Saturday, May 28, 2005

Views Near the Porch

(Click on pictures to enlarge) Peonies were my Mom's favorite flowers. At least I thought so. Her reaction of a little boy taking his Mother a flower, made me think they were her favorite. Now that I think back, she also liked dandelions just as much. I shall pick some of these and take them to her at the cemetary. She will be as thrilled as always.

The corn and soybean plants produce our livelihood, but now is the time for the Iris and Peonies to 'show-off'. A diversion of sorts. Something to feast upon while waiting for the main event this fall.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

TREES (story below)

The day before the slaughter. (story below)

They overshadowed everything.

Monsters of the midway are being layed down. Story below


The cottonwood trees pictured above, were planted on this farm in the spring of 1916. The man who farmed this farm at the time, and a friend of his, had gone east about one eighth mile and pulled saplings out of the sandbars of the Missouri River. They came back and populated both this farmstead and one other by the town of Herman, with baby cottonwoods. The farm there was later known as the Ranch Spur Elevator. The trees of the Ranch spur, lined the road all the way to the highway.
By the year I was born, 1950, they had considerable girth and height. My earliest remembrances were of Dad doing work under them in the hottest of weather. When we needed to take the rubber tires off of the old Oliver 77 and put steel wheels on for 'throwing in' with the 'go-devil', Dad would always do it under the shade of the cottonwoods. It was where we did everything in hot weather.
They made a 20 mph wind sound like a storm. They stood thru a lot of world history. They were standing in 4 feet of water in the great Missouri Valley flood of 52. They bent over, almost in half in some storms with tornado inspired winds. They could lose a giant pile of limbs and not show where they had come from. They saw seven kids off into the world. And welcomed them home again, no matter how long they were away.
The one thing they couldn't take was lightning. They had all fallen prey to the big zapper. Lightning takes about 5 years to kill a big cottonwood. They seem untouched at first but then after about 3 years it's obvious the tree is dying a long, slow, death. They became dangerous and we had to remove them.
The decision to take them out did not come easily. My mind kept going over everything that had happened under the trees. The history. The sessions of catch with a baseball, the new boyfriends and girlfriend that were brought home to meet Mom and Dad. Both 'us kids' and then 'our kids'. The times I walked in the shade and shed tears to try and figure out what was going wrong at the time. The times Mom or Dad must have done the same. Dad moved the family here in 1948, so the trees had been the Overseers of my life for my first fifty three years.
Here's the point of all of this,, the day before the chainsaws fired up, I got to walking the farmstead and noticing that every plant on the west side of the big trees, was somehow effected. All of the trees were almost barren on their eastern side, and most of them were bending west in search of light. All of the smaller plants were doing the same.
Yesterday I examined the remaining trees. They've had 2 years of growth since the demise of the cottonwoods. They are obviously filling out their eastern extremities, they are going up straight now. All of the plants are doing much better. There are bigger, prettier plants and flowers everywhere. They are all flourishing.
It got me to thinking how people can have the same effect on children, and organizations. If the leadership, or parenting so overshadows everything, growth of the individual is dampened. The light is being stolen, or swallowed up by the giants and growth is stifled. I guess we should stand away from the light, give them a chance to grow and prosper. New leaders will develop.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Okay folks, here's the deal. This Saturday nite is the annual alumni banquet here in our small town. Traditionally the graduates come to celebtrate their 10, 35, 40, 50, and 60 years. We will usually have 3 to 4 hundred people in attendance. They have made it a habit of asking me to be the Master of Ceremonies, and that is again the case this year. (for about 20 years running)
I need your graduate, or reunion stories and jokes. They must be clean enough for a local politician and Baptist Choir director to be telling in front of the towns people.
What have you got.

We're Changing the Signal Men

Greg's comment below on 'He does Get it', got me to thinking about the time I had the dugout full of 13 and 14 year old boys. We were going over the pre-game details, including the various 'signs' for stealing, bunt, hit and run, fake bunt, and etc. Then I said (in jest) "Oh, I've changed the steal sign to this". Then I held my left arm parallel with the ground and used the first two fingers of my right hand to 'run' from my left hand to my left shoulder.
I was able to keep a straight face for another 10 seconds while the team silently stared at me. They were, shall we say, stunned. I wish someone would have taken a picture of those boys. Priceless.
And yes, I did change it back. I think it was 7 touches after the hat.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Fill In The Blank_______

One of Tekamah's more unforgettable characters, made the following announcement in one of our local restaurants, "There's no such thing as a mediocre pancake".
I would add there is no such thing as a mediocre Ribeye Steak.
How about you,
There's no such thing as a mediocre......

Sunday, May 22, 2005

He Does Get It!

About 10 years ago, my youngest son, Tom, wanted to attend the premier baseball camp in the country, in Dallas Texas. It was held by Oklahoma States legendary coach Gary Ward. They held it over the Christmas vacation. The time was a new idea they were trying. It didn't work out for the Wards. The camp was coached by Gary and his two sons. All three were major college, head coaches. They only had about 5 or 6 kids at the weekend camp. Tom was going to get almost one on one hitting instruction from one of the best hitting coaches in college baseball, for an entire weekend. I had been Tom's head coach thru t-ball, little league, and pony league,7 years in all. Well Tom had always had one of those baseball swings that made younger players and their coaches, stop and stare. Many times I heard "come here son and which this guy swing, THAT'S a perfect swing". But Tom wanted to get better so we made the arrangements for the not so cheap camp, and airline tickets were purchased.
On the way down to the airport I said "Tom, you know you're going to have to pay for this trip don't you? He quickly replied with a tone that said I needn't have asked, "I know Dad"!
I thought, he doesn't get what I mean, I wasn't talking about the money. I asked "Okay, how are you going to pay for this trip"? He said "Well, when I get older, and have kids of my own, I'll be obligated to coach, it will be my turn".
He did get it.
Well, tonight Marilyn and I went down to Lincoln to watch a coed softball team sponsored by son Dan, and his wife. Tom is coaching the team, and though it isn't the type of team that needs coaching, it does need organized and he is doing a good job of it and is getting acquianted with the time and procedures required in getting a team ready to play.
Everyone plays, it's co-ed, and they do have fun. The field is full of people wearing Morrow Collision Center shirts (their sponsors) and the fun thing is we know most of the players on the team. We got to watch Dan make a catch over his shoulder while running straight away toward center. (2nd time in 2 weeks) and we saw Tom cut down the lead runner at second, three times in one inning, from the mound. After he did it, he walked off the field and caught my eye in the stands and flashed a very confident smile and then proceeded to the dugout to give the names of the next 3 batters. He loved what he was doing, and it showed.
Something tells me that his 'baseball account' is full, and he's ready now to start making installments on that trip.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Cancer Survivors

I've found myself very tired as of late. Meetings at night that run too long, and late softball games held 90 miles from home are just some of the culprits. Monday night we got involved with starting the hiring process for our new Economic Developement Board in our county. We had the resumes in hand and it took a while to whittle away. Got home at 11:30 and up at 5 a.m. to head back to Lincoln for more meetings.
The point of all this is that, at golf league tuesday night, I played in a foursome with a friend who is in a battle for his life with cancer. We weren't in the same cart so as we stopped to tee off or when together on the green we discussed the similarities in his treatment with mine, now 9 years ago this August. His stories of his chemo and testing began to bring back some desperate memories. Times in my life when I was sure I couldn't do this anymore. It has a tendency, for me anyway, to put me right back to where I was mentally 9 years ago, especially if I'm tired, which I was.
I have another good friend who I'm told has been recently diagnosed with a common form of cancer for men. I graduated from High School with him and went to college at the same school. He was there at golf league, and I shall assume his cancer was caught early, and that all is well, but still, I wanted so much to talk to him and tell him what so many had told me, 'attitude is everything', you must believe you will win this battle, and you probably will. I wanted to tell him that he's in my thoughts and prayers, that I was pulling for him. Well I couldn't bring myself to talk to him, after all, there's no crying in golf, and I was on the edge all night.
You can beat cancer, but any talk of the treatment will take you back mentally. I also can't drive by the Bishop Clarkson Hospital without getting that sick feeling in my stomach. The same feeling I had for the 3 months of intense chemo treatments. Five days a week, 7 hours a day.
Well my friends, attitude is everything. Although I know the hopeless feelings that swell from within. They can overwhelm. Fight them and know that 5 or 10 years in the future they will just be faint memories. Most of the time.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Trailride at Morrow's

The next several pictures are from the trailride from our place Saturday. I lost the view's I had from the porch, of all of the riders and equipment. (corrupted data said the Canon Rebel,I had to reformat the card and then it was too late.) There must have been 30 or 40 big rigs here. It started Friday night when about 10 rigs came in early and then the rest came for breakfast (bisquits and gravy) Sat morn before the ride.
It looked like the old west, if you didn't look closely, that is. Although the horses were 'tacked', authentically, as well as the riders, I couldn't help but notice they all had leather canteens, but the water came from the saddle bags and said 'Dansani' on it. Several pulled out cell phones to check on businesses and kids, and the fact that I got a cd with 250 pictures on it, means there was an abundance of miniaturized digital cameras.
A great time was had by all, largely to the generosity of our neighbors to the south. The ride went over at least 5 landowners, all of which have always been the best of neighbors. We are fortunate to live by these folks. Next October the 'ride' moves to the beautiful hills west of Tekamah, near Summit Lake. Load em up and come on over!

Take me to the River...

Saturday's Trailride!

Our daughter Juli and friends, from up in the hills, throw two trailrides each year. October up in the hills, and one from our place in May. We live down on the Missouri River bottom land. This is taken in our trees east of our house. The beginning of the ride. I have posted several pics in no particular order. I can't seem to 'think backwards' so as to put the pics in the correct order.

This group came a day early to shoot the breeze with old friends.

Marilyn (on rt) and buddy she went to college with.

"I hope they take their time eating lunch".

This is like a 500 horse 'Cat Engine' in pickup.

"He's to big to straddle I tell you, Thats why I ride in a wagon behind him".

One of the wagon people and his horse power.

'Cafe Cliff'

Riders in our shed, warming up and swapping stories after a cool, windy ride. The couple on the left have retired and do this for a living. They spent last winter in the desert southwest. My wife Marilyn is seated next to them.

My daughter Juli and friend. He's the one that rode the one horse in our pasture 11,000 miles. An experienced trailboss.

Marilyn and her 'ride'. It was a cold and blustery day. They stopped for lunch here, a cabin very near the Missouri River.

A Picture of My Daughter!!

My Daughter (on left) and Mule. Yes I will pay for this but I just couldn't resist.

Looking back toward the house. A few of the trailers and riders are stirring.

Looking west toward our house. Some of the trailers and riders. Getting ready to 'Ride Out' at 10AM.
I hope you enjoyed the tour. I reserve the right to add a few more pictures from time to time.
One of the neat things about the ride is that one of the gals brings a cardreader and her laptop and if you give her your card from your camera, she will copy and put on a CD along with all the other peoples' pictures for you. So by the time she leaves, you have a copy of every picture taken on the ride by about 6 different camera's. Later guys.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

She Said, "Bring Something Home for Dinner"

So I Brought Her This: A 3-piece Chicken Dinner!

Views From the Porch!

Looking East! We needed an inch of rain to melt down some of the clods we made while planting corn. We went to Church Sunday and prayed for rain. We've received 3" in the last 48 hours, and it's still raining.

Looking North. While praying for rain, one should be specific.

Fortune Cookie

My Grandson spent the night. This morning, while eating the breakfast I had fixed, he watched one of the morning shows tell about a fortune cookie company that had put out a bunch of cookies with the, (as it turns out) winning numbers on it. Some 110 people had won over $100K.
The kindergartner calmly and with no emotion said, "Grandpa, I got a fortune cookie one time that said I was going to Disneyland....well, that never happened".
As they say, 'I rest my case your Honor'.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Kansas: As Big as You Think

Terah and John have been camping. Terah's first experience. They have both written a couple of interesting blogs on the topic. Check them out. Terah was also talking about the new Kansas slogan "Kansas, as big as you think".
It got me to thinking about Jerry Clower's story about the time the entire Ledbetter family saved up enough money to take Grandpa Ledbetter to the Mississippi coastline to show Gramps the Ocean. A lifelong dream of his.
With much anticipation and excitement, they drove the 90 year old man onto the beach, got him out of the car and let him gaze on the vast expanse of water. Nothing but water for as far as you could see. They let him soak in the grandeur of it all for a bit and finally couldn't wait to ask the obvious question, "Well, what do you think Grandpa?" And in an obviously disappointed tone he said "Hmm, I thought it would be bigger than this".

Monday, May 09, 2005

Can't Take a Compliment

Yesterday, Mothers Day, after all of the kids and grandkids had returned to their life, I stared into Marilyn's eyes and told her again that she was a great Mother, and that I was lucky to have been able to live with such a beautiful woman for the past, nearly 35 years. She said she'd get me the next stronger reading glasses the next time she was in town.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

By the Way...

By the way, I could have gotten away with the "enhanced" fish picture, (below, the bottom one) but I didn't notice the catfish hanging from my armpit.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

May 6th 1975

I dropped the used-up welding rod and reached for a new one. My seventy year old father looked at me and said, "you'd better get home to Marilyn and Juli". The reason was 'the look' of the sky. He said "In all of my seventy years I've never seen the sky look like this, something bad is going to happen".
These were astonishing statements from someone who was not given to the use of hyperbole. He was the master of the understatement. While everyone else would head to the basement in a thunderstorm, he would probably stand and look out the window. He sent me home that afternoon to be with my beautiful young wife and new baby daughter. Dad and I had been trying to plant some newly cleared land north of where I lived. We were using some old equipment, so as to not tear up the good stuff when we hit a stump. I had dinged the old planter and had pulled it down to the shop to weld it back together.
That day looked bad from the time we got up and it got worse by the minute. By 4:30 when I was sent home, it seemed that hundreds of tornadoes could pop up anywhere. The sky was black, a very low ceiling, and they literally boiled for hours.
Knowing Dad as I did, it scared me. I ran to my pick-up and headed home. I tuned the AM radio to KFAB, the 'old reliable' out of Omaha to see if there were any warnings. What I heard while driving the three fourths of a mile to home, was unbelievable, a tornado was on the ground in Omaha, just 45 miles to our south, and it was chasing a reporter that was broadcasting it's every move. It stayed on the ground for 10 miles in Metro Omaha causing the largest property damage of any tornado to that date. It was an F4 in power and the amazing thing was that with the hundreds of homes completely destroyed, and the over four thousand buildings sustaining substantial damage, only three people died.
I sat in the driveway at my house, my foot hanging out of the door, the radio on, and I listened. Marilyn came to the door with Juli in her arms and yelled to me, "looks bad". Yes it did.
Note: Also worth researching, was Grand Island Nebraska's night of terror, June 3rd 1980. Seven tornadoes were down in the city, and rotating.
These two rank, or did rank in the top ten in history, measured by property damage.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Guilty as Charged

I have been shamed into writing a 'retraction' because of Jamie Dawn's comment. I put in an obviously 'tampered with' photo, knowing that the guys in the photo would contact Dad and call him on the enlarged fishies. I had left room for 'fish tale', 'fish story', and all of the other, unused, cliche's. And then I thought "If the boys aren't reading Dad's blog, maybe Ralph will notice the obvious. I think the only one to read the blog was bridgesitter, and Jamie dawn, so to you two, I say I'm sorry, we'll keep it our little secret. On the bright side, I have been contacted by the Washington Post and the New York Times, seems they think I've got what it would take to write for them.

(click on picture to enlarge the entire picture, look at the picture below to enlarge the fish)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Corn Planting is Done!!

The corn planting is over and as usual, the first thing I planted was sweet corn and it was also the last. It was 7:00 pm when I got done so rather than start something else, I treated myself to a mini vacation and came in the house.
We have a hallway with one big wall. A group of cork boards stretch the entire 12 feet. We have them filled with pictures. Kind of like a long refridgerator. As I walked down that hall tonight, the above picture caught my eye. Taken years ago, at Harlan County Reservoir, on the NE-KS border. The lake's been almost out of water for 5 years now but we used to spend a week camping and fishing and playing golf there every year. Our kids know that lake very well. It took me back for a moment, it was fun.
That's Tom in the boat and Dan on the right. I know, I should have had sunscreen on.

Way back when.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Images may appear rounder than they are...

(click on photo's to enlarge) Son Dan, playing with my camera.

My nearly 'antique' tractor and planter. I'm planting corn. Beans to follow. If I were to drive the tractor straight ahead I would end up in the Missouri River.