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Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 10:56 am


Doris Wyatt and I …enjoying Dale Anderson’s birthday party. Kim Fair photo.

The month is about to draw to a conclusion and I have no idea how it slid by so fast. The Palace is not exactly a bevy of activity yet we are all sufficiently busy and enjoy our days and each other.

A good time is always in store when Dale Anderson’s daughters and grandchildren are here visiting.  Yesterday was his birthday so his daughters, Dalene and Karen and granddaughter Leah, had a celebration for him.  A wonderful chocolate cake and a mound of good cookies were on the menu.  A good time was had by all.  Ally came to spend the day with me so she was here to mingle with her new friends. She’s getting to be a regular here too.

I didn’t really want much for dinner after the party and as I was reading, it seemed a good opportunity to have an apple and some cheese.  I was just about to slice an apple when in walked Hazel, my next door neighbor, with a fabulous large filet of salmon, for each of us, stuffed with crab and other good things and baked to perfection.   She pulled up a chair and we sat and each enjoyed the wonderful treat.  That was all we needed as each piece was huge….and it tasted so good.  Hazel and I both enjoy good food.

Tomorrow ends our Palace football season with the final “banquet”.  I can’t imagine what that means.  It won’t be what one envisions, I do know that.  Or, it would be surprising, if it did.  I think I’ll opt out of the next competitive sporting activity.

Jambalaya is on the menu for lunch.  That or a cheeseburger.  The last time they served jambalaya I passed over it then found out it was really quite good.  So, today I’ll order it and hope it’s as good as the sample I had last time.   You never know, but I think over all, things in that department are improving.

I have a couple of Netflix movies and my friend Ivy Marsh is always game to watch them with me.  I was out of wine, but Ally toted some from the store for me yesterday and that is always a draw for Ivy.  She loves her red wine, dark chocolate and movies.

I love living here at the Palace.  I went from “coping” while I was living alone in Ellsworth to “thriving” here among friends. Life is crazy good.

Thanks for tuning in …



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

First of All …
Let 2014 be the year we start accepting atheists
January 18
The Kansas City Star

I don’t make resolutions, but January always inspires me. There’s something about the bright cold sunshine and the bare trees that reveals things that are hidden in spring, summer and fall.
Also, after the holiday hullabaloo subsides but before the ground yields to a spade, there is an enforced downtime, as a friend describes it, that fosters reflection on societal currents and how I fit in.

As I was hiking recently at Chase State Fishing Lake outside Cottonwood Falls, Kan., marveling at the grandeur of the rugged hills and thousands of geese sunning themselves on an ice-sheeted lake, I thought that in the same way that 2013 saw a tidal shift in attitudes toward gays in America, 2014 portends a wave of acceptance for one of the few remaining groups people feel justified in disrespecting: atheists.

One of my great heroes, open-water swimmer Diana Nyad, pried open the door a few inches for nonbelievers on Oprah Winfrey’s “ Super Soul Sunday” in October, after Nyad’s historic Cuba-to-Florida swim.

Winfrey challenged Nyad’s self-proclaimed atheism after Nyad described having feelings of wonder and awe, saying: “Well, I don’t call you an atheist then. I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery, that that is what God is. … It’s not a bearded guy in the sky.”

It’s hard to imagine Winfrey remarking to a guest who proclaimed herself gay, “Well, I don’t call you gay then.” That would be rude. But to tell an atheist she isn’t an atheist is OK somehow.

Nyad wasn’t having it. She told Winfrey, “It isn’t bearded, but there is inference with God that there is a presence. … I think you can be an atheist who doesn’t believe in an overarching being who created all of this and sees over it.”

According to Pew and Gallop, a lot of Americans agree with her. Gallop found the number of atheists has grown from just over 1 percent in 2005 to 5 percent in 2012. Pew found 1 in 4 Americans do not identify with a religion, the highest percentage ever. Among that group, 13 million Americans describe themselves as atheists, and 33 million say they have no particular religious affiliation.

I suspect a large number of the 33 million are in-the-closet atheists who don’t want to be the only person in their family, workplace or book club to use the “A”-word.

Let me go first: My name is Cindy, and I am an atheist.

Wow, that sounds weird. For decades, when the subject of faith has come up, I have given friends and acquaintances whatever answer I thought would make them comfortable without crossing over into outrageous lies.

My fellow nonbelievers know all the standard dodges: “I am very spiritual.” “I believe in God but not organized religion.” “I think there is a supreme being” and the new fave of atheists everywhere, “I love Pope Francis!” I am sure some people who say these things are actually spiritual and not atheists, but maybe not as many as you think.

Once at a cocktail party I told someone who asked about my faith that I was a Judeo-Presbyterian-Mennonite-atheist. I love the Jewish emphasis on learning and philanthropy, the live-and-let-live message of the Presbyterian services I occasionally attended as a child and the pacifism and service of Mennonites, but ultimately I think all religions are human inventions. Nothing wrong with that: Humans have created wonderful things. Look at Michaelangelo’s “David” and our Constitution.

I think religion expresses a human striving to live a virtuous, meaningful life. But you can lead a virtuous, meaningful life without religion.

A new church for the Godless called Sunday Assembly has been attracting crowds in 14 U.S. cities, including Dallas, Chicago and Nashville, but not Kansas City. They offer fellowship, social interaction and networking without the religious component. Scientific talks and pop songs replace Scripture and hymns. Their motto is “Live better, help often, wonder more.” What’s wrong with that?

Salon jumped on the atheist wave last week, posting a column with the headline “15 ways atheists can stand up for rationality.” Author Jeffrey Tayler argued, “There is no reason why we should shy away from speaking freely about religion, no reason why it should be thought impolite to debate it, especially when, as so often happens, religious folk bring it up on their own and try to impose it on others.”

I appreciate his logic — if it is OK to say you believe in God, it should be OK for me to say I don’t. But some of his suggestions sound confrontational; for example, opting out when invited to join hands and say grace before a meal. I think that’s just silly. I will keep on saying grace with friends and family who enjoy that, and we’ll skip it when they eat at my place.

Part of the reason a lot of atheists masquerade as “unaffiliated” came to light when Fox News host Gretchen Carlson used “atheists” to refer to Satanists on Twitter. Carlson’s innocent mistake reveals a misconception held by many people of faith: that not believing in God is the same as hating God or even worshipping the devil.

Not so. Just as gay marriage is not a threat to straight marriage, atheism is not a threat to religion.

Religious freedom means everybody is allowed to believe what they want. It’s time atheists are accorded the same respect as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians.

Read more here:



Filed under: prairie musings, Mackenzie, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 1:37 pm

If you want to surprise someone here with… say… a birthday party, tell no one.  Keep it under your hat because once someone else knows, EVERYONE knows.  It’s pretty funny, actually.  My friend, Dale, who lives here has two daughters who wanted to surprise him Tuesday with a birthday party and told the person in charge of such events who immediately confused Dale with John.  She told John she wanted his picture for publications etc. and he wondered why.  Now, why wouldn’t you?.  By the time she figured John wasn’t Dale, the cat was out of the bag and everyone in the Palace knew there was a party coming up.  Don’t even try.  The point was not to talk about it to anyone, John, Dale or anyone.

I’ve had some wonderful company lately.  Jannie Gro came to visit last week.  I hadn’t seen her in several months so her visit was a very nice surprise.  Brit and I spent many wonderful occasions with her parents, Jack and Mazie Grothusen,  and we’ve always been very fond of their children.

Eddie Jilka popped in from Silverton over the holidays as he’s done every Christmas since he was about 14.

Lynn, Jane and I went to the Blue Skye Brewery and Eats Wednesday night for a beer and pizza then ambled down to the Ultra Lounge for a Flat Tire and Trivia.  Lynn won again, as she always does.  It’s fun.  We were surrounded by young men, two from New York, who were a delight and so funny.  They thought they were going to beat Lynn, but of course they didn’t even come close.  It’s still a mystery how they learned of it, but they were passing though Kansas from CA on their way back to NY and stopped to play trivia in Salina.  How do you learn about such obscure events when you’re cruising down the highway?

Last night I was included in Lynn’s mother’s  Friday night dinner group and had a wonderful meal that Lynn  prepared for us.  She always puts a new twist on everything including the best brownies I’ve ever had.  I won’t tell you the secret ingredients or you won’t believe me.

The monthly outing for dinner was supposed to be to Kanza Yanza, a downtown eatery.  But the place was closed when the group arrived.  Someone forgot to check to see when they were open so they went to The Olive Garden instead.  I think if I’d been on the bus I would have been tempted to take a cab home.  I just don’t care much for the food there.  Next month the group is going to Blue Skye Brewery and Eats so I’ll sign up for that.  There are lots of good things on their menu…and off…I haven’t yet tried.  Their thin crust pizzas and hamburgers are wonderful.

My friend Doris loaned me her Christmas books, a trilogy by Jeffrey Archer.  I’m reading “Best Kept Secret”, the last book in the series.  I’ve already devoured the first two, “Only Time Will Tell” and “The Sins of the Father”.  Archer can tell a story with such conviction and such appealing naivete that you suspend disbelief and read happily on.

Doris is one of my best friends here and I usually have lunch with her every day.  She is 20 years older than I, but when you get to be as old as we are that doesn’t seem to matter. I enjoy her sense of humor enormously.  She fell in the shower this morning and it emotionally unnerved her, for just cause, as it took a half hour for someone to find her.  She said she didn’t have anything else to do while she was waiting for help, and as the water was cascading over her, she took advantage of the opportunity and  shampooed her hair. Indomitable Doris.

My granddaughter, Mackenzie, has a birthday on Monday.  I can’t believe she’ll be 31. It just doesn’t seem possible.  I hope you have a wonderful birthday, Mackenzie.

Thanks for tuning in….



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:32 am

Safety Warning: Consumption of some sugar-free candies may cause stomach discomfort and/or a laxative effect. Individual tolerance will vary. If this is the first time you’ve tried these candies, we recommend beginning with one-fourth of a serving size or less.


Oh, gummy bears! They’re so tasty and delicious you can never eat just one. In fact most of us eat them by the handful.   And with diet season in full swing, some of us may be looking at the sugar-free alternative to help ease the gummy bear cravings.

But before you hop on Amazon to make a bulk purchase of the sugar-free variety, you just might want to read the safety warnings.  Or better yet, take a look at the user submitted reviews. We’ve compiled the best of the best for you here at Slightly Viral…

Sugarless gummy bears may taste like the original but these come with a safety warning…



Filed under: prairie musings, Ally Britton, Todd Britton, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 2:28 pm

It’s like spring today…45 degrees and climbing.  The ice hasn’t melted around the parking garage so it has taken some careful maneuvering to get to cars that are parked in that area. I leave my car in the front parking lot for that reason, and when it rains it gets rinsed off.

Most of the inmates here who are still driving own old cars.  That figures.  Old cars are “comfortable” for them and they don’t want to learn to drive a new/different car.  And, the old ones are usually bigger, easier to get in and from which to extricate one’s self.  Recently, one of my friends had a new transmission put in her old car for those reasons.  She didn’t even consider buying a new car although financially it probably would have been more prudent.

Today is the KU-KState game and the inmates are all geared up for the big showdown.  My neighbor, Hazel, who bakes fantastic pies has a warm cherry pie to share after the game today.  Joy is going down the hill to Braum’s for vanilla ice cream to go with the pie.  I love my “neighborhood” and my neighbors.

Ally and I were in the south part of town having lunch Thursday and saw Ellsworthites Hector and Jean.  That was fun.  I miss seeing my Ellsworth friends.  I also had “football” on Thursday.    I’m on Team B and we fell behind this week.  The game involves throwing bean bags at a hole on a board…the object is to get it through the hole, so everyone can play.  When I signed up for it…just to see what it was…I didn’t realize it involved every Thursday all month…five of them.  My friend, Susie, who lives in a retirement facility in K.C. is playing “soccer”….all the same thing, I presume.  It must be a popular activity for the elderly.

Eddie is in Salina from Silverton for a week, so he’ll be stopping by to visit me. His uncle, Bud Jilka, who was a freshman walk-on basketball player for K-State in 1947, will be honored with other players Friday and Saturday in Manhattan.

Todd will be here Monday to attend International night at the Korean Restaurant featuring Sicilian  food. Tim Bobbett will do the cooking using his grandmother’s family recipes.  Todd and I will go early and save seats for Ann and Terry, Martha and Kent.  Spending the evening with friends enjoying interesting/different food, and a bottle of wine,  is a good way to spend the evening. It will be nice to spend the evening with Todd.

Oh, if you forget a corkscrew for the wine, you can open it with your shoe.  See how here…

I’m enjoying a growler of Salvation…Belgian I think, that Drew and Tyler gave me for Christmas.  It’s the first of several and very good.  I have two movies to watch again…The Town and Fracture….to go with the beer.

Life at the Palace is good.

Thanks for tuning in…



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




Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 8:44 am


Photo by Ally Britton, Dec. 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 rarity that she repeats a song.  She has hundreds, maybe thousands of them, tucked away in her mind.  They just roll off her fingertips.

Ivis is one of the “stylish dressers” at the Palace.  She has a wardrobe of clothes that is suitable for royalty, which she is.

It’s becoming difficult for her to play sometimes as her vision is failing her, but after she finds middle C on the piano, she’s off to the races.   She’s had to give up some of her lifetime favorites…reading, playing cards and watching TV, but playing the piano is her passion and will be the last thing she gives up, she says.

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 “hand, 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 almost 103 and is sharp as a tack.  She has the quickest wit and the best sense of humor of anyone here.  She is truly an amazing and wonderful woman.  She’s one of my favorite residents, a treasure, and one of the reasons I love living here.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 1:17 pm

It has taken over a year, but today I’m actually cooking something “substantial” from scratch.  There is nothing like a bowl of hot, spicy chili on a frigid day and nothing quite like  Jesse Manning’s recipe for Habanero Hell Fire Chili.  It’s just the best, I think.

Since I can’t run to the grocery store to pick up supplies, I had to improvise.  I prefer kidney beans to chili beans but only had red beans to soak and cook for my mixture. I was up and sleepless around 3:00 am to get the fire going under them.  I’ve never quite liked the addition of bacon so I leave that out.  I think if the bacon were ground then fried crisp, I’d like the texture better.  But everything else is pretty much the same as Jesse’s.  I still have an assortment of very hot peppers…all hotter than jalapenos, which I consider mild… in my freezer which were among the first to be moved to my new location.

The menu for lunch doesn’t sound very good…Salisbury steak or turkey meat loaf.  I’ve tried both and will opt for bacon and eggs…always available, always good.  I take my own toast and jam…and hot sauce for my V-8.  I carry a grocery store with me which helps to satisfy my taste buds and those of my participating table mates.

Which reminds me.  We have open seating here at the Palace, but it hasn’t always been so.  Some of the old-timers reflect on the days of assigned seating with obvious horror and relief at the change.  But that isn’t so with everyone as there are some rigid souls here whose lives are so structured they want everyone else to be structured too.

Back in those days you were assigned table mates and sat with them everyday,  for two years, or some such unfathomable stretch of time. I’ve heard stories about it and am glad that’s no longer a rule.  Not everyone here is your best buddy and I can’t imagine being stuck for two years with people you just plain don’t care for.  Familiarity doesn’t always soften the edges.

One of the joys of having lunch here (which generally is not related to the food) is the friendliness of those with whom we choose to sit.  Today I sat with Perry, Doris and Margie and had a lot of laughs. Doris sits in the same place every day as she uses a wheelchair. I most frequently sit with her.  Margie likes a seat where she can see everyone and “observe” the inmates and their peculiarities.  We all enjoy her “observations”.  Perry has a great sense of humor and is always a delight to be with.

My neighbors on 2 west tend to sit with one another…as we all get along so well and enjoy the same kind of humor.  We sit at tables for four.  Pete and Dale, who are great friends, are usually somewhere in the group.  Dale, being a creature of habit, sits at the same place at the same table every day.

There are some people here who simply don’t talk or can’t carry on a conversation.  There are people who sit down and eat, get up and leave and never say one word.   I also avoid the men’s tables as men here don’t talk… with few exceptions.  They flock together and are speechless.  Those are the people I try to avoid and fortunately, they are few in number.  It takes a while to figure this out.

I imagine I’ll be eating my chili by myself as most inmates here have experienced bland food for so long their taste buds would explode if exposed to something flavorful.  Hellfire chili just might throw them over the edge.  Maybe some outsiders will come and join me.

I’m in the movie business now…chief operator.  I accept beer for my hard work.  To backtrack a little, I subscribed again to Netflix, both DVD’s and steaming.  Drew was here over Christmas and helped me with it.  I had it for years but gave it up several years ago when it all became boring.  I have a large screen TV and offered to show The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to anyone who wanted to see it.  There were four groups of takers and we all had fun watching the movie, which is one of my favorites.  Good thing since I’ve seen it about half a dozen times.  So, as I get movies that others might enjoy, they can come watch.

My next door neighbor, Hazel, is a gem.  She’s always baking or making something good.  During one of my showings, she arrived with warm-out-of-the-oven thick slabs of bread slathered with butter for each of the movie goers.  That was a real treat and fun.   At one showing, Joy brought a six pack of Shiner Bock.  That pleased the operator.

The temperature is dropping…down to 28 right now. I’m warm, cozy and comfortable and have no place I have to go.  Life is good.

Thanks for tuning in…



Filed under: prairie musings, Eat, restaurants/food — Peg Britton @ 8:13 pm

My friend Lynn and I wanted to try the Blue Skye Brewery for dinner and their brews so we headed that way after Trivia today.  This is a new brew pub  that opened last month.  It’s located at 116 N. Santa Fe and is attractive, neat and clean inside.  There are heavy wooden tables  that can seat 8-10 and a few four top tables. You sit wherever you can find a seat and share the table with others.  There is a side room for private parties.

The line tonight to get inside close to the taps  stretched from the bar two and four abreast out the front door and down the street from about 5 o’clock on.  They open at 4:30 and that would be a good time to arrive.

They currently have five  house brewed beers on tap like pale ale, red ale, stout and wheat beers. They also have 5 other taps. We each got a flight of beer so we could see what they make and which we preferred. They also have a beer from a Manhattan brewery.  Wine and spirits are also available.

The brewers have just introduced their first seasonal crafted beer…the Ebenezer Vanilla Porter.  It’s a robust porter with vanilla and a hint of cinnamon spice.  I found it a little heavy on the vanilla but it’s a good dark beer, which I prefer.


They have an authentic Italian fire brick oven where they make their specialty pizzas that everyone is raving about. Their Chef, Kyle Baxter, originated the recipes on their menu. From Italian to Thai-style pizzas you will definitely find something you’ll like.  The food menu features a dozen or so wood-fired oven pizzas with thin tasty crusts that don’t take long for them to deliver to your table.

We’re going back to try the pizzas, but tonight we opted for hamburgers which are served  with sides of macaroni salad…both spicy and good.  Fries are extra but we had those too.   I haven’t had a good hamburger in ages so I really enjoyed this one.

One of the two women who shared their table with us had a salad that was HUGE and looked wonderfully appetizing.  It was enough to serve four people generously.  I’d like to try it sometime and share with a handful of friends.

Joe and Mary Lou Mackenzie were there and stopped by our table to visit. They were classmates and good friends of Todd’s and we’ve stayed in touch.  Joe IS the Salina Public Library.  We shared our table with people who, as it turned out, Lynn had met when she first moved to Salina.  You’re bound to rub elbows with someone you know.

We hear reports about the other brewery on south 9th where they only serve beer.  If you want something to eat, you can take your own food, sandwich, casserole, crockpot…it doesn’t matter.  At this point in my life, I don’t want to attend potluck dinners or take my own food anywhere…I want to experience what someone else is willing to prepare.   But, I’ll go try the beer, which I hear is very good with many options to choose from.

If you have time to stop by the Blue Skye Brewery for dinner, I think you’ll really enjoy it.  The Brewery has to be a good shot in the arm for downtown Salina.  Maybe some day soon they’ll be open for lunch.  That would be a good thing.

Thanks for tuning in…


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