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Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 6:11 pm

Our house guests couldn’t remember Jack’s name. They’ve been here before but his name escaped them. They call him “Walter”. They think he looks dignified like a “Walter”. Jack sort of struts when they call him that.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 10:53 am

Recently, one airline introduced a special half-fare rate for wives accompanying their husbands on business trips. Confident they would receive valuable testimonials, the airline’s publicity department sent out letters to all the wives of businessmen who used the special rates, asking how they enjoyed their trip. Responses are still pouring in asking, “What trip?”

Bravery is arriving home late after a boozy night out, being confronted by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to ask: Are you still cleaning, or are you flying somewhere?


Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends — Peg Britton @ 9:23 am

There must be a lot of curiosity about Ann Dunham, Barak’s mother, as I’ve had a bazillion hits from all over the world on my blog looking at information I’ve posted about her. I wish I could figure out what small Kansas town she is from from, but so far, I haven’t learned that. I’ve done cursory searches and just haven’t had the time to look deep. Someone from the NY Times even came here searching. I find that interesting.

We have weekend guests, John and Susan, from Wichita arriving after lunch so I won’t be doing much blogging until Sunday evening. We will be participating in the festivities at Wilson, except for Brit and Jack who prefer to stay home.

Now to do something with that case of peaches I bought. We’ll have some tonight with ice cream and carrot cake in celebration of friend John’s 65th birthday; the rest will hold until tomorrow when we’ll have more sliced peaches. If there are any left after that, I’ll freeze them.

The birthday menu tonight includes thick boneless pork loin chops marinated and cooked over charcoal, Harvard beets, roasted potatoes (red skinned yellow potatoes that are wonderful!), marinated cucs, onions and tomatoes, okra, cottage cheese, yellow squash and zucchini with cheese sauce…and now I’m drawing a blank. Maybe that’s it. Oh…steamed okra for me, and whoever else likes it.

We won’t be able to celebrate Ally’s birthday today. She’s going to be neck deep in work at the Midland. She’s still recovering from her back problem and can’t work in the kitchen. There is plenty for her to do just managing the hotel and kitchen, booking parties, etc. She booked one yesterday that will take up all the rooms and require all their attention for food service in the hotel for a weekend. It is always best to call ahead for reservations as there are times, such as this, when the place is full to the rafters.

I need to hit the wellness center before noon!

Have a good weekend.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:08 pm


Our favorite daughter will be 50 tomorrow. When she was born, we never even thought very much about being around to see her a half century later. We didn’t think in those terms at all.

This morning on her way to work on the road to Wilson, she and Ruby were run off the highway by a young kid who came careening fully into their lane of traffic leaving them no place to go except the ditch or hit him head on. Head on would have meant we’d all be planning funerals today. Ally said she could see the white’s of his eyes he came so close to hitting them. He did slow down to see that they weren’t hurt.

It was fortunate they had a ditch to hit. That road doesn’t leave many options for driving errors.

Had she been well enough, her thought was to have Ruby turn the car around, chase the kid down and beat the tar out of him.

Wisely, they called the sheriff who arrested the driver who said he had been “distracted”. He admitted to what he had done and was given a citation for crossing the center line. I think they should have added a reckless driving charge to it as well, but maybe there were reasons why they couldn’t. We’re just fortunate everyone came out of it alive as that isn’t always the case.

Maybe…with some luck…she’ll see her 50th tomorrow.

We reminisced over dinner about her first job: working for Arlene Vacek at the Cinderella Shoe Shop when she was in the 7th grade, after school and during the summer. Then she added mowing lawns to her list of jobs the following year. She’s never stopped working.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:47 pm


You can buy Palisades Colorado peaches in the ALCO parking lot on Wednesdays (5:00 p.m. until dark) from now until the end of August. The cases contain 18# of peaches and cost $19.00. You can also buy lesser amounts for slightly more per pound.

One more day has passed and I survived another exercise session at the Wellness Center. A good friend from Wichita told me that if I made it through five days of it I’d be hooked and just dying to go back for more. Once I finish about an hour of it, I’m so beat I think I’ll never go back. But I’m thinking about it now and ready to go back tomorrow. Next Thursday morning Jenny is going to do my “assessment”. She’s not going to learn much that I don’t already know, but it’s a base line from which to move forward. It will be helpful to me. I can only go up.

Al Sharpton overextended his welcome. He does that as a rule. He’s no Barak Obama.

We got some wonderful handouts today from Carolyn and Floyd…tomatoes, green beans, onions and cucumbers. The tomatoes were wonderful layered in bacon and tomato sandwiches. It was a full meal deal with the green beans. I have more for our company this weekend…I’m back in the kitchen again.

The weather couldn’t be more perfect. It is cool and wonderful tonight. A light rain fell. It’s nice sitting on our deck listening to the night life in the woods and about town. It’s good sleeping weather.

The Independent is fat this week. There are lots of good ads and long stories. It will take some time to get through it to find out exactly what is going on about town. The electricity rate increases are going to cause a big stir. Most of the people I’ve talked with said their bills are about double from last month.

Linda McCowan was at the Espresso Bar today to meet people who are interested in learning about her role as enterprise facilitator with the Prairie Enterprise Project. Several people stopped by, but I had hoped for more. She does good work and has a lot of clients in Ellsworth.

I must read Madalyn Albright’s book, “Madam Secretary”. I hear it is excellent and filled with candor, humor and readability. It is also a fine account, agree or disagree as we may, with the foreign policy decisions in the Middle East, Kosovo, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, among others. It can be read as a personal account of a fascinating woman, or a foreign policy guide, both from someone who has a story tell.

Brit and I just can’t get through the books fast enough that are piling up around us. We have a coffee table between us that is loaded high with books, books are stored underneath it and to the side. We just can’t seem to diminish the stacks as once we finish a book and move it elsewhere, the vacated space is quickly replaced with new books. I’m reading Hillary’s book now. I love her writing style and what she has to say. Books seem so much bigger and fatter than they once did.

It’s too bad Bob Dole didn’t portray the image to people when he was running for president that he does now. He would have won, imo.

Don’t forget to make plans to go support our Wilson friends this weekend. There will be heightened activity because it’s an election year. You can hear Josh and Tim Null speak Saturday morning at Al’s Bar and Grill at 8:30. They’ll be serving kolaches and coffee. There is usually Q and A time for candidates. There will be no shortage of food and cold beer in town. It’s a Czech Festival after all.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 1:52 pm


The manager/executive chef at the Midland has given me a preview of her weekend menu. Here it is.

Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast buffet will be served between 7:00 and 9:00 a.m. for $5.95.
It will include sausage gravy and biscuits, scrambled eggs, sausage links, pancakes, cinnamon rolls and hash brown potatoes. Drinks are extra.

Czech Festival Lunch and Dinner menu for both Saturday and Sunday:
1) “Kansas Sampler Award Winning Chicken Fried Steak”, $9.99. Served with cole slaw, smashed potatoes and country gravy, green beans and a roll. Drinks extra.

2) Chicken Fried Chicken Dinner $9.99, served with cole slaw, smashed potatoes and country gravy, green beans and a dinner roll. Drinks extra.

3) Pork Wings Czech Platter $9.99, served with cole slaw, sauerkraut, green beans, choice between smashed potatoes and dill gravy or German potato salad, and a dinner roll. Drinks extra.

4) Sandwich Specials $5.95, drinks extra, cheese 50 cents extra:
Sandwiches are served with a pickle spear and choice of two of the following sides: baked beans, cole slaw, German potato salad and chips.

Homemade Brat on bun topped with kraut
Charbroiled Hamburger on bun
Barbeque Pork, slow-roasted pork loin in tangy BBQ sauce, served on a bun

5) Salad Specials, drinks extra:
Fried Chicken Salad $6.99
Chef Salad $7.99

Beer Garden Menu:
Hamburger or Brat on bun with chips, $5.00. Add 50 cents for cheese. Drinks extra.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:15 pm


July 30-31st Czech Festival - Wilson

August 2-6th – Ellsworth County 4-H Fair

August 6th – Priesker Park - Cowtown Days, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, sidewalk sales – 7:00 pm Ice Cream Social, Cowtown Buttons - (Hamburgers for sale by the Chamber of Commerce) – 7:30 pm Talent Show

August 7th – Cowtown Days full schedule.

August 13-14th El-Kan Rodeo, Recreation Center

August 21st – Demolition Derby, 7:00 pm., El-Kan Arena, - Entry Forms available at Chamber office.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:34 pm


Knowing my cholesterol, triglyceride and glucose levels, weight, height and body measurements will help in establishing a computerized record that determines what my body is composed of. I have that information. It will spew out what I already know: too much stuff here, not enough of that. The computer will churn out all my levels and problems (as if I didn’t know) and give me some direction on how to plan my exercise program. It will evaluate progress when I’m reevaluated in a few months. I can’t undo overnight what it has taken me 30 years to build!

Today I spent an hour at the center, working on one machine or another all that time; nothing really taxing. There are six machines I can alternate, 10 minutes on each, and I feel spent after an hour of it. It feels as though it is “helping”. I thought I’d be sore last night, but I wasn’t. I felt good and energized. Exercise begets energy. I’ll go back tomorrow.

There were several new enrollees today. Three generations of the distaff side of Hand’s composed a class. My friend, Phyllis, also appeared, tired of the Atkin’s Diet controlling her life. It’s a good program for all.

I haven’t eaten very much today as I haven’t been hungry. Maybe it’s the effect of exercise burning body fat.

They’ll need a “LARD BUCKET” to collect the drippings at the center.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:12 am


Occasionally, I can recognize an ISP that tells me…maybe…who is reading my blog. When I see Comcast, I think “Mackenzie”, especially if it is at 3:00 a.m. When I see Bellsouth, I know it is my friend, Janis, from Louisiana. Ruraltel brings another friend to mind.

Most ISP IDs I can’t recognize, particularly the local ones, Carrollsweb, Cebridge etc. I know which server they use, but I don’t know their personal idenity. That’s as it should be. It doesn’t matter. I’m just happy everyone is stopping by for a visit.

I can only speculate who the individual is from the “East Coast of China” who appears regularly, or the one from the Russian Federation Zone 1. There are a lot of folk who appear like clockwork, from coast to coast, and from distant places. It would be nice to know who they are. I thank them.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:52 am


Ronnie will be speaking on stem cell research tonight. Good for him! People don’t understand it’s not “taking a life”, it’s saving many lives. Stem cells have the potential to become any kind of tissue and can cure all kinds of illnesses. Petri dish stem cells can do so much. When it is appropriate to use federal funds on research that so many people find objectionable? Many people also objected to invading Iraq.

The very charismatic and smart Barak Obama will also be speaking tonight. He’s an outstanding young man with a great future. He will have an interesting message.

Theresa will be on the podium tonight. I like her and her frankness. Anyone who can speak five languages and manage a billion dollar portfolio has my admiration.

Teddy will be there too. No matter how much good he does, my thoughts still revert to Mary Jo Kopekne.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:39 am


I am so excited about our new wellness center. It is SO nice and SO well equipped. The best part of all is that Paul, Jenny, Emily and Scott are there to help get you started on the equipment and develop programs to fit your ability. Even mine. Especially mine.

I’ve located 5 machines I can manage…a treadmill, two bicycles, an arm thingy bicycle and a lift machine for my shoulders and chest. It’s a beginning.

Yesterday I spent about 45 minutes there both morning and afternoon. People at all levels of activity ability were there: the infirmed, cardiac patients, wheel-chair patients, and the very athletic, well-toned body types. My friend Cindy can do that stair step thingy like a pro and doesn’t even gasp for air.

Since I have a head set, I tuned in the convention and had something to take my mind off what I was doing. They also have a few sets you can borrow.

The therapists/trainers can do an evaluation of the shape you are in. I’m at rock bottom so there isn’t much they can tell me about that I don’t already know, but they can help me direct my exercise and keep me encouraged to do better. I’ll get into this more after I read the information and go through the procedure myself. I need to get some of my blood levels from my last physical as that will help in the evaluation. They have some high powered computerized equipment to measure body fat, heart and lung capacities and all sorts of things. They develop a program to help you work on the various aspects of your condition you need to improve. I thought I’d wait a couple of months in order to learn to walk again (well almost) before I did that, but Jenny offers a convincing case why I should do it now. It’s $65 which may seem pricey until you consider you’d pay $350 for it in a city setting. This includes a follow up evaluation to monitor progress. I think it’s reasonable and if it helps me get where I want to go, then I’m going to do it.

I’ll be reporting in on the center and the progress I’m making. What they offer leaves me with no excuses for not exercising. I plan to spend a lot of time there in an effort to get back in some kind of shape again. It will be a slow process, but then I didn’t get this way overnight.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:18 am


Peg and Ann, friends from college days, are on their way to Ellsworth. They are a couple from a group of friends who live in Kansas City and drive to Colorado to find relief from the heat.

Ed and Betty called as they passed by last week. Usually they stay with us, but, as they said… “we’re just so tired we need to plop our tired bodies in a motel and sleep”. I know that feeling. They stayed in Hays.

Boyd, our friend from Hoisington, is arriving at 1:00 for his flight physical. I’ll meet him at the wellness center as it’s a convenient place for both of us.

Now, I’m off to put the bacon in the skillet…



Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, political musings — Peg Britton @ 3:31 pm

As I was pulling in our driveway late last night, after returning from the movie in Salina, I passed middle child pulling out. It was a late hour for him to come visit with his dad, or Jack, or both…but I understood the reason when I entered our home: he had just delivered a warm pecan pie, fresh out of the oven, from Karen, the champion pecan pie baker of all time. It was just perfect for cutting…so I did. It was wonderful.

I’m so proud of middle grandson. He has been named to a pastor procurement committee at his church, the First Presbyterian. Others on the committee are Greg Hoffman, Shawn McGowan, Ann Grothusen and David Hand. Drew attends church regularly because he really wants to and he has opinions about the role of the pastor and youth in the church. He will be a good, 18 year old contributor. He’s a very serious, thoughtful, reflective young man…an Eagle Scout.

Jack is the ultimate beggar. Since his illness he feels entitled to all the food he can beg off me. I keep doggy bones by my computer and, as has always been the case, he comes downstairs first thing each morning for his wake-up treat. He has been accustomed to getting another at bedtime. Since his illness, he just comes by whenever he pleases, uses his nose to push my left hand off the keyboard which means….”I’m a good dog, you almost lost me to the ravages of some horrible, undiagnosed disease and now I deserve a treat!”. It’s the same signal I get when he wants to go outside. If I say “outside” and he heads for the door, I know that’s what he wants. If he stands his ground, I reach for a cookie. He’s a good dog. He’s right. I cave in now, remembering how sick he was.

My friend on Downer Creek sent me a nice letter today which contained a message that made me feel very good.

I wish John Kerry had a better voice and a face that had more expression. America is in a market for change and I hope he can make that clear. Certainly he can raise the case about whether or not we are safer as a result of the war in Iraq. Do you suppose we got there because of a typo!

Lance Armstrong…an amazing six-time winner of the Tour de France. How can anyone do that? Lance mania! After three weeks of peddling, he reasserted his dominance. Just eight years ago he was riddled with cancer…the killer varieties that ravaged his body, lungs, brain, etc. He’s now going to be sponsored by the Discovery Channel. Goodbye Postal Service. Why in the world are they advertising? We have a postal service without competition, so they need to advertise? That burns me. They just raise the price of stamps.

Middle grandson, Drew, just mowed the yard. That is such a big help to us. He has all kinds of allergies and is sneezing his head off! I have one of those high-powered masks for him, but he doesn’t always wear it, especially if it isn’t dusty.

After a half a century, the Americans are pulling back from the demilitarized zone in South Korea. The forces are symbolic, but have sent a clear message to North Korea. I wonder what will be said after a half century in Iraq?

Speaking of the postal service. Last January, on the 6th specifically, I mailed a Christmas gift thank you note to a friend of mine on the East Coast. Chevy Chase MD. Two weeks ago and six months later almost to the day, it was returned. Now how can you call that service? It apparently was sent to the wrong address, then they questioned my resending it without additional postage.

Chris Heinz, the handsome and much sought after bachelor step-son of John Kerry, said “it’s never cool to move back in with your parents”. Neat young man.

Jim Gray now has a blog that goes along with his very nice, new website. If you want to read his Cowboy Commentary (or Things Sure Look Different from the Back of a Hoss), you can find it on his website.

Why is it that men seem to insist that smart, well-informed women are “opinionated”? I can’t recall ever hearing a smart, well-informed man who expressed his views being referred to as “opinionated”.

When I have a long conversation with my granddaughter, it’s about the most perfect experience there is. I’m so lucky. I was born lucky; a wonderful accident at birth made me an American with unlimited possibilities at hand, in control of my own destiny. I have wonderful children and grandchildren. How much better can life be?


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 2:38 pm


For you Kansas “expatriates” who left to find a life where the heat of summer is more tolerable than you remember from growing up here, let me say, in general terms, we have had a wonderful summer. June was delightful and our electricity bill reflected some of the lowest usage ever. It has been sweatshirt and pull up the covers at night weather, for the past few days.

We’ve had wonderful, drizzly rains and as a consequence, the pastures are lush with green grass and ranchers have loaded them with grazing cattle. For July, this is not a common sight and I remember summers where the pastures were so lacking in grass that ranchers were forced to ship their cattle elsewhere to graze. Kansas is beautiful right now and it’s a joy to live here. It’s picture perfect.

Now, I haven’t forgotten the temperatures of over 100 just a few days ago, but this respite from heat is greatly appreciated especially since we realize low and mid 60s July temps are so unusual. I just wish it could last through the Czech and Cowtown Festivals so attendance could possible reach new heights. It’s Kansas after all so anything is possible.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 2:07 pm


Olson’s Furniture Store in Marquette has been the backbone of their main street as long as I can remember. Now they are closing their doors. With all the land giveaways in Marquette and new families moving to town, you’d think that would be a source of new customers for them. Apparently not. I don’t know the reason for their closing, but they certainly will be missed in Marquette and the surrounding area. None of us like to see businesses close in rural Kansas. The closing will certainly hurt the downtown area of this small community.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:05 pm


Matt Damon plays the role of undercover assassin Jason Bourne in the espionage thriller adapted from a best seller by Robert Ludlum. It was so full of action and blurry screen images that it can make you dizzy and squeezy.

In the 2002 hit The Bourne Identity, amnesia victim Bourne discovered he was actually the deadliest of the deadly covert agents of those who had been trained by the CIA. Now it is two years later and his past has caught up with him. He still has amnesia concerning his former operations, and the CIA is after him. It’s a web of intrigue.

The first scenes were shot in old Goa, India…on the Arabian Sea with its pure white beaches…near the capital city of Panaji. The rest of the movie could have taken place there and I would have been happy. I’d like to plop myself in Goa…it’s a beautiful place. I did squirm when Bourne drank water from the tap, but maybe that isn’t a problem now.

If you like fast moving espionage movies, you’ll probably like this. But I don’t like all the blurry, fast-moving, out of focus action shots that make you dizzy. My friend who went to the movie with me had to leave as it was making her physically ill. I got to put my own spin on the rest of the movie as I explained the ending to her.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:36 pm


Barack Obama, the Democratic Party’s candidate for the US Senate from Illinois, will deliver the keynote address at the convention, officials announced Wednesday. He’s one very charismatic, intelligent, handsome, well-informed young man. He’d sure get my vote!

Obama is an Illinois state senator and law professor. He’s a specialist in constitutional law and lectures at the University of Chicago Law School.

He will speak on July 27, the second night of the convention.

Obama has been a leader in Illinois on many fronts. He was a chief architect and sponsor of the first state campaign finance reform legislation in 25 years, and has helped toughen rules governing government contracting and procurement.

Obama graduated from Columbia University with a degree in political science and a specialty in international relations. He worked as a community organizer in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods, helping church groups create job-training programs, reform area schools, and improve city services.

He went on to Harvard Law School, where he graduated magna cum laude and served as the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. After law school, Obama organized one of the largest voter registration drives in Chicago history to help Bill Clinton’s election, and worked as a civil rights lawyer on cutting edge voting rights and employment discrimination cases in federal and state courts.

Obama has served on the boards of some of Chicago’s leading foundations and chaired the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a $50 million philanthropic effort to reform the public schools.

Obama had a uniquely multicultural upbringing. He was born in 1961 in Hawaii to a white mother who came from “Protestant Midwestern stock”, that would be Kansas, and a black African father who hailed from the Luo tribe of Kenya. When he was 6 years old, after his parents divorced, Obama moved with his mother and her new husband — a non-practicing Muslim — to Indonesia, where he lived until he was 10 and attended a Roman Catholic school. Both his parents are deceased.

He’ll be worth an attentive listen!


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 2:49 pm




Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 1:11 pm


Lynne Truss’s strange grammar.

The first punctuation mistake in “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” (Gotham; $17.50), by Lynne Truss, a British writer, appears in the dedication, where a nonrestrictive clause is not preceded by a comma. It is a wild ride downhill from there. “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” presents itself as a call to arms, in a world spinning rapidly into subliteracy, by a hip yet unapologetic curmudgeon, a stickler for the rules of writing. But it’s hard to fend off the suspicion that the whole thing might be a hoax.

For more, CLICK HERE.

And…just when I thought I was getting the hang of where to dangle those apostrophes.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 1:05 pm


They’ve replaced the area for demonstrations to the National Republican Convention in New York to 10 miles away from the Madison Square Gardens convention site. A cousin of a friend of mine will be there demonstrating at Flushing Meadows, the new site for whatever group she is with, and will send back some first-hand reports. They expect an enormous gathering of protesters. It’s no wonder. You don’t have to travel far from home to realize how many very unhappy people there are out there with the way things are being handled by the powers that be.

A judge yesterday handed a victory to protesters at the upcoming Republican National Convention, ruling policemen cannot unreasonably restrict access to demonstrations or search bags unless there is “a specific threat to public safety.”

Permits have been granted to groups including The Central Labor Council, Defense Coalition, Planned Parenthood, the Middle East Peace Coalition and People for the American Way, among others. The groups’ demonstrations, prayer vigils and rallies would be held from Aug. 28 to Sept.1.

Other groups that applied for permits include the anti-war groups Not In Our Name and Code Pink-Women for Peace, the Green Party and the National Council of Arab Americans.

The Great Lawn in Central Park, Times Square, Union Square, the Brooklyn Bridge and Riverside Park are among the locations requested for events that could start as early as Aug. 22.

I think I’ll follow the blogger reports to see what is going on.

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