Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jordan Westerkamp's Catch

After Mike sent me this picture of Jordan Westerkamp's behind the back catch yesterday, I couldn't resist using it since it will go down in Nebraska football history. An Omaha World Herald story by Rich Kaipust  says   "Westerkamp was finishing a corner route when a diving Chris Milstead slightly re-directed an Armstrong pass on third-and-6. Westerkamp instinctively went from his hands placed in front of his face mask to throwing them behind his back--'and the ball just landed perfectly'. 'It was just luck', Westerkamp said. Coach Pelini said "To even have the wherewithal to put your hands back there, it's amazing. I've always said that he catches everything that's near him.".A year ago, it was the 49-yard snag by Westerkamp on a tipped Hail Mary heave by Ron Kellogg to beat Northwestern 27-24 on the final play. The 334th consecutive sell-out crowd of 91,441 saw the Huskers win over Florida Atlantic 55-7. Nebraska racked up 784 yards of offense with Ameer Abdullah running for 232. It was a great start to the season. It bears out the old adage: "The harder you work, the luckier you get." 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Grandkids then-some Grandparents now

I could have written about the 55-7 Nebraska win over Florida Atlantic in Lincoln this afternoon and shown a picture of Jordan Westerkamp's behind the back pass catch, but figured that will be all over the sports highlights. Instead, I pulled out this picture that was taken several years ago of cousins out at their grandparents farm. The front (l-r) are Jon, Sandy, MaryBeth, (neighbor girl), and Becky. Middle row is Kathy, Carolyn and Laurie. Back row is Verlon, Terry and Tim. We were back from Virginia for our annual visit which we all enjoyed. Our visits included both my family and Elaine's in addition to SCS offices, Church's and friends. They were busy times. Occasionally we drove it "straight through" which was very demanding. Elaine wasn't able to sleep very well in the station wagon so would drive the "turnpike" during the dead of the night while I slept. We were pleased when the Interstate Highway System was completed which made the trip much easier. Those visits were very important, and I'm pleased that we made every one of them. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Humming Bird

This little Hummingbird was outside our kitchen window as we were having lunch this noon. While it doesn't show in the picture, its back had a definite green color. We were unable to see any red coloration so are speculating it was a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. We had never seen any in our back yard until we got the feeder for Orioles this spring. During the early spring we saw Hummingbirds a few times while sitting on the nearby deck. This is the first one we have seen for some time that we could confirm and be able to snap a  picture. Birds and wildlife are a frequent agenda item with our coffee group. I have been familiar with the more common species of birds in our area but never developed the interest that some of my friends have. One of the fellows indicated that he had logged his 87th local spotting so far this year. I still haven't accepted the trade-off of having bird watching replace golf but that's the way its headed. I don't play basketball anymore either.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Seward United Methodist Church Foundation

I am meeting tomorrow with the current President of the Seward United Methodist Church Foundation. (UMCF) He is looking for information on my involvement in its establishment and my serving as its First President. The circumstances that prompted the Foundation's formation included the retirement of the long time Church Treasurer (CPA), the addition of additional restricted estate gifts, the desire for a local tax exempt entity,etc. I had been elected to the Administrative Council in '04 and named Chairman of the “Permanent Endowment Committee” (PEC) in '06. I had been involved as a board member and in forming tax exempt foundations and felt it would be appropriate for the Church. Working with a lawyer on our PEC Committee, we established the Seward United Methodist Church Foundation as a Nebraska Corporation, and received IRS designation approval, retroactive to our application on April 26, 2006. The Foundation became operational on January 1, 2007. Our By-laws and operational procedures provided for succession planning and on February 19, 2009, I took the President's files down to Holly, my successor. Our meeting tomorrow prompted me to dig out some of my old files that I enjoyed reviewing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Alex Gordon's Walk Off Homer

Alex Gordon hit one of the biggest home runs in his 7-year major league career last night to beat the Minnesota Twins 2-1. The Twins' Ricky Nolasko had held the Royals scoreless over the first 7 innings with only 3 hits. The Royals' Danny Duffy pitched 6 scoreless innings but Brian Doizer led off the 7th inning for the Twins and scored on Joe Mauer's single.  Burton set the Royals down in the 8th inning and the Twins were held scoreless in the 8th and the 9th. This set the stage for Alcides Escobar leading off the bottom of the 9th with a bloop single to right field off left-handed reliever Glen Perkins. Alex took a strike on Perkins first pitch and then hit a slider over the wall in right-center field for a walk-off home run. The announcers called it a "bloop and a blast". It came at a critical time for the American League Central Division leaders who had lost their two previous games;  their bats having gone dead after an exceptional run over the past 6-7 weeks. It was Alex's 16th HR of the season and his 1001 Major League game, all with the Royals. We saw Alex play 3rd base for UN-L Huskers where he was outstanding. His exceptional fielding ability today reflects many of the skills he learned as a 3rd baseman. But his hitting has improved after moving to left field. His salary is 4,775,000 this year, and my guess is that it may be much higher next year, especially if the Royals can beat the Washington Nationals in the World Series. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our son and his Boat

The Richmond Times-Dispatch did a neat story on our son Verlon's building a 14-foot wooden sailboat in the living room of his Boulevard apartment. It was published in the recreation section of today's paper. Here is a portion of the story: "A native of Nebraska, Vrana moved to Washington, D.C. when he was 11 and came to art school at Richmond Professional Institute — now Virginia Commonwealth University — in the 1960s. He’s been living and working here ever since.
He’s been a kite maker since childhood, teaching classes on the subject around town and displaying his kites at the Science Museum of Virginia." Verlon called last night and let us know of the story being published today. He is using the publicity to hopefully get a "kids" boat building organization started in Richmond. He is aware of such "clubs" in other locations. I happened to have the Kiwanis website open on my laptop when he called and was able to give him information on a 200 member Kiwanis Club in his area. It might make them another good project.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Kiwanis NE-IA District Governor

Andy Bradley, Kiwanis NE-IA District Governor was in Seward today and spoke at out regular weekly noon meeting. Mr. Bradley is from Omaha and has visited many of the 190 clubs in the District during his year as Governor which ends September 30. Our Seward Club, with over 100 members is one of the largest in the District. We also have the Helping Hands Club here which is unusual for a City our size (7,000). The Golden K Club in DesMoines, IA is the only one larger. Our leadership was recognized by Mr. Bradley and Marv Taylor was singled out for all he has done in helping make us what we are today. He has taken the leadership for recruitment of new members as well as for the Flag Pole Project and others. The "formula" for increasing Club membership, according to Governor Bradley includes: Fun, Service, Youth Leadership Programs, Reputation and Leadership. We in the Seward Club have been blessed with all of these factors as we look to  Celebrate our 50th anniversary in this coming year.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Drink on the Deck

After another 90 degree day, a cold front came through this evening which made it very comfortable out on the deck. It was a quiet day with Church early this morning, the Royals getting beat by the Rangers and Hunter Mahan winning the Barclay's. We were rooting for Jim Furyk but that was not to be. We didn't even participate in Social Hour following Church this morning. Last evening while eating a big Red Plum, I exerted considerable pressure on my upper front teeth to extract the seed. I got the seed but also one of my crowns. It gives me a "Gravel Gertie" appearance. We probably wouldn't have even gone to Church had I not made a commitment to announce that my good friend, Charlie was having hip surgery this morning at Bryan in Lincoln.  Tonight we are watching a program on "The Tower of London". It brings back memories of our visit there some years ago. Hopefully, I can get into see our Dentist early in the morning, and he can "glue" the crown back in place. Having a drink on the deck was our highlight of the day.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Kiwanis Divisions 21 & 22 held their Council meeting this morning in Seward at the "Olde Glory" Theatre. While I was very active in Kiwanis some years ago, my activity recently has been confined to our local club. It was interesting to set in on this meeting since it was held here in town. Former Nebraska-Iowa District Kiwanis Governor Gus Dornbusch spoke on the ELIMINATE program; Gary Muckel, incoming President of the Lincoln Center Club, talked about a Community  Analysis he had led recently. Both of those fellows are former SCS/NRCS employees that I knew in my days with the USDA Conservation Agency. The Kiwanis mission of "Improving the World, One Child at a Time" relates to the mission of the Conservation Agency and attracts many employees and retirees. The picture is a "Changing of the Guard" with the two on the right being the current Lt. Governors of Division 21 &22 and the two on the left being the incoming Lt. Governors for those Divisions. The Kiwanis year begins October 1, but this was the last Council Meeting prior to that date. Our Kiwanis Club of Seward is one of the outstanding clubs in the entire District with 101 members and a room full every Monday noon for our meetings. We have many local projects underway and have a commendable record for participation in International projects. A bus has already been scheduled to take people from our area to the Kiwanis International Headquarters in Indianapolis, IN, next June for our 100th Anniversary. It will also be the Seward Club's 50th Anniversary. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Conflict in "River City"

This was the Fellowship Hall of the Presbyterian Church in Seward until about a year ago when it became the Chamber of Commerce's "Olde Glory" Theatre. This week it became the equivalent of a court room. The hearing was held for the City  Council (serving as a jury) to determine if  there was sufficient cause for the Mayor to terminate the City Administrator as he proposed to do earlier this year. The Mayor (who is a lawyer) was represented by legal counsel as was the City Administrator. Numerous City employees were questioned along with a few local business people.
After hearing the nearly 2 days of testimony and due deliberation, the Council found no supportable cause to terminate Baker's contract which runs to this coming December. The Mayor has been quoted as saying that he doesn't plan to reappoint Baker. The Mayor is completing his first 4 year term or office and is running unopposed (at this time) for reelection. The Council also determined that Baker and City Department Heads participate in mediation training and that Baker would take a course in Listening Skills, Interpersonal Relationships and "nonconfrontational directives to employees". A pay raise which had been withheld was reinstated. This has not been Seward's "Finest Hour". 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Flower Baskets on City Lamp Post

The Cattle National Bank and Trust Main Building contributes to the appeal of our downtown business district. Located on the "Courthouse Square", the 15-year old facility blends very well with the early 20th Century buildings. The customer parking area is "adorned" with flower baskets on the two city street lights in the area. A large planter is in bloom near the north entrance. The First Impressions Committee of the Chamber of Commerce has encouraged similar treatment by other businesses, but it hasn't caught on. The City has holders on many of the downtown lamp poles on which flags are displayed for various Holidays.  Seward has been recognized as the "4th of July City" so the display of flags has been very traditional. While it wouldn't be impossible to have both flags and flowers on the same poles, it would complicate things. The poles are also used to display parking information, etc. The flags are put up by various volunteer organizations and can be done by a tall person from the sidewalk. It also takes the private commitment of business owners to keep the flowers watered, etc. So instead of making things difficult with the City, it seems best just to recognize and honor those like CNB who do have beautiful flower baskets. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

This is how the USDA National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. appeared to me flying in to National (Reagan) airport some 50 years ago. The Administration Building is to the left in the picture and the South Building across Independence Ave. 14th Street is on this side of those buildings. The two USDA buildings are connected by 2 archways at the 3rd floor level as well as a basement tunnel. The 2nd wing, 5th & 6th floor of the South Building is where I was headquartered during most of my 18 years of being stationed  there. I did spend a few months in the Administration Building on detail to assist with the conversion of USDA employees in "Super-grade" positions (GS-16,17 &18) to the Senior Executive Service (SES). This followed the passage of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1979. It was a most interesting assignment that enabled me to work with Agency Heads and the Assistant Secretaries. Attending some of Secretary Bergland's staff meetings was an educational experience.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Son Verlon & Boat

Our oldest son Verlon, has been building a little 14' boat in the living room of his Richmond, VA house for the past couple years. This past Sunday (On his birthday) he and friends moved it out in the yard and is now down with it at the bay. He called to say that Harry Kollatz. Jr. with the Richmond Magazine has done a story on it. It is on their web site at Part of the story is as follows: "A man builds a boat in his Boulevard apartment’s living room. It takes him just over two years. Then on a humid, overcast August late afternoon, he and a few friends lift her off the sawhorses serving as her gantry, turn her on one side and heft the craft outside, over a fence rail and guide her to rest on the grass out front. The builder, assisted by the crew on hand, puts up the 20-foot-mast and rigs the sail. The effort causes some second and third looks by joggers, and a few motorists slow down to make sure of what they’re seeing.  

      The boat’s maker, Verlon Vrana, a Nebraskan native of Czech extraction, graduated from the arts program at Virginia Commonwealth University 45 years ago this fall. He was, he says, on the five-year plan. Afterward, he strapped on a tool belt and has worked with his hands ever since.Vrana also envisions the establishment of a training program for youth, possibly in the vicinity of Ancarrow's, to demonstrate that it is possible for a person to build a boat. Part of the point of this exercise is to show that a boat can be built within a small space and, with a team (or even alone), it can be assembled and prepared for sailing. 
       He became adept at building elaborate show kites that earned him a 1980s exhibition at the Science Museum of Virginia. “You build one of those, put 40 hours into it, and you know it’s going to eventually crash into splinters,” he says. He developed an interest in boat building, including large model sailboats that he could take to Shields Lake at Byrd Park and larger bodies of water. And he’s come to a realization: “I like building them almost as much as like sailing them.”

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Great from the Greatest Generation

Chris brought a most interesting friend along out for coffee this morning. Max had lived in Seward for several years back in the '30s when his Dad worked at the Seward City Mills. They moved to Lincoln in '39 after his sophomore year at SHS. The picture shows them looking at his class picture in an old Annual. Max finished HS at Lincoln High and got a degree in Engineering from UN-L. He went into the Army Air Force and flew B-17's. He told of some harrowing flights as a 22 year-old commander of a crew of 9.  They were eventually shot down and landed in neutral Switzerland which held them as POW's. He escaped and after spending some time with the French underground, found his was back to England and was sent back to USA. He went on to have an illustrious career with General Motors being headquartered all over the world. After some retirement years in California, he and his wife came back to Lincoln to be near their daughter and granddaughter. He and his wife have celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary. I hope he enjoyed his visit back to the town of his youth half as much as we enjoyed his stories. He is one of the greats from the "Greatest Generation"

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Seward United Methodist Church

We had services back in the sanctuary of the Seward United Methodist Church this morning. This was the first time since January 19th of this year. It was recognized at that time there were water problems near the organ. As repairs began, mold was discovered under the whole chancel area. The problems stemmed from water in the heating and air conditioning system. Other problems were uncovered along the way which are being resolved. We are pleased to be back after being in Fellowship Hall and look forward to again having organ music for services.  This is the most visible renovation since the Church was build back in the late '60's with the first services held on September 21, 1969. My folks were very active members at that time and if they were alive today, Mother would be pleased with all the changes. Even when she reached 90, she was more amenable to change than some of us. She probably wouldn't even question the removal of the Lectern  and the scripture readings being done from the Pulpit. After all, the Preacher doesn't stay in it anymore anyway, but moves about in his presentation of the sermon. My Dad never accepted change as readily so I'm trying to be more like my Mother.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sadie and I at Play

        Sadie and I may be years apart in age, but we are much closer in interest and love of each other. I probably spoil her in letting her play with any of my electronic toys but she certainly has a compelling interest in all of them. Her folks stopped by with her after lunch and told of getting her a new bed. It's one that she can get in and out of by herself. She was excited telling us about it. Her folks have a monitor to check on her and reports are that she didn't stay in the new bed very long, but got up and spent her hour and a half nap time singing and playing with things in her room. Then John took her swimming on this warmest day all week. While their visit was the highlight of the day, we bought groceries and visited with Carolyn about her canning of tomatoes. 
        I did make a bit of progress in my writing of, "My Career with the SCS" by going through my personnel folder and listing all the dates and positions in which I served. I also listed the Grade level and salary of each as I went into the job. Federal employees today would be surprised at how many years I worked, the number of positions I held, and the number of moves we made, before receiving a 5 figure annual salary. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Washington, D.C.

I did a bit of writing today on My Career with the Soil Conservation Service. Chapter I was the 10 years here is the local Seward County Office. The 4 years we were in Lincoln were earlier described in Chapter II. Now, I am working on Chapter III which will cover the 18 years in Washington, D.C. Our move to DC was a real "leap of faith" with the kids the stage they were at and the increase in salary only marginal. We were betting on the future and fortunately, it is still paying off in retirement annuity. While we spent 18 years in Washington, we only expected to be there for 3 or 4 and then back out to a State Office. Consequently, we took advantage of the opportunity to visit many historic sites and participated in as many educational activities as soon as possible. It was not only for the kids but also for Elaine and I. Elaine is shown here with the kids at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. The Washington Monument is in the background to the left of the picture, the Capitol, in the center and Jefferson Memorial on the right. Our  being back there not only gave me an opportunity for career advancement that I never anticipated but also gave the whole family including our parents, siblings and friends a chance to visit the Nations Capitol. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Flowerday Meat Grinder

This is a continuation of my May 7, 2014 blog on Elaine and the Flowerday Meat Grinder. Earlier this week she decided to sell it to Dave who asked her to sign the board which she had just done. He also asked if she would write some of her memories of its use. This was an interesting exercise for her, and it brought back many memories. She talks on the phone to her brother Dale about once a week and the conversation usually involves something they did as kids growing up on the farm. Dale went on to get his PhD in Agronomy at UN-L and at 87, is still doing some hail insurance adjusting work a few days a week. Dale had an illustrious career with the University, Pioneer Hybrid, and as a private consultant. He has received numerous honors which included being recognized by the membership of the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement for special Honors a couple years ago. Dale was advisor to many PhD Agronomy majors and was known for his sense of humor by all of his students. Elaine shared many of the same genes and attributes as Dale which I have enjoyed and appreciated.  This is what she wrote for Dave to go along with the meat grinder:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Taking Notes

I am a “note taker” when involved in presentations where something is said that I want to be certain to remember. It may stem from having gone to college after my memory had began to decline or because of keeping my Daily Journal and not wanting to miss anything “important”. It was encouraged in a “Memory class” where we were told that it helped to remember the names of people we were introduced to if we looked them in the eye, repeated their name after hearing it, and then, writing it down at the first opportunity. Many of the notes taken while serving on various boards or committees are never referred to, but the process of taking them makes me a better listener and writing them down helps “cement” them in my memory. A recent note taken was of Monsignor Liam Barr's quote of Pope Francis at the Wedding of Ethan McWilliams and Alicia Bargen in Saint Joseph's Catholic Church in Lincoln. The Pope made this comment in Rome on May 4, 2013 while reflecting on Christians maturing in their faith and not remaining teenagers for life. The Pope was quoted as having said: “We are victim's of the trend that directs us toward the temporary”, and then Monsignor Barr followed up with his own comment that “Authentic love is forever”. These are the kind of words in a wedding ceremony that are worthy of being embroidered with purple thread on white linen, framed, and hung on the bedroom wall. Most of my notes are not as impressive. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Seward County Nebraska

We did some "research" on long time Garland, NE, families today in this 535-page book "SEWARD COUNTY, NEBRASKA" published by the Seward County Historical Society in 1982.  Seward native Jane (Ramsey) Graff served as Chairperson of a large number of people on three committees to collect information for the book.  She writes in the "Forward" to the book that at the Seward 4th of July celebration in 1981:  "A large number of people exhibited samples of their family research projects--history, pictures, charts, trees and personal publications." Later that month a representative from the Taylor Publishing Co. met with the Seward County Historical Society Board and decided to launch the project.  An invitation was extended to everyone in the County to contribute information to be included.  The results were great since it was a way to leave genealogy information for future generations without any cost to contributors.  We had just moved back to Nebraska when the material was being collected.  We were occupied with restoring an old farm house, getting established in new jobs and didn't participate.  Our only mention in the book is on p. 114 under William and Emma (Watts) Flowerday.  They were Elaine's paternal grandparents.  Erma Zillig Flowerday, a daughter-in-law, wrote of Flowerdays coming to America from England as young people, marrying in 1895 and having a family of 6 boys and 3 girls.  Elaine's Father Albert was the oldest, and Erma was the wife of Theodore, one of the younger children.  In the story, Erma included a couple great family pictures and went on to list the names of all of William and Emma's children, grandchildren, who they married and their children.  That is where "Elaine married Verlon Vrana, their family, Verlon, Tim, Carolyn and Jon", appear.  We didn't find much on the families we intended to research this afternoon.  But as often happens when we pick up the book, we learned a lot about people, places, and things that we hadn't known. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Carolyn's Birthday

Elaine and I helped Carolyn celebrate her birthday today. Even on her big day she was able to do us a favor by buying a 3-way bulb for our reading lamp, while doing her shopping. While it would be nice to have the 3 boys and their families closer, it is such a benefit of having Carolyn here. And, that also means that Ben, Julie, John and Sadie are also here, which we call our "Seward Family". Sadie and Ben each had birthdays last week and Verlon's will be this coming Sunday. Work has begun on an addition to the Seward Memorial Hospital. It will "enclose" the street view that we still have of the original building as it appeared when Carolyn was born there. I remember Dr. Carr telling me we had "a little girl" as he walked through the waiting room.
This was Carolyn's Birthday Cake when she was 4 years old. The picture was taken in the back yard (play area) of our house at 604 N. 5th Street. For the past several years, Carolyn and Ben have lived  about 3 blocks up 5th Street from there. Little did she suspect as a 4year old, that she would be moving to Lincoln within a few years and then to Arlington, VA when she was eight. She went through College in Boone, NC, lived and worked there for a period after graduating and came back to Nebraska about the same time we did. She added a degree and teachers credentials from Concordia to her education as well as a Masters Degree from UN-L. And, enjoyed a very successful career as an elementary teacher here in Seward. Though we were responsible for moving her around as a youngster, she was very adept at making fiends and adjusting to change. We are most pleased to see the happiness that she and Ben share along with all the pleasure that daughter Julie, John and now Sadie have brought to her, and to us. I had no idea of how big a part of my life she would become when Dr. Carr said "we had a little girl".

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Evolving Leadership

We watched 25 year old, Rory McIlroy from Ireland win the PGA Championship this afternoon at the Valhalla Golf course in Lexington, KY.  Play was delayed for nearly an hour and a half with a heavy rain in early afternoon. It was McIlroy's third consecutive victory after winning the Open Championship and World Golf Invitational. The wet conditions may have had some effect on all the contenders, but it was a very tight leaderboard. Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson  each led at one time during the final round. Tiger Woods failed to make the cut after shooting 74 on both Thursday and Friday. Tiger had dropped out of the World Invitational a week ago with what appeared to be a back problem. The victory today gives McIlroy his 4th Major and trails only Tiger and Jack Nicklaus for having reached that level by age 25. The rise of Rory's golf prominence follows his break-up this spring with the tennis star to whom he was engaged. 

The decline of Tiger and emergence of Rory reminded me of Charles M. Russell painting, the "Exalted Ruler", which we have a copy of in our kitchen. It shows the ruling Bull Elk with his harem on top of the mountain. If you look closely, you can see the previous "ruler" on his way down the mountain. Likewise, there is already another potential ruler on his way up. This process is probably more absolute in the animal kingdom than in golf but is a reminder to all of us that someone is getting ready to take our place, if they haven't already.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Seward County Fair of 2014

The Seward County Fair is in full swing. We met Carolyn and Sadie in the Ag Pavilion this evening for the Accordion Jamboree. The music didn't seem to "turn her on" to the extent we thought it might. John Bloomenberg's train set-up was of more interest to her. We went down about 3:00pm, looked at the big John Deere equipment, the rib roaster (Old pick-up truck engine), and all the displays in the Ag Pavilion. That included buying a couple crosses from the Cross Makers, having Blueberry Pie from St. Vincent's booth, and doing a lot of visiting. One of our most interesting visits was with a fellow representing a candidate for whom we won't be voting. 
He and his wife had been students at Concordia in the late '50's and continue to have close contact with some of the boys that were housed with us during those days. As we talked further we learned that his wife was the daughter of Harold Hummel, one of Nebraska's earliest producer of warm season Native Grass seed. We actually had some seed from him at the time we did our first seeding. We also enjoyed visiting with his wife who was working in another booth. Even though Sadie wasn't as impressed with the accordion music as we thought she might be, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Frank Hronik does a good job of leading it. Ed Svoboda and Dennis Pelan from Seward, also play with the group. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Old Friends Fade Away

This was a card we received from Bev Smith during the Holiday Season of 2008. It was thanking us for the "messages" we had forwarded to her during the year and her wishes for more in 2009. Unfortunately, Bev was stricken with serious health problems and died without sending additional messages. This, and other notes from her have remained on our computer with some even transferred from our old Gateway 2000. Bev was a fellow SCS employee. She had gone to D.C. to work for the Navy Department after graduating from  Waverly, NE High School and came back to Lincoln to work for SCS in '61. When I learned of my being transferred to D.C. in '62, she became a valuable source of information about the area. She was married that spring, and we went to the Wedding Dance. She and her husband were good friends over the years, and we always enjoyed their company at Retiree events. In addition to cleaning out old paper files, I am also cleaning out and reorganizing my computer files. It was with sadness and yet  happy memories, that I deleted the Bev Smith file today. Social media has enabled us to maintain contact with many old friends that might not have been done earlier. Since our closest friends are usually those with whom we share common interest, it is only natural that our circle of friends is constantly changing. However, family relationships are forever. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Kudos to the Extension Service

The Seward County Fair opened this evening at 5:30. It will run through Sunday and finish with a Demo Derby in front of a new Grandstand. We went down to join the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the USDA Extension Service. Elaine worked for the Seward County Agent (now called "Educator") from May of 1947, after graduating from SHS, until July 1, 1950 when our oldest child was on his way. My work with the USDA Soil Conservation Service was closely related so we have always had a close relationship with the Extension Service. During my years with the Soil and Water Conservation Society, I had a close relationship with the Head of Extension in D.C. and met with him in his Office a couple times in regard to Grants for studies which we did. The Extension Service is part of the Land Grant College System and has had a vital role in making our Agricultural Systems what they are today. During my Washington days with SCS, I used to "kid" Elaine that the Extension Service were "masters" at shifting and expanding their Mission to keep them in business, as the number of farms declined in the Country. That "expansion" was well demonstrated as we reviewed a portion of the exhibits this evening. 4-H programs are now available to all young people. The range of programs seems to include anything that will help kids learn to be better citizens.  What I had "kidded" Elaine about is really a blessing. The Agency and especially the local Extension Service Staffs are to be congratulated for how they have grown during their 100 years.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sadie's 2nd Birthday Party

John and Julie hosted a dinner this evening for Sadie's second birthday. Included were Carolyn & Ben, Jerry & Bev and Tony & Elaine. Sadie sat at the Head of the Table and was definitely the "star of the show". She enjoyed her roasting ear by eating it just like the rest of us. Her control of a fork is very good as she picks up strawberries and puts them in her mouth. When the Birthday Cake was served, she really got excited. Singing "Happy Birthday" once wasn't enough since she wanted to "again". Her folks had to help her to separate her fingers to flash the two. The lighted candles were special, getting them blown out
 was a bit of a challenge; she might have had help from Dad. After eating birthday cake with ice cream and singing "again" and "again", the gift opening began. One of the first was a toy accordion with about 8 keys for the right hand and 2 base keys for the left. She seems to like accordion music and will probably be at the County Fair on Saturday evening for the Accordion Jamboree. The little "grocery" shopping cart was just her size which she enjoyed loading up and pushing all around. Her biggest gift was a play "store" that was built by Grandma and Grandpa with shelves where various items could be placed. It even included a cash register. There were other gifts including some educational items. I can't help but reflect on the changes that have taken place since our kids were small. And, we thought they were being given a lot in comparison to what we had as kids. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sadie ready to be 2 Years Old

This is the way Sadie looked yesterday after she and her Mother's visit to our house and she was buckled in her car seat as they were going home. She is holding a little paper sack with a key chain chicken inside and saying "cheese" for the camera. Tomorrow will be her second birthday. She already told us that she was going to be 2. Being with her is always an inspiration because it causes us to look and think about the future. Sorting out old files as I did again this afternoon, has just the opposite effect. There is no reason to keep or even go through all my City Council and Groundwater Guardian files. But, I went through many of them and saved the paper clips. I wouldn't want son Jon to know but I even saved some of the paper that had a blank side. It was interesting to note that I received (and kept) more correspondence on my efforts to get a City Ordinance on doggie dung than any other issue.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Seward's !st Impressions Committee

I spent a couple hours this afternoon going through file folders on the Seward Chamber of Commerce “First Impressions Committee”. The committee was established in the late ‘90’s to help improve the first impression visitors and local citizens have of our City. Committee membership is made up the Chamber Director, City representation, and interested citizens. The committee has provided leadership over the years for an annual “Seward Cleanup Day”, Hazardous waste disposal days, establishment of a Heritage Park with a picnic shelter and landscaping, encouraged the enactment of city ordinances to improve the City’s appearance, planted a Walnut and Pecan Grove in the floodplain adjacent to the City walker/biker trail, encouraged improvement of the 2nd story appearance in downtown business buildings, recognized businesses for their improvements, etc. There are other project in the development stage. As a member of the City Council at the time the committee was established, I became a member and have continued to serve. Going through the files this afternoon was most interesting. It was a reminder of what people can accomplish when they are willing to work together to achieve a goal beyond their self interest. Some goals are achieved rather quickly when someone takes leadership, and others, like getting a “Welcome to Seward” sign, take longer. The files also reminded me of the virtues of serving on such a committee and how friendships are strengthened by getting to know each other through intelligent debate. Pictured are: Jeanne, Lisa, Pat and Lecia seated, and Tony, Clarence, Gary, Scott and Roger. Mel evidently missed the day the picture was taken but continues to be a major contributor in the committee’s work. Every town and city could profit by having such a committee.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Wedding Day

I wrote yesterday's blog page before going to the Bergan-McWilliams Wedding and scheduled its posting while we were gone. The "event" far exceeded even our high expectations. St. Joseph's Church is a beautiful facility. The Priest announced early that the alter clothe was provided by the Groom's Grandmother (Gladys) and was crocheted by her Grandmother. It was done originally for the Catholic Church in Bee, NE but when the new Church was build some years ago, it was no longer used. One of Gladys' friends was involved and was able to get it back to her. It is a beautiful item and a most appropriate clothe.
Alicia and Ethan took their vows in the presence of several attendants and a large group of family and friends. After the ceremony, the Wedding Party was transported to Nebraska Memorial Stadium for pictures and on to the Embassy Suites. A reception Dinner and Dance was held there in downtown Lincoln. Some 285 guest were served at a set down Dinner.  We utilized the time while pictures were being taken to visit the Sunken Gardens at 27th & "D" street. It is a City Park adjacent to the Zoo which has long been a "Garden" of beautiful floral displays and horticultural landscaping. It has been a few years since we visited the garden, and many attractive features have been added. It has a long history, back to when early improvements were made in Antelope Creek and Normal Boulevard was developed. I remember my folks taking us there as a family when I was a kid, which is a long time ago. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bargen-McWilliams Wedding

By the time you read this, Alicia Marie Bargen and Ethan Ross McWilliams will be married. The Wedding was at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Lincoln, NE at 2:30pm today. Ethan is the Grandson of my brother Don and the son of Dave and MaryBeth (Vrana) McWilliams. We have watched Ethan "grow up" as a  good student, gifted athlete and on through an MBA to become the fine young man that he is today. We have only known Alicia for the past 2-3 years and have been very favorably impressed. They are a beautiful couple and we wish for them the health and happiness that will enable them to always be able to smile and show the affection for each other, as is witnessed by this picture. Elaine and I are very fortunate that we can feel as close to our extended family as we are. It continues our good decision to move back "home" after my federal retirement. The older we become, the more we enjoy and appreciate family. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Seward Kiwanis Club Golf Outing

The Kiwanis Golf outing was held this evening at the Seward Country Club. Dennis Kahl and I joined Leroy Dinslage and his son Scott in the 4 person scramble. The Seward Lumber and Kirby Roth signs are for being hole sponsors. Scott is a very good golfer and hits the ball a long way. Though I was able to hit from the yellows (age), we didn't use my drives. My contribution came in putting. We had about a 6' putt on our first hole (#4)and I volunteered to go first to give them a line, and made the putt. On our next hole I chipped within 2" of the cup from about 15 yards off the green. 
During the course of the next 7 holes, I made the putt on 4 of them, one for a birdie from about 16'. This was my first golf of the season and I thought it may be my last but after putting as well as I ever have, may not quite be ready to "throw in the towel". It was a beautiful evening, and I enjoyed the companionship. Dennis and I had a chance to catch up on family matters since we each have a son working for the USDA/NRCS. After golfing we had a good meal in a picnic setting outside the club house. It was an opportunity to visit with many old friends and even some young ones.