Monday, April 30, 2012

Home Economics

Some people have no concept of utilizing wind and solar power for their laundry needs, but here in rural Kansas, I feel a wee bit of glee if I can eek out some sort of "payment" from the elements that I do abhor: wind, mainly.  Sun, generally in the months of July, August, and September.

A few weeks ago there was a day, a Saturday, I believe, which was windy beyond the Kansas norm. Having had some houseguests, I had hung some guest towels out to dry on our line.  Very most unfortunately, my beautiful white guest towels (WHY, you might ask, WHY white towels in rural Kansas?!  I dunno.  Mental escape, maybe?) completely blew off the line and, most unfortunately, into the dog yard, where Beau the Bloodhound, still in puppy world, opted to chew and teethe on them. 

Now the beautiful white guest towels are housed in the bike barn, cut into eighths, (only the wife of a mechanic/farmer/handyman/cyclist/ all of the above can comprehend my cutting them into eighths: so that they may NEVER again come into the house.  I will not launder rags.)   And further in this movement, I asked that Spouse o' Mine to move my clothes line so that it is far and away from the dog yard.  And he very willingly is doing so.

Last week upon my return from Colorado, I saw that there was laundry in the dryer: that Spouse o' Mine had washed some clothes!  But the clothes were still wet.  I turned the dryer on, and walked away.  Hours later, I checked the clothes, and they were still damp.  Or wet.  I turned the dryer on, and walked away.  Hours later, I checked the clothes, and they were still damp...

OK.  Something was amiss.

Saturday, that Spouse o' Mine disassembled my dryer (and cleaned it from stem to stern), and re-assembeld it and announced that it needed either a new heating element or a new thermostat.

So until then...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Notes

When that Spouse o' Mine was in Australia a few weeks ago, I noticed that I was awakened most mornings by a cardinal singing its predawn song.  Generally about 4:55 am.  It always seemed really loud to me, but I decided it was because I was alone in the house and perhaps I was more attuned to noises out and about the house.  

Last night (not putting together 2+2),  I mentioned to that Spouse o' Mine that I thought a cardinal was nesting in the lilac tree right outside our bedroom window.  Wasn't that nice, I said?  Well.  When I was awakened once again at 4:55 am today by the cardinal's Good Morning Song, it all fell into place.  No wonder he/she sounded so loud all these mornings; the nest is only about ten feet from our bed.

Another change in nocturne around here is our 190-year old cat, Puzzle.  She is senile.  And I think she is playing the senility card for all its worth.  Puzzle has spent the past five years sleeping at the foot of our bed.  This, after her Girl went to college, and Puzzle was left with no roommate in the bedroom upstairs.  She came down one night, and has slept by our feet ever since.

That is, until this week, upon my return from Breckenridge.  I have awakened in the morning every day this week with a cat on my head.


I shouldn't be sleeping with a cat on my head.  It's just not at all right.

On a Sunday morning church note, during communion this morning I followed a young father up to the communion railing.  He was carrying his three year-old son.  In our church it is customary to bless the young children by giving the sign of the cross across their foreheads, until they are old enough to be confirmed and take communion.  Well, this kid's father took communion and right as the communion server bent forward to bless said kid, said kid head-butted the communion server. 

BAM!  Right into the forehead.

It had to have hurt.  And I was up next for communion.  Do I ask, "Are you OK?"  Do I act as if nothing happened?  I took communion and said "Amen" and went back to my seat.  After service I spoke with the server, who said, Yes, it did hurt.  And she had no idea how to react either.  I told her she might be the first person in history ever to suffer a head-butting during communion.

This afternoon that Spouse o' Mine and I went to a cello recital, performed by my cello instructor.
It was enjoyable!  She is good!  Here is my favorite of her pieces, a Poulenc recording performed by somebody in cyberspace:

Poulenc Sonata  

And finally:  the hummingbirds are back in town!     

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I awoke this morning, 3:45 am Mountain time, and decided to arise and get started with my day.  My day would entail giving the Breckenridge house a cleaning and then driving through the Rockies and the plains of Kansas for nine hours, to home.  Jiggety-jig.

The Breckenridge house is a large house in Colorado that my very generous brothers purchased ten or so years ago.  It sleeps 26, we have found.  That is to say, it sleeps 26 if the generations abide peacefully and the cousins, (then kids, now adults), readily accept blow-up mattresses and sleeping in closets.  Ok, Ok, I was one parent who was against the kids sleeping in closets (fire hazard comes to mind), but the young cousins all managed to find their own "happy place", nooks and crannies, bunks and trundles, in this house for the past ten years, and it works.  What memories...

This summer, after a decade of summers and Thanksgivings, Christmases, New Year's celebrations, even the "Golden Hippo Award" (not unlike Top Chef, if you will), the "Breckenridge house" will be the setting for the wedding reception of our daughter, the Bride-to-be, and her fiance.  (This is where we all, I, and you readers, say a prayer for good weather.)   

Last week I drove the nine hours to Breckenridge, and the affianced flew a fleeting ?6 hours?, as did the future Mother-in-Law, from Virginia and D.C.  We did the wedding planning-in-a-weekend-thing, and I have to say, I am tickled that things have fallen into place.  Hmmm....maybe it's because we do not ask for much?  Nawwww...I like to think that it's because we are so used to planning affairs.  Yep.  That's it.

 OK.  This blog entry was to be about my drive home.  Beginning with a 22º Rocky Mountain morning to 100º mid-Kansas mid-afternoon.  That long, long marathon drive across Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas, where there is NO radio reception.  And, dang it!  I forgot a book on tape.  Or whatever they call it nowdays. was ok!  Dandy, even.  I listened to a host of CDs:

Kathleen Battle - two CDs  (a miracle if I had her voice)
Yo Yo Ma: Bach Concertos (a miracle if I played cello like him)
The Pajama Game
Jerry Lee Louis
George Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue and others
Beaujolais (Cajun)
John Phillips Sousa Marches (twice. or thrice.)
Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story)
Handel's Messiah
NPR: By Denver and then not at all for...8 hours.  (REALLY?!)

And now I am Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig.  My irises are at peak, the cats are wanting some attention, as are the dogs, (dogs will wait till morning, when I am back to high-energy, as are they.)

That Spouse o/ Mine has mentioned that he has had tilapia three nights in the past four; I suppose that means he might like something other, this evening.  And heck yeah - after my McD's breakfast and my Arby's lunch, I can go with real food this evening.   I have baked potatoes in the oven, and spinach salad in the waiting...

Home again, home again...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Morning Excitement

I am in Breckenridge this week. I am meeting with the affianced couple and we are getting some of the plans underway for the summer wedding. Tomorrow, my future son-in-law drives into Denver to pick his mother up at the airport, and they will return here for the weekend.

I anticipated this weekend to be very fun (and it still will be), but I arrived to the house to see it "wrapped". That is to say, there are workmen staining the exterior of the house this week, taking advantage of some spring-like weather, and in order to do so, they have covered every window and glass door in plastic before they commence. I was hoping that the future mother-in-law would enjoy the panorama of mountains around the house, but such will not be the case. We could go out and sit in the driveway in the mornings and sip our coffee and watch the sun settle on the mountains, but it has been 19 degrees each morning this week, and who appreciates iced coffee first thing in the morning?

This morning I awoke before the sunrise, and saw that it had snowed in the night. As soon as it was light enough, I took some coffee upstairs to one of the remaining "unwrapped" windows of the house, opened it to look out onto the creek and forest in back of the house.

And I chanced to see something I have never seen before:
Dashing through the snow...
And so that simply made my morning coffee all the more exciting!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Running. And Such.

I was talking on the phone to the College Boy this afternoon. A good friend of his ran in the Boston Marathon today.

Boston Marathon, 2012, photo from Washington Post
While I, a 52-year old mother of three pretty good athletes, thrill at the thought of running 26.2 miles in under three hours, this young man was disappointed in his race. The College Boy, very early on in his running years, told me once not to come up to him immediately after a race and say "Good job!" Rather, wait a bit, and then simply ask, "How do you feel like you ran?" Oh, I say, Potato, Potahto. If I am thrilled with a competitor's performance, I don't care HOW he/she feels like it went - I want to share MY exuberance with them. The only wisdom in waiting, as the College Boy had irritatingly suggested after one maybe not-so-great race, was that I miss out on some of the snotting, hacking, spitting, or puking that might occur just at the finish line. But I still want to be right there to tell my baby(ies) "Good job! Bravo!" Because that's what mothers are good at. We are the world's best cheerleaders.

The College Boy, early on in his running years:
While the College Boy and I were talking marathon chit chat (because that's what mothers & sons do), across the pasture I spotted movement. What it my wayward peacock? A turkey? The movement popped up out of the grass, and then back down. But wait! First there was one, and then two! Brown things! Brown hopping things! I described to the College Boy what I was seeing as we marathon chit-chatted. Squirrels? No, we don't have them. Then I thought: Baby foxes? I told him I though that was what I was watching. And then, there were three! They were chasing each other through the tall grass, hopping up & down. Then I stopped: Maybe they were...bunnies! College Boy exclaimed, "You can't tell a rabbit from a fox?!" He's so funny. He & I ended our marathon recap, and he went back to studying (presumably), and I went back to pasture gazing. That Spouse o' Mine came home just as I saw a definitive feature in the hopping players: cottontails. It was a group of cottontail rabbits! It was so fun to watch them frolic (and this is exactly what they did: frolic with each other: hopping and chasing, like they were playing bunny tag.)

(stock photo)
Maybe they were completing their own Easter marathon:

And back to our Boston marathoner? I told the College Boy to let him know I was thinking of him today. That's all. No "Good job! Bravo!" Just positive thoughts from the sideline...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

W is for...

Sunday weather:
Winds: 32 mph. Gusts: 45 mph.

One can't hope to arrive at church looking remotely "put together" in gale-force winds.

Especially after arising at 5:00 am to join house guests in breakfast.

How about those collegiate cyclists, with their balancing acts in this wind?
Let's all try to ride our skinny-wheeled road bikes with the wind knocking us at every angle.

(Daughter Claire, former K-State Wildcat cyclist)
We saw a lot of road rash today.
(Cyclist lingo for raw, scraped legs and arms, from skidding across concrete.)
(Cyclists shave their legs in order to make gravel removal a little easier.)

I planted 5 new banana trees yesterday.
Before the big winds.
They look fairly shredded today.

One of my peacocks blew away.
He must be up in Nebraska or South Dakota by now.

And we did not have a tornado.
But that 3:00 am storm most certainly woke up the entire household.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday 13th

Here I am, looking out the window on a beautiful Friday evening. Sunny. Nary a breeze. I am neither naked nor in three woolen sweaters - which means...I am comfortable. I am in a short-sleeved shirt and jeans. I am not in sweatshirt/sweatpants, and not in t-shirt and skirt, or shorts. Just comfy in jeans and an acceptable short-sleeved shirt.

Nary a breeze: am I repeating myself? (This is Kansas, after all.)

If one consults the local weather yahoos, he might think we are in the midst some catastrophic hoe-down with the elements. Hail. Tornadoes. The end of life as we know it.

The grad student is camping tonight, unless the elements do prove to be fierce. The collegiate cyclists still have it oN their dockets to race tomorrow. I still have it in my plan to sit outside this evening and enjoy the wind: the lack thereof. That Spouse o' Mine is outside toodling away in the perfect atmosphere we are enjoying...

Why is it: we rural Kansans get a glimpse of what real weather and atmosphere might be like, but then we are told: GET READY!! GET THE WATER AND THE LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS AND THE CANNED FOOD AND YOUR PASSPORTS READY! THE END IS NEAR!!!

It is so unsettling. The media hype is wrong.

I am going out now, to enjoy my gardens and the animals, and the world without wind.

* Kansas*

Thursday, April 12, 2012


My irises are beginning to bloom:

Out on the pasture walk with the dogs this evening,
I spotted an egg lying on the ground.
Larger than a robin's egg.
Smaller than a peacock egg. (My frame of reference.)
I was confident that it was a dinosaur egg.
That Spouse o' Mine told me it was a snake egg.
How fun is that?!
Must research. I hope it's an exciting snake!
(Eh, Dad?)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Garden

Out in my gardens a few days ago, I was thinking about such. A bit of earth, the soil, the making of a garden.

When I was a kid we used to visit my aunts and uncle in Deer Creek, Oklahoma. They had gardens which merit some awards. These were the gardens which sustained the gardeners both in vegetables, and in flowers, the year over. My Aunts Edna, Rachel, and Grace were experts in the preserving and canning of the garden crops. Their meals were scrumptious! I know Uncle Ralph played his part in the gardens, too. Those gardens always had some interesting things for this kid's mind to behold. Those gardens were immaculate.

Sometime in my later childhood, my Dad decided to make a strawberry patch in our back yard. That was fun! (for me). It was even more interesting after I discovered turtles (tortoises) haunting the patch. I loved turtles...

And then Dad made a vegetable garden. That was not as interesting to me. Later years, he ventured into roses. Let me tell you - this is his gardening forte! He has always had an incredible rose garden, since its inception. Even this week, my Mom was telling me that they have had roses all week long. This is what I remember about my growing up: my Dad always brought roses in for my Mom - daily. What a great gift - fresh roses from the man she loves.

So there I was, a few days ago, thinking about soil and gardening and such. The musical The Secret Garden came to mind, when Mary Lennox asks her uncle for "a bit of earth".

A bit of earth? That's what we gave our kids - from the season that they could comprehend seed+soil+water+sun=God's gift. We gave our kids plots of soil in our yards to do with as they wished.

And here I was, a few days ago, reflecting on some rag I had read about some "movie star" family who traveled the world with their umpteen kids.

I thought to myself: those kids have no bit of earth. They have no concept of a garden. So sad.

I think anyone could yearn for "a bit of earth".

I suppose, when I yearn for the city life and museums and activity and asphalt and - whatever - , I should pause and take a breath, and venture out to see what my "bit of earth" has given me.

To: kids:

Help your mother NOW!!!!!!!

Gill: I found your DVD player (2nd drawer of the drawers in Graham's closet: I suspect you placed it there for safekeeping.)

To all four: After I found G's DVD player last night, I set it up in Graham's room. Downton Abbey was calling. But I got it set up and I could not get it to show on the TV. I changed the channel w/ my clicker, from #3 to 4, 78, and every number inbetween.

There was an additional piece of equipment in the 2nd drawer of the drawers, which had some wiring connects to it. Do I need to use this as well? Where do I put it? And if so, where do I put the DVD wiring/connects?

Why aren't any of my kids here to help me? Why do I need any of my kids here to help me? It's not like I broke a hip or anything. I am too young for help from my kids.

Dang! this technology business.

PS - I went and heard a lecture from the US Secretary of Agriculture this morning: Mr. Tom Vilsak. (FYI, my mind is not doddering away just yet. But give me a leg up on this DVD biz, s'il vous plaît.)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Springtime Sunday: Happy Easter

Lilacs and butterflies,
Sweet fragrance,
Iris: the first of many,
The Grad Student:
Prepping for the season's first campout

Monday, April 02, 2012

Perpetual Astonishment

This might be my outlook, this month:

"Every spring is the only spring -
a perpetual astonishment."

- Ellis Peters

It seems every time I go outdoors, I catch a glimpse of some new bud or green thing that wasn't evident some hours before. This week, that Spouse o' Mine will return from down south, having waltzed Matilda for nearly three weeks. He will have missed the lilacs, the tulips, the forsythia, the daffodils and the smoke which defines rural Kansas in the springtime.

He will have embraced the plucking of passion fruit off the vine in the backyard for snack (he has already told me so), acquainted himself with the Aussie version of the Pancake Ride (cycling), the Gold Coast beaches with his family, reuniting with college mates, and much more. He has spent time with his three siblings - something they have not done "as a family" for decades.

What a great family reunion.

When he comes home: A day later, we welcome a Nigerian family who will stay with us as we get them settled into their 4-month life in the US, and as the husband conducts his work with that Spouse o' Mine. We are already acquainted with Sam (the husband/scientists), and now we will welcome his wife and their son.

The following week, we will welcome collegiate cyclists from who-knows-where, as they arrive for the K-State cycling meet. I love this weekend!

And two days after that, I drive west (for too many hours), pick up the Bride & Groom-to-be, and we will spend a week in Breckenridge, getting a feel for the vows. And reception.

A full month, this April.
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