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6/29/2013

MY FIRST DINNER PARTY AT THE PALACE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Dane Britton, Ally Britton, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 7:10 pm

I had my first dinner party tonight. Even though it was simple from start to finish, it met the requirements of a party.

I had an assortment of food that pleased my two guests…rotisserie chicken, homemade ham salad (Meredith’s specialty)  spread on fancy bread for finger sandwiches, good red ripe tomatoes, pickled beets, shoepeg corn salad, chips, dips and spreads, honeydew melon and zucchini cake (Claudia’s specialty) …wine and other libations.  Something for everyone.

Ally and her friend stopped by this afternoon to arrange my table and find my placemats and napkins.

I experimented with my long-time friends who live here….Ivy Marsh and Ginny Frederick.   I am no longer able to  stand in the kitchen and cook all day.  It’s something I can’t do just now.  Maybe in time I’ll have the strength to do more on my own.   In the meantime, I know how to make a  simple but good meal.   We had a nice visit and it was a special treat for each of us to spend the evening together.  It’s what you do when you get old and live  in independent living, as we all do.  Any meal outside the dining room is a treat.

I got the idea how to do this from Mabelle who had Ginny and me for dinner the other night.  It was simple but delicious and a bunch of fun.  We laughed our socks off.  Mabelle will be my next door neighbor when I move.  She’s a nice lady in her 90s, but you ‘d never know it.

The Star Spangled Spectacular Fireworks Extravaganza is tonight in Ellsworth. Ally is going to attend for Dane and me.  I remember so well when Dane returned to Ellsworth from Houston, in 1980 I believe, and learned there were no public fireworks for children.  He arranged the first really wonderful display soon after and it has continued since then. Those loud boomers are for you, Dane.

Thanks for tuning in….

BIRTHDAY SURPRISE AND OTHER FAMILY AND FRIENDS…

Filed under: prairie musings, family, Drew Britton, Ally Britton, Rod and Genn Helus — Peg Britton @ 7:48 am

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My good friends from Ellsworth arrived as a birthday surprise bearing balloons, beer, dips and spreads and fresh veggies from the garden and canned green tomatoes. Now, how perfect is that?  From left behind me:  Cindy McAtee, Claudia Hochman and Meredith Vargo. They unpacked all my boxes from my move and put everything away. The best of friends.

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Shannon and Lindsay…loving the house they’re in…it makes me happy knowing they love it so.

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My cousin, John Drees, and Ally….on a trip to Orozco’s for lunch.

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Bernadette Drees Rogers with Ally and me (and her brother John) at Orozco’s Mother’s Day weekend.

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Bloody Mary in a quart jar for the birthday boy…27 big ones.  He looks very much like his grandpa…

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Drew was in the wedding party of hosts of friends this summer….he was more often than not found in formal attire.

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Grandson Rod and wife Genn ….Roman Coliseum…
Thanks for tuning in …

6/28/2013

WHAT EQUALITY MEANS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Civil/Gay Rights — Peg Britton @ 6:25 pm

What Equality Means

Madeleine M. Kunin;
First Female Governor of Vermont; Marsh Scholar, University of Vermont

The belief that same-sex couples have the civil right to be protected by the constitution has been affirmed. These landmark decisions have an impact far beyond the rights of married couples. It tells all gay and lesbian men and women, and their children that they have a legitimate place in society. They do not have to hide, as they once did in deep dark closets. Yes, 37 states have passed laws which prohibit same-sex marriage. Some will continue to do so, regardless of the court’s decisions. But the trajectory is in the other direction, propelled by young people who are more gender blind than many of their elders.

PALACE PEOPLE CAN ADJUST BETTER THAN MOST…

Yesterday a group of inmates from the Palace planned to go to Pretty Boy Floyd’s in Ellsworth for dinner.  Departure time was 4:15.  We were all very excited about the prospect of a wonderful dinner and sufficient libation to make it a memorable evening.

What was not expected was a blinding wind and rain storm.  Trees snapped in half, big limbs blocked streets, howling wind and blinding rain prevailed.   The bus carrying most of our group was buffeted along the highway, but Karen Larsen did an excellent job keeping it on the road and her passengers out of danger.  It was a harrowing experience for some of the group  who are not accustomed to experiencing such raw and exciting prairie weather.

At the appointed time of joining up with the bus people, and another car full of passengers, Ally, Todd, Karen and I stood just inside the door to Pretty Boy’s to harbor ourselves from the driving rain.  The power had just failed and the town was plunged into darkness, including  the underground cavernous rooms of Pretty Boy’s.  It was literally as dark as the proverbial  dungeon.  What to do?  I couldn’t lead 20 people down those stairs into total darkness and hope the lights came back on.  I lived there and remember what it’s like to get power restored and how long it sometimes takes.

Someone got on a cell phone and called the DQ to see if they had lights.  Yes, they did, and so did the Ellsworth Steak house, so off we went to the Steak House to see if they might save the day and save the day they did.  Tina and Rick Davis, one waitress and the bartender…plus the chef jumped into action and seated all 20 of us around a big table.

Then they brought some “snacks” to tide us over….glorious large platters of delicious sliced cantaloupe, watermelon, whole wonderful strawberries plus overflowing bowls of chips and salsa.  And, our need for libations were met.  It was “happy hour” and that pleased everyone.

The lights went out, so once again we were at the mercy of whatever they could prepare with one hand tied behind their backs.   They could not have done better.  Tina explained what they could serve with their limited resources and everyone got something that was exceptionally good….salads of every type and a wide variety of Mexican food.  There was more that enough to fill the ravenous appetites.

Then on top of that, she had a wide assortment of homemade pies.  A piece de resistance.  They are wonderful.  I think Leslie Brooks makes them for the Steak House. You’ll never find a more delicious piece of pie than one of hers.  Everyone is still raving about the pie.

The day was filled with excitement, more than 90 year olds are used to, but they shouldered it very well and want to return.  A couple said they would check the weather first.

I can’t speak for the Manor, but I do know that Kim Fair, the marketing director, was well aware of the storm as she lives north of Brookville and was caught in the height of it.  She tried repeatedly to reach the drivers to warn them of the severity of the storm and tell them not to leave Salina….or turn back if they had departed.  She couldn’t reach any of them.

The trip turned out all right.  Everyone was safe although some were a little shaken from the harrowing experience.  It’s probably the most exciting thing to happen to some of us in months.  Mostly we experience someone playing a saw or a harp and call it a day.  I loved the storm…love to be out in it.  One just can’t overlook the  forces of nature, respect and enjoy them.  We all slept like rocks last night and required naps today.

I can’t say enough about how accommodating Rick and Tina Davis were.  They were simply amazing in what they did for us.  Everyone wants to go back again…on purpose this time, so I hope we can.

Thanks for tuning in…

6/26/2013

SCOTUS STRIKES DOWN DOMA…

Filed under: prairie musings, Civil/Gay Rights, SCOTUS — Peg Britton @ 9:01 am

SCOTUS Strikes Down DOMA

In a historic victory for same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy, the court ruled that DOMA is an unconstitutional deprivation of equal liberty, a violation of the Fifth Amendment. The ruling will allow federal benefits–tax breaks, insurance for government employees–to couples in the 12 states and D.C. (13 states now that California’s Proposition 8 has been dismissed) that already recognize same-sex marriage.
Read it at SCOTUSBlog

June 26, 2013 9:50 AM

It’s a great day for the USA.

THE INCREDIBLE IVIS MEITLER…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 6:58 am

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Photo by Ally Britton…June 25, 2013

This is my friend, Ivis Meitler, a long-time Sylvan Grove resident who lives at the Palace.   She’s a very talented musician and plays the piano every noon in the Ivory Keys Cafe.  It is rare you ever hear her repeat a song.  She has hundreds, maybe thousands of them, tucked away in her mind.  They just roll off her fingertips.

She goes to the “hard” sittercise exercises at 9 o’clock every morning and I can say with certainty that I am light years away from catching up with her.  She can do the “arm, knee, floor” exercises with lightning speed.  She runs circles around the rest of us.  I once commented on how much better she was than I and she said, “Well, I ought to be.  I’ve been doing it a lot longer.”

Ivis is 102 and sharp as a tack.  She has the quickest wit and the best sense of humor of almost anyone here.  She is amazing…

Thanks for tuning in…

6/24/2013

I LOVE THE SALINA PUBLIC LIBRARY….

Filed under: prairie musings, Salina Publc Library — Peg Britton @ 5:19 pm

I ventured back to the library this afternoon to return books and check out others for a week of reading.  Barbara who works there helped me through the procedure.   I almost get it. Everyone there is very helpful.  I checked out five books this time so I need to get busy turning pages.  Doris is reading the Bill Bryson books I pass on to her.  She really gets a kick out of his humor, as do I.  He is one funny man.

I saw Bob Weber at the Library and exchanged a few words.  He lives here too, in a townhouse, but I’ve only seen him and his wife once since  I moved in.  This is a big place and paths don’t cross often.

I’m not sure what I’ll have for dinner.  Maybe the last of the ham and eggs, if they haven’t hatched.  I’m not quite close enough to get those good handouts from Karen, Ally and Claudia. I miss them.

They aren’t doing anything on my apartment.  I wish they would get to it so I could move.  My neighbors there won’t be interested in who my guests are and whether they are “relatives or friends”.  ‘Tis funny.

I missed the “big moon” unintentionally and the Grand Canyon walker intentionally.  The latter is a flying Wallenda and I just don’t like to watch their treks across spans high above the splat zone.  He was successful and I commend him for his act of bravery, but I’m not going to watch.

Thanks for tuning in…

PRAIRIE FESTIVAL 2013 CALENDAR OF SPEAKERS….

Filed under: prairie musings, Joshua Svaty, Land Institute — Peg Britton @ 11:16 am

Three months until Prairie Festival 2013
We hope you’ve marked September 27-29 on your calendar and plan to join us for our 35th Prairie Festival. Registration and event information will be posted to the website on July 1, and a mailer sent shortly thereafter. In  the meantime, here’s a list of speakers:
•    Lisi Krall - State Univ. of NY, Cortland
•    Peter Brown - McGill University
•    John Fullerton - Capital Institute founder
•    Sandra Lubarsky - Appalachian State University
•    Bill Vitek - Clarkson University
•    Wes Jackson, Tim Crews, Stan Cox and more!

6/23/2013

A VERY SPECIAL GRANDDAUGHTER…

Filed under: prairie musings, Mackenzie — Peg Britton @ 3:55 pm

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I thought I should make you aware of this notorious hacker who is pictured with me above. She’s the kind who will break into your house while you are asleep, bake cookies, do the laundry, iron the sheets and underwear then creep out of the house while scrubbing her tracks behind her.

While I wasn’t looking, she hacked into my computer and fiddled around with my Spotify account (one of my possessions I really care about) and Lo and Behold! she assumed possession of it and, as a birthday gift, transferred it her account for payment.  How do you do that?  And, how wonderful is that?  Her gift to me is all the ad free music I want to listen to which is all the time.  I really love Spotify.  Right now I’m spending hour after hour with Yevgeny Sudbin.  He’s a magnificent piano player…

Thank you, Mackenzie, for such a wonderful gift… love you….

6/22/2013

BIRTHDAYS….

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 9:49 am

Birthdays can be fun when you get old if everyone obeys the rules and lets them evolve into spontaneous non-events which require no advance planning or much unintended reaction. Just easy fun.

Such has been the case so far.  Grandson Drew was here and his good mountain-climbing friend, Summer, came from McPherson to join us in interesting chatter. They are young, involved, smart, well-employed, have lots of friends, do very good deeds and are involved in more activities than you can shake a stick toward.

And, if Summer decides she wants a soda, she wants it room temp out of the can.  How good is that? After my surgery in January, she was a regular Saturday visitor, in part to fill in for Drew who couldn’t be here, but mostly because she was new to Kansas and our family adopted her and we hit it off, so to speak because she liked her adopted family.  Smart, smart lady.  She’s forgotten more than I ever knew in the first place.

Last night I was invited for an evening at the “margarita store” for refreshments.  Kim and I do that at every possible opportunity which amounts to “occasionally on Friday evening”.  They don’t run out of margaritas (her favorite) or draft Negra Modelo beer with a lime wedge, which is my preference.  Randy was returning from somewhere from the beyond and joined us.  The conversation is always lively and filled with good humor, and the food there is always good.  La Casita, of course.  Heather and Rob ventured in so I got to say hello to them.

Tonight I have been invited to have dinner in-house, a rarity here I’ve been given to believe.  No one wants to cook…at least not often.  That’s why there is so much “carry out” from the noon meal to provide ‘fixins‘ for later on.  Mabelle, one of the “girls” in the “hood” and my future neighbor if ever they get about to working on my apartment, invited me to come for dinner that a friend of hers is preparing.  That will be fun and I’m looking forward to it. Mabelle is a very neat lady somewhere in her 90s…but you’d never know.  I only have to ride the elevator a couple floors down and wander the hall to her apartment.  How easy is that?

Maybelle is the one who arrived at my door one day not so long ago with a CD in her hand that she had no idea what to do with, but she assured me it contained pictures of her grandchilden…or great grandchildren,  that she would love to see.  And, that it did.  When I fed it into my machine I could see that we had a wide array of infants, some of whom she didn’t recognize, and that evolved into a full afternoon of the same infants grown to be strapping adults with kids of there own.  Let me assure you that you can get a lot of pictures on a CD.  I didn’t know a single one of them, and I doubt that I ever will.  But the thing that made it so funny was that she had trouble figuring our some of them too.  I never did understand what the various relationships were.  It would have taken someone with half a century of genealogical experience in her family to sort it out.  Since then, she’s felt rather obligated to return a favor of some sort, so dinner it is.

Some comments that come out of the people here are enough to bend you in half.  People are so well meaning.  I’ve never heard any cross words spoken.  People just get along and it’s a very nice atmosphere for living. The other day one of our new residents…a very, very kind man, who is gentle and sweet and you can’t help but like, joined one of my exercise classes.  He had a very difficult time understanding what was going on and it made all of us sad…without having to comment about it.  When it was over, I said to him…You did a good job “Robert”.  He just had the biggest smile from the compliment and very graciously and well-intended replied…”and I thought you did very well too, considering you are a husky woman”.  I had to use every muscle in my body to keep from bursting out laughing until I was out of his presence. I just wanted to hug him.

Thanks for tuning in…

6/20/2013

SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, recipes, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 9:52 am

Ally and some of our Colorado girls friends called me the other night and asked that I explain what “spatchcock” meant, without looking it up.  I was clueless and had to look it up.  It’s a cooking term for preparing chicken.  I’ve done it dozens of times but didn’t realize it had a name.

You remove the backbone from the chicken  and pound on the breast which breaks the breast bone resulting in a very manageable chicken that can be beautifully grilled.  And there you have it, in case you were wondering.  A chicken that has been spatchcocked!

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Here’s how:  You cut out the back bone, then turn on its back and push down hard on the breast until you hear the breast bone crack. The chicken should lay perfectly flat. 2 hours before you put the bird on the grill prep the bird and get a bottle of Italian salad dressing add 1/2 tsp. of cumin and garlic powder or garlic on the skin to taste and juice of 1 lemon. Put the marinade on the bird underneath the skin and on top of the skin. Your fingers work just fine to loosen the skin from the meat leaving the edges attached, makes kind of a pocket. Leave it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Get the BBQ coals going and make enough coals so you can split in half and have a pile of coals on each side leaving the center open. The purpose is to keep the bird from being over coals so you cook indirect. Keep temperature around 350 degrees. Place the breast side down for 25 minutes then flip the bird and do the other side for 25 minutes. The bird is done when the internal meat temperature is 165 degrees, so about an hour on the grill with the lid closed.

The oil in the salad dressing makes the skin crisp and the bird very juicy, the best. This is pretty easy to do and it is excellent chicken.

Thanks for tuning in….

6/18/2013

LAND MISSION By TIM UNRUH Salina Journal | Tuesday, June 18, 2013 3:03 AM

Filed under: prairie musings, Joshua Svaty — Peg Britton @ 12:43 pm

As interest swells in the Land Institute near Salina, Wes Jackson, founder and president, has snared a spokesman with a myriad of experiences to help take the mission to another level.

Josh Svaty, a farmer from Ellsworth County, former state lawmaker and state and federal bureaucrat, joined the Land Institute’s staff Monday as a vice president.

He will work with public policy issues, promote the institute’s pursuit of natural systems agriculture and raise money.

“I’ve been following Josh’s career for several years. He’s been active and successful as a politician, as (Kansas) secretary of agriculture and working with the Environmental Protection Agency,” Jackson said. “Perhaps more important, he comes from a farm background. He owns a farm and knows the rural culture of Kansas.”

Elected to the Kansas House in 2002 to his first of four two-year terms as a representative of the 108th District — covering Ellsworth and rural Saline County, parts of south Salina and Lincoln Township in Dickinson County — Svaty, 33, has been successful on several levels of public service, Jackson said.

This “right at home boy” is well suited for spreading the word, he said.

In short, Jackson said Svaty “knows the language in the sale barn (statehouse) and even Washington.”

Most of the Land Institute’s scientists are from somewhere else, Jackson said, and Svaty is someone who can pull from a wide area of expertise.

“Josh has a good eye for problems and proposed solutions,” Jackson said.

A native of Ellsworth County, Svaty said he didn’t know that the Land Institute existed until he was elected to state office.

Svaty served three full terms in the Kansas House; he resigned during his fourth term to take the job as Kansas Secretary of Agriculture.

Over the years, Svaty said he has developed an understanding, appreciation and fascination as Jackson and his staff, now numbering 33 with seven doctorate level scientists, push to return to raising food the way nature intended.

“I get an opportunity to work with Wes Jackson. That’s an opportunity you don’t turn down,” Svaty said. “You want to do something positive with your life.”

The Land Institute, 2440 E. Water Well, is the right place to pursue that, he said.

“You spend your whole life fighting natural and unnatural forces. The Land Institute’s and Wes Jackson’s mindset is to find answers through nature rather than fighting against it,” Svaty said.

The Land Institute’s mission is to create a new sustainable agriculture that minimizes damage to soil, rivers, oceans and the atmosphere.

Scientists are developing perennial grains that are grown in a way that mimics the prairie and requires less fossil fuel, conserves soil and water and weather extremes in growing conditions brought on by climate change, according to a press release. Its budget for fiscal 2014 is $2.8 million, and total assets are $11.1 million.

The Land Institute has a hand in a number of interests, and its reputation is expanding.

* There are plans to plant 90 acres of the perennial wheat grass Kernza on a University of Minnesota research farm this fall.

* Staff scientist Shuwen Wang has sent perennial wheat hybrids to other researchers in 20 different locations in eight countries.

* The Land is supporting the development of perennial upland rice in China.

* Associations include scientists at Texas A&M; University of Illinois; Kansas University; Kansas State University; the universities of Georgia, Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada; and the Konza Prairie.

* The Land has gotten a “thumbs-up affirmation of perennials” from such institutions as the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Society.

The Land Institute has a need for someone to carry the message and coordinate it, Jackson said, along with raising more money.

There also is a need for someone who can deal with the politics of this expansion.

“We find that Josh is well suited for all of this,” Jackson said.

There is some travel involved, both domestic and international, he said.

While Svaty, a Democrat, admits the challenge is daunting, he said, “I had no government experience when I became a state legislator, and would like to think I was fairly successful.”

Same goes for 2009 through 2011, when he was state agriculture secretary.

“I didn’t burn the place down,” Svaty quipped.

Since then, he has served as senior adviser to the administrator of the Region 7 office of the EPA, covering Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and nine tribal nations. Svaty said he learned a lot.

“There are natural systems in crisis,” he said. “There have to be methods to do this better, that the Land Institute has been exploring since its inception.”

The organization has an “extraordinary” following, both nationally and internationally, he said.

Started in 1976, the Land Institute is “pretty solid,” Jackson said, with 650 acres paid for, and its books are “in the black and have been every year.”

“It really is time to push this to the next level,” he said.

While the institute is still years away from having some of the perennial hybrids “farmer ready,” Jackson said the Land’s mission “is no longer considered a crazy idea.”

Programs at the Land Institute are moving toward practical application in eight to 10 years, “but the methodologies will have to be worked out with agronomists,” he said.

Svaty represents another step forward.

“We’re very excited about this appointment, this willingness by Josh to come and be a part of this,” Jackson said. “We don’t think we could have done better.”

– Reporter Tim Unruh can be reached at 822-1419 or by email at tunruh@salina.com.

6/17/2013

LIBRARY CARD…IT’S FREE AND INVALUABLE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 4:42 pm

Among my most cherished possessions is a Salina Library Card.  Or any library card. I love books.

When I first moved here in November, it was my intention after the dust settled from moving to get my drivers’ license updated, register to vote and get a library card as soon as practicable.    I managed two out of the three about the first day, and, although I’ve been in a state of angst about it for weeks, I didn’t get the library card until today. Not only did I get my card, Todd’s good friend, and a friend of mine as well…Joe McKenzie who is the director of the library…lead me through the steps to make the facility user friendly.

I can do about everything from my computer, except carry the books home.  I love the electronics in a library and will soon get the hang of this one.  The library isn’t far from here and there is handicapped parking in front which makes it an easy access for me.  Now I can read all I want and have them save books for me.  I can check out 50 books at a time, if I like.

I brought three books home with me.  One is a short one by one of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson.  African Diary. I read most of it in the lobby after I returned to the Palace.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, also by Bryson, is a memoir of his years growing up in DesMoines.  He was born in 1951, a year before Dane, so I can relate to that. He is one of the best and funniest writers alive…laugh out loud funny.  His A Short History of Nearly Everything is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s a short history but a long book and well worth the time it takes to read it.  I’ve read it several times…and continue to gravitate back to it.

I read three of Lee Child’s books one weekend early last fall and then faltered and lost interest when they picked  Tom Cruise to play the lead roll of Jack Reacher.  They should have picked my grandson Tyler who could have portrayed him physically, even if he can’t act. Well, maybe he can, but I just don’t know.  I’ll read The Affair and add it to my Reacher novels.

I just want to know my way around the library.  The self-check out procedure is a piece of cake.  I don’t think I’ve had a library card from there since the 50s when they had framed fine art prints you could check out.  I had replicas of good art hanging on my walls back then.

Well, I can read tonight or go play Bingo.  I’ve never gone to Bingo although it’s pretty popular around here as you can win coupons for Kleenex, toilet tissue, soap and the like.  Old people will do almost anything for something free…even endure Bingo.  They said it is fun but OH…SO…Slow.  B———–4……………..

Thanks for tuning in…

6/16/2013

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY TO ALL THE DADS……

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:00 am

A special Happy Father’s Day to Todd Britton…one of the best dads ever.

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6/15/2013

JOSH SVATY…ON THE MOVE …

Filed under: prairie musings, Joshua Svaty, Kimberly Svaty — Peg Britton @ 11:50 am

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I’ll soon have more to talk about…

Josh Svaty has been the subject of my blogs since he first ran for office in 2002 for State Rep from the 108th.  He left that post  in 2009 when he was appointed Kansas Secretary of Agriculture by Mark Parkinson.  As the  secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Svaty managed a $27 million budget, an 380 employee workforce and statutory duties for 17 programs.

In Jan 2011) Josh was selected to be senior adviser to EPA Region 7 administrator Karl Brooks.  This region encompassed Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and nine Tribal Nations. Josh  has held this post until his resignation this week to join Wes Jackson and the Land Institute.  The Land Institute is a non-profit research, education, and policy organization dedicated to sustainable agriculture based in Salina.

Josh, a 5th generation farmer from Ellsworth,  lives in Topeka with his wife Kimberly and two sons, Jackson and Mariner. Kimberly is owner of Gencur Svaty Public Affairs.

More to come soon on this subject.

Thanks for tuning in…

6/14/2013

LITTLE BURSTS OF CHAOS….HOOPLA TIME AT THE PALACE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 12:12 pm

Life around here is just humorous…it’s as simple as that. I spend a lot of time just giggling over what happened or what is about to happen.  Even riding the elevator can be humorous and enlightening.  Observing the dynamics that develop among the various parties would give a good writer ammunition for a lifetime of anecdotes. I wish I had that talent.    The most vivid imagination couldn’t create what goes on around here in the normal course of the day. It’s Hoopla Time at the Palace.

Four of us showed up for the 9 o’clock exercise class which is held in the basement/lower level where there is a large multipurpose room available for everything from baby showers to line dancing.  It’s a “high traffic” area.  On occasion, a conflict erupts when one tries to prioritize the use of this room.  Everyone thinks her “purpose” for the room has precedence over all others.

Such was the case this morning when the basement was filled with tables and chairs in preparation for a very special by-invitation-and-reservation-only Father’s Day noon  luncheon.  The exercise group “had been told” (who knows if, when or by whom) they could use the room.  Then the “set up” people for the luncheon arrived and a cloud of conflict collected in our parallel universe and the space-time continuum that existed alongside ours to stretch and bend. Territorial conquests explode out of nothing around here like THE Big Bang. Someone was going to be evicted or forced to “give up” and I eagerly awaited the eruption of the dynamics that ensued.

There are those who just “want to get along” and those who, by damn, are “going to get to the bottom of this”.  Since Rudy was in charge of exercises this morning,and he’s such a nice guy, he  thought it best if those of us who didn’t really care whether or not we did our “bumps and grinds” would give way to those organizing the Father’s Day celebration.  Rudy was right and we “fit-as-fiddles” departed.  There might have been some hissing in the background.  Crisis averted!

Upstairs, the activity by the front entry was developing into another story.  The lone worker is still pouring concrete by the front entrance and he has wrapped yellow police-like tape EVERYWHERE warning pedestrians to stay away from the area.  You have to know that this guy has done EVERYTHING ALONE ALL BY HIMSELF.   No one has dared to violate the yellow tape cordoned off area as residents in great numbers have stood in protection of this area and “this guy”.  This guy has won the respect of everyone for his diligence and hard work.  They’ve watched as he broke all the old concrete and hauled it away.  How he set his concrete forms with perfection and leveled the area for a new pour.  Perfection.  Troweling.  Perfect.

Two of the observant residents said they had never in their life time…(combined that would approach 200 years) seen anyone work that hard.   After all, the residents have sat by the window all week and watched the concrete man perform the miracles of his trade.  He has engendered so much support that he most likely will be elevated to sainthood before sunset.

So when he tied yellow tape from pillar to post and around everything in sight except the car bumpers, the residents set up another wall of vigilance to protect his efforts.  No one could possibly miss the warning to stay away from the front entry…yet….here came a guy (a non-resident) all dressed in his finery looking for a resident and walking on the concrete…in violation of all the tape.

Now let me tell you that ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE with residents trying to tell the guy to get off the concrete and go to the back door like everyone else.  Well, yelling and arm waving didn’t work, but I think the screams could be heard throughout the tower.  All the yelling in the world doesn’t have much effect around here when everyone is deaf, or nearly so.  The flaying of arms is also a pretty common occurrence as well and not particularly attention-getting. The scene was CHAOTIC….screaming, yelling, arm waving, people fiddling with the sancrosanct yellow ribbon.  The only calm and cool guy was the concrete man.

Finally, “management”  came to the rescue and removed all the yellow tape around the door and let the yellow tape violator guy come inside.  People screamed even after he entered the building.  The tape removal was the course of least resistance.  Everyone knows you don’t go “over or under” yellow police tape so that wasn’t an option for the poor violator who had been told by the concrete man he could walk over his product to the front door.  He was doing nothing wrong, but the people inside the building couldn’t see the whole picture.  The focal point was missing. When Bill the manager arrived, it was like a huge hive of angry bees suddenly had  been showered with smoke and drugged.  Bill’s magic prevailed. Attitudes can change in a heart beat with the right leadership.

Today is Trivia day.  It’s always humorous…and even enlightening at times.  Mostly it’s a diversion from more mundane things people are subjected to.  I keep saying that a computer could open an entirely new world for some of them….but I don’t want to have to teach them how to use one.  Most are just adamantly opposed to any technology beyond a TV.  You should hear the conversations about people like me who have a computer…it’s pretty funny.

The group going to Pretty Boy Floyd’s on the 27th filled its limit almost immediately.  The bus only holds 14  including the driver.  I think there are others who’d like to go but missed the signup.  Maybe they can take another group later. I hope I can find a strong guy to help me back up the steps.  I sure needed it last time…dang legs aren’t cooperating.

Thanks for tuning in ….

6/13/2013

SCOTUS DECISION GOOD FOR WOMEN…IN PLAIN ENGLISH…

Filed under: prairie musings, SCOTUS — Peg Britton @ 6:55 pm

Gene patent decision: In Plain English

The Supreme Court long ago ruled that an inventor who discovers a phenomenon in nature, or figures out a “law of nature,” cannot get an exclusive right to use or sell that by obtaining a patent from the federal government.  Natural phenomena are the basic tools with which every would-be inventor starts, so locking up the right to use them in a monopoly held by a specific patent owner will frustrate others who might want to look for new ways to interpret that phenomena, the Court has said.

The exclusion of natural substances from eligibility for patents was the theory on which the Court relied Thursday in its unanimous ruling that a company cannot get a patent monopoly on the use and study of human genes that it isolates in the bloodstream, and them takes them out — without changing their natural character — for research.

The case involved a Utah company’s patent for having isolated, outside the human body, two basic genes that contain natural phenomena which suggest that a woman who has them is at significantly higher risk of developing either breast cancer or ovarian cancer.   The company had claimed that the act of locating these genes in blood, and then extracting them for study, was a true invention, something that did not exist before.

The Court said the company actually did not create anything at all, but simply extracted the genetic material from its location in human blood, and setting it apart for study.

The Court, however, said that the company might be eligible to get a patent when it created a synthetic form of those genes — in other words, a laboratory imitation of them.   Such imitations, according to the ruling, do not exist in nature, and so do not run counter to the rule against patenting nature.

GOVERNOR JOHN CARLIN AND SHIRLEY JACQUES ADD UP TO GREAT CONVERSATION…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 5:26 pm

I had a wonderful visit today with Shirley Jacques, former Saline County Clerk and Saline County Democratic Chairwoman,  and Gov. John Carlin.   John was our 40th Governor and one of the best in Kansas history….certainly we’ve not had one of his caliber since.  He always put the welfare of the people ahead of his own interests.  He and I go back a long way… we had lots of catching up to do.  Shirley and I did too.

It has been Friday to me all day.   I’ll know it’s really Friday if I’m sitting at a table at La Casita with a basket of chips and green hot sauce  in front of me (the hottest they make…which isn’t all that hot) …and my friend, Kim, enjoying it as much as I.  Of course, margaritas are involved as well.   We’re heading there tomorrow night when it will be Friday by all accounts.

They are replacing the concrete slabs in front of the front door to the Palace so foot traffic has been diverted through the first floor apartments, past all the offices and finally to the lobby with the jigsaw puzzle workers and assorted other people in transit…. if they aren’t lost by then.    John and Shirley landed in Kim’s office on the way and I showed them the way out when they left.  It can be confusing.  Some visitors think Dale and Flora Anderson’s apartment is the pass through to the parking lot and some kind of general gathering area.  The Anderson’s put their own furniture on their outdoor patio and usually find total strangers using it.  It’s very interesting and provides a little levity to an otherwise predicable existence.

I’ve been participating in the exercise classes that they offer here on a daily basis since April 1st….sittercise, yoga, tai chi, chi gung…or something like that.  The exercises that seem to be helping the most are at 9 on Monday Wednesday and Friday.  If I get through those,  I try to follow up with the 10 am class.  I have a long way to go, but I know I’m making some headway….except with my legs.  I don’t know what in the heck is wrong with them, but they’ve spaced out and aren’t cooperating.  What I want most is to be able to walk without my walker or a cane,  around the pond and see the goslings.  So far, that isn’t happening…but I keep hoping something will kick in.  I do know that anesthetic/ventilator took its toll.

Ginny called and wanted me to join her at IHOP for dinner.  I owe her one, but I have some good leftovers from yesterday I’m looking forward to….a potato from the Hickory Hut sprinkled with Kansas dust, cheese and saucy sauce…and grilled chicken…and rice…ciabatta bread…lots to eat.

Thanks for tuning in….

6/11/2013

HAPPY 27TH BIRTHDAY, DREW….AND, MANY, MANY MORE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Drew Britton — Peg Britton @ 4:58 pm

drew-and-tyler-in-boulder-mem-day-2113.jpg

Here’s one young man who lives life to its fullest…loves every minute of it and makes the most of his opportunities.  Have a great day tomorrow, Drew…I couldn’t be more proud of you and your many accomplishments.

LIFE IN THE PALACE…

Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 12:14 pm

UPDATE:  Brandon and I did a walk-through of my apartment-to-be this morning so he could up-date me on the progress, or lack of it.  An independent contractor is doing all the work and that aspect of the project hadn’t been explained to me.  I thought the maintenance staff here did it, as they had time.

Everything has been ordered, he said, yet they haven’t had the carpet installer come measure for installation.  I don’t think the new appliances, ceiling fans or counter tops have been ordered.  Actually, I don’t know exactly what has been ordered.  Paint maybe?

There is still “demolition” to do….as in remove the ceiling tiles and install a new grid for 2 x 2 tiles.  They have to remove the counter top in the kitchen, the kitchen and bathroom flooring and all the carpeting. Once that is all done, they can start the renewal process.

I’ve requested additional cable and electrical outlets.  The generation of people after me who move in here is going to be far more tech savvy than the older generations.  I only know of a handful of fellow inmates who have computers and they don’t do much on them…swear at them mostly.  A new generation requiring more technical equipment is on the horizon.  Visitors to my apartment are very aware of all the electrical cables I have strung along my baseboard and surge protectors that are loaded down with plug-ins.

I think it will be a couple of weeks before I see any more action in the apartment, and a month after that before measurable progress is made and I can ponder the moving project.  It will be “all new” once it’s finished and I’ll like that.

The “girls” who live in the hood have beautifully furnished apartments with family antiques, etc.  They know how to decorate.  I’ll take what I have in this apartment and see how it looks once I move.  I know I’ll need a chair or two, the kind old people can extricate themselves out of.  Other than that, I’ll do quite well with the furniture we bought for the kids when they were kids….1950 vintage ranch oak.  My centerpiece is my park bench.  I’m the only one here with a handmade park bench!

The sign up list for the trip to Ellsworth the 27th for dinner at Pretty Boy Floyd’s looks almost full.  I think we could use a school bus for the trip.

Thanks for tuning in…

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