Author: LindaLee

Midday Matinee – No News is News

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. I left for the north woods and a dog sledding trip on Friday. I turned my cell off and left my computer behind. No news meant just that no news. I missed the BPI crew but whatever happened in the world at large happened without my attention to it. I assume Egypt is still is some sort of delicate balance. I’m guessing we are still engaged in wars in Iraq (winding down) and Afghanistan. I’m assuming that the Super Bowl fans all eventually made it into Dallas in spite of ice and snow. I’m assuming, since I’ve plugged in again, that JanF and other Packer fans are happy and that those who were either anti-Packer fans or pro-Steeler fans are unhappy. I am assuming that the Republicans are still intent on pillaging the middle class. While all the news was happening without me, I was in a little slice of heaven on earth. My sister and I share a late December birthday. She was just 59 and I was 64. We decided to take a dog sledding trip to celebrate our birthdays. We were lucky enough to pick the best winter weekend weather so far this season. Highs in the high 20s, low 30s and lows in the mid...

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Midday Matinee – Cowboy Boots

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. Between Nebraska and Jefferson City, Missouri there are lots of billboards for boot shops. There are so many a traveler can’t help but notice them. I wondered if somehow I had missed a major cultural clue. You may remember that a few weeks ago I drove to Jeff City to see my cousin Susan sworn in as a Missouri State Representative. Up until that drive I had naively thought of cowboy boots as western wear – functional footwear for people who rode horses and rode the range. Silly me. Cowboy boots are country footwear and apparently quite fashionable when worn with suits. Did you, like me, have a picture in your mind of the Marlboro man? Forget that man. I saw several men in the State Capitol wearing boots and suits. I talked this over with my cousin. We both love shoes and notice them wherever we are. “What is with the cowboy boots?” I asked. I mentioned the billboards and the surprising (to me) number of her fellow legislators who were booted up. She explained the different parts of Missouri to me and that if the men had been wearing regular black dress shoes, their constituents might have thought they looked too much like a lawyer or a banker. The cowboy...

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Morning Feature: Rural America, Part 2 – Farming

To understand rural Americans, you have to understand their connection to the land. And it starts with farming. (More) Yesterday I introduced some differences in urban and rural American attitudes. Today I’ll focus on farming. Last week as I was taking pictures of the road signs several people stopped and got out of their trucks to offer help if needed and to tell me not to drive on a dirt road when it was 50 degrees and snow was melting. It is slippery, and unless you’re a teenager practicing off road driving, it’s not a good idea. I grew up in the suburbs. My aunt and uncle lived on a farm in rural Nebraska which one of my cousins farms today. It is a century farm, having been in the family for over 100 years. It was where my family went on vacations. I am not the product of rural America but a frequent enough visitor to have gained a bit of a feel for the rural lifestyle and values. When speaking with urban Freds remember that some of them have rural roots so this discussion isn’t designed to have you put on a pair of Carharts and a John Deere cap and head for the hills. I think the land is the first point of connection between our progressive values and rural America. There are progressives in rural...

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Morning Feature: Rural America Part 1: The Pavement Ends

To borrow a line from John Edwards, “There are two Americas.” There is a rural America and an urban America. (More) Today we’ll look at rural America and tomorrow we’ll focus more on farming as a big subset of rural America. Most of those in rural America are convinced they have the best of the good life and equally convinced that too much of our national dialog focuses on urban needs. America is roughly 80% urban and 20% rural. Some definitions of rural are listed below. For me, the roads signs are a very good indicator. Interstate ends is followed by divided highway ends. That is followed by pavement ends and you are really away from a city when the sign says gravel ends. Let’s start with some definitions and history: The US census defines urban in terms of population density as Urban Area (1,000 people/square mile) Urban Cluster (500 people/square mile) and rural as everything else. For my urban friends there are 640 acres per square mile. According to the U.S. Census: In 1950  Urban  64.2 % Rural 35.8%   More than 1/3 of these Freds grew up rural In 1975  Urban  73.7%  Rural 26.3%   More than ¼ of these Freds grew up rural In 2010  Urban  82.3%  Rural 17.7% In 2050  Urban  90.4%  Rural 9.6% (forecast) I should point out that the definitions seem to vary from site to...

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Midday Matinee – Your intentions?

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break. What we pay attention to matters. We can focus on all the things that are wrong or we can focus on making the world a better place for all of us. We can do something small every day. If we are focused on the world going to hell in a hand basket, we will find much to reinforce our beliefs. On the other hand… Some time ago Anne Herbert wrote of practicing “random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” That option is available to each of us every day. Twenty-five years ago one of my son’s friends had a mom who was also a single mother with two boys. Mother’s day was a couple of days away. I was doing very well and the other Mom was barely making it. I enlisted her two boys in preparing a mother’s day dinner surprise. We spent a day going to the grocery store and then preparing a meal for the three of them, which was secretly delivered on Sunday morning so they could surprise her. Her boys did most of the “work” and were really excited to be able to do something special for their mom. They knew what she liked and they were great little chefs. For me it was lots...

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