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EDINBURGH—April 7, 2014

One of the marvelous aspects of travel is the opportunity to compare the known with the unknown.  Busy streets, old and cobbled, have large numbers of people walking quickly toward you and rapidly approaching footsteps behind you and cars whizzing by closely from unexpected directions down long canyons of four and five story buildings with the sounds echoing and bouncing off the walls.  A country person, used to the quiet, might take some time to become accustomed to the swift pace of life.  Though it is ever so much more tranquil, even on the broad and beautiful banks of Old Fox Creek life seems to be whizzing away quickly for folks who see how little there is of it left to waste.  Champions live it as it happens.

J.C. Owlsey has a fifty year old son!  Jesse just had his birthday and now J.C. says he can no longer tell his friends that he is only 59.  He is young at heart and, after a certain point, that is all that counts.  Raylee and Rylee are twins who have just celebrated their first birthday.  They have Buzz and Sharon for grandparents so they are already geared for fun and excitement.  Most likely they will be musical as well since they have it sprinkled so liberally through their family.  Dylan Watts has changed his profile picture on Facebook to reflect his love of fishing.  He is holding up a couple of nice looking crappie and has a grin on his face that is now the confident grin of a young man.  It seems like yesterday that he was three years old and on the stage with his Granddad at the Skyline Picnic singing “I’ll Fly Away.”  Now he is picking the banjo in a way that would satisfy his Granddad that the gift has been passed on.  Sherry Bennett and Laine Sutherland keep local jam sessions and news of what is going on in the music community posted on the internet for the benefit of the wayside wanderer.

Probably every place in the world has its own version of the Historic Emporium on the North Side of the Square in Downtown Champion.  One such place is called The Royal Oak where people gather to visit, to tell stories and to hear music and to take their dreuth.  A great story teller and music appreciator is Ms. Violet Piago.  She is in her early eighties and has retired back to her hometown of Edinburgh (Edinburra) after having had an exciting life working all over the world.  Most of her career was in the waxworks.  Many have heard of Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum which is exclusive to London.  Violet worked for a competing firm that serves museums and entertainment venues from Australia to Canada and every which way.  Her specialty is hair.  One strand at a time, she gave Elvis his coiffure.  She is a funny, generous and kind lady with a mischievous twinkle in her eye and a clear vision to see right to the heart of a matter—whatever the matter may be.  “There’s nothing new under the sun,” quoted she.

Great news has come from Tim Scrivner about the Skyline RII School Foundation.  “On the subject of the DPIL (Dolly Parton Imagination Library), so far we have provided a total of 707 books for our local preschoolers with 28 currently receiving monthly books and 13 who have graduated the program.”  Anyone in Douglas County with a child new-born to five years of age can sign up to get a new, age-appropriate book sent to the child each month at no cost to the family. Everyone is eligible regardless of income or any other consideration.  Find applications at the Skyline School or at Henson’s Grocery & Gas in Downtown Champion.  There will be another meeting of the Foundation before school is out.  Look for an announcement to that effect and consider attending.  Meetings are open to the public.  Among the ideas currently being considered for the Foundation in the future is possibly replacing the drinking fountains in the school.  Any idea that would serve the children, particularly in the academics, is most welcome.  Any inventive ideas for fund raising would also be appreciated.  Watch for the meeting date or email your idea to Attention:  Skyline R2 School Foundation.

Lannie Hinote has been fishing too.  She takes her camera with her to prove her catches to some competitive fishermen friends.  She has been shepherding students through science at Skyline for a long time and has stirred some exciting successes.  The Douglas County Museum and Historical Society has posted a great picture of the Black Oak Flat School.  The picture was made in 1956, and must have been some time in the winter because the kids were all bundled up.  There were about 25 of them.  That was the last year before the schools were consolidated into Skyline.  It was over in the Boone Township north east of the Crystal Lake Fisheries.  Eighth grade students in 1956 may have had a more thorough education than kids get today.  Perhaps that is true or just that they really had to know how to multiply and divide and find the square root.  Technology has changed things.  Carl Sagan, a great American scientist died seventeen years ago.  He said then that we have arranged a society based on science and technology in which nobody knows anything about science and technology.  He said that it is this combustible mixture of ignorance and power that sooner or later will blow up in our faces.  He asked who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about science, or technology, or democracy.  He said science is more than a body of knowledge.  It is a way of thinking, a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility.  If we are not able to ask skeptical questions of people who tell us what is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we are up a creek and vulnerable to the next charlatan—political or religious—who comes along.  It is something that Thomas Jefferson placed great stress on.  Jefferson figured that it was not enough that we enshrine some rights in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights; the people had to be educated and to practice their skepticism and their education.  Otherwise we do not run the government.  The government runs us.  Deep Champion thoughts like these may be discussed at will around the round table in the conversation conservatory at the Champion Store.  Check it out.

Things are burgeoning and blooming and budding on both sides of the wide Atlantic.  It is striking to observe the great similarities in topography and the springing season.  People are planting and are therefore optimistic.  As the deadline has passed, all hope of any news from Vanzant has vanished.  The ‘stringer’ must have misunderstood the nature of the position and has gone fishing.  It is pretty well figured that Wednesday will have a mid-day caucus of cleverness in Champion and the Thursday evening will be potluck and bluegrass in Vanzant.  Friday is bluegrass night in Edinburgh so excitement is building on either end of a 4,134 mile string.  Tune that string to “C” for Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

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