From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Whistlestop Flasher

Efficient advertising




On the east side of the train tracks in Hopkinsville, when you're waiting for a train to go by at night, you can see the Whistlestop Donuts sign between the cars as they pass. As the train picks up speed, the bright yellow sign flashes at an increasingly urgent rate: "Whistlestop Donuts! Donuts! Donuts!" This phenomenon is not quite a subliminal message (it's not below the threshold of conscious thought), but it does very effectively lure the mind into sugary, deep-fried fantasies.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bittersweet Holiday

     
Mama with Dennis and Steve, about 1955.
Dennis (left) is the youngest of six children.

Mama Netz, about 1975, in a church kitchen.
It has not been a good December, dear friends of the blog. My husband's mother died on December 6. She would have been 95 in January.

Mama Netz had a long, full life, and she went to an eternal home with her Heavenly Father. Knowing those things, we still mourn the loss of our mother. I call her "our" mother, because she adopted me into her family about 33 years ago, and she was my only mother for 14 years after my own mother died.

Having family responsibilities, Dennis went to Kansas City in his own car, and I drove up with the kids. After the funeral, we stayed a night with my sister in southern Missouri. The next day, we drove a nostalgic route through the Ozarks on our way home -- a route we drove many times on our trips to visit the grandparents in years past.


Taurus, Keely, and Isaac at a high spot
near Alley Spring, Missouri
where I've photographed my children
many times over the years.
When I went back to work after my absence, I jumped into the last frenzied weeks of the Christmas retail season. The endless hours of serving (and cleaning up after) the shoppers seemed a pointless trial. When I wasn't at my job, I pushed myself through the motions of creating a traditional holiday for my family. Between work and home, I became quite exhausted and even caught a cold.

On Christmas Eve (after my co-workers and I finally got out of the store), I attended a service in a church I've never visited before. I thought that singing Christmas carols might lift my spirits, but oddly enough, the congregation sang only one song in the whole service -- "It Came Upon The Midnight Clear." Still, it had a verse that seemed written especially for me:

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
      Who toil along the climbing way
      With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
      O rest beside the weary road,
      And hear the angels sing!

The view from our hotel window
in Independence, Missouri
Yesterday, Isaac, Keely, Taurus, and one of their friends spent the day here at the house with us. We ate too much and enjoyed a long session of gift-opening. We survived the opening of a final Christmas package from Mama Netz -- one last gift of needlework for everyone. Keely addressed my Christmas cards for me, and I'm hoping that I will finish and mail them sometime this week or next.

Late in the evening on this second day of Christmas, resting here by the road and listening to the angels sing, I feel less sorry for myself. This has been one of life's valleys, but I am climbing out of it. I must encourage my husband to climb out, too -- carry him out, if I have to!

I do assure you that the blog will soon resume. Meanwhile, I send all my best wishes to you and yours for the the remaining days of Christmas and for the New Year.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Sale of a Large Sandhill Ranch

Circle Cross Ranch at Valentine, Nebraska


The 40,000 acre Circle Cross Ranch near Valentine, Nebraska, sold at auction on Dec. 2, 2011, for $11.75 million. A seven-brother partnership, represented by Danny Weinreis of Minatare, Nebraska, and Gene Weinreis of Golva, North Dakota, placed the winning bid.

You can read more of the details in "Ranch sells for $11.75 million" on the Norfolk Daily News website. There's also a video tour on You-Tube. What a beautiful place! It includes 7 miles of Niobrara River frontage. I'm pleased to read that the Weinreis Brothers will continue operating it as a cattle ranch.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Lists for the Season

In case you're listless...


A lost list
Photo by Jem Yoshioka
I enjoy finding a shopping list that someone has lost or left behind. Yes, I'm snoopy, but I prefer to say that I'm curious because it sounds a little better.  Here are some lists I've found over the past few months.

This list was written on a pink notebook page with a butterfly at the top. Uh oh -- looks like someone has one of the bugs that are going around.
Kleenex
milk
bread
Tylenol
Vicks
Nyquil
Zyrtec
tea
cereal

Here's a well-organized list written by an energetic person. (I know the writer is energetic because everything you buy at a paint store requires energy.) Every word in this list is capitalized.
1. Meds
2. Aldis
        - Yoghurt
        - Pineapple
        - Milk
        - Chicken Salad
        - T/P
        - Clementines
3. K-Mart
4. Sherwin Williams
5. Electric Bill

This list was written on a long narrow sheet of paper with this quotation at the top: "The path to happiness is paved with kind words and loving deed... DON'T FORGET..."
Bread
OJ
lemonade
balogna
cookies
ice cream
chips
fruit
sausage
feta
hummus
cheddar block
triscuits
swiss cheese
cigarettes

* put check in bank

The following list is written in pencil on a scrap of white paper. The writing is very small. Maybe that's so the list will fit into the available space. Maybe the list-maker had some coupons to use for these name-brand products. And I am sure that he or she knew what was needed at WalMart, even if I don't.
Libman short dish brush
Dreamfield lasagna
Colgate toothbrush
Coke Zero
celery
bacon bits
arugula
pine nuts
lemons
prosciutto
cauliflower
______________
Lowes--white plugs
WMart--ret pots

Image from The Graphics Fairy
Usually, the act of writing down what I need helps me remember, even if I forget to take the list with me. I hope that's true for the person who lost this Christmas shopping list. I wouldn't want anyone to be forgotten.
Christmas cards
wooden spoons for April
head set for Harvey
socks for Brian
tricycle
kitchen towels Jason
white towels April
camera case April
heating pad Jason
MP3 Harvey
socks & underwear Brian
Gift cards Brad, Lilly, Ellen, Randy, Janeen

I hope you are getting your shopping done so you can enjoy the season!
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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.