Last night was one of those evenings you yearn to experience again. I was dead wrong about the parking and the site, as both were much better than in previous years at the armory, imo. The grass was mowed, everything was laid out right for keeping an eye on the kids, the music was in a perfect place so the speaker sounds didn’t make your eyeballs hurt. I don’t think the crowd was as large as usual, but I only base that on the number of porta potties I saw. There may have been more elsewhere that I didn’t see. I hope the decision-making body continues to select the same area to have the fireworks in years to come…all things being equal. The fireworks were spectacular with many new additions and many of the old favorites. I always remember the one I’ve just seen as being the best ever. The only downside was that it was a little breezy, not windy…just nice enough to keep things cool for the spectators, but a tad windy for fireworks so they tended to drift too quickly. The team did an excellent job putting the festival together. The “Josh Svaty for House of Representatives” team passed out the fliers announcing my website to those coming into the fireworks site. Some had already been to visit kansasprairie.net and others had heard about it. Many expressed how great they thought the site was for Ellsworth. I didn’t get any negative feed back so I presume most of it, at least, was positive.
Tomorrow Ellsworth is having it’s yearly “Star Spangled Spectacular”, our Independence Day celebration. It will be in the triple digits, but that won’t deter many people as the occasion is one that highlights months of anticipation and planning for family gatherings. I think the most interesting thing to observe tomorrow night will be the traffic flow and how they will manage to park cars. My guess is it will resemble lemmings mindlessly heading for the cliffs. The location for the display this year is far less than ideal. The regular site can’t be used because it would create an even more difficult traffic problem. All the traffic from two highways has been diverted through downtown Ellsworth until the end of the year because of major highway construction and that’s the same path you take to the regular site. Emergency vehicles may have to sprout wings if called into service. Most people who want to get home the same day will either walk to the golf driving range, hitchhike or view the works from afar. It’s a gala event…not as much fun, I don’t think, as several years ago when it was held at the city golf course. That was a perfect venue. The hilly course offered many different vistas, the freshly mowed grass made it seem cooler, certainly more attractive, and the clubhouse porch worked beautifully as a stage for all the entertainment. Then, as now, people came from all over Ellsworth and neighboring counties. It was very reminiscent of the old-fashioned town picnic where families gathered, reunions were held and you got to see people you hadn’t seen in ages. Blankets and chairs marked off territory claimed for the night. Big picnic baskets full of pan-fried chicken and potato salad, ice chests brimming with cold soft drinks (nothing hard allowed) held down the corners of the blankets further enforcing marked territory. Kids were either running loose, full of laughter and safely having the times of their lives or lying on their blankets waiting for another group of sky divers to descend from the sky. People milled around visiting with folks they hadn’t seen in a long while. Children polished their kite flying skills for the annual contest. Competitors from the earlier tennis, basketball and golf tournaments and 5K runners came in time to claim a place on the blankets and rest weary bodies. There were always lots of entertainment, talents contests, and musical groups who performed. Anyone who ever dreamed of singing in front of a crowd of thousands did it with gusto. One of the area radio stations piped music and sound for all to hear and periodically they called out the raffle numbers of the winners of generous gifts merchants had donated to the cause. And the music was synchronized to the fireworks. God Bless the USA was always the spine tingler of the show. All the local charitable groups had food stands…everything imaginable at very reasonable prices. The longest lines extended from the funnel cakes booth, the charcoal-grilled hamburgers stand and snow cone machines. But all the concessions got a lot of play and they made money for good causes. By about 9:00 they start running out of food and that’s when those who ate at 5 wanted another snack. Alas! Finally, darkness descended and everyone settled in to their appointed spots to wait for the 10:00 show. It always opened with a few earth-shaking, ear shattering blasts then mellowed into about 25 minutes of spectacular displays. The sky was constantly filled with alternately bursting and fading brightly colored shells working up to the grand finale of total blaze. And the audience was uttering “ahhhhs and ohhhhs” throughout it all. Those were very good times. Today, the occasion is celebrated very much as before. There will be most of the above plus pony carts and carnival rides for the children. Every year it grows to include more fireworks, more music and entertainment and a wider variety of athletic competitions. This is my favorite day of the year, as holidays go. Maybe I was the only one who submitted a name, but the selection committee years ago chose the name I suggested to mark our celebration…the “Star Spangled Spectacular”. They’ll use it forever, they say. As a prize I was given a “Sammy” Beanie Baby and it rests on my monitor as a remembrance. That was nice, but what I really wanted, and believe I deserve for the five minutes of my time it took to come up with the name, is a 5 P, (privileged, preferential personal parking place), right up front and close to the action, to be made available for my personal use every year from here on out. It should be roped off with yellow police tape and have those big orange traffic cones strategically placed should anyone else dare enter. Now that would make me feel like a real winner. I think I’ll work on that project one of these days…meantime, I’m going to be passing out notices of my website tonight while wearing a Josh Svaty tee shirt. We need to move fast to save rural Kansas and that’s where I continue to concentrate my efforts.
My friend from County Durham has her plane tickets in hand and is getting all geared up to come visit Kansas next month. She arrives on Thursday the 11th at MCI where I plan to meet her. She’ll join my Kansas City family reunion with relatives joining us from Houston and Denver. She can sleep away her jet lag before we meander back to this part of the state. Nothing here will come as a total surprise as I’ve sent her, and her family, six hours of video tapes that I’ve made of the area and everyone in it. She read my previous website from start to finish a half dozen times and has been doing the same with the new one. She has become an authority on north central Kansas so she doesn’t care where we go or what we do. If we can stand the heat, we’ll be out and about “looking at things” which she will film for her family back home. She particularly wants to spend a lot of time talking with the Cowboy at Drover’s. I keep telling her he has a real job and works…so maybe he’ll put her to work dusting or oiling saddles. It will be fun having her here particularly watching my friends stumble all over her Geordie language, just as I did when I was visiting her in northeast England. She’s a good speller which is helpful since she only speaks with one vowel which makes for very confusing interpretations.I’ll take her through a e i o u again…but from her they all sound like like eh eh eh eh eh ! A good time will be had by all. She lives on the border of the moors so I’m anxious for her to experience our prairie. Maybe I can even manage to get “slightly misplaced” again between here and Wilson. It’s impossible to get lost unless you can’t recognize I-70 and highway 40 when you come upon them. But I will be glad when they get the Blackwolf bridge replaced and the drive west is less bumpity.
Johnny D. Boggs was in town today for book signing at Drovers Mercantile. He’s a Spur Award nominee for The Lonesome Chisholm Trail and Publishers Weekly has called him one of the best Western writers at work today. His novel, Ten and Me, was a finalist for the prestigious Spur Award from Western Writers of America while Lonesome Chisholm Trail won critical acclaim for its gritty feel and historical detail. He was an interesting fellow to talk with…”up from Santa Fe”, as the Cowboy said…with his delightful wife and three month old son, Jack. Drovers is a nice place to sit and visit…friendly and fun. You can get a glimse of it here. http://kansasprairie.net/shops.htm#Drovers Cowboy had ice tea, chips and several different types of dip to round off the party. I bought the hottest variety he sells, the habanero pepper dip, that warms your heart clear to your ear lobes. It’s very good…but then every thing there is good. There was a good flow of people in to buy books and have Johnny D. sign them. I bought a couple, too, one for my friend who is soon to arrive from County Durham. Then I remembered to sign the Explorer book for the Make a Difference visit. I’m Kansas Explorer #1224 and we’re encouraged to visit the different businesses across the state that have been put on the “Make a Difference” list. I don’t know why I was so late getting on the Explorer band wagon. I guess I wasn’t in the right loop back then or I’d been explorer #3. It’s not a band wagon I’m likely to fall from and I encourage everyone to join.The Sampler Foundation does very good work for rurual Kansas and they are striving for 5,000 members. http://www.kansassampler.org My farmer friend and I visited tonight and caught up on her harvest and other assorted topics. She’s finished cutting and averaged 50 bushels, better than anticipated since the wind blew so much of it over. We’ve had unbelievable winds since January. Now the grasshoppers are taking over. The most interesting part of our visit centered around the large flock of 60 or more wild turkeys that come into her yard almost daily…morning and night. They like to feed under the bird feeders. She said they soon will be bringing their babies in with them. I’d sure like to see them up close and take some pictures. The Lorraine Cafe was a busy place for lunch today. Donna was packing them in and ran out of the Wednesday special…pan fried chicken. We failed to call ahead of time and had to settle for the substitution. The peach pie was great. It’s fun to go there, especially at noon on Wednesday for chicken and Thursday evening when they serve breakfast. She’s doing a good job of packing in the customers. Driving home from Lorraine I wasn’t paying much attention to the request being made of me since the peach pie was finding my comfort zone, but it finally soaked in much later tonight. Tomorrow I have an assignment. I get to drive out to Interstate 70, sit and wait until I see a “big white rocking chair that is too big for my car”, she said, that will be tied on to the top or back of another truck. At that point, I flash my lights three times, honk the horn twice and jog around my truck. I was assured I wouldn’t have to lift this monster by myself. I suppose I ought to take some tie-downs, right? Or maybe I could hire someone to sit and rock while I drive back to town. How did I get into this? This is what happens when you own a truck and your friends drive classy cars and can’t understand why anyone would drive an ugly truck. They don’t need trucks, so they say, that is until it comes time to move, transport a Christmas tree from the forest to the house, or be in a parade, or carry the trash to the dump. Or move this 60 pound rocking chair “that is too big for my car”. Of course it is! Of course I will. This service comes with a price!
I now have the coolest website menu in Kansas, maybe the whole world. You won’t believe it. Take a look! kansasprairie.net Websitesyes@yahoo.com is a genius.
We saw a strange sight on the way to Salina. In the thick of the hills on the CK Ranch land, there was a lone bull, silhouetted against a clear blue sky, standing on top of one of the highest hills in that area…all by himself with not a cow in sight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a critter on top of those hills. He looked like a statue on top of a dome. That was a long trek up there for him and maybe he hadn’t yet figured out how to get down or was too tired to leave his Everest. Weird. The Cowboy told me that what I had thought might be a poor job of terracing right east of the 141/140 junction (up at the top of the hill by the curve..and on the north side of the highway) were really wagon wheel ruts left over from our pioneer days. He said there are some on the south side of the highway too, but I haven’t yet spotted them. I may have to get out and walk up to the fence to see them…and get eaten alive with chiggers again.
My websiteyes friend just suggested something that really appeals to me. It was passed on to her by a friend who has been evaluating and helping with the site as it has been built. It has been my idea that this site be used as much as possible for educating people within our communities of what there is to see and do here, as well as encourage a real love for the area and appreciation of what we have. With that in mind, my friends suggest that I encourage students to write essays about the area so that they can be published on the internet. I think it would be good if they would pick a particular subject that relates to my website. It could be about our history, the people who helped make the town famous or infamous, Indian tribes who lived here, why the prairie is a good place to live, what there is to do at one of our lakes, fishing and hunting…the list is endless. Do you have suggestions? Should we have an age limit? Should there be rules? Let me know and I’ll go ahead with the idea. I think it is a very good one. Thanks w and g. I went to a meeting in the country today and the countryside is alive with the biggest grasshoppers you ever saw. As you’ll recall, I mentioned that I was ankle deep in baby hoppers when I was out in the country taking pictures last week. Well, those hopper dudes have grown to antelope size now so hang on to the clothes lines and fence posts ’cause they go after them once they devour the gardens. My friend from England who will soon be here to visit objects to my spelling of drouth. She wants it changed to drought. Both are correct. I refuse to appease her or her insistence for change will be relentless. She also wants …harbour, colour and similar Geordie spellings used throughout my site. Nowt !
A farmer friend who lives about 3 miles northwest of us reported that his wheat averaged 60 bushels to the acre. After all our early blistering heat and drought, no one really expected the harvest to be all that great, and it may not be everywhere. I’m meeting with a group tonight where wheat farmers will be present, so I’ll check on their yields. I’ve always wondered why farmers were so open about their yields. Maybe they aren’t and only pretend to be. People are quick to ask …”how’d your harvest go ?”…”good yields ?”, etc. Then you talk about the bugs and weather and low price of wheat. Actually, when you get right down to it, it seems to be a personal matter. Maybe not. If the harvest is bad, it is always the fault of the weather. If it’s a good harvest, the rains usually came at the right time. I don’t think the question of how many total bushels they harvest is usually raised, but I recall long ago some of my friends taking about “the harvest” in western Kansas. When asked how many bushels he harvested, he told us but it didn’t register. Finally, someone asked if he could put that in some other frame of reference we could understand. He said, “on a train, that would be 80 box cars full”. Everyone needs to know how much money goes in to raising wheat and how little the farmer gets for it at market. I generally pay more for a loaf of bread than a farmer gets for a bushel of wheat. Today is special for me. I always celebrate both the summer solstice and the occasion of my birth on the 23rd. A day here or there marking the occasions doesn’t matter in the over all picture of either. I’ve made it to 7 decades plus 4, which aside from my maternal grandmother’s longevity, is a family record by a whole lot of years. It has been a nice, quiet day with lots of wonderful phone calls. Tomorrow I’m celebrating. I’ll have my traditional Mexican breakfast in Kanopolis with a friend and family Mexican dinner in Salina in the evening. Tuesday, I may lay off the hot peppers….maybe. My sister-in-law who lives in Denver has been reporting on the fires and the smoke they are encountering. Recently she said the day was bright and full of sunshine when she went to church. An hour and a half later, when she came outside there was a thick, soupy, yellow fog over the city and the cars, ground, etc. were covered with fine ashes/grit. There was an emergency alert for everyone to stay inside, but as she said, common sense would tell you that. It was hard to breathe and the air was obviously toxic. She said it was really frightening to experience. What a pathetic turn of events the fire’s origin allegedly has disclosed.
Kathy Tolbert announced this morning during a KSAL radio interview that Rolling Hills Refuge will begin opening to the public at 7:30 on Saturdays during the summer. This won’t alter the work schedule of the employees but will allow the public to enjoy watching the animals get up in the morning and see how they interact with their handlers. I think that’s just terrific and it will be especially nice to be able to visit when it is cooler. I spend a lot of time out there and wish it were possible for them to do that everyday, but I’m happy with one day a week. Thanks Kathy!
Everyone rise and shine for the big soccer game tomorrow. Let’s collectively cheer the home team to victory. Now wouldn’t that just be sumpin’ ? If the U.S. win over Mexico was considered a huge success, a victory over Germany in the quarterfinals Friday would be exponentially bigger. U.S. coach Bruce Arena, whose moves have been masterful, knows that while a loss would hurt American pride, a defeat for the Germans would be devastating. That’s why the pressure is on the three-time champs. FIFA WORLD CUP SCHEDULE: June 21 ESPN 2:25 a.m. England vs. Brazil June 21 ESPN 7 a.m. United States vs. Germany June 22 ESPN2 2:25 a.m. Korea Republic vs. Spain June 22 ESPN 7:25 a.m. Turkey vs. Senegal
Elections are on the horizon and candidates are out meeting people they hope to represent and explaining why they want to be their elected representative. That is a good thing and everyone should be well-informed in what each candidate espouses. In my opinion, candidates should be required to completely disclose all back gound information, such as: all previous employment/work record, dates and reasons for leaving such employment; education and degrees, with dates and locations, including grades; marriages, divorces with dates; religious positions; church affiliation, if any; volunteer work; investments; ownership of property; political connections, etc. I want to know it all before I vote for a candidate. This is especially important if you have an incumbent who makes claims that he will not substantiate. For instance, am I confused? If a candidate is known NOT to have been working on an advanced degree for over 7 years, and contends he *might go back to school to complete his PhD*, that sounds very strange to me. It has been my understanding that you only have 7 years to complete a PhD, from start to finish. Seems more likely he would have to start all over again….as there isn’t anything to complete, if there ever was in the first place.
Wheat harvest is in full swing with multiple combines, farm trucks and semis moving around in fields for the cutting. Back in the old days when I hauled wheat, it was done with old, worn out trucks with no breaks. I never drove one that had brakes…and that’s scary with a load of wheat on your back. Things look and are much more sophisicated these days. I don’t know how the yields are running but one farmer’s wife told me they were completely hailed out in one area but they cut it anyway and it averaged 40 bushels an area. Amazing. I’ve never known why Kansas, which grows the best wheat in the world (maybe an exaggeration…I’m not sure) and a large percent of it world wide does not also have a strong milling and baking industry. The best baking school in the world is in Manhattan but then all their graduates head to the large commercial bakeries or back to Europe. It’s always seemed to me we ought to be milling the best and widest varieties of flours right here in Kansas. And coupled with that, good homemade bread, made from whole wheat and a wide variety of grains… should be available to all. A local bakery on every street corner, I say!
Yesterday was a sad day for our flying mammals who call our house “home”. Bat guano has been accumulating at an alarming rate by my bedroom window below the fav neighborhood fly-in bat motel. The other night they kept me awake with their tiny screaming and arguing temper-tantrums while flapping those big bat wings on my window screen, their echolocation systems temporarily gone awry. Outside is a good place for bats, but I really don’t want them in the house with me…binderdundat while visiting my husband’s grandma. Have you ever tried to sleep with a bat flying around in your bedroom? Yesterday they were roused from their daylight sleep and gently relocated away from the house. They weren’t happy about that at all. I hope they found a good place to continue their sleep out in the trees where there are plenty of places for them to hide under bark and leaves. To them it’s like camping out, and they don’t much care for it. They’d rather be home with the family. I’m not exactly sure what kind of bats they are, but I suspect they are “little brown bats”. I believe them not to be Western Small-footed Mytis, as they are rare in Central Kansas..AND, I found a distressed one once and it appeared to be about the size of a ‘56 Buick. No kidding. They eat about 1,200 insects during the night so they must be at least that big. I wonder who does the insect count? The official conservation bat houses I bought for them are still in the garage waiting for someone to come put them “up” at least 20 feet off the ground…away from the house. I have two, one for the boys and one for the girls and their babies. Bats are a good thing, so I don’t want them leaving the area. There is probably not much chance of that as we provide an insect haven. We’re talking a couple hundred bats, folks. But then, the real reason for the relocation is that rabies tends to spike every 7 to 10 years and 1992 was the apex of the last cycle. The time is ripe for a high incidence of rabies this year…so off to the trees you go!
We… his parents and I… just got home from Hutchinson where we picked up my grandson from basketball camp. We saw him play in one game and, as usual, he was terrific. He was high point man, a double double guy. He really is developing into a fine player, a real scrambler and ball-handler. After a late dinner, and birthday dessert for each of us, we headed home. Hutch is just a tad too far to be an easy drive like Salina so I don’t go there often enough to know my way around. There were three significant letters, two from Wilson, waiting for me from people, whose opinions I very much respect, in regard to my website. That made me not only feel good, but tells me I have support to continue the direction I am going. Tomorrow I’ll see where we stand. I wrote a gentleman in Denmark, not the one down the road from us, to see if he would add my link to his website. He put kansasprairie.net right up at the top of his list and then sent notice of my website to every one on his mailing list. Now I’m hearing from half of Denmark. Our oldest son was named after a Dane and this gentleman shares the same last name of Hansen. The gentleman and his wife have visited “our” Denmark and he seems quite excited about a return visit. He gave me messages to pass on to his friends, and I’ll do just that. I love the internet. I sense another adventure. Time to find the feathers. Niters to family and friends.
It was on my list to scoop the paper tonight, but I can’t get into my scooping mode. Mark’s storm tracker story on the front page of the I/R is excellent, in my opinion, so if you are a subscriber, check it out. It’s KPA award winning material. I missed the storm of the century and should have been outside chasing clouds instead of doing what I was doing. But then, there was a ‘nado maybe less than a mile from here so wandering around outside with the sirens blowing doesn’t make much sense either. We finished up early again today, compared to weeks past. Having an intern to write and proof also is a plus. I heard from SETI@home today, thanking me for being part of the history-making effort to use my computing power on the internet to search for life outside Earth. I’ve processed 334 work units…10,113 hours and a splash of minutes and seconds…not bad for one little Dell in central Kansas, but nothing compared to the large computer companies around the world who log up light years of time in their search. Wouldn’t Jody Foster be impressed if prairie picked up the first signal? Har Har. My family members are where they were last night…so I’m thinking of them and hoping the grandkids are having some fun. I know two boys who are probably totally worn out about now.
Websitesyes has cleaned up a lot of the tiny errors and breaks in my Kansas Prairie website kansasprairie.net so we wanted to burn another version of it. Now, you have to realize the concept of file transfer protocol just recently “dawned” on me and I am anything except proficient at the mechanics of it. It helps to have drawers full of AT&T calling cards from Sam’s at hand as well as a phone headset freeing the fingers to dance on the keyboard. This time around I knew a little about where I was going and I wasn’t afraid I’d blow up the whole website. That’s progress. The transfer and burn were completed. I have discovered I am slightly dyslexic about the use of < and >. I frequently reverse them when I code my website. I hope you notice the boxes of rocks that topped this page have been replaced with pictures from my website. I have a real affinity for the term “box of rocks”, as my friends know, and tend to use those words frequently. The rocks came with the page. I didn’t put them there as you might have thought. Maybe you can play the matchup game and find the above pictures on Kansas Prairie. The weatherman said the sky is leaking out west and it may leak here tonight. Good. I love leaky skies and dreary days. Today was another proofing day for me at the Ellsworth County Independent/Reporter where I try to pick up spelling and punctuation errors and offer unsolicited advice on a number of subjects just to keep them all on their toes. I do it because my long-time friend Linda owns, in part, the paper and I like the people who work there. That’s what I do on Monday and Tuesday every week. Stay tuned…maybe I can scoop the paper tomorrow night before it hits the street Wednesday morning. Today I visited with a number of people about how to best use my website to attract tourists to the area. We came up with several ideas and I’ll work on those tomorrow. One business owner told me that if you didn’t sell antiques in town you didn’t count for much and she thought that was reflected in my website. Although I respect her opinion, I don’t believe that for a minute. The space I devoted to shopping in Ellsworth might be one-half percent of the total 4 plus mgs. There is a lot of information about Ellsworth that benefits everyone. And, to attract new people to our community, we have to make them aware of what we have to offer that is unique and different from what they experience every day. Those of us here greatly appreciate all the businesses we have that make this community as vibrant as it is. They are very important to all of us, but we need to draw new people to town to seek out the unusual and while they are here, most likely they will browse in other shops as well. Goodnight to my grandson in Chicago, my granddaughter in Dallas, my grandson at Boy Scout camp in Kirwin, my grandson at basketball camp in Hutchinson and other family and friends who are down the road a bit. After I post some mail, I’m off to find my feathers.
Our daughter was sporting a US Open golf cap from the Bethpage tournament that is now in progress in NY. She is always on the cutting edge with golf caps. She was happy to have her dad around for Father’s Day. They are great pals. We talked about hosting another concert, this time in Abilene. It will be an evening of wonderful folk music by Ruby Tilton, Susan Crowe and Heather Bishop. It is tentatively scheduled for Saturday October 5th. Susan and Heather have a concert in St. Louis on the 3rd so will come to Ellsworth or Abilene on the 4th. Susan appeared here a couple of years ago in concert and at the Old Settler’s Inn in Moundridge. She was a huge success and has the kind of voice you can’t forget as it just burrows under your skin. We’re really anxious to have her back. Heather is also a very popular Canadian folk singer with a number of CDs to her credit….many of them great children’s CDs. They both have won many awards in Canada. Ruby Tilton is also a very accomplished guitar player/singer/songwriter and well-known in the Salina area where she lived many years. She has a lot of talent and I’m hoping she and Susan can get together for a couple of songs. That would be really great. It will be a wonderful evening of music. Mark your calendars. Remember to visit the Ellsworth website. You can find it by clicking on the following link. kansasprairie.net
They had a nice variety of things at the farmer’s market this morning: beets, onions, green beans, potatoes, squash, homemade rolls, bierocks, dinner rolls, jams and jellies, fresh clean chickens and the usual array of handmade towels, etc. I got a little of each but forgot a chicken. Fresh, clean farm chickens are hard to come by. “Websitesyes” has made all the changes readers have suggested. We were happy to receive them. Let us know of others we have missed. We have a new Ellsworth County button that looks great…courtesy of the Blue Skyways folks who have been most helpful through this process. Pass the word around about our website. We’d like to have people informed about what there is to see and do here and perhaps they’ll come and pay us a visit. It makes a difference to the community to have some new money injected. It seems someone said that it recirculates seven times within the community.
I just reread my blog where I said my grandson was 15. I’ve joshed with him about being 15 so much that I actually typed it that way. I know my grandson is 16. He was 15 all last year. He’s too grown up for anything less.