Saturday, June 30, 2012

Battle Fatigue

This has nothing to do with the serious nature of battle in parts east/southeast: Middle East.

This has to do with that blasting heat on the other side of our door.  Here I am, a mentally and physically tired, pathetic, and bored-STIFF person who is hating, HATING the weather outdoors.

CABIN FEVER.  In the wrong, oh, so wrong, season.  Winter cabin fever, please come, come to me! 

I get up before dawn.  I sip a cup of coffee. (read: teacup, because a big ol' mug of coffee gets cool before one hits the bottom, so why?  A teacup of coffee is hot to the last sip.)  I venture outside to the best part of my day:  Sun is not up, but dawn's early light is.  Sun will arrive in one hour...

I run with the dogs.  I water every little plant that has been planted.  I plant myself in the kiddie pool that I purchased as a joke for that Spouse o' Mine, but now we realize how much we enjoy that kiddie pool. ((My life is so rich. Yes. So, so rich.)

And then I come indoors.


I have not gone back outside.  I've sent that Spouse o' Mine out, and the College Boy out, but I have stayed indoors.

I make a lousy shut-in.  I am bored.  Tired of the TV, the radio, the internet.  I have read.  (I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume)  I have listened to John Rutter compositions on Spotify.  (Thank you, College Boy, for Spotify.)  I have quilted, made gazpacho, painted my toenails, and played my cello till I am convinced I will never be Yo Yo Ma.

Battle Fatigue.

Come, Dear Winter, Be Our Guest.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Heat is On

Yesterday was a busy day of outdoor things, starting with the sun-up Dog Jaunt, followed by such things as watering everything in sight, tending to the vegetables (Uh-oh!  Uh-oh!  The vegetables are building up on our kitchen counters!), working with our vet to do annual rabies and what-have-you.  I must interject here to say, as sad as it was to say goodbye to horses last summer, and as much as I miss the horses, I was pretty happy not to be doing horse vetting in the 104º temperature in the late afternoon.  Inbetween outdoor tasks I would hop into our silly little kiddie pool - which is sandwiched between one outbuilding and two parked cars, so that all the tough outdoorsy farmers and ranchers can't see me lolling around in it like a depressed water buffalo.  I wore running shorts and a t-shirt all day and hopped in and out of the pool all day.  I lead a really, REALLY glamorous life.

At 5:30 pm we were still doing vet tasks, and that Spouse o' Mine came home from work.  I was dripping with sweat (which for me is about the worst sensation in the world), having just spent WAYyyy too much time wrestling with a 120-lb Bloodhound who did not want to have a couple of shots and some stuff sprayed up his nose.  (The vet and I tried every trick in the book, but Beau refused to participate in an orderly fashion.)  And that Spouse announced, "We have no water."


He walked indoors and returned shortly to report, "We have no electric."  (There's a thing about Aussies, or maybe just Aussie Armstrongs, that they remove parts of words in some cases, and add extra parts to other words, in some cases. Aluminum.  Aluminium??  I have given up trying to correct this linguistic practice.)

Omygoodness.  NO ELECTRIC?  No electricity?  No air conditioning, in other words?!

As soon as the vet backed out of our drive, I headed over to the kiddie pool for another soak.  This time, at 104º in the early evening, bathwater.  Ugh.

I went indoors.  No electric.

"Let's go to a hotel!" I exclaimed.  I was not in the mood to rough it all night long in a hot house without air conditioning, or at least a fan set in the window.  I might have to sleep in the kiddie pool, I thought.

Well.  I lay on the sofa, motionless, for quite some time, watching the thermostat climb up and up, allthewhile, the sun going down and downer. 
"I'm melting, MELTING!" the Wicked Witch of the West I thought to myself.
At dusk I returned outdoors to finish up whatever ends needed meeting: ducks in their house, all cats in for the night (fox season!), and dogs fed and re-watered.

Coming back to the house: oh, glory be!  A light!  A light!

We had electric.

I wouldn't have to sleep in the kiddie pool.
A miracle!!  We'd been saved!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our Sister

I was talking on the phone this morning to my youngest older brother.
     "Our sister would have been 60 years old today," I remarked.
     "I thought of that a couple of days ago," he replied.  "If she were here, how much grief her brothers would be giving her.  As it is, I'll just have to do it in my head."  I smiled on the other end on the line.
A few years ago I wrote the following about my sister.  It still holds.
  "To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time." ~Clara Ortega
Isn't that true? To hear us kids (!) when we get together would confirm this in the best and worst examples. We're all upwards of fifty or so. (I'm on the lower end of that "or so".) Our holidays are filled with laughter and fun, a comfortable nest away from which we never seem to fly too far. When I see my parents with their sisters and brothers-in-law, it is like peeking through a keyhole, into a comfy room "outside the touch of time". It's a tremendous gift, family. Brothers and sisters.

My sister was eight years older than me. She moved away to college, and then it was years before we got reacquainted. Or acquainted in life beyond sharing a childhood bedroom, with her teen mags and makeup, and my Barbie dolls and stuffed animals.

We shared an apartment one summer in college, and that was tremendous fun! We shared clothes, talked incessantly, argued some, and laughed at every opportunity. She was the only person I knew who could sing every song I could, knew every lyric I did. She was finishing her Master's, and one class required her to read an exorbitant number of children's books that summer. We struck a deal that after dinner she would clean up, if I would read to her, just to give her eyes and mind a break. Through the Looking Glass, Go Ask Alice, Where the Wild Things Are...we covered a lot of literary ground that summer that we would revisit in our parenting years. We played flute duets. She began dating her then-boyfriend and subsequent husband that summer. It was a summer of camping, family get-togethers with brothers, and just plain fun. As so much of what we did was...simple fun! She and I met our first niece, of soon-to-be many nieces and nephews, that year. And this year, my brothers and I will welcome that little baby's baby: our first grand-niece or nephew.  

(2012 NOTE:  This summer, we welcome two more grand-nieces into the family melee.)

And so the Circle of Life continues.

I knew far earlier than upon my sister's passing how much I relied on her. Just to be my sister. Just to call and chat, laugh, ask a silly question. She always got it right.

B. Alpert wrote of sisters:
"She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child."

There's a lot to that. There's something really special about having a sister.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June Garden

God Almighty first planted a garden.
And indeed, it is the purest of human pleasures.
~ Francis Bacon

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wedding Watch: Four Weeks

Daughter Claire is getting married in four weeks.  I startled myself last week, almost like a Moro Reflex, when I realized that I could actually begin counting down to her Big Day.  Since her engagement in January, I have mentally tripped over details and minutiae, but I haven't put a schedule or timeline on things.

I guess I can start dithering in earnest.

Thinking so, I announced to that Spouse o' mine and the College Boy that they need to unearth their black suits and black dress shoes to be cleaned in time for the wedding.  It's a good thing we are starting this process at Four Weeks.  That Spouse o' Mine came up with his suit jacket, but no dress pants.  He found his black dress shoes in the back of his closet.  The College Boy says he could have sworn he brought his black suit home from college two years ago.  And he thinks he left his black dress shoes in Washington.  He and his father headed in to town this afternoon and purchased a new pair for him.  He can now be dressed up in rural Kansas and on the West Coast. 

Daughter Gillian, Maid of Honor, is in central China, where she will be until the week before the wedding.  Her facet of organization, though, seems to be glimmering in the box she has left upstairs, packed and ready for me to take to Colorado, where we shall meet before the wedding.  Gillian is a list maker and always seems to have it together.   Not that the guys in the family don't, but...

Oh, well.  You get the idea.

The week before the wedding, Bride-to-Be Claire will fly from the East Coast, and her Maid of Honor will fly from the West Coast, (or, China), both arriving in Denver within 30 minutes of each other.  THAT'S organization.  On the same day, I will be driving from rural Kansas, through Denver, and will plan to pick the two of them up at the Denver airport on my way to points west.  And THAT will be an amazing feat.  I will be bringing the wedding dress, the Maid of Honor things, the reception details, and perhaps a lot, lot more.

Ah!  Four weeks!         

Friday, June 22, 2012

What I Feel Like Doing

I feel like cranking the air conditioning down to 60º.   And then I would like to put on a pretty cashmere sweater.  With jeans.  And comfortable, woolly house slippers.

I would like to go into the kitchen and start up the fixins for a winter stew: beef, rutabagas, potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic.  Maybe some cabbage.  I would start some bread to rise, too.

I would close all the plantation shutters.  Make it dark, like a winter's eve. 

I would bake the risen bread and some chocolate chip cookies, too.

And I would pretend that the world outside our shutters was white, and beautifully quiet.


I am marinading some beef for the grill and cutting the cantaloupe and washing the first red tomato (at least 3 million to follow) from the vegetable garden.  3 eggs boiling, (thank you, ducks) for deviled eggs tonight, and we have collard greens and peppers as well.  

I suppose I should be grateful for our good summer harvest.

But, I really love a winter's feast.  Fully-clothed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Today!! Summer Solstice!

This, pasted from my Facebook, and I hope anyone who reads this will join in.  I have no clue why it is that I enjoy making up Haiku.  It makes no sense, no sense at all...

"Tomorrow is the Summer Solstice. I always entertain the thought of entertaining during thus,'s too hot! Always, for my liking!

So! Instead of a Wabaunsee Summer Solstice Potluck (much as we would love it), let's have a Summer Solstice Haiku Extravaganza."

Tricia Webster Armstrong
Hot. Where are the blooms?
The giant butterfly flits
And I am indoors.
Hotter than she-it.
Winds howl at seventy-eight.
Margarita time!
Harbinger of doom.
June 20th holds no joy.
Winter hides, waiting.
Since I didn't learn how to compose a haiku in German schools you may have to provide me with some lessons first. ;-)
 ‎5 syllables, then 7, then 5. Really tough for us verbose types!
Stand an egg on end.
Enjoy the long days for now.
Summer will soon fade.
Tricia Webster Armstrong Response to Haiku #3:
Harbinger of hope!
June 20th: come, snow, come.
Winter hides, waiting!
Bottom of Form

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Morning

I got up and outdoors early this morning: up at 5:00 am, and out by 5:30.

Things to do!  Things to do before the heat and humidity set in as forecast.  First on my agenda was taking the dogs out for their morning leaps and bounds.  I wrote earlier that I had neglected to check my vegetable garden, and the zucchini had grown - also by leaps and bounds.  The bloodhound still thinks he is a puppy, and relishes having something to chew and gnaw on.  So, I gave him a zucchini this weekend.  He loves it!

Picture this:  Not even sunrise, I went out to greet the dogs and open the pasture gate.  Beau the Bloodhound grabbed his zucchini and took it with him while he explored the pasture and the creek. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Grateful Satisfaction

This is not a "food blog", but today, I am celebrating our meals!

This morning for breakfast, we had grits, eggs, and asparagus.  That was a great big YUM in my mind, having been up and out the door for hours. (Sun-up here is now 5:00 am.)  The grits were leftovers, and that's OK, or even better than OK.  And the best part?  The eggs were compliments of our ducks, just a duckhouse away, in their little commune.  9-14 eggs a day; that's a lot of pound cake.

Lunch.  After the jaunt with the dogs, I went out to the vegetable garden, and WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!!!  I had a kabillion GIANT zucchini.  A KABILLION!! AND THEY WERE GIANT!!  Anyone with half a gardener's brain knows one should harvest the zucchini every day, so that they do not grow to monstrous proportions. 

Tells you what category of gardener I fall into.

So, for lunch...lunch with two guys. (That Spouse o' Mine and the College Boy).  What would be better for lunch on a Saturday afternoon, but grilled burgers?  Better than that: burgers from Angus beef we received from our next-door-neighbors, the Downey Ranch?   And some lightly-sauteed (GIANT! ) zucchini, onions, garlic, and basil:  all from that silly garden outside, and topped with some cheese that our daughter Gillian made, just prior to her trek to China/Tibet.  

And thus, we feasted.

Tonight, it's Gulegh Kambling Night at the Armstrongs'.   Indonesian lamb curry.  Lamb curry and, as I told the College Boy, we can factor in a major amount of GIANT ZUCCHINI into the meal.  The fun part about this meal?  The lamb is received from our neighbors 2 miles down the way, at River Creek Farms.   The herbs are to be found just out my back door, in the Grotto.  Onions and garlic: check!  from early spring harvest.  Collard greens from the vegetable garden will grace the table as well.

We don't have a milk cow, or otherwise, our daily meals might be complete! It takes a village, but it is a nice little group we have within our village which enables us to enjoy our "local" meals.  Very few can enjoy what we have here in rural Kansas.

Next week?  I see tomatoes and eggplant a'comin'.        

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

The Vegetable Garden:

The beauty of having a vegetable garden crammed-full of tomato plants, all sorts of squash, corn, New England Pie Pumpkins, cantaloupe, peppers, fennel, collard greens, and nasturtiums, (did I forget anything?) is that it is SO FULL, that I don't have to do much weeding.

That Spouse o' Mine, sort of an authority on growing green things - biosystems engineer - thinks it is outlandish that I garden this way.

The pumpkins and cantaloupe (oh, yes!  And the birdhouse gourds!) are all trailing and vining their ways everywhere.  So I have trained them out the garden fence and into the pasture.  And up and over the garden fence, too.  Talk about a Secret telling what we will find there in a few weeks.... 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

If I Knew You Were Coming...

...I'd a baked a cake...
baked a cake...
baked a cake!

Does anyone else know that song?  I swear, it has been in my head since this morning.  Really  - I hate it when a song gets in my head and refuses to leave for HOURS.

Nevertheless - the reason for that song is that I was baking a Pound Cake for the arrival of the College Boy. 


The College Boy is home for the summer!  He arrived over the weekend  should arrive in the next hour or so. He should arrive in a car that has marginal proof of insurance, (legal though), and his other legal papers are ...maybe wanting?  More on that after he alights onto rural Kansas.  Just happy to have my boy home for more than a week or two.  I get it - that these seasons with him are fleeting.  

January 2012  - with Boo Kitty, after a run.

I just can't wait!

Gladiola Week

It's Gladiola Week here in rural Kansas!  Lots of arrangements, compliments of the cutting garden.

 Even in our bathrooms!

 And other flowers from the cutting garden...

This is what that Spouse o' Mine does during Gladiola Week:
More to come on this subject...  stay tuned.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Earlier this week my parents and I were chatting on the phone, and the subject bounced from the recent tennis tournament in their town, to sculpture, and to technology.  It is amazing to think of all the changes in the world.  I vividly remember reading my elementary school's Weekly Reader one Friday (because that's the day we read them), and the article was describing a giant airplane that was being built, and sometime in the future, we all might be riding in these planes.  The plane?  Boeing 747.  And back then - Weekly Readers.  Now the classrooms have leapfrogged from chalkboards and right over dry-erase boards, and know teachers use Smart Boards.  Computerized.  My parents described their phone usage when THEY were growing up:  my Dad's phone number in Deer Creek, Oklahoma was 3.  Ha ha!  One digit!  And my Mom's phone number was "Two shorts and a long".  Hers was a party line, where farms down the road all shared the same line.  Mom said one could hear click-click-click-clicks when some neighbors got on the line to eavesdrop on another's conversation. 

My morning routine involves arising early, making coffee, and checking emails and weather before taking the dogs for a jaunt in dawn's early light.  But this morning, my routine shifted just a bit: both our daughters were online bright and early.  Well, bright & early for me in Central Standard Time.  Claire lives in Virgina.  Gillian is in China.  And the three of us were online, talking to each other.

How's that for technology?

And for any interested readers, Gillian's blog on her travels to 
the Golok Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture:  

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

How I See Myself

I saw this funny online today:


 It seemed to hit home, in a way.  Not that I am elderly or wheelchair-bound.  And not that my self-esteem is stellar.  I am, after all, a 52-year old who probably is on the weightier side of the bathroom scales.  I have that mid-life frizzy/wrath-of-Medusa hair going on.  That Spouse o' Mine tells me I snore.  (Well, he does, too!!)           

In spite of the above (and more disclosure, no doubt), occasionally I get a positive glimpse of myself in my mind.

"I can run fast, if I want."
"This cycling jersey really suits me!"
"I can hit the tennis ball as well as those 20-year olds!"
"My swimsuit looks every bit as good on me as those Speedos look on those men."
"Now, go put your pearls on! "

I could go on.  Heaven knows, my mind goes on and on and on...

Bottom line on my thoughts about Mid-life Me:  I tell myself, "Yes, well;  Dearie, smile and just think to yourself, 'What would I look like if I WEREN'T running or cycling or swimming or...' "

And that makes the ballerina in my mind's eye even that much more beautiful.
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