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!!!

Ugh.

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.

BOOM!

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.  

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Scrabbling

The past few days we have been blessed with a very short visit from our older daughter, Gillian, and her boyfriend.  Her boyfriend, Kiran, has never been to Kansas.  My oft-asked question to anyone who will listen is, "Of all the times to visit Kansas, why would anyone come in (enter: June/July/August?September.)???!

Seriously: Kansas in summertime?  It's generally hot, humid, windy, and miserable.  Downright awful.  And this weekend was forecast to be none other.  But the happy couple came, and we were thrilled to have them!

They arrived early afternoon, and soon thereafter, that Spouse o' Mine had them out on the lake on the sailboat, in some hefty breezes.  I had said I would stay behind (the heat, you know), and make an apricot tart.  Which I did. I should post the recipe here sometime this week - yes, I will.  It is an awesome recipe from a French cookbook.

They sailed, I baked.

They returned, and brought with them a bag of ice for Gillian's shin.

Sailing is never for the faint-hearted.  The sailboat capsized, Gillian did the correct routine of climbing on top of the capsize, and they righted the boat.  But...somewhere in the exercise, Gillian's shin scraped across the boat as it was righting, and when she came to shore, her leg was swollen, swollen.  Happily, Kiran is a med student, knew the drill, and they arrived home with a bag of ice.  We did the RICE thing (I can never remember the words; I only know "raise it and ice it", "face is red, raise the head, face is blue, raise the shoe", and so on.  I was a 70s lifeguard, after all.)

That evening we played that age-old game of Scattergories.  What a fun game! Get the old edition if you are in the market.

Well!  That was only Day One.  Day Two was just a simple day of tiddly-winks of sorts, and much rain and BIG thunderstorms.  A few tornadoes in the area.  Not a time to enjoy rural Kansas.

That evening after dinner, we decided to play Scrabble.  Huh.  I am something of a Scrabble nerd. Growing up, my family, all seven of us played Scrabble.  A lot.  So much so, I know the Scrabble rules by heart.  And I know the strategies.  You know: the challenges, the fakes, and so on.  We Websters were stealth in our Scrabble strategies.  And yet, we ALWAYS adhered to the RULES.

The Scrabble rules can be found on the inside of any Scrabble box.  I guess we all read them and memorized them, much like we did the Ten Commandments.  But unlike the Ten Commandments, we understood the rules stated on the Scrabble box - they were black and white to us kids.  The Ten Commandments?  Graven images, coveting animals and wives, adultery...that was something beyond my early elementary school comprehension.

But I did understand Scrabble rules!  How funny.  And unto this day, I adhere to Scrabble rules, and it rankles me when I play with people who have no clue that there are rules on the inside of the Scrabble box.  *SIGH*  It makes this game so much easier.

Case in point:  If someone has an iffy word, you have the choice to challenge said word, or to let it go.  If you challenge, the dictionary is brought forth and you all look to see if it is in the dictionary. Yes?  You lose your next turn.  No?  The offender loses his next turn.

Simple.  IT'S IN THE RULE BOOK!!  CHALLENGE, PEOPLE!!!  That's part of the strategy!

Last evening I kept referring to the rules, and I seemed to be the only one who was privy to them.  What the heck?  At the end of the game, when one person runs out of letters, then the "losers" subtract their letters from their scores, and the  winner gains those same points to his score.

Simple.  IT'S IN THE RULE BOOK!

That Spouse o' Mine was trying to tell me that we should just take all the "losing " points and multiply them by two for the winner, and forget the subtraction for the other three players.

Ughhh.  Hello?  How do we discern who was 2nd, 3rd, and 4th???  Seriously, is there no competition anymore?  I want to know where everyone ended in my game of Scrabble.

I love this game. (And chess, checkers, Scattergories, Probe (also old), and more "thinking" games.)

We ended our evening with Mango Lassis, thanks to Kiran (of Indian descent), and some garlic-stuffed olives (by me, of Oklahoma descent.)


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A New Day at the Ranch.

Last month I enjoyed several days at the neighbors' ranch just south of us.  We two, that Spouse o' Mine and I, are non-farming, non-ranching folks, in a state of cattle-ranching, soybean-growing residents.  If someone owns acreage here, they are no doubt farmer or rancher.

Except us.  We have a small property which we purchased upon moving to Kansas because we had three kids and three horses, all six of whom wanted to move into the country.

I wrote in the last few posts about my experiences in the ranching world.  Go back to the beginning 
if you want to start from the uh...beginning.

A week or two went by, and I received a phone call from neighbor Rancher Joe: They would be gathering heifers up in the morning...

This is where my City Mouse lingo does not translate the Rancher lingo, ...so here goes...

A huge ranch operation like theirs utilizes AI (artificial insemination).  In order for the ranch's  calving season to work like a well-oiled machine, they manipulate the heifers' hormones (synchronizing) into cycling at the same time - they will come into heat at the same time, be bred at the same time, and calve at somewhat the same time next January.

That said, his request to me was to go back to the Bunkhouse (more on this towards the end...) and help with the heifer biz, to get them cycling/into heat at the same time.

I could do that, I replied.

So the next morning, again a cool and muddy day, I headed to the Bunkhouse.  At this point in my cattle ranching experience, I had no idea, no idea atall, what to anticipate.  I went there with my china cup and thermos of coffee.  I was met by the herdsman, Brock.  He asked me to go down to the gate by the bunks...blah blah blah.  I frowned.  My mind had stopped at "bunks".

Bunks.  Whoa! What the heck did Brock mean?  What are "bunks"and where are they?  And so I asked him.  He looked at me as if I were making a joke. Two serious looks, facing each other.  He pointed to some cement (OK, concrete, for those of you who do not live like the Beverly Hillbillies and their "cement ponds"...) structures which, to me, looked like half-cylinders.

Nope. Those were feed "bunks".  Cows ate feed out of them.  I actually saw cows eating out of "bunks".  And, the house by the bunks, where Brock resides?  The Bunkhouse.  I don't get it.  But there is so much about ranching lingo that I do not get.  It's like talking to computer people and their vocabulary.  Sheesh.  Let's all speak English. No dialects allowed.

When everyone involve had arrived to the Bunkhouse, we commenced the day's deal:

Bring in each heifer (a female cow which had never had a calf...a virgin? Except she would only enjoy AI and not the fun of it all...).  My job was to write down her tag number (each cow, bull, calf, steer has a tagged ear which has all sorts of numbers to tell its hereditary information.), and then take a curry comb (a comb used to clean off all dirt and shedding hair {primarily used on horses...and that's how I have ever used it.)}.  I would take the curry comb and scritch-scratch the tail-end of the heifer, loosening dirt and hair off t tail end of the cow.  Then I would smack a sticker on to their tail side, which would provide heat detection in the very near future.  I made the joke "Moo-ed swings!!"  and all around me smiled a benign cheerio.  I suppose they have all heard it, said it, shared it, before.  But I was NEW to this ranching life!  Ha ha ha ha ha!  It was a funny (to me).

So that day, recording heifer numbers and scritch-scratching heifer hineys, was such a delightfully calm day...I left feeling that I had learned so much this past month.  I know part of the bull-cow-calf-heifer-beef- scenario that, once again, that Spouse o' Mine said, "People PAY to do what you did this week."

And there you have it: Kansas Cattle.

Next:

Kansas Lavender
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