Friday, February 11, 2011
By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Five-year-old Aysha Houk got her hair cut because she loves her former preschool teacher, Teresa Cook.
Cook, who runs Munchkin-Land Preschool, has cancer.
Aysha learned how Locks of Love takes long hair to make wigs for cancer sufferers, and volunteered her pony tail.
The cut was given by stylist Lindsey Vaderford of Wild Hare Salon, 108 E. Madison Ave., on Thursday afternoon.
Mom Kristie Houk was more reluctant than her daughter about the loss, but noted, “her hair grows so quickly.”
Cook was on hand to thank Aysha, who is now in kindergarten.
“I can’t believe she did that,” Cook said of Aysha’s gift.
Cook joked that maybe she’ll get a wig made of Aysha’s hair. She lost her own to chemo treatments for three brain tumors. Her now-monthly chemotherapy is working, she said, and she has only one tumor remaining.
“I’m doing good,” she said, grinning beneath a carnation-pink ball cap.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Spinning a button on a string sounds easy — until you try it, observed Lincoln Elementary School fifth grader Josh Fulton. Fulton, along with the rest of his class, spent a half hour with first grade teacher Christy Thompson, who never left character as a prairie school marm tutoring her one-room students in ciphers, show-and-tell and recess.
Show and tell items included a mud dauber’s nest, bird’s nest and old-time lantern.
Jonathan Lynn played along when his turn came by telling the class he carried the lantern to school “because a storm was coming,” and the sky was darkening.
Thompson continued the ruse, noting in a southeast drawl, “Since it’s raining today, we’ll be having recess indoors and making whirligigs.”
To make the toy, students threaded an oversized button onto a loop of string. Then, twisting and pulling with the string wrapped around their fingers, they tried to keep the button a-spin.
Not a simple task, noted Mikey Hendry and Drake Sell, who marveled when their new toys worked.
The lesson was a part of the school’s Living History Day, in celebration of Kansas’ 150 years of statehood.
Other activities included learning about Amelia Earhart, cartoonist Mort Walker and playing pioneer games in the gym.
Students also heard about Kansas City native Charlie Parker and the advent of that quintessential American music, jazz. In a doubled-up kindergarten crowd, only a few hands went up when music teacher Joseph Hand asked who had heard of the form.
No worry. Iola High’s Jazz band was on hand to play Parker tunes for the young students, beginning with “Now’s the Time.”
While Hand introduced students to the story of jazz, jazz band leader Larry Lillard explained musical parts — solo and ensemble — and told students, “It’s OK to applaud after the solo. It shows appreciation for the musician’s skills.”
IN OTHER classes, eager ears heard tales of dust storms and tornadoes.
Weather facts fascinated second and third graders in Mary Anne Lower and Brian Johnson’s class on disasters and catastrophes.
Of course, the focus was on those with a Kansas connection.
Students learned that in the early 1930s, only 17 inches of rain fell upon western Kansas. Years of farming had removed prairie grasses that held down top soil. Winds blew excessively. The result: a wild wall of dust that carried all the way to the Atlantic coast.
Footage of the phenomenon was shown, and Lower passed around a bag containing 4 pounds of sand, so students could get a feel for how much dust fell, per person, in one day upon the city of Chicago.
“It got into everything,” Lower told the students — clothes, lungs, eyes.
“Even ears?” asked Clairissa Nivens in wonder. “Even ears,” was the response.
The storm carried so far that ships off the Atlantic coast received a quarter-inch coating of dust on deck.
“Dust storms are something that are still happening,” especially in China, added Johnson.
He then taught the kids how to prepare when tornado weather loomed, bringing history to present by showing footage of a funnel cloud that spun through Minnesota in August, and sharing safety tips for those facing such storms.
LIVING HISTORY Day concluded with a concert by the IHS jazz band for the entire student body. They played Charlie Parker tunes, of course.
Wednesday’s clear skies gave a reprieve to beleaguered farmers struggling to care for cattle in open fields throughout Allen County.
Eddyra Nelson, who with her husband Delbert runs about 100 head north of Iola, at Geneva and LaHarpe, said “We’re lucky — we don’t have any calving yet.”
With the heavy, drifting snow, “Just getting them fed is hard,” she said. “We take them big bales of hay with the 4-wheel drive and tractor,” she added. Chopping ice goes without saying.
Eddyra said her son Robert had to come fetch her Wednesday in his 4WD to feed the farm cats because her minivan wouldn’t make it through the snow. Robert cut holes in ponds and gave the cattle extra feed.
“They didn’t make it out to the ones in LaHarpe,” she said, “But we had warning about the storm, so they gave them extra the day before,” she noted.
Steve Strickler, of Strickler’s Dairy in Iola, said he is concerned about calves out in open fields north of the farm office.
“The one’s I’m concerned about are the open air pens,” Strickler said during the midst of Tuesday’s blizzard. “We just ride around on the four-wheelers and make sure they have fresh food.”
He said many cattle will stay behind the farm’s 6-foot-high windbreaks, made of baled recycled tires.
As for Strickler, “I’m trying to stay in the office and do computer work today,” he chuckled.
Ruth Mueller, who with husband Larry has cattle on Mississippi Road, said they are doing all right. “We don’t have any calving,” she said. What calves they do have were born last spring, and “they’re big and healthy,” she noted.
Craig Mentzer also was grateful. “We won’t be calving until Feb. 20 or so,” he said.
He’s taking precautions against the cold, though.
“Most of my ponds have automatic watering systems,” he said, that circulate water through nearby tanks. That allows Mentzer to fence off the ponds proper, in order to keep cows off the ice.
“They’re not supposed to freeze,” he said of the circulation tanks, “but they’re freezing now.”
“We’ll have to chop ice, but it’s not as bad as chopping on a pond,” he added.
The fields he has where ponds have not been fenced, he said, “worry me. We have a few where they do get on the ice and it’s not a good situation.” Those cattle require frequent checking on, Mentzer said.
“I’ve lost a few over the years” to ice break, he added.
Mentzer also scraped feeding spots and bladed behind windbreaks, he said, to ensure the cattle could get to food and shelter.
“If we keep them out of the wind, that’s 90 percent of it. We put down old, poor quality hay” for bedding at the windbreaks, he said. “They’ll probably eat half of it.”
The Mentzers have more than 200 cattle “about 2 miles east of Neosho Falls” in Allen County.
To get to them all, “we had to take the tractor and blade a path before the feed truck could go through,” Wednesday afternoon.
The bitter cold is supposed to let up this weekend, with more snow predicted for Monday.
By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
Protecting pets is critical in cold winter weather said Cathy Montfort and veterinarian Lee Ann Flowers, both of Red Barn Veterinary Service on 1300 Street north of Iola.
“Truly, in this kind of weather, there is no way to maintain a pet safely outside,” Montfort stressed.
The best thing one can do, she said, is “Take them in.”
Even yard dogs need shelter, Flowers noted.
“I have five outdoor dogs,” she said. At night, they go into “an enclosed (and heated) building.”
A dog house alone cannot adequately block wind chill, Flowers said.
“Even a dog with a heavy coat is not acclimated to the severe temperatures we are going to have,” Montfort said.
Though covered in fur, dogs can get frostbite, Flowers explained.
“It’s hard to tell.” The most visible sign is that the inside of the ears become reddened. Tails and ears are most often affected. If frostbitten, “the skin will slough off,” Flowers said.
The best prevention is protection from wind and cold.
Even if a dog is not house trained, Montfort said, “you need to get it into a heated environment” at night. “Put down newspapers,” if need be, but don’t leave the animal kenneled outdoors.
ANOTHER worry for winter pets is dehydration.
Dogs “will not drink cold or frozen water,” Montfort said. “The water temperature has to be at least 50 degrees in this weather.”
Without water, “A dehydrated animal cannot maintain its body temperature,” she said.
In addition, “it’s really hard for an animal to eat enough calories in this weather.”
“My dogs’ appetite doubles in the winter,” Flowers observed.
For proper care of outdoor dogs, “You need to have them on a good quality food” and increase feed quantity, she said. “I just leave food out all the time in winter,” she added.
Indoor pets, on the other hand, do not need an increased calorie load and can be fed on their regular schedule.
The lack of extra fat or a thickened coat makes indoor pets more susceptible to being chilled, however, Flowers said.
“Small dogs and dogs with not a lot of hair should not be left outside at all,” Flowers said.
“Stand at the door and watch and let them back in right away,” Montfort suggested when a pet goes outside to do its business.
If walked in cold weather, wipe off a dog’s feet once back home to remove salts that can cause intestinal upset.
“There’s a lot of hidden dangers we don’t think about in weather like this,” Montfort said.
“Salt itself is especially drying and will crack (a dog’s) feet,” she said. Plus, Flowers added, “antifreeze is lethal.”
Pets can get it on their feet, then once inside lick it off, ingesting the poison.
“I recommend keeping baby wipes by the door and wiping off their feet as soon as they come in” Flowers said.
Even tiny dogs that rarely go outdoors need special care in winter, Flowers said.
“Little dogs — like Chihuahuas — need a sweater,” she said. “It’s drafty down there on the floor.”
Dogs, if chilled, will shiver.
“If a dog is shivering, he is cold. If he is shivering, put a coat on him,” she added.
Consider it this way, Montfort said, a day outside for a pet dog “would be like you standing outside in your heavy coat all day.”
If it’s too cold for you — it’s too cold for them.
By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
WHEN Iola school kids faced three days without classes this week, parents had to get creative to fill the hours.
Bitterly cold temperatures precluded all-day outdoor play, but that didn’t stop Madison and Haley Carlin from taking advantage of snow piles formed when driveways and streets were plowed.
“Yesterday we helped the neighbors build a couple forts,” said nine-year-old Haley. “They just shoveled the snow into piles and we dug out tunnels.”
The girls, along with neighbors Chloe and Carter Wilson, Chase and Cole Regehr and Ben Cooper, tunneled as far as they could, said Madison.
“We were going to make (the tunnel go) the whole way through, but it collapsed.”
On Thursday, there was still enough space to wiggle a 10-year-old figure into the hole, with only a head poking out.
“We worked outside until we felt like our toes were going to fall off,” Haley said of Wednesday’s endeavors.
Then, everyone poured indoors for cocoa.
“I think we used every mug in the house,” their mother Terri said, for cocoa and a cheesy chili dish that Haley pointed out could be eaten as either a soup or a dip.
“Some people like to eat it with chips,” she suggested.
The collection of neighbor kids also left a trail of wet mittens and clothes for Terri to contend with.
On Thursday, it was whole-house cleanup time.
“The girls shampooed this rug for me,” she said of the entrance hall where all the gear had been shed the day before.
And Haley was singing along to Hannah Montana while mopping the kitchen floor, her mom said.
Madison had the task of putting away a double load of laundry.
“We had a lot of different plans,” Terri said of ideas for filling the extra hours.
“We could work on our valentines or young author assignments,” she said of school-related chores.
In the end, though, “We just ended up doing whatever.”
WEDNESDAY also became movie day. Being Groundhog’s Day, the family watched that iconic Bill Murray film. “Roger” — the girl’s father — “kept wondering if that’s what was happening to him — he’d wake up and every day would be a snow day,” Terri said.
Roger Carlin also was grounded those days school was out — he is a seventh grade teacher at Iola Middle school.
“But he got out,” Terri said of her husband. “He went to the store for groceries. I never left the house” and yard, she said.
Other movies the family indulged in were the “High School Musical” trilogy.
“At one point I looked up and realized the girls had moved on to something else,” said Terri. “I was the only one still watching.”
Terri admitted to enjoying the down time, but also to missing her “other kids” — she teaches third grade at McKinley Elementary. She wondered what some of her students were doing to fill their time.
A sound at the door led to another neighbor’s visit — this time dog Chloe, over to visit the Carlin’s dog, Libby.
“She loves running in this snow,” Terri said of their terrier/beagle mix.
Earlier, Terri showed off Libby’s repertoire of tricks — from jumping four feet for a piece of cheese to playing dead when she heard the word “Bang!”
Throughout the day’s activities, Madison kept up a constant conversation via text message with a friend who planned to visit later in the day.
“I asked her if, when she was over, they were going to actually talk to each other face-to-face,” Terri joked.
But phone calls also were a part of the family’s week, Terri added.
“We got to talk to my mom — she lives in Texas.”
Terri’s mom, “is not used to this much snow,” a topic of a number of their calls. Her mom’s town of Garland “had a lot of ice” she said, and also had shut down services — including her mom’s final chemo treatment at her local hospital — until the weather cleared.
“She called and told me she’d be able to go in Friday,” Terri said.
ON THURSDAY afternoon, sunshine beckoned the girls back outside to explore the previous day’s creations and slide down mountains of snow bermed along the edge of the street. Snow angels appeared in pristine white and hats and scarves lost the day before were rediscovered.
Finally, a large bowl was used to scoop out clean snow and taken indoors.
The girls mixed “1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla and 2 cups milk with a gallon of snow,” they volunteered. “You stir it up in a big bowl until it gets creamy, then you eat it,” Haley announced.
The resultant “snow cream” was a delightful creamy blend with a texture that crossed gelato with granita.
It was a fitting treat.
COLONY — After retiring in 2002 from a career as an elementary educator, Phyllis Luedke is embarking full steam into her new hobby: nature photography.
Luedke has always harbored an interest in photography, she said, but never had the time to devote to it until recently.
Now, she’ll take off on a day trip, like a recent one to John Redmond Reservoir near Burlington, that netted a series of pictures of slabs of ice, broken and crashed upon the shore. “They sparkled so much, but I couldn’t get that,” Luedke said of ice farther from shore.
“I like to go out in spring and summertime and take pictures of wildflowers and sunrises,” she said.
In winter, Luedke trains her lens upon a backyard bird feeder, where she has shot cardinals, flickers and songbirds as they feed.
Luedke came upon her interest in photography via her love for the natural world.
“I grew up in Lone Elm and went to high school at Kincaid, when they still had a high school there,” Luedke said. “I grew up on a farm, so I’m kind of a naturalist,” she added.
On the farm, she loved the wildflowers, she said. “We’d pick dried flowers in the fall and make bouquets,” she noted.
Luedke attended Junior College in Iola, then pursued a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Kansas State Teachers College, now Emporia State University.
Luedke began her teaching career at Madison, south of Emporia, “then I went to Moran, Colony and Le Roy,” she said. Along the way she taught kindergarten, second, third and fourth grades, along with Title 1 reading and math.
While still teaching at Madison, Luedke said, some of the other teachers encouraged her to sign up with them for “some National Science Federation classes” offered through ESU. The classes “were free because at that time, in the early 1960s, they were trying to build up science education.”
One class, she said, took place in summer. The teachers rode covered wagons, drawn by huge Belgian horses, across the Flint Hills, studying the natural world as they went.
“That was one of the most interesting,” classes, Luedke said. “We camped out,” and learned about prairie plants and ecology, she said.
Even then, she said, “I took pictures, but it was just a point and shoot thing” — using film, she noted.
FAST FORWARD to 2009.
At the Allen County Fair, Luedke noticed the photographs on display.
“I thought, ‘I’d like to do that.’” Noticing most of the photos came form 4-H members, Luedke said, “I called the County Extension and inquired about a photography instructor.”
She was referred to Anna Catterson at Allen County Community College. “So in (fall of) 2009, I enrolled in a photography class,” Luedke said.
Luedke pulls out a large binder, carefully categorized with photography assignments from that class. An illustrated alphabet, with letters made of rolled iron fencing, crossing branches or barbed wire strung just so comprised Luedke’s examples.
“We took all kinds of photos,” Luedke noted, “Sports, landscape, flowers.” Sports, she said, were her least favorite. “It’s hard to get the lighting right,” and capture rapid movement, she said.
Her favorite — and her forte — are close-up pictures of flowers. One, of a bee on a milkweed blossom, was accepted into the book “Best of College Photography, 2010,” put out by Photographer’s Forum magazine.
Luedke also has taken photography workshops, she said, including one on photographing butterflies at Powell Gardens, east of Kansas City.
“And then I saw in the Register where the Kansas Native Plant Society was having a two-day excursion in Pittsburg,” she said. The weekend included field trips and lessons about native flowers. And, there was a photography contest.
“I didn’t place,” she said. “I was disappointed. I thought mine were pretty good — but theirs were better. That made me feel I wanted to try again the next year.” Which she did.
In 2010, Luedke received four second place and one first place wins in the KNPS contest.
“This year I practiced my skills and did better,” she said.
To facilitate taking even better photographs, Luedke bought herself a longer lens for Christmas. The macro lens pulls images in closer, for more detail.
“Another thing I got myself was an extension tube. You put it between your lens and your camera body and it extends out farther,” enhancing the macro effect of the lens, she said.
Luedke said despite all the automatic settings on modern, digital cameras, she prefers to use the manual focus setting.
“On auto focus, you don’t have any control,” she said.
And, although she is teaching herself Photoshop, she doesn’t like to manipulate her pictures much beyond cropping.
She won’t change a photograph’s color, for example, “because it doesn’t look natural,” she said.
Mostly, she said, “I like to look on the computer and see what other folks have done,” by visiting photo share sites such as Flickr.
“People look at photographs and think it’s easy,” she mused. “I take a lot of bad pictures” to get a few good ones, she said.
Luedke has just begun marketing her photography, predominantly through craft fairs. She sells framed collages and large prints, small refrigerator magnets and mugs. “I put all my snow pictures together and made a DVD,” as well, she said. “There’s close to 150 pictures there, coupled with easy-listening music.” The DVD is available at Duane’s Flowers in Iola and Country Diner in Colony, or by calling her at 620-852-3572.Still, “I don’t consider myself a professional at all,” Luedke said. “I just do it as a hobby. I don’t think I’m going to get rich.”