Thursday, August 03, 2006

Summer Time?

Summer has come and gone awfully quickly for me this year.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Summer Update

It's been a bit hectic and I've sadly neglected the blog. I need to do better!

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Every bright and sunny day we enjoy is just one more winter day without snow and cold!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

APB for Ronald McDonald

From Bizarre News -

LINCOLN, Neb. - A Nebraska grandmother wants Ronald McDonald returned to her backyard after thieves made off with the 8-foot fast food icon. The 8-foot statue of the McDonald's clown stood behind Marie Siefker's house in Lincoln for 15 years. But last Saturday, when she pulled into her driveway, the statue was gone. "That was very devastating," she told the Lincoln Journal Star. "I don't know who could be so mean." Siefker, a longtime McDonald's employee, acquired Ronald when the restaurant where she worked was redecorated. The person who was supposed to pick up Ronald failed to show up so she gave him a good home. Ronald has been a popular figure at birthday parties for her grandchildren and at Easter egg rolls and other festivities. She does not know if the thief stole Ronald as a prank or to sell him to a collector.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Some People Just Need a New Hobby

I have a lot of hobbies. Most of them are relatively harmless, except for the drain on my oh-so-limited pocketbook.

One man identified as being from Nebraska has a particularly disgusting hobby. According to an AP story, Reno Tobler, 54, gets his jollies tossing bottles of urine into people’s back yards. He was recently arrested in Clive, Iowa, after police caught him delivering his unwanted gift.

It seems that Tobler is a truck driver who frequently operates in the Clive area. Like many truck drivers, he keeps a detergent-sized plastic jug in the cab for instant relief. When full (and in Clive), he finds a fenced back yard and lobs it over the fence. According to Clive Police Chief Robert Cox., "Since this fall, we've had eight to 10 incidents reported where people have found containers full of urine thrown into their backyards."

Clive supposedly admitted to police that this has been a ongoing hobby for him. His truck contained numerous containers that were filled and ready for delivery. No reason for selecting the Clive area was identified. Maybe a truck stop there has particularly bad coffee?

Mr. Tobler was charged with littering and harassment and lodged in the Polk County, Iowa, jail and eventually released on $500 bond.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Five Recommended Nebraska Blogs

Nebraska may not be the most literary of states (but, hey, we gave the world Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz, and Wright Morris) but there are still people around with something to say. What better way to say it than on a blog? This is my December 2005 list of Nebraska Blogs that I’ve been impressed with and recommend that you give them at least a quick look.

Don’t Let Me Stop You

This blog tends to have a political focus, and looks at Nebraska, national, and sometime international events. Very well written by someone who definitely has something to say, Lots of good links and an intelligent point of view, even though you may not always agree.

Plains Feeder

Like Don’t Let Me Stop You, this blog enjoys the benefits of having a small group of contributors, some of which are shared between the two blogs. Again, the subject matter tends to be politically with a plains point of view, interspersed freely with general interest topics. It also has good links. It’s updated almost daily, and always interesting.

Panhandle Pundit

Ryne McClaren publishes this western Nebraska Blog, and does it very well. One may not always agree with his right-of-center views, but his selection of topics is excellent, his writing very clear, and you usually no exactly where he is coming from. What more could you ask? Ryne presents a wide range of links to similar blogs, with a separate section for Nebraska and South Dakota blogs. Worth a look!

From the Heartland

Published by Gunscribe, this blog, as his blog-name suggests, mixes a dose of gun and gun related articles with outdoor sports, political, and general opinion posts. Gunscribe writes well, expresses his opinions clearly, and will never be accused of being wishy-washy. He is apparently based in Lincoln, and treats the reader to some biting comments about Lincoln city government, always a source of some amusement (particularly for those of us who can watch from afar and aren’t directly effected by their shenanigans).

Husker Mike’s Blasphemy

I’m not usually a big fan of sports blogs, but Husker Mike as a good one. His objectivity and selection of topics makes for an interesting read. Although Mike’s focus is primarily on Nebraska football (after all, this is Nebraska), he also brings in a full range of other Nebraska sports and some articles from other other Nebraska colleges. Sports fans, or even those who are only mildly interested in sports, should check out this blog.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

I wish a Merry Christmas to one and all!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Two-Mouthed Trout

Some fish have two mouths – that doesn’t seem to help me any because I still can’t catch them.

This deformity was caught from a Nebraska lake in Lincoln. Naturally, it's a put-and-take hatchery fish. They are stocked only in the winter, and can't live through a Nebraska summer.

Full story is here

Friday, December 23, 2005

What a Fish!

Thai fisherman netted what may be the largest freshwater fish ever caught.

Read the full story here

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Passing of a Legend

I have always been, at least for the past 40 years, an enthusiastic canoeist. My travels have taken me from the rivers of Nebraska to much wilder waters of Alaska, and many wonderful areas in between. I always find myself drawn back to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota.

This week, a legend passed away in Ely, Minnesota. The following article, from the Star Tribune in Minnesota, says it better than I can,

Joe Seliga, Master Canoe Craftsman, Dies

The 94-year-old was known for wood-framed canvas crafts he and his wife made in Ely, Minn.

Matt McKinney, Star Tribune
Last update: December 19, 2005 at 12:08 AM

Hundreds of wood-frame canvas canoes today bear the following message, a sort of love poem, written in black ink on the frame. It goes like this: "Built by Nora & Joe Seliga."

Husband and wife canoe builders, the Seligas churned out hundreds of meticulously handmade canoes from their Ely, Minn., workshop. The output slowed five years ago when Nora died. Early Sunday morning, the Seliga line stopped altogether when Joe died at the age of 94. The cause was cancer.
"He was a pretty amazing guy," said Jeanne Bourquin, who also makes canoes in Ely. "There was always this little sparkle in his eyes and kind of a grin. I didn't think he was ever going to die."

Seliga was still at work less than two weeks ago, planing a partially finished canoe with the help of his son-in-law, according to his family. The legendary Seliga canoes were always a part of the family's life, said his daughter JoAnn Nilsen, of Cottage Grove.

"We lived with it all of our lives," she said. "It was just something that they did and we never thought anything of it."

The news of his death Sunday circulated quickly among the legions of canoers who knew him by his work.

Joe Smith, the caretaker at Camp Widjiwagan about 20 miles from Ely on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, said he was taking calls from people around the country who were phoning to confirm the news.
The camp has more than 50 of Seliga's canoes in its fleet. Seliga was known for stopping by there unannounced, just to share advice and to visit with young campers.

The canoes are especially suited to travel in the northern lakes area, Smith said, because they're maneuverable in rivers but able to track well across open lakes. Seliga canoes have traveled north of the Arctic Circle.
"I feel very confident when I'm in his canoe," Smith said. "Where I feel especially honored is that I got to know him beyond just the canoe making. Even in his 90s, if you mentioned certain lakes or places where he had been, he would just light up."

Works of art
Early in his life, Seliga worked full time in the mines around Ely and nearby Babbitt. He started to make his famous canoes on the weekends and evenings after repairing one that had been damaged on a trip he took with his father.
He and his wife built more than 650 canoes in his lifetime. Each would take between 100 and 200 hours. The list of customers waiting for a canoe was at least 60 names deep. The canoes were cheaper when Seliga started out, but in recent years they sold for somewhere around $4,000 apiece. Many thought of the canoes as works of art.

There was no sign on his workshop, which is attached to his house in Ely. Everyone in town knew him, so there was no need.

Bourquin said she was in town one day some 15 years ago when Seliga's workshop went up in flames. She helped him save what they could before they went out for lunch. Seliga by this time was in his early 80s. He had no intention of slowing down.

"We went over to Hardees after we dragged his stuff out of his shop, and he was talking about all the changes he wanted to make in his shop," said Bourquin, with a laugh. "He just never stopped."

His figure was commonly seen around Ely. He was the guy who stopped by, often, to chat, said Steve Piragis, a local outfitter. "He actually came to me years ago, wanting to get some foam to put into his yoke pads," said Piragis. "He visited my shop almost every day."

Like most people who knew Seliga, Piragis said he was amazed at his friend's ability late in life.

"He was 94 when he died today, and you wouldn't know he was over 50," he said.

His output fell after Nora, his wife of 68 years, died. Together they made 10 to 12 boats a year. Recently he told the Star Tribune he hoped to make five a year on his own.

Seliga, born in 1911, said that one of his earliest memories was of lying on his back on the bottom of a canoe, seeing the ribs of the boat, hearing the swish of the water.

A book about his life, "The Art of the Canoe With Joe Seliga," by Jerry Stelmok, was published in 2002.

The family plans to hold a memorial service in late spring. In addition to Nilsen, Seliga is survived by three sisters and one brother; a son, Richard Seliga of Ely Lake; daughter Nancy Richards of Ely; nine grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.

Matt McKinney • 612-673-7329

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A New Experience

This is a new experience for me, an adventure into twenty-first century cyberspace.

Don't be misled by the title of my blog. I'm no expert on life or on the broad topic of the high plains, whatever they might be. I had to call it something, though, and "Life on the High Plains" is probably as good a title as any.

I lived the first 23 years of my life on the high plains of central Nebraska. I left in 1973 for military service, and didn't return until 2001. I was fortunate enough to see a lot of the world, and didn't think I'd ever return to the emptiness and harsh climate of the plains. Here I am, though, and here I'll stay (at least for the time being).