I’ve had a couple of days to catch up with projects at home and get back into the tasks at work after a wonderful – as usual – Nebraska Press Women fall convention last Saturday in York.

York, which is about 50 miles west of Lincoln, is where I worked at the daily News-Times for nearly eight years. So, Saturday was a homecoming of sorts by being with my NPW friends and also because of the many familiar sights.

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Our Friday night NPW board meeting was at the Chances R, a wonderful downtown York restaurant well known throughout Nebraska. We dined on steak, prime rib and pan fried chicken, with the business meeting before and after the actual eating part.

The featured speaker Saturday was State Poet Twyla Hansen of Lincoln, whose work often reflects her farm girl past growing up in rural Nebraska. The only bad part of her Humanities Nebraska-sponsored creative writing workshop was that it needed to be twice as long.

She read some of her poems and then gave us a writing exercise: Tell a story while using words describing all five senses, plus color and movement. That wasn’t so easy for those of us who aren’t great spur-of-the-moment writers. However, several people read what sounded like pretty polished work after about 10 minutes.

Hansen told us creative writing, like all writing, is a process where one thing leads to another. Sometimes we are led to places we didn’t expect and we may be reluctant to go.

Her message was to keep ourselves wide open to such writing adventures and just “go there.”

After a wonderful lunch – good food and Press Women events just seem to go together – we headed south of York to the Wessels Living History farm, a wonderful place that preserves the history of the many Nebraska families who lived on the wide open prairie in the early 1900s.

The huge white house with a wrap-around porch is decorated inside as it might have looked in 1925, including appliances like a corncob-burning stove. Outside, there is a huge windmill used to pump water.

There also is a red barn, granary, woodworking shop and big white Lutheran church moved in from the country just last year.

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The places and things we saw weren’t far removed from the childhood experiences of NPW members who grew up on farms. The much smaller white frame country church of my youth closed on June 1, so it was nice to know a similar church will live on as an example of such places that gave country kids like me so many special memories.

Although the farm museum is just south of I-80, it still sits under a vast sky, so visitors get a taste of Nebraska’s wide open spaces. I hope that like me, they all leave with good memories and some ideas for a poem or story.

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