Sunday, July 31, 2011

R & R

We are now six days away from our move.  Boxes, piles, tape and marking pens surround us.  Books weigh more than they used to.  I feel my standards for organization slipping. 

I took time out yesterday to go to a wedding.  For four hours I was bathed in optimism and goodwill.  With the other guests, I listened to vows that drew married couples closer together to hold hands and remember.  For a brief time, there was only tomorrow - no yesterday. Oh, this is a modern couple.  They have been together for some time.  But standing before friends and family, and dressed like the figures on the cake, they grinned and glowed with anticipation.  The music was fine and some danced.  The food was good.  The toasts were short and thoughtful.  Old friends rewove the threads of their lives.  A summer evening out on the lawn with people all hoping for the good fortune this young couple seek.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ageless Women?

Why are women who appear on stage or in film, or on television not content to wear their age as it happens?  Skin sags a bit, wrinkles etch the face, hair grays.  Why do women try to hide all this?  I acknowledge that men also touch up their hair and have a surgical tuck or two.  But women go to extremes. Blond is a recessive gene.  Why has it become the must-have hair color for TV anchors?  Why isn't gray hair revered as evidence of the wisdom that comes with passing years?  Age brings plenty of aches and limitations.  It's too bad that, for women, it also brings such denial.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Stumped?  It stands for Homeseller Fatigue Syndrome.   My husband and I suffered from Homeseller Fatigue Syndrome as weeks and months passed and the market continued to slip away from us. Our house finally sold, and just in time.  We are moving in two weeks.

Moving is not for sissies.  My back aches just thinking about it.  It reminds me, however, of childbirth.  We have reached that important stage in the process at which we can get into motion. We are no longer waiting for events over which we have little control.  The prospective owners want us out, and our new house beckons.  My blog will ride along in the back seat.  I'll post when I can.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Get Along Little Doggies

Next time you are buying beef, think of this.  After the Civil War, as prosperity returned to northern cities, the demand for beef grew.  Cattle from Texas, the legendary Longhorns, could be sold into the new markets if it could reach a rail head.  The nearest suitable tracks were in Kansas over 500 miles as the crow flies from the Texas range land.  Since cattle can't fly, they walked, driven on by cowboys up the Chisholm Trail.  The trail went north through the Indian Territories (present day Oklahoma) and on to the cow towns where the cattle (and the cowboys) could get loaded.  Before the century closed, and before rail reached into cow country, 5,000,000 head reached Kansas over the Chisholm Trail.  The cowboys, the trail, the towns along the way and the town marshalls have been made famous by John Wayne and others.  Who doesn't know about Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickock?  No matter how hard the ride, lonely the nights, or lawless the life the romance lingers.  Willie Nelson tells it well:

Wichita was on the trail and had rail service.  Wichita prospered.  After the cattle drives came stage coaches and horse and buggy drivers.serving passengers off the Arkansas Valley Interurban Railway and heading for west Kansas.  To capture the travellers' business, in 1921 the Broadview Hotel was built on the banks of the Arkansas River right in the middle of town.  The Broadview was grand in every way with a rooftop promenade offering an all around view of the city below.

On August 1 you will have a chance to celebrate  frontier history in Wichita and meet some 21st century pioneers.  The Broadview will reopen after a 15 month renovation.  The lobby grandeur is restored, but the stone arch on the east side is still engraved with "Freight Station".  Two hundred modern rooms await.  And the pioneers?  The hotel's 9 woman housekeeping staff.  They are long-time employees.  Management wanted to reward their loyalty.  They were offered, and accepted jobs on the construction crew, tearing down walls, breaking tile with jack hammers, caulking, carrying and cleaning up.  The construction job Superintendent says he would hire them again.  He probably won't have the chance because on August 1 they will be busy, again, keeping house and making history.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Recognize the acronym?  Here's a clue: From the Government Agency that regulated LUST, we also have NURP.  Still Guessing?   National Urban Runoff Program - the force behind those stormwater retention ponds that are now a part of every land development project.  There is one about 1/4 mile from our house.  I enjoy walking by it at any time of the year.  EPA analysis from 1979 research concluded that wetlands cleanse pollutants from the water running off our streets, fertilized lawns and super-mall parking lots. Since most developments don't have a convenient wetland located down-gradient, constructed wetlands would have to do.  The word went out, and the beneficiaries include red-winged blackbirds, paddling ducks of all kinds, turtles, frogs, blue herons and my favorite, the tiny marsh wren.  And, of course, urban walkers like me who happen by to enjoy the show.  By design, these ponds are landscaped with grasses, shrubs and marshland plants that stabilize the banks and help with pollution scrubbing.  A properly constructed pond has a sufficient water supply to maintain a permanent pool, and a protective berm high enough to retain a 100 year flood.  As dirty water drains into the pond, sediment settles to the bottom with its adsorbed pollutant load.  Rain, runoff and naturally occurring groundwater keep water flowing down the outlet.  Regular maintenance removes built up sediments.

Keep an eye out for a retention pond near you and enjoy this elegant solution to a water quality problem.

PS on LUST.  Leaking Underground Storage Tanks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Oh Beautiful for Spacious Skies

We all know the words.  At least the first verse.  Some can go on to the second verse:

Oh beautiful for Pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress.
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law.

But it is the third verse that we should sing today. 

Oh beautiful for heroes proved
in liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved,
and mercy more than life
America! America!
May god thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine.

This is the verse sung so often by Ray Charles.  Perhaps you can hear him in your mind.  It is his signature recognition of those who serve our country.  Here is a vintage performance.

A post script thought.  "America the Beautiful" was written in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates  Bates was professor of English literature at Wellesley College.  She was in the vanguard of liberated women.  She was educated, travelled widely, supported herself well and lived in a committed partnership with economist Katharine Coman for 25 years.  Sung in patriotic honor of our armed forces by a blind African American, "America the Beautiful" transcends the squabbling and smallness of much current political discourse.

Friday, July 1, 2011

North Platte Canteen

Out of Omaha, due west heading for Cheyenne, the Union Pacific line runs through North Platte, Nebraska.  In 1941, trains stopped in North Platte to take on water and lubricate the wheels.  It was a quick stop - perhaps 20 minutes.  After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the Union Pacific carried troops through North Platte on their way to war.  And, from December, 1941 until April 1946, every train was met.  Six million service men (and women) were greeted with hot coffee, freshly baked cookies, sandwiches and cakes.  The story of the women (and some men) of the North Platte Canteen is beautifully told by others.  At the linked site you can watch a short video and hear from veterans who remember, with tears, their visit to the Canteen over 60 years ago.  Read Bob Greene's book "Once Upon A Town, the Miracle of the North Platte Canteen".  You can get it for your e-reader, or listen to it on your next road trip. But don't think that such human kindness occurred only on the great plains of the mid-west.  Today, in Bangor, Maine, planes carrying troops to and from war in the Middle East are met by volunteers.  The Maine Troop Greeters have greeted over 5900 flights with more than 1,200,000 service members and 296+ military dogs. A documentary film, "The Way We Get By" tells this story.

My husband and I live near a military base.  We buy a meal for soldiers when we can.