Posts tagged with Education

Symphony in the Flint Hills 2009

The prairie has a voice. Often a quiet whisper.

There are times when the bubbling spring water, neigh of horses, song of birds, and distant tuneful call of cattle roll out over the soft green flint hills, whirl with the prairie wind and return sounding like a symphony.

On Saturday June 13th, it was a symphony—Symphony in the Flint Hills, 2009.

Nestled in a cove in the Upper Turkey Creek Pasture of the Doyle Land and Cattle Company, Inc. in Chase County, Kansas, where the endless view of the rolling hills meet the blue sky, the Kansas City Symphony and the native inhabitants captured the hearts of 6,000 guests of owners Randy and Judy Mills. From a distance, the symphony area appears as low clouds on the horizon. The meandering walk to the symphony site includes a bridge over a clear sparkling spring, inviting all to stop and dangle feet in the cold water. Our duties as two of over 500 volunteers helping to make the concert possible beckons so we pause, wish and continue on.

Abby Dechant, Symphony seating coordinator, directs us to our assigned jobs. Among other duties, we prepare seating for 26 sponsors and 138 patrons. Without these contributors, the concert would not be possible. The stage sits at the bottom of a long sloping hillside. There is no bad seat whether on lawn chair, blanket or special front row chair.

Our four-hour shift soon over, we have time to visit afternoon activities before the concert. Linzy and Lucy, 7-year old black draft horse sisters, driven by Larry Patton and watched over by experienced sidesaddle rider Terrie Todd, help us understand why many early settlers walk instead of ride in their covered wagons.

In the Butterfly Tent, Randy and Judy Mills tell us about their operation. The ranch is named after Patrick Doyle the first settler in Marion County. Their current home, built in 1882 by Mr. Doyle, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Randy Mills tells of the benefit of fire in maintaining the prairie. My observation is the Flint Hills saying, “Take care of the grass and it will take care of you” is evident in their pasture. Proper grass care as well as their high quality, controlled and documented cattle breeding program makes them successful “current stewards” of the Hills.

I attend educational programs explaining the native grasses and birds that inhabit them, the many prolific natural springs, and archeological formations. It is the Evening Primrose Tent with its “Prairie as Muse” presentations that most inspire my day. TerryLee Whetstone, a Cheyenne, plays Native American flute music with such meaning that I only have to close my eyes to slip back in time.

Writers Steven Hind, Jim Hoy and Denise Low read their poems and prose, eloquently telling of their feelings of beauty and love of Kansas in general and Flint Hills specifically. HC Palmer and Leon Loughridge have collaborated in publishing their artistic descriptions by poem and woodblock prints of the landscapes of the Flint Hills. Loughridge, a Colorado artist tells of his love of the region and its people despite his early stereotyped feelings of Kansas' flat terrain. I felt honored to have these professional and talented writers share their work and inspirations. A perfect prelude to the anticipated final program of the day, the concert.

My words cannot describe the beauty of a full orchestra in this setting. The sound system enables the entire hillside to hear the smallest, quietest note as well as the full expression of each instrument. Copeland, Grofe, Bernstein, Barry. All recognized music even to an inexperienced ear such as mine. For me, Director Steven Jarvi’s final presentation of John Berry’s Dances with Wolves Suite brought tears when Native American riders circled the site then ascended the nearby hill to silhouette against the sky as the last notes rolled across the valley.

Randy Mills said earlier in the day, “I like to be out here by myself. Early in the morning on a horse or in a pickup. It’s quiet.” Judy quickly added, “It’s God’s Country.” For a split second, even among thousands of others before the applause erupted, I for one and perhaps many others at the 2009 Symphony in the Flint Hills shared Randy and Judy’s feeling of quietly being by ourselves with nature.


Go Fly A Kite The kite was tucked at the back of the garage, forgotten. Spring cleaning has its surprises.

Today the sky is crystal clear with a slight breeze--great for outdoor work but perfect for flying a kite. So we do. Forget the flu, economy, and cluttered shed.

The red, white and blue delta wing is up in a minute. Tethered to a post, it bounces around with its tail wagging.

And, as we watch, the stress of the day floats away.


Watch the Monarch’s Incredible Journey

The Monarch Watch blog has this to say about NOVA’s program, "The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies" tonight

From time to time the monarch migration and associated conservation issues are covered in the national media, via articles in newspapers, magazines, and short clips on TV news programs. Overall, the coverage of the monarch story has been spotty bits and pieces, and Americans have not been exposed to an in-depth treatment of the amazing monarch migration, nor the people and cultures that encounter monarchs on their yearly north and south passage across the continent. This is about to change. NOVA’s The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies will be aired on PBS at 8PM (check local listings) Tuesday, 27 January 2009.

KU's Monarch Watch main man, Chip Taylor, goes on to say,

“This program is an edited version of “Four Wings and a Prayer” - a Canadian/French film production based loosely on the fine book of the same name by Sue Halpern..

A high definition television has not found its way into our house yet. This program would be beautiful in this format.



Should a Game Determine the Age of a Brain?

Up until this year, GSCG (Grandparents Suggested Christmas Gifts) only included plug and play games. They were fun enough bringing back the old Pac-Man’s ferocious appetite.With the oldest grandson now almost ten, the parents finally gave in to requests for the newer handheld games for Christmas. Thus, my GSCP this year included games for various brands of electronic devices. It didn’t take long to figure out the popular games. They were sold out. I started getting up early in the morning to check web sites for availability. The last one arrived two days before Christmas. Christmas Day dawned with five little heads bending over their new electronic toys. Even the adults enjoyed bowling a line. Our little four-year-old punching her brother instead of his “Me” in their boxing match prompted a quick turnoff. I’ll be honest. I became quite intrigued with the whole thing. So, guess what Santa brought me—an electronic toy with two games: Brain Age (Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!) and My Fun Facts. As the name implies, Brain Age has interesting little tests, which are supposed to determine whether your brain is healthy. As an example, there is a list and you are to say the color of print of a color name as quickly as you can. There are about ten basic arithmetic problems but they require close attention to what is being asked. There is a list of around 30 words that you are to memorize in three minutes and then have one minute to write as many as possible. This game is billed as brain training. It says mine is 56. And, it says my brain is only “walking.” Perhaps these game manufacturers are on to something. Especially if they convince adults we need one of them as we get older to keep the brain healthy. Well, at any rate, I agree with the grandkids, it is fun.


Last Minute Gift Wrapping Tip

Finally finished shopping--now to wrap the gifts. Here is my suggestion for a green Christmas.I am wrapping individual gift (gifts) in Lawrence Journal World newspapers and placing them in shopper bags available at supermarkets. Several days ago, HyVee had Holiday bags in red, green and blue for $1 each. I am hoping to use a wood burning tool to make little wood labels for each but there are many possibilities of ways to identify the bags.We will arrive at our Christmas celebration with ten shopper bags in hand, ready for grocery shopping another day. The wrapping will go back into the recycle pile.Merry Christmas!


Back to the Basics-Ear Plugs and Safety Goggles

The current financial crisis seems over powering even in the midst of cheery Holiday celebrations. One way to cope is to live a more basic lifestyle. Basic lifestyle may vary by individual. With upcoming holiday vacation time, personally completing all aspects of a home improvement project is one type of basic living, which results in a great deal of financial savings. Many of us find ourselves dusting off tools half forgotten in the corner of the garage. Often the old saw brings back memories of the shop teacher yelling above the din. I wonder if young people, amazingly proficient in electronics, have any knowledge of these basic woodworking tools, the skills needed to run them and do something with what they turn out. Or loud shop teachers for that matter. Perhaps this is why there appears to be a change in future state funding for basic education.Recently, the ,Abilene Reflector Chronicle Lifestyles Editor, Kathy Hageman reported, the Solomon USD 393 Board of Education approved moving the wood shop equipment from the Ag shop back into the original Wood’s building that was converted to a tech lab.Mitchell Tigtmeier, Solomon vocational-agriculture teacher said, “What we have now is state funding has shifted back to the basics—to woods and the agriculture classes, Ag education, animal sciences, metals, woods, drafting, project construction and cabinetmaking.”While many school districts have maintained a vocational technical curriculum for students thinking of a career craft, I wonder if other middle or junior high wood and drafting shops were turned into computer tech classrooms. It is this early teenage time when young people are open to new opportunities especially hands on skills in woodworking and drafting. Learning to draw up plans, identify woods, handle power tools and even something as simple as the proper use of a coping saw is best taught in a highly structured setting to both girls and boys at an early level. How many have a junior high woodworking project in their home? It seems Kansas and the Solomon school district are moving in the right direction. It is time to get back to the basics. Most importantly, as Abilene's Hageman reports, "Board member Mark Wallace said, I feel the skills being taught are ones of interest to students.”


Where Is That Recipe?

Wouldn’t you know? I can’t find a recipe. The search has been fun, though.Recipe cards are like old pictures or clothes. They bring back memories. Here and there are a few retro ones that look good but a bit out of fashion. Personally, as a kid, a meal would not be complete without Jello containing upside down half pears, fruit cocktail, or strawberries and bananas. I see in my card file, layered Jello salad recipes containing pistachio pudding and Cool Whip but pull out the cabbage salad with crunchy noodles and fresh vegetable salads that are popular with us now. My Mom always made sweet rolls as well as regular rolls. The regular rolls were made by putting three little balls in each hole of a cupcake tin. She only did that during the Holidays. Bread machines have simplified these recipes, however, we still have cloverleaves. Green beans & mushroom soup as usual. Desserts haven’t varied much from pie--pumpkin, pecan, cherry or apple—although here are tasty pie-like desserts. Over the years, Mr. Turkey has made his presence at our dinners dressed formally to casual, the only recipe is how long it takes to fix him up. In the fifties, mom placed the bird on the table whole with stuffing inside. When I began having the meals, he was baked early, sliced with defatted juice poured over. Recently, our kids deep fry or smoke him. Personally, I don’t care how he is dressed, just so he shows up.Well, wouldn’t you know, here is that dog-eared, stained recipe card filed under “Christmas.” No wonder I couldn’t find it, that makes too much sense.Scalloped corn and oysters—no holiday family dinner is complete without this dish. It could be a developed taste because newer members are slightly less enthusiastic. Something about finding a whole oyster hiding in corn. This recipe is my grandmother’s. I am sure she told it to my Mom, though, as grandma never used recipe cards. Enjoy!Scalloped Corn and Oysters
3 cups soda cracker crumbs
1 t salt
¼ t pepper
1 stick melted butter (not oleo)
Mix above ingredients together & put 1 ½ cups in the bottom of an 8 x 8 glass dish. Over this arrange drained oysters (two cans if you really like oysters) reserving the liquid. Add another light layer of crumbs then whole corn (frozen is better than canned). Over all pour 1 cup milk and oyster liquid (add additional milk if you can’t see liquid around the edges). Sprinkle a few crumbs over the top. Bake 350 25-30 minutes.


Landon Center on Aging Offers Continuing Education

Theo and Alfred M Landon, names often associated with Kansas State University, also contributed to Kansas University. Research at the Landon Center on Aging located north of the KU Medical Center complex in Kansas City focuses on major issues for the aging population including stroke recovery, Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's. Recently, I attended a class offered at the Landon Center. Maril Crabtree, a published author and presenter spoke about Flow Writing. I cannot pass an opportunity to learn something new about writing. Arriving early allows time to study "This Motherless Child" series of eight drawings by Elizabeth "Grandma" Layton on display. I say, "study" because one cannot just look at these drawings. Elizabeth Layton describes the Motherless Child as a "frail, elderly person, who, like a very young child, has become dependent on someone else, yet still has dignity and independence of spirit." Perhaps because of experiences with my family, I find her drawings reassuring. She uniquely captures the elders determination of character in a care facility with drawings and explanations. As the tables fill, I feel apprehensive. All women and one man sit with pen in hand. They are mostly retired. Were they previously English teachers, newspaper editors? Listening to conversations, I learned there are several poets. Thankfully, no credentials checked and in fact, laughter all around and I feel at ease. We are ready to write."Flow Writing is a way to find out what's going on inside. It's an act of discovery" explains Ms. Crabtree. To accomplish this, she tells us to keep our hand moving, try not to think too hard or control our thoughts. Lose our critical editor. Be specific. See a mind picture and write it. Don't worry if it doesn't make sense.The hour and half flies by. We write three essays, read them aloud, feel emotions of humor and sadness in the compositions while learning something about ourselves. I know these people a short time, but feel they are old friends.There is a final Flow Writing Class this summer on August 12, 2008, from 1:00 to 2:30. Attendance at previous classes is not a prerequisite. In addition, September 23rd will be another writing class entitled "Thanks for the Memories" all taught by Maril Crabtree.Our last assignment was to write two minutes about an object from our past that is dear to us. Try it. Get a piece of paper or sit at the computer and let the words flow.