Saturday, March 31, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rural Life

What an interesting day.

I had planned on joining some women for coffee this morning. That was the plan.

I run a home-based business. With such comes some unraveling of plans. I received a phone call yesterday from Fed Ex saying that they would be delivering a shipment sometime today which would require a signature. So, today I was grounded, stuck at home. Although disappointed, I have plenty to do around here at home base, and so I didn't spend the day sitting on the sofa eating bon-bons.

Mid-morning I spotted a car parked out in the road, just by our house. With all the work being done this month on our property, this was not unusual, but generally it is a pickup, a truck, a backhoe, or a tractor, or some other monster machine that I am not familiar with. And often, all of the above. But it hasn't been a young mother with a two year-old and a three month-old baby, and a flat tire on her car, until this morning. I offered to help her change it (which may or may not have taken us three hours, given my auto mechanic aptitude), but she said she had already called for roadside assistance.

Fast-forward an hour, and the "roadside assistance" company still had not sent anyone out. Yes, we are rural, but no, we are not in the Outer Hebrides. Throughout this hour several rancher-types (most of whom I know) stopped and offered to change the tire for her. And she declined. And during this hour I invited her to come into our yard so her kids could get out of their car seats. I showed them the ducks. The dogs. The cats. The fish. The flowers. The banana trees. The red wagon. (Two year-olds are curious and have the attention span of...a two year-old.) After an hour, my neighbor-rancher drove by a second time, and I think this time he just got out of his pickup without a word and proceeded to work on this young mother's car. Bless his heart.

He finished airing up the tire to get her to the nearest town. The three of us were standing in the road when a very large implement came around the corner, and as it passed, the young mother exclaimed to me, "DID YOU SEE WHAT HE DID?!? Good grief, no, I did not, but whatever it was he did, it got her attention. She continued, "He turned wide to miss my car AND HE TOOK DOWN YOUR MAILBOX!" She looked like she was going to cry. I looked at the mangle. And I laughed. That's it? My mailbox?

By now yet another pickup had stopped to offer his assistance, and this man, our local auto mechanic. He told the young mother to drive her car over to his shop (not even 1/2 mile down the way) and he would fix the tire. She was unsure about this. I caught her out of earshot of the men, and told her who both were, and that the former was our neighbor, and the latter was our go-to guy for cars. Both were good and kind, I assured her. And so she went off on her way.

I spotted my other neighbor driving down the road, and flagged her to stop. Could her husband, my mailman, please bring our mail home with him tonight, and I would drop by and get it?

After lunch I drove into town (Town #1, "our town") to acquire a new 4x4" post for my new mailbox setting. Upon return I stopped by the mailman's house for our mail. Well. It turns out he was on a different route today, and so he had no mail, nor had I. Home-based business lady was expecting some business in the mail this week, and so I drove to other town (Town #2) - our zip code, and picked up our mail. Yes - there were some things which needed attending to in the OTHER town (Town #1) now, and so I drove back to Town #1, attended, and then returned home tonight.

When I got home I began Mailbox repair. But wait: it is 80º outside and I started sweating.

So I stopped repairing.

So...stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


So that Spouse o' Mine is gone for the time being. Gone, Down Under, down tramping in the Southern Hemisphere for several weeks.

adj.1. Being of a number more than two or three but not many:

OK. Let me tell you: several weeks to me means more than "many". Three weeks is a lot of weeks apart in our lives.

But then, I think of the Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth families, who experience months, not weeks. They experience a year. Several times over. Sometimes over, and over, and over.


Anytime I think of missing that Spouse o' Mine, I halt. There are couples out there coping with "apart" which we will never experience.

Perspective in our world here in Kansas.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

She's 25

She puts a smile on my face!

Happy Birthday, Gillian Louise.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gratitude. Thankfulness.

This evening I looked out the window to an emerald terrain decorated with the pastels of the fruit trees and blossoming shrubs. The tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth are blooming, along with our lilacs and forsythia.

This weekend I have sat out on one of our garden benches or on one of the front porches periodically, listening to the buzz of the bees overhead. The birds are fascinating this month; it seems like our area must be the "truck stop" for all the migrating species. Grackles, purple finches, robins, cardinals, blue jays and bluebirds. Just before dawn, one can hear the wild turkeys gobbling. Anytime from dusk till dawn, we can hear the owls, and the doves. Out in the pasture, the killdeer are keen to make a commotion in order to distract us from their ground nests.

For all of this, Spring in its glory, I say, "Thanks be to God."

I am eager for the arrival of the orioles and the hummingbirds. Given our very early spring, I have asked my parents in Oklahoma to call me the VERY DAY they sight a hummingbird in their yard. I want to have our feeders up and ready so that we will have a proliferation of teensy winged fellows this summer!

I spent my afternoon gardening, putting in some plants and seeds, pulling up some weeds, mowing the lawn, burning some brush.

I talked to College Boy Graham on his last day of Spring Break (WWU: Washington State), and also to Grad Student Gillian, (KU:Kansas), on her last day of Spring Break, who said she is coming home next weekend. (That made my evening.) Affianced Daughter Claire has called (Richmond, VA) and emailed regarding summer wedding plans, and I am so thrilled that she (and her sister) seem to have everything happily in order. No Bridezilla, this girl. She is together.

And so, here is a good quote for my adult kids
and how I love them:

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
~ Marcel Proust

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Sun!

This afternoon the sun came out. I sat out on the front porch, talking to my parents on the phone. I could hear bees, lots and lots of bees, buzzing overhead in the blossoming trees.

If you ever have the chance to interact with a flock of ducks, here is a fun party game: Inconspicuously get near enough to them that you can watch them, without them paying much attention to you. Make a funny noise, perhaps a high-pitched "Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz", and you will find that they will all immediately stop what they are doing, freeze, and cast one eye upward. It's funny to see all fifteen ducks with their heads tilted upwards, all at the same angle:

Well, maybe it's funnier to me than to them.
They are thinking something up in the air is about to dive-bomb.
I call it an exercise in duck non-complacency.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Water, Water, Everywhere

We're finishing up Day 4 of rain and thunderstorms. I keep saying, "It's OK, because we needed it." But it was nice to get a reprieve this evening so I could go out and feed animals without getting soaking wet from the windy rain. Of course you can imagine that it is Mudville out here in rural Kansas. When it comes to country living, there are three things I abhor: (in no particular order):

1) Dust. Dusty, flying dirt. Dusty, flying dirt that finds its way onto my glass coffee table and all the beautiful, old, dark hardwood in the house.

2) Mud. Slippery, slidey mud. Mud that follows us indoors, that finds its way onto any clothing I might be wearing. Mud on the cars, mud on the animals, mud, mud, MUD.

3) Bugs. Enough said about them.

On a higher note, I visited two garden stores this afternoon (in the rain), and got some ideas about What It's Gonna Be This Year in the gardens and yards. About all I can do in this week of rain and mud is gather ideas. I am leaning towards perennials this year. Am I getting old?

And here's another high note.
Or at least MacArthur thinks so:

MacArthur seeking higher ground after Rainy Day 4

I've hardly seen hide nor hair of the pups the past four days,
because they have been hunkering down in the barn.
Neither pup uses the designated Dog House.
Biserka must be thinking,
Why drink out of the water buckets when I can have flood waters?

They get the broad side of the barn WEST, and my peacocks get the broad side of the barn East. From the looks of the bedraggled peacocks, they have been enjoying roosting outside in the rain. Power to them. That Spouse o' Mine is quick to point out that their brains are the size of a walnut.

And finally, Puzzle, our 190 year-old calico, emerged from a 4-day sleep (coma) to rush out the door between my legs this evening and scale the first tree she came to. That Spouse o' Mine told one of the kids a few months ago; "She's senile." (But he pronounces "senile" like an Aussie, and so he said, "She's seh- nill." Which made us all titter all the more at our poor puzzled Puzzle.) We love her.

We've had 190 year-old Puzzle since she was dumped as a weeks-old kitten at the doors of the university Vet Med where we once lived. We had recently lost our children's first kitty, and a vet called us and said, "I really think you need to come see this litter." I said no, she persisted, and here we are, 190 years later, with one of the world's best kitties.

World's best senile kitty

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Favorite Kind of Day!

I don't know how it is that I am such a gloomy-weather-loving type of person, but I adore days like the one we had today: overcast and not hot. Even the wind did not bother me, because it was borderline cool. If I didn't move too quickly.

Come to think of it, I adore cold and overcast days too. It's not so much that I hate the sun, by any means; but sun, to me, calls for sunscreen and a hat and shade and wrinkles anyway, not to mention annual visits to the dermatologist thanks to my lifeguarding years some 30+ years ago. I think mentally I feel freer to get out & about all day long if it is cloudy outdoors. If it's sunny, I am always conscious of the sun.

Oh, and talk about green! And I don't mean yesterday's St. Paddy's Day. The fields and pastures around here are emeralds. Our yard has blossomed into pinks and bright yellows and deep reds, set against the really nice green lawn - all in a matter of days, it seems, from the brown of winter.

This weekend saw me planting. I planted four types of sunflowers, ranging in height from 12' to 4', and in color from lemon yellow to deep chianti. The sunflowers all went into my cutting garden. As I write, my cutting garden is sporting a row of bloomin' daffodils. We are awaiting the arrival of the tulips, and then the irises. The gladiolas I put in last week should be up soon, to bloom later in the summer.

Today I planted zinnias and tithonia. The banana trees are out of the house and in the grotto. And I acquired, funnily enough, six bromeliads from the local garden store. These bromeliads still had their Christmas decorations on their pots, and their original price of $16.00. I bought the lot for $2.00 each, and this summer will be a trial and error of growing bromeliads in questionable Kansas summer.

In addition to my cutting garden, we have tulips and daffodils coming up along our walk out front. Yet to bloom, but they show the curvy path from our drive to our front door. (And they show me yet another "To-Do' on my 2012 List: Re-brick the curvy path to our front door.)

I have gotten the grotto pond cleaned and running, and soon I will move the big goldfish from the aquarium in our living room to their summer digs; I hope we get another frog this summer!

And late this afternoon I shaved our Bouvier, Biserka. This is the earliest I have ever shaved any of our Bouviers, and yet, the "latest in the season". That is to say, I have never shaved our dogs in March, but March has never been so warm. Biserka was a winter-wooly creature who was really irritated by the unseasonably warm weather we have been having, and yet, I was afraid to shave her for fear that we could still have an ice storm. Well! Today, the wool came off and she seemed positively thrilled to be getting groomed.

And so the springtime progresses much like it has the past few years, with a few changes and additions. And this week's forecast is for thunderstorms, five days in a row. I suppose that means tomorrow is barn-cleaning day, in order to shelter a couple of cars, should it hail.

Ah, Spring!

Friday, March 16, 2012


I thought this afternoon, that irritating Rantings might as well follow happy Ramblings.

But there is only one thing I would like to address this afternoon, in Rantings:

"No problem!"


If I give you money for merchandise or service, and I say "Thank you", the response should absolutely NOT BE "No problem".

Anyone who uses this phrase should IMMEDIATELY take it out of your vocabulary.

If I am at restaurant, or a coffee house, or grocery store, or anywhere anyone else is waiting on me, and I tell that someone waiting on me "Thank you", I had better not hear a "No problem!" response.

You bet it's not a problem! I am here purchasing merchandise and service and you better believe it is not a problem if I ask for the check, or tell you "Thank you".

What an idiot response.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Some time ago I chanced upon a (yet another) blog that I enjoy reading regularly. The writer is an American (Japanese American) who married and has lived 30 years in Japan. This time last year, she wrote about her experience with the earthquake and such. Very interesting!

How odd, I think, that to the week (nearly to the day) that Japan would experience another earthquake - not so great, but still 6.something, and bringing with it a small tsunami.

Today, rural Kansas saw what I define as hot. Hot by my definition is anything that raises the temperature in the house higher than 72º. was HOT today. (OK, OK, 86º outside.) I did turn on the AC for 30 minutes this afternoon...just to "take the edge off". I was a better person for it.

I swam 20 laps in the Rec Center pool today! That Spouse o' Mine tells me that is tantamount to one kilometer. (He's a metric man.) So by the time he returns from Australia, I should be up to at least three or four kilometers. Ha! Well....we will see where this goes. Suffice to say, I am enjoying the aquatic activity, save for that old lady yesterday who told me I should not kick her (we were sharing a lane), because she had just had spinal surgery. REALLY?! Spinal surgery?! I wanted to tell her to go swim during the "off hours" so that she would not have to share a lane. But nice lady that I am (hurrumph), I smiled (sort of) and said, "I am NOT going to be kicking you." And then we shared the lane, without further conversation. And today, I made it a point to arrive during the "off hours" so that I would not have to share a lane. And I raced the man in the next lane, who was doing the freestyle, I was doing the sidestroke, and I BEAT him. He didn't know we were racing...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Way Down South:

This week that Spouse o' Mine is preparing for his travels to Australia, back to his family home. To explain the whole familial emigration thing is another story in itself, for another day. Maybe next week...

This week we are organizing things. Things, gifts and requests, that he will take to his family. Gifts are fun! We don't exchange Christmas or birthday gifts with that side of the family, but whenever someone from this hemisphere travels to that hemisphere, and of course vice versa, they come/go bearing gifts. We Yanks love receiving Aussie woolen goods. Ginger from Bundaberg. Hairbrushes from Japan. (How is it Goody has not caught on to the $$$ hairbrushes manufactured in Japan?!)

We send books ( books are expensive Down Under.) Red Hots. Maple syrup. "Instant" food like Darn Good Chili (which originally had the moniker Damn Good Chili...) and Ranch Dressing. Cinnamon and pepper.

Inbetween our visits, we are gifted a subscription to the Australian National Geographic. What an amazing thing that our kids - now adults - have had the experience of seeing things that show up in this magazine: dingos on Fraser Island, and platypus in the wild in the Carnarvan Gorge. (We were told few people see them in the wild, and we had to camp and awaken at 5:00 am to hike down to a creek to see them.) Wallabies in their grandparents' yard. 'Roos in the roads. (A BIG hazard.) Almond trees and orange trees, right there in the farmyard. 'Roos n the cornfield. Getting to hold a REAL koala. Seeing goanna roadkill in the driveway. (ok...not so great.)

And omigoodness: The sound of the kookaburras!!! That will wake a person from the jet lag dead, let me assure you, from personal experience. "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT AND WHERE THE HELL AM I??!!??

In addition to the kookaburras in the old gum trees, there are wild cockatiels and colorful galahs. We in Kansas thrill to have hummingbirds, indigo buntings, and the like - let me tell you, the amazing bird life and wildlife of my inlaws' home is tantamount to living in Wild Kingdom.

And so that Spouse o' Mine is preparing to head back to his home, his family. What a nice thing: two parents, four children, six grandchildren, and two great-grand kids will be in attendance for their Aussie family reunion.

Quite a thing, 41 years after they loaded things on a boat bound for Australia.

More to come on that...stay tuned...

Monday, March 12, 2012

100 Years

One hundred years ago, Juliet Low formed America's Girl Scouts.

I was a Girl Scout.
I was a Brownie, a Junior, a Cadette, and a Senior.
I loved Girl Scouts.
I sold cookies.
I earned badges.
I went to Scout Camp.

And then, years later,
I became a Troop Leader
for my daughters and their troops.
I had fun.
I support Girl Scouts.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Swimsuit Weather

It was 27º this morning when I ventured outside to check on the peacock roosting on the top of our barn. That's a sentence most people cannot lay claim to, personally. Here, though, in MY world, stating something like that won't even raise eyebrows.

Peacocks have come in and out of our lives in the ten years we have lived out in the country. I love my peacocks. We've enjoyed Manley Peacock, a large and gorgeous blue guy, Mavis (Manley Peacock's mate), Jon Weiss - another gorgeous guy, and Reuben, my white peacock pictured below with Grad Student Gillian. We've enjoyed a setting nest of peacocks which hatched into ugly babies. All of these birds were great fun and great headaches. Pets, they are not. I do not have an emotional attachment to these creatures. I guess it is something I took up out here in rural Kansas to make this place a bit prettier. Nothing says WOW like a giant peacock balancing on top of the barn in 35 mph wind, his tailfeathers streamlining in the wind. It's like performance art - a live weathervane atop my barn.

Jon Weiss

Some people keep peacocks in pens. I think it is more fun to let them roam around the yard. But peacocks do roam, near and far, and sometimes they meet their demise early in life because of this. Manley Peacock was hit by a passing semi when he ventured over the fenceline. That was sad, but I felt bad for the truck driver, too. "I hit a peacock this afternoon." And it was something, to see the stream of teal feathers and down, all along the highway. Manley Peacock is the only peacock we ever buried (what else can you do with a giant dead peacock, but tuck all his feathers around him and bury him?) Manley Peacock is buried in my cutting garden, under the concord grapes and beside the roses. I make a mental note of this when I am our there gardening, because I sure don't want to dig him up. (And I will admit, I told my kids that if Reuben, our white peacock, ever died, I was going to have him stuffed. Instead, I gave him to our farrier's wife.)

The two pea fowl I have now were gifts. Last summer, when we finished the Horse chapter of our lives, I called our farrier to let him know we would no longer be needing him to stop by every six weeks to work on our horses. A week later he called to say that his wife wanted to give me some baby pea fowl. I won't know for another month or two if they are peacocks or hens, so I am waiting to name these two. And I have kept them in the barn since they arrived, to keep them safe from fox and coyote and bloodhound. The two peacocks are about seven months old now, and are quite large. They have left the confines of the barn on several occasion of late, and that is what happened yesterday. Grad Student Gillian is home for the weekend, and as she sat on the living room floor writing yet another paper for her final semester, she looked up and said, "Oh, the peacocks can fly now?" I was puzzled. What did that mean? "Mom, there's a peacock on the top of the car."

And said peacock moved from the car to the top of the barn, which is where it stayed the entire night. It came down this morning, and I ushered it back into the barn. It seemed happy to reunite with its barnmate, to have some food and to perch under the heat lamp. Because it was 27º when I ventured outside this morning.

Oh, and the title of this entry? Yesterday I went to the university rec center and renewed my membership to the natatorium. (Swimming pool, in everyday lingo.) Swimsuit weather. Even though it was 27º when I ventured out this morning.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Wedding Watch: Mother of the Bride

So the College Grad is affianced and looking forward to a July wedding in the Rocky Mountains.
We love our daughter, and we love her fiance. The wedding plans are coming along. Claire & Rich were engaged over the New Year weekend, and so that means they have 6 months to plan their wedding and reception. More than enough time, in my books. That Spouse o' Mine and I were engaged at T'giving, and married the first week of February. PLUS, he was in Egypt at the time, and I was in Connecticut. And our wedding was to be in Oklahoma. It worked, we loved it, and here we are 28 years later, happy as two clams in a sand bar.

I am so amazed at all the expectations television has put on weddings in this decade.
So sad. Ridiculous. Insipid.

Happily, the happy couple is sane in their wants and needs for the nuptials and reception plans. I would love to run it all by in my blog, but that would not be fair to the happy couple. Suffice to say: As of this week, the wedding venue is complete, the reception is pretty-well planned (lightning in summer Colorado is a fact, and so we have two back-up plans), the beautiful wedding dress has been got, a reception menu has been planned, the wedding cake is in stages...


Stay tuned, month-by month.

I see a celebration of love and family this summer.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Lucky Fifty-Two

The College Boy lost his phone, and after three weeks of believing it would turn up when he and his 10 roommates cleaned their house, (during which time I was threatening to purchase a kit of carrier pigeons), he has finally acquiesced that yes, the phone must be gone forever. (I bet it turns up when he moves out in two years.)

As our phone contract was set up many years ago, I am the one who must run all cell phone errands and rituals at times like this. I ventured into town this morning, to the mall, where the cell phone people are. I arrived exactly at 10:01 am, and I was lucky enough to be the first customer in the store. These phone rituals seem to take up too much time, in my opinion. I picked out a brightly-colored phone for the College Boy, which I will mail to him after I spray it with glow-in-the-dark paint.

On my way through the mall, I saw a tent surrounded by a group of nursery school-aged kids. Ah! It was a butterfly tent! How fun. I looked through the window: more nursery school kids, and their teachers. One little boy spied me and walked over to the window and held up his arm to show me the butterfly on his finger. Another boy further into the tent was GLEEFULLY giggling at the butterfly on his arm. I smiled at them. Around the tent was lots of activity with kids, teachers, and butterflies. Then I saw one little girl - crying hysterically and cowering by her teacher. That little girl was really upset. I'll bet she will have a story to tell her grandkids about the day she had to go on a field trip into a tent full of butterflies.

On through to the department store where I had parked my car, I stopped and did some quick shopping in the ladies department. When I paid for the goods, the saleslady noticed on my driver's license that it is my birthday toady. She is a bubbly young Asian woman. "Ah!"she said. "It is your birthday!" She looked at me. "Why you not wearing red today?! Red is lucky color." (She was wearing red.) I laughed, and asked her if she always wore red on her birthdays. "Of course. On birthday, on Christmas, first day of each month..." and then she spotted someone (I hope it was an acquaintance of hers) across the store. "See her? She is Asian. She wears red. Red is lucky." And yes, the Asian lady across the store was indeed in red.

So now, back home, I will take off my sea foam green turtleneck and look around for my one red thing: a ratty cotton cardigan, wearing which, I can't be seen in public. And I have a full evening of birthday celebration to commence! That Spouse o' Mine is out of town this week doing BioSystems things, and so I shall put on my old comfy sweats, my lucky red cardigan, pour myself a glass of lucky red wine (which that Spouse o' Mine bought for me yesterday...and he didn't even know it was lucky!), and I shall head up to the art room and see what fifty-two years of creativity shall bring forth.

I hope it's good.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Lavender Fields

We closed the years-long chapter in our lives titled Horses last summer, sadly, and not by choice. But it is a closed chapter, and we have an empty pasture now. Last fall I decided to plant lavender out there. That Spouse o' Mine, who has his PhD in green things, suggested I do a test plot this year.

That's all the encouragement I needed! I called a local greenhouse and asked them how THEY propagated their lavender. The lady I spoke with was very nice and took her time talking to me on the phone. She explained how they do things, and she mentioned that theirs is about a 30% success rate. Lavender is difficult to start - nearly impossible from seeds, and propagating sounds a little hit & miss.

So the past few months I have been hitting and missing. But I must say, I believe I managed a pretty good success rate in how to do this! From my first little twigs I cut this winter, I successfully rooted and transplanted these gems:Ten out of twelve of my first attempts look to be viable lavender plants come spring. I have about twenty more in the rooting stage, and I will start some more twigs this week!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...