Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays

Some towns just seem to have a natural association with the holiday season:
  • North Pole, Alaska
  • Santa Claus Indiana
  • Santa Claus, Georgia
  • Noel, Missouri
  • Rudolph, Wisconsin
  • Dasher, Georgia
  • Snowflake, Arizona
  • Holly Springs, Mississippi
  • Mount Holly, North Carolina

No matter where you live, have a safe and blessed holiday season.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Bit More Christmas Trivia

OK, maybe it's not trivia. It's the cold-hard truth, compliments of the Census Bureau.
  • U.S. Christmas tree farmers sold $493.3 million of Christmas trees in 2007.
  • The U.S. imported $593.8 million of Christmas tree ornaments from China between January and August of this year.
  • China also shipped $66.2 million worth of artificial Christmas trees to the U.S.
  • 96 establishments across the U.S. manufactured dolls and stuffed toys (2006), employing 2,410 people. And we wonder why we have to import so much stuff??
  • At least 691 businesses producing games, toys and children's vehicles existed in the U.S. in 2006.
  • Total value of shipments for dolls, toys and games by U.S. manufacturers (2006) totaled $3.4 billion, but....
  • U.S. toy imports (stuffed toys (not including dolls), puzzles, and electric trains and other popular gifts) from China totaled $4.9 billion. I'll break it down....
  • $42 million = roller skates
  • $136 million = athletic footwear
  • $638 million = golf equipment
  • #31 million = basketballs

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Copycat Experiment

Need help defining character or setting? Read my suggestions at WOW! Women on Writing.

Marco Torres - interview

Yesterday I interviewed Marco Torres, a global educator from Los Angeles. He was in O'Neill, Nebraska, to help the school start their Challenge-Based Learning (CBL) pilot study.

Check out my story at the Norfolk Daily News.

Holiday Statistics - Part 2

In December 2007, the dollar amount of retail sales in department stores totaled $30.5 billion. This was a 42 percent jump from the previous month (21.5 billion).

The Census Bureau stated that sizable gains in sales between November and December 2007 were noted in book stores (78 %), clothing stores (37 %), jewelry stores (137 %), radio, TV and electronics stores (46%) and sporting goods retailers (53%).

I usually give each person on my list a book for the holiday season. It makes sense; I'm a writer. :) Plus, I am one in a family of voracious readers.

If you have a person on your list who enjoys the Harry Potter series, check out The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. I know one of my daughters will be happy that I pre-ordered it from Amazon. :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Facts - Part 1

The U.S. Postal Service expected to deliver 20 billion pieces of mail between Thanksgiving and Christmas during the 2007 holiday season. The busiest mailing day? December 17, as more than three times the average daily volume of cards and letters were mailed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Substitute Teaching...

...is an interesting venture. First, you might be called to teach in a school system where you don't know anyone.

Such is the case I'm in today. Yes, I'm subbing for a school that's relatively close to home - only 21 miles from my garage to this school's front door - but I really don't know anyone here. A couple kids know me because I interviewed one for a newspaper I work for and the other is related to some good friends. Otherwise, I have no really vested interest in the school.

This makes for an interesting day. Now I'm not saying I'm just here for the paycheck. I like when a teacher leaves me something to actually DO during the day instead of feeling like a glorified babysitter. Make that an 85-dollar-for-the-day babysitter.

But honestly, I subbed here yesterday afternoon and will be here all day. I finished the YA novel Thirteen Reasons Why and I've written two web articles for a company I write for. Yes, and now I'm blogging. (Oops, almost busted by the superintendent; of course, I'm really not doing anything wrong...)

And I'm not saying the kids here are disrespectful, because with the exception of a sixth grader commenting on one (er...make that two) of my womanly features yesterday, they've all been pretty decent kids. They work when I ask them to. They are fairly quiet. And, they have excellent taste in music that they've been playing (it helps to sub for the computer teacher).

But it is interesting that some teachers just leave "busy work" when they will be absent. Hey, fellow teachers, I know how to teach, so why not let me do something!! I may not be the best at teaching calculus or physics, but I have been trained to teach and I'm quick on my feet, so give me something to do.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Did you serve nearly 1,800 Thanksgiving guests?

Elgin, Nebraska's, St. Boniface Catholic Church has mastered the art of Thanksgiving dinner. The church served nearly 1,800 Thanksgiving meals a year ago. And if Thursday's crowd was any indication, this year's group of attendees probably neared that mark. Read about the 84-year-old tradition at the Norfolk Daily News.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holiday Pie

Surveys show the top 5 holiday pies (in order of preference):
  1. pumpkin
  2. apple
  3. cherry
  4. lemon meringue
  5. pecan

How come my favorite - #5 - isn't ranked higher?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Need to clear your mind and your to-do list?

If you have a lot on your plate and need to free your mind, as well as your to-do list, read my latest post at The Muffin, the daily blog for WOW! Women on Writing.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Volleyball Conundrum

So, in what should be (and probably is) the Nebraska Class D-2 State Volleyball final game, Clay Center would meet Ewing in a thriller.

But, since CC and Ewing are both in the top bracket, they will have to settle to play in the semi-final match at 9:30 tomorrow morning.

Clay Center is my hometown. They have an excellent volleyball coach and even though I don't imagine I know many of the girls, it is great to see the old home team make it to state. When I was in junior high and high school, we almost made it to state once. And then the season ended and that was it. No summer league. No true weightlifting program. Done. Finito.

Now, I live in Ewing and married a native Ewing. I sub there about once a week. They are good kids, great athletes, and a pleasure to know and work with. They have been in the final game the past two years and have just come up short both times. Will this year be the year they really do it?

It should be a great match tomorrow morning. And although it will be tough to decide who should win, I will definitely be cheering for both. And it doesn't matter if I wear orange or black since both times share that commonality. It's the Wildcats vs. the Tigers. Both schools are winners!

A Little Humor from Larry the Cable Guy

My aunt sent me some "wise words" from Nebraska native Larry the Cable Guy. They always make me laugh!

A day without sunshine is like night.

On the other hand, you have different fingers.

42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.

99 percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

Remember, half the people you know are below average.

He who laughs last, thinks slowest.

Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets thecheese in the trap

Support bacteria. They're the only culture some people have.

A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.

If you think nobody cares, try missing a couple of payments.

How many of you believe in psycho-kinesis? Raise my hand.

OK, so what's the speed of dark?

When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

Hard work pays off in the future. Laziness pays off now.

How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?

Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

What happens if you get scared half to death, twice?

Why do psychics have to ask you your name?

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering, 'What the hell happened?'

Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

History Lesson for Girls

Check out my latest book review about Aurelie Sheehan's novel History Lesson for Girls. It's posted at Curled Up With a Good Book. I highly recommend this one!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Is Dancing With the Stars a cursed show?

Fun, interesting, and kind of scary slide show on MSN today about Dancing with the Stars. Is the show cursed?

Here Comes the Sun

Wow! Walked to the mailbox (which was a pain in my ankle - and another story in itself) and caught a glimpse of the sun peaking out. It would be great if it would come out for awhile today, although it might be a bit of the calm before the storm.

Right now, it is 30 degrees and mostly cloudy, and later tonight, we are supposed to get snow and sleet. I am not looking forward to the nasty weather.

We are still combining corn. Maybe we can finish today. Picked enough yesterday to fill three grain carts and then had to wait for the truck to come this morning.

There will still be plenty of work to do once we finish harvesting. Have to work cattle, fix some mechanical problems on the tractors and combines, do some work on the free stall. I think the list never quits. He keeps telling me what needs to get done and I keep telling him what my laundry list of writing projects looks like and it seems like we see each other for about an hour a day before we're both too tired to stay awake any longer.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Some Halloween Fun Facts

According to the Census Bureau, the estimated number of potential trick-or-treaters last year was 36 million children between the ages of 5 to 13. Well, I had three visit here: two nieces and one nephew. One below the age of 5. Guess we're not so typical here in the sandhills of Nebraska.

The Census Bureau also reports that 93 % of households consider their neighborhood to be safe. 78% said there was no place within a mile of their homes where they would be afraid to walk alone at night. It's a mile south to the in-laws. Go a mile east and you're at my brother-in-law's house. I might consider walking to one of those places in the dark. It's fairly safe. Except for the possible mangy coyotes that howl. Or the occasional heifer that slips out of the fence and scares the heck out of you when you run into it.

Need a scary place to visit on Halloween? Fellow Nebraskans can visit Skull Creek, population 274. Now, I did a little research, and the only 'Skull Creek' I could find was a township in Butler County. I believe I'm fairly knowledgeable about Nebraska cities, villages, towns, and hamlets, but this one has me baffled. If you don't reside in the Cornhusker state, you could visit Transylvania County, PA; Tombstone, AZ; Pumpkin Center, NC; Pumpkin Bend, AR; Cape Fear, NC (now in two locations in NC: New Hanover County and Chatham County).

Americans ingest 24.5 pounds of candy on average. Of course, that's just the 2007 estimate. I don't think I ate that much. And I know I didn't give that much to my three little trick-or-treaters who visited tonight.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PR trip - post trip

It started with good intentions. I planned to document my trip to Clayton County, Georgia last week, so those reading this would be able to know where I was, what I was doing, and what I learned.

But, like so many other things, the schedule filled and instead of blogging about my travels, I decided to spend some time sleeping. Every now and then I think I need to shut the eyes and let the brain relax. Is that possible? I think my brain rarely shuts down during supposed REM time.

So for a quick summary, the group visited the following sites on Day 2:

Day 3 took us to:

And the final day began with the alarm ringing at 4 AM so I could be picked up for the airport at 5 AM to prepare for the 6:56 AM flight to Omaha via Chicago.

Now that I am home, I'm busy trying to find a home for all the article ideas I developed while I was in Clayton County.

Latest blog for writers

If you are a freelance writer, at one point, you will have to serve as your personal collection agent. Use these tips before you write an article to help you receive payment after the article is published.

Check out The Muffin, the daily blog for WOW! Women on Writing

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Press trip - Day 1/2

Greetings from Clayton County Georgia, located just south of Atlanta. I'm here for a press / PR trip, and I hope I am able to sell several stories based on my travels here.

Yesterday was an early morning. Actually, I only dozed when I went to bed Monday evening at 7:30ish. At the stroke of midnight, the alarm sounded its beep and I prepared myself for the three hour drive to Omaha to board my 6am flight. I must have been dozing during that flight, too, because I don't remember flying over the Mississippi River. At all.

Then I had a short layover in O'Hare. Grabbed a breakfast panini - pretty good - but could have kicked myself for paying $4.5o for a bottle of H2O. Of course, I didn't know it was that much until she rang up my order and I'd handed her the money. Big bottle that lasted all day, so it is ok.

Arrived in Atlanta around noon and was greeted by a wonderful person from the CVB. Had a wonderful box lunch from The Honeyham Sandwich Company. Thick pieces of ham on a kaiser bun, pasta salad, cookie, pickles, and chips. It was too much!

The first event for the 10 journalists on this trip took us to Clayton State University, a former community college that has evolved into a four-year institution. Beautiful campus full of charming lakes and lots of trees.

Here, we ventured to Spivey Hall. We were greeted by the college's president and several "friends" of Spivey Hall. Wonderful appetizers featuring local cheeses (double cream brie, provolone rolled with thin piece of prosciutto and sundried tomatoes, smoked mozzarella), fresh fruit (think figs, raspberries, blueberries) and a variety of interesting crackers.

Dinner featured onion-braised Flat Iron Steak (not Nebraska corn-fed, I'm sure), Southwestern Chicken Breast, Peruvian rice pilaf, sesame green beans (with a Chinese flavor twist), grilled asparagus with lime butter (very good), and rolls. Dessert meant three options: strawberry cake, tres leches with fresh berries (excellent!!) or deep dutch chocolate cake.

We adjourned to the performing arts auditorium where we enjoyed a classical exhibition of the Albert Schweitzer Organ. The hall is one of America's leading recital halls and is praised internationally for its acoustics. After an up-close-and-personal with the organ and stage, we walked down a hall of fame showcasing some of the performers in the hall's concert series.

Beautiful beginning to this trip. Today's schedule has us visiting seven different venues! Better get my walking shoes ready!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Will we ever finish harvesting?

Right now, I'm beginning to think we will still be in the field at Christmas. Ugh! Haven't been in the field for a week now, due to rain. Since it's mid-October here in the Cornhusker state, you have to wait for the sun to come out and the wind to blow to dry the field and beans out a bit.

It rained some Thursday night. Too wet yesterday. Tried this afternoon and it is wet. Husband thinks it will be dry enough around 6 p.m. Guess that means he will be in the field and I will be here writing, cooking and cleaning. That's the way life goes.

Have a quarter and a half of soybeans to finish. Then we will switch combine heads and pick corn.

Last year, we bought a used JD combine. Could have bought a used Case-IH that was in great condition for a few thousand more, but no, had to get this one. Then when it arrived, had to sink another $15,000 into it. Sure made the farmer in my house upset with the farmer's father who lives down the road. :(

In fact, I had to drive the combine a few times while husband was on the front of the head, raking the corn into it. Yes, he had built a "safety stand" so he didn't fall. That was extremely nerve-wracking! I think I only drove 3 miles per hour. Part of the problem was a wind storm that came through and bent the stalks. We haven't had a wind storm like that this year, so hopefully, the combine will smoothly glide over the cornfield.

Huskers vs. ISU

A slow and unproductive third quarter today. Otherwise, the Husker machine looked pretty good today. Need to take care of the turnover situation though. In a big game, that will cost us more than it did today.

Liked the occasional return of the option game! Yeah, now that's what I call Husker football.

Like Sports? Think Outside the Box for Writing Ideas

If you enjoy sports and are a writer, combining the two doesn't mean you have to pen the play-by-play of a game. Any game.

Instead, think about all the other elements associated with that sport, and you are bound to develop a plethora of ideas.

Check out my latest blog post at The Muffin, the daily blog for WOW! Women on Writing. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Check out my latest blog at WOW! Women on Writing

If you are a writer or artist, you will more than likely relate to my post on The Muffin, the daily blog for WOW! Women on Writing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Taking A Stand

My latest story in the Norfolk Daily News is about an area high school senior who has participated in the right-to-life chain even since he was three months old. He's adopted and believes since his birth mother chose life, he should help promote life. Check it out.

Just Chill Out

Read my interview with Kate Hanley at WOW! Women on Writing. She's the author of the Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide. De-stress at its best!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Gearing up...

Chopping silage now. Should be finished by tomorrow or Saturday, I think. As long as there isn't another breakdown, should be done by then.

Combine is out of the quonset, cleaned and serviced, and ready to pick. Not sure if we'll pick corn or beans first. Bought a new bean head and I don't know if it is here yet. Haven't been down to the other farm to see if it arrived.

I think there was a slight frost last night. Should probably check the garden. I know there are tomatoes, brussel sprouts, and a load of zucchini and papaya squash out there that I really should use up. Where is the time to do that AND get my writing done? Good question.

I have a huge pan of cherry tomatoes in the garage refrigerator that I want to use to make some salsa, but I'm not sure when I'll get to that, either.

Need more minutes in the day. :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

And the winner is . . .

Saturday was the Nebraska Beef Cook-off 'What's For Dinner' contest. It's part of the River City Roundup and was held at the Qwest Center in beautiful downtown Omaha.

Good recipes. Good food. And I earned 5th place. I'm happy with it, especially since it was my first time competing in a live contest; however, it was fun to listen to some of the other cooks talk about how they thought things would turn out.

I'm already thinking of what I can create for next year's contest.... :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Beef Cookoff

Tomorrow's the Nebraska Beef Council's "What's For Dinner?" Beef Cookoff. I'll be cooking live from the Qwest Center at 3:15. Winner brings home new kitchen appliances!

I need to get my tote packed with all my cooking supplies. Will stop on way to Omaha and pick p shrimp and easy to heat red beans and rice mix.

Husker Jambalaya is so good!

Will post pics after contest.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Latest article at WOW! Women on Writing

Check out my latest blog at The Muffin on WOW! Women on Writing. com.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Saturday without Husker football....

is depressing. So depressing. But, it will allow me to get some work accomplished at home!

Gearing up for the Nebraska Beef Cookoff which is the same day as the Va Tech game. Husker Jambalaya at the Qwest Center! Woo hoo!

In Search of I.M. Hipp

Thirty years ago, when I was a high school junior, my family met a Husker walk-on - Isaiah Moses Hipp - who had traveled from his home in Chapin, South Carolina to play football at Nebraska.

We understood the travel difference. During the summer of '68, we ventured to Greensboro, North Carolina, and spent part of the summer there while my dad attended classes at UNC-Greensboro.

We'd travel to out-of-town games and wait at the locker room for him to come out. Sometimes, he'd be hit up for autographs, which he would always sign. And he always spent time talking to our family. Once, at a KU-NU game in Lawrence, he and fellow Husker Andre Franklin asked if we were going home through Lincoln because they wanted to ride with us. Umm, Isaiah, I'm pretty sure Coach Tom wouldn't have allowed that, although I know we would have done it had he granted permission.

And there was the time we played at OSU. Our family had t-shirts made that said "I'm hip for Hipp" along with the number 32 blazing on the back. After meeting and talking at the locker room door, we began our journey home. We stopped somewhere in Kansas - I think Hutchinson - and the kid at the gas station said, "Hey, I saw you on TV. They showed your shirt."

And at home games, my sister and I always made a mad rush to the south field house and staked our spot to wait for him to come out. We'd wait with Tom Sorley's wife, dad and mom, and some times, Rick Berns' family would wait there with us, too.

The last time I remember seeing him was after the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day in 1980. We lost to Houston, 17 - 14. I don't remember seeing him at Andre's and Becky's wedding either (but that is another story in itself).

He was the subject of my first story I submitted to a newspaper, a personal profile of the Husker walk-on.

Why am I writing about the most famous walk-on football hero of all time? I read something about him today and it made me wonder where he is. And when I subbed at an area high school a few weeks ago, a teacher was telling the lunchroom crowd that he lived above her in the dorm. And I just smiled, remembering a small apartment, I think over on 18th street, where we met him a few times.

I discovered he lives in Virginia Beach. But I want to know more. Did you get married? Have children? When did you finish your degree? What things are important to you now? What do you think of Husker football and your time in Lincoln?

I'm searching for I.M. Hipp. And I'll find him. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Farm notes

The new tank is in and working nicely, I might add. If the winter months are as nasty as I hear they are predicted to be, it is possible the milk man might not be able to get here every day. Now, we can make it two days before we'd be in trouble.

Of course, Scott wanted to keep the other tank too, so we could do some experimenting with organics and raw milk. But....that isn't going to happen now.

Stopped and looked at a bean head for the combine yesterday. We were laughing that we have all Case-IH tractors and a JD combine (that's a piece of junk...). If we get the one we looked at, we'll have to adapt a Case head on the JD combine. Should be interesting.

Cut (or chopped....I always get in trouble when I try to associate a verb with a crop because it seems I never get it right, even though they all mean the same think: it's out of the field!!) silage and it should be ready to feed starting tomorrow or Wednesday. Have to finish feeding the bad silage we had to buy because the head feed man (=Scott) says if he mixes it, he's afraid we'll have a herd of sick milking mamas. Don't want that!

And the cherry tomatoes are overtaking the garden. I'm going to pull two plants today or tomorrow and make more salsa. You can never have too much salsa!! Plus, it's so good!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Beef! It's What's for Dinner

So the dairy farmer's wife entered a cooking contest...

I'm a finalist in the Nebraska Beef Council's 'What's For Dinner' Beef Cook-Off. Around this farm, beef is what's for dinner nearly EVERY night (except in the middle of summer when we have roasting ears, fresh tomato slices, and watermelon).

I'll be cooking live from the Qwest Center, Omaha, at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, September 27. It'll have to suffice for our tailgating party since we won't be able to go to the Husker game and instead, my sister and my dad will attend. But that is OK with me. Grand prize = new kitchen appliances! I'm all in favor of that!!

That just means that if we have the appliances, we really need to get going on the new house. :)

At least that's my theory!

I'll whip up a scrumptious batch of Husker Jambalaya. No recipe posted until AFTER the contest.

Made a crock pot full of it this weekend - used Nebraska 'Jersey' sirloin steak. Mmmm Mmmm! Tender, juicy and spicy!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Weird - Wacky Holidays for August 31

Love Litigating Lawyers Day is an annual celebration scheduled for August 31.

I wanted to be a lawyer. Scott told me I should go to law school because I would be good at cross examination because I always look at every angle. True, but I'm not sure I have that in me. If I were a lawyer I'd want to work for a cause and make a difference.

I believe this holiday originated from those fun-loving folks over at wellcat.com. They found a reason to celebrate every day of the year. And hey, why not? It's nice to find someone who has a sense of humor and celebrates life!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Weird Wacky Holidays - August 30

It might not exactly be the dog days of summer, but Fido - or Fluffy - relax a bit, try some puppy yoga or kitty pilates in celebration of National Holistic Pet Day. Pet owners should consider trying holistic, natural treatments for their animals.

Since it is a holiday weekend, you might enjoy sitting around the campfire and toasting marshmallows before the chilly air of fall arrives. And why not? Today is National Toasted Marshmallow Day. But be careful! I remember at Girl Scout camp when I was about 8 years old, I was trying to slide the marshmallow off the stick and man oh man did that burn!

T minus 9 and counting - The Pelini Era

My bags are packed and I'm ready to go. Today is the dawn of the Bo Pelini era of Nebraska football. And I can't wait!

My prediction is Nebraska 54 - Western Michigan 28. The hubby says that WMU won't score 28 on our defense. Yes, he's also the man who decided to spend a little more $$ on the NU-ISU game last year and started his downward spiral into football predictions. :)

I'm hoping that throughout the season, fans realize that he's not GOD. He's a human being who shares his passion and vision for college football with young men from around the country. He's going to make mistakes in calls. The team will make mistakes on some plays. We'll win and we'll lose, but the bottom line is that we are learning and getting better! I just don't want fans to get down on him if something happens beyond his control.

Last year's negativity reached from Omaha to Sydney, Rulo to Harrison. Fans need a level head and then, good things will happen.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Weird and Wacky Holidays - August 29

Yes, I have to get back to writing about these interesting holidays.

August 29 is More Herbs, Less Salt Day. Hey, I'm all in flavor (nice pun) of using herbs instead of salt. And I usually do use more herbs than basic salt and pepper seasoning.

I have fresh cilantro and mint in my garden. Last year I had some oregano and it was wonderful when I made homemade spaghetti sauce. So delicious!

If you're not a herbologist, you can check out CNN.com to look up a spice and find out helpful info, including the source, what it tastes like, the best use, and cooking uses.

Jersey will be a mama

My jersey calf gets AI'd today! I hope being pregnant and then becoming a mama doesn't make her a cranky cow!! :)

FYI - six others got AI'd today too. But I'm most excited about Jersey.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Politics and Premises

Normally, I wouldn't write about politics because it seems like people don't always show respect to another person's opinion, especially when it comes to politics.

I've been watching segments of the Democratic convention, and next week, I'll watch segments of the Republican convention. Am I undecided? Heck no, although last week I still didn't feel confident with the candidate I more than likely will vote for. I watch because I enjoy politics. I like the process. I like Hillary. And I agree with Barack Obama. On Tuesday night, Hillary Rodham Clinton rocked the house!

Yesterday, on a social networking platform I use, a woman wrote this post: "Hillary. Gotta love her.......NOT!"

I couldn't let it go. I responded that Senator Clinton is an intelligent, strong, powerful woman and a lot of people find that intimidating.

No response.

Maybe I intimidated her.
In the scheme of things, I think that premise of mine is spot on. Hillary is definitely intelligent. She has shown it in the work she chooses to do and the causes she supports. Hillary is strong. She has shown that trait in the strength of adversity. And Hillary is powerful. She definitely is powerful. She has shown that in situations, including the convention, and she will continue to showcase her power through her time as Senator and whatever else she elects to do.

To me, she represents the notion that a woman can - and will - be president. And I'm not sure who else is even close on the horizon to be at that spot. I would like to think that in my lifetime, a woman will lead the White House - and not as First Lady as the hostess with the mostess at some State dinner party.

I also think that on Tuesday evening, she showed that even in the face of adversity, sexism, and unfairness, she does possess a sense of humor. Her "to my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits" comment made me laugh and even made me cry knowing that 18 million other people thought she was the best candidate.

But life isn't always fair. Sometimes people cast judgment based on prior events. Sometimes people aren't open minded. Sometimes people don't get that change is necessary. Sometimes people playdown someone's abilities because they are afraid of reality.

And sometimes, as I've learned through my life, the best person or team doesn't win.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dairy production

Not sure what is going on with some of the dairy herd. OK, well, with 5 of them. Their milk production dropped to 10 pounds a day per cow. They usually produce 80 pounds or more daily.

We ran out of silage about a month ago and bought some from an area farmer. We had the silage tested by the lab and figured out the nutrition rate based on its composition. Still, their production has dropped - staggeringly - and we're not sure why. The vet came Monday and gave them a thorough once-over and cannot find anything physically wrong with them.

And don't tell me it's a mental thing. :)

I'm not sure what our next move will be, but we're going to have to find out what's ailing them - and quickly!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Upgrades in the Dairy Barn

We installed a new tank in the dairy barn. The 65,000 gallon tank sits on a cement slab outside of the building. Part of the new addition is completed; the east and south walls and roof are finished.

The good thing about the new tank is that in case of inclement weather, we'll be safe if the milk truck from AMPI doesn't get here for a day or two. We can fill the big tank and if the weather is atrocious, then we can start filling the inside tank, also.

Costly little venture, but in the long run, it will pay for itself.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Positive Journaling Article

My article about the power of positive journaling - and my prescription for it - is now live at WOW! Women on Writing.

Fun side note to this story. I put out a call for experts on HARO , which is a FANTASTIC source for journalists and writers of all types. A PR rep from a reputable NY publishing house contacted me and sent a link to a book trailer for one of their authors. Well, I was sold just by her presence in the book trailer, but then, she talks about how her boyfriend found out about one of her discretions and he made a joke about it (because he's a stand-up comic). So, it cuts to a clip of him doing his bit. This comic was one of the 24 who were at the Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk this summer, where I served as director of the Youth Comedy Camp. He did that joke in his show at the festival.

Anyway, small world. But, she is an amazing writer. Her PR rep sent both of her books to me, and I'm hoping to score another interview with her and dish about her books.

Go on, check it out. I know you want to. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic withdrawal

OK, I know it's only day four of competition of the Olympics, but it's approximately 2:30 p.m. CDT, and there aren't any Olympic competitions to watch.

I'm going through withdrawals. Oh, I can tell. I reach for the remote and hit the guide button and scan the NBC stations and affiliates we get on Dish Network: NBC, CNBC, USA. And as I scan each program to see what time an Olympic event begins, my body shakes as I realize I need to wait until this evening to watch more. Don't tell me to head over to MSNBC - my favorite channel - who is offering 4 AM to 4 PM coverage because we don't get it with this Dish package. No Oxygen or Telemundo, either. :(

But wait! What's this? Streaming live video on NBCOlympics.com? It might be a temporary solution to quench my need for a fix. I don't want to miss a minute of volleyball, beach volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, trapshooting, equestrian..... Well, you get the picture. I'm hooked. Even men's synchronized diving was fun to watch! Might have to watch a little Olympic badminton later.

I'm hooked. I'm addicted to the adrenaline rush of the athletes performing to the best of their abilities. Heck, I felt the tear trickle down my cheek when the men's swim 4 x 100 relay team beat out those darn Frenchmen who had to shoot off their mouths about "smashing Team U.S.A.". That was one of the best Olympic moments I remember viewing, and truth be told, I think when I was growing up, we watched the coverage with the same intensity.

And no, it's not Olympic envy. I enjoy sports and I like to participate, but would I want to be an Olympic athlete? Sure. Really? No. I'm competitive but I don't envision myself as someone who is competitive to that extreme. Except in speech competition. Is there an Olympic event for entertainment speaking? I might be able to win a gold medal. OK, I could definitely be standing on the podium.

Maybe that's the ticket. Make speech an Olympic-style event. We do that to an extent already, but speech could gain a world-wide audience. I'm sure people would tune in to watch extempers battle it out in the prep room.

But I digress. I will patiently wait until 7:00 to watch these wonderful athletes take the stage and work toward a team gold medal in women's gymnastics. I'll DVR the USA volleyball team if I can't stay awake that late. But since Michael Phelps will be swimming sometime during the 11:35p.m. - 1 a.m. time period, I'm going to have to force myself - not a problem - to stay awake and watch history being made.

And I think that is part of the allure of the games: we can view history and feel a part of it, even if we are separated by continents and oceans. It's like a cooperative venture, and our country's team depends on us to watch and support them. Even if it's from the comfort of our living room or queen-size bed in the dark of night.

Who have you said 'I'm sorry' to today?

http://projectforgiveness.blogspot.com/
Check it out.

I always think about a line from a song that says "Jesus would forgive, but a daddy don't forget."

So true.

Who have you said "I'm sorry" to today?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

County Fair time, 4-H projects, and the price of procrastination

So, the County Fair started on Thursday, which meant that the kids had to "go home" to finish projects that couldn't be finished here. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the "we have to do them at home" as opposed to finishing them here, but after viewing some entries, the light turns on. I guess in the dark recesses of my mind, I knew the real reason, but I wanted to believe in goodness and innocence and truthfulness when it comes to 4-H projects. And again, I'm disappointed. Terribly disappointed.

Walking through the exhibit building, we look the photo projects that had to be finished. At home. Not here. We find photo #1 with the youngest kid's name attached to it. I look at it, and I know there is no way in Hades she took the picture because it was at a track meet on a school day and I know she was in school.

Picture #2 was supposedly taken by daughter #2. It shows daughter #3 running at the elementary field day. And again, there is no way in Hades she took the picture because she was sitting next to her father some 50 feet behind me. And want to know who took that photo? The mother. She was about ten feet farther down the line than I was when I snapped pictures of #3.

And then there's the picture taken by the one and only son. I'm not sure where he took the picture at. It looks like something photoshopped or "borrowed" from some other source. The reason I question the photo is because there aren't many wooded areas like that around the area. It's too perfect, if you know what I mean.

Then there's the gardening project. How can a judge award a purple ribbon to a container garden that still has the flower identifying sticker from the nursery? I guess if the only learning process is to water the plant and care for it, then ok, but if the point of the project is to raise something, nurture and care for it, this project miserably fails. I wouldn't even award it a white ribbon.

And daughter #3 told us she had all these cooking projects to finish. Ummm, we found one piece of angel food cake. No cookies. No decorated cakes. Angel food cake. And that's why she had to go home two days early? To cut a 1/2" slice of cake?

We're still searching for the sewing project. Obviously, there wasn't time to run to Wal-Mart, buy the item, rip off the tags, and pass it off as your own.

And that leads to the preparation of livestock for the show. Who should be cleaning these animals? Parents? No, it should be the participant. So that explains why we had to get the cow cleaned up. Yes, he said he took care of the three heifers before we got there. And that might be true. But based on watching he and sis #3 get the goats ready, I'm positive someone else did the cleanup duty.

So here's a note to consider: if you are in so many events in the livestock show that you don't have time to show and prepare all of them, perhaps you should consider not showing so many animals. Because if you can't handle getting them ready at fair, you probably haven't spent enough time with them to begin with. Do you really need to show 32 rabbits and two pens of chickens, along with 13 goats and four cows? Have you ever thought about cutting down and taking pride in what you're doing? It's better to do one thing and be great at it than to do fifty things and be mediocre at it.

Now, I'm all about 4-H. I see the benefits and opportunities that are available through the program. Heck, I was in 4-H for a number of years and I remember matting photos for the fair and finishing the basic sewing project in time for the fashion revue. But I completed the projects on my own. My parents never took control and finished my projects. If I was up late at night completing them, that was my problem, not theirs. They would be close if I needed minor assistance, but I would never flip through the photos my mom took and pass them off as my own.

And that is what makes me question the goals of 4-H now. I'm sure not every parent handles fair entries for their children; the group is a youth organization. It's supposed to help them learn. How can they learn right from wrong if they're told to cheat? It's impossible.

This makes me wonder if the price of procrastination is learning how to cheat. Does procrastination mean your parent finishes your project?

On the bright side, we did have the Grand Champion Dairy Cow. Woo hoo! This is the second year this particular cow has been crowned GC. The two Holstein heifers received top purple, and my Jersey got top blue. The judge said she was short. Hello! She's a Jersey. She's going to be shorter than a Holstein!

Monday, July 28, 2008

A whole lotta B.S.


Look who I spent my birthday with!! That's right. It was pure B.S. at the Adams County Fair with Blake Shelton!!
When he entered the stage, he came through a door in the floor and rose into the mist. WOW! And the crowd went nuts. At least I think they did. We were in VIP seating in the Clubhouse. In the air conditioning. With a waitress catering to our beverage needs. And a bathroom close by.
No, they were cheering loudly by the stage and so were the people in the clubhouse.
If I had to pick a favorite song by Blake, I'm not sure if I could narrow it to just one. I truly enjoy listening to him sing Home. But there's also Playboys of the Southwestern World, Don't Make Me, Austin, and Some Beach. Of course, The More I Drink, the more I enjoy listening. (ha! pun intended).
He's a fun entertainer and I appreciate his sense of humor on stage.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Weird holidays - July 16

Wish someone could take over for you in the kitchen? Even for a day? Hire a personal chef today in honor of National Personal Chef Day. You can find one here. Unfortunately, I clicked on the map of Nebraska and it reports there aren't any personal chefs in the Cornhusker state.

But I know that is not true. There is a lady in Norfolk who has chosen this career path. I also clicked on San Diego since my sis lives there. A list of 33 possibilities popped up. That could be fun the next time we vacay there. :)

Since I'm Scott's personal chef - on a 3-meal-a-day basis - I'm putting in my order for dinner tonight, in case he ever reads this and decides to hire a personal chef. Let's start with a bowl of minestrone and a side salad consisting of a variety of greens, sliced strawberries, slivered almonds, and mandarin oranges topped with a tart blue cheese or lemon poppyseed dressing. For the entree, I would like a delectable pasta dish that is different from the same ol', same ol' that I can make myself. And for dessert, baked Alaska.

MM-mm-good!

Hot Dogs . . . a gourmet food?

As a kid, I didn't mind when mom would serve hot dogs for a quick meal. I don't think it happened too often; maybe it was a fast Friday night meal before we headed back to school for an athletic event. And I certainly liked eating lunch at school when they served hot dogs because they also served mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, and homemade hot dog buns.

Then I grew older and wiser and realize what comprised these logs of not-quite meat. So then came the all-beef hot dog phase of my early adult life when times were tough and children seemed satisfied with them.

And then, there was my all-out ban on meat or meat products. Not sure why I thought polish sausages and brats were still OK - especially grilled and served Chicago style - but I did.

Now, I found a company who produces all-natural hot dogs made from a variety of meats. Nice...but I'm not sure I could eat one. The folks at D'Artagnan have developed these dogs from natural meat from small, sustainable farms. There are no antibiotics, hormones, additives, fillers, nitrates or nitrates. The company boasts that these hot dogs are purebred quality.

Yeah, purebred what?

Four dogs pack a package and retail for $5.99 to $6.99. For a flipping hot dog? I can head down to my local HyVee and purchase 10 homemade brats from the meat case for $10. HINT - try the jalapeno brats from HyVee. They are de-lic-i-ous!

In all fairness to D'Artagnan, I would consider trying the beef hot dog. The beef used for this product were raised on small American ranches and were pasture fed. (I wonder if that is where our "Black Hoes" went yesterday. I know this little calvie went to market, this little calvie went...)

I might attempt a buffalo hot dog. I've eaten a buffalo burger before and it was pretty good. High in protein, low in fat. These buffalo roam on forage so it might not be too bad.

I'm not sure about the pork hot dogs. The company insists these pigs were raised in a free-range environment and foraged on acorns, alfalfa, and natural springs. Maybe grilled. With a lot of ketchup and relish.

But I have to draw the line somewhere - and I'm drawing it in front of the duck hot dog. The company says these ducks were raised on vegetarian feed on a farm in Pennsylvania and were never given antibiotics or hormones, resulting in juicy and plump duck dogs.

Now, that's just plain wrong.

Even with sauerkraut.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Storm Chasin', funnel clouds and thunderstorms



Everyone always says that if you don't like the weather in Nebraska, wait a minute and it will change.


At 6:30 this morning, I opened our bedroom drapes and saw a glorious thunderhead building in the southwestern sky. I pointed it out to Scott, and we both wondered if we would get any storms today. After watching a local station, the meteorologist there said we were only in the "slight risk" category.


Now, you know what that means, right? We're gonna get nailed at some point.


By noon the temperature had reached 93 degrees. I had to go to O'Neill to take some pics for a publication and run some errands. I left around 2:30 and when I reached O'Neill, I stopped to snap some photos of where the new O'Neill Community Center will be built along Highway 281.


And then, these two vans with massive amounts of antennas on top, whiz by me. The lettering on the vans say Meteorology Laboratory and College of Dupage. I jump into my Jimmy and follow them around O'Neill. Finally, they stop to refuel and I pull along side them, introduce myself, and ask if I can interview them.


They tell me to do it quickly, because as soon as they are refueled, they will be off in a flash. (Which they were!)


Seems they are part of a meteorology class which sends five different groups out for a ten-day stretch to chase storms. This is group #5. The two young men who talked to me were quite polite and told me they go wherever the storms are, and they travel across the U.S. and Canada.


On my way to town, I noticed a system building to the west, but the real storm clouds seemed to be located east of us. I asked them if they were following the eastern storm, and they said no, they were tracking the storm building here in Holt County.


And I didn't have much time to complete my errands!


Forty-five minutes later, on my way out of town on Hwy 281, I meet another SUV and a bolt of lightning reflects in its windshield. Amazing photo op! Too bad I was driving!


Heavy rain until Chambers corner and then light rain for the next 10 miles. Then nothing. Until I reach the farm and stop to speak to Scott. We can see the storm building. And it keeps building. By the time I drive the one mile to our house, it is raining heavily. And within a half hour, he's here telling me a tornado warning was issued for our area.


Take cover. Yeah, right. I'm too much like my oldest daughter Cassie. I want to watch the storm, although when I was talking to her and telling her what I saw - a funnel cloud rotating to the west of our house - she chastised me like any good child would do and told me I needed to take cover.


What, and miss all this?


Scott and I stood in the garage and watched the deluge. Puddles formed in our driveway. I said a silent prayer that our garden survive and I told Scott that I hoped nothing damaged the fields. (Reminds me of Amarillo Sky by Jason Aldean)


Heavy rain, pea-sized hail, and luckily, no damage to our garden our fields.


But I found a website sponsored by the meteorology storm chasers from Dupage that reloads every two minutes and lists storm warnings. Looks like we will be in for a long night.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Grrrrr

I think I'm going to start writing an essay for the My Turn page in Newsweek, and it's going to be entitled One Big Not-So-Happy Family.

The idea came to me last night when three of the four stepkids sat down to eat dinner with us, although last night was one of the more pleasant meals we've eaten together. There was actually conversation that involved more than just me and their dad.

Long story short for anyone who happens upon this entry.... not such a happy life for those four and it's a rocky relationship between them and their father. Bottom line: you might not always agree with decisions people make, but you show them respect. It's the agree-to-disagree principle.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Snakes in the treeline

I've never really cared for snakes, but I've always had the idea in my head that if you leave a snake alone, it will leave you alone. But as I've gotten older (and definitely wiser), I've learned that snakes are just plain gross.

Since moving to the farm, I've seen one snake in our yard; that was last summer. I went out on the deck and was going to look for something in my vehicle when I saw something slither from the flowerbed in front of the house. It was a snake. A long snake. A fat snake. A bull snake. And it scooted underneath my vehicle. I stopped in my tracks, retreated to the deck, and waited for the husband to return home and get rid of it.

I'm not sure what he did do with it though, because snakes don't bother him.

So a little over a week ago, when I was directing a camp, he calls and tells me that when he was walking through the windbreak to get to the cattle tank to turn on the faucet so he could water the garden, he found a snake. A long snake. A fat snake. A bull snake. Yes, this anaconda (OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating) was approximately 8 feet long and about four inches in diameter. And worse yet, he picked it up. Yeah, like playing nice with the bull snake will guarantee that it will stay away from me.

Now, I'm mortified, because I refuse to walk into the forest of a windbreak just to turn on the water to the garden. No, I'm being realistic because I refuse to let the slimy creature hiss or strike at me.

I understand that they serve a purpose here. They keep the rat and mice population to a minimum and that is very important when you have tons of silage, hay, and alfalfa all over the place. But still, they are not pleasant to look at, and I'm not sure what purpose they play at our house. Except to scare the hell out of me!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Great American Comedy Festival - Youth Camp - Final Day

Wow! Such an exciting week filled with multiple laughs and fantastic learning opportunities! It has gone quickly, and today is the student's last day.

This morning, they are attending two workshops conducted by Barbara Holliday. The first is about learning how to market yourself. The second workshop focuses on game shows and how to become a contestant.

At 5 p.m., the students will showcase the work they've done this week in class. There will be four improv games, four sketches, and six standup comedy routines.

My only regret for the week is that I will be unable to attend the showcase due to a family commitment. It's called a wedding, and I need to be there, for better and for worse. OK, enough nonsense!

As the director of this camp, I hope the students take the skills they've developed during the week and apply them to any situation they face in life. Improv, quick thinking, and wit will assist students no matter what path they choose in life.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Great American Comedy Festival - Youth Camp - Day 5

Friday was the last official class day for the youth comedy camp that is part of the Great American Comedy Festival. It's been interesting!

This morning during standup class, students fine tuned their performances for tomorrow's showcase. They tightened up the opening joke and then got right in to the routine. While some of the students seem more at ease than others, the quality of material and the laughs they should generate will appeal to the audience. I'm so impressed with the work the students have completed in this class.

This afternoon, we ventured to the venue where we will perform tomorrow and blocked the sketches on stage. Next, the Brave New Workshop and Dave Reinitz ran through the entire show. I couldn't stop laughing.

And for a finale for the day, we attended the comedy finals. Competing were Drake Witham, Chris Coccia, Jim McDonald, Chuck Bartell, Erin Jackson, Shane Mauss, Deacon gray, and Marianne Sierk.

On our way back to the dorm, I enjoyed listening to the students discuss the differences in the routines presented this evening as compared to those in the semi-finals. Some comedians had partially new sets; others rearranged the material; and others used the same routine from earlier in the week.

At the end, Deacon Gray earned the winner's title, Erin Jackson took home $3,000 for second, and a third place tie occurred between Drake Witham and Jim McDonald.

Students were very impressed with Chuck Bartell, a comedian from Minneapolis. Three of my favorite bits he presents include a mood ring, telling a woman 'I love you' for the first time, and picking up hitch hikers. Hilarious!!

I was able to attend a reception for those who put together the festival, and more importantly, for those who performed. Robert Klein, a veteran comedian and actor who was on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" over 82 times, sat at our table. We shared some stories about Second City Comedy Club, limo rides, and improv guru Viola Spolin. Very funny man, and I am glad I had the opportunity to meet him.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Great American Comedy Festival - Youth Camp - Day 4

We must be getting close to the end of the week.

I say that for two reasons. First, the students are up late memorizing lines for the four sketches they will present at Saturday's Youth Showcase. Second, I'm tired.

No, really, I'm tired. Even though I watch the sessions and handle any situation that occurs throughout the day, I can feel my energy slowing a bit. I think the kids are starting to see the end, too, and they are pumped for Saturday's opportunity to perform.

Standup class began with a discussion about last night's semi-final session we attended. The instructor asked what we liked about the comics and what didn't work with their performances for us, also. Very interesting discussion ensued about joke structure and if it is best to get right to the first laugh or if spending time riffing with the audience draws the audience into the bit. Students practiced a short riff, followed by some of their routine, and then returned to riffing. This type of setup is called hammocking. The students seemed to master it in no time.

During improv, the students worked on the group mind activities they will be presenting on Saturday. Four types of improv will be presented. The first improv is titled "bus". One student will drive the bus and as each person boards the bus at a new stop, he or she will assume a certain type of character. Everyone on the bus will assume those characteristics. Once all students are aboard, they will exit the bus, and the improv will continue until the drive is once again, the only person left.

Next, students will perform a game of freeze tag. Now, this isn't the type of elementary playground game you grew up with. Instead, two people enter the stage, walk around, and when someone yells freeze, they do as told, look at the pose they both have assumed, and begin a scene. At some point during their scene, "freeze" will be heard and someone will tag one of the players and assume that position and start a new scene.

The directed story - which I discussed earlier - will be the third type of group mind activity that the students will demonstrate. Oh, so much fun! This is a good activity to show off a person's creativity level.

The final improv activity is titled "Dear Diary." Even though the students are together in a group, each student jumps in and pens a diary entry for the person or object suggested.

And now, on to sketch comedy/sketch writing. Students blocked the scenes and discovered that some of them need to memorize their lines . . . by tomorrow's dress rehearsal. Overall, they did a good job with the scripts. Only a little bit of improv on some of the lines!! :)

Tonight, we watched both sessions of semi-final competition. Wow! There were some spectacular routines. The first group featured Joe Klocek, Erin Jackson, Shane Mauss, Jamie Lissow, Dan Boulger, and another comic who took the place for someone who was unable to be here. In fact, I think he actually flew in to Omaha today and performed tonight. The top two advancing from this session were Erin Jackson and Shane Mauss.

At 8:00, we watched Darryl Lenox, Deacon Gray, Paul Varghese, Myq Kaplan, Marianne Sierk, and Joe DeRosa. Each one of them had energetic shows, with Marianne Sierk and Deacon Gray advancing to tomorrow's final round of competition.

I find it interesting that both women in the competition advanced, especially after being told earlier this week that women in comedy usually don't do well in competition because there are more men than women who perform the standup bit. But I think both women in this competition have their own style that they bring to the stage and it works! So congratulations to all the comedians who will joke around tomorrow for a grand prize of $5,000.

With that said, I see there are five minutes left until the stroke of midnight, commencing the beginning of Day 5 of Youth Comedy Camp at the Great American Comedy Festival. And, since I'm close to falling asleep at the keyboard, I bid everyone adieu.

Until tomorrow! Keep joking....

Great American Comedy Festival - Youth Comedy Camp - Day 3

OK, so technically we're half way through day 4 of youth comedy camp at the Great American Comedy Festival. I'll talk about yesterday's happenings though, and leave today's for a post for later tonight!

Again, I am in AWE of the talented kids who are attending the camp. Amazing! Simply amazing!

Stand up class started with an explanation of riffing - where a comedian talks with the audience. I found it interesting how quickly the students were able to come up with funny responses on the spot. The other students gave false names and made up jobs and location of residence so the comedian could interact with the audience. I heard some very good stuff!!

If you attend the events at Johnny Carson Theater at night, the folks from Reader's Digest have a joke booth there. You enter the booth and record your joke. The grand prize winner wins a trip to New York City. I've been practicing my joke that I plan to record tonight. The students have been coming up with their own jokes and have recorded their one-liners.

The Reader's Digest group visited camp yesterday. They even provided some audience participation. We certainly appreciate the assistance they offered!

During improv, the students worked on the structures they will be using in Saturday night's Youth Comedy Showcase. They definitely have a group mindset! My favorite to watch yesterday was the group story when each student was given an emotion. Then, each portion of the story they told had to use that emotion through the language. Wow! I heard some pretty creative stories about a vacation in Florida.

Sketch comedy and sketch writing finalized scripts and assigned parts for the showcase. Then, it was off to memorize lines in time for Thursday's class.

As a surprise - or actually more like a break from rehearsing - we attended the second semi-final section. Very impressive. Six outstanding comics from across the country performed and the top two advance to Friday's finals. Listening to the students on the way back to the dorm was interesting. Some agreed with the judges' decision; others felt there were other comedians who were better. But, the judging criteria was listed in the program, and we talked about perspective and how to decide how the audience reaction plays into the decision.

More practicing and fine-tuning stand up routines, and then, finally, lights out!

Whew!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Great American Comedy Festival - Youth Comedy Camp - Day 2

Wow! I can not believe the level of talented kids we have participating in the comedy camp this week. Simply amazing!

First, I watched part of the stand up class. Each student presented a basic routine and then was given a critique by Dave Reinitz who is serving as the class instructor. Students will now take the knowledge they learned about joke structure and add details to the routines they will present at the Youth Comedy Showcase.

The improv class just gets better and better! Today's activities included the freeze game and the ladder. Brave New Workshop talked quite a bit about building a scene by saying yes, and then letting the sketch grow from that point. I like that the kids are up and moving. They were good yesterday, but today, there was a new energy.

And in sketch writing/sketch comedy, the students had completed outlines. The group brainstormed and offered ideas for each sketch based on the five elements of a sketch:
  • satirical point
  • characters
  • setting
  • scene of action
  • the "funny"

Following the discussion, the groups began pounding the keyboards and spent approximately 45 minutes writing the sketch. BNW instructors read the scenes in front of the students and once again, the group mind brainstormed ideas.

Tonight, we ventured to the Johnny Carson Theater at Norfolk Senior High for the amateur night. Twenty comedians from across the nation signed up for the competition. In fact, my inside informers tell me that when it was time to register for tonight's performances, the 20 slots were filled within 5 minutes. Amazing!

The young man who won ended with a bit about why reality TV needs to end and we need to return to original programming. Hilarious! Simply truthful.

Weird holidays - June 13

It's Friday the 13th. In fact, it is the only Friday the 13th in 2008. That means today is also Blame Someone Else Day, which is celebrated on the first Friday the 13th of each calendar year. Forget about superstitions related to the dreaded 13th day of a month, which happens to fall on a Friday. Just blame everyone else for your problems. (Hey, some people make a habit of doing that EVERY day!!)

Ever had a rag doll? Those two favorites - Raggedy Ann and Andy - are celebrated today. Created by cartoonist and author Johnny Gruelle, these two were more than dolls - they were characters that sprang to life in his stories. A celebration honoring the author and his two creations is held in Gruelle's home town each summer. Separate myth from reality at RaggedyLand.

Those dads who work from the confines of their homes - today is your day. Celebrate Work @ Home Father's Day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Great American Comedy Festival - Youth Camp - Day 1

Today was officially the first day of the Great American Comedy Festival's youth comedy camp. I'm the director, and let me tell you, I'm ready for sleep!

Students checked in last night, and we did all the usual camp stuff: rules, regulations, goals. And then, the full-fledged pig out with build-your-own-sundaes, M&M cookies, and five varieties of potato chips. That was simply the appetizer. Then we completed the mixer with a meat lover's delight pizza.

I've realized that we really try to make things easy for kids. The catering company delivers breakfast to the dorm. All they need to do is walk downstairs, select from the luscious layout, return to their room, and then eat.

The first class featured stand up comedy. Today, I discovered a few things about writing jokes. Jokes consist of three elements: a set up, a connector, and the punchline. Always consider the degrees of difference in something - how something is bad and then each step away from that should be something worse.

Need an example? Ok, how about I say that I just love those silent conversations you have with others in an elevator. First, there's the bulleted eye contact that darts toward then and then quickly averts when you sneak a glimpse at the person. There's the moment when you both reach to push the floor button. And then there's the moment when the monotonous tones of elevator music rush through your brain....and you both realize the toe-tapping, head-bobbing music has turned both of you into those crazy brothers from Night at the Roxbury.

And then - a break for lunch. Keep 'em feed and busy and they'll eventually tire out. A wise woman told me that once.

The afternoon was spent with instructors from Brave New Workshop. I have one word for this fantastic group of performers: awesome, awesome, awesome! (Technically, it is one word. I just used it three times for effect.)

The improv workshop began with several games so the kids could build trust. This workshop time seemed like it flew past us! I was so engrossed watching the kids and was hit with the energy burst they were generating.

After a break, and some goldfish crackers, the kids began learning about the art of sketch comedy writing. Using the local newspaper and personal lists of joys and angers, the whiteboard became the fodder for a brainstorming session. So many interesting and unique ideas! Then, I was called away on camp business, so I missed the basic outline of the sketch (darn it), but I do believe that the basics include a theme, character(s), and place, as well as two other elements that I will discover tomorrow.

Dinner at Valentino's (a Nebraska tradition) and a trip to the Elkhorn Valley Museum for the Johnny Carson exhibit completed day one. Free time and some homework assignments kept students at the keyboard or at the ping pong table in the game room until lights out.

And yes, it's time for some peace and quiet and much deserved rest before tomorrow's outing.

What a fantastic opportunity and such a talented group of young people from across the U.S.! I'm glad I am able to be a part of it.

Reporting live (and close to sleep) from Norfolk, Nebraska..... until tomorrow. Same comedic tim(ing), Same comedic channel.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Weird holidays - June 12

Two fantastic reasons to celebrate today.

Crowded Nest Awareness Day is a way to honor - or pity - all those parents who have college-age children who move back home. Sure, if they're in college, they'll be home for maybe three months. But what about those who have graduated from an institute of higher learning and now need to move back in with mom and dad because he or she has discovered that the job market is tight and he or she doesn't know if he or she can survive. Whew!

Or then there's is our situation. My youngest wants to move back home, but tough love from mom (and dad) here. Sure, you can move back home only AFTER you've found a job. We're still waiting to hear what she's decided.

Of course when the oldest child graduated, we told her to hurry up and get her room cleaned because we were putting a hot tub in there. Never happened, but it sure was fun to watch her reaction!

Another reason to celebrate today, besides the fact that it is June 12, is because today is Loving Day. A result of the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, loving day honors interracial marriage in the United States. The educational mission of the day is to fight prejudice through education and build a sense of community among people involved in interracial and intercultural relationships. Here is a listing of 2008 celebrations. Some celebrations are today only; others take place throughout the weekend, and a few are later in the month.

Weird holidays - June 10

There's only one reason to celebrate today: the ball point pen day. I know I couldn't survive without them, although I think I probably have some form of OCD because the pen has to feel right in my hand or I search until I find the right writing utensil. My mother would argue that it has to do with my office supplies fetish, but that's simply not true! :) You can never have too many notebooks, legal pads, or fine quality pens. Trust me!

I imagine most people think the ball point was invented in the U.S., and to an extent, that is true. In 1888, an American leathermaker patented a utensil that marked leather, but this pen was never put into production. In 1935, two Hungarian brothers - Ladislas and Georg Biro - were printers and devised a better version of the ball point pen. A very interesting history of their journey, which includes fleeing to Argentina during World War II, examines the details.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Weird holidays for June 8

Another listing of unique, weird, or wacky celebrations for this day in history.

Abused Women and Children's Awareness Day does NOT seem like a strange holiday. It's a day of awareness, a day to learn about the battered and abused. There isn't a bold history written about the subject. I'm sure it has been going on for a long time. Picture the manner in which cavemen are depicted: clubbing the woman over the head and dragging her to the cave. Fast forward to present day; the abuse could be happening in the house next door and you might not even be aware. Make yourself aware and offer support - or even escape - for those who suffer at the hands of an abuser.

Initiated in 1957 by the Bahai's of the United States to promote racial harmony, Race Unity Day has grown into a celebration of diversity promoting equality, unity, acceptance, respect, and love. The unity day is celebrated on yearly on the second Sunday in June.

The Festival of Weeks, or Shavo'ut, is the second of three major Jewish festivals with both historic and agricultural ties. This holiday celebrates the first fruits were harvested and carried to the Temple. The historical perspective celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Shavo'ut has close ties to Passover. Counting from the second day of Passover to the day prior to Shavo'ut is 49 days - 7 weeks. This accounts for the name of the festival. Labor is not permitted on Shavo'ut. Custom calls for staying up the first night and studying the Torah. Then, most pray early the following morning. Also, a dairy meal is customary during the festival. Why? Two possible reasons: some believe it has to do with Israel being considered a land of milk and honey; others feel it is because the Torah had just been received, which included dietary laws, and as a result, both meat and dairy meals were not available. The final custom is the reading of the book of Ruth.

Today is also Write to Your Father Day. Considering that next Sunday is the real father's day, you might want to take advantage of this week and pen a heartfelt letter to your dad. This celebration has an interesting history. Three poets from San Luis Obispo came up with the holiday. Why? Because 70 percent of U.S. prisoners grew up fatherless and because poets use a few words to get to the heart of the matter. Take a look at the writing exercise these three offer.

Multicultural American Child Awareness Day celebrates what some may consider a twist of irony. We're celebrating the American child who is multicultural. I say celebrate ALL children! They are our future.

Orphan's Train Memorial Day is celebrated today. I could not find any information about the origins of this memorial day; however, I'm going to guess that this celebration honors those orphans who were placed on trains and sent across the U.S. to adoptive homes. Quite of a few of the orphans ended up in my home state of Nebraska.

Having a bad day? Turn that frown into a smile and celebrate Upsy Daisy Day. According to Merriam-Webster, the people who started this happy holiday did it as a way for people to get up gloriously, gratefully, and gleefully. So true. When you wake up, you have the power to decide if you are going to be positive or negative that day. Upsy daisy is also an interjection used to reassure a child when he or she is being lifted.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Weird holidays 4 June 7th

I'm not sure that I would consider the running of the Belmont Stakes as a holiday. I mean, heck, the banks were still open, and the U.S. Postal Service delivered the mail. Although, today's race might become a historic event. Why? Because Big Brown may win it all - the triple crown of racing. This demanding race is named after August Belmont, a prominent banker and horse racing guru from the 19th century.

Kentucky-ans (hmmm....would you change the 'y' to an 'i' and add -ans ?) honor Daniel Boone today since he first saw the forests and valleys of present-day Kentucky on this day in 1769. The Kentucky Historical Society celebrates June 7 as Boone Day.

Craving a special treat? Go ahead! Splurge for Banana Split Day. Now, some historians celebrate this luscious holiday in August, but folklore and legends believe that 1906 University of Pittsburgh grad David Strickler invented the ice cream treat while working as an intern at Tassell Pharmacy in nearby Latrobe. Word of the gooey treat spread, and soon, ice cream fountains across the nation were serving the banana-ice cream - strawberry-chocolate-pineapple-nuts-whipped cream concoction. It's warm enough today here in the Nebraska sandhills - maybe a yummy dish of this later!!

Cheer Coach Day honors those who teach and sponsor cheer squads. I have a feeling they earn their pay!

The first Saturday of June is designated as National Trails Day. Sponsored by the American Hiking Society, their hope is to increase awareness of and activity on the nation's trail systems. Want to know if an event is scheduled in your area? Find out here. The Cowboy Trail is located near where I live, stretching from Norfolk to Valentine on an abandoned stretch of Chicago and Northwestern railroad.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Weird and Wacky Holidays for June 6

OK, I'm going to try to get back to writing about these crazy holidays again.



Today is Donut Day. Started by the Salvation Army, the first Friday and Saturday of June are known as Donut Day. Sure, the group didn't invent the wheel here, but they did start this holiday for a wonderful reason.

During WWI, U.S. soldiers were hungry and cold due to rains that lasted just over a month. In a tent near the front lines, women from the Salvation Army made donuts by putting oil in a pail, making dough with ingredients on hand, and rolling the dough with a wine bottle. The ladies used a baking powder can to cut the donuts and fried them in soldier's steel helmets on a small stove. 100 donuts were made that day. Rains collapsed the tents, but the ladies continued cooking.

Soon, as many as 500 soldiers stood in the mud waiting for a hot donut. Over 9000 donuts were being made around the clock. Other units heard about the donut shop under a tent and began making their own, supplying the treat for the front lines.

Following the war, the "doughboys" wanted the taste of the donuts they'd eaten in France. American bakeries hadn't heard of the donut, but they began making them and the fried donut became a popular treat in the U.S.

Donut Day began in 1938 as a fundraising effort for the Salvation Army and as a tribute to the Army 'lassies' who served donuts to thousands of soldiers during World War I.

My grandfather was in France during WWI. I wonder if he ever had any of the Salvation Army donuts.

Today is also D-Day. D-Day is a term used by the military to denote a day when a combat operation will be initiated. Probably the most notorious D-Day is June 6, 1944, when the Normandy invasion began.

In the past, today has been Hunger Awareness Day, but the folks at America's Second Harvest - the nation's food bank network - will now spend the month of September promoting Hunger Action month.... but go ahead now and take action. Food pantries across the U.S. are running low on supplies and donations. They need help from everyone.

searching for veggies

Well, Tuesday was a sad day. We went asparagus hunting and most of it had gone to seed already. We did find enough to have asparagus with cheese sauce for dinner though. :)

Last year, we went looking for asparagus almost every day for two weeks and always came home with enough for a meal.

This year, because of the wet weather, the season started about a week later and there wasn't as much as usual. I'm sure it also depends on where you look. I have a plan for next year. I guess there's quite a bit across the highway, so I'm going to go every afternoon and gather enough for meals and freezing.

I can remember going a few times when I was growing up. We'd go with Meem, Shelley and Marsha. And then one year, we just didn't go. I'd forgot about it until last year.

I've been told that Holt County is the best place to hunt for the ditch veggie. Sure seems there's a lot! One Sunday when we were out hunting for it, we saw a car from Illinois. Uh, get out of here and let the locals have their veggies!! :)

I made a good casserole with asparagus and onions, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and croutons. Very good, but the favorite in this house seems to be with melted cheese.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Milk - Better than Gatorade?

Admitting a problem is the first step to recovery.

So I admit it: I do not drink enough milk. Kind of ironic considering I live on a dairy farm. But believe me, I certainly consume my fair share of dairy products, especially cheese and yogurt.

I remember during my high school years, I would get home from whatever athletic practice-of-the-season, open the refrigerator door, grab the gallon of milk, remove the lid, and chug. It was so thirst quenching and I felt so much better after I had downed the delicious milk.

Of course, my mother was yelling at me the entire time: Don't stand there with the refrigerator door open. Don't drink from the milk container.

Now, there is new research showing that milk is, indeed, an excellent idea sports recovery drink.

The International Journey of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism featured an article proving that chocolate milk is a nutritious alternative to carb-replacement sports drinks. The smooth chocolate milk also supplies energy and helps muscles refuel after exercising.

A 2004 study proves that whey protein stimulates protein synthesis after resistance exercise. Whey is found naturally in milk. The impact of the study: consumption of whole protein can stimulate post-resistance exercise muscle protein synthesis, which could lead to bigger and stronger muscles.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that drink milk after heavy weightlifting helps exercisers burn more fat and build more muscle. The muscle gain proved greater among milk drinkers than those who drank carb-based beverages or soy products.

Drinking milk as a training beverage results in great muscle mass accretion states another issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Skim milk is a natural and effective post-exercise recovery aid, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Consumption of dairy foods leads to stronger bones and bone mass preservation.

Three daily servings of milk contribute to a healthy diet by helping children and adolescents meet calcium and vitamin D needs reports Pediatrics.

Perhaps in the future, we'll see superstar athletes on the sidelines of a football game chugging a glorious glass of milk instead of reaching for a carb-based beverage. So watch out, sports drinks! There's a new refueler in town, and it is doing a body good.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Part of Nebraska History - Black Homesteaders and a New Monument



Over a hundred years ago, a small group of Black homesteaders journeyed to the sandhills of Nebraska and ended up homesteading land near Goose Lake. This lake is located just north of the Wheeler and Holt county line (and about six miles west of my house). The area was named "Bliss" for the family who housed the post office. (side note: There were approximately 90 post offices in Holt County around this time.)


For the next few years, blacks and whites lived side by side as peaceful neighbors. The evidence of camaraderie exists in photos of an integrated school, baseball team, church, and cemetery. Hector Dixon owned over 1,000 acres plus held a job at the Amelia Creamery. He was also a school teacher. Another black homesteader - Jerry Freeman - was one of the first mail carriers.


Eventually, most of the black settlers left the area because the land was difficult to farm. Many of them moved to Grand Island or other large cities because factory jobs were plentiful. Eventually it came down to supporting your family instead of following your dreams. By the end of World War I, all had vanished from this North Central Nebraska region.


During these years, the blacks who passed away were buried in Goose Lake cemetery. During the 1920s and 30s during the Dust Bowl, several of the graves blew open. The white neighbors removed the remains and buried them in Valley View cemetery, which is located approximately four miles north and one or two miles east of the Goose Lake area.


Things changed, people moved, others remained. The black homesteaders, who built sod houses and dreamed of a better life than what they had as slaves in the South, were a forgotten element of Nebraska history. Their dreams withered and blew away along with the dust during the 30s and the sand that blows so strongly here today.


Then, a twist of fate brought people to the remains of one of the sod houses. And there, in the dirt, they found a toy pistol. Speculation swirled about who had owned the toy gun. And then, fate took another turn as one of the people who found the gun shared the treasure with his cousin, who became obsessed with finding the story.


That story and research culminated with the publication of Hector's Bliss: Black Homesteaders at Goose Lake, Nebraska, by Dennis Vossberg of Plainview, Nebraska.


That could've been the end of the story, but Vossberg wrote in the book's epilogue, that the black settlers who were re-interred at Valley View deserved a monument.


And so, a movement took hold. People began sending money to Vossberg for the monument. One of my husband's aunts was one of the first people to send a donation. And the people who own Plainview Monument Company were good enough to donate time and materials to the cause.


So, nearly one hundred years after their passing, the black homesteaders have a monument honoring the contributions they made to Nebraska's history and to the memory of their life near Goose Lake. And on Memorial Day, the monument was dedicated with an amazing crowd of close to 150 people in attendance. That's pretty amazing when you consider how rural it really is out here!


Eileen Watson, of Selma, Alabama, was able to at attend the dedication, along with her son, Dean, who resides in Lincoln. I had the pleasure of interviewing this remarkable woman prior to her visit, and I was so impressed with her. She commented about how her older relatives could hardly believe that the people here raised money for a monument for their ancestors. But, as she pointed out, segregation did not seem to be an issue in this area for the residents of Goose Lake and the Bliss area.


And what was most touching and impressionable to me was how people treated her like she was a long lost family member who had returned home. I was able to speak with her prior to the dedication at the cemetery, and when I introduced myself, she hugged me like we had been friends for a long time.


In an era that will probably see its first Black candidate nominated on the general election ballot in November, yet an era that still suffers from racial tension, I can proudly attest that there was none of that here on Memorial Day.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Garden season - farming in small quantities

We finally finished planting the garden this afternoon! Huge sigh of relief!

About a month ago, we planted tomatoes, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, green peppers, and potatoes. The potatoes are coming up nicely, except for in a few spots. If I remember correctly, those same spots didn't produce much lettuce last year. The other plants look mighty fine, so I am anticipating a good, healthy garden!

Today, we planted green beans, lima beans - actually the package said Christmas Speckled Beans, cucumbers, zucchini, and papaya pear squash. I bought two large planters and planted lettuce in one and spinach in the other. A little deck garden action never hurts!

Also planted iris and geraniums today. And we pulled a huge pile of weeds out of the front area. I'm going to have to get some plastic and put down so that we keep the weeds out of there. Also, about a month ago, I planted six rose bushes behind our new addition. All but one have leaves sprouting, so it should be nice and colorful back there this summer.

Tomorrow, I'm going to plant asparagus across the road in the ditch. I'm told I need to plant it there so it will actually come up next spring. I'm told the soil is always moist in that spot. And, I'm told that now I shouldn't have to worry about watering it every day. And I told him he'd better be right!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tsheets might help me out!

When the phone rings and I am beckoned to the field to run errands for the hubby (or other family member who live in our two-mile domain), I must stop what in the middle of writing an article or story. Just. Like. That.

It's an abrupt stop and, unfortunately, it sometimes takes the creative mind a few more minutes to get back in gear. But if I signed up for Tsheets. I'd be able to show just how much time I do spend writing and the amount I spend away from writing.

Of course, there's probably a downside to that too.... What about the days when I write only small amounts, but the ideas are building and I'm busy organizing and plotting those story ideas away from the computer. Then it would look like I am the lady of leisure here at dairy central and I'd surely be summoned to help outside. Yikes!

But there would definitely be times when the time management thing would be a good kick in the shorts.......so let's look at how my day begins.

Once in the office (which is just a few stumbles from my bed to my desk), I fire up the four-year-old Dell laptop, that had better not decide its had a long life, and check my emails to see what pressing press releases need to be dealt with. I try to multi-task while they download - some mornings there are over 150 press releases - and plan what projects deserve my attention for the day. Since it takes approximately 2:23 for the laptop to load before I can access email, I make use of my planner and check appointments during this time.

And then, I have a huge sip of tea and start typing. Usually I start by checking the statcounter for my blog. And after that, the day is filled with writing. And sometimes, a few errands.


Check it out at http://www.fuelmyblog.com/index.jsp?t=tsheets

When it rains....

I enjoy the fact that I can pitch articles and create something that others will (hopefully) enjoy reading.

What I don't like is the fact that I have five major deadlines in one week! And no, not ALL of these deadlines are results of procrastination. I completed the research for these topics in the past few weeks. And I allowed time for each article on a daily basis last week - organizing info, double checking with sources, adjusting pictures, etc.

But now it's time to write. I completed one of the articles yesterday morning and it only took about 45 minutes. I was pretty happy with that. And today, I should be able to punch out two articles.

Even though it might sound like I'm complaining because I'm busy, I'm really not. I'm so happy that I have the chance to freelance and do what I love. But when life and other responsibilities get in the way - or probably in this case, get ignored - it sits there in the back of my mind, stewing and brewing while I'm trying to create. And eventually I realize that I have two baskets of clothes in the bedroom that need to be put away and I haven't dusted the living room since April 4.

But c'est la vie. The work will always be here. So will the deadlines. And I will get all of it accomplished in my own way.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Procrastination and Perfection

It's a habit I developed in college. My theory was that I produce the best work I'm capable of when I'm under a deadline. It seemed to work for the most part; I always got things completed and they generally were of high quality.



Sometimes I think I developed the procrastination bug as a means of dealing with perfectionism. When I was younger, I wanted everything to be perfect. Everything had its place in my room. Everything had a purpose. But once I got to college, I think I might have started to wonder if I could measure up. So, I developed the procrastination habit. That way, I knew the deadline and could push myself for high quality work. Of course the downside was that I endured endless bouts of stress - all self-induced - and then breathed a huge sigh of relief once the project or paper was completed.



But now that I freelance, sure, I have deadlines I have to meet. But sometimes, those deadlines are far away, and I procrastinate and tell myself I can do it later. And then it is a week before deadline and I'm stressing to complete the article and email to the editor.



Take yesterday's deadline. I've known about it for over a week. Of course I had other deadlines interspersed in that time frame, but I kept telling myself I could get it finished in about an hour. And I would have - if I had not been summoned to help with moving cattle (even though all I had to do was stand on the corner and keep that out of our yard - which is much harder than it sounds because it took three of us!!



But the article was about auto racing and I wanted it to sound professional, but at the same time, I wanted to include racing jargon that added a little color to the mix. It needed to be edgy but not over the top. When I finished, I counted the number of terms and had 15. Hmmmm. Is that too many?



So I called my favorite editors - my parents - and forced them to listen to it.



So I edited it one more time - to guarantee perfection - and then hit the send button.



I am sure I could accomplish more every day if I didn't think every single article I wrote needed to be perfect. But I think it is important to establish strong relationships with the editors who trust my work. So, I'm sure the procrastination - perfection circle will continue to trick me. At least for a while.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fence, Barb-Wire, and Staredowns

OMG, I despise fences. I know they serve a purpose - especially here at dairy central - but in the past two days I've discovered that fences were put on this earth to torment me.

OK, maybe not, but yesterday, I rode in the tractor with Scott to the north fence line. He needed to move the feed bunks in the yard, so he hopped out and opened the fence. Then he asked if I'd want to wait and watch the gate so there would be no escapees.

Sure. So I had a stare down with a couple of them. The cute little jersey - #736 - came up to me and let me touch her (so see, she's definitely a show cow). Scott finished and came back through with the tractor; I picked up the fence and moved it over. That's when I noticed two problems: the barbed wire grazed my leg, leaving a humongous scratch (OK, it's only about an inch long) and I was wearing flip flops and sinking into the mud/cow manure/gunk pretty quickly.

Did I mention that these were my favorite flip flips? Did I mention that I bought them in San Diego three summers ago, and they are the first pair of flip flops that I have thought were comfy? Did I mention I will be requiring a new pair??

So today, I had to cater lunch in the field. No problem. New field, different gate. Right?

When I get there, the fence isn't stretched tightly. Not a problem. I know how to unhook this one (of course, I had to be shown how to tighten it back up about two weeks ago, but that's another story and I am digressing from the point). Obviously, when Mr. Terra Gator went through to fertilize the field, he wasn't confident in his fence-tightening skills.

When I pull on the lever to release the gate, it falls toward me, and not wanting to be scratched by barbed wire yet again, I grab for the post. Only this time, I missed and grabbed the wire. Now I have a puncture wound the size of the Grand Canyon (OK, maybe the size of a pencil lead) at the base of the pointer finger on my right hand. I hope it doesn't affect my writing. :)

Later this afternoon, I had to take a healthy dose of H2O out to the man in the tractor because 1.) he's my husband and 2.) he asked politely if I would bring it to him. Sure, not a problem. He told me I could just stop on my way home from voting (today is Nebraska's primary). I called him to see if I could go in through the east gate and get to field #5. He said there shouldn't be a gate up.

But there is. I tried to pry the heavy gauge wire from the post to no avail. I even tried pushing up on the whirl of wire that is wrapped around the post. If I keep doing that, you know what will happen: the wire will jab through my hand, and I will end up having to go to the ER and have stitches sewn into the palm of my hand.

On second thought, I'll go around to the west side. After all, I have mastered that fence. A quick phone call to the husband lets me know that I can leave the west fence unlocked, but when I get to the cornfield, I will have to open that gate because the black hos (our nickname for the group of black cattle that are more trouble than they are worth) are next to that gate.

Not a problem. Yeah, right.

I approached gate #2 and there they are - the black hos - guarding the entryway to the cornfield like valiant knights. OK, maybe not so valiant. After all, they were snoozing on the ground when I pulled up. By the time I got to the gate, it was time for a stare down: me vs. eight hos. I tapped on the car horn and they scattered. Except for one brave soul who thinks I will be the one to chicken out. I have news for you mister (or sister): I have a 2500 pound piece of metal to protect me from you. That piece of metal has a name: Jimmy by GMC. That's right; I win.

But as I attempted to close the gate -because the husband hasn't secured it tightly in the first place - I had difficulty getting the post into the hole and the barb wire lasso around the other post. Basically, I just stood there, hoping my real knight in shining armor (his armor is a red Case IH tractor) will come and rescue me so I can get out of this field.

And over the mountaintop, (yeah, yeah, it's just a sandhill), I saw Prince Scott riding his valiant steed.

He sensed my dilemma, told me he didn't tighten the fence completely because he knew I wouldn't be able to open it, and laughed as I back up into a grassland of black hos and sand.

Sure, life on the farm isn't always sexy, but there is always something to smile and laugh about. Even if I'm the one who is being laughed at!! :)