This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The dam tree

Here is a picture of the tree across the Iroquois that I wrote about here and here. There is also a tree down at the other end of the cemetery, shown here and here. Click on the picture for a larger view.What did the fish say when it hit the wall?

Spring Sports

On Saturday three springs sports had meets or games at Saint Joseph's College. I arrived at the track meet just in time to see the agony of the feet. I think it was the 5k that had just been run.

The next event was the 4x400 relay, and I have always loved this race because it is the last race of the meet. Two of my sons ran in middle and high school, so I worked high school and middle school track meets for about ten years. I was always happy to work the meets because watching from the stands was pretty much unbearable. Track meets have a lot of down time in them, so there are long, boring intervals between the interesting bits. Timing them made the boring bits go by much more quickly.The baseball team was also in action. Baseball is a great radio sport. It does not require much concentration to listen to the game, so people can do other things while the game is on. It is my theory that radio made baseball the national pastime. What do you think?

The girls softball team was in the last inning when I arrived there. (What great timing!) I saw one of the girls I know get a hit, and watched the last inning as the SJC pitcher struck out the last three batters. If you click on the picture below to get a larger view, you might see the ball on the way to the plate. SJC won over Bellarmine University 3 to 0 (but they lost the first game 0 to 3).
After the game the players and coaches from both sides filed by each, giving "high fives" and saying, "Good game." It is nice to see practices that encourage sportsmanship.
It was a cold day and the rain started about an hour after I took the picture above. According to the sports report at SJC, the baseball game was not interrupted.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Men at work

The end of March is here and I have a bunch of pictures that are sitting on my hard drive. It is time to have another post that meanders a bit.

Last week I noticed the sign about construction for the new hospital. It probably has been there for months, but I do not get out that way too often.Whenever I do get out that way, I usually snap a picture of the construction. On March 16 the masons were at work on the cement block façade, but it still looked a lot like it had on February 8.
On March 28 the façade was complete and it looked like the workers were heating the interior.
When I saw the workmen carrying the window frames for the Lafayette Bank and Trust renovations, I had to take a picture. That might be the only job on the site that I would have been able to do--carry the frames 50 feet.A few days later the new windows were installed. The inside of the bank, however, has not changed much from the last time I peeked inside.
Down the street I saw someone doing something above what used to be Harvey's Copy Center. That space will soon become part of the Clauss Bakery.
Being inquisitive (which sounds better than being nosy), I stopped and asked how much was left to be done and how they were going to make a hole in the wall to connect the old part with the new part. I was told that the hole was already finished, and all that was left to do before the new addition opened was the heating and air conditioning.As I said, this post was going to meander, so let us fly west a couple miles. I noticed that there was trenching between some of the eleven light poles along Airport Road. (They obviously did not have a neat machine like the one that was used for cable installation at St Joseph's College.) And then I found this trench that headed from the light poles to places unknown. When an airplane taxied near the trench, I quickly snapped a picture. My guess is that they were upgrading or repairing the electrical wiring.
I will end this with one more meander, this from an e-mail I received:
On my walk through the cemetery I stopped to talk with Phil Evers who was righting gravestones that had been undermined by the strong river current with the last flood. I asked who was going to do something about the downed tree that is so big it is acting as a dam and really impeding the flow of the river. He said that the banks of the river are owned by the state. The cemetery people cannot do anything on the north bank without permission. The Army Corps of Engineers was informed but Phil was not hopeful. There are two trees down across the river downstream. They crisscross each other and form another dam. They have been there for years. Phil also said that the river upstream had been recently deeply dredged and therefore pulls in more water hence more flooding potential.

Phil said that when he got to the cemetery this morning and did his drive through there was a car in the river. Someone stole a car (a nice car) and did doughnuts in the park then drove to the new cemetery and drove all over the lawn tearing up the sod and then drove to the old cemetery and ditched the car in the river. The car was gone by the time I got there.
The tree is an attractive nuisance. Already youngsters are climbing onto it, and with a swift current, they could easily be swept into the river. Who do we sue if something bad happens?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Going to church the Fellowship of Living Hope way

(I thought it would be interesting to use Sundays to focus on Rensselaer's churches and to see how many Sundays I can go before I run out of material. Indiana is richly endowed with religious denominations, with influences from North and South, East and West. This is part of that series of posts.)

The Fellowship of Living Hope is located west of Rensselaer at 3850 W Bunkum Rd. According to the "Church Services Directory" in the Rensselaer Republican, pastors are Edwin and RuthAnn Bontreger. Sunday worship is at 10:00 a.m.
I could not find a web site for this church, nor could I find any organization or fellowship of churches to which it belongs. Like a fair number of Rensselaer churches, it is an independent or non-denominational church.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thinking about summer

A few weeks ago I visited the Jasper County Fair grounds. In less than four months it will be warm and we will be able to enjoy the fair, maybe the biggest community event that we have.
The winter ice storm had taken its toll of branches, but all remained quiet in the livestock barns.
In July there will be lots of people strolling along the pavement here. Kids will be up early each morning tending their 4-H animals.
There will be food booths selling fair food, and in the afternoons and evenings there will be entertainment on this little stage. I hope I will be able to provide a better look at it this year than I did last year.
In the arena in front of the grandstand are lots of concrete barricades. I wonder what they are all used for.
Over in the horse area is a little cafe that is only open for a week each year. I did not have a need for ice on the day I was there.
The favorite spot for a lot of kids will be the midway with the carnival rides.
This area to the east of one of the horse barns will be filled with trailers, as for a week the fairgrounds becomes Jasper County's fifth largest city. (I do not know for sure that it is only the fifth largest. I am guessing that it never gets as big as Wheatfield.)
Even though I visited the fair grounds early on a cold morning, I was not alone. Someone was busy in one of the exhibition halls, which is used year round for variety of meetings, dinners, and receptions.July will be here before we know it. Time flies.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Shopping at Family Dollar

Several years ago Rensselaer had two dollar stores, the Family Dollar store in College Square and Dollar General in downtown. Dollar General closed two or three years ago, and now only the former remains.
Family Dollar is a large corporation with about 6500 stores. It is big enough so its stock is part of the S&P 500 index and it is a Fortune 500 company. The Rensselaer store is now in the site that was formerly occupied by Walgreens. Before it moved there, it was where Fastinal presently is.
The dollar stores such as Family Dollar have successfully found a niche that lets them co-exist with Wal-Mart. I think part of their success is their large selection of detergents and other things that come in plastic bottles, all at very reasonable prices.

They also offer a selection of other things, such a clothing, which takes up about a quarter of their floor space.
Like Walmart, the drug stores,and the convenience stores associated with gas stations, they also offer a selection of food products.
Their selection of holiday candy does not compare to that offered by Walgreens.
Recently they have been putting out the spring merchandise, such as a large display of plastic flowers. I know a lot of these end up in cemeteries. I am not sure why else they are purchased.
Family Dollar has a very small selection of garden seed, but at 20 cents a packet, it is the cheapest I have found in Renssleaer. (It used to be 10 cents per packet, but those days are gone.) I wish they offered a bigger selection. (Update: Smith's True Value Farm Store has some seeds 8 packets for $1, and the selection is much bigger than what Family Dollar has.)
I took some of these pictures during the rains the preceded our big flood and the store had a leak in the roof. I hope it is now fixed.
Family Dollar is not a very exciting store--after all, the local store is one of 6000+. We do not buy much there, but they serve a niche and their personel has always been friendly.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

SJC Faculty & Student Art Show

The current exhibit in the Fendig Gallery is the Saint Joseph's College Senior Portfolio and Faculty Art Exhibit, which runs to April 10. The reception for the show is Sunday, March 29 from 2:00 until 4:00. I browsed through the objects and found several that I thought unusual. I liked the mosaic table top shown below. It is by David Herriott, who teaches an art course or two at SJC, and is called "It's Not Nice to Fool Around with Mother Nature." You can buy it for $500.
The chair looks like it may also be by David Herriott, but I did not see any tag with artist and name.
Completely different was this mixed media piece with a ceramic 3-D head and painted, 2-D hands. I am not sure where I would hang a piece like this, but it would deserve wall space somewhere. It is by Michael Crowthers and it is called "The Scream."
Let us end on a pleasant note, Jennifer Guenin's stain glass called, "An Afternoon at the Beach."There is more, and the pieces that strike you as interesting may be a very different set of items than the ones that strike me. That is part of the fun of art.

The SJC band concert is also scheduled for Sunday afternoon (at 3:00). Here is a clip (with no editing at all) from the jazz band in a concert on March 15.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Plaque in Flat Iron Park

One of the most prominent of the plaques in Rensselear is the one in Memorial or Flat Iron Park.
It reads:
To honor those who went from Jasper County to serve in the World War this stone was erected by the American Legion Auxiliary Dewey Biggs Post No 29. Dedicated November 11, 1927
Obviously the people who put it up did not realize that in just a few years there would be another World War. The plaque is attached to a large boulder that is surrounded by a little hedge.
Memorial or Flat Iron Park is similar to Milroy Park, which has a memorial to the Civil War, but much smaller. Their basic function is to look nice. However, Milroy Park has some places to sit while Memorial Park has none, and Milroy Park has some additional plaques. Milroy Park is big enough so that people can play frisbee in it (and I am told that at one time had a tennis court), while there is very little one can do in Flat Iron Park. Flat Iron Park, though, has a cannon.
Here is a closer look. I do not know where the name Flat Iron Park came from.

And here is a look at the entire park, a little triangle of land that was created by the transition of the city streets from the north-south/east-west grid to the east and the angled grid of the original plat that followed the river.
I think it needs a bench or a picnic table. What do you think would improve it?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shopping the Birthright Rummage Sale II

Yesterday we looked at the rummage sale through Friday. The sale continued on Saturday, but the price is even better. You can fill any sized box or bag for only $1. Obviously, the selection is not nearly as good, but there are always overlooked treasures to be found.

The serving counter in the basement began the sale filled with kitchen stuff. By Saturday the few remaining Christmas items were also on the counter. Every year there are mugs left, though almost all of them sold this year. Americans have enough mugs.
Over 50 people came and tooke their time looking though it all. But the time they were done, there was shockingly little left. This year the women's basketball team from Saint Joseph's College volunteered to help clean up. Notice how empty the tables are. This year for the first year ever, all the stuffed animals sold. Usually there are boxes of them left over.
The remains were quickly boxed up and loaded on a truck that would take them to Jasper Junction. This year there was little for them to pick up, as the picture below shows. In some past years the leftovers have filled a truck this size.

My guess is that people are spooked by the economy, and as a result, fewer was being donated and more was being purchased. I asked the people from Jasper Junction how their donations were, and they said that they were noticeably down.
In a final bit of cleanup, the basketball women broke down the leftover cardboard boxes and hauled them out to be recycled.
And then they posed for a group picture. I hope the one they took was in better focus than mine was.It will be interesting to see how many people will take part in the City-Wide Yard Sale on May 2.

Monday, March 23, 2009

After the equinox

The warm weather the past weekend had a lot of people thinking spring. People were lined up at Busy Bee on its first weekend.
I saw daffodils blooming, though mine are not. My crocuses are finally blooming, though.Lots of kids and some adults were riding bikes or strolling around in the streets. I saw people with their grills fired up and smoking, and there were people in the parks playing ball, both softball and basketball.
There were also people in the park shelter eating. Soon the park people will be putting out more garbage cans, another sign of the end of winter. It is always fun to see the little kids playing on the playground equipment.
A final sign of spring--WalMart is selling manure. (I wonder if the people who live in Washington D.C. get it free.)
I have seen wood ducks and heard red wing blackbirds and killdeers. One sound of spring that I have not heard yet is the sound of mating frogs and toads. Maybe I do not live near the right ponds. I remember hearing them before the ice had melted when I was in school in Minnesota.