Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lunch at Stauffers

We had lunch with Don and Gladys at Stauffers in Lincoln today and a lady next to us took this picture. When I first saw it, I was reluctant to put it on but realized I am beginning to look old. (Some would say, "You've looked old for years so why fuss about it now"). The conversation was better than the food which it always is when we get together, wherever we eat. Don mentioned that he has bookmarked this blog page which is an easy way to bring it up. You can find it the first time if you wish, by going to Google and entering, "tony-thecrowsnest". It will bring up several possibilities but this one should be recognized. Once you get the site, it can be bookmarked or I have several blog sites listed on my own site and can tell when a new entry has been made on any of them. If all else fails, the blog sites address is which can be clicked on or entered at the top of the page of your browser.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another Farm Adventure

Another of our "Adventures" at the farm included unplugging the outlet tube. Here is the way I described in in my 1986 narrative.
"We had a heavy rain in mid-March following unseasonably warm weather that melted the ice off the pond with a lot of runoff going through the dam’s outlet pipe. The woody debris plugged the pipe at the junction of the 30” riser and 24” outlet pipe.  Water was setting a few inches higher than the inlet elevation with the 10’ riser full of water.  I used an old “corn rake” with a 10’ handle that John Meyer had left in the granary, and was able to get it unplugged and flushed through. It was as though “Divine Providence” provided me the ideal tool to do the job. While we debated the question of selling the farm, that evening we agreed to sell; the only question remaining was price."
This picture was taken soon after we got it unplugged and while water was still draining down. The re-bar cage over the inlet was to prevent any large limbs from getting in and the white steel baffle was to prevent turbulence. Just another adventure in Farm Living.  


Monday, November 28, 2011

Adventures on the Farm

Yes, that's me 25 years ago, up on the roof out at the farm, cleaning the chimney. The old house built in 1908 had hot water heat with a furnace in the basement that had been converted to burn oil. It worked quite well except for the amount of oil it burned and the cost even back in those days. We bought an "earth type" wood burning stove  which heated the downstairs very efficiently but it had to be "stoked" twice a day. One morning we found that the stove had very little draft and by using mirrors in a chimney hole, realized it was nearly plugged with soot. Our old farm truck provided a good base for the 32' ladder to put me in position to be a Chimney Sweep.

My first efforts were to snake a log chain down the chimney but it was clogged to the extent that not even the chain could get through. The next tool was a 2 foot length of 4 inch channel beam that penetrated the soot with a few jabs. Next came a piece off an old go-dig that had rough edges and finally a weighted burlap bag; all of these "tools" attached to the end of a 24 foot log chain. Once we had the chimney cleaned, we took down all the stove pipes and cleaned them. Can you imagine the mess. Three years later when we sold the farm, we left the wood stove and gave the new owners ample instruction on its care and potential danger. Unfortunately, they were only there a few years and the next owners had a chimney fire that did considerable damage. Our life back on the farm for those 9 years, while holding down a demanding State job,  was an interesting adventure.  I'm glad we had it while we were "young".

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Multiflora Rose

I'm standing next to a planting of Multiflora Rose that was introduced as a living fence and also to provide wildlife habitat. This was on our farm out in Northeast Seward County that we had in the old Conservation Reserve Program. We planted the Multiflora Rose on the two sides of the quarter section (160 acres) next to the road. We planted it by plowing a furrow, placing the foot long seedlings about a foot apart in the loose soil, covering the roots by plowing another furrow and then running the tractor wheel next to the seedlings to firm up the soil around the roots of the young plants. This picture was taken in the mid sixties about 5 years after planting. A few years later we sold the farm to people who raised cattle and most of the Multiflora rose was destroyed in building a conventional fence to enclose cattle. There are still a few remnants remaining today that we "admire" every time we drive by. Several states have declared Multiflora Rose illegal to plant and they join a list of other plants that have been introduced into regions where they are not native and emerge into something other than intended. Kudzu, Russian Olive trees, Burning Bush, Dames Rocket, etc are just the beginning of such a list. It reminds us of our need to respect Native Species and be skeptical of Introduced species until proven.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kiwanis Kitones in Seward Christmas Parade

Santa Claus came to Seward, NE this morning and this evening the Seward Kiwanis Kitones rode on a float and sang in the 1st annual Christmas Lighted Parade. The parade covered the same route as the 4th of July parade with the staging area just up the street and the beginning right in front of our house. The temperature was a chilly 40 degrees with a strong north wind blowing. I had invited the Kitones to congregate at our house where most of them enjoyed some fortification for the cold ride ahead. Though we normally sing in 4 parts, we all sang Christmas songs in unison. Our Director, Paul Beck is shown here  giving some directions off his sheet of paper and the attention that Maury, Don and Gene are paying to him is typical of what Paul generally receives. Elaine had been involved in serving the refreshments and is peeking around the corner to see who needed refills. A good time was had by all as we sang and rode our way down Seward Street from 1st to 14th Street.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Past & Present Turkey Days

This was a Thanksgiving back in Arlington, VA and included Elaine's parents. Albert and Flora, who had been down to Columbia, South America to visit Dale and his family who were down on a UN-L, Rockefeller assignment. This was in the mid-60's and before the "long hair" days. The picture was taken with a Polaroid camera which was popular in those days. But back to the present time. We went down to Walmart this morning to check on a wireless HP printer and found those advertised at a special price were gone. A very similar model cost $30.00 more and is available. I wonder if the sale item was manufactured specifically for "Black Friday". Nebraska finished out their scheduled football games with a convincing 20-7 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. (If only they would have played this way all season). Perry, Charlie and I also got in 9 holes of golf in mid-fifty degree temperatures despite a few sprinkles and a couple mulligans. The left-over pumpkin pie was as good today as it was yesterday.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thanksgivings

Carolyn's Thanksgiving table set this noon for the six of us: Julie & John, Ben & Carolyn, Elaine and I. Ben had already worked on the turkey and additional dishes were being carried to the  table resulting in a delicious dinner. It would be nice to have the boys and their families here but accept their commitments. It's just great to have 6 chairs around the table rather than the 4 or 5 that we had some years past. I'm including pictures taken in 2010, 2007, and 2006.

This was 2010 here to the right when we had 6 chairs at the table.

While we had a nice Thanksgiving dinner back in 2007, there were only 4 chairs with Julie back in New York City.

This was a joyous group back in 2006 with Julie there with us but looking back helps us realize how thankful we are for having 6 chairs filled, a longer table and even extra boards that can be added to extend it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Snoopy and Me

Snoopy disclosed his system for getting to sleep on those times when it seems our eyes are as big as saucers and sleep seems impossible. I have used a system similar to Snoopy's for some time with an important addition. When I have wrestled with problems that keep me awake at night and can't come up with any solution, I turn them over to God for his consideration and guidance. Then, in my mind, I tee off on the par 5, #1 Yellow tee box at the Seward Country Club. My tee shot takes me part way up the hill and depending upon the lie, will use a 7 iron or my 3-wood to get me on the fairway some 125 yards out. Depending on the pin placement, it will take a 6-iron or even my "hybrid" if I have rolled off into the rough. If I'm lucky, (and in my thoughts, I usually am) I'm on the green with 2 putts for par. The putts take considerable concentration and occasionally it takes 3 to get down. Then I go on to the short par 3, #2 hole and hopefully get on the green with my tee shot, etc, etc, etc. I don't remember of ever getting past #7 and usually by the time I've crossed the pond on #4, the game is over. If you have a problems getting to sleep, try it sometime. It works for Snoopy and me and you don't even have to get out of bed. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Looking becomes Shopping

After Carolyn upgraded her Jeep for a newer one a couple weeks ago, she took me down to her dealer to "look around". I didn't see anything that caught my eye but it did get me thinking about how much easier it is to get in and out of a vehicle that sets a little higher than my old Buick. Our old LaSabre  is nearly 20 years old, has taken us over 154,000 miles, but is approaching the time when decisions will need to be made. After coming in from the golf course this afternoon and needing to run down south of town to Walmart, I suggested we drive on down to Meyer auto and just drive past some used vehicles. We hadn't gone very far before a salesman hailed us down and offered his assistance. I indicated my curiosity about Ford Escapes and Chevy Equinox. They had no Equinox available  and only one Escape. It was a 2011 model and more expensive than we wanted to spend on a 2nd vehicle. The salesman discreetly learned how a "new" vehicle would be used and how much we were willing to pay. By coincidence, they have a 2001 Ford Explorer V8 XLT on the lot for the very figure I mentioned. It is a local trade-in with 123,000 miles, appears to be in excellent condition, clean, and has good looking tires. Before we hardly knew what was going on, we were in the salesman's office writing down numbers and talking dollars. We got down to where there was $400. difference between what I had shot as a trade figure and they would accept. By this evening they called and were down to $200. As I told him, I want to research that particular model, want to drive it, and go from there. I already found that it is easier to get in and out of, but need to see how it drives and among the many considerations is the $40.00 worth of gas in the tank of our old Buick. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Jon

Fifty-six years can bring about many changes. Jon's hobby horse provided him many hours of good exercise as he overcame a thyroid problem while a youngster. He is the only one of our kids that took a course of (horseback) riding while in college. It apparently served him well as comfortable as he looks in the recent picture. We moved to the Washington, D.C. area when Jon was 7 and it was on his 8th birthday that President Kennedy was shot and killed. While his early years were here in Seward and started to school in Lincoln, he really "grew up" in Arlington, Virginia. It was there that he went to Fairlington Elementary, Gunston Jr. High, Wakefield HS and then down to Virginia Poly Tech and State University at Blacksburg. While still in Junior High he had a Science Fair project with a tri-fold on properties of Soil. One of the judges was the 2nd in command of the Soil Conservation Service in USDA whose  son was a Soil Scientist in the Agency. By the time Jon received his Blue Ribbon, he decided that was what he wanted to become. His career took him to various locations in Virginia, North Carolina;
Syracuse, New York; Lincoln, NE and back to the Headquarters Office in Washington, D.C. To him it was like "going home" when he and his family transferred back in the mid-nineties. He had his first introduction to computers while in Jr. High and  kept up with the technology throughout his career. After getting back to D.C. he picked up a degree in Information Systems which fit well into his daily work activities. Tomorrow he will celebrate his 57th birthday with over 35 years of Federal Service. He has certainly made a significant contribution to the conservation of our Country's Natural Resources. His current extra curricular activities include involvement in Civil War reenactments and with the local Railroad Museum. It was at a recent  reenactment event that he had the opportunity to get back on a horse. Happy Birthday Jon !

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chilly Day but Good Food

This is how we finished our evening meal a few minutes ago. Elaine's home made cherry pie followed roast pork, boiled potatoes, gravy and red cabbage; one of my favorite meals. It was appropriate to have such a good meal on a day that never got above 35 degrees. Fortunately, the sun did shine and there was little wind. Nebraskans are still getting over the utter collapse of the football team yesterday but took heart in the win of the girls volley ball match last night and the basket ball team this afternoon. I talked to Verlon and Tim on the phone this afternoon and will probably be in touch with Jon during the evening. I did some more writing on my 1986 narrative  and included the fact that Federal annuitants didn't receive the 3.17% COLA in 1986 as triggered by the Consumer Price Index cost of living index. I'm sure the Joint Congressional Committee coming up with budget reductions is well aware of that precedent. So, topping off a great meal with a piece of delicious pie was appreciated.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Not all the Christmas shoppers are waiting till "black Friday" (or Thursday evening) to make gift purchases. In our small town there were literally hundreds out today at the Junior Women's Club Craft Fair and the United Methodist Women's Bazaar. Elaine was involved at the Church yesterday helping mark prices and getting things set up as well as spending a good part of today with the sales. Carolyn and Julie have been working for some time on items for their booth at the Craft Fair. I was down early this morning and it was difficult to get a good picture because of the number of customers. I don't know how the ladies involved will rate their level of success but suspect it will be much higher than many Nebraskans would rate the Football Teams.  (45-17, close to a D and that doesn't stand for defense).


Friday, November 18, 2011

Apples and Dollars

Who doesn't enjoy a bright red, crispy apple. We had a Winesap tree on the farm where I grew up which provided us with fresh apples in the fall, Mother would bake them, fry them, make applesauce, and most special, make apple pies. Many of the apples were picked up off the ground and used for cooking. Those that we ate were picked off the tree. I don't remember my folks buying very many apples when I was a kid. Our Santa Claus sack from Church and the Seward Chamber of Commerce always had an apple, orange and a few pieces of candy. But those were tough times and we raised on the farm the majority of what we ate. For the past many years, I have attempted to eat some applesauce or have an apple before bedtime while recalling the old adage, "An apple a day keeps the Doctor away". Evidently, this was not a high production apple year. The prices in the stores have continued to be high as the new crop came on the market. Our favorite apple these days is Braeburns but we often buy whatever is on sale. We were in our local grocery store last night and I noticed a container of Honeycrisp apples. They looked similar to the ones pictured and their price was $3.89/lb. The store wasn't very busy so I took one of the larger ones from the bin up to the cashier as Elaine was preparing to check out. The cost of the one apple was $2.46. Needless to say, I took it back and got Yellow Delicious that were on sale for $0.99/lb. I believe the "burden" that I carry for having grown up during the drought and depression would keep me from paying $2.46 for one apple even if we won the lottery. (And that won't happen because we never buy a ticket)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Farm Experience

Yesterday I wrote of adding to my Life Story. This afternoon I finished reading the Month of January 1986 in my Journal and scanned selected pictures of that period. It's time consuming but not real labor intensive. Many memories are "restored" and some things are brought back to life that had been completely forgotten. Most impressive is of how many things we were involved with on any given day, how hard we worked and how much we got done. Coming across the names of people and events that I referred to in the Journal miraculously triggers dormant memories and takes one back to the time it was written. All-in-all it's a very pleasurable way to spend a chilly, mid-November day with the temperature trying to get up to 50 degrees and a strong wind blowing. Not fit for golfing.
On New Year's Day, 1986, we took Carolyn & Julie (The girls) and went out to the farm. "We took the tractor, pick-up, and Buick all down across the ice. The girls went ice skating. We cut wood. I pulled Julie on the sled with the tractor."
The ice appreared to be several inches in depth and very solid but looking back, it scares me to think of the chance we were taking. There could easily have been some soft spots with the number of trees in the water and the springs below the pond. Our "Guardian Angle" was with us on this occasion and many other instances at the farm. Julie celebrated her 6th birthday a few days later, she had many interesting experiences that can only be encountered on a farm.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Adding to My Life Story

I had thought about writing a “Life Story” for some time and when we got our first computer in 1993, the project was started. (Fortunately, it still isn’t finished). My 7, 5-year Diaries and Annual Journals, thousands of pictures, boxes of historic documents, a wealth of memorabilia, internet information, along with Elaine and my memories, have made it possible. The first 20 Chapters began with, “The Early Years” and went through, “Back in Nebraska”.
Then, in 1982 I started writing each calendar year as a chapter which has been continued on a sporadic basis. Some years since ’85 I’ve written as much as 20 pages and nothing for about half the years since then. With the golf season winding down and the regularity of my coffee klatch in question, I hope to make some progress beginning with 1986, twenty-five years ago. It was a busy year with us living in town and keeping the farm house available for weekends and special events. My job kept me busy as we worked on studies of the Sandhills and a Soil Conservation Strategy for the State. Our motor home was utilized sparingly but with a major trip back to Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina. We flew down to“The Valley” of Texas and had a short taste of “snow birding” for the first time. Doing the 1986 narrative should be interesting and bring back many plesant memories.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Leaves to Vehicles

This picture was taken a couple weeks ago and we continue to work with the falling leaves. I go over the lawn as if I were mowing it and have it set to mulch. After chopping up the leaves, I then put the bagger on and catch the ground-up residue. It then goes in the compost pile for later use. Our Maple shown here was probably the first to shed it's leaves followed by the River Burch in the back yard. The Red Oak shown on the left side of the picture was next in line and finally the Linden tree to the right of the driveway. Our neighbors to the north have a couple Pin Oaks that will shed leaves throughout the winter and early spring so keeping them off our front porch is a continuing task. I didn't work on them today since Carolyn took me for a ride in her Jeep Liberty which she bought recently. She is so pleased with it that we went down to the Dealer's lot where she got it and wanted me to do some looking. Elaine and I both find getting in and particularly out of our cars is becoming more difficult. Who knows, we may decide that reinvesting a  maturing CD with interest rates less than inflation, isn't much better than investing in a vehicle we could enjoy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Elaine would have been 9 years old when Uncle Bob came from California to visit. Joyce was a school teacher, Bill had been thrown off a horse and had stitches in his head where the horse trampled him, and Dale was still wearing the same tie that he wore 3 years earlier. Elaine had curly hair for the first time while wearing a new homemade dress. It was a big deal when Elaine's favorite Uncle came to visit. At the time we got married there was no doubt as to where we would go for our honey moon. It was to visit Uncle Bob and Aunt Carlene in Santa Ana, California. Bob had left Seward as a young man back in the early 20's after attending an auto mechanics school. He worked as an auto mechanic, was a filling station owner-operator, and closed out his career as a civilian mechanic at the Tustin Marine base. He took a week off work to "entertain" us when we drove out and had anticipated our getting there sooner than we did. He and Carlene made us very welcomed and had a small camping trailer parked in the garage, where we slept. We couldn't have been more comfortable in the Waldorf Astoria. They were really gracious host taking us to Mexico, Knott's Berry Farm, The Beach and Ocean, other Relatives and many other places. We had a great time and were introduced to a variety of food that was new to us.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Leaf it Be

I picked up this leaf from an American Sycamore tree while walking around our block a couple days ago. The ruler gives an idea of it's size which is too large to be covered by our scanner and measures over 10" from side-o-side. The "veins" show an interesting distribution pattern for reaching every portion of the leaf. Many years ago as the Soil Conservation Service began encouraging the application of conservation practices on a "Watershed basis", it was difficult for people to understand the concept of runoff from many drainage areas converging into given points. Air photos were helpful in visualizing drainage patterns and used to plan dams for flood protection. A leaf like this one pictured could have been used as a "model" since it's "veins" are similar the natural drainage ways in a landscape. There is no limit to the number of instances where this concept is applied in nature as well as in society.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fall Color

This was the view out our bedroom window a couple days ago as the sun shown on the Japanese Maple with our Blue Spruce in the background. While the maple leaves are particularly vibrant this time of year, they are actually very red throughout the spring and summer. The blue spruce is always attractive but at it's peak in the spring as the colorful new growth emerges. As it weathers during the summer, the soft, new growth gets firm and lives up to it's reputation as a "Sprickly Spruce" as compared to a "Friendly Fir". Both are great trees and it's a pleasure to watch them grow. If you are a "Tree Planter", you know that most plantings "Turn-out" better than we expect, but often they are not perfect specimens. I heard an old nurseryman tell a customer who complained about the shape of a blue spruce tree, that "Trees are a lot like people, they're not perfect". Nebraska 17 Penn State 14

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day in Seward, NE

My Veterans Day activities began at 8:30 this morning when the Kitones sang at the Middle School. The Seward VFW and American Legion presented the Colors, the 8th Grade Band played the National Anthem, one young man led the Pledge of
Allegiance and another read, "In Flanders Field". The Middle School Principal recognized the Veterans present and acknowledged all of America's Veterans with appropriate comments.We Kitones sang, "America The Beautiful", "This Is My Country", and "American Heroes". There were a couple hundred students present with many dressed in red or white Tee shirts that depicted the stripes of the flag as they sat on their designated rows in the stands. The Veterans and Service Members and their families were rightfully acknowledged and provided an opportunity for further fellowship and refreshment in the cafeteria.
Veterans and their families were also invited to a special noon dinner at the Lied Senior Center where the Kitones provided the entertainment following a delicious Cordon Bleu meal with Cheese Cake and Cherries for dessert. The Veterans that attend these events are getting older and as we sang, "American Heroes" that  recognizes the various branches of the Service, many of them just raised their hand instead of standing. I too recognized the age factor after standing at some length to sing so used my cane to go for a walk on a beautiful Nebraska afternoon with temperatures in the mid-sixties and very little wind. A good day for those who did so much to protect and preserve out liberty to be out and be publicly recognized. God Bless America and all Veterans of this Great Country.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Golfing Today

Elaine had the coffee ready and some of my favorite cookies baked when I came in from golfing a few minutes ago. No, this  picture wasn't taken today. In fact, we dressed warmer today than a couple years ago when it was taken. Today was a sunny, high 40 degree day with light winds, so with our sweatshirt hoods tied down, it wasn't too bad.  After not playing for a couple days, we needed the exercise.  We also needed to talk about the Penn State situation, Nebraska Volleyball and even the Trans Canada, Keystone XL pipeline so it was good to have golf as an excuse to get out in the fresh air and have an opportunity to visit.  We observed a moment of silence as a funeral procession turned  into the cemetery and thanked God for His allowing us to even be out  on the golf course  at our age.
Our scores weren't too good, but what does that have to do with it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Garland Nebraska

A couple weeks ago, we drove over to Garland to pick up some Chestnuts. Nearby the Chestnut trees was this "park like" scene across the street from the old High School building which includes colorful chickens. Having grown-up on the farm with chickens, Elaine nor I, probably don't fully appreciate them while remembering  the chicken house cleaning. Our daughter Carolyn has a good friend who lives in the country and has chickens. She has had occasion to "gather eggs" while visiting and tells us of the pleasure. We have an ordinance in Seward that allows a permit to keep up to 3 hens but no roosters. We do have one family with chickens that have been "grandfathered in" and the rooster crowing is evident (and enjoyable) while on the golf course early in the morning. Being able to have chickens in your backyard is one of the differences in Nebraska between villages and city of the 1st class. If you visit Garland, other differences that are evident is the old equipment and vehicles parked around town. It now appears that the Post Office will be closed but the town will survive. It is where I graduated from HS and played on the baseball town team for several years. There are people who enjoy a small town where they have more freedom in what they do and how they maintain their property. But, the more closely you confine people, the more you have to regulate their behavior for the common good and now there are over 7,000,000,000 of us on planet earth.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dr. Winter

. As part of our Kiwanis Veterans Day program yesterday, Dr. Byron Winter said a few words and mentioned his involvement in Viet Nam. He went back to Iowa State after being discharged and earned a degree to become a Veterinarian. He set-up his first practice here in Seward and continues to be a stalwart in the community. His practice has evolved over the years from  treating large animals to today's main involvement with pets but he still gets down to the office every day. He played on the ISU football team while in college and has an office wall full of medals won over the years in the Nebraska Olympics. He was a hurdler and runner well into his 70's. He's told many interesting stories but none tops the one about rushing to a call south of town and being pursued by a police officer for speeding. It seems that Doc was on his way to the barn where a cow was having a difficult deliver when the officer caught up with him. The officer was somewhat taken aback when Doc got him involved in handing him tools to complete a successful operation. I don't think Doc ever got that speeding ticket. (Ignore the date shown on the picture, it was taken on 11/7/11)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Veteran's Day at Kiwanis

We had an excellent Veterans Day program at Kiwanis this noon coordinated by Marvin "PeeWee" Schulz. Here is how we were greeted as we approached the Civic Center for our regular Monday  Luncheon. (The picture was taken this noon regardless of the date shown). Club President Julie Klimn coordinated the meeting and thanked Pac n Sav for serving a delicious chicken dinner. A Civil War prayer was given by Rev. Don Helmuth who later gave an excellent, 1st person veteran experience, message. Dr. Byron Winter also made appropriate military experience comments. The Kiwanis Club of Seward Kitones sang: "This is My Country", "American Heroes" and "America The Beautiful". Tributes were paid to the many Veterans present and everyone left with their heads held a little higher.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Memories at Uncle Clarence's

This my brother Don and I a couple weeks ago when we had gone down to visit the old Walker farms of our Mother's family. This was taken on Uncle Clarence's place with the old Walker home place showing in the distance . The visit brought back many memories, some sad. It was on this place that Uncle Clarence's wife Edith, died during the late summer of 1935. She had made some home made fudge candy for my birthday in June and now she was gone. She and Uncle Clarence had 3 children, Kenneth, the oldest started to school that fall. Aunt Dorothy who had never married, went down to fill the void in helping raise the 3 youngsters. She had infantile paralysis (Polio) as a youngster which left her with some minor physical handicaps. I remember of Mother buying a big box of crayons for Kenneth to have in starting to school and my brother Don wishing he could have something similar. Mother explained that he could get along with a smaller box since he had his Mother. Life wasn't easy in the 1930's but a Mother like we had was worth more than all the wealth on Wall Street. And, someone like Aunt Dorothy who was willing to step in and help raise 3 youngsters was also a Saint.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Keystone XL Pipeline

When I read that President Obama would be making the final Federal decision on the Trans Canada Keystone XL pipeline, the following scenario emerged in my mind. He will not make the decision without coming to Nebraska to visit the Sandhills. The difficulty of the decision has been well publicized and he can not afford to lose the vote of Union workers nor the Environmental community. Though over 90% of the land easements have already been signed and many payments made, there must be a couple reluctant Sandhills ranchers. To by-pass them, Trans Canada officials might be amenable to moving the pipeline location a short distance to where obtaining easements may be more readily obtained if that would assure approval. This can all be worked-out ahead of his visit. As he looks over the grass covered, eastern edge of the sandhills, he can announce that an agreement has been reached to move the pipeline location further east. All sides can claim some degree of victory and the President can take credit for resolving a difficult issue and contributing to the Country's Economic Recovery & Energy Independence.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Law Enforcement

I had the pleasure yesterday afternoon of riding with the Seward Police Chief in this heavy duty vehicle. We checked various things around town and down at the city park. Then he took me on a tour through the Police Station and the E 911 Center in conjunction with the County Jail. Our new City Administrator had asked the Chief to take each of us Members of the City Council on such an outing. I came away with several thoughts, first that our local law enforcement is efficient and effective. Secondly, it's unfortunate that we have to devote the time and money that we do to keep "law and order", and finally, how fortunate I have been for a career in Natural Resource Conservation. The people I worked with were interested in nature and had an appreciation of the "Long Run". I hope the people in law enforcement achieve the same satisfaction of a "job well done" that I have, but it seems to take a certain type of personality. It's well that we have them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Corn Harvest

This is a picture of harvesting corn  south of Springfield, Illinois. When we see pictures like this, it is usually because a farmer needs help and neighbors show up with their combine, but in this case it all belongs to one operation; the largest in the state.
It is a far cry from the days of husking corn by hand, scooping it into a crib, and having the neighbors in to help with the shelling. On a cool fall morning it wasn't unusual to hear the sound of ears of corn hitting the wagon sideboard as the neighbors would compete to see who could be first in the field. I was out in the corn field one morning with my team and wagon before daylight when I was 18 years and by the time it got dark that evening, I had husked 138 bushels. I did it just for bragging rights since 100bu/day was a good standard and I didn't get that on a regular basis. Some of us thought of husking corn as an athletic event. It also was a lesson in management. You couldn't get the big numbers if you had to look at the ear you were husking or the wagon to which you tossed it. Much of it was by instinct. You positioned yourself for the next ear and planned how you would approach the 2nd one ahead of the one you were husking. It had to be mind-over-matter when the temperature was in the mid-30's and a light rain was falling but some such memories helped me cope with frustration later in life.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An old Crow's Tale

Carolyn sent me this old crow some time ago that appears to be caught in the chain of "time" and unable to reach the spoon of nourishment. This old crow (Vrana) is caught up in eastern Nebraska weather today that prohibited golf playing. Had I tried, the pain would have exceeded the pleasue by several orders of magnitude. Our high temperature occured early this morning and dropped during the day with light rain and strong northerly winds, . I didn't see any snowflakes but they were reported all around us. But, it's been a great fall for golfing and enjoying the beauty of nature. While I didn't even think of contesting my record of 91 consecutive days of golfing set 3-years ago, yesterday was my 49th. On September 12th, Elaine, son Verlon and I went out to the golf course and picked bag worms off a 10' spruce tree that we planted some years ago. I also wanted to be home  during the afternoon when son Jon was coming in from Washington, D.C. so I didn't golf that day. If I had golfed instead of picking bag worms, yesterday would have been #80. I also missed playing on August 12th because of  an Opthomologist appointment when dilated eyes kept me from going out. If I had not missed those 2 days, yesterday would have been #102. There is something about this story that reminds me of the old saying that, "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas".

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sister and her Brother

. This is Elaine and her brother Dale at their farm home north of Seward in what we believe to be the summer of 1938. Dale would have had his 11th birthday in June and Elaine about to have her 8th in September. Dale would have been going into the 7th grade of District 28 and Elaine into the 4th. Both were exceptionally good students. Students in Rural Schools were required to take 7th and 8th grade, county-wide examinations covering 6-8 subject matter areas. A county-wide promotion event was held in Seward at the Band Shell (Rose Bowl in those days), where students received their certificate of completion. State law provided that students complete the 8th grade or attain the age of 16, high school was optional. Dale was recognized for having attained the highest grades in the county on his examinations at his  promotion exercises in the spring of 1940. He went on to be valedictorian of his Seward HS graduating class, received a 4-year Regents Scholarship to UN-L, and the SHS Belfour Key. He receive his PhD in Agronomy after service in the Korean war and had an outstanding teaching career at UN-L where he was advisor to many Doctoral candidates. He spent some time with UN-L Extension, the Pioneer Hybred Seed Company, and continues to work as a private Consultant.
Elaine was 3rd in her SHS graduating class of 1947 and was offered a Scholarship to Doane College in Crete, NE but never accepted. It seems that Dale had introduced a farm kid from Garland to her in he fall of her senior year of HS which may have had some impact on her decision. In fact, it wasn't until years later, I learned that she never told her folks about the scholarship offer for fear of their insisting that she accept. She was happy with her job as the County Extension Agent's Secretary and had been discouraged in HS for even thinking about a career in accounting since "those jobs were not for girls". Though we lived within about 7 miles of each other as youngsters, we went to different churches, our folks traveled in different circles and never crossed paths until Dale's introduction. Had I known her earlier, I would have thought of her as that little Flowerday girl but by the time we met, she had matured into the attractive young lady in the lower picture and the years of difference in our ages seemed to melt away.