Friday, October 10, 2014

The Autumn Season.

 I can tell autumn is here.  It's grey, it's rainy, it's cool.  Our token squirrel has been doing the squirreling away of acorns onto the giant crevice of one of our ancient elm trees.

I am happy.  Therefore, it must be autumn.

I kid you not: I wake up gloriously happy, with a song in my heart and a plan for my day. 

This doesn't necessarily happen in the hot months.  In the hot months, I furtively plan my day, sliced into two polarized sections:  Pre-dawn mornings, and post-sunset evenings (if even, the latter.)  Even in the house, if the temperature eaks its way too far upward, my system shuts down into inactivity.  I find myself sitting and doing..nothing productive.  It's times like that, when I find myself cranking down the AC, "to take the edge off", and you know what?   It's miraculous!  A few degrees cooler, and I am once again a worker bee.  I am up for anything, 50ยบ or cooler.

But let me tell you, the past few weeks have been happy ones.  I am once again doing my 2x daily yoga.  (Don't panic; I do fun stretches and balancing acts to prepare for the NEXT time I fall off my bicycle and into a sorghum field.  No Cirque du Soleil nonsense here.) 

This week I decided to trek out to the Konza Prairie each morning to hike.  What fun!  What beauty.  And, what energy that lasted me the whole day long.  Physical and mental energy from those happy, happy hikes out in nature.

What did I see on my morning hikes?  Lots of wild turkeys. Some really pretty (and unafraid) deer.  Three bluebirds.  A dead skunk.  (Yep: the eau de skunk was prevalent.)  And buffalo!  How fun is it, to hike out on a prairie, and see a herd (albeit smallish?) of buffalo, going about their herdish things?!  What a great week of autumn.  The leaves were a'tumblin'.

Next week sees me enjoying autumn in Colorado.  I hope there are still aspen to behold in their golden glory.  If not, I hope that there is snow, or at least a lingering frost, to behold in its premature season. And I shall find some hikes and climbs and this will take me on to November and the coming holidays and frolicks!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Time Travel

I had reason to travel to my old home town of Pryor Creek this week, the cause of which will appear in a later post.  Today's observations are from my experiences on this short, 48-hour trip to a place I called home (and birthplace!) some forty years ago.  

Really? Forty years?  I certainly don't feel forty years old.  MUCH LESS, FIFTY-FOUR YEARS OLD.

I arrived home to Home, my parents' home for the past fifty-five years (they always said that with every move {five}, they had a baby, and so it must have been the water.)  in the early afternoon.  We, my parents and I, had dinner and were lapsing into early evening, when the front door opened wide.

My middle brother, now 59, loped into the living room and looked at me.  "Let's go!"  he said.

"Where?" I replied - always up for adventure, especially with Bob.  

"Church choir!" was the answer.

Whoop!  Really?  I was immediately entranced.  I jumped up from my easy chair and grabbed my shoes.

Ok.  Ok.  You all are reading this and thinking, Really?!  

Yes: Really.  

Off I went, off to Church Choir with brother Bob, all on a Wednesday evening, in Pryor Creek.

Not unlike any other Wednesday I enjoyed some forty years ago.  Way back in the 60s and 70s, we five Webster kids each began singing in church choir when we were fourteen or fifteen.  Dad, a most musical and spiritual, and artistic father, would just announce some August, that we were ready to join choir.  And we did.  Simple.  No rebellion, that I know of.  (Granted, I was #5, so who knows what the former four felt.  I was all for church choir!)  Dad was the church choir director.  He embraced classical music.  In that classical music was what we cut our teeth on at home, church choir was a simple exercise in aerobic breathing.  For me, the Wednesday evening choir practices were comparable in relaxation as to my yoga exercises nowdays.  A very fine facet of my choir practice "way back" was that I was a much younger singer, a youth,  in the adult choir.  This was curious, but not uncomfortable.  I learned a lot in those choir rehearsals and Sundays, and all of it, good. 

And so, now, on Wednesday, my brother Bob mentions that if I attend choir practice, he won't be the youngest one there.  Remember, I mentioned that he was 59?

We get to church.  I haven't been to this church in ages.  The first thing that comes to mind upon entering:  "Hey, Bob!  Remember when Mike (other brother) walked through this glass window?"  (he was lower elementary, and it was a big durn deal.  I had forgotten about it, even though I witnessed it.)  Bob & I laughed about it.  

Wow.  What memories, when we walked into the sanctuary, up by the altar, and into the choir loft.

Forty years. 

I was even married here.

Bob introduced me to the choir director.  I took out the music for the rehearsal.  And then - what fun!

Someone called to me from the loft: Trish!  It was my PE teacher from way back when, Mrs. Briggs.  I had taught HER son how to swim.  Another voice: Trish, how ARE you?!  Wowee: my former elementary music teacher, my former voice instructor, my parents' great friend, Mrs. Talley.  And then, I saw a dear face up in the alto loft: Mrs. Usrey.  I adored her.  What a great spirit, one that I embraced even at a young age.  There was Dr. Burdick, whose kids I once babysat.  And awkwardly (I felt afterwards), Mrs. Ammons, whom I greeted, but whose greeting was not reciprocated.  Whaaa?  Ooops.  Someone failed to give me the memo that Mrs. Ammons was divorced, no longer Ammons, acrimoniously, and now had a new last name.  Sheesh.  I saw from afar, my former Sunday School teacher.  I tried to catch the arm of the accompanist, Judy.  She played the music for my wedding - thirty years ago!

As we sang for an hour, in the choir loft adjacent to the altar of the church where I grew up, I saw things I knew from so long ago, that I never realized I would appreciate again.  The stain glass from Mr. Moore, which lay in frames made by my Dad.  That was decades ago.  The offering plates are the same. As are the altar candlesticks. 

My sister-in-law observed this morning that I call everyone here by Mr. and Mrs.Somebody.  True.  That's how it was back then, some forty years ago.  I never knew some folks' first names.  I was a kid.  They were my elders.  They were Mr. and Mrs.  What a simple rule.

And now, this week, I time-traveled back and forth from 14 years to 54 years.  I cannot say that it was a good trip.  I need time to digest this experience.  All the folks I met this week are fine, are in great shape, and seem happy.  (Mrs. Usrey is 90, still drives herself at night {this, I cannot do}, and she celebrated her 99-yr old brother's birthday this week.) 

I wonder how they feel, seeing Tricia Webster Armstrong, 54, as opposed to having seen Tricia Webster, 14?  

And as Satchel Page asks, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"

Ah.  A time-travel quandary, to be sure.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Our family, the extended version, is large.  We like each other.  We don't get together to celebrate things like birthdays and such, but we do celebrate life.  There is a certain comfort in embracing generations, siblings, cousins and such, and  allthewhile knowing that there is a doormat called WELCOME anytime one of us stands at the threshold of family.

This weekend my niece Melinda stopped by rural Kansas for a visit:
Lavender and wine:

The Shamrock Cafe (out in the middle of nowhere, a cozy chair from which to view the Flint Hills sunset):

Is this reminiscent of the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Windows are Open!

It is Autumn.  Although on the verge of "warm" this afternoon, I will take it.  I wore a sweater (albeit 3/4-sleeved) with a scarf today.  Zounds.  I am emerging out of seasonal hibernation.

Yesterday I planted many rows of my Autumnal Garden.  What did I plant?  Mesclun.  Kale.  Cabbage(s).  Fennel.  Beets.  Leeks.  Onions.  Tarragon.  Rosemary.  Collard Greens. French Breakfast Radishes.  (To my mind, no one eats radishes for breakfast unless they're part bunny; you French folks out there should clarify this...)  and Chicory.  Maybe more...who can recall? 

And so, now, what's to come of all this?  It sounds like I might have put in many hours of labor into this venture, but I assure you that, as usual, I did not.  Darwinism!  I like plants that can fend for themselves.  And so I tilled up space between the massive New England Pumpkin Patch and the dwindly, spindly tomatoes, and called it good.  In went the seeds.  I thought it was supposed to rain last night, but it did not.  And so maybe tomorrow I will sprinkle the Autumnal Garden to get that germination going.  And then?  I wait.

Our windows are open this evening.  I hear cicadas (I call them locust in my Okie lingo.)  There is a young family who moved down the way, and I hear their little kids out playing.  That is such a great sound.  I have some older relatives who moved into a retirement place in Arizona years ago, and that place restricted the presence of children.  So sad.  What's better than a window open to kids hollering outside in play?

This evening I have been fussing around the kitchen, looking for my "for-two" souffle dish.  Where is it?!  If I don't find it, then we are to have two mini souffles, which amount to maybe two bites and that will not suffice.  (Truth be told, I think our "for-two" souffle dish is probably actually earmarked for 4-6.  But we do love us some souffle.)  And along with spinach souffle, we are having grilled tuna and some sort of new potato thing that I have not yet moved on...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Time for a Change?

Fourteen months ago, that Spouse o' Mine and I were driving back from a fun holiday in Colorado.  Nine hours of driving through Kansas gives a couple ample time to drum up all sorts of conversation.  I commenced one subject by saying, "We are currently spending $129.00 per month on satellite television. That's a lot of money for all of those Infomercial channels that we do not enjoy."  From there, we revisited options, and one in particular that our son Graham had mentioned: "Chromecast".  It is a $35.00 gadget from Google that enables one to utilize a smartphone (of which we have none) or a PC or laptop (of which we have several) to send a signal to our television so that we may enjoy EXACTLY what television shows we may want to watch.  We can search such things as Hulu or Netflix, and some sports outlets, and watch things we are intentional about watching.

Intentional.  Ah!  There lies the rub.

The first couple of months after we cancelled our satellite, I found the house very silent during the day.  I had not realized how much I used the television to fill the void of silence.  I began listening to radio - news, music, talk shows.  Gradually, though, my interest in having noise in the house all the time lessened.  (I still listen to NPR and BBC news, The Retro Cocktail Hour, Science Friday, and past Talk of the Nation shows.)

Our "intentional" television viewing has gone through some stages in the past year.  We still enjoy viewing sports, and shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.  All of my HGTV, Cooking Channel, and Food Network viewing?  Now very limited, to say the least.  Just last week I scrolled the offerings of some of my favorite channel haunts.  You know what?  I don't miss them.  Runways and models and chefs and dancers once held my attention.  But now I have been weaned away from this entertainment.

A friend and I were discussing digital photography, and how it has enabled every wannabe photographer, however talented they may or may not be, to get gigs for wedding (and even funerals).  I think, too, that technology has become so inexpensive and simple as to enable television and actors/actresses/news folks to "go for it" on one of the myriad channels that are available in our new millennium.

And so we viewers have a choice to blindly keep the television on, or to move on to something more stimulating.  Go outdoors?  Read a book?  Sing some songs?  Play an instrument?  Write a blog?  Heh heh...  

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