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12/20/2014

PALACE FRIENDS…SOME FOR LIFE…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Dane Britton, Mackenzie, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 10:09 pm

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Here’s my neighborhood baseball captain, Jack Gillam.  I was always on Jack’s baseball team when we were in grade school.  We’ve been friends since that time.  Jack, his wife Betty and their boys, Jack, Jeff and Jay have been our family friends for….ever.  Our kids grew up together.

Jack graduated from K-State with a degree in architecture and I graduated with a degree in architecture from KU.  He learned a lot more than I did and he was instrumental in getting our house put together in Ellsworth that I sold only after moving here. He and his son Jeff, also an architect, are responsible for hundreds of school buildings, hospitals, nursing home, houses and other outstanding buildings across Kansas and elsewhere. They have done outstanding work and made significant contributions in their field.  Jack and Betty’s oldest son, Jack, is my dentist and keeps me smiling.

Jack lives here at the Palace and his wife, Betty, is here too in health care.  I went to the Ginormous Instrument Concert today and Jack was there too…so we sat together. His son, Jack, was there as well.  The room was packed with what I think is the largest audience since I’ve lived here. Many people came especially to watch Nathan Zimmerman, young son of Carolyn Hofer and Mark Zimmerman, who was one of nine stand-up bass players. Mark and Carolyn and family join John Zimmerman  here for Sunday dinner so the residents  have gotten to know their children and enjoy following their activities.

I didn’t know John Zimmerman when I was young, but his wife, Patsy Davis, and I were playmates…then friends for years.  Now, John takes the Wall Street Journal and delivers it to me when he’s finished with it.  That paper gets a good workout from the two of us.

It’s especially nice living here at the Palace since so many of my friends from the days of my youth living in Salina are here too.  They include:  Jack and Betty, Margie and Loren Walter, Marsha Stewart, John and Katie Weckel, Margie Eberhardt Wilson, Ivy Marsh, Shirley Drawbaugh, Mary Beth Engleman, Ginny Frederick, Pete Peterson, Amy Hoffman, Leo Lake and Louie Reynolds. I imagine I’ve failed to mention someone.

After my granddaughter, Mackenzie Britton, was born at Asbury Hospital on January 27th, 1983, a huge blizzard occurred on the day she was to leave.  Traffic was at a stand-still and Dane, Julie and Mackenzie were stranded at the hospital…with no place to go and no hope of getting home to Ellsworth.  Jack Gillam found a friend with heavy equipment….the only thing moving in Salina… came to the hospital and took the three of them to Jack’s house where they spent the next several days.  Here’s what Julie had to say about it:

“What a great friend Jack was on Mackenzie’s first night out of the hospital. We were trapped in a huge snowfall and Jack rescued us and took us into his home and kept the fires burning. His sweet wife made a crib from a study Mead paper box and lined it with Betty approved flannel sheets and mattress.”

Jack and Betty really were life savers.  We’ve talked about that Mead paper box and how happy Mackenzie was in for the first few days of her life.  They have been good friends in many ways for many years. It’s nice to still be close after all these years even if it’s not in a way any of us envisioned back in our youth.
Thanks for tuning in…

PALACE HONORARY PRAIRIE GODDESS….THAT’S ME…

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 8:48 pm

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Goddess activities: I was recently anointed Honorary Prairie Goddess by real Goddess Carolyn Carter who gave me the accoutrements to prove it. Note the official miter, magic wand and name tag. Carolyn and her husband Steve spent the afternoon visiting with me and I enjoyed every minute of it.  They hail from Bel Aire.

There are five real Goddesses…Carolyn, Bev, Carole, Donna and Kim… who have been Goddesses for years and years and years.  They worked together in Hospice for a long time  and since I moved in the Palace, I’ve had the opportunity to know them.   They get together for mini-reunions about three times a year….and sometimes they meet in Salina.  That’s how I met all of them.
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Steve Carter and I…photo by Carolyn Carter.

 What wonderful fun they are.

Thanks for tuning in…

12/16/2014

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS YOU CAN BLAME ON BARACK OBAMA…

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, Barack Obama, GOP — Peg Britton @ 9:11 am

Job losses were cut by more than 50% within his first 4 months in office.

He saved the American auto industry.

Has cut our deficits by more than half.

Killed Osama bin Ladin.

Got Syria to give up their chemical weapons without firing a single shot.

Presided over record breaking stock levels (with the Dow closing over 17,000 for the first time in its 118-year history).

Reduced unemployment from 10% to 5.8%.

We just saw the best year of job growth in the United States since 1999.

The quickest drop in unemployment in 30 years.

57 straight months of private sector job growth.

Over 10 million private sector jobs created.

Over 8 million people signed up for health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Millions of Americans have gained, or kept, health care coverage thanks to Medicaid expansions and being able to stay on their parents’ insurance longer.

He hasn’t started a single war.

He hasn’t tried to confiscate a single gun.

12/15/2014

ELLSWORTH IS ONE OF THE SAFEST PLACES TO LIVE IN KANSAS…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 6:54 pm

30 Safest Cities in Kansas

Check this out: 

Rebecca Edwards+ | Dec 15, 2014

30 Safest Cities in Kansas

Finding the right place to call home can be overwhelming. Sorting out economic factors, job prospects, educational opportunities, and overall safety is a lot to consider. That’s why, when it comes to finding a safe community, SafeWise did the hard work for you. We compiled the 30 safest places in Kansas for you to to raise a family, purchase a home, run a business, or whatever else your heart desires.

We used stringent reporting standards along with strict population criteria and the most recent FBI crime data from 2012 to identify our 30 featured cities. In order to be considered, we looked for cities that completely reported every element of crime data in 2012, giving us 134 cities that warranted a closer look. By adding a population requirement of more than 2,500, we narrowed it down even more to 91 cities that were ultimately considered for our list.

30 Safest Cities in Kansas! Did your hometown make the list?

From there, we examined the number of reported violent and property crimes in each city. Property crimes reviewed were larceny-theft, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson. When it came to violent crimes robbery, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and murder were considered. Next we leveled the playing field by determining the chance out of 1,000 that you’d have of falling victim to either property or violent crime in each city.

But identifying the right community isn’t where your diligence and commitment to safety should end. In order to make sure you can keep your home, family, or business protected once you find the perfect Kansas city, check out the comprehensive resources at our Kansas Safety Directory.

23. Ellsworth

It’s not uncommon to see a cattle drive going straight through the town of Ellsworth. This former frontier town takes the struggle and sacrifices of its pioneering founders to heart, honoring their rich traditions with the annual Cowtown Days celebration.

But this proud city does more than put on a great party to acknowledge its history. Ellsworth is currently in the process of establishing the National Drovers Hall of Fame. This will be an interactive museum housed in the restored Signature Insurance Building that honors “America’s real cowboys,” the drovers. For a taste of the old west and the “cowboy way of life,” there’s no better place to visit than Ellsworth.

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 0.95
Property Crimes per 1,000: 17.89

12/14/2014

HAS EDUCATION BECOME AN UNINTELLECTUAL PURSUIT?

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 1:34 pm

This was written by a friend of mine, Dawnae Urbanek Bunch, who has been a teacher/educator in Ellsworth for 26 years.  She was exceptionally instrumental in the education and personal development of one of my grandsons during his high school years and continues to be involved in his life long after his graduation.  So it has been for many others as well.  I really don’t know how she does it, but she is a rare individual and exceptional human being.  In the following, she explains how “unintellectual” teaching is:

“If I had to name the one thing that surprised me most about teaching, it would be how utterly unintellectual it is, or becomes, when you have so many students with so many needs all coming at you at once, and you don’t have the time each of them deserves.”

I read this quote in an article this week about a woman who, for many reasons, got out of teaching. This is SO true. On a regular basis, in just my classroom, I encounter students who not only want to publish a newspaper or yearbook or take photos (those are sometimes the least of their concerns), but ones who need a safety pin to remedy a wardrobe malfunction; ones who need something to eat; ones who need school supplies; ones who need some attention - any attention - because they don’t get it anywhere else; ones who need a shoulder to cry on (literally); ones who need someone to talk to because they’re having drama with friends or family; ones who don’t know who turn to you to talk about life issues they’re experiencing such as sex, drugs, abuse, coming out, and a whole host of other things that are important to them, because they trust you. After 26 years, I feel like I should have an honorary counseling degree. It’s also part of the reason I will be ready to early retire in five years, if possible.

12/12/2014

CHRISTMAS DINNER AT THE PALACE…

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My good friend for a life time, Ivy Marsh, leads the way into the dining room accompanied by a SHS basketball player/waiter. I’m following with that look about me like I don’t know exactly where I am or why I’m there.

It was actually a nice evening, better than most special functions, with decent but not exceptional food and entertainment.   Ivy and I sat with Hazel and a town guest of hers so the conversation was lively. Brad Radatz, in the green shirt on the right, is our new executive director and, like his predecessor, is good about attending events.  Kim Fair took the picture. The dining room was packed and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening.

It doesn’t seem possible that Christmas is just around the corner…like we’re down to the last 12 days.  It’s a good thing I have nothing to do to prepare for it as it wouldn’t get done.  Thanksgiving leftovers are still on my mind.  I am looking forward to spending Christmas in Ellsworth with Todd, Karen, Ally, Drew, Christy, Mackenzie and Tyler.  It will be a long winter after that, but since I rarely have to fight the elements, it’s not a concern.

Thanks for tuning in…

12/6/2014

LIFE IS CRAZY GOOD AT THE PALACE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 8:26 pm

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Life is crazy good at the Palace. The flag hanging outside my front door says so.

Today some of our inmates decided to go to a local church located a few miles from here for one of their annual Christmas festivals involving children, music, food and fun.   What better way to spend the day.

There were five ladies who participated in the all-morning affair.  One of the ladies was there with her daughter who had driven everyone to the event but was not feeling well and the mother-daughter team departed.  I’m not sure what they left in, but the car belonging to one of the two was left for the others to come home in, since that’s the way they got there in the first place.

So, much later, the three stranded participants gathered together around the set of car keys that had been left to them and  pondered their next move.  Since they had the keys, they decided to use the car and come back to the Palace; however, they weren’t sure where the car was parked as none of them had driven…and you know how little attention you pay to such details if you aren’t going to be held responsible for misplacing a car.

After some searching and pondering, they found what appeared to be the right car…at least a couple of them thought so.  One was decidedly uncertain and she got in and out of the car several times expressing her doubt over it being the right car.  She had the keys that seemed to carry with them a lot of responsibility.  She  got in the driver’s side and sat there awhile, pondering what to do.

Filled with uncertainty about the car’s ownership, she expressed more hesitation  about trying the keys in the ignition. She finally said she didn’t think she ought to drive, that her husband always did the driving.

So she got out of the car and traded places with another passenger who, after pondering her position as driver of the vehicle responsible for two other passengers,  said she hadn’t driven a car in “YEARS” and didn’t think she should be the one to drive.

They shuffled positions again so my neighbor who shared the story with me volunteered to drive everyone back to the Palace.  She’s very active and drives all over Kansas and Colorado just on a whim so everyone was in safe hands.  I’m not sure how they would have resolved their dilemma without her, but being a resourceful group, they would have found a way.  I’m sure they had interesting tales of their dilemma to relate to their spouses. Or maybe not.

Thanks for tuning in …

11/26/2014

MY FRIENDS….THE GIRLS IN THE HOOD…SOME OF WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM LIVING HERE….

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 2:00 pm

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My neighbors on 2 west…(from left) Margie Eberhart Wilson, Joy Mansfield, Amy Hoffman, me and Hazel Beggs. Missing a good party are Mabelle Mase, Carolyn Eland and Dorothy Carmichael. The picture was taken in Joy’s apartment because she has the largest, nicest kitchen that is never used for meal preparation.  I think she uses it for storing clothes.

Those of you who really know me are aware that I didn’t give up and move here to die.  It is unfortunate, I believe, but some people do that when they go to a nursing home.  They wait around until their spouse is really sick or dies and they move into a senior place or they wait around until their kids drag them to a care facility feet first.

For me it was quite the opposite:  I moved here to get more out of life than was available to me two years ago when I lived alone in a large house in Ellsworth.  And, that’s exactly what has happened.  More is a good thing when you are older and I found it by moving here.  The Palace is different from most places and you have to visit it, or talk with my kids,  to get the idea of how great it is. It is my happy place.

It has been two years since I moved here November 28, 2012.  That does not seem possible.  I guess the adage that time flies when you’re having fun applies to me.  Now.  At age 86. At least I believe it to be a general truth and has gained credit over the years to be worthy of repeating.  Some of my friends have been here a very long time, since this place first opened,  and I’ve not heard anyone say they made a bad choice.  In fact, it’s a choice they made without any regrets.  I count my lucky stars every day that I had the foresight to realize a good thing when I saw it.  That hasn’t always been the case with me.

Since I’m old and wiser now, I will pass on a bit of advice for anyone who might be interested in the subject.  And those of you who still have parents to look after might take note.  My observation during the past two years of living among old people, is that they, for the most part, don’t plan ahead. Almost never.   Even though they know they are going to get older, be less able to do things they’ve done throughout their lives,  show early signs of falling victim to Alzheimer’s or dementia or Parkinson’s or a myriad of other problems that plague  older people, they still don’t plan for those eventualities.  It’s the biggest mistake I see that some here have made.  They waited too long to come investigate the possibilities, opportunities and get on the waiting list for a spot of their own.

For some reason they want to stay in their own homes.  That works on occasion, but for most people that turns out to be a very lonely existence with very little stimulation from outside.   Their circle of friends gets smaller and smaller and they have to rely more and more on children or friends to help them out.  They become more prone to accidents, less able to summon help and more dependent on others outside the home.

The Palace is a different kind of home that fills in all the gaps that living alone doesn’t have. The Palace is different  from other retirement centers/nursing facilities in this part of the country.  Once you move in here, they will take care of you until you die.  For instance, if you go to another  independent living facility here in Salina and you need nursing  care, you have to move to a nursing care facility.  If one spouse develops memory issues, you can be separated.  Here, one person may live in independent living while the spouse may live down the hall in secure Memory Center or Health Care.  They can visit back and forth, participate in meals and activities with one another so it’s very much the same as living together. They are under the same roof.  You get help here so one person doesn’t have total responsibility for caring for their spouse.  The idea is to move and get settled in a new place while you have plenty of time to meet new people, become familiar with the opportunities available to you and adjust to new surroundings.  People tend to wait too long to sell their houses, dispose of possessions to prepare themselves for a new direction they’ll be taking.

And, one of the best features of the Palace is that the “outhouses”, as I call them, are gorgeous townhouses, very spacious with two car garages, and equipped with all new “everything” before you move in.  They are nearby on the Palace grounds. They are the best kept secret around here.

I have a very active friend who is 71 who just moved in a townhouse and another couple the same age who will move when one is available.  They are all very active in the Salina art community.   Their move is just plain smart on their part.  If they want to eat meals here they can, but most don’t except on occasion, and they have available all the services of the Palace…maintenance takes care of their yards, snow removal, mail delivery and any upkeep they might need.  Nursing care is available within minutes.

So, if a resident wants to leave for the winter they can head to Cap d’Agde that is set on a small spur of land west of Beziers and south of Montpellier. It’s the best known naturist resort in France, possibly in Europe. It’s large, with a whole village where you can shop naked, bank without any clothes on, and take to the naked lifestyle big time. All they have to do here is close the door and leave.  Everything here is secure and well-tended to.  (I got your attention with Cap d’Agde, didn’t I?)  The point being, you can leave any time, on the spur of the moment and be away as long as you like and everything here will be taken care of so you  can have a worry-free vacation.

I’m a self-appointed cheer leader for this place because I’m so happy here, but the person you need to talk with about particulars is Kim Fair at 785.825.1366, marketing director of the Palace.  She’ll show you around, let you see every nook and cranny, have a free lunch with her and decide for yourself.  If you tell her I sent you, I think they might even do something nice for me…if you move in…and I pass it forward.

If I can answer any of your questions, please call me 785 then 826 followed by 3668.

And, thanks for tuning in…

11/24/2014

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS…

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Ally and I are missing our home in Breck. It was always a fun place to be on Thanksgiving where our family gathered and Ally brought all the orphans from the ski area where she worked to join us. The mountain on the right between the trees is Quandary. The front railing on the porch held the turkey roaster with the carcass and scraps for the Canada and Stellar jays to pick clean while we enjoyed our dinner. Those were very happy times.

Ally and I are looking forward to being “home” in Ellsworth with all the family we can muster together this year…Todd, Karen and Tyler.  Karen is fixing her famous Butterball turkey dinner with all the trimmings and we’re all looking forward to it.  It’s always lip-smacking good.  Tyler will be the only representative of the grandchild generation and we’re very much looking forward to having him home and hearing about his recent trip to and experiences in South Africa.

Some of my neighbors here at the “Palace” will be heading to the homes of their children and grandchildren.  Others, lacking any family, will have a nice Thanksgiving dinner here “at home” with friends.  No one will be alone at this time.

I hope everyone has a very happy holiday weekend with family and friends.
Thanks for tuning in…

11/12/2014

BRITONS BELIEVE RELIGION DOES MORE HARM THAN GOOD…

Filed under: prairie musings, print news, religion — Peg Britton @ 12:51 pm

Huff post

By Jessica Elgot

More than half of Britons believe that religion does more harm than good, with less than a quarter believing faith is a force for good, the Huffington Post UK can reveal today.

Even 20% of British people who described themselves as being ‘very religious’ said religion was harmful to society, and a quarter of said atheists were more likely to be moral individuals than religious people.
The exclusive poll for the HuffPost UK reveals that just 8% of Britons describe themselves as very religious, with more than 60% saying they were not religious at all.

The eye-opening survey, that will reopen debate over the role and worth of religion to British society, found of the ‘non-religious’ people polled, more than 60% said they thought religion caused more problems than it solved.

The poll shows that more people believe being an atheist is more likely to make you a good person than being religious. In fact, one in eight Britons said atheists tend to be more moral, compared to just 6% who say atheists are less moral, challenging widely held beliefs that religion is one of the last remaining bastions of British morality.
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11/11/2014

WE HONOR YOU AND YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY…

Filed under: prairie musings, family, Tyler Britton USAF, Roy P. Britton — Peg Britton @ 8:04 am

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Roy P. Britton, Army Air Corps corporal WWII radar observer with grandson, Tyler J. Britton, now a tech sergeant/respiratory therapist in the US Air Force.  Missing is a picture of my brother, Bruce H. Baker, a captain and fighter pilot in the US Air Force and my father, 1st Lt. US Army Bruce H. Baker, WWI.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

11/4/2014

DON’T FART DURING AN MRI…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:09 am

HUFF POST
by Elaine Ambrose
Author, syndicated blogger, featured humor speaker, publisher, and retreat organizer knows that laughter - with wine - is the best medicine.

Don’t Fart During an MRI

I share this true but pathetic story to commiserate with other tortured souls who relentlessly endure and survive extreme humiliation. We’re a group of accident-prone fools who regularly trigger embarrassing situations that would permanently traumatize a normal person. My experience this week will be difficult to surpass: I farted inside an MRI machine.

In medical terms, I had torn the meniscus cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between my shinbone and thighbone. In middle-age woman terms, two demons from hell invaded my body and lit fires in my knee and then danced around poking the raw nerves with electric forks. The pain was beyond intense, and the accident severely damaged my body so I couldn’t stand, walk, or even crawl to the wine bar.

Five drug-induced days later, I finally saw an orthopedic surgeon. He manipulated my knee until tears streamed down my cheeks and I threatened to tear off his arms. It should have been obvious that I was injured by the way I was ripping off chunks from the sides of the examination table. I silently vowed to add him as a nasty character in my next short story. Finally, some lovely angel gave me legal narcotics. Soon my ravaged leg was a big, bandaged joke, and I laughed and laughed.

A few days later I experienced the MRI - a magnetic resonance imaging procedure that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio waves to make images of damaged ligaments and joints. A handsome young technician helped me into the tube of terror and strapped down my leg. I nervously remarked that a first name usually was required before I allowed anyone to tie me in a bed. He didn’t laugh but ordered me to hold still for 45 minutes. So there I was, in pain, suffering from claustrophobia, moving on a conveyor belt into the white torture chamber, and I didn’t have a clue how to remain motionless. And, to complete the distress, my only audience wasn’t amused by my jokes.

After about 20 minutes, I started to get anxious. I was tied down in a tunnel and could only hear strange beeping noises and grinding sounds. For all I knew, they were deciding which body parts to extract and sell on the black market. Then a queasy feeling predicted a pending passing of gas. I bit my tongue, pinched my side, and tried to focus on a pastoral scene in a green meadow beside a babbling brook. I could hear my mother’s advice: “Squeeze the dime.” I fidgeted.

“Please hold still,” came a voice from outside the shaft of shame.

I watched as the lights and numbers revealed how much time remained. Three minutes. I could do it! No! My body betrayed me at the one-minute mark. I was trapped and helpless so my nervous body did what it does best: it farted. I released gas with the intensity and conviction of a team of sumo wrestlers after a chili-eating contest. And the confined space caused the sound to be amplified as if a dozen foghorns had simultaneously activated. I didn’t know whether to cry, giggle, or call my son and brag.

“Well now, I think we have enough images,” the handsome technician said, suppressing a laugh.

The magic bed moved backwards into freedom, bringing along the putrid stench of decay. I was mortified as my imaginary meadow became a ravaged pasture full of rotting manure. What in the hell had I eaten? I avoided eye contact with the timid technician and hobbled back to the dressing room. Once again, I accepted my fate of being the perpetual, reluctant clown, the oddball, the one who farts during a complicated medical procedure.

If I ever need another MRI, I’ll request a facility in Texas. Everyone farts there.

Follow Elaine Ambrose on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ambroseelaine

11/3/2014

INTRODUCING THE NEW KING AT THE PALACE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 10:55 am

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From left:  Amy Hoffman, my neighbor across the hall; Brad Radatz, the new executive director of the Palace; Leo Lake, a new resident, but previously, a long-time volunteer at the Palace.

Radatz’ first job was a certified nursing assistant at the hospital in his hometown of Lindsborg. It’s not a big town, and it’s not a big hospital, which meant Radatz was often idle or sent home.

But Radatz, who was about to start college, wanted more shifts and more experience. He was surprised when that put him on the path to working in long-term care. “I liked the learning curve with hospitals,” Radatz said. “I didn’t think I would get that same learning curve medically in long-term care, but I learned quickly that was not the case.”

He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in life sciences from Kansas State University in 2010, with a secondary major in gerontology and an emphasis in long-term care administration. In July, he was named executive director of Salina Presbyterian Manor. Previously, Radatz had been lead administrator with Frontline Management, responsible for the day-to-day operations of Garden Valley Retirement Village in Garden City.

The appeal of long-term care, Radatz found, was in building relationships with residents. He also wants to make it easier for residents to develop stronger relationships with each other and with employees. “We really want to develop our environment to be more of an actual neighborhood,” he said. “We want people on a particular hall to feel like they’re part of a smaller, close group.”

That means giving residents and employees more opportunities to interact, Radatz said, and listening to their ideas. He hopes they’ll be able to develop more family-like relationships instead of the traditional caregiver-patient dynamic.

“Ten years ago, health care was more physically focused,” Radatz said. “Now we want to make sure we’re also caring for their emotional, psychological and social needs.”

Radatz and his wife, Amy, are excited to be in Salina – partly because they have season tickets to K-State football and basketball, and now they’re closer to Manhattan. The couple met in college and married in 2012.

from PMMA Community Matters…

10/31/2014

HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM THE PALACE…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 12:21 pm

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Today at the Palace is filled with Halloween fun.  We had sittercise with some Halloween music followed by a parade of employees in their Halloween costumes after lunch. Dylan won again, in my estimation, but Shanna was great in her yellow banana costume.  The “Identity Thief” had people’s name tags stuck all over her clothes. Karen was a pretty cute Smarty Pants with weird contact lenses and Smarty candies stuck all over her pants.

Tonight we have a Halloween dinner in Dracula’s Diner starting off with Bloody Marys followed by Haunted Manor’s garden salad, spookghetti with eyeballs and Frankenstein Fingers all while wearing witch hats.  That should be a sight.  Employee Goblin Trick or Treaters come at 6:00 when we load them down with enough candy to last until Christmas. They are so cute and it’s fun to have them come visit.  It’s nice to be on the beaten path again for Halloween in order to see the little kids have so much fun.

Thanks for tuning in…

10/30/2014

FOOTPRINTS OVER THE YEARS…

My grandson, Tyler, does a lot of traveling and, from time to time, he asks me to tell him where I’ve been, or about one of my favorite destinations. That’s hard as every trip had it special highlights.

There are many places in the US I haven’t seen, but I’ve also had the opportunity to see and visit many places, some many times.  The only two states I haven’t visited are Rhode Island and Delaware.

I thought it might be convenient for Tyler, and interesting for me if I could list the places outside the US where Brit and I, Ally and I, Dane, Mackenzie and I or I alone, have visited…not just passed through on the way to some place else.  The journey brought me back many memories.

Brit and I went to Mexico City, Cuernavaca, Taxco and Aculpulco on our honeymoon.  We also drove to Mexico randomly just because we loved it so much.  One trip was to Tampico to meet Vera and Reuben Sparks. We went to Aculpulco again with Karma and Paul Aylward and stayed at Tres Vidas, which may have been dissolved by the salty ocean water.  It was a magnificent place.

We also made four trips to Hawaii which were wonderful, but they don’t count in this list.

Brit was the People-to-People leader for a group of Kansas bankers we took to China for an extended visit.  We took numerous tours with other groups…and by ourselves. Many were trips that Dane arranged.

Ally and I drove 7,000 miles during our trip to visit Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.  We ate only at locally owned restaurants and slept in locally owned motels/B & B’s. Ally played golf with a group of guys we met over a sack of garlic we happened to have and that they desperately needed.  No fast food/franchise patronizing. We stayed in Baddeck for a week or so and loved Lunenburg where she took the helm of a large sailing vessel and was invited by the captain to stay and sail for him.  She’s that good. I love Nova Scotia.

Ally and I also took a 17 day trip through the Panama Canal on the Norwegian Wind and racked up some wonderful memories.  Another time we spent 10 days in Cancun where she spend her time cave diving and I luxuriated at the Grand Mayan Resort.

Another memorable trip was one that Mackenzie and I took to visit Dane in Hungary when he was there working for the Eisenhower Foundation assisting Hungary to return to a democratic government.  That was a wonderful trip and holds special memories not only of Hungary, but other countries as well. .  Mackenzie lost a tooth while we were there so we launched it in to the Danube and figured some day it would  be inside a big fish in the Black Sea.

I didn’t list a family cruise we took in the Caribbean or the bucket trip the family took with Brit before he died.  Of course, we didn’t venture out of the US for that.

Brit and I had three trips to London/England and I went another time to visit my friends, Ann Harrison, and John and Geoff Spearman (Ally and I met them on the Panama Canal trip). I remember one flight to from New York to London where we were served 7 full meals before we landed in London and we didn’t go to bed until our return flight home two days later.  We were young then.

I don’t have my passports with me which would give me a better idea of what I may have missed, but for all practical purposes, this list will cover most of my travel destinations.  I’ve always had an itch to travel…Dane, Todd, Mackenzie, Tyler, Drew and Ally all have the same gene.  Before he’s finished, Tyler will put my list to shame.  He’s already way ahead of most 26 year old travelers who have to do it on their own.

My Travel To Non-US Destinations (more than just passing through):

Jamaica
Bermuda
Bahamas, Nassau
Costa Rica
Cartagena, Colombia
Panama City
San Blas Islands
Panama Canal
Australia, Sydney
Australia, Canberra
Australia, Melbourne
New Zealand, Rotorua
New Zealand, Queenstown
New Zealand, Christ Church
Indonesia, Jakarta, Jawa Barat
Indonesia, Bali
Philippines, Manila
French Polynesia, BoraBora
Japan, Kyoto
Japan, Tokyo x2
Malaysia, Jahore Bahru
Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
Thailand, Bangkok
Macau
Singapore
Hong Kong
China, Shanghai
China, Beijing
China, Guangzhou
Canada, Victoria
Canada, Vancouver
Canada, Banff
Canada, Jasper
Canada, Lake Louise
Canada, Medicine Hat
Canada, Calgary
Canada, Edmonton
Canada, Quebec City x2
Canada Montreal
Canada, Nova Scotia, Kentville
Canada, Nova Scotia, Baddeck, Cape Breton Island
Canada, Lunenburg
Canada, Digby
Canada, New Brunswick
Canada, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Mexico, Cancun
Mexico, Monterrey
Mexico, Puerto Vallarta
Mexico, Mexico City
Mexico, Taxco
Mexico, Aculpulco
Mexico, Tres Vidas (where is it?)
Mexico, Cuernavaca
Mexico, Guadalajara
Mexico, San Angel ?
Mexico, Tampico
England, London x3
England, Southern England Petworth and Pulborough
England , Stanley, County Durham
Scotland, Edinburgh
Scotland, Tighnabruaich
Hungary, Budapest
Czechoslovakia, Prague
Austria, Vienna

The end.  My traveling days are over.
Thanks for tuning in…

10/27/2014

PALACE FRIENDS AND HAPPINESS TIME…

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Living here is like a nice bowl of cherries or attending Korean summer bible camp…however you look at it.  It’s all cherries and happiness time for me.

In recent days I’ve had wonderful friends stop by for chats, some bearing good things to eat. It’s always this way.  If I were still living at home alone, I would not experience this kind of activity.  Family yes, but my friends at home work and I couldn’t  get out and about to see them except infrequently.  Everyone is busy and I understand that.  Moving here separated me from lifelong good friends who I didn’t see all that often, but it put me in a position here where I am surrounded by people, some have become good friends.

I have an open door policy here so anyone who wants feels welcome to enter anytime.  Most often, they just walk down the hall and wave as they go by, but even that is better than sitting home alone, as I would be if I were still living in Ellsworth.  There are people working on the jigsaw puzzle in the lobby or having coffee at the coffee bar all the time…day and night.  So, if I had a spell of loneliness, I could always find someone to chat with at any time.   Insomnia goes with old age so someone or another is roaming around.  I really do like the people who live here as they come from all walks of life and are interesting in their own way.

The main highlight of recent day visitors was Tyler who was able to come from Cincinnati for a short weekend.  He was here Friday night for our Five-Hundred-Thousandth Annual Palace Soup Supper, a day of football with his dad in Manhattan on Saturday and back to Cincy on Sunday.  That’s a lot of road time for such a short time here, but he doesn’t seem to mind.  We love it that he can be here, even if only for a few hours.  Tyler does good work, good things.

Todd, Karen, Ally, Jan Paull, Lynn Taylor, Ann and Terry Headrick were all here before we split up and went downstairs to eat chili and chicken noodle soup.

Other friends have been in and out:  Ellen Morgan came by for green tomatoes and a visit, Lynn Taylor stopped for a glass of wine and a break from working pie detail for the soup supper.  My neighbor,  Carolyn Eland, was here for a wonderful afternoon of chatting about family, music, ballet, travel, politics and other topics of common interest.  She loaned me a couple of books her PhD brother wrote which I’m enjoying reading.  Faithful friends, Ann and Terry, we in and out a  couple of times, once bearing beer and hard cider.  Yum.

Dalene Anderson and her daughter, Leah, came by to deliver a case of Two Buck Chuck’s wine from Trader Joe’s.  I really appreciate that.  Dalene, whose dad lives here, is a peck of fun and I love it when she’s here visiting.  She and her sister, Karen Collins, and their kids and grandkids are frequent visitors and delightful/fun folk.  They’ve become wonderful friends.  If I weren’t living here, I never would have met any of them.  That’s one of the special things about living here.  I’ve made so many wonderful friends just by living here and being part of the big family of friends of other inmates.

Jovita Christensen who lives up on the 6th floor by Ivy, stopped by with a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls and my neighbor, Hazel, arrived with a bowl of wonderful baked apples, warm from the oven.  Jovita and Hazel both have reputations for being excellent cooks…and are famous for their baked goods.

Margie dropped by with two Harry and David pears that were wonderful and stayed for a glass of Malbec.  I go through a lot of wine.  Red wine is especially good for old people, they say.  No one here argues about that.

I was downstairs when Barbara Houdek arrived with one of her famous Dutch apple pies, so I bought it at the food sale.  It was fabulous.   I shared some of it with Hazel, Ivy and Margie.  Barbara still makes angel food cakes from scratch…no mixes for her…and beats those egg white with a whip by hand.

Last week Ally was here running errands so I had her drop me off at the Korean Restaurant where I  had a wonderful bowl of Korean Ramen chicken veggie soup that was both steamy hot and spicy hot.  It was wonderful.  I spent the afternoon at the restaurant visiting with Joomi and Tim and reading a Lee Childs book that was easy to absorb in bits and pieces. The restaurant is light and airy, the odors that waft through are wonderful and I just blend into the wall paper. Later in the afternoon Joomi made bananas Foster with scoops of ice cream that she, Tim and I devoured. They are very nice and treat all their customers like the family we are. I love that place. It’s my home away from home.

Mabelle Maes, another neighbor of mine, stopped by for some of Ally’s tomatoes. She accidentally dropped one on the floor and it rolled under a table and a couple of chairs where it lodged up against the wall.  In a jiff she was down on her hands and knees and under the table retrieving it even though I insisted she leave it where it was. I can’t pick up stuff off the floor and do periodic pick ups with one of the half dozen picker-upper tools I have strategically placed around my apartment.Mabelle is agile as a fox….and 96 years old. She’s another good cook. The other day she brought me a plate of monster cookies she’d baked.

Amy Hoffman left a bowl of white chili in my kitchen that was wonderful.  Ally arrived with potato soup, chili and other good things.  Somewhere in the mix Karen came and changed the sheets on my bed. She keeps me in a clean bed and runs lots of errands for me. Without help from her, Todd and Ally, I’d have a difficult time living where I do. They do wonderful things for me.

I also caught up with Mackenzie yesterday as she came to my rescue on a computer problem I was having. As usual, she sorted through it in short order and walked me through a fix. It was not a common problem and should have only happened if I were using two monitors. Kenz loves living in St. Louis, works for Asynchrony where she’s a senior web developer learning new things all the time, lives in a wonderful complex, has good friends who do interesting things.  Tyler spent the night with her Thursday on his way home so they had an opportunity to catch up on cousin news.

I’m looking forward to this weekend as grandson Drew and his girl friend, Christy, will be here from Boulder for a quick visit. It’s always fun to catch up with them as they lead very busy, interesting lives. Since that is the weekend of the KU vs K-State rivalry everyone around here will be drawing up sides for their team and donning all kinds of very old, worn out college shirts and hats. We’ll have special gatherings for the game.

The same is true for Halloween Happenings, which is the 31st. There will be a “Draculas Diner” the 31st. I’m not sure what that is…is it a dinner in a diner which maybe should be Dracula’s Diner Dinner…or it is supposed to be a dinner for many Draculas…as in Draculas’ dinner…or are there lots of Draculas in a diner? Grammar is grandly abused around this place which doesn’t help the split-infinitive-challenged crowd. It will be an evening filled with Bloody Marys, spookghetti and eyeballs, Frankenstein fingers…etc. But, the best thing is that the employees bring their children to the Palace after dinner so we can pass out candy and see them in their cute costumes. That is always fun.

Lunch was especially good today…nice fresh fruit, good cheeseburgers with warm buns and good toppings, potato salad, and much, much better than usual baked beans.  I took some of Ally’s mustard sauce, a sliced jalapeno pepper and fresh tomatoes to top my burger.  Hazel, Ivy and I  enjoyed our lunch and lively conversation.  Doris wasn’t there at “her” table and we all miss her enormously.  She has something contagious so we can’t visit her.  She is one very special lady.

Thanks for tuning in

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10/25/2014

RECOLLECTIONS ABOUT GETTING OLD AND BEING PART OF HISTORY…

Filed under: prairie musings, Roy P. Britton — Peg Britton @ 5:52 pm

Some recent world events got me thinking about other world events that provided circumstances that involved Brit and me.  Well, not personally; more like observers.  We happened to be in the right place at the right time to experience history being made.

The disputed deal over democracy and tense talks in the 1980s led to today’s Hong Kong protests.  Brit and I were in Hong Kong when the agreement to return Hong Kong to China was signed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Chinese Premier whomever in ‘84. After a lot of testy talks, Thatcher abandoned her hopes of turning Hong Kong into a self-governing territory and accepted China’s claim of sovereignty.  I remember we stayed at the Peninsula Hotel and were out amongst the throngs at the time of the event.  We were all very uneasy about the prospect of losing Hong Kong to Chinese rule.

We were in Panama poking around when President Jimmy Carter was involved in the settlement of the Canal Zone debate.  I think it was in ’77, but I’m not sure.  I do remember that we were supposed to go to Panama City and they delayed our trip a few days because officials manning the gates were concerned about our safety.  They were expecting a lot of unrest among the locals, and I’m not sure how that story ended.  I just remember there being a press conference in Panama that spelled out the terms of the agreement which included the return of the  Canal to Panama and the right we had to defend the Canal’s neutrality.

Because of the delay, we spent more time in the San Blas Islands…and had one experience that was really pretty stupid.  We, along with maybe three or four other couples, took an old sailing vessel out to what seemed like the middle of the ocean where the head sailor person  put us on this little pile of sand…then sailed away.  This was a barren patch of sand about the size of the end zone of a football field.  It was like standing on water in the middle of the ocean, looking around and seeing nothing but water…and I suppose shark’s tails.  There was no land visible anywhere.  It was one of the few times I can remember Brit being really nervous.  Although he hadn’t missed the point of our abandonment, I had not yet realized that tides would soon cover all the sand and we’d be left for shark grazing. Us with three children at home.

Now back to the sail boat…it was a very old, sturdy boat sort of like an old-fashioned pirate ship.  I’m sure it had a better description.  The crew consisted of a free-spirited young man and woman and their darling five year old son…who wore  a cape…always wore the cape, they said.  They had set sail months before, when the son was a babe, in an endless voyage around the world.  They were wonderful people.  They picked up a little money now and then by taking people like us to deserted piles of sand in the middle of the ocean.  I think they were from England.  When that boat sailed away Brit and I wondered if it would ever return.   It did, several hours later.  I still wonder how we could have been so dumb as so many things could have happened.  I thought of all of them while we waited.  We assumed they were anchoring close by, but NOOOOO….they sailed off into the sunset.  We failed to ask the right questions.

My other historical/hysterical involvement was in the Bahamas.  Brit and I were there for a few days in 1973 when Bahamians achieved full independence within the Commonwealth of Nations.  I don’t have a very good recollection of the event but I remember Brit and I, Adele Goss, and another couple we met on the trip, and now I have no idea who they were, went out exploring the evening of the big signing event…and encountered a group of rough, belligerent Bahamians who were ready to take on any Anglos they saw.  We tried to be friendly and chatty and most of the group dissipated, after a seemingly endless amount of time, except for one lone drunk.  I’d recognize him today in a crowd, well that is if he hadn’t aged any in the meantime.  He was very drunk and insisted we celebrate with him by drinking out of his filthy pint bottle of whatever.  We were trying to refuse and still be polite, but it wasn’t working.  Then our companion lady said she was pregnant and couldn’t drink.  I quickly said I was too and, for some reason, that saved us and we wandered on as did he.

I guess if you live long enough, you somehow become a part of history.

Thanks for tuning in…

10/24/2014

THE GREAT KANSAS TEA PARTY DISASTER from ROLLING STONE

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas, GOP — Peg Britton @ 6:46 am

The Great Kansas Tea Party Disaster
Victor Juhasz
Extremist Republicans turned their government into a lab experiment of tax cuts and privatization. And now they may be losing control of one of the reddest states in the nation
ROLLING STONE
By Mark Binelli | October 23, 2014

The Republican party headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, shares space in a strip mall with Best Friends Pet Clinic, a cowboy-boot repair shop and a Chinese restaurant called the Magic Wok. Inside, on a recent Wednesday afternoon, a modest gathering of party faithful mill about, I’M A BROWNBACKER stickers affixed to their blouses and lapels.

It’s a terrible slogan. Four years ago, when Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback first took office, you might’ve wondered if these people, on some subliminal level, actually wanted to be humiliated by a filthy-minded liberal activist looking to add a new “santorum” to Urban Dictionary. As a senator and a failed presidential candidate, Brownback was already one of the nation’s most prominent social conservatives, “God’s Senator,” in the words of a 2006 Rolling Stone profile. But Brownback turned out to be even more radical when it came to economic policy. In 2012, he enacted the largest package of tax cuts in Kansas history, essentially transforming his state into a lab experiment for extreme free-market ideology. The results (disastrous) have reduced the governor to making appearances at grim strip malls like this one in a desperate attempt to salvage his re-election bid.
The last time I came to Kansas, in March 2013, Brownback could often be found wandering the halls of the state Capitol, sporting one of his signature sweater vests, smiling and nodding at passing strangers or offering impromptu lectures to schoolchildren paused in front of the oil painting of John Brown, the fearsome Kansas abolitionist, that hangs outside his office. Here in Wichita, though, he looks exhausted. When he takes the stage, he squints out at the audience through puffy eyes. His Texas counterpart, Gov. Rick Perry, stands behind him, having been summoned north to help bail out Brownback’s flailing campaign.
Brownback gently teases Perry about how “now we have a small-business climate in Kansas that is better than Texas.” Perry flips up his palms and silently makes his oops! face.
Then the Texan steps to the podium and delivers a version of a speech I saw him give earlier this year in Kentucky, where he had been mobilized on a similar mission for Mitch McConnell. After boasting about all the jobs his policies have drawn to his state, Perry praises Brownback for placing Kansas on a similar “upward trajectory,” insisting to the Wichita Republicans that for the past three years, his own team of poachers no longer even bothers trying to lure companies from Kansas – Brownback’s radical economic reforms had simply made Kansas too attractive to business. “You go fish,” Perry drawls, “where the fish are.”
There are a couple of problems with Perry’s speech. First of all, he happens to be delivering it in Wichita, where, this summer, Boeing, for decades the largest private employer in the state of Kansas, shuttered its entire operation, shifting those jobs to cities like Seattle, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, Texas (oops).
The larger problem, of course, is that Perry wouldn’t even have to be here in Kansas if Brownback’s economic plan had not already proved catastrophic. Back in 2011, Arthur Laffer, the Reagan-era godfather of supply-side economics, brought to Wichita by Brownback as a paid consultant, sounded like an exiled Marxist theoretician who’d lived to see a junta leader finally turn his words into deeds. “Brownback and his whole group there, it’s an amazing thing they’re doing,” Laffer gushed to The Washington Post that December. “It’s a revolution in a cornfield.” Veteran Kansas political reporter John Gramlich, a more impartial observer, described Brownback as being in pursuit of “what may be the boldest agenda of any governor in the nation,” not only cutting taxes but also slashing spending on education, social services and the arts, and, later, privatizing the entire state Medicaid system. Brownback himself went around the country telling anyone who’d listen that Kansas could be seen as a sort of test case, in which unfettered libertarian economic policy could be held up and compared right alongside the socialistic overreach of the Obama administration, and may the best theory of government win. “We’ll see how it works,” he bragged on Morning Joe in 2012. “We’ll have a real live experiment.”
That word, “experiment,” has come to haunt Brownback as the data rolls in. The governor promised his “pro-growth tax policy” would act “like a shot of adrenaline in the heart of the Kansas economy,” but, instead, state revenues plummeted by nearly $700 million in a single fiscal year, both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the state’s credit rating, and job growth sagged behind all four of Kansas’ neighbors. Brownback wound up nixing a planned sales-tax cut to make up for some of the shortfall, but not before he’d enacted what his opponents call the largest cuts in education spending in the history of Kansas.
Brownback hardly stands alone among the class of Republican governors who managed to get themselves elected four years ago as part of the anti-Obama Tea Party wave by peddling musty supply-side fallacies. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich – whose press releases claim he’s wrought an “Ohio Miracle” – has presided over a shrinking economy, this past July being the 21st consecutive month in which the state’s job growth has lagged behind the national average. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker, whose union-busting inadvertently helped kick off the Occupy movement, cut taxes by roughly $2 billion – yet his promise to create 250,000 new private-sector jobs during his first term has fallen about 150,000 jobs short, and forecasters expect the state to face a $1.8 billion budgetary shortfall by mid-2017. A recent analysis by the Detroit Free Press, meanwhile, laid out how the tax policies of Gov. Rick Snyder, a wealthy entrepreneur who campaigned in Michigan as a nerdy technocrat, have resulted in businesses paying less ($1.7 billion less per year, to be exact), individuals paying more ($900 million per year) and – here’s the kicker – job growth slowing every year since Snyder’s cuts have been enacted.
Snyder and Walker remain in dead heats with their Democratic opponents, with Kasich holding a comfortable lead over his own. Of all these geniuses, though, Brownback exists in a class of his own, thanks both to the vainglorious scale of his project and the inescapable reality of its flop. And what must have longtime Brownback patrons like the Koch brothers most freaked out is how starkly his failure highlights the shortcomings of their own ideology.
Brownback’s policies have been so unpopular, in fact, that a group of more than 100 moderate Republicans, nearly all of them former or current state officeholders, have publicly backed his Democratic opponent, state Rep. Paul Davis, who, until the race’s recent tightening, had been leading consistently in polls. Calling themselves Republicans for Kansas Values, the moderates released a manifesto of sorts, which reads in part, “We are Republicans in the historical and traditional sense of the word.

Yet in today’s political climate in Kansas, traditional Republican values have been corrupted by extremists, claiming to be agents of change. It is a faction which hides behind the respected Republican brand in an effort to defund and dismantle our state’s infrastructure. . . . The policies [they] espouse are radical departures. . . . They jeopardize the economy and endanger our children’s future with reckless abandon. . . . We reject their extremist agenda.”

Or as one of the founders of the group, a lifelong Republican with the improbable name of Wint Winter Jr. – old Lawrence money, former state senator, runs the family bank – told me, “From my perspective? When I look back at my time in the Legislature and then at the present day, I think, ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore.’ ”
Meanwhile, as Brownback struggles to survive, the race for a Senate seat Kansas Republicans have held for decades unexpectedly came into play. Since 1996, it has  belonged to an unremarkable 78-year-old named Pat Roberts, who, after fending off a Tea Party primary challenger over the summer, hoped he’d coast to re-election. But by September, to the horror of the national GOP establishment, polls began showing Roberts trailing one of his opponents in the general election, a multimillionaire investor named Greg Orman who made his money by creating an energy-efficient lighting company (though he’s also close friends with, and a business partner of, disgraced insider trader Rajat Gupta, who is currently serving a two-year federal prison term). Orman, running as an independent, has vowed to caucus with whichever party holds the majority, a prospect that’s sent Republicans into full-panic mode. Though different factors have played into the troubles of Brownback and Roberts this election cycle, it’s hard to imagine the stink coming off the governor’s budget not tainting the Republican brand as a whole.
Roberts certainly hasn’t been helping his own case. In February, The New York Times revealed that the senator, who began serving in Congress in 1981, had no home in Kansas. His voting address in Dodge City turned out to be a friend’s house where, Roberts joked to the newspaper, “I have full access to the recliner.”

“How much time do you think Bob Dole spent in Russell, Kansas, for crying out loud?” a Kansas political insider who wishes to remain anonymous asked me. “Roberts’ campaign handled it terribly, though, and people got pissed. And Roberts looks like an old guy on the trail. He’s tired. This Orman guy seems to be a slightly sleazy businessman. But he’s rich. And Roberts is scared shitless.”
Brownback grew up on a pig farm in a tiny town in eastern Kansas. He attended Kansas State University on scholarship, earned a law degree, and in 1986, at age 30, got himself appointed secretary of agriculture. He ran for Congress eight years later as “the moderate candidate,” Paul Davis, his gubernatorial opponent, told me. “He was pro-choice back then. Then I think he got into office and saw where the winds were blowing. And immediately, he started heading right.” Winter, who worked with Brownback in the late 1980s, when Winter was a state senator and Brownback was agriculture secretary, agrees: “The Sam Brownback governing today is absolutely not the Sam Brownback I first knew.”
In 1996, after Brownback won the Senate seat vacated by Dole, he quickly turned his position on the Judiciary Committee into “a platform for a high-profile war against gay marriage, porn and abortion,” wrote Jeff Sharlet in the 2006 Rolling Stone profile. But while his willingness to deny evolution and hold up drawings by seven-year-olds of embryos during debates about stem-cell research tended to attract the most attention from reporters, it also proved a handy distraction.
From the beginning, Brownback, who married into one of the most prominent families in Kansas, had received support not just from “values voters” but also from the moneyed, quasi-libertarian side of the conservative movement – in particular, Wichita-based Koch Industries. A Koch-linked firm called Triad Management Services pumped $400,000 into his campaign for senator, helping him defeat former Lt. Gov. Sheila Frahm, a pro-choice moderate backed by the Kansas GOP establishment. Since then, no one has donated more to Brownback than the Koch brothers, and Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity provided vociferous endorsements of his tax plan.
Once Brownback was elected governor in 2010, the biggest obstacle to his fiscal agenda turned out, surprisingly, to be a group of senators from his own party,  who recoiled from the most extreme of Brownback’s proposals. The tax plan he had worked up eliminated most state income taxes on nearly 200,000 businesses and sharply reduced taxes on the wealthy.

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts chats with former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole during a campaign stop at a mall in Dodge City, Kan, Monday, Sept. 22th, 2014.
Dick Kelsey, one of the Republican senators who opposed the bill, is a former evangelical pastor who has been a movement conservative since the late 1970s, when he worked with Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority – in other words, hardly anyone’s definition of a moderate. “But I could just see that the tax bill took money from very poor people and benefited me, personally, too significantly,” Kelsey told me last year. “And I’m not poor.”
In the end, though, Brownback was able to persuade the Republican senators to allow the bill to move to the House, promising a compromise would be negotiated. But when the House, one of the most conservative in the United States, simply voted the bill into law, unchanged, Brownback signed it – despite the dire warnings of analysts who predicted Kansas would be running a deficit of $2.5 billion within six years. As Rep. Virgil Peck, a Republican from Tyro, gloated to me, “They passed something they didn’t think we’d pass. Basically, it was, ‘You won’t shoot the hostage.’ ‘Oh? Watch.’ And we did.”
Then, with Kansas political observers still reeling from the enormity (and sheer insanity) of the power play, Brownback declared open war on the senators who had crossed him. He and his allies recruited a detachment of right-wing challengers for the 2012 primary and lavished them with funding: Then-Senate President Steve Morris estimated outside spending from groups like Americans for Prosperity at somewhere between $3 million and $8 million, massive numbers for state elections in a place like Kansas. (According to The Wichita Eagle, political-action committee spending in the final 10 days before the 2010 Kansas primary totaled $14,604; for the same period in 2012, that number soared to $797,465.)
Sen. Jean Schodorf, a 64-year-old Ph.D. whose grandmother came to Kansas in a covered wagon in 1883 – Laura Ingalls Wilder once lived on the Schodorf family farm – was defeated by a 27-year-old who’d served for a single year on the Wichita City Council and still lived in his father’s parsonage. Kelsey, who dropped about $35,000 on his campaign, also found himself ousted after being significantly outspent. “It was just massive sums,” he told me. “I became their number-one target, because I was still a conservative – they couldn’t put the moderate tag on me.”
Many observers believe Brownback had been hoping to set himself up for a presidential campaign in 2016. He’d run once before but wound up dropping out before the 2008 Iowa caucus after social conservatives flocked to Mike Huckabee. Perhaps being outflanked as God’s candidate led to a bit of soul-searching. Or perhaps he just felt the winds shifting: Button-pushing “values” issues (like gay marriage) were losing their sway, particularly with younger voters, at a time when  the recession had forefronted economic issues in stark ways for millions of Americans who had yet to feel the effects of any reputed recovery.
Being governor in the midst of a national economic crisis, then, handed Brownback the perfect opportunity to reinvent himself. “My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘See, we’ve got a different way, and it works,’ ” he told The Wall Street Journal last year. “We’ve got a series of blue states raising taxes and a series of red states cutting taxes. Now let’s watch and see what happens.”
If Brownback ends up losing in November, one of the things keeping him up at night might be his decision to purge the Senate. In interviews this year, Brownback, with no one to point the finger at, has been reduced to begging for more time, and to switching up his medical metaphors. His tax plan, it turns out, is no longer a Pulp Fiction-style adrenaline shot to the heart. “It’s like going through surgery,” he told a reporter in June. “It takes a while to heal and get growing afterwards.”
Brownback’s education cuts have proved particularly toxic to his popularity. An August poll by Survey-USA had voters who listed education as their top priority favoring Brownback’s opponent by 43 percentage points. Parent-enraging anecdotes abounded in schools across the state: tales of swelling classroom sizes, teachers forced to fill in for laid-off janitors and nurses, libraries unable to buy new books. One group of parents took the extraordinary step of suing the government, a lawsuit Brownback appealed all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court after a lower court described his actions as “destructive of our children’s future.” In March, the Supreme Court ruled the cuts unconstitutional. The case has since returned to district court, which will determine what the proper level of funding should be.
As Brownback’s popularity cratered, nobody was paying much attention to Roberts’ Senate race, certainly not as a possible seat for Democrats to pick up. When a Tea Party challenger, a radiologist named Milton Wolf, emerged, the race got lumped into a broader “Tea Party versus Establishment” story line. But Wolf turned out to have made a series of prior comments too impolitic for the general voting public – in Wolf’s case, on his personal Facebook page, where reporter Tim Carpenter of The Topeka Capitol-Journal discovered he had uploaded X-rays of deceased gunshot victims along with glib commentary. (An X-ray of one victim whose skull had been blown completely apart, for example, was described by Wolf as “one of my all-time favorites.” He also said it reminded him of a scene from Terminator 2, adding, “What kind of gun blows somebody’s head completely off? I’ve got to get one of those.”)

Wolf lost the primary – by only seven points, it’s worth noting! – but not before hammering Roberts for his recliner crack and more generally for rarely spending any time in Kansas. Still, for a moment, Roberts’ primary victory became the story, part of the larger narrative of how GOP establishment figures like McConnell had managed to fend off their primary challengers (Eric Cantor being the notable exception), which, of course, tended to ignore how much McConnell, Roberts and their fellow “victors” had been willing to cravenly reinvent themselves to appeal to the wing-nut fringe dominating Republican primaries.

U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman talks to workers at a healthcare company in Overland Park, Kansas on Sept. 10th, 2014. (Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP)
Orman, the millionaire independent candidate, started blanketing the airwaves with television ads in July, but few paid his candidacy much notice. Then polls began showing him steadily gaining on Roberts; in head-to-head contests excluding Chad Taylor, the Democrat on the ballot, he was actually the front-runner.
By early September, Taylor had dropped out of the race, and until recently Orman had been steadily leading in polls. And overnight, control of the U.S. Senate suddenly hinged, in part, on the fate of an unloved Beltway mediocrity who could barely be bothered to leave his Virginia home in the middle of a re-election campaign. As John Weaver, a Republican strategist who worked on both of John McCain’s presidential campaigns, told The Washington Post, “He’s basically furniture in the Senate. You could give the average Kansan 24 hours to come up with something Pat Roberts has done [and] even the crickets would be standing there befuddled.”
McConnell, his lifelong dream of becoming Senate majority leader endangered, dressed down Roberts, who fired his campaign manager and imported a team of hardass D.C. fixers led by Chris LaCivita, the ex-Marine notorious for his work on the Swift-boat ads. Though Orman has positioned himself as a centrist – he says he voted for Obama in 2008 and Romney in 2012 – Roberts’ new strategy hinges on linking him to the president and Harry Reid. National Republicans like McCain, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul have also dutifully made the trek to Kansas to stump for the old man.
One morning in Independence, a tiny town near the Oklahoma border, Sarah Palin appears with Roberts at a local museum for a pancake breakfast. It seems like an awkward choice of locations to launch a partisan attack on an independent challenger, but Palin, sporting a purple Wildcats sweatshirt, plunges forward, attacking Orman as a “wishy-washy” candidate unwilling to “pick sides” and giving Roberts what must be one of the greatest endorsements in Kansas political history when she tells the crowd a vote for the senator is a vote “for unity’s efforts, for the reason of unity, knowing that united we’ll stand.”
Indeed. After the speeches, a long line forms at the pancake griddle as Palin and Roberts don red aprons to serve up breakfast. Only Palin doesn’t end up doing any serving, because everyone in line wants to either have her sign something or pose for a cellphone picture. Roberts, meanwhile, sporting a checked shirt and looking every bit his age, is almost completely ignored by his constituents. It’s a depressing spectacle. As the line starts to back up, Roberts is left holding a pair of sausage tongs and a styrofoam plate of pancakes. His hands shake. Occasionally, a star-struck Palin fan forgets about the food altogether and starts to walk away, prompting Roberts to thrust out the plate and call after them.
Although Democrats still have no chance at taking back the Kansas Legislature, Brownback’s follies seem to be hurting other top-ticket Republicans. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a handsome lawyer with a fancy education (Harvard, Oxford, Yale) and national political ambitions – as an adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012, he became infamous for coming up with the notion of “self-deportation” – has seen a seven-point lead over his Democratic opponent disappear since the summer. That opponent, incidentally, happens to be Jean Schodorf, the primaried Republican moderate, who came away from her dealings with Brownback so soured she switched parties.
“It was very hard for me to leave the GOP,” Schodorf says. “But I saw things in Kansas becoming more like the national party – a party of intolerance and disrespect for people with slightly different ways of thinking. In the Senate, I always worked with Democrats. When Brownback got into office, the first thing he said in our caucus was, ‘I’m going to pass a budget, and I don’t want any Democrat votes.’ He wants all of his guns pointed in the same direction, and he made it very clear what would happen if you disagreed with him. He was willing to bankrupt the state to get his way.”
That’s one thing I always wondered about: Is it possible a guy as smart as Brownback really believed his own budgetary hoodoo? As Tom Holland, one of the top Democrats in the Kansas Senate, points out, “When the governor talks about how we need to be more like Texas or Florida” – meaning, a “pro-business” state with no income tax – “well, what is Florida? Basically, you have, like, 700 miles of sandy beaches and a $70 billion annual tourism economy. That’s why they don’t have an income tax. In Texas, oil and gas generate a huge amount of revenue, they’re also huge in tourism, and Houston is one of the largest export ports we have in North America. And so this talk about ‘we need to be more like Texas’: We’re not going to be like Texas in a million years!”
Agriculture and aerospace remain staples of the Kansas economy; Brownback had also been a strong supporter of wind energy, a $7 billion industry tailor-made for the flat, blustery plains of the state, but has since backed away in the face of lobbying pressure from Koch Industries. His tax gambit, however, really does make very little sense. Which is why I found a theory floated by Winter so intriguing. Winter acknowledges that Brownback might have simply been “trying to go for broke: ‘I’m going to experiment, and the beneficiary will be me being president.’ ” But he thinks there might be another explanation for the recklessness of Brownback’s budget: “This could be exactly what he wanted – to starve the beast. Maybe when he first said, ‘This is going to be an economic miracle,’ he knew it wasn’t true. And what he really wanted all along was to slash public education, shrink the size of government. And now he’s getting exactly that.”
There’s a perverse logic to Winter’s what-if. When curtailing government at all costs begins to feel like an existential mission, attacking the problem with a deficit bomb is probably not out of the question. Had the impact of Brownback’s budget not been quite so immediate and precipitous – which he likely failed to anticipate – he could have easily glided to a second term, foisting some of the blame for sluggish growth onto Obama.
That’s what has happened in Congress, where Tea Partiers have been able to take the most extreme positions with very few consequences, pleasing constituents in their gerrymandered districts without leaving fingerprints at the crime scenes. The mulish obstructionism of the congressional Republicans has arguably done far more damage to the lives of average Americans than Brownback’s folly has wreaked on Kansans, by forcing austerity rather than stimulus during a recession, by cutting science and education funding, by allowing our infrastructure to rot – we could go on – and yet, the complexity of macroeconomics and the infuriating, unfunny slapstick of our divided and broken government conspire to hand the primary culprits plenty of cover, as long as they don’t do anything impossible to ignore, like shut down the government.
Before leaving Kansas, just to give myself a taste of the old ways, I swing by a town-hall-style event featuring Bob Dole. On various trips to Kansas this year, he’s been visiting every county as part of what’s being billed as a thank-you tour, though it’s certainly also a kind of farewell. Dole turned 91 in July, and these days he needs help walking. At the event I attend, in a converted train depot in a western Kansas town called, no joke, Liberal, a young aide marches him to a chair in the center of the room, basically holding him up. When Dole was a senator, he always clutched a pen in his right hand, disabled by a wound suffered during World War II. Today there’s no pen, though, and his right hand is just balled up into a fist, which despite Dole’s frailty still makes it seem like he’s ready to punch a hippie, should the need arise.
I begin chatting with the guy standing next to me. His name is Al Shank, and he’s come to the event to pay his respects and also to show the former senator a photograph featuring a young Dole and Shank’s father. It turns out Shank is a former chair of the Seward County Republican Party, and also one of the signatories of the Republicans for Kansas Values letter renouncing Brownback. “To me, it was a Kansas issue, not a Republican or Democrat issue: I just think Brownback is not right for this state,” Shank says. He owns a small insurance business and expects to see one of his tax bills drop from $800 to $100 this year. “How does the state make up that revenue?” Shank asks. “Trust me, I’m a Republican. But I’m not against paying well-thought-out taxes! Last year, I only paid about $6,000. Even if they forgive all of that, how many jobs can I create?” Shank shakes his head. “Dole knew the art of compromise. Today we don’t have it. It’s sad.”
Dole dutifully talks up Roberts. His voice has slowed, but he remains sharp, almost seeming to grow younger as he gets into the minutiae of the midterm Senate races, who’s up, who’s down. He says the most important piece of legislation he helped pass in Washington was the 1983 deal to save Social Security, which required Ronald Reagan and congressional Democrats to work together. He tells a story about the Gipper: “He told me one day, ‘Now, Bob, I’m going to send this legislation to Congress, and I want to get a hundred percent of it.’ And then he said, with a twinkle in his eye, ‘Well, if you can’t get me a hundred, get me 70, and I’ll get the rest next year.’ He realized sometimes you’ve got to give a little to get a little.” During the question-and-answer period, when someone asks Dole if he thinks Palin might run for president, Dole simply growls, “I hope not.”
Outside, after the event, attendees rushed to their cars. There’d been a storm warning, and the sky was looking ominous. A statue of Dorothy stood right in front of the town hall, as if awaiting the next tornado. It didn’t come that night, though our cars were pelted with giant hailstones and I ended up in the middle of one of the gnarliest electrical storms I’ve ever driven through, the lightning so
severe at one point that my windshield wipers began to strobe. Scariest of all was the way in which you could watch the dark clouds massing on the distant horizon, slowly rolling in our direction.
From The Archives Issue 1221: November 6, 2014

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-kansas-tea-party-disaster-20141023#ixzz3H3wPBiDL
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10/20/2014

ELLSWORTHITES: A “YES” VOTE will keep Ellsworth’s sales tax rate at 8.4%.

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:28 am

10/19/2014

YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER THIS PROPERTY …

Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 6:34 pm

This once stately mansion in Ellsworth KS, priced at $39,000,  has more than 5,000 square feet of useable space.  There is original woodwork and it needs work and love to return it to its 1910-era glory. For many years, it served as the Ellsworth County jail.  I really don’t remember any of the history of the house, except bits and pieces, but I’m sure there are local people who could tell a lot about it.   It’s listed on zillow.

ellsworth-jail.jpg

I’ve had a good weekend, quiet with some friends who stopped by to visit.  Friday night after trivia, Ann and Terry Headrick stopped by with some “garments” for me and during the discussion, we decided to go to the Korean Restaurant for a bowl of soup.  It’s the only place in town where you can get HOT from the stove soup. Every other place in town you have to send the soup back to the kitchen for reheating.  If you want it spicy hot, Joomi will make it that way for you too.  And we did.

They make their soup with Ramen-like noodles, but they aren’t the Walmart variety, they are Korean noodles.  They make the soup with chicken and slivers of various fresh veggies. It’s filling and delicious.

And, the best part was that friends from Ellsworth were there eating too.  I don’t often see my friends so it was a special treat…

We’re gearing up for the soup supper on Friday.  I’m especially looking forward to it as Tyler is coming from Cincinnati.  Also joining us will be Ally, Todd, Karen, Jan, Ann and Terry.  There will be a houseful here for soup, relishes and pie..maybe 900 friends of the Palace.  Earlier in the day I will be removing cellophane wrappers from all the Marcon pies…and the homemade ones that are donated.  I’m able to do that  while being seated.  My favorite position. My ability to walk is getting worse by the day, imo.

Today was laundry day.  I only did a couple of loads and called it quits.  It’s exhausticating for me so I do only what is necessary for the moment.  I have clean duds for a while.

We had fried chicken today for lunch that was pretty good.  Once they get the hang of how to do it, I wish they’d remember the next time it’s on the menu.

I haven’t heard anything about my friend, Doris.  I was expecting a call tonight…maybe I’ll hear tomorrow.  They are very aware of and abide by  HIPAA regulations so it’s hard to get information on your friends well-being.  Maybe tomorrow. I worry about her ability to thrive, but she is an amazing person.

Politic and religion aren’t discussed around here very much.  What I have overheard is that most people are not voting for anyone who is now in office.  That’s a good thing.

Thanks for tuning in…

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