Thursday, December 31, 2015

Past, Present & Future

Jon and I were unsuccessful in attempting to scan 35mm slides into the computer with a couple small “scanners” I had bought some time ago. I had never been able to get them to work very well but thought maybe Jon could discover something  that I had missed--no luck. So, we took the logical approach, set up the projector, used the kitchen wall for a screen, and Jon took pictures with his smart phone. We have had many of our old slides scanned at Sam’s and Walmart over the years, but  we have many that were not. We would like to go back through and select some more but with the price up to 50cents/slide, we considered alternatives. This pictures is one of the statue of James Joyce in Dublin, Ireland that was taken a few years ago. Elaine and I took a Globus Tour to Ireland, Whales, Scotland and England. We had an excellent tour leader, bus, hotel accommodations and wonderful companions. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Bottle Rocket Brewery

Bottle Rocket Brewery, LLC opened here at Seward in time for this past Oktoberfest. It is in a downtown facility built as a “Seed House” and used for the past several years as a “Flower Mill”. The Seed House was a historic Seward business that included multiple generations of the Campbell family. I recall harvesting some 50 bushels of Yellow Sweet Clover seed back in 1948 and Dad selling it to them. They would “process,” clean, check germination, bag and resell to producers or other seed dealers. We bought seed from them over the years and sold them Certified Trailblazer Switch grass seed when we produced it in the 1980s. Gerald and Jason have done a great job of retaining the historic seed mill fixtures such as the elevator with little cups, that is visible back by the bartender. They also have pictures and other historic memorabilia attractively displayed. Jon and I enjoyed a couple of their Holiday Craft beers. I told the Bartender that mine was so good that it hardly tasted like beer. I can envision this becoming a very popular spot for Concordia College students as well as for many people here in the local community. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

History is Relatives

History is all relative, depending on your perspective. What is history to my children I consider Current Events for someone that has lived three score and one years. During my visit with my folks, I have had a chance to explore materials that are history to me, but reflect life experiences of my dad. I have tapped into my dad's memory, old books, magazines and pictures for  a research project on Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett, the “Father of Soil Conservation” and the early days of the Soil Conservation Service. Dad has a copy of the Winter, 1946-47 issue of “The Land”, a quarterly Magazine because of an article by Hugh H. Bennett. I have enjoyed reading the magazine, not only for Bennett’s article about the “Trip to Malabar," but others in the issue on conservation. 
Dad started to work here in Seward in the spring of 1948, so between my dad and I, we have worked nearly 68 of the Agency’s 80 years of existence. We have also worked over a large geographic area, variety of positions and grade level from SP-3 to the Senior Executive Service. To make this history even more personal, my dad has provided me the opportunity to browse though a few pages of his old 5-year diary where he wrote of his early SCS days. Jon

Monday, December 28, 2015

Signing Songs of Praise

Today I had a wonderful opportunity to spend some “quality” time with my father, participating in Kiwanis,  an organization that serves my hometown so well and holds great memories for me.

At today’s midday meal and meeting, I had the chance to reconnect with a number of my friends, particularly those that I used to sing along side, in the Kitones, the Seward Kiwanis’ vocal group.

And to top off that experience was a wonderful young lady, a student at University of Nebraska of Omaha, that has a very unique and special gift. It is the gift of “signing.” This young lady, using American Sign Language (ASL), shared a number of very powerful contemporary Christian songs, such as “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. Watching her convey the words using her two hands seemed somehow to bring a greater and deeper appreciation for the words of each song.

The young lady spoke of the many uses she makes of this ministry of signing to enhance the lives of those, young and old, who are hearing-impaired to the love of the music as well as a means of raising awareness of a program to assist in the purchase of hearing aid devices for those that might not be able to afford them. One look at the young lady in the picture, and the proud words of her mother, who assisted her in the program, and you can tell it is truly a ministry of love.

And today,  she shared some of that love with the Seward Kiwanis.

Jon Vrana

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Homecoming at Lincoln Airport.

Anna and Jon arrived at the Lincoln airport this afternoon at about 3:30. They left Dulles National in Northern Virginia this morning and had  an hour or so delay in Chicago. We have already had a great time catching up and talking about things we want to do while they are here. Mary is working this week but will come out later. The delay in Chicago enabled us to be at the airport when a 747 unloaded the Nebraska Football traveling party, including the team, from the Bowl game in California. It was a family affair where everyone knew everybody. They were all in great spirits following the win and the brighter outlook for the future. 
Some of the players looked familiar but I wasn’t able to identify anyone. There was a bunch of really big guys. I visited with a lady with two little boys while she waited for her husband to pick up luggage. He is with “Husker Vision”. She said they had flown out in two planes on Monday but all got in the double decker 747 for the trip home. There were 6 or 7 Lincoln City buses that took the group into the City. They cleared out just as Jon and Anna’s plane came in so getting luggage was no problem. They did put on heavy coats with the change from a high of 72 degrees today in Washington. D.C.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Our Samsung Flip Phone

We are among the few people who still use a flip cell phone. Carolyn fixed it up for us a few years ago and while we carry it when leaving town or making  long distance calls, we seldom ever turn it on. We haven’t used it enough to learn how to do other than the basics. It has been over a year since attempting to add a new number to the contact list which was today's challenge. Some people put together Jigsaw, Crossword puzzle, etc for challenge but I have all I need with electronic devices. I get along best with the Apple Mac Book which I bring up a few times a day. My PC and I get along OK for many things but am still learning to even be comfortable with an Apple I Pad used once a month for a Board on which I serve. I’m still learning and being challenged by my LUMIX Panasonic camera. The electronic age has brought about a whole new way of thinking. Off-on switches didn’t require much thinking but now required to study directions, learn to do things in various ways, seek help from “young people” and try to use “Logic”. I have concluded that everything on a computer or electronic device is simple, once you know how to do it, and, do it frequently. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day 2015

We were back out to Owens’ for gift opening and Brunch before 10:00am. It was a “Sadie and Jack” show but with presents all around. This picture was taken after Brunch by John with the use of a Selfie stick Tripod that I received as a gift. As “nap time” approached, we went home for the afternoon and a lengthy telephone visit with Tim. Then back out for a Prime Rib Christmas Dinner. It included all the trimmings including Pumpkin Pie and Cheesecake with chocolate frosting. It was all delicious. I ended up feeding Jack the last of my cheesecake. One of his favorite gifts was a little “Hex bug”; a little multi legged, battery powered item that crawled by vibration of the flexible legs. Sadie’s favorite may have been her painting easel where she used water colors or  the “food processor” or “mixer”. She enjoyed everything. This Christmas story will make an interesting addition to my chronology of every one since 1940 when I started keeping a Daily Diary/Journal. I got it out this afternoon and thumbed through a few pages. It brings back a lot of happy memories as I “transitioned” from being a kid to a Great Grandfather. The meaning of Christmas, and family, have been  guiding lights throughout those 75 years. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

’T was the Day before Christmas

We woke up to heavy, wet snow falling which continued until about 9:30am. By then we had received 6-7”. We were scheduled to do Home Delivered Meals so I got out the snow blower, cleaned off the driveway and over to the hospital through some snow covered streets, to pick up the meals by 11:20. Few of the streets had been cleaned on our route and it was necessary to use “landmarks” to “plow through” the snow. We were pleased to see the temperature rise, some sunshine and the job the City Street Department did in getting the streets cleaned during the afternoon
We had a “full-house” at the 5:00pm Christmas eve Church Service. It was a beautiful service with the Organ, Hymns, Scripture Readings, a Duet, Rev. Dale’s sermon on, “ready or not...”, and the candle light service of every ones candle being lighted from the “Christmas Candle” as we sang, “Silent Night”. We concluded with the singing “Joy to the World”. Then we went out to Owens and joined them, Jerry & Bev, Ben & Carolyn for Soup Supper. Sadie and Jack each opened a couple presents. As bedtime approached, John and Sadie got some cookies and milk set out for Santa Clause. It was a Great Christmas Eve Day

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Casey’s Pizza

This was an interesting day. It was raining when we got up and turned to snow/rain mix while at coffee. Elaine and I needed some things from Walmart and stopped on the way to order a Pepperoni Pizza at Casey’s. After buying everything from soup to nuts, we picked up the Pizza on the way home and had it for lunch. Elaine judged it as the best Pizza she had ever eaten. We have had a few of the frozen ones picked up at the grocery store but just haven’t had many during the past few years. It was a real treat and will finish it for lunch tomorrow. We might have done so tonight but had bean soup made with a ham bone and the trimmings. There has been some discussion of a piece of Cherry pie and ice cream before bedtime. Hopefully, we have all  our Christmas shopping done and are ready.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Blessings

We had the pleasure of having Sadie and Jack with us for a few hours today. It is a blessing  to be able to spend time alone with them at this stage. Sadie has grown so much during the past few weeks and continues to amaze us with her vocabulary and understanding. Julie left a DVD that she enjoyed watching while holding her doll and making calls on a toy flip phone we had for her. We have not used our DVD player very frequently and had to relearn the controls. She did get a bit frustrated with us during the movie when she needed to go potty and asked us to “pausit”. After getting her clothes ready to go, she stood in front of the TV, pointed at the screen and said, “pause it”, so I did and she went on her way. Jack also had a good day and always adds to my day. When he holds out his hands to come to me, it’s a reminder of the trust and love that families share.
Jack’s first stop is always the Christmas Tree where he has a couple little bells that he takes off the lower limbs, rings, hands them to me to play with, and then can put them back on the tree. He takes more steps each time we see him but can still crawl faster. He and I enjoy going down to our “lower level” where he can play with toy trucks and listen to Polka music. He showed his enjoyment of the music by his facial expression and body movements. While my Dad’s Mother and Dad came over from Czechoslovakia, the Czech heritage is quite diluted after 5 generations. However, some Vrana traits show through. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Preschool Program at Seward Civic Center

We attended Ms. Karen’s preschool program at the Civic Center this evening that included Sadie Owens, our Great Granddaughter. The program began with “Story Time” and moved into group singing. That is where Sadie really shines. It’s amazing how many songs those little kids know and can sing. We have had very little involvement with preschool since we couldn’t afford it for our own kids and had only a minimum amount of involvement with Julie’s preschool experience. I have been very impressed with what it has done for Sadie with only a few months of participation. There are many factors involved in “early childhood education” but learning social skills and discipline are vital for their future.  Sadie can be seen in this smaller picture as the 4th little child from the far end of the line. She did recognize us during
story time and gave us a very discrete little wave. While the audience included many Grandparents, It appeared that there were many Great Grandparents there as well. Seward is a great community for multigenerational families. We also continue to be pleased with our Civic Center which has served the community for nearly 50 years. It was a gift to the City from the estate of an early Seward family. Their Trust also provided farm land to provide for continual maintenance and additions that have taken place. I was fortunate in being involved in the original landscaping of the building back in 1956. While most of it has been replaced, a spruce tree at the corner of the lot remains and has been decorated with lights. It is adjacent to State Highway #15 and enjoyed by many people passing by.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Poinsettias, Hymns and the Sound of Music

Our Church Alter this morning was adorned with 37 Poinsettia plants that were provided in memory of departed family and friends. The Poinsettias and the organ music with Virginia’s artistic touch, set the stage for a special musical service. It included special renditions by the Bell Choir, the God’s Squad, a trombone solo by Abby, the Praise Team, Cross Fire, and the Chancel Choir singing “O Come Little Children” which was just great. Among the congregational hymns was the Advent Song sung to Away in a Manger. That always brings a tear to my eye since sister Vivian and I sang that at a Christmas program in the old Church building when I was 5 years old. We also enjoyed the opportunity to visit with old friends during Social Hour after the service. There were several indications of appreciation for Virginia on the organ. I went so far as to say that in my opinion, playing some of our sacred hymns for congregational singing in Church on a piano was like playing the National Anthem for the opening of a patriotic event on a Ukulele. I’m writing this while watching “The Sound of Music” in its original form with Julie Andrews. I have no idea how many times we have seen it but many of the scenes become more emotional with each viewing. It is truly a “Classic"

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Nativity Display

This is the new Nativity display at our Methodist Church here in Seward. It replaced a smaller one that had been used for 23 years. The old one had been purchased with Memorial money following my Mother’s death in 1990. We did receive a phone call in regard to the change before it became public which we appreciated. Our first reaction was a bit of disappointment but this display is much larger and really much nicer. We have enjoyed it and appreciate it being donated. It also fits in to the “change” mode that seems to get shorter as we grow older. For young people those 23 years are a generation but for some of us, they have slipped by pretty fast. We continued to receive more Christmas Greetings today from old friends and even got some more sent on their way. We Nebraskan’s got a great "gift" this evening with the University of Nebraska Girls Volley Ball team winning the National NCAA Championship. Congratulations to Coach Cook and the Team.

Friday, December 18, 2015

USDA Soil Conservation Service

Elaine came across a Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star from August 29, 1954, that contained this picture of me. The David White Dumpy level was a key instrument in surveying the conservation practices that we “laid out” for farmers. I was serving as the “Instrument person” in this picture while another individual would carry a stadia board or Philadelphia Rod to points where elevations would be determined by readings with the instrument. If we were surveying the line of a terrace, the person with the Rod would be signaled up or down the slope until reaching the desired point on the hillside. My signal in the picture implies that it is at that desired point. Were it necessary to more the Rodman to a higher location, my signal would have been to raise one arm. The movement of the arm would be a clue as to the amount  of change that was needed. Likewise a “down sign” was with a downward arm movement. When it was necessary to move the instrument, I would put  one arm above my head and wave with a circular motion. It was a great job; we were not only helping to reduce soil loss but working out in the fresh air, and getting lot of exercise. The article tells of the formation of the Salt-Wahoo Watershed Association under the leadership of Journal Editor Raymond A. McConnell, Jr. and State Sen. Otto H. Liebers as co-Chairmen. The Association provided sponsorship for the Federal Pilot Watershed Program. That led to the PL-566 Watershed Program which was utilized throughout the State of Nebraska and across the Country. I served as the construction inspector on several of the contracts which eventually led to a job at the Agency Headquarters in Washington, D.C.   The structures built under that program are continuing to demonstrate their effectiveness. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Family Picture Greeting

We have sent Christmas Greetings to family and friends during the past few days with some still to be done. In addition to the traditional Card and note, we have utilized the Internet to distribute a “Christmas Letter” that includes this picture of Elaine and my family of our 4 kids, 5 Grandchildren and 2 Great Grandchildren, as well as spouses. The picture was taken in July at my birthday/family reunion celebration. While the use of the Internet is not the traditional way of sending greetings, it does enable contact with old friends that may not be otherwise contacted. It is also an opportunity for immediate feedback. This was demonstrated while reading some responses this morning. It’s heartening to have old friends remind you of shared experiences in their greetings. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sadie at our House

Sadie and Carolyn spent some time with us this afternoon. We have had Jack out our house a few times recently but Sadie hasn’t been here for a while. Carolyn brought her tricycle along and she enjoyed the round trip through our dining room, kitchen, hall and back to the living room. She likes to pose in front of the full length mirror on the door in the hallway that leads to the lower level. She helped me take apart a battery powered candle from our front windows to replace the battery. In the process, I misplaced the end piece that held the battery in place. Even Elaine helped look for it. Sadie  reached over and picked it up from on top of a book in my briefcase that was setting next to my chair. She knew exactly what we were looking for after helping me take it apart but thought it was pretty good for her to spot and recognize what it was under all conditions. When we complimented her on the find, she commented that her glasses help her to see better. We really enjoyed her and Carolyn’s visit. I wish she was here tonight to watch “The Polar Express” with us. It’s a great film. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Blue Valley Community Action

Kelsey Peterson, a newKiwanis member, gave the program this noon on her activities as Director of the Blue Valley Community Action Program in Seward County. To many of us, it was an “eye-opening” account of many people in our county with financial problems. Our Club has been involved with the Back Pack program, Home Delivered Meals, Reading for Children, etc. for a number of years but she spoke of needs far beyond what many of us were aware. She was very complementary of the generosity of some of the businesses in the community, the County Government, and local people in general. But had the numbers to show how young families have difficulty making ends meet during current economic conditions--even if they are fully employed. It raises the question with some of us who remember the depression of the 1930’s as to the difference between then and now. Maybe it was easier to “get by” in the “30’s since we were all poor and didn’t expect much. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Nativity Scene History

This Nativity Scene has been a part of the Christmas Season at our house for many years. It sets on the table in the entry way at our front door. The painting was done by a friend some years ago who has since moved to the State of Washington. It was the home where Dad was raised as well as where I “grew up”. The house was the birthplace of my twin brother and sister when a raging blizzard blocked the roads and a Country Doctor was brought out with horses.  Marilyn painted it from a picture taken in the early ’50’s”. The house was demolished some 50 years ago but we did take her out to visit the site where I was able to point out some details like my “tree house” that didn’t show real well on the picture.  Elaine made the little barn from a pattern in the Successful Farmer Magazine when we lived in Lincoln. Some of the characters are plaster of Paris made and painted by the Kids. The Camels came from the Washington Cathedral when we lived in the D.C. area. The Bible was Elaine’s from her confirmation. (It has her name on the front cover). The little animals are attractive to Sadie and Jack but they are both learning that they are among the few things you don’t play with when you’re at Great Grandma and Great Grandpa’s house. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Joys of the Holidays

Jack spent some time with us this morning while his parents took his sister Sadie to a violin recital. He enjoys pulling the little bell down off the Christmas tree and then having someone put it back on. It must be at a level he can reach. He is a very “sharing “ little guy as demonstrated by handing the bell to someone and then making enough motions to make sure it is put back on the tree. It’s amazing how well he can communicate without the use of the English Language. I wish he was here with us this evening watching “Mary Poppins”. He would enjoy it and may not even press any buttons. 
We got down to Walmart this afternoon and I found a little toy for him that lights-up when a button is pushed. I plan to substitute it for my TV remote that he can “work”, but it takes a bit of creativity to get it back to the Army-Navy game. I picked up this big 1 1/2 lb. box of Whitman’s Chocolates as well. I’m quite sure that the first gift  I gave  Elaine was a “Whitman’s Sampler”. There are few things that have remained as constant over the years. I’m sure the candies have changed but the box remains the same. We must have another piece of candy as we enjoy Mary Poppins and all the antics involved. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

He’s My Brother

We had lunch in Lincoln this noon with brother Don and Gladys. Don will be having a birthday anniversary to celebrate during the next week and it gave me an opportunity to tell him a story about a recent “thought”. Our Preacher asked during the Children’s sermon last week what each of them wanted for a gift. Then he asked what value that item may have 20 years from now. He went on to tell the story of the Christ Child as a continuing, non diminishing gift from God. As he told the story, my mind “wondered” to the first Christmas for which I have a memory. I was 4 years old and the arrival of a little brother a few days before Christmas was my greatest present. 

He was an exceptionally likable little guy and continued to develop that trait as he grew to adulthood. It was generally recognized that Don probably inherited some of Grandpa Walker’s personality genes. Grandpa’s birthday was on Christmas Day and when he and Grandma came to see little “Donnie” for the first time, I told them that we had a “real baby” at our house. While our Preacher asked about what a present would be worth after 20 years, I can assure him that my gift as a little brother has continued as an exceptional gift for over 85 years. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge his wife and family as also being outstanding. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas of ‘81

Here is Julie and I as we celebrated the Christmas season in 1981. She really liked this little horse and rode it many miles. After she “out grew” it, the horse went to Indiana where Maggie put many more miles on it. Our Christmas tree in the picture is a native Red Cedar that we cut from the pasture out at the farm. There has been a lot of water flow down the Big Blue River since this picture was taken. Many changes have occurred and yet many things remain the same. The “Koch Mantle Clock” still sets on top the credenza, which is still in the exact same spot  as shown in the picture. The clock was a 1913 Christmas present to Elaine’s Koch Grandparents from their 10 children including Elaine’s mother.  The love and relationship between “Gran dad” has not just stayed the same but grown over the years. She brought Jack down to spend some time with us this morning. When she came to pick him up, he took several steps to her when she was very close to the same spot in our living room as she is shown here on her horse.   I wonder if Jack would appreciate a horse for Christmas.                    

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Memorial Health Care Systems Holiday Celebration

Carol Carlson, Activities Director for the Seward Memorial Health Care Systems, MC’d their annual “Holiday Celebration” this afternoon at the Seward High School Auditorium. Entertainment was provided by the SHS Show Choir and Dave Marsh, a talented musician. Gifts were provided to lucky ticket holders and refreshments were served to conclude the event. It was almost a carbon copy of the event as described in my blog page of 12/10/14. The Show Choir consisting of nearly 40 kids with exceptional musical and dance talent as developed by the leader, Leslie Stratton, are fantastic. They did several numbers and then each of them introduced themselves. If there was a way of “tracking it”, my guess is that what the students learn in this program contributes as much to their success in life as any classroom subject. They are a very impressive group of young people that are a credit to their families & SHS
Dave March was back again today demonstrating his musical skill with a “Parlor Bag Pipe, Accordion, Mouth Harp, Hammer Dulcimer, Irish Drum, Guitar and Banjo. His drumming ability is especially outstanding. The stories he told about each of the instruments added to the pleasure of hearing him play and sing Christmas Carols. He told of the Dulcimer having been called a “Wham Diddle” in ancient times. We didn’t stay for refreshments and got home before sunset. 
We were pleased to get good reports on Ben following his recent medical procedure of having a pacemaker installed. His medication also appears to be getting his blood pressure under control. It is well that Memorial Health Care Systems provides an uplifting program this time of year. We need it. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Grandpa Ben and Jack

Just looking at this relaxed fellow, with a grandson on his arm and Pip on his lap, you wouldn’t think that he might need a pacemaker. But he had one installed yesterday and is back home today with guidance on diet, life style and an optimistic outlook. Carolyn has been busy with Ben so we have had the opportunity to do some of the baby sitting that she normally does. Jack was at our house for 2-3 hours this morning and we enjoyed every minute with him. Among other things, he and I spent some time in my closet looking at my boxes of shoes. His favorite was a pair of SAS  shoes from the Valley of Texas. I read the story to him about their plant at Brownsville which he enjoyed and then found the extra pair of shoestrings in the bottom of the box. In his excitement, he swung the box lid around and a corner of it hit his face between his nose and eye. I think that's the first time he got hurt at our house.
Earlier, Elaine had him help turn on the Christmas tree lights and he has the privilege of picking off some of the decorations. This morning is was a little gold bell that rang. Playing with it and Elaine’s tender words is what it took for him to quit crying. Jack is shown here as he looked this morning playing with Sadie’s little toy dog. She left it here for him to play with while she went to preschool. Jack and Ben are already good Buddies and I expect that he and Grandpa Ben will have many good times together as Ben becomes accustomed to the Pacemaker and Jack continues to “soak-up” knowledge and an appreciation of everything that anyone does for him. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Leadership in Kiwanis

Don Fritz, Kiwanis District 22 Lt. Governor, provided the program at our Seward meeting this noon. Don is from the Lincoln Capitol City Club and presented a most interesting, participatory program. As a former English teacher, he “worked the room” in getting everyone involved in group discussions of the Kiwanis International Plan for moving into the Club’s second, 100 Years. The most important segment of the plan establishes four priorities: Inspiration, Impact, Image and Investment. We were divided into 4 groups with each discussing one of the priorities, how they may be implemented in our Club (community), and reporting on the results of the discussion. Don is shown here (left) with our Club President, Josh Fields. 
Some of the discussion even touched on the Kiwanis song book. It was obviously put together back before the days of “women sufferage”. It was reported that a woman have recently not renewed her membership because of some of the songs in the book. I led the singing today with “America” and "Eternal Father” in recognition of “Pearl Harbor Day”. We also talked about the absence of young people in the organization.  Don spoke of the importance of strategic planning and told of having observed that “If you know where you are going, you are likely to get there”. There is a lot of optimism in our Club for this year’s activities with Don as our Lt. Governor and Josh as our Club President. Our Club hosted a most impressive Head Start Christmas Program on Saturday and tonight our Kitones sang to a full house at the Heartland Care Facility. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Unveiling of VP Dick Cheney Bust

We happened into watching an hour long program on C-span this afternoon that was recorded from the Thursday “unveiling” of a Marble Bust of Vice President Richard “Dick" Cheney at the US Capitol.  Cheney was born in Lincoln, NE on 1/30/41 while his father, Richard Sr. was employed in the Regional Office of the Soil Conservation Service. I began with SCS in the spring of 1948 at Seward where surface irrigation became popular in the early ’50’s. A USDA reorganization in 1953 led to the closure of the SCS Regional Offices on November 1, 1953 and the State Offices strengthened. My boss arranged for me to spend a couple days in Lincoln working with the Irrigation Engineers on local projects while they and other Regional employees were being interviewed by Washington Office staff and assigned to State Offices. Richard Cheney, Sr. was assigned as the State Administrative Officer in Casper, WY, where he took his family. Meanwhile, I advanced to the Washington Office of the agency in 1962 and began my working relationship with Richard, Sr.  After young Dick came to D.C. in ’69 to work with Congressman Steiger and Donald Rumsfield, Richard would come to my office at least once a year to tell me “how the kid was getting along”. When Dick was appointed Chief of Staff at the White House, my Secretary and I sent a telegram to Richard congratulating him on the success “of the kid”. After returning to Nebraska and working with the State’s water activities, Mike, Vince and I toured the North Platte watershed on into Wyoming. We had lunch August 27th with Richard, Sr. who had retired in Casper, WY; and we talked about Dick who was in Congress at the time. I was pleased to hear George W. Bush mention Dick’s father working for the Soil Conservation Service in his comments at the unveiling which was done by his family in the above picture. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Christmas Season

I sang with the Kitones at the Kiwanis  Head Start Christmas Party this noon at the Civic Center. This has become a traditional Kiwanis project for the community Head Start children and families. Several of our members devote a lot of time to this program. My contribution of a dozen oranges and singing was very insignificant in comparison to what many people do. Including Jack, who appeared on the scene as we finished singing, “Here Comes Santa Clause”, and started handing out presents. Elaine and I went from the party to Seward’s Winter Wonderland. The window display was very inviting. Our first stop was for a ride on the “Polar Express”. Juanita was in charge of the exhibit and demonstrated the trains passing through the Christmas Villages . It was most impressive, and the interesting thing is that it is all put together by volunteers with mostly their own stuff.
The "Snoopy with Charley Brown" display was another very special one. The Seward Area Chamber of Commerce and the volunteers that make this available are to be congratulated and thanked. We finished off the afternoon by attending the Concordia University Christmas Concert at St. John’s Lutheran Church. It was most impressive. There must have been over 200 students involved and the only word I can think of to describe it is “Fantastic”. It told the Christmas Story with Scripture, Vocal and Instrumental Music. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Recycle Center

Elaine and I get to the Recycle Center about every 2 weeks. The City has changed the hours of operation during the past few weeks so we are still getting used to the change. There is an attendant there now for much more of the time. He is shown here sorting out our plastic material which we just toss in an old clothes basket. He had opened the door of the “Fox Baler” where a block of plastic cans had been compressed. Elaine always takes care of the cardboard while I handle the newspapers, slick paper, tin cans, aluminum cans and the plastic. The whole operation has evolved considerably from the days
back in the 1980’s when the Isaac Walton League operated the center out of a couple old trailers. I remember wearing googles and crushing glass items in a barrel. I’m not ready to take this collection of Golf Books to the Recycle Center until I further consider eBay, Craig’s List, Garage Sale, or EtCetera. The Green book is “The World Atlas of Golf” It features the great courses and how they are played. This 280 page, hardback book was published by Gallery Books in New York City with the latest reprint date of 1987. There are 170 courses in 43 countries listed.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jack and the News

Jack spent some time with us this morning. He is a good eater and hardly had one bite in his mouth before he was ready for the next one. We weren't sure what it was that Julie had "processed" and brought along for him to have. It looked like ground squash but sure it was more than that.Elaine also fed him some banana but forgot to get the Yogurt out of the refrigerator for him. I was very conscientious after our Kiwanis program on "Child Development" that I tried to do as much as I could to help him. Julie dropped him off just after I left for coffee but as it turned out, I got back early to help her with him. I'm writing this on our HP PC because of problems trying to bring pictures onto a page with the PC. I've got Kris Kristofferson singing to me as I tap away on the keyboard so it works pretty good.

We have a Magazine Club Christmas Party  tonight. It seems like we just got done with our round of Christmas parties and here we go again. We also are planning to stop by the Edward Jones Holiday Open House. We have listened to a lot of the news on the San Bernardino, CA, shooting. That is really a puzzle. While it is difficult to understand how anyone can go "off their rocker" and commit such a crime, it is even more difficult to understand how two people, especially with a little child of their own, could do something like that. It is unfortunate that mass killers are so often killed or commit suicide and are unable to be questioned. While it's recognized that the problem is bigger than further gun control, it seems that making assault type weapons more difficult to acquire and own might help.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Change in the Systen

This little guy sat on my desk for a number of years. Elaine bought it for me as a reminder to not take myself too seriously. The look on his face comes close to expressing how I feel as I work on the blog page this evening. During the past 5 years while writing this page, I developed a very simple system of bringing pictures on to the page and then writing the message. Often I brought up additional pictures. While attempting to follow the normal process last evening, and having reached the stage of “brousing” for the picture, I had a Google “pop up” asking me to sign in. After entering my user name and password, a page of various browsers came up. I went through several procedures but was unable to satisfy the selection of a different browser. I visited with a “professional” computer technician this afternoon who was familiar with the problem. It seems that Google is looking to have blog writers use gmail and store pictures in a manner that might be better controlled. It will certainly complicate things. I was able to use my PC to put this picture on the page but don’t know how much longer that will work.