Entries from blogs tagged with “Lifestyle”

If Christmas lights are out, what’s in?

In our home, the fake greenery interwoven with little twinkly lights around windows often stay in place until Valentines Day. The bright, cherry lights of the Holidays leave a void when finally packed away. I like the ambiance of the low lighting.Feeling our home looks like a tacky restaurant, I sought a another solution for brightening the long winter evenings. I found it in timers-those little gadgets that automatically turn lights off and on at certain times. Like the ones used on my twinkly lights.Because of our home's layout, the kitchen area is not cozy. It is large, open and has seating at one end where we read. I plugged the three lamps in that area into my Christmas light timers. Now they come on around 5:30 pm and go off at ll:00 pm. What a wonderful welcome. Stumbling in with all my gear after work, I found the three lamps casting their glow. The chairs and soft lights beckoned a cup of hot tea and a minute to relax. Just what the doctor ordered after a cold, dreary day.Tonight, I finally removed the rest of the Christmas decorations.The timers will remain until the longer days of spring.


A Special Brand of Teacher

This past Sunday I couldn't stop smiling. The skip in my step was all because I ran into an old teacher of mine.My mother and older sister and I were in Target, considering the possible merits of a certain electrostatic duster (of all things), when from the end of the aisle I heard my name, my sister saying, "Yes, that's Sarah."I turned and saw--was it? No. Yes! That familiar walk made me certain--my eighth grade history teacher, Mr. Binns. I had to confess that I almost didn't know him for just a second, though I wasn't sure why."I got old!" Mr. Binns said.No, Mr. Binns, you didn't get old. Years have passed, but you didn't get old. Retirement must agree with you. Substituting when you want to must agree with you. And I don't doubt that you are a popular substitute.After all, I couldn't help thinking for the rest of the day about that very first day of the 8th grade. I remember so clearly that hot, late-summer morning, the second-story classroom, my desk in the front row center, and you, Mr. Binns, acting out a scene of Washington crossing the Delaware.Okay. Maybe the performance didn't win any Oscars, but it made an impression on me, more than any other actor could hope to do. Something stirred awake inside me. I remember thinking, "Hey, I'm going to love history!"And I did. Maybe I wasn't always as good at it as I wanted to be. Goodness knows I didn't get all the answers right. It takes a special brand of teacher to make a student feel smart, like all the world was just waiting for me to come knocking at the door.Remember the Civil War board game I made for that unit's project? You set aside a whole day when the entire class played that game, and in spite of its kinks ( I think poor Richie Nichols spent the whole time in "game jail") you told me I should send it in to Parker Brothers. Well, I know they wouldn't have been clamoring for it. Even if they had, A Change of History (as I named it) wouldn't have flown off the toy store shelves, and I still wouldn't be swimming in royalties. However, your compliment (and the grade, by the way!) was worth more than royalties. I thought of it for years, every time I saw the old red Macy's box that I kept that silly game in.(I hung onto the game for another reason, too. For my birthday present that year, my sister Amy helped me color inthe whole back of that board!)I still love history. I crammed in as much of it as I could in high school. My book shelves are crowded with many history books of one sort or another: Civil War, Lawrence history, biographies, geneology, etc. I wanted a copy of Theodore Roosevelt's autobiography for Christmas, and it's on my shelf now, waiting to be savored.As President Reagan said in his Farewell Address, "If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are."So you gave me quite a gift in your classroom. I know who I am and where I come from, and I intend to pass it along.By the way, Mr. Binns, Sunday afternoon it finally hit me why it took me even a split second to recognize you. No, you didn't get old. It was the glasses. Just the glasses. I'd never seen you in them before.


Why Obama Will Never Win

Obama may look like the winning horse leading the pack at the beginning of this year's Presidential race, but he won't be able to keep up the pace all the way to the finish line. He isn't seasoned. He isn't experienced.

Neither he or Edwards have the lineage behind them that would be required to go the distance.

Still, Obama is working the track and has picked his way from the back of the pack and moved into a key position to make a run for the final stretch. It hasn't been an easy task. He has been hit by dirt and mud as much as any of his opponents. He seems to be gaining speed. He is a full length ahead of Edwards and Edwards is a nose in front of Clinton.

I am glad I have my bet on Clinton though. She is saving herself for the finish line. She has great stamina, loves to be pushed for a grand finish and is well seasoned and confident. She stands head and shoulders above the competition because of her previous experiences in other races such as these - some of which she watched from the sidelines.

Obama has blinders on; he won't be able to see the filly passing him on the inside track until he begins to taste the dust that is stirred up as she leaves him far behind.

And she hasn't even begun to work up a lather.


Paying It Forward

About a year ago, I read a newspaper article about a boy named Adam Thomas. Adam's story reminded me of the experiences of my son, Ben. Adam is a few years older than Ben but one thing they have in common is that they are both quite tall. Adam is 7'2"; Ben is 6'8". As I read the story about Adam, I couldn't help but notice the similarities to Ben. Adam worked in a grocery store. At the time, so did Ben. Adam felt that his unusual height made him feel shy and awkward. So does Ben. Even though he grew up as a tall kid, Adam had taken no interest in playing basketball. Neither did Ben. They both experienced the same comments from people. "How tall are you? Do you play basketball?" The reason for the article about Adam was that he walked into the coach's office at Penn Valley Community College (PVCC) and expressed an interest in being on their team. What?! He'd never played organized basketball. Just a few pick-up games here and there. The coaches at PVCC took him on. They taught him how to play basketball and accepted him on their team. At the end of his two years at PVCC Adam accepted a scholarship offer from a four year college in California, Cal State Fullerton. He now plays for them. After reading Adam's story, I showed it to Ben and asked him if he saw any similarities to himself. He did. I asked him if he wanted me to contact the PVCC coach to see if he would be interested in working with Ben. He did. I sent the coach an email thinking that mine would be one of hundreds from people with tall boys. The coach called the next day. Mine was the only email he had received. He invited us to a game that night. Ben, his dad, younger brother and I drove to Kansas City to go to the game. It was a hard-fought game but PVCC lost. Not a good night for the coach. But he met with us briefly afterward. He said that he would give us a call to see about setting up a time to start working with Ben. We never heard from him. Ben and I didn't talk about it but we were both disappointed. For a variety of reasons, without this opportunity, Ben probably would not attend college.After a chat with a friend recently, I decided to make another effort with the coach at PVCC. I had changed jobs since our last meeting. Maybe he'd tried to contact me at my old phone number. Maybe he just wasn't interested. I didn't know. I emailed him. He called the next day. He had lost my phone number. He was still interested in working with Ben. He would have his brother, an assistant coach, call to set up a time to start working with Ben. After an anxious week of waiting, the assistant coach called. Ben is now training with this coach twice a week. He has improved noticeably, not only in his basketball skills but also in his overall level of confidence.During a recent practice, the coach said that Adam planned to be there that day to practice with the team. His parents live in the Kansas City area and he was home for the holidays. Sure enough, Adam showed up. As he was shedding his sweat suit and changing into his basketball shoes, I took the opportunity to introduce myself and also introduced him to Ben. I told him that he had been an inspiration to us and that we were hoping that Ben could follow his lead. We chatted for a few minutes and then he went to practice with the team. When they were done practicing, Adam and another team member, Kyle, went over to where Ben was working with the coach. Adam and Kyle jumped right in and started giving Ben some pointers. No one asked them to help. They just took it upon themselves to give him the benefit of their experience. At the end of practice, Adam, Kyle and the coach came over to chat. They mentioned that it would be a good idea for Ben to have a gym bag and a pair of basketball shoes that he wears only on the court. I thought we would stop on the way home to buy a pair but at the end of the conversation, Adam asked what size shoe Ben wears. Ben wears a size sixteen. So does Adam. Adam handed me the brand new pair of shoes that he had in his hand. "I would like for Ben to have these shoes," he said, "I get free shoes all the time." I was speechless. Ben is literally following in Adam's footsteps.


So Much to See #2

Previous: So Much to See #1
Next: So Much to See #3

The location of the picture posted in the previous installment was identified in the 5th comment. I was tempted to make this one impossibly hard, but I don't think I've done so.This time I won't give any hints except to say it is within the city limits of Lawrence.As before, I hope it causes you to be just a little more aware of the many interesting things there are to see here in town.Here is a small portion of the picture. Each day or so I'll post a version which shows a larger portion of the image.


Hint #1
This is visible from somewhere on the "T" route, so it is not in some hidden corner of town.

Image #2:

Image #3

Here is the full image of one of the KU buildings on the south side of Bob Billings (15th St), west of Crestline. I'm not sure if this is the building with the pottery kiln.



Frogmore Stew

Except for sub freezing temperatures outside, 25 co-workers and their families might feel they are in South Carolina rather than gathered in rural Douglas County on New Years Day.What created the warm southern feeling on a cold Kansas day? Frogmore Stew.Named for Frogmore, the mailing address for the residents of St. Helena Island off the coast of South Carolina, the stew is a combination of ingredients readily available on this historical island. While their neighbors in the States might have a BBQ, St. Helena residents add shrimp, potatoes, corn, and spicy bratwurst together in a pot. Our first try at the Low Country specialty began with a round of home brewed beer. Created by our favorite brew master and co-worker, it was dark, smooth, and served at room temperature. While enjoying our ale, we heated water and seasoning packets in a big (very big) pan over a propane burner. While new potatoes are the best choice, we opted for a large, firm baking potatoes cut in large pieces and dropped in the pot after the water was hot. Following potatoes, in went the precooked and quartered hot and mild brats. Almost the same time frozen corn on the cob slid in. Setting the table consisted of spreading plastic and newspapers over the entire surface. In addition, we added shrimp sauce, homemade bread and butter, hot sauces to taste, and many napkins.When the shrimp went in the pot, everyone gathered around ready to eat. Five minutes later, two people carried the heavy hot pot outside and poured the hot liquid through a strainer held by the third. Finally, they dumped the steaming ingredients in the middle of the table.http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2008/Jan/01/Copy_of_DSC00056.JPGFrogmore Stew6 quarts water
¾ cup Old Bay Seasoning
2 pounds new red potatoes
2 pounds hot smoked sausage links, cut into 2 inch pieces
12 ears corn, husked and quartered
4 pounds large fresh shrimp, unpeeled
Bring water & seasoning to a boil in large stockpot.
Add potatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Add sausage and cook for five minutes more. Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink, about five minutes. Drain immediately and serve. Serves 12 depending on appetites.


Add Him to the List

I've only gone to KU basketball games for the last few years. Hearing Hank's announcing at the games seemed so natural that I thought nothing of it. I assumed he'd been doing it for years.The first time I remember hearing Hank Booth as announcer was at the Jaycee's fireworks display, back when it was held in Memorial Stadium.Recently I've written about some of the things that I remember about Lawrence and many have added their recollections. By training and by inclination I'm an engineer. I prefer facts to opinion...even when the opinion is my own.Hank Booth is every bit as much a part of Lawrence as is Dragstrip Road, the Sunset Drive-in, or Woolworth's. That's an opinion.College football and basketball are all about the money. That's an opinion, too.KU basketball games won't be the same without Hank Booth as announcer.That's a fact.Add him to the list of things we remember about Lawrence.


Freedom Machine

Married less than two months, it was the summer of 1966 when we drove to a nearby state lake for our first overnight campout. We had an old army tent and plenty of food and beer. We slept on the ground. To those humble, early marriage beginnings, we added two children and various types of outdoor sleeping accommodations. Our family enjoyed freedom of open spaces, solitude, beautiful scenery and relaxing around a fire. Several years ago, our children long gone and retirement at hand, we began thinking about a recreational vehicle. In the past, we traveled to one place. We now plan longer road trips. We did not want to give up our independence in overnight accommodations, but needed something suitable for our age.We were not alone in our wish to own a RV. The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) states more baby boomers own RVs than any other age group. Although the purchase of new vehicles will slip somewhat in 2008 because of higher gas prices, projections indicate sales will still be the fifth highest in 30 years.Our search for an RV fitting our lifestyle started at the yearly early January Kansas City Sports Show in Bartle Hall. Even though a new RV would not fit our budget, we walked through the units on display to determine our preferences. We wanted something small enough to park anywhere and self-contained so we could stop for the night without a reservation. Finally deciding on a small van conversion with gas mileage comparable to popular SUVs, we began looking for a used unit.Newspaper want ads and online sales sites were excellent sources, but good deals moved fast. I did not hesitate to call or email questions. Without fail, owners were anxious to share information. Six months later, we purchased a five-year-old 17-foot conversion van found on an Internet-listing site. It had 17,000 miles on the speedometer and cost less than half of a new model. We picked it up in Minneapolis, Minnesota.It is everything we hoped. You might see us tailgating at football games or parked on Mass street in Lawrence. We have been to Maine, states in the Midwest and especially enjoy two-day trips right here in Kansas. We are planning an Alaska trip a year from this summer. We feel as secure parking in a large chain store parking lot (boon docking) as a remote hilltop. We use it year round. We call it our Freedom Machine.


Lawrence, The Way We Remember It

Here are the answers, based upon what I know and what was said in the comments, please let me know of any errors. 1. Where and what was Griff's? A burger place on 23rd, located approximately across from where Mongolian BBQ is now, It was in an unusual A-frame building 2. What major retail chain had a store where the Antique Mall is now located. (Hint, it has moved again since then). For extra credit, where did it move to before moving to its present location? J.C. Penney's, It moved to occupy the Montgomery Ward's location near 23rd and Iowa before moving to its present location. 3. Name a store that is now located where Woolworth's used to be located. Kinko's, Saffee's, Chipotle 4. Bucky's originally had another name, what was it? Sandy's. An article this week reported Bucky's closing. 5. Where did George's Hobby Shop used to be located? The Malls, 23rd and Iowa. It moved to Paper Warehouse, before moving to a building behind. Someone also reported it being at 19th and Mass, if so, that was before my time. 6. What was the name of the drive-in theater that was located on 6th Street near where Sonic is now located? Sunset Drive-in 7. There was yet another drive-in theater in town, where was it? For extra credit what was its name. Please tell me, I don't know. This was before my time, I'm told it was the Chateau on 23rd street, near where Laird Noller is now. Or was it the Lawrence Drive-in? 8. Where was the Vista drive-in located? On 6th street. The "Olympic" pool was down the streeon on the other side. 9. What is the name of the restaurant that occupied the building where Bambino's is now? Cornucopia, the only place I've ever eaten quiche. 10. Where was the "Campus Hideaway" located? Just north of South Park.There were a number of us who remember going to the Sunset, climbing on the train, and seeing Leo Beuerman. Other recollections (a partial list)The church at the corner of 6th and Maine, followed by Alfie's?, now Taco John'sQuantrill's Flea Market.
Drake's Bakery
Lion/ Red Lion (are these the same?)
Bob's Big Boy
Sub & Stuff (I remember the Spicy Italian)
Shakey's Pizza (later Valentino's)
Putt-Putt at 31st and Iowa
Rusty's IGAs
Don's Steakhouse south of town on Iowa, before my time.
Liberty Hall and its long history.
Raney Drug
Tin Pan Alley
LeMans Arcade
Dairy King
Mr. Steak (free birthday dinners)
Drag Strip Road
...Didn't see Jenning's Daylight Donuts mentioned. Did anyone ever go to the the Aqua Forum to get tropical fish? I remember it on the east edge of town on 23rd Street before it moved to the Mall, behind where Wendy's is now... until is closed There was also Jayhawk Tropical Fish.Thank you, everyone, for a nice (I might even say wonderful) trip down memory lane.


See the Space Station

It should appear as a fast moving bright star rising in the NW. It should climb to as high as 45 degrees above the horizon before setting in the east.There should be another opportunity just before 6PM on Saturday evening.Here is a NASA site where you can look to see when the Station will be passing overhead at a time when it is visible (dawn or dusk). Click the "Input" tab and enter your zip code, then click "Next Sighting". This applet requires Java be installed, so if you see nothing, that is probably why.It is easy to see. With binoculars, you might be able to see it as more than a bright white dot.


So Much to See

Next: So Much to See #2

I propose that if we took the time to look more closely at all the things around us each day, we would be the richer for it. So here is what I propose to do:I cropped a picture I took to show a small and hopefully not easily recognizable portion.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out what or where it is. At regular intervals, probably once a day, I'll expand what the image shows or provide a hint, until someone correctly identifies it. If it is a foolish idea, I'll be flamed in comments--if indeed there are any at all. It is just a silly little idea, anyway. I hope you'll spend a little more time each day paying attention to the many interesting things around you.


If you spend much time driving (or taking the T) around Lawrence you will surely be able to see this. Here is the next image:

One more, if you still aren't sure:

Not much of a surprise, but here is the complete image:
And here is a short history of the Castle Tea Room.


Lawrence, The Way It Was

If you're a long time Lawrence resident, here's a little quiz to see what you remember about Lawrence the way it was...

  1. Where and what was Griff's?
  2. What major retail chain had a store where the Antique Mall is now located. (Hint, it has moved again since then). For extra credit, where did it move to before moving to its present location?
  3. Name a store that is now located where Woolworth's used to be located.
  4. Bucky's originally had another name, what was it?
  5. Where did George's Hobby Shop used to be located?
  6. What was the name of the drive-in theater that was located on 6th Street near where Sonic is now located?
  7. There was yet another drive-in theater in town, where was it? For extra credit what was its name. Please tell me, I don't know.
  8. Where was the Vista drive-in located?
  9. What is the name of the restaurant that occupied the building where Bambino's is now?
  10. Where was the "Campus Hideaway" located?

Extra credit if you: 1. Went to a movie at either of the drive-in theaters mentioned above. 2. Actually climbed on the train in the "Train Park" (Buford M. Watson, Jr. Park) before the fence was placed around it. 3. Ever saw Leo Beuerman in his little cart downtown. Triple extra credit if you ever bought a pencil from him.


In-Box or Mailbox

The New York Time published an article Sunday, December 16, by Phyllis Korkki entitled Still Choosing the Mailbox Over the In-Box.In the article Ms Korkki noted that today 275 million first-class cards and letters are expected to be mailed. From Thanksgiving to Christmas the USPS estimates 20 billion cards, letters, packages and other pieces of mail will be handled.Korkki goes on to say many thought the Internet would be the beginning of the end of the USPS. Instead, the Internet, especially the online shopping aspect, has created the need for hard copy as well as a service to ship the packages. Consequently, since 2001, the first class volume of mail has remained fairly steady.Finally, Korkki says,"...although email is now a permanent part of the communication landscape, the old-fashioned letter is far from dead...."I agree. It is a great feeling to open my mailbox and find a letter from family or friends. I can reread it as often as I like and save it for reference later when I return the favor. And, sometimes the short three sentence notes are meaningful. My grand kids love to receive a note about something significant in their lives.What do you think. Do you still choose the mailbox over the in-box?


The Old Windmill

A little over a hundred years ago, if you'd been driving...your horse and buggy...down 9th street out by Emery Rd, you might have seen something like this.

I found two links with information about the windmill, both articles are from the Journal World:

The picture was used in this article from earlier this year about the print room at the Spencer Museum of Art.

Back in 2004, there was this article about Lawrence landmarks.

Does anyone remember the Windmill apartments that used to be in that area? Now I know where the name came from.

Anatomy of an Ice Storm

It is Monday evening and a major ice storm forecast looms. My backup front wheel drive 1987 model car is ready for my ninety mile route. With studded snow tires in front, it is better than four-wheel drive on ice.Tuesday morning it is raining steadily. The temperature lingers at freezing. I am not sure I have seen an ice storm begin with so much water run off. By noon it is running over the low water bridge on Deer Creek. Slowly the temperature drops and ice begins to accumulate on trees, fences and electrical wires. Trees bend more and more under the weight. Lines must be going down as the radio reports lost electricity.Low night temperatures and a thick coating of ice give way Wednesday morning to limbs, mainly Elm, lying under trees. Several times I hear a sharp crack and see a limb go down. Hardy cedar tree limbs simply bend to make a tent of ice forming a house underneath for rabbits and quail. Pines bend but hold. Oaks with leaves still attached have an extra burden. I saw one large branch loose the battle. With pastures frozen over, cattle stand at gates waiting for a bale of last summer's hay. Geese honk as they follow the Wakarusa Valley. Are they thinking of turning south? I would not blame them.I had company on the roads. Douglas County, Clinton and Kanwaka townships are busy blading and throwing sand. I wonder if they have been out all night as many roads and all bridges and steep hills are treated. A rancher with a big bale heads for the pasture. Along with me, brown, yellow and white delivery trucks bring holiday orders. It seems everyone else smartly stays home.Thursday dawns beautiful. There is no other word to describe the ice covered world under a clear sky and sunshine. Branches encased in ice radiated like stars or prism-like spectrum of colors. Ice on metal mailboxes melts from the inside out. A drive under a tree results in a barrage of ice falling like rain. Squirrels and turkeys, run about excited to feel the warmth on their backs. As the sun warms, steam rises. Birds, especially finches and sparrows fluttered in cedar branches. Hawks use warm updrafts from the melted fields to soar low looking for prey. Cattle spread out over the same fields grazing contently.Three days, the ice storm is history. In our area, most have electricity. Trees survive although some still bend as ice clings on northern exposures.What's next? Snow.

December 2007
Click on picture for pictures of the ice storm.

Mr. Moats

This summer there was a notice in the LJWorld online that a memorial service would be planned for Byron Moats and his wife, Nancy. Mr. Moats and his wife were killed in a car accident. Mr. Moats had only recently retired from a long and successful teaching career. When I heard the news of their deaths, I thought that the name Byron Moats sounded familiar. When I read that he had recently retired from Oak Park High School everything fell into place. Oak Park High School is in Kansas City, Mo., near Gladstone.I graduated from Oak Park High School in 1978. My K-12 school experience was rather chaotic and dysfunctional. I went to seven schools in two states. When it was time to graduate, I was short by either a quarter or half a credit. School officials let me go through the graduation ceremony with the rest of my class, but I had to take a class that summer to make up that credit shortfall. That's when I met Mr. Moats.As might be expected, I was not terribly happy to be stuck in a summer class when I was supposed to be done with school altogether. I thought it was a "pud" class with ridiculously easy work. But Mr. Moats made that class fun. I think he realized how awkward it might be for me to be there and he seemed to go out of his way to make me feel comfortable. At some point, he and I discussed the end of the class. I told him that I was sure that on the last day of class I would be presented with my high school diploma amid much fanfare. Mr. Moats told me that actually my diploma would be mailed to me. I was horribly disappointed and it showed. Mr. Moats took action.Unbeknownst to me, but known to all of my classmates, Mr. Moats arranged for me to receive my diploma on the last day of class. On the final day of class he asked me to go to the office with him. He didn't tell me why. I thought there was probably some paperwork that needed to be done. But instead, Mr. Moats had arranged for the school principal, assistant principal and a few other school officials to present my diploma to me with much pomp and circumstance. They presented the diploma to me, shook my hand and then clapped for me as if I had just won the Nobel Prize. I was thrilled and thanked Mr. Moats for making that happen. I couldn't believe he had gone to so much trouble for me. But that's the kind of person that he was. I don't know if Mr. Moats would have remembered me. But even though it has been nearly 30 years since I graduated from high school, I remember him and am deeply saddened that he is gone from this world. I wish that I could have told him that even with my inauspicious K-12 career, I managed to go to college eventually and currently hold a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration. I would have been proud for him to know that. Mine is just one story. I imagine there are many others from people who were touched by his kindness. The world is a lesser place without you, Mr. Moats, but many of us are much better people because you touched our lives. No doubt, heaven has a special place for you. Rest in Peace.


The Christmas Card

It's a beautiful, fragile world out there this morning. I nearly fell flat on my back as I stepped out in the dark to fetch the paper. It lay about halfway down the incline of our driveway, so, not wanting to break any vital bones with half my family out of town this week, I practically crawled the rest of the way on all fours while the rain pelted me.Even so, I couldn't help admiring the way all the trees down the block look like they're outlined in crystal. It seems somehow appropraite this time of year.Yesterday evening, my sister-in-law called to say my nephew's Christmas program had been postponed again because of the icy weather. I was afraid he'd be terribly disappointed after he's so looked forward to it. It's so hard to wait when you're six years old! But no, she said. He's okay as long as they do eventually have it.And so we're all safe inside . Yesterday, I addressed envelopes until my hand ached, and today I'll probably do thirty more...A Christmas CardTossed into the postman's sack Along with catalogues and bills,He'll carry me from block to blockOr wind along the country hills.Across two thousand miles, I'll come,To where the winter's warm and dry,Or maybe simply down the street, Delivered while the snowflakes fly.A piece of light from every star Is carried to you here in me,A very simple gift that can'tBe wrapped beneath your Christmas tree.A note of joy from every songThat I've heard sung this time of year,The smell of cinnamon and cloves, I have it all gathered up hereInto just another Christmas card To wish a Merry Christmas where you are.


A Lesson in Time

I emailed my daughter for her permission to post this video. I thought it unfair that she did not know she was being taped. As a matter of fact, I did not realize the background conversation when I made this little poor quality video of our youngest grandson discovering the Christmas tree. When I previewed it, I decided both were worth preserving. Thank you Kim for letting me post this even though you think you sound a bit edgy. Considering it was dinner time and everyone was tired and hungry, it is a delightful conversation to overhear.


The Name I Am

It seems, at least to me, that my last name is unusual. A Google search of my name does not find a single other "David Klamet". I suppose that can be useful, sometimes. I've never had any trouble getting the username I wanted when registering for email addresses or on web forums.Maybe I'm just sensitive about it. The show that plagued my childhood, The Beverly Hillbillies, was about the Clampett family (if you're fortunate enough to not know or remember it) that ran for nine painful years during my childhood. During that time, my name was almost always mispronounced. For years after there was an invisible "p" in my name that I couldn't see, but people would still pronounce. Were there really that many professors at KU who were influenced by the show and used that pronunciation?For me, though, the name "Klamet" has a stolid, earthy tone and images of tilled fields and fall harvests come to mind. My father's father was a farmer. I imagine that his ancestors back in Germany were farmers, too. He raised seven daughters and two sons in the old farmhouse my father grew up in and that I spent many Christmas Days in. I cannot help but imagine their life in rural Leavenworth county. My father's mother died when he was young. The children attended Dafer school, a one room schoolhouse not far from my father's farm, where I grew up. I once overheard my father tell of his resentment that Charley, his older brother, got to use the tractor to plow, while he had to use the mules. I can imagine him walking behind the mules, resentfully watching his brother across the field on the tractor. Recently, at the funeral of the father of a high school friend, I happened to meet several elderly ladies who new my father and his brother. I overheard one of them as she talked about how she new them both and used to dance with my uncle, and what a good dancer Charley had been. He died when I was very young in an auto accident with his oldest daughter, their truck was hit by a train as they drove into town one evening. How and why is a mystery.My father died many years ago. He did not farm full time, but every season a crop was planted and there were always cows in the pasture. The farming tradition did not end with him, but it did not continue through me. The thought of my being a farmer would make my brother laugh out loud.Fate has played a strange yet subtle joke on the Klamet family. Of all the brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, grandchildren and cousins, the future of the Klamet name passes only through me--the one who had the least interest in the only life they all knew. My father's brother had only girls, as did my brother. My three sons are the only ones who will carry on the name.I often see that name now, printed in programs for high school music concerts and soccer games. Among the long list of names in small print, my sons' names seem to stand out as though they were printed in bold. Out on the stage or on the field I see my sons, but in my mind I see my father behind those mules.


Small Town Christmas Road Trip

This is how our spur of the moment road trip through small towns of the Flint Hills materialized. My husband said, "How about:" and I said, "Let's go." That's it. It only takes an hour from idea to heading up the lane in our camper van. These kinds of trips happen other times of the year, but never before at Christmas. We are ready to leave by 6:00 pm. Armed with Marci Penner's Kansas Guidebook for Explorers, a list of the best Chicken-fried Steaks in Kansas from the Kansas Explorers Club, and a map, we plan to find good rural Kansas food and Christmas decorations.Overbrook is a progressive small town only 11 miles south of our rural home. It does not surprise us their decorations are nice. Normally, we stop at Conrad's for their special, but there are more towns to visit. So, from there we head west on Hwy 56. We consider the restaurant at Four Corners because the parking lot is packed, a good sign in small town Kansas. Alas, it is not on the Best Chicken Fried List it so we head on, past The Trop for those who know.Scranton's lighted snowflakes are very beautiful for the size of their main street. No tarrying, it is on to Burlingame and Santa Fe Cafe, which is on the List. Decorated for the season and housed in an obviously historical storefront, the Santa Fe Cafe is busy. Local families laugh and visit while waiting for their orders. Even though pan-fried steaks are a prerequisite, ours are deep-fried. No matter, the homemade gravy and real mashed potatoes make up for it. Full with enough leftovers for breakfast, one last look at Burlingame's lights and we are off.Continuing on the old Santa Fe Trail route, Hwy 56, we visit Osage City, Admire and Bushong. Community spirit is still strong in small towns because they all manage nice decorations. Council Grove did not disappoint. As we slowly drive main street it seems the lights outlining the buildings and the decorated storefronts have a charm befitting the historic town. We take a little extra time to drive back through before taking off south on Hwy 177 toward our destination of Strong City and Cottonwood Falls. As we turn on the street leading up to the town square in Cottonwood Falls, the sight of the historic courthouse completely outlined in white lights was breathtaking. Businesses on each side of the street are festive but not over done to take away from the beautiful building. We stop right on the street to take it all in. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
By LindaKBy then it is 10:00 pm but Cottonwood Fall's Emma Chase Cafe is still rocking. We slip in a corner table and enjoy the bluegrass music. As people drifted home, the musicians soon outnumber the audience. Obviously, the jean and overall clad participants are having fun. The Emma Chase is winding down and so are we. We scout around for a spot to boondock for the night. Saturday morning finds us in a parking lot near downtown Cottonwood Falls. We enjoy our leftover chicken fried steak and coffee for breakfast and take off. I want to see the sunrise over the Flint Hills. We continued south on Hwy 57, part of the Flint Hills Scenic Byway. The sun is just peeking over the horizon as we stop at an overlook. Flint Hills as far as we can see with cattle still grazing despite the time of year makes this scene a quiet, inspirational moment. We continue south still enjoying the beautiful rolling hills, impressive barns and rock fences. Matfield Green is a tiny town, but earned an entrance to the turnpike.In no time, we are in Wichita and the outdoor/sporting store located in downtown near the convention center. We spend several hours shopping and turned toward home. We again exit at Matfield Green exit on the KTA because nearby is the Cassody Cafe in the town by the same name. The Cafe is on the Best Chicken Fried Steak list and we are hungry. Unfortunately, the menu said Thursdays only for the steak. We settle for their buffet of fried chicken and homemade beef and noodles with four-star gravy. The Cassody Cafe is a destination for motorcycle riders in the summer. From the pictures posted by the register, it appears the city doubles its size on weekends.As we once again stop at the tollbooth at Matfield Green, the lady recognizes it is our third time through. We laughingly tell her, Merry Christmas and head for home.