lawn sprinkler system last week and as of today, have it back in operating condition. It required two visits from the Lawn Sprinkler Service people and one visit from a plumber. Our cost will approach $300.00. I have been able to do most of the maintenance on the sprinkler system up until now but there were some problems beyond my ability. It does make one wonder about the cost/benefit of such “luxuries” as lawn sprinklers. How important is it that we keep our blue grass green all summer. Might it be more practical to have a fine leafed fescue grass that is more adapted to our weather conditions than Kentucky Bluegrass. What are other things that we may need to consider as “times get tougher”. We may need to examine our priorities and recognize that maintenance of some items is more expensive than their original cost.