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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Back to the farmers' market

I revisited the Farmers' Market on Saturday to see what they were selling. When it first started in May, there was not much available. As June ends, there were beets, onions, cabbages, broccoli, summer squash, kohlrabi, peas, turnips, radishes, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes for sale. I did not see any strawberries, cherries, or raspberries, though I may not have looked closely enough.
I grow turnips because they are easy to grow and mature quickly. I cannot imagine any other reason to grow them--they do not taste that good. I expected more peas, but maybe people do not buy them because they are a lot of work to shell. The lack of cherries may reflect the work needed to pick them. I am amazed as how nice the broccoli and cabbages looked, and that peppers and tomatoes were ripe already. Obviously some of these people are a lot better at growing things than I am. I still do not have even green tomatoes on my plants.

One of the non-food booths was selling hand-forged knives. I picked up his business card so I could remember his web address:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Taste of Rensselaer

The annual Taste of Rensselaer had wonderful weather and a big crowd on Saturday night. It took place on the two streets adjacent to the Carnegie Center, and this year there were 14 food booths. People buy tickets at 50 cents each, and all food items are priced in terms of tickets. The event is sponsored by and is a fund raiser for the Prairie Arts Council. In the picture below we are looking down Van Rensselaer street, which is in front of the Carnegie Center.
Taste of Rensselaer is a bread and circuses event--there is both food and entertainment. When we arrived, the local band "The Nerds" was playing. They were set up at the intersection of Van Rensselaer and Angelica.
Meanwhile, there was a pottery demonstration that had some youngsters fascinated. And why not--making a pot appear on a wheel is an almost-magical event.
Taste of Rensselaer is the final event to the week of Art Camp, a lengthy series of art classes and workshops for both children and adults. The Fendig Gallery had a showing of what had been done in those workshops.
These seem to be the efforts of fairly young people.
I bet the kids who did the batiks had fun.
Back outside, meat was on several grills. Generally the waiting lines were quite short, and the food was good.After the Nerds finished playing, it was time for the dance classes, also part of PAC, to show their stuff.
Meanwhile, the next band, AcoutsiCats, was setting up on Angelica Street.
The Fendig Children's Theater will be presenting their play, "Thoroughly Modern Millie " in two weeks, so they did a little promotion. The singers, however, did not have microphones, so were hard to hear. They will sound much better when they have microphones and are performing indoors.

The Carnegie Players were advertising their upcoming play, "South Pacific," with their food booth. Their "South Pacific Pulled Pork Sandwich" came with a little decorative parasol. I asked for a napkin because I did not recognize that the very pretty napkins with palm trees sitting right in front of me were napkins. I was looking for something plain.

Did I mention that there were a lot of people there? The weather was warm, so people were wearing shorts and short-sleeves. I kept wondering if I was the only person in Rensselaer who does not have a tattoo. (Note to the paper--there has to be a story possibility there somewhere. A contest for best tattoo? A contest for worst tattoo? Asking people on the street why they got their tattoos? I am not quite sure what the best angle is, but tattoos are part of everyday life and that deserves some notice.)
Finally it was time for the final act, AcoustiCats, to perform. They had a smooth, mellow sound that I liked a lot.
Taste of Rensselaer is like thousands of small-town festivals and events that take place all over the United States. An event does not have to be huge, like the Taste of Chicago or a state fair, for people to get together and have a good time. However, for these events to take place, some people have to spend a lot of time and effort organizing and doing invisible background work to make everything run smoothly.

What did I miss? What would you have mentioned if you had been writing about this year's Taste of Rensselaer?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The chapel at the Rensselaer Care Center

Several months ago I attended a service at the chapel in the Rensselaer Care Center. Until that day I had not realized that there was a chapel at the Rensselaer Care Center. I still know almost nothing about it.
Apparently much of the decoration of the chapel was inspired by one of the Care Center residents. She got people to donate the pews and the stain-glass window. She has also contributed a number of statues and angels. The one on the wall in the picture above is matched by one over the chapel door.
The decoration has a make-shift look to it. The tapestry of Da Vinci's last supper is one of the more striking images.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Getting ready for a taste

On Friday afternoon volunteers and some who maybe were not volunteers were busy setting up for Taste of Rensselaer, scheduled for tonight. Picnic tables were in place, and soon after this picture was taken the fencing for the beer garden would be erected.

Across the street the electrical cables and outlets were in place for the vendors.
Down the block were a couple of blue boxes. I always think of Dr. Who's Tardis when I see these. He must be traveling with friends.If people want to get away from the crowds, they will be able to retreat to Hal Gray Park, which has more picnic tables.
Maybe I will see you there. I hope the weather cooperates.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hot and busy Thursday

Some days you bump into a lot of things, some days you do not. Thursday was one of those lot-of-things days.

I was at St. Augustine's Thursday morning and peeked into the gym when one of the teachers there said that they were installing a new floor. They have not ripped up the old flooring, but are installing over it. My question was, "Would that not make the distance to the basketball hoops just a little shorter?" She thought that maybe they could adjust the hoops.
A few hours later I was on my way south on College and saw not only that the last piece of the school modules had been delivered but also that workmen were busily putting them together. (Notice that they have switched the bathroom unit.)
To move the modules so they fit together and could have blocks put under them, the workers used a funny looking machine. They would insert it under a module and it would lift,allowing them to slide the module around and get it to the proper height.I thought that they would remove the trailers that they were on, but the trailers are part of the unit. What they did remove were the wheels and the hitches on the fronts. Then they put in ordinary concrete blocks. I am not sure why this worker is drilling a hole. Maybe he is installing some sort of tie-down.

The plastic along the inside side of some modules was off, so I took a couple pictures of the interiors. They need to have flooring installed, but otherwise look pretty complete.
Below is the other half.
In the picture below they have almost finished. The two halves on the right need just a bit of a nudge to line up correctly.Across the street the Johnson Strawberry lady said Thursday was her last day. She was doing a steady business with both strawberries and peas.

Continuing south, I noticed roofers on the back of the bowling alley. With the heat and humidity, this had to be one of the worst jobs in Rensselaer.
I had noticed activity in the old Kentland Bank space, and today I noticed that a new sign was up. Rensselaer is getting another financial institution, First Trust Credit Union.
For reasons of my own, I was on the road heading west from SJC and as I was ready to turn around, I noticed what seemed to be a sign down at the end. Since few people travel that road, I had to go and see what the sign said.
The only place I could imagine having construction out that way was the sewage treatment plant. As I was approaching it, a city truck full of grass clippings passed me, went through the plant and continued on the road behind the plant. Until then I did not know what the city did with the grass clippings that they pick up.
I checked the city website and found the minutes for the May 26th city council meeting with this:
Murphy told council that they have been busy picking up brush. He has two guys off with worker’s comp injuries. We’ll be starting soon on the Wastewater Treatment Plant Project.
I tried to find more on the Internet, but was unsuccessful. Do any of you know more? (I suppose I could call someone important, but I would rather not.)

Up, up in the air

On Memorial Day weekend I saw a this aircraft flying above Rensselaer. What is a vehicle like this called?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Matheson main

The installation of the water main from the new water well continues, and the crew is now coming south along Matheson. There are a lot of trees lining Matheson, and it will be interesting to see how much damage they do to them as they install the pipe. I have noticed that some of them have been trimmed.
On Tuesday morning they moved a large metal device that protects against cave-ins when men are working in the trench. I took this picture about 9:00 in the morning and it was already starting to get uncomfortable. I cannot imagine working all day in the heat and humidity that we have been having. Of course, it is good for the corn.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Monnett modules

Today I noticed that the foundations for the modules sitting in the Monnett parking lot had been poured. I also noticed that there were five sections in the parking lot, which is strange since two of them combine together to make one unit. Finally, the foundations said that there would be a U-shaped placement, not an L-shaped placement that I reported earlier.
Three hours later I was returning home and I decided to swing behind Monnett to see if I could find the sixth module. I was very surprised to see that the modules were in the process of being moved. (Click on the picture for a larger view.)
I asked the driver about the missing module and he said it would be delivered tomorrow. (We will see if that prediction comes true.)
I also talked to a person who works for the school corporation and found that these modules were originally at the Lawrenceburg school system. The Rensselaer school corporation bought them and had them reconditioned at the original factory. The unit furthest south will be the alternative school. The middle unit will have rest rooms and other services. The north unit with be a technology center with computers and other goodies. It will be used for staff training and perhaps for various non-traditional courses. (If I got any of that wrong, I expect to be corrected in the comments.)
The modules still have to be placed on the foundations and put together. But as you drive by on College, you will see sort of what they will look like this fall.
Update: See here for some background.

Shopping at Gilmore's farm stand

I mentioned one strawberry seller a couple of weeks ago. Gilmores, local growers, have also been selling strawberries for the past few weeks. However, if you want fresh strawberries, your time is running out because the heat is making them ripen fast. The last day that Gilmores will be selling strawberries in front of Jordan's is Friday. The cost is $10 for a gallon bucket.

Gilmore's also sells at the farmers' market each Saturday morning, and will move into other vegetables when the strawberries are gone. They will also be at the Tuesday night Farmers' Markets, which will begin after the county fair.

Lunch at the Whistle Stop

As previous posts have mentioned, we had a toddler at our house for several days and needed to find activities for him. Because he really likes vehicles, we thought a trip to the Whistle Stop Cafe north of Monon would be fun.

Outside the cafe is an assortment of signs and railroad artifacts. One of the best is a caboose. Our guy probably thought he was driving it with this wheel.This caboose is open for inspection. Inside it is neat and clean, probably much cleaner than a working caboose would have been. An old pot-bellied stove dominates the front part of the caboose.There are seats up high so the brakeman could watch over the train, and it is a lot of fun climbing up if you are a toddler who loves to climb.
The view from one of the windows is of a parking lot with many railroad signs in the median.
We set out to explore other exhibits.
This little depot is like many that were in small towns all over America a century ago.
Our toddler did not know what to do with this hand car. You have to be pretty old to ever have seen these in action.

After we explored the exterior, it was time for lunch. The highlight of the restaurant is the set of four trains that run continuously above the diners. Our little guy was fascinated. He normally does not behave well in restaurants, but he was quiet the whole time. He was so fascinated that he ate almost nothing, but the adults enjoyed their meal. Here is some video showing what the trains look like. If you have never been to the Whistle Stop, you should go some time, especially if you have some kids who like trains.

PS We did not go the the dairy farm. Our toddler for the week lives on a ranch and sees cows every day. On the other hand, the nearest railroad is about a hundred miles from where he lives, so trains are special.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The first of the large summer camps is meeting at SJC. There appear to be several hundred football players on campus. According to the e-mail from Continuing Education and summer programs, it is a team camp and high school teams present include Merrillville, Crown Point, Indianapolis Bishop Chatard, Wabash, Vincennes-Lincoln, Rensselaer Central and Tri-County.
I knew that the Rensselaer Summer Swim Team has only away meets this year because of problems with the high school pool, but I did not know where they were practicing. Today I asked and learned that three days a week the team has practice at the North Newton High School pool. The parents carpool.

All four modules for the alternative school are now in the Monnett School parking lot. However, the foundations have not been constructed.

Speaking of foundations, there are foundations for a second house in the new Sunset Ridge Subdivision off Sparling Avenue. Also, the whole area has been landscaped, with arbor vitae planted around part of the border.
Next door in the Scout's Bluff subdivision, the high school industrial arts class completed its house for the year and it has been sold. I was hoping that there would be an open house, as there has been for these houses in some past years, but either I missed it or there was none. Here is the house several months ago, as the snow on the ground indicates.
Here is the house in its almost finished condition early in the spring.

The water main from the new city well is being installed along John Deere Road. I took a bike ride out to see what was happening, and along the way I saw a truck coming down the railroad tracks.
It stopped at Matheson and retracted its metal wheels and drove off down Matheson. I talked to the driver, and asked about the tie replacement. He said the crew was south of St. John and they were doing a 120 mile stretch this summer.
Enough for now.