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Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:12 am

Memorial Day is more than just another three-day weekend…



Filed under: prairie musings, friends, blogs — Peg Britton @ 1:38 pm

Dena and John Stoltz are creative, adventuresome and delightful.  They do spontaneous, wonderful things that most people only dream about.

They and their two young daughters are on their way to Alaska for the summer after having sold their house, stored their possessions and quit the only income producing job they had.

The part-time gypsies will have pictures, videos and many tales to share with all who are interested in following along.

Here’s a sample of what to expect:

This trip actually began the Christmas of ’95.  Johnny and I decided to go spend the whole next summer in Alaska.  Just traveling around in a pick-up, working when we needed money, playing the rest of the time.  One night that Christmas he snuggled up to me on my parent’s big brown couch and said, “You know, if we’re going to spend the whole summer together in Alaska, we should probably get married.”

And I said, “Okay.”

Now, 14+ years later, we’re finally going on that summer trip to Alaska.  The purpose of this blog is to document our adventures to share with friends and family.

We decided last December – notice the end of the year thing always makes us a little itchy to do somethin’ drastic? – that we needed CHANGE.  Didn’t really have any ideas as to what that change should look like, just that it had to happen or….well, it just had to.  Since we didn’t have any better ideas, we decided the way to get things rolling was to put the house up for sale.  Well, that is definitely a good way to get things going.

We had a contract on the house within a month with a closing date of May 27th.  Now we just had to figure out where to go.

While in Nashville at Johnny’s uncle’s wedding, we met Jon Underwood, owner of Happy Trails.  He spends all summer building bike/ATV trails all over Alaska.  And he needed help.  So, long story short, we decided to follow our dreams of travel, adventure, spontaneity and unpredictability and take the opportunity that landed in our lap.  Johnny quit his job with Enel, we sold our house, we packed up everything but what we could travel with in storage units (and a few garages, shops, and basements of our nearest and dearest) and left.

As we headed down I-70 to Denver…

You’ll want to follow this….Parttimegypsies blog/  You’ll find the blog link to the right under my list of blogs.


Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Ellsworth, blogs — Peg Britton @ 9:43 am

From Pitch
By Jonathan Bender, Thursday, May. 27 2010 @ 11:00AM


Greg Connally with a tray of apple tarts in the kitchen at Bloom.

With a contagious laugh and a quick smile, baker Greg Connally is the man you want making your cake. Fresh out of the pastry department of Whole Foods, Connally began working at the Bloom Baking Company (profiled yesterday) on May 8. Since then his days have started at 7 a.m. because somebody has to make the Napoleons.

Fat City sat down with him at the City Market and discovered why he might be able to give Axl Rose a run for his money.

What are the rules in your kitchen?

I want everybody to work hard. Be passionate. Have fun. Right now, the focus is on keeping up production because we’re having trouble keeping everything in stock — although that’s a good problem to have.

Do you listen to music in the kitchen?

I listen to music all the time, especially the Wilders. It’s their soulfulness and originality, yet their music is deeply rooted in America. It’s all about passion. You have have the bare essentials but then there are a thousand different twists to everything.

I’m a whistler — which comes with happiness. And right now, I’m really happy. At Whole Foods, there were several times I was called out on it. I usually just whistle whatever is in my head. On Monday, it was [something from] the Rural Grit Happy Hour — and I’m a great whistler.

[In fact, you might be able to hear Connally as part of a whistling duet before The Wilders take the stage on June 12 at Knuckleheads Saloon.]

How is a bakery’s dynamic different from a restaurant kitchen?

I think this is a really collaborative environment. There is a lot of teamwork because it’s the only way we can finish everything. I had great training at Whole Foods, and the girls here all went to pastry school. I feel like we compliment each other really well.

What inspires you in the kitchen?

Anything extra-special — a specialty cake, or a wedding cake. I’m really inspired by the Ace of Cakes [television show]. I love the idea of looking at something visually and not being able to believe that it’s made of cake. Ace of Cakes makes the process seem more accessible. I get lots of good tips from the show as well.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Oh gosh, I would have to say donuts. Lamar’s Glazed. I don’t like to admit it to eating them, but yeah, I do.



Filed under: political musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 2:28 pm

Sarah…this got a little wordy to put with the other comments below…

You and I have discussed these matters before, so I think we are close to being on the same page.

The solution to stem the out-migration and declining population has confounded us for years and and is viewed by most through myopic eyes. The problems facing rural Kansas can be attributed to many factors but solutions come in bits and spurts without any organized effort by county, city, school board, civic leaders, etc., so the impact is usually negligible.  When was the last time you heard any of these bodies address these issues during the course of long-range planning sessions while exchanging this information simultaneously with other governmental entities engaged in similar activity? Ever?

How many of these groups have been represented during the past 10 years at meetings that deal with water issues critical to our area? Who is listening to Frank Popper, Joe Aistrup and what the politicians from both flanks are saying?  I’m nobody except a concerned citizen and I have attended most of their meetings until recently.  It was rare to see anyone else there except Linda from the INDY.

Years ago the board of education spent endless hours discussing long range goals for the school district. The plan included the relocation of the elementary school to the Gertrude Kunkle “free” land behind the Pizza Hut. The school district acquired all the land contiguous to that area to secure access and protect that ground. That was free land in a safe residential area and the most desirable for the construction of a new elementary school.   That access was lost when another board of education lost sight of that planning and being in a myopic mode,  sold all those lots thus restricting access to an otherwise  perfect piece of real estate. When you ask school board members about where they are going to locate a new grade school…and certainly we are close to needing one in relative terms…they look at you with glazed eyes and mutter something about just “fixing up the old one” or maybe building up “by the hospital”.  I can’t think of worse places…where the grade school is presently located is a deplorable place and  away from a residenital area and across a busy highway in a business district is equally as bad. Either would be terrible location and enormously expensive to taxpayers.

And that brings me back to my point.  If we want Ellsworth to survive, we have to support the downtown area and offer more space for retail business expansion. Ellsworth must grow.  It must increase its numbers to reach at least 3,000, the number required to support our business district and school system.  That’s why the grade school needs to be leveled and built elsewhere while there is still time to keep us from the fate of other small rural towns in Kansas. There are ways to accomplish impossible things with the right kind of leadership and planning.  We make a little headway and then rest on our laurels and slide backwards.

Rather than dwell on out-migration of our population we need to focus more on what it’s going to take to attract young, well-educated people with leadership abilities back to our community. Ellsworth is a fine community, but we lack a few things that would make a huge difference…a community college or institutions of academia, greater emphasis on arts and cultural activities, better farmland and more rainfall. These are some of the things that separate us from towns that enjoy more successes.  We have a nice golf course and lakes close by for recreational activities.  That nice, but that’s not what concerns our young leaders. We can’t change some of those things but we can improve others.  More support for the arts would be a good place to start.

The young people I have talked with cite our schools as being a major stumbling block to locating here.  They aren’t interested in removing their kids from a first-class educational system that prepares them well for college to one that places greater emphasis on all the ways you can think of to play with a ball. A quality education for their kids is foremost in their minds.  They witnessed the downhill spiraling of our exceptional music department, not from lack of participation, but because of inadequate leadership.  That hurt our school system and community more than most people are willing to admit. Others ask what emphasis is being placed on AP programs, forensics, debate, music and art to encourage gifted students.

It has been a number of years ago, but I imagine the same would hold today. There was a high school sophomore from out of state who was interested in relocating here with her mother. They were staying with us.  Needless to say, the girl was very bright, but after spending a day at our high school determining what courses she could take her junior and senior years, there wasn’t a single academic course they had to offer her that she hadn’t already taken. An exception?  Yes.  But also an example of where we stand.

If we don’t make some changes, then we face the doom and gloom of other rural communities.  We need to make a real effort to attract young people and do whatever it takes to make that happen.

The other two things most often mentioned after educational opportunities for their children is reliable high speed internet and cell phone service for themselves. Young people who have grown up with the best service available, won’t be satisfied with less.

And, the first time you see a building down town sell cheap and used for storage, you can know the tragic decline of our community will soon follow.

Comments not only welcomed…but necessary to make people aware of what we are facing…


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 11:10 am


As they say in the law, “res ipsa loquitor” – the thing speaks for itself.

Click here…

Don’t miss the dead-on, hilarious parody  of Peterson’s ad that follows…



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 2:22 pm

Eons ago something nice happened to me.  Nice things have continued to happen throughout the years so I’ve nearly forgotten about the one I want to mention.

It happened in the spring semester of my senior year circa 1950 and I was poised to graduate with a B.S in Architecture from K.U.  It was at the senior awards ceremony when I and everyone else were surprised that I won the highly coveted and much sought after Lawrence Schmidt Senior Architecture Design Award. Being the only distaff member in our class  or in the entire School for all practical purposes, it came to me before a sea of hirsute faces. It was a very big deal given the small odds a woman would win. The award pretty much guaranteed a good job offering and the monetary award was enough to pay a few month’s rent.  It opened doors.   It was one of those highly cherished events that soon fades into the obscurity of real life experiences.

So, given that little bit of information and aware it isn’t worth a tinker’s dam anymore, I mention it only because down deep somewhere inside me there once was, and there may still be, a small tinge of design intelligence in me.  Not intelligent design as that is a different subject altogether. There is not a trace of that in me.

My design intelligence was thrown around like a whirling dervish  when I passed by the grade school and saw what had been placed on the roof of a building that was not outstanding for architectural design in the first place.The additions on the roof make if appear as though someone had a blueprint in hand and inadvertently turned it around and  built the structure upside down.  What remains is a first-class eyesore.


Not only that, but as a school board member of yore, we frequently huddled around Joel Martin, our illustrious superintendent who kept track of everything, and concerned ourselves about the size of potential winter snowstorms and how the accumulated weight might adversely effect the dynamics of the building.  What would happen if that one storm in a hundred years fell and created stress fractures in the roof?  We worried then and I supposed there is all the more reason to carry that concern forward.  We’ve been told an engineer checked all those things and everything is fine. Those units probably aren’t as heavy as they look since they appear to be made from sheet metal…but they are every bit as ugly as ugly can get.


There are around 15 air-handling units on the top of the building ostensibly one per room.  The old system was worn out and inefficient and should not have been replaced.  These units are far more efficient and effective.  I was never in the grade school when it was pleasantly cool.  This should rectify that.


At some point, we need to come to grips about the future use of this building that is over 60 years old. No doubt the board of education labored over the decision to make these improvements on this building.    One has to consider to what extent its usefulness in its present location jeopardizes the growth of the community that in turn is committed to keeping schools open and located in our community.  We are perilously close to not having enough population to maintain our school enrollments.  Without future growth of the downtown area and school community we could find ourselves in a poor situation to negotiate our position for businesses that might be created.

Years ago, when the grade school building was located on the present site, it was not the choice of most people.  The entire Wellington block between Forest Drive and 4th street was empty except for the one now historic house.  It was available and the perfect location for an elementary school but some residents on Forest Drive spoke with loud voices and prohibited the location of the elementary school in their back yard.  As a consequence, it was not long after building the school in its present location, fraught with problems, that a young girl was killed by a passing motorist.  Surely, no board would ever make that same mistake twice.

But that is another story.

Communities of people wail and bemoan the fact they are losing their schools and point out its a sure sign they’ll lose their town as well.  They have that in reverse:  the reason they are losing their schools and students is due to the fact they have not taken care of the growth of their communities.  It is easy to be complacent then panic later.  The same could easily happen to Ellsworth, if we are not diligent.

Oh…by the way.  I won the Lawrence Schmidt award with the design of a modern church I conceived.   I found it rather amusing then and still do.

Thanks for tuning in…and do comment.  This needs a good discussion…



Filed under: prairie musings, Wilson — Peg Britton @ 8:04 pm

It appears many of your are interested in the Midland Hotel.  If you scroll down on the right you’ll find a search box that appears above “archives”.  Type “midland hotel” in the box.  You’ll find several pages of blogs where I have mentioned the Midland.  Some information may be helpful to you…if not, just skim though it.


Filed under: prairie musings, Ryon Carey — Peg Britton @ 8:43 am

Here’s my thoughts on the Midland Auction.  First and foremost it really represents the dilemma for all of rural Kansas.  Many forgotten towns have splendid treasures that all deserve restoring.  From the beautiful limestone church in Western Kansas to the post-war concrete modern gymnasium, the jewels are everywhere.  Economically the problem is, one the lack of funds to complete the restoration, two the lack of core businesses to find adaptive re-uses for these buildings and three if you can accomplish one and two, finding an economic model that works and executing it.  Rural Kansas is tough.  Good employees are difficult to find and keep and marketing a small Kansas town and business is overwhelming. Construction and restoration costs don’t discriminate - it costs the same to restore a building in Jewel as it does in Wichita.  Finding enough people to travel to a small town to support a business is almost impossible, and there isn’t enough local clientele to support the business.  Therefore, the upcoming auction of the Midland will be interesting.  Will it bring what it’s “worth,” or will it realize the economic value of the potential business.  I would guess it will bring significantly less than the $3.2 million to restore.  I just can’t imagine how you can make it into a strong enough business in Wilson, to bring that price.  For me, the sale price will answer a pivotal question in my mind.  How much is a small town gem really worth.  The fate of other great buildings hang in the balance of that answer.

P.S.  What’s up with the Realtor charging a 10% buyers premium.  He must not think it will bring very much money if he needs to charge an extra 10% on top of the bid price.




Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 6:29 pm

The EHS alumni banquet promises to be an evening of goodwill and lighthearted rapport among friends.  I understand Tammy Kruse is preparing the food so that part should be good too.  Saturday night has all the attributes of a splendid evening…so why not buy a ticket and attend?  It’s the right thing to do. You’ll see friends whom you haven’t seen in years.  Call Julie Wright at 785.472.3326 end_of_the_skype_highlightingand have her reserve a ticket for you.  She said they are extending sales until the end of this week, or until all tickets sold.

Support the alumni committee….


Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 7:21 am


Check out this visitor to Stark, KS a couple of days ago. The couple is from Nebraska and they go around putting smiles on people’s faces. You can see why.  This was taken from Marci Penner’s Wall Photos.

Someone had a wonderful time putting this together….and random travels to show it off should be great fun.



Filed under: prairie musings, Wilson — Peg Britton @ 6:50 pm

The Midland Hotel in Wilson is going to be auctioned next month.

Ref #:     15012 - 10030
Location:    414 26th Street, Wilson, KS 67460  map

# AUCTION DETAILS Date: Friday, June 18, 2010
# Time: 1:00 PM

Check here for details…



Filed under: family, political musings, Tyler Britton USAF, Afghanistan — Peg Britton @ 4:05 pm

The Taliban declared that they are launching an offensive this month, which would be called al Fateh, or victory. The aim of the offensive is to surround and take over coalition bases.

Grandson Tyler was involved today in that attack on Kandahar but in a call just a few minutes ago to his brother, Drew, he reported he was okay.  He was  in a bunker for two hours and escaped uninjured.  There were deaths and injuries but no one in his CSTARS unit was injured.  He only had a few minutes to pass on the message as his unit was starting to fly the injured to Germany.  It will probably be several days before we hear from him again.

Here is a good video of one of the hospitals (Bagram) where Tyler works.

And, an article just hit the news wire…
By Joby Warrick and Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 22, 2010; 3:07 PM

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN — Insurgents launched a brazen ground and rocket attack late Saturday against NATO’s largest military base in southern Afghanistan, wounding several coalition troops, military officials said.

NATO base in Kandahar attacked by insurgents. More of the story…

And more…

The temperature there is 118 degrees +- …and it’s a war.  He can’t return home soon enough for me.  If the bases there aren’t safe, none of our personnel there can be out of harm’s way.


Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 7:07 am

There is nothing quite like being blasted by the wind the first thing in the morning.  It reminds you that you’ve made it through another night.  When it blows this hard, you can assume it will only become worse as the day progresses.  The low clouds overhead are racing northward and on the ground, the trees are pointing the same direction.  The cottonwood seeds are coming down in clumps and gathering on the grass like snow.

Accuweather says tomorrow and Monday we can expect strong afternoon thunderstorms.  Tuesday and Wednesday thunderstorms are a possibility.  That’s fine with me.  I love every drop of rain that falls in Kansas.

If you haven’t purchased your EHS alumni banquet tickets, today is the last day.  For further information, call Julie Wright at 785.472.3326.

Tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. in the high school gym, the senior class members will walk across the stage and receive their diplomas.  Parties follow.

Marilyn Homolka is retiring after working 43 years at the CSB and Trust.  A day long reception will be held for her in the bank lobby beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Eddie left yesterday to return to Silverton, just in time for me to get ready for more friends who will be arriving Tuesday and remaining over the weekend. Roger Novak has moved to the St. Pete area and is returning for the alumni banquet.  His brother ,Tom, and Ruthie will be here Saturday morning for a family gathering so I’m looking forward to having them. Everyone is getting used to the idea that I don’t cook anymore…or rarely…and manage to fend for themselves in my kitchen.

In the meantime, Drew will be moving to Boulder then returning for the alumni banquet and a reunion with his class members.  That occasion calls for a gathering of our family members to put our feet together under the dining room table.

And…we’re all looking forward to the end of July when Tyler returns home from Afghanistan.  He is more than ready to set foot in the USA.

My yard lady is appearing today to mow around the house.  She does an excellent job…but has a lot to mow here and on her farmette.  We’re letting the prairie grow to save on gas and wear and tear on mowers. It was virgin prairie when we moved up here and full of beautiful wild flowers.  Mowing has changed all of that, but Brit liked having it neat and tidy.  I prefer prairie, so we’ll try it and see how it goes.

Time to move along.  Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 6:23 pm

It is no secret that Paul and Jenny Bahr and their two children are avid bass fishermen.  They live and breathe fishing and land near record catches with regularity.

Kansas Wildlife and Parks official Tommy Berger confirmed the 43 1/2 pound striped bass Paul Bahr caught at Wilson Lake last Friday is the largest striped bass ever caught in Kansas. The fish was weighed on certified scales and witnessed by a state park ranger and others.

Paul has been seeking the record since 1996. He was trolling with live shad in about three feet of water when the fish struck.

The family of four and their extended family all love to fish and camp together.

The Bahr’s 11-year-old daughter, Whitney, recently caught and released a striper that weighed just over 40 pounds. Last May, their 15-year-old son, Josh, hauled one weighing 34 pounds.

Paul and Jenny Bahr are  physical therapists and work at the Ellsworth County Rural Health and Medical Center.



Filed under: prairie musings, family, friends, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 11:41 am

Caleb stopped by this morning with fresh asparagus and spinach from his farm.  It’s that time of year.  He had to dust in plant seeds day before yesterday.  That shows how dry it was around here.   Those around town said we got 2 inches or more yesterday. It was a good drenching rain.

Ted Edgerle isn’t taking any more repair jobs at True Value until further notice.  What are we to do?  Who does repair work in town?

The Culpepper and Merriweather Circus is coming to town June 3rd on the city recreation grounds south of town.  Show times are at 5:00 and 7:00 pm.  Click here for more information.

The crane on the grade school grounds is an unusual sight.

Grandson Tyler just called me on a satellite phone from Afghanistan.  It registered on my phone as a call from Hawaii.  He’s getting along fine, working hard, learning a lot and looking forward to returning home this summer for a visit.  He just completed a 10 day mission transporting patients which is very exhausting.  He was glad to get to sleep in his bed again.

Friend Eddie is coming to visit today and tomorrow.  He pops in now and then from Silverton CO.  I never know when, exactly, but his visits are always welcome.  He’ll be on the receiving end of Caleb’s fresh produce and thick pork loin chops for dinner.  And, a few other things on the side.

I can’t recall our yard looking as nice as it does now.  Ally has done so much work on it, and it shows.  Everything looks very healthy, at the moment.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, Ellsworth — Peg Britton @ 1:20 pm

The SLC “Run for the Soul” Poker Run Committee would like to say THANK YOU to those who attended this year’s 11th Annual Poker Run.  With your help we were able to raise $9150.00. We still have some monies that need collecting that will take us over the $10,000.00 mark.

All monies that are raised go for the ongoing expenses of the SLC, including the spiritual growth, rehabilitation and education of the inmates so when released they have a chance to become a productive member of society.  Now,  those expenses will include our quest for the SLC Expansion Project.

Prize Winners This Year Were: Roger Coppel, $1500 High Hand (Donated $700 back to the SLC);  anoymous winner $500 2nd Place;  Brian Lowe, $200 Low Hand; Dave Cox, Grandfather Clock; Butch Lloyd, $100; Todd Britton, $100; Johnnie Goddard $100; Marc Stroede $100; Bernadine Bachman $100; Shirley Raney $100; Dave Cox $100; Kathy Ball $100; Jerry Bull $100; Elsie Spencer $100; Mike Janzen, Harley Davidson (HD) Poster; Dave Cox & Bud McHone, HD Hats; Edie Grogg, HD Tray; Allyson Britton, HD Tag; Judith Best, HD Helmet; Alisa Webb & Allyson Britton Inmate crafted wood motorcycle plaques; Jay Aurand, Phyllis Harris & Kezi Bachman, $25 HD Gift Certificates; Annie Bourne, Jerry Ball, Bud McHone & Allyson Britton, HD T-Shirts; Kathy Small, HD Backpack.

All prizes were donated. Harley Davidson Prizes were donated by “City Cycle Sales” in Junction City, Kansas. Food Donations were made by ARAMARK.

Thanks Again for your Generous Support.
SLC Poker Run Committee
Herbie Harris, Chaplain
Ellsworth Correctional Facility



Filed under: prairie musings, friends — Peg Britton @ 11:02 am


Here is the official and first of its kind Wells Fargo Rodeo team.  My young friend, Keegan Knox, is on the right.  Aaron, the bull rider, is on the left.   They will be traveling the rodeo circuit this summer in Kansas and Oklahoma representing Wells Fargo.  Their goal will be to establish more Wells Fargo teams nationwide.

Way to go…


Filed under: political musings — Peg Britton @ 10:00 am

Reminder!! David Orr presentation tomorrow evening.

Please join us on Wednesday, May 19, Kansas Wesleyan University’s Sams Chapel in Pioneer Hall at 7:30 pm to hear David Orr present an alternative, resilient vision for the future of this region.

David W. Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics. He is also a James Marsh Professor at large at the University of Vermont. Born in Des Moines, Iowa and raised in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, he holds a B.A. from Westminster College (1965), a M.A. from Michigan State University (1966), and a PhD in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania (1973). He and his wife have two sons and three grandchildren.  For more…

Free – no tickets required!

For more information contact The Land Institute: 785.823.5376

This presentation is sponsored by Bethany College, Kansas Wesleyan University, and The Land Institute.


Filed under: prairie musings, recipes — Peg Britton @ 7:18 am

Here’s a recipe for tarte tatin from my friend, Rose.  She says:

Put 3/4 cup of white sugar with a little water into a saute pan over moderate heat until it rather suddenly melts and turns brown. Lay sliced fruit in a nice pattern (pears are good) on top of the caramelized sugar.  Slap a round of pie dough on top (even better, roll up the excess edges after you cut out your round and lay them around the circumference as piping), and pop it in the oven for 25 minutes, then invert it like a pineapple-upside-down cake.  Nothing to it, but it’s divine, and the pie crust doesn’t get soggy.  A show-stopper, and you can make it with less than an hour’s notice with guests on the way.

I haven’t tried it, but I know I would be good. A pie with mostly all filling is a good thing. But, I know I would mess with her recipe by adding a sprinkle of cinnamon, a bit of lemon juice and a lump of butter.

Here’s a video of Maria putting a tarte together.  She  keeps disappearing. Don’t miss the comments.  Rose could do a better video.

I don’t see how you could go wrong making a tart tatin unless you dumped the whole thing on the floor while inverting it on a plate.

Lemme know…



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

There is a large hawk-like bird that frequents my backyard from time to time.  During the winter it appeared to be poised to strike rodents and small creatures that scurried on the ground.  Now, I’m of the belief it is after my wee birds…chickadees, goldfinch, wrens, nuthatches, brown creepers, etc.  I’ve seen it soaring after small birds.  I called my raptor specialist friend and he thought it might be a Mississippi Kite, as he’s seen their nests in my neighborhood.  Alas.  How do I convince it to feed off things that scurry rather than things that fly?

Yesterday on a road trip via back roads to Hays, we came across a sign that asked, “Who is John Galt?”.  I thought it was very amusing the sign should appear in rural Kansas.  My friend didn’t know what it meant.  Do you?

If you haven’t eaten at Al’s Chickenette in Hays, I suppose you must. It’s like the Cozy Inn in Salina…a landmark of long standing. If you like old-fashioned fried chicken and French fries made from fresh potatoes, you’ll love their food.  It’s the last place I’d pick for dinner simply because I don’t care for fried things.  It has to be my friend’s most favorite place on earth to eat.  I’ve been there dozens of times with her and I always order the chicken noodle soup, which is consistently good.  I know.  Yesterday I ordered their special…fried chicken and French fries, the same as my friend always orders. I thought I would see for myself.  For what it was, it was okay…but it’s still all fried.  I  will stick with the soup.

We went to see Iron Man 2 which is projected to be a summer blockbuster.  I rather enjoy the talented Robert Downy, Jr.  The movie?  Well, I found it out of my range and doubt that transformers will ever be a big thing in my life.

On our road trip we stopped by Stutzman’s for garden flowers and at Dillon’s for fresh produce.  They had a great assortment of flowers and I gathered up an armload for Ally to plant in my large clay pot.  My sacks of groceries from Dillon’s  usually contain the following types of items….strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, honeydew melon, milk, fresh crisp green beans, spring mix salad greens, low sugar orange juice, broccoli and cauliflower.  Despite my shape, I’ve always eaten the right things.

It’s snowing. The cotton is spewing from the cottonwood seed pods and drift down like tiny cotton puffs.  It will continue to spew all summer and, at times, cover the entire yard with a blanket of white.  Brit hated it as it meant the AC’s and window screens had to be cleaned frequently.  And, when the cotton  would start falling, he’d always comment that it would soon end.  “It will be over next week”, he would often say.  “Like August!”, I’d reply.  His comment was based on “wish”, not fact. We had the same conversation over and over for over thirty years.  I miss those conversations enormously.

I visited with the owners of our other house, where our kids grew up, after lunch today.  I said I had driven on the Raney’s driveway in order to take a glimpse of the state of the trees I planted in the back yard.  They are tall, magnificent and plentiful.  The bald cypress in their front yard is a beauty and I was relieved to hear Bill had rid it of all the “knees” that surfaced.  Brit used a hand ax and chopped them out by the wheelbarrow load.   We’ve never had that problem with the bald cypress we have prospering now in our front yard.  Bill said I could wander through their yard anytime I wished so I will, one of these days.  I hear it is beautiful.

Handicapped rooms in hotels are a mystery to me.  I’m at that point where I need one and they all seem to differ.  We just made reservations at the Sheraton where such a room has one king-size bed.  What for?  Who wants to sleep with someone who flip flops in bed all night?  Why not two queens.  The handicapped rooms at the Great Wolf Lodge have a queen and a roll-away.  That doesn’t make much sense either.  Some don’t have walk-in showers.  I guess a blind person, who is considered handicapped as well, might not need one, but others would.  There seems to be no consistency except for some grab bars here and there.   I’ll manage one night, but I’m quickly reminded my home is the best place to be.

Ally was 4 over on 18 this afternoon.  She’s going to shoot par sometime before the summer ends.

Grandson Drew landed his dream job at a bank in Boulder and will begin there the first of June.  We are all so proud of him.  He has always loved Colorado and wanted to live there.  He’s a snow boarder, hiker, camper…well, he loves the great outdoors.  One cousin is going to teach him the finer point of sky diving, another the techniques of rock climbing and another mountain biking.  They are all experts in their field.  He couldn’t have better teachers.

Keep your ear to the ground…and thanks for tuning in…

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