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4/25/2015

ANOTHER LOOK INTO THE TEA PARTY HELLHOLE KNOWN AS KANSAS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas, GOP — Peg Britton @ 8:29 am

Another Look Into the Tea Party Hellhole Known as Kansas
— April 22, 2015

From Ring of Fire
Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has pretty much ruined the entire state of Kansas. Brownback has signed numerous bills he says will help the economy, but they actually help the wealthy and hurt the poor.

The Washington Post reported that Kansas will have a $143 million budget shortfall in 2016 and that “the proposals that look most likely to succeed are sales and excise taxes that would be paid disproportionately by Kansas’s poor and working class.”

The Kansas state tax code shifts the heavy tax burden unfairly onto the working poor. The bottom 20 percent of income earners pay 11.1 percent of their income in local, state, and sales taxes. Comparatively, the top one percent of earners in Kansas only pay 3.6 percent of its income.

Essentially, Kansas lawmakers want to raise taxes for those who are least able to afford a tax increase. Groceries are not tax-free in Kansas and Kansans can receive tax rebates on purchases. However, “those who make nothing or too little to owe income tax aren’t eligible.”

Brownback is the enemy of the poor and middle-class. VICE reported that Brownback signed a law that bans Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients from withdrawing more than $25 from an ATM at one time. The law is part of Brownback’s effort to make sure that welfare recipients get as little out of their aid as possible.

“By signing this bill into law, Gov. Brownback has added to the burden that the poorest Kansans already carry,” said Kansas Action for Children president Shannon Cotsoradis. “It’s always been hard to be poor in Kansas. Now, it’s going to be a lot harder.”

Brownback is responsible for the largest tax cuts in Kansas history, all of them favoring the wealthy. He called it a “real live experiment.” However, his actions dropped the state’s Standard and Poor credit score.

As per the usual Republican agenda, Brownback’s economic plan isn’t to help the majority. He only seeks to give the rich more money, and he’s damaging the state’s economy in the process.

4/7/2015

SALINA JOURNAL MUST READ…THANK YOU, GOVERNOR, FOR YOUR CONCERN FOR THE CITIZENS OF KANSAS. NOT.

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings — Peg Britton @ 5:04 pm

It’s baffling why Kansans continue to vote against their own self-interest.

Case in point: We keep electing politicians who promise to stand up to President Barack Obama and Obamacare. Sticking it to the man, death panels and all of  that, right? Actually, we’re sticking it to ourselves.

Kansas hospitals and others have been warning us since our state first refused to join the Affordable Care Act that by not doing so and expanding Medicaid, Kansas hospitals would lose out on millions of  dollars in reimbursements. This is on top of  the millions in Medicare and other reimbursements that those hospitals lost because of  cuts under the Affordable Care Act.

According to the Kansas Hospital Association, rejecting Medicaid expansion thus far has cost Kansas an estimated $475 million. And, according to a story by the Kansas Health Institute, the state’s rejection of  Medicaid expansion is the main factor that might force some hospitals to close.

The two hospitals mentioned in a recent KHI story, Mercy Hospital, Independence and Coffeyville Regional Medical Center, are looking to stay alive, for now, by partnering with neighboring hospitals.

The Independence hospital is facing cuts of  nearly $570,000 in Medicare reimbursements and federal money designed to partially cover the costs of  treating uninsured patients. However, if  Kansas were to expand Medicaid, it would generate an estimated $1.6 million yearly for the hospital.

Hospitals, especially low-volume facilities in the 21 states that didn’t expand Medicaid, are hurting. Since 2010, 48 rural hospitals have closed and more than 280 are listed as “in trouble,” according to the National Rural Health Association.

In all but the very small towns, there are two things that are seen as essential. The first is a school, and the second is access to health care. Without those, towns go away.

The question is, how will those who pledge allegiance to conservative politicians and radio and TV talk show hosts react when it’s their hospital that closes? The attacks against Obamacare will slow when more rural Kansans have to pay more in taxes to support their local hospital, or when their town loses the good jobs and tax revenue a hospital provides.

Sticking it to the man? No, we’re sticking it to ourselves.

From The Salina Journal, April 7, 2015

LOSING MY RELIGION FOR EQUALITY….

Filed under: prairie musings, political musings, print news, religion — Peg Britton @ 6:32 am

Losing my religion for equality

The Age
July 15, 2009

By Jimmy Carter

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphacize the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as preeminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

4/5/2015

ORSCHELN FARM AND HOME TO OPEN STORE IN ELLSWORTH…

Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 9:21 am

New Store Openings or Existing Store Relocations

Orscheln Farm & Home is proud to announce the opening of a new store in Ellsworth, KS - spring, 2015.
To prepare for the success of the new store, we are accepting online applications for the following positions:

Store Manager
Assistant Managers
Department Heads
Sales Associates
Cashiers

Full-time and part-time positions available with flexible schedules and competitive wages.  Full-time associates are eligible for a comprehensive benefit package.

4/4/2015

SPRINGTIME IN THE PALACE…AND ASSORTED DIVERSIONS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 1:55 pm

Spring has attached itself to me and I’m loving it.  It’s not that there is any measurable difference among the four seasons within the walls of the Palace, thanks to hands- on temperature controls,  but now that spring is here and the  sun  shines gloriously through large, all-encompassing windows  revealing the awesomeness of the world beyond, it is wondrous to behold.  It puts a spring in my ‘springless’ legs, fresh air in my tired lungs, and contentment in my heart.

That’s it.  I’m content here. Comfortable and content. I don’t know how I could make my life better.  And, I am in full control of it, for the time being.

The serendipitous events that resulted from moving here nearly  two and a half years ago are the rewards I’ve reaped in my continuing effort to reinvent myself.   Along the way, I find I’m discovering wonderful new things to explore and interesting people with whom to exchange ideas on a regular basis.  It’s been a journey that has evolved out of my lifelong nagging curiosity about almost everything.  It’s part of my genetic makeup and not one generally shared by others who find it aggravating, I’m sure.  Many are too fearful living the routine of life itself to be curious and adventuresome  enough to discover the hidden treasures around them.  I think they spend so much time concerning themselves about the hereafter that they fail to enjoy the rewards that  each day offers.  That’s where openly secular people have a definite advantage over religious folk.

Speaking of rewards…the other evening I went to the lobby to mail my absentee ballot and I heard beautiful piano music emanating from the Ivory Keys Cafe.  I knew it had to be my neighbor across the hall, Dorothy Carmichael as she’s the only one living here who plays that well.  So, the music called and I followed its charm to the nearest chair next to the piano where I remained until she stopped playing over an hour later. Then we came to my apartment where we listened and watched YouTube concerts of some famous pianists playing Beethoven and Ravel Concertos for another two hours.

Dorothy’s specialty is religious music and I rarely hear her playing anything else.  She has some beautiful arrangements that I really enjoy.  Music is her passion and her husband was a Lutheran minister.  And, I like religious music…I just don’t want to have to go to church to hear it.  So, as an example, I have access to almost every requiem ever written on my computer, and 50 or 60 different arrangements of Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (which isn’t even one of my favorites), dozens and dozens of Gregorian Chants and all kinds of other liturgical music.  For, not holding any religious beliefs, I clearly enjoy the music that has sprung from various religions.  Likewise, I’d fail miserably if asked what the lyrics were to any hymn.  I’m not interested…in fact they are just an unpleasant distraction for me.

Religious beliefs should be closely held, I think.  I think Jesus said so too. People here love to  talk about church, going to church, thinking about church, who was in church, what was said at church, what music they sang at church, when the next service is, and so on.  I don’t have a problem with that but   I have do have difficulty keeping my eyes from rolling backward when I’m hear what some people actually believe to be true.  It’s as if Newton and Galileo never existed not to mention half the members of the National Academy of Sciences, the brightest people in the world.  It’s okay to believe whatever you want but it just bears out the stupidity factor when one doesn’t pay attention to lessons in science.  It also  explains the cognitive dissonance they express and the stress they feel because of it.  It’s a simple fact: some folk encase themselves in superstitions and fairy tales for so long that they are afraid to find out they may have been mistaken so they surround themselves with like-minding individuals.  They are truly afraid…of everything.

On another topic:    I love it that Obama is going to Kenya because it will reignite the crazy  “birthers” and radical right wing conservatives like spontaneous combustion.   It’s so ridiculous (think borderline insanity)  to believe Obama was born anywhere other than Hawaii.  His mother was born in Wichita and I’m not sure she ever left the US. I am positive Barack  Obama was born in Hawaii. I have a photocopy of his live birth certificate.  That’s aside from two different newspapers published in 1961 both announcing  his birth on Aug. 4th long before anyone thought he might be the future POTUS.  I guess one has to remember there is a need, after all, to fabricate conspiracy theories for the Fox Entertainment Channel.

So, I digressed.

Thanks for tuning in…

3/20/2015

I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK…MY BLOG: There are currently 7,956 posts and 2,758 comments, contained within 108 categories.

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:25 am

3/19/2015

OUR RIDE ON THE GOODYEAR BLIMP…BY JOYCE GOSNELL

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, About Peg — Peg Britton @ 9:15 am

The ride on the Goodyear Blimp and  the day spent on the USS Topeka, a LA Class Nuclear Submarine, with my friend, Joyce Gosnell, were two of my most memorable travel adventures in my life.  Here is her account of our Blimp trip.

us-america-goodyear-blimp.jpg

The controls of the Goodyear Blimp

By air - the Goodyear Blimp by Joyce Newcomer Gosnell

On Monday, January 6th, 1992, John and Jim took Joyce out to dinner, for her birthday.  We went to the Japanese restaurant at the Overland Park Marriott, and were seated with a family of four, and a single man, all of us ready for the flashy show of Japanese cooking with twirling knives.  J & J handed me a BlimpBucks certificate, see attached, and so, being totally without inhibitions, I asked for everyone’s attention, stood up and sang the demanded tune.  The two children in attendance, 13 and 8 years old were agog, the father was a bore, the mother was mildly amused and the single gentleman was tickled.  I did have the grace to explain this seemingly peculiar behavior, and we got to chatting, while the chef tossed rice balls all around us, demanding the return of same even after they’d landed on the floor, and eventually hitting our mouths (along with our hair, clothes, etc.)

peg-and-joyce.jpg

We enjoyed the outing, and my BlimpBucks were more-than-generous, covering my airfare as well as my meals.

I’m 62 years old today, and have achieved a dream I’ve been cherishing since March, 1978Calmost 14 years ago.

Tuesday afternoon, Peg Britton and I flew to Houston, bunked at the Intercontinental Airport Sheraton, where we’d secured connecting rooms, for the simple reason that Peg could enter, perhaps win, a snoring contest with Betty B.  We had a nice dinner in the hotel and bedded down.  So far, this is pretty boring stuff, although we brightened things somewhat with matching Groucho Marx glasses (fortunately Peg has no shame either!)  And Peg’s gift of a day-glo red condom was source for much speculation by both of us.  (Need I add that said object is yet to be used?  But it’s nice to know that one has such a thing available at all times.  Who knows, huh?)

The national weather forecast for the Houston area called for rain, fog, and more rain for the next several days, but I leaped from my bed at 5:30 AM on Wednesday the 8th to determine for myself that it was, for a certainty, pouring down rain.  Why, you might well ask, did I give a damn about the weather?  Well, I answer, because Peg and I were scheduled to ride the Goodyear blimp America at noon, the big catch being the two words, Aweather permitting.@  At 6 the rain had stopped, at 7 it began, at 7:30CCwell, you get the idea.

We called the Blimp Airfield at Spring (pronounced locally as Sprang), Texas, and spoke with my by-now-old-pal Eddie Ogden, the Blimp Coordinator.  He seemed glum regarding the weather, mumbling something about a Pacific front that was stalled.  I point out to Eddie that rain is just water, and he points out that when you spread water over an item that’s 192 feet long and fat, there’s just too much weight.  Peg and I secured our Ford Escort rental car, barely averted getting strangled by those damnable automatic shoulder harnesses, and headed north for Sprang, with Peg reading the map and me driving.  With a minimum of miscues, we found both Sprang and the Goodyear airfield, the latter being not too difficult since there’s precious little in Sprang of any account other than the Blimp.

blimp-trip.jpg

Eddie was not encouraging, and said thanks for the rum bread I’d brought him, but allowed as how even a rum-bread-bribe would not affect the weather.  Peg acted truly pitiful, mentioning casually the fourteen years I’d been writing Goodyear, the fact that we’d come 1,000 miles (a stretch of the truth by probably 300 miles give or take,) the cost of our journey (no stretch needed here,) and she seemed to me to imply that this jaunt was our last fling in lives soon to be snuffed by some unnamed and mysterious malady.  A model of public relations skill, Eddie just suggested we first go to the hanger and study the America, asking questions of the crew there, and then find Sprang Oldtown, and browse through the scads of touristy shops, and call him every hour.  Dutifully we did both, but being with the blimp just whetted our appetites to see her in the air, with us in the gondola.

Again with a minimum of miscues, mostly my fault because without the sun I’ve no sense of direction whatever, we found Sprang Oldtown.  We were further depressed not only by the rain, but by comments from fogies young and old who felt certain we’d never get a blimp ride today.  One snippet of a clerk in a Quik-Trip told Peg definitively that we’d never get a ride unless we Aknew someone.@  Heck, I know lots of people, so her opinion didn’t seem valid to me.

We wandered in and out of rain showers, rain puddles, and the truly-ghastly little shops in Sprang.  The selection varied from T-shirts to candles, but all the shops vied to have the sweetest, nastiest odor of potpourri.  I felt like I’d been swirled about in a toilet housing one of those pink thingies that reek.

We call Eddie.  No go.

We ate lunch, not bad, in an about-too-cute Texas cafe.  Peg and I split a bowl of seafood gumbo, and note that it has sausage in it.  We later note that in Texas there’s sausage in everything but ice cream.  What a peculiar eccentricity.

We call Eddie.  No go.

We wander around the streets in Sprang.

We call Eddie.  No go, although we are re-scheduled for the last flight of the day, which is 4:30.  Why don’t we check in about 3:45.

We tire of calling Eddie, the shops in Sprang, and the rain, and elect to go sit in the nice little waiting lounge at the airfield.  The waiting lounge needn’t be large since the blimp carries only six passengers.

Slumped in our chairs, studying our muddy tennis shoes, we keep insisting to each other that there’s more visibility and that it’s getting brighter outside.  Just as I notice that the hangar door is slightly open, Don McDuff, one of the two pilots on call that day, comes out to chat with us, and says that if the rain will hold off just a bit, we’ll get our ride in.  Eddie Ogden sails out of the building, telling us to enjoy our ride, and we’re scheduled for an hour-long ride instead of the usual twenty minutes.  My already wrinkled old body is awash with goosebumpsCan appalling but true fact.

The hangar doors open wide, and a big yellow tractor with a super structure appears, latches on to the nose of the blimp and starts pulling her outside.  She’s so beautiful.

“We’re really going?”

Trailing under and around the blimp are fourteen men, holding ropes, guiding, attending.  I’m  eyeing the sky and mentally egging the crew to speed it up before it starts raining again.  Don McDuff escorts us out to the launch site, and we pause while he takes pictures of us standing before the America.  Our pilot is to be Larry Chambers, so Don McDuff waves goodbye and we climb up the short ladder into the gondola.  After an introduction, we seat ourselves for our private blimp ride.  It’s at this point that I have a terrible feeling that I’m going to embarrass myself and cry.  Maybe I’m older than I think?

I’m rescued from maudlin when Larry says for one of us sit up beside him, so I graciously shove Peg aside and leap into the copilot seat.

Larry chats with the office, the men outside are doing >things= and then Larry begins explaining the procedure.  We hover just above the ground, the nose tether is released, and the crew is hanging on to their ropes.  We must get weighed, which event was, and still is, a bit foggy in my mind, although it involved an instrument dangling from the nose that a crew member plugged into something he was holding.  We must be AOK for weight, because the crewmen release their ropes, Larry pulls back on a big wheel by his seat (much like a wheelchair wheel) and the America is aloft.  Larry starts the two small engines that power the small propellers, and away we go.

Yes, it’s a tad noisy, but not bad, and we begin asking questions.  I’m surely repeating the questions asked by virtually every person who ever gets a ride, and Larry is answering each query as though he’d never heard it before.  We check out the weather.  With the nose down, there’s just ground clutter on the radar screen.  With the nose up, we find rain over downtown Houston, and rain around the Intercontinental airport.

Ideal altitude is 1,000 feet, although she can go to 10,000 feet.  Usual speed is 52 miles an hour, although at one point, a head wind reduces that 52 MPH to a snail’s 5MPH.  Wishing to appear intelligent, and curious besides, I ask, AAnd what is that digital readout?  It’s surely important because it’s so bright and big.@  Larry dryly informs me, AWe call that a clock.@  True, it was military time, but my idiocy draws a muffled guffaw from the back seat.  I retaliated in like fashion when Peg inquired if this machine had an autopilot.  We were pretty much even.

Peg ceases her picture-taking and moves to the front seat.  I’m happy.  Larry says that it’s now time for us to fly, so he moves to the far seat, plugs his headset in on that side, and Peg takes the controls.

Big wheel forward, the nose goes down.  Big wheel back and the nose goes up.  Left foot pushing left rudder pedal, she turns to the left.  And so forth.  Peg seems to me to be entranced by the left and right part of flying, and to hell with altitude adjustment.  If you leave that big wheel alone, the blimp flies level, so Peg doesn’t fool with it.  We zig and zag, gee and haw.  A lot. A whole lot.  I’m happy.

Then it’s my turn, and since Peg had ignored the altitude part of flying, I take to working that big wheel and we duck and dive repeatedly.  Oh wow, I’m happy.  I note that the rudder controls seem sloppy, and Larry explains that a blimp does not have ailerons, so there’s no banking as in a plane, just flat turns.  Of course.  We head for the airfield, and Peg and I are both checking our watches, because it can’t possible have been 45 minutes since we left the ground hanging below that big bag of helium.  We crab into the wind, and I head us, more or less, back to the airfield.

We’ve learned that there are two compartments, front and back, in each blimp, that air is taken in through a pair of scoops to keep the envelope inflated, air is released through a simple release plug, that this particular blimp requires about one tank of helium a day, that if you took a knife and stabbed a hole in the fabric, it might not be noticed for a month because the outside and inside pressures are so nearly the same, that the fabric for this blimp was manufactured in 1980, that all passenger seats are removed for the light shows or televising a sporting event, that Goodyear supplies its own cameramen, that the gyroscopic camera hangs ten feet below the gondola, that the light show is computer generated and can be programmed to read or show most anything, that Larry just smiles when I inquire whether he’s ever had a desire to spell out something really tacky for all the world to see, that Larry’s been a blimp pilot for 23 years (but doesn’t look it,) that the Houston base is closing, and the America is moving to Akron, that the new blimp being manufactured will be called the Spirit of Akron, which is a poopy name in my opinion since all blimps until now have been named after winners of the Americas Cup races, which means that the Spirit of Akron should be the Stars and Stripes, that all the fabric for this blimp can be stored in a crate roughly the size of a Volkswagen beetle, oh well, I’ll stop.

Larry takes over the control, moving back into the wheeled and ruddered seat, the crewmen appear from the hanger, and Larry adjusts to the wind, and brings that large craft straight to the tether, where a man on top of the tractor scaffolding hooks her up.  Engines shut down, the crew hustles forward with little canvas bags of sand to attach to the ropes dangling from the blimp.

Larry fills out cards for Peg and me stating the date, log time, dual instruction, .5 hours of instruction  L.T.A. (that’s Lighter Than Air,) the blimp number, his license number and name.  We cherish those little cards.  Larry was scheduled to fly a light show tonight, and so planned to stay in the craft, but Don McDuff informs him that it’s starting to rain, so all flights are over for the day.  Peg and I have lucked into the single one-hour window of the day.  Don McDuff escorts us back to the lounge, and Peg mentions how difficult it is to push those rudder pedals (she should know, she did it enough!)  Don allows that on his first ten hour cross country flight, he flew five of the hours, and couldn’t get out of bed the next day.  He now keeps those thighs and knees in shape by riding a bicycle thirty minutes a day.

We gush thank-you=s over everybody and glow back to our car.  Peg’s in favor of trying to locate that snippy Quik Trip woman, but I veto that idea.

With only a single misstep and backtrack, we reach our hotel, make a few calls, and dine in the hotel bar, but, thanks be, there’s no sausage in my cheeseburger.

Peg’s busy chatting with a pal of hers, a nun who was kicked out of the convent for driving a tractor down the streets of Houston.  I guess all would have been well except that she didn’t know how to stop the big thing, and some police had to jump aboard and bring that tractor to a halt.  Can’t imagine why the nunnery would frown on an exploit of that nature, but apparently they did.  I retire while Peg chats on.

Now, I’ve told you that this blimp ride experience was an upper, but little did I guess how much so for Peg, who rises wide awake at 2:30AM.  By five in the morning she’s bored, and effects my wakening by turning on her television full blast.  Give the devil his (or her) dues, Peg did not once blow a whistle in the night, so no complaints.  We stir about, and head out for NASA, making our way on the beltways through downtown Houston, straight south to NASA, arriving at the gate to be told that they don’t open until 9:00 for visitors.  We bide our time at the local Denny’s, eschewing the sausage.  No doubt touring NASA, seeing the exhibits, and enjoying the well-presented tour of Mission Control should be a highlight, but I must tell you it was a pall compared to riding the America.

We scour about, with our usual number of stops to ask directions, and find the Flying Dutchman, right on the water, for lunch, pigging out on shrimp salad, fried oysters, and gumbo, glory be, without sausage.  We even manage to find the recommended Roses seafood shop, where Peg buys a cooler, ten pounds of shrimp, two quarts of oysters, and suitable amounts of ice.  The trouble with this purchase, of course, is that it takes two of us to lift it.

Back to the hotel, avoiding the Houston rush hour, a single falter in direction, check in the seat-belt-strangling Ford, and then wait to catch our 8:45 flight back to a pumpkin.

3/13/2015

FAMILY LOOKING TO ADOPT

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 2:40 pm

Friends of my granddaughter, Mackenzie, are looking to add another member to their family through adoption. They do not have a gender preference but would like a newborn or a baby under 1 year old. If you know of anybody looking to place their baby for adoption, please let me or Mackenzie (mbbritton@gmail.com) know.

2/11/2015

TRYIN’ AGAIN…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 5:04 pm

I had a blog almost completed the other day then hit the wrong key and sent it to neverland.  It’s exasperating to have that happen as I can’t duplicate what I said.  It’s never the same the second time around. So…to start again…with new topics.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed is well worth the time it takes to read, which isn’t long, as  I had trouble putting it down even though I knew while reading it that she made it through the solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail alive or I wouldn’t be reading a book she wrote about it. I don’t know how she endured the pain of her tortured feet or the intense heat and lack of food and water, which would have been major obstacles for me back in the days when I was in good shape.  Add to that the rattlesnakes and bears and other imponderables, and it was a superhuman accomplishment on her part.  I had to relate the various episodes to my lunch mates…Hazel, Margie and Ivy… to keep them abreast of the author’s progress.  They just shuddered in disbelief.

The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) is a treasured pathway through some of the most outstanding scenic terrain in the United States. Beginning in southern California at the Mexican border, the PCT travels a total distance of 2,650 miles through California, Oregon, and Washington until reaching the Canadian border. I think it encompasses the John Muir Trail which is a challenging task of its own.  The scenery is some of the most beautiful in the world.  It’s a far more difficult and longer challenge than the Appalachian Trail which is also more heavily populated with adventurous souls.

Another interesting book I just read was Gone Girl.  Gillian Flynn, the author, has an amazing head on her shoulders and comes up with material I’m sure never enters the minds of most of us.  I’ve also read Sharp Objects that she wrote.  Read at your own peril. Gone Girl is a fantastic read.
Now, I’m reading Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World.  In nominating Judge Sotomayor to the highest court in the land, President Obama pointed out that her life story was the embodiment of the American dream. She grew up poor in a Bronx housing project at a time when gangs were carving up the neighborhood, learned she had juvenile diabetes when she was seven and lost her father a couple of years later. She would go on to Princeton (where she won the prestigious Pyne Prize), Yale Law School, the Manhattan district attorney’s office and ultimately the Supreme Court, where she became the nation’s first Hispanic justice.   If I had the opportunity to have dinner with anyone alive (other than family), she’d be one of my first picks.  She’s an amazing woman.

Right off the bat she wrote about something I really could relate to:  She had been writing about achieving our dreams though challenges and why does adversity spur us on rather than knocking us down? She said: ” A student recently posed another question that gave me pause:  Given that there are only nine Supreme Court Justices, each with life tenure, can anyone realistically aspire to such a goal?  How do we hold on to dreams  that, statistically, are almost impossible?”  …she goes on to say that becoming a SCJ would invariably elude the vast majority of aspirants…and although she wanted to be a judge, being a SCJ  never occurred to her except as the remotest of fantasies.

And here is the good part I thought… “But experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true. Their real value is in stirring within us the will to aspire.  That will, wherever it finally leads, does at least move you forward.  And after a time you may recognize that the proper measure of success is not how much you’ve closed the distance to some far-off goal but the quality of what you’ve done today.”

Next up:  Girl on the Train
So much for my love of books.

Thanks for tuning in…

2/9/2015

HAZEL’S BIRTHDAY PHOTOS…

Hazel’s 95th birthday party pictures…
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Tyler and and his Aunt Ally…
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Tyler and his proud mom, Karen…
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Moi, Ally and Hazel…

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Hazel Beggs and I, just hangin’ out…

Thanks for tuning in…

BIG SURPRISE….TYLER’S HOME FOR THE EVENING…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:38 am

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Last evening, our family members were gathering in my apartment in the Palace to celebrate Hazel Beggs 95th birthday.  Hazel lives in the apartment next to mine and has become a very good friend since I moved to 2 west.   I was expecting Todd, Karen and Ally…and, much to my surprise,  in walks my grandson, Tyler, who, as it turns out, had driven here from Cincinnati yesterday for the birthday gathering and was heading toward the Grand Canyon this morning.  It’s a long haul by yourself from Cincinnati to the Canyon but he has never seen it and was taking advantage an opportunity that presented itself.  That’s how you see the world and Tyler has that all figured out.

That’s Todd on the left and we’re enjoying the evening at Longhorn’s.  Ally took the photo.
Thanks for tuning in…

1/28/2015

ELLSWORTH CORRECTIONAL FACILITY RIGHT TRACK FOUNDATION AT THE SPIRITUAL LIFE CENTER PRESENTS: REGRETS ONLY

Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth, ECF — Peg Britton @ 3:56 pm

2015 DINNER THEATER

Ellsworth Correctional Facility Right Track Foundation at the Spiritual Life Center Presents: “Regrets Only”

Published By: Big Dog Publishing Directed By: Larry Temple & Dawn Abrahams Written By: L. Don Swartz

The laughs never end when Lottie and Bernice, two cantankerous grannies, crash the wedding reception of an unsuspecting bride and groom so they can eat free food  and steal rolls of toilet paper out of the restrooms.  Audiences will love the zany, unforgettable characters in this side splitting comedy.

Fire hall custodians in charge of the wedding reception find they are no match for these grumpy grannies who heckle wedding guests, criticize everything from the wedding cupcakes to the bridesmaids’ dresses, and complain about their numerous health maladies.

Friday, April 24, 2015 - 6-9 pm
Saturday, April 25, 2015 - 6-9 pm
Saturday, May 2, 2015 - 6-9 pm
Sunday, (Matinee`) May 3, 2015- 1-4 pm

Tickets for front row tables are $25.00 per person.
All other tickets are $20.00 per person. (All seats have great views)
This year’s meal, served before each show, will be a Chicken Alfredo dinner.

Children must be at least 10 years old and accompanied by a parent.

Make your reservation by calling ECF Chaplaincy at 785-472-6212
Or mail check/money order payable to: Right Track Foundation

ECF SLC, P.O. Box 107, Ellsworth, Kansas 67439
Published By: Big Dog Publishing

Directed By: Larry Temple & Dawn Abrahams

Written By: L. Don Swartz

1/27/2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MACKENZIE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Mackenzie — Peg Britton @ 8:30 am

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Grandchildren are special…so it is with a lot of love that I send Mackenzie  special birthday wishes today.    Have a wonderful day celebrating with your St. Louis friends. I miss our family birthday gatherings of yore and I know you do too.

1/22/2015

OBAMA AT KU

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 1:24 pm

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1/16/2015

I LEFT THE PALACE AND SPENT YESTERDAY IN PARIS…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:48 am

Yesterday from the comfort of my apartment in the Palace, I viewed and heard a magnificent concert celebrating the glorious grand opening of a spectacular music venue in Paris.  It was magical. I love my gigantic computer monitor.

The day before the concert I became aware of its imminence and wished to be in Paris.  Lo and Behold!  The next day I revisited the same site and found the entire concert at my fingertips.   I couldn’t believe my good fortune.  I had a front row seat in a fabulous new venue to hear one of the greatest musical performances in recent history.  How fortunate is that?

In addition, the program featured one of my favorite Requiems and my favorite pianist, Helen Grimaud, playing Ravel.  In addition, it featured another favorite of mine, Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé.

If you are on Facebook, you’ll find a link on my page. Or, you can connect here.

Meantime, I’m going to listen to the concert again…and again and again…

Here’s the program:
On 2015-01-14 at 20:30

Philharmonie - Paris

Gala d’ouverture de la Philharmonie de Paris

Orchestre de Paris
Choeur de l’Orchestre de Paris
Paavo Järvi, direction
Renaud Capuçon, violin
Sabine Devieilhe, soprano
Matthias Goerne, baritone
Hélène Grimaud, piano
Lionel Sow, chef de choeur

Henri Dutilleux
Nocturne for Violin and Orchestra

Gabriel Fauré
Requiem, Op 48, Agnus Dei

Maurice Ravel
Concerto for piano, Helene Grimaud

Thierry Escaich
Concerto for orchestre

Maurice Ravel
Daphnis and Chloé Suite #2

1/3/2015

YOU TAKE YOUR BOW AND LEAVE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 12:25 pm

Stan Hayward, Film/TV/Book writer

I am really old, and I know death is imminent
Most of my friends have passed away, and of those remaining, they suffer from health problems in some way
I am myself totally deaf and partially blind. I live by myself

I am writing this at 6am in the morning
Today, if the weather is fine
I will go for a walk
I will chat with friends
I will do my shopping
I will do my laundry
I will feed the cat
I will tidy up what needs to be done
I will put out the garbage

I will do what most people do who are not really old and know that death is imminent
Because there is no feeling of being old

There is a feeling that you can’t do what you used to do
There is a feeling that you might lose your independence, or if you already have, a feeling that you should try and do as much as you can by yourself
There is a feeling that you should spend as much time as possible with those you like to be with

There is a feeling that time is precious. Of course it always was, but one becomes more aware of it
There is a feeling that many things one does will be done for the last time

There are passing thoughts about those who respect you because you are old, and about those that dismiss you because you are old

There is the aspect that life is changing fast with all the new advances that inundate us daily
There is the aspect of life that nothing changes

Mothers still smile at their babies
Children are still enthralled with their first pet
Learning to ride a bike is still as much fun as starting a company
Blowing out your birthday candles is still as satisfying at eighty as it was at eight

It is not that death is imminent that is important, but that when the curtain comes down, the audience leaves with a sense of satisfaction

As someone once said
The World is a stage
You played your part for what it was worth
You take your bow
and leave

12/31/2014

YEAR END AT THE PALACE…WITH THE GIRLZ IN THE HOOD…

Filed under: prairie musings, family, Todd & Karen Britton, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 11:16 am

Another good year is drawing to a close and as I reflect on it, I’m more grateful than ever that I’m living here at the Palace.  Although my kids and grandchildren are very attentive to my needs and wants, and share an endless amount of their love, I don’t want them to be unnecessarily inconvenienced or think they are responsible to supply me with attention.  Living here takes almost all that stress off them and since they know I love it here, I don’t get lonely (it’s not my nature)  and I have everything I need to be comfortable.  That includes my computer, stacks of books, good music, The Wall Street Journal, and most of all…I’m surrounded by good, helpful, kind, pleasant people.   The family comes to visit as often as they can and I love every minute they spend with me.  That goes for friends too.  When I’m with my kids and grand kids, that is life at its best.

I really, really, really miss my Ellsworth friends and friends elsewhere, but that’s what happens when you get old and life situations change.  I can’t “get” to them and most people aren’t inclined to visit people in retirement centers.  I know about that.  I was in that position too for a long time.  I miss them but can’t do much about that.  I’ve learned that I’m physically uncomfortable when I leave the Palace, except when I visit Todd and Karen.  Their house is user friendly for me and I’m  comfortable there.  I can’t do steps and it’s generally hard for me to “get around”.   It’s best if I just stay “home”.

Since I moved to the Palace, Ally and Karen have changed my sheets.  For months now Karen has been changing my bed and washing my sheets.  I want to make it easier for Karen.  Previously I have been doing all my own laundry as the facilities here are nice and convenient; however, the process just wears me out.  Sometimes it thoroughly exhausts me so yesterday I sent all my clothes to the laundry here and am ecstatic with the results.  They  picked it up at 8 and by 10 it was returned neatly folded or on hangers.

They washed all my clothes in one 55 gallon load, containing only my clothes,  and, I’m told they rarely lose anything as they label the washer as containing my clothes.  When they move them to the dryer, they move my name tag to the dryer.  That load can include my queen size sheets and pillow cases, large bath towels and wash cloths and almost the entire contents of my closets.  They charge $10 for doing that, folding/hanging and returning them to my room…and putting them where they belong.  It just took me this long to figure all this out.  There are many kinds of service the Palace offers like this to make living here carefree.  It’s perfect.

Sharon helps me for an hour every two weeks with my housekeeping.  She’s marvelous and most helpful.  That’s about  all I have needed as my apartment is all new and not that large. She’s going to change that to include more time for me so that she can make my bed and tidy my closets, kitchen and refrigerator.  She agreed I could scream and yell at her until she makes my bed perfectly as Karen does.  No one can make a bed as perfectly as Karen.

I use a lot of distilled water in my humidifier and C-Pap machine.   It’s about $1.00 a gallon at Dollar General just down the street.  Todd and others would stop and get me as much as they could carry until I called Key Rexall and asked what they charged.  I can’t recall exactly, but  think  $1.13 a gallon…and they deliver anything, or a truck load of stuff, for $1.48.  So, once I figured that out, I order a case of six gallons quite often.  Sean delivers it to my apartment, takes it out of the case and distributes it for me where I need it.  And I give him a nice tip for doing all that for me and we both are happy.  Todd is happy too.

Salina Public Librarian, Lori, comes to the Palace once a month and brings a random selection of books and ones I special order from her.  I send her an email with what I’d like.  She brings them here to the Palace, I keep them a month and she retrieves them.  There is also a very nice well-stocked  library here at the Palace.  You just take a book and return it when you’re finished.

There is something new every day to learn about living here.  It just takes time to make all those adjustments.

Shannon called me yesterday and we visited about his new driveway.  What a wonderful improvement it  is.  I just love it that Shannon, Lindsay and their boys live there.  They use the house just like Brit and I did for our family and friends.   The house is still filled with company all the time.  They love it just as much as we did.  That makes me feel really good about living here and leaving it behind for his enjoyment.

We’re having a Noon Year’s Eve party shortly….baked potato bar and special things.  I have to join my friends now and see what alligators are circulating the moat.

And, the “girlz in the hood” are gathering any time after 3:30 at Joy’s to put a dent in the New Year. They include Amy Hoffman, Hazel Beggs, Maybelle Mase, Dorothy Carmichael, Carolyn Eland, Margie Wilson, Joy Mansfield… and moi. Yay!
Thanks for tuning in…

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 as Hospice administrators 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.

They have very finely tuned senses of humor.  They crack me up.

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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.

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