Monday, January 31, 2005

This is an experiment. Marilyn and I stopped up the lane and took 3 pictures and I stitched them together. This is looking south toward our house. If this works, I'll be able to do more when the growing season starts and it becomes more appealing. This picture isn't too interesting because we live in Nebraska and it's Winter! (OK, I've looked at the product. Not too good unless you click on the picture to enlarge. Then it's somewhat better)

My lovely Daughter -inlaw made this cake for my birthday. The most fun about birthdays is having little grand kids help eat the cake.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

My Champion wasn't as 'stylish' as this one. I had black tires, no hub caps, rust and black paint that faded to an 'oxidized blue'. The farm kids would always ask if I was going to pick corn somewhere with my cornpicker car. That bullet nose could hold about 800 pounds of Gumbo. (not the soup kind)

The Champion

When I finally reached the age to start driving on a 'school permit', I didn't have anything to drive except a fourteen year old, Studebaker Champion. My older siblings had pretty well gotten the 'goody' out of this car and it had sat off to the side of the house for a year or two without being moved. I could see that it was time for me to restore the car to the land of the living and did. If I remember right that involved my Dad and I, 'breaking it to lead' down the lane.
Having attended country school thru the eighth grade, I proudly started to High School in my faded, rusty, black Champion. It used a bit of oil. I took some ribbing about it, but none the less it was 'my car'. The biggest problem was the oil consumption. The kids would say, "Cliff, we knew you were coming, we looked east and saw this cloud approaching town", or "the bugs are bad, Cliff, start your car and we'll stand behind it". I did put oil in twice a week and gas, once a week.
My Dad had me take to the gas station to have it serviced one day. I told them to see if they could see where it was leaking oil. Over the noon hour, I stopped in to check on my car. The mechanic had the car on the hoist and told me to come here, we found your leak. He then pointed at the tail pipe. To those of you who know about compression in old motors, this one didn't have enough of it to hold the car in a slightly uphill parking place. Not even in 1st gear or Reverse.
I used to brag that it had a hill hold break. On a hill you could actually step on the brake and it would lock the car in place and wouldn't release until you let the clutch out. A nice way to get going again once you've stopped on an upgrade. Kind of a neat idea if I could have driven far enough to find a hill. Those of you who know where I live know that from here to town the land is gently rolling. Meaning there could be 5 to 6 inches of rise and fall in a mile. Okay, it's flat. I never used the hill hold brake, none of my friends were interested in that, or the fact that the 'starter button' was under the clutch pedal. Just push the clutch all the way to the floor and the car would start. Safety wasn't a concern to my classmates. The Champion was a four door, (the two rear doors were suicide doors) faded, rusty, don't hit the ceiling or the dirt will sprinkle down, pile of Detroit Dung.
I'm sure it had a girl in it, in it's younger days, and I'll bet I've got some Brothers who are glad I'm not going to write about that, but as for my personal knowledge, when I had it, no self respecting female would, or did, step foot in there. Leaning against that car and try to get a homecoming date was impossible. We had Seniors, driving brand new Pontiac GTO's, dating girls from my freshman class.
I may as well have been pulling a manure spreader around.

Friday, January 28, 2005

No Monopoly Here

From this, it's apparent that the U.S. doesn't have the market cornered.

Nature's Perfect Food

Ralph's blog about low salt cooking reminded me of my eldest son. When ever we go thru a breakfast buffet or when I fix a pound of 'thick' sliced for him, he'll pick up the first piece and announce, "Bacon, Nature's perfect food". Yes a bit of sarcasm is in his voice.


Spring is special to those of us who live on farms in the Northern states. In the summer, no one calls Nebraska a Northern state. They do in Jan. But I wonder if spring is so special with muddy roads, water standing in the road ditches and ruts (made by 4x4 pickups)that need to be avoided. Or is spring special to us because we have, somehow, escaped mother natures last attempt to kill us?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Nebraska's Smokey Mountains

There is a misconception that nothing 'really' exciting happens in this state. Especially since our coach got into politics. This article about Nebraska's New Smokey Mountain Range should change your mind.


I had a County board meeting this morning. We ate lunch and then on my way out of town I saw a brand new, bright yellow, Hummer, parked in front of the Dollar Store.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

LB 399

The Nebraska Legislature is in love with the Inheritance Tax money that is collected for the counties. Last year there were three attempts to have the state keep it for a time, thereby helping to ease the enormous deficit they were fighting. The theory was that they would still give it to us but on an amortized basis. We would still eventually get all of the money that was due us, as soon as they were done averaging it out over 5 years. Right.
Those bills met with such strong opposition from NACO (our assoc. of county officials) that they all failed. Versions of those same bills are on the horizon for this session, but alas, the State Senators are now going to try to abolish the counties inheritance tax. At first blush, this sounds like a dream come true for taxpayers. The problem is that the counties use this revenue to help maintain a reserve for a rainy day. (or a dark and stormy night that takes out 10 of our bridges or a high profile trial that brings a group of lawyers to town) If the storms or the lawyers don't converge, the money is used to help write down taxes. The revenue from inheritance money, if stopped, would be replaced thru property taxes. Something this county's taxpayers can't stand.
LB 399 would allow the State Senators to be able to say that they cut the tax burden for the states taxpayers by 30 million so they could then raise their revenues by 30 million and it would be a wash. Only problem being the counties would have to raise their property taxes 30 million and it would be percieved as their fault.
If taxes go down because of wise spending, thats a good thing. But simply to rearrange the furniture doesn't work. Someone gets left leaning against the wall and in this case, it's the counties.

For those of you who left the farm because you didn't like climbing grain bins to check the corn. I did it for you. It's O.K. It's cold and smells like corn.

Too Much or Too Little

I have never in my life, including today, ever poured the correct amount of Grape Nuts into my cereal bowl.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

View from the front porch.

Beautiful Nebraska

Looking at the landscape here in Nebraska, this time of year, is well, how shall I say this, uh... Uninspiring. I step out of my house and can see about a quarter mile of dirt, partially covered with snow. The land comes to an abrupt stop at the timber. The timber reaches to the sky. The timber is a wonderful shade of, uh, brown. The sky is grey or gray or it can be best described this morning as a washed out pink on the edges and then turns to shades of grey or gray. The grain bins are a faded shade of galvanized or grey or gray.
The song Beautiful Nebraska, wasn't written near the Missouri River in January.
I'm even wondering why I bought a new camera that takes 'color' pictures.
Maybe I should get one of those bright lights to sit under.
Don't worry about me. I do have brilliant colors in my life. My desk is dark brown, my printer is grey or gray, and my shades in this room are light brown. I have a brown floor and brown woodwork.
How much are tickets to the coast?

Monday, January 24, 2005


I was listening to a local station in the car this morning and they were interviewing several people who worked with Johnny Carson in his early days in tv, here in Omaha. 1947 to 1952. One, Mal Hanson, who ran a half hour farm show, had Johnny for a staff announcer. Johnny introduced Mal one morning, waited about 1 minute into the show, and then proceeded to walk between the camera and Mal, and on over to the 'kitchen' set they had for a Lady by the name of Martha Bolsen. He started pulling out pots and pans, and banged them around and then began swearing. He then calmly walked back to his announcers booth (past a completely broken up Mal Hanson) and casually mentioned that he had set the clocks ahead 10 minutes.

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson was a class act. Even in retirement he was a class act. He knew that the spot light wasn't his anymore and never went back to try and steal it away.
He never stated the obvious. Just one look at you through the camera lens, said it all.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Just Typing

By virtue of the fact that I have been 'linked to' by several people, and that I appreciate that, it make me feel bad that I cannot figure out how to put a link to someone elses site under the 'Links' heading.
I've been reading, and seeing my name mentioned in 'comments' but it has become evident to me that I'm over my head on this blogging deal. Back when I went to school I took typing. Not blogging. Not even keyboarding. Until recently I thought the 'Links' icon was a 'frog with big eyes' and that it meant 'jump to' something. It may look like a blog but I'm just typing.
So until Marty or someone straightens me out, thanks for reading.

good MORN ing

My wife and I have reached the age that when we wake, early in the morning for a 'nature call', that we find it hard to move. Gravity has taken over. Everything doesn't hurt but close to everything. For me, my sleep apnea machine has put me into about 6 hours of motionless sleep and my joints are frozen. On my way from the bathroom back to bed I must walk past my recliner in the living room. It calls my name as I go by, because the thought of having to arise again, from bed, is just too much of a burden for my brain.
This morning as I sat in the recliner, my blanket covering me, lights off, TV turned to NBC's Weekend Today, I got to thinking. If my Grandson, who was upstairs, came down right now, I would greet him with the normal voice reserved for children when you first see them in the morning. You say "Good MORNing". Making your voice go up an octave on the 'morn' part. And then I thought, you know, thats whats missing from most adult lives. Somewhere between birth and adulthood, people quit saying good MORNing in that delightful way. So there I sat and thought, if we were greeted like that, it would be an uplifting experience that just might change the whole day for the better. You would be ready for the dawning of something new. "THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE"!! I'll try it on Marilyn when she gets up.
Just then she got up, went to the bathroom, and with her eyes still closed she stumbled past me on the way to her recliner. On her entrance into the room, I said "good MORN ing". She fairly plopped down in her chair, pulled a blanket up to her chin and said, "Oh Bite me".
I've decided to go back to the grunt we've always used.

Friday, January 21, 2005


I just bought a new razor blade knife. It came in one of those clear, hard-plastic covers. Now, if I had a razor blade knife, I could get it open. But then...

Farm Dogs

I read Marty's post about his dog. It got me to thinking about what makes a good farm dog. At least for me. Number one and foremost, they must have no intrinsic value. Yes, worthless. Ours always have been. They should never run off. That is easy for a farm dog to start. They must be friendly, curious, and keep their feet on the ground around people and cars. It's nice if they'll come up to greet you on your return home. Ours do, (we have two) but it's because when we go out to eat, our doggy bag is for the dog. You must have a good story about how you ended up with him. "We bought him" is not satisfactory. One of our most beloved dogs, kept running over here from the neighbors. I told Marilyn, "the neighbors pup is over here again, you know I think I'm ready to get another dog. Maybe a lab mix like the neighbors have". Just then Rick the neighbor drives in (we had called him about his dog) and asks, "you want that dog, he must like it here better than my place". "yeah, leave him".
He stayed here, never ran off, was friendly, performed at several 4-H dog shows {if he was on a leash} and was particularly worthless.
Andy was his name. About the most radical thing he ever did was in our shop. My brother was laying under the combine. He had both hands on wrenches, applying much pressure to a stubborn bolt when Andy walked over to him and licked him from back of his head, thru his ear, and past his eyes to his forehead. One, quick, lick. Ed called him something and it wasn't Andy, ....But it was accurate.
If Ed and I would be eating something out in the corn field during harvest, Andy would sit there and look at Ed. Ed would usually eat the sandwich, or about 3/4ths of it and then stare at Andy and with mock anger say, "Okay, here, eat it". It was always a mid air catch.
What makes a good dog for you?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Hi, How Are Ya?

We've all greeted people with meaningless phrases from time to time. "Hi, how's it goin"? Meaning 'I realize that one word with just two letters (Hi) aren't sufficient in this case but I'm busy and don't have time to visit'.
In the mid 1920's my Dad was a young farmer and had traveled to the nearest town, Decatur, NE. He was in the hardware store, waiting his turn to be waited on. Back then you didn't help yourself as we do now. An old farmer walked in, an acquaintance of his, and Dad said "Hi, How are ya"? The man announced with little or no emotion, "Arthur, I have a severe case of the Itchy Piles". (Today he would have been alluding to hemorrhoids)
"But", he continued, "it feels so good when I scratch em, I'm almost glad I got em".
At the tender age of about 20, my Dad had learned an important lesson about casual greetings.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Corn Processing and MLB

We deliver some of our corn to a large milling plant. They make several products from the corn and their customers are world wide. They randomly test loads for various things. This way they can assure their clients that they have an ongoing testing plan. The funny thing is that if two trucks from the same farmer or small elevator enter together,(obviously loaded simultaneously back home) they might randomly test the first one, reject it for some reason, and not check the second truck for the same offense, because it's not time for another random check.
It would seem that they may not be trying very hard to find offenders. But at least in this manner they can assure consumers that they are being vigilant.
I see Major League Baseball has implemented a similar testing program.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


I change my desktop picture often. Sometimes daily. For the last week, I've had Windows XP desktop picture called Azul.
The window to my left faces west, and also the pasture and horse pens. I see snow and I also know that when I walked in, about 30 minutes ago, it was 6 degrees. But this north wind is supposed to continue which will cause it to turn cold. The window to the right of the computer faces north. The view is of cold, no, squeaky cold, snow.
So, right between these two windows sits Azul. A picture of a small Island. The three palm trees on the island, almost take up all of the island. The water between me and the island looks clear blue. There's a large boat on the side of the picture, maybe fifty yards left and back of the island.
I have moved all of my icons out of the water. I want to be able to see anything that might happen in the water. I sometimes sit and stare. Waiting for something to happen.
Wait, I hear something, it must be two jet skis. Maybe it's a photographer and three Sports Illustrated swimsuit models on their way to that little island. Maybe the water would be shallow enough, that I could walk over there. Maybe, Oh good, it's two Nebraska farmers, built just like me. They stopped and said that because there was no bowl game to go to, they decided to come down here.
I need to get a life.


Ralph's latest blog about "it wasn't funny at the time" got me to thinking about an incident that happened in our home when my youngest son was still attending high school. Like now, we had bitterly cold temps and the ground was covered with snow.
It was supper time (dinner time to you city slickers), I was in my Lazy Boy reading the paper when my wife walks in, half frozen, but gleefully holding a large, empty birdseed sack. She dangled it a while and I said "what". She said,"I felt so sorry for the poor birds that I bought this big bag of birdseed and all the way from the highway to our house, (some 7 miles), I kept throwing out a handful at a time, all the way to here. Ten pounds, gone". I thought that it sounded like a noble and generous thing to do for these little creatures. Not something I would do, because I think that as farmer, I already scatter corn and bean millings and weed seed over a thousand acres. I not only support the birds but about 250 head of deer. Her effort was never the less, noble.
Thirty minutes later, my son drove in from basketball practice. He burst through the door, slammed it and half yelled, "Stupid Birds"! I lowered my paper and said "What"?
He said, "they wouldn't move tonight, they always move when a car comes along, it's like they all decided to die today".
I said, "go find your Mom, I think she's in the basement, she'll want to hear this story". He went down, and then they both came up and entered the living room and stared at me like this was somehow my fault. I lowered my paper and said "what"?
Today, you will find the birdseed in two large feeders, in our yard. It wasn't funny at the time, but, well... yeah, it was funny at the time, that's why they both came up to stare at me. Okay, I'm a sick person.

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Back in 1996 I had a long treatment period of chemo-therapy. The Dr said "you'll think we're trying to kill you". No kidding!! Well, everyday the nurse would come to me and ask, "Is there any ringing in your ears?" The answer was no, until one day I awoke with what sounds like crickets in a swamp, amplified. On that day I said "yes, I have ringing in my ears", thinking that she can probably fix this since she had apparently been anticipating this moment. "What can you do for this." "Nothing, it might go away but that's not likely".
The result of that was to effectively wipe out a sound range, which when complicated by any other 'white' noise (like wind whistles in cars) makes it hard for me to distinguish some sounds from others. I may have fallen prey to this tintinitis, I believe they call it, anyway, but it was sped along by the chem-o.
I began not being able to hear our cute little timer that we keep on the stove. People would walk in and say "how longs that beeper been going off?" Fortunately for me, it counts from zero backwards, so they could say, "holy cow Dad, it's been dinging for 18 minutes and 32 seconds"!
Our phones, of which 2 are cordless, can throw their voices. The phone rings, I am cooking breakfast in the kitchen and hear it ringing in the bathroom. I run to try and keep the answering machine from starting, the phone, isn't in the bathroom anymore. I run to the office, this phone is attached to the wall. I know where it is located. After the call, I go to the portable phone base unit, push the 'call' button, and finally find the phone by the stove. In the kitchen.
I bring this up, because this weekend, my eldest son, had his appendix out. We went down to help take care of the baby so that our daughter-in-law could spend more time with him. The next morning, there was quite a crowd gathered in the room. I heard a ding, ding. I said "your IV machine is dinging". "No Dad, that's Jackies cell phone."
Again, ding, ding. "Jackie, your cell phone is ringing", "no Dad, Dan's phone is low on battery". Ding, Ding. "Low Battery?" "no Dad, that portable DVD player has been on 'pause' too long. "What's that? "Toms new cell phone Dad." Later I ask "what's that?" "That IS the IV machine dinging". Still later I hear nothing and everyone starts moving and looking at each other. Someone asks "Who's phone is that?" "Dad, where's your phone, it's ringing." This is great, I can hear everyone's phone but mine.
"Turn that TV up, Dad." I push a button, a frazzled nurse answers me thru the TV remote in my hand, "may I help you, is every thing all right?" "We're fine Ma'am." Someone else asked "What's that dinging in the hall?" "I think it's Cliff getting on the elevator" was the answer.

Monday, January 03, 2005

The Geese

We have about 7 miles of rock and gravel covered roads to get out to our farm. Some of our neighbors who live right next to that road have 3 geese. The geese spent last winter by the road and are going to do it again this winter. At least it appears to be the case.
When we drive by with a vehicle, they arise from their position in the center of the farms driveway, don't move their feet, but throw their little heads forward with their mouths wide open. I'm sure if I was going slow and rolled the window down, I could hear them honk their disapproval with me. It looks as though the main goal in their life, is to complain. Surely someone must feed them, they must have open water somewhere to drink, and they have no young to raise, and have decided to just wait until someone drives by, me for instance, and complain.
Tonight it dawned on me as I drove by the geese, and the big male looked particularly perturbed with me, that our society is full of "geese".
They join churches, clubs and groups of every discription, or they watch local governmental bodies. Watching for some sort of movement, some activity, and then they honk.
Never enough fortitude to stand up in the middle of the road (or meeting)to say what is on their mind. It's more fun hoping they can make someone, who is busy, and going somewhere, to loose control and wreck.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

My buddy Ralph says that on this first day of the year he has decided to drink only good coffee in 2005. I would add that there isn't time to deal with people who display no sense of humor either. I guess that's why he is a close friend. He seems able to see the humor in most things. It seems that it's human nature is to be frail, and the frailest are the ones who can carefully listen to someone tell a humorous story and then continue with a complaint about, say, his work, acting as though nothing had been said, not even the hint of a smile. They seem to say "Don't try to cheer me up, I rather enjoy being trapped in this one room mind". I know people who refuse to talk about anything but their jobs. They have no interest in anything but their farm, or truck or whatever the case may be.
Tim Allan, the comedian, said this week that they've thrown Martha Stewart in Jail. Osama Bin Laden, O.J., and Kobe Bryant run loose, but they take the only woman in America who likes cooking, cleaning, entertaining company, and doing yard work, and they throw her rear in jail.
The people I'm talking about wouldn't,no couldn't crack a smile about what Tim said. Well have a cup of good coffee and laugh.
This New Years Day reminded me of years gone by, when Mom would put on a pot of chili, I'd take down the Christmas tree and then late in the Day we'd watch Nebraska play football in a bowl game that only had one name. Like Orange, or Sugar, or Cotton, or... Well I recall the year that I had talked Mom into buying a long needled pine. It was a really ornery tree. It was like trying to decorate a porcupine. I took it down on New Years Day while Dad sat in his old rocking chair right next to the tree, watching football games. Twice that day, the tree upset on top of Dad. The sharp needles stuck his bald head. There wasn't much blood. Mom covered her face, and started shaking. I think maybe a chill. Dad wondered if it wouldn't be a good idea to go back to the fake tree with the 'hand railing' trunk. We did.