Monday, October 27, 2014

Dinner Tonight!

Dinner tonight was a little late, although not outlandish.

We had:
Smoked chicken, with very, very fresh garden tarragon cream sauce,
Baked potatoes,
And very, very fresh garden greens with steamed fruits (prunes, golden raisins, and apples)
Oh!  And baked bread.  Homemade.  No-nonsense baked bread.  Easy.  Email me... 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Spiders. It IS October.

We live in an old, old farmhouse.  A bungalow.  I would describe it as Craftsman, given the incredible wood trim and detail in the interior, but ca. 1887 Old Farmhouse was around decades before trendy Craftsman, and so there we have it: Old Farmhouse.

For years I ran my in-home business (www.bio-works.us) out of the comfort of our first-floor study. It is adjacent to a bathroom and the kitchen, and, if tornado needs-be, the basement.  This worked out very nicely until one day I woke up with the epiphany that I would not have to frantically toss all business-related material into brown grocery bags and haul them into the study closet every time we have overnight guests, if I would simply move "BioWorks" upstairs to one of the empty nest rooms.  (Our study has a really comfortable bed, a darkened room, adjacent to aforementioned bathroom and kitchen, and if tornado needs-be, the basement; it is always our go-to room for overnight guests.)

So now my little office is upstairs,  nestled in a nook of dormers which overlook the front of the house.  I can see the field across the way, which this season is sporting dusty rows of soybean.  I can watch cars and trucks and farm implements heading hither and thither.  (I can always tell, even before checking the weather, when rain is anticipated, by the activity of the farm implements out & about.)  I can wave at neighbors walking past, and even bang on my closed windows at cyclists/friends going by.  The UPS and Fed Ex folks know to honk and look up at my windows to catch my attention.

The past few days, I have had my own little Charlotte's Web going on in one of my dormer windows.  This spider is busy, busy each and every morning and afternoon, making a web in the same place, catching little "things" which have the unfortunate circumstance of alighting in her/his web, and then the whole web-spinning/blood-sucking. (What?!  You've never read Charlotte's Web?!!)

Which brings to mind my other arachnid friend, a Daring Jumping Spider which took residence in my car on the way to Colorado last week.  Daring Jumping Spiders are daring in that they jump, but they are harmless to humans and are sort of fun to watch.  Well! This spider showed up on my drive to Colorado.  He crawled out of one of the air vents.  I let him go A) because he is harmless, and B) I was driving 75 mph.

Each day after, I would get into the car and commence driving.  After several minutes, there would be Daring Jumping Spider, showing his existence in my car by floating down a spinneret from an air vent, or landing in my lap, or crawling along the passenger seat.  Whenever it was safe, driving-wise, I would scoop him up with the plan of dropping him out the window. But he had his own plans, and each scoop-him-up ended with him dropping down onto the floor of the car.

I haven't seen Daring Jumping Spider since I returned to rural Kansas.  Maybe he liked the higher elevation of Breckenridge.  As for my own little Charlotte's Web outside, I can see she/he has begun another web now, at dusk.  In that beyond these dormer windows and my "office" is also my Art Room, and I intend to spend time creating this evening, I suspect Charlotte will not be going hungry in the next few hours as the interior light begins to attract buggy visitors...

Throwback Thursday

I am up in Colorado this week.  Up, in altitude, although not so much in latitude.  The drive from rural Kansas to Breckenridge, Colorado is nearly a straight shot on I-70.  I left home last Sunday, and drove all acorss Kansas in mild/coolish temperatures.  As I neared Denver, I heard on the radio that I-70 was closed at my exits due to snowstorm.  What??!

Happily, they reopened the freeway before I left Denver, and I made it through the mountain pass without incident. 
As opposed to last year's 2013 4th of July Mountain Pass Incident:


You know what?  I feel like I am an OK driver, even after the 2013 "4th of July Fiasco".   That Spouse o' Mine begs to differ.  He thinks I have some post-traumatic stress going on, particularly while driving through the Rockies, where this unlicensed kid rear-ended my station wagon.  And his SUV, full of teenagers, held the remnants of "weed" (the police vernacular, not mine), and empty bottles of tequila.  I am OK.  Really.  I am a white-knuckle driver now, on I-70 from DEN to the mountains, but, yes:  I am OK.   

But this Throwback Thursday is about my childhood friends back in Pryor Creek, Oklahoma.  Sarah and Melissa.  Pryor Creek was (and is) a small, small town, and everyone knew you and your parents and therefore a child had that proverbial village by which to be raised.  This was good.  And sometimes, trying.  But, good.

My two oldest friends are also the two from Pryor Creek with whom I still keep in peripatetic touch.  Facebook has enabled more contact, and that has been very nice.  Melissa and Sarah.  Buddies. Buds.  I can wax poetic about our friendships, but I won't.  Suffice to say that it is such a comfort that I can get in touch with either of these, my oldest friends, and magically, we can pick up right from wherever we opt to in our decades-old lives. 

We three began our friendships, even before Kindergarten together.  I was the youngest of five kids.  Whew!  Did my mother ever want or need a playdate for me?  NO!  There were too many kids of her own, and too many other kids from our neighborhood, to ask for "playdates".

But Melissa and Sarah?  Two kids whose only siblings were nine years older than them?  Their mothers probably looked at the Webster passel of brats (us) and immediately thought, "Let's call Merlene (my Mom) and get these kiddos together!" 

And so, they did. 

And my childhood was enriched by virtue of these two families.  I hope, conversely, my two friends' childhoods were, too.

Both Melissa and Sarah had playhouses built in their backyards.  For them.  I was always amazed  at these playhouses.  Melissa and Sarah were nonchalant about them.  I adored playing in the playhouses as a young kid.  It's funny, too, to look back at the toys we three had.  In my mind's eye, Melissa and Sarah seemed to have nifty, new toys and games at hand when a play date came around.  I had 5th-time-around toys and games.  A Chatty Cathy that, when one pulled her string, uttered "uhh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-garble-garble-garble".  And an old Casper doll that called out time and time again, when his string was pulled, "I'm afraid".

Sarah's Dad was a civil engineer and he took Sarah (and sometimes, lucky me as well) out for drives into the countryside for his work.  If we ever saw a turtle, he would stop and pick it up.   Sarah ended up with an enviable turtle compound in her back yard, by her playhouse.  Her turtles would overwinter, breed, lay eggs, hatch, and for years she had a little colony of terrapins in her backyard.

We moved through K-12, and into college.  We spent time together, Sarah and I, and Melissa and I. After college, we left each other's lives for a space of several years, but for the odd "I'm getting married."  "I'm having a baby." and so on.  After college, the three of us sprouted roots all over the place, and none of the three of us had like lifestyles.  Yet, I kept in touch and embraced my Pryor Creek friendships.

Now, here, some 35+ years later, I still lean on these two friendships.  It's certainly nice to know that I can call either friend, and will always, without any hesitation be welcomed with opened arms.        

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.
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