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Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:51 pm

Today Dane’s white van and wheel chair went to a new home near Hill City. Gradually, his possessions are finding new homes.

We still have the Blue Canoe that is sitting on the Ellsworth Service Center lot. It runs, it has character and is waiting for a band of hippies, or someone who wants to make a statement, to claim it as their own. It ought to be good for something for someone. I just don’t know who. I hate to trash it as it does run!

If anyone can find a use for it, make me an offer. We paid $1,500 for it and put another grand or so into it, so you can bet it could be yours for a thousand. The lift alone is worth a lot more than that. The bumper stickers come with it free!

Someone find me a buyer, pulleeze.


Filed under: print news — Peg Britton @ 4:14 pm

Peter and Phyllis Francis and their two sons, Peter and Chris, lived here for many years while he ran the St. Francis Boy’s Home and served the Episcopal Church here in Ellsworth. They had many friends here. I found this obituary in the Lake Placid News and thought I’d post it for those who knew him as it’s more complete than others I’ve read.

LAKE PLACID — The Rev. Peter Francis, D.D., has often been referred to as a “living saint.” Affectionately known at “Father Pete,” he died Thursday, April 17, 2008 at his home in Lake Placid.

For most of his working life, he was a director of the various St. Francis Boys’ Homes, now known as St. Francis Community Services. In 1948, Fr. Pete opened the Salina Unit. Then, from 1952 until July 1965, he was the director of the Ellsworth Unit. In 1965, he and his family moved to Lake Placid to open the third unit, known as Camelot. During these times at the homes, he worked with hundreds of boys to rebuild their lives through “Therapy in Christ” ministry, which positively impacted them to develop into valued members of society.

Fr. Pete’s ministry began after his graduation from Carroll College and Nashotah Theological Seminary in 1944. He took care of mission churches in rural western Kansas. After his retirement, Fr. Pete assisted at St. Eustace Church in Lake Placid, as well as numerous other parishes across the northern Adirondacks.

In recognition of his 25 years of service to youth, Fr. Pete was granted an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Nashotah Theological Seminary. St. John’s Military School in Salina, Kan., where he graduated in 1937, commissioned him as an Honorary Colonel in recognition of outstanding service above and beyond the call of duty, for being a “legendary Episcopal priest who co-founded St. Francis Boy’s Home together with the Right Reverend ‘Father Bob’ Mize.” St. Francis presented Fr. Pete with its Gold Medal for 33 years of devoted service to youth.

The Adirondack Experience dedicated a building addition to Fr. Pete and Phyllis Francis. In 2007, the National Office Building for St. Francis Community Services in Salina was formally dedicated in honor of both Fr. Pete and Phyllis Francis for their genuine kindness and commitment to the boys and ministry of the St. Francis Homes.

Fr. Pete was an avid sportsman. He played football, basketball, tennis and baseball during high school and college. He also enjoyed bowling, golf and fishing. The boys at the homes often challenged him in these sports, as they felt they were better; however, this was often not the case.

Fr. Pete was a member of the Lake Placid Kiwanis Club and a board member of the North Elba Historical Society. Recently, he was active in the creation of St. Francis Alumni Organization of former boys, staff and board members.

Surviving family members are Phyllis, devoted wife of 63 years; son Christopher, his wife Stephanie and their children Henry (25) and Emily (19), all of Australia.

He was predeceased by his son Peter.

The funeral will be held at noon Friday, April 25 at St. Eustace Episcopal Church in Lake Placid. A reception will follow in the parish hall.

The Clark Funeral Home in Lake Placid is in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in honor of the Reverend Peter Francis may be made to Adirondack Experience, 162 Adirondack Loj Road, Lake Placid, NY 12946, or High Peaks Hospice, P.O. Box 840, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.


Filed under: prairie musings, Deli — Peg Britton @ 1:42 pm

Izo called from the airport to say they had made it safely to New York. He had a wonderful time in Columbus with his long-time friend. Hiro is enjoying his trip as well.

When they left our house Monday morning very early, they stopped at Casey’s for coffee and donuts, at our suggestion. They got confused with the highways and went to Holyrood, and Izo said he knew something was wrong when they arrived in Great Bend. I’m surprised they got to Wichita in time for their plane.

When they arrived in Wichita from Japan, they got lost leaving Wichita, despite fool-proof instructions that Hiro was following and were heading southwest before they reversed themselves and found the right highway to Salina. That’s on top of their Narita flight to Dallas being canceled with no explanation from American Airlines and them having to go to Chicago, then Dallas and Wichita. They’ve seen a lot of country they hadn’t planned to visit.

I would do far worse trying to drive in Japan. I was lost there once when we caught the wrong train out of Tokyo.  It’s a very uneasy feeling when you can communicate with no one and can’t read any of the signs.
Izo said he would call before they leave for Japan. They will be taking cabs for all their NYC adventures to see all the museums and art galleries they can pack into a few days.

Ally had some baby back ribs she just took off the smoker so I got a slab for Brit for his dinner.  He likes them almost better than anything.  She’s going to fix them on Thursday, Friday and Saturday each week and will throw a slab on anytime someone wants them at other times, if her smoker is fired up.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 12:16 pm

For all you bird lovers, there is a new (March 2008) birding book available from the University of Kansas Press called, “The Guide to Kansas Birds and Birding Hot Spots.” It’s by Bob Gress and Pete Janzen and contains 368 pages, 351 color photos (I can’t manage without color), and costs a measly $19.95.

Kansas is a bird-watcher’s paradise, with its key location at the hub of the hemisphere’s migration corridors and exceptional habitat diversity; 470 avian species have been documented within its borders. From spectacularly beautiful birds like Painted Buntings to elegant migrants like Hudsonian Godwits, birders can find abundant rewards every time they take to the field.

It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, so I ordered it. It will be shipped this afternoon and Voila!, it should be here before the next bird hops on one of our feeders.

Think Mother’s Day!

Both these men have national reputations with world-class skills in birding. The color plates are said to be spectacular and the text is jammed with useful information.

Ordering is easy. Just call 785.864.4155. Their on-line ordering system is under construction. It’s also available at bookstores.


Filed under: friends, print news — Peg Britton @ 10:17 am

I’m sending this your direction, since my blog is covered in cobwebs and won’t see much traffic.

I came across the story of Christopher Ratte and his son Leo this morning on and dug for some more details about their bizarre ordeal. Seven-year-old Leo was snatched away for a couple of days by Michigan’s Child Protective Services in what is a startling case of unstoppable bureaucracy. Chris, a professor of classical archaeology at the University of Michigan, took his son to Comerica Park in Detroit to see the Tigers play baseball. During the game, Chris purchased a beer for himself and a lemonade for his son.

Unfortunately for the Ratte family, Leo received a bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade (spiked with vodka for a five percent alcohol content), and his father — ignorant of the brand and overlooking the obvious due to the concession-stand sign that said simply “Mike’s Lemonade” — let him drink it. That is until a security guard spotted the boy with the bottle in the ninth inning. A bona fide circus followed the discovery, complete with Leo receiving an ambulance ride to the hospital, blood testing for blood alcohol content, a two-day stint with a foster family and Chris Ratte being kept from his own home for a week while CPS finished their “investigation.”

The Detroit Free Press had an excellent article that looks at all the details; it can be found here:

While we can probably chuckle a bit at Chris Ratte for being so terribly ignorant of a well-known brand that has been on the market for nine years, what happen to the Ratte family is far from funny. It’s an absolute tragedy that Leo was separated from his family for even two days, and just as bad that Chris was not allowed to return home for a week, as if he’d start boozing it up with his son all over again. To be honest, the family is lucky that they were reunited so quickly.

What is worse, in my opinion, is that there are legitimate cases of child endangerment that go unnoticed or unreported. There are judges that put children back into the care of negligent parents; there are kids who live in obviously deplorable conditions without so much as an inquiry from social services. Yet in this case, it was easy to see that there was a loving, caring father who made an innocent (and ultimately harmless) mistake and lost his son because of a system that treats everyone the same.


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

Living fully is a joy. Seeing the shades of red and yellow-white in a sunset or even the boiling green of a tornado sky, smelling lilacs, feeling the touch of a breeze reminds us that we’re still here.

Understanding people who are different from us can also help us feel alive. Maybe that’s a person who hates us. (Think al-Qaida). Maybe that’s a person who lives delightfully, yet so differently that his existence makes us question our own.

Like an explorer desperate to see over the next ridge, I love to walk on untrod ground. I want to understand every different person, every terrorist and tornado and a multitude of other phenomena. I do this to be fully alive. I do this to educate and inspire. I seek to transform myself and the world, and I’m brash enough to believe my work can make that happen.

Taken from Diane Silver’s website.

You can bookmark her site and/or find it under my blog list.


Filed under: Deli — Peg Britton @ 9:32 am

Homemade chicken and noodles, plus two sides and a dinner roll, $4.99.

Chicken and noodles by the pound, $3.99.



Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, Dane Britton, Tyler Britton USAF — Peg Britton @ 7:49 pm

This was a day to relax and enjoy the nice weather, something we haven’t had in a long time. We did just what we wanted to do today.

I might have slept in a little later than usual except that Izo called to say he was having a good time in Columbus with his college roommate. That got me out of bed. That was good news as traveling in the U.S. is not exactly easy. I just hope Hiro doesn’t get lost. That could pose some problems for him as his English is very limited…and that’s after studying English in high school for six years.

We went for a couple of drives around town. We saw Jean Campbell painting the fence around her garden so we stopped to visit with her. She inherited Earl Gamber’s flower bed that was a source of delight for passer’s by for years. She has maintained it beautifully and added her special touch with new flowers. I spotted some Gerbera daisies that are blooming and very colorful.

The flowering trees about town are beautiful. As many are young and small, they will be ever so beautiful in years to come.

We stopped to leave a box of chocolates for the Crystal Queen at her house, but she was helping out at school again. She must spend as much time at school as she did before she retired. Her husband, other friends and I wonder why she ever decided to retire as she’s now doing “for free” what she once was paid very well to do. She just adores those little kids.

While we were in Kanopolis, Brit got a hankering for Orozco’s tamales for dinner. Gabe was taking them out of the steamer when we arrived, so our timing was perfect.

Our farmer daughter got a tractor/mower/bushhog/plow and was having fun mowing grass and weeds today. That little farm needed a whole lot of love and attention after years of neglect and she’s really making it into a nice place. It’s a very slow process.

Tyler is about finished with his Associate’s Degree. He has only two more tests to pass and he’ll be ready to start his Bachelor’s Degree when he gets to San Antonio. He’s very excited to be participating in night maneuver’s and playing the roll of a downed pilot next week. They will drop him in the desert and a para-rescue team will go in later and try to find him. Ah…what he learned from his Boy Scout days during wilderness trips will come in handy.

Drew is pretty excited too. He’s being interviewed by a Wall Street Journal reporter tomorrow. She found him through Quickbooks and his work at the University. I guess she’ll also be talking with him about fraternity life in Manhattan. That should be fun for him.

Ken only has one more deck to stain then he’s going to build the front deck with new composite material. It will be nice to have new decking underfoot. Dane loved sitting on the front deck watching the birds and waiting for the ECCA bus. We had good visits there.

Stayed tuned.



Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 4:38 am

Izo and Hiro are packing and soon will be heading to Wichita for their flight to Chicago then to Columbus Ohio. Izo is going to visit with his college roommate whom he hasn’t seen since they were both working on advanced degrees at the University of Minnesota 30 some years ago. His roommate, a native of Ethiopia, is a professor and teaches at Ohio State University in a very specialized field of botany. It will be a grand reunion.

We have had such a wonderful time visiting with Izo and trying to communicate with Hiro who knows very little English. He’s mastered, “That’s very cool!” We’ve had lots of family togetherness and it has been a very good thing for all of us. Lots of very good memories were made since they have been here.

This morning I’ll take Brit to see Cathcart-Rake and Perez in Salina. They give straightforward answers, I am told, so ….soon we’ll know more about his condition than we do now.

More later…



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:54 pm

Mexican food is the order of the day.

Sour cream chicken enchilada’s or green chili chicken enchilada’s, served with refried beans.
Beef and Bean Tostadas.

Take your pick.  $5.99

Check with the chef for details.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:43 pm

It’s been a tad busy around here today. I missed posting Ally’s special as I didn’t get my computer turned on until mid-afternoon. It was chicken fried steak day. Sorry Jake!

Izo has been hungry for my scrambled eggs with cream cheese “for years”, he said, so I fixed them for breakfast. He was so delighted. Hiro liked them too. It’s a mixture of beaten eggs, butter, a little milk, cream cheese, salt and button mushrooms cooked in the top of a double boiler. They also had sausage patties, whole wheat blueberry bread toast with huckleberry jam, peaches, bananas and juice. Izo loves American food and it’s apparent Hiro takes after him. That will coast them until Todd pulls out his grill to cook for the Marymount reunion party for Izo and his friends.

Someone came to look at the white van today. If they don’t take it, I’ll let someone list it on ebay. I think Mackenzie does that for fun or my friend, Rose, offered to do it.

My friends from Kansas City came today and it was so good to see them again. They didn’t stay long enough to suit me…I was hoping for days…but it was special that they drove all this way just to have lunch and a quick visit.

It’s cold again. We have both the fireplaces fired up and the chill is gone from the house. It was 58 degrees inside as I had the windows open….then the wind started blowing out of the north and the temperature dropped. Time to batten the hatches.

Tyler called and we must have talked for an hour. What a delightful visit we had. He keeps me posted on what he’s doing, his classes, his work on his Associate’s Degree and taking part in para-rescue training. I guess he volunteered to be dropped off in the desert so that he can be a downed pilot in need of rescue. I suggested he take his cell phone and water, just in case.

I think the kitchen here will be closed for breakfast and we’ll all head to KCs for something good.

Thanks for tuning in….



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:39 pm

There is nothing like hometown service.

Todd has taken Izo and Hiro to Concordia so the latter two can offer prayers at the grave of Sister Emmanuella.  I stole a little time to tend to mail.   Alas, nothing worked.  No internet, no cable, no TV.  Zilch.

I called eaglecom and they said it should be working and for some reason it wasn’t.  They were turning it into the Abilene office where I’d be put on the repair list.  I could see that stringing out until the middle of next week.  “Is it okay if I call Mark instead?”, I asked. They said that was fine.  I told them I’d call them back if he could fix it.

Mark looked around and found that a big dump truck at the State park had chewed my cable into bits.  He said he’d have to get parts to repair it, but it should be going again in an hour.  Sure enough, it was.  I canceled my order in Abilene and gave Mark a hug over the phone.

There is nothing like hometown service.  A Gwinner has been looking over us since his dad opened his TV store downtown….long ago.


Filed under: prairie musings, Wilson Musings — Peg Britton @ 3:21 pm

On Thursday, April 24th, several Wilson residents gathered in Lions Club Park to plant trees is observance of Arbor Day.  Mayor Eleanor Hunter (not pictured) read a proclamation in support of Arbor Day and encouraged people to plant trees, and Jim Strine, NW Kansas District Forester from Hays (middle, wearing a blue cap), offered valuable instruction on tree planting.  Jim also discussed the benefits that accrue to communities that participate in the Tree City USA Program sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation.  Wilson is working toward becoming a Tree City.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:19 am

The special today is Carnitas Tostadas.  That would be a fried shell, topped with pork, refried beans, lettuce, cheese and tomatoes for $5.99.  A meal in itself and delicious.

She also will have a few slabs of baby back ribs for $14.99 a slab.

Our Japanese family arrived last night…Izo and Hiro….and we’ve had lots of hugging and chatting.  We’re off to KCs for breakfast, then to the flower shop, then to the cemetery to visit Dane’s grave.  At noon, Todd is taking Izo and Hiro to Concordia to visit Sister Emmanuelle’s grave.  At least that’s the plan.

It looks like rain again.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:16 pm

I think they should have “Grandma’s Weekend” at the ATO house at K-State. They have “Mom’s Weekend” and “Dad’s Weekend” so “Grandma’s Weekend” would be a nice addition. I’m only interested in taking care of myself here. Grandpa’s, aunts, uncle’s and other assorted relatives are going to have to fend for themselves.  I wonder why they haven’t thought of that?

Probably there should be qualifiers as they wouldn’t want REALLY OLD grandma’s who aren’t any fun coming to visit for an entire weekend.  Grandma’s would have to have to be cool, have a page in Facebook including cool friends, be computer literate, love lots of icy cold beer, frat food,  staying up until 10:00 …and most of all love their ATO grandson.   YAYYYYYYYYYYY….I qualify!


Filed under: Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 4:02 pm

This weekend is filled with things to do…

Saturday will be filled with opportunities. One you should participate in and support is the Ellsworth County Medical Center’s annual health fair. It’s from 9:00 am until noon in the hospital administration building…aka the old Century building north of the hospital.

There are 45 vendors, a couple of helicopters, free blood pressure checks and sugar monitoring tests, and all kinds of educational supplies, information, visuals and handouts.

Sign up as you go in and be eligible for a $100 shopping card. At noon there will be a drawing for a $50 kids gift certificate. If you want a bite to eat, the medical auxiliary will have a food booth.

In another location south of town, the first El-Kan Western Riders Ranch Rodeo takes place in the rodeo grounds. The women’s ranch rodeo will kick off the festivities at 9:30 a.m. At 1:00, the open ranch horse competition begins.

The men’s rodeo starts with a calcutta auction at 6:30 with the rodeo following.

There will be a trade show and a concession stand. Admission is free.

On Sunday, the Ellsworth Rec Dance and Tumble will present its 9th annual recital at the PAC at 3:00 p.m.

And, you were just thinking there wasn’t a thing to do this weekend. It looks as though the weather will be delightful….go have some fun right here in your own backyard.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 1:22 pm

Russell Stover, a Kansas City chocolate institution for many years, still produces my favorite chocolate candy. I grew up with it, but only on very special occasions when my dad got a gift box of candy for Christmas.  The rest of the year we had my mom’s wonderful homemade fudge, divinity, caramels, etc.  It was always Russell Stover’s if it were purchased. In central Kansas, that was the top of the line. There were only a few options back then…the boxes of mixed chewy caramels and nuts and boxes of assorted soft centers. Or one that combined both. We all preferred the chewy, nutty centers, and I still do.

When I lived in Kansas City, or was there visiting, it was always a treat to drive by Russell Stover’s house as it was…and probably still is….enormously impressive to any small town gal, with it’s mansion-like appearance and beautiful landscaping. I always imagined Russell’s wife dutifully passing from room to room each day and meticulously placing beautiful bowls full of fresh chocolates on tables here and there to tempt their guests. And I thought along with the chocolates, and the sweet odor of the chocolate permeating the mansion, they also had colored toilet paper and fresh flowers, the accouterments of the very rich, or so I thought at the time. What grandeur.

I’ve had See’s, Lady Godovia and fancy candy from Belgium, but there is nothing quite like Russell Stover’s caramels. They make a bazillion varieties of everything these days.

I stopped in the factory outlet in Abilene the other day on my way to see my friend Patty O, and picked up some peanut brittle for Brit and several boxes of chocolates for friends. They have more than doubled their inventory since I was last there.

The large two pounds boxes of chewy nutty chocolates were $15.99 a box or you could get four for $20.00. What a deal. That’s their new way they are marketing their products. I bought some “reduced sugar milk chocolate toffee squares” for me. It was either $5.99 a pound or two bucks more for two pounds. My math accommodated that option. Another real bargain. It’s not so sweet and the toffee part is loaded with ground almonds. It was imperfectly shaped and sharply reduced in price, but shape carries no importance if you’re going to eat it anyway. Right? Mine is not going to be on display like Mrs. Stover’s. I think it’s their best product yet.


Filed under: prairie musings, friends, recipes — Peg Britton @ 12:32 pm

Gene’s deli manager, who happens also to be my fave daughter, had smoked chicken pieces today that were wonderful. I know…I had a breast to tide me over until the crockpot pot roast tonight is ready for Izo, Hiro and us. Ally also had roasted veggies (one of my favorites that she makes), hominy casserole, not sure what else, pulled pork, fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, baked beans, etc. I didn’t hang around long to take a good look. All I really went for were Vidalia onions that were 48 cents a pound. Last time I noticed the price, they were $2.00 a pound.

The owner of the store, Gene himself, was there working over the Vidalias. He’s a nice guy and his new store is certainly an asset to the community.

Vidalia onions are good any way you fix them, but roasted in the oven, outside or in the microwave are all very tasty. When I’m putting them on the grill or in the oven, I take a whole onion, cut a little core out of the top, put in a teaspoon of sugar, a pat of butter, salt and pepper, and a little liquid….a couple tablespoons of water, orange juice or the like. Wrap it well, in foil but not tightly so it can steam, and bake.

My friend Jake said I need to do a better job getting the specials on my blog in the morning. He checks it each morning and has to decide from the offerings what he’s hungry for. I need the deli manager to give me a call each morning so I can post the specials.

It’s trying very hard to rain but hasn’t. Ken is power washing the decks and getting wet enough as it is. They look so much better after a good scrubbing. Cabot’s deck stain goes on next.

I called the Crystal Queen this morning to thank her again. She was cleaning her stove exhaust hood…and scrubbed so hard she was taking the finish off. That woman is a cleaning fool. She can’t just sit and relax, she has to be doing something. So different from me…when I’m home, I look around me and feel as though I’m on vacation! It hasn’t always been that way….but lately….well….

Thanks for tuning in.


Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 6:18 am

Another great article from Cheryl Unruh….the land that raised us as one of its crops.  You’ll like it, if you love the land and Kansas.  Check it out here.

Every time she writes something, I think it’s her best ever.  I thought that the first time I read anything she wrote.  She’s just dang good, that’s all there is to it.



Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 5:22 pm

Our china cabinet that belonged to Brit’s grandmother, Addie Godman, came to Kansas from Kentucky with her on a covered wagon when she was a young girl. It is simple and beautiful, but an issue with me for months, as it and everything in it needed cleaning and rearranging…a project that was just “beyond” me.

Enter “The Crystal Queen”, aka my friend Meredith, who finally revealed she couldn’t stand the disarray of it another minute and was going to do something about it. She said she knew just the way it should all be cleaned and arranged and that she learned it from Martha Stewart. YAY!

Today she marched in here with all her cleaning supplies and cloths like Marge-in-Charge and headed upstairs to tackle the “closet”. Another big …YAAAYY!

Meredith knows Martha like an intimate friend or one would assume so. They probably are good friends as Mer has a ton of them. Martha could use one like Meredith to make her a more gentle, less critical person.

My interest in Martha is pretty much limited to what she learned behind bars but she never passed that information on after she was sprung from the joint. She didn’t belong there in the first place, I didn’t think, but as long as she was there, I hoped she would pass on what she learned. I wanted to know the details of prison life from her perspective. Instead of taking on some civil rights issues, like the death penalty, she went back to talking about froufrou creations she makes from egg cartons, Mayo jars and construction paper. I lost interest.

Meredith gleans everything Martha has to say from a variety of talk shows, magazines, K-Mart and “low road to Kanopolis” chatter and somehow it invigorates her to to help others. Every house should be as clean and well organized as Meredith’s. Meredith’s idea of a really good time is when someone hands her a can of Pledge and a rag.  I wish. Oh, how I wish she’d move in.

Meredith loved handling the hand-painted China my grandmother created under the watchful eye of Edith Alden Johns. A few very old people around here know that name like their own. My grandmother took china painting lessons from Edith Alden Johns who was never referred to by any less than all three names.

And, the crystal now glistens from atop the chest, a place I never would have dreamed to place it. The other mementos are carefully arranged according to what they look like, what color they are, their shape, size, and all those other ways to group objects that Meredith and Martha think about.

Thank you, my friend. One corner of my house glistens.

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