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Weekly Columns!

All your favorite weekly columns and letters to the editor- online!

 Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt
I haven't kept track of such things but an email message received on Tuesday morning advised this is the seventh anniversary of this newspaper having a presence on the social media platform known as Facebook.
Our web site is much older. Not sure of the exact date it first appeared but it was before the turn of the 21st century.
I remember when my grandparents told time by whether the event happened before or after the turning of the century-the 20th century. When I asked my grandparents to tell me a story about what life was like when they were a child they would start by saying,"It was a long time ago, before the turn of the century..."
I decided turning of the century was a major event. And so I began to contemplate what it would be like to see a century turn. I considered my father to be a good source of first hand observation about many subjects but he couldn't help me with my turn of the century questions as he was born in 1918, well past the turn of the century. And so I began to calculate how old Dad and I would be when the century next turned. I was confident I would live to see the big event but wasn't so sure about my father for he would be 82 and few people I knew had lived to be that old. I was sad he would probably miss the monumental turning of a century. My father fooled me and his doctors who said he wouldn't live to see 54. He lived to observe his 94th birthday and certainly saw the arrival of the 21st century. But it wasn't an exciting event. If he were still living, he would have observed his 99th birthday on Saturday.
As the year 2000 approached thee was an attempt to make a big deal out of it. Remember the Y2K controversy?
Some thought the turning of the century would be akin to doomsday. We were told our computers were not programmed to handle the turning of the century. The electrical system would fail, water would be cut off, our automobiles would stop working... and on and on.
Y2K was pretty much a non-event. Here at the newspaper our computers caused a little bit of a problem because we had been lazy and only entered the last two years of an expiration date. We had to go through our computer based circulation files and add two digits to each expiration date. If we hadn't, all subscriptions with an expiration date prior 2000, would still be considered valid. To have lost the circulation revenue might have done us in but chaning the expiration dates was not an impossible task.
I've yet to determine what if, any value, this newspaper has received from having a page on the internet or a presence on a social media site. The "experts" in the newspaper business think we should have them and we invest several hours each week into maintaining both.
Though I question if the sites pay their way, I know they are used. Saturday afternoon, Rita and I went to Lovewell Lake bird watching. While there, I experimented with some camera and lens combinations. In one of the experiments, I was able to attach a lens I had bought in the 1970s for a film camera to a digital camera of current design.
I enjoyed the time out-of-doors and learned from the experiment but was disappointed I didn't return with a knock-your-socks-off photo for the front page of this week's newspaper. Later in the weekend, I experimented with processing the digital images and posting the results on the internet. I learned some things not to do and some things which have promise. I posted some of what I consider less than stellar results on the internet and have been amazed at the number of people who have looked, shared and commented. In the first 24 hours, the total number of recorded views of the various posts and shares probably topped 2,000.
Tuesday morning, I had an office visitor encouraging me to make more Superior history posts. Later in the morning, the newspaper office fielded two telephone calls asking that we include more historical information on our web site.
I appreciate the interest and enjoy doing so but that work isn't paying the bills. And I find paying the bills and gathering current information for the newspaper is getting harder. My appreciation of the many volunteers who supply us with pictures and stories grows every day. Just wish we had more help, particularly with stories about current events.
When I was in high school, I thought The Express had too many stories about old people and not enough coverage of what my contemporaries were doing. I fear the same can be said about today's newspaper.


A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

My entire household has been sick for the better part of a week. Kathy began feeling poorly (severe cold symptoms and exhaustion) as soon as we returned from the movie shoot last weekend. She got worse as the week progressed and is still not very well. And as the week progressed, more flu-like symptoms piled onto the other maladies she was dealing with.
Then I began to notice that a lot of other people from the shoot were complaining of illness on social networking platforms. However, a great many of my connections from across the midwest ­­ including a lot of those not present or involved with our film ­­ are also sick right now, so I would hesitate to point fingers at anyone for recklessly spreading a virus.
I woke up with a terrible sore throat on Friday, which rapidly morphed into exhaustion, fever, achy joints and diarrhea. That was my weekend, which was a little heartbreaking because we had to decline an invitation to dinner and a movie Saturday with Lew and Pamela Hunter and another couple. Sauerkraut Pizza from Dave's and "La La Land" at The Crest sounded like a great evening, but we didn't feel anything like attending and certainly wouldn't have exposed our friends on purpose to whatever we had.
By late Monday, most of my symptoms had diminished, leaving me wiped out, but better. Kathy didn't seem significantly better even by Tuesday, but Molly was enough better that she left to visit her sister for a week or so at college.
I figure I was due. Throughout most of my life, I believe I have been sick with a cold or flu less frequently than the majority of my friends and family members. By the same token, it had been several years since I'd been that sick, so it seemed like it was kind of my turn.

Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

Is it spring or is it winter? The calendar says winter remains almost another 30 days, but the warm temperatures and bright sunshine make it feel a Texas winter. Predictions say records could be set as the temperature climbs into the high 70s; in southwestern Kansas it could reach 80 degrees.
Recent vacation plans took me and my husband to Texas, to get away from early February weather, but the temperatures were almost the same down there as they were here in Kansas.
Now, weather reports say the warm weather is going to change this week as temperatures go backwards, with highs in the 30s. If that isn't bad enough, they are also predicting the chance of rain turning into snow. You can't out-guess February and March weather in this area. When it's all said and done, my husband and I may wish we had remained in Texas a while longer.
While on our Texas trip, my patient husband weathered two places that I dreamed of visiting. One was in the Oklahoma ranch country, on Osage tribal land in a town called Pawhuska. This is the home of the famous Food Network star, Ree Drummond, known as "The Pioneer Woman." I can relate as she lives in the country and cooks for her ranch family. I became interested in following her years ago on her blog, before she wrote her many cookbooks and became famous. Her recipes are simple and provide "down home cooking." Ree and her husband, who she calls her "Marlboro Man," purchased and restored an historic brick building on a corner in Pawhuska. They devoted a long time to refurbishing the building and last November it was completed and open to the public.
The building contains a mercantile store, filled with her books, the colorful clothing she wears on her television show and stuffed animals representing those on the Drummond Ranch (including her hound, Charlie), Ree's colorful cookware and her line of kitchen cloth items. In another part of the building is a deli, and on the second floor is a bakery featuring all of Ree's favorite goodies, including cupcakes, cream puffs and candy. A seating area allows people to eat and look out the large windows to the streets below. As we sat at one of the tables, I looked around the big room, hoping Ree had come to visit her bakery that day, but no such luck. Then I spotted the next best person to be seen there. Standing within a few feet was Ree's Marlboro Man, Ladd Drummond, who often appears on her show. We marveled at how many local people were employed in her store, and how great it is for the town, to put it on the map, and attract so many people from all over.
Our next stop was Waco, Texas, home of my favorite HGTV show, "Fixer Upper." Chip and Joanna Gaines are featured on the show, taking couples around Waco and surrounding towns and showing them a choice of three homes the Gaineses could remake for the couple. The couple chooses one and Chip and his crew does the labor while Joanna does her decorating and designing creations. The end product is the couple's dream home. The Gaineses bring their children in on the show, along with their farm home and farm animals. They always blend in their special humor with each other.
Recently they purchased a flour mill and silos in the downtown area. They turned the mill storage building into the Magnolia Market mercantile store, filled with Chip and Joanna's favorite furniture, clothing and decor items for every room in a house. A large courtyard next to the store was designed for children to play, providing a great family space. Picnic tables surround the area and on two sides are food trailers for picnickers to enjoy. Another building is now Joanna's seed and garden store, where her gardening favorites are available. There is a garden area where seeds are planted, showing off flowers and vegetables. Another building (which we think was probably the mill's office) was turned into a bakery featuring Joanna's favorite cookies and cupcakes. The whole place was busy with customers. Again we noted now many locals were employed there ­­ in the individually owned food trailers and in all three of the Magnolia Market buildings. We didn't see anything of the Gaines family, but if you are a fan of the television show, you probably saw a little bit of them in everything there.
The Drummonds and Gaineses could have developed their businesses in any surrounding larger city, such as Dallas or Oklahoma City, but instead they decided to place them in their hometowns, drawing people to visit and creating local employment opportunities.
Of course, we visited many other places in Texas, but these were two of my favorites on this trip.