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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 Pohlman|
by Bill Blauvelt
Friday afternoon my cousin and his wife, Mark and Pat Palmer, were in Superior to visit our uncle who was a patient at Brodstone Memorial Hospital. Later in the afternoon, Mark and Pat stopped by the newspaper office to visit.
Before going off to college and becoming an optometrist, Mark was a regular visitor to Superior and he was my valued fireworks stand helper.
After completing college, he joined his father's optometry practice in Albion. Now his daughter plans to join the practice later this year. Her husband was raised in a nearby county and both are pleased to have the opportunity to return home. Her husband has a "work from anywhere" job with Cisco, a national computer firm.
Rita and I shared an enjoyable two hours catching up on the family news.
If was after 5 p.m. when we said goodby to our visitors, Rita and I were in the front office of the newspaper contemplating what to do next. The Leader section was ready for the press and we had hoped all day Friday to resume printing an all-star game program book we had started on Thursday.
While we debated our next move, I observed a woman moving in an usual manner about in front of the newspaper office. She was intently scrutinizing the building from top to bottom. I didn't see a vehicle and at first wondered if she might be waiting for someone to pick her up. She had a modern Cannon DSLR camera, and was consulting what appeared to be another electronic device which I thought was perhaps a cell phone.
She was so intent she didn't realize I was watching her through the window. Slowly I began to understand what she was doing.
She was looking for one of the geocaches Dalane Ehlers has placed in the Superior area.
Ehlers is an active member of a central Nebraska geocache club and earlier this year we had talked about possible locations and his plans to host a club meeting in Superior. A week ago I had even written a narrative for one of the sites.
I summoned up my courage, stepped outside of the newspaper and confronted the woman in what I hoped was a non-threatening, friendly manner.
I'm glad I did for Rita and I enjoyed an opportunity to visit about two hours with a former Superior High School student now living in Norway.
Tonja Aas was here for the 1995-1996 school term as an international exchange student from Oslo, Norway. She was a guest in the Frank and Kathy Brown home near Bostwick.
After completing high school, she went on to receive a bachelor's degree from Augustana College in South Dakota and a master's degree from an Oregon university.
She returned to Norway where she first worked as a math teacher. Now she is a coordinator for an adult education program. She described her work as saying, "I'm a teacher's teacher."
She has combined her interest in dogs with the geocaching hobby. Instead of just taking her dog for a walk every evening, the dog accompanies her on a search for the geocaches. The stories she shared about their adventures were interesting.
They will drive to different places and then look for the geo caches hidden by others who also like to play the game.
And it is quite a game. She tried diligently to explain how the various directions the games take but now isn't the time to try an explain them all.
Geo caching is an international game, with caches hidden in many countries. With her iPad and this newspaper's internet connection, she showed us how one can look up the registered locations.
The internet provides much more than just the location coordinates. For example, the one near the newspaper is titled "Express Delivery." It is described as being in a handicapped, all weather accessible location and is child friendly.
Tonja was the second person to report finding the cache which was hidden earlier this year. It was the third one she had found that day in Superior and she had at least a dozen more to go. She showed us where they are listed on the internet, the stories which accompanied the sites and the clues given to help with the location.
Earlier that day she had driven from South Dakota where she had visited her former college and with friends. On the way to Superior, she had looked for geocaches and shared stories about what she had found.
After renewing friendships in the Superior area and hopefully finding all the geo caches, she planned to head on west toward Colorado.
Tonja was as surprised to see us as we were to find her scrutinizing the front of the newspaper office.
She had parked her rental car in the shade on the east side of the building and waited until my cousin and his wife left. She had hoped to be inconspicuous and not attract attention. It was late in the afternoon and she expected the newspaper office was closed. She was surprised when the front door opened and I stepped out offering her a copy of the newspaper.
She was glad to get the paper, said she would read it later Friday night. And that was the basis for another discussion topic. I now understand why our internet products are being read in Norway. Tonja is the Norwegian reader of our Facebook entries and web pages. Said she likes to keep up with her American connections. Of particular interest are our weather related Facebook posts.
She noted some of the YouTube videos we have posted on the newspaper's home page and took notes about others she expects her father living in Norway will find interesting.
Before her three week vacation to the States ends, she had a shopping list to fill. Said she prefers to buy clothes in the United States because they fit better than what is available in Norway.
A Different Slant,
by Chuck Mittan
My family briefly entertained the notion of tent-camping during this upcoming holiday weekend, despite the fact that we dislike the holiday weekend crowds at the campgrounds and typically avoid them by remaining home.
In recent years it has become more and more difficult to find time for it, resulting in fewer and fewer camping trips each year. When the girls were small, it seems like we could pack the gear and be sleeping under the stars at a moment's notice. Now, with both of us working full-time and them working part-time, getting all the schedules to line up is nearly impossible.
Back in our tent-camping prime, we used to delight in keeping track of the number of nights we slept in our tents each summer. Fifteen was a typical summer, but a few times we managed closer to 25. We no longer keep track on paper, partly because it is not difficult to remember two or three weekends, and partly because it depresses my wife, who loves to sleep in tents, hike and build campfires.
What convinced us to stay at home this weekend, rather than braving the crowds and almost inevitable thunderstorms, are the three subsequent weekends we have planned.
The weekend after Memorial Day is the annual Mulcahy (my wife's family) Campout, which is usually held in a cluster of cabins at Platte River State Park, but this year will be in tents at Indian Cave State Park. It is a beautiful area, and one we have camped at many times before. The Mulcahy Family Campout has been held there once before, and both Kathy and I have been going there since our college days. It is only about a half-hour from Peru State College.
The weekend after that is the Snake Alley Film Festival in Burlington, Iowa. The hotel room, indoor pool and hot tub will be a nice indulgence following the tents, mosquitos and noisy whippoorwills at Indian Cave.
The weekend after that is my wife's high school reunion at Mercy High School in Omaha. We decided three weekends of being away from home was plenty, so Memorial Day Weekend will find us home. I will surely get some writing done, and we'll probably fire up the grill at least once.
The script for the horror feature I'm writing with a director is behind schedule; we hoped to have it done and in the hands of potential investors about three weeks ago, but for a variety of reasons, that didn't happen. As far as I know, we are still on track for shooting it next summer, partly in suburban L.A. and partly in the Mojave Desert. As soon as the script is completed and he has announced his plans, I will be able to share the title, plot and other things about it. That's also when I'll get paid, which will be nice. For now, all I'm allowed to say is I'm working on the script for a horror feature which will be shot in 2014.
by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli
The country side is astir this time of year. The wheat in the fields is beginning to head and a few miles south there are spots in the wheat field that are turning from a deep green to blue, which can result from a lack of moisture. Alfalfa fields must be spot checked as weevils are eating away on the leaves in some fields and the sprayers are called upon to get rid of the intruders before damage is done.
Cattle are being sorted, worked and transported to pastures. Sprayers roam the fields getting rid of weeds coming up in stubble fields or applying fertilizer. This year, mustard weed and henbit seem to be everywhere in yards, pastures, stubble fields and the mustard stands above the wheat stems in some fields. Mustard weed in the wheat must be sprayed early or there is no use doing the task.
Soybeans are mostly planted by now and farmers are hoping for rain to bring up the seed. Within the next week or two, milo will be planted, then the first alfalfa cutting will be swathed and baled.
Mineral must be taken to the cattle in the pastures and water levels in the ponds are inspected, hoping the supply for cattle will hold out. Tanks are being rounded up just in case they are needed if the ponds go dry.
Stories circulate of farmers in the southwest of Kansas swathing and baling their wheat as the drought continues from the previous year. Drought is a nasty word for farmers and ranchers. Whatever happened to those old "toad chokers" we used to have? The two and three inch rains that would fill the ponds have not come for two years or more.
Despite the continuing drought in most places, farmers continue to do the duties called for this time of year, and hope and pray for rain to come throughout the summer and into fall.
It's said, "You must plant in order to have a crop," even if the farmer is planting into dry soil.
Farmers seem to look at the glass as being half full instead of half empty. There is nothing wrong with that.
Life, Beyond the Ranch, by Tonya Pohlman
Baby shower. Two words that, when put together, have the capacity
to frighten a certain portion of the human male population and
send them fleeing with sudden illness, unexpected work or other
obligations. These men are of the mindset that "real men
don't attend baby showers."
Recently, however, there was a smaller group of men who, no doubt comfortable with their masculinity and determined to break the barriers which formerly disqualified them from pre-childbirth rituals, sought to bridge the gender gap. These brave men, totaling seven or more in number, were either agreeable or otherwise forced against their manlike instincts into attending the baby shower over which I presided.
For more than two hours, these manliest of men endured a much larger group of females involved in giggling and gales of knowing laughter as the expectant mother, my daughter, was treated to discussions of her belly size, feet swelling, their own memories of childbirth and their own recollections of not knowing what their feet looked like for several months.
Perhaps the men, listening in, may have pondered that if they let their own bellies grow, for other reasons of course, then they also might be allowed to participate in the strange discussion of one's feet temporarily disappearing from sight.
The potential for becoming privy to the most intimate details of a woman's childbearing experiences may have constantly threatened the macho element in attendance. But those fearless men carried on as though every word spoken was as natural as discussing the latest news in politics or sports.
I am proud to say my husband, Martin Pohlman, was one of the unwitting, but valiant male baby shower attendees. He will regale you with accounts of the various tortures he and the others endured. But don't believe him. Just because he, a friend's husband, my father, my son, my daughter's husband, his brother, his friends and the other men oddly disappeared to look at "nothing" in the field across the street, most likely an attempt to seek familiar ground and replenish the machismo which may have been stripped, I think that they will secretly concede a good time was had by all.
I mean, who wouldn't have a good time? There was food, beverages and cake. In addition there was the opportunity to "ooh, ah and croon" as each teeny tiny piece of clothing and a host of soft and fuzzy, pastel adorned baby care and cuddle inducing baby items were passed around the room. Granted, the prairie dogs in the field were no doubt having a good chuckle at the male attendees' expense. And I suspect several of the men were wondering when the expectant couple would open their gift of a baby crib so that these men might recover a bit of manhood by proving they could still use tools and put stuff together, while scratching their heads in a soothing caveman-like fashion.
But in all, they were quite lucky. The women were kind enough to curtail their use of language referring to the various parts of the anatomy involved in the process of childbearing.
However, "the baby shower men," as they will now be known, were such troopers, they could have easily nodded all-knowingly had a discussion cropped up regarding "breaking water," as they would easily associate it to their own familiarity with "breaking wind." Of course, realistically, the passage of flatulence usually does not require a quick trip to the hospital and an indeterminate amount of time in which people yell at you to "push!" Most of us do not encourage flatus. So there is a definite difference between that and a baby being born. But, eh, these men could still at some level understand the concept and shrug off the awe and mystery which once surrounded a woman's ability to give birth.
I applaud the baby shower men for their pioneering spirits and willingness to reach beyond the line once drawn in the sand where men were men and any one of them who dare admit to attending a baby shower would be forever laughed at and taunted. These men are the true heroes of the 21st Century. They may never understand the mechanics of large objects fitting through tight spaces. They may recoil at the thought of repressed memories from their own entrance into this frightening world. But the baby shower men fold their arms across their chests and stand proudly for their efforts. "Bravo," I say. "Bravo."