Death of the Chelsey Nebraska Act

My dad recently mentioned that I haven’t posted on here since December. The truth is, I don’t feel any passion towards this project anymore. The Chelsey Nebraska Act was started at the end of a job and shortly after having my first baby. It was my intention to use this blog to settle in and start liking the state that I was destined to be in for a long time. Little did I know, it was actually an attempt to appreciate the here and now. What I have realized in the nearly five years since starting this, is that I don’t need Nebraska to appreciate my here and now.  I think it was a fun project that served a purpose for me and I am grateful for that, but my passions have changed. I see things differently.

As much as I would like to be able to write about the beauty of this state, I can’t anymore. I cannot continue to write in a voice that is no longer (or maybe never was) mine.  I have changed, and when I feel like writing I feel like being brutally honest. I feel like telling everyone about the deep pain and the deep joy I feel. I feel like talking about how god damned hard being a mom is some day, and also how some days I feel like the luckiest human on the planet. I want to tell everyone about how my soul is being transformed. About how I refuse to tolerate hate, fear, bigotry, and close-mindedness. I can no longer sit by and pretend to be someone I am not.

Who am I? I am a mom/wife/daughter/sister/friend, a feminist, a liberal, a believer in love and mysticism.  I am open-hearted and open-minded. I believe everyone should have equal rights and a right to love and feel safe. I get angry and feel rage about the current state of our world, our families, and our lives. I ebb and flow…which is probably why I decided to publish this after a full moon. Some days I feel grounded and like I can spread love to the world, and some days I want to burn it all down. I am human and I am evolving. I have never felt “seen” in this world, but I am seeing myself for the first time. I am new and I am old.

So, I just can’t write any more puff pieces on here. It’s not me. I cannot sit by and tell you how great this Republican state is. It has it’s perks like any state does, but everyone (every state) can make progress. Everyone is capable of change. Everyone can love more and fear/hate less. Everyone can choose presence over worry and regret. But we cannot do it alone.  We must do it together and we must speak up about love and change. Passivity is only making things worse and it’s my belief that, as a human race, we are being called to make radical change. So here’s to the the death of the Chelsey Nebraska Act and the birth of something new!

 

A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life. 

-Virginia Woolf 

 

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Ponca State Park

Just two hours North of Omaha, you will find Ponca State Park. It lies on the West side of the Missouri River, on the edges of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. The park is covered in big green trees and the Loess Hills. It’s a beautiful sight. There was a light rain most of the time we were there, so to me it felt like the Pacific Northwest (or what I imagine it to be).

This is Ponca State Park

This is Ponca State Park

We rented a cabin there for Memorial Day weekend. We stayed in one of their “Rustic” cabins which had “2” bedrooms, a bathroom, small kitchen, and a couch. Most importantly (according to Edith) it had a bunk bed. The cabin had a small bathroom, a kitchen, and a very large octagon table that our kids kept running into. There was also a nice enclosed porch.

Sweet Cabin!

                          Sweet Cabin!

The park has miles of hiking trails, a small golf course, a pool that was not yet opened, and a shooting range. I think there may have also been horses you could ride, but I did not see them. I think if we had gone in mid-summer we would have been able to do a lot more while we were there. Live and learn.

Tall Trees. Tall Kids.

        Tall Trees. Tall Kids.

We planned on staying two nights in the cabin, but after one very restless night of sleep we decided it would be best to head back home. During the time we were there however, we tried to get our money’s worth. We grilled hot-dogs on the fire, we roasted marshmallows (aka marshing the mellows), and we went hiking. After about 30 minutes of hiking we realized we might end up killing one of our kids. There was quite an incline and it was so muddy we kept sliding around. My dumb lower back still hurt from carrying my cute baby on my back.

Marshed Mellows.

                          Marshed Mellows.

Professional Hikers

                      Professional Hikers

We drove back to Omaha the next day and stopped in Jackson, Nebraska for lunch. We stopped at some small town dairy freeze that served fried food. I ordered a patty melt. Thinking it’d be a cheeseburger with onions on rye bread. What it turned out to be was some sort of breaded meat patty with cheese in the middle. It was a shock, but not necessarily a bad one.

Patty Melt. Whatever.

        Patty Melt. Whatever.

We spent the rest of our long weekend sleeping in our own beds, and gardening. It was glorious.

(I apologize for the crappy quality of writing in this blog. Enjoy the pictures instead!)

400 Year Old Oak

         400 Year Old Oak

Missouri River, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska

Missouri River, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska

So this is Nebraska

Thanks to my cousin, Suzanne, Ted Kooser- Poet Laureate and Nebraskan, has found his way into my life. I heard him read this poem today on NPR and it made my brain flood with memories of Nebraska summers.

So This is Nebraska, by Ted Kooser

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop   
over the fields, the telephone lines   
streaming behind, its billow of dust   
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.


On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows   
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs   
hide broken tractors under their skirts.


So this is Nebraska. A Sunday   
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,   
a meadowlark waiting on every post.


Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,   
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.


You feel like that; you feel like letting   
your tires go flat, like letting the mice   
build a nest in your muffler, like being   
no more than a truck in the weeds,


clucking with chickens or sticky with honey   
or holding a skinny old man in your lap   
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like


waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave   
instead and leave your hand out gliding   
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.


This poem brought me back to my childhood, to a somewhat less populated area of Nebraska. Riding on the handlebars of my friends bike, challenging ourselves to fit three, even four people on one bike (all without helmets). Spending the whole day outside. Our mom’s yelled for us when it started to get dark. To get from point A to point B, we’d hop fences and run through yards. We’d go to the neighborhood pool without parental supervision or nannies literally everyday of the summer. We ate melted Reese’s pieces for lunch.

 

When we turned 16, we’d drive around for hours. With the windows down and our arms out. Feeling the warm air turn cool as it became dark. We’d find undiscovered places in the spaces around us. Drinking beer in cornfields and searching for the haunted “Chinese Cemetery” in the middle of the country. We no longer went to the pool but would go cool off in the Platte River or the DX sandpits.  Available, ungoverned, warm water.



 

It is amazing how a decade of distance can make you appreciate that which you once found boring and even despicable. From this viewpoint, my memories of smaller-town Nebraska are magical. Looking back now from the place of a parent, I wish my children could have that experience. And yet, I know there is no way I will let them have that much freedom.


And  yes, my wild childhood involved a bowl-cut perm. Because what says freedom, like a perm?

And yes, my wild childhood involved a bowl-cut perm. Because what says freedom, like a perm?

Nebraska Themed Christmas Presents

I know I have been a total slacker on this blog lately. I have many excuses, most of them surrounding the fact that I am pregnant and unmotivated. However, since it is Christmas time and I am being bombarded by retail, I have decided to list some Nebraska themed Christmas ideas (none of which is Husker themed). This Christmas we are doing a lot of handmade things and not spending much money. This allows me to think about all of the gifts I would buy (for myself and others) if I had the money.

Here you go:

1. State Tea Towels by Vestiges listed on Grommet.com, $15
These little state themed tea towels are super cute and big! I am sure they would be great for drying dishes or just to decorate your abode.

Readers, feel free to send one of these my way ;)

Readers, feel free to send one of these my way 😉

2. One of the many great Nebraska shaped Necklaces listed on Etsy, Prices Vary
I own one like this and I wear it all of the time. It’s cute and of course Nebraska love goes with any outfit.

Represent!

Represent!

3. A Nebraska Cookie Cutter , $2.50
The gift that keeps on giving. You get this cookie cutter for someone and maybe they will make you cookies just like I did last year!

Last year's Christmas cookie!

Last year’s Christmas cookie!

4. The Nebraska Home T-shirt, $28
These T-shirts would be great for men or women and they support a good cause. Part of their proceeds go to MS research.

Comes in blue or gray

Comes in blue or gray

5. Any of Drastic Plastic’s Nebraska Tees, $14.98
Omaha folks can just go downtown and buy these babies but if you can’t get to Omaha you can still get one of these shirts online there are men’s and women’s sizes and versions. These are the best Nebraska t-shirts around if you ask me and they are made locally which is even better. Couldn’t grab a photo from this website so you will just have to click on the link!

6. Bakers Candy, $3-10
Every Nebraskan has eaten Bakers candy, it also makes a great gift for non-Nebraskans. This chocolate is delicious!

Yum.

Yum.

7. Sandhill Crane Vase painted by my best friend’s grandma, $190
This is a little pricier item but I couldn’t resist. It was created by a fantastic lady and it’s also quite beautiful. Maybe you remember when I went “Craning”

Sold by Grow Nebraska

Sold by a Grow Nebraska

8. A Patriotic Nebraska Mug, $10
This was just kitschy enough to make this list. I’ll admit it’s a bit hideous, but in a good way.

Nebraska and America as one!

Nebraska and America as one!

9. Custom Made Ice Cream from ECreamery, $50-60
You can choose your own flavor combo of ice cream (made in Omaha), and sent to your loved ones around the country. Who doesn’t love ice cream? In December? I would eat this every day of my life if I could.

So many choices

So many choices

I hope you enjoyed my list of Nebraska gifts. Merry Christmas to all!

Brownville Flea Market

On our second trip to Brownville, NE, we went to the Memorial Day Flea Market. They have two huge flea markets a year, once during Memorial Day weekend and the other Labor Day weekend. All of the streets of this tiny historic town are taken over by antique and junk slingers. There were also plenty of county fair type food stands, and even pony rides. Yes, you could get funnel cake. No, we didn’t get funnel cake.
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We weren’t really on the hunt for anything but came home with some pretty sweet finds. Brent bought a couple of drinking glasses that had orioles on them, and I came home with some pretty sweet jewels. My first attempt at “dickering” was a complete flop. I wanted these two 1960’s pyrex bowls and in trying to get a good deal, I offered the guy $2 more than what they were worth. He looked at me strangely and I realized what I had done. I think he felt pity for me and ended up giving me $6 off the asking price. After that I did not dicker again.
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After looking through most of the junk we stopped at Whiskey Run Creek Winery. I had purchased a Living Social deal a few days before that I was excited to use. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no cell phone service in Brownville so I could not bring up my deal on the phone. This means there will be another Brownville trip this summer! We still had a nice time sitting on the patio drinking wine. You can buy their wine in several Omaha Hy-Vee’s. I am a big fan of their Robert’s Back 40 and Chambourcin.
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We were also able to get our very first Nebraska Passport stamp of the year at the Lyceum, which is a nice little restaurant/bookstore. I don’t think we will make any large treks across Nebraska this year to get all of the Passport stamps but there are still a lot within an hour or so of the Omaha area. Here’s hoping to many more Nebraska summertime adventures!

Permanence

As my year-o-Nebraska ended, I decided to have my love for the state displayed in a permanent way (I apologize in advance to my in-laws who will not be happy about this). My dear friend Alea and I got ourselves Nebraska Tattoos. We got them just days before she left for Sweden. I love it so much and I am so happy that Alea took the plunge with me.

Nebraska, I love you, and now you are forever a part of me…you better continue to impress!

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Thanks to Xander at Broken Halo!

A Few of My Favorite Things

I have not been a fan of Christmas time for many years. However, I feel like now that I have a little lady in my life (Edith) I am growing to appreciate the season a bit more…and  Christmas in Omaha is really lovely. There are lights and decorations throughout the city, Christmas tree stands in random parking lots, and there is usually snow on the ground.  I have been thinking this year about a few of my favorite things in Omaha around this time…Nebraska related an others.

1. Brightly colored Christmas Tress at Cirian’s Market on Leavenworth Street

This place is right near my house and every time I drive by and see these pink , blue, purple, and rainbow trees I smile.  These trees are ridiculous, not to mention they cost about $100.   Someday, I will buy one of these trees and I am sure I will have to make a pro/con chart in order to decide which color to buy. I took this picture while driving and they didn’t have many of the trees out, but trust me they have a rainbow one!!

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2. Holiday Cocktails

I am generally a wine and beer drinker but when the holidays come around I bust out the hard stuff.  I am just trying to channel “Drunk Uncle” from Saturday Night Live.  My favorite holiday cocktails are Manhattans and Negronis.  Many Decembers ago, I was a 21 year old hanging out with my friends and getting crazy. We wanted to make Manhattans and had no idea how to make them so I decided to call this older guy I had just met and ask him.  That man was Brent, my darling husband, and not long after that phone call did we go on a date.  I am pretty sure I have the Manhattan to thank for bringing Brent and I together.  The Negroni is a good holiday drink because it is red, and like a Manhattan, it’s very strong.  Here are the recipes for you (the way I make them):

Manhattan:

2 shots of bourbon

1 shot of sweet vermouth

A dash of angostura bitters

1 Maraschino cherry

Put in a glass with ice, mix.

*If you are Brent, you put a bunch of grenadine in it and a couple of cherries

Negroni:

1 shot of gin

1 shot of sweet vermouth

1 shot of Campari

Put in a glass with ice and mix

*Sometimes I like to put this in a bigger glass and add club soda

3. Nebraska cookie cutter

I got this cookie cutter as souvenir on our big ol’ trip out West this summer. I love it. Even though I don’t care for sugar cookies, and I burned most of the batch, I was very glad to be able to send red (okay, pink) and green Nebraska cookies to my favorite out-of-staters! I would have sent more out, but I burnt about a third of them. I am sure by the time anyone receives these cookies, they will be hard as rocks. I would recommend drilling a hole in them and using them a as a Christmas Ornament.

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4. The annual Kosterpelding Christmas Card

This is something forced upon me each year by my husband.  I generally dread it but end up loving every minute of it when it happens.  He always comes up with some random idea and I just go with it.  Here are some samples of past Christmas card photos. These tradition is going to make for several years of embarrassing our child(ren).

xmas 2011

xmas 2010

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I guess for me, these things have made my Christmases more bearable and I imagine as Edith gets older I will find even more reasons to like this season.  This year we are mostly just trying to keep her from tearing down the Christmas Tree.

Happy Holidays!