Monday, August 1, 2016

Whattya Mean I Talk to Myself?

When what’s on top thins and what’s in the middle thickens, we blame it on age. But when someone tells us we talk to ourselves, we usually respond with a dignified denial.  

But, unfortunately, it’s part of the cycle. It goes along with the mysterious out of nowhere aches and pains, the wrinkles, and the perplexing lapses of memory. Then, as if to put a lid on it all, the talking to ourselves syndrome stalks us, especially if we live alone.

That’s ok, though, I’ll bet there’s a study somewhere, by some super scientist, who’s found that when we talk to ourselves, with anything that’s handy, we’re talking to a grown-up rendition of our early-childhood imaginary friend. Remember, the one we confided in that never told anyone what we said? (That type person is definitely imaginary.)

Anyway, with whatever, talking to ourselves is easy, natural, and comfortable. God created a world full of things we can talk to. For example, we talk to our pets. Whether it’s a dog, cat, fish, bird, worm, or whatever, we often talk to them about things other than their potty time or chow. 

Moreover, studies show some plants grow better when we talk to them, both inside and outside varieties. (If you talk to plants, please don’t talk to dandelions. They do well enough on their own.)

Nevertheless, I admit to having two roommates I talk to; my “C” friends. One is “MC”, which stands for “My Cat,” and the other is my computer, whose many names are generally not fit for publication. 
For me, my computer is strictly a “yes sir,” “no sir,” “it’s your way” relationship. However, if I had invented them, I’d have made sure they could spell and punctuate sentences.

MC responds to me with meows, purrs, and occasional pfffts. Like most cats, the meows and purrs are positive and the pfffts aren’t. Thus we’re on the same wavelength, and she gets fed.

However, I occasionally, frequently talk to myself through them. Like asking the computer why it forgot a comma, or MC if it’s time we go to bed.

When I realize I’m talking to an inanimate object, or a cat, I throw back my shoulders and defiantly pffft that “I’m the only one around here who’s intelligent enough to carry on a conversation with me, through them.”

A Perspective: The Morrill County Fair

A reliable indicator to the number of split-screens it takes to watch the Morrill County Fair unfold depends on how many whys you went in the first place.

Personally, I needed one split screen. I watched wascally wabbits on one and on the other I witnessed the ominous results of sending three polite little pigs to the market without a chaperone to bring them home.

The young participants in the rabbit arena gently, but firmly, held their rabbits somewhat still as they recounted their hares family tree. Also, each showman gave a four-sided, i.e. front, rear, and both sides, display of their rabbit that included all features and perfections or imperfections.

While holding a nervous rabbit relatively quiet, the dissertations were nervously expounded with eye-to-eye contact between the speaker and the judge. Even with distractions from the rabbit, the crowd, and their anxiety, each participant did well. After each presentation the judge asked a question that tested the participants overall knowledge about rabbits.

Overall, the arena where the participants discussed the wares of their hares was relatively quiet. In my opinion this meant extra pressure on the show person because their every move and word was under scrutiny.

After the show they received their plaques and ribbons to well-deserved applause.

On the other screen I watched the hogs do their thing, which was the polar opposite of the rabbit show. Grunting and squealing the hogs were herded into the arena. Cleared of the serenity of the rabbit show, the hogs turned it into their own personal place of pandemonium.

The object: Each participator steered their overloaded with poundage creature past the judge. To direct these devoid-of-manners-flat-nosed creations the guides used fiber glass batons.

The picture: An undersized pathfinder led their oversized hog past the judge with the hog between them and the judge. This was so the judge had an unobstructed view of the hog. He called the process a “ham sandwich” because there were two humans on the outside and the hog in the middle.

More interesting was the way they simply tapped the hog with the baton to get it to respond. If the hog stuck its snout into the dirt, the guide would tap the hog under its chin to get it to lift its head. To get it to turn right, or left, the guide would tap it on the respective shoulder.

If the hog stopped they’d tap it on its buttocks.

I stared in wonder as this process worked, not always with precision but it worked. I fantasized a young trainer one-on-one with his or hers hog in a pen somewhere in the country. I’m sure the trainer had a flip-chart to show the hog how to respond. After the presentation and tryout, the trainer and hog would have a question and answer session to make sure both understood the script.

They were ready for the fair.

As an important passing point of interest, adult males were in the arena with the hogs and kids for a protective presence should one or two of the hogs get ornery. The young hog attendants were never left on their own.

The hog display ended with the awarding of plaques and ribbons.

Two aspects of the rabbit and hog show impressed me: First, for the rabbit show, is the time involved memorizing presentations, and, for the hog show, finding a comfort level of walking next to a cantankerous hog.

The second, regardless of individual success, the majority of the kids will return next year with hearts again full of positive expectations.

They learn that rewards are related to the amount of excrement they step in and clean, and clean again, from their shoes.

Congrats to all and thank you for displaying your handiwork. The pleasure was mine and I look forward to seeing most of you again next year.



Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Senior Olympics visit Chimney Rock Villa

The value of an Olympic-style event is in the eye of the beholder. It may be the National Junior Olympics, the Summer or Winter Olympics, the Special Olympics, or Bayard’s own Senior Olympics at the Villa…

After a few days to digest the Fourth of July barbecue, consumed under the protective shade of the shelter outside the Villa, last Friday the residents were ripe and ready for the serious fun that is the Senior Olympics.

In designated areas, inside and outside the Villa, contestants found events that tested their athletic prowess.

Inside, like a bookend, on one end of the room contestants found a miniature bowling lane with an air-filled bowling ball and human pinsetters. On the other end, like another bookend, wickedly competitive contests of bean bag toss ensued. Haphazardly tossing a bean bag in any direction would not suffice. The destination for the bean bag was a mat on the floor with specific landing spots marked with points from one to four.

Who’d rack up the highest score?

Then, too, strategically placed in the middle of the outer wall of that room contestants were challenged with a Velcro dart-board, and a Velcro covered ball. Wherever the ball the contestant threw stuck on the dart-board, they scored points.  

Moreover, to not let contestants lose their verve, at all events well-trained overseers chased any errant throws and returned the ball to the participant for a ‘do over.’

When the waves of warmth beckoned participants outside the building, they followed their sense of sunlight where they found more modes of entertainment.

Under the aforementioned shelter they found a basketball hoop with a senior-sized basketball. 

Sometimes their shot would swish threw the net, at other times it banked off the backboard, and sometimes the ball would miss everything. When a contestant missed they’d grimace, but they walked away with a grin signaling they loved every minute of their Senior Olympic experience.

In front of the Villa plastic horseshoes spurred their patience as they cajoled ‘leaners’ to fall onto the stake. Nevertheless, when their dander’s reached the boiling point they were only a few feet from a good ol’ fashioned water gun fight, with real, wet, water. One distraction: Contestants soon realized the water guns were not above squirting anyone within a close proximity, including Villa employees.

Screams, pleadings, and guffaws rose above the objective of staying dry, but they treasured ever drop of water that fell from their nose, or chin. Childhood knows no age limits.

This Senior Olympics was a ‘come as you are’ event. Some showed up in a wheelchair, others with a walker, or cane. Likewise, some walked with their own ‘senior shuffle.’ No matter the mode of transportation it was not a hindrance to having fun. If a contestant had to sit, or hold on to their transportation with one hand while the other hand threw a ball or beanbag, the rules permitted it.

Also, the extravaganza included those sitting on the sidelines. With free admittance the stands were filled close to capacity. The fans weren’t raucous but joined in the fun. You see, not every child plays every game; sometimes they sit and absorb the freely flowing atmosphere in the vicinity. It may carry them to a time and place only they understand.

Thanks to Villa employees, and the volunteer help, that made this event possible. I hope you looked deep into the eyes of the residents, if you didn’t you missed the unearthing of decades old memories.    



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Thoughts from God's Offering Plate

On Sundays they pass me down the rows,
Sometimes it takes awhile for me to empty.
Calloused hands, pointed nails, and tiny fingers reach in,
inquiring eyes watch the scene unfold.
Requests hang over the edge of my tray,
unnoticed, some slip off and fall to the floor, forgotten.

My procession concluded for the week,
a deacon sets me aside.
I want to listen to sanctuary speak and song,
but murmurs from my tray interfere.
Rather than plead for sacred silence,
I listen to what the offerings offered.

I heard of pain: physical, financial, and emotional,
personal pleas from hurting hearts.
After years on the job I understand,
God’s offering plate is not to fill, but to empty.
While on earth the God-man Jesus emptied Himself, for us.
While on earth do we empty ourselves, for others?

Monday, June 20, 2016

By My Stripes You are Healed

I’m sure there are better ways to spend Good Friday,
But I’m not sure what it would be.
As sin I’m worthy of every bruise, every stripe,
Through me, every transgression nailed to a tree.
But elevated, as I AM, I see into eternity;
Through Me you’re spotless and pure.

My hands pinned to a tree, the first time in forever
My Father’s not there; not close to Me.
I cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Silence: He’s left me alone on this forsaken tree.
But elevated, as I Am, I see into eternity;
Through Me your blameless and free.

It’s now the ninth hour; My time is near.
They’ve divided My tunic; the last earthly tie.
Father, I thirst for what We once had;
 I want to come home; where again we’ll be One.
But elevated, as I Am, I see into eternity;

Through Me we’re together with the rest of Our clan.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

What about Bayard's Grade School

Mr. Matthew McLaughlin is Principal of Bayard’s Grade School, and he’s also a father. So, when he talks about his vision for the grade school I feel he wears bifocals. Below the line in his lens his ideas agree with federal, state, and local education mandates. Above the line, though, I think he envisions the education he wants his, and other children, to experience.

Unfortunately, though, the two systems meet at that line, and sometimes clash.

Regardless, his responsibility rests with the school system, and he understands and responds that way. In a recent interview he talked about his desires for BGS. I listened to his heart fluctuate above and below the line centered in his glasses.

“Overall,” McLaughlin responded,” I’d like to raise the grade schools academic bar but do it within the present class structure. I don’t want to take the traditional route and add classes; especially now with the nationwide teacher’s shortage.”

He enjoys Bayard’s School System because it’s a small school; this makes innovations to the school program easier. His goal is to introduce pre-school and grade school students to Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO).

For example, he’d like to add reading classes to the pre-school program. He said reading is like education, it takes time to perfect and appreciate its value. If a child learns the art of reading at an early age, they have a better chance of fighting off the 160 characters demon.

“Also, he said, “I want to prioritize physical fitness because studies show being physically fit compliments learning. I think art clubs, cooking seminars, and dance classes are good for grade school children.

I’m contemplating introducing gardening to the Pathfinder’s after school program this summer.
“This year we let grade school children help plant trees around the grade school and on Donors Path. 
They enjoyed the experience and learned.”

Mr. McLaughlin’s ‘want list’ for Bayard’s grade school students is long and, as yet, unfulfilled, but it’s all listed under one heading: A well-rounded education for your child.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

About the Community Redevelopment Authority

For years, the citizens of Bayard heard rumors about plans to redirect the path-to-nowhere Bayard travels. Nevertheless, even though deadheaded toward destruction, no one had the gumption to pull Bayard’s rail-switch, which would redirect our communities’ overall complacent attitude.

Ideas remained ideas.

However, through reincarnation, new births, redirected attitudes, and a common denominator of blood, sweat, and tears, the corrosion on Bayard’s “rail switch” is breaking up.

Why? The oil of activity penetrates complacency and prevents it from reproducing.

But, enter a caveat. A lack of community participation could cause Bayard’s burgeoning program of revitalization to derail.

An engineer of Bayard’s pending rebirth is the Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA), and they’re asking Bayard’s citizen’s to help shovel the coal-of-progress into Bayard’s firebox.

The coal-of-progress is community participation.     

Briefly, the CRA plans to have three power-meetings, one with Bayard’s business owners, one with the overall community, and one with Bayard High School juniors and seniors.

The idea behind those ideas is more ideas.

From the meetings, the CRA wants to compile a consensus of thoughts from citizens concerning Bayard’s downtown revitalization. This is a major project that won’t evolve overnight; ideas need to overflow the boxcars of the future-of-Bayard-express.”

Bayard needs the express to stop here and not sardonically blow smoke in our faces as it passes through.

From your point of view, as a citizen of Bayard, what are your suggestions for downtown Bayard to become upscale? What’s needed to make our downtown aesthetically pleasing to those that live here, pass thru, or are tourists?

Maybe new downtown sidewalks, uniform trash cans and benches, or trees on Main Street? Maybe a historic slant based on the Oregon Trial and Chimney Rock? The CRA wants your ideas.

What’s needed for our downtown to have a persona that radiates BAYARD, and not reek it. What’s needed for Bayard’s downtown to attract those who seek a new hometown, or look for a place to start a business?

A downtown that leaves a magnetic Bayard-scent that draws our high school graduates back home, after they finish their education.    

The City of Bayard needs YOUR ideas. They need ideas so they know what kind of funding to seek. 
They need ideas to present the Department of Roads. (Bayard’s Main Street is a State of Nebraska Highway with state rights that go to the front door of businesses; Bayard needs permission from the Department of Roads for downtown revitalization projects.)

The City of Bayard needs to set project priorities, and need bids for those projects. The list goes on and on.

As citizens of Bayard your input is beyond vital.

Your Transcript will inform you of what’s happening and the meeting dates; plus the dates will be posted at the City Office Building. Meetings will happen this summer, soon, so don’t put this information in your caboose. It’s time for Bayard’s engine to take its rightful place as “The Little Engine that Could,” and did.