Monday, May 24, 2010

Brain Power

This is what the inside of my head looks like some days.

But it hasn't looked like this since the earth thawed and the gardening tools came out a month or so ago. Two days ago, however, the temperatures outdoor went up, as did the humidity, the air conditioning came on, and I moved back indoors. And yesterday I spent a good amount of time upstairs in the Art Room, cleaning. Daughter #1 says, "Mom, you are ALWAYS cleaning that room!" That's because I am ALWAYS making a mess up there!

I had a brief respite of outdoor fun and games between arctic and tropic seasons, but now I am back in, ready to hunker down in the A/C and create some...things. Pictures to follow...someday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Windy Wind

That Spouse o' Mine came back from his afternoon bike ride.
"How was it?" I asked.
"Well, it wasn't absolutely miserable."

And there you have it: wind speeds today in rural Kansas are 30 mph, with 40 mph wind gusts. And it wasn't just wind, it was hot wind. Days like today make me a whiney pot. I hate wind, I hate the heat, I hate wearing baseball caps because middle-aged women should be able to do better, but those fetching sunhats upstairs in my closet just blow right off my head on days like today. (Oh, and the wind blew a sheet of tin across the yard and across that Spouse o' Mine's' car and put a dandy scratch into it.)

So, to buoy my mental well-being, I am going to post some windy quotes. Maybe this will cheer me up.

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. ~ William Arthur Ward (note: OK; apparently, at least for today, I am a whiney-pot pessimist. OK!)

Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it. ~ Winston Churchill

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. ~ Henry Ford

The wind always seems to blow against catchers when they are running. ~ Yogi Berra

Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.
~ August Hare

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Points West:

That Spouse o' Mine and I took a trip out west-northwest this week. What fun we had! (For the most part...) We left our home in the midwest at the pathetic hour of 2:30 am, in order to catch a flight that That Spouse o' Mine said would be good: we would have a full day when we arrived!! Yippee! Except...we (I) had no energy when we arrived in Seattle! Whoopee!

From Seattle , we grabbed a bus north to Bellingham, WA, where the College Boy studies. We "borrowed" his car for the week, and headed back south to Seattle again, this time to visit our Sea Ice Niece. I.E., she is a soon-to-be grad student at UW, studying the aforementioned. She is a fun fun niece, and a great homestay hostess, to boot!

Crack of dawn the next day, that Spouse o' Mine and I grabbed a coffee (hey - it's Seattle) and some croissants and drove south to Salem, Oregon, to our first orchard:


The blueberry growers had about 150 acres of bushes which had just finished blooming and had little tiny blueberries developing on their branches. Add to this springtime venue a whole lot of bees!! The blueberry growers utilize bees for their pollination in the spring, and let me tell you, the bees were buzzing all around us! They were not at all interested in us or alarmed by us: they ignored us. (I didn't ignore them, though!). The bees stay on the blueberries for about six weeks, I am told, spreading their wealth of pollen.

After doing blueberry business, we drove down the road to Monmouth, Oregon, and watched the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Track & Field Championships: the College Boy! His race was the 10K. That's 25 laps around the track. These guys were FAST! Faster than the speed of light? Or...maybe a faulty photographer? I prefer the former.

Along the way down south, passing Kalama, WA, in particular, I spied a lot of bald eagle nests. And bald eagles!! I was beside myself. Osprey, too! The morning after the track meet, we continued on our trek back east/northeast, following along the Columbia River (you know, Lewis & Clark's final river to the Pacific Ocean?). We stopped and hiked around Bridal Veil Falls.

The Columbia River is really wide, and between Portland and The Dalles
is some of the prettiest scenery I have ever seen.

From The Dalles we headed back north to Washington again, to cherry country:

In 4 more weeks these cherries will be red and ripe.

Never a day without bicycles for us Armstrongs!
We caught a road race while we were in Wenatchee. Always a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon! We were standing in a cherry orchard while they went by, of course. Then we followed them as they competed for "King of the Mountain" prizes up some unbearably steep (in my cycling mind) climbs.

This is a glimpse of Wenatchee from the top of the "King of the Mountain" cycling climb. There are orchards all up & down the Wenatchee river. It is really pretty there.

We visited a few more orchards and packing houses and then we were off for parts west/northwest once more, to take the College Boy out for dinner and to return his car. It had been suggested that we take the northern route across the Cascades, which was reported to be beautiful. And, the road which was closed all winter was now opened. So! Off we went, two happy clams.

We drove for quite some time past cherry orchards and apple orchards and pine trees, on lots of winding rural roads. There were dinky little towns out in the middle of nowhere, and even more orchards and small farms. After a couple of hours, that Spouse o' Mine commented that he had not seen many road signs.

But we continued on our merry way, discussing glacial rock, the forest fire from a decade ago, and eventually, all the rocks in the middle of the now-narrowing road, and wow: there sure were lots of fallen trees across the road. The forest service had come through and cut a one-lane middle and left the ends of the fallen logs just laying there.

We drove and drove and drove.

Suddenly, around a small bend, we found ourselves at the end of the road.

No kidding! The road ended, just like that. There was no more. What??! Just after the road ended, there was a trailhead.

That Spouse o' Mine and I consulted our map.

We were off-course.
By a lot.
In fact, where we SHOULD have been close to the Pacific Ocean, we were instead close to the Canadian border. Just a few miles from it, in fact.


What do you suppose the Canadian border patrol thought? Did this happen frequently? Were we being watched? We didn't have our passports. Would the Cunnucks laugh as much as that Spouse o' Mine and I were?
I doubt it.

So! We backtracked many miles, and found the correct route to the Pacific Ocean and to our son, the College Boy.

En route:

FINALLY, late in the afternoon, we found ourselves once again in Bellingham, Washington, home of the Vikings. And our boy. He took us to a great oyster restaurant and delivered us back to our hotel. But not before we got a great picture of the College Boy in his dorm complex, complete with GIANT rhododendrons. Amazing, the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Moonsets and Tides

Well! Maybe you have noticed a new thing on this blog, the moon phases, minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour, I am not sure. (Because I have been watching it bedtime-by-bedtime, and let me tell you, it seems pretty darn accurate.)

I love the moon phases. Easter, when we were at Hilton Head, South Carolina and full of family, it was a full moon. (Note:It always seems that we are at Hilton Head when there is a full moon - for years!) The evening of the full moon, the low tide was EXTREMELY low. Now, being a flatlander from rural Kansas, who would know about tides? High tides, low tides? Pah!! We know about high yields and low yields, but nothing about tides. But there we were. With a full moon and an extremely low tide. Did this mean anything to us, the full moon and the extremely low tide? Yes! Indeedy! It meant that my 80+ mom had to dutifully and carefully tread her way down the steep walkway to the sailboat and back steeply uphill again - absolutely not an easy exercise if one is not accustomed to mountain goat exercises.

I awoke at 5:30 am this morning, and here was little light outdoors. I waited 5 more minutes, and then arose from bed. Still pretty dark. But I liked it. I went for a short run (short, because the mud was just not fun), and commenced with my daily goings-on: cats, dog, ducklings, then the ponies.

What's fun? Seeing the moonset and the sunrise, all together now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

New York Landlords

This article was in the Village Voice a few weeks ago:


Most of us have experienced landlords. I have had good ones, some not-so-good ones, (My Long Island landlord had the gall to call me on several occasions to tell me to close my windows; I kept them open because the family downstairs kept THEIR heat up so high I lived in a sauna.), and a smattering few that I considered awful and lacking of conscience. But I never had one so bad as any described in this VV article.

The renters complain about the landlords, the landlords complain about the renters.

"No heat, sagging floors, leaking roofs, leaking gas pipes, crack addicts in the stairwells..."
"Rent control, no rent payments..."

Somewhere after the first couple of pages of the 7-page article (Part One), I started counting my lucky stars that I live in a pretty decent home. There is a tradeoff, living in rural Kansas compared to living in a major metropolis, (which I did for a few years - THE titled metropolis, NYC). How bad does it have to get before these renters opt out of city living? Do they realize there is life west of the Statue of Liberty? How bad does it have to get before a landlord's conscience kicks in regarding no heat? No water? What?? How bad does it have to get before the City fathers begin enforcing whatever it takes to make things right?

My goodness.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


Lots of things on my mind this evening!

Firstly, it's Mother's Day. I love that I talked to all three kids today, as well as to MY mother, and all is well with all four. That sums up Mother's Day for me. I want nothing more, as a mother and daughter.

I made a dandy shrimp salad tonight (and focaccia, too!). We enjoyed shrimp tonight because my Saturday Night menu got too complicated. Here's the gist of it:

That Spouse o' Mine went out and bought swordfish and shrimp yesterday so that we could celebrate birthdays of Daughter #2 (today!) and her Boyfriend (tomorrow!), plus Mother's Day/Saturday Night-Whoopla. (Any subject can be made a celebration, in my books.) We ate swordfish, a giant collection of grilled vegetables, mango-melon-pineapple salad, and a double-layer pineapple upside-down cake. Lovely, it was.

But the shrimp got elbowed out of the dining arena, and so tonight this is what I made:

2 handfulls of cooked shrimp (sorry, but I always ask for shrimp in handfulls and not pounds, so when that Spouse o' Mine went to the grocery, I asked for 2 handfulls of shrimp.)
2 avocados, cut into some semblance of geometric figures. You can't cube an avocado. Just don't mush it.
1 C corn (Cook it & cool it.)
some tomatoes and onions: you be the judge
About 2 Tbsp lime juice (on the shrimp)

This was good! Add to the menu the focaccia, the recipe for which is coming at a later date, because there is going to be some major tweaking in the recipe which I got online.

Today's church sermon and a post on the ELCA board were both a very minor source of disagreement between that Spouse o' Mine and me. In fact, I should not even mention it (and you may read this paragraph tonight and not see it again tomorrow, should I deem it unfit to even ruminate on.) But both sources stated that today we should celebrate all the mothers we know: biological, spiritual, mothers of the church, ladies who have inspired us in our lives, women who want to be mothers but are biologically unable,... and it goes on.

My thought (and definitely contrary to that guy playing his guitar in the living room's opinion) is that Mother's Day is just that: for Moms. Biological or adoptive, I don't care, but there is something to be said about this Hallmark-made holiday that I would like to embrace. 27 months of morning sickness, gigantic waddling and at least 36, if not 276 sleepless months of post-natal call to duty deserves a celebration the likes of which...I don't know: Macy's Day Parade?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Disaster Averted

I could almost title this entry:

REALLY Bad Disaster Averted

This morning I commenced my 7.5 mile walk/run. I had a leftover bottle from my bike ride the night before, and I thought, in that it was windy & sunny and very nearly hot, I might like a little mid-jaunt refreshment. (This leftover bottle business is one of two cycling bottles I usually have w/ me on my bike, and I generally fill them with one part juice to three parts water. The juice is to make the water palatable.)

I took the bottle w/ me, with the plan to drop it alongside the road for my return trip. And I knew just the place - a semi-private drive down the road, in the shade, and away from the road's dust.

Well! I got to my drop point, lush grass and shade, and...SCADS OF POISON IVY!

Omigoodness. If I hadn't known better, MUCH better, I could have dropped my drink into the poison ivy, returned for my refreshment, and...four days later, suffered unimaginable (no, no - I CAN imagine!) wrath of rash.

Darn good thing I was Girl Scout, is all I can say.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Comfort Food, and the Neighborhood

I love to cook. Love it! I think this passion has been passed down to the next generation, because both daughters send me interesting and wonderful recipes they discover. And even the College Boy dabbles in cooking nutritious food.

Here's a link to what I have decided is one of my FAVORITE comfort foods:

Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls

Bon App├ętit!

On other subjects...a neighbor stopped by this afternoon, and we sat out under the trees for a bit, chatting about the cherry season in the Pacific Northwest, the Boston Marathon, and week-old baby ducklings. And I took her for a tour of my Darwinian vegetable garden, my cutting garden, and my birdseed garden. We pulled some horseradish and lettuce for her to take home for dinner, and then we both went back to our respective work: she, a rancher, and I, a self-employed business owner, working with orchard growers thousands of miles away from rural Kansas.

This evening I threw a pork tenderloin into the oven just minutes after Daughter #2 called to beckon me out on a bike ride. I took her bait, threw on my cycling gear and threw in the tenderloin, and off I went, to meet her. We rode and chatted and laughed and waved at neighbors and farmers and ranchers who passed us on the road. It was a nice evening ride.

Now I am back, ready for this evening's activities: cello practice and maybe a few quilt squares to be completed.

The end of the day: sigh...

Sunday, May 02, 2010

May Day! Part Two:

The hummingbirds are back in town!

It's going to be a good day...

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day!

"A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in June
Is worth a silver spoon;
A swarm of bees in July
Is not worth a fly."
- Rhyme from England

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