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12/23/2013

CELEBRATE…LOVE…COEXIST…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:15 am

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12/22/2013

A BLANKET OF SNOW COVERS EVERYTHING IN SIGHT….

Filed under: prairie musings, Tyler Britton USAF, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 1:15 pm

I’m glad I moved, otherwise, I would have been kept awake all night with the snow plow’s endless, steady, scraping-screeching noises in the parking lot which was right below my bedroom windows. Someone who lives on “that side” said they started clearing the snow about 3 a.m.

I don’t miss that sound at all.  The only “slight” sound I hear is that of of church music emanating from Maybelle’s apartment next door on Sunday morning.  That’s okay as Spotify is supplying me with some wonderful Laura Fygi music that drowns out the organ music.  The fact that Laura sings in French makes it even better. When they built this complex they really gave serious thought to sound insulation which is good for those of us who still retain most of our hearing ability.

It appears from all the reports that Salina got about 12 inches of snow last night.   I’d guess that to be about right.  We were dumped on.  I just visited with Pete in the laundry room and he said there was crew enough to serve breakfast this morning so it wasn’t a cornflakes meal.  Many of the people who work here live elsewhere and I’m sure many couldn’t make it to work.

If no one manages to get to work, that’s okay with me.  I have a good supply of grapefruit and gorgeous Oregon pears.  Todd also delivered Christmas treats that he and Karen make every year….beautiful hand-dipped chocolates, white chocolate pretzels, spicy hot pretzels, party mix, caramel corn….yummmm.

Mackenzie’s gift of  Harry and David Riviera pears is a special treat.  Dane ordered them every year and she’s continuing with the tradition.  And, I have a freezer full of ready to go items and my pantry is also well-stocked.  The extra large Jiff crunchy peanut butter jar is almost full. I’m good for the winter.

Mackenzie is also continuing the Christmas tree tradition to show off the many tree ornaments she and her dad collected on their many travels.  She also has many from the tree Brit and I had over the years.  Todd and Karen have a number of them too…as do the grandsons.

Today is laundry day for me.  We have a sign up sheet to reserve the machines. When I arrived no one was doing their laundry on Sunday so I picked it.  Now everyone is joining me laboring on Sunday.  I miss my nice washer and drier I had…front loader water savers.  These aren’t so nice, but get me by.

I chatted on line with my grandson who is in Qatar … waiting. It doesn’t look like he’ll be spending Christmas with his friends away from home and I wish that weren’t so.   He has learned well the lesson of life in knowing what is important and what isn’t.  He’s missed very much.

Time to start another load and get back to my book.

Thanks for tuning in…

12/21/2013

ALLY’S PERUVIAN INKKAS…

Filed under: prairie musings, Ally Britton, Mackenzie — Peg Britton @ 7:58 am

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Ally’s Peruvian Inkkas.  Photo by Lindsay Jackson-Mog…

I  love ‘em. Mackenzie is sporting a pair too.

12/20/2013

‘TIS THE SEASON…

Filed under: prairie musings, Mackenzie, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 8:01 pm

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There is a lift kerfuffle in progress at the Palace and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.  Only one elevator is operational.  That would be the small one.  The large one that moves a lot of maintenance “stuff”, large moving carts and people, some in wheelchairs or carrying oxygen tanks, just doesn’t want to work without stranding people where they wish not to be stranded.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the people being hoisted would follow some common sense rules……like, don’t just stand there. MOVE!!!  They get in the elevator and just stand there…like you can just walk around them in the two inch space they left for you.  They don’t get it.

I’ve tried to be in the Christmas spirit today (and every day) and stand back from the elevator when there are visitors trying to get from here to there.  It’s the inmates that are aggravations.  I let two elevators leave without me so to accommodate others that seemed to need it more.  Finally….the elevator came back to the first floor, and one guy who was feeding the usual BS about his past life just stood inside the door, then took a step outside the door, not allowing anyone to pass.  The doors shut and the elevator went up again….empty.  I swore under my breath as this guy is inconsiderate on all levels. Fortunately, there aren’t many like him living here.

It’s strange that people don’t understand they have to MOVE in order to let others enter and leave the elevator.  They just STAND THERE.  Well-meaning people just stand there. Alas.

And, with only one operational “lift” until who knows when, we’ll play this game of trying to get back “home again”.   They are replacing the elevators starting in February.  No small feat.  It will be nice when the two elevators are replaced. In the meantime, none of us has anything special that needs our immediate attention.  Most people are very patient and considerate.

I just returned from a lovely little Christmas party that my neighbor, Hazel, hosted.  She had “maintenance” bring a long table from the basement that seated seven of us quite comfortably in her living room.  She ordered three large pizzas that were delivered right on time, Joy brought some Rolling Rock and we had a party.  To go with the pizza, she had a large platter of Royal Ann cherries, white and red grapes.  It was easy for her and a nice gathering for us.  The weekends can be a little long sometimes, so this was a most pleasant break.

Ally helped me with 10 Christmas treats,  for my neighbors in the hood and three others. Actually, she did it all. She filled some special jars with her mustard sauce and put them in gift bags for easy delivery.  We passed them out the other day when she was here.  It’s fun to share.

I hear the Blacksmith’s Christmas coffee in Lindsborg is exceptional so my neighbor, Dorothy, is going to pick up some on her next trip south.  It’s her home town so she knows her way around and said it wouldn’t be any trouble.

My favorite Christmas tree belongs to Mackenzie and Ty, pictured above.  It holds many of the ornaments from Brit’s and my trees over the years that we purchased all over the world during our travels.  I can pick them out for instant memories.  Mackenzie does her shopping on line so one of the issues with that is the accumulation of boxes.

Her kitty, “Skunk”, adopted her Christmas present and won’t give it up  You can see her curled up on it…next to the Christmas stocking I made for Dane many years ago.

Thanks for tuning in…

FIVE OF THE SIX SOLDIERS KILLED THIS WEEK IN AFGHANISTAN FROM FT. RILEY…

Filed under: prairie musings, Afghanistan, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 3:02 am

New information is surfacing about the soldiers killed in the single largest loss of life for foreign troops in Afghanistan in almost six months. Five of the soldiers trained together – and were based in Fort Riley in Kansas, the Pentagon announced. NBC’s Rehema Ellis reports.
By M. Alex Johnson, Staff Writer, NBC News

Five of the six U.S. soldiers who were killed in a helicopter crash this week while serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan were assigned to the same Kansas base, the Defense Department said Thursday in releasing their identities.

The six soldiers died when their Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk crashed Tuesday in Now Bahar in southern Afghanistan. The Pentagon said the crash remained under investigation.

The Pentagon identified the soldiers Wednesday as:

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy L. Billings, 34, of Heavener, Okla.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua B. Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Ariz.
Sgt. Peter C. Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, N.C.
Sgt. 1st Class Omar W. Forde, 28, of Marietta, Ga.
Spc. Terry K.D. Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Miss.
Staff Sgt. Jesse L. Williams, 30, of Elkhart, Ind.

Billings, Silverman and Bohler were all assigned to the 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, at Fort Riley, Kan.

Forde was assigned to the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade headquarters at Fort Riley, while Gordon was with the 6th Cavalry Regiment.

Williams was assigned to the regimental support headquarters of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany.

“Americans will be forever indebted to these brave soldiers who laid down their lives for our country,” Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said in a statement. As we pay tribute to their service and sacrifice, we are reminded that freedom is not free.”

Fort Riley is home to the 1st Infantry Division — the fabled “Big Red One,” which spearheaded the U.S.-led attack on Iraq in 1991.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of these Big Red One soldiers,” said the fort’s commander, Maj. Gen. Paul Funk. “We stand ready to support them, and I urge our community and nation, while remembering their sacrifices this holiday season, to do the same.”

POPE FRANCIS CONCERNED ABOUT BROWNBACK’S ECONOMIC AGENDA…

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, religion — Peg Britton @ 2:54 am

Pope Francis expresses concerns about Brownback’s economic agenda
December 19, 2013

Tim Carpenter | The Topeka Capital Journal

Gov. Sam Brownback countered Monday characterization by Pope Francis of supply-side economics framing the governor’s approach to tax reform as a byproduct of “crude and naive” faith in a marketplace that feeds injustice and inequality.

Brownback’s three years in office have been marked by the adoption of hundreds of millions of dollars in personal and business income tax cuts touted by Republican lawmakers as the best way to help society as a whole.

The trickle-down philosophy’s champion is economist Arthur Laffer, who was hired by the Brownback administration to serve as an $80,000 consultant on tax policy.

“I think what a pope from South America is saying on this is that we shouldn’t have unfettered capitalism. I agree,” Brownback said in an interview. “I don’t think he’s saying you should tax and take all the money from the private sector and it should be run by the public sector.”

Brownback, who converted to Catholicism in 2002, has said the notion of separation of church and state in the United States ought not preclude politicians from stepping into the public square to express their religious ideals.

Pope Francis, in a lengthy “Joy of the Gospel” papal document released in November, said “some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

“This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power,” the document said. “Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

This pontiff is known for personal advocacy on behalf of people living on fringes of society, and the document is viewed as a plea for Catholics to pursue profit ethically.

“Not all tax cuts are created equal,” the governor said. “If the government takes all the money and invests it, that might not work either.”

Brownback welcomed debate inspired by Pope Francis on issues touching upon religion and government.

In addition to economic policy, questions have been raised about the pope’s sentiment on abortion and gay marriage.

“They’ve been saying, ‘Well, is he not really pro-life? Does he believe in a different definition of marriage?’” Brownback said. “When you read what he says, no, he’s very pro-dignity of life and definition of marriage. He’s saying we don’t want to exclude anyone from looking at the Catholic church.”

12/17/2013

SEOUL USA KOREAN RESTAURANT…

Filed under: prairie musings, Ally Britton, restaurants/food — Peg Britton @ 9:34 pm

Ally surprised me this evening with dinner at the Korean Restaurant, my favorite place in Salina to eat.  It’s home owned and operated, which is a winner for me.   It was especially nice since she had arranged for us to meet Ann and Terry Headrick there for dinner.  As usual, I enjoyed every bite of  my dinner and the delightful conversation we had with the Headricks, Joomi and Tim Bobbett.

Ally and I split dinners.  She ordered Mandoo which is Korean fried dumplings with pork and vegetables.   She loves dumplings with dipping sauce, as do I.  I had Japchae which consists of mixed vegetables and beef with noodles made from sweet potatoes and shared it with her.  I seem to order that each time I eat there.  It came with piles of rice and all the kimchi I wanted…which was a generous amount.

I’m not sure what Ann had, but it looked very good.  Probably it was beef bulgogi.  Terry ordered ramen noodle soup which I helped myself to, and it was so good I ordered it to-go for my dinner tomorrow night. Joomi brought us a sliced orange too…which I consumed almost by myself.

It came as a surprise to me, but Joomi said someone from Presbyterian Manor had called about bringing a group from there to dinner on the 30th.  After hashing it over with Ally, Ann and Joomi, and considering it’s also International Night potluck, we decided that if Joomi fixed several of her dishes that we’d all just share.  I thought that would be easiest for the inmates.  They can try the various dishes and there will be something they are bound to like.  I like all the various flavors Joomi combines in her dishes. That way, she wouldn’t have individual dinners to prepare to order for 16 to 20 people which takes time.  We’ll have to be out of the way of the other group that will start arriving that night at 5:30.

I’m hoping that we’ll have a busload from here for that particular dinner.  Joomi’s going to fix beef bulgogi, pork bulgogi, chicken bulgogi, Japchoe, rice and two other side dishes.  The price will be $12.00 per person which includes soft drinks and tips.  I’m really looking forward to it and hope an appreciative busload from here will also partake in the event.  Life is an adventure to be lived.

Thanks for tuning in…

BROWNBACK’S SINKING SHIP ADMINISTRATION…CABINET TURNOVER HIGHEST IN RECENT HISTORY…

Filed under: prairie musings, Sam Brownback, Kansas, GOP — Peg Britton @ 8:37 pm

Brownback administration Cabinet turnover highest turnover in recent history
December 17, 2013

Andy Marso | The Topeka Capital Journal

Almost half of Brownback’s 11 permanent Cabinet secretary appointments will turn over in the first three years of his tenure, a percent that outpaces that of predecessors Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, and Bill Graves, a Republican.

After Gov. Sam Brownback was elected in 2010 he plucked Floridian Rob Siedlecki to lead the Kansas Department for Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Siedlecki swept into the secretary job with promises to refocus the social welfare agency around conservative Christian values like marriage and fatherhood. The Senate confirmed him 34-1 in March 2011, with Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, providing the lone “no” vote.

“I told the media at the time, this guy won’t last a year,” Hensley said.

He was right. After several minor controversies, Siedlecki announced his resignation in December 2011 and returned to work in Florida state government.

An unusual number of Cabinet heads followed him out the door.

Deb Miller, the lone Democrat in the Cabinet, left her post as secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation at the same time as Siedlecki left his. Karin Brownlee was forced out as secretary of the Kansas Department of Labor in September 2012. Dennis Taylor stepped down as secretary of the Kansas Department of Administration to be interim leader of the state lottery in January, but no longer heads that agency. Dale Rodman announced this month that he wouldn’t finish Brownback’s first term as secretary of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, and would make way for replacement Jackie McClaskey.

In addition to changes in Brownback’s Cabinet, a slew of other high-level appointed posts that pay at or near $100,000 a year have also been vacated.

Those include Securities Commissioner Aaron Jack, who flamed out amid multiple controversies; information technology chief Jim Mann, who lasted a week before word got out that his resume included a degree from a diploma mill; and, most recently, Kansas Corporation Commission chairman Mark Sievers, who resigned one month after the agency paid a $500 fine for violating the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political science professor who worked in the Sebelius administration, said he thought there was one factor common to many of those who failed to make it through Brownback’s first term: a mutual disdain for government.

“These are not people who believe much in government,” Loomis said. “And if you ask them to govern, you’re asking for trouble.”

Loomis said some of the appointments just below the Cabinet secretary level exposed holes in the Brownback administration’s vetting process.

Mann, chosen by Brownback to be the administration’s technology czar at $150,000 a year, was hired without anyone noticing his University of Devonshire degree came from a diploma mill. He resigned after The Topeka Capital-Journal reported on the online degree program.

Loomis also questioned Sievers’ appointment as chairman of the KCC, the state’s regulator of telecommunication, electricity, and oil and gas industries.

It was Sievers who picked Patti Petersen-Klein to be the commission’s executive director. Her caustic management style alienated employees and she was replaced this year shortly before the commission found itself embroiled in an investigation of the commission’s practice of “pink-sheeting” decisions in private rather than in public. The approach violated KOMA and resulted in the $500 fine.

“It didn’t take a great detective or a scholar to see that the whole culture there was a mess,” Loomis said.

Read the entire article online at The Topeka Capital Journal

HEERAN JO IN A BEAUTIFUL POSE…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:30 pm

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I love this photo of Heeran Jo.  She and Mack come up with some remarkable poses.  Mack is my sister’s grandson, whom I claim too, and Heeran is his wife.  I think that might be Albuquerque far below.

Thanks for tuning in…

12/16/2013

A DAY FULL OF SURPRISES….

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 10:12 pm

Today was full of surprises…and that is always special when every day is very much like Ground Hog Day.

I went to lunch and ordered bacon and eggs instead of either of the two options…chicken and dressing or riblet sandwiches.  I don’t care for either and am perfectly happy having breakfast which they prepare very well.  I take my own toast made from special bread Mackenzie brought me from St. Louis  and I took the blood orange marmalade that Lynn gave me.  It is delicious….the best I’ve ever had.

After lunch Tyler “Skyped” me from his far away place in that sand box.  It was so good to see his smiling face and see that he was well, healthy and happy. He’s shaved off his bushy mustache and I don’t mind saying he looks much better, imo, without “Fernando” on his upper lip, but if he wants a mustache, that’s perfectly fine with me.

I could see his “living quarters” as he turned his computer around for my benefit.  He has pretty tight quarters with bunk beds, a couple of dressers,  and a small area to hang clothes…and barely room to turn around.  That’s okay.  He’s used to it as are all the other CCATT members he’s with, at the moment.  He has made four flights during the past month and even got to Heidelberg over the weekend.  He has another 5 months on this tour before he can return home.

I just completed my visit with Tyler and my friend Cindy arrived for a visit.  I really miss seeing her and was delighted to have her stop by to fill me in on all her family news.  She’s a very busy woman so we don’t see each other as often as we’d like.  She’s good to stop by when she can.

Tonight was monthly Bingo and I decided to go.  It’s the third time since I’ve been here that I’ve played….and have been pretty lucky at it.  Doris and I sit together and have fun.  I won three times tonight and picked three boxes of Kleenex for my prizes.  There are plenty of choices for everyone, each worth about a dollar.  I play when I can see I’m getting low on “staple” items…kleenex, toilet tissue, toothpaste, etc.  Last time I won $7.00 worth of prizes.

They are having some kind of entertainment in the basement tomorrow night as well as a clothing showing.  I guess you buy/order whatever.  I might go just to see what it’s all about.

It’s time to turn on my music and hit the feathers.  It’s so quiet here that once I go to sleep I’m out like a light.  It’s the first time I’ve had the luxury of so much “quiet”.

Karen will get home from Atlanta tomorrow where she’s had a wonderful time taking care of her new granddaughter, Emma Grace.

Ally is coming tomorrow to deliver her mustard sauce and I hope we can go out for lunch.  It’s supposed to be nice one more day before the cold weather descends on us again.  Maybe we can run some errands tomorrow.  I’d like to go to Aldi’s and get some grapefruit.  That’s where my fellow inmates say they have the best and least expensive fresh fruit.  I can’t seem to get my fill of it.

Thanks for tuning in…

12/15/2013

GEARING UP FOR CHRISTMAS…

Filed under: prairie musings, recipes, Mackenzie, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 9:24 pm

Everyone is gearing up for Christmas.  My fellow inmates who can get out and about to shop are coming back to the Palace laden with sacks full of gifts and Christmas goodies.  Most of us just rely on Christmas envelopes to brighten the holidays for our children, grandchildren, and other loved ones.  Everyone understands.

Last night I had the most wonderful dinner at my friend Lynn’s house.  Included with the group were her mother and her mother’s Friday night dinner club.  They have included me on several occasions and I’ve enjoyed being with them.  It just happens that three of the ladies grew up in Ellsworth but have long lived in Salina so there is never a shortage of conversation about the town that holds many memories for each of us.

Lynn had her table set with lovely china and crystal with a couple of bottles of decanted wine standing close by.  Everything she served was delicious…pork loin slathered with a thick paste made of peppers and other seasonings and roasted to perfection.  She also made a very yummy butternut squash casserole and a delicious combination of two kinds of kale steamed with herbs.  For dessert, there were individual ramekins filled with warm apple cranberry dessert.

I had one of the aides from Health Care drive me to Lynn’s to avoid any possible mishaps.  Lynn brought me home as her house is only a short distance from the Palace.  It was only about 10 pm but not a creature was stirring.  For a place that is huge and has lots of residents, it’s very quiet, which I appreciate.

Today, for the first time since my arrival, the vinegar cruets on the dining tables contained apple cider vinegar rather than tasteless white distilled vinegar.  That was a pleasant surprise particularly since we had Brussels sprouts as an option for lunch.  I like my sprouts swimming in good vinegar so now I don’t have to take my own small bottle to meals which everyone thinks is a shot from the last plane trip I took.  We also had teriyaki chicken which was good, a tasty potato casserole and pumpkin pie topped with ice cream.

Today I sat with Doris, Hazel and Joy.  We always have fun together with lots of laughs.  There were lots of people missing from lunch, or so it appeared.  I guess some were just late arriving.

My granddaughter’s boyfriend’s birthday was today so she baked him what he requested…a “moist” chocolate cake. Here’s the handsome guy with a piece of his birthday cake.  Happy Birthday, Ty Walk.

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Mackenzie got the recipe from master baker Greg Connally who got it from Mildred Grubb.  It is scrumptiously delicious.  Here’s the recipe, if you’d like a good, easy and very dependable chocolate sheet cake, or layer cake:

Mildred Grubb’s Good and Moist Chocolate Cake.  2 c. all purpose flour, 2 c. granulated sugar, 2/3 cup cocoa powder (I use a little more to make it extra chocolate-y), 1 t. baking powder, 1 t. baking soda, 1 t. salt .**Whisk dry ingredients together in mixing bowl until well blended and blend 1 c. vegetable oil, 1 c. buttermilk,  2 large eggs **Add above wet ingredients til well incorporated. Once incorporated, add 1 c. boiling water ** add boiling water slowly, scraping the bottom of the mixing bowl to incorporate. **grease and dust pans with cocoa powder. I use a 9X13, or use 2-8″ cake pans. Bake at 350 until tooth pick inserted in middle of cake comes out clean. 45 minutes.

When you get the cake out of the oven, it will be domed…I usually lay a paper towel over the cake and gently push the air out of it until the top is all level…it makes it more moist, and it looks better. If doing a 9X13…I use the following “glaze”. If doing a layer cake, I use chocolate butter cream. Glaze: (in a small sauce pan) 1 stick butter (melt) 1 c. granulated sugar 1/2 c. cocoa powder pinch of salt 1 c. milk 1 t. vanilla bring to a slow rolling boil for three minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Whisk to incorporated. Pour over warm cake…glaze will soak in to cake. If you want the icing a little thicker, add powdered sugar until desired thickness is achieved.

Thanks for tuning in…

ALLY’S FAMOUS MUSTARD SAUCE IN THE MAKING…

Filed under: prairie musings, Ally Britton — Peg Britton @ 6:05 pm

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Here’s a photo of Ally cooking up another batch of mustard sauce in her spic and span clean commercial kitchen.  At this time of year she is busier than usual with orders.  If you want something special as a gift for a hostess, housewarming, friend, etc., her mustard sauce is a delicious and welcome one.  There is nothing quite like it on the market.

She’ll be back in Salina on Tuesday Dec 17th with orders that she delivers downtown at Ad Astra (where her product is used on their sandwiches).  In Ellsworth, you can pick up your orders at her Prairie Dancer farm 5 miles south of town.  Give her a ring to order:  785.472.7065. Thanks for supporting her efforts.

DOG OF THE AFTERWORLD BY LEON UNRUH

Filed under: prairie musings, Authors, Kansas — Peg Britton @ 1:25 pm

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One of the best page-turners I’ve read in a long time was made even more interesting because it was written by someone I know. I met Leon and his family when they came to Kansas several years ago to participate in the Bike Across Kansas program.  Leon and both of his sons, Sam and Nik, pedaled the entire distance without ever “walking” their bikes during the difficult uphill stretches.  His son, Nik, was the youngest to pedal the entire distance of 400 plus miles in the history of the race, as best we could determine.

Dog of the Afterworld, a mystery thriller, is described on the cover this way:
Nikolai Fyodorov, a young Russian assassin on a mission to punish a turncoat in Alaska’s largest city, is instead humiliated by a mysterious gunman.  Nikolai is given one chance to redeem himself with a new assignment that will shape the U.S. Senate — and to do it he must go to the windy, hot plains of Kansas.

What he finds is a state beset by industrial farming, extreme  right-wing politics, and kidnappers who prey on teenage girls.  Nikolai confronts the betrayal that led him into the assassin’s trade and the price he must pay for his family’s past — and he must escape the temptations of love that draws him towards his own death.

One of my favorite passages in the book sums up the plot this way:
Special Agent Barb Pellen was talking to Special Agent Fred Snike…”We have a Russian assassin in Kansas to kill a Senator, but he holds his fire –with a rifle stolen from a local man who tried to kill him — because he’s in love.  Instead, he shoots into the crowd, aiming  at a Ukrainian national hired by  the Russian mafia to kill him.  He comes back to Sandstone and is present when a conspirator is killed, and the he and his girlfriend break up a husband-wife kidnapping and child-pron operation.  They capture the Congressman’s assassin and kill the mafia assassin on top of the grain elevator during a lightning storm, and the hero nearly dies at the end of a rope but she rescues him.  We have our SWAT team arriving in black helicopters, a house fire, at least three fresh corpses here in Sandstone, and a water well stuffed with dead girls.”

Leon’s sister, Cheryl Unruh who is also a noted writer, has written an excellent review of the book which you can read HERE.

The Salina Public Library has the book available for you to read and you can purchase the book from several places including HERE and HERE.  It’s a great book that I know you will enjoy.

Thanks, Leon, for an excellent book.

Here are other articles I’ve written about the Unruhs…Here, here and here.

12/9/2013

CHRISTMAS TIME AT THE PALACE…

Filed under: prairie musings, friends, Authors, Presbyterian Manor, Rod and Genn Helus — Peg Britton @ 6:23 pm

It is hard for me to believe I’ve lived at the Palace for over a year.  I moved in the end of November 2012 and now find we’re in the repeating throes of holiday cheer; tables are laden with decorations galore to be placed here and there in the lobbies, dining room and general gathering places.

Every lobby has a decorated Christmas tree with a stack of presents underneath. All of us on the second floor took whatever nibbles we had and gathered in our floor lobby and chatted while a handful of inmates added ornaments to a tree that earlier Pete Peterson had assembled and adorned with twinkly lights.  We always say that we should do it for no reason at all, but so far that hasn’t happened.  Gather together, that is.

The second floor has more residents than any of the other floors because, unlike the other 5 regular floors, we have the addition of 2 west, the “hood” where I live.

Doors to inmate apartments are reflecting the anticipated festivities of the season.  The deliveries are more frequent and the mailman has a fuller pack than usual. The obvious thing that is missing from this picture is the joy and expectation that come from the presence of little ones.  I miss my children enormously, but also miss having children tumbling about, in general, as they are few in number here on any occasion.  Well there was an exception at the Halloween party for the employee’s children.  It was delightful to have them.

The other day I heard someone yelling at children, or so I thought.  She was saying things like, “I told you to stay right there!”,  “Why did you move when I told you not to?”, “If you don’t stand up straight, I’m going to punch you in the stomach.”  It took me a while to focus in on what was being said because  this place is so quiet you don’t generally hear conversations. This was a very one-sided conversation. It was coming from the patio below me so I actually got up to see who was making all the racket.  It was one of the aides who was trying to get huge inflatable snowmen and Santas to stand upright and not blow over.  She was cute and laughing at her assigned task and it was funny when I finally realized what was transpiring and no real children were being berated.  I have quite a Christmas scene below my windows…lights galore and “inflatables” that better stay in place.

Holidays aren’t like they once were for me or for anyone who lives here. Not being surrounded by family makes all the difference in the world in how you look at your surroundings.  You adjust and relax and appreciate what you have and recall the beautiful memories of Christmases past.

It’s amazing to me that I seem so busy.  I just don’t seem to have any idle time.  I have a new book that Amy thought I’d like, Charles Frazer’s Nightwoods.  I’m also waiting for the Salina Public Library to let me know when Leon Unruh’s book, Dog of the Afterworld arrives.  I love to read and wish I had more time for it.  There are so many books I want to read.

I also love it when people come to visit.  I’m fortunate to have friends and family who take the time to stop by.  Claudia and Mark were here Sunday and we had a good visit.  They have so little time for such things.  The last time they came to Salina…months ago…they also came to see me.

Ryon and James came last Friday to take me out to dinner.  We had a good time laughing as we share the same kind of warped humor.  It was good to see them again.  I got a good report on Rich’s and Charlie’s wedding last week in D.C.  I’m so happy for them. Finally, attitudes and laws are changing, something that I didn’t hope to see in my lifetime.  It has been a real struggle for the gay community.

Last week I went downtown to the Ultra Lounge with my friend and trivia whiz, Lynn.  We had a lot of fun trying to figure out the answers, but she ended up winning one of the three games and came in second on the other two without any help from me.  She’s got a remarkable memory.  The only answer I knew with certainty was Crockodile Dundee’s first real name.  Mick.

I went to “Art Discovery” today which is one of the many activities they offer to keep idle hands busy.  It was fun, in a weird sort of way.  I made a necklace that I’ll pawn off to someone and a little tree ornament that soon turned into a door handle ornament. I like being with the other people who live here.  They have very distinct personality traits when you get to be up in your 90’s and 100’s and plus. Nice people.

We have a new addition in the Hood….Carolyn.  Originally from Hoxie but more recently from Cuchara CO.  She’s a  lot of fun to be around and I enjoy her company.  There isn’t a lot of turnover on 2 west…the hood…as there are only 7 apartments the size of the one I’m in.  The rooms are large and that appeals to people.  There really isn’t a lot of difference in the cost of any of the apartments in the tower.

I have a young friend who is in India for her work with Hospira for  two or three weeks.  If you want to read about her experiences, which are very interesting, you can find it here.

I promised some pictures of my apartment a long time ago and I still don’t have them posted.  Tyler found my camera battery charger when he was here and I’d almost given it up for lost.  I knew it was here….someplace.  Now that I can take pictures, I’ll try to include some.

One of the really important things in my life is that I now am a great-grandmother.  Emma Grace was born to Rodney and Gennifer Helus and, of course, is one beautiful little baby.  Grandmother Karen is on her way right now to assist the new parents however she can.  She’s the lucky one.  I hope to get a daily report on the Emma’s progress.

I have posted about the International dinners they have at the Korean Restaurant.  They have been a lot of fun for me, gets me out from here and in a position to talk to complete strangers who share food as a common interest.  I like helping entrepreneurs who  are trying new and different things to expand their businesses and this is one of them. That comes from all my PEP training…Prairie Enterprise Project.   We won’t be having another dinner until next month.  I’ll see what it is and make plans to attend.  In this case, the number of places is limited and it’s first to pay, first to get on the list.  I like the idea.

I’ve rambled way too long, but I needed to add something about life in the Palace to my blog.  It’s a great place to be…I’d most likely be turning in to a vegetable if I were still home.  I have challenges here, interesting people to talk with on a daily basis, friends that I love to be with, things to do, places to go…life is very good here and I don’t wish to be anywhere else.  And, it’s a very safe place to live.  You can’t find that just anywhere in the world.

Thanks for tuning in…

12/5/2013

HELL EXPLAINED BY A CHEMISTRY STUDENT AT UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA…

Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 2:35 pm

This has been around a while, but I thought it was worth posting.
Hell Explained by Chemistry Student

The following is reputed to be an actual question given on a University of Arizona chemistry mid term, and an actual answer turned in by a student.

The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well:

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

“First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving, which is unlikely. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave.Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

“Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

“This gives two possibilities:

“1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

“2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

“So which is it?

“If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, ‘It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,’ and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct–leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being. Which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting ‘Oh my God.’”

12/2/2013

OUR PRECIOUS NEW FAMILY MEMBER…EMMA GRACE, DAUGHTER OF RODNEY AND GENNIFER…

Filed under: prairie musings, Rodney and Gennifer Helus — Peg Britton @ 10:51 pm

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My first great-grandchild….

GRANDSON DREW DOING SOME SERIOUS BOARDING…

Filed under: prairie musings, Drew Britton — Peg Britton @ 10:46 pm

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