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.


  1. That is awesome! I love the old man that tried to warn you off of Cozy Burger addiction. Funny! I love this post! It's like you heard me saying tell me everything you can about your home town. I like names of the food--is that German? I like dill pickle flavored sunflower seeds--they ARE good! Moomaws, crazy and I'm so happy to learn another surname. Bazine got it goin ON! (heehee!). I like the chalky bluffs--cool!! I want to see these. And the information kiosk--what the? Happy to hear that highway patrolmen can be nice and helpful! I also like your description about Hwy 283--sounds nice. All in all I enjoyed reading your recollections of this most recent trip to Western KS!

  2. Yes, the dumpling soup and bierocks are food that the German folk in these western Kansas communities cooked. Yeah, I think you'd like highway 283. You can see far and wide, and it can feel like you're the only living thing around for miles.

  3. when lilah or annabelle grow up and have their children,,might i suggest you insist on being called "moomaw".

  4. Sounds like a nice place to visit. I bet it was very nice to see old friends and reminisce about things. You must have been a pretty wild and partying person to skip classes.
    Too bad the place you are from sounds like it is disappearing, but I guess all things and all people do.
    Dill sunflower seeds? Never heard of such. Flat tire? Should have checked it.