Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cloudy today with no meatballs

Spring brings a new brighter look to the old "Pudding Blog" and though the day is cloudy there is a feeling that the darkness of the past year is passing.  As a signal I will try to write in this blog more frequently.  There is more to catch up on from our Danube cruise late last summer,  from the growth of our two lovely granddaughters, and from the busy days that seem to fill even though our schedule is far less crowded with Jan's medical appointments.

Our little garden has been planted and looks considerably more professional due to the efforts of our lovely neighbors Kirk and Marie.  We have contracted to get the homestead painted this summer and to do some needed minor repairs to its 110 year old fabric.

No trips scheduled firmly yet, but the thought is there just waiting for commitment.  Lots of places still to go. The bucket just seems to have a permanent hole in it. You cross things off but new things run in to fill it up again. 

Join the crowd to celebrate the re-opening of the Warren County History Museum on Sunday, May 1st from 1-4 in the afternoon.  You can meet our new Pattee Executive Director.

Here he is.  That's Kellen Hinrichsen, newly appointed Pattee Executive Director of the Warren County Historical Society and Museum posing with an advertisement for the Pattee Tongueless Cultivator, one of the patented farm implements that helped make the Pattee fortune, put Warren County on the map, and made it possible for us to hire our first employee.
You can also renew or obtain your 2016 membership,  and enjoy some complimentary refreshments.

 Below are two pictures from our Christmas Open House.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

If It's Tuesday It's Ethiopia

Map of Ethiopia

Riffing on my comments from yesterday about not having trouble finding things to do even in a small town, I'd like to amplify my sense that anyone who wishes to retire and remain alive while retaining an aspect of rural or small town living should seriously considering retirement in a town with a college.  I am of course partial to Monmouth College, but any college will do.

Learning is lifelong and the programs offered to students and townspeople alike at a college are like a filled cornucopia spilling out with a variety of pleasures.   If you like sports it is there, if you like the arts it is there, if you like history or science it is there too.  

For instance we had two visitors to campus this week.  They were both Monmouth College Alums and their parents were graduates of the college as well.  The parents spent several years in the Mission field in Ethiopia and their two daughters grew up there. One of the daughters has become a nationally recognized author of childrens' books (Jane Kurtz). The other, Caroline Kurtz,  has dedicated a large portion of her life to various projects geared to Ethiopian education and economic development.  That's Caroline on the left and Jane on the right at the Warren County Library.

My wife has had a close connection with Jane as a result of their shared love for primary education, reading, and libraries. I knew Caroline when she was a student and actually directed her in a play while she was here.  In the last two days we have shared meals and conversation about their days as students and about their latest projects.  What a joy! And what a gift from them to return to their alma mater to nurture current students and show them what can be achieved.

One project that occupies Caroline now is developing economically viable agricultural projects that can provide potential income and development for the many subsistence farmers who populate the rural areas of Africa.  A Business and Marketing class at the college was integrated into this goal by working on projects this semester dealing with Apple Orchard growth. The students and their professor researched the country and offered ideas for products that could be delivered within a low technology and transportation deprived environment.  The Kurtz sisters were able to offer response and commentary to the students from their own experience of living in Ethiopia. My wife and  I saw genuine learning taking place and learned a great deal about a country that we knew only vaguely as a place somewhere in Africa. 

Jane also took time to speak with former teachers and community members at the Warren County Library.  She showed some of her books and described a project she is working on with a current Monmouth student that will help young ready to read Ethiopian children see both English words and cognates in their own language on the same page.   Here she is showing her enthusiasm and love for books.

Thanks again to Monmouth College for offering these opportunities to their students and to the  community at large.  Lesson for the day. Retire in a college town and you too can continue to be a student.  


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Busy Week In and Out of Town

One often hears folks bemoaning the lack of things to do in small towns. Maybe our small town is different or maybe the folks who are doing the complaining are simply not looking very hard for stimulation. We started the week with a day trip to Chicago on the train. From Galesburg to downtown is three hours and by 10:45 AM we were walking down to the Art Institute to see the Van Gogh's Bedroom exhibit. A lovely lunch in the patio at the museum and then a stroll over to the Cultural Center to partake of a fascinating exhibit of traveling beasties titled "The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen" Then a little State Street shopping before heading back to Union Station to catch the 6:00 PM Illinois Zephyr back to Galesburg where wonder of all wonders the parking is free.
Worked at our local history museum on Tuesday morning. Then an Archaeology Lecture at the college that evening. We learned that Rome burned far more times than just when Nero fiddled.
Wednesday played eighteen holes of golf. Enough for one day.
Worked at the Warren County History Museum again on Thursday morning and returned there that evening to hear our new Pattee Executive Director talk about his plans for the future.
Friday night was theatre time with a visit to Monmouth College's Fusion Theatre for a production of Aphra Behn's "The Rover." Interesting thought that this small town has a live production of a play by a seminal female playwright that probably could not be found anywhere else in the country this weekend.
Saturday found us partaking of the annual Classics Day at the college. More fancy costumes--this time Roman rather than Restoration. Grilled some gorgeous lamb chops for dinner and followed it all with a trip to the College Auditorium to listen to Glen Brooks--a local guy and college alum-- who has made a living playing jazz all over the country. "The Very Live Band" rocked the house for two sets. Glenn's brother Chris, a former student of mine, joined the quartet for the opening set and we even had some vocals from a whole group of Brooks bro's. Glenn is here in his home town to spearhead a Vista project to teach music to kids this coming summer.
And here it is Sunday morning. Time to do a bit of gardening before setting out to meet the incoming plane of another friend--college guest alum Jane Kurtz--a nationally known author of childrens' books. She and her sister will be spending two days at the college and the local library promoting their Ethiopia Project to send books to Africa.
Damn damn and double damn, there is just nothing to do in this small town. Seek life and you will find it. Or maybe it will find you if you open your eyes and ears to the world around you.