Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stacey and Mark in Concert December 15

We are now well into our third season of hosting House Concerts, and it has turned out to be a wonderful, rewarding, but somewhat stressful endeavor! However, we wouldn't trade it for the world.

I often think back to when the kids were still in school and we didn't do anything more than run around to their events, cook and care for them. That all changed when the last one graduated and we decided to expand our lives. I began blogging and became active in other social media, we began to renovate the cabin in the Sandhills, traveling more, and we started hosting House Concerts. Sometimes when I'm lying in bed at night thinking of all the things I didn't get done that day in preparation for the next concert, and what is left to be done, I wonder why on earth I ever got myself into this!

Then I think of all of the artists, and others whom I admire who are entrepreneurs and survive each day on the effort they put into their careers, and I get ashamed. It must be nervewracking for each of these to put themselves out there every day, wondering if people are going to show up, or like them, if they are going to make enough money to pay their bills.

My son owns his own business in Idaho, Archery Central. These are tough times to be a start-up business, yet he's doing what he loves and working hard to make a living at it. One of my sons-in-law is doing the same with Maly Marketing. Each day I get emails from artists hoping to get a booking into our concert series. The stresses that I put upon myself, promoting and preparing for our concerts pales in comparison to the efforts that these wonderful people are making.

So, it's up to me to put things in perspective and to keep doing everything in my power to make our concert series a success, for the artist that we host and for our guests who need to experience great live music. Whether that means walking door-to-door to hang up our invitations, working on the concert series Facebook page, blanketing my social media followers with updates, preparing and sending out the email blasts, talking to people one-on-one, writing press releases for the local newspapers, reviewing potential artists and checking myriad calendars to come up with dates, or cleaning, preparing menus, shopping, cooking, and setting up the house.

With all of that, let me introduce you to our House Concerts for December 15: Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart.
Few husband-wife musical duos provide audiences with the complete entertainment package that Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart dish out in a live performance. Armed with clever acoustic guitar interplay, autobiographical songwriting, lovely harmonies, and humorous storytelling this couple captivates your attention from the first moment they are onstage. Based out of Tennessee, Earle and Stuart draw from blues, pop, country, rock, and more in their heartfelt music. The years of touring the folk/Americana circuit (playing 170 concerts a year) have given them a knack for reaching out to the audience in an intimate “come in to my living room” fashion.

Stacey and Mark own their own record label, Gearle Records, and have made 8 CDs over the years. Since meeting in 1992 and marrying in late 1993, the partners have toured the USA, Canada, and Europe repeatedly. They left the environment of pursuing a major label deal in Nashville in 1998 to target small intimate venue crowds in theaters, coffeehouses, festivals, clubs, and house concerts. This has become their home and they are a recognized fixture on the folk music trail they blaze.
The concert is scheduled for December 15, at 7:30pm in our home. If you would like to attend, please email me, or check out our facebook page for all of the details and to RSVP.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pymatuning Lake

How do you begin to describe a location whose claim to fame is "where the ducks walk on the fish?" Well, let's just start at the beginning.
Pymatuning Lake is located in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania, and part of it spills over into Ohio. I know this first hand, because even though we went with a local, we missed the turn to Linesville and skirted the western shore of the lake on the Ohio side before crossing over on a causeway to the Spillway.
It was a chilly November day when we were there, but I can just imagine how beautiful and busy the lake is in the summer. Even though the lake is large, there is a 20-hp motor limit for boats, which must make it a very laid-back and relaxing place to visit in the summer. As described in the Pennsylvania State Park website:
Almost everything about Pymatuning State Park is huge. At 21,122 acres, it is one of the largest state parks in the Commonwealth. The 17,088-acre Pymatuning Reservoir is the largest lake in the Commonwealth. In its three campgrounds, Pymatuning has the most campsites in the Pennsylvania state park system. More people visit Pymatuning than almost any other state park in Pennsylvania. But the biggest thing about Pymatuning is the fun you can have boating, fishing, swimming, camping and enjoying other recreational opportunities. In addition to the state park facilities, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission operate a fish hatchery and visitor center, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission has wildlife viewing areas and a learning center.
The spillway area is beautifully developed with a concessionaire (not open while we were there), and great parking areas and walkways. Feeding the seagulls is almost as popular as feeding the fish.
Pymatuning lake was originally built after a disastrous flood in 1913 to control the water, but it has since become a haven for fish, wildlife and birds. The spillway separates two portions of the lake. It's hard to describe because I don't understand the mechanics behind it, but the water flows over into the bowl, which is filled with fish.
And ducks, too, of course. After all, how could you have a place where the ducks walk on the fish without the ducks?
When the concession is open, they sell bread there, but it wasn't open on the day that we were there. Although we didn't bring any bread, fortunately for us, there were other people who had, and we got to watch the antics of the seagulls, ducks, and the carp devouring the bread that was thrown. Did I mention carp? Millions of carp, I swear!
Click on the video below so you can see the frenzy that is created when bread is thrown. First the ducks, then the seagulls, and last of all, the carp.

While we didn't observe any ducks walking on the carp while we were there, it was easy to see that they could have if they had wanted to.
Everywhere you look, the fish are just begging to be fed! It is well worth a visit, and while you're in the area, be sure to visit some of the other attractions at the great communities of Crawford County, Pennsylvania.
According to what I read, more than 300,000 people visit the Linesville area each year to feed the fish. What an incredible example of making the most out of what you have. Figure out what makes you unique, that people can't get anywhere else (really, do think there is anywhere else like this?), then market that! The resulting visitors will benefit all of the other area attractions.

It was a great side trip, and had it been in the summer, would have been a great place to rent a cabin and stay for a few days exploring.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Got Corn?

Being a farmer is tough these days. In addition to contending with volatile and often adverse conditions from Mother Nature, today's farmers have to navigate a maze of federal regulations for everything from carbon footprints to chemical usage. And then, after the farming is done and the crop is harvested, the choices and related pitfalls of the various marketing strategies can prove to be their undoing even after a successful harvest. But farmers in Nebraska continue to do what they do best - grow excellent crops. As can be seen from these pictures of corn storage. Above is the pile of corn just east of the elevator in Sutherland.
Above is protected storage as well as corn on the ground just outside of Hershey.
This pile of corn is just west of the elevator in North Platte. You can also see two alternative corn storage facilities just behind it.
The above massive pile of corn is shown from the Poplar Street viaduct in North Platte, just east of the elevator.
Above is the huge pile of corn on the ground on the outskirts of Paxton, Nebraska.

For once, corn prices have risen to a sustainable level for farmers. While the current high prices are being blamed for everything from famine and food shortages worldwide to high food prices here in the U.S., the current prices represent a very small profit margin for farmers, who usually produce their crops at a loss.

Raw materials in the form of corn, wheat, soybeans and other commodities reflect a very small portion of the food we purchase to put on our tables. Most of the cost comes from transportation, processing and packaging. Everyone along the line needs to make a profit. Farmers are generally the ones who are short changed, and also the ones to be unjustifiably blamed when prices rise.

Ah well, the above pictures represent a bountiful harvest here in Nebraska, and I hope across the entire U.S. corn belt. Now the process starts all over again with planning and preparation for the spring planting season. Such is the life of a farmer.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

An Ogallala Tradition

Nebraskans have long been known for placing their worn out cowboy boots upside down on top of fence posts. Besides being a dubious form of decoration, it serves the purpose of protecting the top of the fence post from moisture that could cause it to rot.

On a recent trip to Ogallala on Highway 30, I saw several examples of another tradition that has been going on in the Ogallala area for a long time, so I took the time to snap a few pictures with my cell phone.
When driving around the Ogallala area, you often see bottles of all kinds and descriptions stuck on branches along the roadway, sometimes even on weeds. Someone had obviously been very busy recently, as I passed numerous trees decorated thusly.
Now I'm not here to pass judgement, only to document. Whether or not this industrious person found the bottles along the roadway and decided to move them to the tree branches, or whether they brought their own trash is unknown.
Yes, this might be considered litter, but it's also a form of folk art, and pretty in its own way.
It's interesting what you see in rural Nebraska.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Through The Seasons Part Eight

May 5, 2010, 6:10pm
June 5, 2010, 8:30am
July 5, 2010, 10:00am
August 7, 2010, 8:30am
September 6, 2010, 7:00pm
October 3, 2010, 9:00am
November 2, 2010, 8:30am
December 4, 2010, 9:00am
The temperature was hovering around the mid 20's when I took the picture above. The cloud shadows are dappling the Sandhills, where all is dormant to await the coming long months of winter.

Personally, I am going to enjoy perusing previous blog posts about our wonderful summer, and dream of the return of the long warm days of sunshine.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Decorating for Christmas At The Codys

A quick video showing you some of the behind the scenes moments at decorating for Christmas at the Codys at Buffalo Bill State Historical Park in North Platte.

Christmas at the Codys 2010 will be December 17 - 20.

Hope to see you all there.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on - maybe even hot chocolate.