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Something cooler than sip n’ paint: animation

July 11, 2016

The sip n’ paint trend is going strong in Wyobraska. Coffee shops, art galleries and a winery are among the local hosts for this type of artistic endeavor. They are pretty fun. I’ve done a couple of them myself.

cap n co

Me, at left, hard at work attempting to paint a lemon at Cappuccino and Company. Of my completed work my mom said, “It looks like an alien space ship.” Photo credit: Jenifer Berge Sauter

In Scottbluff this summer, there is another extremely unique option for exercising your creativity:

An animation class!
Taught by folks affiliated with the renowned California Institute for the Arts!
Held in western Nebraska!

Thus, the name: Calibraska Arts Initiative. (Get it? California – Nebraska . . . Calibraska!)

Just like the sip n’ paint classes, NO ARTISTIC TALENT NECESSARY. As Calibraska co-founder and instructor Erica Larsen-Dockray said:

Can you move an object and take a picture? You can do animation.

In addition to Erica, this year’s instructors are Lauren Flinner and Rachel Saropian.

Here’s a photo of the three instructors during a Q&A session at the Midwest Theater last week:


There are some Calibraska animation workshops targeted at kids, but the one I’m interested in promoting (the one I’m signed up for, the one I want to make sure has enough students to go) is the one targeted at adults – the Loopers Club, held on three consecutive Wednesday evenings from 6-8 p.m., the first class being THIS WEDNESDAY, JULY 13 at the Harms Center.

I THINK YOU SHOULD CALL THE HARMS CENTER RIGHT NOW AND SIGN UP FOR THE CLASS: 308-635-6700! It’s only 30 bucks for three sessions. (Incredible value!) Keep your fingers crossed that there’s still an opening at this super-last-minute date, ’cause this’ll be a good time!

Session 1 July 13
Optical toys: zoetropes, thaumatropes, flipbooks, and praxinoscopes

That’s a lotta tropes and scopes there, but what that basically means is drawing things and then moving the paper somehow to create the illusion of movement. Here are a couple of screen captures from the Calibraska Vimeo channel, which obviously aren’t as cool as the actual moving picture, so make sure to click on the link:



flip book

Flip book

Session 2 July 20
Scratch/Draw/Bleach on 35mm clear/black/pre-shot film

Use film as your media instead of paper this week. Another screen shot from the Calibraska Vimeo channel:

draw on film

(Cameo alert: Bill Murray!)

July 27
Pixilation/Light Animation

I’m not going to include an image of pixilation – because it just means taking a series of photos and stringing them together to create an animation, a kind of live action stop-motion. A still shot of a pixilation would be silly.

But light animation? Here’s a photo, once again, screen-grabbed from the Calibraska Vimeo channel:

light animation

Light animation

So what’s that number again to get registered? WNCC Harms Center 308-635-6700! Call now! Operators may not be standing by, but you can leave a message, I reckon.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw, except photos credited to other sources

Veg bloom tour

July 10, 2016

Could you identify a flowering beet? A parsnip? How about an onion?

Today, Sunday, July 10, at 4 p.m., Meadowlark Hearth farm, just east of Scottsbluff,  is offering a tour of these blooming vegetables and more. (Apologies for the tardiness of the post – the date snuck up on me!)

The reason Meadowlark Hearth has these unusual vegetable blooms is because they raise these plants for seed. Most of us eat the plant before it has a chance to flower.

meadowlark heart bloom tour

I don’t think these flowers are on the tour, but I’m including them as an example of the flowers of commonly eaten veggies that most Americans have likely never seen:

potato flower

The flowers of a potato plant.

asparagus flower

The tiny flowers of an asparagus plant.

Meadowlark Hearth is also a regular vendor at the summer 18th Street Farmers Market in downtown Scottsbluff (June-September, Saturdays 8-11) as well as the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market (October-March, 1st and 3rd Saturdays, 11-2), and also has a Community-Supported Agriculture subscription.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

Double L Cafe: a great destination for a ride

July 4, 2016

Have you been to the Double L Cafe on the hilltop on Highway 71 in Banner County yet? It’s great!

A great place to bike, too – I’m reblogging this post from my Wyobraska Tandem blog.

Wyobraska Tandem

Ever since Bugman and I bought our tandem in 2013 and started long-distance road riding, Highway 71 south of Scottsbluff-Gering has been a favorite route.

downhill grade

For one, it has a shoulder, and its two lanes in each direction means that drivers can (and usually do) pull into the passing lane to give people riding bicycles on the shoulder plenty of space. Since the portion of the road over the Wildcat Hills was repaved in 2015, the ride has gotten even better on the new, smooooooth surface (though there are still gravel bars that form on the shoulder after heavy rain, and there are long un-repaved stretches of road in Banner County where the shoulder pavement cracks are terrible: ka-BAM! ka-BAM! ka-BAM! – so we sometimes still need to ride out in the lane).

For two, it’s a great workout to be able to get in (from Scottsbluff) ~750 feet of…

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June 25, 2016 farmers market haul

June 25, 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted about my farmer’s market hauls. The summer market is in full swing (corner of 18th Street and Broadway in downtown Scottsbluff, Saturdays 8 to 11 am), and there was good stuff this morning, so I was inspired to post again.


Clockwise from left: bread, garlic scapes, snow peas, mixed salad greens, “barnyard egg mix,” carrots, sticky buns, celery root, a star toothpick to represent a consumed cupcake.

A couple of explanations:

The “barnyard egg mix” included eggs from chickens, ducks, and turkeys.

How do I use a celery root? Peel, shred in my food processor, and add to cabbage and carrot in coleslaw.

Garlic scapes are a wonderful spring vegetable! It’s the flower stalk of a garlic plant, which is cut off to encourage the plant to put its energy into bulb growth rather than flower and seed development.


The garlic-flavored scapes, which have a similar texture to a firm green bean, can be steamed and eaten as a vegetable. Cut off and discard the flower blossom – the stem is the good part.

I prefer to chop them up, sauté them, and incorporate them into dishes like burritos or omelettes or stir fry or pizza. I like to use them throughout the year, but they are only available in spring, so I’ll buy a bunch, chop them up, and freeze them for later use.

Apparently, humans are not the only species to appreciate garlic scapes.

Um . . . why does the cat’s breath smell like garlic??


nom nom nom

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

Memorial Day wildflowers

May 30, 2016

On Memorial Day, I went for a hike in the Platte River Basin Environments Carter Canyon Ranch property. A profusion of spring flowers sprouted across the rolling grasslands, and I got to thinking how, when the action is over, battlefields can become lush and green like this, the scars covered over. Earth is indifferent to human bloodshed and sacrifice. It’s up to the humans to remember.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-John McCrae, 1915

In case you’re wondering if the river pathway is flooded:

May 12, 2016

It is.

I’d seen pictures on social media showing that the portion of the Monument Valley Pathway where it ducks under the 10th Street/Broadway bridge was under water.


Photo from Region 22 Emergency Management Facebook page May 11, 2016

This didn’t surprise me. That section of trail often goes under water.

I just wondered about the rest of it.

I met someone yesterday morning for a walking meeting, and we soon discovered that, yes, other sections of the pathway are under water, too.


May 11, 2016: the pathway is closed about 1,200 feet west of the 10th Street/Broadway bridge.

The National Weather Service in Cheyenne posted: “N Platte River at Mitchell NE forecast to rise to 9.5 ft just shy of 2011 Flood level.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 7.32.12 AM

Gosh, I sure hope it doesn’t hit 2011 flood stage. That was a mess.

I love the section of Monument Valley Pathway along the river. I am ever so glad it exists.

But I got to thinking during my walking meeting yesterday: if this pathway is considered part of the connectivity of walking and biking transportation infrastructure in our community, it really shows how non-motorized modes of transportation are playing second fiddle to cars. Can you imagine if portions of the Beltline Highway were under water for months at a time? People wouldn’t stand for it.

It’s not just Scottsbluff that has this problem. River flooding shuts down bike throughways even in bike-friendly Fort Collins:

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 7.54.10 AM

Just some things to think about for infrastructure planning, inspired by a detoured walk on a beautiful, breezy spring day.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

On spring travel, snow, and landscape

April 30, 2016

I recently heard a western Nebraska resident proclaim that they do not plan major travel in the spring – a wise strategy, given the crazy weather swings that can happen on the High Plains at this time of year. Bugman and I got caught up in some springtime travel craziness recently.

Bugman needed to fly to St. Louis out of Denver on a Monday for a training session and planned to return Tuesday evening. I had booked a flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul for Easter family visits, departing Tuesday morning. The plan was, I would drop Bugman at the airport Monday. Then on Tuesday, I would leave the car at the airport when I took off and send him the info on how to find the car so he could drive it home that night.

Well, with the weather forecast threatening crummy weather Monday night into Tuesday, I decided that, rather than driving back home and trying to drive down to Denver again early in the morning on bad roads, I would book a hotel near the airport.

I dropped Bugman at the airport and killed some time in Denver before hotel check-in time. I settled into my room, logged into the wifi, and . . . ew. The forecast for the next day looked worse. What if Bugman gets back to Denver tomorrow night and can’t drive home on snowy roads and all the hotels are booked up with other stranded travelers? I got an email from Frontier Airlines about likely delays and cancellations the following day. What if *my* flight doesn’t go?

I walked out to the front desk and extended my stay for another night, then I went for a walk around the neighborhood. It was a lovely, mild evening.


The moon rising amidst sunset-pinkened clouds was awe inspiring. I had good company among other hotel-dwellers pointing cameras eastward.

When I woke the next morning around 5, I could hear the wind hissing around the slats of the hotel room’s window HVAC unit. I looked out my window.

snow at 530 am

The snow was coming down hard and fast at 5:30 a.m. This did not look good.

After some hemming and hawing and dinking around online and an annoyingly unproductive phone call to Frontier’s customer service, I got logged in to the Frontier website. There were three seats left on the DEN-MSP flight departing the next day at the same time.

At 5:48 a.m., I canceled my original flight and snagged the next-day flight for just $14 more. (I had somewhat accidentally signed up for “The Works” ticket upgrade to get “free” checked and carry-on bags, so the $99 change fee was waived.)

Ten minutes later, snow was not just accumulating on the grass and cars, but on the streets, too, and, apparently, the trees and power lines. The power started cutting out at the hotel, plunging everyone into darkness, killing the wifi connection, and setting the alarm system ascreech – a pattern that would repeat for most of the morning.

When I went out to the lobby to cancel my shuttle ride to the airport, I had to dodge around clumps of unhappy spring-breakers clutching their ski gear. Is the airport still open? I’m sorry, the shuttle is running late. My flight was cancelled. The roads are really terrible. I’m sorry, sir, all of our rooms are booked up. I did not envy the front desk staff.

I passed the time texting Bugman and checking weather and status updates on my phone. At least the cell signal was still working! The Denver airport Twitter feed was very informative.

6:51 a.m.

651 AM

6:59 a.m. – Bugman texts me to say his flight home was canceled.

10:18 a.m.

1018 AM

At some point, the status of my original flight changed from “on time” to “delayed.” Bugman got rebooked from St. Louis back to Denver via Phoenix the following morning.

11:17 a.m.


About a half-hour after the airport closed (the first such closure in 10 years!), my flight status changed from “delayed” to “cancelled.”

1:25 p.m. – I heard laughter outside my window.

8 hours later

At least someone was having fun in the thigh-high drifts the wind carved around the hotel.

I dozed away the rest of the day, subsisting on food selections from a vending machine and a gas station.

Around 5 p.m., the snowfall slackened. The Denver airport announced that it would begin resuming operations at 7 p.m. I decided to go shovel off the car so Bugman could find it the next day.

benefit of portable snow shovel PM

BEFORE, AFTER. This was one of the times I was glad we carry an emergency shovel in the car.

The next morning, the hotel lobby was full-to-bursting again, the movement of the people standing nearest the automatic door causing it to open and close repeatedly. Everyone was waiting for the airport shuttle, which was running late on the still-slick roads. We made it slowly but safely to the airport, despite a few close, hard stops that caused the parents on the bus to clutch protectively at their kids.

An airport in the aftermath of a blizzard is a pit of misery.

There were mats, blankets and pillows strewn everywhere – some occupied, some not. Check-in lines were long, security lines were long. The seating areas at the gates were jam-packed with the overbooked and the hopeful, all trying to get onboard via standby. I felt bad for the gate agents. Many of them looked frazzled. I wondered how many hadn’t made it home the previous night.

I overheard one extended family trying to decide whether to hang out at the airport in hopes of flying home standby before their rescheduled flight on Tuesday (it was currently Wednesday!) or to try to rent two cars to drive home to Tennessee.

Bugman texted me to say that he had not yet been assigned a seat on his flight from Phoenix to Denver, and that there were 61 people on the standby list. (He eventually made it.)

My flight was delayed, but it went. After the final boarding call, two girls, faces flushed with pleasure and relief, bumped down the aisle – lucky winners of the standby lottery.

The spring snow was melting quickly in the strong sunlight, yet phalanxes of snowplows were still out there clearing the runways.

clear airport runway

I lost count of how many slowplows were in this lineup – at least six, maybe eight, ten? The Denver airport recently won an award for its winter operations.

As we ascended over the city, I could see crews working along the highways to extricate stuck cars from roadside drifts.

clearing stuck cars

The aerial view of the snowy landscape was beautiful.

snowy landscape

The blizzard-made patterns on the ground were fascinating.

pivot aerial snowscape

Pivot-irrigated land

dryland aerial snowscape

Strip-cropped land

It was interesting to see how irregular the blizzard’s whallop had been. Vast stretches of ground looked as though they’d been missed completely.

fickle blizzard

another dry spot

The Minneapolis – St. Paul area had been hit by heavy, patchy snow, too.

tidy farmsteads

These regular farmsteads, each of their tree-lined yards, made me think of the “Norwegian bachelor farmers” of Prairie Home Companion fame. Gosh, the Midwest looks square from the air.

We flew into the urban corridor of the Twin Cities, and the snow seemed a little lighter.

urban golf course

One thing I love about Minneapolis – St. Paul is the wilds of the Mississippi River cutting through its heart. You can have a bit of bucolic scenery in the midst of a big city.

wild river

A nice view towards downtown St. Paul!

downtown st paul

Heading home a week later, more travel anxiety: another forecasted winter storm! As it turned out, the storm bypassed Denver but set up shop to the north – right in my path home.

green pivots snow traces

Nearing Denver, only traces of the blizzard were still visible along the borders and edges of the landscape. The pivot-irrigated fields of winter wheat looked green again instead of white.

blue sky denver

Blue skies over Denver!

DIA clear

I could even see the airport (the main terminal building is the white comb-looking structure center left). All the runways were clear and dry.

foreboding clouds

As we landed, the clouds to the north – the direction of home – looked foreboding.

A friend who dropped his spouse off at the airport that morning agreed to pick me up and drive me home. The snowstorm was hugging the I-25 corridor, cutting off the interstate route through Cheyenne, but leaving the eastern “backroads” route potentially open.

storm clouds over ranch lands

Spring storm clouds over ranch lands

sunny in fort morgan

Sunny and pleasant at a stop in Fort Morgan.

As we approached the Nebraska border on Highway 71 through the sparsely-populated Pawnee National Grasslands, it started to sleet. The roads got worse, but not terrible – until we reached the Wildcat Hills.

wildcat hills snow road

The little boost in elevation over the Wildcat Hills often means it’s snowier and slicker up there than in the valleys north and south.

We managed to make it home safely. (Whew!)

Two days later, on April 1, as I headed to a meeting out east, I was strongly reminded of the fact that I live in a valley. The snow had completely melted away “down below,” but the Wildcat Hills still held onto a snow coat, looking more like mountains than sandstone bluffs, set white against the green of winter wheat.

april 1 wildcat mountains

Here in western Nebraska, we continue to vacillate between 80-degree days and icy ones. We’ve had hail and a couple of wet snowstorms.

Today, April 30, began with a sludgy coating of snow weighing down the lilac blooms.

snow on lilacs

Several people have found emerged cecropia moths languishing in the cold.


Bugman to the rescue! Photo courtesy of Legacy of the Plains Museum

Spring weather is crazy on the High Plains. It seems to get crazier all the time.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw





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