Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Good End to the Day

This afternoon I was on my drive back home from cello when, suddenly, there was a low-flying movement coming across the road.



(I braked, of course.)

I immediately pulled over (after checking my rear view, of course.)

And I watched him glide across the road in front of my car, and into the field just next to my car. At first I thought he was injured, because he was so close to me. He was so close. So big, and SO PRETTY.

And he just sat there, looking at me.

I sat there, looking at him.

A car drove past, and stopped, thinking I needed assistance. When he spied what I was watching, he drove on. (WHY, I ask??)

Then the eagle slowly took off, and re-crossed the road some yards further. I followed, slowly, in my car. He landed low in a tree. I stopped alongside again, and sat, watching him. He was aware of me - my car. A few short minutes later, he took off again, slowly and relaxed, across the road again.

The last I saw of him was at dark dusk, and I could barely make out his amazing white head and tail. I should mention that this bald eagle was large. LARGE.

And very pretty.
And he just made my already happy day...even better.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Love the Holidays!

"...And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”

(Dr. Suess, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, New York: Random House, 1957.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Repast and Reflection

So we three (That Spouse o' Mine, Grad student Gillian, and I) spent Thanksgiving in delightfully cold and wonderful Colorado, along with my brother, SIL, and niece Melinda. Fun people all around. We really felt the absence of one College Boy Graham out west (he will be home in two weeks, after finals), and College Grad Claire, who is at the mercy of holiday retail scheduling, (and she will be home a week after Christmas - yay!!)

The repast: The two grad students fixed a great meal on T'giving day" :
Moosewood Scandinavian Salmon Soup
Cabbage and White Bean Salad


Better than the textbook turkey and gravy - although that is nothing I sniff at judgmentally: I LOVE turkey and gravy...but it needn't be the requisite meal at all Thanksgiving meals. Puh-lease: cook a turkey for the 4th of July. It is really nice then, too!

The following day I made a leg of lamb meal, with hash brown casserole and broccoli.

Inbetween all this cooking, there was skiing, climbing, quilting, jigsaw puzzling, museum-going, shopping, My Fair Lady-viewing, reading, and all the normal family get-together stuff.

Love the holidays, yes, I do.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkeys...by Mary Mackey


One November
a week before Thanksgiving
the Ohio river froze
and my great uncles
put on their coats
and drove the turkeys
across the ice
to Rosiclare
where they sold them
for enough to buy
my grandmother
a Christmas doll
with blue china eyes

I like to think
of the sound of
two hundred turkey feet
running across to Illinois
on their way
to the platter
the scrape of their nails
and my great uncles
in their homespun leggings
calling out gee and haw and git
to them as if they
were mules

I like to think of the Ohio
at that moment
the clear cold sky
the green river sleeping
under the ice
before the land got stripped
and the farm got sold
and the water turned the color
of whiskey
and all the uncles
lay down
and never got up again

I like to think of the world
before some genius invented
turkeys with pop-up plastic
in their breasts
idiot birds
with no wildness left in them
turkeys that couldn't run the river
to save their souls

~ by Mary Mackey

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Week: T'giving

I spent a goodly amount of time yesterday and today getting the logistics right for our T'giving trip to Colorado. Case in point:

Car? check
Food? check
Skis and ski poles? check
Did I forget the snowshoes? check

Animals? Hmmmm......

We have house sitters who are knowledgeable and able and relaxed enough that they won't call us unless there is a REAL, REALLY-REAL emergency. Keep our animals alive, and we are happy.

And so today, I finalized all the physical animal hoo-hahs (feed, water, light,fence, warmth), and then I called it: complete!

That Spouse o' Mine came home at 6:00 pm, and he topped off the feed tins and such.

Soon thereafter, Grad Student Gillian arrived. Enough worrying about the logistics.

Let T'giving begin!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Safety Net

On Saturday I wrote about riding my bike, and how, when I opted to take a different route home, that Spouse o' Mine simply said, "If you're longer than 20 minutes, I will assume you have had a flat."

Today I decided to do a long run. I follow safety rules. I never run the same route regularly. I always let someone know where I am going, how long I will be. I always call that person and let them know A) If I am home safe and sound, or B) I am running a little late (literally). Sometimes I even leave a Map My Run map on the computer so someone (that Spouse o' Mine) can visualize where I am going.

Today I sent that Spouse o' Mine my running itinerary. It was very specific - Point A to B, then Point C, over and around Points D, E, F, etc.

His reply?
"Don’t get lost or freeze to death."

Yep. He makes me an independent woman.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Walk with Beau

Bay! Bay!!!! Bayyyy!!!!!! BAYYYYYY!



STOP. Sniff the air. Nose up higher.


Dead possum! Dead possum! Dead possum! Dead possum!

Bayyy!! Sniff and run sniff and run sniff and run CircleCircleCircleCircle...

Bark at squirrel nest. Bay! Bayyy!!!

Sniff the ground Sniff the ground SniffSniffSniffSniff

STOP! A hole! A hole! Sniff. Sniffy-sniff. SNIIIIIF.

Run! Run! Run, oh run, oh run!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Balancing Act

I've never been good at math, and have never enjoyed it, but math is what occupied my mind this morning during the Pancake Ride.

Here it is, mid-November, and this morning felt more spring- or summer-like in sunny temperature than a winter-beckoning November day. That Spouse o' Mine and I even opted to wear cycling shorts rather than long pants and jackets. There was a southerly wind, and that made our ride into Pancake Land very fun: 18-25 mph the whole way. There is nothing finer for this middle-aged cyclist than a chance to pretend she can keep up with the big dogs in the cycling world.

Well, that finer-than feeling lasted until the coffee cup was empty and we got back on our bikes to head home. While we were happily chatting away indoors with our fellow cyclists, the comfortable southerly wind reared its ugly head and turned into a 25 mph gale with 35 mph gusts. And, now it was a headwind. Part direct headwind, part 45º angle of south/southwest "knock-'em-off-their-bikes" wind. I managed about a mile riding on the shoulder of the highway before I flagged that Spouse o' Mine and told him I was taking the gravel roads home - I was not feeling good about my balance alongside the cars and trucks and semis AND the wind. I told him to go on, that I would be fine, and he replied, "OK. If you're longer than 20 minutes, I will assume you have had a flat."


We parted ways, and I turned west onto unknown roads and into that ridiculous wind. Riding in that wind would be hard on any bike, but riding on a gravel (i.e., ROCKS) road on a road bike (read: little, skinny tires), with 25 mph wind hitting me from several directions was a lesson in balance, patience, mind games (what if I fall over? {I did, 4 times} What if I get lost? {I was "lost" for the whole first half of my ride home, in that it was a winding road and I had never been on it and did not recognize anything} What if a dog chases me? {I heard dogs barking twice, but none appeared at my heels, so that was OK}).

The falling over bit was kind of scary the first two times. The wind gust simply HIT me, and oops, there I went. Each time, I managed to extricate my shoe from the clip before I fell flat on my side, and I certainly had a lesson, too, on anticipation and reaction time. I imagined that I was being watched by farmers sitting snug in their living rooms all along my way. I hope I don't end up on YouTube.

And my, how the cyclists learn how to read the wind. I would imagine lots like a sailor. If there are any trees to be had, one will have a much, MUCH easier time of riding in the wind. Until he gets to the end of the treeline. And somehow the gust seems built up just that much more, as if it's lying in wait to bowl you over.

So as I was limping along, wind and dogs howling in my ears, here is the math I came up with:

Southerly wind= northerly 25 mph ride + 30 minutes eating delightful breakfast in great company - 25 mph headwind= 7 mph southerly ride + 4 mph south/southwesterly ride X what angle should I aim for to counteract the wind gusts [balancing in wind @ only 4 mph: is that possible?] minus the 2-minute stop for water and "mental regrouping time {i.e., where AM I?!} ...equals...complete fatigue for the rest of my Saturday.

I am going to take up pinochle.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Perennial Music

Many years ago, I chanced to meet a really great guy. He was sitting in his living room, strumming a guitar. He was blonde, and he wore a white cotton shirt and jeans. That sight is as vivid today as it was 31 years ago.

About the guitar: we started seeing each other. He introduced me to guitar music. Notably, a guitarist whose name was not the least bit familiar to me; I was ignorant of rock music, of guitars, of anything but classical music. There was a particular guitarist whose name kept surfacing in our "playlist". I assumed it was some Aussie musician, from somewhere deep out in the Outback.

A few years later, this cute surfie guy with an accent and I exchanged vows, and were pronounced Man and Wife.

We still enjoyed guitar music. And that one guitarist kept coming up in our "playlist".

Years later...maybe years and years later, I found out that this guitarist is from MUSKOGEE OKLAHOMA. Leo Kottke is NOT an Aussie. He is an Okie. Big difference here, people.

That Spouse o' Mine had a big laugh over that. He always knew Leo Kottke grew up in Oklahoma.

Fast forward now, to our having a son, and he is now in his twenties. He is a guitarist. Imagine that. When he came home from university this summer, he was playing a wonderful song that got stuck in my head:

In Christ There is no East or West

The arrangement is from John Flahey, but this recording is Muskogee's own Leo Kottke.

And now? That Spouse o' Mine is in the living room this evening, playing the same song on his guitar...

Just like lavender and jasmine, the guitar music comes back to me each season of my life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Games:Goodbye, Rutsville

"Please don't ask me what the score is, I'm not even sure what the GAME is."
~Ashleigh Brilliant

Ooh. This hits close to home. MY home.

I have never been a huge game fan.
Competition? Absolutely.

Hmmm, maybe not so much. As a kid I was not much of a game player. I was more of the onlooker. Onlooking allowed me time to daydream and pretend play in-between moves. I could critically analyze a move, and then move on to what Puggles ( my stuffed Pekinese dog) was saying to Peggy (my answer to Barbie's sister Skipper. ... Hey! I had an extraordinary imagination.)

The games I learned growing up consisted of checkers, chess, Rook, Scrabble, and spoons. I think that was all. I did not play Monopoly with the other siblings. (I was busy with Puggles and Peggy.) Growing up we had a game called Driller, which (only an Okie family would embrace this) had the players drill for oil around the board. I think you can still find this game out there somewhere in gameland. And ditto, my sister's game called Park & Shop. I never understood it. Apparently, one parked, and then one went shopping. As my sister and her friends did this, I happily watched, and brushed Puggle's hair.

I did have a brief fling with Risk and Stratego, and I recall enjoying that. But apparently, that was short-lived, because I don't remember those game rules today.

This past week, I decided to revisit a couple of old games, and maybe learn a new one. This would be my "new" this week, in my "12 Weeks of New".

Out of Rutsville, I started with one of my all-time favorite hand-held games from the 80s: Tetris. I have to tell you: I LOVE TETRIS. Tetris came in as a hand-held game sold by Radio Shack, and sadly a couple of years later, and some corporate lawsuits later as well, it vanished.

I, in my post-partum depression, was bereft.

But now it's back, twenty years later, and on-line! (I chanced to Google Tetris after a grocery sacker boy and I had a conversation about Tetris vs the ability to properly sack groceries. That young man deserves a tip!) So last week, I commenced playing Tetris. Only now, online. (Sheesh. That's like saying, "I flew to Newark today." as opposed to "taking the longhorn wagon train back East.")

So, I embraced Tetris. What else was out there?

I have to admit, in the past ? 30+ years, I have LOVED Mah Jong. I have my mother to thank for that. Come to think of it, my kids and my nieces and nephews have my mother to thank for that! My mother taught them all (I think) how to play Mah Jong online. My mother has always been so computer-literate-cool. She spent so much time with her grandkids, teaching them how to use a mouse, online games, and more. How funny is that?!

OK, I am gamefully digressing...

Tetris, Mah Jong...I already play Scrabble online, and chess...

What's left?

I went online to relearn Solitaire. My mother and my sister could always throw out a Solitaire game in cards, anytime, anywhere. I remember this most on boats, or at the boathouse. This was indubitably the precursor to "online" games. Hmm... it seems like an OK game. It seems like I will need some time to really "get" the game. I am OK with that. I am a slow learner when it comes to games.

Well. Ugh.

This week's "new" is a big BOO in my opinion. So far, at least. I am sure some of you will regale me with reports of delight and nonsense. OK, here goes:


I do not get it.

I hate math. Why would I go here???!

Mom, I anticipate you will be one of the first to reply "I LOVE this!!"

(My mother excels at Sudoku. Don't get it, at all. Where is my Puggles, my little stuffed dog, anyway?)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pancake Ride

This morning is the Pancake Ride, a regular Saturday morning ritual for the cyclists in this area. They start from one town, ride like cheetahs on wheels past our little village, and on to the next little town for pancakes. And then, back home again. Sometimes I join them, and sometimes, I do not.

This morning is a "join 'em" morning.

Past jaunts:

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Rainy Day Wardrobe

Rainy and windy. Windy and rainy. And I am not complaining!

I did, however, plan to run this morning - something I have taken up again now that the outdoor temperature has dipped down to liveable degrees. At 9:30 am, I got out of my jammers (because when you work out of your home, you are allowed to work at your desk in your jammers till... whenever!), and I put on my running pants, t-shirt, jacket (because the house was 66º), and my running shoes. It was raining - nay, pouring! Cats and dogs! And little fishes, too! But the hour-by-hour online weather stated that at 10:00 am, there would be no rain. I took this online weather channel at its word.

Its word was wrong.

I think it rained all day long. That's OK, though, because we really, really needed the rain. Even though I traipsed through the rain to run errands at the grocery store and the post office and USDA (that would be that Spouse o' Mine's office), and my cello lesson. Rain, rain, rainy-rain.

Then I got home, still wearing my running clothes, still in my Pollyanna mindset that the cloud cover might break and I could have a quick jaunt down the road. Such was not to be.

Well, next on my agenda was feeding animals and frolicking with the bloodhound. The thing with Beau the bloodhound is that he has a need, a deep need, to exert energy enough to burn off several million calories every day. If a human or other canine is not around to support his need, he will find ways to burn off this stored energy on his own, and his activity is often seen as unacceptable by us humans. (Chewing up his toys, chewing off the tree limbs, digging little holes all over the dog yard, chewing on dog bowls, lawn mower handles, little paper pieces found in the burn pile...) well! You might get the picture. I suspect this was the reason his former owners searched for a new home for him.

Lesson to anybody thinking about a pet: if you are a young married couple, with one toddler and a baby, let me just tell you: that adorable (and I stress ADORABLE) little (and I stress LITTLE) bloodhound puppy you are thinking about purchasing will in no way fit into your fine little family in 12 more months. Don't even consider a pet whose potential weight will be 120 lbs by the time he is 18 months old, with an energy level that rises exponentially with each month and inch of growth. Sheesh. I cannot even imagine what Beau's former owners were thinking when they purchased him.

But boy, am I digressing; I was talking about rain. As I stepped out of my running clothes and hung them by the wayside for another day, I put on some already-worn old grey sweatpants and brown sweatshirt. Old socks. Boots. Hat and old gloves. Rain and bloodhound clothes!

Off I went to feed animals and to frolic with the giant puppy. Not to neglect our smaller-yet-still-large dog, Biserka the Bouvier. She wants attention, too, but not the rollicking frolic that Beau requires. So I spent quality time with both dogs, in the rain, mud, and wind.

When that Spouse o' mine came home from work, I came in. I pulled off the boots, the hat, and the gloves. I stripped off the sweat pants and sweatshirt. I thought. Hmm... not so bad just yet that they couldn't be used for another canine frolic in the rain and mud. Not clean, though. Hang them next to the running clothes.

I need some pegs in the mudroom for all activities of my day, jammers through mud-frolic, and in-between.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Something New, Week #5

I am halfway through my 12 Weeks of New and out of Rutsville.
What new thing did I learn or do this past week?

Grad Student Gillian and I went to an art gallery in Kansas City to see this artist's work.

(In that we know the sculptor pretty well,
that did not fall into the 12 Weeks of New category.)

But the gallery was really nice and had some terrific paintings and sculpture in it.

After our cultural excursion, Gillian and I headed north to the City Market.
More specifically, to the Ethiopian restaurant.
I have never eaten Ethiopian cuisine.
A new experience!

I stopped at Barnes & Noble on the trip home to search out an Ethiopian cookbook.
I didn't find exactly what I was looking for,
so that will be put on the back burner for another day...

Friday, November 04, 2011

My Week...

I anticipate that this entry is going to be ramblings. For some reason, my week did not follow a schedule, a plan, or even a path. My week just meandered.

Sunday, I sat in a meeting alongside a lady who proceeded to sneeze a kabillion times. Right beside me. She would sneeze, maybe eight times in a row, and let me tell you, these were not ladylike "choosies", these were major "clear the sinus passages" explosions, and then she would blow her nose, then sneeze maybe six times, hack a bit, blow her nose, then start sneezing again. I was totally grossed out. I really wanted to excuse myself, since this lady was NOT. I am such an anti-germ fanatic, this scene was played into my mind as horrible.

And then we move on to Monday. Monday held a funeral for a friend, a kind and gentle acquaintance. Not sad so much, because with the cancer-stricken, there is a time to go. And this friend had told her family and friends this summer that at age 70+, she was forgoing any more cancer treatment. She was done with that. I loved her kind spirit and her smile, her kind words, her marriage to her husband, her kids...wow. What a wonderful role model she is.

Tuesday was cello lesson. Not too bad! Some lessons of late have been frustrating, but I enjoyed this week, and have been practicing and practicing, and so maybe, after a few weeks of what has felt like no-progress-whatsoever, I might see the light at the end of the Handel's Largo tunnel. Maybe.

Wednesday, nothing to speak of. I went running in the rain and snowflakes. That was enjoyable.

Thursday we had a friend out for dinner, and that was really fun. It's fun to have people out who challenge our minds, and yet have such a great sense of humor. Thanks, Irakli.

Today: Friday! I had plans to visit the ranch-neighbors' bull sale, but phone calls and such delayed that, and then the weather past noon was such that I took a 7.5 mile excursion across the countryside. It wasn't a clear run. It entailed some walking in the 35 mph southerly wind. Especially those inclines. Anyone who thinks Kansas is flat? Come visit us in the Flint Hills. I stopped by the Downey Ranch on my way home, but the auctioneers had already gone home, I guess, and all I could see were cattle being loaded into trailers to move to their next homes. I went on home as well.

And then...late afternoon...I started feeling kind of punk. Kind of...maybe I was getting a cold? Was I running a fever? DO I have a sinus headache?! Am I cold?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!!! IS THIS FROM SUNDAY'S MEETING WITH THE SNEEZER??!

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Things At Which I am Good

Knowing that I should NEVER end a phrase with a preposition.

Baking chocolate chip cookies.

Foreign languages.

Waking up early.

Getting lost.

Making morning "index card" lists.

Parties and potlucks.

"Relaxed" gardening. (Lax gardening?)


Memorizing music.


Changing the subject from politics to anything else.


Talking to complete strangers.

Serving tea.
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