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Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:37 pm


Tall boy is here working, mowing and mulching leaves, blowing leaves off the deck and just generally being very industrious. He’s finished with football and basketball, his favorite sport, doesn’t start for a couple of weeks. He’s happy for the break from practice.

Dane was really sick last night, but it finally passed. More spasms and whatever grabbed him about 11:00 p.m. He said the nurse did everything she could think of to make him more comfortable, including putting warm compresses on his abdomen. He was better this morning and moving around.

He did well in therapy, the same as yesterday. He stands and takes a couple baby steps forward and backward. He just needs to do this over and over until he builds up his leg and arm muscles again. He springs upright in the sit/stand lift. This is such an improvement over what he was doing last winter when it took at least four people to get him out of bed. He said today he couldn’t get out of bed by himself yet, but he was getting close.

Dane wants a phone as he says he feels detached from the world. It’s only recently that he’s been interested in contacting his friends. Many have called and that has sure helped, but they have had to initiate most of the conversation. Now, he may have something to say. It’s time to do that for him as Mackenzie especially wants to call him. We’ve just used Dane’s cell phone, which I carry around with me, and that’s all he’s needed up until now. We’re moving on. It’s a positive step forward.

The costumes at the home were fun and interesting. I should have gone as a “dancing princess” or something (heh). All the residents seem to enjoy the Halloween festivities. Dane said I could come back this evening as he’s going to be passing out candy in the lobby to Wilson kids. The residents were all looking forward to it. They had a choice of doing it in their rooms or in the lobby.

Coming home I stopped by the Mattas’s as I just had a feeling they were pulling fresh kolaches out of the oven. They were. The kitchen was full and the aroma was tantalizing. I bought a dozen for Tall Boy and family and two “poppy seeds” for me to eat on the way home. I also got 6 dozen large beautiful eggs, some to share with family. They are the best! It’s nice stopping there to visit with them. Their dog looks like Ringo.

The cottonwood trees are full of color and so beautiful, especially on the river banks. They won’t last much longer so I’m enjoying them while I can.

I’ll get a final count tomorrow for October, but it looks like it will be about 75,000 hits to my website and blog. And, I thank you very much.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:22 am


The Fifth/Sixth Grade Ellsworth Gladiators finished a successful season as Second Place Champions Sunday evening at Fort Hays State University. Final score was Ellsworth Gladiators 18; Phillipsburg Cowboys 32.

Thanks to our wonderful crowd of supporters, our side of the stands was packed with Gladiator fans!! Thanks also to Mark and Lisa Parsons and our coaches: Matt Smith, Paul Bahr, Travis Powell, Genaro Rojas, and Rick Seiler. The team had a wonderful season that they will remember forever!!

Jina J. Murrell



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:13 pm


The second issue of the EHS Bearcat Newspaper comes out tomorrow, I think. It’s supposed to be a very good issue and the students who write it are really pumped up about it. You can subscribe for $10 and get eight issues this year, plus give the program a boost. They could use a few extra dollars to keep the Bearcat in the black.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:06 pm


Have a fun day with all the little ghosts and goblins. I intend to.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:59 pm


Brit got up very early this morning so he and Ringo decided to call it a night and head upstairs. Upstairs is a long way from where I am.

Later, the front doorbell rings. And rings. And rings. I think…why doesn’t Brit answer it? He’s up there someplace. I don’t want to answer it.

RING. RING. RING. It’s dark as pitch. Who wants something at this hour? Let them ring. I’m busy.

Brit can’t hear them because he’s in the bedroom, but if I wait long enough, he’ll hear the ringer person. Right?

Finally the ringing turns to bangs from the heavy brass door knocker. BAM BAM BAM. The house rattles. BAM. BAM. BAM. Someone for sure wants something. BAM. BAM. BAM.

Hum. Maybe I better go answer it. I trudge up the stairs, very reluctantly.

WHO’S THERE? I’m not about to open the door, not knowing who’s out there. And, where is Brit, by the way? He can’t be asleep yet.

No answer.


Still no answer.


You know who can’t hear. From his side of the door, he thinks I’m kidding with him. But I’m serious.

Finally …from outside I hear….RINGO AND I…YOUR LOVED ONES! PLEASE LET US IN.

Brit took Ringo for his nightly run and locked himself out. Oh my gosh! He was laughing but very apologetic. What a hoot.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 6:30 pm


It takes a sensational homemade style pizza before I’m impressed…I’m just not all that fond of pizza unless I’m half-starved. BUT, Casey’s Supreme is pretty good. I mention it as Brit had a craving for it tonight so I ordered us a small one and he picked it up. By the way, their pizza order number is 472.4406, fyi, since it’s not in the book.

Back in the dark ages of pizza, long before most present day pizza lovers were even born, they put anchovies on supreme pizzas as a regular thing. Later on, you had to request them. Now you can’t get them at all, at least not in Kansas, that I’ve noticed. I miss that.

If there is anything healthful about pizza, I haven’t seen it except one time on an airline when I sat next to a young woman who brought aboard a homemade pizza a friend of hers had put together. I was impressed. It was loaded with fresh veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, onions, green peppers, hot peppers, tomato slices, etc. I can still visualize it: a pyramid of goodness on a thin whole wheat crust.

Strange …the things I remember.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:58 am


In Class 3A at Wamego, Tyler Jensen, 17:02:15, finished 5th and Christopher Bailey finished 35th in 18:06:53. The winning time was 15:42:99 by Boyer of Fredonia. These are the only two Ellsworth runners who qualified for state.


Filed under: Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 9:51 am

In state cross country competition at Wamego yesterday, the EHS Lady Cats brought home a second place trophy with 86 points. Riley County won first place with 59 points.

Tahnee Matuszewicz led Ellsworth with a 16th place showing. Krystin Matuszewicz wasn’t far behind in 24th place.

The Lady Cats, over the past four years, have won 13 Invitationals; placed 2nd eight times and 3rd once out of 21 meets; had four NCAA League Championships; four Regional Championships, and four trips to State with a 3rd, 4th, 1st (last year) and a 2nd this year.

The girls on the team are: Tahnee Matuszewicz, Patty Leal, Elizabeth Kepka, Krystin Matuszewicz, Tricia Farney, Becky Peters and Tasha Svaty.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:29 am


As a matter of explanation, Dane has an absolutely gorgeous, well-maintained house in Salina in the Montrose subdivision off Marymount Road. We’ve had it on the market with REMAX, and multiple listings, since early last winter. The price has been substantially reduced five times and there has not been one offer on the property. Serious long-term illnesses, no matter how well you are prepared, takes a tremendous financial toll on you. I mention this as an explanation since it is listed in the Salina Journal today. We knew it was coming, and rightfully so.


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


Congratulations to the personnel at ECMC that made this award possible.

The Ellsworth Medical Center submitted an application for the award earlier this year after months of preparation then underwent a careful examination by the Kansas Award for Excellence examiners. They received the “Best in Category Market Focus and in Process Improvement” from KAE. ECMC will give presentations regarding these programs at the upcoming KAE annual convention.

I still say, if you have to go to the hospital, ECMC is the place to be. They don’t cover special needs, like delivering babies, surgery etc. but they can figure out what’s wrong with you, and refer you elsewhere. Or see you through your illness.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 6:38 pm


Dane was in the lobby when I arrived this morning, watching Ponderosa and waiting for lunch. It’s interesting, I find, that whatever channel is on seems acceptable to everyone. It’s rarely a news channel, or anything very interesting, probably because it’s too hard for most to follow, and possibly upsetting. So they tune in old movies. Most people are asleep so I guess it doesn’t matter. Dane doesn’t care and waits until he gets back to his own room to watch the news and other more interesting channels.

Everyone at the home is pretty mellow. They seem contented and happy with their surroundings. The ones who are ambulatory or obviously there just because they need a bit of help, seem very happy and cheerful. One resident seems upset most of the time and on the verge of tears about something she pulls out of her past. She talks a lot and seems very distressed about something. I try to talk with her but I can’t understand her.

Another woman sees things that disturb her, but she doesn’t say much, only flays her arms occasionally. She holds her babies (dolls) and that seems to help her. I like her. When I ask her how her lunch was, she invaribly says it “tastes like shit!”. I laugh and so does she. She tickles me. Of course the food is good, she eats it but swears like a Marine sometimes.

The “singer” who thought “my husband and I” were eating a 10# box of crackers (it was really a 12 pack of Coke) has moved to the assisted living center in Wilson. I haven’t been inside it, but I understand it is very nice. It’s one of Bob Grauer’s project and very well done.

And then there is the cantankerous one, and nothing is ever right with her, never has been her whole life, but I have a lot of admiration and respect for her. She’s been pretty mellow lately. I miss her tirades. She does’t seem to be feeling very well, so I worry about her.

I like all the residents over there and am gradually getting to know them. It takes time. I don’t have any connection with a few who never leave their rooms. Everyone there, including Dane, is in a very good place and well-cared for. I notice what goes on and I like what I see.

There is another thing I’ve never mentioned about the home that separates it from large city hospitals and many other homes. I’ve heard from others that this is unique with them. I’ve never heard any of the nurses, aides or helpers say “this isn’t my job”. They all do everything, wherever and whenever they are needed, and work loads are willingly shared. The maintenance man and the accountant put on hairnets and help in the kitchen…many do appropriately. They change their hats and do what needs to be done. I find that very admirable. And they are happy in their work, there is no grouching. And my best guess is that they are all underpaid for the work they do. They are all special to me, and Dane.

The veggie soup has been simmering in my very slow crockpot since sunup. Brit is starved and ready for it.

For fun today I called Dell and talked with Nancy about my new dream computer. I just wanted to price it. Well, it’s nice to think about.

Yay! KU won today and K-State almost did. It was a good day for both teams.

My niece who lives in Houston, and has never liked it, is moving back home to Denver. Her mother (my sister-in-law) lives there and her husband found a good job for his relocation. He’s way up in experience in software security, an exceptionally good field right now, so he has talents that are very much in demand. Now, they, and their two children, will be closer to us. That’s a very good thing.

Set your clocks BACK an hour tonight. FALL BACK! (Don Zvolanek had to remind me I had it backwards…thankee, Don!) I know the difference, I just get confoosed!



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:07 pm



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:18 pm


Dane sat on the side of his bed today, then stood (on the count of three!) with help from Denise and a watchful eye from John, and gingerly pivoted to his wheelchair, without a lift! It was a first for him. I saw it and so did Anne Gro and son Mike McGee who stopped in for a visit. It was soooo sweet.

Later he stood three more times at the parallel bars (objecting the whole time, of course) with Denise bracing his left leg, he then took a couple steps forward and backward. He sat and rested, then repeated the effort. He won’t budge until he’s ready. He’s very wobbly, weak and insecure…but it’s a step in the right direction.

Brit and Ringo are there visiting now and Dane’s supposed to repeat the sit stand exercise three more times this afternoon with Gloria. Patty thinks they need to start with the electrical stim again on his leg. Everyone is so supportive.

Dane has all weekend to rest. Pirouettes are in the wings.

I made another “pee run”, as I call them, to the hospital today. The home needs a specimen runner and I’m coming this way anyway. They do a lot for me, so it’s nice to be able to help them out.

I didn’t realize Ellsworth played Hoisington last night. They lost 32-7, but at least they scored and the results weren’t as lop-sided as I feared they might be. They have some good experience under their belts and should do better next year.

A town west of here has a land give-away program similar to ours. A woman in England moved to this town and anticipated not only getting free land, but also a free house built on the property. Before anyone determined she had no money, or any prospect of a job, she was allowed to move into a nice mobile home owned by a local business owner. By the time the home owner found out the woman had no intention or means to build a home, she was stuck. I’m sure I’ll hear the continuing saga as it plays out.

There is a lot of hush-hush activity going on about several city council executive sessions “to discuss personnel”. It will all come out in the wash eventually.

Another perfect day. Oyster stew is on the menu for tonight! Veggie soup, stew or something beefy like that tomorrow.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:45 am


For you other flax seed lovers, Wilson Family Foods has some of the best looking fresh flax seed I’ve ever seen (I’ll admit to seeing mostly the dried variety). It is in the produce section, straight from the harvest fields of South Dakota, and next to the Green Goodness and other Bolthouse products. Good stuff. The grocery store also features fresh homemade soup on occasion. Yesterday it was chicken and noodles.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:48 pm


There were only a couple of people ahead of me waiting to get a flu shot this morning at the Wilson Senior Center. That gave me a few minutes to visit with my friend, Eleanor Hunter, who was there to get poked as well, and meet a couple people I didn’t know. I picked up a lunch menu too, as I know the food there is good. I might stop in for a meal to go, if that is possible, and take it with me to the home, on occasion.

Wilson Family Foods is the only place that I’ve found that carries a sweet sour classic Italian dressing that Dane really likes. I took half their supply just so they won’t dally about reordering. Malcolm was there shopping in street clothes. Without his whites, I hardly recognized him! Theresa, who checked me out, worked for Ally at the Midland and said hi. Slowly, I’m getting to know more and more people in Wilson.

Julie was wheeling Dane down the hall for his Thursday shower when I arrived. It’s a two-person job and she was short-handed, so I helped out where I could. He really enjoys his showers and Julie gives him a good scrubbing.

Dane did well with PT after that. Once again he was at the parallel bars, standing up from his wheelchair, taking three steps forward, three steps back then back down for a rest. He did that three times. He’s getting stronger, slowly. It’s very hard for him and wears him out.

When I was carrying in the 12 pack of Coke for Dane’s refrigerator, the singing resident stopped me, looked at what I was carrying and said, “That’s a lot of crackers. You and your husband are really going to be eating a lot of crackers!” Ah, the mind. It does strange things. And one of the more cantankerous residents was really out of sorts today. That’s the way it is and you have to see the humor in it. They are all fine folks and weren’t always the way they are now.

It’s family day for Ally. She met her dad in Salina for lunch today, then went to Wilson to spend the afternoon with Dane. I’ll get to see her when she stops by here before returning home.

I underestimated what an event Halloween is at the home and the crowd that will be there Monday. Last year there were 100 school children who stopped by for treats and they are preparing for that many again. They have a sign on the door welcoming all of them. The employees dress in costume and it’s a big deal. There are adult Halloween parties being planned around town. John Griffith showed me pictures of him in his costumes the past two years and they were amazing. I guess I better figure out something to wear because costumes and parties are “all the talk”.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:55 am


You know how I’ve been worrying and blogging about bird flu and flu pandemics for several years? Here’s a pretty good synopsis of the disease that was written by Steve Sampson yesterday. I remember well my father, mother and friends who experienced it, talking about the 1918 flu pandemic. This is worth a read.

On Monday, world health ministers convened in Canada to discuss strategies for fighting the deadly strain of bird flu called “H5N1.” The virulent avian virus has spread across Asia and into Europe, necessitating the slaughter of at least 150 million chickens, turkeys, geese, quail, and ducks.

Scarier still, H5N1 has jumped to mammals, including some that used to be considered immune to bird flu. We’re not immune, either–though human infections so far have been few. The World Health Organization has counted just 121 laboratory-confirmed human cases since the current outbreak began in 2003.

That’s the good news. The bad news is the virus continues to mutate, and many experts now believe it’s endemic to parts of Asia. The more it stews, the more chances it has to mutate into a form that’s highly contagious to us. And if that happens, the world could face a health crisis the likes of which it hasn’t seen in decades. Conservative models say such a flu could kill 2 to 7.4 million people worldwide. Less conservative models say multiply that by ten. So, what is H5N1? And how could it become a global killer?

Scientists recognize three basic types of flu virus–type A, type B, and type C. All three can infect humans, but types B and C don’t cause pandemics.

Type A influenza comes in a variety of subtypes that infect birds, pigs, horses, seals, whales, humans, and other animals. Some can cause pandemics, and some are very lethal. Today’s killer bird flu, labeled H5N1, is a nasty type A flu.

Scientists classify type A flu viruses according to two proteins that show up on their surfaces: hemagglutinin (the “H” in H5N1) and neuraminidase (the “N”). The “H5″ influenzas, including H5N1, come in both “low pathogenic” and “highly pathogenic” varieties. In its low pathogenic form, H5N1 could spread through your henhouse unnoticed, barely ruffling feathers. But in its highly pathogenic form, it would probably kill 90 to 100 percent of the hens it infected.

Unfortunately, the nearly undetectable low pathogenic form of H5N1 can mutate into the highly pathogenic form in a matter of months. So wild birds often carry the low pathogenic form to new places, where it circulates quietly until it mutates into the deadly form.

All of this is clearly bad news for birds (and their keepers). But why does it worry world health officials? Because the risk of a human flu pandemic taking off from this virus is high. According to the World Health Organization, “a pandemic can start when three conditions have been met: a new influenza virus subtype emerges; it infects humans, causing serious illness; and it spreads easily and sustainably among humans.”

H5N1 already meets the first two conditions. It’s basically a brand new bug for humans, so the defenses our bodies have built against other strains of flu won’t help. And it’s deadly. More than half of the people who’ve been infected so far have died. The only good news is that it hasn’t mutated into a strain that “spreads easily and sustainably among humans.”

There are basically two ways that could happen. In one scenario, the virus gradually adapts for human transmission. That would be bad, but maybe not horrible. As the virus adapted, we’d at least get a chance to spot clusters of human cases, treat them, and develop medical defenses. In a second, more frightening scenario, a human infected with H5N1 catches another flu, too. The two flu viruses then mix their genetic materials in what’s known as a “reassortment event,” producing a new, fully transmissible form of the flu.

Facing little or no resistance from existing human antibodies, that flu could race around the world, spreading itself through the coughs and sneezes of people who don’t even know they have it. Once international spread began, experts say, such a pandemic would be virtually impossible to control. Flu moves too fast, and the world doesn’t have enough antiviral drugs. Efforts are underway to make more and to develop a vaccine. But until we have those in the medicine chest, we’ll have to hope that bird flu continues to be pretty much for the birds.

Steve Sampson
October 26, 2005

Want to learn more?
Map the spread of avian influenza Click Here

10 things you need to know about pandemic influenza Click Here



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:01 pm


They’re giving flu shots at the Senior Center in Wilson tomorrow morning from 9 to 11, so I plan to stop in since I’ll be there anyway. Brit, who is high on the critical list, got his the other day.

I arrived in time for the last of Dane’s therapy. He was on the parallel bars again today to take a couple of steps forward and a couple back, then sit and rest. He did that three times. He’s gradually getting stronger.

Mark Parson’s was out pulling his boat around the country today, airing it out, and stopped by the home to see Dane. It’s always good to visit with him. He and Dane have always been good friends.

Ken, everyone’s helper at the home, carried the mini refrigerator from my car to Dane’s room and connected it for us. It’s humming and ready for some items I’ll put in it tomorrow…good diet jam for his morning toast, special juices that he likes, salad dressings and things like that. He’s never been a soda drinker but he said he’d like some diet Coke so I bought a few cans so he can have one when he likes. His tastes seem to have changed somewhat, but he still eats all his salad, fruit and veggies first, as they are his favs. He didn’t eat much lunch today as he wasn’t feeling very well.

Brit spied a great big ugly fuzzy spider in Robson’s window and got it for Dane’s room. We filled a witches brew pot with candy bars so he’s ready for Halloween. The employees will like it and maybe some of their kids will stop in. They always decorate at the home for special holidays so the residents can continue to enjoy them. It helps them keep track of time, which isn’t easy. It’s pretty cool all they do for everyone. We now have a singer in our midst at the home. He sings all the time, through meals, hums, etc. It’s just part of the every day confusion that occurs with Alzheimer’s patients. It makes him happy and that’s a good thing. Usually they are pretty quiet.

Al’s Bar and Grill is hosting a Halloween party this weekend, complete with Karaoke and lots of costumes. Some of the employees at the home are going and have been talking about their costumes. Last year Linda McCowan got a group of women together from here and there, twenty or so, for a costume party at the Midland. Ally fixed us a great dinner then we went to Al’s. Some woman was staying at the Midland from Houston so we invited her to join us. She was a mortician and just happened to have a tape measure, so she measured everyone at Al’s for a casket. I’ve never seen anyone work a crowd as successfully as she did. The place was packed and she knew everyone’s dimensions before we left. It was a hoot. If you’re looking for some fun, check it out.

It’s so beautiful outside. Kansas can really show a lot of color when it wants to. Mackenzie reports that Dallas is cool and lovely too. Fall can be so inspirational.


Naming Military Cemeteries

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:08 pm


With the terrible news that the number of our soldiers killed in Iraq has reached the unthinkable 2000, it seems fitting to dedicate a bill in Congress to those dead.

All too often in the past, Congress, the States and local governments have paid tribute to worthies from government by naming one or another public structure or object with an individual’s name. Thus we have the Rayburn House Office Building, the Dirkson Senate Office Building, the Ronald Reagan Center and International Trade Building, the … well, you get the picture.

It is time that we demanded Federal, State and Local laws which forbid naming any public property other than Military Cemeteries with the names of Presidents and Congressmen, living or dead (with exclusions for early historical individuals).

This would fittingly recognize the critical role of our elected officials, and especially those of the President and of Congress, in declaring war

Robert Robinson
6041 Chapman Circle
Pensacola, Fl 32504

goodbye to Rosa Parks

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 5:55 pm



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


As soon as we get Dane’s refrigerator in place, I think I’ll be able to say we have about everything for him where it needs to be.

Bruce Wyatt stopped in to visit with Dane. Mark Herzog was there to see a patient and stopped in to see Dane as well. That was nice. It helps Dane a lot to see old friends, even if the visits are short. It’s nice to be remembered.

Dane’s doing well with his conversations and quips constantly with the employee distaff side. He was going to the weekly planning meeting today after I left. Shawn heads up that program and likes Dane’s input. Various residents propose projects and they vote on them. They also get to select the “meal of the month” and vote on it. He can always think of some meal he’d like to have Patty prepare or some way to make things better. He’s still a very positive guy and it’s nice to see him take more initiative in his own well-being.

Dane refused therapy yesterday but did very well today. Gloria and Denise were pleased with what he can do. And he pops right up in the sit/stand lift. It hasn’t been too many months ago when it took four people to get him out of bed. Sometimes more. Now he helps himself and one person can manage him quite well. He sits on the edge of the bed, helps to get his shirt on, brushes his teeth, shaves, etc. Things are getting better. Certainly his conversations are more on track.

And…I wrote a long letter of appeal to BC/Bs on behalf of Dane and our plea for a bed and wheelchair. We’ll pursue other avenues if we are rejected again. The long and short of it is this: He has BC/BS of California and, if he lived in California, or almost any place except Kansas, they would furnish him with the bed and wheel chair we request. Kansas law states he has to be “home” before that can happen. We contend he is “home” and that his legal residence is the Wilson Nursing Home where he pays rent to reside. That is his legal residence and it is his “home”.

One of my fav people, Linda McCowan, stopped by our house today. This is her rest stop when she’s in Ellsworth and it was good to see her again. She and Brit have become good friends as a result of her pop-in visits. She does excellent work as facilitator of the Prairie Enterprise Project. I hope I can make the next board meeting, a pot luck in Hoisington. Linda is baking a turkey and rolls, we provide the rest. PEP is showing good progress.

Dane received a very nice gift today from Mark Herzog, an Oral B electric toothbrush. Actually, there were two in the box so he has a reserve. Mark knew his old one shot craps and made him a gift of a new one. That was very, very thoughtful of Mark. He’s a good man. I guess at one time Mark asked Dane to donate an electric toothbrush to a “cause”, which he did, and Mark returned the favor when Dane needed it. We thank him very much

What a beautiful Kansas day we are having. It couldn’t be more lovely.

59,505 hits to my blog, according to Metapros of Wichita, for October and climbing. Thank you.

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