Thursday, April 29, 2010

I dunno...

I hearken back, only a few months ago, when I was assuring everyone I ran into who complained about the winter weather - "too much snow; too, too cold", that the winter weather sure beat hot, and high winds, and what's more to come.

I'm sorry. The past two days' winds of 30 mph, with 40-50 mph wind gusts, and the temperature of 84 degrees...

Nope. I don't like it one bit. Snow is clean, and quiet, and happy. The house is cozy!

Hot wind is sweaty, and noisy, and most unpleasant.

I would never have survived:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It is nearly 8:00 pm, and I am at my laptop on the dining room table - the same place as the photo last Wednesday, "Wordless Wednesday".

The sun, amazingly, is setting to the far north of my west window. I have 2-3 months' more of this view, which is pretty nice so far, here in the 60-degree sunset. My bougainvillea at the window is positively thriving. I bought it, per chance, last summer, and it didn't thrive, out in my grotto with the bananas and heat and wind and whatnot. I brought it inside last September, and it has positively thrived through the winter months! I am going to keep it indoors. I love this plant: probably a $2.00 purchase somewhere last summer has increased in investment simply by virtue of my enjoyment. Yippee!

There has been so much landscaping going on here in our humble abode...I shall have to do some before- and after- pics soon; after my back muscles give up their middle-age strike. (I don't recall Great Aunt Edna and Rachel and Great Uncle Ralph having such complaints re: back muscles and lack thereof.)

~ The spring lettuce should be ready for eating, tomorrow!!

Today's Biology Lesson

I recall my father-in-law planting pinecones in Autralia and reaping the benefits years later. But I also recalled that there was more to it than burying a pinecone in the dirt and pouring water on it. Here is a website that has great photographs of pinecones and pollen and needles and such:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pinecone Trivial Pursuit

We have a giant pine tree in our yard, and periodically I collect the pinecones that have fallen to the ground:

Last week I gathered some up and laid them on our picnic table outside. At the time they looked just like the ones pictured above.
It rained that night and the following day. Later that day I went outside, and saw this:

They had all closed up! I didn't know they could do that!
And this sunny, windy morning they have returned to their "openness" once again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rainy Day Quandaries

Here is an exchange between The College Boy and me via Facebook:

Me: Where is the battery in my Ipod shuffle, and how do I shuffle?

And how do I download music? How do I know if I will go to jail or not?

College Boy: The battery is inside of it. To charge it you just hook it up to the USB cable it came with. To shuffle, you move the button on the edge of it to the crossed arrows rather than the arrows moving in a circle. Then it will play songs in a random order.

You can download anything in the iTunes store in the iTunes program and you will for certain not go to jail. You can find free recordings in a lot of places online, and you will for certain not go to jail for downloading those either, as long as you know they were intended to be free. I download a lot of music from *******, but you probably wouldn't like most of the stuff they put up. They put new recordings from popular bands up every day though.

This morning I went to iTunes, and couldn't figure out how to do it. I went to **** , as recommended by The College Boy, and I typed "Yo Yo Ma" into the search box, and it came up as "none to be found".

How could they not find any Yo Yo Ma music?!

So as it stands now I have 3 songs and a dead battery on my iPod Shuffle, which until now I did not know HOW to shuffle, and when I have been going on my 7.5 mile walk/runs (still more walk than run, but that is due to change next week), I have simply listened to 2 jazz and one African song, over and over and over again.

Next stop: This American Life. Maybe I can figure out how to get some stories on this thing...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Patchy Frost Advisory:

Here are bell jars in some garden in England:

And here is the Kansas version:

(Note also, the nicely-edged, mown lawn in the top photo.  No bent-up sheep wire, no t-posts lying on the ground, no weeds...) 

WOW!  I just noticed:  my tomatoes are not even lined up nicely...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Running! More or less...

I have two friends running marathons this weekend.  Well, one is running the Boston on Monday, so I guess that qualifies as "next week".  Nevertheless, what an amazing accomplishment.

This morning, late in the hour, I walked outside and noticed what an incredible day it was!!  It was, maybe, 60 degrees outside, NO WIND, (Kansans will hearken to my enthusiasm), and just a sunny morn full of flowers and blooming trees.  Awesome.

I immediately went back inside to scribble a note and a map for that Spouse o' Mine (more on this later...), to let him know that I was taking a 7.5 mile walk/run through these Flint Hills.  ETA: hopefully sooner than 2 hours, but, to give me a little wiggle room on that - don't call 911 at 2:01 hours.

And off I went!  I walk down the road past Wabaunsee City limits, (tongue-in-cheek, since: A) we are no city, and B) there are no limits, no laws, that I can discern, in this Kansas hamlet-village-whatever, before I commence my runs.  Kind of a warm up, so I tell myself, but it's more of an "OK, humans are gone, now I can run, walk, side-step, or do cartwheels, and sing, and no one but the heifers will see or hear."

When I hit the Wabaunsee City limits, I took off running, and made it a goal for the first 2 miles to run "2 electric poles" and walk "1 electric pole".  This worked just dandy.  Then I turned the corner, where there are no poles, and I gave myself the holiday of "running declines, walking inclines."  That worked, too.  Yay for the Flint Hills!  I said good morning to the two fellows felling trees and putting them in the chopper, (allthewhile thinking that this could be a horrible mystery novel written by someone.  Besides me.  Maybe I will contact Stephen King.)  Then I turned a corner, ran up an incline ( I know, I know), and leveled out at a pig farm.  The farmer was out, and I called out a neighborly "Yoo-hoo!"  No reaction.  Maybe he is deaf, I thought.  I got right up to him (and the pigs), and waved and hollered (I RARELY holler, mind you) GOOD MORNING!  No response.  So I took this as an opportunity to head on down my next decline at a pretty good pace (again, a Stephen King novel about pigs rose into my head), and I continued that pace till I got to the Wabaunsee Cemetery.  That is my point of return in my "out & back".

On my "back" route, I had to stop. Not once, not twice, NOT THRICE, for shoe issues.  I got small stones (sand?  Princess & the Pea type, I suspect) in my shoe.  That was twice.  But to stop, dump shoe, allthewhile balancing in a pose to keep one's feet from touching MORE stones in sock feet (Yay yoga!), and then all the neurotic mental trouble started:  I MUST have both shoes laced EXACTLY the same tension.  EXACTLY.
That in itself was...three stops?

And then I accidentally flushed a quail from her place of residence.  And after she flew out, I halted to listen to the little quail babies peep-peep-peeping in the brush.

Then there was the problem of my new iPod.  Daughter #2 was kind enough to download some music for my runs: 3 songs.  After listening to these 3 songs three times on my "out" part of the run, I opted to deposit my iPod in some brush along the way, to b picked up on my "-and back" part of my trek.

On my way back I stopped to laugh w/ the guys felling trees about their blocking my way (because, you see, at this point it was a decline, and I had to run!  But there was a tree in the road.)

Ok.  Ok.  My 7.5 miles took exactly 2 hours.  Exactly.  (I forgot to mention the pulling-up to a walk when the nasty neighbor dogs started running at me in the road...and also stopping by our mailbox to collect the mail and to chat w/ our rural mailman, Dave...)

Apparently, my point in writing this is about as pointless as this morning's glorious walk/run.  I have two friends running 26 miles this weekend, and a son whose 10K makes my 7.5 miles look like...
 ...a crawl. 

But!  I was out there, and I did it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Babbling April!

April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers." ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay


...and Plums!

 oak leaves

...and grapes!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Take Care!

My gosh, people. 

How many of us have been in a car accident, fender-bender, scrape, or whatever?  Lots of us.

Now, let's add to the mix, that the vehicle you are colliding with, bending with, scraping, or whatever..., is a human?  On a bike or simply a pedestrian, on the road?

Here in Kansas, in a university town (OK!  I will say it: Manhattan, K-State!), 4 cyclists have been hit by cars in the past 7 days.  Pretty bad statistics.  And a runner , a "pedestrian" in Oklahoma, was also hit by an automibile driver this weekend.  What the heck, people?! 

Cyclist Accident #1 of the week was an experienced cyclist, the 2006 Collegiate Criterium National Champion, Mark Smelser, of K-State.  He was doing everything right.  The SUV who pulled out in front of him, though, was in grave error.  The SUV pulled out to make a left-hand turn, failing to yield, and Mark hit this vehicle smack-dab.  That was 5 days ago, and Mark had surgery this morning for his fractured elbow.

Accident #2, I do not know the circumstances of.  I have heard that this cyclist is a commuter student to K-State, and was hit by a car.  Again, I do not know the circumstances.

Accident #3 & #4 occurred on Saturday during the "Pancake Ride", a favorite of Manhattan cyclists.  The ride commences in Manhattan, KS, to Wamgo, where the pelaton stops for breakfast.  From there, they continue back to Manhattan on another road, "Military Road."  This is where the 2 cyclists were hit from behind, by an elderly gentleman who did not see them on the road - at 50 mph.

Here is one cyclist's take on his experience:  (thank God he lived to tell the tale, and lives to take care of his wife and toddlers.)
"... The story....Mark was on the white line and I was next to him (riding normal, tight) just west of St. George on Military Trail road. We were talking about oatmeal or Tom Boonan, or something, when all of a sudden.....Massive acceleration. No warning, no sound at all (no screeching tires). A giant "What the F@#$ " was coming out of my mouth. We both suddenly saw the sky as we hood surfed, trying to figure out what was going on. Then the shit storm began, as we rode the hood at about 50 mph for about 1.5-2 seconds, finally being launched to fend for ourselves on the pavement. I immediately went into save my skin mode as I tried to do the tuck and roll,and roll and rotate, and roll. I am much better at this move when 1.on dirt and 2. can see it coming. I did unfortunately do one break-dance hip slide rotation on the left with an elbow slide for style points as I was trying to not loose too much skin. So my left elbow and hip are in bad shape road rash wise. Mark's hands got it pretty good. So we both have some really good road rash. But no other injurys that we know of. Other than I also somehow lost a tooth and chipped another in the process. I have a nice red neck smile (pics to follow on facebook). I will likely need a root canal and some sort of replacement. Not too happy about that..."

And now, there's MORE!  I emailed one of my brothers about this week's goings-on.  He is an avid cyclist.  Runner.  Hiker.   All-around good guy.  And he is not 20+-something:  he does not take chances.

He replied, upon my query about his weekend's triathlon: how did he do?  He came in first in his age division.  Yippee!  But...wait...He, TOO! was hit by a car, as he was running his race!!  He, and the car, came to an intersection.  The car turned on its left-turn indicator, and the police officer who was manning that intersection for the triathlon waved the automobile on.  Just as my brother came into the intersection.  The automobile turned RIGHT, INSTEAD OF LEFT, and it collided with my brother. 

Here is his take on the experience:
"...  The car signaled left, the policeman waved him on, and the car turned right, in front of me. I whammed into it pretty hard and then took off in the wrong direction. I think I impressed the policeman and the two race workers..." 

OK, these quotes from these athletes sound pretty funny, but I know that each one of these guys are thanking God this weekend that they did not suffer irreparable injuries.

Some people may mumble and grumble that roads should be for car/vehicles only: not cyclists, not runners, nothing but 4-wheeled vehicles.

Yes, we should become more vigilant for these cyclists and runners.  Yes, we should join them - if not in body, then in spirit!  We should still rally and cheer them on! 

My gosh, people: Yield to Life

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I received this email bright and early this morning:

“There was a small solar event on April 8, 2010. The effects of this event should reach Earth sometime late on the 10th or early on the 11th of April. This means auroral activity early Sunday morning in Europe, and late Saturday night in the U.S. If not then, Sunday night should be active. There is some disagreement on when the shock should arrive. We try to be early rather than late, so keep watching…”

The email was from Dr. Charles Deehr, Professor Emer. Phys., at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska at Fairbanks. No, I do not know Dr. Deehr personally. I am merely on an email list-serve so that I can keep abreast of our aurora borealis activity: The Northern Lights.

I doubt that I will ever see the Northern Lights here in rural Kansas, because we are so far south. But…one never knows.  Once in my flight attending days we were flying as far north as Iceland and I DID get to see the Aurora Borealis! The Northern Lights! The colors ranged in greens and aquas and blues, and the lights danced up the night sky, and then slid down…and then UP! And back down. They were quite bright.

This is not my picture, but it looks similar to what I saw that night:

 In other solar news, this solar plexis of mine is experiencing an event of its own, and the day is not even HALF over.  It is banana-planting day! Maybe the first of several, since this involves hauling these GIANT trees out of the house, digging holes, watering holes, and re-planting the trees. I just mentioned to that Spouse o’ Mine that this really is manual labor. And he is on his own manual labor agenda this morning, digging rocks out of the soil. I am not sure who has the better job, but both will provide a nice landscape in the end.

Back to the grotto.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The To-do List

I stepped outside this morning, full of springtime energy and landscaping verve.  The weather was cool and the wind was very nearly nonexistent.  What to do, what to do?  No, that was not actually the question; Where to start, where to start?  Ah, yes!

I fed the ponies, who friskied and kicked their ways up to the barn.  (That should have been my first clue...)

I checked the 15 tomato plants I planted this week.  (Darwin's Law set into place once again: survival of the fittest.)  They were all leaning heavily to the east.  Must have been something to do with that 2-day westerly we experienced.

I lit the burn pile.  I don't know if I have mentioned this before: a few years ago I took it upon myself to collect a kabillion (and no less) broken-up pieces of concrete foundation, left over from some now-nonexistent outbuildings on our property.  I made a most dandy- and Martha Stewart-looking burn pile ring.  It really looked nice.  We enjoyed a few marshmallow evenings with it, and I burned small household burnables in it.  But then...something...(someone) took over, and the very grand burn ring was laden with GIANT LOGS AND CONSTRUCTION PILINGS, complete with nails and other noncombustible materials.  Things that my gentle little burn ring could not maintain, weight-wise.  This spring, my Martha Stewart burn ring resembles one of those labyrinth prayer mazes, in that it is no longer vertical, but laid out all over the ding-dong place.  So sad.

Digressing, though.  I lit the burn pile: a few unusable boxes, our "shreddable" mail and papers, a dead skunk and a dead duck (apparently the heat from the first burn a week ago was not hot enough, and those two did not incinerate, and let me tell you, there is something downright awful about looking into a burn pile and having a skunk's teeth and a duck's bill looking right back up at you.  Downright awful.)
Off to project # whatever:  picking up 79 field stones (I know this because I just went out and counted them.) and laying them up against the chicken house so that I could show that Spouse o' Mine that yes, we do indeed have enough field stone for his addition to the chicken house, his Bike Barn.

After that, I took an aspirin.

I moved on to my next task at hand, hauling out 10 giant (and I do not exaggerate) banana trees, which have been wintering in our old house, to replant them in my little garden grotto by the house.  I dug some holes, took a break, and went inside.  Just to make sure about my banana situation, I called my neighbor friend Mary, whose family is a 4th generation farming/ranching family.  Weather report, s'il vous plaĆ®t?

Her husband said it was going to get cold tonight: hold off on the banana farming.

Less than an hour later, the wind came up.  The clouds appeared from every which way, and the temperature dropped significantly.  YIKES!  Now the weather forecast says 31* tonight!!!

Thank goodness for knowledgeable neighbors and frisky ponies.  Small wonder Dole is called Dole and not Webster Armstrong Bananas.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It was a Happy Easter

The morning was dark, the air cool and smelling of salt.  We, that spouse o' mine and I, walked down to the sandy beach, in the fog, with only the moon setting to light our way.  Daughter #1 joined us.  We walked along in silence, first on the boardwalk and then in the loose sand.  Fog everywhere.  The waning moon lit ever-so-slightly the way.

Up ahead were two vague figures: a man and a woman.  It looked, through the foggy mist, like he was holding her arm.  Minutes later we caught up with this couple: obviously a calm and loving twosome.  They walked in the loose sand slowly, and I could hear their soft voices as we approached: like doves, cooing.

All of us continued down to the beach, to the waves, and gathered with the rest of the Easter sunrise service.  Thirty minutes of singing and then a brief message and benediction.  I stood facing the ocean the entire time, watching the dolphins play in the surf and the pelicans skimming the surf for food.

The sun came up, the benediction was given, and the gathering dispersed, each group going its way.

My group?  Following that earlier fog-cloaked couple, the cooing twosome in the sand:

My Mom & Dad.

Of whom we are all so proud and whom we all love so tremendously, and the couple I assume we all aspire to be.

It was a happy Easter.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Easter Week

Well, you may be expecting some religious diatribe, but, no, not the case.  Easter for me is a nice weekend.  Period. I read the Bible - the Gospels.  I think about the meaning of Easter.  For me, it is a very, very  religious time.  But, for me, it is not a holiday time.

Years and years ago when we had toddlers, I was shocked and upset when some distant family houseguests, who opted out of Easter Sunday church services, appeared on our porch after Easter Services, with big ol' Easter baskets, which, they told our toddlers, were from the Easter Bunny.

Growing up, I had never heard of the Easter Bunny.

And I let the "Easter Bunny" thing go, yea, whatever...

Well!  Fast-forward to the following year, and Easter weekend came and went, a religious service, and all was very good.  So I thought...

Daughter #1 came home from nursery school the next day, bereft.  Absolutely sad and morose:  the Easter Bunny had come to her classmates' homes, but not hers.  She asked, "Why didn't the Easter Bunny come to our house?"  Omigoodness!!!!!  I felt like a such a pitiful mother.  What???  The Easter Bunny?  Nobody told me about this.  My family did not celebarate the Easter Bunny.  What was the Easter Bunny?!  How was I to know?!  I felt like I was from another world.  I called a neighborhood mom and comismerated re: the Easter Bunny.  I felt like such a loser Mom, because my kid was so sad, and I had no idea what the Easter Bunny did.  (I went to Wal Mart that evening, 2 days after Easter, and scrapped up odds & ends of Easter egg paraphernalia and wowed Daughter #1 a day later.  We told her there were too many kids to deliver in one day.) 

Still...I was upset.  Easter to me is a deeply religious, and only religious weekend.  That's just how I was brought up.  

And so you ask, what about Christmas, the birth of Christ?  And Santa Claus?  I don't have all the answers, except that St. Nick was a good guy who did good things in real life, and therefore we celebrate his good works.  The Easter Bunny...well, I don't know - I haven't read the documentaion about him.  I still am unfamiliar with him.  I do love from childhood the song Peter Cottontail, sung by Gene Autry.  I never, EVER put this song into my religious Easter weekend.  Peter Cottontail, for me, was all about spring.

Ok.  Here is my Easter weekend blog.  Easter for me is all religious, and not eggs and bunnies and pastels and whatnot.  I can celebrate those things, and I do, our family duck egg hunts and whatnot, but!  That is not Easter.

Easter is the celebration that Christ is risen, and we are followers of Christ.  Indeed.      

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