Posts tagged with Travel

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.


Celebration in Stull Cemetery A cemetery tour might seem an unusual beginning of a 4th of July celebration. On the other hand, it is a place of history, a documentation of the opportunities and sacrifices our freedom offers.

Stull United Methodist Church began its 150th anniversary celebration with a potluck supper and fireworks display on Friday night. Continuing on Saturday, July 4th, is the cemetery tour.

A cloudy rather dreary morning greets an upbeat group gathered on the hayrack for the ride around and through the Stull cemetery tombstones. Our tour guide Iona Spencer has researched the lives of over 4,000 people in the Stull and Lecompton communities. Elsie Middleton also works on the project and provides color commentary for the tour.

The first grave marker we encounter is Wittich, 1832-1910. An unfortunate family name spelling most likely is the reason for persistent stories of this cemetery being haunted. A KU professor, bed sheets and fraternity initiations fuel the fire. Over the years, Iona Spencer said she frequently brought coffee and cookies to Douglas County Sheriff deputies guarding the cemetery at Halloween and the 13th of the month. Razing the original church high on the hill has deterred this activity in recent years.

Tombstone names are familiar to most on the wagon. Many families emigrated from Germany in the mid 1800s because of the unrest in Europe as well as opportunities to find cheap land here in the newly organized Kansas territory.

There seem to be many old tombstones with birth and death dates indicating children. One baby is buried with its mother, both having died during childbirth. Diphtheria was often a deadly early disease for children. One child died because of a prairie fire. His older brother was able to climb the rock fence to escape.

Adults died before their time. A roll over lumber wagon, family feud over equipment and as well as hard work involved in living off the earth—all stories affecting the lives and deaths of local residents.

Perils of early homesteading often found children with one parent other than their own. One father raised two sets of stepchildren plus his own.

The common European homeland gave the community a connection and often children found their partners within the community. An assumption for someone new in the community is, “always assume everyone is related when talking about anyone.” A custom in Germany, which carried over to early America, was if a family were all girls, the eldest would retain the family name when married.

All too soon, our 4th of July cemetery tour is over. It was a great opportunity to hear Stull community history by looking at family burial plots. We appreciate Iona and Elsie’s work in chronicling the past and, in doing so, gathering stories for future.


Missouri Vineyards Chocolate Wine Trail 2009

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Chocolate Wine Trail '09


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!


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.


Extreme Makeover Home Edition Chapman to set the record straight up front, I did not see Ty Pennington. The call came Thursday morning. Labor coordinators for the Extreme Makeover home at Chapman need trim carpenters Saturday morning. We respond immediately. Dan as the craftsman and me, the flunky. Six a.m. finds us bundled against the upper 30 degree temperatures signing a form saying we will not hold "ABC liable if killed or photographed." Well, maybe it isn't quite that, but at least I saw those four words. Since each volunteer is asked to bring their own equipment, a line of vehicles carrying trimmer's tools is the first clue there are more than a few ready to go to work.Disappointment at not being a part of the activities in the house quickly fades when the cold morning generates a continuous line of workers and program professionals at my responsibility, the coffee canteen. A few questions as we serve up our strong brew keeps us informed on the progress just a few feet away. A minimum of 36 trim carpenters are working in the house. A quick tour while the coffee is perking, confirms enough miter saws outside to keep the air nailers popping inside. Groups are working on separate projects such as hanging cabinets, stairs, crown molding, base, hanging doors, mantle and tongue and groove planks on the ceiling , our trimmers' project. In addition, there are tile layers and granite countertop people working along side. Projects that might take two weeks to complete are finished in less than eight hours. there are earth movers and skid loaders working on the yard. Around noon a line of trucks appears with trees, bushes and plants. By late afternoon when we leave, most are planted. Landscapers are working on a cobblestone path and what looks like a water fall. coffee duties are replaced by helping serve 350 volunteers lunch cooked in a moble kitchen specializing in catering the film industry where professional cooks expertly prepare. season, and present the food. However, the hard working, dust covered workers could probably eat twice as much without caring how it looks. When a well known hot dog manufacturer set up their grill for freebies a little later, they have a brisk business. For at least two hours during the middle of all this activity, Louis Lamp, originally from the Seattle area, now at Fort Riley, stood on a earth berm and played his violin. When asked if he saw the camera on him, he said, "Yes, when I played, 'Over the Rainbow'." Here are my observations about our day on Extreme Makeover, Home Edition.This Emmy award-winning program funnels a lot of money and good works into the community in production of their show. While the scenes we see in the final cuts are pretty much staged, everything actually does happen as depicted at some point. People volunteer time and equipment. The owner of CW Concrete, Junction City, said, "All trucks, including pumper concrete trucks, fuel, and finish equipment and crews are furnished with no charge." Major contractors and suppliers do the work and supply materials only for the advertising. In my area, P T's Coffee Company of Topeka donated 50 lbs of fresh roasted coffee perking 24 hours a day.Bruce Taylor, a Chapman resident, said the following about the city of Chapman and surrounding area. "They asked for three thousand volunteers and five thousand responded. They put out a call for twenty additional framing carpenters when they fell behind on Thursday and forty showed up." Many feel because of the community support, additional projects have been undertaken around town, including a new tornado shelter and help with other damaged homes and a church. Everyone seems caught up in the excitement surrounding the house and other projects. Despite the cold, windy day, Chapman was basking in the warm spotlight on Saturday. My feeling is this proud, hardworking community desires it.They will "move the bus" on Tuesday between 2:00 and 3:00 pm. Chapman schools will let out early. The Tutwiler family will find a beautiful, well-built home. It is a big day for the city with a lot of Pride. We are excited to have been a part of it.The Extreme Makeover Home Edition (Chapman) will appear as a two-hour special during sweeps week January 25, 2009.


You Won’t Believe This Gig

How about traveling the world and writing about it-for pay!Pam Grout has this gig. She is a professional travel writer and author of Kansas Curiosities, the Read Across Lawrence 2008 book.Always on the lookout for writing information, I was excited for the opportunity to hear Ms. Grout speak Tuesday evening at the Lawrence Public Library. In addition, to her award winning column, "Now, Where Was I?" Grout's articles have appeared in Lawrence Journal World's Boomer Girl and many popular magazines including Travel & Leisure, Cooking Light, Midwest Living and Modern Bride. In addition, she has written fourteen books.In her short introduction, she mentions an early love of reading and a journalism degree as her incentive to write. However, her father, who loves to travel and takes time to visit places off the beaten path, is the motivation for her fascinating career as a travel writer. Still she portrays herself as "lucky" when success comes her way. When asked how she broke into the professional writing field, her answer suggests the luck is more the result of hard work.Smartly she lets us demonstrate our interviewing skills by asking the questions. Whether a personal journal, blog or for pay, she offers the following travel writing suggestions. Try to find local residents who are willing to talk about the area and share insider views. The server at the locally owned cafe knows all. When observing and writing, engage senses. The writer is the eyes, nose and hearing of the person reading the article. If the destination smells good, write about it.Find at least three interesting bits of information or descriptions about the place you are visiting. Perhaps not the obvious rather the unusualFinally, take a vocation vacation. Always be on the lookout for a good story when traveling.All too soon, our time is over. Pam Grout has a wonderful career story. She possesses a keen ability to listen and a honest open approach. Perhaps in the end, these traits are her most important advice for a good travel writer. Lawrence Public Library is hosting additional authors and workshops at the library with their Read Across Lawrence 2008 and at their River City Reading Festival 2008 on Saturday 27th, 2008, 10:00 a.m. 4:00 pm. Pick up a brochure at the library check the schedule online or contact Maria Butler, Public Relations Coordinator.