Sunday, October 31, 2010

Autumnal Completion: Week 4:

Our barn is old. Decrepit. Could be a charmer, but it's not. Merely functional, and HUGE. Well, there is one part of it that I think is a charmer: mortis & tenon joints:

That's a lot of handiwork one doesn't find in modern Morton buildings and the like. It's amazing that this old barn has withstood winds and storms and such, just being pinned together with wooden pegs. Very nice construction from the days of yore.

But I digress.

Our barn has two stalls. We came to this property when it had 4 stalls, and we had 4 horses, and things worked out pretty nicely. Each stall had two doors, one leading out to the pasture or yard, and one leading into the barn aisle. After our herd went from four horses to two, we took out the center dividers and gave our horses new, expanded digs. A Taj Mahal of spacious shavings in which to roll.

Today's Completion Project was to replace the stall latches leading out to the pasture. One of our horses, Turbo, is particularly hard on hardware, likes to lean on, push on, sleep on things. I think we have incurred more stall damage since Turbo came to town than with any other horse. (He's not mean or crazy, just very large and heavy.) Push came to shove literally this summer, when we could no longer lock or unlock the stall doors.

So today I hauled out the hammer and drill and screws and pencil and hay and set to work. (The hay was to keep Mr. Socks, Equine Inquisitive, occupied with something other than my toolbox, which he dumped over twice while snooping.)

No pictures of this task, because A) I was so irritated by having to do one stall door three times to get it right (the other stall door took all of five minutes!!) and B) If we are to have rural Trick-or-Treaters tonight, then I should probably go find my traditional autumnal leaf-shaped wooden Halloween bowl and fill it with candy; the sun is setting...

Autumnal Completion: Week 3:

This was a simple but long-procrastinated flag holder repair. Obviously not a moment too soon, (maybe 24 months late...), but how timely to have it ready to fly the orange banner of my alma mater yesterday afternoon!

The Oklahoma State Cowboys beat the K-State Wildcats.
It's hard, being a winning Cowboy, living in Wildcat territory...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nine Little Goblins

Nine Little Goblins

by James Whitcomb Riley

THEY all climbed up on a high board-fence---

Nine little Goblins, with green-glass eyes---

Nine little Goblins that had no sense,

And couldn't tell coppers from cold mince pies;

And they all climbed up on the fence, and sat---

And I asked them what they were staring at.

And the first one said, as he scratched his head

With a queer little arm that reached out of his ear

And rasped its claws in his hair so red---

"This is what this little arm is fer!"

And he scratched and stared, and the next one said,

"How on earth do you scratch your head ?"

Nine Little Gobblins

And he laughed like the screech of a rusty hinge---

Laughed and laughed till his face grew black;

And when he clicked, with a final twinge

Of his stifling laughter, he thumped his back

With a fist that grew on the end of his tail

Till the breath came back to his lips so pale.

And the third little Goblin leered round at me---

And there were no lids on his eyes at all---

And he clucked one eye, and he says, says he,

"What is the style of your socks this fall ?"

And he clapped his heels---and I sighed to see

That he had hands where his feet should be.

Then a bald-faced Goblin, gray and grim,

Bowed his head, and I saw him slip

His eyebrows off, as I looked at him,

And paste them over his upper lip;

And then he moaned in remorseful pain---

"Would---Ah, would I'd me brows again!"

And then the whole of the Goblin band

Rocked on the fence-top to and fro,

And clung, in a long row, hand in hand,

Singing the songs that they used to know---

Singing the songs that their grandsires sung

In the goo-goo days of the Goblin-tongue.

And ever they kept their green-glass eyes

Fixed on me with a stony stare---

Till my own grew glazed with a dread surmise,

And my hat whooped up on my lifted hair,

And I felt the heart in my breast snap to

As you've heard the lid of a snuff-box do.

And they sang "You're asleep! There is no board-fence,

And never a Goblin with green-glass eyes!---

"Tis only a vision the mind invents

After a supper of cold mince-pies,---

And you're doomed to dream this way," they said,---

"And you sha'n't wake up till you're clean plum dead!"

Friday, October 29, 2010


This is a news story about two young Somali girls, aged 15 and 16, executed by Al-Shabaab after being accused of spying for the Somali government. That in itself is sad. Also sad is a paragraph towards the end of the article, stating that last year Al-Shabaab stoned a teenage girl to death in southern Somalia.

The group, "Al-Shabaab", is a waging a war against the Somalian government, trying to impose a stricter form of Islamic law in its country.

How horrible, then, to see the advertisement on CNN's online article about these young women. I do not know the company Ideeli, and have not looked at its website. But the models they have used for this ad campaign are absolutely contrary to any Moslem ideal of a modest woman. So sad that this irony is seen on such a tragic news story about young Moslem women.

10:44 pm: Ok, the ads to which I referred are not on this online page now. I don't know what the routine is for changing the ads. But suffice to say, the article on killing young teenage females is enough to make anyone think, theirs is a bitter world.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Keeping on Task

I got home from my cello lesson this afternoon and headed out to start the autumnal cleanup of our barn: get the hay stacked & covered nicely, clean up the stalls for inclement weather, check the water tank heaters and such.

But I found a kite.

And then that Spouse o' Mine got home from work,

and of course he came out to the pasture and joined in my fun.
And that was our evening.
People ask us what we do now that the kids have moved away...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Autumnal Completion: Week 2:

I skipped town for a week, thereby missing two of my Completion deadlines. Now I have to step it up this week, and get three things done!

Last night that Spouse o' Mine and I were out perusing yard, garden, pasture, and everything inbetween. All our animals loved pottering around with us - even the horses. In fact, Turbo, our bay, leaned over our garden fence and began eating the weeds. That was OK, we all know I don't weed the garden, so why not let him do it? But it did point out a potential vet bill, and I decided that it was time to repair that part of the pasture fence. After all, the only thing holding the fence up was the dead lemon cucumber vines, and I think Turbo was beginning to see a golden opportunity into our yard's green green lawn.

Late this morning I grabbed all necessary tools and a step ladder (something most farmer-rancher types do not haul out to the pasture, but I am a 5'2" weakling when it comes to sledge-hammering t-posts into the ground), and headed out. First I spent a goodly amount of time taking out the old fence (part barbed wire, part hogwire, part who-knows-what: all rusted). And then, with the assistance of the ever-helpful feline Euripides, I began hammering in t-posts and setting up fence.

What would I have done differently?
  1. I would have waited for a day when the wind was not blowing 25 mph.
  2. I would have put the ever-helpful Euripides indoors for the day. Having a cat shimmy up the stepladder while I was sledge-hammering t-posts in 25 mph wind was not beneficial to the task at hand.
  3. I would have drained the horse tank set up against the fence the night before. As it happened, I drained it and then trudged through mud the rest of the task-at-hand.
But that part of the fencing is done:
Only ~1 mile left to do...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 4: Whirlwind Gallery Tour

Today we drove back to the Windy City village of Wabaunsee...approximately 9.5 hours filled with fog, rain, sun, wind, BLACK clouds, more wind, sun again, sprinkles, more wind, and finally...home. Jiggety-jig.

Wow. What a trip. It was a whirlwind, but my Mom & Dad & I had a great time. We saw lots of good art, and some stuff I wouldn't consider art. Mountains are always a pick-me-up for someone from Kansas. (Although, people assume I live in flat Kansas, and that is a presumption: the Flint Hills are just that: big ol' rolling hills.)

So now I am home again and feel eager to get on with my own art and creativity.

...after I go run 20 laps to get the creaks out of this poor been-in-a-car-too-long body...

Day 3: Whirlwind Gallery Tour

Yesterday was an easy day in terms of driving and gallery-touring: we just went to Vail, and then back to Breckenridge. Maybe one hour in the car.

Today, we awoke dark and early, and as soon as the sun was up and over the mountains (because we have to have our coffee while we watch the sunshine top the tops, and ease its way down the slopes...) we hopped into the car, headed for Estes Park. Not much to tell about galleries in Estes Park, except they were not calling our names. In fact, unless you have a penchant for pottery and dead animals, I'm not sure I would hit the Estes Park "gallery" scene.

What was fun and entertaining was the drive back across the Trail Ridge Road: the highest continuously-paved road in the United States, reaching an elevation of 12,000+ feet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 2: Whirlwind Gallery Tour

Whirlwind gallery tour, Day 2, started in an interesting way. I awoke early, about 5:am. I got up, made coffee, and went online to check business emails. I was sitting in the Breckenridge kitchen in sweats and a hoodie, typing emails to Tasmania and Santiago when my Dad came into the kitchen and exclaimed how cold it was! (Well, it WAS 20* outside...) I hadn't noticed it, but the furnace was not running and it was 59* in the kitchen.

We got the furnace working a couple of hours later, and soon after breakfast, we headed to Vail and our next gallery. That visit was nice, and Dad left some sculpture pieces with the gallery owner. (That's always a good thing.)

In the afternoon we all split up to do our own thing. Here's what my Dad chose to do:
Hike up the "hill" back behind the house...
My Dad's white sweatshirt can be seen in the little white circles in these photos:
Keep on hiking...up and up...and a little over...
Interesting footnote to this part of Dad's climb, and highly scientific:
He said there was no oxygen from the start to the top of his climb thus far.

And then Dad was 1/2 way through his "hike". Here he was meeting up to a decent trail (all other had been fairly bushwacking.), and then further down to a paved road...

Then he decided to run...
And run all the way home...
Honestly. You would think he could act his age.
We are so glad he doesn't!
He remarked to Mom, on the walk back up the drive,
that perhaps she could do the climb "out back".
She replied that he needed to get over his "runner's high".

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dam It

First, read this:

That was nearly a year ago.

Those guys have been busy as...


My Mom & Dad, inspecting the dam construction...

My Mom & Dad & I embarked on our whirlwind art gallery tour through the Rockies this morning. We left the Flint Hills fairly early, sunrise, got 3 miles from my house before we stopped to check on our neighbors who had just hit a deer. (It's deer season in Kansas.) They were fine, but their car and the deer were not. Poor thing. We then drove another mile, discovered we couldn't find a cell phone, and back-tracked and got it. On to the Rockies!

We drove all day and I had my head in a book very nearly the entire way. We stopped at our first gallery in Evergreen, Co. Mom & Dad got out of the car much quicker than I, because I was taking a moment to drink some water. Well. That's all it takes, apparently, around impatient parents. They locked the van and headed up the steps to the gallery door. I was left behind, knocking on the minivan windows and laughing hysterically. My parents had locked me in the back of the van, and I couldn't get out. The first 10-15 minutes, I waited, looking up eagerly every minute or so like some spaniel who had been left behind in a car. I thought sure they would notice that I wasn't in the gallery. In fact, they HAD noticed it, according to my mother, who later said she remarked to my father, "Well, she certainly must be enjoying her book!" I read some more, played with the new Garmin, checking directions to destinations we weren't even remotely planning to go (Newfoundland? Fresno?) It was about half an hour later that my Dad came out to the car to get some paperwork. "Hi, Dad! You locked me in the car!"

I went back into the gallery with him, had a quick tour, and then we three jumped back into the car and headed for the hills. We took a little shortcut through the Front Range, and I saw a bighorn sheep grazing alongside the road. I saw it all of, say a split second: Dad was barreling through the mountains at 100 mph, so it was a quick sighting of any wildlife. OK. I exaggerate. But we certainly didn't dilly-dally after the Subway sandwich maker took too long with the lunch orders...

Tomorrow: Vail & Aspen...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Little Village

So this morning, early AM, I am toddling around in my jammies, sipping some coffee and adhering to no schedule whatsoever.

Our dog, Biserka, begins to bark. Odd, in that she rarely does that, and odd, that it's on a Sunday morn.

I amble out to quiet her. (Me, in my jammies. It's only 8:30 am on a Sunday morn..)

It's our neighbor down the way, out of his pickup. (The pickup, I think, is Biserka's bugaboo to bark at.) He has my bundle of mail.


He, from west of us, was sitting in his pickup last night watching the guy north of us finish his soybean harvest just across the road from us, when the USPS guy pulled up, and announced that he could not fit my mail into my mailbox: could someone take it for me?


A: Yay that I have good neighbors.
B: These neighbors are honest.
C: These neighbors did not bat an eye even if they read that the package addressed to me came from Evil Empire Books &

(Really: I bought a DVD of Helen Mirren's 90's Prime Suspect mystery shows.)

But, honestly, where in the world do I live, that people:

A) hang out on a Saturday night watching soybean harvest.
B) accept whatever the USPS hands them, asking them to deliver it to their neighbor??

There is no C to this. I am just happy that I got my Helen Mirren DVD, and that Biserka did not bite my neighbor this morning.

That's all I have to say.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tennis, Anyone?

The town where I grew up (Pryor Creek, Oklahoma) used to have annual tennis tournaments. My family, three generations of us and tennis enthusiasts all, used to partake in these tournaments with unbridled enthusiasm each year. I miss those hot summer days like I miss no other! (Because I miss no other hot summer days...)

My brother Mike, coming on court directly from church.
He took his play most seriously.

My niece, Amy Webster Van Duser, and me.
If I recall, Amy was in charge of our matching tennis outfits that year.
We, too, took our play most seriously.
No, no...that is not accurate; the opponents took THEIR play most seriously:
We got whupped. (But we looked GOOD.)

Daughter #2 in her finals. If I recall, she got whupped as well.
But she looked GOOD.

How my brother Bob caught my Dad in this photo I do not know.
And why my Dad is sitting in gravel, I do not know.
(And where any handicap seating is, we do not know...)
Just this month, my Dad played in a Seniors Tournament.
I won't say exactly how old my Dad is,
but it rhymes with Matey-Boo. Or Matey-Bee.
The 65-year-old beat him. Come on...

Even though we Armstrongs are cycling fanatics, we do love tennis and running as well. It was nice when the Grad Student got home for Fall Break today and remarked how sore she was from her tennis match yesterday.

I love it!

Friday, October 15, 2010


I often get kidded about my lifestyle. I don't keep a planner, I don't adhere to too strict of a daily schedule (being self-employed has its merits), and I am fairly relaxed about my daily/weekly goings-on. Am I lazy? I don't think so. But when it comes to times and dates and schedules...I think I was absent from school the day they taught the merits of such.

I marvel at these people who have a strict schedule of menus and housekeeping and life in general. At a distance, that is. I don't envy them their...Type-A-ness?

I like to run and walk and ride my bike. I don't have a strict regimen. If I feel like running, I run out my door and down the road. I stop running when I feel like it. After walking some, I start running again when I feel like it. Sometimes, I just run out to the clothesline, or out to the creek, whatever. No rules, here. Run when you feel like it. Cycling usually has more of a plan to it, in that I have to factor in water and food. (Hey, I may be a slacker in a lot of areas, but I can hold my own on a 50-miler, even a century, if I need to prove something.)

So, rereading what I've written so far...this makes me sound like I am totally without self-discipline! No assertive plans, just a slide-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type o' gal.

But wait! Maybe I can blame my parents!

My parents are so funny, and lively, and funny. Next week Mom & Dad & I are embarking on a Rocky Mountain tour-of-the galleries-and-fun-trip-in-general: A) because my Dad is a sculptor, and B) we Websters manage to make just about anything fun, or funner.

So! When do we leave, you might ask? Well, Mom & Dad might come up here to rural Kansas on Sunday, and we will head for the hills ( or mountains) on Monday. Or, Mom & Dad might come up here to rural Kansas on Monday, and we will head for the hills (or mountains) on Tuesday.

Either plan works for me. And them.

Whenever they get here, we will go. Whenever we finish whatever it is we set off to do and see, we will come back.

I love that Spouse o' Mine; he never questions my nonsense.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Crack of Dawn

I happened upon this photo this evening, and thought I should write about it before I misplace it. I know, it's on my hard drive, but it is listed as something like Computer: F: \olddrive\Kodak Pictures\2004-01-30, and therefore it is very likely I won't retrieve it any time soon, once I exit.

Anyway: one morning, before the break of dawn, I wandered out into the pasture in my jammers and houseslippers, (yes, in the snow...) and I saw an amazing pink light coming over the trees down by the creek. I ran back to the house (see: running in houseslippers in the snow in a dark pasture), and grabbed what apparently was a geriatric Kodak camera, according to F:\olddrive\Kodak Pictures\2004-01-30, and ran back in time to photograph...

The Crack of Dawn

It was a beautiful morning.

Seeing this photo reminds me of a wonderful storyteller from North Carolina, Donald Davis .
I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Davis tell stories twice, and I loved it! One of his Appalachian stories is called Listening for the Crack of Dawn. His North Carolina drawl reminds me of those 1960s Walt Disney narrators. And Mr. Davis and his wife are as congenial as they come when visiting with total strangers.

And so now I feel better, having gotten this photo up without losing it in the meantime!


My winter garden is coming along quite nicely!
That Spouse o' Mine and I have been having collard greens
nearly every evening the past couple of weeks:

It sounds healthy, since greens are full of vitamins, but I like to cook the daylights out of collard greens, so I think I cancel out any chance of vitamin acquisition in these servings. Yes, I could steam them. But there is something to be said for that which is good for the soul. On a crisp fall evening, it sure is nice to have a big pot of greens simmering in chicken broth, lots and lots of pepper, and 1/2 slice of bacon.

And that's how you cook collard greens.

You will notice the whopping horseradish "windrow"
beside our compost bin:

What you don't see is that I have tomato plants strung across the horseradish...
and I still have tomatoes going.
How funny...

You probably are also noticing the weeds...just part of the territory...

The nights are getting down close to freezing now,
so I am a little vigilant about evening watering and such.

I have yet to bring in my banana trees...

...miles to go before I sleep...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Life with Cello:

I went to my cello lesson today. I met a violin instructor afterward, and was explaining to her that I had taken lessons for a year. But then on my drive home, I realized: it's been a year and a half! I am in my second year of cellodom!

What do I have to show for it?

Well, I can hit the notes fairly nicely.

I can sight read pretty well. REALLY well, if the measure starts on an open string. (My "lucky" notes.)

I have gotten to a point where I don't forget to swallow. This is difficult (and kind of gross) to explain, but for at least 12+ months, I would be so engrossed in getting the right fingering, the right up-bow and down-bow, the slurs, the omigosh! THE EVERYTHING right, I found myself forgetting to swallow. And then choking because I had a mouthful of saliva. That IS gross, isn't it? I can't believe I am writing about it.

Now, my main physical problem is my face contortions. If you look at any video of my hero Yo Yo Ma, you will see a serene expression, a smile, a calm demeanor.

I get all worked up about the right fingering, the right up-bow and down-bow, the slurs, the omigosh! THE EVERYTHING PLUS remembering to swallow, and this is what I look like:

And I thought this mid-life learning experience would be a lovely "serenity:now" experience...

"The most perfect technique is that which is not noticed at all." ~ Pablo Casals

Apparently, I have a ways to go...

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Rant

It seems like everything in this world now is scented. Scents that are artificial, invasive, downright obnoxious. I can't stand fake scents. Today I was looking to buy some cat litter, and all I could find was "scented". There's little worse than a cat litter box, but to me, a cat litter box that smells of cat pee AND some additional offending odor is unbearable.

I was at a different store last week, and one of those aisle demonstrators wanted to show me the new air freshener and give me coupons. I smiled and told her I didn't do scents. (And am I the only one who sneezes around these offending, chemical "scents"? To me that is nature's way of telling me something is not right...)

I do, on occasion, wear a very light perfume, but I dare anyone besides that Spouse o' Mine to be close enough to catch wind of it. I always thought that one's perfume should not announce your arrival into a room.

Hideous and not-even-close-to-real lavender candle scents, fake cookie smells coming out of electrical outlets, cinnamon boiling on the stove...all of these things really make me feel ill. People have been brainwashed to believe that their laundry must have a scent that one can smell ten feet away, or it is not up to standard.

OK. That's my rant. Here's a thought: go out to your garden and take a lavender bud, a spring of mint, or a patchouli leaf, and rub it between your fingers.

Now, that's worth smelling.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Autumnal Completion: Week 1

Pasture maintenance calls for mowing every-so-often, to keep weeds at bay and to promote healthier grass roots systems. Our pasture is small by local standards, but big enough when one owns no farm implements.

Our general mowing practice is to mow in bits and pieces, rarely ever mowing more than a quadrant at a time - much less the WHOLE DARN THING. But, that's what I did today: completed the whole mowing of the pasture. I had mowed a bit many weeks ago, before ragweed and more heat set in, and then the Grad Student put in her time on the mower a few weeks after me. The morning stars must have been aligned properly when I arose at 6:00 a.m. today, because I went out after a quick cup of coffee, fed all the animals, watered the winter garden, and hopped on the mower.

I mowed and mowed and mowed and mowed:

After I finished, I came in and took 1/2 a benadryl and two aspirin for my sneezing-induced headache. And soon thereafter, took the second 1/2 of a benadryl.

This rendered me comatose for the remainder of the afternoon.

But it is completed. And none-too-soon:

Here come the clouds. Rain: hurray!

"...tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new..." ~ John Milton
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