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The beauty in transience

October 7, 2016

We got our first killing freeze of the season last night in western Nebraska. In some parts of town, there was fog, too. I dropped Bugman off at work at the Panhandle Extension and Research Center this morning, and I’m grateful I did. The sharp end-of-season transition combined with the fog created a frozen wonderland in the D.A. Murphy Panhandle Arboretum.













I could have stayed there all morning, appreciating the frosted, sparkling blossoms, but the progress of the autumn sun into the sky brought a melting warmth.



The way the sun shone through the flowers on their last morning in their present form filled me with an emotion that does not have a name in English. The closest I could get is the Japanese


pronounced like “moh-noh  noh  ah-wah-ray,” which translates something like “awareness of impermanence, or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.”

This is one of the reasons autumn is my favorite season. Without death, how can we truly appreciate life?

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

Is water scarcity a threat to the future of ag-supported communities in the Nebraska Panhandle?

October 5, 2016

There’s a lot of chatter around here lately about the effect Cabela’s ownership change will have on employment at the company’s world headquarters in Sidney, since that one company directly supports a quarter of the jobs there, and indirectly supports many more. I have friends who are potentially affected by this tremor in Sidney’s economy, and I’ve heard a fear expressed that a decline in the local economy could reduce home values and impact people who are relying on the value of their homes as a financial security net in their older years.

I’m not likely to be personally affected by Cabela’s business operations, so I’m not worried about it from a personal finance point of view.

But there’s something else going on in the world that does have the potential to affect the security of my investment as a homeowner in Scotts Bluff County.

That something will be addressed at the Midwest Theater this Friday night, October 7, at 7:30 p.m., with a documentary film and panel discussion. The event is free. I’m planning to attend, and if you’re interested in the long-term health of our community, I think you should, too.

The topic of the film and discussion is water and agriculture.

The gist of my worry is this:

  1. The communities in Scotts Bluff County are highly dependent on agriculture to support the base of our economy.
  2. A large portion of our agriculture is dependent upon irrigation from surface water sources, and there is a moratorium on drilling for new high-capacity groundwater sources because of limited supply. (See UNL’s Agriculture in the Nebraska Panhandle for a summary.)
  3. According to UNL analysis of climate projections, within our lifetime, we are potentially looking at the following conditions in the Nebraska Panhandle (See Understanding and Assessing Climate Change: Implications for Nebraska for more information):

Increase in the frequency and intensity of certain extreme weather and climate events …, particularly droughts and heat waves. … a small increase in heavy precipitation events (p. 33). (Less rain, and when rain does come, there will be increased potential for flooding.)

Large projected reduction in snowpack in the central and northern Rocky Mountains (p. 32). (Less water available for surface irrigation.)

Typical summer temperatures by mid-century (2041-2070) equivalent to those experienced during the 2012 drought and heat wave (p. 31). (Who remembers the summer of 2012? Multiple record high temperatures set. Multiple damaging hailstorms. Numerous wildfires. Brownouts due to the high electricity demand. Church groups praying for rain. Dust storms. Shortage of feed for livestock.)

Was it dumb of me to purchase a home in Scottsbluff, given the stressors predicted to hit our ag-based economy in the future? Will we continue on a business-as-usual course as our weather patterns change, or will we take action to set ourselves up to be more resilient to change?

Friday’s film at the Midwest Theater is Thirsty Land.

Here’s a quote from the film trailer that illustrates how this film is linked to my concerns:

This entire valley, not just the farms, but the entire valley – the McDonald’s, the Safeway, the downtown shops, they’ll all close up when this place dries up. My employees go down the road because there’s nothing to do here.


Photo credit: Thirsty Land film

Thirsty Land was produced by Conrad Weaver, who also produced The Great American Wheat Harvest, which was a very well-received film when it screened here.

Thirsty Land was produced with support from the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute and UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as several irrigation companies and agriculture-based associations. This screening event is supported by the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, the North Platte Natural Resources District, and the Nebraska Conversation Education Fund. Yes, the film focuses on the water crisis in California, but the substantial support for this project from Nebraska sources tells me that this is an important topic for our state. This is not political propaganda. This is a real challenge we will be facing.

The panelists for the post-film discussion include, in addition to the filmmaker, well-respected members of the community whose lives and work are entwined in agriculture: John Berge, NPNRD General Manager; Pete Lapaseotes, NPNRD board member and irrigator, cattle feeder, and agribusiness owner; Owen Palm, President and CEO of 21st Century Holdings; and Dennis Strauch, General Manager of Pathfinder Irrigation District. Palm and Strauch are also members of the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission, representing agribusiness interests and irrigation districts, respectively.

My one disappointment is that this film discussion is being marketed in the Star-Herald primarily to agricultural interests rather than to the community at large (though people on the Midwest Theater and Nebraska Conservation Education Fund mailing lists should also get information about the screening). The two mentions of the film have both been in the Farm & Ranch section, in a general press release, and in a column by PREC director Jack Whittier.

My hope is that a broad cross-section of our community will attend this event and start conversations that put Scotts Bluff County on a path to greater resilience in the face of changing weather patterns.

I’ll be there, because I want to be part of the solution. I want to make sure that my adopted home not only survives but thrives in the future.

Where will you be this Friday night?

UPDATE: I wanted to share some excellent information sent to me by Dave Ostdiek, the communications contact over at PREC (who is also on the board of the North Platte NRD).

  • This article examines the value that irrigation water adds to agricultural land in Nebraska.
  • Here’s another article on how irrigation contributes to agricultural land value. It’s the only paper of those listed here in which I found a mention of climate change.
  • This UNL publication gives a summary of irrigation in Nebraska. Of interest is the fact that, in much of Scotts Bluff County, the water resources were listed as “over-appropriated.” (Side note: the publication, as well as this one, show that the majority of western Nebraska is underlain by the Ogallala aquifer, yet I’ve heard some folks arguing that Scotts Bluff County is not, in fact hydrologically connected to that famed underground body of water. I’m confused.)
  • Here’s a thought-provoking study commissioned by the Nebraska Farm Bureau in the wake of the 2012 drought. A quote from that study highlighting the relevance of a film about California’s drought to Nebraska (2008 data):

Nebraska has the highest level of acreage under irrigation for all states [8.4 million acres]. The next closest state is California, where 7.3 million acres are under irrigation.

According to this study, because of farmers’ ability to irrigate, the Nebraska economy has an additional 30,000 jobs and $11 billion in economic output (a total of direct, indirect, and induced impacts).

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

Downtown Scottsbluff December remix: Christmas in July

July 25, 2016

I love walking in downtown Scottsbluff and looking in the business windows. Some of the business are very creative about their window displays, and it’s fun to see what’s new each time I walk by.

December is a favorite time for an evening stroll past all the plate glass, as the Christmas decorations the businesses put up give me a lot of cheer (sometimes because I’m laughing at the lackadaisical effort, but, hey – it’s cheer, right?).

This past December, I dragged Bugman around before and after a walking trip to Sam & Louie’s for dinner so I could take pictures of the window displays on Broadway. (Disclaimer: I did not photograph every single business in the downtown that had a window display – only the ones that were on my walking path that night.) I meant to do a Christmas post of appreciation for all the effort the business owners make to brighten up the downtown, but time got away from me, and I never got around to it.

Rather than give up the idea altogether, I decided to delay the post by six months and do a “Christmas in July” post. (Remember back when it was cold outside? Ah, those were the days!!)

Another layer was added to this post by the fact that I didn’t note the names of all the businesses I took photos of. I started to try to seek out every single business name, but it was taking way too much time, because there is still no downtown Scottsbluff business website (something I suggested was needed back in 2010, three months after I moved to Scottsbluff), and a lot of downtown businesses are apparently Google-impaired and have not performed digital grooming.

So, I’m adding an econopolitical Grinch angle to this post: downtown Scottbluff businesses need to get real and get online.

grinch jingle jog afterparty

The Grinch lectures Max on how important it is these days to register one’s business with Google and to keep the information current. (Image from the super-fun Jingle Jog afterparty last year – I hope they do it again!)

How are visiting shoppers going to find out what there is to draw them to the downtown without a website or current, map-based information? Sure, they could wander around on foot, but that won’t draw them there in the first place, and they might miss something by not walking to that next block.

So, for lack of a downtown Scottsbluff business website, if I could not find a business name by virtually walking down the street in Google maps (with outdated Street View photos), I just sort of stabbed a guess at the business category from what I remember from my meanderings.

Enough of the grousing – enjoy the show! (And think fond thoughts of winter.)

1 the zone

A winter wonderland at The Zone / Scottsbluff Screenprinting?

2 reichert's jewelry

Reichert’s Jewelry. I often enjoy the creative window displays at this business.

3 tree house interiors

The ever-artful Tree House Interiors window.

4 office supply store

I think this is an office supply store.

5 art gallery

An art gallery whose name I should know but have forgotten.

6 a bridal affair

A Bridal Affair – another business with oft-changing window displays that I appreciate very much. (I pass by here often on my way to the Midwest Theater and Cappucino and Company.)

7 the sports racquet

The Sports Racquet – kind of sad but topped with a Huskers hat, so – bonus points!

8 midwest theater

The Midwest Theater’s lobby tree.

9 tallmon's

Tallmon’s – this was one of my favorite holiday window displays, even though it wasn’t yet finished when I took the picture. I appreciated the whimsy in miniature.

10 teacher's corner 1

Teacher’s Corner gets two pictures. They always have nice-looking windows.

10 teacher's corner 2

The “kid” side of Teacher’s Corner. Have to admit, this side appealed to me more. (A white tiger in a fedora!?!)

11 salon west

Salon West has it together, coordinating their Christmas tree with their hair product packaging.

12 office

Aw, huggable polar bear – and snowballs! Some kind of office here. Insurance, maybe?

13 hairbender

Hairbender put their name in their window. Smart. They are also locatable on Google. Smarter.

14 pet related

This is some kind of pet-related business. I also took a photo of a realistic stuffed cat wearing a Santa hat, but the photo didn’t turn out.

15 bluffs bakery

At Bluff’s Bakery, the snowman kind of matches the vintage mixer!

16 sam and louies

Sam and Louie’s, going for a “Christmas in L.A.” look?

17 second time around

Second Time Around – points for good product placement. Toys, toys, toys!

18 kitchen store

Some kind of kitchen store.

19 angelas bridal

The ever-classy window of Angela’s Bridal & Boutique.

20 compliments

Compliments gets extra points for including a bicycle in their Christmas display window! (They are also lucky they have not moved their business since the Google car last went down Broadway.)

21 marie's embrodery

The Christmas window at Marie’s Embroidery.

22 barbour music

The guitars at Barbour Music all nestled in their faux-snow beds, visions of sugar plums dancing in their . . . frets?

23 pella window and door

Oh, Pella Window and Door, you make me laugh. Good holiday cheer!

24 western trail sports1

Western Trail Sports Post gets THREE photos in the lineup. They have a lotta window real estate that wraps around a corner, and they always do something with it.

24 western trail sports 2

The Western Trail Sports Post Santa on one side of the door . . .

24 western trail sports 3

. . . and on the other, baby Jesus, the reason for the season.

25 platte valley vac n sew

Some pretty little ornaments (and a feather tree!) at Platte Valley Vac & Sew.

26 blossom shop

The Blossom Shop – another business with consistently aesthetically-pleasing windows.

27 blue stem

A tall tree for Blue Stem’s tall window.

28 antique shop 1

A perennial favorite: the warmly-lit mini town (flying reindeer included!) at Homestake Antique Mall (whose Google location puts it in the wrong place on the map.)

28 antique shop 2

A closeup of the Homestake Antique Mall window: Look! a bicycle!

29 lawyer office

An unnamed lawyer’s office. Are those light beams coming down from the Christmas Star? Or is the window dirty? *blush* Maybe the lawyer is better off unnamed at this juncture.

30 connecting point

And the final post in this series – the Connecting Point, which might have won the lackadaisical award on this day. (I don’t know if anything else was added to the tree later, but it was pretty funny as is.)

I hope you enjoyed this little tromp down six-months-ago memory lane. I’m looking forward to the next seasonal displays (and to the cooler weather!!!).

Copyright 2016 by Katie Bradshaw

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