Tuesday, August 31, 2010

De Smet, South Dakota

Okay, I’ll admit it, when Char said she would like to go to De Smet, South Dakota, to see one of the homesteads of Charles and Caroline Ingalls I didn’t exactly jump up and down with excitement. This homestead, as well as others, was made popular by the Little House series of books written by Laura Wilder Ingalls. Later those books became the basis of the hit television show, ‘Little House on the Prairie’. Well, as it turned out, with the exception of visiting with the Morrow’s, De Smet was the highlight of my trip. It scored higher than Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and the needles highway although they are well worth the visit.

Yes, there really was a Charles, Caroline, Laura, and Mary Ingalls. While they had several homesteads across the Midwest this is a picture of their land in De Smet, their last homestead. It is here that Laura met and married Almanzo. De Smet is the basis for many of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books including, ‘By the Shores of Silver Lake’, ‘The Long Winter’, ‘Little Town on the Prairie’, ‘These Happy Golden Years’, and ‘The First Four Years’.

This is a replica of their house. Also on the homestead is a sod house and a claim shanty. A sod house was dug out of the hillside and bricks cut from sod were used for the roof. Sod houses stayed cool in the summer and warm in the winter but after a heavy rain the walls and roof would drip water for up to three days. In addition, the original claim shanty built by Henry Burvee has been moved to the Ingalls homestead. The claim shanty is over 125 years old.

We took a ride across the homestead in a covered wagon. Take a close look at this covered wagon – it has rubber tire to help smooth out the ride. Even with the rubber tires the ride was bumpy. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been with wooden wheels.

Back in De Smet we took a tour. Here Char is standing in the doorway of the Brewster School house where Laura Wilder taught. While the building is a replica it contains many original items from the late 1880’s.

One evening we ate the Kingsbury Country Club. There were many dishes I had never heard of including Chislic which is sirloin steak cut into one half inch cubes, deep fried, sprinkled with garlic salt and served with a side of barbecue sauce. It was really quite tasty.

From De Smet we headed to the Morrow’s where the food was exceptional.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Funnies

A kindergarten teacher gave her class a "show and tell" assignment. Each student was instructed to bring in an object to share with the class that represented their religion.

The first student got up in front of the class and said, "My name is Benjamin and I’m Jewish and this is a Star of David."

The second student got up in front of the class and said, "My name is Mary. I'm a Catholic and this is a Rosary."

The third student got in up front of the class and said, "My name is Tommy. I’m a Baptist, and this is a casserole."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pest Alert - The Sequel

I’m getting ready to stain the deck. Yesterday I power washed it. Today I thought, “Hey, why I have the power washer out I might as well clean the deck chairs and tables.” That’s when things turned ugly. Walking under the deck I noticed not one but two bee hives on the support beams.

I suppose a sane person would have stopped and gotten some wasp and hornet spray. But I had a bad experience with it last year. I put the power washer on a straight stream and blasted both the hives. Suddenly, bees were everywhere. The old adage, “Live and let live” was nowhere in my mind. I turned the power washer to a fan spray and even though I was seriously outnumbered, I held my ground.

Later I walked outside. Deck was power washed and ready to be stained, chairs and tables were spotless, and not a bee in sight. I love my Husky power washer.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sunday Funnies

One Sunday morning, a mother went in to wake her son and tell him it was time to get ready for church, to which he replied, "I'm not going."

"Why not?" she asked. "I'll give you two good reasons," he said. "One, they don't like me, and two, I don't like them."

His mother replied, "I'll give you two good reasons why you should go to church. One, you’re 59 years old, and two, you're the pastor!"

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sunday Funnies

A little girl, dressed in her Sunday best, was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for Bible class. As she ran she prayed, “Dear Lord, please don't let me be late! Dear Lord, please don't let me be late!”

While she was running and praying, she tripped on a curb and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again!

As she ran she once again began to pray, “Dear Lord, please don't let me be late...But please don't shove me either!”

(Thanks to Paul)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Field Trips

Earlier this year Char and I were on a road trip in South Dakota. Char was in the passenger seat asleep, I was driving. That’s when I started thinking about my cooking class at the nursing home. Granted, doing a cooking class at a nursing home may not be everyone’s gift but I enjoy it. For whatever reason, it brings back great memories of my Father in law. When he was there he attended the cooking class. He would come to our house on the weekends with the recipe they made that week and often times he and I would recreate them. We had some great times in the kitchen even though he worked my butt off. He would read the recipe and tell me what to do. I, the good son in law, would do it. He would go back to the rehabilitation center, I would clean up the kitchen.

Driving through South Dakota thinking about it I decided I wasn’t happy with the results of my class. Many of the residents engaged but not at the level I wanted.

When we got back in town I resumed “teaching” the cooking class but with a twist. For two weeks I took them in a picture and told them a story about it. Then we “cooked” something that tied in with the photo. To my amazement the residents really started to engage a lot more. They started telling me stories, I told them stories, everyone (including me) started laughing and talking a whole lot more than when I was following the manual I was given at the beginning of this endeavor. And the class size grew.

After my two week trial I decided it was time to come clean. I went in and met with activity director and told him what I had been doing and the ‘manual’ wasn’t working for me and if need be I could find another place to volunteer. He smiled, took the manual and threw it on his desk. He told me he had had heard more laughter and chatter coming from the activity room during cooking class than any other time during the week. He also told me my pictures and recipes had become prized possessions of many of the residents. He told me about a guy that went down to the kitchen and told the cooks, “If you have a chance you should go to Ralph’s cooking class.” Then he told me what I wanted to hear – make it work for you and the residents.

Later that day I called a friend and told him what I had done. He replied, “Well, Ralph, if you think about it the farthest some of those people have been in a long time is from their room to the dining hall. You’re taking them on field trips.”

Today, I went to the nursing home and posted a picture of yesterday's class on the bulletin board. These pictures are also becoming a big hit. I got in the elevator with one of my “assistance's” and she remarked my class was really growing and becoming more and more popular. I told her it was the pictures. She then said, “It’s the pictures, it’s the food, it’s the stories, and it’s the fact that you take them on mental field trips getting them out of this place.”

There it was again, the words field trips.

So far we have been to Mount Rushmore, DeSmit, South Dakota, and a rodeo in Nebraska. I can hardly wait to take them to Palisade where we’re going to pick peaches.