Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sadie and Jack

This was taken when Jack was only about half the age that he is now (2 months) but shows Sadie’s affection for him. As we “wind-down” 2014 and bring on 2015 it is with the hope and prayer that more of this kind of affection can be demonstrated throughout the country and world. Many problems could be solved by the simple admonition to  "Do unto others as you would have  them do unto you”. We are privileged to live in a community where even a trip to the grocery story like we made this morning is a social visit. Our coffee group is an example of varied opinions and yet we share basic beliefs and can appreciate why we see things from a differing perspective. Let us all strive to make 2015 a year in which we try to show more affection, become more sensitive to the feelings of others, and stay optimistic. How can an old man do anything other with a couple Great Grandkids as models. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Year in Review

This is the season when I sort through the pictures taken throughout the year and select a number to make up collages for the year. This is Page 1 and contains 40+ pictures which is about 1/3rd of the total I selected. This page carries us into spring. Elaine will write brief captions for each picture and place them is a book where the pictures are on the opposite side of the captions. This was a good day for such activity. Our theromometer showed -10 degrees this morninng and didn’t get out of single digets all day though we did have some sunshine. We hope to get out of the house tomorrow as the weather is to warm up a bit. Our car hasn’t been out of the garage since last Friday. The snow and cold weather has coincided with my bad cold and cough which “Dr Elaine” has me treating with “home medicine". It’s not that she hasn’t suggested that I go over to the Clinic but hopefully, the worst of it is behind me. On a brighter subject, we are enjoying the Kennedy Center Awards program tonight and thought the tribute to Tom Hanks was particularily impressive.

Monday, December 29, 2014

’55 Buick Roadmaster

I pulled some pages of advertisements out of old Magazines before recycling them last winter and came across them today.  I  have put some of them in picture frames and will put them on our spring Garage Sale. And, might even put some on eBay. This one came from the March 1955 Capper’s Farmer Magazine. It features the 1955 Buick Roadmaster which has a 236-hp V8 engine, Variable Pitch Dynaflow Transmission, and all coil spring ride with Safety Power Steering. The “catch line” This you take in Glory Pride, was a recognition that people were often judged by the car they drove and the “self confidence” of many was determined by that standard. The Roadmaster or “four holer” as they were called by those of us who were envious of them, was the top of the line that a “working man” might aspire too. Our first Buick was a new 1975 Apollo, 4-door compact sedan with small V8 engine and bucket front seats. They only made the Apollo during the 73-75 Model years. It was a nice little car and did have 3 vents on either side of the hood to mock the old 4-holers but never got the gas mileage that we anticipated. We also bought  new’92 and ’02 LaSabre Sedans so have been Buick owners for a number of years but they haven’t affected my self confidence or enhanced my image. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sister Vivian’s Birthday

The 28th day of December will always be the day of my sister Vivian’s birthday. She and I were 18 months apart as is shown in this picture with our Mother’s brother Ralph Walker. We are apparently out in a Wheat field that has been cut with a binder and the bundles put in  shocks awaiting to be thrashed. I would have been about 2 at the time and Vivian 3 1/2.  Ralph was 4 or 5 years older than Vivian. I don’t know whose hat I’m looking at but it probably was Ralph’s. I’m surprised that Vivian wasn’t involved in getting me to look at the camera. She developed “Motherly” skills at a very young age and looked after me during my “youth” as only a big sister could. We all miss her as she left us too soon 6 years ago. She kept me out of a lot of trouble and may have even been instrumental in our getting into some. We had a very close sister-brother relationship over the years. She and her late husband Eddy, shared birthdays on this day and I still miss them both. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

USGS Geodetic Monument

This is a U.S. Department of Interior, Geological Survey Agency Geodetic monument. It is located in the SE corner of Section  18, Twp-11-N, Range-4-E. which is 1-mile west and 2-miles south of Garland, NE. It is at the edge of the road right-of-way and the shelterbelt. It is on the corner of the farm that we owned during the 1980’s, During my earlier days with the Soil Conservation Service surveying Watershed Dams, we would run “levels” from such monuments to the Dam sites, since they were all designed to the elevation above sea level. I no longer have access to the location and elevation of the monuments in Seward County but do have an SCS General Soils Map of the area that shows this elevation as 1580. If anyone reading this has access to the USGS Maps showing elevations, I would appreciate their confirming or correcting the level.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Before & After

I have shown this picture of the little old Rail Road water tank which was demolished a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t until the sunny day yesterday that I was able to get an “after” picture from about the same location. The leaves on the trees make the “before” look different but the hill to the left edge of the pictures is a good reference. Following my last blog on it, our Son Jon who lives in Burke, VA wrote about one of their neighboring suburbs attempting to save a Water Tower that was going to cost significant Dollars.
It would have helped if we could have had the Redi-Mix concrete truck still parked but that was not to be on Christmas Day. There is a lot of history in this area. Some years ago, the Big Blue River channel was  moved from a short distance this side of the water tower to a straight channel about a quarter mile south of its natural location. There is a direct linkage between all of the stream straightening which has occurred during the past 60 years and the need to repair or replace bridges because of the channel deepening and the banks sluffing off. Many changes are justified on the basis of short term economic gain but fail to recognize the long term consequences and eventual cost. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Great Grandson Jack

We spent much of the day with the “Seward portion” of our family out at the Owens house. Great Grandson Jack who will be 2 months old in a couple days, is shown here enjoying his 21st century manger (Cradle). It has a control panel with buttons to control the speed of the “rocking” motion. We’ve come a long way from, “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Rules the World”. Jack is now over 10 pounds and seems to be doing real well. Sadie has adapted to having a little brother and Julie is learning all the differences between baby girls and boys. Sadie was the main package “unwrapper” this morning as she went from one present to another. Elaine and I slipped away after packages were opened to do our “Home Delivered Meals”. It didn’t take very long and we were back for an excellent Christmas Dinner. Some of us Grandfathers enjoy an afternoon nap after a big meal so that kinda broke up the party. With our downtown deserted, I took some pictures of buildings glowing in the bright 48 degree sunshine. It was a Great Day and a very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wissmann Family

T’was the day before Christmas and all through the Cattle National Bank, the Loren Wissmann family voices could be heard singing Christmas Carols. It has become a long standing tradition of the family to stop by for a few minutes. We have not heard them every year, but I did thoroughly enjoy their singing this morning. I’m not sure but believe the little girl in the front row is #13 and the youngest of the family. They lived here in Seward for several years but now call Milford, NE home. They still travel extensively as a family singing group, into Texas and the South during the winter and perform in Branson, MO. Several of the family play various musical instruments which adds to their attraction. They have produced a variety of CD’s, DVD”S, etc. which are available. They are a truly outstanding family whose voices and lives seem to blend together Beautifully and with the Spirit of Christmas.

       Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Elaine had the opportunity to visit with Santa Claus and tell him about everything she would like to have him bring to our house. Since in “real life” he is an Under taker and not an “Over giver”, I doubt that she will get anything from him. But we do hope to do some shopping during the “after Christmas sales”. We have been talking about replacing our Queen Anne living room chairs that we moved back from Virginia. Getting a new mattress and box spring for our Queen size bed is also on the list. My HP PC computer is showing some real signs of aging. I hardly ever open it without the message coming up that, “Internet Explorer has stopped working. We will try to solve the problem and notify you”. It was in 2007 that we bought it at Best Buy with son Jon’s help who also set it up for us. My hope is that I can keep it “alive” until he gets back sometime to do it again. I like my Mac Book but need a PC to keep some “documents” and records that are not available on the Mac. We did do some of our last  minute shopping this morning in addition to taking things to the recycle center, getting a hair cut and a few other chores. We are looking forward to a Christmas Eve Service tomorrow evening and being with our family that's here in Seward on Christmas Day along with doing Home Delivered Meals.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Program at Kiwanis

The Kiwanis program for today’s meeting was coordinated by the Spiritual Aims Committee and led by John Meyer. It was a most inspiring program of Biblical readings, songs by a 7th grade girls Chorus accompanied by Paul Soulek, and group singing of Christmas Carols. The readers were: David Dobbertien, Art Schauer, Allan Schmidt, Jack Kinworthy,  Meyer, Roger Mailand, Marv Plamann, and Jack Swanson.
Paul Soulek is Director of Music for St. John’s Church as well as 7th and 8th grade music in the school. He has exceptional musical ability which it seems he is able to impart into his students. Our Club is very fortunate in having members with a widely diversified high level of ability and dedication. This is the 50th anniversary of the Chartering of our Club. Concordia University Professor Walter Juergensen was our first President and the Club has served as a “melting pot” for the School, Church and Community.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Seward United Methodist Church

Our Methodist Sunday School program was last week so this morning we had a special musical Christmas service. Our Church has undergone considerable renovation during the past few months as the heating/cooling system was replaced. The old system leaked water leading to mold  under the raised Alter and in the area of the Organ. The Alter has been replaced by a stage with the Choir now setting in the pews as Drums, Pianos and other instruments are now in the area of the former Choir Loft. The Pulpit also now serves as the Lecture. This picture was taken during the Prelude this morning during the Adult Choir’s rendition of “African Alleluia” accompanied by piano, drums, bongos, etc. The congregation joined in the singing following the Call to Worship.  Other musical groups performing included: God’s Squad, Praise Team  and the Chancel Choir. The service also included the lighting of the Advent candles, a Sermon and Baptism. It was really quite inspirational and seems to appeal to younger people. The Church was filled for both the 8:30 as well as the 10:30 services. I’m adjusting to the changes but to me, Church without the sound of the Organ is like Apple Pie without Ice Cream. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The RR Water Tower, Gone but not Forgotten

I have shown this old Railroad Water Tower on previous blog pages since it has been one of my favorite landmarks of Seward. The RR hasn’t used it since the days of steam engines but it  remained....until a few weeks ago when it was demolished. Some 25-30 years ago when it was no longer of use to the RR, they leased it to a party that stored fertilizer in it. That only lasted for a few years, but it had been contaminated.
It was repainted after the fertilizer use ended to make it, what some people thought, more attractive. I and a few others thought it should be repainted the RR red, a U.S. flag painted on it and say, "Welcome to Seward” but it was not to be. Now it is gone and will only remain in pictures and memories. It was pulled down with cables, cut up and hauled away. I have no idea where it may have gone nor the extent of contamination. The little concrete building near the tower is also gone. The site has been cleared and appears to be just a part of the adjacent Ready Mix Concrete plant. We have seen considerable construction in Seward during 2014 but also a lot of demolition.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Seward’s Parade of Flags

Marv Taylor led a Kiwanis Flag Pole Committee this fall in getting a “Parade of Flags” display established along highway #34 on the east entrance to Seward. The display includes the U.S. flag on a 50 foot pole as the center-piece. It is supported by flags from all the branches of the Military plus the POW/MIA flag. In addition, all 50 State flags are displayed along either side of a 180 foot walkway. Marv asked me to take pictures during the construction which has enabled the forming of this collage. The flag display adds to the City’s claim of being the Country’s Small Town, 4th of July City. In addition, the Nebraska National Guard Museum is being relocated here in Seward. A multi-million dollar project in converting the 1950’s National Guard building into the Museum will be completed during 2015. Seward’s location of being only 25 miles from the Capital City of Lincoln and 6 miles off I-80 makes our small town of 7,000 people an ideal location for attracting industry and a “destination” point for many visitors. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pelini's rant on Eichorst

The news broke yesterday that when Bo Pelini met with the Nebraska football team at North Star HS on December 2, he took some inappropriate shots at Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst. The newspapers were filled with the details this morning. Pelini was fired as Head Coach by Eichorst on November 30 and asked to meet with the team before leaving. According to the papers, he asked the players to keep everything that was said in that room. However, it was recorded and made available to the press. Its accuracy was later confirmed by others who were in the meeting. A transcript  of the meeting is described as containing “multiple vulgarities”. Based on what was printed, I would say that description is an “understatement”. The language that he used in describing Eichorst, goes beyond what I have ever heard to describe an individual. He has accepted a Head Coaching job at Youngstown State in Ohio and is scheduled to receive a “buy out” payment from Nebraska over the next several years that will amount to over 7 million dollars. The University has issued a statement saying that if the words allegedly spoken by Pelini are true, it reaffirms the decision that he should no longer be a leader of young men in Nebraska. My personal reaction is that if true, he shouldn’t be a Head Coach anywhere and needs to seek treatment. The expectation that his comments would not leave the room, is further confirmation of his lack of judgement and rational thinking. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brother Don”s Birthday

Would you believe that this little fellow is celebrating a big birthday today. I could tell you the number but it is very misleading because he doesn't look, act, or feel his age. I was old enough at the time he was born, to be able to tell the Grandparents  that, "we have a real baby at our house". Our Mother made this comment back in the mid-30's while talking about how strange it would be to talk about the year “2000”: "Donnie may see it but I doubt any of the rest of us will". Fortunately, some of the rest of us were able to see it.
We moved from Seward to the old Vrana family farm north of Garland when Don was just over 2 years old. Mother has told of him saying the first night we were there, that he wanted to take his Mommy, Daddy and Potty and go home. We never know the extent of Nature vs Nurture that impacts who we become. Don, like all of us in our family inherited a lot of good genes. He also had the benefit of having such a pleasing personality that he was a family, extended family, and neighborhood favorite. How many kids his age had the benefit of the nurture of growing up under the conditions shown in this picture. Growing up on a farm with a pony is an excellent way of learning “horse sense” which he learned well. Breaking a colt to ride is just another challenge. While I refer to his early life in shaping his personality, his wife Gladys has been the major factor in taking him at a young age, and helping make him into the outstanding person that he is today. Happy Birthday Brother Don. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mercedes-Benz e320

I developed an interest in Mercedes-Benz autos several years ago when one of the fellows in our car pool had one. I was surprised when we were in Germany and rode in them as taxis. Over the years, I have had occasion to run a few used ones through my "cost/benefit" analysis and could never justify a purchase. Yesterday at our Kiwanis luncheon, I sat at a table with a fellow who has one for sale; he is getting a newer one. This is a picture of his 2003 e320 6-cylinder sedan with 116,000 miles. He has had it since it had less than 50,000 miles, put new tires on it and other maintenance items and is asking$7,900.00. He and his family live here in Seward and I have known him for 25 years. If there was anything wrong with  it, he would tell me. There is only one problem. My desire to own a vehicle just because it is a Mercedes-Benz has diminished considerably. One this age would not replace our "new" Buick but would my old  '91 Buick. With it setting next to this Mercedes today, I decided that I really like my old car better than this one. The older we get, the more reluctant we are to change and seldom are the new things as satisfying to us as the ones they replaced. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Aging Partners

Houston Done from the "Aging Partners" out of Lincoln,  provided the program this noon at Kiwanis. The "Lincoln Based" organization serves an 8-County area including Seward. Their mission is to enhance daily living, expand personal choices and educate the community in an effort to ensure the independence and full life of the people they serve. He got the attention of our group by asking if we knew the fastest growing age group in the USA. It turns out to be those who reach 100. Since Done is an Insurance Counselor, he spent most of his time talking about  Medicare and Medicaid within his message of: planning ahead, staying well, living at home, senior care options, assisted living, nursing homes, etc. Some of the statistics are rather frightening. There was a time when we talked about people, epically farmers, "living poor and dieing rich". Today, it seems that the opposite is more often the case. He mentioned the high percentage of people requiring skilled nursing home care that become eligible for Medicaid after less than a year. Somewhat unique to Nebraska, is a provision that became affective on January 1, 2014 which is called the "Spousal Impoverishment Program." The intent is to help keep a spouse in their own home if either the husband or wife is on Medicaid. It's not a subject we like to talk about but something we all need to face. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Seward's Winter Wonderland

Elaine and I visited the Seward Chamber of Commerce Winter Wonderland this afternoon. It is located in a downtown business store front which is part of the Seward Physical Therapy facility. The Wonderland is open during the Christmas season during these limited hours: Wed. Dec. 17   6-8:00pm
Thur. Dec. 18  6-8:00pm.
Sat.   Dec. 20  3-5:00pm
Sun.  Dec. 21  1-3:00pm
Christmas eve 2-8:00pm
Every family with young children will be amazed at their fascination by the lights, sounds and activity. Visitors sign in and a good will donation is appreciated but everyone is welcomed.  Volunteer hours by many talented people make it possible. Gary Rolf is one of those volunteers that has put in many hours not only working on the 
displays but on the drywalling and wallpapering of the room. One of the new features this year is the "Polar Express" which is a replica of the train car from the movie. Various garments are even available for "passengers"  to use for pictures. There were a couple young families enjoying it while we were there. We especially enjoyed watching a little 4 year old girl as she pushed some of the buttons to activate the characters. She was also fascinated by the train passing through a lengthy tunnel in a Christmas Village setting. I didn't learn where the button was to activate the fellow with the carrot nose with whom I'm shown. So in this Wonderland of "make believe", I just thanked him for everything he and volunteers did in brightening our day. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Poinsettia gift on 12 13 14

Our house took on another level of Christmas spirit this morning when John and Sadie came by with this beautiful Poinsettia. We have never had one before with the variegated leaves. I wonder how it's done. Sadie was a big girl being with her Daddy and we certainly enjoyed their visit as well as having the plant. We also were able to bring our annual Christmas letter to completion. It wasn't done without the help of son Jon back in Virginia. I sent him my draft and related a couple problems that I was unable to resolve. He was able to solve the problems and even improved on some other details and sent it back. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a "slip" between what appears on my computer screen and what the printer produces. It still came out in a very acceptable manner and will be our 2014 Christmas Letter. At 11 seconds after 9:10 tonight, I plan to take a picture of it dated 9:10:11 12/13/14. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Elaine & Dale cutting Wheat

This is what "farm kids" did as teenagers when Elaine and her brother Dale were growing up back in the 40's. Their Dad, Albert typically rode the binder with Elaine driving the old Model D John Deere. Dale and their Mother, Flora did the shocking while brother Bill was off with the Army. Elaine says the dog was just on the JD fender for the picture and didn't ride along. This picture was taken only a couple years before Dale introduced me to his little sister. After all of the years that we've been married, I again realized how much I appreciate her. Not only because of who she is but also for the many things she does. Tonight she fixed a supper of boiled potatoes, creamed chicken gravy, and green beans. We had some of her homemade Chocolate Chip cookies and ice cream. Normally, that wouldn't be anything special but that was the first meal she prepared since breakfast yesterday morning. I'm not much of a cook but fortunately, she had a casserole in the Fridge that I lived on while she spent about 36 hours in bed getting over a touch of sinus infection. While she still isn't 100%, she was able to fix supper tonight which I really enjoyed and it's great to have her up and around.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tony and Norm.

This picture was taken during the summer of 1953 when Seward, NE was celebrating "Old Settler's Day" and we were encouraged to grow beards. Norm Neujahr and I worked together at that time doing the survey work for "laying-out" terraces, dams, irrigation facilities, etc. for farmers in the County. Norm had previously worked for the PMA (Production Marketing Administration) but when Dwight Eisenhower was President, it was "decreed" that PMA and SCS (Soil Conservation Service) should work more closely together. I had been with SCS for 4 years at the time that Norm came over to work with me. We had already been friends through our baseball competition, he with Staplehurst and me with Garland. He was a pitcher  and I was a center fielder. Norm stayed with us for only a couple years until becoming the Manager of a Bowling Alley where he had a good life. I went on to work on Watershed Dam construction out of Lincoln where I also took College classes. Then, on into Washington, D.C. in the USDA headquarters office. But it was my days of working at the County level with people like Norm that I look back on as some of my happiest days of federal service. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Celebration at SHS

We attended the Seward Memorial Health Care Systems "Holiday Celebration" this afternoon at the Seward High School Auditorium. This is an annual event coordinated by Carol Carlson who does an excellent job. The entertainment included the expanded SHS Show Choir and musician Dave Marsh. The Show Choir always presents an entertaining program and it is apparent that no one enjoys it more than the participants. Leslie Stratton has built the Choir into a Unit in which musically inclined students aspire to participate as strongly as athletes do to make the first team in sports. 
Musician Dave Marsh, who plays with a Irish Band in Lincoln's Haymarket District also demonstrated his versatility and ability. He played Christmas music and sang as well as explaining his various instruments. They included: Bag Pipe, Accordion, Auto Harp, Hammer Dulcimer, Drum, Guitar  with Mouth Harp, and Banjo.  His story and performance with the Drum was probably the most outstanding. However, we enjoyed his playing Christmas Carols on the Hammer Dulcimer most of all. It was a great Celebration. Thank You Carol and SMHCS. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Battery for our "new" Buick

We had this type battery installed in our "new" Buick La Sabre this morning. You will note by the price listed that it was not cheap.  Our rational for having spent as much as we have on maintenance of our two old Buicks is that we haven't had to take the amount of depreciation that occurs when you buy new vehicles frequently. We bought our "new" La Sabre on November 3, 2001 from Rolfsmeier's here in Seward. We kept our '92 Buick La Sable that we had also bought new from Rolfsmeier's. We started calling the '02 our "New" car as soon as we brought it home and continue to make that distinction since they are both the same color.  The interesting thing about the new battery is that it replaces the original that came in the car 13 years ago. It is "vented" battery as was the original, that is located under the back seat and is "exhausted" outside. I mentioned to the Service Manager this morning that I had never seen the battery under the back seat and he showed me how to hook-up jumper cables under the hood if necessary. The price of the battery being at least twice of what we have ever spent for one before reminded me of hearing about the price that cattle are bringing these days. First calf heifers with  3 month calves at their side were bringing $3,600.00 recently. Unfortunately, we don't have any. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

We continued our Christmas decorating today. Elaine has NOEL displayed on the Piano along with the 3 Angles and our "Stockings hung on the keyboard cover handles, with care". After her working diligently but unsuccessfully trying to get a string of lights to work on the tree, we got some things out of the attic and found all kinds of lights. We even put some out on the porch railing but decided against putting any on the roof. We further got into the Christmas spirit by Elaine going along up to the Ridgewood Care Center where the Kitones sang this evening. After singing at each of their Dining Rooms, several of us stopped by the Hospital where one of our Kitone wives is recuperating and sang a few Carols . It was a beautiful 50 degree day with little wind so ideal for being out and about.  Elaine had already put the Nativity Scene in place on our entryway table and her Christmas Village on the Buffet. This is probably as much decorating as we will do. Our next project is to write our Christmas Letter. Going over our mailing list is always a bit depressing since it gets smaller every year. However, we are happy to add Great Grandson "Jack" to our gift list. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pearl Harbor Day 2014

I displayed the flag this afternoon in recognition of the 73rd anniversary of the "day that will live in infamy" as President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it. It was on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese Air Force made a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and destroyed a significant portion of the United States Naval Fleet that was in the harbor. The Omaha World-Herald has a story today on Nebraska Native Donald Stratton,  one of the 300 survivors of the USS Arizona where 1,177 shipmates died. He and 3 other  of the 8 remaining survivors, will drink a toast today to the memory of their fallen shipmates. My brother Don and I were playing with a football on that warm, sunny December Sunday on the Vrana farm north of Garland. Our sister Vivian, turned on the radio about 2:00 pm and got the news. We were in Peace Negotiations with the Japanese at the time so the attack came as a complete surprise. To this day, I could go back out to the old farm and using a remaining Walnut tree for a guide, mark the spot where I was standing when I heard Vivian's message. We can forgive but there are some things we can never forget. And those of us that remain can only Thank God and ask for his Blessings on those that died for Our Country and for us. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Daily Diary entries, Highlights & Major Events

Elaine and I spent much of the day getting ready for the Holidays. The Nativity scene that has "graced" our entryway table for many years is in place this evening. Elaine continues to work on the Christmas Village scene this is taking its traditional form on top of our dining room buffet. We spent considerable time working on our 2014 activity Highlights. The criteria for highlights might  be loosely described as "the date when something happened that we want to remember". Highlights are compiled by going through my daily diary and listing those items that meet the criteria. There are often as many as 15-20/month. Occasionally, 2 or  even 3 in a given day. Major Events are selected from among the Highlights of which there may be only 25-50 for an entire year. Our "searches" for details on past events often begins with identifying the season it occurred and if possible, the Major Event it might be "tied to". With some clues from the Major Events, the search can be refined to the Highlights. The date of the event of the highlight takes us to that page in the appropriate Diary for the details. I justify the time and effort this takes to stress relief.
Here is how a couple pages of my Diaries appear. My normal entries just  list what happened during the day and who was involved. Occasionally, I will express my opinion or feeling about something, but that is not my normal entry. I have started making a mark along the edge of the page when making an entry that may become a Highlight. I can then go through more quickly by only checking on those items and mark appropriate ones with a highlighter. Today, I read the date and Highlights to Elaine who sat at the computer and entered them into the record. They will be edited, printed and entered into the book. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Nebraska Football Coach

I watched the Press Conference this morning as Nebraska Athletic Director, Shawn Eichorst presented Mike Riley as the new Head Coach. It has been an interesting week with Bo Pelini being let go and his replacement on board within 6 days. Eichorst certainly gained credibility with his selection of Tim Miles as Head Basketball Coach a few years ago, and we have hopes that Riley will prove to be an equally good selection. The "public demeanor" of Riley appears to be 180 degrees different that Pelini. How that relates to wins and loses, winning the big games and being ranked among the top teams in the Country, is another matter. I expect the TV cameras will be focused more on the team and the crowd a bit more and less on the Coach than what we have seen during the past few years. 
We met Elaine's brother Dale and Marlene at the Village Inn in Lincoln for lunch today. They had a box of old papers, work books, etc. ready to send home with us. Among them was this March 27, 2008 Lincoln Journal Star SPORTS section covering Bo's first spring practice with the team. The practice was described by one of the players as "very intense".  "He's very hands-on. He's talking to every player...If you're messing up, he's talking to you no matter who you are. He's going to correct you because he wants everything done perfect". "If you're not doing it right, he's going to call you out and that's how it's supposed to be done." One player indicated that "Pelini's voice was a constant presence at Hawks Championship Center, it was heard on every play." It's amazing looking back on these comments how the players quoted, so aptly "read" Bo for what he continued to be. What they saw is what we got. No one ever accused him of trying to pretend that he was anything other that what he is. The new direction will be different. We trust that it will be better. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Magazine Club Christmas Party

Our Magazine Club held our Christmas Party this evening at "Nate's on the Nine" more commonly known as the Seward Country Club. Though several people were out of town and unable to attend, we had a very good dinner and an enjoyable evening. Club President Ken Meyer did a great job in coordinating the work of his wife Mary; Jolene & Gordon in the decorations and Jack & Glennie for providing the entertainment. The Seward Magazine Club is known as the oldest "Social Club" in the City and dates back to the days when members limited their Magazine
 subscriptions to only a couple. They would then get together and share what they learned from their Magazine with the other members. We still follow many of the "Operating Procedures" that were laid out in our Charter. Today most of us take many of the same Magazines but seldom do we have a conflict on reported articles. Our members come from varied professional backgrounds and usually report on something for which we have a particular interest. We sit in a large circle for our regular meeting with the Ladies on one side and Men on the other. After our "Reports" we have a light lunch served by two of the couples. There again, the Ladies set at one table and the Men at another. Jack and Glennie's program this evening capitalized on both of their long history of Music and Christian Education. They read some "ancient" dialogue of Christmas poems prior to there being set to music years later. 
We each brought home one of the Candles which Jolene had used as part of the table decorations. We will use them in the windows of our living room to brighten the spirit of others. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

China Tee shirt made in the USA

Elaine has a box of bed linens, blouses and other items ready to go to our local Et-Cetera store so it was my tern to sort through my stuff. I have been very optimistic over the years as to loosing enough weight to get into some of my smaller sizes. However, I have finally accepted the fact that I will never be able to wear a size 34/34 which I did for several years as a young man. In fact, the last pants I bought were 44's. I still kept the 42's which I do wear occasionally but the 40's are ready to go. I went through several old suits and sport coats but just not ready to let them go. I look at that Hart Shaffner & Marx label and remember how pleased I was to be able to buy them. A couple still have a Jack Graff label.
In addition to sorting out pants, there were many shirts that were also sorted out to go. Even after having this Tee shirt in the sack to go, I pulled it out and decided to put it on eBay. It is an XL size, made in the USA and of a heavier cotton material than a "normal" cotton tee shirt. We went on a China Tour during the fall of 1992 and bought the shirt soon after getting back home. I wore it a couple times while showing pictures and presenting programs on our tour. It has been in storage since then. If it doesn't sell on eBay, it will join all the others at Et-Cetera. We are fortunate to have the store here in Seward operated by the Mennonite community with all profits going to support their mission programs. It is one of the most popular stores in town this time of year. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Old Friends and Old Trees

During my early years of working with the Soil Conservation Service, a fellow employee and I looked for opportunities to augment our minimal salaries (approx. $1.00/hr). We cut Osage Orange trees into post, did some building painting, etc. before starting to sell Nursery Stock for Stark Bro's at Louisiana, MO while not on duty. They had excellent material and it always arrived in very good condition. Our "commission" was 25% of the selling price which the customer paid directly to us in signing the order.  We worked at it during the week-ends and occasional evenings during the early spring. Now "fast forward" to today when our Kitones sang in Milford for the Farmer's and Merchant Bank's customer appreciation dinner. While singing, I spotted Gene Welsch who was one of our early Stark Bro's customers. I have visited with him periodically over the years since his son David is recognized as one of the early leaders of Organic Farming. As we were winding up our conversation, Gene brought up the Pear tree that we had sold them those many years ago. He said it was just about "done-for" having split off parts and has a hollow trunk. He spoke affectionately of the old tree that apparently provided them some excellent fruit over the years. It's great to live in a community among old friends and pretty special when one of them takes  pleasure in reminding you of something you were able to do for them at one time.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Criteria for Success

It appears that the "powers that be" feel that Nebraska should contend for a Western Big 10 division title every year, that we should play in the Championship game of the Big 10 frequently, be in the top 10 teams nationally and be in a BSC Bowl game most years and win National Championships every few years. I have used some general terms in describing this Criteria for Success that we have heard alluded to by AD Eichorst. Maybe it should be defined more specifically and then a salary range tied to various performance levels. And, maybe wins of games are only part of the criteria. Should we also have some "Standards of Behavior". I was given a Certificate one time that provided me "10 ATTABOY'S" for jobs well done with the admonition that "1 AW SHIT" cancelled out 10 attaboys.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seward"s Christmas Parade

Elaine and I had "front row" seats for the Seward Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade last evening. The staging area for the parade is the streets to the north of our house but they are in full "Parade form" as they pass our house on 1st Street and turn to go through the downtown business district and beyond, on Seward Street. Seward began having the Christmas Parade just a few years ago when several floats were available from the City of Lincoln that discontinued their parade. Charles Lieske, Executive Director of the 
Chamber has provided leadership for the parade since its coming to Seward. Gary Rolf has spent many hours, along with others, in doing repairs, obtaining storage and helping make the parade possible. The Parade last night was the most enjoyable of all. The weather was perfect with a beautiful red sunset following afternoon record breaking temperatures that hit 80 degrees. Elaine and I sat on lawn chairs on our driveway and enjoyed every entry. Where else could you go to a Parade and have Santa Clause call out our first names and wish us a Merry Christmas. Thanks to everyone who made this half-hour parade so enjoyable.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Richard M. Pitsch, M.D.

We attended a service "Celebrating the Life of Richard M. Pitsch, M.D." this morning at the Zabka funeral home here in Seward. Dr. Pitsch was our family Doctor back in the '50's when our children were youngsters. He continued to be our Doctor during the 4 years we lived in Lincoln after moving there from Seward in 1958. Elaine could even tell a story about her coming out from Lincoln to have him perform an appendectomy on her during those years. One off my stories involves all 4 of our youngsters who were along with Elaine and I at the Clinic for Polio shots in the mid-50's. After getting the shots, Elaine asked Dr. Pitch if he might be able to remove a wart on her finger. He got out his electrolysis instrument and went to work on Elaine while the 4 Kids and I watched with anticipation. As it began to smoke a bit, the Kids started to tear up and could tell that it was hurting "Mommy". To help them accept what was happening, I told them that the Doctor had deadened the feeling in her finger and it really didn't hurt. When he was finished with Elaine, he asked if I had any warts. I admitted that "Yes, I had one on my left hand ring finger since being a little boy. Well, he invited me to have it removed so I changed chairs with Elaine. With the first "blast" of electricity, I let out a Geeeezzzzze!!!!! that could have been heard across the street. Who says Doctors don't have a sense of humor. He got a good laugh out of that. He also helped us through some very serious times, and we will be forever grateful for all of his services. After returning to Seward from Virginia, he was again our Doctor for a number of years, we attended the Presbyterian Church together and after retirement, drank morning coffee in the same group for a number of years. He was not only a good Doctor but also a dear friend. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sadie Elizabeth at age Two

This is our Great Granddaughter Sadie at the time of her 2nd Birthday this past August. It was taken by Allyson Garrett, a professional photographer who did an excellent job of capturing her many moods and expressions. Sadie continues to grow in many ways. We were with her and family for some time yesterday, on Thanksgiving Day, and she was very astute in helping her Grandmother put the finishing touches on the Acorn Squash. She has been an interesting case study in addition to just being a joy to be around. Somehow with our own kids, we were so busy with jobs and all the necessary chores, that we just didn't take time to realize what was really going on in their little minds and bodies. Granddaughter Julie was a great joy to us while spending a considerable amount of her childhood with us. (We even referred to her as our 5th kid at times) And, we were much more cognizant of her development than that of our other four. Now with Sadie, we are completely fascinated. It's not only that she already knows many words and what they mean, but that she has a very active mind that goes far beyond the things she verbalizes. Maybe all kids are getting smarter these days but to us, she is pretty special. Hopefully, living up to her eventual potential will not become a burden and that she can always be as happy as is reflected in this picture.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

We began our Thanksgiving celebration by going to an impressive Ecumenical Service at the Methodist Church last evening. This morning's Lincoln and Omaha newspapers included some 7 pounds of advertisements which are in the recycling bin. We enjoyed part of the Macy Holiday Parade from NY City. The floats get more fantastic every year. Then we took Home Delivered Meals to several people who are living alone and are younger than me. (That alone makes one very Thankful). Then we went to Owenses where we joined Carolyn and Ben in having Dinner with John, Julie, Sadie and Jack. Ben has a long standing record of furnishing and carving the Turkey.
Jack slept through our Dinner but awakened soon after and was ready for Great Grandmother to hold the bottle for him. Julie says he's getting to be a good "nurser" but also enjoys the breast milk from a bottle. And, as the picture shows, Elaine enjoys holding it for him. Tomorrow will be his 1-Month birthday. He has helped us to realize what a "big girl" Sadie has become. She not only says many words but uses them to express her "wants" and "opinion". (Do you suppose she has that Vrana gene). We enjoyed contact with several others in the family during the afternoon and have enjoyed the Celtic Thunder Christmas program this evening. Brother Don and I exchanged comments on Dad repairing Don's coaster wagon that took place on Thanksgiving Day in 1940. We are all very Thankful for our Many Blessings.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service

We participated in the Ecumenical Service at our United Methodist Church this evening involving St Andrew's Episcopal and Mother Helen Goldtl, Faith Lutheran and Pastor Rob Corum; Friedens UCC and Rev. Al Smith and Rev. Dale Lambert from UMC. A Community Choir sang an "Anthem of Thanksgiving" directed by Cindy Mavis and accompanied by Pam McConnell.  Mother Helen and each of the Pastors offered their personal "Thanksgiving Reflections". Mother Helen spoke of the needs for Churches to "step up" to help heal the hate that exist in Ferguson, MO and elsewhere. She used a quote that "Grief is what is in your Heart, but that Grievance is a Chip on Your Shoulder". Pastor Corum spoke of relationship with the Pilgrims and of God's generosity; Rev. Smith who has had some health problems, spoke of God as a "Healing God"; and, Rev. Lambert talked of the "compression" of the Holidays which tend to diminish the Thanksgiving spirit but that Democracy in some ways is "messy" but this service was an example of our being of "One Body of Christ" though we may have administrative differences. The Service concluded with communion with choices of wine or grape juice as well as regular or glutton-free bread.  Social Hour followed with Coffee and Cookies. It was a very nice Service that reminded us  how much we have for which to be Thankful. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fall Yard Cleanup

With the sun shining, the temperature in the upper 40's and rain and colder weather forecast for tomorrow, we worked on the leaves in our front yard after lunch. The leaves have really come down during the cold and snowy weather of the past couple weeks. In cleaning them up, we followed our usual procedure of blowing and raking them out into an open area and then "chopping" them up with the grass catcher off so the mower works like a mulcher. I then put the catcher on and go over the area again, doing more   chopping and picking them up. We dump them on an opened burlap bag which is the easiest way to carry them to the back yard and put them on this compost pile. We have a second pile like this and rotate between the two. What you see is about a 3 year accumulation of all the grass and leaf trimmings that we have removed from the yard. The second pile has matured compost and is older. Both are located next to the back yard fence and hidden from view by Lilac, Wigelia, and other shrubs. We haven't had any grass clippings nor leaves taken away from our place for the past 20 years. While there is work involved, it is easier then raking leaves and putting them in paper bags as some of our neighbors do; plus it's more Green to be recycling. Now we still have the back yard to do and don't have kids coming home from college to help as they did when we were back on Ridge Road. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rural Futures Institute in Nebraska

Chuck Schroeder, Director of the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska provided the program for our Kiwanis meeting this noon. I have known Chuck since the 1980's when he was  Director of the State Department of Agriculture and I worked in an adjoining Office with the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission. The RFI was established a year ago and Chuck was brought back to Nebraska within the past year to serve as its Founding Executive Director. He grew up on a livestock ranch in southwestern Nebraska, received a degree in Animal Husbandry from UN-L and served for some years as Director of the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City. Chuck is a very dynamic speaker and is a perfect fit to provide leadership for the Institutes's mission of serving as a catalyst in building a network of partnerships that will "collaboratively draw upon available resources to prepare rural individuals and communities to meet these challenges and embrace opportunities of the future".

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Franklin Printing Set on eBay

This is a printer set that includes little rubber letters and a stamp holder that enables one to select the name or message to be "loaded" on the rubber stamp. It can then be inked on the stamp pad and used to print the message repeatedly. Rubber stamps were very useful items in Banks and other businesses. I recall seeing "tree holders" that held a variety of messages that were used to stamp such things as "Paid", the date, High priority, etc. I had a set similar to this when I was a youngster and enjoyed using it to "Print" my name on homework and other places. I'm not sure where this one came from but like a lot of our "stuff", it probably came in a big box that we bought at an Auction. I put it on eBay this afternoon along with a few other items. Hopefully, it may make someone an interesting Christmas present and reduce our inventory. I also listed some "Smokey Bear" items that usually sell good. EBay and Pay Pal have the system organized to where it is comparatively simple to sell or buy. It's not like you are dealing in real money but just numbers, until you have to pay the Post Office for the postage.