CFFC: Jews on the Prairie

Reading the book North Dakota Curious, I was intrigued by the references to two Jewish cemeteries in North Dakota. Jewish pioneer settlements were mainly in two rural areas of North Dakota: Wishek/Ashley in the southeast produced two relatively famous (or infamous?) people – Ted Mann  (founder of Mann theater chain) and David Berman (notorious gangster in the Twin Cities). Sophie Trupin wrote a book called Dakota Diaspora that tells the history of these Jewish immigrants.  I had wanted to go there, but it turned out to be out of our way as we decided to head north the day we left Fargo.

The other area that Jewish immigrants settled in North Dakota was in the Devils Lake area. A group of these settlers established their homesteads about 40 miles northeast of Devils Lake, near a tiny town called Edmore. We decided to drive out to look for the Sons of Jacob cemetery. We drove along deserted country roads, past farm fields and machinery and the road seemed to stretch on forever. I gave up hope of finding this remote cemetery that was obviously not well-marked.  We reached the town of Edmore, where Dale made inquiries. A man outside the only store in town seemed to know where it was. He gave us more specific directions – about 11 miles west, we would see a sign alongside the road pointing the way to the Sons of Jacob Cemetery.

Miraculously, we found it! I could see why we missed the sign the first time – it was not very big and was not where our guide book said it was. We turned onto the rutted country road that seemed to lead straight into a field of crops. Instead, on a hill to our right, we saw the cemetery.

Getting out of the car, it was extremely windy, as most of North Dakota seems to be, especially on the prairie. And these settlers undoubtedly shared a lot in common with the Ingalls family of the Little House on the Prairie series.

The small, well-kept cemetery may be remote but it is obviously well looked after. It is surrounded by a wire fence and at the entrance is a gate with a sign that welcomes visitors and invites them to sign the guest book, which we did.



The tombstones were scattered across a recently mown lawn.




The most poignant were the graves of children. I left a stone on each of their graves.





Some graves were too old and weathered to read.


Dale and I looked out at the landscape beyond the cemetery and tried to imagine what life had been like for the people here. Instead of farmland, most likely there were fields of waving prairie grasses which would have been the view that these immigrants would have seen from their modest homesteads.
And the sky – a wide open sky, that looks so much more vast here on the prairie than back home in suburbia.20170524_170930
Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Tombstones or Cemeteries













Traversing the Panama Canal

March 27, 2017

Today we traversed the Panama Canal!  We entered the canal from the Caribbean side at about 6:00 a.m. A narrator came on board to broadcast what we were watching. When I woke up enough to go outside on our veranda, I took some pictures of the rising sun silhouetting some of the large equipment as we entered the canal.

KODAK Digital Still Camera


Dale (my husband) took this one – he got up earlier than I did!

Entering on the Caribbean side, ships enter a large bay next to which the city of Colón is situated; then they wait their turn to enter the channel into the Gatún Locks. The Veendam entered the narrower of the older locks. From the ship’s deck, I could see cars and trucks going across on an underpass – hard to believe there’s a road down there. Next to the Veendam was the Norwegian Pearl, a larger cruise ship that needs more width. The New Locks were built to accommodate even large cargo and cruise vessels. These were built a little distance away. We pulled up alongside the Norwegian Pearl and watched as it was raised, gradually revealing each of its lower decks. Passengers lined the decks of both ships.


Railroad tracks on either side of the locks were used for locomotives tethered to the ships at various points. The Veendam employed about six of these locomotives, which did not actually pull the vessel. The ship operated on its own power but the locomotives with taut ropes attached to the ship kept the ship centered, even though it was nearly as wide as the channel. These motorized engines drove up and down the tracks on incline and decline ramps as we passed through each lock stage. The doors of each lock were almost completely submerged, but rose as the water emptied from one section of the locks to the next. We started out being raised at a series of three stages, each set of doors submerge as the water level filled to match the next stage.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
The canal is an amazing feat of engineering, especially since it was conceived and built a century ago against all odds. The locks technology, of course, was already well-known, there being a number of examples early in the 19th century. But originally the French engineer put in charge wanted to simply carve a passage straight through the isthmus, as had been his experience building the Suez Canal. However, the isthmus of Panama had mountains and its terrain covered with jungle. It rains – hard – half the year, making construction projects even more difficult. It was an American engineer, John Frank Stevens, who conceived of a series of locks through the mountains, ending in the largest manmade lake at that time, Gatún Lake, the result of damming the river. This dam was necessary in order to maintain the water level of the lake at 88.5 feet.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera


KODAK Digital Still Camera
Cargo ship owned by Japanese company NYK Line


For more on the history of the Panama Canal, the web site is:

An excerpt from another web site explains how a ship goes through the canal:

To transit the Panama Canal, a ship entering from the Atlantic side at Colon would first navigate through roughly seven miles of dredged canal at sea level through marshy lowlands. At Gatun, the vessel would approach the enormous, sloping earthen dam that holds back the water in Gatun Lake. The vessel would then ascend a three-step lock and enter the man-made lake. From there, the next 32 miles of the journey to the Pacific Ocean would be upon the placid waters of Lake Gatun. After passing through the Culebra Cut, the lake would terminate at Pedro Miguel, where the ship would descend down a one-step lock into a small intermediary lake before descending the final two steps back to sea level at Miraflores. From there, the vessel would again navigate through another seven miles of dredged lowlands before entering the Pacific Ocean near Panama City.


Although the Panamanian jungle was a challenge to the engineers of the canal, the high amount of rain ended up being an advantage: each vessel that passes through the canal uses 52,000,000 gallons of water per transit. An average of 25 ships pass through the canal daily. Multiply these two numbers and the importance of the rainy season becomes obvious – a lot of rain is required to replenish the amount of water displaced each day!
In 2016, construction on widening the locks to accommodate larger ships was completed.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Gatún Lake is situated between the Gatún Locks on the Caribbean side and the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side. It snakes around in various directions  and has created many islands and peninsulas. The scenic views of this lake were quite pretty.
KODAK Digital Still Camera

In the lake, where we spent about two hours, I saw lots of cargo ships, mostly container ships, with some names I recognized – NYK, MSC – and some with names I was not familiar with. Large container ships have the capacity to carry up to about 14,000 20 ft. containers (or about 7,000 40 ft. containers).

At the far end of the lake, we passed under the Centennial Bridge, a fairly new construction.



We then entered the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks which lowered the level of the water and we could watch as water poured out into the next section.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Our ship was released on the Pacific side at 4:00 p.m. before passing under an even larger bridge, the Bridge of the Americas, which cost $104 million to build. This bridge marked the end of the canal and the entrance to the Pacific Ocean.

Both of these bridges sustain a lot of traffic and are high enough for tall ships to pass under them.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera


KODAK Digital Still Camera
A colorful building on the Panama City side of the isthmus. I don’t know what it is, but my guess is it is an arts center or concert venue.


The most difficult part of observing all this was the oppressive heat. I minimized my exposure to the direct sun by staying in the shade as much as possible.  Even though the water was warm, it was refreshing to take a dip in the swimming pool once we were through the canal!


Dale and yours truly on deck


The pool was a refreshing reprieve from the heat!




One Word Sunday Challenge: Upright in North Dakota

Debbie Smyth at Travel with Intent has a Sunday One Word Challenge and this week the word is uprightThis is my first time participating in this challenge!

In May, we took a trip to North Dakota, South Dakota, and a little piece of eastern Wyoming.  Our third day in North Dakota, we drove up to the International Peace Garden at the Canadian border. It was a windy, cold day and the place was deserted – the official opening of the tourist season was a week later, Memorial Day weekend. The only employees there were a few gardeners and a U.S. Customs official. Actually there was no one there to check our passports going into Canada and we had only to fill out a small envelope with $20 as admission to the place. It was on the honor system. We saw the border checkpoint U.S. Customs official on our way out, who checked our passports and was very friendly.

Photos below: View of the park from the north; the 9/11 monument, with pieces of metal from the Twin Towers.

There is a spot where you can put one foot in Canada and one foot in the United States. Looking at the map, there was supposed to be a Peace Tower comprised of four tall concrete towers. Was I going crazy or was it not there?? We later found out it had been torn down recently because its foundation was unstable. They hadn’t issued new maps without it yet.

We visited the things that were open or accessible – the Peace Chapel, the 9/11 Memorial and the Peace Poles.



I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t see more, but I was tired due to what I thought was bronchitis and Dale didn’t want to walk the extra way to see the greenhouses.

By the time we arrived in Bismarck that night, I was feeling better and the next morning we took in the North Dakota Capitol building.  Unlike most capitols I’ve seen, the capitol in Bismarck is not a domed building. Built in 1934 in Art Deco style, it is in fact a 15-story building, rather ordinary looking, but it’s the tallest building in Bismarck!


Inside we saw the North Dakota Hall of Fame (I recognized a few individuals, but not the majority) in the main hallway off the entrance, pictures of the first capitol (it didn’t have a dome either) which burned down in 1930, and we rode up the elevator to the Skydeck,  where we had panoramic views of the city.

The photos below show the Capitol’s Hall of Fame and two well-known North Dakotans, the writer Louise Erdrich and actress Angie Dickinson.





FOTD: Black-eyed Susans

I just planted my very first black-eyed susan yesterday in my garden. I wanted some yellow flowers to provide a nice contrast to the purple of my coneflowers and phlox. (Yellow and purple are complementary colors.)  I’m not expecting a great display this year but hope next year they will bloom well. Meanwhile, here is a field of black-eyed susans at the park district facility in our area:


Cee’s Flower of the Day, 8/8/17


How could a self-destructive human become environment-friendly?

This is a reblog on an issue I care very much about. The author of this post and the questions she poses are important ones. Our politicians are always talking about ‘growing the economy” but if the economy grows and grows without stopping, doesn’t that mean the destruction of our planet? Why not STOP this relentless growing/consumerism, and pull back a little? If the wealthy were to share their wealth, there would be enough for everyone to live comfortably. We don’t have to give up ALL our creature comforts. The problem is, we live in a very lazy society. Although I care about this issue very much, I do catch myself doing things that are not as conservationist as I’d like to be. It’s something I continue to ponder as I pick up plastic items unnecessarily tossed out of cars or at picnic areas where the nearest recycling bin is 10 feet away. The picture she posted at the top of this post is shocking, yet shows how species sometimes manage to survive in spite of thoughtless wastefulness.

decluttering my life

The pressure is overwhelming to acknowledge the unsustainability of our lifestyle. Despite being shown photografic evidence, we let the process go on.  How can this narcissistic species  afford to neglect its own future? Is our intelligence overrated and are we fatally inconsistent?


I suppose that the answer may root in our self-destructive nature. We exploit our own body by clinging to bad habits although we know that it is the organism to contain us until the final day. Most of these self-destructive habits are deliberetaly pursued as they feel so good, later due to the difficulty of withdrawal. Besides we do not excel at long-term planning. Experts say humans actually live for the moment and a limited future.

Furthermore, humans are attracted by both actual and imaginary danger. We tend to solve lasting conflicts by using weapons and massacring peoples. In peacetime, we enjoy watching thrillers and horror movies. Pleasure center…

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