Thursday, September 03, 2015

Rural Charm

I am leap-frogging from happy, green, Ithaca, New York, early August, to rural Kansas (ughhhh) in late August.

I know, I know.  I live my life in dribbles and droves.  Ithaca was terrific. And I shall revisit my very enjoyable-yet- meager time there at some point.

However, I must report on rural Kansas as it is now, before the whole thing is wind-swept into the dusty, windy Kansas archives.

I think Rural Anywhere has a charm to it that may not appear in the realms of other places.  Last Spring, a local couple were both diagnosed with cancer within weeks of each other.  He works at a farm store nearby, and she is a public school music teacher.  How difficult to do a balancing act when one partner is ill, but to double the time and energy and finances and scheduling...!  Too difficult to want to try imagine.

Here is where that rural community charm comes into play, with empathy and compassion.  Some locals planned a fundraiser for the couple, who are not spring chickens.  Easy enough.  Lots of communities do this.  But this one seemed pretty special.  It was an evening filled with music, a silent auction, and a live auction later in the evening.  Both husband and wife were there, he looking gaunt and she, sporting a new colorful headscarf, post-chemo.  There were more than 300 attendees - and this is a dinky town!  Farmers and ranchers from miles around were there.  (Here's an interesting aside from the non-rancher, me: One can spy the men who wear cowboy hats most of their work day - there is a crease to their hairline on the back of their heads when they come into town on a Saturday night!)

The live music ranged from jazz and bluegrass, to concert piano, and so sweetly, two young vocal soloists who were students of the music teacher/cancer patient.  She (the teacher) accompanied both on the piano, and when that little kid (was she 9? 10?) sang Amazing Grace with sweet vibrato, the entire Columbian Theater was hushed.  So sweet.

Here I must segue to describe the Columbian Theater in Wamego, Kansas.  It was built in the late 1800s.  Back then, a Wamego banker bought some paintings from the World's Fair in Chicago.  Six of the paintings are 11' x 16'.  They are huge.  And they are really nice paintings.  And they are in rural Kansas.

Inbetween musical numbers, the live auction would auction off 3-4 items.  This was so fun and funny, and exactly where that rural Kansas charm comes into play.  The auctioneer and his cohorts must have known nearly everyone in the Columbian Theater that night.  This made the auction terribly fun.  A gas grill up for bid:  He points into the huge audience and states, "June, I KNOW this will be great on your sun porch!"  KU-K-State paraphernalia up for bid: he knew exactly which audience member had graduated from KU, and which from K-State, and he played that ying-yang well!  A very good time had by all.

All totaled, $21,000.00 was raised for this local family.

We do not know the family well.  We greet each other once a year down at the Shamrock Farm's/ Crenshaw's annual Halloween Doughnut gathering, where 80-something Mrs. Crenshaw fries up doughnuts all evening for friends and neighbors.
Here was my donation to the fundraising cause:
The "barn quilt", not the dog or cat.  Barn quilts are something that rural folks like to put on their barns as a celebration of quilts and life in rural America.  This particular "barn quilt" is 4' x 4', and the block is an old 1800s block called Carpenter's Wheel.

Happily, our rancher neighbor Joe Carpenter purchased this at the auction for his barn, to the tune of $500.00.  

And so it goes, life in rural Kansas...

Friday, August 07, 2015

It's August Already?

Well, that's a happy thought:  August 7th and three weeks to go, we'll be in September.  Hooray!

I am not in rural Kansas.  This week I am in upstate New York.  Ithaca.  Cornell University.  Home of waterfalls, cool weather, and lots of giant hills.

That Spouse o' Mine has been working with some Cornell counterparts this year, and it has necessitated a couple of trips to the "land of gorges".  I was so excited a few months ago when he planned his first trip.  I intended to accompany him.  And he was aware of this.  The trouble was that the instrument that he has developed for the folks up there (Agr. Breeding and Genetics) was so large that he had to drive a USDA big van to transport it to Ithaca.  In that USDA is federal, government, and all the rules and regulations that it entails, I, as a "civilian", am not allowed to travel in the van.  So, Pooh!  I missed my golden opportunity to expand my horizons to upstate New York.  (Ok, ok...I have been to upstate New York, and I love it.  I am always looking for an excuse to haul out my perpetually-packed suitcase and throw it underneath the airline seat in front of me.)

Well!  An opportunity arose just two weeks ago, that he was beckoned to Cornell to help those lab folks with said instrument.  He was to fly out, along with his lab technician, for five days.  I saw my glimmer of chance!  I asked that Spouse o' Mine to send me his travel itinerary.  He did.  I went to Expedia and purchased my own tickets for the same flights.  Plus, I made sure I was seated next to him on all flights.  Hahaha!  How funny is that? Well, this is where the surprise ended.  I would have loved to have surprised him by waltzing on board the plane and plopping down beside him.  But, in that we live about two hours from the nearest airport, one must make travel preparations, and so that evening I told him what I did.  Not much of a surprise, I don't think.

But here I am in Ithaca!  Hooray!

More to come...waterfalls, botanical gardens (is anyone surprised?), facets of life in China, and more...        

Friday, July 24, 2015

Public Service Announcement

This is a Public Service Announcement.

I have little habits and rules when it comes to my retail shopping.  Small things, rules, such as not shopping at the Wal Mart after Thanksgiving, until after Valentine's Day.  Even now, I might shop at the Wal Mart once every month or two.  And I do not like the word boycott, and so I won't use it, but the Wal Mart after Thanksgiving makes me become an angry person, and one should be delightful during the winter holidays, so I have learned to opt out of the Wal Mart for Advent and Christmas and even after.

Also, it has always irritated me that Hobby Lobby keeps their doors closed on Sundays, with self-righteous signs on their doors stating that Sundays are "closed" days so that their employees can spend that day with their families.  Except...WHEN IT COMES TO DECEMBER!!! And then, they are open on Sundays!!  HAHAHAHA.  I don't like that store.  I don't like Chik Whatever, either.  I don't like it when retail stores try to foist their beliefs on our world and expect us to follow lockstep with theirs.  I am a Christian.  But I am not one of those Christians.

I am getting cranky, so let me meander away from this vein...

Our family always has outdoor pets, and outdoor pets require food and water pans and bowls and such.  Somehow through the years I have become habitual in going to the Wal Mart in July, after the 4th, and picking up "fresh" bowls and pans for whatever animal seems to need a new one.  (Chewing, high winds, you name it!  We always seem to be in need of new outdoor pet bowls.)  And after the 4th of July, one can pick up a few of these necessities for seemingly pennies.

There are several aisles in the Wal Mart, and probably K Mart, Target, and all the other big ol' box stores, which are dedicated to the holiday(s) at hand.  Or back to school.  Or moving to college.  Marketing, marketing.

Uh-oh; I was almost at another meander, but I am retracing my thoughts to point out that days shortly after any celebration or calendar moment, the stores sell off all their plastic goods at a pittance.  And still, even after the "Clearance", there are way too many plastic items on the shelves.  Red, white , and blue, or Valentine pink, or Easter egg pastel.  Christmas RED!!  Autumn scarecrow ORANGE!!!


Where does all this stuff, made in China, go?  Back to China?  No.  Unless we have garnered a deal with them (hey - it does occur) to have our landfills shipped over there to their land.

Seriously, folks, if my own Wal Mart out in the middle of rural Kansas had three aisles of 4th of July plastics on clearance after the fact, multiply that by how many Wal Mart stores in the US and abroad, and also factor in the K marts and the Targets and all the others, and we have a serious landfill overload of nonessential plastic bowls, plates, pitchers, cups, figurines, and "celebration" signs that are filling up our dwindling natural resources.

THAT is where I was going with this piece.  Too much plastic, made-in-China trash that lands right there: in the trash.

Stop buying it.  Begin using traditional wares, which last from year-to-year, and through generations.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Summer Storms

This morning I arose at 6:00 and looked out the bathroom window to a really deep red sunrise belt low on the horizon, from northeast, to east, clear over to southeast and south.  Everything else in the sky was black as pitch with cloud cover.  There were two "tails" dipping down out of the black sky, and they made curious silhouettes in the red.  I called out to that Spouse o' Mine that I hoped they were not tornadoes, and when I went back to look again, they were gone, and the black lay smoothly horizontal alongside the red-and-then deep-orange-red of daybreak.  

But we never really saw daybreak, because the clouds of black snuck in so quickly, after my first glimpse of red horizon, daybreak was gone again in mere moments, and the tremendous winds of Kansas summer storms built up, along with the lightning and thunder.

And so my morning began with "Yoga by Thunderstorm", complete with loss of electricity.

And here I will insert my quandary as to what is correct:  Sneaked?  Snuck?  I prefer the latter:

Snuck is used in American and Canadian English as the past tense andpast participle of sneak, but it is considered non-standard, i.e., ol for dialectal and informal speech and writing. The standard past tense is sneaked.

After the morning storm, I went out to see a very large tree branch had fallen across part of our pasture fence.  Huh.  If we still had horses, this would have been an immediate problem.  As it is, we will haul the branch away and look at the fence, muttering, "Huh."  

And now it is early evening.  The clouds suddenly joined right over our house (seriously!) and commenced a monsoon, then thunderstorm, then hailstorm, and deluge, for an hour or so.  We have water running through any low points of our property.  Now the sun has come out in the western horizon.  But we still are watching the lightning, interestingly, striking air-to-ground bolts just across the way from us, in the cornfield and across the river.     

I am not a calm "lightning" person.  About twenty minutes ago, we were standing in the middle of our living room, watching a new sweep of hail come through.


The entire process, lighting/thunder/me rushing two feet over to that Spouse o' Mine's arms, and the subsequent shoulder injuries, took only seconds.  Seriously.  Mere moments.  After he regained his balance on the hardwood, he smiled and said, "Trish, didn't you see the flash?"

No.  No, I did not.  What I experienced was a very loud thunder that shook this whole house, all 120+ years of it, and I moved.  So much so, and so quickly, I think, that my two shoulders were left behind in the action.  Wow.  They hurt.  Seriously?  A "Thunder Injury"??

Tomorrow will tell the tale. I have found, in my midlife wisdom of 55, that time tells all.  I hope I did not suffer Thunder Whiplash.     

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Song of the Day

Song of the Day: (also, a good dancing-while-dinner-is-cooking song):

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive 

Also, Song of the Week, Month, and Year.  
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