Friday, December 12, 2008

Put in ear plugs and don't cut off a finger

Note: this is a copy of a post to the LJW Blog Perspectives.

The current financial crisis seems over powering even in the midst of cheery Holiday celebrations. One way to cope is to live a more basic lifestyle.

Basic lifestyle may vary by individual. With upcoming holiday vacation time, personally completing all aspects of a home improvement project is one type of basic living, which results in a great deal of financial savings. Many of us find ourselves dusting off tools long ago forgotten in the corner of the garage. Often the old saw brings back memories of the shop teacher yelling above the din. (Our kids would say, their Dad, a former shop teacher, yelling above the din.)

I wonder if young people, amazingly skilled in electronics, have any knowledge of these basic woodworking tools, the skills needed to run them and do something with what they turn out. Or loud shop teachers for that matter.

Perhaps this is why there appears to be a change in future state funding for basic education.

Recently, the ,Abilene Reflector Chronicle Lifestyles Editor, Kathy Hageman reported, the Solomon USD 393 Board of Education approved moving the wood shop equipment from the ag shop back into the original Wood’s building that was converted to a tech lab.

Mitchell Tigtmeier, Solomon vocational-agriculture teacher said, “What we have now is state funding has shifted back to the basics—to woods and the agriculture classes, ag education, animal sciences, metals, woods, drafting, project construction and cabinetmaking.”

While many school districts have maintained a vocational technical curriculum for students thinking of a career craft, I wonder if other middle or junior high wood and drafting shops were turned into computer tech classrooms. It is this early teenage time when young people are open to new opportunities especially hands on skills in woodworking and drafting.

Learning to draw up plans, identify woods, handle power tools and even something as simple as the proper use of a coping saw is best taught in a highly structured setting to both girls and boys at an early level. How many have a junior high woodworking project in their home? (I say "girls" because our daughter is a woodworker as is our son.)

It seems Kansas and the Solomon school district are moving in the right direction. It is time to get back to the basics. Most importantly, as Abilene's Hageman reports, "Board member Mark Wallace said, I feel the skills being taught are ones of interest to students.”

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

"How much is that doggy in the window?"

Say, "Pleased to meet you, Miss Mya."

Doesn't she look like someone you know?

Mya belongs to my friend, Kathy, and she has entered the picture in a photo contest. She should win, don't you think?

This is my day

Notice the sideways snow. The roads never were too bad, although I had to drive my Beater '88 Olds. There was a wind chill in the single digits, but I was dressed.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Lawrence's Horse and Buggy Christmas Parade

Children and adults line Mass Street in a lively tailgate atmosphere for the Annual Horse and Buggy Christmas Parade Saturday morning. Mittens and stocking hats prevalent, but hardly needed.

As if in another century, the festive carriages pulled by perfectly groomed and disciplined horses slowly move by. I am reminded pride in transportation spans time.

Then the announcement, “Hold your hats and watch your wallets….hog tie your man and get a good grip on your woman...”

The Wild Women of the Frontier have arrived. Whooping, hollering and creating general havoc, the women make their presence known, just as they did a century ago.

The Wild Women attend many festivals and events around the Midwest. I had an opportunity to visit with several of them at The Great American Cattle Drive in Ellsworth. It seems friends from Topeka came upon the idea to form the group with the intent of educating the public about women from the 1800s and 1900s.

They choose a woman of history, research and design an authentic costume to fit the personality of their choice. They expertly ride their own horse while depicting hard working women such as Cattle Annie, Nellie Cashman, and Martha Jane Cannary (Calamity Jane). Etta Place, Belle Starr and Pearl Hart have robbed a stagecoach and bank or two. Or, Sadie Orchard, Laura Evans and Big Nose Kate who are in the “entertainment business.”

Biographies of all the women are on Wild Women of the Frontier web site. I personally recommend their recipe book also available there. Among other things, it includes Rules for Riding the Stagecoach as well as Carry Nation’s Fruit Cooler for Non-Sinners and Calamity Jane’s Red Eye A... Kicker.

There was another group of Proper Women in the parade. They were beautifully dressed in period costumes. The Wild Women are more interesting.