Sunday, July 31, 2011


So here we are, July 31, 2011.

What with television, radio, the internet, satellites, and gossipy neighbors, we have a full gamut of news and ideas on/over which to ruminate. (I couldn't decide which adverb was proper; feel free to enlighten me.)

Our nation is beside itself with the "spiraling" debt crisis and all the so-called news-worthy debris left in its wake. Flotsam, jetsam, lagan, derelict. Pitiful news coverage, is what I call it.

I wonder what our daily lives would be like, say, 235 years ago? 235 years ago there was tremendous bugaboo about this land/our country/ our nation.

What about 146 years ago? A big, big civil war had been splitting us all up.

If one Wiki's August 1, he can see the amazing history that we, the United States of America, have yet to experience.

Anyone who might follow Bible readings will see:

Ecclesiastes 1:9, King James Version (because I like it):

9The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

So, in effect, we Americans are "youngsters" in the realm of nations, and we, too shall encounter some hardships along the way. That's my way of thinking, anyway.

If your parents (and mine) are worried about their SS check this month, or if your spouse (and my) are worried about their federal jobs this week, well, that is a big concern. But, looking at history, this is not a novel situation. It's just that we Americans are appalled that it happened to us. Appalled that our lawmakers can't get it together.

Well. History repeats itself. We can learn from history, but that doesn't mean the problems won't come knocking at OUR door. The United States of America are so young, in comparison to all the countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond.

I have no ending or epilogue to this note. I suppose a Coda will be in store, some 100+ years from now.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sounds of Silence

The deafening tymbals of the cicadas.

The thunder prefacing the wall cloud out west.

The rain.

Oh! The pouring rain!

Friday night couldn't get much better.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sixteen Years: Chapter Closed

Sixteen years ago, we moved from Michigan to a new home, a new town, in what to our kids was a new state. For me, Oklahoma was going home. As in any move, getting young kids settled into a new home and routine was paramount. Upon moving, I joined a Newcomers' Club, whose activities are hazy at this point, except that I met one very great friend at a luncheon one day. She, too, a newcomer. She was younger than I; she had a baby. My babies were in grade school and nursery school. Nevertheless, we two hit it off and continue to be fast friends to this day, even though she and hers have moved away from Oklahoma, as have I and mine.

Sixteen years ago, my new friend Cate mentioned the words Pony Club to me. Were our kids interested in horses? And from that moment, we can segue through a sixteen-year chapter of equine acquaintances, all of them dear to my heart. It is a chapter of learning and responsibility for our kids, love and heartaches, winning, losing, life and deaths.

Graham (5) & Dollie, Claire & Cody

Tacking up.Gillian & MoonPalida upending ClaireRecovery:Silly ponyGill & Moon

Three kids, three ponies.
Excuse me: thoroughbreds.
Claire and PalidaGill & Zephyr, the PERFECT pony.
Mr. Socks died two weeks ago.
His owner, terminally ill, gave him to us some ? 8 years ago.
A thoroughbred off the track.
Mr. Socks did not trust many people.
Hours and days and years later, he was a 1500-lb. puppy.
Turbo on a frolic.
Goodbye, Turbo.
Turbo returned to his original home last night.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Early Morning

These little guys (and a third) were sitting on the stall threshold
when I went out to feed this morning.
They were not a bit afraid of me.
I didn't try the "Let's Put You Back in Your Nest" trick again.
The clouds were to the north, to the south, and to the east of us.
As was the rain...
Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.
(That's from one of my very favorite poems!)
A pumpkin! A pumpkin! Finally! A pumpkin!
The pumpkins are...viney crawlers.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fry Day

OK, I will try to keep things upbeat. Somebody told me yesterday that I am always a happy camper. It is difficult to be happy, upbeat smiling, or anything positive when the temperature has been in the triple digits all day. In fact, it is nearly 7:00 pm and it is still 105º outside. But here goes: my happy, happy day.

My happy, happy day started out before 5:30 am. I arose to get the coffee going. Cycling for that Spouse o' Mine and I was to commence at 6:18 am. I fed cats in the grotto by the little fish pond, donned my cycling gear, filled a bottle, and that Spouse o' Mine and I headed out into a fresh, early morning.

We had not ridden a quarter of a mile from our house when we heard a vehicle honking frantically behind us. I thought it was a friendly (and funny) neighbor, honking and waving "good morning" to us (and thereby waking all the Wabaunsee residents in doing so.) This is where "happy camper" and "positive" always skew my judgement. This pickup man passed us, shaking his finger at us. Not a hand-wave. A finger shake. He gets points taken off at the end of the day for mean idiocy. Nitwit man. Mean old man. I could go on. But I won't. But he spoiled the next four or five miles of my ride. But then our conversation bounced back to fun and funny things, and the mean old nitwit man was more-or-less forgotten.

That Spouse o'Mine rode in to work, and I turned around and headed back home: a twenty mile ride this morning. It felt pretty good!

As soon as I returned home I started what has been the week's task in the scorching heat: water anything that is still alive. Not to mention, I am still an active participant in my family's Great White Pumpkin Contest. So out to the pumpkin patch I went. I have seven vines out in the pasture, five of which look OK. One looked wilted this morning, and one looks positively bad. There were lots and lots of bugs around, and I made the decision in a fit of competitiveness, to bugspray the daylights out of my patch. I usually go the non-pesticide/organic route in my gardens, but I want to be a top contender in this Great White Pumpkin Contest! Sorry, pumpkin bugs. I watered and spayed bugs and then left. Time will tell.

Hot, hot, hot, all the rest of the day. Water this, water that. Sunscreen!! Sunscreen!! Sunscreen!! Where's my hat? Find a hat! What a fun day it's been.

This afternoon I planned to hole up for the remainder of the day, but found some errands wanting to be run, so I cajoled myself out the door by promising myself to stop by the local county fair to peruse the quilt entrants. That was sort of a bust - not at all for want of fine quilts, but the display was really dismal: folded-up entries, overlapping each other, and all covered by plastic. And then, the fair people wanted us to vote for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-most popular. How can you vote if you can't see the *!#%?*! quilts??!

OK, back on a positive note, I came back home and sat in the drapes-drawn darkness of my living room and watched the Tour de France. I tell you, that race has saved me this week. Those guys are racing through the Pyrenees and it's cold and windy and rainy and...ah! One can only imagine.

Well, tomorrow is another day, Scarlett.

~ The end.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good ol' Summertime

The forecast for the week is a high of 101º each day.

NOAA is wrong.

Their official airport is reading 104º right now: 6:09 PM. It looks to be a fun week.

What does one do during a week like this? Different people have different devices.

I have been getting up at 5:00-5:30 each morning, having my coffee and then hopping on my bike for a ride in the sunrise. It's not too bad. I have been doing it for summers and summers, it seems. I always feel better for having done it, and that is the only impetus for venturing out for an activity that is going to make a sweat trickle down my back.

We have been watering anything in the yard that looks viable outside. And of course this is the week that the local greenhouses and garden centers (not the huge national box stores that only sell petunias and marigolds - the local folk who know what grows best in my garden) are slashing their prices on perennials and gorgeous annuals. So I visit one greenhouse here, and another garden center there, and my personal mental requirement is that I may only purchase as much as I can transplant in the next 48 hours. Or, conversely, anything purchased must be transplanted within 48 hours. (The former works better to reign in my overenthusiastic landscaping imagination.)

The animals are inactive. I have spotted one haggard-looking hummingbird at our feeders. Even our garden toads can be found sitting, just sitting droopily in any pool of water that can be found.

Dog days.

diēs caniculārēs

la canicule


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ah! Buck!

Tonight as I made my way through the last 2 miles of the 9-hour drive home from Breckenridge, I busied my thoughts at the tall corn (corn can grow an inch or so each day, and boy, it did!), and a myriad of other thoughts which I had not yet encountered in my fun fun day. I chanced to see a sight most others will miss in their entire life: Two giant (my adjective) bucks standing out in the soybeans. Big ol' bucks - big antlers, and all. So, so pretty. I pulled over, hit my hazards, fumbled for my purse, my camera in my purse, turned it on, fumbled to manually open the "automatic" shutter (ha ha), and when I got the camera up to my eye all that was to be seen were two tails, heading off into the woods.

Well. They were magnificent.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oh! Doe!

A funny thing happened on the way through the mountains today.

I got on my bike semi-early this morning, on a trail to who-knew-where: I was not sure where I would go, or how far, or anything else. Just a bike ride. In the mountains. Just me and my thoughts.

That attitude lasted, say, two miles. I was going fast for me, 19 mph. Zooming along, refraining from belting out Oh What a Beautiful Morning (because I was not in the rightful state). A mountain biker heading east smiled as I smiled, on my western route. No sooner than we smiled our Good Mornings to each other,

OH CRAP!!!!!

That's what came out of my mouth. Very loudly.

A big doe stepped out in front of my path and stopped. I think she saw the mountain bike, and not mine.


In a matter of mere seconds or less, I thought "Death by Doe". This girl was large. As large as a small horse. I would never dream of hitting a small horse while going 19 mph on my bicycle. I used both brakes, which made me skid a bit, and then nature took its course and the doe focused on ME instead of that mountain biker.

And she hopped back to the grass along the bike path as I was still braking down from 19 mph, and she hopped, all four legs in symmetry, alongside of me.


I don't make these things up.

Everyone should ride a bike.

My bike came to a stop, and Tigger-the-Doe kept bouncing along, parallel to my path for about 30 more yards, then she cast a glance at me, paused, and hopped (again, all four feet bouncing together) into the bike lane and across the road.


I don't make these things up.

Everyone should ride a bike.

The wonderful thing about tiggers
Is tiggers are wonderful things!
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs!
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Elmer Bernstein?

Who is Elmer Bernstein? He is the composer who wrote so many of our recognizable tunes from movies and musicals:

The Magnificient Seven

The Great Escape

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Ten Commandments


Elmer is no relation to Leonard, that we know of. Nevertheless, the two knew each other growing up, much like the Armstrongs knew the Armstrongs (no relation), and the Websters might know the Websters (no relation).

What a great talent, and we should research the gene pool of Bernsteins. I am thinking that they may be/may have been a pretty fun group!

Colorado Cool

I fled the heat of Kansas early yesterday morning and drove nine hours to the mountains of Colorado. That Spouse o' Mine told me last night that I left none too soon: the triple-digit heat and humidity has arrived in Kansas once again.

I stopped in Denver for a bit, waiting for the daily lightning storm to pass across the mountains, and then continued my journey west. Here is what I saw alongside the interstate west of Denver:

That is a stock photo I got online; careening through the peaks and valleys with traffic didn't allow for me to grab my camera for my photo ops. I have seen bighorn sheep from a distance, but it sure was fun to them up close like that!

The high temperature for the week is forecast to be 72 degrees. The lows, mid-40s.

Happy to be here...

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Summer Saturday:

Our own Tour de France Wabaunsee.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Birds: Part Two

Two nights ago we were teased by high winds. I say teased, because even though I really don't like storms, we all were sure looking forward to some rain. We got the wind, but no rain. So much wind, in fact, that we found two baby mourning doves (we think) sitting in a daze under our pine tree yesterday evening. They're at about the same development as the baby barn swallows: capable of flying just far enough and slow enough to lure a cat into playing cat/bird, with fatal outcomes.

Last night we put the baby doves into a large tub and set it high in our bike barn. This morning the babies were out of the tub, and looking a little hot and pathetic. I decided, like the baby swallows, to send them into Nature's way and see what will happen. Mother Nature is better at this than I am.

I picked up the two little guys and headed out to our orchard. I have several birdhouses in amongst branches out there, and I knew of one peach tree which held an empty house. I filled it with grass, tucked the two baby doves in there, and now we will see what happens.

Last night we could not see or hear any mourning doves,
but this morning I did hear one calling.
I bet she is in mourning for real.

On a happy note, here is a nest of four robin's eggs, also out by our orchard,
in an oak tree:
The mother robin stood on a limb about five feet away from me while I took these pictures, none to happy.
She hopped back on the nest as soon as I carried the ladder away.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Birds. Part One

A week or two ago I went out to the barn to feed ponies and found a baby barn swallow in the barn aisle. I thought to myself, Well, this will never work, with Euripides the Cat hanging around. I made a movement towards the bird, and he scuttled under the stall doorway. Good, I thought, and proceeded to fill feed buckets with sweet feed for Socks and Turbo, who were nickering on the other side of the stall doorways.

Ponies fed, I went back into the cool of the house for a bit. About an hour later, I found myself back outdoors in the yard. I also found the wee little barn swallow, out in the middle of the yard. This will never work, I thought. I took my sunhat off and threw it over the baby bird. And then I gathered him up in the palm of my hand. He was cute! Off to the barn we went, back to his nest. (Note: we have many barn swallow nests in the barn, full of baby swallows, so I was making a guess that he fell out of the nest which was directly above him, when I first discovered hm. Hmmm...)

With my free hand I grabbed a ladder and set it under said nest. With bird in hand, I ambled up the ladder, noting just how high that old ca. 1887 barn ceiling was. Pretty high. Finally, I was at the top of the ladder, and I saw what I thought were the tail feathers of the mama swallow. I thought about what I was doing for...20 seconds? And I slowly lifted my baby-bird-filled hand over my head, and slipped the baby into the nest.

Uh- oh.

Have you ever watched any of the old Fantasia movie, where beautiful music plays while the Disney artists have depicted beautiful wildlife dancing and flitting and floating?


Picture this: a full nest of baby barn swallows all evacuating the safety of their nest when the human hand appears above them.

I deftly (so I thought) dropped the baby swallow into the nest, and there was an EXPLOSION of baby birds falling all around me. Including the one I had tried to rescue. I have never experienced anything like it.

I didn't mean to be their predator.

By the time I got down the ladder, Euripides the Cat had already caught some feline mental message that there was some sport to be had in the barn, and there he was: baby swallow in his mouth. I grabbed him by his scruff, and baby swallow fell out and escaped to beneath the stall doorway. Two others were hiding in the hay bales. I have no idea where the others ended up.

I gave up.

I took Euripides indoors with me for a couple of hours, and finally his meowing and grousing was too much: out he went. I decided it was Darwinian's survival of the fittest.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

As a Child

I remember being so frustrated when my Mom would call us kids in for the evening, this time of year, when the sun still clearly stated "daylight=play". Past our backyard, we had a "cul-de-sac', which we Okie kids called "the circle", and that's where we kids all gathered of an evening, in the circle, underneath the street lamp.

But Mom would call us in, so in we would go, get a 60-second bath (I taught our kids the 60-second shower version), and then: off to bed!

It was frustrating when we could still hear neighborhood kids out in the circle talking and playing, catching lightning bugs and swatting mosquitoes.

This is by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Fourth

This is how we celebrated the Fourth:

Well, this, and a bike ride.

I wonder if this is going to become a 4th of July tradition...

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Le Tour de France, 2011

Yippee!! is all I have to say. Keeping abreast of the daily news of la tête de course, le peloton, et la Grande Boucle may well keep me on a somewhat even keel during this (these) week(s) of extreme rural Kansas heat.

The ~ 220 cyclists are from 22 teams. Within those teams are 10 American cyclists, some well-known, and some newcomers:

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo)
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervelo)

David Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo)
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo)

George Hincapie (BMC Racing)
Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing)
Danny Pate (HTC-Highroad)
Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-High Road)
Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack)
Chris Horner (RadioShack)

Today's Stage 1 was from Passage du Gois to Mont des Alouettes.

Here is a glimpse of Passage du Gois:

The high tide rises across this path each day. The area is a large marshland. It's probably a good thing that someone kept notes on the tide situation this week.

Mont des Alouettes is the site of three, of maybe 11 windmills once situated on the hilly site. This site was one of the battlegrounds during the French Revolution. Somehow the people-in-the-know-of-the-war used the placements of the windmills to judge the distance of the enemy. Not being a stellar student in geography or algebra, I can't expound on this detail. Please note that I mentioned "hilly", though, and I know all about hills, living in the Flint Hills.

What I know is that each of these ~220 cyclists would barely sniff at our Flint Hills as a challenge. That's what I know.

Do you want to know more, this first day of le Tour?

Le Tour de France

And tomorrow:

Les Essarts to Les Essarts (a 23-km team time trial)

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