Tuesday, December 29, 2009


On Wednesday morning past, the forecast was for freezing rain late in the day to continue through out all day on Christmas Eve.  Thoughts always turn to the loss of power when they forcast freezing rain.  By Christmas morning we had escaped (we thought) because the rain had quit just before the temperature began to drop below 32 degrees.  At least we wouldn't lose our power but we still had heavy snow coming for two days accompanied by three days of high winds.
We called the sons in Lincoln  and told them that Christmas was postponed a day. Actually we left the decision up to them. I explained the worst that could happen is that would be snowed in with me for three or four days.  Dan was unwilling to take that chance.
Christmas Eve services were called off at church, we let the Courthouse close for the whole day, and we had the snow blower tractor plugged in and ready to  clear the area.  Everything was great.
So, on Christmas Eve, our daughters family came down the lane for a little party. The power went out. The blizzard was raging outside. Information from the neighbors indicated that the kennel was also out of power.
We sat and layed in our living room all night where there was enough auxillary heat to keep it about 55 degrees.  (a propane heater on the porch that will kind of heat the house if you open the window.) We started the blower tractor and let it run all night knowing that it wouldn't start if it weren't plugged in.
The first pic is of me, about 6 AM on Christmas.  Marilyn thinks I'm out there clearing snow so I can get my generator out of the shed, loaded onto the pickup, and hooked to the power pole behind the house.
I am in fact doing that, but mainly I'm trying warming up in the tractor. It has a great heater and the house was cold when I left Marilyn and the grandchildren sawing logs under a lot of blankets.

In the pioneering spirit, I got out and did what needed to be done first thing Christmas morning, I hooked up the generator, and then dug out the satelite dish so the big screen would work. We have had to clear snow from the dish several times before but we've never come close to having to dig our way down to it through the snow.

The pic above on the right is of the dog getting ready to help me unload my small snow blower so I could load my generator. On the left is proof that we were successful in our labors. Our power came back on at noon on Christmas day. The only casualty was a ballast on one of our flourescent fixtures in the kitchen. I don't think it appreciated the 149 volts of power my generator was putting out. The ballast is now replaced, we continue to blow out our lane everyday because the stinking wind won't go down, and Christmas is going to happen next Saturday. Maybe.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Art Of Gift Giving

Cliff Morrow

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas was almost torture for little boys, as I recall. I always had trouble getting to sleep because of course the presents under the tree would make my imagination run wild. I do not recollect that the black and white television we had had indoctrinated me into wanting anything in particular except possibly a Cowboy Bob gun and holster set which I did receive from Santa one Christmas.
Our tree would be surrounded by presents of every shape and size. Mom wasn't into elegant gift wrapping. She didn't have the time to do that. She was a farm wife and I think her main goal was the same as mine is today, to disguise the gift. That's all. To camouflage whatever was in the package.
After I had learned to read well enough to figure out what my name looked like on a tag, I became very sneaky about casually laying down by the tree and glancing over at the gifts to see if maybe my name was on one of them. Sure enough, I always had a few gifts that said TO: Cliff FROM: Mom and Dad. That information - that my name was actually there under the tree - would make it hard to get to sleep for the next five or 10 nights before Christmas.
I don't recall my age when I started wanting to reciprocate with the gift giving but it finally happened and I told Mom about it. She would remedy this by taking me along to town the next time she went grocery shopping. Somehow I had a dollar in my Cowboy Bob billfold and would have my head on a swivel in search of a gift.
Mom stopped in front of the chocolate covered cherries and told me a story about how her mother always loved them and as a matter of fact, they were Mom's favorite too. "Well, let's buy some" I would say and she would reply "They're 59 cents, maybe next time."
Hey, I have a plan, I would think to myself, and as Mom was checking out I would circle back to the candy section and grab a box of chocolate covered cherries. Somehow my Mom would lose track of me and stand at the front window of the store and stare out, looking to see if Cliff had already gone out to the car. That gave me enough time to take my box to the cashier who was always discreet about my gift purchase and would carefully bag the box and give me my 41 cents change before Mom turned around to see her six-year-old buying a box of candy. Probably the best part was being able to get to the car and into the house back at the farm, without Mom noticing that I was carrying a small bag of groceries.
Mom got chocolate covered cherries for Christmas and her birthday for several years in a row. They were the most thoughtful and best gift she had ever received. At least that's what she said. Mom was always very happy and sometimes moved to tears when she opened them. But not as proud and happy as I was to be standing there and watching her open a gift I had thought of myself.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those days and I'm afraid I haven't been able to think of a gift to give anyone, to make them as thrilled as Mom was with those cherries. Mom did understand the true meaning of Christmas and showed it. She truly knew how to give and receive as well as anyone I ever knew. I think sometimes we aren't very good at the receiving part, as we could be.
A few years ago, I stopped by a live nativity scene to watch and ponder what was going on. The center of attention was the real baby they had laid in the manger. Even the livestock they had hauled to town seemed to realize that something special was happening in the center of it all.
Contemplating the scene made me realize that Mom hadn't invented gift giving at its finest.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


When I need to get into the Christmas spirit, I watch this video. The soloist is David Phelps. I've been a tenor all of my life but when I listen to him sing it makes me feel like maybe I shouldn't try.
This version of 'O Holy Night' has a brief story at the beginning but if you'll watch the video to the end I think you'll see why I like it. I do believe there was a deal made between God and David for that voice and its use.
If you want to hear a bit more from this artist, look for the song 'The End of the Beginning' by Phelps. There are a lot of versions of these songs on youtube but you'll need to look to find the one with the best quality.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Views From The Porch

The weather outside is frightful, but inside it's nice but I didn't have time to be in there much.
The global warming dropped about 10" on the area last night and then the 50 MPH winds took over.
Marilyn snapped this pic as I was beginning to coax one of my John Deere's into running in this cold weather.

Most of the fields had blown clear and the snow more or less went until it found my place to pull up and rest a while.  Here I'm trying out the snow blower I bought last year.  It's a good idea to stay upwind from this machine. I'm supposed to be in Lincoln at a convention but our roads were plugged.  School will resume one day soon.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


What are the chances that on our farm, we would have the two most worthless dogs in America. Don't get me wrong, they like being dogs. They love being petted, playing, running, barking and they'll sneak a quick lick to your hands right when you least want it.
The problem is that they love to spar with each other. I just finished harvest which included a lot of time watching our auger here at the home place. All of the days I spent watching my grain bins fill, the dogs spent fighting with each other. When one would take off on the run toward a cat, the other dog would take the first dog down from behind and then they would growl and roll in the dirt, take turns getting each other by the neck and then the process would reverse.

They would trade places taking the dominate roll and the other one would end up on top with her mouth on the throat of the one, now on her back on the ground. They would sometimes stand on their back legs and face each other and fight standing up like they might be practicing for Dancing With The Stars.
Very seldom did they get serious enough to actually mean what they were doing. The funny thing is that while they fought, the cats were eating their food and any wild animal that cared to, could have strolled on to the property unnoticed.
The two really don't do a very good job of protecting the farm. But then again, it's our fault. We took them in and failed in any attempt to make them accountable. We got what we deserved.
As you've probably already guessed, I'm talking about our politicians. They seem to love to wrestle and fight and snarl and take turns grabbing their opponents by the throat when they should be talking out the problems related to the latest in legislation.
Just a little bit of give and take would have made the current health care bill palatable to 75 or 80 of our senators and this could have been over with.
Instead, they all want to be the top dog and have it their way. I personally don't think we want our federal government with more involvement in the medical profession. Governments of any size seem to be good at helping citizens with police protection, educating the next generation, and building and maintaining roads.
They go astray when they delve into any social program that requires taking money from one citizen to give to another. The money always seems to disappear before it gets to its target.
I'm guessing Congress could get everybody covered with a bill 50 pages long instead of one that is more than 2,000 pages long. The long version adds more and more layers of bureaucracy. It adds layers upon layers of folks who aren't accountable to anyone, or at least anyone you could find if you needed to.
I think the insurance companies, although partially at fault, shouldn't shoulder all of the blame. The best way for me to explain it is if you traded cars every year since 1950. Ignoring the effect of inflation, you would still need to add more money each of those 60 years because the product got better each year. Then add in inflation and that's how we got there.
Likewise, I don't care to return to a time when aspirin and penicillin are the two things doctors had to offer. I appreciated not being able to remember my operation for cancer because we now have anesthesia. I also am thankful for my insurance company who paid for the $100,000 worth of chemo drugs my doctor tried to kill me with. (At least I thought that at the time.) It all saved my life some 15 years ago.
We're not that far off of our mark. Let's regulate insurance a bit to make it competitive, get serious about tort reform, help those who need help with insurance coverage and then get out. There'll always be time later for rolling around in the dirt and grabbing each other by the throat.