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

Friday, May 31, 2013

A lot of rain (Updated)

We just got a lot of rain in a very short time. As a result, my basement looks like this:
You can see my pump pumping the water out, but the water gushed through cracks in the floor faster than the pump could handle. My side yard is flooded, so it may be a while before my basement is dry. And it looks like we will get more rain tonight.

(It has been several years since I have a flooded basement. This has been a very wet spring and we just got an impressive downpour.

I do not have a rain gauge.  Anyone know how much rain we got?

Update: When the water in the sewer receded, I got rid of the water you see above. However, the rain that came at midnight reflooded the basement, though not as badly as the first time. The water in my standpipe was a couple feet above the level of the floor. This morning I found that most of the basements in my neighborhood got water last night, some from sewer backup and some from seepage.

A quick look around town showed lot of branches down and also a few trees. The tree below was snapped off and the cemetery workers were busy removing it from the road.
 On Milroy Street a large tree was uprooted, taking some of the sidewalk with it.
 It did some damage to the hood of a car.
 A neighbor said that a truck trailer was blown over at Hopkins Trucking and that the Dairy Queen had roof damage.

The ground is completely saturated, so any additional rain, even if it is minor, will cause problems.
Update 2: A tree fell on a house at the corner of Scott and Leopold, doing damage to the roof. A pick-up truck nearby had a branch fall on it, doing considerable damage. There were a lot of downed branches in this neighborhood.

The gym floor at Saint Augustine School got considerable water even though it is at ground level. The west door does not seal and the wind blew water from the parking lot into the gym.

The river is still rising. Flood stage is at 12 feet and as of this writing (Saturday evening) it is at 13.34. There is a line of rain to our west but it may be weakening. We do not need more rain.

Remington news

Last weekend I passed through Remington and noticed a new building on US 24 west of the US 231 intersection.
It houses the offices of two dentists practicing as Remington Family Dentistry, a fitness center, and some kind of rehabilitation center. The building was constructed by Sayler Construction of Rensselaer.
 Work continues on the Monsanto plant north of Remington, which is undergoing a $30 million dollar upgrade or expansion. I had noticed it earlier this summer, but this week I paused to take a picture.
 The new fire station was dedicated back in 2011, but I never paused to take a picture of it until this week.
The town of Remington has occasional news items here.

The town has moved an old truss bridge that will eventually be part of a trail system, and though I saw it along side of the road, I did not get a picture of it. You can find a picture of the bridge in its original location here and the removal here.

Remington's big festival, Water Tower Days, takes place next weekend.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Park happenings

Last night I noticed that the city pool was filled with water.
I also noticed some new deck furniture. These tables will hold umbrellas. The old umbrella tables have been tossed around over the years by the storms that have come through.
The city website says that the pool will open June 7.

While looking through minutes of park board meetings, I noticed that in the February 2013 meeting Boy Scout Troup 152 announced their availability to help reconstruct the canoe ramp at Bicentennial Park, and in the April 2013 meeting, it was announced that the Boy Scout Cabin would soon be torn down. I thought I should take a picture of the structure before it is gone.
 The door was open so I went inside.
Summer seems to have arrived at Brookside with the softball games. There are games pretty much every night.

The item on the canoe ramp reminds me that there is a proposal to build a new public access point on the Iroquois south of town, where the river approaches Mt Calvary Road. That is on SJC property. At best we might see it in 2014, but if it ever happens, 2015 is a better bet. There are lots of hoops to jump through.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ribbon cutting eMbers

This afternoon the Chamber of Commerce had is ceremonial ribbon cutting at eMbers, Rensselaer's new event hall. There were a lot of people attending.
 After the ribbon cutting, a guided tour was available for anyone who wanted one. Notice the decorative element along the wall, the thing with the wooden rectangles ascending to the ceiling. That is not only decorative, it is functional. The bottom box hides the air return vents. The boxes by themselves were not especially attractive, so they were made into a decorative element with the addition of the ascending rectangles.
The ceiling is the original ceiling, hand painted brown and gold. Many, many hours went into the painting of those pressed iron panels.

On May 21 Main Street Rensselaer recognized Ryan and Janelle Musch for their contribution to downtown Rensselaer. The rehabilitation of the building turned an eyesore into one of the best of downtown's old buildings.

The building has had only three owners. The original occupant was Warner's Hardware, which closed in the 1950s or 1960s. Beaver News then occupied the building until a few years ago. It was basically a warehouse during the several decades as Beaver News. When they ceased operations, the Muschs bought the building. They have no pictures of what it looked like as Warner Hardware, and the pictures they have of the exterior during its early years are pictures that focus on its neighbors. So it you have any old pictures of the building, especially the interior, they would be glad to see them. Also, the upstairs was used for an office in the early years of the building and who was there is not known.

The Muschs want to have frequent public events. The first will be this weekend (June 1) featuring Moonshine Mason and the Rot Gut Gang, a country western band from Lafayette. See here for details.

Monday, May 27, 2013

George Ade

The program at the Jasper County Historical Society's May meeting featured Micheal Davis from Kentland acting the part of George Ade. Ade was a popular writer at the turn of the twentieth century, earning enough money as a writer to contribute significant funds for the football stadium at Purdue. The Ade in Ross-Ade is George.
 For details about Ade's life, see here and here. A sample of his wit is here.

I had never read anything by Ade, so after the meeting I checked out a book containing some of his writings (edited by late Jean Shepherd, another writer from Northwest Indiana.) His most popular works were his fables, which are written in a peculiar style. Here is an example from the start of one called "The Ninety-Pound Kinght-Errant and His Lady Fair:
Once there was an Estimable Lady named Mrs. Killjoy who used to hunt for Trouble with a Search-Warrant. 

She was not happy unless she was being Insulted. Before any one chirped she knew that she was going to have Bricks thrown at her Character.
Mrs. Killjoy held to the obsolete Theory that man was put into this Mundane Trouble Factory to protect weak and defenceless Women from all Slurs, Slights, and Insults. That is why she picked out for her True Knight an undeveloped Specimen, about the size of a Philadelphia Squab, with four-inch biceps.

He also wrote plays that had considerable commercial success but that seem to have disappeared from the stage.

The Historical Society if getting ready to host a Tea Party on June 2 (reservations are required). As part of the decor for that event, the museum has a display of old hats.

Their next meeting will be a carry-in dinner on June 18 with a program on history from St. Joseph's College.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Just dirt

I do not get to Mount Ayr often, but this week I passed by and stopped to see what the town looked like without the old school, which burned in March last year. The entire school lot is now just dirt. When the grass grows, it will add to the small park that makes up the rest of the block. Maybe they can put in a softball field. Below is the view from the north east corner of the lot, with the United Methodist Church in the distance.
From the north west corner you can see the playground and a couple of buildings that were once part of downtown Mount Ayr but not seem to be a private residence.
Some pictures of the school before the fire are here.

The sign outside of town says that Mount Ayr has 147 residents, but that seems to be from the 2000 census, not the 2010 census, which gives the town only 122 people.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ribbon cutting Bub's BBQ

Downtown Rensselaer got a new eatery this week, Bub's BBQ. This morning the Chamber of Commerce had the traditional ribbon cutting.
 Bub's features slow-cooked barbeque. The meat for one day is put into the smoker or cooker the evening before. Today this has caused a problem because last night the cooker malfunctioned, so with no barbeque available today, the store will be closed.

The sandwiches on the menu (two sandwiches served with one side) cost $6.00 or $8.00. The dinners, served with bread or cornbread, pickles, and two sides, cost from $8.00 to $16.00. The combo plates range from $14 to $22.
 The decor is a bit different from when it was the Doghouse. Note the lights--they were made from buckets bought at Tractor Supply.
Bub's BBQ has had large crowds this week. It is too bad that there will be disappointed people today who were eager to enjoy some slow-cooked barbeque.

Bub's BBQ started in DeMotte. The Rensselaer location is much bigger than the Demotte location, which I think only does carry-out. The Facebook page is here and its web page is here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Potawatomi Park and bowstring bridge dedication

A large crowd of people attended the Potawatomi Park and bowstring bridge dedication this morning. The event started with a traditional ribbon cutting.
Mayor Wood was the master of ceremonies and had some comments as well. County Historian Judy Kanne spoke briefly of the Potawatomie Indians that at one time camped at the site of the falls of the Iroquois to catch fish and of the proposal in the 1920s or 1930s to name what is now the parking lot on the north side of the bridge Potawatomie park. Rick Odle spoke about the trees that the Rensselaer Urban Forestry Council had planted and about a special tree dedicated to former Mayor Herb Arihood.
 Several students from the Rensselaer Middle School, who researched the bridge and had a couple of lengthy articles published by the Rensselaer Republican helped raise the flag, which was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mayor Wood then spoke a bit about how the park project developed and mentioned some of the key people in pushing the project forward. Finally, Robert Lewis of the Jasper County Historical Preservation Association substituted for James Cooper, a retired professor from DePauw and a bridge expert. Mr Cooper wrote a 17 page report (that I hope will be made available on the city's website) about what he could learn about the history of the bridge. There were two almost similar bowstring bridges build on the Rensselaer to Remington road by the Ohio Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio in the 1880s, one near Remington over Carpenter Creek and another over the Hoover Slough. Most accounts suggest that the surviving bridge is the one that was over the Hoover Slough, but Cooper thinks it more likely it is the one from near Remington because the size of the existing bridge (about 50 feet) is the same size as the one that was proposed for the Carpenter Creek bridge (50 feet) and not the size of the one proposed for the Hoover Slough (60 feet).

Within a minute of the closing remarks, the skies opened up and the rain poured down.

Monday, May 20, 2013


A few blocks from my house lives a robin that has strange coloration. It feathers are light gray.
Here is a view in the sun. I did not have my better camera on the day I took this picture, but you should be able to see that it does not look like a normal robin.
Last year I had barn swallows nesting in my garage. After they left I blocked up their nesting site, so I did not expect them back this year. However, a pair came back, perhaps remembering what a fine nesting place they had last year. For several weeks they tried to put up nests in odd places, splattering the car with mud. Finally I gave in and put up a little platform in a spot that should keep the car out of the debris pattern that they generate. They immediately put a nest there. So the score is Birds 1, me 0.

The birds have also beaten Donaldsons, which put out their coyote images to keep the geese away. The geese did not like me approaching to take their picture, but they were completely unconcerned about the fake coyote.
None of my bird pictures come close to the bird pictures that Barb Lucas keeps taking. She had a program at the Carnegie Center last week that included pictures of a hawk killing a squirrel in her back yard. She also had a report on local bald eagles. Last year a pair successfully raised a pair of young in the county, but this year their nest was blown out of the tree in one of our spring storms and the eaglets apparently drowned. However, there may be another another pair that is nesting in the northern part of the county. So keep looking up. One day you may see a bald eagle flying overhead.

There is plenty of wildlife in Rensselaer besides birds. I have several rabbits wandering around my yard and they have decided this year that they like the peas in my garden. I am trying to discourage them by not planting things that they like, but bunnies like almost everything in a home garden. Tomatoes are supposed to be one of the plants they do not eat, so this year most of what I put into the back yard will be tomato plants. I also found on the Internet the suggestion that spraying plants with water mixed with a bit of baby shampoo and ammonia discourages them. I will find out.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Garden news

This was week three of the farmers market. Beef, pork, flowering plants, knives, and some salad greens were for sale. There is not yet a lot coming from gardens.
 One of the plants that does produce early is rhubarb. I doubt if rhubarb would be grown much if it matured late in the season. What makes it special is that it is available when very little else is. There was some rhubarb at the farmers market--the last of it was being sold as I was there.
 I use a lot of rhubarb, all of it in a very simple recipe for rhubarb crisp. Other than rhubarb, the ingredients are 3 parts oatmeal, one part sugar, one part flour, a pinch of salt, and a little vegetable oil.
 The other ingredient is rhubarb, naturally.
 Combine everything but the rhubarb, using a fork to mix them thoroughly. Because I have a lot of rhubarb, I make a big batch, with six cups of oatmeal.
 I cover the bottom of the pan with the mixture, then put a layer of rhubarb on top it it. The rhubarb is then covered with more mixture. I like to do about three layers of rhubarb.
 Here is the crisp ready for the oven.
 I cook at 355 for an hour and a half or so--until it is done or until I remember to turn off the oven. The result is shown below.
The same recipe works for peaches, apples, blueberries and cherries, and all of them are better than the rhubarb. If the fruit is sweet, I cut back on the sugar. With apples I like to substitute brown sugar for the white sugar and also add some cinnamon. If I have a small batch of fruit, I will bake it in the microwave, which gives it a completely different texture. I am sure people who know a bit about cooking can improve on my simple way of doing this.

While out and about today, I noticed that the corn is sprouting.

In addition to rhubarb, other spring plants that give a quick harvest are asparagus and also my Egyptian Walking Onions. The DeMotte area used to grow a lot of asparagus, but I do not think they do much any more.

It has been a slow week for me, so I am venturing into cooking. Actually, I used to post things occasionally on a cooking blog. (My posts are dessertsurvivor. Someone else is desertsurvivor.)

(I guess I am starting to repeat myself. I just found that I did almost the same post four years ago.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Depot and more

Masonry work continued on the Amtrak station this week. Below is how the station appeared on Monday evening. (For last week's view of this progress, see here.)
Below is the Friday evening appearance.
I thought that the station would have two rooms, but it now appears that the much of the building will be a porch, an area that has a roof but is not enclosed.

Renovation and expansion of Steinke Funeral Home continues.
The Farm Credit site was busy with drainage pipes being put into place this week. They seem to be mostly done with that as of Friday, but we will see next week.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

News from Facebook

Conrad Station is now a nature preserve. I thought it had been for some time. The article was linked by Friends of the Sands. A list of Indiana nature preserves in Indiana that are open to the public is here.

The Pig Adventure at Fair Oaks Farms is getting closer to opening. Fair Oaks Farms Facebook page posts fairly frequently about the progress.

Wolcott has a project to to improve their Main Street, and construction has been going on for some time.

A post does not seem complete without at least one picture. So here is one from last night.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gone, here, and coming (Updated)

SJC had graduation yesterday and now the campus is empty. The students left behind at least two dumpsters full of things from the dorm rooms.
 There seems to be a new business in the Town Mall (the old Sears Building). In one of the offices that face Kellner and which a year or two ago had some kind of computer shop, the "For Rent" sign is gone and there are drapes hiding what is inside. The page below is taped in several of the windows.
A couple months ago someone told me that a butcher shop would be moving into the building behind the bowling alley, into the space that previously had Merlin's hair salon or beauty shop. For a long time I could not see much change, but last week there were a couple of coolers next to the building, and now there is a small room to the left of the coolers. (I forgot to take a picture of it today when I passed by.)
There is also a building permit in a window. Soon we will have Dale's Steak & Chop Shop.
I am guessing that it will not be open before Bub's BBQ, which is scheduled to open next Monday.

The farmers were busy in the fields today and I was busy trying to get plants into my garden. That has a higher priority right now than working on this blog, so do not expect any posts this week that take a lot of my time.

Update: The website for Dales Steak and Chop Shop is here. They wanted to open in April, but the coolers that they bought arrived damaged. In addition to meat, they will sell deli items.

Their Facebook page is here.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Construction update 05-11-2013

This week the masons have been busy working on the Amtrak depot. On Monday They began making the brick pillars that surround the steel support beams.

On Tuesday I stopped by while the men were working.
 By Friday a wall had been erected that appears to divide the depot into two parts. I would guess that the restrooms were planned for one part, but I have heard that the restrooms will not be part of the the station.
 Here is the view from the other side.
I was wrong when I wrote that workers were beginning to take the old depot apart. They moved it and have put in a new floor. The concrete pad on which the old depot formerly sat has been ripped up and a trench has been dug. We will see what goes into it.

 At the Steinke Funeral Home the siding has been partially removed, showing decorative woodwork that was popular in the late 19th century.
Sand and gravel have been smoothed at the construction site for the Farm Credit building. The area where the bulldozer is resting is a bit higher than the rest of the site. I do not know if that area will be where the building sits, or if the whole site will have that height after the rest of the sand is spread out.