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salina’s Loft Living

Salina area’s premier Magazine on People, Places & Style

New B rd in Town Fall 2012 $3

Stan Barenberg’s ostriches settle onto the prairie

Rolf Potts’ Base The Vagabond on Home

I was without oxygen for more than 10 minutes.

Thanks to my excellent rehabilitation team at Salina Regional, I’m back and so are the memories of the family I love. —Calvin Carlson

Calvin suffered a heart attack and was in a coma for three days. But getting the care he needed while staying close to home made his long recovery much less stressful. “I literally had to relearn everything—how to eat, to walk, to talk—the things we all take for granted. From the emergency room through my physical, speech and occupational therapies, all my caregivers at Salina Regional were so supportive.” “They even found a way for my wife to stay across the street at the Morrison House, free of charge. They all went the extra mile for me and my family. I’m so thankful we chose Salina Regional—it couldn’t have been better.”

See all of Calvin’s story at

table of contents

volume 03 / issue 03

Publisher Olaf Frandsen advertising director Kim Norwood advertising sales managers Christy Underwood Kathy Malm Linda Saenger

for advertising rates and information

Ad designers Jamie Jeffries Aaron Johnson

Debbie Nelson Natalie Pankratz Brian Green Mary Walker Heather Phillips

Annette Klein Kristin Scheele

photographers Lisa Eastman Larry Harwood

Contributing writers Patricia E. Ackerman Chelsey Crawford James R. Godfrey Sarah Hawbaker Karilea Rilling Jungel Susan Kraus Meta Newell West

Production and editorial services for Sunflower Living provided by: Editor art director graphic designer Chief Photographer Copy Editor General Manager

Nathan Pettengill Shelly Bryant Jenni Leiste Jason Dailey Christy Little Bert Hull

e-mail Comments to


Sue Austin Tina Campbell Tiffani Emmel Erica Wiseman Jenny Unruh Laura Fisher

sunflower resumes sunflower spaces

Sales executives


(785) 822-1449


08 09

Jen and Norm Jennings

The couple behind At Stake Ministries

Martha Murchison

The president of Prairieland Market

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Salina Journal Circulation Department Christy West 333 S. Fourth, Salina KS 67401 (785) 822-1467 / (800) 827-6363 ext. 347


local profiles out & about

Subscriptions to sunflower living

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

the loft village

A group of young medical professionals forms a small community of open spaces in the heart of Salina

table of contents

34 Ostrich Express

Stan Barenberg trades a trucker’s life in the fast lane for a rancher’s life with the fast birds


return destination

All roads lead back to Gypsum for the champion of ‘vagabonding’

Coyote’s fall colors

The campus of Kansas Wesleyan University boasts one of the region’s best fall color displays, thanks to a presidential vision and the hard work of KWU’s doctor of dirt dig-ology, Darrell Victory



ghost-busters with the right stuff (and the right tools)


a nativity tradition


cooking up the versatile frittata



Salina SPIRIT tracks down the unexplained

An aunt’s almost-forgotten gift forms the basis of one family’s holiday heritage

Back home again, a chef and food advocate discovers the tasty adaptability of an Old-World standard

Announcing a winner and next season’s contest theme

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012


under the cover

from the


contributors Patricia E. Ackerman “Ostrich Express” CHELSEY CRAWFORD “Coyote’s Fall Colors” “The Loft Village” LARRY HARWOOD Sunflower Resume “Coyote’s Fall Colors” “The Loft Village” “A Nativity Tradition” “Cooking up the Versatile Frittata” “Ostrich Express” LISA EASTMAN

from the editor This ostrich egg art is, of course, a dual creation. It comes courtesy an ostrich from Stan Barenberg’s ranch and Atwood artist Marilyn Weishapl. The collaboration began when Barenberg brought some ostrich egg shells to his mother’s home in Atwood. She then shared them with a close friend, Weishapl, who frequently painted with oils and acrylics on canvas and who agreed to attempt painting the ostrich eggs. In all, Weishapl created perhaps a dozen of these eggs for the Barenberg family to use as gifts. It was a one-time event that neither Barenberg nor Weishapl had planned on creating. But all sorts of unexpected things happen when you open an ostrich ranch. There’s the chases of runaway birds, the days and nights monitoring the hatchings of the baby birds and the gradual realization that you’ve become an expert in the habits and even the personalities of individual ostriches. You might go from suspecting these might be the ugliest creatures on Earth to delighting at how these same creatures become surprisingly graceful and delightful as they run out of their pens to dance. And, somewhere along the way, you have salina’s Loft Living

SaLina area’S premier magazine on peopLe, pLaceS & StyLe

a chance to create unique art like this painted egg—and you appreciate it even more because you like the painting, and you have an emotional connection to the egg on which it’s drawn. If you take time to appreciate something, you can often understand its beauty—that’s a theme that appears several times in this issue, in Barenberg’s conversation about his birds, in our talk with world adventurer Rolf Potts about his home in Gypsum, in our tour of the evolving landscape of the Kansas Wesleyan University, and even in one man’s journey from boyhood disappointment to gratitude for a Nativity set gift from his aunt. We’ve spent our past months taking time to listen to, photograph and understand some outstanding people and themes in Salina, and we hope this issue provides some new insights into the community … even for those who know it best. nathan pettengill editor

Sunflower Resume “Ghost-Busters with the Right Stuff...”

Sarah hawbaker Sunflower Resume

Karilea Rilling Jungel “A Nativity Tradition” Meta Newell West “Cooking up the Versatile Frittata” James R. Godfrey “Ghost-Busters with the Right Stuff...”

RolF Potts’ Base The Vagabond on home

Susan Kraus new B rd in town Fall 2012 $3


Stan BarenBerg’S oStricheS Settle onto the prairie

on the cover:

“Return Destination”

An ostrich at Stan Barenberg’s ranch stares down the camera.

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

previously... santa’s

Salina SummerS

Salina area’S premier magazine on people, placeS & Style

HealtHful trend of Heritage farming frank reese & tHe sorells

Previously... Letters, Comments and Observations about our Previous Edition opening moVes

Lindsborg Chess sChooL introduCes and sharpens the game of Kings Summer 2012 $3


Congratulations to the Salina Sirens on a successful first season. The roller derby squad, featured in our summer edition, had some rough bouts in its first year, including some lopsided defeats at the hands of more experienced clubs. But team president Kym Bearden says morale is good ahead of the club’s final bout in Salina on October 26. “Overall, the team, the league, everything has worked out great,” says Bearden. “You’re going to have to lose some bouts to become better. You don’t expect to get a lot of wins your first season. You just go out there and play hard.” Look for the Sirens’ second season to start in February or March 2013.

Barn Up

Our profile of poultry farmer Frank Reese mentioned a barn he was building as part of a loan program sponsored by nonprofit groups Farm Forward and ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—our initial print version of the story incorrectly labeled the acronym for ASPCA, for which we apologize). Reese reports that his heritage-breed chickens have taken to the barn, which was created as part of his approach to providing more humane and more natural living conditions. “We’re still working on the pastures and the rock around the barn, but the birds are in,” says Reese. “The next step is to start rotating birds in. We have chickens and turkeys in there now, but this will double our capacity for chickens.”

Photo Contest

We were delighted by the number and the high quality of submissions we received these months for the photo contest theme of “Orange.” You can see the winning submission (as well as the announcement of our new theme) on page 46. But it was not an easy choice. Our panel of three photographers and two designers had a difficult time choosing among several entries with a wide range of subjects. Of course sunrises and sunsets were a common motif, but there were also some creative approaches with butterflies, lawn furniture and even donkey socks making an appearance.

Your Turn

If you have something to share about this edition of Sunflower Living, please send an email to or write to us at Sunflower Living / PO Box 740 / Salina, KS 67402. We are always eager to hear from you.

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sunflower resume

a closer look at area business people

Jen & Norm Jennings story by Sarah Hawbaker photography by LISA EASTMAN


The biggest misconception people have about you is …


That we have all the answers and that we have the perfect marriage.


What is the hardest part of your job?

Now we have to pay for grapes. People confuse us with a steak restaurant. Other

Hearing about the horrendous pain and experiences that people go through. Most people think marriage is it is

a work in progress.

a fairytale, but really

Q What is the ultimate goal of At Stake Ministries? a To have our stock shares outsell Facebook’s stock shares To appear in the fall 2012 edition of salina’s Loft Living

SaLina area’S premier magazine on peopLe, pLaceS & StyLe

Jen and Norm Jennings Occupation: Missionaries for At Stake Ministries Job Location: 1301 E. Iron Birthplace: Jen, Kansas City, Missouri; Norm, Salina When Jen and Norm Jennings sold Smoky Hill Vineyards & Winery this past year, they had already opened a new door for their future. Married for 15 years and parents to three children, the couple felt called to serve as missionaries in their home of Salina, helping others build and nourish healthy relationships. Since November 2011, the Jenningses have operated At Stake Ministries with a board of directors, their mission and the belief that love can grow stronger.


To become the official Olympics sponsor of Team U.S.A. synchronized swimming

new B rd in town Fall 2012 $3

Stan BarenBerg’S oStricheS Settle onto the prairie

To work ourselves out of a job: To make a significant impact on divorce and have no more clients.

Q What was your first job? Wild game hunter

Fast-food fry cook (Norm)

Which saying has more truth? Out of sight, out of mind. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.


The Vagabond on home

Sunflower Living magazine


RolF Potts’ Base

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

Grocery store sacker (Jen)

Pizza delivery guy

a closer look at area business people

sunflower resume

Martha Murchison Occupation: The president of Prairieland Market/ Pastor of Sunrise Presbyterian Church Job Location: 825 E. Beloit / 305 E. Walnut name:


What are three local foods that you think are under-appreciated?

It’s just so nutrient-rich, an incredibly good food; so cheaply grown. The bugs don’t eat it and it doesn’t mind the heat. Swiss Chard –

The asparagus is wonderful, marvelous in this county. Asparagus –

I love nothing more than a good, fresh egg. Local Eggs –

Martha Murchison

Working with deacons and elders is similar to working with board members because

story by nathan pettengill photography by Larry harwood

Growing up and graduating from high school in South Carolina, Martha Murchison remained in state for her undergraduate and graduate degrees before taking her masters of divinity at Austin Presbyterian Theological and then a doctorate in divinity at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She returned to Texas to serve as a minister for more than 20 years before accepting a post in 2009 as the pastor of Sunrise Presbyterian Church in Salina. One of the questions she asked when considering the move was: “Is there a place to buy natural, organic food?” The pastor, who also developed interests as gardener and food-advocate, says she quickly came to appreciate Salina’s natural food store, Prairieland Market, and is currently serving as the co-op’s board president.


If you were creating a Mt. Rushmore for local agriculture, who would be on it?

Wes Jackson – Founder of The Land Institute

Ted Zerger – Salina gardening advocate Jim and Sue Keating – Organic farm pioneers


they are both volunteers.

What are some important terms for Prairieland market?

Very Important


Natural Local Chemical-Free Organic Fair-Trade

Processed Twinkie-licious

NOT Important

John Thelander – Natural rancher/farmer 25 miles 50 miles



What is the range of your food suppliers that you consider local?

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

50 miles 9

Away from their medical work, Jenna and Hale Sloan relax at their downtown loft.

The Loft Village

THE LOFTS oN Santa Fe Avenue story by Chelsey Crawford photography by Larry Harwood

A group of young medical professionals forms a small community of open spaces in the heart of Salina

THE LOFTS oN Santa Fe Avenue


f course it might not be the city that never sleeps, but downtown Salina’s bustling shops, boutiques, restaurants and theater and arts locales do ensure that the city center has a growing, vibrant buzz. And Salina’s heart-of-the-city atmosphere is perhaps best felt by the people who live in the lofts on the second floors of Santa Fe Avenue. Though different in design and layout, these urban, airy spaces share common charms and have attracted a community of young residents making the most of their downtown experience as they embark on new careers in their new hometown.


Sloans often enjoy dinners and drinks on their roof with a view of central Salina.

Now is the Time “We had decided there would really be no other time in our lives that loft living would suit us,” says Hale Sloan as he looks around the loft he shares with his wife, Jenna. “We are newly married and have no pets. We thought living on a second-floor loft would be an amazing opportunity.” Jenna, on her rural rotation for the University of Kansas Medical Center, couldn’t agree more. “We love the light that this area brings in,” she says, pointing to the window on a slanted wall. Both from the same area of Kansas, Hale from Sharon Springs and Jenna from Hoxie, the couple felt Salina would be a change in atmosphere, but pleasant—neither too big nor too small. The loft was an easy decision for the both of them in terms of price and adventure since neither of them had lived in a loft before. Their loft—in the 100 block of South Santa Fe—had been completely redone, with new walls, floors and appliances. But the loft’s main attraction was its huge back deck, almost the size of the loft itself. “I’ve actually taken a nap back here.” Jenna laughs, noting that with her busy schedule at the hospital, sneaking in a nap is a nice treat.

RIGHT Bicycles become a favorite transportation option when work and shopping are only a few blocks from home.

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012


sunflower spaces

Justin Stowell relaxes in his downtown loft.

DOWNTOWN CENTRAL Across the street at the corner of Iron and South Santa Fe Avenue, sits a one-bedroom loft that Justin Stowell calls home. Justin, also a fourth-year KU medical student doing his rural rotations, found a loft was perfect not just because of the close proximity to the hospital, but also because of all the perks from downtown living. “I love all the little shops they have down here, all in walking distance, and then Ad Astra coffee shop is one place I love to study at,” Justin says.

Originally from Frankfort, Justin attended Benedictine in Atchison for his undergraduate degree before heading to KU. When it came time to look for a place in Salina, he was pretty sure he knew what he wanted. And once he saw the loft and met the landlord, Justin knew he had found it. The price was perfect, the location was spot-on, and the landlord said he could paint and renovate all he wanted. Justin painted the entire loft himself, but he left one of the brick walls with an original sign from Faulkner and Wildman Land Office. Perhaps one of the most unique sights of the loft, it connects the modernized residence with its past.



Stowell’s loft looks over the heart of Salina



Space is premium, so decorations are simple and meaningful.

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012


A decorative display desk provides work space and aesthetic appeal.


A step back from the central room shows how the historic business sign dominates the wall.

THE LOFTS oN Santa Fe Avenue

Home is where the…

Braeden Johnson and Dana Perkins play a game of pool at their loft in downtown Salina.




1. Perkins

prepares appetizers from her kitchen, one of the rooms in her loft with a more contemporary design and décor.

2. Long office

corridors and details such as a mail slot on the interior door link the loft to its past as a downtown business and office.

3. Is it just what the doctor ordered? An original apothecary cabinet has been transformed into the loft’s wine rack.

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

Dana Perkins and Braeden Johnson, along with their cat, Darby, have come to know the loft near the northwest corner of Iron and North Santa Fe Avenue as home. Though the couple grew up in quite different communities, Dana in Kansas City and Braeden in Leoti, they quickly agreed on combining the best of the urban and rural experiences when they took jobs in Salina. With Dana working as a registered nurse at Salina Regional Health Center and Braeden joining her there as a KU fourth-year medical student doing his rural rotation track, the couple realized the loft location was perfect for allowing them to ride their bikes to work and to easily enjoy downtown attractions. Their loft was a blend of the homey and the edgy—combining original wood floors with a pool table and even a bar. Art deco lighting illuminates the long walk from the door to the bedrooms. “I love that it’s such an open area, we love to entertain, and it’s a perfect place for it,” says Dana. Amid all the original fixtures and historical touches, one piece seems to stand out for the couple—an apothecary cabinet from a pharmacy that had resided on Santa Fe. Now it is a modernized wine rack, but with the medical background of the young residents, what else could better prove that this loft is where they belong? Because the residents of these three lofts know one another from work, and because they are within easy walking distance of one another, they often find themselves meeting one another or sharing special events. “July 4th was great up on Hale and Jenna’s deck,” Dana says. “We could see all the fireworks from all over Salina.” Even though they are all new to Salina, the members of this small loft community have formed fast friendships with one another and love the life in what is perhaps Salina’s most urban neighborhood.


sunflower spaces


FALL Colors Kansas Wesleyan University story by Chelsey Crawford photography by larry harwood


The campus of Kansas Wesleyan University boasts one of the region’s best fall color displays, thanks to a presidential vision and the hard work of KWU’s doctor of dirt dig-ology, Darrell Victory

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

Kansas Wesleyan University

LEFT The school mascot and brilliant fall plantings—what could be a more pleasing campus landscape for students and alumni of Kansas Wesleyan University? BELOW For the last quarter-century, Darrell Victory has been responsible for the plantings and fall color arrangements on the KWU campus.

“It all started with getting grass to grow, making the campus greener and focusing on curb appeal,” says Darrell Victory of his 25 years as director of plant operations for the campus of Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina. But even before that, says Victory, the initial landscaping work was inspired by a vision from Marshall Stanton, then president of the Methodist-affiliated university. Stanton wanted to add an aesthetic appeal to the campus that would complement its educational mission. Ideas were collected from across the university community and were put into motion just as the school, founded in 1886, began an expansion of buildings and facilities.

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012


sunflower spaces


“It all started with getting grass to grow.” -Darrell Victory

As grass began to grow around the newer constructions, Victory began adding new layers of life. In 1989, he introduced seven Bradford pear trees along the north side of the campus in order to develop a view from Santa Fe Avenue. Only four of them would survive, but by then Victory had begun planting four to six new trees every year to shape and define the landscape. As the trees grew, Victory placed beds of perennials to spread color across the campus grounds. Roses of all hues, lilies, black-eyed Susans and other flowers bloomed against a background of new boxwoods, salvias and spireas, which brought their own clusters of white purple, pink and other shades. When KWU completed its new student center in 2009, local construction companies helped create elevated layers to shape the grounds, while a waterfall made of boulders of all different sizes and heights, accented with shrubs and ornamental grasses, was completed in front of neighboring Pioneer Hall, the main administration building, to complete the view from Santa Fe Avenue.



1. The KWU campus landscaping plan combines a “two-tier” approach of planting enough trees for shade, shape and pleasing fall colors, while allowing shrubs and plants to thrive in lower locations and provide color throughout the year. 2. Low, colorful shrubs highlight the stately prominence of historic Pioneer Hall. 3. The new waterfall provides depth and motion to the campus landscape.

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

Kansas Wesleyan University


The campus’ meditation garden provides a quiet spot for students, faculty, staff or visitors.

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012


sunflower spaces

On the south end of campus, opposite the waterfall, crews added a devotional garden. Here, hostas, ivy, decorative bushes, a ginkgo tree and a trickling fountain create a soothing experience for visitors. The plantings and arrangements symbolize the shared mission of the church and university, as explained in a garden plaque that identifies the features of the area. In all, Victory has seen more than 100 trees planted in the past 25 years, from the original Bradford pears to the soaring pillar-like oaks that line the buildings. The ongoing landscaping keeps the university’s three full-time crew members busy with watering, trimming, planting


and more. Even though the grounds might seem complete, Victory says it never will be. As the campus grows, so will the landscaping. But that doesn’t mean the university’s head gardener never allows himself time to sit back and enjoy the scenery he and his crews have helped create. “My job has been the most rewarding thing I have done in my life,” says Victory. “Seeing the transformation from 25 years ago to today, is just something I feel good about. Even if I left my job today every time I would drive past the campus I would feel the honor of what I have helped create.”

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

Kansas Wesleyan University

Over the past 25 years, landscaping at KWU has moved from simple goals of growing grass to highly coordinated arrangements of blended seasonal colors, such as this arrangement outside the new student center.

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ghost-busters with the right stuff

(and the right tools) story by James R. Godfrey

photography by Lisa Eastman

Salina SPIRIT tracks down the unexplained


arren Barnhart describes his team of ghost hunters as a group of committed skeptics. “We try to debunk paranormal claims first, to show the reason something is happening is due to natural causes,” explains the leader of SPIRIT, Salina Paranormal Investigative Research Team. Founded in 2006, the Salinabased organization has carried nearly 40 full-scale investigations on reports of strange happenings with the goal of being able to refute claims of paranormal causes and show natural reasons for unusual occurrences. Members say their studies, conducted without charge, are able to provide scientific explanations more than nine times out of 10. Of course, it is that rare unexplainable case that keeps them coming back for more investigations. Arriving at a house to conduct a standard

investigation, the SPIRIT team unpacks armloads of equipment to cover all key areas of the home with cameras and audio equipment, which are connected into a central computer for monitoring and recording. Once this is done, the lights are turned off throughout the home, and a search team of three investigators and one camera operator circulate throughout the rooms to record sounds and motions. Occasionally, they will call out with a question to see if it prompts a response. Once the first team has gone through the home, a second team enters and retraces its steps. If a member of either team detects anything that might be paranormal, then he or she alerts at least two other members of team to review the sight or sound. After the double walk-through, the team members pack up their equipment and head home.

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

It’s not about instincts or feelings for the ghost-hunting group SPIRIT. Team members say they allow documented recordings with equipment such as this electromagnetic field reader to determine their assessment of a particular location’s “paranormal” status.


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In the following days, they will review the information from each camera and audio recorder, usually 20 hours of evidence for a home and 40-60 hours of evidence for larger areas such as theaters or libraries. The review process allows team members to approach the data with emotional distance. “I get a lot of ‘feelings’ during investigating,” says SPIRIT member Stacy Graybeal, “but I don’t let them get in the way of obtaining facts and explanations.” And often, recording equipment can be more objective than an individual’s reactions. “My favorite piece of equipment is the digital recorder,” explains SPIRIT team member Jeff Graham. “Not only does it pick up sounds that we don’t hear at the time, but it also helps us to validate or disprove reports. Someone can report hearing a growl, but the recorder can show it was just a motorcycle going by.” Because SPIRIT is not a business or a for-profit tour group, its members do not have an interest in creating ghostly hot spots or hyping Sunflowerliving / summer 2012



(Source: Darren Barnhart, leader of SPIRIT)


Location: Midland Railroad Hotel, Wilson Year: 2011 Background: Built in 1899, this hotel has

been investigated by several paranormal groups throughout the Midwest. It is a destination for several ghost tour groups. Findings: SPIRIT’s investigation recorded many “disembodied voices,” but the team’s conclusion was that these voices belonged not to ghosts but to hotel staff throughout the building whose voices were being carried through air ducts. Conclusion: On this investigation, the SPIRIT team found no evidence of paranormal sources.


Location: St. Paul Cemetery, southeast of Salina Year: 2006 Background: This cemetery had developed a reputation for having a “little girl” wandering about. Findings: When SPIRIT investigators called out, their audio equipment recorded what seems to be a female voice saying either “I want to play” or “Do you want to play?” Conclusion: The SPIRIT team was unable to rule out paranormal sources. Leader Darren Barnhart says this is not necessarily evidence of a ghost, but he acknowledges that the sound did “make the hair stand up on the backs of our heads.”

1. A SPIRIT member conducts an electromagnetic field reading at a home in Salina. 2. SPIRIT members arrive for an investigation loaded with cables, monitors and electronic equipment. 3. SPIRIT members activate a “laser net” across a room; the equipment is designed to track any movement across an area to rule out any physical sources of sound that might be mistaken for paranormal sources.


a location’s paranormal credentials. “I like solving the unknown,” says SPIRIT team member Sandy Johnson. “Whether that be in finding natural causes or in finding paranormal evidence. They both change the unknown into the known.” Barnhart believes that as technical equipment improves, his team and other paranormal investigators will be able to transform more of the unknown into the known. But for now, the team and its equipment are sometimes unable to pinpoint the cause of certain events. For example, the investigation at this house in Salina has left the team with one portion of the audio recording where a voice seems to be answering a question called out by a team member. Barnhart is careful to describe it as simply “unknown,” neither a definite haunting nor a sound from a confirmed source. “I don’t ever say something is haunted. As a scientist, my first reaction is to be skeptical,” explains Barnhart. “We have found things, however, that defy science as we know it.”

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

Location: Salina Year: 2009 Background: A young child seemed to

be waking up with what appeared to be nightmares most every time he was placed to sleep in his crib. He did not have these problems when he slept in other areas of the home, alone or near people. Findings: SPIRIT team members identified an area near the crib where old and new wiring appeared to overlap and emit extremely high electromagnetic fields. The parents brought in an electrician who repaired the electrical wiring, and the child’s symptoms disappeared. Conclusion: No evidence of paranormal sources.


a nativity

tradition jerry & Susan Hellmer story by Karilea Rilling Jungel photography by Larry Harwood

An aunt’s almost-forgotten gift forms the basis of one family’s holiday heritage

jerry & Susan Hellmer


erry Hellmer was approximately 7 years old the summer he and his family visited his aunt, Sister Erharda Hagemann, who served as an administrator for St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska. Jerry was fascinated by his aunt’s six-story building, and to this day he recalls how he walked through it with wonder. “It was so exciting, there were elevators used to reach the fifth floor,” he says. But that was not all. He was allowed to tour and stay overnight in “a real hospital room, and oh wow, there was a cafeteria where I could choose any food I wished.” A few years later, Sister Erharda, still serving as a nun with the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, came to visit the Hellmers in Westphalia. Again it was summer and “for some reason,” says Jerry, “she brought me a gift and yes, it was baseball season and I wanted a glove and bat. But it was this little box, and I opened it. “Here was a three-piece ceramic set of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus,” recalls Hellmer, who now serves as chief judge in the state’s 28th Judicial District covering Saline and Ottawa counties. “Fortunately, my mother raised me right and I thanked her, but then thought, ‘Now what do I do with this?’”

The Heart

Jerry’s wife, Susan, picks up the history. “When we were married in 1970, I wanted a set of wax figurines.” So she molded the young couple’s first Nativity set, and shortly after Jerry’s mother returned to him the gift from his aunt. Jerry was surprised the Nativity set had remained intact, and it soon, along with Susan’s wax set, formed the core of a growing collection. “Jerry started with the idea of collecting different Nativity sets, starting with the Avon collection,” says Susan. “He started by giving me one piece a year as a gift.” She now counts some 25 pieces in that particular set. The Hellmers’ yard displays the family’s largest Nativity scene. It began in 1979 to commemorate the adoption of their daughter Traci. “I wanted to have an outdoor nativity set and wanted it to tell the story of the birth of Christ,” says Jerry. “I tried to start with the Annunciation, but I could never find a silhouette that was instantly recognizable.” Instead, he created wooden silhouettes of Joseph and Mary sitting upon a donkey. He then added camels. As each of their children reached the age of 5, he would capture their silhouette and would then transform each silhouette into an

The Hellmers’ Nativity collection includes numerous small- and medium-sized sets, top, as well as a sprawling, detailed Fontanini collection, previous page and above.

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012


local profiles






1. Jerry and Susan Hellmer stand next to their outside Nativity set. 2. This hand-carved stone set focuses on the essential figures—and the primary meaning—of the Nativity scene. 3. The Hellmers’ fireplace allows for a tiered display of several Nativity sets. 4. Painted Nativity figures are displayed in a rough, wooden crèche, symbolic of the lowly inn where most Christians believe Christ was born. 5. A paper Nativity set, carefully decorated, is lovingly displayed at the Hellmer home.


Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

jerry & Susan Hellmer

angel. All three of the Hellmer children, Traci, Jill and Ryan, are represented in the scene. “Jill’s collection of family animals, ranging from chickens, ducks, geese, horse, cows, and including a black sheep, are all standing alongside one another in the vignette in memory of the animals that had been a part of the family’s life,” says Jerry. The Virgin Mother Mary’s donkey, based on a neighbor’s donkey that the children named “Eeyore,” is also incorporated into the Nativity scene.

“She brought me a gift and yes, it was baseball season and I wanted a glove and bat. But it was this little box, and I opened it. Here was a threepiece ceramic set of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus.” -Jerry Hellmer The Whole World in His Hands

Another favorite Nativity set for the Hellmers is their Fontanini collection, an Italian-made diorama that features lifelike painted figures. The first three pieces of this set were gifts from friends in Salina, the Denning family. Over the years, the set has grown into a vast assembly populated by water-bearers, bread-bakers, weavers and carpenters as well as the Holy Family. Background arrangements include a night skyline, farms, homes, a wine press and shops. True-to-the-touch stones and dirt that the Hellmers collected from modern Bethlehem line the miniature village’s roads. All that is missing is the hubbub of sound, but upon reflection, one’s soul fills that in, so real is the sight.

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This day, in the city of …

As the years pass, the land surrounding the Hellmers’ home has contributed greatly to their Nativity traditions. Jerry, who is a handy carpenter, has transformed felled trees from their wooden lot into Nativity pieces or simple, beautiful crèches, containing a star, Joseph, Mary and a baby Jesus in his bed. They often present these pieces to newlyweds as a first gift so they might pass forward into the new family’s family as they grow. Or sometimes, the Hellmers simply gift a homemade crèche to those who appreciate all of the promise the present holds. The Hellmers look toward the present and future. Each year they bring up from the basement Christmas storage boxes that contain costumes for the Nativity play, an annual family tradition for the Hellmers, their grandchildren and neighborhood kids. Discussing what might happen to the costumes and the Nativity sets that decorate their home, the Hellmers speculate that the younger generation in their family “won’t want it.” But after a moment’s silence, they share a singular thought spoken almost simultaneously: “Well, perhaps they will take at least one set.”

Sunflowerliving / summer 2012

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Chef’s table


Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

Amanda Lindahl


Versatile Frittata story by Meta Newell West photography by Larry Harwood

Back home again, a chef and food advocate discovers the tasty adaptability of an Old-World standard Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012


Chef’s table

“My goal is to introduce healthy ingredients into tempting everyday foods.” -Amanda Lindahl

Amanda Lindahl


manda Lindahl often arrives at meetings with a bowl of fresh fruit or a basket full of warm-from-the-oven zucchini muffins that include a few flax seeds. She generally leaves with an empty basket. “My goal is to introduce healthy ingredients into tempting everyday foods. I aim to convince people that healthy products can be tasty,” she says. But Lindahl, who is pursuing a career as a private health coach, notes she took a long journey to nutritious cooking and eating. During her childhood, Lindahl helped her mother garden on the family farm near Enterprise but really didn’t enjoy the task. Nor did she immediately take to vegetables and healthy eating. “In my previous life, I ate whatever I wanted and didn’t really care about the way it affected my body,” Lindahl says. After graduating from Kansas State University with a degree in bakery science and management, Lindahl took a job with Harvesters Community Food Network in Kansas City, Missouri, where she taught basic nutrition to groups of low-income youth, adults and seniors and led hands-on cooking classes. “That was when I first thought I should start living what I was teaching,” Lindahl explains. “Besides, I had only a small living allowance, so I learned to be more frugal and stretch my food dollar.” From there she participated in WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) in Michigan and Ohio for what she describes as “an eye-opening experience and an introduction to a more sustainable lifestyle” on farms where work was exchanged for room, board and an opportunity to learn about organic living. After another stint at KSU, where she worked as the bakery lab manager in the Grain Science and Industry Department, Lindahl returned to Dickinson County as the Family Nutrition Program assistant for K-State Research & Extension. In this job, she was a regular at USD 435’s summer nutrition and lunch program, where she focused on introducing young children to fresh vegetables. Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

Lindahl’s adaptable frittata recipe can include whichever local ingredients are in season, such as purple potatoes, left and top, or sweet potatoes, above. See her full recipe on page 32.


Chef’s table


Amanda’s Fresh Veggie Frittata Cooking Time: Approx 45 minutes

Feeds 6

ingredients 2 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ pound new potatoes, finely chopped or shredded (skin left on) 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped 1 medium zucchini, finely chopped or shredded (skin left on, seeded only if zucchini has a fibrous center) 1 tablespoon fresh herbs such as oregano, basil or cilantro, chopped 8 eggs, farm fresh if available ¾ cup finely grated Italian cheese, separated (½ to mix with eggs; ¼ cup for topping) ½ teaspoon ground pepper ½ teaspoon salt

Cooking Instructions 1. Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet on medium heat. 2. Add onion and cook until soft, about 1 minute. 3. Add potatoes and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Adding a lid to the skillet at this point will help distribute the heat and cook the potatoes more quickly. 4. Add zucchini and cook, stirring often until vegetables are tender, about 3 to 4 additional minutes.

7. Broil 4 minutes watching carefully. 8. When ready, remove from the broiler, cool and enjoy!



6. Pour the egg mixture into the pan, cover and turn the heat down low. When the eggs are set, sprinkle remaining ¼ cup cheese on top. Place the pan in the upper middle portion of the oven, under a preheated broiler, to brown the top.

fast facts

5. Crack 8 eggs into a bowl and add ½ cup cheese, herbs, salt and pepper. Whisk together well with a fork.

Vegetables can be either finely chopped or shredded. Lindahl suggests shredding the potatoes and zucchini if you are serving picky eaters. The finer sizes are more easily hidden in the egg mixture.

If you don’t have Italian cheese, use cheddar or Swiss. Use olive oil in place of butter if you prefer. If you are in a rush, the frittata does not have to go into the oven for final browning.

Amanda Lindahl

A good frittata recipe can be equally colorful and delicious.

Fresh food was also the driving concept behind her work with Abilene’s community garden project. Located in Eisenhower Park, the garden consists of 15 plots that are rented to individuals or groups for the entire growing season. “We’ve had a great response,” says Lindahl. “I am very, very impressed with what people are growing. And people are gathering knowledge as well as produce.” Although Lindahl enjoys gardening with others, she also has a personal garden behind her apartment complex where she grows summer and fall crops. This year, she introduced herself to growing spaghetti squash and purple potatoes. “But the big surprise,” Lindahl says of her crop, “was the volunteer acorn squash that just grew out of my compost pile.” This produce, as well as vegetables and eggs from her parents’ farm, enables Lindahl to create most of her dishes from fresh, local sources. One example is her veggie frittata, essentially an open-faced omelet with cheese and vegetables added directly to the vegetable and potato mixture. “It’s a variable recipe that you can personalize to your own taste,” she explains. Lindahl’s current version of this recipe features zucchini, purple potatoes and fresh herbs. Although a frittata is often on Lindahl’s breakfast menu, it makes a quick-fix evening entrée that can be accompanied with a slice of crusty bread and fresh green salad or fresh fruit.

“This recipe is very easily adapted to whatever fresh veggies you have on hand,” says Lindahl. “Some great combinations might be sweet potatoes with greens such as chard or kale. Or, try using bell peppers with tomatoes. The key is to use whatever you enjoy and might have available.”

Any frittata can be served shortly after it comes out of the oven, or cool and serve at room temperature—keeping in mind that eggbased dishes should never be out for more than two hours.

Leftover frittata goes into the refrigerator and can be eaten cold or warmed up in the microwave. Lindahl suggests cooking at one-minute intervals until warm.

Lindahl also suggests a “kid-friendly” dish. “Rather than cooking the frittata on the stovetop, pour the uncooked mixture into greased or sprayed muffin tins, filling each only about three-fourths full, and then bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is set.” These “grab and go” mini frittatas can be made ahead and served cold or reheated in the microwave.

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Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012



Ha Larry


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Baby ostriches emerge from their eggs, above, at Stan Barenberg’s ostrich farm. After one year, the young male ostriches will grow black feathers such as this one, previous page. Barenberg retired from a career in trucking to run his farm with the assistance of his daughter and son-in-law, pictured with him above.

hile he rolled down the interstate as a professional truck driver, Stan Barenberg dreamed of a home in the country. In 1992, while still working on the roads, he purchased 5 acres west of Salina. Three years later, after researching possible ways to make a profit on limited acreage, Barenberg invested in a pair of ostriches. “Ostriches are actually classified as livestock, not exotic birds,” says Barenberg. “And they don’t have the smell associated with cattle and hog operations. They are fairly self-sufficient, and even though I put up buildings for them, they prefer to stay outside year-round.” While he was away on the road, Barenberg set up his ostrich farm on automatic—feeding, watering and climate control. He didn’t have many ostriches, but the ones he had did fairly well. “My original pair was 8 years old when I bought them, and I kept them for 12 more years,” he says. In 2009, Barenberg retired from trucking after 40 years. Able to devote all of his time to his ostriches, Barenberg expanded what he calls “Longneck Ranch Inc.” These days, the ranch’s 5-foot-high pens might hold as many as 130 of the long-necked birds at any one time. In the wilds of Africa ostriches are grazing animals. At Longneck Ranch Inc., Barenberg feeds his ostriches alfalfa pellets, corn and soybeans. “But they will eat anything they can find.” After they hatch, he grinds the egg shells and feeds them back to the birds for calcium and as a means to recycle the shells. In addition to feeding his birds, Barenberg carries out a bed check every morning and evening. He also maintains equipment and runs down the occasional escaped ostrich— he estimates that perhaps 12 ostriches have jumped over his fences in the nearly 20 years he has farmed. For the most part, however, Barenberg says ostrich farming is a bit less intensive than cattle farming, and he finds himself with time to study and observe the individual behavior of his birds. “Each one has its own personality,” he explains. “One is cranky, and another will just come right up to you.” By spending time with them, Barenberg has learned to differentiate their calls. Ostriches make a variety of sounds, he says. Males “boom,” making loud bullfrog-like sounds. Chicks chirp. And, according to this grower, “Hens don’t say much at all.”


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Barenberg transports younger birds to Kreihbels Specialty Meats in McPherson when they reach about 250 pounds. After being inspected and processed the meat is sold to Nutri-Tech out of Arapahoe, Nebraska. Barenberg has to meet this organization’s standards for supplying birds with feed free of animal byproducts, providing them with sufficient grazing space and not applying antibiotics to the birds. Especially when it comes to preparing them for market, ostriches can be difficult to handle. Once when loading ostriches into a trailer, Barenberg fell down and an ostrich ran over him, resulting in a broken foot, leg, shoulders and arm. But the ostrich’s owner harbored no ill feelings. “The bird wasn’t actually doing anything wrong,” says Barenberg. “I slipped in the mud and fell down. Then he backed up and ran over me.” Barenberg has also been kicked—an experience he will likely never forget. “They kick forward, not backwards, and have two toes on each foot. When they kick, they hit about chest high with up to 400 pounds of pressure per square inch. The best way to handle ostriches is not to allow yourself to get into an awkward situation in the first place.” As you would expect from any rancher proud of his animals, Barenberg has become an advocate for the ostrich meat he describes as “low in cholesterol and 99 percent fat free.” And, he adds, “It’s a red meat, like beef.” In addition to steaks and filets, Barenberg and his extended family grind the ostrich meat to make grease-free burgers, tacos and spaghetti. But don’t look for the ostrich to replace the traditional bird this year at Barenberg’s Thanksgiving dinner. That isn’t because he thinks ostrich meat would make a poor holiday meal, it’s just that this self-reliant rancher is also fairly handy with his firearms. “We’ll have wild turkeys,” he explains. “The price for them is just right because they walk through our yard.”


A group of young ostriches strolls around Barenberg’s farm. The young birds are vulnerable to sickness and disease in their first two months, but generally strong and healthy throughout their lives after this crucial period, says Barenberg.

Stan Barenberg’s

Ostrich Observations Laying Eggs:

Female ostriches can lay between 40-60 eggs per year, for as many as twenty years. Their incubation period is 42 days. Females lay their eggs “anywhere the mood strikes them.” According to Barenberg, some might dig a hole to nest in, while others might lay their eggs standing up. Sunlight affects laying patterns. If the weather is rainy for several days, females will temporarily stop laying eggs. They produce more fertile eggs in dry weather than in wet weather.

Egg Size:

One ostrich egg is the equivalent in size of 24-29 chicken eggs.

Nest vs. Incubator:

If the parents are allowed to hatch their own eggs, both parents will sit on the nest and nurture the babies to adulthood. But ostriches refuse to raise babies hatched in an incubator. If a mother rolls an egg out of the nest, she knows intuitively that it is a bad egg and it will never hatch.

Creating a Consistent Cozy:

Barenberg hatches chicks in incubators that automatically turn the eggs and maintain a constant temperature of 97.3 degrees Fahrenheit, with 15-20 percent humidity. Incubators are the primary investment for growers hoping to raise ostriches. Barenberg owns two incubators, one that holds 90 eggs and another that holds 180 eggs.

Critical Time:

Ostriches have very few health problems if they pass an important development period. “They seldom get sick if you can get them past 2 months old,” says Barenberg. “If the little ones get wet during the first two months, they can get hypothermia and get so cold they can’t warm up. So, for the first two months, we keep them warm and dry. After two months, they go outside in all kinds of weather.”

I’m Sorry, Who Are You Again?

Young ostriches all look the same until they reach 1 year old, then the males start to grow black feathers.

And All They Want To Do Is Dance … :

To ensure the health and safety of young chicks, Barenberg keeps them inside a building at night, and then lets them outside in the morning. “When you first turn the little ones loose in the morning they will run outside and dance, spinning in circles until they fall down,” laughs Barenberg.

… And Make Romance:

Pairs start breeding at 2 years old, though they are in their breeding prime at 4 years. Breeding pairs can grow as large as 500 pounds apiece and reach 8 feet in height.


So they can’t fly, but they can leap. “A full-grown ostrich can jump 6 feet straight up off the ground when startled,” according to Barenberg, who says he has seen this happen when a pack of dogs have broken into an ostrich pen.

Back Off!

Ostriches are very territorial, says Barenberg. “They get defensive when strangers enter their territory. And if they are moved from one pen to another, they can become very stressed and agitated.”



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Photo by Fritz Liedtk

How He Got From There to Here

Potts grew up in Wichita, near the intersection of Twenty-First and West streets. His father, George, taught biology for over 30 years in the Wichita Public Schools and then at Friends University. His mother, Alice, taught elementary school in Wichita for more than 35 years. His sister, Kristin, teaches at Bethany College. “I learned to be curious from my parents,” he says. “We were continually taking field trips, looking at layers of earth and rocks. They taught me that many interesting things are not visible when you don’t take the time to look closely.” After graduating from Wichita North, Potts earned a degree in literature and writing from George Fox University, a small, historically Quaker college in Oregon. A post-college, eightmonth journey around the U.S. in an ’85 Vanagon loosely segued into two years teaching English in Pusan, South Korea. Living frugally, Potts saved enough to “hit the road” overseas for another 2 1/2 years. What he discovered was an approach to travel, where time is more valuable than money, in which the journey is itself the destination.


And he shared this approach in his first book, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term Travel, published in 2003. It has been through 15 printings and translated into multiple foreign languages. His second book, Marco Polo Didn’t Go There: Stories and Revelations from One Decade as a Post-Modern Travel Writer, published in 2008, received the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award from The Society of American Travel Writers. To date, Potts has reported from over 60 countries for publications and news outlets that include National Geographic Traveler, Slate. com, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Outside, the Travel Channel and National Public Radio. He’s a columnist for and, as well as his own websites, and His essays have consistently earned awards, appearing in over 20 literary anthologies and multiple years of Best American Travel Writing. He teaches travel writing every summer at the Paris American Academy in Paris and has lectured at universities around the world, honing his craft and sharing his belief that long-term journeys can be affordable and transformative.

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It’s All about Priorities

Potts regards time as his greatest asset. It is how he travels that sets Potts apart, whether he is walking across Israel, biking Burma, piloting a fishing boat down the Mekong River or joining a group of Trekkies for a Star Trek-themed Caribbean cruise. He advocates “slow travel,” savoring where you happen to be instead of treating a destination like a drive-up window with a limited, set menu to choose from (i.e. “We’re in London so we must see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Tower Bridge.”) He is also known for his fixation on traveling light, unencumbered by much luggage or gear. “Most of what we pack we don’t need, and if we do need it, we can get it,” he says. For a recent project, Potts traveled around the world for six weeks with no luggage (see for more on what he called the “No Baggage Challenge”). And though Potts is a pioneer in online travel blogging, he is happy to debate the benefits of technology on travel. “Technology can help us be better consumers, but just because we can plan every facet of a trip doesn’t mean we should,” he says. “Micromanaging through technology cuts into serendipity.” In sum, efficiency does not equal enjoyment. Plus, technology can make us more detached. “We stop being in the moment, stop experiencing, when we’re focused on capturing the perfect picture to show friends back home, or tweeting about what we’re doing,” he adds. “It’s a distraction from being fully present.” In Potts’ view, the adage “you get what you pay for” is dead wrong when it comes to travel. “Throwing money at a vacation will not ensure that it is a satisfying experience,” he says. “The best experiences can be quite inexpensive. But they are also not likely to be in popular tourist destinations.” Real travel is messy, not a sequence of perfectly planned-and-executed days. Travel that seeks to avoid all complications will be superficial. I ask for some words of guidance for those who cannot, for whatever reason, travel far. “Vagabonding is cultivating an attitude of curiosity, and that can be applied in your own city or town, even your own neighborhood,” he replies. “Walk where you usually drive, and you will see it differently. Step outside your habits and try one new thing. Be open to where you are because what you see as ordinary may really be awesome. There are amazing differences within a 100-mile radius of almost anywhere in Kansas.” He pauses to think. “Walk until your day becomes interesting,” he concludes, grinning. “Travel is more about attitude, a curiosity that you can apply to your own community or an exotic location,” he explains. “The joy is in the wandering itself, randomly finding your own experience, which can be more rewarding than making it on-time to where you thought you had to be.”

It’s not so much the place as the pace

“You don’t have to go far away to have a rich travel experience,” he notes. “But you do have to slow down.” That unhurried momentum is also a summary of his work and life. “My writing grew, organically, from just doing it, from trialand-error, failing and failing, and trying again,” he explains. His tenacity paid off. He built a life rich with experiences, but minimal possessions. We move out of the sun and into his office, a small white room lined with bookshelves, rocking chair in the corner, photos of his journeys loosely clustered on the walls. It’s the reflection of a man who does not place undue importance on appearance or possessions.

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012


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A Potts Primer Editor’s Note: Most of Rolf Potts’ writing comes from his exploration of passport destinations. Much of these international travel themes can be sampled in the “Stories” section of his website www.rolfpotts. com (We recommend starting with “Where No Travel Writer Has Gone Before,” Potts’ account of his Star Trek-themed cruise, and “My Beirut Hostage Crisis,” where a well-meaning—but perhaps overly enthusiastic—Lebanese businessman gives Potts a tour he can’t refuse.) This 2007 essay,“A Vagabond Finds Home,” is an exception to the writer’s usual themes. Here, Potts describes settling into entirely unknown territory—the world of home ownership on a rural patch of Saline County.

A Vagabond Finds Home

From top: Potts eats bugs at a stree in Thailand durin t market g his round-the-w orld, nobaggage journ ey. Potts record s interviews during a 2008 program for the Travel Channe And Potts explo l. res the coast of Greece. Photos cour tes y Rolf Potts an d Jamie Broome .


This fall I’ll be spending several weekends in work clothes, putting the finishing touches on a house I’ve been remodeling in rural north-central Kansas. When my work is finished, I’ll officially move into the first house I’ve ever owned. Home ownership isn’t all that extraordinary for a 36-year-old American, but my situation has a twist: For the past 13 years, I’ve been traveling the world, wandering my way across six continents while living out of a backpack. “Home,” for me, has been a slippery concept—loosely tied to, say, the rooms I rented during a two-year sojourn in South Korea, or the family that hosted me while I did volunteer work in India, or even the lingering affection I always held for the America I’d left behind. My travel addiction can be traced back to early adulthood, when I used money from a postcollege landscaping job to fund an eight-month journey across the United States. As I explored the American back-roads that year, I came to realize just how easy and rewarding long-term travel could be. Given a little awareness and discipline (and the willingness to forgo a few comforts), I found that life on the road could be just as safe, no more expensive, and twice as exciting as life at home.

Over the next several years my wanderlust took me around the globe: to Korea, where a teaching stint earned me more travel funds (and taught me how to live within another culture); to Eastern Europe, where I witnessed the post-Communist renaissance of countries like Poland and Hungary; to the Middle East, where I experienced an exuberant friendliness that defied the region’s media stereotype. These ongoing travels continually reminded me of a simple truth: Time is our truest form of wealth, and how we spend that time is what truly counts in life. As I neared my mid-30s I was working full-time as a travel writer, but I found myself longing for a respite from my ongoing cycle of travel. Fortunately, my years of wandering had offered me vital clues about how to approach a settled life. Around the world—in cities and in the countryside, in rich societies and poor—people seemed happiest when they were close to family. In Ecuador, I’d seen four generations of relatives living as next-door neighbors along a single block; in Thailand, I’d known extended families that’d pooled their collective resources to start businesses. Thus, when my sister alerted me about the 30 acres of grazing land for sale near her farm in Saline County, Kansas, I didn’t hesitate: I talked my parents into buying it with me. My mother and father, who’d recently retired from their jobs in Wichita, soon moved into the main house, which sat on a slight hill at the back of the property. The smaller house—my house—a 1970s-era double-wide that hugged the western edge of the property, needed major renovation work before it could become livable. Years of travel had taught me numerous skills—how to shop for food when you only know 10 words of the local language, for example, or how to perform certain bathroom functions in countries that don’t sell toilet paper. Unfortunately, I’d learned very little about carpentry, so my first few weeks of house renovation were as bewildering and exhilarating as a visit to a strange country. Noting my unfamiliarity with the language of home improvement, my mother helped me shop for paint that would cover the water stains on my ceiling; my sister assisted me as I tore out the moldy old carpeting. My brother-in-law covered the flimsy old wall panels with sheetrock; my father installed a layer of plywood to brace the sagging floors. I tagged along behind them like a novice tourist— brushing paint, hammering nails, steadying ladders, tenuously familiarizing myself with this exotic new way of life. This fall, my family and I will cap this process by tearing the cracked vinyl siding from the outside of my house and nailing up weather-treated pine boards. I will, for the first time, have a home of my own. And, while I will never stop traveling to faraway lands, I look forward to this sublime new destination on my itinerary—an attraction laced with the subtle pleasures of standing still and getting to know a single location. The prairie scenery beyond my front deck may never be listed in travel guidebooks, but I’ve come to find it as thrilling as the view from Machu Picchu, or the distant valleys of the Sinai.

2012-2013 SeaSOn

Les Miserables The 39 Steps Miracle on 34th Street

You’ve never seen

The MuSicaL


like this.

Dearly Beloved Doubt Follies Legally Blonde The MuSicaL

Our new season presents 7 exceptional plays – all new to SCT! Order your tickets today!

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the Difference

Reprinted with permission of Rolf Potts

401 S. Santa Fe Ave. 785.827.0610 Toll Free: 1.866.927.0610 Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

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Photo contest

next round

We want to feature your photograph in Sunflower Living magazine. Each issue, we will announce a theme and accept photograph submissions from readers with a permanent address within the greater Salina region. Our panel will judge the submitted photographs and select a winning image, which will run on this page in the following edition. The winning photographer will receive a prize of $50. Submission Guidelines: A) Email the image


First Place

“The crazy thing is that I have a Nikon D80 camera, but I didn’t have it with me that day,” explains Haiden, a stay-at-home mother from Lindsborg who also creates and sells clothes and jewelry. Because Haiden and her family live close to Coronado Heights, the landmark commemorating Spanish conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s decision in 1541 to return to what is now Mexico rather than continue searching for a legendary city of gold. For the Haidens, this scene is part of their daily landscape, not necessarily an exotic photo attraction. But thankfully they still show it off to visiting guests. “We were taking my brother-in-law from Florida to see it. And I actually took this one on my iPhone,” says Haiden, who explains she saved the image without adding any filters or altering the colors from the sunset.

For this issue’s photography contest, we invited readers to submit their photographic take on the theme “Orange.” Our panel of five judges went through two rounds of voting to select the winner. You can view a slide show of all submissions for this theme at Enjoy! And feel free to tell us if we made the right choice or if we should have chosen a different picture for the top spot. After all, “Orange” is in the eye of the beholder.

Paula Hernandez Runner Up

Monique R. Haiden

Chosen by:

Chosen by:

Runner Up

lisa eastman Photographer, Sunflower Living

Shelly Bryant jason dailey Art director, Sunflower Publishing Chief photographer, Sunflower Publishing


Randy Wendt

Jenni Leiste Designer, Sunflower Living

Chosen by:

Larry Harwood Photographer, Sunflower Living

Sunflowerliving / FALL 2012

to sunflowerliving@ with a heading of “Photo Contest” B) Submission must be made before November 12 C) Only submit the image if you are the photographer and the copyright holder of the image and if you live in the delivery region of Sunflower Living magazine D) Files should be in digital form, either JPEG or TIFF, that can be printed up to 8X10 at 300 dpi E) By submitting an image, you consent to having the image published in the magazine and posted online in connection with the magazine Theme for the 2013 winter Edition:

“Close to the Heart” Submission must be made before November 12, 2012

“I’m Treena Mason, regional manager of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas – encouraging you to enjoy Healthy Kansas Recreation!”

Kansas Cosmosphere

Recreation in Kansas can make you smarter.

Physical activity increases oxygen flow to the brain, helping you think better and remember more. You can discover fun and educational places all over Kansas – from history and art museums to festivals and concerts! Visit to request your free Kansas Visitors Guide for information on lodging, restaurants, attractions and more. N.1207

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Integrity Trust

Good Advice • Personalized Care • Full Service Audiology Clinic • Fellow American Academy of Audiology



Quality Devotion

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737 E. Crawford 655 S. Santa Fe 511 S. Santa Fe Salina, Kansas

(785) 827-7261 (800) 223-0845


Steven G. Sebree, MD

Jeffrey B. Knox, MD

Joel E. Parriott, MD

David C. Prendergast, MD

Natalie A. Morgan, MD

Leslie A. Ablard, MD

David T. Dennis, MD

Dirk Hutchinson, MD

Richard Yaple, DO

Brad R. Stuewe, MD

Henry S. Reed, MD

Brian S. Pavey, DO





Ted L. Macy, MD

David E. Smith, MD

Earl H. Matthews, MD


William R. Alsop, MD

Paul A. Johnson, MD

Chris A. Rupe, MD

Edgar Rosales, MD

Alisa J. Bridge, MD

Debra DeBiasse, MD


LaVelle A. Ellis, MD



Kent B. Berquist, MD

Mark T. Mikinski, MD

Curtis D. Kauer, MD

William F. Cathcart-Rake, MD

Larry K. Beck, MD

Muhammad S. Ahmed, MD

Peeran D. Sandhu, MD


Karil L. Bellah, MD

David L. Battin, MD

William L. Freund, MD

Bennett Radford, DO

Sunflower Living fall 2012 edition  

The fall 2012 edition of Sunflower Living, the Salina region's premier magazine on people, places and style.

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