Monday, December 6, 2010

A Gala Event

Last weekend was the Custer County Foundation's yearly Christmas Gala. This is Broken Bow at its finest. The event is the Foundation's biggest fundraiser of the year. All the hoity toities of the town get gussied up in their best duds and come enjoy a lovely supper. There is an auction with a real live auctioneer. It is loud, exciting and almost musical. You want to tap your foot to the ninety-ninety-ninetity nine...And you want to buy things. Art, vacation packages, truck loads of gravel, tractor time. There is something for everyone at the Custer County Gala.

At the periphery of the dining hall there are other items to bid on in a silent auction. This allows the well to dos to rub elbows and visit with one another as they peruse the lovelies. And there is meat. Oh is there meat! Every year we have had the pleasure of going to the Gala we have been graced with a large cut of prime rib. This year they did us one better. They brought an appetizer of, you guessed it, meat! Big ol' chunks of steak marinated and skewered and grilled to well doneness. For a moment I wondered: "will they serve something other than prime rib this year? Surely they won't follow meat chunks with a gigantic meat chunk?" I thought. But then I thought again. Of course there would be double meat. This is Nebraska! This is cattle country. And so it was: after the little meat chunks, out came huge, succulent, bloody slabs of meat!

Oh, but how could I mention the Gala without mentioning the football? Gala night is also Husker night. The Big Red on the big screen. Eating and auctioning and elbow rubbing all takes a back seat the the football. Even the decor is Husker red and black. Ladies in sparkly black dresses and red faux leather jackets wave their red napkins above their heads and woot woot for the home team. The movie theater sized screen flashes red and white. A good play is made, and the crowd goes wild. A bad play and heart felt mourns resonate through the hall. Auctioneers hush for playtime, and the cadence commences again only during commercial breaks. Popcorn is served. All of Broken Bow sits back and watches, cheering on the Huskers with all their might. A community at its best.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Potager Post

More pictures of the potager! It is still not finished, but around here when something is 90% done, it's basically done. I must have inherited a gene that keeps you from completing projects. Anyway, it's still the best looking potager on our block. The fruits of our labor include strawberries, tons of herbs, Japanese eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, pickling cucumbers and this mystery melon. I don't remember planting it, so if anyone can identify it I will give them 50 cents -- next time they visit me.

Also, I know nothing about pickling, so I have been searching for recipes to use up all these cucumbers!! I find the whole topic very confusing... salt versus vinegar, boiling brine versus cooled brine, hot water bath versus no bath. There are so many pickling permutations that I get confused. I finally emailed my good friend Lynne Rosetto Casper for her input, but I have yet to hear back from her. I'm sure she'll be in touch soon.

Finally, even though it is well into August I have had merely 3 ripe tomatoes so far. The rest seem to be in some sort of green tomato suspended reality. As we are still working on the canned green tomato chutney from last year, I sure hope whatever bizarre Nebraska Summer conditions are keeping them from ripening will settle the hell down.

Happy, healthy gardening, people.

Monday, June 15, 2009

P is for Potager

I was going to wait until this project was finished to show it off, but as it may never actually get finished I have decided to post some pictures. So behold the potager! (that's french for prissy kitchen garden). Stuff's not really growing yet since it's been really cloudy and wet here this spring, but soon those little boxes will be full of delightful veggies, herbs and flowers. I even went so far as to plant a couple of rose bushes. This turns out to have been a mistake -- they are already dying, but I have no regrets.

Other random photos

Monday, May 4, 2009


One of the radio podcasts I listen to has a segment on the Santa Monica farmer's market. I have to admit that over the past couple of weeks I have been just a tad jealous to hear about all of the wonderful new spring produce that is available at the market. Our own farmers market will not open for at least another month or so. Oh to experience fresh fava bean sauteed with spring leeks! As usual for NE though, if you just look around a bit you can find your own kind of spring wonderfulness here.

Today I guilted Keith into accompanying me on a search for some morel mushrooms. Neither of us really knew for certain if they existed around here, but I was determined to find out, and as it turned out Keith was willing to accompany me. We set off in our little Jetta with the dogs in the back and made our way to our nearest "river". We walked around for quite awhile, at first thinking maybe there would be no Morels after all. Then Keith spotted them: a bunch of beautiful brainy, chorally looking things. They were sort of out of place in the middle of a field of green grass, but they were sitting there plain as day! We excitedly picked them and threw them into our bag. After about an hour or so of further hunting this is what we hauled in.

It was a fun way to spend a beautiful, warm spring evening here in Nebraska. The dogs frolicked in the the river beside us while we carefully hunted mushrooms. There wasn't a soul around for miles which was nice and peaceful and of course meant more mushrooms for us! Tonight we enjoyed a delicious morel sautee. It may have even been worth all the ticks we brought home with us.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Recycle Me

As of this week I am the official chair of the Broken Bow Green Coalition's newly formed recycling sub-committee. I am very excited to have such a role! While others may look around Broken Bow and see a hopeless community of uninterested resource squanderers, I see immense potential!

This is a community where men think of F350 pickups as a symbol of their masculinity: drivers of girly Ford Rangers and the like are ridiculed as driving something other than "a real truck". This is an industrial farming community dependent on gas powered tractors and chemical fertilizers and pesticides to raise immense fields of corn. The life's blood of Broken Bow is a large cattle feed operation that produces tons of cattle waste and ozone depleting methane on a daily basis. (Unlike other industries, there are no governmental regulations requiring "farm" waste to be disposed of in environmentally sound ways).

This is community in which lives a young man who, upon seeing my husband peddling to work one day, commented on the anomaly: "that guy must need to save money". This in turn sparked a conversation between this teenager and his mother about how people without kids have time to do things like ride their bikes to work, and yes saving money is an important thing to start thinking about with college around the corner... No mention of how much impact gas spewing motorized vehicles have on our environment or our current problems related to dependence on foreign oil. The green thing just isn't in peoples' consciousness here. I think part of the problem is simply lack of education, and the other problem is the unfortunate political connotation in so many people's minds when the words "environmentalism" or "green" are spoken.

But do I find these facts about Broken Bow daunting? I think not! I am truly excited about the potential of our town (including my household) to improve our carbon footprint. Although many rural people are behind the curve on environmental issues, there are also a bunch of smart, informed and interested people here (hence the coalition). In addition, for every F350 driving litterbug out there, there is a little grey haired lady who has been saving yogurt containers to use as tupperwares and reusing the waxed paper liners from her cereal boxes since the great depression. There is hope for this small town!

Check out Keith's awesome website he made for our cause at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

So Long Anonymity

By my calculations Keith and I have been BB inhabitants for precisely 18 months. That has been sufficient time to get settled into the community and to make a few dear friends. It has also been enough time for a good proportion of Broken Bow-ites to have needed our services in the clinic or ER, and thus recognize us in the streets.

As the "homemaker" of our domicile I am generally the one out doing errands and jaunting about town. It is not uncommon on these escapades for me to be stopped by a patient, or a patient's family member when they have a question or comment about their medical condition. I always thought when I went into medicine that this would not bother me. I felt that I liked helping people, and if I had to sacrifice a few personal minutes out of my day to do that, so be it-- it would be enjoyable. What I didn't fully conceptualize was the types of things people would stop me about and the completely inconvenient times they would stop me.

For example, yesterday I had a 30 minute slot between patients when I planned to pop down to the hospital's annual rummage sale and hunt for treasures. I scarcely passed through the doors when a patient cut me off to ask me about her husband's recent blood work. "What were the numbers?" she demanded. I was torn between repeating a conversation with her which I had had on MANY occasions versus finding cool, cheap stuff. Of course I did my best to answer her questions.

When I finally elbowed my way past all the elderly thrifters and their shopping carts to the back of the rummage sale (where the books and LPs are) a woman identifying herself as a neighbor (I am learning that anyone in a 1/2mile radius is a neighbor) stopped me to talk about her husband whom I had pronounced dead in the hospital. I nodded sympathetically then awkwardly went back to sifting through the LPs.

The next day, equally as hurried, I planned a quick stop at the grocery store. As I was loading up on sale peppers a patient's mother veered out of her way to come talk to me about her son. I had seen him in the ER the night before, and he was still hurting. This was a 28 year old man who had twisted his ankle when he hopped out of his pick-up truck. He was just certain he had broken it even though all of his x-rays were normal. She wanted to let me know that the 800mg of ibuprofen wasn't touching the pain, and he wanted to be re-evaluated for a fracture (I'll have to make a separate post someday about the incredible wimpiness of 20-something year old males). When I started to offer suggestions the mother told me that she didn't necessarily want me to do anything, she just wanted to share. I simply looked at her, silently wondering why she felt this was an appropriate vegetable department conversation.

My anonymity is a thing of the past. My medical school ideals of being available to those who needed me at any given time still exist, but the problem is that a rummage sale or a grocery store are simply not practical places to diagnose and treat, and unfortunately too many people somehow feel it is okay to infringe on my personal time for relatively trivial problems.

If I could send a message to all Broken-Bowans it would be this: I cannot diagnose your daughter's knee injury when she is not even present. You are lucky if I can remember your name much less you husbands blood work. And I find it terribly awkward to discuss your continued rectal pain and bleeding in the supermarket. Please take note.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Another Birthday

I guess all my complaining last year about not being spoiled on my birthday did the trick (thank goodness Keith cares not about the effects of positive reinforcement on whiny behaviors). This year not only did I get a delicious homemade meal, but I also got homemade cupcakes! Look at the care and love he is putting into those little gems. They were superb!