Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Marketing Fail:

So Louis Vuitton has picked a 16-year old model as the face of its fashion this year. Huh.

I don't own any Luis Vuitton. And I am 51. So, really, that announcement should not even remotely affect me.

But it does.

What 16-year old can afford Luis Vuitton?

Why would they pick someone who looks as ethereal, so delicate, young,...
...to the point of immature?

The marketing guys at LV have it all wrong. I envision elegant older women, handbags and satchels on their arms...women who have traveled the world back and forth and back again... Perhaps even, women who have attained their high school diplomas, and, perchance, a college degree. Or three.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Wind and Clouds in Wabaunsee County

And finally, the Indian Runners are doing just that:
Indian Runners
(in the wind...)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Song for Sunday

It takes talent to play the violin,
while dancing to a reel (in heels):

Celtic Woman - A New Journey

Back in my flying days, I worked a flight on which a group of Irish musicians traveled. They had the traditional drums and such like you see in this video. I don't remember all the circumstances, but I recall it was not a full flight, and towards the end of the flight, we talked them into taking out their instruments and playing for us. That was fun.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Decorah Eagle Check-in:

A while back I posted a link to watch some little tiny Bald Eagle eaglets (is that redundant?)

Decorah Eagles

The eaglets were, a few weeks ago, hairless and ugly specimen of nature. Since then - wowee! These three are handsome soon-to-be flying Eagles in the Sky!

Here are some fun facts from that website:

How high is the nest?
About 80 feet.

How big is the nest?
about 6 feet across, about 4 feet deep; it weighs about 1000 lb.

How old is the nest?
The eagles built it in 2007. A previous nest close by fell when a windstorm broke one of the branches.

Are these eagles banded?

Which is the male and which is the female?
It is hard to tell the difference unless they are both on the nest. The female is larger than the male. This female has a ridge above her eyes that goes further back than on the male, and her eyes are surrounded by a greyish shadow; the male has a line around his eyes that makes them look “beadier.” Some think that the male’s head is “sleeker” than the female’s.

What is the history of this pair?
They have been together since the winter of 2007-2008. Her markings at that time indicated that she was about 4 years old. They successfully hatched and fledged 2 eaglets in 2008, then 3 in 2009, and 3 more in 2010.

What is the area around the nest like?
The nest is in a cottonwood tree on private property near the Decorah Fish Hatchery (operated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources), on the banks of the babbling waters of Trout Run in extreme northeast Iowa. The nest can be seen from the hatchery, but visitors to the hatchery should keep their distance from the nest tree, both to respect the private property where the tree is located and to avoid disturbing the eagles.
Here is a ground-level video of the surroundings, taken in March 2010.
This video shows the eagles’ point of view.

Where can I see pictures and videos of these eagles?
RRP provides an archive of daily views of the nest over the immediate 24-hour period, taken every 2 minutes. Click on Eagle Dailies.
RRP’s Youtube site has many videos.

So there you go! Enjoy nature as we are not normally allowed to!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Finally! Friday!

I'm not sure why it feels so good, but Friday is here and things are fine. That Spouse o' Mine is home from a trip, two out of three kids have touched base tonight, and the remainder is out in the mountains - a good place to be, I think, on Memorial Day weekend.

College Boy Graham is looking at the light at the end of this quarter's tunnel, after which he is doing the Jack Kerouac thing down the West Coast: from ~ 50 miles from the Canadian border, camping along the way, to ~ 20 miles from the Mexican border. I hope he writes it down.

Grad Student Gillian is living in a San Diego hostel this week (and is quite happy there), until she moves into her summer digs next week. She is doing an internship at the Maritime Museum at San Diego. I think the climate will suit her fine. City living? Fine as well. Beach vicinity? She might possibly thrive. This three-day weekend, she is thinking about driving up to LA to see her Tibetan monks - students from her ESL class this spring. What better way to see LA, I say, than with Tibetan monks?

This morning, 5:00 am, I made a thermos of coffee, grabbed a cup and headed out to the pasture with two dogs. They gamboled about in the pre-dawn mist while I sat on a log and meditated. That is, I meditated until the Bloodhound caught a scent which took him into the wheat field next door. I immediately ran across the pasture (coffee cup in hand,) and begged him to come back. He didn't listen o my calls, so I had to run vertically across the pasture again (I had thrown down the coffee cup at this point), and call him from the road. He came bounding at a pace which makes me a believer that this breed was once used to take down wild boar. This pup is FAST. We headed back to the house and then back into the pasture for another half hour. It IS a nice way to start the day. Sans running with coffee cup.

Cherry season is now in southern California, and the orchard growers are in daily contact with us. The orchard growers and packers are about the nicest, most polite people I have ever worked with. I think they are happy people because they don't live in Tornado Alley. OK, OK, the earthquake bugaboos... but acres and acres of cherry blossoms every spring? Ah...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Great White Pumpkin Report:: #3

Many inches of rain and lots of lightning have discouraged me from venturing out to the Brickhouse the past few days to check on the six Valenciana Pumpkins I have started out there. A few days ago I set them out in the sun (what sun, you may ask?) to begin he

Earlier this week I transplanted one of the 8 starts I have out into the pasture, in the round of old hay lying on the ground out there. It was my tester, to see if the horse manure/urine leftover from this winter will kill it. The rain and lightning have kept me from venturing out too far in the pasture, too, so I don't know how that one is doing.

This evening after I fed hungry horses and bored dogs, I went out to check on the plants.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Duckling Chronicles

When we first moved to this our rural ménage, it seemed like it was the Year of the Grasshopper. They were everywhere. It was awful. Grasshoppers of Biblical proportions. Eating everything in sight, as long as it was green. Grasshopper tobacco, grasshopper poop, grasshoppers big and grasshoppers tiny. It was pretty awful.

The next spring, we got ducks. And nature took its course, and the food chain fell into place. Plus - the bonus that didn't even occur to me: eggs! We got eggs every morning! How fun is that, I ask you? The duckling project was win-win!

Unfortunately, the food chain just kept adding link-after-link, and all sorts of interesting predators have made their way into our yard and pasture to cull our duck collection. Coyotes, a fox or two or more, snakes, hawks, a skunk, a domesticated (presumably) Bloodhound who merely wanted to play, and who set the limp bodies (pl.) aside once the wings quit flapping.

Late this winter I ordered more day-old ducklings to replace our fallen fowl, to be delivered the first week of May. I chose May, anticipating warm weather. This was key to my plan. Day-old ducklings are simply one of the cutest things on God's green earth. Holding one is like holding meringue: all fluff. This adorableness lasts, oh, say two weeks, and by then the ducklings have developed a pretty strong routine of eating and drinking and the intake and output of said duckling activity really starts to reek. Particularly when one must keep their little duckling habitat ~80-90º those first couple of weeks.

I don't have a crystal ball and I did not foresee that this year's spring temps would be in the frost-warning zone that early morning when the postman called from the next town over's post office to tell me my ducklings were in, and could I pick them up before 7:30 am?

I did pick them up before the post office officially opened for business (what you do is walk through the front foor of the PO, knock on a locked door, call out "Yoo-hoo!" and someone opens the top half of the dutch door, and hands you a little box of ducks - like visiting a speakeasy in the 20s, I guess.) Sadly, 3 of the baby ducks were Dead On Arrival, and another died soon after I took them home. Murray McMurray Hatchery is good for the replacement of said birds, and they told me they would send 4 more day-old ducklings two weeks later.

Well, here it is, three weeks later and the 3-week old ducklings graduated out into the 75º duckhouse this weekend. We have four 1-week-old ducklings living the life in our guestroom bathroom. We have ONE mature (i.e., at least a year old) duck left from last year's arrivials.

In fact, it was Beauregard the Bloodhound that offed the last few ducks in our yard. As I said, he did not kill them right off, and did not eat them; merely played too roughly, and left them for us to gather up and take into the duckhouse to wait hopefully for their recovery. The 2nd to the last duck walked into Beau's dog yard, and that was that. He survived the night in the duckhouse, and died the next day. We were down to one duck. This one duck got pretty lonely, waddling around the yard by herself, quacking at humans, cats, and finally, quacking at the big red dog behind the 5' fence. And then she began walking over to the big red dog behind the 5' fence. One afternoon, that Spouse o' Mine came in and asked if I had seen the duck (we don't name our ducks), as he had observed a lot of feathers out in Beau's side of the yard. He went back out, and the poor duck was lying motionless in Beau's dog yard. He picked up the duck and put her in the duckhouse for the night...same drill as many before that duck. We think she walked over just close enough for Beau to stick his head through the fence panel and put her whole body in his mouth...

Well! The next morning, she was sore, but still alive and waddling. And we named our first duck: (what else?) Lucky Duck. A couple of days later I transferred the ducklings to the duckhouse, separating them from her by means of chicken wire. Big duck was not interested in leaving the saftey of the duckhouse, and there she sat, studying the ducklings all weekend. Today was the big day: time to let the ducklings out on their own. What would big duck do? Peck them? Trample them? No. She mothered them. All is well.

(You can't see them well,
but there are two goldfinches eating at the feeder in this photo.)

And so...four to go...

Who is that,
with his head sticking out of the horse tank,
in the upper-left hand corner of this photo?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bon Voyage!

Grad Student Gillian has made many moves
in the past six years.
She has her summertime-lifestyle-packing
honed to a fine skill.
She can even see out the back window of her car!

She's off on her next adventure:

Maritime Museum of San Diego

Bon voyage!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Facebook Headlines

They've had my car all day.

Will become Dept. Head of **** (interim) in July for next school year!

Another good concert tonight. That makes four this week. And kudos to my daughter who had two trumpet solos this evening.
Crestor's side effects are severe and dangerous. Make sure your loved ones are aware!

Stayed up reading until 2 am, finished "Once Upon a Time There was You" by Elizabeth Berg this afternoon. Time for a cat nap.
We just spent over 30 min stuck in the elevator of our hotel. The techs were 45 min outside Paris so the lady at the desk was trying to open the door with the end of a toilet plunger. Note the wood handle on the right side of the pic. Chris was finally able to open the door and when we climbed out (between floors) she was standing there with a skillet in her hand.
sweeeeeeet uhn-yuns.
Softball. :D
What am I going to do with 22 tubes of toothpaste?
This little girl shows off her brand-new dead squirrel. In every respect, it's a better pet than a chihuahua.
It was a dark and stormy morning...
I think I developed some sort of Pavlovian conditioning to this song when I was younger. In other news, it's really, really nice out today.
Mood swing :)

Help! I'm being offensively partied!!
Bored, should I work more? weather was quite crappy today...
My youngest turns 21 today. She can finally take a tiny sip of an alcoholic beverage. Just a tiny one, though.
Hey, hey, hey!!!!! I love Moby Dick.

Note from twebsterarmstrong:
Apparently I have interesting friendships
on board Facebook Friday Night.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Irises and Poppies

This morning we awoke to rain and periodic thunder.
I took my coffee out to the front porch.
Moments later I was joined by Euripides.

There was a time, when we first moved to rural Kansas, that I sat out on our front porch and waved to every car and truck who drove by. But nobody waved back. So I quit sitting out there and waving. I used to sit out at our home in Oklahoma and people waved back, stopped and chatted...even total strangers. I suppose I would offend people here if I were to infer anything from that, so I will just say that Okies are a friendly folk.

Later in the rainy morning I visited the KSU Gardens. It was on my to-do list this week, and this week is coming to an end. I was the only person out in the wet gardens, and that was quite a nice thing. My task was to study the iris beds:

Next month is the iris sale, and I took a most scientific approach to my study this morning: if I liked a color, I took a photo, trying to get both the name and the iris color in the picture. If that didn't work, well, on to the next iris...

Here is a nice conservatory at K-State. It's in disrepair, though. Lots of the glass panes were broken. Likely possibility, given that this is springtime in Kansas, and we do have the periodic hailstorm.

Book club tonight,
and we are to bring one of our favorite poems.
Here is one that has a top slot of the poems in my head:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Spy:

I took a picture of one of the hummingbirds sitting in the trees yesterday.

Can you spy it?

And I took a picture of the full moon and some irises.
I was not trying to make an artistic statement of any kind,
I was just out enjoying the flowers and the moon at dusk, that's all.

And there you have it:
One small hummingbird.
I should write an I Spy book.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Great White Pumpkin Report:

A while back I wrote about our family's Great White Pumpkin Competition. Here is a report from the Flint Hills Webster-Armstrong White Pumpkin Registry:

Tricia: Of nine seeds sown (I am keeping one seed, the 10th, in the pumpkin bank), I have 8 healthy and viable-looking pumpkin starts, ready to go in the ground. In fact, they are inches long. Past ready to go in the ground, methinks. The trouble is Mr. Weather. The past two days we have had frost warnings (yes, it IS mid-May in Kansas, the time when we normally have the AC cranked and are hunkering down from the gale-force winds, rains, and tornadoes.) This morning we awoke to a mild 37º sunshine.

I did transplant one extra-long starter this weekend into our grotto. It was too long for its 1"x1" starter pot, and I knew the roots would be stunted. So out it came, into the wilds of the grotto, in amidst my banana trees, the poinsettias, and avocados. It will be a sight to see, I believe, come August. I will have to caution any grotto guests to "... mind the pumpkin vines, Dearie."

Paul: "My pumpkins are 10' high." (He is operating on a secrecy theory, apparently. Like seed companies and orchard packing companies do: don't let the competition know...)

Back to MY plans: We have a circular area out in our horse pasture which is hay-covered. This winter we had 5 round bales which we pushed/rolled, one-by-one, month-by-month, out to the round hay dilly (I never learned the real word for this thing.) And the leftover remnants of hay are sitting there, beckoning my pumpkin starts. So I lay claim to that plot of land Sunday on the way in to church. (I wonder if that Spouse o' Mine is secretly envious that I called dibs on it before he did? Nah...I am sure Mr. PhD BioSystems Engineering has something up his sleeve...)
I'm thinking that old hay may be good mulch and heat shield, come July.

On another outdoor-springtime note: last night, just minutes before our dinner guests arrived, I spotted our FIRST hummingbird, flitting in the grotto. This morning I went to the basement and retrieved all my hummingbird feeders, filled them, and set them out in the grotto. And I sat down to coffee with a cat. And not 5 minutes had passed, but a hummingbird swept in and got his fill of sweet red stuff.

I do like Spring.

Monday Morning

37 °F
(3 °C)

Saturday, May 14, 2011


We, that Spouse o' Mine and I, receive cycling emails from the university community cyclists and beyond. Occasionally, we send out emails or replies on said List-Serve.

This week there was a flurry of emails regarding our Saturday ritual of cycling into the next town for breakfast. How to re-invent the wheel, more-or-less. How to split into groups, not drop anyone, how to re-group, who is stopping for pancakes, who is going to the Olympics? (OK, that last one is an exaggeration, albeit a teeny-tiny one.)

This morning we awoke to a nippy temperature and real wind. Nevertheless, dedicated cyclists that we are (one of us, anyway...) we headed out to join our cycling community.

Well! Only four cyclists came by for us to join in the ride! Windy, yes. Cold, yes. But ride, we did. When we came to the part which turned north into the north wind and into Breakfastland, I bowed out of the pelaton. I know these guys: the 20-25 mph testosterone boys, who would not enjoy my whiney-pot ride, SLOW by their standards, into the headwind on a highway which is busy enough that it takes my full concentration to go down.

So I circled back, and 45 minutes later returned to rejoin that Spouse o' Mine on his way home after his Pancake Ride.

Me? I had leftover funeral chicken salad and a baked potato upon my return home.
Well, whatever...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring and Summer and Back Again

On Monday the spring temperature rose to late summer level: 100º!!
This afternoon, it is 49º and blustery.
One can guess which day saw me outdoors doing things.



White and purple


Dark, dark purple

Light-as-air blue

Really black

The roots to these irises all had their proper "iris" names penciled onto them two years ago. I suppose I was to write down the name and the location I planted each one for my records, but I find it easier to name them whatever I feel like naming them once I see them.

Lots of common purple irises.
Apropos that there should be
a bicycle wheel hanging in the Brickhouse window...
i.e., my conservatory, until I get this one:

Monday, May 09, 2011

Claire Hilary

Twenty-three years ago on this morning, I gave birth to our second child, our second daughter.

I am not sure exactly what I had pictured in my prenatal mind as to what this wee babe would look like. I do know that I had never imagined such big, blue, Cindy Lou Who eyes and such dark hair. In fact, moments after she arrived, I looked at her full head of black hair and thought to myself, "My stars, I've given birth to an Eskimo child."
Early on, an artist and lover of nature...
...of fashion...
She has certainly ALWAYS expressed the joie de vivre!


Quite the sportswoman...

Lover of beauty and beasts...

What a joy...

Happy birthday, Hilary.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Dear Matthew:

My nephew Matthew emailed me, asking the question,
"How are things up in Kansas?"

Dear Matthew,

It's been a full outdoor Saturday for Uncle Paul and me.

Our day started with our Saturday pancake ride:
We ride our bikes to the next town, along with other cyclists, and enjoy early Saturday morning breakfast together. It's a fun group, and once a week or so, we can touch base with friends and college kids and curious onlookers at the Friendship House Cafe in Wamego, Kansas.

Upon our return,
we hitched up the trailer

and went to the farm store for
cattle panel and t-posts:

We have decided a dog yard was in order.
Because we can bloodhound-proof ONE oak leaf hydrangea,
but not the entire optimism of horticulture in the yard:
While we toiled, Beau the Bloodhound made good use of his new horse tank.
He puts his entire head underwater. He is a cool dog, in more ways than one:
Dog yard completed, more-or-less.
(I think the Day of Rest tomorrow

may have some loose ends
to tie up in the fence;

pun intended.)

In a brief break in the Day of Toil,
I ventured over to an iris bed
to check the progress in the blooms:
And this is what I first heard, in the iris bed, and then saw: And I said, in my best Aussie dialect: "Good on ya, mate!"
I like snakes.
Because they like vermin.

Speaking of vermin...

Although Beau seems somewhat content in his new digs with his new pool, Biserka-the-Bouvier is not so convinced that she should be dwelling in the new dog yard. After all, she would miss out on what Euripides is doing at any given moment:

Vermin Iradication

And as evening falls, here is what I was doing:
(Moving fence in the horse pasture)
And here is what U. Paul was doing:

And Matthew, we two just came in for the evening. We have been outdoors since 7:30 am, except for the 30-minute break I took for the Kentucky Derby. (I should mention somewhat humbly that my #1 pick, ArchArchArch, pulled up lame. However, my next four picks were 1st-4th place winners. Not in that order, but nevertheless: I do know a good horse when I see one.)

My rancher neighbor Barb Downey called as I came in the door. They (the Downey Ranch) had a cattle drive today - a fundraiser for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters here in Manhattan. That was successful, says she, in that no one got killed and there was money raised. Yahoo for those two points. Additionally, and this fits so well into our little neck o' the Flint Hills, Barb's daughter Laura Cate had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on the family goat after it took the cork off Barb's post-cattle drive bottle of wine (because apparently that is how cowboys celebrate a successful drive, contrary to the notion that cowboys sit around a campfire and sing cowboy songs...)

And that, Matthew,
is how things are up in here in Wabaunsee,
the Flint Hills of Kansas,
on this first Saturday of May.

~ Auntie Tricia

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