Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Rest of the Trip

Before heading to the Morrow’s I spent some time in Nebraska City. I had a little free time so I decided to drive through town. That’s when I came across the Mayhew Cabin and museum.

This cabin is said to have been a stopping point of the underground railroad used by slaves escaping north to Canada in the late 1850’s. Beneath the cabin, you can walk through a reconstructed tunnel, once known as John Brown’s cave. Built in 1855 this cabin was the home of Allen and Barbara Mayhew along with their six kids. Slaves were originally hidden in the vegetable cellar. Later, a tunnel was constructed to help them escape capture.

Besides the Mayhew cabin, there is old farm equipment, an old church, a one-room schoolhouse, a railroad station, and this 1900’s farmhouse.

The house is completely furnished including the bathroom. Make no mistake about it, if I were living there I know who would be emptying that.

But after it was empty I would take a hot bath – as soon as I heated the water on the wood burning stove, assuming I had the wood split. There are no faucets on the tub. I couldn’t find a drain either. That made me stand there and wonder - how did they get the water out?

I spent about an hour walking the grounds and except for the lady who open up all the building for me and took my $3 admission fee, I had the whole place to myself. I did see a piece of farm equipment I think Cliff should buy. A McCormick-Deering stationary threshing machine. I don’t think even I could break that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

2,895 Miles To Northridge

Heading home from Nebraska I realized it has taken almost two years and 2,895 miles to play the Northridge Country Club. From now on, I’ll call and schedule a tee time.

I took my clubs out one year at harvest but it rained the entire time I was there (1,158 miles). I took the clubs out again at Blogstock with the hopes of playing but we were having way too much fun with everything else (another 1,158 miles). Finally, on this trip we were able to play (the last 579 miles). Add up all the mileage and I have traveled 2,895 miles to tee off at the Northridge Country Club in Tekamah.

While it was cloudy and cool I had a great time. I think Cliff did too. We didn’t keep score but there was no doubt Cliff won. I don’t think it mattered to either of us.

When we were done, Cliff gave me some advice. I tried it and I’m convinced it will take several strokes off my game. Makes you wonder why he wait until we were done to tell me but. . . .

After golf, I HAD to buy a Northridge hat and one of my newest prized possessions – a Northridge logo ball.

I only spent one day at the Morrow’s but as usual, it was full of fun, food, and laughter.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sunday Funnies

The new minister stood at the church door greeting members as they left the Sunday morning service. Most of the people were very generous telling the new minister how much they liked his message, except for one man who said, "That was a very dull and boring sermon, Pastor."

A few minutes later, the same man appeared in line again and said, "I don't think you did much preparation for your message."

Once again, the man appeared, this time muttering, "You really blew it. You didn't have a thing to say."

Finally, the minister could stand it no longer. He went to one of the deacons and inquired about the man.

"Oh, don't let that guy bother you," said the deacon. "He's a little slow. All he does is go around repeating whatever he hears other people saying."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Picture Perfect Morning

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Statement of the Day

Have you ever heard a statement that at the time made sense and fit into the context of the conversation but latter made you laugh? Well, here is today’s.

Cliff and I were talking on the phone when Cliff paused then said, “Say, Ralph can I call you back? There’s a guy here I really want to talk to.”

Ten minutes later, I busted out laughing when I thought about it. “Say, Ralph can I call you back? There’s a guy here I REALLY want to talk to.”

Guess he had better stories.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tuckered Out

We recently had visitors. DOR (Daughter Of Ralph) and SILOR (Son In Law Of Ralph) came out for a visit over Spring break. While the weather in the mountains prevented us from going with our original plan, we found enough activities to keep us busy.

In order to get through the days activities a hearty breakfast is required. DOR and SILOR made us breakfast every morning. We had breakfast burritos one morning and Swedish pancakes several times - I kept requesting them. They were served with butter, powdered sugar, and lingonberries.

But, there was drama during the making of breakfast. I casually asked DOR if she really wanted a burner as hot as she had it. That’s when she called me a control freak and banned me from the kitchen. Evidently, she did. Breakfast came out great.

We played pool several times. SILOR and I got in a few warm up games before inviting Char and DOR to join us. It was DOR and SILOR against Char and I. Char and I won (I think).

We also went bowling a number of times. DOR and SILOR have joined a league and have been getting in more practice than Char and I. Up until their visit, I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve been bowling. To my credit, I did all right. I only threw the ball backwards towards everyone once.

Char has better form and style than I do, but it’s been years since she bowled. Even with that extended absence, she did well. There was even talk about buying our own bowling shoes and joining a league. We’ll see how that plays out. We may have to go a time or two more before making the investment.

SILOR and I played a couple rounds of golf while DOR and Char had a movie day. As much as it pains me to say it, SILOR did beat me – by one stroke. I was happy being able to play and pleased with my game mainly because I haven’t played since last August.

Then early one morning, I took them to the airport and they headed back home. It was fun to see them and to spend a few days playing with them but. . . . . they really tuckered me out.

Thanks for the visit.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sunday Funnies

A pastor who was badly overworked went to the local medical center and was able to have a clone made. The clone was just like the pastor in every respect--except the clone used extraordinarily foul language.

Finally complaints about the dirty language were too much.The pastor was not sure how to get rid of the clone but decided it should look like a accident. So the pastor lured the clone onto a bridge in the middle of the night and pushed the clone off the bridge.

Unfortunately there was a police officer who happened by at that very moment and arrested the pastor for making an obscene clone fall.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Monday morning at five o’clock, we were listening to the news. The reporter said, “We have another food recall to tell you about. This time it is pistachios.” I chuckled a little. In the last three days we had eaten our share of pistachios and on top of that, we had five pounds on the dining room table.

Char and I took a trip to Alamogordo, New Mexico. This wasn’t our first choice but the weather in South Dakota sounded iffy. I brought up the idea of going to Alamogordo to see the pistachio groves. Char looked at me, smiled, and said that would be fine. I think she was humoring me. She probably wanted to say, “Hey, you wanted to spend nine hours in the car to look at trees planted in a straight line that’s fine with me.”

Vineyards, groves, hay fields, orchards, farms, and plantations have always fascinated me. Now I’ll admit most people probably don’t get excited about those things but a pistachio grove is worth the trip.

There are two pistachio groves and one pecan grove near Alamogordo and we stopped at all three. Eagle Ranch and McGinn’s grow pistachios, the Nut House raises pecans.

Eagle Ranch was the first pistachio grove in New Mexico. It is now the largest. It’s 85 acres in size and has roughly 12,000 pistachio trees. They also have 18,000 grape vines from which a variety of wines are made including one with a pistachio taste called, Pistachio Rose.

Here are the pistachio trees and just like Char thought – they are planted in a straight line. They usually plant the trees on a 17’ x 17’ spacing.

Harvest is around September 10th. Following harvest, the hull (called the epicarp) needs to be removed within 24 hours or the inner shell will become stained. After the epicarp is removed, the nuts are power washed four times. Then they are sorted by hand twice. One sorting removes rocks, sticks, and other debris. They also do a in-shell removal, this includes nuts that have not started to open or are stained.

The in-shell removals go into the sheller. Here the nutmeat is removed from the shell.

Pistachios still in the shell are roasted in this machine. After a little roasting they come out of the oven, flavoring is added, then back into the roaster.

This machine is used to add flavoring. There is a wide range of flavors including salted, lemon lime, red chili, green chili, garlic and others. Only one flavor a day is done and the machine needs to be thoroughly cleaned.

Then we were off to McGinn’s pistachio tree ranch.
They also offer a variety of pistachio flavors.
These are some of the younger trees on the ranch. These trees start producing nuts in the fourth or fifth year and yield one-half a pound. At maturity, which is in 15 to 20 years, each tree will produce around seventy pounds of pistachios
Now is where my kids need to pay attention. This is the world’s largest pistachio. It is a monument to Thomas McGinn who passed away in 2007. Mr. McGinn was the founder of the Pistachio Tree Ranch. The monument was conceived and put in place by his kids. I don’t need anything this big but - a little something (about half this size) would be nice.

So, on Monday morning when I heard the pistachio recall involved California pistachio I was a little relieved. Not that it mattered, I had already made up my mind I was going to eat the pistachios and drink the wine.