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It turns out that there are still good people around.   Another ugly news story took a “good feelin’ ” turn in today’s local newspaper.   A  rural elderly lady could no longer afford an automobile and the costs that go with ownership.  She did however, still posses a horse and buggy which she has been using for transportation and the hauling of groceries and other needed farm and home supplies.  Our weather has been cold and icy and her trips of several miles have been a hardship.

A few days ago, after shopping for groceries, livestock feed, and other needed supplies, she and a friend  headed for home. Two young boys jumped out from hidden bushes and spooked the horse.  Horse, buggy, lady and friend all were upended in a snow filled ditch, with all the newly purchased items scattered and sliding all over the ice covered ground.   The boys naturally ran away.  Concerned motorists stopped to help care for the occupants of the buggy and calm the horse.  Fortunately, there were no serious injuries and the salvageable groceries and supplies were gathered.  The damaged buggy was placed in a nearby storage facility and arrangements made to transport the horse back to the farm.  Helpful neighbors provided a ride for the lady and her passenger to their respective farm homes.

The next day she arranged a ride back to town, only to find the buggy missing.  The police were notified and thus the story appeared in the local paper.   Good wife and I were perplexed.   Who. how, and why would anyone steal a damaged buggy? 

Today’s paper reported happily, that good Samaritans in the neighborhood of the accident,  had the buggy removed to a repair facility and had hoped to surprise the lady.  Thus the mystery was solved and a very happy and grateful lady exclaimed that the world was good after all.  Yes, the horse is fine too.

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UNIVERSAL MAN

While I have mostly given up blogging, and even pretty much reading them as frequently as I should, I have been captivated on this day along with others, by the inauguration.  This will be our best “feel good” day before business begins.  But what a great day to be an American.  The peaceful transition of power in a democracy is truly a miracle, and a special miracle in this land of ours.  Nothing like it anywhere else in the world.  And for this day, the really most disagreeable of our political figures from both parties are behaving quite well and what a joy to see old political rivals greet and converse congenially.  Yes I feel proud today inspite of the seemingly unsurmountable tasks ahead.

I just want to add an observation formed as I watch and listen to the proceedings.  Perhaps President Obama will be successful or not, but if ever there was a time when we needed a uniting force, we have indeed an individual who can be described as a UNIVERSAL MAN.  Our President will be the first born President from our newest State. 

Having lived in that island paradise many years ago, I have always been impressed with the harmony that many races were able to achieve.  This man with the unlikely name of Barack Hussein Obama, with a black Father born in Africa, a white Mother born in Kansas, growing up and living in Asia, and you know the rest.  Yes we have a Universal Man whom I see as truly attempting to be an American first.  Our best hope for all Americans, and hopefully for the world.

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Death by Freezing!

This morning, Oct 28, 2008 at 3:00 a.m justice was served.  The “Crimson Red Seven” were quietly put to death by freezing.  The notorious seven pots of Red Begonias after giving  months of blazing red beauty and fragrance had suddenly given notice demanding new inside quarters, treatment and care.  As their original contract failed to provide for such, the United States Supreme Weather Bureau began proceedings against them.  The Seven were warned that failure to perform anytime after October 15th would bring the harshest sentence known to plants.  After negotiations failed, the Bureau announced an impending possible temperature drop to below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and gave final warning.  With no response, the acting master gardener (no certificate) was instructed early on Oct. 26th to place the Seven on Death Row.  The seven pots were dutifully removed from their appointed places throughout the premises, and were placed on death row along the drive-way near the final execution chamber.  Appeals were filed to no avail and execution was to take place on Sunday evening October 26th.  A last minute stay of execution came with a change in the forecast and the Seven stood proudly without covers over their heads and indeed did bravely withstand violent winds up to 60 miles per hour throughout the 26th.  Again denying further last minute appeals a new order of execution came on the 27th.  Hopes for further exoneration began to be futile and the Bureau’s refusal to hear further appeals brought their demise early today.  The acting master gardener confirmed death at 7:00 a.m.  Although there were appearances that the Seven had withstood the hard freeze sentence of 22 degrees, the acting master gardener found that the stems, leaves, and blossoms were frozen and snapped completely off with just a touch.  As the temperature began to climb and the thawing process started, those in attendance would surely see the unfortunate end to the Crimson Red Seven.

In another case closely related, settlement was reached with a plea of guilty and resulted in a reduction of sentence.  A pair of intermittently blooming pots of so called Rain Lilies in the same locality were previously warned, that death could be a result of non-cooperation,  The pair turned states evidence concerning the coming trial of the Crimson Red Seven and were sentenced to six months in the darkest corner of the infamous “Basement” holding quarters.

Dive-Dive-Dive!

The “Rain Lily Pair” have apparently withstood this sentence numerous times previously.  Not many go into the infamous “Basement” and re-emerge unscathed, but these two, seem not only to re-emerge, but almost relish the sentence knowing that there is warmth there in the silence throughout the winter in this harsh land.  One can only surmise how and why these two endure these seemingly annual circumstances. 

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Abolish and outlaw the Republican Party.  Then, let us all work together to help stamp out Democrats forever.  There must be a better way.  Did I just hear George Washington say, “I told you so.”?

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We could go on and on but as Fanflower already expressed, we are glad you are part of our family and are Zoe’s Mom.  You did good, Joel.  Happy Birthday Blake.

As well, I will also wish a Happy Birthday to my Father, X T Prentis, who would have been 111 years old today.  As a very politically minded man, I’m sure he would be somewhat dismayed with the circumstances of the upcoming election.

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Vindication!

Well, I feel vindicated!  The nation is politically moving toward me.  After voting with a write-in vote in 2004 which included my favorite Democrat, Joe Biden and my most admired Republican, John McCain, I suddenly find that both names will actually be printed on the ballot this time around.  (just not on the same ticket.)  I honestly don’t remember which one I chose for President and which for Vice President.  I do remember that Florida was not the only state with ballot difficulties.  My ballot was rejected by the machine when I submitted it.  Our device protects the privacy of your ballot and I was instructed to go back to the booth and re-examine my ballot to see if I had indeed followed all the instructions and clearly marked my ballot without going outside the lines. (Remember the Olympics-Always stay in bounds [do you hear that John Edwards?])  So finding nothing I could change, I re-submitted the ballot and was again rejected.  The voting officials were all consulted and they decided a new ballot would be necessary.  Again, mine was rejected.  More consultations, and after 30 minutes, I confided to them that my ballot contained a write-in selection, (which was provided for on the ballot) and perhaps that was the problem.  They informed me that my ballot would have to be manually treated and assured me that care would be provided to maintain confidentially and that the ballot would be counted…(translated, would mean that it would likely be in the trash can the moment I was out of site.)

I believe Biden’s selection as the VEEP candidate is the best thing to happen to Obama and reflects good judgment on his part.  Biden is brutally honest, and after 33 years in the Senate knows how Washington works, but better, he knows how it should work.  The press and the Republicans, who for the most part, originally approved of Biden as an appropriate and respected addition to the ticket, are quickly trying to find something wrong with the selection and will try to discredit him and the choice. That’s to be expected.  Now we will see who will fill out the Republican side of the ballot.  My choice would be Colin Powell (that won’t happen.)  Beyond that I can’t think of anyone who would satisfy the right wing of the party except Huckabee (who wouldn’t impress the total electorate enough to win.)  Romney’s a Morman and probably owns too many homes, and Guiliani just doesn’t resonate with anyone.  Lieberman?  Interesting, but unacceptable to the right.  The one woman, McCain could choose that might get him elected,  happens to be very much a Democrat and is surely unavailable to the Republicans (Hillary.)

So where does that put me.  Having been on the fence but leaning to McCain, I’m now back on the fence and feeling like the cat with the canary.  I can’t lose, but feel that the country has more to lose with a Republican victory.  It would mean continued befuddlement in Congress while the nation needs action.  Obama is emerging from the pied piper status, to being more thoughtful and Presidential and the Democrats now give me more confidence.  McCain, while being acceptable to me, is nevertheless saddled with a lost and confused Republican Party.  Besides, if McCain were to win, providing another residence at the White House would clearly add to that unacceptable dilemma.  And what about allowing them to go to Camp David for rest and relaxation.  That’s another residence, all be it temporary.  Do any of you know the correct number of houses allowed?  Just wondering.  Surely, this qualification has arisen since the Kennedy’s.

I told good wife Pat of a recent dream.  It seems that Obama and McCain had reached agreement that they would select each other to be the other’s vice president.  The campaign would be cancelled and the public spared all the months of negativity and bitterness.  Both agreed that Joe Biden would be named Secretary of State and Colin Powell would be brought back as Secretary of Defense.  Then the election would be held on schedule, and whoever won, the other became Vice President with the results pretty much pre-planned.  I think the only part she approved of was, the part about cancelling the campaign and not getting the barrage of mail, TV ads, etc.  The closing Olympic ceremonies are tonight.  The Democratic National Convention starts Monday and the Republicans will follow that.  Thank goodness, we have some football starting in the middle of all this.

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I could wait no longer to continue my thoughts on the Olympics as I know you all have been nearly unable to contain yourselves expecting the next installment.  While we are all proud of the American Women Gymnasts, we Iowans salute Shawn Johnson and celebrate her achievements.  Shawn and Nastia Liuken  gave us much to be proud of, both in their abilities and their class and sportsmanship.  Nastia has Iowa ties, as an adviser and representative of an Iowa company producing personal gymnastic equipment, so we’ll lay partial claim to her also.  TV13 reports that we will soon see Shawn on the Wheaties Box. (Mike Phelps chose Kellog.)  Shawn and Nastia are two entirely different types, but the more mature charm,  grace, and poise of Liuken blended well with the athleticism, energy, and captivating smile of Johnson. While we enjoyed Shawn’s success, Iowans indeed felt the pain of Lolo Jones as she struck the ninth hurdle after leading and seemingly had her gold medal nearly around her neck, and literally fell over the finish line in 7th place.  She also showed great class and poise in accepting her failure to win and is still a winner in the hearts and minds of her Iowa supporters.

This will probably be my final report (thankfully, you are no doubt feeling) on the Olympics.  It looks like China will end up with the most Gold Medals and as of now it appears they probably will end up with the most total medals.  Guess that makes them the winner.  We’ll get em’ next time, as the saying goes.

While I have been impressed with the Chinese version of the Olympics, I will offer these final critical observations without personally viewing all the events.  I still think it unfair to make  the Beach Volley Ball participants play without a floor.  They have had to play without shoes and as I write, the rain is causing the ball to become covered with sand and just won’t bounce.  In spite of these handicaps the ladies appear to be doing quite well. (Probably because of those smart little uniforms.)  This Just in; The American Beach ladies have won the Gold, with the wet ball, without shoes, and no solid floor, in the rain.  Good for them.

In addition, I note that there was unfairness in the people steeple-chase.  The regular steeple-chase was a thing of beauty as the riders and horses glided gracefully over the course.  It was too bad that apparently some of the participants could not afford to have their horses shipped to China and the Chinese failed to provide additional animals.  So instead of having a horse beneath them, the remaining participants had to run and navigate the course on foot in the people steeple-chase.  It was not a thing of beauty as the runners struggled over obstacles and fell into water holes.  Makes one think of military boot camp.

The Hurdlers perhaps could have done better if the Olympic management had not kept storing road blocks all over the track.  The least that could have been done is get the maintenance people out there in time to clear the road blocks off the track before the race began.  To their credit, the runners tried for the most part to just jump over the darned things, but in some cases it was too much and getting tangled up with those things turned out to be detrimental in their effort to run a satisfactory race.  The situation sure didn’t help Lolo Jones.

Other than the above mentioned objections, I have enjoyed basketball, rowing, and the swimming was especially exciting with the Phelps achievements. Of course the help of his relay teammates was crucial to reach the record breaking 8 medal accumulation.  And the story of the girl from Australia, with only one leg who won the Gold in the 6 hour plus Open Water Swim was heartwarming.  There will be more enjoyable events to watch and then as usual there will be the expected grand closing ceremonies.  So continue to stay in bounds and I’ll “Catch you in 2012.”

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Only half way through August, and the weather is really great, BUT there are signs that Fall is approaching rapidly.  First, the pads are out and high school football practice is underway.  As an old coach, I always looked forward to it, but dreaded the heat and the threat of serious heat stroke, etc. to the young athletes.  Heat not so bad this year the last 10 days or so.  Second, there are the beginnings of leaves dropping, and the early mornings have been foggy on my daily walks.  This morning the sun was shining in the east and storm clouds were gathering in the west.  I witnessed the most beautiful full Iowa rainbow that I can remember.  (They don’t compare to those, one sees in Hawaii) I soon was walking in a nice cooling gentle shower.  As I met fellow walker/jogger (I walk, she jogs) Peggy (last name unknown) and her dog Sam (also last name unknown), she was giddy with joy that it was such a nice cool shower.  She and Sam live on the edge of the park which is one-mile around and they jog ten times or 10 miles every day.  She has two of her grandchildren from Nebraska with her during Aug. and she proclaimed this morning “that those kids are wearin’ me out.”  The ten miles might have something to do with it.

Then of course the crowning sign of an approaching Fall is the onset of the Iowa State Fair.  No problem so far with high gas prices.  With the cooler weather, record crowds are attending.  This year, the Fair is sort of competing with the Olympics because all Iowa eyes are on Shawn Johnson and Lolo Jones.  And move over Butter Cow, this year we even have a Butter Shawn no less.  There have been pictures in the Des  Moines Register but of course I haven’t seen it personally as “I DON’T DO FAIRS!”  We have to get the fair out of the way before school starts and Football starts.  Then Fall can really get underway.  Look out leaves, I’m ready for you.

Post Script:

The All Around Gymnastics in the Olympics just finished and the U.S. girls finished Gold & Silver with Shawn getting the Silver.  That’s great and only “just a little” of the butter melted off the Butter Shawn.  That Phelps kid just keeps on rollin’ also.

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I have mentioned before that our state (Iowa) University Athletic teams have been in slight disaray recently.  We may have trouble fielding  full teams this year unless they release some from jail.  Except for our National Champion Iowa University Wrestlers last year, we haven’t had a lot to cheer about.  Therefore we have to grasp on to other things and Shawn Johnson has made us giddy thinking about the possibilities of a gold medal or two in the Olympics.  Later we will have LoLo Jones, also of Des Moines who now holds a world record in some kind of race. (Hurdles I think).  We will hope LoLo is not just SoSo when it’s time to perform.

Anyway I was disappointed that the American Gymnasts failed to win the gold, but silver “aint all that bad”.  We felt bad for the team, but pleased that Shawn did well except for stepping out of bounds in the floor exercise.  Oh well we all step out of bounds now and then. And what about those deductions for just falling off the beam and falling during floor exercise.  I know plenty of people who fall and trip over themselves and aren’t even trying to get on a balance beam.  The girl who fell shouldn’t feel bad, I make balance adjustments all the time, sometimes when I walk and even sometimes when trying to make the checkbook come out even.  Gram even tripped over the dog inside the house and broke a hip.  So those youngsters needn’t feel bad.  Our Silver Sneakers group at the Y are working hard, but have come to realize that we may never even qualify and get the chance for a medal.  Many of we older folks, find that a cane helps in balance adjusting, but that might prove to be a bit clumsy during the balance beam and floor exercise. (Just a suggestion)

Speaking of stepping out of bounds, it sure looks like “John Boy” won’t be the Vice President even if his Daddy did work in the mill.  I may have mentioned that I did not care for Mr. Edwards (at all) even though I was sorry about Elizabeth’s health condition and even if he did carry our precinct caucus overwhelmingly and also finished second in the state behind Obama and ahead of Hillary.

Back to the Olympics, the swimmers have been great and the Phelps lad has been phenomenal.  Apparently the new swim suits have enabled almost all the swimmers to go faster and set new records.  Maybe they better check for steroids in the new swim suit material.  Or maybe the gymnasts should try them out.  I noticed that it was too bad the Chinese were unable to complete construction of the Beach Volley Ball Courts.  The poor guys and girls had to run in the sand.  But oh my, weren’t the Beach Volley Ball ladies uniforms attractive.  Hope they don’t switch to the swimmers new outfits.  President Bush seemed to like them also,  at least when Laura wasn’t around.

Well, there were all kinds of games and events and many more to come.  Synchronized diving was interesting.  Are two better than one?  If so, will we be looking for three or four or maybe a group dive in years to come?   So much for thoughts of the Olympics today.  We’ll be watching and maybe reporting more as the days go by.  So that’s a wrap for now.  Everyone keep working on your dismount and be sure to stay in bounds.

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To be honest, I have gone summer brain deficient and can’t come up with anything for a blog.  The late summer humidity has returned on schedule, the Obama machine rolls on, and the McCain campaign remains pathetic as the undeserving, inept Republicans flounder in a directionless ineffective effort against the well-oiled, but misguided, primarily anti-Bush machine.  AND all the while members of both parties in Congress doth fiddle while Rome burns.

Iowa pretty much remains under water but out of the lime light.  Recent storms have uprooted trees and damaged roofs, and the local paper featured a picture of unthinkable damage to a home-grown garden pepper in which such devastation is rarely seen.   A six inch long, one-quarter inch in diameter twig had been driven by high straight winds completely through the pepper (“clean through,” as reported) while still attached to the vine.  Will we ever recover?   (Film at 11:00)

Thus with nothing on my mind, I am persuaded to refer to my favorite local columnist “Walter Scott,” who lives in the next town and county over, and as I have mentioned before, writes outdoors-men material and also just “folksy” down to earth stuff about family and pets, etc. and which I enjoy reading a couple of times a week.

After last Sunday’s storm, Walter wrote that one living in a rural area had considerable clean up and repair work to perform.  Creeks and streams that pass under a boundary fence always present special challenges to maintain closure and prevent your neighbor’s livestock from entering your land and your cows and pigs from leaving home for the greener pastures, so to speak, on the other side.  Heavy rains and high winds usually make the “gaps” as they are called, vulnerable and in need of immediate attention.  Their family usually gathers on a Sunday, and Walter’s grandchildren being present, volunteered to help him go and repair the fence, not knowing of the unpleasantness of what had to be done.  Considering the heat, humidity, mud, insects, and difficulty of stretching fence and barbed wire, Walter believed his grandson, Zane, would beg to be taken home after a half-hour or so.

Upon arriving at the work site, Walter wrote:  “We found it to be hotter, muddier, and more nasty than anticipated.  While I got to work, stringing wire and sweating, Zane went to work exploring the creek for frogs, toads, turtles, and other creatures of interest.  A few hours into the project, I was cut from the barbed wire, mud from head to toe, and sweating profusely, Zane looked at me and said, ‘Grandpa shouldn’t we take a break?”  I thought the kid has more wisdom than me;  we should take a break.  We got water from the cooler and found a place in the shade to cool off.  We discussed the toad he had in a Gatorade bottle and the interesting rock he had found, as well as the nearby deer and coyote tracks.  Finally, I quit sweating so much when Zane looked up at me again and said, ‘This is fun isn’t it Grandpa?’  I had to agree with him.  Even a miserable job can be made to be fun with the right attitude and the right little helper.”

So, I am reminded of another little ‘Z’ called Zoe who if not already, will soon be volunteering to help with many numerous tasks just as her parents and their parents, etc. did before.  For all of us, It’ll be fun,  with the right attitude.  Love you all.

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