Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Candelabra War

Cliff Morrow
Midwest Producer

I’ve always been a fan of southwestern U.S. history. The so-called Lincoln County War has been of interest to me for some time now. It took place in Lincoln County, N.M., and had to do with different cattle barons and bankers and lawmen. The feud resulted in the death of a young hoodlum named Billy the Kid in the small town of Fort Sumner. He was gunned down one evening in a dark room by Sheriff Pat Garrett of Lincoln County. Interesting to study if you wish to look it up.
I bring this up because of the title of this column. I have dubbed it the Candelabra War and it took place in the First Baptist Church in our small town. I was a small child at the time and the easiest way to explain what happened is to convey the crux of the Sunday dinner conversations that went back and forth between my parents.
I first was made aware of trouble when the folks began to discuss, with some consternation, that two elderly ladies in our church were having some disagreement about the set of candelabras that adorned the top of our baptistry. The baptistry was set in the wall in the front and center of our sanctuary and the top was about the size of a sheet of plywood and for all I know it was just that, a sheet of plywood. It was adorned with our churches big Bible and two candelabras.
When the Sunday School dismissal bell sounded, the class that seemed to have most of the elderly women of our church would file from their classroom and be seated in the pews just outside the door of their room.
On this first Sunday of the war Blanche had set the candelabras even with the back of the Bible, one on either side. They were straight with the world.
Sunday 2: Suzanne came to Sunday School and on the way in, stopped over and pulled the candelabras forward and slanted them both toward the Bible.
Sunday 3: Blanche came out of Sunday School and pushed the candle holders back and straightened them out knowing full well she had foiled Suzanne. It was obviously too late to do anything else before church started.
Sunday 4: Suzanne came out of Sunday School and as the organist played the prelude, pulled the candles forward and turned them just so. I’m sure the same logic applied here as was used last Sunday.
Sunday 5: Blanche pushed the tapers back and straightened them out before Sunday School.
The same day: Suzanne went up again during the prelude and pulled them forward and turned them again. By all appearances, she got the best of Blanche again.
The same day: New rules of engagement are obviously being written on the fly because after the prelude, the opening prayer, and during the last verse of the first hymn, Blanche marched up, pushed the candelabras back and straightened them out. Suzanne rose from here seat, shuffled to the aisle, turned toward the door, threw her head back and went home.
Truthfully, I’m unable to declare the winner here and even though there is definitely a lesson to be learned, I’m not sure what it is. I don’t think any corrective action was attempted because the Deacons and the minister were all men and well, you know … something was probably mumbled about ‘choosing your hill to die on’ wisely.
As of late, the trend in larger churches is toward big media centers that immerse the senses in sights and sounds and are meant to aide worship and in some cases, provide entertainment. Small congregations across farm and ranch country are usually left out of these improvements because of the hefty price tag for the equipment. The Candelabra War proved the “entertainment” part has, and always will be, available to small congregations.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Belly Up To The Trough

The pigs at the trough, having gained control, have asked for and recieved unlimited slop. 
The fact that the local auctioneer stopped to talk to the farmer, and left with a long list of equipment, seems to have escaped the pigs notice. The poor pigs. Their future looks grim.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The thrill of survival

Midwest Producer

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I've been watching the Olympics in Canada. Watching the curling events to be a bit more precise. I felt like I needed to sit down and type a while and let my nerves unwind from the excitement. I've never understood why I am not a big fan of these Winter Games but I suspect that it has partly to do with the fact that I'm from Nebraska - where the greatest winter opportunities are to brag about how far south you went on your winter vacation or how you survived that fall on the ice last week. But it hasn't fazed your thinking a bit. You still want to live here.
And you're here partly because of your strong will and belief system. The basic tenet that life shouldn't be too easy. Remember, this is building character. Surviving here will put hair on your chest.
The Winter Games are a combination of grace, strength, beautiful lifts and moves, and the hope that gravity will somehow take over so they can get those skis back on the snow and make that next turn going 70 miles per hour. Just like living in Kansas and Nebraska in the winter, success in the Olympics is sometimes measured in mere survival. Just try to be the only one who didn't land in a twisted pile of humanity and you'll be the winner.
Opportunities to improve our character have come in many forms this winter. We've had several power outages. Mostly they were brief, but one lasted into the next day. Not bad by most accounts and ice storms standards. We've had copious amounts of snow fall and freezing rain. The locals have pushed it, scooped it, thrown sand on it, spread salt on it and even blown it up into the wind by mechanical means just to give the neighbors more character building opportunities. The season has elevated our snowplow operators and electric company lineman to legendary status. It has closed schools and postponed a great number of games, concerts and social events.
We live where hope springs eternal in the hearts of all Midwesterners. We know that if we persevere, that if we can somehow just "wear this winter out," spring is right around the corner with its warmer temperatures, muddy roads and flooding. The adversity will be there but we won't need to wear so darned many clothes while we face it. By then we'll be thinking about planting, raising crops and killing weeds and we'll have the comfort of knowing that last winter was about as bad as it could have been and next winter will be better. At least we can hope.
But through it all, we must survive. We find entertainment where we can. It might consist of a diversion at the local schools with their games and concerts, or going out to eat on occasion if we think we can get home before the wind blows the road closed again or we stay home, invite the neighbors over and watch television. That's when we realize that even though the satellite serves up 200 or 300 channels, there's really nothing to watch. Two nights ago I narrowed the choices down to the Winter Olympics or an infomercial called "Get the Body You Deserve." Since I already had the latter… I watched the games.
Wow! How does sweeping make that curling stone move like that and should I start carrying a broom in the truck for my wife to use when we're trying to stop on ice?
It really has been a long winter.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Mere Miracle--I Think Not

You need to read THIS ARTICLE from our local paper. It's about my sister Mary. You'll likely not forget having read it.
Besides this incredible story, I must say that the journalist who wrote this did a masterful job.  Katie is the gal who sits through all of our county board meetings and reports it to the local paper. She's a friend of mine and talented indeed.