Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Year Ago

A year ago, that Spouse o' Mine told me that he was planning to go to an agricultural meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.  Did I want to come along?

Well, hell yeah, I wanted to come along.  I made plans.  I budgeted for my air fare.  I studied Turkey, world history, and more importantly, Istanbul.

Then , through the past year, the Syrian war and ISIS and other programs have caused a whole lot of turmoil in Turkey - mainly in the southern border.  (Google it, PLEASE?)  

Because of this, about eight weeks before our trip, I opted out of my dream trip with that Spouse o' Mine.  Too much unknown?  He would be in meetings, and I, who loves to explore on my lonesome, would perhaps be in the perilous parts of Istanbul.

And then, only three weeks before our departure, there was a suicide bomber in a "tourist market" area of Istanbul, which killed a lot of people.

That Spouse o' Mine is in Istanbul as I type, for almost one more week.  He calls me each day.  I have admonished him NOT to go to any "tourist" market or other.  Go to meetings and then back to the hotel.  (I don't think he is following my directives, but at least he is not telling me such.)

And that is my April, 2016.

Almost a Month Later!

It's not been writer's cramp.  It's

I read a blog today which made me sad.  A cyber-friend accidentally hit a cyclist who ran a red light.  Her fault.  Not his fault.  Her fault.  This made me sad.

One of the comments to this blog post gave the opinion "...cyclists seem to believe themselves to be above traffic laws, maybe because they are saving the environment, after all. Good lesson/reminder that they are not above physics laws, but sorry ***  had to be the teacher."

We have bulls out in our neighbors' ranch, and they excrete lots of manure.  This person's comment was perhaps to allay my cyber-friend's emotions, post-accident.  But reading her comment had the same effect on me that our eau de neighbors' bulls on a southwind day does: BULLSHIT

 A) A "good lesson reminder" ??!!!  Does this person comment on all sad incidences this way?  What a tool.

B)  Again, "... believe themselves to be above traffic laws"...does this person comment on other traffic accidents, injury or death-related, with such judgmental vitriol?  

 To lump a population of cyclists together and give them a bad name is not at all right.  

I am a cyclist.  So is that Spouse o' Mine.  As are our adult son, two adult daughters, and our son-in-law.  We use vehicles just as everyone uses vehicles.  Some of ours have two wheels (bicycles).  Some of our vehicles have four wheels. (Automobiles.)  We pay taxes for the usage of roads, whether or not a day calls for a car or a bicycle.  We follow the rules.  We all wear helmets!  We have lights on our bikes!  We wear bright colors!  Most of our cyclist friends follow the rules, the laws.  If we see a cyclist NOT following the rules and laws, we all are vocal to them: we call them out.  

I witnessed a cyclist getting hit by a car, right in front of our house.  He was not injured.  (Although pretty sore the following days.)  It was not his error, it was the automobile driver's error.  Her car sustained some dents and a cracked windshield, where he, our college-student acquaintance hit first her hood and then her windshield.     

Two years ago we, that Spouse o' Mine and I, went to the funeral of a cyclist friend of ours.  He had been hit from behind by an automobile driver who was typing on his GPS while driving.  That driver had so many feet, SO MANY INCHES, to be away from our friend Mark.  And yet, he was typing away while driving, and he hit Mark.  Mark was killed instantly.  We had only ridden our bikes with Mark a few days earlier.  

We all carry opinions about drivers, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, motorcycles, and such.  Unless you are Gandolf the Genius or have all the wisdom in the world,  KEEP YOUR INSIDIOUS, UNCARING WORDS  TO YOURSELF. 

And that's all I have to say today.  Oh - except for this: Tom, I am very sorry for your accident.  VERY SORRY.  I know it must have been horrible.   

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Kansas Today: Ugh.

Well, the wind was pretty awful today, starting out at 25 mph, and heading on up to 45 mph gusts.  Ours was the type of late afternoon that leaves one looking for sturdy shelter.  But before we could do that, we had tasks hand: animals to deal with, a couple of cars to park in the barn, (more on that), move plants indoors (more on that), and a general battening down of the hatches.  Really.

It was warm today and is warm this evening.  There is a blizzard barreling down the interstate today, from west-to-east, leaving a large section of Kansas closed off to major thoroughfare.  A sudden drop in our temperatures (70º to 35º?) is a recipe for hail.  (Hence, the barn-cleaning)

I have a number of lavender plants that I have propagated over the winter.  I set them out two weeks ago, to get acclimated to springtime in Kansas.  Tonight I will bring them back in to the house for the remainder of the week, since the forecast calls for lows into the 20s.  I should have known.

Down south in the state, firefighters are working on an uncontrolled fire, which has burned through 70,000 acres so far.  Closer to home, there is a fire some 20-30 miles from us, but let me tell you: the smoke is right here, right now, and I am most uncomfortable, even in the house.  I would like to turn on the AC to see if that might help, but...with a potential blizzard only hours away, would this be prudent?

Oh - and the Kansas legislature is making national news every week, and nearly every day.  So proud of the folks in Topeka.  And, no, I did not vote for those knuckleheads, any of them.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

March. It's My Birthday, Too.

Such an interesting week.  Over the weekend we, that Spouse o' Mine and I, traveled to Oklahoma to visit my parents.  It was my birthday.  I am fifty-six.  Mom & Dad are 87-ish.  Also traveling to Oklahoma were Denver daughter Gillian and her boyfriend.  Twenty-somethings.

Since it was my birthday, plus a niece-in-law's birthday, plus a sister-to a sister-in-law's birthday (I know: Okies make it confusing.), I decided to invite EVERYONE over to Mom & Dad's Saturday night for dinner and mayhem.  Not everyone could make it-some people were skiing in Colorado and mountain climbing the Adirondacks, and one was at a bass tournament at a Grand Lake.  But we did enjoy four generations of laughter and conversations, sprinkled with twirls and instantaneous make-believe scenarios by the six-years-and-under.  One moment I was a cat, then a bunny.  Then I found myself talking to adult kin about mountain climbing this summer, and then, politics.  Oops!  Then I became a picnicker, sitting on the floor of Mom's kitchen, encouraging the six-and-unders to enjoy another helping of cake and ice cream.  Such a fun evening.

One morning last week, I was barely awake, and eyes not even open, and I told that Spouse o' Mine, "I had a dream that Heylin (Heylin {deceased}, was my great aunt, the oldest of fourteen kids), was sitting across the dinner table from me, and I thought to myself, 'I should let her know who I am ', as in : I am a Van Valkenburgh."  That Spouse o' Mine mumbled something, because his eyes, much less his brain were not yet opened.  But the dream held my interest, because I was never close to Heylin, at all, although I respected her and the rest of the Van Valkenburgh elders.

Well!  Not two hours after that dream narration, I received a Facebook message from a cousin, Kathy.  Kathy, granddaughter of Heylin.  Kathy & I knew each other in high school and attended the same university.  And that's where our lives parted. Until last week.  Her Facebook message said, "We need to get together for lunch."

Wowza.  How does that work?  I dream about a deceased someone, and her granddaughter FB's me two hours later to have lunch?  I LOVE how life works. There is so much we simply do not know and are not aware of.  Cosmic energy. Ha ha ha !  I love it. So, Kathy & I are off to lunch in Kansas City tomorrow morning.

While I was gallivanting around DuPont Circle two weeks ago, I received an email from Victor in Sequim, Washington.  He sells lavender.  He said he was shipping my lavender order from last October.  I replied Thank You, and got to pondering what was my next step in this lavender biz...

Well!  One week and 288 lavender plants later, let me tell you, I have a Brickhouse full of lavender plants ready to put in the ground in a few weeks/months.  (I ordered "plugs", which are just that: dinky stems with roots attached.  From there, they {hopefully} mature into viable plants to sink into the earth when the earth hits a certain temperature, after frost.)

My Brickhouse:

And that is what my "birthday week" has been.  Fun, fanciful, dreamy, lavender-laden, and tonight? Some much-needed, gentle rain.  With our windows wide-open.  Such a treat...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Get Around, Get Around...

Last week I was riding my bike in 37*, on a rural Kansas highway.
Today, this morning, I found myself standing in the pouring, cold rain, in a single-file line in 41*, waiting to go into this courtroom:

Yes!  The Supreme Court of the United States.
Washington, D.C.
Equal justice under the law.
King Solomon the Wise judicial decisions.  (We hope.  Hmm...well, maybe not the splitting the baby in two stuff.)

We, that Spouse o' Mine and I, arrived to D.C. this week.  I always have a perpetual bag packed in my bedroom, and I always have a list of things I want to see and do for any potential city visit.  The Supreme Court was not on MY docket, but it appeared online somewhere, and somewhere it mentioned that there would be arguments heard today.  (I do love me an argument, on occasion.  No; let's call them debates.)  Anyway, here I am and I should take advantage of the opportunity, yes?

I hopped on the Metro early this morning, in the deluge.  Winter coat, good winter boots, an umbrella.  I was set!  Off to Union Station, then a short walk in the downpoor, along with other umbrella-toting folks who were probably going to sensible and interesting jobs on Capitol Hill.  

When I got to the Supreme Court building, there was already a single-file line.  (It was mentioned online, and the passel of police officers confirmed that it WOULD be a single-file line.)  A young lady came back to a group behind me and mentioned that she had been standing in line for two hours.  Yikes!!  (I arrived after 9:00 am, to hopefully be seated in the courtroom at 9:30.  I swear, I am the ultimate optimist.)  

The group of six that she spoke with were standing directly behind me.  They were all 21 years old, as I eavesdropped.  They were senate interns.  They, like, used "like", like, every other word in each sentence.  And when they weren't using "like", they were dropping the f-bomb for every adjective.  They name-dropped any senator, or representative that they could conjure up in their day-to-day dealings.  They discussed salaries.  They talked NON-STOP.       

There were four young people standing in front of my in the single-file line.  They were students from George Washington University, and they were there on class assignment.  I don't know if they were law, or pre-law students.  I do know that they were polite and quiet and did not enter into any objectionable conversations. 

After the single-file line had grown to around the corner block, the police walked through to explain what would transpire: some of us would be seated for the entire argument (~ 90 minutes), and the rest of us would be allowed in for 10-minute seats.

I was one of the 10- minute seats.  In hindsight, after hearing the court case and not understanding much of it, probably my ten minutes was good enough.  I would have liked 20 minutes, and not the entire 90 minutes, I think, but I'll take what I can get.  

After filing through (single file) two security details, I made it into the Supreme Court court room.  And yes: the doorway leading into the courtroom was draped in black wool "bunting".  Justice Scalia's chair was draped in black fabric, as well.  And in front of his area of the desk was also draped in black, just beside Chief Justice John Robert's chair.  (That must feel odd, for all the Justices.)

I got to listen to just a brief snippet of the goings-on in the court room, and I had a hard time following the subject.  I was surprised at a couple of moments of levity in the process, where the justices and others would chuckle at some of the questioning.  Justice Ginsberg must be as small as I am, for she looked perched at her desk as low as I do at any given restaurant table.  Justice Alito rocked in his chair the entire time I was watching.  Clarence Thomas has very white hair.  

And so it went.  Shortly, I got a tap on the shoulder and I heard, "You must stand up now..." and that was my cue that my ten minutes were up.

I am so happy I went to experience the Supreme Court in session.  At least now I can visualize those folks when I read about them.

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