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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Of Mice And Men

Mar 10, 2018
Creative Commons

We live, as many High Plains listeners know, in a very old rambling house.  Living in a structure that some might call decrepit, though I much prefer the term, “historical,” does have drawbacks.  In addition to the astronomical heating bills, the six toilets to clean, and the ever-present sifting of dust from the 1930’s that shakes out of the lathe and plaster when the wind blows in Kansas (and the wind always blows in Kansas), we sometimes have to contend with mice.  

'American Pickers' Coming To Kansas This May

Mar 7, 2018
www.history.com / History Channel

The show American Pickers is coming back to Kansas in a couple of months and is looking for leads about anyone with a collection of unique antiques and relics they can pick through.

As The Hays Post reports, the History Channel’s documentary series explores antique “picking” with Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, two of the most skilled pickers in the business, as they hunt for America’s most valuable antiques.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

To be honest, I may put on a show of indignation about my husband’s old-fashioned ways, but secretly, I am glad that Joel feels it is a “man’s job” to gas up the car, change the oil, and complete basic maintenance on our vehicles in preparation for family vacations.

Our Turn At This Earth: Big Daddy

Mar 1, 2018
Courtesy/Julene Bair

When I farmed with my father in the mid-1980s, I often expressed my concern that the water we were withdrawing from the Ogallala Aquifer, to irrigate our crops, would one day run out. My father, who was one of those hardy old-timers—a grandson of pioneers—said, “Don’t worry. Big Daddy will put the plug in before it’s too late.” By “Big Daddy,” he meant the government.

KANSAS GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

Researchers from Oxford University mapped out the continental US and the distance each town or city was from a metropolitan area with a population of more than 75,000 people.

As the Washington Post reports, the researchers found that America's most remote town, that had a population of over 1,000 people, was found Glasgow, Montana -- but, the high plain's Oakley, KS came in fourth place at 3.7 hours from the nearest metro area.

Immigrants in Texas are committing fewer crimes proportionally than natural-born citizens, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute.

Researchers with the libertarian think-tank used 2015 data from the Texas Department of Public Safety to measure the criminal conviction and arrest rates of three groups: illegal immigrants, legal immigrants and native-born Americans.

Other men swear they will never drive a minivan.  Other men, as they add children to their lives, progress from a tough, extended-cab truck on to a four-wheel-drive SUV before succumbing to the humiliation of the dreaded van.   Other men, especially out here on the plains, where men are men and trucks are trucks, sure as hell don’t need some foreign-made vehicle parked in the garage.  Not my Joel.  Joel has harbored an unfulfilled longing for a minivan since he was in his early twenties. 

Public Domain

A tent city of homeless campers in Amarillo was told last week that they must once again shut down their camp and go elsewhere.

As KFDA reports, the Christ Church Camp must disband by the end of this week or the city of Amarillo will begin fining the camp’s homeless residents $2,000 a day for being on the site.

While media attention has focused on the plight of Syed Jamal, the Lawrence chemistry professor whom immigration agents seized last month and tried to deport, another area immigrant is facing a similar predicament. 

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I like buying gifts and planning parties.  Themes are good.  A person can’t get too themey.  For my daughter’s Nancy Drew-themed party, we (and by “we” I mean “I”) made a cake shaped like a giant magnifying glass and hid clues in miniature envelopes throughout the house.  We (and by “we” I mean “I”) used invisible ink to write some clues.  Others were in code or mirror writing.  Yes, we (and by “we” I mean I) are the Da Vinci of theme parties.

Nell Johnson Doerr’s husband rolled her up in a carpet so she’d survive Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence. Lying alongside the limestone foundation of her house, she hears her husband’s murder but is powerless to help him.

Kansas writer Thomas Fox Averill’s entirely fictitious book, “Found Documents from the Life of Nell Johnson Doerr,” is rooted in the abolitionist movement, but the character of Nell begins to live and breathe while trapped in the carpet.Readers familiar with Averill’s work might recall that the protagonists of his novel “rode,” found a baby in a raided house near her dead parents. Nell Johnson Doerr is that baby.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

We have trouble with pronouns in our house.  Oh, we are past the pronoun – verb agreement issues that plagued our early courtship.  Once I explained to Joel that I couldn’t, in good conscience, allow him to continue to say, “He don’t,” and “we was,” he eagerly eradicated those problems.  It’s only when he’s engaged in a particularly virulent argument that he regresses.

No, the pronoun issues we have now, relate to antecedents.  For example, Joel will walk in after teaching in another town all day long and say, “I was talking to him today and he said he is going to that deal.” 

Courtesy

Several years ago, my husband went through a beef jerky stage.  Actually, it was more of a preserved meat stage, because he didn’t just eat beef, and he didn’t just eat jerky.   We had beef sticks, horseradish salami, summer sausage, pepperoni, turkey bites, steak strips, garlic infused pemmican, hot and spicy links, Slim Jims, barbecued bacon chunks, jalapeno pickled sausages, chili-mango pork nuggets.  Open our snack cupboard and you’d see the equivalent of Bubba Gump’s shrimp products in dried flesh in there.

Jonathan Baker

A massive crowd gathered in a large dirt field in downtown Amarillo yesterday to witness the groundbreaking of the city’s new baseball stadium. Mayor Ginger Nelson delivered a heartfelt speech to the throngs who had amassed on a chilly February afternoon.

Mayor Nelson was joined by the team’s new general manager, as well as D.G. Elmore and his father Dave Elmore, owners of the group who are moving the new AA baseball team from its former home in San Antonio.  

Our Turn At This Earth: Full Speed Ahead

Feb 1, 2018
USGS

In the mid-1980s my father got a letter from the Kansas Water Office warning that, from then on, farmers who didn’t report their annual water use would be fined. This was long before our Groundwater Management District began requiring meters on irrigation wells, so we would have to extrapolate the amount of water we’d pumped that year from utility bills for the natural gas that powered our five well engines.

A humanitarian group that helps refugees settle in western Kansas among plentiful slaughterhouse jobs is shutting down its office in the region amid changing rules that welcome fewer newcomers to the country and the state.

The International Rescue Committee, or IRC, says a falling number of refugees prompted the agency’s plans to shutter its Garden City office at the end of September.

Kansas took in 580 refugees in the 12-month period that ended Sept. 30, compared to 914 the year before. IRC officials said they expect the drop-off to look even more dramatic this year.

Kimberly Vardeman / Wikimedia Commons

Amarillo’s KVII recently traveled up to Spearman, Texas, to have a look inside the nation’s largest cotton gin.

The Adobe Walls Gin is by far the largest structure in the small Panhandle town of just over 3,000 people. The $15 million operation, which was built 12 years ago, gins out about 300,000 bales a year.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I am an eternal pessimist.  I think that if you start every day expecting the worst, you may be pleasantly surprised a small, and I mean minuscule percentage of the time.  Joel and I are proof that opposites attract because he believes in the inherent goodness and beauty of all humanity.  I believe Murphy’s law is a pipe dream.

Whereas I create worst-case scenarios, Joel smiles and says, “What could possibly go wrong?” 

W. Kennedy/Wikimedia

After receiving scores of Presidents Day sale flyers in my mailbox and e-mail, I’m flashing back to childhood celebrations of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington’s birthdays. Keep in mind we didn’t combine birthdays fifty years ago. We turned February into one long party. We celebrated Lincoln on February 12 and then Washington on the 22nd. When you added in a Valentine party, February was a festive month for elementary students in the late fifties and early sixties.

In the brutal final scene from the 2007 movie There Will Be Blood, sociopathic oilman Daniel Plainview meets his rival for the last time. If oil fields are like milkshakes, he says, it pays to have a straw that reaches all the way across the room “and starts to drink your milkshake.”

“I. Drink. Your. Milkshake,” Plainview screams maniacally. “I DRINK IT UP!”

What does that have to do with the Railroad Commission of Texas? More than you might think. That’s because the commission regulates oil and gas in Texas. Ironically, it has nothing to do with railroads.

Public Domain

Joel has a habit of leaving items on the top of the car and driving off.  Most of the time, it has been full cups of Dr. Pepper, but once we had to chase down a stack of mail that contained his paycheck, and another time Joel had to weave through Wichita traffic to retrieve some important registration numbers for the state track team he was coaching.  He even left Clementine’s car seat on the roof once!  Don’t worry, listeners, she wasn’t in it, but it looked bad, really, really bad. 

CCO Public Domain

Some people like cities. They like the anonymity of blending into a crowd. They like choosing where to shop, dine, and have fun. Being unknown to a server is a relief rather than a blessing. For these folks, the intimacy of living in a small town where everyone knows your name and your business is too personal. On the other hand, there are people like me who love going into a local eatery where the wait staff knows my name and what I’m going to order. These establishments are the heartbeat of tiny towns.

CREATIVE COMMONS

El Salvador’s Tempory Protected Status (or TPS) designation will end on Sept. 9, 2019, following Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen’s decision to terminate TPS for Salvadorans.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that current TPS beneficiaries from El Salvador who want to maintain their status, must re-register before March 19, 2018.

National Western Stock Show Underway In Denver

Jan 15, 2018
CC0 Creative Commons

The National Western Stock Show is underway in Denver and as the Denver Post reports, 750 cowboys and cowgirls from across the country are expected to participate in all things rodeo between now and when the finals are held on Jan. 21.

Little Spouse On The Prairie: Honey Where Are My Keys?

Jan 13, 2018
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

The funny stories on the rural plains just keep happening. Joel has started claiming that when he does something funny, he’s only being helpful by providing material!  Today’s sketch is called, “Honey, Where are My Keys?” 

CCO Creative Commons

As a kid, I lived 11 miles from Disneyland. I took for granted that I’d visit the happiest place on earth several times a year. And I did. Due to immaturity, I didn’t understand why my out of state cousins were so excited to visit Southern California and the Magic Kingdom. They were giddy about meeting Mickey and exploring Adventureland, and their enthusiasm for something so commonplace as Disneyland escaped me. After all, it was just a big amusement park with a bunch of costumed characters walking around waving at folks.

So what does HPPR Radio Readers Book Club's 2018 Spring Read have in store? 

Here's more info about all four books! 

Little Spouse On The Prairie: More Snores

Jan 6, 2018
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

Today I am going to fill you in a bit more about my jack-of-all-snores, Joel.  Lest you think that the Andy Griffith theme song whistle is the only type of snore Joel exhibits, let me just tell you, he has a repertoire of noises that he emits after hours.  I am going to expand on the intervention I tried with the essential oils and then introduce you to the edge trimmer snore and the Bell X-1 snore.

Public Domain

Conspiracy theorists need to investigate Mother Nature’s actions against trees in Western Kansas. Yes, she’s conspiring to make this a treeless plain once again.

Western history buffs often read descriptions of the region called the Great American Desert. Explorers Zebulon Pike and Major Stephen Long documented journeys across this landscape, noting its aridity and incompatibility with agriculture. A lack of trees supported their conclusions.

Matthew Woitunski / Wikimedia Commons

On New Year’s Eve, a couple of dozen people gathered in Amarillo’s Ellwood Park and lit candles to honor homeless people who have died. As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the vigil marked the second annual Homeless Memorial Day.

There are many events like this in the United States around this time of year, though most are usually held on Dec. 21, the longest night of the year. But Amarillo homeless advocates have found that New Year’s Eve is a better day for Amarilloans.

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