Monday, February 28, 2011

Aural Stimulation

I traveled to a dinky little Kansas town today. It happened to be 11:59 am when I arrived on Main Street. Noon. Suddenly I heard the noon siren - AKA the tornado whistle. Having grown up in tornado alley and having grown to fear that sound, this time I chuckled to myself at the memory. But then I thought of all the WW2 sirens that went off, that sounded just like this, and how so many hearts must have stopped (or still do ) when they hear that shrill scream in the air.

But immediately after the noon whistle came the church bells tolling twelve. I rolled the car windows down. So serene, so calm, and it took my back to the chapter in my life when we lived right by the university tower clock, and I would set my day to the chimes of the hour.

By this time I had parked my car, stepped out, and I heard the church bells again. This time they were playing Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me. How nice! What a sweet, sweet break in my day's thoughts.

As I walked down the sidewalk, I heard a doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo- noise overhead: a helicopter, flying low over this dinky little town.

Thank God for hearing, is all I have to say: an enjoyable 5 minutes of aural stimulation.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

Last March, daughter Gillian worked as a movie extra in the movie Hall Pass, filmed in ATL. The movie came out yesterday, all one can see is the top of Gill's head in one scene, but here is what Gill wrote about her experience last year:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Rambler

This morning I awoke to a host of red wing blackbirds on my front porch and walk. Now, THAT was fascinating. Imagine: having morning coffee while watching Wild Kingdom: Avian Week on your front porch.

What happened was last night/yesterday afternoon, we had lots of sleet and snow. I felt sorry for the birds before sundown, so I threw out some birdseed from the comfort of my front door, and it flew as far as my porch and front walk.

How do birds "know" about this birdseed, anyway?! How did these wild redwing blackbirds "know" to show up on my front porch? They NEVER do that. Huh.

This afternoon, REAL work done and the housework neglected, (that Spouse o' Mine is out of town...can you tell?), I grabbed my XC skis and poles and merrily shouted to the Bouvier Biserka: "Pasture!" and off we went for a couple of hours of snow frolic. But...

No sooner had I made my way out to the pasture, but I spied flashing lights on a big ol' pickup. In my yard. The sheriff. Oh, no, oh, no, that could not be good at all. Oh, no...

I flew out of the pasture (sans skis, but still holding my ski poles, I do not know why), and ran to the front yard where the sheriff was standing. My face felt like frozen stone. WHAT?!!!

He yelled at me. Yelled at me!! "Get in the house!"

I yelled for Bouvier Biserka, "Biserka, 's'go, Biserka, 's'go!" She was charging the sheriff against the fence. Right behavior, wrong guy. She turned and obeyed me and came in with me.

What was going on?!

The sheriff pulled his gun/rifle thing out and slung it over his shoulder. Whatever was "going down", this man was serious business. He had binoculars and kept talking into his shirt collar.

I called a neighbor, who knew nothing. I paced. I watched. I paced. This is rural Kansas, for Pete's sake. Sheriffs are not supposed to command me to "Get in the house!"

Over an half hour later, I got a call from a rancher neighbor: apparently a derelict had "gone crazy" and forced a police stand-off. I know nothing more than that. We know the guy, he has seemed harmless in the past, but apparently there was something that prodded a police force in our tiny neck of the Flint Hills.

I miss my big old Bear. He was good in situations like this. I had nothing to fear with him around.

And so my weekend begins. Fun snow. Nutty neighbors.


Monday, February 21, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like....

Garden Time!!

Collard Greens...check.
Birdhouse Gourd...
Ornamental grasses...check.
Watermelon...Bush Sugar Baby...check-a-baby!

So, how doth my garden grow?

Sunday, February 20, 2011


If everyone is thinking alike,
then somebody isn't thinking.
George S. Patton

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kids at Play

Our kids are all adults now. They're fun kids - fun adults! They know how to play, and they play hard! This is what our three kids did on their respective Saturdays:

Grad student Gillian spent her morning helping blaze a trail for the Hart National Mountain Bike Preserve down the road from us. This afternoon she took us (her parents) back for a 1.5 hour hike along the trail. It was very pretty. This evening she was exhausted. We took her boyfriend and her to dinner with us. That was fun.

Father/daughter pause to take in the view
College grad Claire went on a bike ride in Virginia with her boyfriend: 118 miles. This evening she could barely talk to us on the phone, she was so tired.

College boy Graham ran a 5K in Idaho this afternoon and bettered his time, to 15:46.

Wowee. What did I do today? Oh, yeah...cleaned out the refrigerator, baked a cake, and moved two loads of shavings/manure to the opposite end of the pasture from the barn. Is that all I did?!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spring's a'Comin'

This week, I perused the seed catalogs and gardening books.
Planting season is just around the corner.
I wonder what shape my Darwinian garden(s)
will take this year?
Garden adjacent to the dugout home of Jack Whinery, homesteader. Pie Town, New Mexico, September 1940. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Russell Lee. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Silence is Golden

I went to a salon today and got my hair trimmed. After years and years of salon visits, I finally figured something out. A solution. You see, I am not one for idle chit-chatting. In the beauty salon or the dentist's office, I'd much rather be mute. Mute for different reasons, but non-talkative in both instances. Visiting the dentist, which is a mental trial for me, all I want to do is meditate in silence. SILENCE. No idle chatter from the sidelines. I have to meditate. No outside stimulation. Period. This makes the dentist and his sidekicks nervous. If I don't respond to them, I guess they think I have stroked out. Quite the opposite: if I have to think about the here and now while I am in the dentist chair, then one of these days I WILL stroke out.

But in a salon setting it is just the opposite: I am relaxed. I am calm and happy. And plus, it's so much more entertaining listening to all the conversations around me. Leave me alone.

We Lutherans have a hand signal for the occasion of holy communion, if the partaker of which wishes not to receive communal wine, but rather white grape juice. The non-wine recipients hold the palm of their hand up facing the communion server. This signal goes with the flow of communion, and that's that, very simply.

So today, I got to thinking about that hand signal. I think hair salons should utilize a hand signal for people like me, who don't want to talk during their shampoo, head massage, haircut, and blow dry. (Here's the other thing: I can't hear above a blow drier anyway, so why should I try to carry on a conversation? I ask "What?" as much as I reply to anything anyway.)

Ditto the dentist. Maybe anyone who wishes to be excluded from inane conversation in a dentist chair should I think I am on to something...

Grazing at Moonrise
Here's a fun silvery moon song: Clark Gable

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fresh Air

This evening I sat outside and read until sundown.. I haven't done that in a while! It was ~ 60º out all day today, once the pea-soup fog burned off. That Spouse o' Mine and I noticed a day or two ago, the buds that have already started on our pear and forsythias. I don't want to discourage them, but I recall just a few years ago, this happening:

I think that's what they refer to as "nipped in the bud".

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Duck Duck Duck

So here it is, a mid-February Tuesday evening. The evening is warm by February standards, the fog is coming in. The horses, dog, cats, and ducks are fed.

I have yet to put the ducks up for the night - they were exuberant in their puddle finds and new-found foraging skills, so I hated to call a halt to their fun too early. When we got these five young ducks last year, they had been "farm-raised" for a future as a main course in NYC - i.e., fed from a pan in a pen housed with many, many more "meat" ducks. Unbeknownst to me (OR THEM) when I sought out some grasshopper-eaters last summer, these five ducks did not have an inkling that they were supposed to find their own food from around our yard. I kept telling them, "You know!! Like ducks on a Junebug!!!" But they clearly did not get it. But I have noticed this week, with the warm weather and thaw, the ducks have started foraging through the mush a bit. And they are laying eggs this week, too. So, maybe they are on the road back to natural duckhood.

It won't matter if they are or if they are not, though. This week, I sent in my order for 17 new day-old Indian Runner ducklings. Due for hatching the first week of May. We seem to go through ducks at a rate that might be deemed...not right? Anyone who lives in the country knows the perils of natural predators. After our wonderful dog Bear died, the natural predators in our neighborhood seemed to have our number: our female Bouvier, Biserka, must hold a sign up for all the owls, foxes, skunks and coyotes in our neck of the woods, saying something like, "You want ducks? We gots 'em! Come right this way!" Oddly, last summer, my wonderful sixteen young Indian Runners disappeared, all of them, in one day. No feathers left behind, no nothing. Inexplicable. But I enjoyed those Runners so much that, yes, I am having another go at it. It's becoming an annual event in my yard. I have learned through the years and through the ducks, that the later in the spring I arrange for hatching and delivery, the more viable my little crew of duckling survivors. And, a quicker transplant from my bathroom and its heat lamp and stinky ducklings, to the great outdoors. And the latter is key, let me tell you.

Duck attack!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Per Aspera

We had a bee-yootiful day. Sunny. Warm.

We saw a bald eagle up-close on our drive across the viaduct this morning.

Life is good!

After church, that Spouse o' mine and I had a quick sandwich and hopped on our bikes.
20 miles! Let's go! Life is good!

Wait a minute - WHERE did that wind come from? The 20 mile an hour HEADWIND?! The 28 mph GUSTS?! The headwind that nearly knocked me into snow drifts twice on the ride?!

I will admit, the ten miles out was unpleasant. Difficult. We couldn't even carry on a conversation. This, our foray into the new year's cycling season. Cycling, with adversity.
Per aspera.

But I will also admit, the returning ten miles was pretty delightful. 20-26 mph with that tailwind carrying me along! Whoopee! Ad astra! To the stars!!!

And now, evening, ...
I can barely move.

Ad astra, per aspera.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February Horticulture

Remember this post last fall?

Bananaculture 101

These are some of those same banana trees, 3.5 months later.
The College Boy was right!

This afternoon I discovered some less-than appetizing celery in the produce bin:

In a glass of water, 4.5 hours later:
(Much better...)

And finally, last summer's
Beta-Keratin Week

I am pleased to report, we have the last of our 2010 New England Pie Pumpkin simmering as a soup for dinner tonight. Now, to peruse the seed catalogues and begin plans for Darwinian Garden 2011...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Dossier

Wow, 40º outside this afternoon. I wasn't any more comfortable outdoors today than I was yesterday, though. It probably had a lot to do with my skewed mindset that, being so warm today, I did not have to don a coat, hat, and gloves before venturing out. And so I didn't, and so I was cold. Yesterday, the day before - well, the whole past week of single- and negative-temperatures, I have cheerfully stepped into my snowsuit and polar gear of hat, scarf, mittens, and snow boots before exiting the house, and have been toasty all week long.

These ducks were tickled pink to be waddling in liquid H2O this afternoon, as opposed to slip-sliding away on its solid form. Or as opposed to taking two snow-covered steps and then sitting on their feet to warm them for a moment before taking two more.

I went to the library this afternoon (in my turtleneck and fair isle, and yes I was cold), to check out a book on gypsies. Now how is it, I ask you, that all the library books about gypsies in the Manhattan library could be checked out today? Is there a run on gypsy knowledge? Is there a gypsy fair this weekend that I don't know about?

I like to check this site periodically for earthquakes around the world:

Odd, perhaps, for some, but I find it very interesting. College boy Graham goes to school in the Pacific Northwest, and it seems like they are always experiencing tremors. In fact, where we in the plains states have tornado drills, his school has earthquake drills.

This afternoon I checked in on earthquake central
just minutes after a 7.0 earthquake was felt in southwest Chile. Only 100 miles, in fact, from a university which just purchased some testing instruments from us here in rural Kansas, and with whom I have been working this month. I emailed one of the fellows down there, who sent a chipper reply that all was well.

Technology is amazing.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Making Tracks

Grooming the course...
Biserka the Bouvier strays off course...
...and makes a giant meander...
...and returns to the path.
Notice how she manages to place all four feet in the 2" track of one ski.
Hopping tracks...
These are swooping tracks, ...which lead to...
Aerial Attack!
Our hayburners.
Nature's winter ornaments.

Sunday, February 06, 2011


Time Is

Time is
Too Slow for those who Wait
Too Swift for those who Fear
Too Long for those who Grieve
Too Short for those who Rejoice
But for those who Love
Time is not.

Henry Van Dyke

Friday, February 04, 2011

27 Years

To My Dear and Loving Husband

by Anne Bradstreet

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more that whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persevere,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Renaissance Men

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian composer in the time of the Renaissance, some 500-odd years ago. He wrote sacred music. In fact, it is written that Sr. Palestrina wrote 105 masses, 68 offerings, over 140 madrigals, and more than 300 motets. Not to mention the 35 magnificats, 11 litanies, 72 hymns, and other tunes he put out. He was born on this date, some 486 or so years ago. Why in the world am I writing about him?

Way back in my collegiate days, I was a member of the University Choir at Oklahoma State University. And we sang Palestrina numbers periodically. I loved them. I still love them. It helps if you know the Latin translation. But who does not recognize Gloria in Excelsis Deo? And more...

To me, this music is spiritual:

Wouldn't everyone want to pray while listening to this? I do. And, I do.

Interestingly, Sr. Palestrina was born on this date in 1525 or 1526, and he died a day after his 68th or 69th birthday (some discrepancy there). Maybe too much partying.

Here's another birthday boy who makes my heart sing:

February 3rd: how about a love poem?

Camomile Tea
by Katherine Mansfield

Outside the sky is light with stars;
There's a hollow roaring from the sea.
And, alas! for the little almond flowers,
The wind is shaking the almond tree.

How little I thought, a year ago,
In the horrible cottage upon the Lee
That he and I should be sitting so
And sipping a cup of camomile tea.

Light as feathers the witches fly,
The horn of the moon is plain to see;
By a firefly under a jonquil flower
A goblin toasts a bumble-bee.

We might be fifty, we might be five,
So snug, so compact, so wise are we!
Under the kitchen-table leg
My knee is pressing against his knee.

Our shutters are shut, the fire is low,
The tap is dripping peacefully;
The saucepan shadows on the wall
Are black and round and plain to see.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...