Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It May of Been Free But They Paid a Price - Part II

The Chrisman sisters are shown outside their Nebraska sod house in 1886. Lizzie Chrisman filed the first of the sisters' homestead claims in 1887. Lutie Chrisman filed the following year. The other two sisters, Jennie Ruth and Hattie, had to wait until they came of age to file, in 1892.

Yesterday, I was telling you about my visit to the Homestead National Monument over the Memorial Weekend.  The Homestead National Monument, which is part of the U.S. National Park system was celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 1862 Homestead Act that was signed into law by President Lincoln.  (The actual signed document was brought in under a great deal security.  One of the volunteers told me they bring it in, in the middle of the night. How cloak and daggerish.  So, it would seem there is a security force in place for past president's signatures.)

I did manage to learn a few things while visiting the museum. ......Homestead acts had been around from the very beginning of our country. The Continental Army offered parcels of land to those that fought in the Revolutionary War. You can click on the Homesteading Timeline to see some of the other Homesteading Acts prior to the 1862 Act. The one we are most familiar with is the Homestead of of 1862 and it was in effect from 1862 until 1986.

As an estimated 93 million of us are decedents of the homesteaders that participated in the 1862 Homestead Act.  If you click on the Homestead National Monument web site there is a link that will let you search for ancestors.  I have such a common maiden name, there were quite a few that came up.  I have no idea if they were actually related to me.

Only about 40 percent of those that filed claims were able to last the  five years that was required to receive the deed to the land.  There are a lot of reasons that the homesteaders failed but some of the reasons were the harsh elements, drought, disease, isolation, and the economic climate of the time.

Thought #1-  A Really Hard Life

Here is a family that homesteaded a claim in North Dakota. It must be summer, spring or fall in this picture.
How do I know this?

Because this is what winter looks like in North Dakota.  Let's go up to the roof for some fresh air.

Six kids in a tent house....makes you appreciate real walls, huh?

Lacy Goldthorpe was one of the single women that claimed land as a homesteader.  This is a picture taken around 1905 of her standing outside her shack.  She wrote " I was caught up in the excitement of the moment, I had no doubt but what I could prove up on the land as anyone else.  I had a little money saved and no fears of rural life. (Prove up was the term for  accomplishing the required steps of building a house, planting a crop and staying 5 years in order to get the title to the land)

Historians estimate that some 12 percent of homesteaders in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Utah were single women. Lured by the Homestead Act, which gave any 21-year-old who headed a household the right to homestead federal land, independent women crossed the country to become landowners. By the early 1900s, a woman could load her belongings on a train and in several days make a trip that once took months. When she arrived, a land-locator took her by wagon to find her claim.

Some of the states with the most AWFUL weather had the greatest numbers of homesteaders that managed to
stick it out for five years.  Go Montana!!!!    Makes me a little sorry
I didn't go homestead some acreage in Florida in the 1980's.

Thought Number Two: Why I Might Not Have Been a Good

It isn't the amount of work....it's having to wear layers
of petticoats and long dresses while working.

OK....It's about the amount of work, too. 

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Monday, May 28, 2012

It May Have Been Free But They Paid a Price

I am on the road again.  If you have been following my blog, you might remember that my husband is working in Nebraska for about 3 months on an assignment that takes him into a lot of smaller towns.  I have a history of following him on his various assignments but tend to show a real "enthusiasm" for his job when it lands him in Manhattan, NY or San Francisco, CA. I have been known to selflessly keep him company for weeks at a time in West Palm Beach, Fl.  Currently, I am visiting Nebraska for the Memorial Day weekend.

It's not that I don't appreciate this part of the country.  In fact, I do.  The people here are so nice. I am going to charge them the cost of Weight Watchers when my husband returns to Kansas City in 6 weeks, though. They seem insistent on feeding him.  Some of the locals are baking pies and cookies for him to take to his hotel.  As neither of those items appear on the menu at our house, he had better make the best of it while he can.

So...as far as this trip, I did go to the  National Homestead Monument  outside of Beatrice, Nebraska for the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Homestead Act.  Abraham Lincoln signed the act into law on May 20th 1862. 

The key points to this act:

The law required three steps: file an application, improve the land, and file for deed of title. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government, including freed slaves,  could file an application to claim a federal land grant. The occupant had to be 21 or older or the head of a family, live on the land for five years and show evidence of having made improvements. (BTW...this included women that were head of their households)

Here on the site of the National Homestead Monument is part of the first homestead claim  filed in America.by Daniel Freeman, a physician from Ottawa, Illinois. He claimed his 160 acres and full filled the requirements to get title to the land.  He lived 45 years on the property before his death. His grave is on the site of the monument.

A few of the facts concerning the Homestead Act:

1.  More than 270 Million acres were claimed under the Homestead Act.
2. 1.6 Million people filed claims
3. 93 Million Americans are descendants of a Homesteader
4. 40 percent of the people that filed claims couldn't make a go of it and weren't able to meet the requirements to gain title to their property.
5. The Homestead Act was in effect from 1863-1986.  Alaska was the last state to allow people to claim land under the Act. The last man to file a claim was Kenneth Deardorff, a Viet Nam vet from California that filed a claim for 80 acres on the Snake River in Alaska. 

Here in Beatrice, NE, the actual Homestead Museum isn't what I would have thought a museum about the Homestead Act would look like.  I guess, it wouldn't of made sense to build a huge log hut but this felt uber modern compared to the subject matter being about America's pioneers.  It wasn't until after I visited the museum that I learned that the building is an artistic representation of a plow...well actually a plow shear.

a plow in the center of a prairie

going into the visitor's center there is a wall with the shapes
of the 30 states that participated in the Homestead Act.



A little one room school house that was used from 1875 to 1967.


One of the longest running one-room schools in Nebraska.

After leaving the Museum, you can go over a prairie trail (just a little over 3/4 of
a mile to the Educational Center.

The Homestead National Monument Educational Center

Ultimately, what I learned at the Museum and the Educational Center, is I probably would have been one of the 40 percent that didn't make it through the 5 years it took to get the deed. I will tell you why I came to this conclusion tomorrow.


Before I sign off for today...I am sorry for the early launch of this post. As previously mentioned the last time I was in Nebraska, I am struggling with my Internet connection.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Smile for the Camera

Wouldn't you think that people would know better??? That is to say....if you are an idiot and plan on behaving badly, wouldn't you think to look around and make sure there aren't cameras aimed on your idiocy.

This week there seemed to be a trend for the "lesser reported news" items to have been caught on either video and/or audio tape. Geez, really, people  haven't you figured out that cameras and recording devices  are EVERYWHERE. 

Things Not Intended to be Put Into Your Washing Machine

This week in Camden, NJ a man missed the importance of reading the sign about putting humans into the washer.  The fact that there are signs like this posted at laundromats, tells you this isn't an isolated incident.

Depending on which report you read, it is unclear if it is the boy's father or  a companion of the boy's babysitter but whoever it is that decided to put a one year old into a front loader washing machine, had a serious lapse of common sense. (What???, am  I being too kind with my assessment?  The guy is a freakin' idiot!)

In the initial reports it said the father put the little boy in for fun (fun? Who is having fun?) and upon closing the door, the machine locked, started tumbling and filling with water.  For the next minute or so, it is clear that the parents (or whoever they are) are panic stricken. Thankfully, the owner shuts down the power to the machine. As it turns out the little boy had some bruising but was otherwise OK.  (well, except for the life long emotional scars, maybe)

The prosecutor's office says the incident doesn't appear to be criminal.

There is a sign there that says Junior Wash $2.95.  Maybe  dad/man/whoever he is didn't understand the sign. Also, while the prosecutor did say it wasn't criminal, he didn't say it wasn't moronic.

The Mouse Would Not Like This

Katy McCaffrey went on a Disney cruise in April and she "lost" her IPhone.  After her phone went MIA, she started noticing new photos being uploaded to her iCloud account. The images included the person that apparently swiped her phone along with a lot of his pals.  Because Katy was irritated and tech savvy she decided to start a Facebook page Stolen iPhone Adventures and post the pictures.

The alleged thief, Nelson, was identified by his employee badge in some of the pictures. According to Today.com, Disney has been in touch with McCaffrey to say that her phone has been recovered and an employee has been placed on administrative leave while the situation is being investigated.

I hope that Kate's iPhone didn't have a better time on her vacation than Kate did.  Disney owes her one.

The Cops Won't Figure It Out
Chris Rochester of La Crosse, Wisconsin had his video camera stolen a few weeks ago from the car of his boss, Rep. State Senate candidate, Bill Feehan.  Police arrested a man in connection with the theft and returned the camera to Rochester. 

It wasn't until Rochester went to use the camera again, that he realized there were about 20 other segments of filming that the suspect had recorded with his camera.  One part of the video was particularly entertaining.

The person that had taken the camera, Houaka Yang,  had filmed himself, while saying "This is my house,...yes and  a stolen camera that I have stolen...but that's OK...the cops won't figure it out."

For his part, Rochester couldn't get over the stupidity of the recordings. Yang was already in custody, but Rochester decided to have fun with the video by sharing it with friends. So he uploaded it to YouTube under the title "Confessions of a stupid criminal: Thief is sure he won't get caught."

It appears that Yang was wrong about the local PD's ability to figure things out.

Where is the Wisdom that is Supposed to Come with Age?

A 74 year old grandmother was cited on Sunday for letting her 10 year old granddaughter drive her car in a McDonald's parking lot.  Turned out the 10 year old isn't a proficient driver.  After hitting a moving vehicle, she careened into two other parked cars.

Initially, Grandma told the police that she was driving the car and had mistaken the gas pedal for the brake.  Then she claimed that the granddaughter was sitting on her lap. Unfortunately, for the lying granny, security cameras and eye-witnesses pointed out the the little girl was the driver.

Joan Joseph was charged with allowing an unlicensed person to operate her vehicle.

Well, isn't Grandma just a "liar liar pants on fire" kinda person.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Neighborhood Dirt

Thought Number One:  Gardens in My Neighborhood

To catch everyone up to speed...I like to garden. (For my readers that have been around awhile, you might remember last year's garden post about Lil Bastard, a ravenous rabbit that still calls my yard his "salad bar". Just in case you missed it here's the link... Hare Today Gone Tomorrow )

I say "I love gardening" in the same vein as others might admit to hoarding or binge eating...that is with a bit of "I know I shouldn't be saying this out loud as people will think I'm either a nutjob
 or old or both" but still...here it is...I like to garden.

As far as me being thought of as a whackadoodle.  Probably.  At least this is the case where I live.  Not so long ago my neighbors gathered in front of my house to have a little pow-wow.  Me, being the naive person I am, decided to join them and participate in what I thought would be the typical rumor mill type of conversation.  No...they were having a discussion on what a waste of time and effort "gardening" is.  Now you would think that because I was out in my yard, knee deep in compost, pulling my little red garden wagon around with my supplies, that maybe this conversation would of halted as the subject of the conversation (me) came into ear shot.

NO...on they went... with what a "time and money suck" gardening and yard work is.  For a couple of minutes, I tried to interject the benefits of monetary value upon resale (added bonus to remind them that I am a Realtor...unfortunately another topic that repels them) or the emotional and physical benefits of working in your yard.  They were having none of that.

As the conversation went on, the neighbor from across the street went on to say that he had decided to tear out all of his foundation plantings as caring for them is just too much work.  At this point, I decided to just keep my mouth shut.  Really, the crappy little shrubs that builders put around the front door here and call it "a landscape package" is usually three boxwoods with a Princess Spirea thrown in for color.  How much work can that take????

I am trying to be discreet while taking this picture with a zoom lens
for fear the neighbor will be wondering what I am up to.
He walked out of his garage 1 minute later.  I thought he would
ask me what the hell I was doing, but he didn't.
He was true to his word.  A week or so later, out they came.  All the shrubs have gone missing and now there is some type of drain something in it's place.  I have no idea what that is about.

So for the last couple of weeks, I have been back in my yard for it's seasonal clean up while my neighbors glare across the fence while wondering about the depths of my insanity.

However, to rationalize my gardening is not without reward, this is a picture taken on the day our inspections were done when we bought our little money pit. This was 6 years ago on a very cold February day.

This picture is from a similar angle looking across my back yard now.  That would be six years and a lot of planting later.

There is very little color in KC gardens yet.  Our suggested planting date is
May 15th to prevent freeze damage.  Most flowers are several weeks
from blooming.

Thought Number Two- Gardens on the Tour

Last Saturday the Johnson County Kansas Master Gardeners held their bi-annual garden tour.  Given my neighbor's disdain for me puttering around my yard, they probably need to prepare themselves for the possibility that a Master Gardener could move in here someday.   I think I will make a point when I sell this house, to sell it to someone that is really into composting.  I might even point out the logical place for a huge compost pile right next to my neighbor's fence.  There are laws about discriminating against people's creed, gender, religion, ...really all sorts of things but NO WHERE does it say I can't discriminate "in favor" of a Master Gardener.  I might not even show my house to anyone that isn't willing to haul in some manure.

Here are some pictures of the gardens on the tour.  Serious gardens.....

My photography doesn't do this little pond justice.  It was really
pretty with it's lily pads.

This side gate led to the prettiest of the gardens I visited.
The woman homeowner is an artist by trade.  It showed in
her garden.

There were brick walks all around the yard with interesting flower
beds along the path.

Kansas City gardens are difficult to keep looking lush as
we have both extremely cold winters that kill off perennials and
extreme summer heat and drought will kill what is left.
But this yard has it figured out.

I thought this was cute.  The homeowner has a little garden hide-
away in the very back of their yard.  Seems their cat likes it as well.

A knot garden was prettier than this picture shows.  There was a
man with an impressive looking camera lining up
his shot and I was trying to stay out of his way.

A different angle but still not the best. Bet the guy with the mega lens camera got a good pic.

This yard had a lot of slopes but the homeowners still managed to
put some pretty gardens in.

I added this one because at the back of one garden, the homeowners
have built a little playhouse for their little girl.  I just thought
this was adorable.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Competative Video Teams

Normally, I don't post new posts on the weekends but I am enjoying the competition that started over the last couple of weeks between several college sports teams.

Have you been following these videos????

It started on May  6th with the Harvard baseball team doing a lip sync to Call Me Maybe.  You just have to love that these athletes put together a fun video.  Brains, athleticism, and creativity,...oh...yeah and cute too.

Then on May 16th the SMU Rowing Team offered up a challenge to the Harvard boys original video
by making their own video with the statement:

Ball's in your court, Harvard Baseball

The girls are equally cute and clever, don't you think??? Super creative!!!

Since the Harvard video, there have been a number of versions of these "bus" lip syncs videos appearing on You Tube.   Some are really clever as well. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Who Saw That Coming?

Strip Clubs Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Well...at least that was the case of one Texas man that went to the local strip club for an evening of fun.

 El Paso County sheriff's officials said a 67-year-old man died at an El Paso County strip club Friday night. Robert Gene White, after having received several lap, was asked to pay his tab. Robert Gene was unresponsive.  Not unresponsive in  "I'm going to stiff you on the tab" but unresponsive as "I'm a dead stiff".

Employees tried to perform CPR on White and when that didn't work they called emergency responders. He was transported to an area hospital where early indicators show White died from natural causes.

Now there is a stripper that must really know how to do a lap dance.

Hey, Dude, Control Your Kids Car

It is embarrassing when you are the cause of an accident but it has to be far worse when a video of the "stupid move on your part" goes viral on You Tube.

This is the case for William Whitaker as he was filmed as he over-accelerated  his bright yellow Lamborghini through a left turn and crashed into adjacent cars stopped at the light.

As it would happen, immediately behind the Lamborghini, was a car containing some very amused young people discussing "how the guy was going to fly through the intersection".  As they joke and film the event, they get more than they anticipated.

According to the Wheeling, IL police department Whitaker was cited for "failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident". 

I love that the "movie makers" in the car filming the accident, think it is great that the guy was using his turn signal!  I am seriously thinking I need a dash board cam.

She Really, Really, Didn't Like the Gift

Paige Parkerson has been charged with murdering her fiance and father to her two children,  Clifton "JR" Barkin. The Texas woman repeatedly stabbed JR after receiving a card and flowers for Mother's Day.

Flowers weren't the gift she had in
According to Barkin's mother, Evetta Wright, she received a call from Parkerson early Monday morning from Paige who told her that she had killed JR and that he was dead. (redundant, isn't it)
Evetta thinks that the reason for her son's death is that Paige wasn't happy with the gifts he had purchased from Walmart.  She was expecting something more lavish. 

According to Paige's Facebook page her favorite quote is "if looks could kill i would be da murder of all my haters."  (really that is what is says...exactly)

Parkerson is being held in the Jefferson County jail on a $75,000 bond.

Seems she can be a murderer (although she said murder) of her lovers as well. 

Taser in Guntown

This week in Guntown, MS, a woman faces charges after coming to Guntown Middle School and causing a disturbance. Michele Lee Eaton came to to "discuss" a disciplinary action taken against her child. (the action did not involve corporal punishment)

Superintendent Jimmy Weeks said she became upset and began to use profanity in the school office.

Weeks says administrators asked her to calm down, but says Eaton continued to get louder and a school resource officer heard her and entered the office.

He says the SRO who is also a Guntown police officer,  asked her twice to calm down, then pulled out his handcuffs to take her into custody.  At this point Michele became even more irate.  (no mention as to what "more irate" means) In his attempt to subdue her, the SRO tasered her. The first taser, however, had little effect on her, so he tasered her again, then placed her into custody.

Guntown Police Chief Michael Hall says Eaton will be charged with disorderly conduct, public profanity, resisting arrest and failure to comply with a law enforcement officer.

Thank, goodness, Guntown, uses tasers instead of guns or Michelle would have been shot for shooting off her mouth.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's Not Easy Turning Green

For those of you that read Monday's post about my trip to Nebraska, you are aware of my whiny-whiny rant about going 6 days without my life support (ok..maybe a tad of an exaggeration) of  Internet  access and use of my cell  phone.

Despite the fact that Nebraska is a huge dead zone for AT&T, (don't get cocky...Verizon and Sprint aren't any better)  I did manage to have a really good time and figured I would get caught up once I got home to my super-duper, blazing fast Internet  in  good ole KC.

Soooo...upon my arrival home...home sweet home...I patted my 2 cats, flipped through the mail, unpacked my suitcase and sat down at my computer.





I survived the week intact but face it...at this point I am seriously empathizing with heroin addicts that need a fix.

I don't know of anyone on the planet that loves maneuvering through the robotic menus one must endure to get some help but this is especially true of any company that continually says...

If you need assistance, please go to www.wecouldcareless(dot)com. (you can assume this isn't really the web site they told me to go to)

You would expect that a company that provides Internet service might have an inkling that you can't use their product if you are calling them. Wouldn't you????

 Anyway, at this point, as I have neither Internet nor phone service, repeating this phrase in my ear the 50 times or so that it takes me to get to the person named Nomy...or Gnomey, (not sure of correct spelling as I didn't feel the need to inquire) seems just to add kindling to the bonfire burning within me.

So...Gnomey runs some "tests" that I hear as a series of bbeeeepppps at my end.  The verdict is that my modem has died an untimely death.  I would nearly feel bad for the poor moden except this particular modem is  a newer resident to our home.  Less than 6 months old.  Gnomey tells me that they will ship one out to me and I should have it by Friday or Saturday.  As this was on Wednesday, I was not having it.


The thing about Witchy Cheryl is that she has no filters, no inhibitions and no shame.  I assured Gnomey that was not going work for me to wait while her company UPSed me a new modem. Did she not understand, the no TV, no Internet and no phone part?  I am presenting it way  friendlier on this  post than how it actually sounded on the phone.

Here is a quick synopsis of how well this confab between Witchy Cheryl and big communications company has been going...

May 9th - service is dead and I call and get snotty with Gnomey.

May 10th- a tech comes by and finds a severed cable, (Hey it wasn't me! I have been out of town.)  Actually I wasn't even aware of this severed cable as tech guy didn't come to the door, which BTW is why he didn't realize that my phone was still not working. Witchy Cheryl calls back and gets Max. Max says Exterior  Tech guy was there and fixed the cable. Max is sending Interior Tech guy.

May 11th... Interior Tech Guy replaces bad modem and gateway device. Unfortunately, an hour after he leaves UPS shows up with 3 boxes of equipment.  One modem, one gateway and 2 wireless TV cable boxes. Witchy Cheryl calls and gets Customer Service Guy that she can't understand very well so not sure of his name.  Unknown guy tells WC to ship everything back except one wireless cable box that it appears is needed.   Witchy Cheryl packs up the unneeded  equipment to send back.

May 11th...Get a letter from from AT&T containing instructions how to send the correct wireless receiver back. Huh? Which is the correct one?  Witchy Cheryl calls Bob, the CSR guy, that has WC read him the GUID number off the open one and has WC unpack the "now packed" one to do the same.

May 15th ...Lose TV reception. 

May 15th ...later in the day, call back to talk to George the CSR who figures out how to resurrect my service from the dead.  George is currently my new best friend...knock on wood...until the next time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Traveling the Back Roads

In yesterday's post, you had to listen to me whine about the lack of Internet access and the inability to have a working cell phone but still...I did enjoy my trip to Nebraska.

My husband's company requires that he travel throughout the country so I have had a lot of opportunities to  "go  along for the ride". The big cities are always fun to visit as they offer a lot of things to do but there is a certain charm to the rural areas as well.

There might of been a time that just riding around looking at the countryside would not have been interesting to me.  That would of definitely been true if I had small children in the car (the very thought of it makes me jittery) but as an empty-nester, I love looking around at things, stopping to check out the sites and "flavor" of the little towns that make up America. There is always some cute little business, or a great little diner just down the road.

Thought Number One....Cedar Creek Pottery

This used to be a church but now is a potter's studio

Just 7 miles outside of Beatrice, Nebraska sits a old Lutheran church that was built in 1895. 
This would seem to be an unlikely place for a pottery studio...yet it is.  An unusual studio to be sure.

Hubby and I were driving along a country highway, when we spotted the sign and turned onto a gravel road.  After a few miles we saw the church and thought we needed to investigate. Upon walking up to the door you are greeted by a sign:

We let ourselves in, turned on the lights as instructed and looked around.  

After a few minutes the potter, Ervin Dixon came in.  Ervin is a very quiet man, or at least he was while we were there.  He is known around the area as the "country potter".

Dixon was an art student in the 60's and 70's who initially wanted to create welded sculptures. After earning a MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, he started a teaching career at the University of Miami. A few years later he moved back to the area where he grew up near Beatrice, Nebraska. For more than 30 years, Dixon has created his art and embraced his small town roots.

At the beginning of each year he starts with around 9000 pounds of clay and by October he has formed and fired all of it. He holds an annual sale to show and sell his pottery although anyone can drive up to the church and let themselves in.  Be sure to turn on the lights.  Ervin will come over in a few minutes.

Thought Number Two--Did I See What I Thought I Saw?

As we were driving to Cedar Creek Pottery, we saw a boat sitting in a pasture.  This probably wouldn't be worth noting if there had been any water around...any at all...but no...no lakes, rivers, not even a pond.  Yet, here it was a small boat in the middle of a pasture.

Nothing around it for miles...nothing

Then there was this.... Someone felt the need to point out the fact that the road was a "dirt" road.

Perhaps, the sign maker should have elaborated and said "Dirt or Mud Road" depending on the weather. Clearly someone didn't figure that out.

I have seen the signs on roads to point out possible deer in the area but I hadn't seen signs that pointed out duel inhabitants before.

It's like a game of chance...which one
will I hit today?
To be continued....what is waiting for me back in Kansas

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