Monday, March 26, 2007

Screwed By A Bolt

Saturday morning at 4:35 we were in the middle of a dandy thunderstorm. No the picture is not mine. I wish I could take photo's like that.
It was raining hard, with plenty of flashing lights and noise when we heard a big snap in the house followed by light and a bang that brought us out of our groggy attempts at sleep. Francis Scott Key would have, at that point, written a famous song about the thunder and the light. We instead decided to start checking things that may have trouble with sudden increases in power. So we started with practically everything in our house. Ya know, even our bed plugs in. I'd hate to have to explain that fact to my Great, Great Grandparents. Yep my sleep number was still there. Computer? Yep it works. But the satellite feed for my Internet had trouble negotiating it's way thru the new path in my modem made by the lightning. Is there a reason the words ethereal and Ethernet cable sound alike?
The big screen still works. But not the satellite feed to it. (beginning to see a trend here folks?) So we grew weary of 'Searching for Signal' very quickly and decided to call Directv....but the phones were gone too. Good thing my cell phone didn't get hit. It was in my pocket.
It was beginning to look like Marilyn and I might have to talk to each other if this stuff didn't get fixed. But of course it was Saturday morning and repairmen all across America were waiting for my call. (sarcasm just in case you're new here)
Get this, the phone guy came out Sunday afternoon and fixed the barbecued junction box. He didn't offer to fix the fried phone however. (losing only one phone out of six isn't bad)
Directv didn't offer to send a repairman out on Saturday but I could get one on Sunday morning at 8:00. (Seventh Day Adventists I'd say)
I said I would be in Church and that Monday was fine. The Internet folks got here at 10:00 this morning and the TV folks at 10:30.
Saturday afternoon was Vernon Hovendicks funeral. He was Jim's Dad. It was a lovely service with a lot of nice things said about him. All deserved I might add. He was in church every Sunday from the time I started in the early 1950's. At one particular low point in my life when cancer and chemo had me down and out, he called me on a Sunday afternoon to inquire how I was and that he hadn't heard about my illness and that he would hang up and get Marge and they would pray for me right then. A turning point for sure. I figured when two like that pray for you, the prayers didn't have far to go. I already had the couple on a lofty step. Did it work? You haven't heard me mention cancer much have you?
Warning: I'm coming for a visit so bake a cake. Lemon, no sugar in the iced tea.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Cliff's March Madness

My thinking was that if it got me triple clean, I would shower every third day.
I excitedly told Marilyn of my plan. She invited me to sleep with her every third night.
I've decided to stay with a shower everyday.
I'm nothing if not flexible.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Sign In The Window

When I was growing up, we had a furniture store in town. The owners also had a funeral home. The store was on main street but the mortuary was not. The owners always had a black sign with white plastic letters leaning in the window of the furniture store on main street to announce upcoming funerals.
We always had to drive slowly past the store to see if anyone's name was on the sign. Sometimes it would be a surprise. Sometimes expected and never welcome. The habit of looking in the window on main street was so embedded in the folks here that when the store and mortuary ended up in different hands, we still looked to see if there was an announcement we should know about. The owners found a different store to put the notice in so it was just three store fronts north of where it had been for decades.
I read Jims blog yesterday telling about his Dad not doing well and that he was soon to be heaven bound. So tonight I slowed down when I went past the closed up store with the sign in the front. As I drove past I saw the last name Hovendick. I knew immediately that I needed to circle the block and read the info. Sure enough it was my friend Vernon. I sat there and stared and thought for about 5 minutes. All a great man had left was a memorial service in the church, a Masonic service at the funeral home, and family visitation. Then I thought 'Good for him' he's on the way.
There are so many family stories with the Morrow's and the Hovendicks. Jim's parents and ours were best of friends. Neighboring back then was important. It was necessary and it was the entertainment. My earliest recollection of Marge and Vernon was in church. Marge taught Sunday School for more than 50 years in the basement of our little church. It seemed that every Worship Service, Deacons meeting, Trustees meeting, practice, revival, or potluck dinner that I can remember being at, Marge and/or Vernon were there.
I have a point. I bought seed corn from Vernon for several years, I went to countless lodge and church meetings with him. I took him fishing with me once in the Missouri River when he was making a delivery of seed corn to me. Vernon was quiet, totally unassuming, pleasant, and loved to smile. He spent hours studying the Bible every week. He couldn't have been a better model of Christian living and values to the young people he was influencing. And in the probably thousands of hours I've been in the same room with him in my life, I never once heard him utter a word that couldn't have been broadcast from a pulpit on Sunday morning. Vernon was the 'real thing'. This world will miss him though I certainly would not be one to begrudge him his reward. His wife of many years has been waiting patiently on the other side. Life couldn't have been pleaseant for him the last few years. His hearing and sight had run their course. He was ready I'm sure, to escape this veil of tears.
If Vernon isn't in Heaven right now. There isn't one. But I assure you that he is.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

They Won't Have Cliff To Kick Around Anymore

I don't recall who said that. Was it Richard Nixon?
The association meeting I attended yesterday is a group that only meets twice a year. It went well. At least I think it did. Everyone could have a different opinion. Most of the day was spent in our individual meetings. We supervisors met together and were brought up to date by our state executive director (lobbyist) on current legislation that will be beneficial or harmful to the pocketbook of counties. It's nearly always harmful. We have different speakers on varying topics. The part of the meeting I helped run was the general meeting at the end of the session while we were gathered around banquet tables. Just what they wanted to hear, people talking when it's time for lunch. Well we held the election, and now have a new president, and from now on when attending these meetings I'll be sitting with my fellow supervisors from this county which is a good place to be.
When the meeting began I told everyone that this was actually the third association meeting I had presided at. They are held six months apart so the president is only supposed to preside over two. I reminded them that a year ago, I arrived at the meeting to find that our then current president had a serious illness in the family and could not attend. I was the V.P. and took her place with no chance to prepare for that meeting. No prep time whatsoever. I then told them that I had six months to get ready for this meeting and that if they would compare my performance at the two meetings... they would find little difference.
From my vantage point, that was a true statement.
Excuse me now while I put the corned beef on for a day long slow cook.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Final Day

This is my final day as president of Northeast Naco. (Nebraska Association of County Officials) I called the secretary of our organization yesterday to inquire as to the status of the preparations. She said we have at least 215 folks for the meeting. I'm running it. I should have prepared something. But on the other hand the drive is an hour and a half and that's enough time to come up with something that will be remembered until, oh, about 4 pm.
Let's see, Four score and .....

Monday, March 12, 2007

Those Carwash Blueskies

On Saturday the Owners, Employee's, and Friends of Morrow Collision Center gathered for a carwash to aid Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lincoln. The first photo show's about half of the crew involved. We went to visit and planned on helping. And we did.
They raised over $600 for a good cause. My oldest son Dan (the one in the back) was a tireless job foreman. My youngest Tom is in the one nearest the camera.

I began to see how this was being so successful. (the getting the customers part) These folks had all been on the phone the day before. Nearly everyone who drove in had a big "Hi" for someone who was helping.

Near the end of the day my grandaughters showed up. The oldest demonstrated on Mom's wheels the proper technique for washing fine motorcars. The youngest (below) demonstrated the lesson that we all begin life with lovely skin and when we fail to take precaution with the sun and it's harmful ultra violet rays we will most assuredly lose that youthful glow so THAT'S the reason she was keeping her hat on.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A View From The Office

During last weeks snow storm I walked into my office and looked out of the window to see this. Our cherry tree had turned into a blackbird tree. For a few days the birds had trouble fnding food. The ground was covered with a mushy mixture of sleet and rain that had frozen to a hard crust before the snow started falling. They had schooled up and liked the protection of the tree and grain bins behind them. The bin on the left has corn in it and the bin on the right is full of soybeans. Both bins are scheduled to be emptied and shipped to market this month. The snow has mostly melted and left us with water sitting on mud. The frost in the ground will leave us soon so the moisture can go down as well as up. I need it to dry quickly so we can get on with the trucking. Drying quickly is not something it is apt to do in the month of march in Nebraska. The air is usually cool and damp.

Speaking of hungry birds, if you have another minute you might like this post I wrote from January of 2005.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I read the following quote last night and just had to sit and stare at it for a few minutes. It really made me smile. I shall commit this one to memory.
It explains a lot of the differences in todays leaders and political parties and folks in general.

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.- Theodore Roosevelt (R) (1858-1912)

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Way out here they have a name
For wind and rain and fire
The rain is tess, the fire's Joe,
And they call the wind Mariah.

The words to this old song came to mind the past few days. We had the most of unusual winter storms. Unusual because of the direction and duration of the wind. It went on and on like a not very good sermon. It came from the west north west as opposed to every other blizzard I've had a part in here in Nebraska where they always come from the NNW. That approximately 9 degrees differnce doesn't mean much if you own a cement driveway in front of your house and need to clear it. On the farm it puts drifts where they have never been before and has all the farmers talking. It meant that all of the E-W roads were mostly blown clear except for drift causing obstructions like groves of trees and houses. The same roads you avoid when we've had a big blow from the North. The N-S roads on the other hand were impossible this time.
The wind blew from the west so long and so hard that I'm pretty sure the snow piled on my farm must have first hit the ground somewhere in Wyoming.
The problem is this. I have all of my corn bins to empty this month. I wisely sold the corn last fall before corn doubled in price. I usually don't have to pay Uncle Sam much in taxes anyway so why start now is my theory. The second problem is a drift 30 feet wide and about 200 feet long that sits right smack dab in the middle of all of the grain bins. There is mud under that snow and I can't push it because where it needs to go to is already full of deep snow and the wind has driven the snow into the consistency of cement. So I've called in a man with a Caterpillar or dozer tractor to push the snow for me. I can't let the snow melt where it is or it would be muddy here for a month and I'd never get the corn hauled out of here.
The good news is it was 43 degrees here today. That is also the bad news. We've got surface water and mud and a lot of it because of the melting snow.
Todays lessons:
1.If you know about how much money you are going to make next happy.
2.If you just have one lawn and one driveway to take care of happy.
3.If you must pay the United States Treasury a lot of money each happy.
4. If worrying about the weather isn't a year round, daily concern for happy.
5.If you live on a very worried but happy.

Friday, March 02, 2007


The problems we have with our blizzard don't exist in comparison to the folks in Enterprise, Al. The tornado that hit the fully loaded school is indeed troubling. I was listening to Shephard Smith on Fox News as he masterfully went live to listen to and question victims and emergency workers live. People that he had never met. I noticed that he was very careful not to put words into anyone's mouth and never once asked if there were fatalities. He did not sensationalize anything. The most poignant moment for me, and what sets this town apart from other disasters where folks just sat and waited for government help, was when Shep asked a hospital administrator if they had enough help and had they been required to call in more staff. She said they hadn't called any extra staff. She said everyone who was 'off-duty' had already arrived on their own within minutes of the school being hit.
I thought that no matter the horrific outcome of this event, the town would eventually recover. They must be that kind of people.
The wind here is still at 40 mph and above. I just looked at the wind forecast and it is to blow until Saturday nite. We have a very responsive road crew here in the county who are well equipped and very talented and are actually just like the folks I talked about above. We are snowed in but no big deal for us, but one livestock producer called me (most of us Supervisors will get a call or two in this kind of weather) and told of needing to get to his cattle. I'm sure the crews are waiting for the wind to subside as it is dangerous moving snow in these open areas with such poor visibility. One could easily hit or get hit by a rather large machine.
With making just one phone call I was able to call the man back and tell him he'd be able to get to cattle in about a half hour. "You're kidding" was the response. He was happy and surprised that the crew's response would be so quick. It didn't surprise me.
It's pretty easy to stomp out fires if you're surrounded by the right kind of folks.
We are.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The March 1st Blizzard of '07

Looking at the tranquil scene out the west door of our deck. The 'weeping cherry'... really is. Can't you just hear those wind chimes? They never sound better than they do in a blizzard. Gusts to 50 really make them ring. The barn's out that way also. Trust me.
This pic is shot out the south door of the deck. That is our garage. Looks lonely doesn't it? The west end still needs painted. But not today.
Below is the normal view from the porch that you have grown accustomed to on my blog. We are looking northeast here. As you can tell by the birch trees in the foreground, the wind is out of the northwest. The original snow depth is in question. Reports peg it at 8 to 10". Out here it was spotty.(def of spotty:Blown clear in open spaces like farm filelds and piled high near Cliffs house). If snow would come straight down instead of being driven by high winds, it would be easier to move. As a matter of fact in the 57 years I've lived here, that actually happened once.
Here's the problem. This strong wind is to get stronger and stay strong until tomorrow afternoon. Northeast Nebraska is closed.