Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday ramblings

So nice to have a Saturday when Daughter #1 comes home from her grad school, and we still have the College Boy home. I wish we had Daughter #2 here as well, but she is settling in to her nascent professional life and it is good, so we will think good thoughts on that, and look forward to Christmas. Or to my visit to Virginia. Yes - that may come first.

I have a brother or two who are flitting, either just up north or just down south of the Arctic Circle. Wish I were there...

That spouse o' mine came home this week with an invitation for tonight: a potluck picnic. Out in the 90+º Saturday afternoon. I sent my regrets as well as a dandy salad from our garden. That spouse o' mine, Daughter #1, and the College Boy attended in my absence. They are probably thinking the food there is going to be better than the cold salad supper they would be getting here.

Darwinian Garden report:
  • 2 little cherry tomatoes which I opted to share with no one, and ate myself; a summer vitamin of the soul, I am telling you.
  • Twenty-plus lemon cucumbers. Now I need to do something QUICK!! Either pickle (yes), barter (yes), force-feed to the family (yes), or ... have any suggestions?
Each and every morning lately I have awoken thinking that THIS will be the morning I get back into my 7.5 mile walk/run, or my 24-mile bike ride, or omigoshpleaseletmedosomethingphysical.

It has not happened yet.

Come on, autumn, and your frost and happy pumpkins.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Heated Ramblings: 95+º

Today a friend from a different chapter of my life and I exchanged several emails back & forth, most of which regarded our lives at the moment. My replies to her included the fact that I have never ever craved salt and yet now, I do. Last night for book club (I was hosting), I made the most delightful pickled okra wrapped in ham. Omigoodness, it WAS delightful. I ate a SLEW of pickled okra last night. So good, as was the BLT I ate this morning (without the L; we're out of L).

This afternoon I was in our local department store, which was having a seasonal sale. I ventured into all the departments: men's, women's, baby's (I have a shower to attend this week), jewelry, name it: I was there. I called that spouse o' mine and told him to head over after work and peruse the men's shoe selection. This evening he told me he did head over, but that there were no shoes on clearance. What?! I replied that there was A WHOLE RACK OF MEN'S DRESS SHOES ON CLEARANCE. Apparently this man has no radar for sale/clearance. My gosh.

Anyway, part of my shopping expedition found me in the women's lingerie department, for the sole purpose of looking for something COOL to wear around the house - maybe in the mornings, maybe in the evenings, after what my friend Barb-the-Rancher-down-the-Road describes as a 3-Shower-Day:
a shower in the AM because the night was hot, one at the end of the work day because you're filthy and another before bed to freshen up. The trouble with my venturing into that part of the women's department is that everything I cast eyes upon sang out "Mrs. Roper", and so I walked out of lingerie and back into jewelry. I do love jewelry, and if there is something that might take my mind off the heat, it's a fine bracelet.

So what's the gist of this post? I am not sure, but I think that it's the fact that I'm 50.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

N'est plus l'ennui: Boredom no longer...

Boredom no longer... at least for today.

I awoke to cool (well, 73º, anyway), overcast skies and no wind. That means cycling time! So off we went, that spouse o' mine and I, for what was to be a 10-mile ride. But it was so nice, we made it 22 miles instead. I wonder what people do for excitement, those who do not get outdoors to walk/run/cycle/meander? My excitement on this bike ride was a loud noise emanating from the deep ditch just as we passed by. And then a GIANT thing arose. Just as we passed by. It was big and blue. For maybe .05th of a second I could have sworn a giant pterodactyl was arising out of the mist. But it turned out to be a blue heron. Right by us. Just as we passed by.

It looked like this one:
Not to be confused with a white heron,
like the one Daughter #1 and I spotted on our drive to Oklahoma last week.
It looked like this one:
Big birds, they are!

I only had time to exclaim, "Oh, my! Did you see that?!" and the blue heron was airborne in one direction, and we were heading down the highway in the other. But seeing it up close like that just made my bike ride.

And back to the title of this post: N'est plus l'ennui
It's in French because I felt like it. Hey, it's my blog. Since we have been watching scenes from the French countryside for 3 weeks, compliments of those adventurous Tour de France cyclists, I decided to tip my blog in their direction on this, the final 2010 stage of le Tour.

Boredome is no longer, at least for today, in part because of the near-sighting of my giant pterodactyl, and because of the following:

Lemon cucumbers from the Darwinian Garden
(this photo could almost be a Vermeer painting, I think,
if not for Kitchenaid appliance and electrical outlet in it.)
A couple of months ago I put an avocado pit into the pot, alongside the ivy.
And I promptly forgot about it.
WHO KNEW the thing would actually take off like this, forgotten and uncared-for?!

I got so excited about the avocado, that I put a piece of ginger in another pot, which at that time housed my poinsettias from Christmas.
(more on the poinsettias later...)
I checked on the ginger this afternoon -
WEEKS after burying the root and once again forgetting about it.
Well, lookie here:

As for my Christmas poinsettias? They were BIG and pretty by the time June rolled around. I knew that in Australia, poinsettias can grow as tall as houses. So I transplanted mine in my shade garden, by the hostas and elephant ears. I was expecting wonderful things!

The next day I went out. Biserka, the 85-lb puppy, had laid on them and killed them.

We will have another go on the Poinsettia Project next summer.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Ennui: Day 6: the Odonata

Hot humid hot humid thunderheads hot humid hot humid...

I took another bike ride early this morning. There were lots of other cyclists out, and that is always nice. They probably had the same mindset as I: get it done before the REAL heat sets in, and get it done in time to watch the last real stage of Le Tour:

Le Tour de France

I rode along a country road (ours) which is currently framed on both sides with corn as high as, hmmm... an elephant's eye? It is really fun to ride the approximate 8 miles surrounded by tall, tall corn. This morning's ride held another fascinating show of nature: all along the cornfields were hundreds and hundreds of dragonflies. I have never seen anything like it. On my way back, I was riding toward the sunrise, and I couldn't really make out the dragonflies except that their wings (hundreds) absolutely glittered in the distance. It was very pretty.

I did have to ride either smiling or with my mouth all the way shut. (And you non-cyclists just thought all cyclists were happy, smiling folk; we smile to breath out our mouths and keep the bugs out at the same time. But, we ARE happy folk.)

So I got my ride in, and watched le Tour, and my man Schleck did not beat Contador in the time trials.

Always next year, Andy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Ennui, Day 5

Ugh. How much longer can summer last, I ask?

So tired of this summer ennui business, this morning I ventured out on an early-morning bike ride. Omigoodness, I cannot describe how GREAT it felt to pour the last portion of my water bottle over my helmet and sleeves, the last 1/4 mile of my ride. So nice.

My Dad is upwards of 80 years old. Old enough to know better. But he did venture out in the mid-day sun, both today and yesterday, to run. "I only ran 2 miles today", he says. Come on, Dad: You are neither Mad Dog nor Englishman. (Thank goodness, though, you are not still running in the dark of the night like you have been the past 40+ years...)

My Mom has it right: just stay inside and be happy. Yes! I get her drift. I am going my Mom's route, and certainly not my Dad's.

On another note, the College Boy had his wisdom teeth out this morning. (After my bike ride). He seems to be doing fine. The oral surgeon people were amazed that his pulse was 42. That was pretty funny. Now, I have him hopped up on some prescription narcotic they prescribed us at the oral surgeon's. Last I checked, the College Boy was on the computer, in boxer shorts and a cowboy hat. (Note: we Armstrongs rarely take more than a cup of tea or an aspirin for painkillers; the College Boy should be riding high for another day or so...)

And there you have it, Summer Ennui in the Flint Hills.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Ennui, Day 4

My eyes popped open bright and early this morning, and I hopped out of bed with a jolt and got dressed in a flash.

No, it was not Christmas morning.

I made my coffee quickly and headed outdoors to do outdoorsy things before, you know, the dreaded heat set in. Even as I closed the door behind me at 6:00 am, I felt the humidity already heavy in the air.

For the next three hours I planted and weeded and mowed and watered and mulched and fed animals and watered animals. At 8:55 am, I declared my outdoor day DONE.

No sooner than I headed inside, though,
I got visitors at our front gate:

There is nothing better, I contend, to chase away that old summertime ennui, than a visit from the neighborhood neighbors, horses, black lab, and goat.

We all went out under the willows and ate plums off the plum tree.
And grapes from the grape vines.
The horses were content with plums.
The goat ate everything imaginable.

And that was a good end to my outdoorsy early morning.

Summer Ennui, Day 3

Day Three was yesterday. How much longer is this summertime business going to go on?!

Yesterday was as hot as the day before and the day before that. The Darwinian garden is beginning to show evidence as to who is boss out there. (the weeds) I ventured out to check on things, picked 8 tomatoes (down from 21/day), and looked for my zucchini plant - thinking it should be producing something soon. Not there. What? Zucchini plants are known to meander, but not just get up and disappear!

OH NO!!!!

He did it again.

He KNOWS my garden is off-limits.

He KNOWS how I feel about his interfering in my gardens.

He KNOWS I don't like chemicals on my plants and in my gardens. (That's why I have ducks for Pete's sake.)


Anyone who knows zucchini knows you only need one zucchini plant. One plant produces enough vegetables for an entire neighborhood. I don't have a back-up zucchini plant!!

No zucchini this summer... .

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Summer Ennui, Day 2

Hot & humid, humid & hot.
This evening, we have thunderstorms. That's a good change.

Today I went to a Lydia Circle meeting - ladies from my church. This once-a-month lunch bunch never fails to perk me up. This is a poem given as part of our devotion today, a prayer written by Jack Riemer:

We Can Not Merely Pray

We cannot merely pray to you O God to end war;
For the World is made in such a way
That we must find our own path of peace
Within ourselves and with our neighbors.

We cannot merely pray to you O God to root out Prejudice:
for we already have eyes
With which to see the good in all people
If we would only use them rightly.

We cannot merely pray to you O God to end starvation:
For we already have the resources
With which to feed the entire World
If we would only use them wisely.

We cannot merely pray to you O God to end despair:
For we already have the power To clear away slums and to give hope
If we would only use our power justly.

We cannot merely pray to you O God to end disease:
For we already have great minds
With which to search out cures and healings
If we would only use them constructively.

Therefore we pray instead
For strength, determination, and will power,
To do instead of merely to pray
To become instead of merely to wish:
So that our World may be safe,
And so that our lives may be blessed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer Ennui

So this week's theme is Summer Ennui. Why? Because I am not a fan of heat, sweat, sunburns, hot wind, humidity, and therefore, I am not an active participant in much going on this week/month/season. I feel lethargic most of the day.

OK. Enough whining.

This weekend we Armstrongs headed south to the mother country (Pryor Creek, Oklahoma), for our annual Reese Webster family reunion. I love this weekend, each year. I would love it more if we didn't sweat TONS while we frolicked and ate and frolicked more. The matriarchs and patriarchs of this fine weekend are in their 80s. It does not stop any of the four of them - I am thinking...those are GREAT genes they are passing on! They are physically, mentally, and humorously active. Yippee for the older generation.

And yippee for each generation we have in the Reese Websters. Not a slug in the lot, and we even have babies coming up to ooh and ah over. These family reunions are what novels are written about. Good novels, that is.

So back to the aforementioned heat about which I said I would not whine anymore. This morning, after venturing out to feed dog, cats, ducks and ponies, I came in and changed out of my sweat-soaked clothing (no whining there), and settled down at the computer, which is right near an AC vent, to read a few emails and such. There was a recipe for raised doughnuts. Hmmm... I recalled my mother-in-law making those treats back on her farm in Australia on a winter's day.

OK! My day had a purpose! (Besides sitting near an AC vent.) I would make doughnuts!

So there you go. The 200th day of the year, and I made raised doughnuts to celebrate it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Le Tour: Stage 11

Sisteron - Bourg-lès-Valence

So the drama that unfolded today in Stage 11 of the Tour de France is "the head-butting" incident, in just the last sprint of the 184.5 km day:

I cannot imagine A) Riding my bike 38 mph or so, and B) having someone come up and commence HEADBUTTING ME at that speed. Not once, but twice! What??? The head-butter, Aussie Mark Renshaw,(Team Columbia) has been ousted from the rest of Le Tour. The head-butt recipient, New Zealander Julian Den, (Team Garmin) exhibited quite the respectable sportsmanlike conduct about it all, and I applaud him.

I have very little experience in comparison to this head-butting incident. Except the day that the Spouse o' Mine opted to "bump" me a couple of times on my bike. This means he came up alongside my bike and whacked (my description) my bike a couple of times with his. What response that elicited from me was a bad word. Or two. Hmmm...maybe three. He just laughed and said he was training me for a crit.

Bad boy.

On a happy, SPORTSMANLIKE note, here is a nice Tour photo:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Avian Antics Again

I know I tell too many bird stories. But here's today's:

I was at a garden center today (I know, I know - again...), when I spied a young little bird perched on a plant approximately the same height as my shoulder.

I looked at him. He looked at me.

He didn't move. I did - I got closer.

He just kept looking at me. So I stuck my finger out to him.

He hopped on! I smiled.

And then I looked around to see if anyone was watching this. There was no one remotely near me. Still, I HAD to share it with someone. And my personality is such that I am positively willing to talk to any stranger, anytime. Case in point:

There was a lady clear over in another section of plants, at least 30 yards from me and in a completely different aisle. I yelled over to her, "HEY! LOOK AT THIS!!" And she looked over at me standing there with my finger in the air with a little bird on it. She smiled and exclaimed that she had never seen anything like it.

I guess that's all the little bird needed to hear, because he flew off my hand and went back to the shrubs.

~ The end.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I am in the study, listening to the BBC news.

In another room - 3 rooms away, I hear my kids' laughter. Please note: my kids are 19 and 23 years old. Adults. They are laughing at something their father is saying. I cannot hear what it is, but it must be funny. I hear their laughter over the BBC news.

The BBC continues, but I am listening to some guitar music, live from my living room, compliments of the College Boy. There is more conversation. I move into the kitchen - hoping to get a visual of action in the living room.

Earlier in the hour, I was listening to Louis Armstrong (incredible!), but since then, I have been tuned in to my own live concert in my living room.

Gotta love live music,
from someone you love!

Gardening Wonders...

Gardening wonders never cease.

This sunny morning I meandered out to my cutting garden. It has been raining and cloudy most of this week, and there was little I wanted to do in the mud and mess, so I have not ventured out much the past few days to check on things. I saw that the gladioli are finished doing their thing, and are spent. The zinnia are just as wildly colorful as ever. My eyes kept looking...lots and lots of weeds. I guess this is where that old term "growing like a weed" comes from. Lots and lots of mud.

But. Wait! What's that back beyond the sunflowers? I spied movement. Tiny yellow movements.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Le Tour: Stage 5

Today, our cyclists left Épernay and headed southwest to Montargis, through wheatfields and sunflower fields. Hold on - could it be that they were faking it, and were really in rural Kansas?!

Ah, just imagine:

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sing Along with Me

This is just so you'll be singing this tune for the next 24-36 hours. Enjoy yourself!

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port
Aboard this tiny ship.

The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three hour tour:
A three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed,
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The Minnow would be lost:
The Minnow would be lost.

The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle
With Gilligan
The Skipper too,
The millionaire and his wife,
The movie star
The professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligan's Isle.

So this is the tale of the castways,
They're here for a long, long time,
They'll have to make the best of things,
It's an uphill climb.

The first mate and the Skipper too,
Will do their very best,
To make the others comfortable,
In the tropic island nest.

No phone, no lights no motor cars,
Not a single luxury,
Like Robinson Crusoe,
As primitive as can be.

So join us here each week my friends,
You're sure to get a smile,
From seven stranded castaways,
Here on "Gilligan's Isle."

Le Tour!

It's that time in the summer: Le Tour de France!

Today was Stage 4: from Cambrai to Reims, 153.5 kn, or 95 miles. It was a considerably easier day for the cyclists that yesterday, when there were crash-after-crash, and cobblestones, and trouble! Today's big headaches were the 8+ roundabouts that the cyclists had to navigate. It's pretty interesting to watch: how can these cyclists, more than 150, split at a moment's notice and half of the pelaton go one direction, and half of the cyclists go the other (so half are circling the roundabout clockwise, and half are circling counter-clockwise, and then they all meet up again on the other end of the circle - without a wreck???) It was even pretty, to watch.
This weekend, Daughter #1, the Spouse o' Mine, and I went to the Tour of Lawrence and enjoyed the cycling competitions there. What fun! We watched the criteriums, where the cyclists ride in a loop around the city blocks, for anywhere from 30-75 minutes. They are lead by one motorcycle, and followed by another motorcycle. There are corner marshals on every corner who blow their whistles as the racers approach their corners. This is to alert the spectators that the race is heading their way. The cyclists pass in just a matter of seconds. The whistles are also for safety's sake. Too often a pedestrian steps off the curb without looking for a racing cyclist who may be barreling down the road at 30 miles an hour.

Here is a photo of Daughter #2 in last year's Tour of Lawrence:

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Oh, Deer!

They are out: all of them - the does, the bucks, the baby fawns. They are so pretty, all of them.

We have seen so many deer the past two weeks. I spied an adorable little fawn out in a clearing, gamboling and kicking and trotting in circles in the pre-dawn cool. Probably he was getting his sillies out before the heat of the day set in. A few days ago I slammed on my car breaks (but did not swerve!) when a gentle doe came out of the cornfield and onto the road.

Just this morning that spouse o' mine and I were outside, he, in the drive preparing to leave for work, and I, a distance away, (in the shade already), saying "Have a good day." But then I stopped. And practically yelled. I think it was meant to be a whisper, but it might have come out as a yell. "PAUL!!! LOOKIE! A DEER!"

There, a deer not 25 feet from that spouse o' mine, by our barn. She (a doe) was looking at Paul. Until I screamed like a banshee. (You see, I intended it to be a whisper, but now I reluctantly seem to recall maybe my voice was raised to a, wait, maybe I was indeed screaming to get that spouse o' mine's attention to the pretty scene just behind his shoulder. Because sometimes that spouse o' mine does not "hear me" when I am talking. Does any other wife experience this aural phenomenon?)

A friend and fellow Lydia Circle member (church ladies' group) emailed me that she was enjoying seeing a doe and TRIPLET fawns out this week in her neighborhood.

I was relating these deer stories to my neighbor this morning, and she in turn told me her deer story of the day: a deer hit her daughter's car - not the other way around, (hey - it happens out here in the middle of nowhere), totaled the car. Her daughter was unhurt. The poor deer, unfortunately, was killed.

We Armstrongs have had 3 major altercations with deer and our cars. When I saw the little fawn out playing this week, somewhere in the back of my mind I was may be cute, but you may nearly kill some motorist this year....

And so it goes this week and this month, with the deer and the tall corn and all this encompasses. I will enjoy the deer, and we will beware of them, too.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...