Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Fair Lady

We are watching "My Fair Lady" on station TCM this evening. It brings back many memories. Elaine reminds me that we have a VCR tape of the movie along with many others that we haven't looked at for years. This version is of the 1964 Academy Award  winning movie staring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. The story was based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion which opened on Broadway in 1956 starring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison and had a long run. We had been back to Washington, D.C. only a couple years when the Movie came out in '64. Our 4 kids ranged in age from 9-14 and really enjoyed the movie as we all did. This was a traumatic time in D.C. following the assassination of JFK and a movie like this helped to raise the morale. It was also a critical time in our lives with Elaine undergoing a hysterectomy, the kids finding themselves in new schools, meeting new friends and my taking college courses as well as adapting to a new job. Our finances were very limited and it was a major decision to  attend the movie with the family. But it was well worth it in getting us through some difficult days. Retirement is so easy in comparison to those times but they were some of the best years of our lives. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Periodontal Problems

I am learning more about "Scaling and Root Planing" than what I ever wanted to know. This afternoon was my second session which completed the unpleasant process by a specially trained Technician. It was only her pleasant personality and professional, caring manner of treatment, that made it tolerable. A couple years ago after being unhappy with the special cleaning that preceded our regular 6-month check-ups, I just decided I wasn't going to the Dentist unless I had a problem. Well now it seems, "I'm paying the price". I understand that plaque builds up on teeth despite daily brushing. This plaque contains harmful toxins that inflame gums and causes them to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These pockets can't be cleaned with normal brushing. Plaque which stays on the teeth can also build up and is called tartar. This can only be removed by the Scaling and Root Planing process. As a part of my first visit, she used a periodontal probe to measure the depth of the spaces between each tooth and gums. As pockets develop, these spaces can become larger but hopefully will be closed up by the Scaling and Root Planing process. I will be going back for just a check-up in about 6-weeks and have a couple cavities to be taken care of soon after that. Meanwhile, you can be assured that I will be brushing twice a day, with mouthwash and doing a better job of Dental Hygiene. There is a lot of comparison between the maintenance required to keep my old Buick running and that necessary for an old man. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Del Peters at the Seward Senior Center

Del Peters presented a program at the Seward Senior Center today following a Picnic lunch with Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Potato Chips and topped off with an Ice Cream Sundae. We had the added pleasure of setting next to Del's wife Kathy which added to the presentation. Del followed his Dad, John in the field of Masonry. A back accident early in his careen required a year of recuperation. It was at that time that he took up the "art" of Whittling. He doesn't consider himself a "Carver". He also changed occupations to become a Manufacturer's representative which involved considerable traveling. It  enabled him to meet many people and  perfected his avocation of whittling. Del  says he is self taught and has been a member of Clubs where members help each other. He has and continues to teach classes in whittling. He made an excellent presentation and kept an unusually large crowd of Senior Citizens entertained for over an hour. He is a good speaker and told many interesting stories about his various "products". Some of which were passed around for us to take a closer look at and a picture.
Here is a little "Bob Cat" that looks very much like the real thing. He also passed around examples of some of his tools to help some of us understand how he is able to do what he does. He talked about wood and said that Bass wood from American Linden trees are his favorite. I was fascinated by what he was able to do with a piece of Cottonwood Bark. Del concluded his presentation by talking about his involvement with the Seward Cross Makers.  There are some 15 retired fellows in the group who have made over 33,000 little "Hand Held Prayer Crosses" over the past 4-5 years and have given all the proceeds to charity. It was a great presentation. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Beauty of Nature

The temperature hit 90 for the second time this season and a light breeze made for a nice day. I picked Charlie up after lunch and we went out to the Golf Course, not to play but to hit a few balls at the driving range and the putting green. We also had an opportunity for  visiting. The course is in excellent condition as are the trees and shrubs. This field of beans, planted into last years corn residue is adjacent to the trail down to the driving range. It is pleasing to an old "Soil Conservationist" to see this type of minimum tillage and very little evidence of any soil erosion. The heavy rains we received with the Mother's Day storms created severe erosion on fields with little residue on the surface. 
Our flowering shrubs and Iris in the back yard seem to be on schedule of peaking for a May 30 Decoration Day rather than our earlier Memorial Day as set by Congress. We have moved Iris bulbs around to several locations during our years at this house. This is one of the nicest ones that we have and it has survived and thrived from a place that we actually just dumped some excess bulbs. Several years ago we visited an SCS friend after a retiree's breakfast where he gave us Iris bulbs. He never married and lived with his Mother for many years in the same Lincoln, NE house where he was raised. He was a Soil Scientist by training but an amateur Horticulturalist who propagated various strains of Iris. I'm sure that this beautiful Iris flower is the result of some of Ken's handiwork. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nebraska Governor Race

I have know Chuck Hassebrook for over 25 years and served on the Board of Directors for the Center for Rural Affairs during part of  that time. I also worked at the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission under Republican and Democratic Governors during the 1980's. Nebraska  politics are quite unique with our Unicameral Legislature, Public Hearings on every Legislative proposal, and the nonpartisan manner under which the Unicameral operates.  Registered Republican voters outnumber Democrats by a nearly 2-1 majority. Yet we occasionally elect Democratic Governors and members of Congress. Many Nebraskans vote for the person rather than the party. After the highly contested Republican Primary for Governor, it is apparent that many voters are not too excited about the winner. While we have been to a couple events recently where Chuck has appeared in the area, I haven't had a chance to talk to him personally about an idea he may wish to pursue which just occurred to me.  It would involve his working with Mike Foley to see if Mike would be willing to serve as Director of Health and Human Services in a Hassebrook administration. With Foley's reputation as State Auditor, he would be an excellent choice for H &HS plus Chuck could use his counsel.  He would also bring a lot of Republican voters with him. Chuck has established his ability to work across party lines while a University of Nebraska Regent.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

On Saturday morning Elaine and I performed our traditional family responsibility of putting flowers on the graves of family members who were buried in the Seward Cemetery. That enabled us to spend the day in a leisure manner. The “tone” was set when I noticed that Elaine left her shirt tail out so I decided to do the same as shown on this picture of us this morning. For many of the past few years, golf has been an important part of the day but that's not a factor anymore. As I reflect back on Memorial Day Holidays and the 3-day weekends, we have spent them in interesting ways. When we were back in Washington, D.C. it often involved a baseball game. On Memorial Day in 1965 we bought a new '65 Chevy Station Wagon.

 During the years our kids were in college we were often involved in helping them move home or to where they may be working for the summer. After we retired and moved back to Nebraska we still helped Jon's with a move and took furniture back to Tim's in '89. Helping Aunt Ethel decorate extended family graves was an event over several years. In 1997 we, Carolyn and Julie were on a 10 Country Tour of Europe and missed the whole Holiday. In addition to golf the past several years, it has been the weekend that I switch winter to summer clothes in my closet. This year I did it with my shirt tail out and did very little else.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Progress for the Future, Memories of the Past

I took this picture from the Court House Dome about 10 years ago. It shows the Jones National Bank and Trust at the intersection of Highway #34 and #15 in downtown Seward, NE. JNB & Trust is completing a major rebuilding project on the site this summer. They have demolished the old two story building to the south of the Bank as well as the  Roller Skating Rink in the SW corner of the block. The Bank Building as shown here has been completely renovated and expanded. It is gratifying to see improvements made in our downtown area. However, it is well we have pictures of old buildings that were a part of many of our memories. C. S. Prime had a Ford dealership in the two story building years ago. I was 15 and with my folks when they looked at a used '37 Ford there one day.  Mother embarrassed me by suggesting it would probably be the car that I would drive when I started dating. The old Skating Rink is where we roller skated for the last time. I was in my later 50's and we were involved in a Church skating party. Elaine and I hadn't skated for many years and learned that my "center of gravity" wasn't where it once was. Elaine and I gave our skates to Et-Cetera soon after. Though the buildings are gone, we have pictures and stories to help stimulate our fading memories and progress is being made. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day in Seward

Elaine and my families both go back over 100 years in the Seward Community, and there are many buried in the Seward Cemeteries. We continue the family tradition of "decorating" the graves ,for Memorial Day but have limited the number. Parents, Grandparents, Siblings are a must with a few cousins, Aunts and Uncles included. One of the Cousins is Kenneth C. Walker. Kenney was the oldest son of Uncle Clarence and Aunt Edith. His Mother, Aunt Edith died when he was about 5 years old and along with his younger brother Roger and sister Marjorie was raised by Uncle Clarence's sister, Dorothy. Kenney was one of the first of my cousins to receive a college degree, taught Voc Ag and went on to become a salesman for a Veterinarian supply firm. He married Ruth in 1953 and they had 3 sons, Randy, Ronald & Russel. Unfortunately, Kenney got caught in a Minnesota blizzard and lost his life as a result of repercussions from the incident. We are particularly indebted to his son Randy who made it possible for us to see the Minnesota Twins play the New York Yankees at Target Field in Minneapolis on May 26,  2010. That allowed me to say that I had seen Major League baseball games in all 30 current parks. (I haven't been to the new park now in Miami). Randy was very gracious in picking us up at the Motel, escorting us to the subway station and the ballpark and back to our room. We had breakfast with his Mother the next morning but will never forget their hospitality and assistance.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Crazy Horse Monument

This was taken earlier in the spring to show the Cardinal "staking out his territory" but its purpose today is to show the Rock which holds down the plastic bird fountain. We bought the rock form the Korczak Ziolkowski family and the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation when we last visited the area in September of 1999. It was part of the ruble  as the Sculpture of Crazy Horse began to take shape. Mrs. Ruth Ziolkowski died May 21st at 87 after providing leadership on the project since Korczak's death in 1982. The had 10 children, most of whom helped with the project over the years. She along with other young people from Connecticut volunteered back in 1948 to help Korczak with the carving and they were married in 1950. He had worked with Gutson Borglum on the Mount Rushmore Memorial. Korczak took on the task after receiving a letter from Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear who referred to the Rushmore Memorial and said that "We would like the the white man to know the red men have great heroes also". My brother Don, 3-Buddies and I saw Mount Rushmore in 1946 and Elaine and I have been out there 7 or 8 times. Our last visit was in September of 1999 following a Center For Rural Affairs meeting at Ft. Robinson. My Journal entry for September 20 includes: "Considerable progress on the Crazy Horse Monument since we last saw it. Had a hot dog-potato salad lunch at the Museum and brought home some rocks." Here is what the Monument looked like at that time.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My First Retirement

Here is a picture of Elaine and I taken at the Washington, D.C. Headquarters Office reception to Honor me on my retirement from the USDA Soil Conservation Service. Elaine and I also had a joint reception involving Forest Service people as well as SCS folks. Elaine had worked for the FS for several years but wasn't eligible to retire. Though I was retiring from Federal Service, I went directly to work for the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission in Nebraska. Elaine transferred from the FS to the SCS in Lincoln and took her Federal retirement when she reached 62. We had bought an 80 acre farm near Seward that had a full set of old buildings and thought it would be an ideal retirement situation. What we didn't realize was how demanding our new jobs would be nor how difficult it was to do all the things on the farm that we wanted to do. My job provided an excellent opportunity to get to know the State's Natural Resources as well as many people across the State and in Government. We debated giving up the farm or my job for some time and after 8 years and having completed some studies, gave up my State job. After a year of full-time farming, we decided to give that up as well and headed up the International Soil and Water Conservation Society Office in Ankeny, Iowa. After about 3 years we decided to retire to the home we had in Seward and enjoy the virtues of retirement that include: travel, golf, gardening, morning coffee, Kiwanis, etc. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Seward Fairgrounds Grandstands

The concrete footings have been in place for several days and now the steel superstructure is going up for the new grandstand down at the Seward City Park. It is being constructed on the same site as the two former grandstands. The house where I was born and lived my first 6+ years was just across the RR track from the park and grandstand area. When I was about 6 years old, my sister and I would take our coaster wagon over to the old wooden grandstand and coast down the steps. Needless to say it was bumpy. During the mid forties, a high wind on the 4th of July took the roof off the grandstand but it lived on without a top. When I played baseball with Seward in 1953 in the Cornhusker League, one of my fellow outfielders took off during a game when he heard his young son calling for help as  he hung on the edge of the Grandstand 25' off the ground and rescued him. A cement block grandstand was built during the 60's and was demolished during the past winter to make room for the new structure. We all like to see the safety features and benefits of new structures like this but have to rely on our pictures and memories to recall the happy days when our buildings may have been old but our activities were all new. Now our buildings may be new but----.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Birds in the Backyard

We bought this Oriole feeder recently and have been pleased with its ability to attract birds. We had a couple Orioles on it today and one of them was while I was sitting on the deck. We have also seen Humming Birds around it. We hung it on the old clothesline pole arm where the Finch feeder was and moved it to the other end of the arm. This feeder accommodates Grape Jelly jars that just screw into the feeder. It has a small agitator that brings the jelly down through some small openings and into the "plate".  We have already got our money's worth by seeing the number of birds that we have. It seems that the more new birds we attract, the more the old ones show up. We spent quite a bit of time on the deck today and enjoyed Cardinals, Doves, Robins, Junco, Yellow Finches, Grackles, House Finches, Wrens, Humming Birds,  etc. including some sparrows, Blue Jays, and a Starling or two. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Chuck Hassebrook for Governor

We were invited to a wine and cheese reception with Chuck Hassebrook at the Junto Winery this evening. It was hosted by Kevin & Terri Siebert (owners), Pete Wagman, John Grasmick & Donna Wright. We enjoyed good wine, food & fellowship along with Chuck's message. We have known Chuck & Kate for over 30 years through our association with the Center for Rural Affairs which Chuck has headed for the past 15 or so. I served as a Board Member of the CFRA for many of those years. The Center advocated for family farms, local communities, and sustainable agriculture. Chuck served for several terms as a University of Nebraska Regent where he was instrumental in establishing programs to promote opportunities for rural students. He is very familiar with programs to help nurture local communities since the Center's Rural Economic Assistance Program has had a successful history. There will be a very clear choice of Governor for voters in Nebraska this November. Chuck was raised on a Nebraska farm and has worked his whole career with rural people and local communities over the state. Pete Ricketts brings a considerably different background of experience to the table. The Sieberts have a beautiful place out in the Middle Creek Church neighborhood. It was an ideal setting for the event. Here is a few of the people who attended. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tornado's - A Week After

It has been a week now since 17 tornado's struck our area in SE Nebraska. This scene is in the area 4 miles south of Garland and among other things destroyed this storage shed. The small town of Beaver Crossing had a tremendous amount of damage. Restoration there will being going on for some time
This is what some of the damage looked like in the Beaver Crossing area. It has been reported that over 350 people have been working there during this past week to help clear and cope with the damage. Over 400 Center Pivots have been destroyed according to reports. While it appears that replacements are available, the challenge will be to get them set-up and operational by the time they are needed. I don't know how this fit's in to the new "Nebraska Nice" theme but it has certainly been "nice" of many people to help others in time of need. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Yard Work & Hanging Baskets

The temperature got up in the high 60's today so we did some planting. While working on Hanging Baskets, I took down the Wind Chime that has been near the front door and took it back to the corner of the house on the deck. It does make a pleasant sound but I'm not sure if it will effect the birds coming to our feeders or bother the neighbor's dog. We planted over 40 plants in hanging baskets and others at various places around the yard. We put some fresh soil in each basket but mostly used the material that was in last years baskets. We got them watered down, hung and some compost spread around those that were planted in the ground. Elaine even planted some Snap Dragons on either side of the Climbing Black Eyed  Susan that we planted yesterday. We even had time to relax with a Pina' Colada as we watched California Chrome win the Preakness at Pimlico. It will be exciting to see if he can win the Triple Crown when the Belmont Stakes are run on June 7th. There hasn't been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1979 though nearly a dozen have won the first two legs since then. California Chrome was such a favorite today, but he only paid $3.00 for a win ticket.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Climbing Black Eyed Susan

Carolyn has established a tradition of giving Elaine a potted plant of some type for Mother's Day. A couple years ago it was a Black Eyed Susan climbing vine. Last year it was a Hanging Basket so we bought an Orange  flowered vine and planted it where the one had done so well the year before. Needless to say, it didn't measure up and this year Carolyn gave her another Black Eyed Susan. Since we are planning on some upgrading of the deck this summer, it didn't seem appropriate to plant this one near the deck where the others have been planted. Carolyn also mentioned having the trellis shown in the picture and I had the steel post to support it, so with Elaine's help, we got the trellis firmly placed, chicken wire up for the vine to climb on and the plant carefully put in the ground and watered. While out taking the picture, I realized that when you put up a trellis with horizontal bars against a brick house, you should step back and see if it's level according to the mortar lines between the bricks.
Hopefully, the vine will grow rapidly and the slight tilt of the trellis will not be noticeable. We bought some plants yesterday and hoped to put them in baskets and the flowerbed today but with 30 degrees last night and frost warnings again for tonight, decided to keep them in the house. We think the stored heat in the brick house and the hardiness of the Black Eyed Susan will get it past any possible frost. Our high temperature today was in the 50's but it appears that we will be getting some warmer weather soon. It is good to see on the Drought Monitor Map that Seward County is no longer in a drought category after our 4 1/2 inch rain last Sunday.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Flowering Shrubs

Our Azalea didn't do very well this spring. We are on the edge of where they can be expected to take the winters. They did so well back in Virginia that I was just sure we could nurse them along but it has been difficult. The "old fashioned" Van Houtte Spirea are much better adapted to this Nebraska climate. As a kid growing us, we called it "Bridal Wreath". It along with Peonies and Iris were our most popular flowers. We didn't really appreciate some of the wild flowers that were a part of the native prairie. They usually came on later in the summer like the Butterfly Milkweed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rural Housing Development near Garland, NE

This is a rural development area, 4 miles south of Garland that suffered some storm damage Sunday. Highway #34 runs through the Imig farm which they have developed for housing. The highway at the top-right part of the picture links #34 to Garland. We drove into the southern part of this development on our way home from Lincoln this afternoon. The road that runs south (down) from #34 leads the farm where my Mother lived with her folks at the time she and Dad were married. Grandpa Walkers owned that farm for many years and as a youngster I would spentd a week with them every summer. The 160 acre farm that Imigs have developed was owned at one time by my Uncle Bert Walker; as a young man, I hunted rabbits over it with him. While on the County Planning Commission several years ago, I attempted to discourage this type of development primarily because of the water situation. I knew that my Grandparents well was deep and the aquifer somewhat questionable. We are sympathetic to the people in the area that lost buildings to the Sunday storm but just amazed at the number who prefer to live "in the country" with their own water/waste water facilities, crushed rock roads, etc. rather than in town. But they have never had to push an old Model A Ford up that steep hill to get to the Highway as I have had to do  and their wells haven't gone dry--yet. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Brother Donnie

There is something about this tough looking, lovable, dirty kid, that leads you to believe  he will grow up to be something special; which he did. He is my brother Don and has been my "Best Buddy" for many, many years. We are looking forward to having lunch with he and Gladys at the Village Inn on O street in Lincoln tomorrow. We try to get together once a month and often have a list of topics to discuss at such opportunities. We do a certain amount of communicating by email and telephone but not a day goes by but what I'm able to get some word on their family on facebook. He and Gladys have an outstanding family, and it is most interesting to be able to see pictures and read about things that their extended family is doing. We are planning a "Vrana Cousins" reunion in July when Janice and Larry will be here from California but no date has been set for a "Florence and Tony Vrana Family Reunion". We have talked about always having them in Seward where the Vrana-Milacek annual get togethers originated but now more family are in the Syracuse area. Last year many of us were here at our place at the time of my birthday. This will be one of the "agenda" items for discussion at lunch tomorrow. The election results will also be in by then so we may spend just a few minutes on that subject. It is interesting within families how politics can be a volatile subject. Within our Cousins we have some extreme views on either side of the spectrum. When our sister Vivian was still with us she had some pretty strong views which were difficult to refute even though I used to try. Politics aside, we might even have Pie after lunch tomorrow.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Heaviest Rain in Some Time

We had some rain yesterday morning and the big rain during the evening and last night. Our gauge shows 4 1/2 inches but there were higher amounts reported around town. This was the first big rain we have had for a few years and is certainly a reminder of the need to keep protection in place and operational. Several storm sewers in the City's street system seemed to get plugged with debris, backing water up as high as "car windows" in one intersection. When we came home from Hughes last night, we drove through water nearly a foot deep at the bottom of the 5th St hill which was no problem but others resulted in stalled cars. Not all of the flooded intersections got closed to traffic in time by the City. Prior to this recent rain we were over 2" below normal but this has put us well ahead. It's somewhat reminiscent of the drought years that I remember as a kid. We usually had heavy rains in the spring but received very little in late July and August which was so critical for growing corn and soybeans. We have had much more timely summer rains in recent years .
We drove around town a bit this afternoon to see some of the high water. This is Inspiration Point down in the City Park that is being developed in cooperation with the Nebraska Game and Parks for a Handicapped Accessible Fishing Facility. The dock which accommodates wheel chairs is shown just to the left of the sign in the picture. The flood water is about 2 or 3 feet higher than the level that will be maintained for fishing. Plum Creek is at the eastern edge of Seward and the Big Blue River on the west edge. They join just south of town so we are not without flood water when we get such downpours. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Special Mother's Day

Ken Siemek had his time "in the spotlight" this evening.  We got about 0.70" of rain during the night and early this morning, a cloudy day and by 4:00pm the tornado and thunderstorms warnings started coming in for our area. Ken has been the lead weather man for Channel 10/11 for the past 30 years and is a master at being able to get watchers excited about approaching storms. However, when we do have really dangerous conditions approaching, he does an excellent job. That was certainly the case this afternoon. Soon after this map was shown, there were reports of structural damage in Cordova.
We were invited to Hughes for the Seward family Mother's day dinner. We were just ready to set down at the dining room table when the tornado siren was sounded. We picked up a few things and went to the basement. Carolyn took her laptop along and she, John and Julie had their smart phones and Ben had his Ipad so we we had frequent updates on the weather. I went up once when a few good sized hailstones rattled the porch roof. It was pouring down rain, constant thunder and flashes of lightning. It didn't take me long to get back downstairs with the others. Julie was getting some excellent "storm chaser" information which kept us up-to-date on the storm. We had 3 1/2 inches of rain in the gauge. A good time was had by all. Happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Flowers

Elaine is receiving some well deserved recognition as Mother's Day approaches. Yesterday I brought in Lilac's for her and today she received this bouquet of beautiful yellow roses, daises and other mixed flowers delivered from a local flower shop. Plans are for the Seward family to get together tomorrow evening for a Mother's Day Dinner. After having been married for as many years as we have, I probably enjoy Elaine's gifts about as much as she does. 
Today was "City Wide Garage Sale Day' in Seward. There were something like 37 of them listed on a map and advertised and others where people just took advantage of the activity and set things out. We had planned to "register" this year when the date was first announced and then learned of a Lodge Meeting which took priority. 
We did walk across the street to one and to another in our same block but didn't buy anything.
We do hope to have one sometime this spring but it will take some "getting ready for" that is always a challenge. There are many things that sell pretty good on eBay but the postage cost tilts some items to the Garage sale market.
Our yard work today was limited to planting the Salvia we bought yesterday, placed well "digested" compost around them and doing some watering. We have one of our compost that is providing some of the best material we have ever produced. It is a mixture of our grass clippings and leaves, some soil and time to decompose. It is probably 3-4 year old material.  It is a dark black color and looks good around plants which will help to hold the moisture. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Elaine's "Flower-a-day"

Our Persian Lilacs have bloomed better this year than normal; however our French Lilac produced the few blooms that I brought in to Elaine this morning for Mother's Day. The lack of bloom may be the result of some of last summer's pruning but I thought I knew what I was doing. Isn't the bloom always on 2nd. year growth. Our Iris are doing quite well and our tulips, daffodils, and jonquils all did very well earlier this spring. The Peonies are coming along fast and hopefully will be in full bloom for Memorial Day. We did do some plant shopping but only bought a few Salvia. We went to a couple places and decided that maybe prices might come down after Mother's Day. We get used to paying the price for things we buy frequently but when we only buy plants and shrubs once a year, we are always shocked at the price. I did spend a couple hours working out in the back year and concluded it was easier for an old man to play golf than work in the yard. I may have to learn to just sit down and rest frequently like a person is able to do while riding to the next shot in a golf cart. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tony and Charlie at the Seward Golf Course

Charlie and I got out to the Golf Course this afternoon. No!! we didn't play 18 holes, in fact we didn't play any holes. What we did was get a bag of balls and go to the driving range with a Club Cart. I hit several balls on the driving range with various clubs and did a little chipping and putting at the putting green. Our main objective was just to get out there, drive around and check things out. The grass on the course is in great shape. We were too late for most of the spring blooming trees. Some of the perennials are showing good growth and the leaves are coming out on most of the trees. I was flattered by Jerry who pulled up in the cart next to us and asked if I was interested in substituting for him this afternoon in the 3:00pm League. I thanked him for asking.

When I first started playing golf some 20 years ago, I often rode with John. He had planted a Red Oak Tree in memory of one of our other golfing buddie's Grandson who died with Leukemia. The tree was midway between the Club House and the Cart Shed. It was also "out of the range" of any of the sprinkler system so John would frequently carry a bucket of water to the tree on his way to get the cart. The tree did well and is a beautiful specimen today. John died unexpectedly a few years later following heart surgery. The next spring I transplanted  this Blue Spruce that I am standing by as a memorial to John. Its buds are ready to pop and in just a few days the new growth will be coming out in all its splendor. It was a seedling that I planted at our farm, brought in to town when it was about a foot high and planted it near the cart path on the #4 fairway when it was a couple feet in height. I kept the grass spaded away around its base and even hauled some water to in during its first summers. It's looking good today and one of the nicest trees on the Course. Thanks to Dale for taking the picture of Charlie and I and to Charlie for taking this one with the tree. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Flowerday Sausage Grinder

A Kiwanian friend of mine who enjoyed a career with the Nebraska Game and Parks recently gave a program on Making Sausage. He and his G & P buddies would make it out of Venison and other wild and domestic animals. In light of Elaine's continued interest in "getting rid of some of this stuff", I thought he may be interested in the old "Flowerday Sausage Grinder". It is an "Enterprise Tinned Meat Chopper, #22"mounted on an old Oak table board. It hasn't ground a piece of meat in over 50 years but the fat and juices have kept it preserved in very good condition. Dave is interested in it but Elaine wants to check with family before letting it go. We took it out on the deck and did do some light cleaning. We checked on eBay and found a couple comparable. The cost of mailing one like it was $38.00. It is an old family heirloom but Elaine says she is satisfied to see it go.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

First Spring Planting

Elaine had seeded some flower seed earlier but this afternoon we did our first planting. We put two white Geraniums, 2 red ones and 6 dark blue petunias in the old Flowerday "Butcher Kettle". Hopefully, these will be in full "bloom" on the 4th of July when the parade goes past our house. The plant to the left of the picture is a Holly bush which has beautiful green leaves all winter but very few red berries. We have been told that we need the second one if we expect it to produce "fruit". Among the seeds that Elaine planted earlier were some "Forget-Me-Nots" that were in an envelope from one of our U.S.Senatorial candidates. We don't plan to vote for him but give him some points for a very clever idea. The amount of money that has been spent on "slick cardboard" that we have received during the past couple weeks would have bought a lot of seed. We do recycle the cardboard but some of the candidates don't meet the criteria for it.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Retirees Newletter

I worked for the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) for 32 years and have been a member of the Association of Retired Employees since retiring. The Agency was established back in 1935 in the USDA to provide technical assistance to farmers in conserving soil and water. The name of the Agency was changed to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the mid '90's to reflect an expanding mission. The agency has had a work force of some 13,000  (+ or -) trained Civil Servants working in every County throughout the United States. I spent 10 years working at the County level, 4 years at the State level and 18 at the National level in Washington, DC. I was involved in the Personnel program during the years in DC and had an opportunity to know many people throughout the Agency. The Association of Retired Soil Conservation Employees (ARSCE) Newsletter is published by retirees every 2 months. The May-June issue which I read on the computer this afternoon contained 31 pages. It has reports from State Representatives with individual names highlighted. There was a time when I recognized a high percentage of the names but now I know very few. However, it's great to hear about old friends that I do know and of all the interesting things that retirees are doing.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chicago Cubs vs St Louis Cardinals

We are watching the ESPN coverage of the Cubs vs the Cardinals tonight form Wrigley Field which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year. It brought back memories of a trip my brother Don, Ed Pollak and I made to Chicago back in 1948. We left Seward after work, drove all night and saw the NY Yankees beat the White Sox 4-2 that afternoon in old Comensky Park. We went to a Railroad Fair on the Lake Shore and stayed in the Stevens Hotel for $10.50. The next day we got the radio in my '41 Chevy fixed and saw the Cardinals beat the Cubs 4-1 in Wrigley Field where this picture was taken. Cub players included "Peanuts" Lowery, Phil Cavarretta, Andy Pafko, Roy Smalley, Gene Mauch, etc. Cardinal players included: Red Schoendienst, Marty Marion, Stan Musial, Ron Northey, Terry Moore, Del Rice with Harry (The Cat) Brecheen pitching. The attendance for this Friday, September 24, 1948, game was 5,480.  (It's amazing how much information is available on the Internet that augments my Diaries) We left for home right after the game. We went through Wisconsin,  Minnesota and home after driving 1,420 miles. It was a good trip and the first opportunity we had to see Major League baseball games. The best part was taking Elaine to the Bee Bazaar the night that we got home. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Branched Oak Farm

We had a most interesting visit with Carolyn to the 230 Acre Branched Oak Farm of Doug and Krista Dittman near Raymond, NE.  Branched Oak Farm is a fully functioning, certified-organic, grass-based dairy, specializing in creating farmstead cheeses. The Dittman's say they are "committed to preserving the land and creating farmstead products that are healthy and wholesome, free of chemicals, antibiotics, or hormones. 
We take pride in knowing that our products are made with sustainable, certified organic methods, and with a positive impact on the environment". For the  past few weeks, Carolyn and Julie have been buying milk, cheese, etc . The Dittman's son Nelson who is a sophomore at Raymond Central HS took care of our purchases. It seems that Doug spent some time in Sweden on a student exchange program some years ago where he became interested in organic agriculture and Swedish architecture. He came back home some 20 + years ago, married  and along with their 2 boys, continue to develop an expanding business. It is interesting to Elaine and I that Carolyn and Julie are so impressed by the taste of the organic milk and cheese when we took many such things for granted when we were growing up. The current issue of National Geographic is largely devoted to food along with their commitment to follow up with further emphasis. While we have had Organic standards for some years, it seems that the interest in more healthy food is really coming into its own. And to think that as kids, we ate all these healthy things because we couldn't afford anything else.

Friday, May 2, 2014

"Modern" Conveniences

We mowed our back yard today and took down the wires of our clothesline. Elaine has used them very sparingly during the past couple years and they were low enough that I had to walk around the back yard with my head bowed. It was time for them to go. (The posts are still in with the wire coiled and hanging on a post so they can be put back up in 5 minutes). Clotheslines have been an important part of our marriage. One of my first projects when we bought our first house was to build clotheslines. When we got our 5th street house it was also necessary to build new lines. During those years we often had 2 kids in diapers so you can imagine the need for extra line room. Our Lincoln house had good clotheslines and our house in Virginia let us get by with a "fold-up" line. We had a "clothes rack" at the farm but really appreciated the nice lines that were here when we bought this house. As is evident in the picture, they were put to good use. Elaine would complain at times about bugs, etc. on her clean laundry but I always countered with the saving of electricity and how nice they smelled by being hung out in the fresh air. Clotheslines are just an illustration of things that can now be done "easier", "faster", and perhaps "better" than the way things were done 50 years ago. However, most of the "improvements" involve "purchased energy" at the expense of "human exercise".  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sadie, Gran Dad & Monkey

Elaine and I had the pleasure of having Sadie at our house for a few hours this morning. She likes her little Monkey and plays with dominoes and other toys but "electronic devices" are her favorite. I'm not sure, but it may have something to do with Great Grandparents letting her play with things that may be Off Limits at home. She helped take this picture in "Photo Booth". It's amazing how quickly she learns that different buttons make different sounds and cause various things to happen. I wonder how that "interactive" learning compares with reading words from a printed page. Most of us men don't read instructions until we run into a problem after exhausting our trial and error system. Fortunately, it seems that much of today's electronic equipment is "geared for trial and error". Years ago, if you pushed the wrong button, things could be damaged; but manufacturers have come to our aid and now even a 20-month-old girl can do little harm. (At least not at the Great Grandparents House).