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It was a little damp, a little cool, a little muddy and it was a lot of fun to get together with friends and neighbors at the Skyline VFD Chili Supper on Saturday night.  The food was excellent with loads of wonderful pies.  The music was superb.  Whetstone kicked off the evening rocking the place ‘like a southbound train. ‘   Then came Flatline with some great gospel music.  “There is Coming a Day” is one of Louise Hutchison’s favorite songs.  She and Wilburn were not able to be there, but they were much in the thoughts of many who remembered how much  energy they have devoted to the fire department over the years.  Backyard Bluegrass’s  D.J. Shumate fiddled the crowd out with a train song that included the whistle and steam coming off his bow.  He learned that from his Pa.  It was a delightful evening when old and new friends had the chance to catch up and get acquainted.   The place was loaded with dignitaries, and celebrities.  A most clever bluebird house came along with another of Tim Scrivner’s excellent bird feeders and the accusation of deviousness on the part of The Champion News.  Bidding was hot for a huge Ethen Allen basket between a Douglas County official and a prominent Wright County musician.  The winner was the Skyline VFD!  It is a joy to see people come together to support such a vital organization.  Champions all!

Six year old birthday Bailey out in Portland had a pink heart shaped cake decorated with raspberries…almost as pretty as the girl herself.  Kay Dennis over in Ava most likely had a glorious birthday as well celebrating with friends and music and optimism that her health insurance will indeed get less expensive next year  when she reaches that magic Medicare age.  Old friends will look forward to seeing her at the 40th Back to the Land Reunion this summer.   The 12th will have some special distinction celebrated with a “yahrzeit” candle.  It is a tradition that burning this special 26 hour candle on the birthday of a departed loved one is a warm way to acknowledge his life, disregarding the sadness.  Some people burn this candle on the day the loved one died, but others think to celebrate the life is somehow more positive.   Jacob Masters will be 11 years old on March 15th.  He lives in Austin, Texas and is reported to be ‘a hand-full’ by his old grandpa who lives out in West Texas with the rattlesnakes and armadillos where he is very much in his element.  One of the best things Jake has going for him, apart from his older brother Jack,  is that he shares his birthday with is Uncle Sam who is thirty years his senior and exemplifies a conscious and well lived life.  They do not know each other, but they have lots of time.  Ursula of Edinburgh celebrates that day too.  She will soon have her own child for whom she can make birthday parties. Congratulations!  March 16th is a special day for Elizabeth Mastrangelo Brown.  She was 23 in 2013.  She is not seen as often as her Champion friends would like, but she is sure to have a great day.   The 16th is also Helen Batten’s birthday.  She is the secretary at our great Skyline RII School.  She is forever young.  She just cannot help it.  Her smile and good humor meet all our one hundred kindergarten through eighth grade students every morning and gets them started on another great day—teachers and staff too.  Happy Birthday Ms. Helen!  Then Myla Sarginson has her birthday on March 18th.  She is in the 2nd grade.  Kayelyn Souder is in the 8th grade and has her birthday the next day. Snow and ice make-up days may keep the kids in school way into May.  Grandparents will be hankering for their racket and their raids on the cookie jar.  Those Skyline Volunteer Fire-Fighters by the name of Cochran were carrying a picture of RyAnne Daniel Harvey, their first granddaughter who was born on March 3rd.  She weighed nine pounds and six ounces and is a beautiful child.  Just ask her grandmother. Future veterinarian Candice will most likely be spending the summer with her Wilbanks grandparents.  She will be helping her grandpa out with his injured mule.  Ah summer!  It will be here just after Spring.

Last week Wayne and Frances Sutherland marked their 64th wedding anniversary.   It was revealed by their daughter, Laine, who posted on line, “Happy Anniversary to my parents, Wayne & Frances Cooley Sutherland, who drove to Mountain Home, Arkansas, 64 years ago and got married. “ It was March 4th.  They were and are a handsome couple.  Look for their picture in their heyday in Champion Snapshots (Frances & Wayne) at  Laine was seen at the Skyline Chili Supper keeping company with old time fiddler Bill Conley.   Old time refers to the music not to Bill. He likes the old music and likes to square dance.  He says that there is going to be an especially good one on Saturday the 15th in Ava at Marriott Music on the North Side of the Square.   The dance will start at 7 p.m., and what makes it special is that David Scrivner,  Alvie Dooms, and Junior Marriott will be making the music—fiddle, guitar and bass respectively.  Bill will be dancing.

Certain stretches of road will still have a little ice and snow long after everything else has melted.  As the naked ladies (surprise lilies), crocus, hyacinths, and the glorious daffodils emerge, hearts are lightened altogether at the prospect of true spring.  There will still be cold mornings and chilly evenings that will satisfy the need of some to grouch about something.  Old hearth tenders say this is the hardest time of the year to stay warm. “If you build a big enough fire to get warm in the morning, by mid-day you’re sweltering.”  Long suffering spouses point him to Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood.  The 12th to the 16th will be a barren period—a good time to get the garden tools and equipment in shape or to haul some manure.  St Patrick’s Day will be ideal for planting potatoes, sowing fodder crops or hay.  Linda already has her Cole crops transplanted and she said the little marigolds are up and looking good.  Find her Almanac on line, on the bulletin board at Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Champion or on the counter at The Plant Place up in Norwood.  Thanks, Linda!

The Edinburgh Evening News reports are that the city hopes to change the appearance of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations there to a ‘less boozy’ image.  Toward that end they post a picture of half a dozen comely lasses in full fling, dancing a jig.  The Scots Irish heritage of this part of the world shows up in the Wednesday morning tall tales confab in the chat room of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  On Saturday night The General was heard plotting a competition with the accomplished Almartha story teller.  He says he does not want the “Ferlie” (Champion’s “Oscar”), just the attention!  So far the only suggestion for the Ferlie Awards program for next year is the addition of a category for “The most abstruse in the written or spoken word.” The notion that making something intentionally and unnecessarily difficult to understand might be entertaining is a caution to him and has escaped this distant reader.  Send examples of this sort of amusing confusion to The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or to  Come down to the broad wooly banks of Old Fox Creek on Wednesday morning or any time with your blarney and join the fun.  Sing “My Wild Irish Rose, the sweetest flower that grows!” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

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