Friday, July 12, 2013

Excerpt from Esther's Town

Few Esthervilleans could forget the year 1936. A bitter cold winter was followed by a capricious spring and by an unfriendly drifting summer that added insult to the injury of empty stomachs. Heavy drifting snows snarled railroad traffic, and the cold soon emptied the coal bins. As coal trains stalled in mammoth snowdrifts, the community ran perilously low on fuel. Mayor Fred Ehlers recruited volunteer shovelers, who rescued a train loaded with coal that got almost as far as Estherville when once again it was stalled in a deep cut. Daily bulletins published in the paper kept anxious readers informed on the progress of the train bringing them coal, which finally reached the town as residents were steeling themselves for cold houses. Fears of empty coal bins were no more than allayed when other fears replaced them. On Thursday, April 30, a funnel cloud roared in from the west over the bluffs along the river.

Esther's Town, by Deemer Lee

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mourning the Loss of Curtis Harnack

 - It is with great sadness that we note the passing on July 5, 2013 of former Yaddo Executive Director Curtis Harnack.

Born in Le Mars, Iowa, Curt wrote three novels on life in rural, small-town Iowa: The Work of an Ancient HandLove and Be Silent, and Limits of the Land. His titles We Have All Gone Away and The Attic: A Memoir are widely acclaimed non-fiction accounts of his Iowa childhood. We Have All Gone Away has been continuously in print for three decades. He also authoredUnder My Wings Everything Prospers, a collection of six short stories and a novella, and two nonfiction works – Persian Lions, Persian Lambs, a description of the year he spent teaching in Tabriz, Iran, as a Fulbright professor of American Literature, and Gentlemen on the Prairie, which relates the history of a colony of wealthy British settlers who attempted to recreate Victorian England on the Midwestern prairie.
Curt graduated from and was also an English instructor at Grinnell College and received his M.A. from Columbia. His first adult job was at the United Nations Secretariat as a collator of documents, 1951-1952. He also was an instructor and visiting lecturer with the Iowa Writers Workshop in the late 1950s and early 1960s and was on the literature faculty of Sarah Lawrence College, where he co-founded the American Studies program. With Paul Engle he co-edited the O. Henry Collection, Prize Stories 1958 and 1959. He served as president of the School of American Ballet from 1992 to 1997. In 1979 Curt toured Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Romania under the auspices of the U.S. State Department to lecture on American literature and he traveled to China in 1986 on a U.S./China Arts Exchange program. He lived for periods in England, France, Italy, and Iran.
In 1971, Curt was appointed executive director of Yaddo, succeeding the venerable Elizabeth Ames, who had welcomed Yaddo’s first artist guests in 1926 and remained in the position for nearly 50 years. However, Curt was well
acquainted with Yaddo before assuming the job of executive director, having been a Yaddo guest artist seven times between 1957 and 1970. Curt retired from Yaddo in 1987 and lived in New York City and upstate New York, and continued for some time to own part of his family farm in Iowa. He and his late wife, fellow Yaddo writer Hortense Calisher, were married for 50 years at the time of her death in 2009. Curt returned to Yaddo as a guest artist in 2010.
Obit from

Biographical Dictionary of Iowa: Ellison James Orr

Orr, Ellison James
(June 14, 1857 - January 25, 1951)
--farmer, teacher, businessman, naturalist, and archaeologist--is considered, in partnership with Charles R. Keyes, as a founding figure in Iowa archaeology. Orr's careful and prolific documentation of archaeological sites and collections bequeathed a legacy of indispensable descriptive data that continues to inform modern studies.

A self-described "pioneer boy," Orr, a first-generation Iowan, was born in 1857 in his uncle's log house three miles west of McGresloughs, and streams of the family farm near Postville fueled a natural curiosity and kindled a memory for detail about the natural world and pioneer life that stayed with Orr his entire life. Early recollections were documented in various newspaper features, occasionally in publication such as Iowa Bird Life, but most fully in his engaging "Reminiscences of a Pioneer Boy" (1933).

The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa, edited by David Hudson, Marvin Bergman, Loren Horton

Protecting yourself from tics this summer!

This could be the most important thing that you see me post! Its an epidemic this year, and these things are as lethal as a venomous snake in the wrong senerio! Please not only read it, but share it! Make sure we get the word out about these tics and the disease they carry!

It's summer! Time for camping, hiking and getting outside to play. Don't let those pesky annoying ticks stop you. Here's how with a simple homemade solution!

Repellent for your pets:

For pets, add 1 cup of water to a spray bottle, followed by 2 cups of distilled white vinegar. Ticks hate the smell and taste of vinegar, and will be easily be repelled by this ingredient alone. Then, add two spoonfuls of vegetable or almond oil, which both contain sulfur (another natural tick repellent).

To make a repellent that will also deter fleas, mix in a few spoonfuls of lemon juice, citrus oil, or peppermint oil, any of which will repel ticks and fleas while also creating a nicely scented repellent. Spray onto the pet's dry coat, staying away from sensitive areas including eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals. When outdoors for an extended period, spray this solution on two to three times per day.

For you and your family:

In a spray bottle, mix 2 cups of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of water. To make a scented solution so you do not smell like bitter vinegar all day, add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil.

Eucalyptus oil is a calm, soothing scent that also works as a tick repellent, while peppermint and citrus oils give off a strong crisp scent that also repel ticks.

After mixing the solution, spray onto clothing, skin, and hair before going outdoors. Reapply every four hours to keep ticks at bay, and examine your skin and hair when back inside to make sure no ticks are on the body.

If you have ever shared anything, please click share on this! WE must get the word spread about the dangers of Ticks and how to avoid them! ~share~share~share~share~share
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Monday, July 8, 2013

Raptor of the Week: Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Accipiter striatus

This exciting accipiter is a common migrant, seen in Iowa from mid March
to mid May. It is an uncommon winter resident and apparently a very rare
nester, with newly fledged young being seen in western Iowa and in Hardin
and Lucas counties in recent years. It may have been a fairly common nester
prior to the twentieth century.

The Raptors of Iowa , paintings by James F. Landenberger