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|Editor's Notebook by Bill Blauvelt||A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan||Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli||Life, Beyond the Ranch, by Tonya R. Pohlman|
by Bill Blauvelt
I've long enjoyed observing the weather. My childhood home was a perfect place for such an interest. It was located near the top of the hill overlooking Superior and the Republican River valley. Soon after getting up each morning, and usually if I was up during the night, I made my way into the kitchen and looked out over the valley.
From the kitchen window I could see the cement plant smoke and the steam from the creamery. How high the smoke and steam were rising gave an indication of temperature, wind speed and wind direction. Looking at how much water was standing on the bottom fields was an indication of how much rain we had had and how high the river was running. The sound of traffic passing by on Highway 14 was an indication of the condition of the driving surface and visibility. Slow traffic on a dry day meant it was most likely foggy out. If the highway was snow packed or ice covered, the traffic sounds were distinctive. I've stood outside and watched dust devils and small tornados dance down the valley.
With my first adjustable camera, a 35mm Kodak Pony IV, I took weather inspired pictures-perhaps ice coated weeds, drifts of snow or rushing water. At that time, I didn't realize how important it was to include people in my pictures. I still enjoy looking at my pictures of snow drifts but I now understand how I could have broadened the appeal of those pictures with better composition, focus and exposure.
When I was a freshman student at Kansas State University taking a beginning photography course, Elbert Macy, the associate professor who taught the class, told his students weather was among the most difficult subjects to picture. When it was my turn to attempt to picture a snowy day on campus, I enlisted the aid of a pretty student wearing knee-high leather boots. The effort earned me an A and illustrated the importance of including people in my pictures, something I didn't often do while living on Blauvelt's Hill.
Later in my college career, I needed a picture to illustrate the January thaw. I found shirtless college guys trying to play basketball on a combination basketball court and ice skating rink. The cutline advised they were having a "splashing good time" playing basketball as the warming temperature turned the rink ice into ice water."
In my first years working for this newspaper, I learned weather pictures are among the most popular ones we print. Publish a good series of weather pictures and we will receive orders for extra copies local readers want to send to their friends living elsewhere.
On Friday, before the Polar Vortex arrived, Marty took pictures of a jacketless crew hanging gutters on the former Carnegie library building in downtown Superior.
Sunday afternoon I was searching for a way to picture the cold. Rita and I had driven around town hoping we might find someone trying to jump-start a vehicle. We found few people were venturing outside in the cold and returned home without a picture.
That led me to post a request on Facebook asking for suggestions. Ideas came quickly.
Denise Ohmstede was the first to offer a suggestion. She suggested I take a picture of a thermometer. Dale Tyler suggested a picture of the frozen lake. Joan Frum suggested a person trying to keep warm with three blankets and a heated brick for their feet.
Kim Young suggested a picture of vehicles left running outside of a store or the checkers dressed with stocking caps, gloves and coats while manning the cash registers near the front of the stores.
Marsha Mills offered the most sensible suggestion. She said I should take the picture from inside my warm home.
Former Alaska resident and co-worker Tonya Pohlman, wasn't looking after my welfare when she suggested I ask a few newspaper employees to don summer clothes and pose by the frozen lake. She suggested they might want to dangle icicles from their extended limbs. Just in case I didn't get the idea, she sent me a summertime picture taken on the gulf coast.
Tonya knew she would be among the first to be asked and so she concluded by saying "Sorry, I'm busy but check with Kim and Sandy."
Kim said she would look for her flip flops but was willing to go only if Tonya's husband, Marty, would go. Kim knew she was safe as Marty is a Superior transplant from Florida. He freezes at 50 degrees and was no where to be found on Sunday afternoon.
Tonya and Kim began to suggest alternatives. Tonya suggest I host a backyard barbeque. The promise of free food might induce a few Alaskan looking people to show up.
Kim then suggested I try the summertime fry the egg on the sidewalk trick with a twist. This week she suggested I pour water on the sidewalk and report how long it took to freeze.
I'm surprised she didn't suggest seeing if water poured from a tea kettle froze in mid-air.
Newspaper readers offered more sensible suggestions.
Cheryl Warren suggested I go to the lake and take pictures of all the eagles. She advised she had observed 40 or more while driving around the lake and the best viewing area was from the top of the dam. I would need binoculars to see them and a long lens to take a photograph. With the weekend end, standing on top of Lovewell Dam didn't appeal to me.
But in this technology age, I didn't have to leave the warmth of my basement office. Thanks to the internet, it wasn't long before I was communicating with others who had observed the eagles. Jeff Christiancy provided a picture of eagles he had taken Sunday afternoon with his cell phone and Rob Unruh submitted pictures of eagles taken by the wife of one his associates with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
The eagle pictures in this issue are the most recent demonstration of how this newspaper depends upon it readers to keep the staff aware of what is happening. Thanks to contributions from our readers, we are able to inform many and make a printed record of what is happening now that will last far into the future.
Each issue of the newspaper is a cooperative effort involving contributions from many people.
A Different Slant,
by Chuck Mittan
Surprisingly, the Academy Awards turned out pretty much like I thought they would. In fact, I wish I had been in one of those contests or pools in which players fill out ballots and are awarded prizes for correctly picking the most winners. If so, not only would I have won some cash or prizes, but there would be proof of my knowledge and skill (or perhaps blind luck). As it is, you'll just have to take my word for it.
My friends at the Omaha Film Festival have an annual "OFF-Scar" party. Because they advertise and charge admission, they are not allowed to use the words "Oscar" or "Academy Awards." Attendees fill out ballots before they all watch the event on a big TV in a local bar or eatery. The top pickers win cash or prizes. They don't do all the categories, just the 25 deemed to be most significant. This year, the winner accurately picked 24 correctly out of 25. I didn't do quite that well, so I would not have won that contest.
I thought "Nebraska," directed by Omaha native Alexander Payne, was a great film, but I didn't let pride in our state cloud my judgement. Looking at the competition objectively, I felt it would be lucky to win in any of the categories in which it was nominated. And it didn't.
I was certain Matthew McConaughey would win best actor for his work in "Dallas Buyers Club." First, he lost about 50 pound for the role and turned himself into a living skeleton. The Oscar judges are nuts for that level of dedication. Second, they love a comeback story, and several years ago, McConaughey was thought to be destined to live out his career doing mediocre romantic comedies until he grew too old to be shirtless and attractive on camera. Now, with critical acclaim for two films "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Mud" as well as his work alongside Woody Harrelson in HBO's "True Detective," he has become the real deal, as actors go. If by chance he didn't win, I thought Bruce Dern had a good shot for "Nebraska." No such luck, Bruce.
Though I thought June Squibb was delightful in "Nebraska," I was certain Lupita Nyong'o would win best supporting actress for "12 Years a Slave." There simply wasn't anything special enough about Squibb's character or the way she played it. There are literally dozens of actresses who could have played it just as well, including several who appeared in smaller roles in the same film.
Though Jonah Hill is among my favorite four or five actors, and he was great in "The Wolf of Wall Street," there was no viable competition in the best supporting actor category for Jared Leto's brilliant work in "Dallas Buyers Club."
Spike Jonze won best original screenplay for "Her" at the WGA awards last month, and I was confident the Oscars would follow suit. They did. Again, if by chance the Oscars went a different direction, I thought Bob Nelson had a shot for "Nebraska." It's a truly great script, as we've come to expect from Alexander Payne films.
Among my blunders, I thought "Gravity" would win tons of awards (which it did), including best picture (which it didn't). That coveted award went to "12 Years a Slave."
by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli
In honor of Fat Tuesday, my attention turned to my kitchen shelf filled with cookbooks. Maybe I could stir up something special for lunch. I began to pull out cook books, looking for a recipe.
As I pulled out one cookbook after another, I decided I should eliminate a few, so at least they would be easier to pull out. There were too many cookbooks and recipe files on the shelf. Since my home economics years at Burr Oak High School, I have collected recipes through my early years of marriage, raising my two sons and now trying to cook healthier for just two people.
Which ones do I get rid of? As I pulled them out to survey the sizes and titles, I was finding it hard to cut back on my cook book collection.
There is my trusty metal recipe card file box that I began filling in high school "home ec." There was a recipe for baked Alaska our home ec. class made and served at the school board supper. I don't think I ever used that recipe again. I could never give up that sentimental recipe box. There is another recipe box filled with those I compiled over the years. Some were favorites. No, that box stays.
There are cookbooks that relate to my family's nationalities, Pennsylvania Dutch, German recipes from the Amana Colonies, Brizova and Klimentova's Czech cuisine. There are cook books from women of various towns, compiled and sold to help fund a town celebration or make improvements to a senior center. Some of them include Burr Oak Pioneer Cookbook, Recipes and Remembrances from the Esbon Seniorettes and Favorite Recipes from Esbon. There are some that contain recipes from women of an area church, such as Cooking With God's Bountiful Harvest, Northbranch Friends Church 2008, and one my favorites, given to me by my mother-in-law, Our Daily Bread, compiled by women from a church in Beloit. Another favorite was given to me by a neighbor years ago, compiled by women of the Nazarene Churches of Kansas. I have used many great recipes from all these cookbooks.
Another cookbook is hand-typed in a loose leaf notebook. It has recipes from a woman who runs a bed and breakfast in Colorado, where I stayed on a vacation. She was a wonderful cook. Her recipe for ham and cheese fritata is oh so good!
There are cookbooks from distant places that are unique. Two are what I call my "wrangler" cookbooks. Stir Ups contains recipes compiled by the Junior Welfare League in Enid, Okla. Its subtitle is "Boot-kickin', flavor-lickin' recipes from the Great Plains." The other is King Ranch Cookbook, Kingville, Texas, which contains such recipes as roundup round steak, borrego bars and cactus and celery casserole. I admit I haven't used the casserole recipe, but it sounds interesting. I have used their beef stew recipe and the family enjoyed it.
Another of my favorite cookbooks is Cooking at its Best, with recipes from Kansas YWCA (women) and Y-Teens (girls), of which I was a member, along with others in the Jewell, Glen Elder and Burr Oak areas.
One cookbook came from friends who enjoy hunting and fishing: In Good Taste: Wilderness Adventures Of Northern Colorado. That one is filled with such recipes as moose or elk cheese roll, turkey tetrazzini and grilled salmon spread. I tried the salmon spread recipe and may some day make the tetrazzini, but unless my husband or I turn to hunting big game, I may not be trying the cheese roll recipe any time soon.
Other great cookbooks in my collection include one written by a childhood neighbor who went on to own and operate cafes in Kansas and Nebraska, and one that contains two recipes provided by my granddaughter, compiled by her elementary school. There is one put together by the Brodstone Memorial Hospital staff, and one from Central City's hospital. There is one given to me by a friend, whose former coworkers put it together.
There are healthy recipe cookbooks for fat-free, low calorie, guilt-free cooking. There are cookbooks specifically for microwaves, grills and slow cookers.
There are cookbooks I know I'll never be able to part with, such as a Better Homes and Garden cookbook given to me at my wedding shower by a woman at our church in 1966. It has many recipes I still use today, including a homemade noodle recipe.
There are many hand written or typed recipes, sent to me from friends and relatives. At one point, I thought I'd put them all on a computer file and not have to mess with loose pages, but I like pulling them out and seeing hand written notes and extra messages added at the ends of the recipes. A couple of them came from my mother, sharing her peanut butter and oatmeal brownies; my grandmother Heskett, sharing her crabapple jelly and dilly roll recipes; and Granny Boyles, sharing her family's favorite recipe for pie crusts and other of her well-known creations. One friend sent me a handwritten letter which included her recipe for wassil. A neighbor emailed me a recipe for German pancakes and one of her favorite scriptures was included. I keep these hand-created recipes in a notebook.
No, I don't think I can part with any of these cookbooks. How could I? I carefully put them back up one by one on the shelf. Maybe if I organize them better and line them up evenly, that will give me some extra space. I haven't received or purchased a cookbook in the past year and I better not, unless I find one that really gets my attention. There is always room for one more.
Life, Beyond the Ranch, by Tonya R. Pohlman
There are people who like coffee, and those who like tea.
And there are people who like neither. I've tried to be a tea
person, and I do like tea on occasion, but coffee is in my blood.
The coffee culture has its cliques. There are the fru-fru flavored coffee ninnies. Hazelnut is their gateway drug. When I smell hazelnut, I run. I know that soon to follow (aside from my nausea) will be the exchange of outdated Cosmo magazines as well as an in-depth discussion of the latest news on the Kardashians. To the flavored coffee ninnies, coffee isn't just a drink, it's a social purpose. Their motto is, "We don't really like coffee, but we need a reason to gather and boost the image of famously unimportant people, and tea is just too polite."
There are also the self-proclaimed home brew baristas. Either they are too cheap to let the professionals handle their coffee, or there isn't a Starbucks within walking, quick driving or public transportation distance. Once the home brew barista discovers what he or she can do with a little extra expense and a lot of self-inflated belief, their specialty coffee concoctions become the means by which they exhibit false intellectual supremacy and square peg individuality.
Home brew baristas do not have a motto, because having a motto would mean they are not as unique as they would like others to believe. The unspoken maxim of the home brew barista, however, is "The pickier we are about our coffee, the more other people will understand how special we are."
If you are serving regular coffee to a home brew barista or a member of the flavored coffee ninnies, when they say they want a quarter teaspoon of cream in their coffee and two rounded teaspoons of sugar, do not deviate from their instructions. It is pointless and exhausting to rationalize with crazy people. You would be wise to not to show them the generic store brand label on the can of coffee you bought last week at the local discount mart.
So who or what am I?
My bloodline falls into the Lone Prairie Joes. You know, the "give me land lots of land with the starry skies above, don't fence me in," types. Coffee is not a social convention to these Joes. Coffee is a drink to be relished in the absence of people, noise and the general clutter that defines humanity. And in the presence of these undesirable circumstances, coffee is an escape as well as a crutch. But more than anything, to the Lone Prairie Joe, coffee is a drink best served black and bitter. The more primitive the method of coffee brewing in the Lone Prairie world, the better the coffee will be.
I joined the Joes when drip coffee makers were the norm. I drank coffee because I had to, not because I wanted to. It was self-defense in the beginning, and now it's a necessity of not only my own survival, but the survival of anyone who crosses my path without sufficient amounts of the black gold running through my veins. Of course, coffee usually contains caffeine and is addictive. And yes, we all know that. We don't care.
Old school Joes have mostly all converted from campfire means of coffee preparation, stove top coffee and coffee percolators. Their methods may appear modern, but their philosophies are not. Never offer Lone Prairie Joes any form of altered or flavored coffee. Sugar and creamer are considered blasphemy. Do not, I repeat, do not clean the carafe into which the Joes' coffee is brewed. All of that built up black stuff, bacteria and heaven knows what else, is what a Joe will tell you gives the coffee that special flavor. That special flavor is probably more from the presence of toxins (poison), similar to ergot, (a derivative of which is LSD). This would also explain the paranoid psychotic behaviors you may witness in a Joe from time to time.
But also, never ever touch a Joe's mug. You can have the spouse, the kids, the house and the cars. But don't touch the mug. That, my friend, is bad manners in the Joe world. Bad manners are, shall we say, "frowned upon." You might not get beheaded, but maybe behanded, and most definitely, defriended.
I'm ashamed to admit that recently I broke the Joe code. Like Eve, the serpent and that whole mess in the garden, someone lured me with the shiny apple of irresistible temptation technology. Sure, my new Keurig single cup brewing system makes tea and hot chocolate, and I even tried to brew hazelnut, thinking somehow it might be different and then dumped it before the wave of nausea took hold. I'm still not much for the fru-fru or the specialty blends of the more sophisticated and haughty coffee guru. But I can have a cup of "strong, black and bitter" now in mere seconds. And that, my friends, is why the dark side is where I plan to stay.