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A freeze-thaw fiasco

February 8, 2016

I’ve previously written about how the warm-ish winter daytime temps in western Nebraska can generate (sometimes beautiful) ice.

I’m writing now to warn about what those fluctuating temps can do to your house, if you’re not watching out for it.

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Oh, yes – a lovely ,warming winter day, when newly fallen snow begins to melt on a dark-colored rooftop.

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Exposure to the sun makes a big difference. On my deck, the sun’s rays sneak around the upright poles of the railing to melt the snow, but below-freezing temps in the shade of the main railing keep the snow frozen.

So, what happens when snowmelt from the nice, warm, dark-colored roof at the perfect slant to capture winter rays interacts with the vertical, white, metal downspout shaded by the neighbor’s house?

Ice. Lots and lots of ice.

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Ice that clogs the entire downspout from ground to top, causing water to cascade down the sides, puddle next to the foundation, and create more ice.

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Ice that swells inside the downspout and bursts the metal seams, resulting in me having to replace said section of downspout.

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Standing on the porch while contorting myself around the corner of the house and using a cellphone camera to try to see screw holes on the far side of the gutter kind of makes me crabby.

I’m thinking that, when the next hailstorm trashes our house, we need to replace our white gutters with darker-colored ones. All the better to absorb solar radiation, my dear.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

summer farmers market manager?

January 31, 2016

How many of y’all out there love the summer farmers market in downtown Scottsbluff?

*raises hand* Meeee! I do! I do!

The market taps into many of the things I love about living in Scottsbluff: a walkable downtown, locally-produced fresh food, great people. I’ve made a lot of friends through that farmers market.

I want to help the market succeed, so I’m writing this post to ask a question: do you have marketing skills you could bring to bear on your love for the summer farmers market?

The Scottsbluff Downtown Association is looking for a new manager for the 18th Street Farmers Market for 2016, since last year’s manager has taken a new job that precludes her from continuing in the position.

What does being a farmers market manager involve?

  1. Acting as representative for the market at meetings, to customers, to vendors, and in the press.
  2. Getting more vendors and shoppers to come to the market, through press releases, flyers, social media and innovative ideas to keep things fresh.
  3. Overseeing the weekly market and its administration: setting up signage, assigning vendor booths, communicating with the vendors, keeping up to speed with state and local food permit requirements, ensuring that market operating rules are met, cleaning up the site post-market, keeping track of paperwork and mailing lists.

It seems like most of the job comes down to marketing and communication: phone calls, emails, social media posts, getting people excited about the market and keeping them excited and wanting to come back every week and keeping a good variety of producers, even during the slow-ish early season.

The position pays a flat fee, plus a bonus if the market turns a profit, and takes about 10-15 hours a week, with most of that time coming on market days during the June-September season. You get additional job-satisfaction benefits:

  • Helping contribute to the local economy.

As former market manager Kat Tylee put it:

More people downtown = more sales for downtown businesses. I know [businesses see] a noticeable difference in the number of people on Saturday mornings when the market is open. By spending your money locally you keep money within the local economy. Example: You buy from Jen Rutherford, and she is liable to shop at one, or several, of the local businesses on the way home from market. Most of us vendors try to purchase our supplies and goods locally. Seeds from Meadowlark, feed from Jen and Rick, vegetables from either Jen, Beth, Tracy, or someone else, crafts from Joyce, and so on. Almost all of my fiber is produced locally, so when a person buys my yarn they are not just supporting me, but they are supporting Brown Sheep, Jen Rutherford, and Susan Boyes, along with several grocery stores and cafes (like the Mixing Bowl) because I like to spend my money locally.

  • Becoming an integral part of the community of the downtown farmers market.

Again, an observation from Kat, who is a newcomer to the area:

I really love doing the market for both the vendors and the community. When I joined the market, that was when it truly felt like we had been completely welcomed to the community of Scottsbluff/Gering.

It would make sense that a market vendor would step up to the position, since it’s in their interest, but it’s difficult to both tend to your own booth and tend to the market at the same time. I would consider doing this job myself, except for the fact that Bugman and I do long training rides on the tandem on summer weekends, which would often conflict with market days.

How about you? Does this job sound like a good fit for you?

If so, contact Jeri Goodman at jerigoodman AT fnbnp.com

 

Update to the DWTS post

January 25, 2016

Wow. A lot has happened since that last post on the new Dancing With The Stars fundraiser!

The biggest news is, THE EVENT HAS SOLD OUT! Tables of eight are being asked to convert to tables of 10 to fit everyone in. Wow! It’s clear we’re onto a good idea here, and also that we have a lot of great community support – and also support from the dancers and their friends, Tabor Dance Academy, and business sponsors Sherard Hearing Aid Center, Webb Orthodontics, The Mixing Bowl and Gutwein Appraisal.

There is a wait list for tickets, so if you don’t have tickets but still want to go, contact Jennifer Rogers 308-765-0524 and get your name on the list, in case we have some cancellations. It probably goes without being said, but there will be no ticket sales at the door the night of the event.

A few more dancers have signed up – Luray Neuwirth & Jonathan Hunzeker, Lisa & Ezdan Fluckiger, Lesley Gaunt & Jim Collister – bringing the competition number up to 15 couples!

It’s going to be quite a shebang, with more than 400 people attending and 30 dancers, plus entertainment. If you are attending the event, here’s a rundown of how it’s anticipated to unfold:

UPDATE: I’ve had to delete the suggested start times and blur the timeline a bit. Since this is a first-time event, it’s not precisely sure how things will go, and some changes may need to be made on the fly. So if you’re part of the first-run crowd on this pioneering event please bear with us!

6:30 p.m. – Event officially starts. Attendees are encouraged to arrive punctually, or even early, so they can check in, get oriented, get some voting “funny money,” get snacks, and find their tables. Because of the size of the event, there will be assigned seating. UPDATE: because of the larger-than-expected response, a plated meal will be served instead of appetizers.

Official welcome and overview of the evening, with Zac Karpf emceeing. There will be performances by Tabor Dance Academy dancers and tap dancer Kyle Van Newkirk. The competition will include each couple dancing a maximum of 2 minutes. A DJ will be helping with the music, and the dancers will be filmed and projected onto the big screen, so everyone in the room can see the action. Voting will be encouraged throughout the evening at designated voting stations, and the competing couples will also be lobbying for votes. The purchase of more vote tickets throughout the night is encouraged. The ticket booth is planned to be next to the cash bar. :-)

After the final competition dance, the votes will be called in. While the votes are being counted, there will be a live auction for some big-ticket items:

  • Deadwood Gulch trip
  • Schlothauer Condo
  • Husker Tickets (10/1/16 game with Illinois)
  • Tablet Computer
  • Rockies Tickets (6 tickets)
  • Gering Citizen Advertising
  • Jewelry Donation by G&T Reichert’s Jewelry
  • Jewelry Donation by Riddles Jewelry

I’ll be off working behind the scenes with vote counting (I have all that vote-counting experience from past years with the museum Christmas tree contest), so I may not see much of you if you’re at the event. It promises to be a good time!

1/31 UPDATE TO THE UPDATE

The DWTS fundraiser was fun, and it was a success. Over $20,000 was raised last night for Soroptimist programming, and attendees are already talking about next year, including some folks who want to practice all year and dance in the second event. I must give kudos to the folks who thought up this new idea and had the energy to run with it. Also, huge props to the dancers – first, to the Tabor Dance Academy dancers and Kyle Van Newkirk, who kicked off the evening on an elegant, energetic, and colorful note, and second, to the 15 pairs of volunteers who stepped up to step it up for a good cause. It was the strength of your performances – your grace and strength and courage and sense of fun that made everything work. And thank you to the people who worked behind the scenes: the sponsors, the Soroptimists, the DJ, the film crew, the Civic Center crew. Well done, everyone! Well done!

I did not take pictures, save for a couple of my friends who agreed to dance in the event when I asked if they would be interested. Here is the one “action shot” I have that was not too blurry:

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Lesley and Jim, you guys were great!

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

The hard-knock life of a pedestrian in Scottsbluff

January 16, 2016

It starts out sounding like such a good idea.

“The sun’s out, it’s 30 degrees – let’s walk to the winter farmers market!”

or

“Let’s walk down to the river pathway and soak up some winter sunshine and watch the geese come in.”

And then we find ourselves navigating the winter sidewalks of Scottsbluff. It’s a good thing we’re still relatively young and agile. If we were up in years and getting a little wobbly, we’d be homebound!

There is a city ordinance that states that every homeowner and business must clear the sidewalks adjacent to their lot within 5 hours of the snowfall stopping, or by 8:30 a.m. for an overnight storm. (See section 20-6-20 here.)

I understand that, for some homeowners, this can be a hardship, and they can’t get their sidewalks cleared right away. Maybe the homeowner is elderly. Maybe they have a sidewalk adjacent to a busy street where the plow and traffic throw slush back up onto the sidewalk. Maybe they are running late and don’t have time. Maybe they are out of town. (We would have been in the latter boat, except that we have awesome neighbors who clear the walk for us.)

I certainly don’t like walking across freeze-thaw icy bits of sidewalk, and it does annoy me when it remains undone for weeks, but I am willing to cut homeowners a little slack from my righteous indignation.

Businesses, on the other hand – I somehow feel that they have a higher level of responsibility. They are supposed to be inviting to the public to visit, after all. But what really burns my britches is when the crew that clears the business parking lot (hired hands or no) PILES THE SNOW UP ONTO THE SIDEWALK!

Then, not only do you have the slick surface to deal with, but you have a slope and depth to navigate as well. It’s ten times worse than a flat bit of ground that never gets cleared.

Here are a few examples from our recent walks around town:

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Argh.

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Argh!

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OK, not perfect, but this one gets points for trying. Looks like a snow tsunami.

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A small “argh”, but with a bonus facepalm because the alternative is to walk across unstable rocks, and because the rocks will be scattered across the sidewalk when the snow melts.

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This one here is the worst of the bunch – a huge snow pile that forces a pedestrian into a busy street or into the business’s icy gravel parking lot.

I issue a plea to all business owners (and homeowners, too): go take a look at your sidewalks. Can a pedestrian get through safely? If not, please, for the benefit of your community (if not to avoid a potential lawsuit or city citation), keep a clear path on the sidewalks.

Also, if you notice your neighbor having a hard time keeping their sidewalks cleared, see if you can pitch in to help. It’s the neighborly thing to do, and we are, after all, a pretty neighborly community.

If you are a pedestrian and notice a particularly egregious snowy sidewalk problem, help the city’s code enforcement crew by calling it in, since they can’t be everywhere at once: 308-630-6243.

And while I’m on a curmudgeonly rant, I’ll bring up this point, too: Would you park your car so it blocked the whole roadway? No? Well, it doesn’t make sense to do that to the sidewalk, either.

When you park your car across the sidewalk, you are obstructing a public right-of-way. A person in a wheelchair or a kid on a bike may need to detour into the street to get past, or a pedestrian will need to walk across your lawn and possibly risk turning an ankle. Be courteous – don’t park your car so that it blocks the sidewalk, even in your own driveway.

On another note, I like to give credit where credit is due. The Scottsbluff city crew does a pretty good job of clearing the river pathway all winter. Props, y’all.

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Be safe out there, friends! We’ll be living through this freeze-thaw winter wonderland for a few more months.

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market, 2016

January 16, 2016

Gosh, have I been remiss this season. I haven’t posted once about the winter farmer’s market!

It’s such a treat to go into the greenhouse on a cold, sunny day and feel for a moment like you’re transported back to summertime. (The location is TLC on Avenue B, south of Highway 26 – enter through the main doors of TLC, then go all the way to the back, step outside for a brief moment, and then into the greenhouse.)

I took just two photos at the first market of the year, which, on January 2 right after the holidays, was not terribly well attended. I’m sure it will pick up for today’s market. (It’s held the first and third Saturdays of the month, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., October through March.)

I *love* the new setup this year, with a space right inside the door for prepared food vendors (you can usually get things like pizza, sandwiches, soup, BBQ, brats, cabbage burgers), along with some tables on which to settle down and eat your meal.

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At the last market, Bugman and I sat down with a western Nebraska winter staple: chili and a cinnamon roll.

There are lots of craft vendors (e.g., quilts, woodwork, soap, candles) and a Pampered Chef vendor this year, but there is plenty of food, too: jelly, jam, bread, meat, cheese, honey, baked goods, sweets, pasta. And several vendors sell winter vegetables, too.

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One of several vendors with winter vegetables for sale.

A hot tip for visiting the market: if you drive to the market but don’t mind a short walk, I recommend parking in the parking lot south of the market, near the empty grocery store building, and walking along the east side of the Culvers and mini strip mall with the bank. The TLC parking lot can be insanely stupidly packed, particularly right when the market opens. It’s much better for my blood pressure to walk than to try to jockey for a parking spot.

See you there?

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

 

Support our very own dancing stars, and Soroptimists, too

January 8, 2016

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Amid the regular program of entertaining charitable events in Wyobraska is a little something new. Soroptimists of Scotts Bluff County has decided to jettison their former “Bits N Beverages” annual January fundraiser and replace it with something that is bound to be an utter hoot: a “Dancing with the Stars”-esque contest.

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First thing you should know: IF YOU GO TO THIS EVENT, IT DOES NOT REQUIRE YOU TO DANCE! Well, unless you want to, of course.

There is already a roster of noble volunteers lining up to participate in the dance competition, which will feature two dances: a waltz and a Latin dance. These volunteers include, thus far: Lanette & Ray Richards, Karen & John Carrington, Deb Carpenter-Nolting & Tim Nolting, Becky & Tom Horne, Rhonda & Kevin Spencer, Bev & Mark Overman, Tiann & Jordan Colwell, Libby & Tony Kaufman, Esther Benson & Jack Hollingsworth, Priscilla & Bronson Schliep, Amy & Clark Wisniewski, and Liz Hilyard & Ken Meyer.

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Artist’s depiction of a possible dancer (photo actually from a fundraiser I attended years ago)

The second thing you should know: THE DETAILS OF THE EVENT

DATE: Saturday, January 30, 2016

TIME: 6: 30 p.m.

LOCATION: Gering Civic Center

COST: $30 per ticket, or get a discount by purchasing a pair of tickets ($50) or a reserved table ($200 for a roomy table for 8 people, whereas individuals or couples will be seated 10 at a table)

FOOD: “heavy” hors d’ouvres

DRINK: cash bar

DRESS: semi-formal

BRING MORE MONEY FOR: big-ticket live-auction items, and especially for voting for the dancers

That lat bit right there is the key to how this fundraiser will work. Instead of celebrity judges, YOU, THE AUDIENCE MEMBERS will vote with your dollars to determine which couple comes out the winner and earns the disco ball trophy. This means, of course, that the voting might wind up being based on factors other than strictly dancing ability, but that’s OK! It takes some of the pressure off the dancers!

Another fun detail: Tabor Dance Academy will be giving brief lessons to the volunteer dancers, and students of the Academy will provide additional entertainment, as will World Champion Tap Dancer Kyle Van Newkirk.

It will definitely be an entertaining evening!

The third thing you should know: THE MONEY RAISED AT THIS EVENT HELPS SUPPORT WOMEN & GIRLS IN OUR COMMUNITY.

Our local Soroptimist group, among other things: provides scholarships, runs a mentoring program for high school girls, and grants financial awards to local nonprofit organizations that help women and girls. Last year, recipients of these grant funds included: Doves, CAPWN, Delta Kappa Gamma Cradle Catcher, CAPstone, CASA of Scotts Bluff County, Western Nebraska Community College GED program, Buckboard Therapeutic Riding Academy, and Life-Link Nebraska.

Some other factoids of varying levels of importance:

  • I don’t think I’ve ever seen an episode of Dancing with the Stars.
  • My in-laws LOVE this show.
  • I am a member of this Soroptimist group, and I have tickets to sell. How about helping me fill out an “SCB Citizen” table (or two??) of fans of this blog?
  • If you don’t want to buy tickets from me, you can also get them at Gering Citizen, Gateway Realty, ABC Nursery, Platte Valley Bank (Circle Drive location), or pay removely with plastic by calling Jennifer Rogers at 308-765-0524.
  • We still need event sponsors and a few more dancers. You can also call Jennifer Rogers about that, at 308-765-0524.

So, who wants to join me for this event? (I am assuming Bugman will come with me!)

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

Second Day Hike, I need snowshoes

January 7, 2016

Given that January 2nd was a Saturday, and given that it was sunny and warmer than the day before, I talked Bugman into going for a Second Day Hike. The road up Scotts Bluff would no longer be open to walkers, since the Visitor Center was open again, so we looked for another place to hike.

After learning that we could buy a Nebraska state park pass online and print out a temporary park pass (after a quick run to Staples for more printer ink) while the actual vehicle window sticker wound its way to us through the mail, we decided to go to Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect, since I know the Wildcat Hills Nature Center is currently closed during an expansion project.

We pulled into the site, and saw this sign:

road closed

Um, “road close to thru traffic”? The road to the left is a dead-end in the main parking lot, and the road to the right dead ends at the end of the state property. There is no thru traffic. Were they trying to say the main parking lot is closed?

The parking lot was full of stilled construction equipment and was not plowed to make room for cars, so I can only assume the main parking lot is closed? Another car was in the lot, parked near the construction project between construction vehicles. We parked in the unplowed snow next to the fence. No work going on today anyway, so we wouldn’t get in anyone’s way.

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The snowy hillsides were just beautiful. Ordinarily, highway traffic from beyond the hill and the twitter of a bird here and there would be the main sounds. On this day, whoops and shrieks echoed through the trees. The people from that other car in the parking lot were sledding!

I have not hiked in the Wildcat Hills enough to be very familiar with the paths, so I’m glad there were some other hikers’ tracks for us to follow. Some of the tracks were made by snowshoes. I’m really, really wishing now that we had a couple of sets of snowshoes. They would sure make winter hiking a lot easier!

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My hiking boots quickly became “snow boots.” I could’ve used a set of gaiters, too. My thick winter running pants were great for the hike, though, as they pretty much shed the snow and stayed pretty tightly tucked against my boots.

rough going

At some point, we seemed to lose the trail. Or was the trail just this narrow? In any case, it was rough going, uphill on a narrow path deeply covered in snow. Good exercise!

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The view was, as usual, worth the climb. Bugman took a pano and uploaded it to Facebook in the field.

A couple of things that caught my eye:

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Wind-softened birdie prints around a patch of yucca.

snow crystal garden

Ice crystals. This photo is actually from the previous day’s hike at Scotts Bluff National Monument, as the lighting was better. This was so interesting to find this same kind of ice crystal growth in both places, both on the leeward sides of hills. It’s not new-fallen snow. It’s some kind of crystalline growth, perhaps fog deposition, atop the granular base of undisturbed snow. The photo does not really do it justice.

ice crystals

I tried to illustrate the types of crystals by brushing some off onto my black mitten, but it was hard to accomplish the needed dexterity.

Instead of hiking back through all that snow, Bugman and I chose to complete our circuit back to the car in the main parking lot by walking on the road. I was a little nervous that a car would come over one of the hills on the road – the road was pretty icy. Not sure a car without 4-wheel drive could get back to the parking areas past the main lot.

slick road

All in all, a very satisfying winter hike!

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

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