Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Busy Days in 1990

I came across this picture on a CD-R that my cousin, Phil Vrana sent to us back in 2004. At that time we were unable to play it on our old Gateway. Now I found this picture among others on a file that opens with my HP. Many of the pictures are of Phil's family but several of our Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, and Cousins. Pictures like this of me and my brothers are particularly interesting since I had never seen it before. It appears to have been taken on June 10, 1990 when Phil's folks, Uncle Joe and Aunt Ruth
celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary at the Methodist Church in Bethany.
I like to check my diary when I get a picture and date like this. We were living in Ankeny, IA and working for the International Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) at the time but back in Seward for the weekend. Carolyn had brought Mother, Julie and Heather over to visit the previous weekend and Tim, Laura and Tony had also come to visit us. Mother had a mini-stroke so after talking with Doctors, got her back to Seward. Elaine stayed in Seward while I went back to work for 3-days. I drove back to Seward and took Elaine along to the annual meeting of the Kansas Chapter of SWCS in Manhattan. I was on the program and went on the tour that included the ARS Wind Erosion Laboratory. We spent the weekend back in Seward and stopped in Lincoln for the Anniversary Celebration. We were back in Ankeny that evening and had word that Jon and Mary would be visiting us within a few days as they were moving from New York to Seward since Jon was transferred to the SCS Soils Laboratory in Lincoln. Those were busy days, I don't know how we did it but we were younger then.                            (Correction: Further research leads me to believe the picture was taken on August 5, 1990 when we celebrated Mother's 90th birthday at the Hughes Bros. cabin)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another Good Rain

We received another 1.40" of rain early this morning. Reports in my coffee group ranged from 1.20-1-50" and the range is attributed to a variety of factors, including the amount it actually rained. I have even been accused of reading the top of the meniscus. In our small town readings have even been bolstered by an early rising neighbor. Regardless of the detailed measurements, it was a great rain. We have run our lawn sprinklers 3 times this summer and I wouldn't have run it Monday had I suspected this rain was on the way. With the exception of a few hot, dry days in mid-July, this has been a great crop year. Some of the corn may have been hurt a bit since the heat came during the pollination stage but it probably affected very little in this area. The soybeans should produce excellent yields. I heard that a prominent politician commented that the earthquake and hurricane in the Washington, D.C. area was Devine payback for what had come out of the federal government. I wonder if she would also suggest that we in Seward County, Nebraska are really worthy of the blessings we received during this crop year. But enough of politics and religion. Land prices continue to boom in Nebraska with the commodity prices anticipated and the favorable yields here in comparison to many parts of the country. I read in the Nebraska Farmer Magazine last night that a 793 Acre farm in Knox County (NE Nebraska near Yankton, SD) sold recently for $7,125/Ac. That figures out to some $5,650,125.00. I don't know the details on the land but hope the new owner doesn't plan to pay for it raising corn and soybeans, even if we do have exceptionally good weather for the next 75 years.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Old Crow Zone

After leaving Garland Saturday, we decided it would be a good time to drive down to the neighborhood where Grandpa & Grandma Walker lived when I was a boy. Their farm was just a half-mile south of Highway 34 and the Garland corner. The next place on south was where Uncle Clarence's lived at the time Aunt Edith died and beyond that was a place where Uncle Clyde and Aunt Hilda lived for a short time after getting married. At one time the road went south for a couple miles and then turned west to connect with other roads. However,  now it dead-ends and the mile road to the west is closed after never being more than just a trail. As a 10-12 year old I stayed with the Grandparents and helped with wheat harvest and the chores. Some of my earliest memories are of going to their place for Holiday dinners. We were included in Birthday Parties and got to know the Middle Creek area neighbors who were also all included. While I have been down the old road to these places a few times over the years, I was impressed the other day with the steepness of the hills and the woody terrain in general. Tucked away in these hills and off  a narrow gravel road, I was surprised to find a number of houses. They varied from double wides to $300,000-500,000 appearing houses. It must take 4-wheel drive equipment to maneuver the roads in the winter time. I don't know the story on the place pictured but the similarity with the name of my Blog site caught my eye. This place was on the west side of the road south of where Uncle Clarence and Aunt Edith lived, and about 1 1/2 miles from the highway. A place like this may be ideal for someone seeking solitude but all I can say is, "Different strokes for different folks".

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Garland, NE

We drove over to Garland yesterday afternoon where an Auction was just "winding-up". I had left a bid on a power Kabota lawnmower with the crew doing the Auction and was pleased to find that I didn't get it. It is with a bit of nostalgia that  I look at Main Street and remember what it was back in the 1940's when I was in High School. Interestingly, the population of the village is 40% higher now than then but no longer the shopping center it once was plus the rural population has diminished.  Back in the 40's there were 2 grocery stores, a produce station (cream, eggs, etc.), barber shop, hardware store & lumber yard, 2 gas stations, garage for auto  repair, blacksmith shop, harness & shoe store, Massey-Harris dealer, a Doctor in residence, 2 taverns, 2 churches and a grain elevator.  The grain elevator is much larger now than then, there are still 2 taverns but are open only very limited hours; there is still one church and a very active American Legion Club. The Fire Department has also progressed considerably over the years. The Post Office is located in with a small grocery store and was not on the list released recently for possible closure. The consolidation of the school district with Seward some 25 years ago and the abandonment of the Rail Road a few years earlier had a profound effect on Garland. Lincoln is only 20 miles away and Seward about 10 where many residents are employed. The little Bank Building is being restored into a Village Museum. It went "broke" in the early 1930's and never reopened. Ironically, the Grandson of the President and owner of the Bank when it closed, has had a distinguished career with the World Bank and is now the CEO for the Bread for The World organization in New York City.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Raising Switchgrass

For several years we have been hearing about the feasibility of making cellulose ethanol from Switchgrass. It appears to be closer to a reality as a plant is being planned in Iowa. We raised Certified Trail Blazer Switchgrass on our Seward County farm back in the 1980's. It was at that time that many acres of highly erodible cropland was taken out of production and planted to permanent cover under the USDA Conservation Reserve Program. Switch grass was an ideal native species to include in a mixture of grasses to emulate the Native tall grass prairie. Elaine is standing in a field of Switchgrass is late summer.
Later in the fall we would harvest it with our little Allis-Chalmers All-Crop Harvestor (Combine). It was necessary to spread the harvested seed out to dry which we did by placing heavy plastic sheets in the house and farm buildings. We then spread out the seed to a depth of only 2-3" to dry. Some times we ran it back through the combine before taking it over to Miller Seed Company in York, NE where it was further cleaned and bagged. There was a high demand for locally grown seed at that time and it proved to be the most profitable aspect of our farming adventure. For someone who hadn't been involved in actual farming operations for a number of years, it was a tremendous challenge to get the machinery set properly and to even find the nearly 100 grease fittings on the combine.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Trees at Seward Country Club Golf Course

Here is another tree on the Seward Country Club Golf  Course that has succumbed to the Pine Bark Beetle. This tree is near the #8 Yellow/Red tee box. The trunk of the tree displays an image of a disgruntled golfer scrawling at you while approaching the tee box.  The tree will be taken out within the next few weeks but I have asked that they leave a 5-6' stump so the image remains. The image reminds one of the forest that Alice encountered in the Wizard of Oz. If this one could talk like those did, we might learn some new words since tee shots occasionally find their way to a small pond.
In addition to the Pine Bark Beetle damage, we also lost 2 of our 45 year old Black Hills Spruce trees that have served as 100 yard markers. They were blown over during two different wind storms within a period of about two week. Only 1 such marker tree remains from those planted for that purpose when the course was established back in the mid-sixties.  I planted this Blue Spruce tree 11 years ago. It is one of the most attractive trees on the course but as shown, it has been infested with Bag Worms. I talked to the Groundskeeper about spraying it, but after further research, am afraid it's too late in the season for that. Plan B is to pick them off and destroy them since the little pods are where the female lays the eggs that will develop into worms next spring. The worms then feed on the foliage of the tree. That is the time of year the tree needs to be sprayed if they are to be controlled chemically.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Unique Pine Tree

We have lost numerous trees at the Seward Country Club during the past few years and more are on their way out. This one is close to the #3 Tee Box and the Driving Range. I have no idea what happened to eliminate the normal "leader" and cause the limbs to branch out as they have. It's uniqueness has been a conversation piece over the years among people playing the course for the first time. Though efforts were made earlier to save the Pines , the damage has become so prevalent that their fate is being accepted and new "non-susceptible" replacements are being planted.  While it is impossible to replace a picturesque specimen like this one, something may be salvaged. I have talked to the Groundskeeper about just cutting off the upper branches and leave remaining everything within 5-6' of the ground. I'm sure the "stump" would stay in place for a number of years without the need for maintenance.  That is, unless the ladies decided to set a flower pot on top of each of the stumps limbs to give it the apprearance of a candelabrum.                                     

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chinese Buffet and Mongolian Grill

We  met brother Don and wife Gladys this noon at the Chinese Buffet and Mongolian Grill in Lincoln. The food was delicious and the variety of selection unbelievable. The grill area was most interesting. There most have been over 20 choices of meats, fruit, etc. that could be taken to the grill to be cooked. The grill is about 6' in diameter with a disposal well in the center. The Chef spreads the individual choices on a portion of the grill, separated by his cooking tools. It took 4-5 minutes for it to be finished and was topped with cashew nuts. After finishing that, the Buffet had excellent choices of very tasty Chinese food. I did get my plate cleaned up when Don went back to the dessert section and brought me a cream puff and ice cream like he was eating. We visited for a while, came home, took a nap, and had very little to eat for supper. My Fortune Cookie told me that I need to get organized.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back Yard Crows Nest

This is the view we see of the back yard from our kitchen table. It certainly looks more peaceful and stable than the TV pictures we are seeing of the earthquake this afternoon. The epic center at Mineral, VA. is between Richmond and the Washington, D.C. area. We haven't had any contact with our sons who live in Richmond and at Burke, VA. This has not been a slow news day with hurricane Irene, the situation in Libya, etc.                      
Our backyard continues to be a source of pleasure and exercise. The only thing inside our fence in the picture that was here when we moved in is the clothes line. Everything you see is the result of our work over the years. We have always thought that good fences are necessary for good neighbor  relationships. Our tomato plants that grow up against the deck have been slow in producing this summer. The vining Black Eyed Susan has been very aggressive and continues to bloom profusely. The old Black Crow is right at home watching over everything in this "Crows nest".

Monday, August 22, 2011


Who among us doesn't have a collection of something. And, why do we have them. Pictured here is part of my collection of model cars and tractors. I haven't added to it in the past couple years and for a while, was buying and selling items that fit into the collection through eBay. Last Saturday an Auction was held in Seward by people who seemed to have collected everything that was a bargain to buy. They had a tremendous amount of household and collectible items. People were carrying out boxes of things they had bought for $1.00. It reminded me that we go though a stage in life of collecting and then of dispersing. If we don't do it, someone else will have the task. We have been through that once and it isn't easy. Disposing of things may be more difficult than collecting if one is thinking investment. (I have saved all the boxes that they came in). Fortunately, we have an Et-Cetra Gift and Thrift Shop here in Seward to facilitate the process. It is operated largely by volunteers and the profit goes to a good cause. Several of the cars and tractors shown here in this collection are models of ones that we either had or wished we had. Some of them were brought home from foreign trips and provide special memories. In reality, I guess that is what collections are all about. First the challenge of acquiring memorable items and then the memories associated with them. It would seem that we wouldn't really need so many of any one thing as the people who had the Auction. But it's like the number of fancy automobiles that some celebrities collect. I wonder if there is any comparison with some of the sects that practice polygamy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Butterfly Milkweed

This is a Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa interior) plant that it growing between the street and sidewalk on the west side, just north of the 2nd & Moffitt intersection here in Seward. It is a native perennial and has been growing in the lawn area there for a number of years. Unlike other milkweeds, this plant has a clear sap. The flowers bloom intermittently from early to late summer, depending on moisture levels; there is no floral scent. During late summer, seedpods develop that are about 4-5"long and 1/4" thick with a smooth surface that is slightly hairy. They eventually split open along one side and release the seeds. The root system consist of a woody taproot that is thick and knobby. I was familiar with the plant as a youngster growing up in the Bohemian Alps north of Garland but didn't know much about it. We had several acres of Native Prairie where we would see the plant as we "put-up" Prairie hay about County Fair time. Dan, on whose place this pictured plant is located, works for the Lower Platte South NRD in Lincoln. He keeps a beautiful yard with a couple Hickory trees among many other things. The variety of trees, shrubs and plants within the City of Seward make it a park-like setting.  People like Dan and his wife should know that many of us get considerable pleasure from observing their plantings as we drive by.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Colorado Peaches & A Pretty Lady

Colorado Peaches are here in the Seward grocery stores. We will have to buy some of them but it's taken a bit of time to adjust to the price of $35.75/lug. We understand a lug weighs about 17-20 lbs. A bushel of peaches weighs about 48 lbs. The picture is of Elaine with some of her canning in the fall of 1952. We believe a bushel of Colorado peaches in those days cost about $5.95 and she often canned as many as 5 bushels. You can also see the Blue Plums, Pears, Green  Beans, Apple Sauce, Beets, Corn, Catsup, etc. that Elaine had canned. Her folks had a big garden which was the source of the vegetables. I carried a lunch pail in those days and a half-pint jar of Blue Plums along with 3 Summer Sausage sandwiches and an apple or banana was standard fare. I recall building these shelves mostly from used lumber. The one bright 2 by 4 may be all that I bought. This was the only room in the basement and was accessed by lifting a "cellar door" in the kitchen floor and going down the steps. But times have changed and so have we. Never-the-less, I think we will buy a lug of Colorado Peaches this coming Wednesday when Senior Citizens get a 5% discount.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dust Storms

Timothy Egan's book, "The Worst  Hard Time" was published 2-3 years ago and tells of the Dust Bowl days during the 1930's in the Southern High Plains. I read the book when it first came out and today saw a film of it down at our Senior Center. If there is a "Hero" in the story, it would be Hugh Hammond Bennett, the founder of the USDA Soil Conservation Service. The book traces the Homestead and Kincaid Acts by the US Congress to encourage settlement of the region in the early part of the 20th century, the high wheat prices associated with WW I, and the "Bust" of 1929. Then came the Drought of the 1930's and changes in weather patterns that resulted in mammoth dust storms. It was during one of these storms with top soil from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas being blown to the East Coast and beyond, that H.H.Bennett was able to persuade the Congress to appropriate funds to establish a cadre of trained "Soil Conservationist". They would work with farmers to alleviate the erosion problem by encouraging them to follow innovative farming practices. There was some discussion following the film this afternoon and several of the participants were aware that this field had been  my working career. I acknowledged that I began working for the Agency in 1948 and that our youngest son, who began with the Agency before I retired, is still employed in the Washington D.C. Headquarters Office.  So, A member of our family has been with the Agency that Bennett founded for 67  of the 76 years that it has been in existence. I am pleased that son Jon followed in my footsteps and believe we provided commendable service to the Country in protecting our Natural Resources. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Our hanging basket of Impatience is doing well as long as we keep it watered. The pot contains very little soil and the material used is very light and dries out quickly. It's good for older people to have plants like this one to encourage exercise. Elaine is quite vigilant in it's care and mixes-up a solution of  Miracle-grow to put on all the annual plants periodically. After climbing up the ladder to pick bag worms off our Blue Spruce tree this morning, we gave up and called the Nursery to spray the tree. I have been up high on the 18' latter 4-5 times this summer but recognized that there were several up higher than my reach. The tree is a good 25+ feet high and there are several near the top. This morning I checked our Spruce tree at the Golf Course and found many more bag worms. There appeared to be more today than yesterday when I mentioned them to Dan and he indicated he would spray it. All of this yard work is good exercise but there comes a time when an old man needs to use some good judgment about climbing too high on a ladder. (As well as doing a few other things.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Golfing on an Anniversary

Carolyn took this picture at the golf course this morning as she "caddied" for me. The Spruce tree behind the cart is one I planted 11 years ago to honor the memory of one of my golfing buddies. It was only about 18 inches high at the time of transplanting it from our back yard. We had grown it from a single stem seedling in our garden. It was a pleasure for Carolyn to be out with me on a beautiful morning. This is the second day of school here in Seward and the first year of her retirement as a teacher. It's great that we can now do these type of things. We decided to call Elaine who met us at the Country Club for lunch when we finished the 9-hole round. We did this in  celebration of the anniversary of Verlon's (our oldest son) birthday & our becoming parents. We visited with him back in Virginia this afternoon and talked about the possibilities of his coming back for a visit in September.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Surprise Lilies

We double crop the area adjacent to our deck with perennial Surprise Lilies coming up from their bulbs in early spring and making a vigorous growth of long, narrow leaves. By the time to plant tomatoes, they have started to die back and we trim them off. Nothing is seen of them while the tomatoes make their growth up against the deck railing. Then, here comes August and the lilies pop up to a height of nearly 2-feet in 3-4 days and produce these beautiful flowers within a week of their emergance. We hadn't seen any of these until moving back to Nebraska. My Mother had them and she always refered to them as "Naked Ladies". That does appear to be one of their common names along with "Magic Lilies" and Surprise Lilies. We frequently cut into some of their bulbs in the process of planting our tomatoes but it only seems to invigorate them. They belong to the Amarylis family and are native to southern Japan. They first appeared in American flower gardens in the late 1880's.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dicks Kindle

Dick brought his Kindle along to coffee this morning and we each took our turn playing with it. He has had it for only a short time and still learning the basics. His "technical ability" is commendable for a fellow in his late '80's and after having been wounded  during "The Battle of the Bulge" back in 1945. We all have computers but some of us had not actually had the experience of working a Kindle. We didn't get past the preliminary stages but far enough to "buy" a book of our choice had we wanted to. I was interested in blogs which I was able to "pull up" but didn't get far enough to know whether or not individual blogs like this one, might be available.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

County Fair Wrap-Up.

The Seward County Fair winds-up this evening with a Demolition Derby at the Grandstand. It's been a great Fair. Pat and Sharon from the Seward Area Chamber of Commerce are shown here in their booth pushing ticket sales for the Duck Race. The race will be held this afternoon in the Seward Swimming Pool. First prize is two  tickets to the Nebraska vs. Wisconsin football game in Madison, WI on October 1st. The prize includes travel expenses, two nights lodging and $100.00 in spending money. Tickets sell for $10.00 each but they will sell hundreds. The next ten winners in line will also receive prizes donated by local businesses that vary in value from $200. down to $50.00.

Susan won "Best of Show" and other ribbons for this fantastic quilt. The picture doesn't begin to show the intricacies of the quilting involved. There are some 75 quilters in the Seward area and many of them display their handiwork at the fair. Elaine has done several quilts as well as wall hangings. Our daughter Carolyn and granddaughter Julie are also quilters. Julie works down at the Nebraska Quilt Study Center and Quilt Museum in Lincoln and at the Udder Store here in Seward on a part-time basis at each place. Quilting is an interesting art form and the people (not just women) who have the skill and patience to produce the beautiful results are to be admired.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Seward County Fair 2011

Elaine and I went to the Seward County Fair this afternoon and had a great time. Our Fair Board does a fantastic job in putting together a great mix of exhibits, food, entertainment, displays that appeal to all age groups. Much of what we enjoyed this afternoon involved refreshing memories while visiting with old friends and being able to visit with new friends about "how things were". The young lady pictured with Elaine in front of the restored 4-H Cottage was most interested in hearing Elaine tell about how she would register 4-H campers in the building while working with the County Extension Service. Campers included former U. S. Congressman Doug Bereuter

 I had to stand on this old CC Case to refresh my memory of how short the tractor appears from that view without being able to see the front wheels protruding out in front. It brought back the memory of my driving one just like it pulling a converted two-row Lister planting corn. The tractor had just been delivered when I took it out in a field just east of our house with Vivian riding the Lister to raise and lower it as we turned around at the edge of the field. Unfortunately, at the end of our first pass across the field, I didn't recon for the front wheel protrusion and took out a fence post. We got that straightened out and continued planting. Dad was more concerned about our crooked rows than he was the fence. We fixed the fence but the crooked rows were there all summer
There is something about music that sharpens the memory and takes one back to the happy times that it reflects. That was the case with the Accordion Jamboree. This group under the leadership of Jim and his daughter Jean play the same old Bohemian songs that my Dad played on his accordion. And, that Elaine and I danced to in Bee and Dwight during our courtship. We were able to hear one of our friends sitting behind us, singing along on  some of the songs. He has had memory problems for some time but the music took him back to earlier times and he was thoroughly enjoying every minute of it, as did we.  Elmer on the tuba and Ed on the drums set the set the beat but the glances and smiles between Jim and Jean reflected the father-daughter love of music and for each other.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Waiting, Waiting & Waiting Room

This is where we spent part of the day; the waiting room of our Ophthalmologist. We had a 10:00am appointment and it was 11:30 when we got in to see the Dr.'s assistant. It was 12:30 when we finally saw the Doctor and after 1:45 when we were finished. It is easy to get discouraged during all the waiting but it helps that Elaine and I go through all of this together. And, we both got good reports. Good enough that we don't have scheduled appointments until next May. I had my laptop along but was unable to get an Internet connection. The Office has an airport but it is locked and the receptionist was unable to give me the password. We "celebrated" our good examination results by having a late lunch at the Village Inn. We enjoyed visiting with Cousin Dale and Peggy who were finishing their lunch as we came in. We made a couple other stops to give our dilated eyes a chance to recover before making the drive home. All-in-all, it was a great day even if I didn't get to the golf course after having played for the past 21 consecutive days. I will start another "streak" at 9:30 tomorrow morning.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Carolyn's Birthday

Today is our daughter's birthday and the picture was taken the day she became Ben's happy and beautiful bride. We have taken many, many picture of her over the years and this is one of my favorites. It was about this time of day that she was born in the Seward Hospital. My Diary entry for the day was: "I took Elaine down to the hospital about 6:00am. They gave her caster oil and several other things before Carolyn Elaine was born at 6:20pm. She weighed 7lbs. 10 oz. and was 17 1/2 inches long. I got announcements all ready to mail". I was not allowed to even see Elaine from the time I took her in until some time after the baby was born. Dr. Carr was the attending physician and came through the waiting room in his "scrubs" about 6:30 and without breaking his hurried stride, smiled at me and said, "You've got a little girl". It is one of those memories pictured in my memory bank that has not faded over time. Being our only daughter, we have always had a close relationship, but the older we get, the more we appreciate she and Ben being close here in Seward. We are in contact nearly every day and her frequent visits to our house are always one of the days highlight. In a recent Blog, I commented that: "Every little girl should have a Dad they could respect as much as Elaine did hers".  I can also add: "Every old man (& woman) should have a daughter living nearby that they respect, love and appreciate as much as we do Carolyn".  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Early '70's Styles

We were probably on our way to Church when this picture was taken back in the early 70's. It it wasn't for Elaine wearing gloves and a hat, we could have been going to work. I don't remember how I was able to tie those narrow neckties that were popular for only a short time. Men's dress in those days was very conservative so the width of ties was something that changed. White shirts and dark business suits were the "uniform of the day" during the early years that we worked in Washington, D.C. As time went on, suits began to get lighter and blue shirts became "acceptable". While we took off our suit coats to work, we never went out of our office in the USDA South Building without putting them on. A few years later, Blue or Black Blazers with Gray trousers became popular for regular business work. Looking back, it seems to have been rather foolish but in a way it was out of respect to our fellow workers and to our job. I don't know where we are headed with the informality we see in business settings today. It would seem that it should promote comradely and improved communication. But I wonder if it may contribute to the lack of respect of adversaries that is demonstrated in our U. S. Congress, even while wearing dark suits and white shirts.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Small Town Friends & Cherry Pie

Tony, Verlon, Tim and Jon in front of our house in Fairfax, VA in 1979. I planned to use this picture and write about a heavy subject but just didn't have the time because of it being a busy day. It included morning coffee with my friends, golf with Charlie, a Dental appointment, Library Board meeting and Seward Aging Services Board meeting this evening. My days activities prompts me to acknowledge how fortunate we are in being able to live in our small, home town. We are further fortunate in having a daughter, her daughter and their husbands also living here. I only wish our 3 boys were near-by instead of being in Virginia and Indiana. But today was an outstanding day for being able to work with friends in the process of doing our civic duty. Coffee is always a great "sounding board" for ideas and an opportunity to learn from a different perspective; Charlie and I get our physical exercise and humility in shape playing golf. While waiting for Elaine after I was through at the Dentist, I had the opportunity to visit with people and catch-up on mutual friends that we hadn't seen for some time. I am also meeting and working with new, young friends in my involvement with the Library Board. This evening after our Seward Aging Services meeting Nita told of the last wishes of a lady that just passed away after having celebrated her 99th birthday last week and didn't ever want to be 100. Then Dean and I talked about his going to St. Louis later this week to see the Rockies play the Cardinals. Our conversation even extended to where I related having been to the "shivery" at the time his father remarried following his mother's death. Dean was only 3 at the time.  So these are some of the pleasures of an old man involved in many activities in a great home town. We topped the day off by having another small piece of that cherry pie and there is still a bit of pie for tomorrow.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cherry Pie

       Janice and Larry spent a few days with us over the 4th of July. Among the things we enjoyed with them was Cherry pie from Door  County, Wisconsin which they visited on their home from a meeting in Illinois.  They left with us a quart glass jar of the special cherries that Elaine baked into a pie last week. The pie is delicious. We have been rationing it out in small pieces and topping it with ice cream over the fast few days. What better way to sooth the pain of the stock market decline and having a below average golf round. We enjoy their visit with each serving and I'm already looking forward to tomorrow since there is still pie remaining.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Anniversary of Mother's Birth

Today is the 111th Anniversary of my Mother's birth. This picture of her was taken at the farmstead where my Dad was raised north of Garland. She and Dad were married in October of 1920 and lived here on the farm for a few months before moving to Seward. Mother would have had her 20th birthday just a few months before they were married. I'm not sure when the picture was taken but expect it was shortly before they were married. The building near where Mother is standing was a "summer kitchen" that was moved while I was growing up on the farm to become our "wash house". The building in the background was our old woodshed. This picture of Mother really exemplifies her persona that she maintained throughout her 90 years on earth. She was willing to take chances and had the faith to see the possibilities. As an "Irish girl" she married a first generation "Bohemian fellow" which in those days was most uncommon. Her optimism, creativity, ambition and faith served her well and passed much of it on to all who came within her influence. It must have been very difficult to go back to the farm without running water and electricity during the 30's after living in town where Vivian, Don and I were born. We went through the drought and depression living off the land, our livestock and chickens. On more than one occasion she sent her "keepsake quarter" along with Vivian and I as we went to Church activities with the suggestion to not spend it "unless we had to".  The quarter had been minted the year of her father's birth and he had given it to her for a birthday. We never spent it and is still among my momentous. Her creativity was demonstrated by taking Dad's 410 gage shotgun and shooting a squirrel out of our cottonwood trees to fix for supper along with potatoes, creamed green beans and home made bread and butter. She was not a perfectionist but more of a "get'er done" person. As times got better and paint was available, nothing ever went to waste. She would delight in mixing what was left over in the gallon buckets and painting some of the outbuildings or whatever she felt could use some "freshening-up".  We were always a close-knit family. I went to sleep as a youngster many nights after hearing Mother say her prayers. We have never known for sure how we made the decision to come back home after being gone for 22 years, but I wonder if Mother's prayers might have been involved, and for the benefit of us all.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The U.S.Capitol & Statue of Freedom

This picture was not taken last week when it appeared that the Capitol may "blow a gasket" with the heated debates. Actually it was taken on June 6, 1993 when Elaine and I had flown back to Washington, D. C. to participate in a Groundwater Guardian meeting. We had gone back a day early, rented a car and drove down to Richmond, VA to have our Anniversary Dinner with son Verlon and his friend, Kli. Back in D.C. on Sunday we snapped this picture while retuning our car to the airport after  checking in to the Holiday Inn Governor's House at 17th & Rhode Island Ave. NW

The Statue of Freedom is a bronze statue designed by Thomas Crawford that since 1863 has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol. It stands 19 1/2 feet high and weighs some 15,000 pounds. The statue was removed May 9, 1993 and brought down for restoration. It had extensive pitting and corrosion on the surface of the bronze as well as needing other necessary repairs. It was returned to its pedestal by helicopter on October 23, 1993 amid the bicentennial of the U.S.Capitol.  She holds the hilt of a sheathed sword while a laurel wreath of victory and the Shield of the United States are clasped in her left hand. Her chiton is secured by a brooch inscribed "U.S" and is partially covered by a heavy, Native American-style fringed blanket thrown over her left shoulder. She faces to the east.

Friday, August 5, 2011


. This picture was taken 25 years ago of some of the cousins from my Dad's side of the family. It was on the occasion of Aunt Anna's funeral. We had gathered after the funeral for lunch, social time and picture taking at Vivian & Eddy's home. The back row (l-r) is Dale, Vivian, Tony, Dick, Bob and Pat. Kneeling are Phil and George. We  had a "Cousins" dinner the night before at the Dandy Lion Restaurant that also included: Ted & Muffy, Merle & Jan and others. The funeral service was held on Saturday, July 12, 1986 at the Woods Bros. Chapel in Seward with burial at the rural Salem Church cemetery. Aunt Anna's son Richard officiated. Dick and Bob were identical twins and for years I was unable to tell them apart. As they got older, married and had different lifestyles, they took on more individual identities. My wife Elaine has done quite a bit of genealogy on my family and recently mailed some information to cousins. In today's mail was correspondence from second cousin Bob and his wife from Scottsdale, AZ. Bob is the son of Dick (with coat on in picture) who lives with his wife in Cedaredge, CO. It also included a picture of Bob, his wife Jerene and their family. While we have never met them, we enjoyed hearing from them, and Bob looks very much like his Dad did at that age.  This picture  is a reminder of the passage of time with Vivian, Bob & George having gone to their Eternal Reward. And, I look as old on the picture as I feel today after playing 18 holes of golf ( 84).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Golf at the SCC

With Tiger Woods back playing on the PGA tour, it seems timely to write about golf. I certainly don't want to even think about the stock market with the DOW down 512 points. Tiger finished the day at the Firestone Country Club in Akron, OH at -2.  Adam Scott leads at -8 but it's good to see Tiger back. Now for the local scene. Here is the layout for the Seward Country Club's 9-hole course. From the Black tees it plays 3,276 yards, White tees 3,125 yards, 2,614 from the Yellows and 2,431 from the Reds. The men's Senior League has played from the Yellow's for a number of years and that is where my partners and I play. I recorded my 9-hole score this morning for the one-hundred and first round this year. I only record the 9-hole score though often we play an extra 3. Out of curiosity, I checked back on previous years and found I was at 100  (9's) a year ago on this date;110 in 2009; and, only 92 in 2008. However, August 4, 2008 was the 14th consecutive day that I had played at least 9 holes when I went on to play 91 consecutive days. The "streak" ended on October 20 when it rained the next day. While some of my buddies talk about how much further they could drive the ball in their younger years, I have not had that experience since I didn't start playing until reaching  Senior status. I never was that good but am as good now as I have ever been (playing golf, that is). It is good exercise and the "Golf Gods" keep us humble. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Farm Auction

Our farm auction was held on April 15, 1989. It culminated a 9-year relationship that included the best of times and the worst of times. After 18 years in Washington,  D. C. one of my fears of early retirement was in not keeping busy. Little did I realize the amount of work that an 80-acre farm with a dozen buildings on the farmstead, can provide. Nor did I realize the job that I accepted with the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission required as much time and effort as my Federal job had though it only paid about half as much. At one time in my career with the USDA Soil Conservation Service, I was the agency's Personnel Director. After counseling many people regarding their retirement decision and plans, made mine without fully recognizing my commitment. But the plus side was the involvement of family. Elaine was a real trooper through the whole time. My folks got considerable enjoyment of going out to the farm and doing yard work and miscellaneous chores. Carolyn and Julie were always a joy to have around and we attribute many of Julie's abilities to her early childhood training. She could drive the Ford tractor when she was 8-years old. Our farm fish pond was a joy to family and friends. We amazed even ourselves in being able to raise and market, certified Trail Blazer Switch grass seed. But after 9 years we decided to call it quits. We wanted to do some foreign travel, enjoy our house in town and utilize our motor home.  The day of the auction was emotional but I don't recall any tears. We took a pickup truck load of things back to Tim's in Indiana within the next few days and began preparing for our 6-week trip to Alaska.  It was during that trip than we took on our final employment with the International Soil and Water Conservation Society in Ankeny, IA, but that's another story. The farm experience remains a questionable chapter in our lives but if we had the chance, I expect we would do it all over again. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An Old Man & an Old Shirt

You wouldn't  believe how long an old man can keep and continue to wear an old shirt. This plaid shirt was bought when we were still back in the Washington, D.C. area. I bought a light tan summer suit at Raleigh's and got this shirt and a maroon tie to wear with it. I also got a dark green shirt with a flowered tie at the same time. The suit has long since moved on to the local EtCetra store. I suppose the ties are in a box downstairs where they may some day become part of a quilt. But the shirt lingers on. It hasn't been worn more than 3-4 times a year during the past decade but is still one of my favorites. This shirt helps take me back to when it was new and I was in the "Prime of Life" in an important Civil Service position. I'm not sure of it's effect but I did make a couple points in our City Council meeting this evening.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Sea and the Wind...

This is an update of my June 29, 2011 blog where I told of having received the "Essays of E. B. White" as a gift. I have enjoyed 24 of the Essays and look forward to the remaining 7. With the air temperature showing 102 this afternoon and the heat index above 110, it was a good time to enjoy the air-conditioning and read. I seldom read more than one essay a day so that I may be able to keep their message in mind. Today's reading was "The Sea and the Wind That Blows". E. B. tells of his addiction to sailing and the unique pleasures it provides. Our oldest son in Richmond, VA built a small sailing boat a few years ago and while he talked about his sailing pleasures, I never quite understood what he was describing until reading it from E. B's description. I copied the 4-pages and will send it to our son. He is an avid reader and may have already seen it, but if not, I'm sure it will be of interest to him.