October 13, 2005

Pepsi-Cola Marks End of An Era As Bottling Line Closes

Thursday marked the end of an era as the Pepsi-Cola Memphis Bottling Company officially closed its bottling line after more than 70 years in service. The move completed the transition for the local company to strictly a distribution center for northeast Missouri and southeast Iowa.

The writing had been on the wall for several years as the bottling line saw declining production due to changes in the industry.

We were bottling such a small percentage of what we sell annually, said company president Mike Johnson. That combined with the maintenance costs on the aging machinery made this a fairly simple matter of economics. For the past several years our competitor had a dramatic cost advantage over us with high speed lines and near capacity volume.

In June the company discontinued its 10-ounce glass returnable bottle line, leaving just 20-ounce and 2-liter plastic bottles as the two items filled at the plant. The company only filled Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Diet Mountain Dew in these two sizes.

To my knowledge we were the last bottler standing as far as glass returnables were considered, Johnson said.

The line closure follows the industry trend that saw similar facilities close in Oskaloosa, IA, Brookfield and New Haven 15 years or more ago. The business has transitioned to much larger production companies that in turn supply the various regional distributors.

To be honest, I dont know of a smaller bottling facility than what we had, Johnson stated. There may be one out there, but Im sure they are faced with the same economic factors that ultimately led us to this decision.

He noted that the facility in Marion, IL was one of the smaller bottlers that he was aware of, and it is at least 20-times larger than the Memphis plant. Generally the industry is transitioning to corporate bottlers, with just one or two large producers per state.

The rising cost of equipment had limited the company in the number of products the plant could handle. The growth of the industry added to the problem with the ever-changing bottle sizes and a growing number of varieties of soda.

Concerns about the longevity of the machinery also led to the decision to close the line. Johnson stated the current bottling line was purchased in 1985. In 20 years the technology has changed dramatically from the existing stainless-steel conveyer system to the modern air-jet driven machines for the lighter plastic bottles.

I use the analogy of an old car, with the line being like your old Ford, Johnson said. It was at the point when you get in it every morning you dont know whether or not it is going to start, and how much its going to cost to fix the next problem.

While the move was obvious as far as economics, it was still a difficult choice for the company as a total of six employees were laid off in the process. Other workers on the bottling line were transitioned into other positions.

The company offered a severance package for the years of service from each employee and also pledged to provide assistance in an effort to find other employment opportunities.

Sawmill, Hospital Storage Building Destroyed by Weekend Fires

A local saw mill owned by Tri State Timber was completely destroyed by fire on Friday evening. According to Scotland County Fire Chief Greg Probst, the saw mill, located on Highway 136 near the Arbela Junction, was a total loss.

A passerby called in the blaze at around 6 p.m. reporting heavy smoke  coming from the building. Upon arrival, firemen found the west end of the structure fully engulfed by flames.

“The fire was already pretty extensive when we arrived on scene,” said Probst. He added that the firemen had to deal with a number of acetylene tanks, which were stored in the building, exploding and popping off during his crews’ efforts.

A total of six fire trucks from the Scotland County Fire Department were aided by three additional trucks from the Gorin Fire Department. Emergency crews were on the scene for approximately four hours.

An inspection of the scene by the Missouri Fire Marshal’s Office declared the fire of undetermined cause, as the high heat generated by the blaze left little for investigators to review.

The fire department was back in action later that weekend. Memphis fire crews responded to property owned by Scotland County Hospital for a storage building fire.

Probst indicated the department was dispatched at 5:55 p.m. Sunday, April 21st after a nearby brush pile that was being burnt, spread to the storage building on the property on the east side of Watkins Street.

Probst said the building was a total loss, including a pair of vehicles stored in the facility as well as other maintenance and construction materials.

Jauflione Chapter DAR to Co-Host Genealogy Workshop With Clark County Group

The Jauflione Chapter NSDAR met in regular session on April 5th at 2:00 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church hospitality room.

The meeting was opened in ritualistic form by Vice Regent Reta Stott. Opening Prayer was given by Chaplain Nelda Billups. Roll Call, “A Favorite Missourian” was answered by 12 members and one Children of the American Revolution member. Those present were: Terry Arnold, Nelda Billups, Connie Bratton, Verlee Dauma, Rhonda Davis, Janet Gerth, June Kice, Patricia Miller, Mary Morgan, Suzy Pool, Reta Stott, and CAR member Katie Miller.

Opening Ritual was led by Vice Regent Reta Stott. The Pledge of Allegiance, American’s Creed, Preamble to the Constitution, and Pledge to the State of Missouri were all led by Vice Regent Reta Stott. The National Anthem was led by Katie Miller.

The President General’s Message was read by Reta Stott. The National Defense Report was given by Patricia Miller. Patricia gave a very interesting report on the Vietnam War nurse, Dr. (Colonel) Janet Southby and member of the DAR shares her experiences as an Army nurse early in the Vietnam Campaign. Indian Minute report given by Katie Miller was on Code Talkers. Constitution Minute given by Verlee Dauma was on James Madison.

The minutes of the March 1, 2019 meeting were approved as read. The treasurer’s report, prepared by Treasurer Kathy Kiddoo, was given by Vice Regent Reta Stott.

New Business:

The Scotland County R-I School District is raising funds for a new all-weather track. Discussion was held on the fundraiser, which is to purchase a brick or tile with a personalized message printed on it. Bricks will be installed along the Tiger Plaza walkway and tiles will be placed along the Tiger Plaza walls. No decision was made at this time.

Clark County DAR is asking if Jauflione DAR would be interested in co-hosting a genealogy workshop. Jauflione DAR has agreed to co-host this workshop with Clark County. Regent Deborah Kauk will be contacting Clark County to decide on a place, date, and time to hold this workshop.

During the May meeting we will hold a silent auction with proceeds going to support the President General’s Project Fund. Everyone is asked to bring an item or items for the auction. Items can be new or gentle used. Our next meeting is May 3rd at the Presbyterian Church hospitality room. This meeting will be held at 5:00 p.m.

Our program for this month was presented by Angela Schmitter from the Scotland County Hospital medical records. Angela’s program was on making a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Health Care Directive. Angela shared very important information on how to make a Power of Attorney for Health Care.

Meeting was adjourned.

Refreshments were served by Mary Morgan and Nelda Billups. Social hour was enjoyed by all.

Submitted by Rhonda Davis

Omicron Beta Theta Hosts 1st Annual Pasta with a Purpose

Omicron Beta Theta Sorority of Memphis hosted its first annual and very successful, “Pasta with a Purpose” Dinner on April 13, 2019 at the Memphis V.F.W.  

The purpose of this dinner was to raise money to utilize throughout the year for various needs within Scotland County. The sorority members sold 300 tickets for a lasagna dinner. Those tickets included a reverse raffle.  

Member, Sally Ebling, organized the entire meal and prepared the ingredients for each pan of lasagna.  Sally, and the other members (Cindy Brush, Theresa Shelley, Angela Newman, Holly Harris, Lauren Williamson, Samantha Brush, Lanea Whitney, Karla Rainey, Beth Terrill, Heliene Tobler, Tammy Kirchner, Natalie Cook, Candace Kratzer, Pam Doubet, and Melissa Behrens) came together just hours before meal time to create and cook the homemade pasta.  The dinner included: lasagna, green beans and/or corn, along with homemade dinner rolls.  All members provided a variety of desserts to complete the meal. 

Winners of the reverse raffle were:  $25.00 Bill Holland and Ethan Wright; $50.00 David Smith; $75.00 Ashlee McBee; $100.00 Heliene Tobler, donated to a community member in need; $250 opted to buy back for third place, $500 Becky Sumption, and the final number drawn, Beth Terrill, was the winner of $1,000. Terrill chose to donate $500 of her winnings back to Omicron Beta Theta and $500 to a community member in need.  

Cindy Brush, Beta president stated, “$600 of the raffle prize money was donated to a community member in need which is great since the whole reason we fundraise is to raise money so that our organization can help out in our community with various areas of need.  We would like to thank the community for supporting  Pasta with a Purpose and our organization.”  

School Zone Speed Survey Reveals Some Alarming Numbers

Data collected by the Northeast Regional Planning Commission’s speed trailer at the north Memphis City limits on Highway 15 revealed just 59% of motorists obeying the speed limit of 40 mph, with one vehicle recorded at 114 mph.

Nearly half of the motorists entering or leaving the city limits of Memphis on Highway 15 north were found to be out of compliance with the speed limit according to data compiled by the Northeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission’s traffic trailer.

The speed monitoring device was placed in the 40 mph speed zone north of the highway 15 entrance for the Scotland County R-I School District. The trailer was located on the west shoulder of the highway from March 18 through April 15th at the request of the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office.

During that time frame, 51,200 vehicles were speed checked either entering or leaving the city limits, with just 58.96% being in compliance with the posted speed limit of 40 mph.

The majority of vehicles entering the city limits were in compliance with the speed limit. The trailer speed checked 25,242 vehicles southbound into Memphis and 18,721 were at or below the speed limit. While that constitutes 74.17% percent of the inbound traffic, it still meant that 6,521 vehicles were exceeding the speed limit as they approached the main traffic area for access to the school.

Of that number, the vast majority were traveling no more than 10 miles over the limit. A total of 131 southbound vehicles were checked at speeds in excess of 50 mph.

The most alarming statistic found in the data was the top speed monitored by the trailer, 114 mph. That was on a northbound vehicle.

Not surprisingly, the northbound traffic was less compliant with the speed zone. Unlike southbound traffic that was reducing from 55 mph to 40 mph and ultimately to 30 mph further into the city limits, the northbound traffic flows from the 40 mph zone to highway speed of 55 mph.

A large number of northbound motorists apparently were jumping the gun on the acceleration, with only 44.18% of the monitored traffic at or below the speed limit. Of the 25,958 vehicles checked, 14,490 were traveling at speeds exceeding the posted speed limit. A total of 1,861 vehicles or 7.17% of the total, were traveling 50 mph or faster.

Somewhere in that count was the one motorist that was clocked at 114 mph. In all, 143 vehicles were monitored traveling more than 86 mph with another 103 traveling between 81 to 85 mph.

These high rates of speed were not limited to northbound traffic, as the system monitored one southbound vehicle at 106 mph as it entered city limits.

One might expect those types of high rates of speed to have occurred late at night, but some of the most alarming data provided by the study, revealed that the highest volume of traffic that was caught at speeds in excess of 86 mph occurred between and 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. with the next highest frequencies from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., typically the two highest traffic times as motorists commute to and from work.

The system does not differentiate between standard traffic and emergency vehicles, meaning some of the speed situations could have been law enforcement, fire department or ambulance vehicles responding to emergencies.

The data has been shared with local law enforcement agencies who indicated enforcement efforts are ongoing in the area.

Addiction Program to Bring Reckless Saints of Nowhere to Memphis

A local program helping in the fight against addiction will be bringing in some reinforcements. The Reckless Saints of Nowhere will be at the Lighthouse of Faith Church in Memphis on Wednesday, May 8th at 6:30 p.m.

The national group will be guests of the Guiding Light R & R program, which has been meeting weekly at Lighthouse of Faith since January.

“We just want to help our small community with the major addiction problems that it has,” said organizer Sarah Parker. “Everyone is welcome to attend meetings.”

She noted that all participants maintain anonymity and that the group sessions are open to family members and loved ones who have questions or need support in dealing with the addiction issues plaguing their relationships.

 “Usually I pick a subject for the group to consider and we have open group discussions.,” said Parker. “I also offer personal time if anyone needs or wants individual counseling.”

The Reckless Saints of Nowhere (RSON) will be at the May 8th meeting to offer additional insight into the fight against addiction.

Jordan Parker founded the group in 2015 along with his wife Vanessa. The Boatman, OK native battled addiction for more than 15 years before finally exiting a long-term treatment facility to find his community entrenched in the same battle he had just fought against opioid addiction.

“So I started giving my phone number to anyone who was suffering,” said Jordan. “A simple gesture. If you or someone you know is lost in addiction, call me. Any time. Day or night. I will do anything I can to help. It blew up. Soon I had so many people wanting me to help them get clean that it didn’t take long to notice the problem – resources. If the addict wished to get help for their addiction, they had to pay outrageous entry fees to be accepted into rehabilitation and treatment programs that didn’t work.”

That was when RSON was founded. Jordan and Vanessa compiled data on the best treatment options and began building relationships with successful programs while also working to secure financial resources to help fund rehabilitation.

“Reckless went all in,” said Jordan. “We paid the first entry fees out of our pocket, and we drove wherever needed, often times across state lines, to pick up an addict and transport them to treatment. When we couldn’t afford the entry fees anymore, we worked out payment plans with Treatment Programs. My wife and I would pay $100-200 a week, and the program would admit the addict immediately. But Reckless only consisted of the two of us back then (newlyweds that both worked 50 hours a week jobs), so our funds quickly ran out. That’s when my mom and dad saw what Reckless was doing and wanted to help. With their donations, we were able to help even more people find recovery. We were passionate and a little crazy but it was working. People were getting help and families had hope again. We helped almost a hundred addicts get into treatment in our first two years.”

Eventually RSON established not-for-profit status and began an apparel line, with all proceeds used for rehabilitation work. Those revenues along with additional donations have helped the group grow.

“Our sole mission here at Reckless is to ensure that no addict who wants help for their addiction is ever turned away merely because they can’t pay for treatment,” said Jordan. “All of you that have purchased one of our shirts have aided tremendously in the effort to save lives. We have come a long way, but our work is not done. We are still in the middle of an epidemic.”

For more information on the Guiding Light R & R program contact Sarah Parker at 660.341.6611 or Pastor Curtis Ebeling at 660.216.4040. 

Local Blood Drive Set For May 7th

Healthy individuals are needed every day to maintain an adequate blood supply for patients in need. Once a donor has made the commitment to give blood, it is important to take a few simple steps to prepare and help ensure a good donation experience.

The Red Cross recommends: getting a good night’s sleep; eating a good breakfast or lunch; drinking extra water and fluids to help replace the volume you will donate; avoiding caffeinated beverages; eating iron-rich foods to boost your iron level.

Donating blood is an easy way to help others and only, takes about an hour of your time. The Red Cross encourages donors to give blood every time they are eligible: every 56 days for whole blood donations and every 112 days for double red cell donations.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities:

Make an appointment and encourage your family and friends to donate on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 from 1:30-6:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 910 N. Weaver, Memphis.

How to donate blood. Simply. call 17800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or, driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

The American Red Cross provides shelter, food and clothing to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; ministers international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at blog.redcross.org.

The need is constant. The gratification is instant. Give blood.

District 4 Capitol Report

by Rep. Greg Sharpe

Quite an active week in the Capitol. This week we got to hear a speech by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and hear about how he is fighting for Missourians in D.C. Aside from that, here is some of the legislation we passed this week:

House Approves Legislation to Protect Land Owners from Eminent Domain Abuse (HB 1062)

 As hundreds of concerned land owners gathered in the State Capitol this week to rally in support of their property rights, the Missouri House of Representatives took action to prevent the misuse of the state’s eminent domain law. House members approved a bill that would specify that a private entity cannot use the power of eminent domain for the purposes of constructing above-ground power lines.

The bill comes in response to the proposed Grain Belt Express transmission line that would carry power generated by wind turbines in Kansas across Missouri to other states in the Midwest and neighboring states. The 750-mile line would run across eight northern Missouri counties – Buchanan, Clinton, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Randolph, Monroe and Ralls – and would deliver a portion of the power it transmits to utilities and customers in Missouri.

In March the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a request made by Grain Belt Express to construct the high-voltage transmission line. As a result of the decision made by the PSC, developers would have the authority to utilize the power of eminent domain to obtain easement rights from landowners who are unwilling to sell.

The legislation approved by the House would prevent the use of eminent domain for the purpose of constructing the Grain Belt Express transmission line. Supporters of the bill said it is important to prohibit private companies from using eminent domain to maximize their profits for a project that will provide little benefit for Missouri consumers. They say less than 12 percent of the electricity carried by the transmission line would be sold to Missouri consumers.

 House Speaker Elijah Haahr said about the bill, “As someone who grew up on a family farm, I care deeply about the rights of landowners. The idea of government – an unelected quasi-government body at that – telling one private owner to share their land and follow unreasonable regulations for another private company is a violation of the core beliefs this country was founded on. Private property rights are a cornerstone of our freedoms and the framers of our constitution knew from their experiences that when private property rights are not protected, our freedoms are at risk.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Signed by the Governor

HB 14 is a supplemental appropriations bill that allows for the continued current operations of Missouri state government. The bill allocates nearly $468 million, including $189 million in General Revenue, $183 million in Federal Funds, and $97 million in Other Funds. Among other things, the bill provides funding for the Time Critical Diagnosis Unit and for the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.

HB 77 fixes a problem with the school retirement system that was created by language that was passed last session. The bill adds a provision that exempts anyone that retired as a teacher under the public school retirement system who is now employed by a public community college.

Bills Sent to the Senate

HB 1094 prevents penalties for delayed payments on outstanding income tax liabilities for the 2018 tax year, as long as a taxpayer timely files their return. There may be interest assessed on outstanding income tax liabilities, provided that no interest will be assessed before May 15, 2019 and any interest already paid will be refunded. Supporters say that with the new federal tax laws and Missouri withholding issues, taxpayers’ Missouri withholding may have been reduced causing unexpected tax liability due when they file their tax returns. This bill gives a taxpayer more time to pay his or her tax bill, without hurting the fiscal year for the state.

HB 379 allows the Department of Natural Resources to award grants to preserve, protect, or restore historic county courthouses and historic county courthouse grounds. Supporters say that this bill would clarify the use of the Historic Preservation Revolving Fund to specifically allow for the use of the funds to help protect and maintain historic courthouses. The department currently issues grants for this purpose but this bill would expressly authorize the use of the fund for this purpose.

HBs 281 & 570 allows school districts to implement alternative methods of instruction to avoid make-up days. Beginning with the 2020-21 school year, the bill allows a district to use an alternative instruction plan approved by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for up to 36 hours due to inclement weather.

HB 951 specifies that the Missouri Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the county sheriff for the county in which the facility is located, the United States Department of Agriculture, and any other federal or Missouri state agency with statutory or regulatory authority have exclusive authority to inspect the grounds or facilities in Missouri used for the production of eggs, milk or other dairy products, raising of livestock, or the production or raising of dogs or other animals not used to produce any food product. Supporters say the bill would clarify which agencies have the authority to inspect certain agricultural facilities. The bill would protect Missouri farmers from other states and outside organizations attempting to gain access to the facilities without legal authority. However, it also allows for the farmer or producer to authorize other agencies to inspect, if the farmer or producer so chooses.

MADELYN (GRIGGS) CRUMP (1/2/1951 – 4/16/2019)

Madelyn (Griggs) Crump, 68 of rural Glenwood, Missouri passed away at her home on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

The daughter of Milford and Peggy (Comrie) Griggs, she was born on January 2, 1951 in Morris, Illinois.  Madelyn was a graduate of the Morris High School in Morris, Illinois.  On August 13, 1971, in Centerville, Iowa, she was united in marriage to Robert Eugene (Bob) Crump and to this union two children came, Jacob and Sarah.

Survivors include her children, Jacob Crump of Glenwood, Missouri and Sarah Crump and fiancé, Michael Cruickshank of Osceola, Iowa; four grandchildren, Ty Robert, Maci Anne, Lane Michael and Meadow Rae Cruickshank all of Osceola, Iowa; one brother, William Griggs and wife, Carol of Green Castle, Missouri; two sisters, Peggy Zweeres of Morris, Illinois and Barbara Adams and husband, Rick of Coal City, Illinois; a special friend, John Monroe of Glenwood, Missouri; other family members and many good friends.

Madelyn is preceded in death by her parents and her former husband, Robert Eugene (Bob) Crump.

Madelyn was employed as a dental assistant for several years in Lancaster, Missouri. She then became employed with the Head Start Program in Glenwood, Missouri as the Bus Driver.  The students loved her outgoing personality!  She was later employed with Western’s Smokehouse LLC in Greentop, Missouri for approximately thirteen years where she retired from.

Madelyn enjoyed the outdoors and loved her horses.  Her life was devoted to her family as she was a wonderful mother and grandmother.  She loved her grandchildren and the time she was able to spend with them as they were the twinkle in her eye!

Memorial services were held on Monday, April 22, 2019 at the Norman Funeral Home in Lancaster, Missouri with Sonny Smyser, Pastor of the Schuyler County Church of Faith officiating.  A special CD selection of “When I Get Where I Am Going” was performed.  Burial will be at a later date as the body has been cremated.

Memorials have been established for the Schuyler County Cancer Relief Fund. 

Online condolences may be expressed to the family by logging on to normanfh.com. 

Arrangements are under the direction of the Norman Funeral Home of Lancaster, Missouri.

Free Time

Alline reading her piece at a past writer’s workshop.

Hi friends! Alline here, writing from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. The weather is warm and sunny, and if I were actually a gardener I’d be outside basking in the sunshine, planting seedlings, applying layers of compost and mulch, and thinking deep, organic thoughts. Alas, my brand of gardening is more Darwinian, as in “survival of the fittest”. I begin with such good intentions. I spend the month of February drooling over the dozens of seed catalogs that land in my mailbox, turning back pages, circling precisely which variety of kale and peppers I want most, and then drawing beautiful designs of just where in my garden everything will go. I order seeds, and paw through them excitedly when they arrive. Then, while icy weather rages outside and just about everyone else here at DR is nurturing their seeds into seedlings in their greenhouses, I’m watching movies on Netflix, learning to crochet granny squares, and planning a trip to visit the best bookstores in all 50 states (the first leg, which is in October, begins in St. Louis and stops at ten bookstores, the Crystal Bridges Museum, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the National Quilt Museum. Wanna come?). Whoops, sorry, that’s exactly why I don’t have a garden.

Sometimes in the late spring a few of my seeds do get planted outside, and do actually come up.This makes me feel very accomplished, and exceedingly proud of myself. For example, last year I harvested 12 whole okra pods. I’m finding I do best, however, with perennials such as asparagus, rhubarb, berries, and mint, used in juleps (see below). It seems absolutely miraculous (to me) that they all come back year after year, regardless of how neglectful I have been. Fortunately, I have friends who have incredible green thumbs who always end up growing waaaay more produce than they actually need. I am happy to purchase their leftovers, they are delighted to not have to can 4,356 dozen quarts of tomatoes, and it’s a win-win for everyone.

That said, not all of my gardening news is bleak; we are currently hosting our first Visitor Session of the season, and the group is scheduled to join me and Angela in a clean-up of the garden area surrounding the Milkweed Mercantile. There are a lot of native plants such as rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), echinacea (purple coneflower), rattlesnake master (the coolest plant ever), and, of course, milkweed, which need to be divided and moved a bit. We also have seeds for zinnias, hollyhocks and marigolds to plant along the edges. Visitor Work Parties (we call them “parties” because we have fun!) are a great way to get to know one another — somehow working alongside each other enables the conversation to flow more freely than sitting still and facing each other. Plus, a lot of good work done gets done.  

I am able to join these work parties because I finally have some spare time in my schedule. When the Milkweed Mercantile went from two owners (my husband Kurt and I) to a cooperative board of eight, I gained peace of mind and a lot of my time back. Even better, I still get to do the things I like best, like bake ooey-gooey desserts for our Thursday Pizza Nights and cook for special events, like our annual Mother’s Day Brunch, coming up in just 18 days (Sunday, May 12th, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm). For the record, everything at the Mercantile is made from scratch — you won’t find a frozen entree or a microwave here. We have all of our favorite items on the menu, from French Toast stuffed with our own raspberry jam, to biscuits and gravy, to asparagus and Swiss frittata, and so much more. In addition to mimosas and bloody Marys, we have the most delicious, locally harvested grape juice. Last fall we canned a zillion quarts of Concord grape juice from the vines surrounding Liz’s house: Sparrow’s Nest, which we have been saving for Mother’s Day. If you’ve never had real grape juice you owe it to yourself (and your mom!) to come check it out at brunch – it is heaven in a glass! (Reservations are required. Call 660-883-5522 to secure your spot!) For more information on Milkweed Mercantile events please go to www.milkweedmercantile.com.

With some of my newly-gained spare time I am able to attend the weekly Dancing Rabbit Writing Group. A group of folks (often including Tereza, Vick, Prairie and Benji) gather each Wednesday morning in the Mercantile. We close our eyes and take turns choosing a few slips of paper from a bag, all of which have a single word scrawled on both sides (blue paper for nouns, red for verbs, and yellow for adjectives). We read the words aloud and then then give ourselves 14 minutes to use them in a piece. The chosen words often seem to have nothing in common and are really fun to try to put together. Examples of some of the past word groupings: continue, irritate, and colossal; x-ray, scrub, and boundless; phobic, drum, and mean; garbage, substantial, and encourage. Ha! When the time is up, we each read aloud what we’ve written. I am constantly in awe of the talent of my fellow writers, and amazed by just how differently we use the same words. We follow the guidelines set by Frankie Voeltz and Jennifer Morales in the Milkweed Mercantile’s annual writing workshops, such as: we assume all writing is fiction (even if the story sounds suspiciously like the writer’s own life, we assume it is “made up,” helping the process feel much more easeful and adventurous), we treat each other respectfully, and we make no disclaimers for our writing (this one is so difficult!). Writing with this group is one of my favorite things to do each week, just as the writing workshops have become my favorite week of each year. Our 2019 five-day Writing Workshop will be in August this year, led once again by Frankie Voeltz and Jennifer Morales. If you’ve ever been interested in trying a writing workshop but haven’t felt brave enough, or if you’re a writer who would like to surround yourself with support, encouragement and kindred spirits, I encourage you to take a look. Frankie and Jennifer create a safe space where laughter abounds and tears are welcome, where creativity flows as fast as the encouragement, and where all talent is nurtured. Plus, the food is really, really good.

One last event to share with you all: on Saturday, May 4, everyone is invited to join us at the Milkweed Mercantile to watch the Kentucky Derby and the quest for the Triple Crown. Post-time for the race is 5:46 pm. You won’t want to miss what has been called “the most exciting two-minutes in sports”.  Who will win? Will it be Omaha Beach (son of War Front), Improbable (at 10-1), or Roadster (5-1)? Our bar opens at 4 pm and will, of course, be serving mint juleps. There will also be a contest for best hat!

That is pretty much my (non-gardening, excuse-filled) life in a nutshell: cooking, baking, reading, writing, and avoiding the garden. I feel fortunate that it takes all kinds of people to make a village, and am grateful every single day for the farmers and gardeners among us. Have a great week!

If you live in Scotland County, or in the surrounding area, another great way to see a bit of Dancing Rabbit is to come down for one of our free public tours. The next one will be 04/27, starting at 1pm. We hope to see you there!

Baltimore Orioles

I have been writing this article for 17 years now.  It seems over time, I become repetitious I’m sure. If everyone ‘s memory is like mine, you won’t know what I wrote last year at the time.

One of the many colorful birds I like to watch is the Baltimore Orioles. There are two different species, the Baltimore and the Bullock.

I love these chattering, colorful orange and black birds. They frequent my deck and front porch this time of year, while they are mating and building their intricate nest. I have tried different feeders, oranges, and the favorite here is a jar lid of grape jelly.

One if the best know and most colorful of the blackbird family, not only does it bring us pleasure with its bright colors, it’s song is a mellow whistle, too.  The minute I hear this in the spring, I know it is time to get the grape jelly going. Check-check-check is the usual sound, often landing high in the tree tops as this is where they build their hanging nest. When they do come to the food, they will scold for a bit, land on the feeder, and then are very fast to dart off.

In addition to enriching our lives with color and song, they are also most beneficial as they feed on destructive insects. This includes hairy caterpillars and tent moth caterpillars, most of the time rejected by other insect eating birds.

These neat birds have learned to live well with man. They enjoy large shade trees that line your yard or street and are often found in your own backyard.  

In the winter, they will eat fruit and take suet from your feeder.  Most of them move south. They sing mostly morning and evening, are very aggressive of their territory, live high in tree tops. Try oranges cut in half, with jelly in them, orange peanut butter jar lids, or buy an expensive feeder. They will also try to sit on your hummingbird feeders too. A true balancing act.

The picture here shows a pair eating at my “jar lid” feeder.  Works great.  My only problem is the house sparrow will eat a lid of jelly in one afternoon, before you know it, it is gone.  I hope you will try it, you will love the brightly colored show. Until next time, good bird watching.

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