It’s like cracking open a new book for the very first time. Crisp pages. Fresh material. Anxious eyes ready to dive in and see what lies in the pages beyond. The first week of school is in the books now, with a familiar look and feel that reminds us another year of change, learning and opportunity has arrived. Whether your family embarked on that first, magical day of kindergarten, the jump into high school, that quantum leap into college life or somewhere in between, these are exciting, memorable times. For school-age kids, it’s time to re-engage with friends, activities, homework and in essence a sense of productive routine. As good as it feels to change gears for a few weeks of summer, the batteries should be recharged now and ready to take on new challenges. Change is constant in today’s world, and the sooner kids learn to adapt and grow with those changes the better off they’ll be.
High school class reunions are over. Current school year is about to start. Many faces of new students and teachers will grace the halls of our local schools. My own old school activities came to mind after I received a call telling me a former high school classmate had died. I am sure a flash of memories caused by a death of a classmate or teacher is quite common for individuals my age. It was just three months ago at our class reunion that we classmates had assisted her with her walker so she could be in our 60th year class reunion picture. At that time I was somewhat shocked how the numbers of my deceased classmates had increased from just five years ago and I was only able to find one of my old teachers in attendance. But oh, did we rehash memories and soon that reminiscing brought lots of smiles and laughter.
Olympic rings are shining brightly in the world spotlight these days, offering Americans in particular a much-needed breath of patriotic pride. The timing could not have been better. Once the flame was lit in Rio, focus moved from a disheartening tit-for-tat political campaign just now shifting into high gear to a stage filled with real-life drama that makes you feel better just for watching. The impact on our nation’s psyche is like night and day. In the first week of action we’ve been awed, yet again, by the human swimming machine known as Michael Phelps. What I enjoyed as much as his gold-medal swimming was the confident yet humble attitude Phelps reflected in the white hot global spotlight. It’s easy to cheer for a winner, but Phelps also comes off as a good teammate, father and flag-waving American, which gives him the well-deserved persona of an American hero, as much as a world class athlete.
This past few weeks haven’t been good ones for me to rely on computers and internet. During the summers I have managed to send a column from our Minnesota cabin via a local Minnesota hook-up, but technological problems sprung up again. This past week there’s a column floating in space between the Minnesota border and Nebraska. I usually prefer advance notification of communication problems before newspaper publication, but notification of column problems came awful close to deadlines. As senior citizens know we don’t like deadlines or anything that pressures us into having something done immediately. Thus I am being pressed for meeting a deadline and attempting to oblige while still trying to maintain a sense of humor.
A public hearing is scheduled Monday on an issue important to all local residents regarding the Hamilton County Ambulance Service. The quality of care provided now if anyone has to dial 911 in an emergency health care situation is top notch. On that point, there is no debate, question or concern. We have outstanding emergency medical technicians and paramedics who truly care about the community and the service they provide. What is a concern to county commissioners, however, is the cost involved to provide that level of care compared to area communities as well as towns similar in size across Nebraska. It’s become enough of a concern that commissioners are now exploring ways to control costs and/or increase revenues, including the option of bidding the service out to private companies. That would be a significant change.
Special thanks to the fair board Dear Editor: With the completion of another GREAT fair, I encourage everyone to join me in thanking the board of directors of the Hamilton County Ag Society for providing such a great event. Each year this board is able to keep the traditions alive and add new events and facilities to start new ones. The new beef barn was the most visible addition this year, made possible by donations from businesses and many individuals. Other new ideas were the pig wrestling and moving of the school art to what may be a new permanent location. To put on a fair is not just a one-week event to board members, but a year-around effort. Several times I overheard them already talking about new strategies for the 2017 fair. Also I have found this board open to suggestions, so if you have any contact one of them.
As silly as it sounds I caught myself in a predicament regarding what I thought was a simple task of cleaning items stored among the rafters in our garage. It sounded easy to take some of what I vision as junk and “just toss it.” I progressed well until I faced “Old Buck” “Buck” has been in the family for over 50 years. You see, “Buck” is a much-used, scared and nicked rocking horse that was sent to pasture and has been stabled in those rafters for the past 40-plus years. Some of those prior years before stabling were pretty tough on him when he served as a spring-loaded bucking bronco to our household for three growing riders and then continued on as bronco for two grandchildren. I pulled “Old Buck” from the rafters and began to move him toward my throw-away pile. That’s when “Old Buck” seemed to come alive and then triggered my memory. I found he also still had a place in my heart where those memories had taken root.
The stage is set now for what promises to be one of the most interesting stretch runs in American politics. I watched some of the Democratic and Republican national conventions unfold over the past two weeks, and as always came away thinking both parties looked and sounded like well-scripted political machines. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each took their respective stages amidst fanfare and confetti, pledging to lead our nation forward while speaking in very, very broad terms about what they would do if elected president of the United States. Though the names at the top of each ticket have been a foregone conclusion for months, this race is about to hit a higher gear as Hillary and Donald can now focus on their one and only opponent. That’s both a blessing and a curse for would-be voters, who can expect to see a presidential campaign finale unlike any in our nation’s history.
Some habits are hard to break and one of those habits is the Betterhalf and I taking early morning walks when we are up in Minnesota. Regularly we spot deer crossing the road ahead of us, or a doe and her fawn peeking out of the woods cautiously eyeing our dog Missy who accompanies us. Recently we made a couple of adjustments in a walking habit. The best I can calculate it, the Betterhalf walks about a half-mile faster which means she generally speeds off in the distance out of my view, walking a total of over three miles-plus while I hold my routine to two-plus range. This means what started out as a joint effort (pardon the pun) finishes solo. Our habit broke routine this morning when I was soloing for home and heard a “whinny” behind me. I turned to find a horse was following me about 200 feet back. Now, I’ve had dogs follow me home, but never a horse!
Times are changing and changes are involving subjects you once thought were immune from change, or controversy. As a senior citizen we noticed those signs of change, particularly when it comes to the subject of public bathrooms. We recall when going to the restroom was simple. In our grade school years students headed to the proper door that was tagged “Boys” or “Girls” and in our adult life sported signs “Men” or “Women.” Hopefully new signage may move slowly and there will still be some restrooms identified by “Men” and “Women” door signs because in some cases we senior citizen may not be able to take much time searching for those new biffy titles when nature is calling.