Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whas' Up In Ness City

Left for western Kansas Thursday morning. Halfway to Lawrence I got a flat tire. I had a spare, but doubted I could get those rusted lug nuts off. And I didn't remember exactly where you are supposed to put the jack. Roger came to the rescue. He got the lug nuts off, but the wheel still wouldn't budge. Just then, a highway patrolman came strolling up. I hadn't even heard him pull up in his car. He had a trick, he said. He turned around and kicked the wheel with the heel of his boot, and it popped off. For the space of a minute, I loved all highway patrolmen everywhere. We put on the spare, but it was squishy. So the patrolman brought out his air compressor and filled it with air. Was feelin' the love even more. I told the patrolman I would write a favorable letter to his supervisor. Haven't done it yet but mark my words, I will.

We eventually got on our way, but had to make up for lost time. No stopping for Cozy burgers in Salina. I decided to go home by way of Wakeeney. Because once you turn on highway 283 there is no traffic, and the road goes past some chalky bluffs. The road undulates over the uneven landscape, and you are the only moving object for miles around. Just when you get to the middle of nowhere, a road sign notifies you of the Information Kiosk straight ahead. It sits next to the highway, lonely among dry rustling grasses, offering up a brochure and a map. One of these days I'm going to stop at that kiosk and see what information it holds.

It was much cooler out there than normal for July. On Friday afternoon, a thunderstorm rolled in. Nice fat rumbles of thunder. I sat on the front porch and drank coffee while I watched. That made me supremely happy.

Friday evening, we went to the high school football field for a Relay for Life event to raise money for cancer. An auctioneer wearing a cowboy hat and jeans began auctioning off donated baskets full of miscellaneous crap, like cheap household gadgets and shower gel. He was speaking rapid-fire in that wierd, wonderful sing-songy auctioneer's cadence, as his ringman stared hard into the bleachers, looking for bidders. When the ringman spotted a bid, he'd shout "Yeahhhhppp!" It was highly entertaining.

The relay teams had pitched tents on the field, so they could take turns all night walking the track. Luminaries lined the track, decorated with the names of both cancer survivors and victims. When it got dark, all the luminaries were lit, and we all made a lap around the track as the names on the luminary bag were read. It was sobering, the fact that there were enough luminaries to stretch all the way around.

Mom made dumpling soup and bierocks while we were out there. I had planned to watch her make the soup - again, for the second or third time - because I can never get mine to turn out like hers. But I was busy scraping paint off the toolshed. Mom told me that some of the old-timers used to make dumplings with potatoes. They called it "kartufal and glace." I had also planned to watch her make bierocks Sunday morning, but I was too busy finishing a paper for class while she was rolling them up and pinching them.

Speaking of food, I tried a new thing while I was out there ---dill pickle-flavored sunflower seeds. I saw them at Butterfield's and just had to try them. I was skeptical, but let me tell you they are yummo.

We had a lot of good food out there. We went to the Frigid Creme for shakes and malts. The guy who made my malt wore an earring in each ear--they were kind of dangly. We were sitting outside the Frigid Creme at the multi-colored picnic table, drinking our shakes, when it closed at 9:00. The sun was setting and the guy with the earrings and his co-worker, a boxy-shaped young woman came out of the back. There was an old stepladder sitting there with a few packs of cigarettes, and a couple of metal folding chairs. The two co-workers sat down in the folding chairs and started smoking. They had left the back door of the Frigid Creme open, like they were going to go back inside and clean up.

Here's the latest from the Ness County News: Pizza Plus was named one of the "Eight wonders of Northwest Kansas cuisine." Probably because it's a wonder you can get pizza in Ness City at all. One time when Deana and I were seniors in high school we skipped our classes and drove 40 miles to Wakeeney to eat pizza for lunch. That worked out so well, we decided to continue on to Hays to The Mall to do some shopping. Needless to say, we didn't make it back to school that day.

The paper had the latest Census figures, which showed that Ness County had lost 509 people, or 17.3% of their population between 2000 and 2008. The one town in the county that gained was Bazine, which added 23 people. Whas' up, Bazine? Bazine got it goin' ON!

In other news: The Country Quilters met in July in Dighton. Two of those attending were Moomaws. I couldn't get over that surname, but Mom said yes, there were Moomaws in Dighton. She's heard the name for years. I kind of wish my last name was Moomaw.

Those quilting clubs don't let the grass grow under their feet! It is reported that one member was working on an embroidered rose block, and another finished a whirly-gig pinwheel quilt. And one woman was even planning an ice hockey quilt.

On the way back to Kansas City, we managed to stop at the Cozy Inn in Salina for a sack of burgers. We were carrying the sack back to our car, when an old man in a parked car yelled over to us, "Those are habit-forming!" As if we didn't know.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Weirdness

Feeling weird and unsettled? No? Well, you will after seeing this video of Leonard Nimoy singing about Bilbo Baggins. It's indescribable. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mud People

You can't see it very well, but this is a t-shirt I saw at Target, from their "Summer of Love" series. Yes, they are selling Woodstock-themed clothing as if it's all the rage. Why couldn't this stuff have been cool when I was into it? When I was in high school I was all about hippies and high happy muddiness. I would have killed for a Woodstock tee. The mass-marketing of Sixties-related merchandise would have been my consummate joy. So now I'm confused: Was I behind my time or ahead of my time?

As it was, I had to go it alone, as a nerdy teenager, dressing up as a hippie when the school had a costume day during spirit week, something that none of my classmates could dig. I listened to Donovan albums in the basement and strung beads. I read whatever books I could find in our small town public library on the 60's and the hippie movement. There wasn't a ton, but our librarian Mary Daniels was cool and she had bought a few books, including one on Janis Joplin.

I was desperate to hear 60's music, but this was around 1979 and 1980, and the only outside source was AM radio. It was a few more years, I think, before FM radio became available in our area. About the only place I could hear lots of 60's stuff was on this oldies radio show hosted by Dick Clark on Sunday afternoon. I listened very carefully to the names of bands and songs, and then on our rare excursions to Hays or Dodge, I scoured the one record store in the mall and bought albums by The Guess Who, the Doors, the Lovin' Spoonful and Donovan, Donovan, Donovan. My best and only chance for finding a Donovan album was in the clearance bin. But gradually over time my Donovan collection grew and I had Sunshine Superman, Fairy Tale, Mellow Yellow, Catch the Wind, Gift from a Flower to a Garden, Hurdy Gurdy Man.

The only Donovan album that survived from that period was the Sunshine Superman album. It was my favorite, because it's lousy with sitars and lyrics about medieval castles and the like. The other albums came to an unfortunate end which is another story, which maybe I'll tell someday.

Back then I was also a Trekkie nerd, and I faithfully watched Star Trek every day at 4:00 after school. But my access to any information about the show was scant. I had to wait for that occasional trip out of town, and hope that the bookstore in the mall had something, anything about Star Trek. One time I found a book that was about Star Trek conventions that had color photos of people wearing Spock ears. It had only a small sprinkling of photos of the cast from the show. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but I grabbed it anyway. So this latest surge of Original Star Trek merchandise amuses me, and does my old Trekkie heart good.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Trekkie Desk Top

Behold --the ultimate Pez collection, atop Lilah's desk. Even the Enterprise gets its own Pez-destal.

Tonight I turned in the final exam for one of my classes. Eight tedious pages, single-spaced, on the ideal LIS solution for libraries, the impact of technology on the delivery of public services, challenges of the distributed information environment and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. No more Library Information Systems for the rest of the summer. Thank you God. Only my Introduction to Research in Library & Information Science class. This week we're diving into statistics. Yay!

Was only mildly mauled by the puppy today. I walk her frequently, and am learning just how many dead birds there are, glued to the street. She finds them all, every one.

I picked up a new habit in Seattle. Drinking wine and watching Frasier. A lovely way to end the day.

Last night I stayed up late trying to make progress on my paper. Tonight I'm up late trying to make up for all the time I didn't get to relax before, because I was working on my damn paper.

On Friday night the kids and I got free tickets to a musical at the Coterie theater --U Bug Me. The lead characters were a fly and an earwig. The fly had a love interest with a caterpillar, and the centipede played in a rock band with several ants. And the bad guy? A big ol' horsefly wearing black leather.