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

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area

October and November are the prime time to view the sandhill cranes at the Jasper Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area that is about twenty miles northeast of Rensselaer.

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday I re-visited the area and got to see the birds at sunset. My daughter-in-law was so excited about them that she went back the next day to take more pictures. Most of the pictures in this post are hers.

The crowd in the morning was smaller than the crowd at sunset. My daughter-in-law has a very nice camera, but she was intimidated by the photographic equipment that many others had. Look at the size of some of those lenses.

When she got there a bit after sunrise, there were still thousands of birds in the field. The field is fenced and off-limits to visitors, but there is a viewing platform plus a very large parking lot for visitors.

A picture like the one below is beyond the reach of my humble digital cameras. Click on it for an even larger version.

The previous evening as the birds were settling down for a long winter's nap, there was equipment in the adjoining field harvesting. It made an interesting contrast. The field is part of Jasper-Pulaski.

In the evening the big birds are beautiful against the orange sky of the sunset.

During the day, the birds feed in neighboring fields and then they return to the refuge to overnight. The flights of birds come in for hours.

Occasionally there are large bursts of birds landing at the same time. The sandhill traffic control does not seem to be very effective in spacing them out.

The picture shows the observation platform in the evening after people had started leaving. Half an hour earlier people were jostling for spots along the rail.

Here is a an article on the cranes in the Chicago Wilderness Magazine. (Their pictures are not as good as the ones above.) Also, Jasper-Pulaski is on my top-ten list for the Rensselaer area.

Update: Two people who live in the area told me that sandhill cranes had eaten koi from their ornamental ponds. It is not just grain in the fields that the birds are eating.

Also, someone who lives up that way says that there areas outside of the Jasper-Pulaski Wildlife Area that smaller numbers of cranes congregate at night.

Finally, in some states you can hunt sandhill cranes, but you better be very careful not to shoot a whooping crane. There is a very large fine for that.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year in many Christian denominations. Many people celebrate the Advent season with an Advent wreath.

For more on Advent, see here, here, or here.

Going to chuch the Wheatfield Church of Christ 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 Wheatfield Church of Christ is located at 126 S Center St Wheatfield, IN 46392. It is not listed in the "Church Services Directory" in the Rensselaer Republican. The sign in front of the church says:
Sunday Services
Bible Study 9:00AM
Worship 10:00 AM/6:00 PM
Wednesday Service
Bible Study 7:00PM

The church does not seem to have a website, but a search on google leads to a map of its location with this hosting website, The website say:
We are undenominational and have no central headquarters or president. The head of the church is none other than Jesus Christ himself (Ephesians 1:22-23).

Each congregation of the churches of Christ is autonomous, and it is the Word of God that unites us into One Faith (Ephesians 4:3-6). We follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and his holy Apostles, and not the teachings of man. We are Christians only!

The churches of Christ are not affiliated in any manner with the denominational church known as "The United Church of Christ".

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A bit of fluff

In late fall or early winter, you can see bits of fluff along the roads.

Soon the wind blows away the seeds and all that is left are the empty milkweed pods.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Shopping at the Antique Mall

Greene's Furniture and  Greene's Exit 215 Antique Mall had an open house on Nov 14, and I decided that it would be fun to visit them. I had not been there for several years.

Both of these establishments are locate on SR 114 about two miles west of Rensselaer and a mile east of Interstate 65. The Antique Mall is behind the furniture store. You cannot get from one to the other without going outside.
Upon entering, an old cigar-store Indian greets visitors.

The Antique Mall is made up of about 100 booths plus a bunch of showcases (spots in display cases, used for very small items) that vendors rent. It has 12,000 square feet of floor space. When I was there several years ago, the empty spots were very noticeable, but if there were any this year, I did not see them. Most of the vendors have a theme and they build their booths around their themes. Below is a booth in which most of the items are kitchen-related.

The vendor below, who appears to be occupying the space of two booths, had some interesting antique furniture plus quite an assortment of other things. The advantage for an antique dealer of renting a booth is that the dealer does not have to be present for a sale to take place. All transactions are handled at the counter at the entrance to the mall. There is a rental fee for the space, but there would be a rental fee for any dealer who wanted to have his or her own shop. Plus, the concentration of dealers makes the mall a more desirable place to visit because it has such a large selection of items. The same deal is offered vendors at Jasper Junction. The location of Jasper Junction is less favorable, but the rents are probably considerably less as well. The floor space at the Antique Mall is much larger than the vendor area of Jasper Junction and there are many more vendors.

I like old lamps. If I did not have more than I need already, I might have been tempted by those below.

I should have stopped and talked more with the people in charge, but it was early and I had not planned the visit very well. I wish I had asked how many of their customers are local and how many come from the Interstate. My guess is that most of their business comes from the Interstate. I also would have liked to asked how business was holding up in the recession. J&L Antiques had told me that the state of the economy was bad for antiques. Is the same true for the Antique Mall?

If you have any complaints about my negligence in asking the appropriate questions, go to my complaint department, shown below, press the button, and I will refund all the money you have paid me to read this blog.

I bet a woman runs the booth below. Men do not decorate this well or in this manner.

Even if you have no plans to buy anything, the Antique Mall is a fun place to visit. Each booth is different, and there are tens of thousands of items to examine. Maybe you will see something similar to what you have at home, and if it is expensive, you will appreciate what you have more. And who knows, you might see something that would really add a lot to your home, something you just have to buy.

(Greene's Furniture will be the subject of a future post.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Food Fair at Country Market

On November 14 County Market, Rensselaer's biggest food store, had a food fair. County Market is located in the strip mall on the far south of Rensselaer, across US 231 from Saint Joseph's College. The store has been there for about a while, though it has not always gone by the name County Market. (It was Pick N Save for a long time. Was it anything else?)

I thought a post about food would be appropriate for Thanksgiving partly because I was very thankful for the food fair. I had a lot of fun and got to taste a bunch of different foods. At the first sampling table I found, in the bakery section,  a lady was giving away little samples of different kinds of fudge.

There were then several other stations that I did not photograph. One was giving samples of hot apple cider. I should have passed on that one. The cider was very hot, and I had to carry the cup for five minutes before it was cool enough to sip. While I was waiting for the cider to cool, I found the station giving away samples of barbecue ribs. They were very good. They are sold shrink-wrapped with all the barbecue sauce included, so there is not a lot of skill needed to make them.

There were no turkey samples, which is a shame because it would be appropriate for this post. They did have some samples of Italian beef sandwiches that were very good.

Then it was time for dessert. I have eaten Eli's cheesecake before, so I knew what to expect.

How can you resist ice cream? I had never had that brand (Stone Ridge) before, but ice cream is pretty much the same from brand to brand. (I might get some comments on that bold assertion.)

They were also serving ice cream in tiny cones. I asked it the cones were also for sale and was told that they were made especially for food promotions. They might be a lot of fun at kid parties.

The funniest food sample was of Hostess Cupcakes. Are there people who do not know what a Hostess Cupcake tastes like?

I was going to take a few more pictures but my camera malfunctioned. I hope that does not mean it is its final days. It is only one year old and has only 5000+ pictures on it.

I did try some of the flavored waters and did not like them at all. Water is best served plain. And cold.

Have a nice Thanksgiving and enjoy all the wonderful food that comes with it.
Update: Check the comments for corrections and amplifications.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More progress on Melville

When we last visited the Melville Street project, the workers were installing gutters using a special gutter-creating machine. Since then they have poured more concrete, most of it for the transitions from the street to driveways. For this work they do not use any special machines. They use boards as forms to contain the concrete, they pour it, and they then smooth it. If there were small boys around, they would probably be putting their footprints and intials in it.

On the north end of the project, they redid a driveway that was featured on an earlier post. The construction destroyed a lot of the driveways and entrances to the street points, so now they are being repaired.
The street level is different from what it had been in the past and you can see that difference in the picture above. Here the new street level is below the old street level. Near the railroad tracks the street level is higher than it previously was. The approach to the railroad tracks does not have the little hill at the end that it previously had. However, that change in street level is a problem for one of the business owners there. Where before he had level driveways to his building, he now has very steep and perhaps unusable driveways. He is not happy about it.

 The north part of the street has had a layer of asphalt for several weeks. On November 19 the first layer of asphalt was put on the rest of the street, starting at the Maple Street intersection and going south to the railroad tracks.
They had just gotten started when I jogged by.

Off to the side there was a queue of dump trucks loaded with asphalt waiting to supply the paving machine.

This is the view looking south from the Maple Street intersection a day or two later. I found a city employee who was checking out the work and asked when they would re-open the street. He was not sure. He said the original plans were to apply the final layer of asphalt next spring, but the contractor was checking weather reports to see if it might be possible to finish it this year. Apparently winter is not a good time to be doing road work. (Have you noticed how many streets were repaved in October?)

I hope my next post on the Melville Street project will be the last. If I am lucky, I will catch them finishing the street with a final layer of asphalt.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Railroad adventures

Desert Survivor had a railroad adventure recently, and she saw several things along the route (and in the train itself) that we would not see here in Indiana. We can have a somewhat similar adventure if we go over to North Judson where the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum offers train rides. I have never been there. Have any of you? Is it something that people in Rensselaer might enjoy?

Minutiae from downtown

This week there are a couple of new things downtown that are not of special importance. Since lack of importance has never stopped me from posting about things before, why should it stop me now?

The Post Office is getting a new roof. (They are using ladders rather than a bucket truck. Very unusual.)

A previous post discussed the mural that is in the Post Office, but I do not recall saying much about the Post Office building itself. The Jasper County Interim Report really liked the building, giving it an outstanding rating. It was built in 1937 and Louis Simon was the supervising architect. The Report says it represents the colonial revival style.

The other change is a new sign for 5/3 Bank. The old sign had stopped working quite a while ago, but I am disappointed that the new sign does not have the temperature and time on it.

You can see in the photo above that the city has put up the street Christmas decorations. The Rensselaer Republican had a picture of a worker installing one, something that I missed.

The mystery addition

The outer shell of the mystery addition behind Jackson Hewitt and Payroll Advance is pretty well complete. I usually pass that way once or twice a day, so I have been taking pictures. Below shows the erection of the cement-block walls on October 29. The light pole that was behind the building is still standing.

The walls were up by Nov 7, and probably on that day the trusses for the roof were delivered.

I missed seeing the installation of the trusses, which probably only took a few hours. On November 12 workers were putting the foundation of the roof in place.

On November 18 workers were installing a metal roof on the entire building, both the addition and the original building.
Most of the additional work will now be inside and so until it opens, this may be the final post on the mystery addition.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Airport plaque

Here is a plaque at the Jasper County Airport.
The text reads:
In Memory Of Lloyd "Bus" Edrington
Lloyd Edrington started his aviation career flying Curtiss Jennies. As a test pilot for the United States Navy, he flew F4U Corsairs. Edrington later became a flight instructor at Jasper County Airport. Bus, as he was known by his friends, was President of the Farm Bureau and active in the Rotary club
He was known by Many
Loved And Respected by All
Erected by EAA Chapter 828
Above the market is a weather vane in the form of a plane. It points into the wind, which spins the propeller.

If you would like to see what it looks like in action, here is a short youtube video.

The renovation of the runway was completed in mid November. When the the photo below, showing a plane about to land on the new runway, was taken on Nov 21, the construction trailer was gone.

High School Construction nearing an end

It has been over a month since a post on high school construction. In that time most of the remaining work seems to have been finished. It took about a month to lay the bricks. The picture below was taken on October 22. Note the large metal machine that is is either for heating or cooling or maybe both. (Update--a commenter said it was a dehumidifier to prevent the problem that necessitated the repair from reoccurring.)

By November 5 the bricks were almost all in place on the eastern end of the building. The masons were still laying bricks on the north.

On November 12 the scaffolding was gone and workers were spraying something on the building. Maybe it was only water to wash the new bricks.

Although the outside was still under construction, the pool inside had water and looked ready for use.

On November 19 there were just a few spots left that needed bricks. Masons were now enclosing the heating or cooling equipment in a concrete block enclosure, which will probably be faced with bricks. It looked like the work was almost done.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Going to chuch the Remington Baptist 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 Remington Baptist Church is located at 614 North Ohio Street Remington, IN 47977. It is not listed in the "Church Services Directory" in the Rensselaer Republican. and not much information about it is given in the site. It has Sunday Morning Worship at 10:30 AM. The current pastor is Jeff Lawley.
The Remington Baptist Church is part of the Southern Baptist denomination. For more information on it, see the post on the Harvest Baptist Fellowship of Rensselaer.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

End of the season

This morning people were washing windows in downtown Rensselaer.

Last night the mighty Bomber football team lost in the semi-state round of the postseason. So the season is over and there is no longer a need for the signs of encouragement.

 They did have a terrific season.