Thursday, January 28, 2016


                                      Ban Ki-moon

     With the increase of earthquakes, here in the heartland, it seems a good example to use to compare to what is happening in the rural areas of the country.  Fault lines move and there is localized searching for what has caused the activity to happen.  Same thing in the quakes in rural living.
      To look at the big picture expands the recognition that there are many seemingly unrelated factors that have profound effects on what is happening outside our back door.
     As the continuing seismic activity all around the world is happening almost on a daily basis it has to have a reaction further away from the shaking happening elsewhere.  There are local factors that can influence the shaking but it takes someone smarter than me to place blame, especially when the planet is and always has been a dynamic world.
     In the rural areas we have always had the disadvantage, or advantage, that many things are further away than what our counterparts in the urban areas have it.  But when we do have some convenience it sometimes is more than that, it becomes a necessity.
     There have been several rural communities that have been shocked that their Wal-Mart neighborhood stores are closing.  The giant retailer, who has had the by product of closing down several local businesses when they move into an area, have found that the volume is not high enough for their standards.  Big surprise!
     St. John has had probably the biggest shock by the Dillon's store announcing it is closing in their county seat town.  Dillon's who made their reputation by starting out in small town Kansas and growing into the super stores are no longer a local enterprise.  Selling to the Kroger Corporation the decisions for how the business runs is now in Cincinnati instead of Hutchinson.
     Like it or not as the standard theme of getting bigger always, there is a time that a small older store does not fit the profile that the group has.  As usual it is the rural town and residents that will have to deal with the pull out.
      The Kansas Sampler Foundation has been trying to address the challenges of the loss of small town grocery stores for several years.  They have had many meetings bringing together a wide range of people to address the problem.  You see there is a pattern of when a small town starts on a down turn.  In most it has been happening for decades and many towns have just gone away.
     There are several things that start the decline and even losing one hurts.  Some can deal with the losses and some cannot.  It starts, in no particular order, when a town loses it's doctor, cafĂ©, grocery store, high school, grade school, retail businesses, post office, filling station, and manufacturer/job producer.
     We talk about supporting our communities and buying local.  Many of these things that kill us are accelerated when people will not give some of their business to the local.  But once the loss has happened that is not always a solution.
     I hope that all these towns and rural areas come together to find solutions, also that the residents will also commit to supporting the solutions.  There is an old adage that you "use it or lose it".  When I could travel more I love to stop and spend money in the small markets, cafes, and businesses.  I want to give a little support so when I come back the business is still there.
      I advise the communities facing these losses to use the available resources to find a good solution.  Then admonish all parties to follow through on them.
      We love living rural and we don't expect a fire truck or ambulance on the corner, or even a paved road past our house.  We sacrifice the convenience for having breathing room and a simpler way of life.  We do expect some support from those who either have made a great deal servicing our needs or at least stay out so our local providers can continue to.  Don't tear down our way of life for simply a dollar.  There are many other factors involved.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


                  EXPERT ADVICE."
                                                  Random Thoughts

          I have had many people who ask me "how I can come up with ideas to write about on a regular basis?"  It is not always an easy thing to come up with a good answer for.  I can only establish the rottenness of the political class so many times without people throwing up their hands and run screaming.  Some do anyway.
     Can it be the mood I am in?  That does not sustain a readable line for very long.  However mood does play a part.  For example:  I have a doctor who actually talks with me and not at me, as a result I am spending more time in new places trying to figure out how I can get back some of what is missing from my spunk.  Trying to find out where my get up and go got up and went.
      After answering the latest repeat of my health history and getting the question "do you feel depressed" seven different ways, you might say my mood is not sterling.  While my arm aches from the attempts to draw blood gases, the news on all stations is all reporters standing in snow, windy, blizzard saying stay inside.  The view outside my window are varying shades of gray.   You might say the mood is not rosy.
     My computer is doing very strange things like it is trying to edit my thoughts.  You could say my mood is not good.  There could be other things also.  Just as the pronouncement of the Emperor (aren't you proud I did not call him Der Fuhrer this time) that the economy is wonderful and employment is at an all time high. Our local economy has just suffered the loss of a couple companies and others are laying off workers.  This puts a whole new pressure on everything from the retailers, schools, tax base, and where the new jobs are going to be found?
     Then there are the communities that just received the news that the Wal Mart store that moved in is moving out.  Or St. John getting word from Cincinnati that they will no longer have a grocery store.  This could put strain on a mood.
     Rest assured that the two parties will be battling each other in a decidedly distasteful way for the next few months.  It is a wonder that anyone can be in a good mood.
     Well I am going to do the American thing of watching the playoffs and hoping the Super Bowl is worth watching.  I am not in worry of where my next meal is coming from.  The electricity is on and I am semi-warm.  I do not have to get out of the house for anything other than going to church.  I am reading a good book.  So I must be in a good mood.  Don't ya think?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


                        DARKNESS OF MEN'S HEART-
                SUCH IS THE DUTY OF
                THE ARTIST."
                                                Robert Schumann

     Art is something that has an appeal to many if not most people.  We like to surround ourselves with things that marks our interests and identities.  It is a part of not being included in the boring sameness that the world would love to put you into.  Many, especially myself, do not like to be categorized into rigid definitions.  Some to the point of being almost radical about it.
     If you come up on the hill and look at our place you will see the walls covered in things that interest us and define what we love and are comfortable with.  A formal decorator may be abhorred at what they see here.  I prefer to call our style organized chaos.
     You will see here our love of the outdoors, history, the west, wildlife, family, and things made by hand by ourselves and others.  Most see what we do.  Those who don't really don't matter they can like or not like what they see.
     Looking out of our windows at these Gypsum, Red, or Cedar Hills as they have been called, is like looking at a work of art that is ever changing.  Those who wonder why we are here come and see and go "OK we see now".
     I have been neglectful in the fact that there is a new art museum in Pratt.  I always have the intention of stopping by and seeing the latest traveling show and just have not made it.  I will be getting there now however.
     There is a showing of four artists from Medicine Lodge or having ties here.  Earl Kuhn, Elisa Stone, Caroline Norton, and David Vollbracht will be showing at the Vernon Filley Art Museum in Pratt from February 6 until April 8, 2016.
      This is a chance for everyone to stop by this wonderful new museum and see the art of some great artists.  I am sure that the opportunity to purchase some of their art will be provided.
     Norton, Kuhn, and Stone all have studios in Medicine Lodge.  There is a great art heritage in this part of the world and at one time I had been trying to open a gallery on Main street.  I have always had the dream of downtown Medicine Lodge turning into a thriving artists colony.  We are close, it is just not so obvious.
     There will be a reception where you can meet the artists on Saturday Feb. 6t at 6PM.  Members get in free and admission for non members is $10.  I will be becoming a member.
     In the South Gallery Room will also have a guest artist photography exhibit.  DENNIS HODGES "A SENSE OF HIS SOUL" from Jan. 14 to March 18.
     The exhibition is sponsored by the Pratt Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
     For information on the Vernon Filley Art Museum go to:

Thursday, January 14, 2016


                                      Frank Lane

     Today is projected to be the last nice day for a while and I am at the point in my life that I begin to see the advantages of being in Tucson in the winter.  We have been very fortunate here on the hill this year.  We had one brief icy stretch and that is when the generator decided it was a great time to throw a bearing through the pan.
     If you want the definition of nervous have the weather people start flaking out about one of the worst snow storms in history.  So bad no weatherman could agree on the path it would take and who would get hit the hardest.  And have the electric contractor say the new generator has been shipped but we don't know where it is.
     I am sorry that Oklahoma and Texas got nailed so hard but I am also sorry I cannot wipe the grin off my face about the weather staying south.  It has been a wild year for weather around the nation but we have had it pretty good so far.
     Now that the generator has been found and is installed we relax a bit.  But I have to say that my favorite part of winter is when it ends.  When I was younger (and dumber) I used to enjoy getting out in the snow with the four wheel drive.  Not anymore.
     We always say cavalierly that in Kansas 'if you don't like the weather just wait'.  I am getting pretty good at waiting.  It gives me time to catch up on my reading.  And I am making progress on my new book.  And it lets my mind wander on the pressing issues of the day.  And when you are opinionated that is a good thing.
     With the nicer weather the wild things have been more active.  The other morning we had nine deer walk past the house.  Yesterday there was a big old dog coyote messing around east of us.  At breakfast this morning there were two coyotes fooling around south of us.  The snow geese made it in and are ready to head back north.  We have thousands of geese that stay around us in the winter.
     So those who don't see the little things out of their window freak out about climate change, we say well wait it will change again.  Always has.

Friday, January 8, 2016



                  KEYS TO TEENAGE BOYS."
                                                            PJ O'Rourke

     As the song says "DON'T LOOK ETHYL" so we as Kansans must bring our children in from the outside, lock all the doors, lay in stores for the storm, because it is time again for the Legislature to go into session.
     Now is the time that social media is going to go wild and neighbor will be pitted against neighbor.  The storm clouds are a gathering and the predictions will be like the last two major storms.  A DUD.
     Do we really expect for things to get done in Topeka when the majority of the eligible voters do not bother to even get out and have a say as to who goes and represents us.  Many leave any input as to their concerns with the editorial page, Facebook, Tweets, or lecturing at the liars club table at the local coffee hole.
     Griping about taxes going up and not even taking time to study on the issues seems to be a pastime.  We can count on the NEA to put uniform talking points out to members.  Be sure that the Farm Bureau and many other Ag organizations will be looking after their members concerns.  Local legislative bodies have already had their meetings and aired their want lists with the regional representatives.
     The news organizations will have their full time reporters looking for anything that can be turned into a headline haunting the halls of the capital.  Excuses will be many and predictable.  The latest studies will be held in hand pointing out that people are leaving the state faster than we can bring them in.  One side will be crafting elaborate proposals to problems and the other side will be fuming because they have no power to do much but fume in front of the cameras.
     There is going to be one constant.  The need for infrastructure repair and development will be recognized as critical.  And then the DOT fund will be raided as a slush fund and projects will be delayed all over the state.  Accept maybe around Wichita and Kansas City.
     Every county has a state DOT project that is slated for building, rebuilding, or maintenance but with the reality that counties such as mine with 4500 residents have little clout over metro areas of over 500,000.
      Not to say that projects in the big cities do not need to be done.  Drive in there once and you will be delighted when the construction is over.  But there are other things just as important.
     It is the fact that so much is being demanded from our tax dollars from the same people who don't want to, or who are not paying taxes, that something has to give.
     It is amazing to me how many political campaigns for Governor and the Legislature have promised not to steal funds from KDOT, that have turned around and done that very thing.  After one of our former governors I had at least two KDOT people tell me "that the program that had been in place had been delayed at least twenty years to recover from.  That was two administrations ago.  Projects that were approved by the Congress twenty years ago have not been designed yet alone funded.
     So DON'T LOOK ETHYL the folks are streaking in Topeka and no one is safe until they go home.  If they go home this time.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


                    YOUR RIGHTS AWAY FROM YOU
                               AND THEN SELLS THEM BACK."
                                                     Mark Edge

     You are about to be bombarded with a lot of 'news' from Oregon about the take over of a federal building.  It has to do with the Federal Government taking excessive aim at a rancher family who has been operating for generations.  You are going to be polarized and intentionally given bad information, from many sides, so that public opinion will be on the side of the government.  Early stories have already proved this.
     Before you knee jerk and condemn what is going on out there stop and actually understand what has happened and what you would do if your family was threatened in the same way.
      You have to go back to the hundred year old mismanagement of public lands by the collection of federal agencies that are charged with 'protecting and managing' the public lands in your name.  Forrest Service, BLM, Park Service, FWS, and others.  The battle that has created the most massive fires in history destroying forests that have been set up for destruction and private lands that have been earmarked for seizing.
     The family in question had done legal controlled burning to improve their grass and also to stop the approach of a massive wildfire coming from the federal properties that they neighbor.  One fire got out of control and went on federal land for a few acres.  The other was purely in self defense. 
     As result the rancher and his son was charged for arson in Federal Court.  Despite the facts of the case and the common sense of those who understand the conditions and reasons, both were convicted and sent to federal prison.  Upon release another judge decided that they did not do enough time and are sending them back for much longer terms.
     This case should have never been even been considered being file let alone tried and a conviction being brought.  Also the Federal Government had given the family a deadline of Dec. 31 of 2015 to pay over $100,000 or face losing much of the multigenerational ranch as result.
      Bringing up to date a group led by Rancher son Ammon Bundy, who had stood against the federal swat teams sent out in Cliven Bundy's families dispute, has led the effort to seize and confront the government.
     Reporters who actually know the history and the problems that have occurred as result of the federal agencies hostile treatment of land owners and permit holders have been covering this as well as can be but the national news media is drowning out the actual facts of the case.  The actions of the group forcing a showdown is not going to help the cause very much and this has all the earmarks of a great travesty.  Not only for the people involved, but for the people who are going to buy into the medias coverage and allow the government to use extraordinary measures to make examples of anyone who has the courage to stand up to the bully from Washington.
     I ask you to withhold judgment until the actual truth of the case can be told and not the popular line.  At this point in time it will serve as a great diversion for the coming year of political wrangling.
     I pray that the situation will back down, as in the Bundy standoff, and that no one is injured or killed.