Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bad Car Wreck -- A Christmas travel story with a great ending

With the Christmas travel season in the rear view mirror here are a few captured special moments to pass along from a family holiday trip to Washington DC. If you happen to know anyone, or any family, dealing with a bad car wreck and questions of survival right now please pass this along to them -- read on and you will understand.

The Story
 Christmas travel can be such a nightmare but we had a perfect trip to DC and managed to avoid the bad weather that came at the very end of the seasonal travel window. My younger sister, her son and I ran out East for a quick visit between Christmas and New Years to be at our older sister's place in DC to celebrate the holidays and Mom's 90th birthday; Mom came up from Florida for the occasion.

 It's not hard to spend some time in an airport waiting for a flight these days. Reading, people watching, getting work done on the laptop, playing games on the phone. This is at Mitchell Field in Milwaukee waiting for the flight out on Friday morning.


On to Reagan DCA for the weekend with family, and Air Tran did a good job of getting   us there and back.

From the title you might think this post is about a recent Christmas car wreck but it is not. It is about a car wreck my younger sister was in two years ago near her home in Wisconsin that she amazingly survived. She was hit hard, broadsided on her driver's side,  by a speeding driver who intentionally ran a residential 4-way stop sign for stupid reasons. 

She was passing through the middle of that intersection on her way home from a normal Saturday morning  town run when the speeding idiot couldn't stop and slammed into her. 

She never saw it coming.

           Mom, at age 88, rushed up from Florida to be by her daughter's side in the ICU

'Flight For Life' to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee and long story short, the amazing medical professionals there saved my sister's life and today, two years later, she is doing just fine after a long slog through the wreck and resulting recovery afterwards.

Our local first responders and Lakeland/Elkhorn hospital staff also deserve our many thanks for cutting her out of the car and getting her ready for the 18-minute helicopter flight to the trauma center. It was an amazing, albeit traumatizing, thing to witness.

The offending driver tested positive for THC/pot in his system so penalties were amplified and he is currently serving a 6.5 year sentence in a Wisconsin state prison for nearly killing my sister.

Here's the payoff
 In one of the airport pics above, repeated below, you see a mother and her son playing some game on their phones or something. 

How do I know that they're mother and son? Because that's my sister Carol who survived the car wreck with her son Jeremy as they pass the time waiting for our flight.

I was sitting across the distance from them watching, and thinking, and being so glad that she is still here with us. We almost lost her. Gone forever. 

But, she's not gone. We got lucky and are forever thankful for that. 

And that's what I want to pass along to people.  

If anyone has a similar situation to fight through right now, know that there are good and happy stories of survival like my sister Carol's to witness and hold on to.

Watching the medical professionals at Froedtert function in the process of saving her life  was simply amazing and you can't help but have a lot of respect for what they do. They, and other hospital staffers around the country, are truly miracle workers.   

And once you get through it, it adds a perspective to your life that you could never have imagined and it's amazing, life changing and all good. Except for the pain and suffering endured along the way, of course.

Here's wishing anyone the best in their own struggles. 

Keep on, and believe that it will all be OK and have faith in our modern medical system.

I hope our family story of survival helps you in your own hard times -- good luck.

Art the Farmer is having some severe challenges from the ongoing sub-zero cold right now. I talked to him a few nights ago and he was in desperate straights. After a bit on the phone he had to hang up because one foot was hurting so bad from being cold that he had to do something about it.

He wears traditional barn boots and they do little against the cold.

I called again yesterday and got nuthin' so I'll try him again later and hope for the best.  I'm worried about him more than usual with this extreme cold.

Believe it or not, his old farmhouse was built in 1855 and lacks any modern touches other than plumbing and electricity, so these conditions are are especially brutal for him. He heats with a couple of 220v space heaters. Propane is currently no longer an option.

 Sum up
And the icing on the holiday cake?

After getting back from the Milwaukee airport on Monday, Trusty Rusty started right up  after sitting outside for four Winter days down at my sister's place, which she is not used to doing.

Excellent -- almost 250,000 miles on her and still going forward. Although thoughts about what's next are percolating. 


More sum up
And the Master tape for the newest American Barn Stories episode is currently being ingested for air in Austin, Texas which is a very happening market and a very good thing to have happen.

After the past 12 months of calling individual stations and pitching the show, this newest episode is currently available for air in 45 PBS national markets. 

And the latest greatest news is an air date in Colorado of Sunday, February 9th at 1:30pm on Rocky Mountain PBS. 

Their signal comes out of Denver and spreads out across the entire state on the five stations that comprise their network of Denver, Grand Junction, Pueblo/Colorado Springs, Durango and Steamboat Springs.

And that follows the recent good news of the show making it onto the Prairie Public PBS system that covers the states of North and South Dakota as well as some western Minnesota market penetration.

 Yep, all good. I think my Dad would be proud, and I'll keep pushing on it. 

                                            Stay tuned,



Saturday, January 18, 2014

                     Butts in the seats

The Story
 On the way back from the Christmas Eve service in the cold church, Arthur and I took some farm roads to get back to his place. Along the way we passed this old building on a corner that I've passed many times as I leave Art's and head home (I take the bigger roads on the way up and the smaller roads on the return, usually smelling of cows and the barn and I love it).

We've talked about the building before, and we're going to work on finding out the details on it, but in the meantime there it sits so we stopped so I could snap some pics -- and boy, it was cold and windy at the time.

On some trips home from Art's I've stopped and explored the building in recent years and it seems to be an old church of some kind, but it's hard to be sure of its exact roots without any research. Although maybe someone out there will have some ideas after seeing the pics of it, so let's take a look at it and please leave a Comment if you have any insights on it.
On one of those earlier visits I saw a pic opportunity that says it all, and I shot it this time for the blog.

It shows the outline on the wall of where the pews butted up against the north wall, and it strikes me as one of the most poignant and telling ways to recall and conjure up images of what this structure was all about so many years ago. You can just see the people sitting in the pews at the time. 

Look at the pics below for the set-up on it, and then we'll get to the  pic I'm talking about a bit farther down.

Here's the building from the road with camera looking East

This window faces west and I'm thinking it's part of the story

Walking around the right corner

Continuing around the corner

Looking to the right the empty fields have passing winds blowing across them that a pic can't portray, but believe me, it was cold, howling wind brutal at this moment and hard to be outside. Arthur was comfortable over in Trusty Rusty parked on the road with the heater running -- it was so cold that I missed snapping that pic in my rush to get back into the warm vehicle and I'm sorry I missed it

Looking in from the side door at what seems to be some type of altar on the eastern end of the building

Mid way back

From the northwest corner

And what's up with the ceiling? Another clue, and probably the main detail to its identity

Here's the detail that I first noticed a few years back and want everyone to see. Look at the outline of the pews on the wall, or are they just bench seats in an old town hall? Either way, it really helps you imagine and picture the people sitting there for whatever the reason was.

As mentioned, Art is going to look into the details on the place as time allows. We'll pass that info along later as it happens and it should be very interesting to find out the story behind this old country structure.

Then here's a look at Art's place from across the fields same day. When we got back in his neighborhood we took a lap around the farm just to check on things and take a general look at the situation and all was well but boy, the wind was still howling and it was just a bone cold frigid day outside that day in Wisconsin on Christmas Eve 2013.

There are about forty cows, bulls and calves in this classic old dairy barn right now with plenty of hay up in the mow and other things for them to munch on this Winter as the old farmer tends to them 
       and Arthur will continue for as long as he is able -- stay tuned for the ongoing story.

Thanks for clicking in -- more later on it all.



Monday, January 13, 2014

    Baby it's COLD outside!!

 The Story
The plunge below zero last Monday was brutal here in Wisconsin, like in so many other places around the country.

My main concern was for Art the Farmer, knowing he was huddled in his old farm house with not much heating capability as well as for the cows out in the barn. 

Under usual conditions the animals provide enough warmth to keep the barn temps comfortable, but -15 adds another dimension to it all and creates a risk that has to be tempered as best as possible.

When I called Arthur last Monday night he was pretty much in melt-down mode from the additional challenges caused by the low temperatures and his resulting trying to deal with it all since early that morning. 

You can hear that conversation by clicking HERE, it runs 16:48 and it's something to hear, check it out. 

 Follow Up
One week later Arthur is still alive and the cows are OK, too, but it was one of those moments on a farm where things can go real bad real quick and in the meantime, if you're the farmer, especially if you're an old timer all alone, you're suffering to make things as right as can be and it's beating you up in the meantime.

In his true fashion  Arthur met the cold challenge and things continue on the farm but the clock ticks, and the impending forces of change are knocking on Arthur's door.

Over time we'll witness what happens with him and I will continue to bring his story to you. 

Stay tuned, I guarantee it won't be boring.

More Follow Up
In the cold in the meantime, Arthur himself was sleeping on the cot seen below in the farmhouse in temps of 41 degrees, he talks about it in the phone call. 

He has a 220-volt space heater that he relies on for warmth that sits on the kitchen floor and filters over into his sleeping space.

The space heater is just to the right, in the kitchen.

You can see the top of the space heater here in the lower right portion of the frame, it's brown.The table is full of some donated groceries I ran up to him to help him keep going last Winter. See them loaded up in Trusty Rusty below.

Here's Arthur's farmhouse on the right, built in 1855, along with the barn and other outbuildings that have come along since then. His front door is on the other side of the house while the staircase that you see leads to the rental apartment upstairs.  

Wrap Up
Wow -- what a story we have the honor, and sadness,  of witnessing -- an old time farmer playing out his days. 

And the fact that his pasture #6, seen above, connects to the local graveyard where his wife Carole rests and, in time, he will, too, just adds to it all. 

Stay tuned for the story as it continues to happen. 

 Thanks for clicking in -- more later on it all --

PS: And as so many people enjoyed the Country Church Christmas post, here's the link to it  to enjoy it again or pass along if you're so inclined -- click   HERE for it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The list grows

The Story
Recent weeks have seen more PBS markets across the country ask that the HDCam Close-Captioned Master of the latest episode stop  by their shop so they can make a copy for air, and then pass it on.

Following is the updated list:

PBS Markets penetrated so far

Forty one national PBS markets gained with another twelve markets viewing screeners for consideration of air.

HDCam Closed-Captioned Master recorded for air:

Chicago WYCC Channel 20

Milwaukee WMVS/WMVT Channels 10 & 36

Minneapolis Twin Cities Public Television/TPT

WILL-TV    Illinois Public Broadcasting      Urbana, Illinois 

WTVP-TV  Public Media for Central Illinois   Peoria, Illinois

Iowa Public Television (nine total stations in their statewide network)

Kansas City Public Television

Oklahoma Public Television (four total stations in their statewide network)

Denver Pubic Television

Seattle Public Television

Western Michigan PBS WGVU

North Carolina PBS UNC-TV

Florida PBS stations: WEDU/Tampa, WGCU/Fort Myers, WEFS/Cocoa, WLRN/Miami  WDSC/Daytona 

Prairie Public Broadcasting   Fargo, North Dakota (nine total stations in their network)

PBS Stations on Waiting List for Master:

South Carolina ETV Columbia, SC

KLRU Austin, Texas

ThinkTV Dayton, Ohio

PBS Cincinnati 

PBS Stations Viewing Screeners for Consideration of Air: 

KIXE Redding, California PBS

KVCR San Bernadino, California PBS

WETA Washington DC

New Orleans PBS WLAE/WYES 

Oregon/Portland PBS

Idaho PBS

Pennsylvania/Bethlehem PBS 

Virginia/Richmond PBS

Nashville PBS

Georgia PBS

New Hampshire PBS

Cleveland PBS