HPPR People & Communities

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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?” 

I drive a little hybrid for work. As High Plains listeners know, when you live out here, you put in a lot of miles just in daily life. I maintain that we may have to travel more miles, but we take about the same amount of time to get where we’re going as city folk do.  And, we also experience less traffic stress and more pink sunrises while doing it. Nevertheless, I don’t like spending money on gas, and I do like to give the misleading impression that I am living green, even though I live in a gigantic house and my family of five throws away more trash than most families with twice that many members. 

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.

CC0 Public Domain

More and more Coloradans are moving out of Denver and other metropolitan areas in favor of living the rural – and much different – Colorado life.

As The Denver Post reports, Gail and Dennis Hendricks recently opted to make the move from Denver to the eastern plains of Colorado. And the selection process was simple – the couple stopped at every small community along Interstate 70 until they found a spot they liked.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

I’m reaching out to listeners and readers for advice as I share this first of many sketches on today’s topic: my poor husband’s snoring.  This is, “The Andy Griffith Theme Song.” 

Wikipedia

Everyday my newsfeed runs articles supporting rural communities. I also subscribe to Mike Rowe’s of Dirty Jobs fame posts where he reveals America’s need for skilled, hardworking employees. Mike explains such occupations pay well and require less education debt than do four-year degrees. For the good of individuals and the nation, he advocates interested Americans master a trade to earn a competitive salary.

From Texas Standard.

There’s a city of sorts in the Texas Panhandle that really isn’t a regular city at all. It has a post office, a museum, and a church – but other than that, it’s mostly just homes, dorms, and school buildings. Boys Ranch, Texas is home to Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, a residential community for at-risk children. It’s been serving this purpose for close to 80 years. But now, some former residents say it’s Boys Ranch itself that really put them at risk.

Our Turn At This Earth: Descartes’ Legacy

Dec 28, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

In my late twenties, I became enchanted by the mountainous deserts of the West. Whenever I could get a little time off from my work as bookkeeper for a San Francisco accounting firm, I would load up my old Toyota Land Cruiser with food, tools, and a few clothes, fill the Jerry cans I’d mounted on the Cruiser with gas and water, and head for a place that looked intriguing on the many U. S. Geological Survey topo maps I’d collected.

CC0 Creative Commons

If holiday stress has got you gnashing your teeth, a company in London has an answer for you.

For the equivalent of 24 bucks, you can spend three minutes smashing ornaments and Christmas trees in Rudolph’s rage room.

As The Huffington Post reports, visitors are given baseball bats and set loose in the room to smash ornaments, dancing Santas, and other accoutrements of the most wonderful time of the year.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

A few weeks ago, I bought a baby grand piano at an auction.  Another one.  I don’t play the piano.  Maybe my kids will.

As a newly converted auction fanatic, Joel was happy to trot along to small towns across our part of the state to attend sales.  We had recently completed our second-story pergola project, and needed some furniture.  This particular auction had several pieces of rattan and wicker that would fill that need nicely. 

Public Domain

Art day in grade school was so much fun. I looked forward to it all week and could barely contain my excitement through morning lessons. Throughout lunch, I’d mull what we’d create when the teacher told us to clear desks. My favorite activity was painting, but coloring, gluing, forming clay, whatever hands-on mess making was a hit as far as I was concerned. Art time meant dabbling, creating, and chatting with nearby classmates. What could make it better?

CC0 Creative Commons

Texas will close 2017 with almost half a million more residents at the end of the year than it had at the beginning.

As Texas Monthly reports, the Lone Star State welcomed 400,000 new Texans last year, with most of the fresh arrivals listed as newborn babies rather than outsiders moving in. The population of the state now stands at almost 29 million.

Our Turn At This Earth: Primal Bonds

Dec 21, 2017
Public Domain

As a child on my family’s Kansas farm, I often whiled away entire mornings stalking a mother cat until she led me to her hidden litter of newborn kittens, or burrowing into my mother’s lilac bushes in pursuit of a baby cottontail. Of an afternoon, I might circle the pasture rattling a grain bucket until, in utter triumph, I managed to slip a rope around one of my horse’s necks, or I would sit in a low place in the farmyard where, after a recent rain, the earth had dried and shrunk into a jigsaw puzzle of thin, cracked clay.

CC0 Creative Commons

Rural Texas has been on the decline for decades.

Now, The Texas Observer has published an essay detailing the “Seven Most Pressing Issues Facing Rural Texas.”

First, in rural areas like the Panhandle, access to medical care can be hard to find. Over the past five years, 18 rural hospitals have closed in Texas.

Another issue: small towns can’t afford the same kind of infrastructure upkeep as big cities, resulting in aging roads and poor water systems.

It’s a common story: Ambitious kids move from small towns to larger cities, never to look back. When their parents die, the family wealth that’s been built over generations through farming, ranching or agriculture-related businesses often follows the kids, draining the economic lifeblood from those rural communities.

The largest generational transfer of wealth in modern times is expected to happen in the next 10 years and rural foundations in states like Iowa and Nebraska are working hard to retain at least a bit of those hundreds of millions of dollars. 

I saw a coffee cup the other day that said, “If a man says he will fix it, he will.  There’s no need to remind him every six months.”  I had to laugh.   Let me interject here that my husband Joel is the hardest working person I’ve ever met.  The man can’t sit still (mainly because if he does, he falls asleep instantly).  But we do have an understanding about the steps in the project process.  For the sake of example, I’m going to use our recent pergola addition to describe this process.

Prairie Tayles: Oh, You Better Watch Out

Dec 15, 2017
Wikimedia Commons

One of the bonuses of teaching for so many years is that I’ve learned much from local speakers who have shared their knowledge with my students and me. In  1986, Lawrence Weigel, a regional historian from Victoria, began a tradition of speaking to my classes about local Volga German Christmas customs. Even though my grandma’s family came to America from this region, I’d never heard about the character called Belznickel that Mr. Weigel brought to life in my English classroom.

Valerie Brown-Kuchera

When Joel and I got married several years ago, he had never attended an estate auction.  Weirdly, he wasn’t even interested in digging through other people’s old junk! Like the good wife that I was, I immediately began conversion therapy. 

CCO Public Domain

I grew up in mostly metropolitan areas. To give you an idea of what that means, my high school graduating class included over 1000 students. In that world, youngsters don’t participate in every program that interests them because the competition is stiff and resources limited. While cities offer exclusive options, small towns require inhabitants to survive outside comfort zones.

Colorado Sees Drop In Net Migration

Dec 5, 2017
Jason Rosenberg / Flickr

As Colorado continues to experience rapid population growth, a record number of residents have moved out of the state.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, new annual figures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show that Colorado experienced its first population decline in about a decade in 2016 in the number of people arriving from other states, while those leaving Colorado hit a record high.

Little Spouse On The Prairie: The Man Diet And Speed Shopping

Dec 2, 2017
Valerie Brown-Kuchera

The Man Diet

Last week, I introduced you to Joel, my much older husband.  This week’s show is two-fold -  “The Man Diet” followed by “Speed Shopping.”

Eight weeks ago, my husband gave up Dr. Pepper. Not entirely, mind you. He simply dropped his intake from unlimited (between eight and 10 per day) to two 12-ounce drinks a day.  I’m happy for him, because this reduction allowed him to lose 30 pounds in those two months.  Yes, I said 30 pounds.  In. Eight. Weeks.

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