Posts tagged with Local History

Mush! Karen Land and Iditarod Race Begins For Karen Land, the idea of participating in the famous Alaskan Iditarod Race was born in 1997 while hiking the Appalachian Trail with her dog Kirby. She picked up a book about the race while restocking supplies.

Five years later, she hitched up sixteen dogs and set off to race 1100 miles from Anchorage to Nome Alaska. And, she did this not just one year, but three.

On Tuesday, January 26th, a packed room at the Lawrence Public Library, had the pleasure of following her journey from reading the book along the warm eastern Appalachian Trail to the frozen north Iditarod race, capturing us along the way with her dog, Borage, her actual sled, her experiences and pictures.

The Iditarod Race began in 1925 with the children living in Nome Alaska needing Diphtheria supplies. Dog mushers relayed the medicine in pony express fashion from Fairbanks to Nome with Balto, the leading dog on the last relay saving the day. Or, at least he got the credit with a statue in Central Park, New York. This historical feat set the stage for the annual race which now runs from Anchorage to Nome instead of Fairbanks.

Anticipating all our questions after this quick history, Ms Land set about telling us stories of preparing for and completing the face. We learn the race is all about the dogs and the mushers love and respect for each of them.

Superior pulling dogs are traditionally Alaskan Huskies, hardy, strong dogs; in recent times often mixed with German Short hair Pointers for speed. They are good eaters having to consume 10,000 calories a day to train and run the race. Although this breed is common, one of her lead dogs was a Border Collie mix named Pig.

The sled is 23 pounds of aluminum loaded with around 100 pounds of food for the dogs and extra clothing. We are quickly educated on exactly what force sixteen dogs pulling together creates. For example, she told stories of her team pulling out a tree as well as moving a full sized vehicle to which they are secured. Actually, they train year around, in the “off season” by pulling around a 4-wheel ATV. The most important advice given to new mushers is to never let go of the team and sled. At that point, I am sure all in the room were imagining what would happen if they got away.

In 2002, it took exactly two weeks for Karen to finish the race. She finished in little over 12 days the last race in 2004. There are check points with veterinarians along the way and one requiring a 24 hour rest. Where does a young lady sleep among a bunch of snoring, smelly men? Outside. She quickly points out that everyone becomes quite smelly with no bath, raw dog meat against clothing and the hard work that comes with guiding the sled around trees and other obstacles.

All too soon, the race was over along with the stories. I encourage a visit to her web site, to enjoy another gift, writing. It was on that site that I learn what I suspected after hearing her presentation. Karen Land says in her biography, “I wanted to write about dogs and people who love dogs. But it became much more than that. I fell in love with all of the dogs, the sport, the wilderness, and the lifestyle of a musher. I knew exactly what I wanted to do next.”

Thank you to Lawrence Public Library and Del Monte Pet Products for the opportunity to hear her story.


Kansas Winter - Love or Leave?

It is brutal out there today. Thank you to mail carriers who work, even walk around in the cold, snow and wind. Douglas County does an exceptional job of keeping the rural roads clear. We appreciate those workers who probably feel they hardly had a Holiday.

Last year at this time, I would have joined their ranks looking at similar scenes through a rolled down car window while delivering mail to rural customers. Only once did I have a route stopping experience in this type of weather with no one coming along to assist. It was pre-cell phone and thankfully, a customer nearby left their back door unlocked. Those times are memories as retirement is allowing me to now watch the weather from the inside.

Still, despite problems and dangers associated with winter weather, even when I worked in it, I thought it was beautiful. Things look different, somehow cleaner. Sunshine only enhances the beauty of snow cover. It sparkles with shadows creating interesting creations out of everyday items.

We have Snow Bird friends who would not agree with my assessment of the beauty of a day like today. Many have already left for the south where they are probably sitting outside with no jacket right now. For over 20 years my parents hooked on their fifth wheel camper immediately after our Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration. We visited them several times during the Holidays. It was shirt sleeve warm each time.

I've asked myself, given my love of travel, if following warm temperatures south is an option. We do have an RV, however it is small, much more suited for road trips. Leaving family, grandchildren, for months at a time would be difficult as well. Even though there are opportunities to meet new friends, I would miss long time friends who are still part of the daily working world here.

Just now, I turned again to look out the window at the winter scene. It seems to be getting colder. Maybe it's time for a cup of hot tea in front of the downstairs stove where I am researching, planning and dreaming about roadtrips the other three seasons of this year. Because, for now, I plan to enjoy winter right here in Kansas.


Christmas 2009 Douglas County

Click on the picture for a slide show.


Recipe Mom’s legacy

As I write this, I am looking at a discolored, ingredient stained recipe card. Unfortunately, it is not dated, but I think I copied in the 60's when we were married. Mom made these cookies every Christmas and her name is on the recipe card because I put it there. However, Mom named it "Louise's Filled Ice Box Cookies." Louise was a neighbor. Even so, in my mind it is Mom's recipe so it is a little piece of her history for me.

I have many of Mom's recipes in her own writing in several recipe boxes. (Does anyone use these anymore) This might be the year to get them out and share. Mom no longer cooks or is able to attend our Holiday celebrations. The recipes will allow her warm, loving presence among us. And something to tell her about when we visit.

We might even find the original of this one.

Mom's Filled Ice Box Cookies

1 cup black walnuts, chopped
1 lb. dates, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Mix and boil two minutes & cool

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 butter
1/2 cup Crisco
3 eggs
1 teas. vanilla
Mix together and add
4 1/2 cup flour
1 teas. soda
1/2 teas. salt

Cream sugar and shortening thoroughly. Add beaten eggs, vanilla and flour. Take 1/2 dough at a time, roll about 1/4 inch thick, spread filling over it and roll like jelly roll. Wrap in wax paper and put in ice box over night. Cut in 1/4 inch slices. Bake at 350 10-12 minutes.


Fascinating Journey Official patch of this mission. If you look closely, there are thirteen stars, one for each of the astronauts children, especially appropriate because so many young people are following this flight.

The Monarch Watch web site is following their caterpillars, offspring of the KU program's butterflies, in space. They survived the liftoff and reportedly seem to be a bit disoriented but thriving. They are also posting pictures sent by classrooms joining in on the space experiment on their website.


What would a Monarch Butterfly look like floating in outer space?

Monarch butterflies like to travel. Thanks to Monarch Watch, Chip, Jim, Ann, Jackie, the Critter Crew (student hourly employees), and volunteers from the community the beautiful creatures will soon be taking it to a new level. Space.

Recently, Chip, a friend and neighbor, knocked on our door with the Sunday paper but no time for a chat. He said he was putting in long hours preparing for sending Monarch butterflies into space and the unbelievable response of 425 schools to participate in a science project along with the space shuttle crew. He left that morning with my name on the volunteer list.

Here are my feelings about working with the Monarch program the past two days.

First, the dedication of Chip and his staff to young people. Rather than turn away schools too late for the initial call for 20, they are sending the experiment to all 425. Yes, that many schools were interested enough to pay for the kit plus overnight delivery. Monarch Watch and Kansas University could touch the lives of nearly 8,000 children directly not to mention their families and others who will follow the butterfly story in the media.

The Space project would not be possible without the artificial diet developed by the Monarch Watch lab. These diet containers are being prepared for shipment to the shuttle launch site.

The timing of the Monarch stages of development for study in the nearly weightless environment sounds hard enough but then factor in possible delays in launch time. From what I overheard, it all came together with a lot of lost sleep.

Finally, the most impressive part for me is that all 425 classrooms are receiving exactly the same size caterpillars and diet food as is going into space. Then, by way of the Monarchs in Space site, there will be interaction with other schools and the experts. What if there might be interaction with the astronauts?

What an exciting science program especially for a whole bunch of children. That can only be a good thing. Box contains Monarch caterpillars headed for the shuttle launch.


Health Care Legislation: It’s A Debate

“”I am always uneasy when I start on something I cannot at least faintly see the end of the road.”

This is a quote from a letter dated December 27, 1954, written by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower to Oveta Culp Hobby, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare about his Health care budget.

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library sponsored a forum on a historical, yet current subject on Wednesday, November 4th in Abilene, Kansas. My husband and I were two of approximately 30 people in attendance.

The Eisenhower Presidential Library Auditorium is an impressive, well run venue in this small town. We were seated around large round tables. The meeting lasted approximately two hours. Erika Imbody of the Kansas State University Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy began by setting discussion ground rules aimed at promoting better citizen dialogue on tough issues. No party affiliations were disclosed. The central issue presented for discussion was, "How can we get the health care we require in the face of rising costs?"

At first glance, the three topics, "Reduce the Threat of Financial Ruin, Restrain Out-of-Control Costs and Provide Coverage as a Right" might sound leading in content. However, we were asked to look carefully at three subtopics, "What Should Be Done, Arguments in Favor, Trade-Offs. Finally, it asked for "Opposing Voices" for discussion.

Agreement that financial ruin by a major health problem is a worry for Americans of all ages. Solutions for discussion at our table included the requirement of all to have a form of health-care coverage, requiring employers to provide health insurance coverage which could hurt small businesses, and bigger pools to spread out costs, (small group pools is a major concern for rural areas). Trade offs include affordable plans with higher deductibles discourage routine health care which inturn create major health problems.

Restraining out of control costs included a discussion of greater government control in this area. A retired health care employee added health care procedures are expensive. High drug costs in place to cover required research with the trade-off of no new drugs was a focal point. Again, the rural aspect of the availability of expensive procedures those of us in more populated areas take for granted. There is agreement that attention needs to be placed on the cost of health care with further discussion who would conduct the oversight.

Finally, providing coverage as a right. Agreement on the fact that no one should be denied coverage because of preexisting conditions or loss of income. Agreement that in America, we cannot deny insurance to someone who chooses to live an unhealthy lifestyle. Question of exactly how many do not have coverage and if those with current coverage would abandon policies for a less expensive government type policy. This discussion led to financing of a government health plan, higher taxes and who should pay.

As a final conclusion Ms. Imbody asked for an open discussion which revealed all tables discussed similar issues and all ages were in agreement with concerns about the future. Also, everyone agrees it is an extremely complex matter.

The only time currently health care legislation was mentioned is as we leave. Here is the list of names and email addresses of legislators if we want to voice our opinion.

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, DC 20500 202.456.111 – comments 202.456.1414 – switchboard 202.456.2461 – fax

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20201 1.877.696.6775

US SENATE United States Senator Sam Brownback 612 S. Kansas Ave. Topeka, KS 66603 785.233.2503 - Topeka 202.228.1265 - Washington DC 316.264.8066 - Wichita 913.492.6378 - Overland Park 620.231.6040 - Pittsburg 620.275.1124 - Garden City 202.228.1265 – Washington DC Fax

United States Senator Pat Roberts 444 SE Quincy Ave., Rm. 392 Topeka, KS 66683 785.295.2745 - Topeka 202.224.4774 - Washington DC 316.263.0416 - Wichita 913.451.9343 - Overland Park 620.227.2244 - Dodge City 202.224.3514 – Washington DC Fax

US CONGRESS Congressman Jerry Moran - 1st District 1200 Main St., Suite 402 PO Box 249 Hays, KS 67601 785.628.6401 - Hays 202.225.2715 - Washington DC 620.665.6138 - Hutchinson 202.225.5124 – Washington, DC Fax

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins - 2nd District 3550 SW 5th Street Topeka, KS 66601 202.225.6601 - Washington DC  785.234.LYNN (5966) – Topeka 620.231.LYNN (5966) – Pittsburg 202.225.7986 – Washington DC Fax

KANSAS Governor Mark Parkinson Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave., Ste. 212S Topeka, KS 66612-1590 Voice 1.877.KSWORKS (1.877.579.6757) Local 785.296.3232 For the Hearing Impaired 1.800.766.3777

Lt. Governor Troy Findley State Capitol, 2nd Floor 300 SW 10th Ave. Topeka, KS 66612 Toll-Free 1-800-748-4408 Local 785.296.2213 Fax 785.296.5669 For the Hearing Impaired 1.800-766.3777

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER Sandy Praeger 420 SW 9th Street Topeka, KS 66612 785.296.3071 1.800.432.2484 (in Kansas only)


Waking up Cinque Terre Italy

The bell tower rings seven chimes. I am awake. The rooster in the distance told me it is morning. The geese residing in the slow moving mountain stream nearby are on first call.

The little porch outside my room in Vernazza, Italy, is a perfect place to take in the morning. I can sleep at home.

Below a man is watering his patio garden. His porch is much bigger than mine and is filled with green plants in colorful pots. The Morning Glory is climbing a trellis nearly up to my level and is happily bouncing in the cool morning breeze.

The little café below the building is open. I hear the familiar voice of the owner. It is obvious he is well liked as he banters with customers. He knows enough English to be charming and brings his American customers back. We eat breakfast there each morning. Off in the distance I see the church tower. It is a simple church but sitting at the top of this hillside town. The apartment buildings are built up the side of the hill leading to the church. Behind them are vineyards on narrow ridges. Each ridge is reached by narrow steps. Outside of town entire hillsides are covered by these terraced grape vines and tended by a machine that crawls up and down the hill.

A group passes with their hiking poles, ready to begin an early morning hike along the ancient narrow paths that connect the five Cinque Terre (five towns) villages Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore. For hundreds of years these villages were only accessible by sea or the paths, now connected by modern electric trains. Built as a defense against Ligroin Sea pirates, the trails are so beautiful that Italy has made them a National Park and charges a small fee for the privilege to hike them.

We hiked the trail connecting three of the towns yesterday. As the 360 steps lift us up the mountainside the panoramic view of the villages and rugged coast opens before us. It is hard to look down for sure footing on the steep drop off side of the trail. The sun is setting. We must hurry to finish before dark. Finally, my daughter admonishes me to, “Put the camera away, Mom.” We finished before dark. The local residents are moving about now. A elder lady passes with her shopping bag, most likely having visited the fresh produce market down near the dock. The shop keeper below greets her warmly. As I glance down the narrow street, I notice wash hanging out windows and off apartment porches. They are as colorful flags fluttering in the breeze. There are no clotheslines as there are no yards. Everything goes straight up.

Morning is in full swing. It is time to start our day. This is beach day. A day to watch, listen, and learn.



Linda’s Backroads—In Italy?

How does a country girl who loves the backroads of America, prepare for a two-week trip to Italy?

With a lot of help. Hopefully, more from you.

The adventure started when I accepted an invitation from my daughter to accompany her and six other ladies to Agriturismo Cascina Papaveri, a working vineyard, cooking school and palates studio in the Piedmont region of Italy. Perhaps a church or two, but mostly this trip will be to experience cuisine, culture, land and the people. And, maybe truffles!

It's not like I am a travel novice. Well, actually, I am.

True travelers experience a foreign culture, cross the ocean, communicate without knowing the language, order food without an interpreter. I feel comfortable poking around our good ole US of A. Even Canada. A ship to Mexico with international personnel—who talk my talk.

Here is where I hope all of you will help. I find that most students now travel abroad at least once, sometimes with only a backpack. Tell me, what should I leave at home? What should I remember to take above all else? I'm looking for advice. I would like to blog this trip for you right here on this site. Suggestions for doing that would be appreciated.

We fly into Milan, jump a train to Cinque Terre for three days, The Farm for six days, back to Milan for one full day and home.

There you have it. I know I am limited to 40 lbs luggage. My goal is 20-25. The only thing I am set on is shoes—hiking shoes and my new pair of Birkenstocks that I've been breaking in all summer. Other than that, I'm open.


Freezing Corn on a Hot Day

Almost two bushels of corn and that is only half of it. Time to begin the harvest that started here.

Our process:

First, we locate our propane turkey fryer and the big stainless steel stew pot we purchased to make Frogmore Stew. (Which, by the way, sounds pretty good right now with all the fresh vegetables.) This setup will provide boiling water to blanch the corn.

I dig out a huge muck bucket, scrub, run a disinfectant clothe over it and rinse again just to make sure, then add three gallon milk cartons of ice and water.

It is best to get the corn from the garden to the table or freezer quickly. So, we pick and immediately shuck and wash the corn to get as much of the silk off as possible.

By then, the water is boiling. The pot has a basket so we fill it half full and drop in the boiling water. Most information says to blanch sweet corn four minutes. That time seems too long for our tender ears. We end up leaving them in for only one minute. In that time, they taste done.

Then comes the trick. Dumping the hot corn immediately go into the ice water without a burn or scald. After time to cool in ice, drain and slice kernels off with a sharp knife, bag and spread about in the freezer.

Family arrives to help around 3:00 pm and by 5:00 we were mostly finished except for the cleanup. It went smoothly. And in a couple days it will be even better now that we have the routine.

The day was hot but maybe that memory plus the tasty homegrown corn will add a little warmth to cold winter days in only a few short months.