Tuesday’s Observations

Just yesterday I started looking at apartments. I made several phone calls and checked the Kearney Hub for rentals that are opening up soon. One of my roommates is moving to Texas in May, so my other roommate and I need to find a new apartment with two bedrooms. We found one that we liked the price of, but we hadn’t gone to look at it yet. When I got Dr. Hanson’s email, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to go observe it.

When I arrived on the street, I was surprised to see it was located in a nice neighborhood with charming houses that appear to be fairly new and expensive. The streets were wide and spacious and lined with tall trees. The trees of course were dead because it’s winter, but I pictured how they might look in the summer and fall. They would be full of luscious green leaves and turn to rich red, orange, and yellow in the fall.

As I drove down the street, slowly approaching the exact address I was looking for, I noticed the charming houses were becoming less, and apartment complexes were coming into view. I rolled up in my car to the address I had be looking for. I found myself say, “Huh,” as I put my car in park and sat there observing the outside. It wasn’t a bad “huh,” it just wasn’t what I was expecting I guess.

The first thing I noticed about the building was it’s color. It’s a pale yellow building with dark orange trim. One of a kind I would say. And one of a kind it was. It was the only apartment of it’s kind in the area. From my observations of it’s size, I would say there are only 6 apartments in the building. I would also guess they are all two bedroom apartments judging by the windows.

I continued to look around the outside of the building, now looking a little closer at the details. I noticed one of the apartments had a satellite dish mounted outside of its window. This made me wonder why they would have a dish and not Charter or something along those lines. I also noticed a lot of cords and wires running along the perimeter of the building. Not sure what these would be, but it wasn’t very attractive. The cords were held down with metal clasps that were then screwed into the side of the building. Nifty, huh?

Looking in the windows, trying not to be obvious or creepy, I noticed that one of the apartments had all of the blinds closed. I assumed this must be the apartment that is for rent; the apartment that might soon be mine. I was somewhat disappointed because this particular apartment was in the basement. It’s windows were only halfway above the ground, meaning it is going to be dark in there.

The one thing that allowed me to look past these few negative aspects was the website I had looked at prior to my observations that had pictures of the inside of the apartment. I was pleased to see the bedrooms were of good size and had a fresh coat of white paint on the walls and decent looking tan carpets. The kitchen also looked large, with a dishwasher, fridge, stove, and double sink. I couldn’t complain too much.

However, today I was just observing the outside. I have an appointment tomorrow night to observe the inside.

As I sat there a little longer, I decided to check out the parking lot in the back of the building. It was spacious and I assumed it wouldn’t be hard at all to find a parking space if I did live there, so that was a plus. I noticed in the back that the windows in the same apartment that were closed in the front were also closed in the back. This confirmed my suspicions that yes, this was the apartment I may live in soon.

Lined along the back of the building were several grills. Small, medium, and large in size. I’m not sure why there were so many grills or why the tenants stored them all outside, especially in the winter. What was even more bizarre was the fact that there were more grills than apartments. I believe I counted eight or nine grills and only six apartments. Who knows, maybe someone who lives there really likes to grill.

As I drove back around the front of the building, I again couldn’t help but notice the awful cords running all around the building. I also noticed a few cracks in the outside wall here and there, but at least they weren’t on my side of the building.

Looking at the front again, I admired the cute little sidewalk that leads to a cement front porch that all the tenants enter through to get to their designated apartment. The door was glass and had a typed sign taped to it, but I was too far away to read what it said. Now I kind of wish I had read it. Maybe it said “DO NOT TOUCH THE CORDS, THEY WILL ELECTROCUTE YOU.”

Overall, I liked the apartment and liked the neighborhood it was located in. I reset my odometer when I left and realized it was exactly one mile away from campus and a pretty straight shot which is great. Besides the cords, I didn’t have much to complain about. We’ll see what tomorrow brings when I see the inside of it.

I got one picture when I first pulled up on my iPod before it died. I plan on driving by again tonight to snap a few more.

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Spring cleaning

So, since I wasn’t as lucky as the rest of you to be rushing off somewhere exotic for spring break, I instead decided to “spring clean” my room. Boy am I glad I did.

After moving out of my parent’s house in Waterloo and into an apartment in Kearney, the dust has really started to pile up. Literally. I spent the majority of the day emptying everything out from my room and starting from scratch.

I even dusted my logs. Yes. Dusted my logs. We live in a log cabin, so those had to be dusted too.

While I was slaving away in my childhood bedroom, my parents are off enjoying palm trees, warm weather, and slot machines without me. They left on Friday, the day I got home from spring break. They don’t get back until the day I head back to school. What the…That doesn’t seem fair!

They went to Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. Passing through many other states along the way. Lucky! I have never seen the ocean, never flown, and never really been much further than South Dakota with the exception of Wyoming and Minnesota. They should have taken me with them. But my dad likes to use the excuse that I couldn’t go because they he wanted to drive their corvette which is only a two seated car. “We’d have to strap you to the roof,” he said.

Pff. Oh well.

I’m keeping plenty busy here at home without them anyway. And my room is pretty darn clean. So I’m happy.

Final Draft: There’s no place like home

Just last month The Oltman family of Springfield, Neb. was approached about selling their land including 20 acres of farm ground. The Oltman’s have lived on their farm for 27 years and had all intentions of staying there forever until now.

You may wonder how I know the Oltmans or why I care that they may have to cut their roots and turn their backs on their most prized possession; their home.

My boyfriend of five years JT Oltman was born and raised in Springfield, Neb. His parents, Tom and Mary Oltman raised him and his two older sisters there. I, too, have spent a large portion of my life there and I can easily see why they don’t want to sell. It’s their home. We all have one if we’re lucky enough and we would all put up a fight to save it.

Being located just outside Omaha and Papillion, the Oltman’s land sits just at the edge of town. They knew this day would come sooner or later. They just hoped for later rather than now.

From the top of their gravel road up the hill you can see the orange cast on the sky from the city lights and the interstate. You can see a Cabela’s, Burger King, Jimmy John’s, gas stations, banks, and numerous hotels. Not what you’d expect to see in the distance from a farm.

The biggest addition recently added to their view was the Werner Park baseball stadium, home of the Omaha Royals. As if the bright glow of the stadium lights shining through their windows at night isn’t enough, after every game comes a firework show.

BANG! BANG! BOOM!

This might sound appealing at first to have a free firework show in your front yard quite often, but ask the Oltmans and they’ll tell you otherwise.

Along with the baseball stadium came plans to excavate a very large lake that will be located right next to the Oltmans home. Will the Oltmans be visiting this lake? Probably not. And they still have yet to purchase a ticket to see a baseball game even though they could practically walk to the stadium.

Most recently, they were approached by investors to sell their land– house, barn, corn cribs, sheds, farm land and all. They were offered a set amount. An amount that to the average person may sound like quite the pretty penny. To the Oltmans it will never be enough.

Their house and the barn are over a hundred and twenty five years old. Just the fact that they would be torn down is sad enough.

The rest of the land around them has been bought out by those investors who will very soon be turning it into residential housing developments. The Oltmans will have “cookie cutter” houses for neighbors very soon. The big question here is how long are they willing to stick around?

Technically, these investors cannot force the Oltmans to move. However, their new surroundings themselves may be the final deciding factor as to just how long they are willing to stay.

The Oltmans have looked at a few houses here and there. Farm houses mostly, on several acres of land so they could continue to farm and lead somewhat similar lifestyles to the ones they lead now. But nothing has really stood out to them much.

You know what they say, “there’s no place like home.”

Rough Draft: There’s no place like home

Just last month The Oltman family of Springfield, Neb. was approached about selling their land including 30 acres of farm ground. The Oltman’s have lived on their farm for over 30 years and had all intentions of staying there forever until now.

You may wonder how I know the Oltmans or why I care that they may have to cut their roots and turn their backs on their most prized possession; their home.

My boyfriend of five years JT Oltman was born and raised in Springfield, Neb. His parents, Tom and Mary Oltman raised him and his two older sisters there. I, too, have spent a large portion of my life there and I can easily see why they don’t want to sell. It’s their home. We all have one if we’re lucky enough and we would all put up a fight to save it.

Being located just outside Omaha and Papillion, the Oltman’s land sits just at the edge of town. They knew sooner or later this day would come. They just hoped for later rather than now. 

From the top of their gravel road up the hill you can see the orange cast on the sky from the city lights and the interstate. You can see a Cabela’s, Burger King, Jimmy John’s, gas stations, banks, and numerous hotels. Not what you’d expect to see in the distance from a farm.

The biggest addition recently added to their view is the Werner Park baseball stadium, home of the Omaha Royals. As if the bright glow of the stadium lights shining through their windows at night isn’t enough, after every games comes a firework show.

BANG! BANG! BOOM!

This might sound appealing at first to have a free firework show in your front yard quite often, but ask the Oltmans and they’ll tell you otherwise.

Along with the baseball stadium came plans to excavate a very large lake that will be located right next to the Oltmans home. The lake will be used for recreational purposes. Will the Oltmans be using this lake? Probably not. And they still have yet to purchase a ticket to see a baseball game even though they could practically walk to the stadium.

Most recently, they were approached by investors to sell their land– house, barn, corn cribs, sheds, farm land and all. They were offered a set amount. An amount that to the average person may sound like quite the pretty penny. To the Oltmans it will never be enough. 

The rest of the land around them has been bought out by those investors who will very soon be turning it into residential housing developments. The Oltmans will have “cookie cutter” houses for neighbors very soon. The big question here is how long are they willing to stick around?

The Oltmans are not the only ones who are going through this same situation. As cities continue to expand, farm land will continue to decrease. Without sufficient farm land, farmers cannot feed the world. When will it ever stop? 

Sure, every now and then we like the convenience of the city being so close, but to farmers this is no convenience. It’s a sign of what is yet to come. 

Technically, these investors cannot force the Oltmans to move. However, their new surroundings themselves may be the final deciding factor as to just how long they are willing to stick it out. 

The Oltmans have looked at a few houses here and there. Farm houses mostly, on several acres of land so they could continue to farm and lead somewhat similar lifestyles to the ones they lead now. But nothing has really stuck out to them much. 

You know what they say, “there’s no place like home.”

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The “Cookie Monster” was a fail. Let’s talk expansion.

For those of you who were in class on Thursday, you heard what my idea was for my column. I was going to write about the South Carolina man that was arrested for stealing $19 thousand dollars worth of Girl Scout cookies.

It was going to be a somewhat humorous column but when I tried it out last night, it was really hard to write about. Usually writing comes easily to me but this was quite a struggle.

After realizing it was not going to work, I emailed my draft to Dr. Hanson who also agreed it wasn’t working. We both decided this was a good thing because I was able to recognize that my own writing was not so great.

Instead of writing about the “Cookie Monster” I’ve decided to write about residential expansion that hits close to home, literally. Tonight and tomorrow I will gather information, most of which I already have, about my boyfriend’s family and their recent personal experience. 

They live on a farm that has been located in the country for over 100 years. In recent years, the city of Omaha has slowly been creeping up on their property. Just last month they were approached by investors about buying their land– house, barn, and all. 

Of course to his family this was very devastating to have to face. Many people are being put in a bind to sell more and more as cities continue to expand. 

At what point does it ever stop? Cities will never really cease to grow. And farm land is only getting smaller. We need that farm land to feed the world. 

There is a lot to think about on this topic. More to come tomorrow…

 

 

Grandma’s House

by Hanna Jorgensen

 
It used to be their house, now it’s just hers. 
He’s been gone a few months, but it feels like it’s years. 
 
Dust starts to pile on the life he left behind;
but she keeps things picked up-
out of sight, out of mind. 
 
Things seems so quiet, 
there’s not as much to do.
She won’t buy new things,
“Who will I share it with? Who?”
 
What was once a closet full of clothes,
is now an empty one,
with a few shirts and a robe.
 
His life has been sorted and
taken out the door. 
But his memory lives on, 
this is for sure. 
 
His garage still tells his story
of the life left behind. 
The dust tells how long it’s been.
The scent is to remind.
 
Passing through her house 
is different now.
Still happy and bright.
But something is different.
Something’s not right.
 
Grandpa is gone. 
Grandma’s still here.
She keeps waiting for his voice
to fall upon her ear.
 
She walks through her house
busy as a bee.
Only time will tell when it will sink in.
We shall see.
 
Grandma is strong.
She’s shown us all that.
She’s been able to go on,
but able to look back.
 
She remembers the days,
not long ago,
when she used to take care of him
when his health was so-so.
 
Now that he’s gone,
she knows he’s at peace.
Her heart, it is breaking, 
But her mind is at ease. 
 
She has a guardian angel by
her bedside at night.
She keeps a candle lit.
“I’ll leave on the light.”
 
It used to be their house, now it’s just hers.
He’s been gone a few months, but it feels likes it’s years.