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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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…

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.

4/6/2014

LAUNDRY DAY IN THE PALACE…TROPHIC CASCADES…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Mackenzie, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 1:22 pm

I’m doing three loads of laundry today (do you know how many trips up and down the hall that is?) and reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  My neighbor, Amy Hoffman, recommended it.  Amy is a retired English teacher and knows good literature.  It’s a page-turner.

“The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind….Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction.”–Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

THE GOLDFINCH is a mesmerizing, tell-all-your-friends triumph, hailed by Stephen King as “a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind.” (New York Times Book Review) ”

Meantime, I’ve been fascinated reading about trophic cascades among wolves, elk, aspen etc in Yellowstone National Park. I can’t get enough of it.

Reading is better than walking the halls doing laundry….

Our little Emma Grace has been returned to her parents.  She got to see Mackenzie (with her hair cut after more than two years hiatus from the shears) and Ty on her way through St. Louis, which was very special for Mackenzie.

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Thanks for tuning in…

3/31/2014

LIFE IN THE PALACE….

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Tyler Britton USAF, Mackenzie, Presbyterian Manor, Emma — Peg Britton @ 7:49 am

One of my constant nightmares is gone for the first time in about six years.  Thanks to Affordable Health Care, every member of my family has health insurance.

Over the weekend a delicious “brunch of the decade” at Lynn’s house, in honor of her mother’s birthday, was my highlight of the week.  We started out with a generous supply of mimosas which brought on smiles of good things to follow…a fresh vegetable frittata,  blueberry and peach French toast, two kinds of muffins…one savory and the other filled with English blood orange marmalade… and two kinds of plump link sausages, a gorgeous bowl of mixed fresh fruit….and special hot tea.  Leftovers followed me home and I had the same thing for dinner.  It was wonderful.

Another highlight came yesterday when my youngest grandson surprised me with a call from Germany where he had just delivered a CCAT patient from Afghanistan.  It was a turn-around flight so he didn’t have much time on the ground, but we did have time for a short exchange. Those are very precious moments. He’ll be stateside, we think, in May.

I also had nice visits with my granddaughter in St. Louis and my sister-in-law in Denver.  A good friend who lives back and beyond WaKeeney also called in with the news of the day. I love her calls. In other pasttimes, I finished the Jeffrey Archer book that followed his “trilogy”.  The next book won’t be found at better book stores everywhere until next year.  Now I’m reading the Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  Tyler just finished reading “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story”.  I’ll put it on my “to read” list as I enjoy reading what my grandkids read. They are way ahead of me.

Tomorrow I’m “goin’ home” to Ellsworth to see for the first time  my new great-grandbaby, Emma.  My friend, Lynn, and I are making an afternoon trip west to include some Mexican food in Ellsworth and visiting the rels.  It should be a wonderful day.

There are lots of things going on today so I need to move on to sittercise class then lunch and exposure to art.

Thanks for tuning in…

12/16/2013

A DAY FULL OF SURPRISES….

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 10:12 pm

Today was full of surprises…and that is always special when every day is very much like Ground Hog Day.

I went to lunch and ordered bacon and eggs instead of either of the two options…chicken and dressing or riblet sandwiches.  I don’t care for either and am perfectly happy having breakfast which they prepare very well.  I take my own toast made from special bread Mackenzie brought me from St. Louis  and I took the blood orange marmalade that Lynn gave me.  It is delicious….the best I’ve ever had.

After lunch Tyler “Skyped” me from his far away place in that sand box.  It was so good to see his smiling face and see that he was well, healthy and happy. He’s shaved off his bushy mustache and I don’t mind saying he looks much better, imo, without “Fernando” on his upper lip, but if he wants a mustache, that’s perfectly fine with me.

I could see his “living quarters” as he turned his computer around for my benefit.  He has pretty tight quarters with bunk beds, a couple of dressers,  and a small area to hang clothes…and barely room to turn around.  That’s okay.  He’s used to it as are all the other CCATT members he’s with, at the moment.  He has made four flights during the past month and even got to Heidelberg over the weekend.  He has another 5 months on this tour before he can return home.

I just completed my visit with Tyler and my friend Cindy arrived for a visit.  I really miss seeing her and was delighted to have her stop by to fill me in on all her family news.  She’s a very busy woman so we don’t see each other as often as we’d like.  She’s good to stop by when she can.

Tonight was monthly Bingo and I decided to go.  It’s the third time since I’ve been here that I’ve played….and have been pretty lucky at it.  Doris and I sit together and have fun.  I won three times tonight and picked three boxes of Kleenex for my prizes.  There are plenty of choices for everyone, each worth about a dollar.  I play when I can see I’m getting low on “staple” items…kleenex, toilet tissue, toothpaste, etc.  Last time I won $7.00 worth of prizes.

They are having some kind of entertainment in the basement tomorrow night as well as a clothing showing.  I guess you buy/order whatever.  I might go just to see what it’s all about.

It’s time to turn on my music and hit the feathers.  It’s so quiet here that once I go to sleep I’m out like a light.  It’s the first time I’ve had the luxury of so much “quiet”.

Karen will get home from Atlanta tomorrow where she’s had a wonderful time taking care of her new granddaughter, Emma Grace.

Ally is coming tomorrow to deliver her mustard sauce and I hope we can go out for lunch.  It’s supposed to be nice one more day before the cold weather descends on us again.  Maybe we can run some errands tomorrow.  I’d like to go to Aldi’s and get some grapefruit.  That’s where my fellow inmates say they have the best and least expensive fresh fruit.  I can’t seem to get my fill of it.

Thanks for tuning in…

12/9/2013

CHRISTMAS TIME AT THE PALACE…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Authors, Presbyterian Manor, Rod and Genn Helus — Peg Britton @ 6:23 pm

It is hard for me to believe I’ve lived at the Palace for over a year.  I moved in the end of November 2012 and now find we’re in the repeating throes of holiday cheer; tables are laden with decorations galore to be placed here and there in the lobbies, dining room and general gathering places.

Every lobby has a decorated Christmas tree with a stack of presents underneath. All of us on the second floor took whatever nibbles we had and gathered in our floor lobby and chatted while a handful of inmates added ornaments to a tree that earlier Pete Peterson had assembled and adorned with twinkly lights.  We always say that we should do it for no reason at all, but so far that hasn’t happened.  Gather together, that is.

The second floor has more residents than any of the other floors because, unlike the other 5 regular floors, we have the addition of 2 west, the “hood” where I live.

Doors to inmate apartments are reflecting the anticipated festivities of the season.  The deliveries are more frequent and the mailman has a fuller pack than usual. The obvious thing that is missing from this picture is the joy and expectation that come from the presence of little ones.  I miss my children enormously, but also miss having children tumbling about, in general, as they are few in number here on any occasion.  Well there was an exception at the Halloween party for the employee’s children.  It was delightful to have them.

The other day I heard someone yelling at children, or so I thought.  She was saying things like, “I told you to stay right there!”,  “Why did you move when I told you not to?”, “If you don’t stand up straight, I’m going to punch you in the stomach.”  It took me a while to focus in on what was being said because  this place is so quiet you don’t generally hear conversations. This was a very one-sided conversation. It was coming from the patio below me so I actually got up to see who was making all the racket.  It was one of the aides who was trying to get huge inflatable snowmen and Santas to stand upright and not blow over.  She was cute and laughing at her assigned task and it was funny when I finally realized what was transpiring and no real children were being berated.  I have quite a Christmas scene below my windows…lights galore and “inflatables” that better stay in place.

Holidays aren’t like they once were for me or for anyone who lives here. Not being surrounded by family makes all the difference in the world in how you look at your surroundings.  You adjust and relax and appreciate what you have and recall the beautiful memories of Christmases past.

It’s amazing to me that I seem so busy.  I just don’t seem to have any idle time.  I have a new book that Amy thought I’d like, Charles Frazer’s Nightwoods.  I’m also waiting for the Salina Public Library to let me know when Leon Unruh’s book, Dog of the Afterworld arrives.  I love to read and wish I had more time for it.  There are so many books I want to read.

I also love it when people come to visit.  I’m fortunate to have friends and family who take the time to stop by.  Claudia and Mark were here Sunday and we had a good visit.  They have so little time for such things.  The last time they came to Salina…months ago…they also came to see me.

Ryon and James came last Friday to take me out to dinner.  We had a good time laughing as we share the same kind of warped humor.  It was good to see them again.  I got a good report on Rich’s and Charlie’s wedding last week in D.C.  I’m so happy for them. Finally, attitudes and laws are changing, something that I didn’t hope to see in my lifetime.  It has been a real struggle for the gay community.

Last week I went downtown to the Ultra Lounge with my friend and trivia whiz, Lynn.  We had a lot of fun trying to figure out the answers, but she ended up winning one of the three games and came in second on the other two without any help from me.  She’s got a remarkable memory.  The only answer I knew with certainty was Crockodile Dundee’s first real name.  Mick.

I went to “Art Discovery” today which is one of the many activities they offer to keep idle hands busy.  It was fun, in a weird sort of way.  I made a necklace that I’ll pawn off to someone and a little tree ornament that soon turned into a door handle ornament. I like being with the other people who live here.  They have very distinct personality traits when you get to be up in your 90’s and 100’s and plus. Nice people.

We have a new addition in the Hood….Carolyn.  Originally from Hoxie but more recently from Cuchara CO.  She’s a  lot of fun to be around and I enjoy her company.  There isn’t a lot of turnover on 2 west…the hood…as there are only 7 apartments the size of the one I’m in.  The rooms are large and that appeals to people.  There really isn’t a lot of difference in the cost of any of the apartments in the tower.

I have a young friend who is in India for her work with Hospira for  two or three weeks.  If you want to read about her experiences, which are very interesting, you can find it here.

I promised some pictures of my apartment a long time ago and I still don’t have them posted.  Tyler found my camera battery charger when he was here and I’d almost given it up for lost.  I knew it was here….someplace.  Now that I can take pictures, I’ll try to include some.

One of the really important things in my life is that I now am a great-grandmother.  Emma Grace was born to Rodney and Gennifer Helus and, of course, is one beautiful little baby.  Grandmother Karen is on her way right now to assist the new parents however she can.  She’s the lucky one.  I hope to get a daily report on the Emma’s progress.

I have posted about the International dinners they have at the Korean Restaurant.  They have been a lot of fun for me, gets me out from here and in a position to talk to complete strangers who share food as a common interest.  I like helping entrepreneurs who  are trying new and different things to expand their businesses and this is one of them. That comes from all my PEP training…Prairie Enterprise Project.   We won’t be having another dinner until next month.  I’ll see what it is and make plans to attend.  In this case, the number of places is limited and it’s first to pay, first to get on the list.  I like the idea.

I’ve rambled way too long, but I needed to add something about life in the Palace to my blog.  It’s a great place to be…I’d most likely be turning in to a vegetable if I were still home.  I have challenges here, interesting people to talk with on a daily basis, friends that I love to be with, things to do, places to go…life is very good here and I don’t wish to be anywhere else.  And, it’s a very safe place to live.  You can’t find that just anywhere in the world.

Thanks for tuning in…

8/27/2013

SHUFFLING AROUND THE PALACE…

Thanks to the efforts of a lot of good friends, I’m settled into my permanent home at the Palace until such time someone determines I am unable to take care of myself and then they’ll haul me off to one of the other units under this big roof.   That will be an easy move although I hope to avoid it. Living here independently is incentive enough to get stronger, stay mentally alert and be active and involved.

Last Friday the maintenance crew from here moved all my furniture and heavy stuff.  It took them slightly less than 2 1/2 hours. They did a marvelous job.

On Saturday my friends arrived to tackle the hardest part of the move…shuffling  all the stuff that wasn’t moved on Friday.  That included everything in closets, kitchen and refrigerator plus books and odds and ends.  The problem with that was that I was moving in to smaller quarters which was not a good fit.

Greg and his granddaughter, Madison were first to arrive at 9 with Les, Bev, Audrey, Ally and Todd soon to follow.  They made trip after trip retrieving “stuff” from 402 and bringing it to 218.  It was exhausting work.  Bev and Audrey arranged my kitchen the best they could.  They finished with the last loads about mid afternoon.  It will take lots of rearranging on my part, but the move was completed very quickly.  That means I had a minimum amount of time that I was paying for two apartments.   I am so indebted to friends and family for helping me.

I have discovered this part of the Palace isn’t  quite as sound proof as the “tall building”….but it’s not a problem.  I could hear Mabelle’s church service on Sunday morning and Hazel’s TV last night.  Hazel has the apartment next to my living room and Mabelle is next to my bedroom. They are both hearing impaired so have the volume up on their TV’s.  It isn’t a bother to me.  They are both wonderful neighbors.

Thursday we are making another effort to have dinner at Pretty Boy Floyd’s.  We failed at the last attempt because Ellsworth was without power.  Today the sky is clear and other than being a little hot, we should have a good trip to Ellsworth.  Todd, Karen and Ally will meet us there to join us for dinner. Lew and Cindy are stopping by to say hello.  It will be a good experience for all and I’m looking forward to it.

The iron shots I had seem to have kicked in.  I’m feeling much better.  Or it may be that my Lupus has gone in hiding.
Thanks for tuning in …

6/20/2013

SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, recipes, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 9:52 am

Ally and some of our Colorado girls friends called me the other night and asked that I explain what “spatchcock” meant, without looking it up.  I was clueless and had to look it up.  It’s a cooking term for preparing chicken.  I’ve done it dozens of times but didn’t realize it had a name.

You remove the backbone from the chicken  and pound on the breast which breaks the breast bone resulting in a very manageable chicken that can be beautifully grilled.  And there you have it, in case you were wondering.  A chicken that has been spatchcocked!

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Here’s how:  You cut out the back bone, then turn on its back and push down hard on the breast until you hear the breast bone crack. The chicken should lay perfectly flat. 2 hours before you put the bird on the grill prep the bird and get a bottle of Italian salad dressing add 1/2 tsp. of cumin and garlic powder or garlic on the skin to taste and juice of 1 lemon. Put the marinade on the bird underneath the skin and on top of the skin. Your fingers work just fine to loosen the skin from the meat leaving the edges attached, makes kind of a pocket. Leave it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Get the BBQ coals going and make enough coals so you can split in half and have a pile of coals on each side leaving the center open. The purpose is to keep the bird from being over coals so you cook indirect. Keep temperature around 350 degrees. Place the breast side down for 25 minutes then flip the bird and do the other side for 25 minutes. The bird is done when the internal meat temperature is 165 degrees, so about an hour on the grill with the lid closed.

The oil in the salad dressing makes the skin crisp and the bird very juicy, the best. This is pretty easy to do and it is excellent chicken.

Thanks for tuning in….

6/13/2013

GOVERNOR JOHN CARLIN AND SHIRLEY JACQUES ADD UP TO GREAT CONVERSATION…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 5:26 pm

I had a wonderful visit today with Shirley Jacques, former Saline County Clerk and Saline County Democratic Chairwoman,  and Gov. John Carlin.   John was our 40th Governor and one of the best in Kansas history….certainly we’ve not had one of his caliber since.  He always put the welfare of the people ahead of his own interests.  He and I go back a long way… we had lots of catching up to do.  Shirley and I did too.

It has been Friday to me all day.   I’ll know it’s really Friday if I’m sitting at a table at La Casita with a basket of chips and green hot sauce  in front of me (the hottest they make…which isn’t all that hot) …and my friend, Kim, enjoying it as much as I.  Of course, margaritas are involved as well.   We’re heading there tomorrow night when it will be Friday by all accounts.

They are replacing the concrete slabs in front of the front door to the Palace so foot traffic has been diverted through the first floor apartments, past all the offices and finally to the lobby with the jigsaw puzzle workers and assorted other people in transit…. if they aren’t lost by then.    John and Shirley landed in Kim’s office on the way and I showed them the way out when they left.  It can be confusing.  Some visitors think Dale and Flora Anderson’s apartment is the pass through to the parking lot and some kind of general gathering area.  The Anderson’s put their own furniture on their outdoor patio and usually find total strangers using it.  It’s very interesting and provides a little levity to an otherwise predicable existence.

I’ve been participating in the exercise classes that they offer here on a daily basis since April 1st….sittercise, yoga, tai chi, chi gung…or something like that.  The exercises that seem to be helping the most are at 9 on Monday Wednesday and Friday.  If I get through those,  I try to follow up with the 10 am class.  I have a long way to go, but I know I’m making some headway….except with my legs.  I don’t know what in the heck is wrong with them, but they’ve spaced out and aren’t cooperating.  What I want most is to be able to walk without my walker or a cane,  around the pond and see the goslings.  So far, that isn’t happening…but I keep hoping something will kick in.  I do know that anesthetic/ventilator took its toll.

Ginny called and wanted me to join her at IHOP for dinner.  I owe her one, but I have some good leftovers from yesterday I’m looking forward to….a potato from the Hickory Hut sprinkled with Kansas dust, cheese and saucy sauce…and grilled chicken…and rice…ciabatta bread…lots to eat.

Thanks for tuning in….

6/5/2013

JOAN BAEZ SANG TO A FULL HOUSE….

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Ally Britton, Presbyterian Manor, Stiefel Theater — Peg Britton @ 10:24 am

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photo by Ally
Joan Baez still retains the voice of  her younger years.  She sang to a spell-bound full house last night at the Stiefel, a perfect venue to display her talents.  I love that place.  Ally and I enjoyed every song to its fullest.  She sang for 1 1/2 hours without a break and ended with three encores, the last being Ally’s favorite of all songs ever…”Imagine” by the Beatles.  I agree…one of the best songs ever written.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

You know you must be old when you remember well the people for whom a building was named….like the “Stiefel Theater”….once the Fox Watson.

I had occasion before and after the concert to visit with Don and Nikki Svaty, Sherri Hart and Mike and Val McGhee.   I haven’t see Sherri since she was a young thing and she grew up to be just what I imagined…beautiful, engaging, smart, outgoing.  Hutchinson is very fortunate to have her a part of their school system administrative staff.  She reminded me of the time when her family lived next to the Presbyterian Church and I came by to give her a ride in Todd’s dune buggy. I’d forgotten that but she reminded me it was about 45 years ago.  Todd would remember.

I read in the Journal that Dana Hudkins Crawford is going to be a consultant on the Salina River Project.  She’s an amazing woman and has done spectacular things during her lifetime.  She and I grew up together on Highland Ave. where she and my sister were best friends.  They kept in close contact over the years until the time of my sister’s death in ‘97.

We had 3/4″ of rain here last night…according to sources in my early morning exercise group.  It appears to be working up to another rain shower. The numerous flower gardens around the Palace are resplendent with blooms.

My friend, Lynn, came by yesterday with a computer table she no longer wanted.  She and Ally wrestled it to my apartment where it was immediately transformed into a meds table.  Gone is Effie’s ancient card table.  I love my new table.  The three of us had a delightful lunch of sandwiches and salad from Gourmet to Go and sat in the 4th floor lobby to enjoy it.  The view was wonderful…conversation nice…food delicious.

It’s time to go explore the mysteries of the dining room.  Some times you just don’t want to know ahead of time.

Thanks for tuning in…

4/8/2013

TEXTING: A TECHNOLOGY ACCESSORY TO MURDER?

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 10:14 am

Annie Meyer is a friend of Ally’s.  Her disappearance has stunned all of us.  I trust something will break this case open one day soon, in the meantime, don’t rely on texting as your only contact with family and friends.

Texting: a technology accessory to murder?
By Jennifer Kabbany5 a.m.April 8, 2013

It could happen to you.

That’s the message longtime Temecula resident Mark Meyer, 55, wants to share with neighbors and friends as he grapples with the disappearance of his sister. Her recent vanishing has become a huge story in Denver, a metropolis gripped by the bizarre circumstances surrounding the case.

Meyer, who has worked at the downtown Murrieta post office for the last 16 years, has traveled to Colorado several times over the last month to serve as a spokesman for his large family.

Interviewed two dozen times by ABC, CBS, the Denver Post and many other news outlets, Meyer said his parents and eight brothers and sisters are pleading for information on where their ninth sibling — 52-year-old Leann “Annie” Meyer — has gone.

Or more specifically, what’s been done to her.

Mark Meyer said nobody thought anything was wrong in early February when Annie, an IT employee at a downtown Denver bank, stopped showing up for work or calling people. They weren’t concerned because she texted friends and co-workers, saying she was feeling sick and would work from home.

But after a month of all texts and no talk, alarm bells finally started to go off, he said.

Fast forward to today, and Annie remains missing. Her two trucks have been found abandoned. Police cadaver dogs searched her property, which she shared with a female roommate, to no avail. A $20,000 reward has been posted. Investigators continue the probe. The family is devastated.

Mark Meyer described his sister as friendly and outgoing, a golfer and outdoorswoman who had served in the U.S. Air Force for eight years. He added that he’s all but given up hope that his sister is alive; now all he can do is warn others.

There is a new tool criminals can use today — it’s called technology, he said.

“It could happen to you,” he said. “Your mom, your sister, your child could be texting you, and you think everything is OK, but it’s not.”

He said he doesn’t blame his sisters’ co-workers for not suspecting things sooner, because as an IT employee she often worked from home. But he said he wants Southwest County residents to be more aware of this emerging and troubling trend.

“People need to rely on other things besides just texting,” Meyer said. “I don’t want this to happen to them. … I don’t know how often it happens, but it sure is disgusting it did.”

Meanwhile, the Meyer siblings participate in nightly family conferences on the phone. A vigil for Annie was held in late March. No arrests have been made.

“We just want some closure,” Meyer said. “I can face the fact that she is probably gone. It’s not a fun time.”

Jennifer Kabbany can be emailed at Jennifer.Kabbany@gmail.com.

4/6/2013

SERENDIPITY….

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Janet Souder Newkirk, Greg Nece — Peg Britton @ 1:06 pm

Yesterday was a splendid day with one exception…I backed out of going to “Follies” at the Salina Community Theater.  I was very much looking forward to it and spending the evening with Miki and Ginny, but my better judgment kicked in and told me not to go.

I’m still using a walker and can’t navigate steps without the fear of falling.   I learned there were too many steps at the theater for me and the pre-party would require that I stand longer than I am able.  It’s the Lupus, it’s not going away, and it is a nightmare.  My fear is it will never get better.

My disappointment at having to turn down such a generous invitation from Miki was soon met serendipitously with a phone call from the daughter of a close friend from the past.  I haven’t seen Janet since she was very young…probably over 50 years ago. She is the daughter of Peg Wheeler who was working for Edward Tanner and Associate Architects when I joined the firm following graduation. We became good friends. Janet and Dane were born the same year, in 1952.

I married Brit and moved to Ellsworth, she married Norvin Souder and remained in KC.  We both had children and family commitments that took over so we didn’t have much time to visit each other.  But, I always remembered her and her two children, Janet and Jimmy.  I wondered where they were.  They were both smart as whips so I was very curious about them.  I  had no way to contact either.

Then, well over a year ago, Janet Souder Newkirk hit my blog and Voila!  Bells rang.  I wrote to the email address that she left, but didn’t hear anything back for about a year.  It was worth the wait.  When she wrote, she said she was planning on visiting me in Ellsworth this spring.  I could only hope, but in the meantime, I sold my house and moved to Salina.

Yesterday she called from Wichita and said she was on a mission to find me, and that she did.  She, her daughter and sister-in-law arrived in time to have lunch here at the Palace and they remained long enough for us to catch up a bit on the past intervening years since we last saw one another.  I think we could have talked for days.

Kit, the sister-in-law, is an English/Journalism teacher with two long teaching tours in China.  We didn’t even get to touch on her life and because of that, I hope she returns.  She was a delight. Our conversation was too abbreviated.

Janet was married, she and her husband had graduated from Carlton College, then he went to Oxford on a Marshall Fellowship and she went to Wharton for an MBA. Meantime, they have lived in Columbus IN, Cleveland, Hong Kong, London and now Charlottesville VA. She worked in big corporations for ten years and became a vice president of Merrill Lynch.  She has most of an MSc in computer science, psychotherapy training, and shaman training, among other things.

Their daughter, whom I was privileged to meet, was born in England.  She’s graduates from high school in VA in June and is heading to Harvard this fall with more math in her future.  Their son was born in NYC, went to Williams and is now pursuing a PhD in math at Brown.  Peggy’s father was a math professor at KU.  He would be so thrilled to learn of the accomplishments of his grand-children and great-grandchildren.Seeing Janet and having a chance to learn about her family and more about her mother was a real highlight in my life.  It was something that I felt was entirely out of my reach that just popped up in front of me very unexpectedly.  And…I forgot to tell her about the candy bars her mother and I used to eat.  I’ll save that for another time…

And, this morning, my friend Greg came to take me to IHOP for breakfast.  It’s sort of becoming a habit, and one I very much enjoy.

And, Margie and Ivy stopped by my apartment Friday after trivia for a glass of wine.  While they were here a large fruit basket and a lovely plant arrived from Jess.  I have cheese and crackers. Life is good.

Thanks for tuning in..

3/17/2013

HELP US FIND ANNIE MEYER…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 8:57 am

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3/9/2013

TO RED LOBSTER WITH A NEW GROUP….

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 3:44 pm

Last evening my friend, Lynn, picked me up and took me to her house, then to pick up her mother to join their Friday night dinner group. Lynn’s a volunteer here so that’s how I met her.   Lynn’s mother is a native of England and and has a delightful accent.  Her three other friends, (Jane, Janie and Lila) who joined us had Ellsworth connections:  one is the daughter of Alice Robson/Robinson (I remember her vaguely) and another, Lila Stratman, was in high school with Brit. We got re-acquainted very quickly and had a great visit over dinner at Red Lobster.  It was a good evening and I enjoyed very much being with them.

My friend, Greg,  came by at noon today to take me out for lunch.  IHOP pancakes sounded good so that’s where we went.  We had a good visit, watched the last of the K-State game and he put skis on my walker so it works better for me.  He’s coming next Saturday so we can watch KU play.

We had some rain last night and that cleaned some of the dirt off my car and the windows in my apartment.  They both need a good scrubbing.

Summer is coming by tomorrow for a visit.  I always enjoy her.

The Palace is always so quiet well…except when someone burns their toast and the fire alarms go   off and deafen everyone for a week…and firemen flood in here like ants.  The quiet part I like, but it makes me wonder where all the people are as, certainly, a large number of people live in this complex.  Maybe they are all hidden away like me.  The walls here are a foot and a half thick so it’s rare to hear a neighbor.

The KU-Baylor game is on soon.  KU fans here will have the game on….and will be talking about it tomorrow.  I better pay attention.

Thanks for tuning in…

3/6/2013

VISITORS AND PLANS…LOTS TO DO AT THE PALACE…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 4:59 pm

There is a lot going on here.  My friend Patti Kitchen, Nancy Morrison’s daughter, is arriving any time now from Denver.  She’s making a quick stop to say hello on her way to NY.  Her husband is a topnotch cardiologist (retired) who gave me good advice before my surgery.

One of my new friends, Lynn,  called and invited me to go to dinner with her and her mother and other friends from Ellsworth, Friday night. Lynn is most interesting and I enjoy her company very much. Red Lobster is our destination.  Sounds like a lot of fun.

Tomorrow night is Art Rush.  I love Art Rush as I get to see the Bergans, Gillams and  a lot of my Salina friends.  Ginny and I are going to have a sandwich some place first then go shake a lot of hands and enjoy Boon’s beer and wine.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to the Mowery Clinic for a blood test which is convenient since the clinic is  just down the hill a bit from where I live.  When I moved into the Palace, they required me to find a local primary care doctor.  I feel anxiety separation from Jerzy as he’s taken care of me for many years, and, I know for a fact I’m only alive because of him.  But, he referred me to Henry Reed years ago with my Lupus, so Henry became my new primary doctor after a lot of cajoling.

Then I’ll go get my car tag renewed at the city county building or I’ll go way out south near Papa John’s  on south 9th.  I dislike the  City County building as much as I do Dillards and Hobby Lobby.  I’d rather get tarred and feathered than venture into any of those places.

Tomorrow will be my first day to drive since my surgery.  If I didn’t feel as though I were ready for it, I wouldn’t drive.  We’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep it short as I do tire easily.

Thanks for tuning in…

3/2/2013

I LOVE COMPANY…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 4:31 pm

There is nothing better around here than hearing a knock on the door.  You know it’s company because the maintenance and health providers are the same as family and just walk in.  There’s no reason to lock a door around here anyway.  Mine usually stands open to allow the warm air to be displaced with cool breezes.  So back to the knock…

There was my friend Preston  from Ellsworth and a friend of his.  He’s such a delight and it was so good to see them and catch up on things about town.

Claudia and Mark are coming tomorrow for lunch.  That will be fun. Claudia was a big part of my life for a long time…so I miss seeing her on a regular basis.  We looked forward to Thursday afternoon tomato beers after work.

I hope the meal is as good as it was today.  There was a large bowl of fresh spinach salad, complete with bacon and eggs, etc. plus many other salad options and fruit.   There were wonderful stewed tomatoes, the best I’ve had here, and pea pods that weren’t cooked to death.  They were good.  I had chicken fingers, but my lunch pals…Ivy, Doris and Joy…opted for the sweet and sour pork over a bed of rice.  They loved the tapioca pudding for dessert but I usually forgo dessert and have a carton of yogurt.  And I usually always have a glass of V-8 with my noon meal.  I’m trying to eat less.  My refrigerator is stocked with fresh fruit so I have that to fall back on.

Oh, and my friend from rehab, Flora Anderson, has moved in to assisted living.  I think she’ll really like it here.  There is always a lot of activity in the Palace.

And, a new friend, Lynn Taylor, a local, stopped by yesterday and visited for a couple of hours.  The time just flew by.

Thanks for tuning in…

2/28/2013

OLIVE GARDEN…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 11:08 am

Yesterday the movers and shakers of Lucas,  (Connie, Von and Linda) visited the Palace, took a look around my apartment….(rode the elevator)….and brought me up to speed on that wonderful little town that I love so much.

We went to The Olive Garden for lunch, hashed over new events in the Lucas area and had a great visit.   Von showed me the photographs they are using for displays at the Sampler Festival.  They will be a wonderful representation of Lucas. Our visit ended too soon and I hope they return post-haste.

The long awaited opening of Olive Garden has come and gone and will continue without a lot of fanfare from me. I guess I wasn’t all that impressed with their weakly dressed iceberg lettuce salad and no bleu cheese to give it some flavor.

Recently, we had fresh, colorful baby French greens in a salad at Longhorns that I thought was much superior.  The soup options were rated a toss up, depending on your preferences.  Pasta options are way down on my list of menu options so I can’t see any reason to return to the Garden.

When Ally arrived yesterday, she said the paint was peeling off the walls of my apartment, and apparently part way down the hall.  I’ve been eating too much pickled garlic, it seems.  She had teary eyes from the toxic atmosphere and fanned the air around me.  I must have overdone it…..but I still have a half pint to go.

Ally helped me a lot yesterday…changed my sheets, toted stuff from the car to my apartment, etc.  As you can see, I was running short on the necessities of independent living…. Indian Pale Ale,  Negra Modelo, and a supply of light beer for spicy tomato beer.  That’s a cart full and one that requires some assistance.

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I’d like to be a mouse in the Castel Gandolpho right now.  They are waist deep in mire.  They can’t even resolve the issue of contraceptives, let alone the sticky issues.

Thanks for tuning in….

2/17/2013

THINGS I LEARNED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Roy P. Britton, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 1:36 pm

Over the past several days I’ve been sporting about Salina in a new Prius 5…blizzard white metallic (my favorite color for cars as it has flecks of all colors and reflects colors beautifully)….and I just love it.  It not only wraps around me with a spacious fit but gets 40 mpg, is quiet, electric, great leg room, comfortable, easy to get in and out………..perfect for me in every way.  If I were 10 years younger and needed a new car, I’d be camped out in the Toyota dealership parking lot waiting for my car to arrive.  I’d have to learn how to use all the fancy gadgets it has on it…the keyless entry, secret fingerprint and all.  I just love that car and I’m not easily enthralled with equipment that to me, is just used to get from point A to point  B. On a cold day, the interior is warm and cozy within minutes of start up.   If you see one of these out cruisin’, that’s me in the front seat waving as I pass by.

Ally and I have a tradition of having breakfast together on Sunday morning.  Actually, for many years she and her dad went for Sunday breakfast while I stayed home and watched Sunday morning TV.  Then there were just the two of us, so she and I continued the tradition and went to KCs most Sundays for breakfast.

Then I moved so the pattern was disrupted again.  Yesterday we decided we’d go to the north IHOP this morning to visit with our friend, Jamal, and have nutty whole grain pancakes that are worth a trek over hot charcoal to have placed in front of you.  They met our expectations and I even have some leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.

We had a good visit with Jamal and reminisced over the fantastic spread he and Ally had for my 75th birthday party in Ellsworth nearly 10 years ago.  That  was quite a party and I loved it.  We talked about the two of them making baklava for my 85th in June…but that’s a long way off .  Jamal and Ally together make the best Baklava.  It has a wonderful flavor of rose water without being sicky sweet.  It’s his family recipe from Lebanon and I’ve never had better.  Jamal is a great guy and it was good to touch base with him again this morning.

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Here’s Jamal in my kitchen…I wonder who has my wine dippers?  My good friend, the Crystal Queen, wanted me to dump my priceless, antique hand-carved wine dippers for some $12 ugly prints from Duckwall’s that she had a fancy for.  Can you imagine?

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My good friend, Lew McAtee, samples the fare.   Lorie Park of the then La Prairie created the floral arrangement.  As you can determine, she used every variety of weed found in our neck of the woods.   I miss her creativity and enthusiasm.  She contributed a lot to Ellsworth during the short period of time she was there.  I wonder where she is?  Ellsworth needs more retail establishments like hers to attract visitors.

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Mackenzie came all the way from DC for my party and surprised the heck out of me. She was working there as a summer intern for NAST or whatever that National Standards group is called.  Her dad kept the secret well.  What a happy occasion that was.

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Brit and I … having fun, as we usually always did.  That was a grand party and we both enjoyed it very much.

I don’t know who the next Pope will be, but I think the world would be a better place if they’d pick a liberal nun.

Tonight’s the Valentine Party at the Palace.  Good thing it’s past the real time for celebration as I don’t have a red party frock in my closet.  Come to think of it, I don’t have a standard short black cocktail dress either.  Or anything partyish.  I’ll go with one of my new shirts that my grandsons gave me and will be thrilled with the thought of their gifts. Ginny Frederick and I are going together.  Ally opted out.  These affairs, if they don’t involve Elvis impersonators, don’t take long.

Thanks for tuning in…

1/7/2013

MY HOUSE IS EMPTY AND READY FOR NEW OWNERS…

Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends — Peg Britton @ 9:54 am

Finally…after several months of concentrated effort, my house is empty and ready to show.  My sincere thanks to everyone who helped make that possible…Tyler, Cindy, Meredith, Dawnae, Deneen, Claudia, Preston, Les, Mackenzie, Mark, Drew, Karen, Todd, Ally, Becky, Joel, Willis, George, Linnae, all the clients at Mosaic, Meier’s Moving…and I’m sure there are others.

There will be advertisements for my house in this week’s INDY.  Look for future ads announcing plans that are being made for an exciting open house.  In the mean time, call Jessica Decker (785-342-0935) of REMAX in Salina if you want a private showing.

I’d appreciate it if you would spread the word that my house is for sale.  I’ve relocated, it’s in great condition and ready for new owners to move in tomorrow.

1404 N. Douglas, Ellsworth
• Contemporary, One-Of-A-Kind Home! Over 4200 Sq Ft!
• Secluded Location On 5 Wooded Acres (+/-)
• Amazing Views Out Floor To Ceiling Windows
• Beautiful Hickory Floors & Amazing Chef’s Kitchen
• Walk-Out Basement Includes Hot Tub Room & Covered Deck
• Call Today For Your Private Showing

Thanks for tuning in…

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