Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ironweed Is Blooming

Tall purple wildflower in autumn

Every autumn, here in Kentucky, I saw a tall purple wildflower but I didn't know its name

Then I read somewhere that Joe Pye weed is a tall, fall-blooming wildflower, common in Kentucky, and that it adds color to the landscape this time of the year. I was sure I had learned the identity of my purple flowers, so I began referring to them as "Joe Pye weed."

My tall purple wildlfowers are blooming all over this part of the county right now. It has been a good year for them. I stopped along the road a few days ago and took some photos.

When I got home, I decided to look up a little information about Joe Pye weed -- and that's when I discovered that this flower is actually ironweed. Boy, do I feel silly. "Ah orta node." (I'm lapsing into dialect to draw attention away from my red face.)

I should have known because a similar-but-shorter flower grows in Nebraska marshes and lowlands. Now that I've heard the name, I've made the association.

In Kentucky, we have tall ironweed (Vernonia altissima) that can reach 10 feet in height. The Nebraska flower is prairie ironweed, (Vernonia fasciculata Michx.,) typically 2 to 4 feet tall. The flowers of prairie and tall ironweed are quite similar.

It's not surprising that the 30 varieties of Vernonia found in the U.S. are all members of the aster family. Given the spiky flowers and the late-summer blooming schedule, it makes perfect sense.

One day last week. I was riding with friends through the countryside to the little settlement of Kirkmansville. In a field along the road, I saw an impressive stand of a wildflower that I didn't recognize. They had big pinkish-purple blooms. Now that I've seen photos of Joe Pye weed, I think that might be what they were. However, I'm going to get a positive ID before I start calling them by name!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Indelible Image

Frozen in time

I remember a slim young woman at a subway (U-bahn) station in Berlin, Germany. She was one of several dozen strangers who were standing along the tracks, waiting for the train. When it rolled into the station, she ran lightly through the doors of one of the cars. How fresh and free she looked.

Little Keely was clutching one of my hands, and I had a folded umbrella stroller in my other hand. Baby Isaac was in a carrier on my chest, and my bag of necessaries was over my shoulder. Laden as I was, I admired the nimble, easy way the young woman moved and the swirl of her skirt as she turned. "I used to be like that," I thought. "I'll be like that again," (I was indulging in a moment of fantasy.)

By now, the girl in my mind is about the age I was when I saw her. I'm sure time has changed her, but in my mind's eye, she's still young, slender, and very quick and graceful. I've thought of her many times.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Smoking Tobacco Barn

Firing begins.

Our neighbor's barn is full of tobacco, and now he's firing (fire-curing) the tobacco.

Inside the barn, sawdust is smoldering in trenches or a pit on the barn floor. A pile of sawdust stands ready between the barn and the highway. Hardwood slabs are usually burned along with the sawdust. If you are curious about the process, the University of Kentucky document, Harvesting, Curing, and Preparing Dark-Fired Tobacco for Market (pdf), is a good summary of the science of fire-curing.

Tonight the wind is carrying the smoke our way. We have some windows open this evening, and we can smell the smoke in the house. I don't enjoy the odor, so I closed the windows on the side that the breeze was coming through, and that helped.

Tobacco firing doesn't last too long. In a few weeks, this will be over. Before then, the wind will switch again and the smoke will blow somewhere else.

Related post: New Tobacco Barn
On the web: Image of the smoke-filled interior of a tobacco barn:1

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Corn for Silage

Tractor and silage chopper

A neighbor is chopping his field of tall corn for silage this week. Yesterday evening, he had made a few rounds with his tractor and chopper before parking for the night. I suppose he was checking out his machinery to see if it was all working correctly.

Today when I passed by, harvest was proceeding full steam ahead. The farmer was driving his tractor down the rows of corn, pulling the chopper and a big metal wagon. Chopped cornstalks were arching out of the chopper's long spout, in a steady stream into the wagon. Another tractor was taking a full wagon to be emptied.

I am curious where this silage is being stored. I doubt if it's going into a pit silo because we usually get a lot of winter rain in Kentucky. A pit silo would quickly become a pond. I don't think this farmer has any upright silos, so the silage is probably going to a bunker silo or perhaps just a silage pile on the ground or on a concrete slab.

It's not too common around here to chop corn for silage, unless you are a Mennonite farmer. They like the tall, cylindrical silos made of interlocking concrete staves that were popular fifty years ago or more. They often buy old, unused silos of this sort from local "English" farmers to reconstruct on their own farms.

Wherever the chopped corn plants are ensiled, it's vital to pack it thoroughly to eliminate air pockets and to cover it tightly right away. Air in the silage increases the growth of mold and and slows the fermentation that changes the green chop into silage. Making silage is a lot like making sauerkraut on a very large scale -- the crock must be tightly packed and the lid put in place.
Stave silo image from the NPS

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Six Things

About me

I was recently tagged by Angie of 5 Kids, My Husband, and Me. I'm supposed to tell six things about myself, so here goes:

  • My favorite quick breakfast is toasted homemade rolls with peanut butter.
  • Most rooms in my house are painted in shades of ivory. Will I continue this trend when I repaint the bathroom? Only time will tell.
  • I wear the same pair of earrings most of the time, and most of my work wardrobe is built around black slacks.
  • I prefer two-lane highways and backroads, paved or unpaved.
  • I would love to take the next few months off from my job!
  • I am a lifelong cat-lover, even though both our kitties are terribly disobedient and disrespectful.

I'm supposed to tag six other bloggers, but I don't usually have much luck with that. Instead, anyone is welcome to do the meme and let us know the link in the comments here. Thanks.

New Tobacco Barn

Tobacco harvest has begun

Our neighbor tore down a rickety old wooden barn and put up this handsome new pole barn last spring. He has begun harvesting his tobacco, and as you can see through the open doors, he's filling the barn.

The following is gossip, because I didn't see it with my own eyes. I heard it from another neighbor. As the tobacco was loaded into the barn and the weight inside the building increased, the soil began breaking away from a corner pole on the opposite side of the building. Perhaps the dirt was not compacted enough after it was bulldozed into place.

When I passed by the barn just a few minutes after hearing the story, I saw a ready-mix truck pouring out concrete at one corner of the barn. I hope that solved the problem, whatever it was.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Turn for the Better

Things are looking up.

You may know that I had shingles this spring. Thank goodness, I haven't had any pain from that for quite a while. However, the top of my left hand is still numb, starting at the middle joint of my little finger and spreading upward. About half of my wrist is numb, and above that, my arm is back to normal. The numbness doesn't keep me from doing anything, but I'll be glad when it fades out completely.

While my immune system was weak, I also picked up a wart virus. Or maybe I just spread the wart that's been on the side of my finger for years. At any rate, by the time the shingles were getting a little better, I had a really painful plantar wart on the ball of my right foot.

I showed the doctor my wart, and he said it would be best to cut it out. He said to ask for a couple of days off. I have to request time off three weeks in advance at my job. As it happened, the doctor was going out of town during my first available week, so I waited about a month for my day of surgery.

During my waiting period, I stayed ambulatory by using those corn pads that look like a miniature pink foam doughnut. I centered the hole of a small corn pad over the wart. Then I centered the hole of a larger corn pad over the small one. Over that, I put a couple of giant bandades to hold the pads in place and add a little more cushioning.

I'll withhold the gruesome details of the little surgery, except that the doctor cut a hole in my foot that was 3/8-inch deep x 3/16-inch wide. It was a fairly large wart. He cauterized the hole on the inside and sent me on my way. After a weekend off, I resumed a normal work schedule. I'm still using the corn pads and bandades over the hole, but it is growing shut. It's only a little more painful now than the wart was!

Meanwhile, we noticed that our bathroom floor had a soft spot and it was getting worse rapidly. We thought it was from water seeping under the caulking around the tub. We decided that, if we had to tear up the flooring, we would also take out the tub/shower and put in a nice, large shower stall with benches. (We prefer showering to bathing, but besides that, we're not getting any younger. We don't want to fall while trying to climb in or out of the tub.)

So we employed a fellow to do the job. After he tore into things, we learned that we also had a leak and a big rotten area under and around the vanity. In fact, this leak was probably the culprit for most of the damage.  We ended up with an alarming portion of the bathroom floor torn out to the floor joists (which, fortunately, were still OK).

Tonight, I'm happy that the subfloor is in and the new shower is hooked up. The drywall isn't finished, and the tile isn't laid, but it was great to take a real shower at home tonight. For over a week, we've been showering at Keely's house, showering at the Y, skinny-dipping in the little tank outside after dark (whew, that cold water is refreshing!) and sponge bathing in the half-bath.

Our fix-it guy gives us a portion of his day (most days), and the rest goes to another job for which he is the contractor. This means the repair job is progressing, but not too fast. We were forewarned about this, and he seems to be doing a good job. Tomorrow, his drywall guy is coming. I think the tile will come next after that.

Shingles gone, hole in my foot healing, bathroom situation improving-- yes, life is definitely taking a turn for the better. And really, I'm not complaining. I'm just reporting the news. These are the little speed bumps I've been experiencing on life's highway recently. They've slowed me down enough to make me appreciate a few things that I'd been taking for granted. I'm grateful that my problems are minor and that I can look forward to improvement.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gas Price: August 20, 2008

Price of gasoline in Hopkinsville, KY

The price of regular unleaded tonight at Murphy's (the WalMart gas station) was $3.469 per gallon. That beats the $3.529 per gallon that I paid last time I put gas in my car. I hope the lower prices hold for a while.

The propane truck filled the tank at our house a few days ago. It took 100 gallons, and the cost was $249.00. $2.49 per gallon -- ouch! We'll be burning as little of that as possible. Thank goodness for the wood stove.

I heard a news item on the radio a few days ago that urged everyone who is heating with propane or natural gas to get their house winterized and to work out a levelized payment worked out with their gas company. We are planning to get some more insulation in our attic before winter.

The propane guy didn't even bring the bill to the door as he ordinarily does. He tucked it under the gauge, closed down the dome on the tank, and left. He's probably tired of talking about the high cost of propane.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ben Franklin Store in Hopkinsville

New crafts store open

When I heard about a new Ben Franklin Crafts store in Hopkinsville, I was interested. WalMart has been our primary source of such items since JoAnn Fabrics closed its Hopkinsville store a dozen years ago or more. Now, rumors abound that our WalMart will be closing its sewing and crafts section soon.

Keely and I decided to investigate. We drove about a mile west of town on Highway 272 (Canton Pike) to the Oak View Plaza. The Ben Franklin is located on the right of the Food Lion grocery store.

It is not a large store, but it has a decent selection of craft items. More items are to be added as stock arrives (oil and acrylic paints and supplies, picture framing.)

Scrapbookers will find a variety of papers and embellishments. For beaders, the store has an assortment of beads and jewelry findings. Several hundred printed cotton fabrics are in stock, along with sewing notions. We saw lots of doodads and gadgets for most of the major needlecrafts, as well as basic materials.

Not surprisingly, the prices are a little higher than we've been paying at WalMart. However, if WalMart's craft department closes, it will certainly be more economical to pay the Ben Franklin price than to make a 60-mile round trip to a Clarksville, TN, craft store. Meanwhile, I'm going to give the BF a little business so maybe it will still be open if/when we lose the WalMart craft supplies.

The store is owned and operated by Anne K. Koehne (at right in the above photo), and it's open from 10 AM to 7 PM daily, except Sunday when the hours are 1 PM to 5 PM. That's Keely at left, giving me a look for taking her picture.

I was surprised that the store is a Ben Franklin. I had imagined that Ben Franklin went out of business years ago.

We had a Ben Franklin store in Bassett, Nebraska, when I was growing up. Looking back, I realize that it always had lots of craft items. I remember crochet threads and yarn, fabrics and sewing notions, tubes of fabric paint, and lots of kits -- kits for embroidered pillowcases and kitchen towels and quilt blocks, latch-hook rug kits, and of course, paint-by-number kits in various levels of difficulty.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Duff Valley

Southern Rock County, Nebraska

Here are a few photos of the Duff Valley in Rock County, Nebraska. This is the neighborhood where I grew up. I took these pictures during the several quick visits I've made there in the last decade or so.

About 26 miles south of Bassett, Nebraska, a gravel road runs west from the highway, over the Adams Hill, through the Duff area and on through the Sandhills to Long Pine. When I visited Duff in 2000, this sign (above photo) marked the turn-off from Highway 183. Some of the names on the sign are familiar to me as new generations of old neighbor families, and some names are new to me.

This photo of the Duff School, my grade school alma mater, was taken during our visit in 2000. The people in the photo are Aaron Rowse, my daughter Keely, my son Isaac, and me. I was surprised that the school building was so small! I remembered it as a larger structure. The Duff School was located 3 miles west and 1 mile south of Highway 183.

We drove through the Duff area again in early June of 2002. I was surprised to see all the Canada geese on this meadow, along the Duff road about 3-1/2 miles west of Highway 183.

The Duff Cemetery had just been cleaned for Memorial Day, and it really looked nice. I hadn't remembered it as such a pretty little country cemetery. However, it was a bit of a shock to see tombstones for people whom I used to know. The Duff Cemetery is located about 3-1/2 miles west of Highway 183, or about 1/2 mile east of Duff (point A) as shown on this Google map.

I was surprised to see that many of the cottonwood trees in Duff Valley (and throughout Rock County) are dying. They live about 100 years, so it's been about that long since many of them were planted by early settlers.

This is the gate of the ranch where I grew up. The ranch buildings (photo below) are a little over a mile from this gate, by the road. The buildings have deteriorated, especially the big barn. The ranch has had several owners since we lived there, and times have been hard. I don't know if anyone is living there now or not.

The Duff Church, which I wrote about recently, was 4 miles west from Highway 183. To reach our place (above), we turned south at the Duff Church, and followed the county road and then the ranch road for about another 2 miles.

These photos were taken a few miles west/northwest of Duff. These wetlands are probably some of the headwaters of the Skull Creek that runs through the Duff Valley. Actually, these scenes are closer to the former post office of Spragg (opened 1888, closed 1912) than to the former post office of Duff (opened 1886, closed 1901, and open again 1903-1953).

Some Memories of Duff, Nebraska
Posts on this blog that mention Duff, Nebraska

Empty Buildings and Unrelated Stuff

Interesting link

Speaking of deserted buildings, ghost towns, and the like, Keely's friend Taurus sent me an interesting link a couple of weeks ago.

20 Abandoned Cities from Around the World: Deserted Towns and Other Derelict Places

The article has interesting photographs and a short summary of each city's history. These places were abandoned, despite having many more residents than Duff, Nebraska, (or Rose, Nebraska, an empty set of buildings near Duff) ever did.

Unrelated Notes

1. Please check out the Hangman game at the bottom of this page and post a comment if it doesn't work for you or if it looks strange in any way.  To begin playing, just type a letter into the box.

2. We have a lot going on at our house right now. The main bathroom is all torn out and we're showering at the Y.  All in all, the disruption is absorbing a lot of my free time. Things will be back to normal in a couple of weeks, whereupon Prairie Bluestem will resume its normal pace.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Courthouse and Old Jail in Bowling Green, KY

Historic buildings in Warren County, Kentucky

Isaac and I were in Bowling Green, KY, a few weeks ago, hunting down the old Warren County jail building. Cleverly, I forgot to bring the street address with me. I'm not at all familiar with Bowling Green's geography, either. After driving around downtown for a while, we finally spotted the public library. There, it was a quick job to get the jail's address from a book about Bowling Green's historic buildings.

Armed with the address, we found the jail easily enough. We hadn't seen it because it stands just a few feet from the back door of the Warren County courthouse, hidden by trees and partially obscured by another building. Between the tree trunks at left of the courthouse in the photo above, you can barely glimpse the gold and gray of the old jail's wall.

The back side of the old jail is plainly visible from another street, but it's not nearly as spectacular as the front side of the building. I'm sure that we drove by it, but having seen photos of the front side only, I didn't recognize it.

The jail was built in 1939 as a WPA project. The building is still used for Drug Taskforce offices and for the courthouse archives. It is an interesting structure because its architecture is Streamline Moderne.  To see a much better photo of it than I managed to take, visit the images at the Kentucky Digital Library.

The courthouse was built immediately after the Civil War. The city of Bowling Green was in a sorry state of repair after being occupied for a total of four years by Confederate and, later, Union forces. The splendid new courthouse was a symbol of hope for the war-weary residents.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Feral Pigs in American Cities

Free-roaming pigs lived on garbage

In June, 2007, I wrote in my tree blog that part of today's feral pig problem in the USA can be traced back to early farmers. Some pigs escaped into the wild from pens and pastures, but many were deliberately set free in unfenced forests to forage for nuts, wild fruit, etc. (See "Releasing pigs into the forest was a terrible idea".)

I wrote the post about feral pigs in forests after reading an article about raising pigs on mast in an 1864 magazine. Recently, I came across some information about feral pigs living in US cities during the same era (mid-1800s).

European travelers commented on the animals roaming the streets of American cities, eating from the gutter where unwanted food had landed, thrown from doors and windows. Scavenger pigs, goats, and stray dogs had the run of the cities before the Civil War, along with the many cows and pigs whose owners let them loose to graze on the streets... New York dispatched carts to round up pigs in 1830, but to little effect. "Take care of the pigs," Charles Dickens advised Manhattan pedestrians in American Notes, published in 1842; that year the New York Daily Tribune estimated ten thousand hogs on the streets. The roaming pigs consumed so much garbage and furnished so much food for the poor that efforts to ban them ran into political opposition.

Quoted from Chapter One, of Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash by Susan Strasser, (C) 1999 Susan Strasser. ISBN: 0-8050-4830-8. (Login required.)

It is interesting to browse through the results of a modern-day Google search for "feral pigs in US cities". Wild pigs are well-known in some urban areas. I'm amazed that feral pigs have even been caught in Kansas City.

Today's wild pigs won't find as much garbage in our cities as they did 150 years ago, so it's unlikely that they will become as numerous in urban areas as they once were. However, in my opinion, any number of feral pigs is too many.

Wild pigs are wily, aggressive animals that eradicate native species, destroy natural and cultivated areas with their rooting, menace pedestrians and pets, create traffic problems, carry tuberculosis, and spread livestock diseases such as pseudorabies and swine brucellosis. They reproduce at tremendous rates.

The population of feral pigs is increasing steadily in the southern U.S. (1988 map.) I have no desire to ever meet one face to face. I think there should be an open hunting season on them across the U.S., because they are an invasive species.

It can't be denied that pigs are fierce competitors in the natural order. I wonder if feral pigs will be survivors, along with the cockroaches, if the "big one" ever happens and life on earth suffers a major kill-back.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Some Memories of Duff, Nebraska

The Duff school, bank, and E.U.B. Church

Duff, Nebraska, was located in the southern part of Rock County, in a broad Sandhill valley. Drained by the Bloody and Skull creeks, the area was originally called the Bloody Valley and now is known as the Duff Valley. The Duff road turned off to the west from Highway 183, about 26 miles south of Bassett.

By the time that we moved to Duff, Nebraska in 1957, the Duff store was closed and the Duff post office had been gone for several years. The post office operated from 1886 to 1901, closed briefly, and then was open again from 1903 to 1953, according to Perkey's Nebraska Place Names by Elton A. Perkey (copyright 1995, Nebraska Historical Society).

I attended Duff Valley District 4 school which was still in its original building, 3 miles west and 1 mile south of Highway 183. The records of attendance in the attic of the school building went back to the late 1800s, when the old people of the community were school children.

The Eldon Horner family lived in the old Duff bank building, about 1/2 mile northeast of the school. My friends and schoolmates, the Horner girls, had their bedroom in the room where the bank had done its business. This is what the Horner girls told me. I don't know when or how long the bank was in business.

The old store building was 4 miles west of Highway 183. Forest Saar lived in the storekeeper's quarters in the back, and the Duff Evangelical United Brethren (E.U.B.) Church met in the big room in the front of the building where the store had been. In the pasture just west of the building, there was a concrete cellar (I am sure it was concrete and I believe it was a cellar). It was all that remained from an earlier store that had burned. (See this link which mentions the Duff Store in 1910. )

The congregation of the Duff E.U.B. Church was very small. I think that on a good Sunday, we might have had 30 people. Some of the people in the valley went to the Methodist church in town, another family or two were Catholic, and others didn't go to church at all.

Our pastor, Brother Harold Koelling, served three country E.U.B. churches, of which the Duff group was the smallest. In 1962, the Duff church was consolidated with the Rose E.U.B. church. (Sadly, the Rose Church is also now closed.)

I have a fairly clear memory of the little Duff church. The room was quite large with wooden pews on both sides of a central aisle. At the front on the right side were the pulpit, a piano, and a communion table with the words "In Remembrance of Me" carved into it. I confess that I thought Arthur Zlomke was the "Me" of that phrase. A metal plaque on the bottom crosspiece of the table clearly stated that the table had been donated in his memory.

A low table and some chairs occupied the area at the left front of the room, where the children's Sunday School class was held. Between the Sunday School table (on the left) and the pulpit (on the right), there was a door that opened to Grandpa Saar's living room. He often came through the door and joined the congregation when it was time for the worship service to begin.

Grandpa Saar was a generous man. Besides giving the space for the church in the front of his building, he also loaned his kitchen and living room for Vacation Bible School classes. His living room window looked out into a lilac bush that was often in bloom during VBS week. One year, a bird had built its nest right against the window, and we could look into it from Grandpa Saar's living room and see the little blue eggs.

(I speak of "Grandpa" Saar because he was the grandfather of the "Saar kids," all of whom I knew well. Marion Saar's four children were my third cousins on my mother's side, and their cousins, Bill Saar's three sons, were relation's relation to me from another side of the family. In addition to all that, all of us were neighbors in the Duff community.)

I remember one series of revival meetings at the Duff Church very well. The evangelist was a man named Elmer Reimer and he was from South Dakota.

Brother Reimer had a collection of crystal wine glasses of all shapes and sizes. He had them lined up on a table, and each glass had a different amount of water in it. He talked about how the glasses had been converted from their former wicked life of serving alcohol to a new life of service to God. Then he wet his index fingers a little and ran them around the rims of the glasses to make a vibrating, resonating musical sound. By switching from glass to glass, he could play hymns and even create harmony. I can still hear the thin, high, warbling sounds.

When I drove through the Duff community several years ago, the Duff church was completely gone. I would never have guessed there had ever been a building there. Before long, no one will even remember it.

Photos of the Duff Valley
Henry Seier's history of Duff

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Melons by the Dozens

Cantaloupe and watermelon in transit

Truckload of melons

I saw two shattered watermelons on the roads yesterday, as well as this big load of melons in one of Hopkinsville's parking lots. I'll bet the cab of the truck was fragrant with "essence of cantaloupe". I hope these melons didn't set in the sunshine for long. It was very hot yesterday, and they probably didn't need to ripen any more.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Might Be a Threshing Machine?

I think this old piece of farm equipment might be a small threshing machine. If you know for sure what it is, please tell me!

One clue is the pulleys on the sides. I believe the long belts that powered the machine were attached there. Threshing machines always had very long belts between the machine and the engine. The engine was set up a safe distance away from the chaff and straw debris to reduce the danger of fire.

At first glance, it seems strange that the chute for feeding the sheaves of grain into the machine (at right) is so far from the ground. However, the grain was hauled to the machine on wagons and pitched into the threshing machine from the wagon bed -- not from the ground.

My theory is that the grain came out a spout on the opposite side of the machine (not visible in the photo) and the upward-pointing metal chute at the bottom is where the straw and chaff were blown out. I could be completely wrong!

The wheels on a threshing machine allowed it to be pulled between fields. Some threshing machines were on skids instead of wheels.

My mother had a threshing story from when she was a little girl on the farm at Gordon, Nebraska, in the 1920s. Her mother, my Grandma Violet, had to cook a big noon meal for a crew of 15 or 20 men. It was a hot day, and the house was extra hot from Grandma Violet's morning of cooking and baking.

Little Doris decided she'd be a lot cooler without her clothing. The men were due to come in for dinner at any moment, when Grandma Violet saw what my mom wasn't wearing. She was not amused. Encouraged by a swat on her backside, my mother put her clothes right back on again.

Summer Glories

Tangles of flowers in sunshine and shade

Seen on Pardue Lane
in Hopkinsville, KY

Seen on Edwards Mill Road,
east of Hopkinsville, KY

Monday, August 04, 2008

Wind Turbines at Ainsworth, Nebraska

Wind power expanding

Carolyn Hall of Bassett, Nebraska, e-mailed the following link today. It's a New York Times article about wind turbines that have been installed south of Ainsworth, Nebraska.

My connection to this story is that Jered Saar, one of the technicians mentioned in the story, is a distant cousin of mine. Jered's grandmother, Maxine Saar, and my mother, Doris Hill, were first cousins. About fifty years ago (ugh), Jered's dad, Gary Saar, and I were in the same grade at Duff Valley District 4, a one-room school in southern Rock County, Nebraska.

Also, Ainsworth, Nebraska, the county seat of Brown County, is my birthplace. Brown County is the next county west of Rock County, where I grew up.

Apparently the wind turbines break down quite often. Several years ago, I happened to drive by the two wind turbines at Springview (also mentioned in the article), and one of them was not working. PTG of Plains Feeder has strong opinions about the impracticality and unsustainability of wind farms, after observing them in action. Meanwhile, I'm glad that Jered has a good steady job.

UPDATE:  A few more comments from PT about wind power in Iowa

A Noah's Ark for Vacation Bible School

Southside Church of Christ in Hopkinsville, KY

Every summer, sometime in June, the Southside Church of Christ starts building something on the lawn beside their Sunday School building. Obviously, they know what they're building, but the rest of us watch with curiosity. Each time we drive by, we note the progress and wonder what it will be this year.

The construction is always related to the theme of their upcoming Vacation Bible School (VBS), and it's designed to draw attention and create excitement. This year's ark is their most ambitious project to date. I'm sure the VBS students enjoyed exploring it.

Southside Church of Christ is located on Skyline Drive, just a block off Fort Campbell Boulevard, one of Hopkinsville's busiest streets. The VBS construction project is seen by hundreds of people, every day. It reminds families that Vacation Bible School is a good summer activity and tells them that their children are invited to Southside's Bible School.

Here are a couple of other ways that Southside Church of Christ has made friendly contact with me, a random member of the general public:

  • They used to have a radio "bright spot" every morning that I enjoyed hearing as I drove the kids to school. (They may still have it, but my schedule is different now.)
  • When my picture was in the newspaper, I received a clipping of the article and a nice note from their pastor.

I'm not likely to change my church affiliation, but I must admit that the Southside Church of Christ has made me feel I'd be welcome there.
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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.