Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year, 2013

This has been a most unusual New Years Eve with all the attention on the Fiscal Cliff. I had CNBC on all afternoon and watched the stock market fluctuate with the news from D.C. I only listened with one ear while working at my PC on 2012 pictures. For the past several years, I've printed collages  of those selected to best represent our years activities. It is a time consuming process but gives me an opportunity to really study the pictures and recall the situation that prompted there being taken. I have finished 2 sheets so far with 51 pictures on the first sheet and 46 on the second. We are enjoying a concert from Lincoln Center on PBS but will plan to see the ball drop in Times Square later. While we enjoyed New Years Eve parties when we were younger, I can't think of any place I would rather be on this cold, snowy night than right here at home. I didn't really believe my folks when they expressed those preferences, but I do now. Oh, we may have a toast to the New Year as the ball drops and be sound asleep before midnight here in Seward, Nebraska.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Redskins vs Cowboys

The Washington Redskins are hosting the Dallas Cowboys tonight to determine the NFL East Championship. The score is 7-7 at the half. The temperature is in the mid-thirties with snow in the area. After a 3-6 start this season rookie quarterback Griffin has helped lead the "Skins" to a 9-6 record. I actually became a Redskin fan before we moved there when #37, Pat Fisher from Nebraska became their corner back. Ticket cost for games was prohibitive for us while we were there, but we did get to see a pre-season game when they played in D.C.Stadium. You couldn't live in the Washington area without being a fan. Football was much more important than baseball. Sonny Jourgensen was a very popular player and color commentator for many years. I still have a Redskins stocking cap which I wear occasionally.The Skins last  won the Superbowl on January 31, 1988 with Doug Williams as Quarterback. He was the first black QB to play in a Superbowl. We saw the game among friends in Little Rock, Arkansas. We were there for the National Association of Soil Conservation Districts Meeting and celebrated the victory at the home of Gene & Carrie Sullivan who hosted a Superbowl Party. It was also Carrie's birthday. Several of our old SCS friends from our days in D.C. were among the guests  so it was a great time.. Arkansas Governor, Bill Clinton addressed the NACD meeting on Monday morning. My Journal comment was, "Gov. Bill Clinton gave an excellent talk. A very apparent future National leader". The Redskins have now built a 21-10 lead with 9 minutes to go. It's been a great game.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Exercise for Mind & Body

No, I wasn't dressed this way today. The picture was taken in late July when I was on my way to the golf course. Yesterday I finished going through my 2012 Journal and listed 6 pages of  "Highlights". My criteria for a highlight has come down to where it is "things or events on which I may want to be able to go back and check". Today, I worked on the pictures taken during the year on my digital camera. The construction of John and Julie's new house account for the greatest number of pictures for any single topic. But Sadie was a close 2nd with less than half the time to compete. I will pick out a couple hundred pictures and make 3 collage pages to include along with my 2-3 page summary of the year. The collage pictures will correlate closely with my highlights. All, 1,075 of this years pictures will be put on a DVD and labeled for easy retrieval. This whole process of highlights and pictures takes a lot of work to set-up, but makes storage and retrieval possible. My daily Journal is really the basic document in the process. There is no way that I could justify spending the time that I do on all of this if I didn't enjoy doing it. Hopefully, it exercises my mind just as playing golf exercises my body. However, having spent much of the day today at the computer hasn't given me that feeling of being 10 years younger like a round of golf. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, VA

I received my copy of "Light" the publication of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial recently. It included this picture and  also this information: "The George Washington Masonic Memorial is more than a colossal memorial and museum. It is a tourist attraction and destination; research center and library; community center; performing arts center and concert hall; banquet and celebration site; and meeting site for local and countless visiting Masonic lodges and organizations. However, first and foremost, it is a memorial to honor and perpetuate the memory, character and virtues of the man who best exemplifies what Freemasons are and ought to be, Brother George Washington."
During our first years back in the D.C. area, we lived in South Arlington, just up King Street from Alexandria and the Memorial. I enjoyed telling many fellow travelers what it was as we would land or take-off from Reagan National Airport. Elaine and I visited it on one occasion but spent very little time there. It is an example of how people should take the time to visit interesting places when they have the opportunity. It was build in 1922 and stands 331'lhigh. I wonder if son Jon and Mary have ever visited it during their  many years in the area??

Thursday, December 27, 2012


This is the type of Journal (Diary) that I have kept for the past several years. They are not available here in Seward so I've been getting them at Office Max in Lincoln. We don't get to Lincoln very often and our snow storm came the day we were planning to go. Carolyn was down today and I asked if she might be going and could get one for me. She uses Amazon quite a bit and within a few minutes had one ordered. Not only was it convenient with free shipping but about 20% less expensive than in Lincoln. I watched some TV coverage of an Amazon merchandise center processing orders before Christmas which was most interesting. Though I have had my on-going medical prescriptions filled on-line, we have never made many purchases. I hear that the percentage of on-line shopping for Christmas has continued to increase and has reached something like 19%. Merchandising has come a long way from the days of the small town merchants supplying our basic needs. As a kid we did order some things from the Sears Roebuck catalogue. I remember one year when I was about 11 or 12, Mother told Vivian, Don and me that we each could pick out anything we wanted from the catalogue as long as it didn't cost more than $1.00. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Demise of an Old Building

This old Seward HS building dates back to the early 1900's. It is where my Mother went through the 9th and 10th grades. A new HS was build in 1919 and that is from where Elaine graduated in 1947. Another new HS was built in the '60's and extensively remodeled in about 2000. However, through all of the change, the old HS building remained. I took my 1st grade classes in the lower level of the building until we moved to the new elementary building in January 1932. Over the years this building was used as a Band Building and for other uses. Its top-story was removed some years ago. And, now along with what has been known as the "Middle School Complex", has been sold and much of it will be demolished, including this building. Pictures like this are so  important in helping future generations appreciate our history.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas at Owens

We had a great Christmas day out at John, Julie and Sadie's house. Sadie was a center of attention and enjoys having Julie's long hair draped over her head. We went out for Brunch and gift opening where I received a Panasonic camera among the many gifts that were exchanged. Elaine received a wonderful framed picture of Sadie and a book. We came home for the afternoon where I studied the instruction manual, charged the battery, took the first picture and got it uploaded on my laptop. We also took naps. We went back out early this evening for a delicious ham dinner with sweet potato casserole and all the trimmings including chocolate jelly-roll. We played a dice game after Brunch and a card game after Dinner. It was a fun game that Elaine and Julie tied for high score. John won the dice game. We got a lot of laughs out of the card game. I'm pleased to have the new camera. It is  considerably better than my old one that has served me well over the past 4-5 years. It will take me a while to learn how to use all the "bells and whistles" but it will be worth all the effort. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas with Family

This was taken at Julie & John's house on Thanksgiving Day. We are invited to also enjoy Christmas at their house. Their house is a center of attraction with Sadie being a part of it. We have enjoyed Christmas at Carolyn & Ben's for the past few years but it's nice to move on to the next generation. We haven't had it at our house for several years which Elaine appreciates. Some of our most enjoyable Christmases were when our kids were small and we would get together with my family for one meal and Elaine's family for the other. There would be about 20 people at each house and a good time was had by all. We continued to keep up this tradition during several of our first years back in D.C. but a couple trips on snow covered roads tempered our plans. We have continued to enjoy the real reason for Christmas but the excitement of having four little kids comparing presents with cousins is special. Sadie will help  us have some of the same pleasures of those earlier times. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

William & Emma Flowerday

William (4/8/1873-6/2/1953) and Emma "Watts" (5/14/1870-12/7/1960) Flowerday were Elaine's Paternal Grandparents. They immigrated to the United States from England as young adults in the early 1890's. He came first in 1893 along with two of Emma's brothers and she followed about a year later. They were married in 1895 in the Seward area. Elaine's father Albert was the oldest child, followed by Elsie (Herrold), Arthur, Annie (Imig), Fred, Edwin, Ted, Doris (Badgett/Scobie),  and Ray. This picture was taken on their 25th Wedding Anniversary. It came to Elaine recently along with some other pictures following the death of Maxine, a cousin who had no children and lived her adult life in California. Elaine was responsible for making arrangements for the funeral here is Seward. Maxine wished to be buried along side her parents, Elsie & Leonard Herrrold and brother Robert who was killed during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII. We estimate that Will & Emma may have over 300 descendants. Elaine says that Will was one of 15 children and Emma was one of 10 so just imagine how many "distant" relatives she may have. We did spend an enjoyable few days with Alan Flowerday in England some years ago. His Great Grandfather William was a brother of Will's father John.  There is no end to tracing family history. 

Friday, December 21, 2012


Our Blue Spruce in the back yard is decorated for Christmas. It warmed up enough this afternoon that there are little ice cycles hanging from the limbs. It is beautiful. Carolyn & Julie gave me the tree for a Father's Day gift many years ago when it was about 15" high. We have enjoyed it over the years. While we were having lunch this noon a Cardinal was sitting on one of the snow covered branches. It has been a popular nesting site for birds of various species. Last Sunday was the annual Bird Count here in Seward. We were all prepared with our sheet to fill out but the wind was blustery and we didn't see a single bird. Had it been today, we could have listed 8-10 species. We got mail and papers today and  got downtown so things are getting back to normal. School was closed again today which meant that the Basketball games against Elkhorn were postponed. The girls have done real well by winning 3 games against good competition after their 104 winning streak was broken by Pius X recently. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow in Seward

This picture was taken outside our back door today of a bench on the deck. What you see of the bench is a 2x4 which helps estimate the depth of snow. Now some of that may have blown in, just like it did on our driveway. The TV  lady reported 4" of snow in Seward. I think the "Truth Lies Somewhere In Between" what you see and what she said. Carolyn and Ben came down to help clear the driveway. We had some problems with the snow blower so they did some scooping. I later got the blower going and finished the job. Elaine and I took some mail down to the Post Office about 3:00pm and found heavy truck traffic on Highway 34 (Main Street). We did some jockeying around on side streets, got the letters mailed and back home without any problems. There is a lot of snow piled up in the middle of the downtown streets. I'm sure the street crew will work all night getting it cleared out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Finally, some SNOW

This was the view out our front door a couple hours ago. The storm has picked up some energy since then and we now have some 4 to 5 inches. Our Japanese Maple in the back yard is weighted down and bent over with the wet snow. It is to continue through the night with the wind picking up and the temperature falling. It will be interesting to see what morning brings. We might even have sunshine later tomorrow afternoon according to the forecast. So our new, "no measurable snow" record will stand at 309 consecutive days. This will help our moisture situation since we now stand at some 60% of the annual average.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nebraska Weather

Today is the 309th day without measurable snowfall is Lincoln and Seward. That "streak" will come to an end tomorrow if weather forecasters are correct. This map picks up a bit of Kansas but we are located at the "L" in Lincoln. We are in the 4 to 8" band.  It is to start snowing here about noon tomorrow and continue through the night. We plan to do our grocery shopping  as soon as I get home from coffee. Wednesday is our normal grocery shopping day since that is when Pac n Sav gives a 5% discount to Senior Citizens. I do have a Doctor's appointment for 11:00 am on Thursday in Lincoln and plan to meet Brother Don & Gladys for lunch  following my appointment, but may have to cancel if the storm is as bad as forecast.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Brother Donald

Brother Don had a birthday today, one of many since this picture was taken during the summer before his 5th birthday. We have been like "brothers" since he was born. I am 4 1/2 years older  and announce to the Grandparents when they came to see him that, "We have a real baby at our house". He seemed to inherit some of the best Genes and traits of both Mother and Dad. He certainly has always had the "outgoing" personality of Mother and Dad's honesty and ambition. His life and family have been a tribute to both of them. He and Gladys have a wonderful family that has extended into the 4th generation. He has slowed down from a busy Auctioneering schedule but devoting more time to playing golf. When we had our "birthday" phone conversation this morning, he reported having played 2,580 holes of golf so far this year. He is hopeful that tomorrow will be such that he can get in the next 20. He and Gladys have missed very few family athletic events over the years. Fortunately, much of the family is within driving range and appreciate all the things the "Folks" do for them, including keeping up with them on Facebook. Happy Birthday Don.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What Now?

The tragedy at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, CN has again stimulated discussion of Gun Control. It is a subject on which opinions are extreme in range and magnitude. Like many problems we may never solve the problem but we should be able to reduce the risk of tragedy. I see no reason for  ownership of semi-automatic assault weapon by the general population. I don't know enough about guns to be very specific but can see little reason for protection or recreation that would require the capability of these machines. The discussion must go beyond the assault weapons but  it would be a start. We should also continue to look to ideas that  may make such tragedies less possible. Again, I know little about how it may work but I wonder if a "Taser" could be linked to "metal detectors" in such a way that an individual could be "immobilized" if detected with inappropriate material. There could be warnings to protect the innocent. We have already been "inconvenienced" by attempts for safety. Hopefully there are people working on creative ideas for protection as well as limiting the weapons.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Julie, John and Sadie came to visit this afternoon. This picture tells the whole story of why we so enjoy being with her. Soon after the picture was taken, she rolled over onto her back which she seems to enjoy doing. She sat on my lap for a while and was impressed with a logo on my shirt but was anxious to get down on the floor to play. Elaine held her for a while also as she gets to know and recognize our looks and voice. She recognizes her Mother and Dad from some distance. It was a great family day. Verlon called soon after lunch, Mary called just before Owens' got here, Carolyn stopped by soon after they left and then Tim called later. Brother Don also called to add to the pleasure of a lot of "Family time" today. We even finished our Christmas Letter today and got several of them in the mail this afternoon. Our list has narrowed over the years but there is no measure of the pleasure we have in receiving them. I only hope that those we send provide some measure of that same pleasure. 

Friday, December 14, 2012


You have seen pictures of Sadie recently and many people comment on her ample amount of dark hair. What some of you haven't seen is this picture of Sadie's Great Grandmother and her hair. Elaine was probably about a year old when this picture was taken. She says by the time she was 3 she had long blond curls of which I remember seeing a clipping. She still has hair with a lot of natural curl but the color is showing some maturity. The night before last, she had the misfortune of falling in the bathroom and bumping her head. After an "all clear" signal from the Doctor in the hospital emergency room, she went ahead with the funeral of a cousin for whom she had the responsibility. The bruise picked up color yesterday as the day went on but she was able to cover it to some extent with her hair. By the time she got up this morning, the dark black-and-blue had come down and nearly closed her left eye. We were to be Greeters at Church Sunday morning but able to get it cancelled. I offered to make her an eye-patch to wear but she didn't buy it. She did let me take a picture of her at the breakfast table this morning but don't believe it will ever make it to a blog page. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Military Rites for a Cousin

Maxine D. Herrold Petri's funeral was held today at the Zabka Mortuary in Seward with Military Honors at the Cemetery. Maxine had a military career during WW II with the WAC's. She and Lee were divorced soon after the war; there were no children and Maxine never remarried. She lived in California where she spent many years caring for her mother who lived to 102. Her mother, Elsie, was Elaine's Dad's sister. Some time ago, Maxine asked Elaine to take care of the local arrangements for her final resting place here in the Seward Cemetery with her parents. Maxine had a "Caretaker" in California who worked with Elaine and Zabka's Funeral Home on all the details. The funeral was attended by her Grand Nephew and his daughter from Lincoln, a cousin (once removed)and his wife, the daughter of Lee, Maxine's former spouse, Elaine & I. Rev. Griger conducted a very appropriate service and the Military Honors made the occasion commendable. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This is the sale bill for selling the old Vrana farm and the house in Bee where Grandpa and Grandma lived for a number of years. Grandpa died in 1950 and after Grandma died in June of 1960, their property was sold to settle the estate. The Grandparents bought and moved to the place in 1903 when my Dad was 6 years old. After my folks were married, they lived in Seward for a number of years but moved out to the farm in February of 1932. I was 6 years old at the time, sister Vivian was 8 and Donnie was 2. It was where I "grew-up" and learned to appreciate nature. My folks moved on and when Don and Gladys were married in 1950 they farmed and lived on the place. Following them, Vivian and Eddie lived there. It was a place for which  the whole family had a deep affection; strengthened not only by the good times associated with it but also the bad. We were living in Lincoln at the time of the Auction. I had already worked for 12 years with the USDA Soil Conservation Service and was taking courses at UN-L. Uncle Joe was working as a janitor in the building where I had Chemistry Lab and we talked about the sale on the date that it was held. My folks bought it at the  auction for $18,100. but became concerned when interest rates were to be 6%. They let the Wagenknechts have it who owned land adjoining and were the next highest bidders. The folks were both over 60 and after having lived through the 30's made a wise decision, though I know Dad hated to give it up. While Dad continued to farm and raise cattle until he was 75, this wasn't the kind of place where he could have done so. We still drive out to see the old place at least once a year and it will always be, "The Old Home Place"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Letter

Elaine has set my Golfing Santa Clause on top of the TV that I have near my PC down in the basement. It is supposed to remind me of the need to get a Christmas Letter drafted but so far it hasn't worked. It does remind me that the golfing season has probably come to an end. Brother Don tells me that he reached and exceeded his goal of 2,500 holes this year. My goal was to play 200 9-hole rounds. I exceeded that by playing 217 which amounts to 1,953 holes.It made me realize just how much golfing Don got in. The "centerpiece" of our Christmas letter will be about our first Great Granddaughter, Sadie. She was in for a check-up and shots yesterday morning. She now weighs 13 lbs. 3 oz. and is 25" long. Travel is often easy to write about in Christmas letters but I'm not sure how much interest there will be in our trip down to Syracuse for the Auction or to Beaver Crossing to visit the Hardware store. That is as far as we got away from home this  year. My Grandfather Walker used to tell that he hardly ever got out of Seward County but that didn't keep him from living a pretty full life. While that was before the days of television he read a lot and enjoyed some "learned" card playing companions in his senior years. During my early years with SCS when our Office was in the NE corner of the first floor of the Courthouse, I would see him walking past every evening just before 5:00pm. He was walking home with his cane from the "Pool Hall" to his little house which was only a couple blocks away. While he and I spent quite a bit of 2-person time when I was a kid, I don't recall any very serious conversation after I was older. There was so much he could have told me about Seward's history if only I would have given him the opportunity.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Buddy Boy

I was 6 months old and weighed 25 pounds when this picture was taken. My hair was about as thin then as it is now which is the closest comparison. Mother said I was tied into the chair to keep me from falling out, but it doesn't show under my dress. Mother was Superintendent of the Cradle Roll when I was baptized in the Seward Methodist Episcopal Church as a baby and her signature is on my certificate. One of my Lodge friends tells me that he also has Mother's name on his certificate. My weight can be attributed to Goat's Milk. As a baby I couldn't handle Mother's nursing or cow's milk and the Doctor suggested the Goat. As the story goes, Dad drove he old Model T over to Aurora and paid $60.00 for a Nubian Nanny that had just "come fresh". It all worked out O.K. and from that "humble beginning" we had goats for the next 15 years. (There must be more to the story than I was aware of as a Kid (No Pun Intended) It is almost apparent in the picture that I had inherited the "Vrana Gene" which causes one to "speak-up" if something bothers them rather than let it "fester". I did that very thing in that very same Methodist Church Annual all member meeting tonight. We are tending toward what is called "Conventional Services" with what I call "Honky-Tonk Piano", Drums, etc.  I made a case for the Dignity and Atmosphere established by our pipe organ. I didn't get any applause but several people expressed agreement. At least I spoke my peace and will get a good night"s sleep. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sadie's Baptism

Sadie Elizabeth Owens was baptized this morning at St. Vincent's Catholic Church here is Seward by Father Rand. She is shown here with Julie, John, Sandy, Father Rand, Kim and Dan, who constituted the baptismal party. Carolyn, Ben, Mick, Elaine and I also all attended. We then went to the Owen's new house for lunch. Sadie couldn't have been more cooperative, she even seemed to enjoy all the attention. During the past few days, she has started wrinkling her nose when she looks at someone. She looks real cute when she does so. We all attended Mass ahead of the Baptism event which was performed in the alcove off the vestibule. It was a memorable event.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Problems, Wins & Loses

I spent more time than I should have today trying to put this "Genuine Leather Amity Wallet" on eBay. During the last 10 days we've had good luck putting things on. My problem is with things that I scan. They go into the Picaso program and are uploaded in the BMP format instead of JPEG or GIF which eBay requires. I can't figure out how to make the change. Any ideas would be appreciated. 
The Wallet was purchased while we lived over in Ankeny, IA and never used. It came from "The Wallet Works" at Story City and cost $12.70 back in 1990 (Would probably cost twice that today). It contains a "slip in" plastic card holder which I took out for the picture. It measures 5 3/4 by 4 1/4" when folded. I carry my wallet in my front pocket and this is just a little large for that. I bought it when I wore a sport or suit coat and it would fit well in an inside pocket.
I saw the Seward HS Girls basket ball team beat Grand Island, Northwest 56-41 this evening here in Seward. They hit a high percentage of 3 point shots  tonight; last night they just were not dropping. While the long shots are nice, they are going to have to work the ball inside for more short shots if they are to have a successful season.  The Nebraska Volleyball Girls ended their season tonight when Oregon beat them 3-1 in the Regional Final in Omaha. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Seward HS Girls BB Streak Ends.

The Seward HS Girls basketball team lost to Pius X by the score of 40-38 in Seward. It broke the 104 winning streak that extends back 5 years. The game was close all the way with Seward leading 19-17 at the half and 28-25 at the 3rd quarter break. Hanna Tvrdy made 2 key free throws with 20 seconds left to tie the game at 38. Then Pius X went down the floor and scored with 9 seconds left and Seward wasn't able to get off a shot. This was Seward's first home game of the season after haveing won their first 3 on the road. While there is disappointment in seeing the streak come to an end, another undefeated season was not anticipated. The state record streak is 111 and there was hope of Seward possibly breaking that, but it was not to be. I'm sure Coach Tvrdy and the girls will learn from this defeat and win their share of games the rest of the season. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Four Ladies & a Party

Here are the 4 generations of Ladies in our family.    Carolyn got a hair cut and is letting her hair go "natural" now that she is a grandmother. Elaine went to the Beauty Shop this afternoon too and got a hair cut & set. Sadie's hair is standing up again after laying flat for a week or so. She will be baptized this Sunday and may need some "hair treatment" for the picture following the ceremony. We had our Magazine Club Christmas party this evening at the Cattle Bank Conference Room. Pac n Sav catered a delicious dinner. Christmas memories were related and Carols were sung. We used little Christmas Carol books that dated back to Edna Dierberger's days with the Royal Neighbors. It was the nicest party the group has ever enjoyed during the 20 years that we have been a part of it.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Carols & Lights

We had dental appointments this morning for cleaning and check-up. Both of us will need to go back for fillings. I was told of the need to be more aggressive in brushing along the gum line. The Kitones sang in Beaver Crossing at the recently remodeled Catholic Church where the local Union Branch Bank sponsored the dinner. I understand they have a customer appreciation dinner each year and rotate between the Churches in town. Jack Duensing, Clifford Lowell and I rode with PeeWee Schulz in his Cadillac. After we sang, we toured the Big Hardware store in town and them PeeWee took us past "Schulz Farms" on the way home. The house has been renovated but is where the 5 boys were raised. I and my boss were doing some soil conservation work out there one of my first summers with SCS. It was a very hot day.  I had taken off my shirt and didn't have on an undershirt.. We were invited into the house and I remember how embarrassed I was when Mrs. Schulz saw me with nothing on above the waist. I didn't even have a good tan. I'm sure with 5 boys in the house about my age, she thought nothing of it. Their farming operation has changed considerably since then but they are still dedicated Soil Stewards. The fields where they raise irrigated seed corn are seeded to turnips in early fall as a winter cover crop. This provides winter forage for cattle and improves the tilth of the soil. The fields were nice and green here on the 5th of December. When I got home we put up our outside Christmas lights. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Time Marches On

Tonight was my last City Council Meeting. The "old" Council conducted the regular business and then 3 new members and a reelected one were sworn in. Pictured is Charles Lieske, my replacement. There was only one contested election. Chris Schmidt beat 16 year member, Dave Stewart in the General Election. Long time fire chief, Dean Fritz was elected when Mark Eihlers chose not to run. Carryover member, Sid Kamprath was elected Council President. Kelley Hoffscheider was appointed by mayor Eickmeier and sworn in as City Attorney. I appreciated the kind words expressed, the letters and plaque noting my 12 years of service. It was time for a young person like Charles to fill my chair. I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve and will miss the "give and take" in discussions. Charlie and I played golf in 62 degree weather this afternoon. It was my 217th 9-hole round of the year. I will be singing with the Kitones in Beaver Crossing tomorrow and unable to play. With the forecast change in the weather, this may have been our last round  for 2012. We also learned today of dues increases and discussed whether or not we would play next year. It would be ironic if my last round of golf was on the same day as my last City Council meeting.

Monday, December 3, 2012


When the weather was too cold to play golf last week, I got started putting things on eBay. This WW I leather billfold has been in a box for a number of years with some things that came from some of Elaine's family. It can be seen by entering "Leather billfold WW I" in eBay,  and it will come up. It has a few days to go in the auction and already has an opening bid of $7.50. If you open it, by clicking on "sellers other items" it will bring up all the items I have listed. It's not a money making process but a way of getting things to people who appreciate them. I did very little on eBay last winter but over the years have bought and sold many things. Elaine acquired a lot of Smokey Bear and Woodsey Owl items while working for the Forest Service.  Those items sold very well to people who had collections. I completed my set of USDA Agriculture Yearbooks  by buying and selling until I now have the full 100 year set in good condition. The use of Pay Pal has helped facilitate sales considerably. Unfortunately, postal rates have increased which discourages some sales. I enjoy ebaying to help keep me mentally active just as I enjoy golf to keep me active physically. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday in Seward

Ben fixed a delicious pork roast today and had the Owens' and us up for dinner. Carolyn and Ben had fixed the potatoes, parsnips, carrots, apple crisp, brussel sprouts and Elaine fixed her deviled eggs. It was all very good. Sadie sat on my lap while we ate. John and Julie told us of how she was rolling over from being on her stomach to her back. After we finished eating, John put her down to demonstrate her new found skills and she wouldn't do it. We reminded him that it wouldn't be the last time when he would expect her to do something with similar results. The tuft of hair on the back of her head that has stood straight up since she was born, has suddenly decided to lay flat. Her hair has thinned and seems to becoming more brown than the dark black that it was earlier. She likes to set-up and is beginning to get some balance. Her neck muscles have strengthen to where she really holds her head high while on her stomach. We really enjoy following her development and regret how few memories I have of our own kids doing these things.
Pip doesn't know for sure what to think of Sadie. She's curious but  doesn't seem to be a threat to do her any harm. She and Ben are good buddies but I haven't had much personal time with her. The picture shows her a bit whiter than reality. 
This was a beautiful day for the 2nd of December in Nebraska. The skies were clear, light south wind and temperature up in the mid to high 60's. It may have set a record for this date. While we continue to enjoy the "nice" weather, we are desperate for moisture. Our normal annual rainfall is 26 inches and we are short 12" so far this year. While dryland crop yields were pretty good this year, unless this drought is broken before the next growing season, yields will really suffer. 
I played golf this afternoon for the first time in several days. Perry, Charlie, Chuck and I teed off at 1:00pm and played 9 holes. I had my normal Bogey round but Perry had a good game. We didn't talk much about last night's Nebraska football game. While they came back to win several times this year, when it was 42-10 at the half, the chances to win were Nil and the final score was 70-31.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sustaining Agricultural Production

The Center for Rural Affairs sponsored a Sustainable Ag Workshop/Farm tour today in Milford. Being a former member of the Board of CFRA for a number of years, I gave up a golfing day to participate. Dave & Deb Welsch who have been involved as Certified Organic producers for nearly 20 years, discussed their operation. They live near Milford and the tour was to their farm. The CFRA has also been involved with "Beginning Farmers" and "Land Link" programs which are programs to replace an aging farmer population. The Welsch's have been involved for the past 5 years with a young family from Minnesota who are "transitioning" to take over the Welsch operation. Don Jirsa of Milford also talked of his rotational grazing system under a pivot irrigation system. His program is interesting from the intense grazing but also his breeding program to produce smaller cattle. It was great to see Kathie Starkweather from the Center, but also to visit with Tom Pesek, Larry Hudkins and other old friends. The picture is from the Welsch home page. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cottonwood Trees

Karen Ott's weekly message paid tribute to Cottonwood trees today. It took me back to my youth where we had this large tree in our front yard. Sister Vivian is standing on a big rock that Dad dug out of the north field and drug it down to the yard. Here are Karen's descriptive words:

 "The best thing about the cottonwood, in my estimation, is its  remarkable foliage; the air is never so still that there’s not motion somewhere in the tree’s canopy; Native Americans believed the winds themselves were the bearers of messages and commands from the higher powers, with the talkative trees acting as a sort of spiritual postal service. I understand why. The slightest breeze sets the leaves to quivering, and even in the dead calm of a sultry summer afternoon, or the near stillness of a peaceful night, one can hear the trees  deliver a whispered prayer.  As the calendar nears the New Year the very last of the tree’s leaves, frosted and curled by freezing temperatures,  still manage a final raspy goodbye before gently falling to their earthly home below."

We had another big cottonwood on the north side of the garage, a big one across the creek west of the cow barn, one along the creek near the Wagenknecht line fence and two of them across the creek, just south of the horse barn. Dad pointed out to me that one was a male and the other a female. They are distinguished by their bark to us novices. I have always admired the cottonwoods stately nature and rustling leaves. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Close Neighbors

When we came back to Nebraska from Virginia in 1980 and moved to this farm, we had close neighbors. "Close" refers to their house being about 100 yards from ours but also to our relationship. Though we sold the farm 23 years ago, we have continued a close relationship through our Church. Elaine baked a Cherry Pie which we took out to them this afternoon. Their youngest son, Brent, 27 of Malibu, CA was killed in a para-glider accident. Brent was born during the time we lived neighbors and as a toddler enjoyed coming over to visit, especially when we were working out in the garden. His funeral will be tomorrow morning. Neil and Cindy are holding up well and are pleased to have their oldest son Nate; Ryan, his wife Sahra and their young daughter Thalia living in nearby Lincoln. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Season

Elaine put up her Christmas scene on the buffet again this year which is a major part of our Holiday lighting. The NOEL display is on the Credenza.
We watched the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Plaza this evening and are now ready to watch Duke play Ohio State in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cobblestone Hotel Opening

We also enjoyed food and drink in the totally "no smoking" facility. People from the Cobblestone Headquarters in Wisconsin were there and introduced. I was sitting next to one of them who was very familiar with Tomah. He said his Dad was a contractor and build several buildings there. I expect he and Jerry were probably acquainted. The Governor talked about this Hotel being an example of the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to make things happen. The local Banks, individual investors and most of all, Shane were recognized as important in the process. The Mayor, City Administrator and others were also acknowledged. The new Hotel comes at a time when our Super 8 is undergoing changes in ownership. We certainly needed the new one.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Spirit

It's beginning to look like Christmas around our house. Elaine put up the tree this morning and I even helped a bit with the lights. She has the Nativity Scene set up on our table in the entryway and a Czech one on a step table.  She also set out the N O E L figurines which always get rearranged to LEON.  I hung the big wreath on the front door.  Snow started falling as we finished breakfast and continued through much of the morning but the ground was warm enough for it to melt as it fell. I would have called it a "skift" but the TV weather people called it a "dusting" in Lincoln. We know that to count as a snow, it must be enough to "track a rabbit" but I don't know where you draw the line between a "dusting" and a "skift". We practiced Christmas Carols at Kitones tonight in preparation for  3 "engagements" coming up before Christmas. You wouldn't believe how much time we spent practicing "Here Comes Santa Claus". We have several new members in our group who haven't sung this particular arrangement. I was asked at Kiwanis this noon for my blog "address" and suggested to the fellow that he just Google "Tony-The Crow's Nest" and was pretty sure it would come up. I tried it when I got home and was surprised at the number of "Crow's Nest" there are on the web. In the Czech language, a Crow is referred to as a Vrana, our sir name. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winter Scene

I took this picture with my Kodak Brownie Camera in 1943. It is a unique view of the barn, corn crib and windmill at the old Vrana farm. The windmill is the only thing still standing. Even the creek has been moved and the trees cleared. I was standing on a high bank with the creek between me and what you see; it actually comes from the left , flows below me and leaves in the trees to the right.. Had I taken a picture in the other direction the creek would have also been nearby. The bank on which I was standing was a narrow (25-30' isthmus) The creek made a wide circle and swung around near our other buildings before coming back around as shown in the picture. On one occasion after a heavy rain, the water level of the creek rose to the point that it cut across the isthmus on which I was standing to take this picture. Interestingly, there was a waterfall of about 4' which was the amount of grade in its normal circle route. After the farm was sold, the creek was straightened by cutting through the isthmus. The 4' over fall worked it's way back up the creek for several miles making the channel that much deeper than it was years ago. If all of this is too difficult to follow without a drawing, just enjoy the picture. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Seward's Lighted Christmas Parade

Seward's lighted Christmas Parade was held this evening and went past the front of our house. This is the 2nd year for the parade. Lincoln discontinued their event a couple years ago and Seward was able to get some of their floats. This full-size helicopter is courtesy of Whisler Aviation from right here in Seward. It contains thousands of little lights. Last year it was a bitter cold night and our Kitones sang on a float. Since this is the beginning of the parade route, we had invited them all to meet early at our house for a little "pre-parade" refreshment. This year it became apparent we wouldn't have enough of our group to sing. However, to the few of us who sang in Utica on Wednesday, I invited any who wished to come again for a bit of refreshment and to watch the parade. We didn't really expect anyone to come but we had a nice group arrive. We made some hurried preparations and thoroughly enjoyed the company. It is usually at those extemporaneous events that you have the nicest time. Seward is known as the "4th of July City" and the Christmas Parade is a beginning attempt to also become the "Christmas City". Pat Coldiron, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, deserves a lot of credit for the event.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Vrana Ancestory

Elaine has been recognized for her genealogy efforts. Following a recent   request, i put together this line of the Vrana name. Our earliest records show the name spelled with a "W" but Thomas is credited with making the change to the "V".  There were other children in each of these families but I only listed the line that led to my Dad. Then carried it on down to Anthony J. who is our only Grandson. I don't mean to slight the women but am only tracing the family name. I have listed my Dad's siblings. Elaine has a certain amount of information on each of their families. My generation of 1st cousins have maintained contact over the years. In fact the youngest cousin has taken the lead in putting together an email newsletter every couple months. We try to get together for a meal once each year to talk family history etc. Since the time of John Wrana, who was born in 1739, there are some 256 people involved in young Anthony J.'s Gene pool.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgivings over the Years

We had Thanksgiving at John, Julie and Sadie's new house. In addition to all of John and Julie's preparation, Ben fixed the turkey, Carolyn made her Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole, Elaine baked the Pumpkin Pie and I took the Cranberries. It was a great day and Sadie provided a lot of entertainment. It was also good to see the Redskins beat the Cowboys. Some years ago I went back through my old 5-year Diaries and Journals and compiled what I call: "Thanksgivings Over The Years". It starts in 1940 with 3 years missing in the late 40's when I didn't keep a Diary and in 1966 when I didn't get the entry made. This year will be my 68th "chapter". The entries include such things as: Husking corn, shooting 7 rabbits, walking a mile in the mud to get to Flowerdays, visiting Elaine in the hospital after Jon was born, getting the call that Aunt Dixie died and Elaine & Jon flew to NE, Nebraska beat Oklahoma 35-31, Dinner on the deck with all our family and folks, had 25 people at the farm for dinner, drove the Motor home from Franklin, NC to Columbus, IN with the "girls" along, Elaine and I flew to Hawaii, Tim's visited us in Ankeny, IA, Ben came down dressed as a Pilgrim and brought the turkey, played golf with Charlie, enjoyed the Macy parade in NY city after having been there, watched football, etc. We have become more appreciative of everything we have to be thankful for as each Thanksgiving Day comes along. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

King George V Protege

Elaine found this Medallion among her souvenirs. It commemorates the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary on 6/11/1911at Westminster Abbey in London, England. We have no history of the item other than knowing that Elaine's Grandparents on her Fathers side, immigrated to this country in the early 1880s. Her Dad maintained a keen interest in England all his life and was a collector of such items. It "triggered" my doing some research on the successions to the British Crown. King George died on 1/6/36 and his eldest son ascended to the throne. However, he indicated his intentions of marrying Wallace Simpson, an American divorcee and abdicated the throne. His younger brother, George VI's coronation was held on 5/12/1937. I remember listening to the ceremony on radio. I was in the 7th grade and County examinations were held in Garland. I didn't have to take any  that morning which accounted for my being home. 

King George VI had married Elizabeth Browne-Lyon in 1923. They had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. He died on 2/15/1952. Elizabeth was born 4/21/1926 and married Prince Phillip 11/14/48. They had 3 children  Charles, Anna and Andrew. Charles married Diana in 1981 and Prince William was born 6/21/82. His brother Harry was born in 1984. On 4/29/11 Prince William married Catherine Middleton. 
By coincidence, Elaine's Grandfather William Flowerday died on 6/2/53, the day of Queen Elizabeth's coronation. 
Elaine and I took a Globus Tour of England in the fall of 1994. Among our stops was the city of Liverpool, the home of the Beatles. We walked over to the dock. looked to the east, and thought about the fact that 101 years earlier, Elaine's Grandmother had disembarked from that port to come to America. I wish we knew more about the Medallion but it will remain a valuable keepsake.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Coin collection

Elaine and I have been "playing" with our coin collections recently. We have done very little with them during the past 20 years. We had many of the "state quarters" but never put them in a folder and cashed them in some time go. This "Barber of Liberty Head" carries a date of 1896. This is significant to both Elaine and I since both of our Dads were born in that year; my Dad on October 18 and Elaine's Dad on October 26. This is one coin that we will plan to pass on to family. We started our "collection" during our early years back in Virginia. We never did take it very seriously and a few times a year we would try to catch up our Whitman books of pennies, nickles, dimes, quarters, half dollars and silver dollars. We have cashed in all  of the silver dollars over the years and all of the books have many vacant "slots". We are of a notion to have a local dealer turn them into cash but will see if some of the family would like them. The total "collection" is certainly of limited value in comparison to the time that was spent in putting it together. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Seward, NE Business District

This is an old picture postcard showing the west side of the Seward, NE "square"; the west side of the County Courthouse block. This picture was taken before the brick streets were laid in the early 1900's. The big building beyond the end of the block was the old Windsor Hotel which was demolished over 50 years ago. However, the full block of buildings look very similar today. The closest building was a Bank at the time but has been a cafe for a number of years. It was "renovated" a few years ago and is now the "Cafe on the Square". It is one of Seward's most popular restaurants. The building at the far end of the block is the Masonic Lodge AF&AM. To my knowledge, it is the only building in the block that is still utilized by the original owners. The street is now part of Nebraska Highway #15 which runs north & south across eastern Nebraska from Washington, KS to Vermillion, SD. The highway carries a lot of heavy truck traffic and only parallel parking is permitted. Back in the 1930's when traffic was very light, there was not only diagonal parking but also parking in the middle of the street. A few years ago when there was discussion about the heavy truck traffic, my friend Billy suggested that we needed to bring back the center parking. He reasoned that the truckers would find some other route and wouldn't come through Seward. He is the same guy who wouldn't answer his phone, saying that if he wanted to talk to someone, he would call them. Billy isn't with us anymore and we miss his "outside the box" thinking. We need to do more of that. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Ladies/ "The Dust Bowl"

I call this picture, "The Ladies" or it could be "How many women are needed to take care of a baby". We all enjoy "playing" with Sadie then letting her Mother provide much of the "care" along with the nourishment. On the days that we don't get to see her, we wonder what changes are taking place and what will be different when we see her next. Hopefully, it may be as soon as tomorrow but Thanksgiving Day for sure. 
We are watching Ken Burns "The Dust Bowl" as I write this. Timothy Egan who wrote " Worst Hard Time" apparently provided information for Burns production. While it's just getting started, "The Dust Bowl" looks like it will maintain the high standard that has built Burns reputation. I will be interested in seeing if Burns gives the tribute to Hugh Hammond Bennett, founder of the USDA Soil Conservation Service, that Egan did in his book. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Schweitzer Auctions had the Glenn Ficken sale down at the 4-H Building in the Fair Grounds this morning. Glenn had an earlier auction where he sold his antique tractors and farm machinery. Today items were mostly of the collectible variety and included the snoopy dog pictured. I didn't stay to see it sold but it did bring back memories of having one when our kids were little. It seems like maybe it was still around when Julie was little. This auction had a lot of stuff including 20 pedal tractors, numerous pull toys, comic books, rare coins, model cars, etc. I was not there very long but it didn't appear to me that things were  selling as well as they might have earlier. Many things sold for $2.50 as well as boxes that included several items. There were a limited number of bidders and most  items went to collectors. Since we are no longer in the "collecting" stage, I didn't buy anything. A 1:00pm tee time brought me home early. Dale and I got in our 9 holes despite the wind in time to see the beginning of the Nebraska-Minnesota game. Nebraska won 38-14 and for the first time in several weeks, it was not a "nail bitter".