Monday, April 06, 2015

Field Trip!

A week ago our rancher neighbor Joe took that Spouse o' Mine and me out for a Sunday drive around part of his ranch property.  This is a big ranch.  Thousands of hilly, flinty, Flint Hills acres.  And we drove over hill and dale of rocks and rills until I was very nearly sick to my stomach, weebling around in the back seat of this giant pickup, across land that had no discernible roads, only slight pathways through the tallgrass which defines the Tallgrass Prairie.

We always enjoy outings with our ranching and farming neighbors.  I learn a lot, having spent most of my life in city and townie-living.  That Spouse o' Mine grew up on farming, ranching lifestyles, both in the US and in Australia.  His work now is indeed in horticulture and agriculture, but his job title is Scientist, and he works in a lab.  These field trips out into the real deal of farming and ranching pull us into what is involved in the day-to-day work of the land.

And from our Sunday field trip last week, I have a photo to show and tell.  I had spotted an animal skull which looked to be impaled on a locust tree, exactly at my eyes' height.  (I spotted it because I nearly ran into the skull!!)  Locust trees have TREMENDOUS thorns.  How did this happen???
OK.  I think that Spouse o' Mine has come up with the correct conjecture:  An animal died.  The locust tree grew, and continued its growth through the eyes of this skull.  In later years, the locust limb got to be as high as my eyes' height, and therein lies the skull.  The skull, by the way, is unidentified.  It's larger than a skunk or badger.  It has molars.

And that's the end of this tale.   

Sunday, April 05, 2015


Today is Easter.  Such a happy day that ranks up there with Christmas and Valentines Day in my Happy Holidays book.  After forty dreary days of Lent, Easter is all about good and happy, with flower blossoms, fresh air, a good church service, and Hallelujahs! in the air. 

This morning we went to early service, after which we scurried back out to our car and grabbed our backpacks.  They were full with hiking gear.  We returned to the church and changed out of our Easter finery and into our fleeces and hiking boots, and headed out to the woods for an Easter hike and picnic.

This was really nice.  I think everyone else must have waited to go to their respective late services, because it appeared that we two were the only hikers in this state park.  That Spouse o' Mine and I began a conversation about bees.  What colors do bees see?  I said something about ROYGBIV and he replied back, "Richard of York Gained Battles In Vain."  Where WAS he educated?!  We bantered back an forth about this.  How could anyone know what a bee sees, anyway?!  Is someone out there talking to the bees? Somehow this subject evolved into campfire songs and then into the question of how did musicians centuries ago tune to a pitch?  (I was explaining that when I was a kid visiting my grandparents, we would attend their church which did not believe in pianos or organs in a church service, lest they drown out the voices raised up in praise to God.  I described that singing as interesting even to a little kid, in that there was a song leader who had to be pretty true to pitch and not start a song really high or really low, or midway through there would be big problems.)

When we got home from church and hike, I hadn't gotten the "hike" out of my system, and I called out to our dog, "Pasture!" (NO: Her name is not Pasture, but "pasture" is one of very few words that she reacts to in a favorable way.  She connects Pasture! with Adventure! and she comes running.  Biserka is such a neurotic/borderline psychotic dog that most movements and noises unhinge her.  But Pasture! is one of her few "happy" words.  I named her Biserka because she is.  She rarely comes when called.  She WILL come if I call out MacArthur! which is our cat's name.)

Biserka and I crossed through our pasture, down a steep trail, and into our creekbed.  The creekbed is dry, yet muddy, and the sides of the creek are straight-up steep, in many areas higher that a 2-story building.  It's like exploring a mini-Grand Canyon, with wild animal paw prints and hoof prints, and curiosities which change from season to season, and flood to flood.  There used to be a Model A car in a wall of the creekbed.  And a red boat once appeared during a flood.

We followed the creek's meander down for about half an hour, and then climbed a steep climb out into our meadow area.  I have always intended to put a picnic table down there.  Maybe this summer...

Easter was a nice day.  No big feast with family, no Easter Egg Hunts, just a nice church service and then the outdoors.  A nice day.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Evening

This evening while waiting for the bread to rise, and also the pasta dough to rest on its gluten laurels, I began playing chess, interspersed with reading a poem between games.

I like Billy Collins poetry.  Tonight's poetry choice was I Chop Some Parsley While Listening to Art Blakey's Version of "Three Blind Mice":
And I start wondering how they came to be blind.
If it was congenital, they could be brothers and sister,
and I think of the poor mother
brooding over her sightless young triplets.

Or was it a common accident, all three caught
in a searing explosion, a firework perhaps?
If not,
if each came to his or her blindness separately,

how did they ever manage to find one another?
Would it not be difficult for a blind mouse
to locate even one fellow mouse with vision
let alone two other blind ones?

And how, in their tiny darkness,
could they possibly have run after a farmer's wife
or anyone else's wife for that matter?
Not to mention why.

Just so she could cut off their tails
with a carving knife, is the cynic's answer,
but the thought of them without eyes
and now without tails to trail through the moist grass

or slip around the corner of a baseboard
has the cynic who always lounges within me
up off his couch and at the window
trying to hide the rising softness that he feels.

By now I am on to dicing an onion
which might account for the wet stinging
in my own eyes, though Freddie Hubbard's
mournful trumpet on "Blue Moon,"

which happens to be the next cut,
cannot be said to be making matters any better.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Week's End

This week was a very normal week.  I spent part of last month in Australia and I think it made me goofy in the "What Season is It?!" department.  That, plus it was warm in rural Kansas last week.  Cccold this week, though.  I have so many clothes strung out upstairs (closets) and downstairs (bedroom), because one day, I am in linen capris, and the next, I am in a cashmere sweater.

This week's beginning was as it should have been: acknowledge that the cherry season is beginning in California (and ending in the Southern Hemisphere), and that means my business ducks should be in a professional row from here until August (Canadian cherry season).  What this means for you consumers a short time you will see beautiful red and Rainier sweet cherries in the produce department wherever you market.  Buy them.  It's the trickle-down effect: from the orchard grower to the orchard pickers to the orchard packers and the orchard truckers and the orchard storage and the orchard marketers, also to the orchard wholesalers and the hort. professors and hort. grad students, not to mention the hort undergrads, all doing research, and the cherry shippers (ships: really!), and even down to us: we who sell instruments to enable the growers, the pickers, the packers, the shippers and the researchers.  A lot of business goes into one of those fine, ripe cherries.  Buy them.

This week's end was busy with things other than cherry biz.  On Thursdays, our church serves a community dinner for people in the community who need a dinner.  Or, those who want a dinner. Some people arrive out of hunger, and some arrive out of loneliness.  We provide sustenance for both needs.  That Spouse o' Mine  and I had signed up for Hospitality this week (i.e., dining), and so we did. There were chess games going, some artwork, a few people were busy reading the day's newspapers, that Spouse o' Mine had brought in a photo which Daughter Gillian had sent from her historical museum: an old undefined piece of equipment, asking "What is this??"  That was fun to pass around the tables and discuss and interject what it might be...what clues we all could contribute.  (It turned to be a cork press.  {Thank you, Gillian.}  You can read about it here: )

Last week a man in our church was killed in a farming accident.  He was popular and well-loved.  It is customary in our church to provide a funeral luncheon when the need is there.  Sometimes, the luncheon is small.  Sometimes it's only coffee, or perhaps a brunch.  This luncheon was expected to feed 200 mourners.  All I volunteered to do was to provide flowers for the luncheon.

It is fulfilling to live on this property and have the capacity to share something that is so enjoyable to that Spouse o' Mine and me: flowers and such.  Happily, this week's pre-spring nature show was all about trees in the pasture and creekbeds, just teasing out some blossoms hither and yon.  After the community supper Thursday night, that Spouse o' Mine and I headed out to the pasture and creek, dusk and nearly dark, and clipped branches of beautiful dogwood, pear, forsythia, and redbud blossoms.

So pretty.

This morning at church, as I was arranging lots of vases, another horticulturally-inclined acquaintance arrived with what must have been hundreds of daffodils from her yard.  Gorgeous.  And between the two of us, the mood in the fellowship hall was made one mite brighter than what mourners no doubt felt in the sanctuary this morning.

Well, leaping from meals to funeral flowers and then...

A marathon?

Yes!  A marathon.  That Spouse o' Mine and I are doing the Wicked Marathon tomorrow!

That is to say, we are "doing" the marathon as the bike leads for the front runner.  I told that Spouse o' Mine that this would be the only way I would ever experience a marathon.  Even better, being in FRONT of the front runner in a marathon!!  I am always last in everything.  How fun to see what the finish line looks like before a kabillion runner/cyclists/whatever go through.  So, we volunteered.  26+ miles of riding slower than 12 mph.  It might get a little boring.  And cold??? The forecasters lied.

And here is my End of the Week.  It has been fulfilling.  Enjoyable.  Happy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Things We See

I sent this photo to a blogger friend this weekend:
She had posed the question: where is our happy place in one's home?

I have several happy places.  I tend to migrate from one room to another during a day.  Sunrise and yoga are always in the "new" living room, which faces east.  I tend not to stay long in that living room, though, for the "old" living room (above) holds a much better vantage point for sunlight, and apparently I am all about sunlight. (and lack thereof; sometimes I adore a dreary, dark day.)

The past few weeks I have visited furniture stores and home decor places, trying to make a few changes in our home.  Our sofas are in dire need of replacement.  We just removed a beautiful 13-foot church bench from our new living room, and are filling in the empty space.  I haven't been all too thrilled with what I see in some of the stores.  I am not fond of particle board furniture.  I would rather have paintings on my walls than wooden letters spelling out words.  I like natural fibers and  hardwood floors and solid wood furniture.

Ha!  I must be a dinosaur.

When I gaze at this photo, which I took several years ago, I see so many "happy" things - things that are meaningful to me, and hopefully to the rest of our family.  That old ball & claw coffee table belonged to my Great-Aunt Lois.  My father-in-law painted the nautical scene hanging above the bookcase.  The bookcase is filled with all things ponies, horses, veterinarian, travel, Spanish, Arabic, French languages.  (I have bookcases in most of the rooms in our house, and they all have "subjects".)  The sculpture on the bookcase is one of my Dad's: he made bronzes one year of this sculpture, for each of us five kids.  It's a sparrow on a wavy branch, and if you get close enough, you see a treble clef with musical notes on it.  The notes are from one of my mother's favorite hymns: His Eye is on the Sparrow.  One has to be able to read music to appreciate what he did. My Dad also carved the marble treble clef on my piano.  You see?  People can buy lots of things from lots of stores, but my "happy place" has all of this given to me by people I love.

The flowers in the window are wintering over from the past hot summer months.  If I took a photo this spring, one would see a red poinsettia, a violet heliotrope, and a peach-blooming geranium.

Our piano was a gift some thirty years ago from that Spouse o' Mine's parents.  They knew I played, although their son did not.  So during one trip they took from Australia, they surprised me with this amazing gift.

The cello...the cello...We had had an empty nest for several years, and there was a cello in this old living room.  Just sitting there.  Silently.  When I turned fifty, I called the local music store, found a cello instructor, and spent the next few years under her tutelage.  Our daughter/cellist asked for her cello back once she was married and had a home of her own.  So, I went out and bought me a nice cello.  It is about 100 years old, and it sounds really nice.  This helps, since I am not the cellist I had imagined I might become some five years ago.  I need the help of a nice cello.

The rattan rug is old and faded.  We celebrated out 31st wedding anniversary this winter, and picked out a new rug to replace this old thing.  And you know what?  Life got in the way, and we have yet to go back (two months later) and purchase it.

Puzzle, the old calico cat, crawled under our Christmas tree last year and peacefully died.  I guess you can't ask for more than that: a healthy nineteen year old cat, who just knew where and when to go, without much ado.

Oh - and finally?  The leather loveseat and chair are a pair I bought so many years ago, in such an early chapter of our lives.  The chair is still there - often with a load of books in it so that our giant Bouvier dog won't feel like it is her domain. I have replaced the loveseat with a sunny yellow linen chintz loveseat.  It was sort of a "whim" purchase, and I am so happy with it.  Buy on a whim, I tell you.

And that is the story of this happy space.  There are all sorts of stories in every corner and angle of this room.  I wonder, in that the house was built 120 years ago... how many other "happy spaces" were spent in this room?
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