instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Notes from a Western Life
Ranging Far and Wide on the High Plains and Beyond
Linda M. Hasselstrom's Blog

Friendliness Is Catching

Linda at the Hermosa Town Office, next door to the Library and the Post Office.
. . .
When I complain to Stacy, the Postmaster, that I need a notary public and the town office is closed today, she says, “Oh, the librarian is one, and Tasha, at the real estate office-- and I know she’s working today because she came for her mail.”

So because of the small town habit of keeping track of such things, Stacy saved me a 50-mile trip to Rapid City for a notary.

Later, when I went to the library, Bert the librarian had little boxes of fudge waiting to give as gifts to her library customers that day.

I could say smugly that this is one of the benefits of living in a small town but these incidents illustrate more than that. Both these women do their jobs extremely well but they also pay particular attention to the people with whom they interact. They respond firmly, gently and politely to people so furious they are literally spitting. They listen to laments, complaints, bad jokes and whining and they do it with a smile.

Sure, this is a small town and these two are uniquely placed to know a great deal about many of us who live in the area. But the way they do their jobs, the way they handle what they learn about us, could be done anywhere. They pay attention in a world where too many folks see nothing but what’s directly in front of them. They smile when they probably don’t feel anymore like it than the grumblers on the other side of the desk. Because of their patience, they send many of these grumblers into their day smiling and happier than when they entered the Post Office or the Library.

We can all do that. Try smiling at the next grump you meet; you might be surprised what you learn.

# # #

back to top



 Read More 
Be the first to comment

The Eco Prayer Park at Trinity Lutheran Church, Rapid City

Plans for the Trinity Eco Prayer Park.
. . .
Some retreat writers might recognize Ken Steinken's name from seeing it in the house journal. During the years when I didn't live on the ranch, Ken came often to Homestead House, at least once riding his bicycle twenty-some miles from Rapid City, to write in the retreat solitude. He signed the house journal, saying he'd tried to erase all testosterone from the premises before a women's writing retreat started.

Ken's new project is to help establish an Eco Prayer Park on one fourth of a city block now vacant on the corner of Fourth and Saint Joseph Streets, beside Trinity Lutheran Church in Rapid City.

"Our goal is to create a peaceful, natural place downtown that will preserve open space and enhance the vitality of the downtown experience," Ken says.

The park will contain a circular path leading visitors past four zones representing different biomes: Black Hills, midgrass prairie, shortgrass prairie and wetlands. The park will be practical as well, with swales that will conserve stormwater runoff from surrounding asphalt parking lots, allowing it to seep slowly into the ground instead of entering the city's storm-sewer system. Designed to contain water from a 100-year flood event, the park will have no standing water elements. It will provide examples of native species that local property owners can use in their own water-conserving landscaping.

Here's how Ken Steinken explains the name of the park:

The Name: Trinity Eco Prayer Park
* Trinity -- connects the park to the Trinity Lutheran Church
* Eco Park -- a park that uses and encourages others to use sustainable landscaping
* Prayer Park -- a peaceful place downtown to pray and reflect
* Eco Prayer -- a prayer for the care of the planet; a plea to work with nature instead of against it

I was a little concerned that the word "Eco" might be a little too political; it's a goofy, trendy word but it allows us to avoid "Sustainable" which is clunky; and "Natural" is just too vanilla. The word "Prayer" has been overused and abused, and may unsettle folks on both ends of the political spectrum, so it sets up a creative tension that I like. The official name collects all the elements, but perhaps the park will be best-known simply as Trinity Park, a place to reflect on how we relate to God, one another, and the planet.


The project is planned for completion by 2014, in time for the church's 100th anniversary celebration. Ken hopes most costs will be covered by in-kind donations from church and community members and volunteer labor. "We need every kind of help imaginable," he says.

I'll be donating plugs of buffalo grass and other native grasses as well as any wildflower seeds the project needs and can find on my land.

# # #

For more information:

Website for the Trinity Eco Prayer Park. This is a bare-bones Google Group website that has newsletter-type updates on the park and links for further information.

Read an article about the park in the Rapid City Journal. Includes a photo of the existing bare lot and depictions of what the park will look like.

back to top



 Read More 
Be the first to comment

The Abbey of Saint Walburga

. . .
Thanks to Sister Hildegard Dubnick, a Benedictine nun of the Abbey of Saint Walburga in Virginia Dale, CO, I receive the Abbey newsletter, Auris cordis, “ear of the heart.”

Sr. Hildegard wrote in Crazy Woman Creek of one if her first experiences in the Abbey, the touching and humorous, “A Couple of Nights Before Christmas.”

In the latest issue, Sr. Hildegard has written about the abbey’s efforts to produce as much of its own food as possible in “All is safely gathered in,/ ere the winter storms begin.” This article, too, shows her characteristic gentle humor.

The Abbey raises beef, consumed regularly. “Each cow or steer,” she writes, “has, of course, a liver, and a pretty big one at that. We can only eat so much beef liver, since nuns, like everyone else, can be divided into two classes: those who will eat it, and those who truly cannot choke it down.”

So: “if life gives you liver, make liverwurst. Experiments in the kitchen have produced a most excellent liverwurst that now appears at supper regularly.”

The Abbey also keeps chickens, bees, apples, tomatoes, and makes use of herbs such as stinging nettle, yarrow, horsetail and other herbs. Sr. Hildegard remarks that although the Abbey gave away hundreds of canning jars before relocating, “canning jars seldom die; they just keep moving from one attic or basement to another.”

Finally, she encourages everyone to grow a little food of their own, even if it’s just some basil or parsley seeds in a pot on the windowsill.

I’ll be sending the newsletter to my co-editors of the Wind Anthologies because we’ve never met Sr. Hildegard and the newsletter includes a photograph of her canning produce.


# # #


For more information:

The Abbey Wish List includes these items: ground coffee (regular), cereal, powdered milk, canned tomatoes and fish, honey, bathroom tissue, fragrance-free laundry detergent, potting soil, 16%-protein layer pellets for the chickens, battery powered wall clocks and vintage (not plastic) jewelry and rosaries. Contact the Abbey to contribute these or other items. You can read about the life of a nun, or learn more about the Abbey’s schedule of group and individual retreats on their website.

Abbey of St. Walburga
Benedictine Nuns
1029 Benedictine Way
Virginia Dale, CO 80536-7633

visit the Abbey of St. Walburga website

Read about the western women’s books co-edited by Linda, including Crazy Woman Creek which includes the story by Sister Hildegard Dubnick, on the Wind Anthologies Page of this website.

back to top

 Read More 
1 Comments
Post a comment