Friday, November 30, 2012

Deficit? I Think Not

I went on a 5-mile walk/run this afternoon.  I am getting more run and less walk in on these jaunts.  I had an epiphany this afternoon: If I would not stop to pick up rocks and look for fossils, I would have a better walk/run time in my 5-mile.  If I would not try to sing or whistle during my run parts, I would have a better walk/run time in my 5-mile.  If deer would not jump out in the road right in front of me, my heart would not stop, and I would have a better walk/run time in my 5-mile.

As it was, I did stop several times to pick up a rock here and there, to see what I could see.  Some had fossils, some had shell fragments.  And I had three songs stuck in my head this afternoon ("Just what makes that silly ol' ant, think he'll move the rubber tree plant, anyone knows that ant...can't... move a rubber tree plant!")  and two Latin songs (In te, Domine speravi, non confun darin aeternum... - hey, I can sing in Latin, but I am not sure I can spell Latin - and Laudate Dominum, omnes gentes, laudate eum...)

And finally, on my last-mile homestretch, I was walking and not paying attention to anything, and all of a sudden this big deer jumped out of the woods onto the road, and wheeled right around and jumped right back into the woods.  I could have spanked him on his flank!  He's probably at home right now telling this same story to his kids.  

My epiphany today is that I, and many like me, do not wrestle with attention deficit so much as attention overflow.  How can one attend to one simple task when there are rocks and rills and clouds and winds and people waving and deer startling and birds twittering?  It's hard to focus on Left-Right-Left-Right for 5 miles when all this other stuff is going on. 

I have no idea how those Olympians do it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


We ate the last of our garden-fresh tomatoes from our summer garden this week.  I guess that's appropriate, given that it's the last week of November.  But, boy, I'm already missing that taste of summer, and the scent you get, just touching the vines.

Yesterday was something of a first for me: I made meatloaf for that Spouse o' Mine.  I do not like meatloaf, and have sworn off ground beef anyway because of some mysterious allergy which began rearing its head about six years ago.  But this week's giant loaf-in-a-pan was sort of a make-up for the BBQ roast beef I made earlier in the week.  That Spouse o' Mine is not fond of BBQ.  I rarely make it, but I think there are few things finer than coming home to a crockpot that's been simmering BBQ roast all afternoon.  For some reason, that is always remindful of my grandmother's house.  But here's the funny part - I don't recall her making BBQ for us.  Gram was a china painter, and her house always smelled like turpentine.  How I loved that smell!  Somehow my senses have mistaken BBQ for turpentine.  Oh, well, comforting smells, anyway, from her kitchen to mine.

Earlier this week I bought a bottle of perfume, kind of on a whim. I'm pretty much a Chanel and Burberry gal, but I saw a bottle of perfume this week - just the kind my Aunt Alpha used to wear.  My Aunt Alpha was a fun lady to be around.  She died a few years ago at the age of 104. She and I, years earlier, had discussed perfumes.  She had remarked, "Oh, you just can't buy my perfume anymore."   Aunt Alpha had lived most of her professional life in Manhattan (the other one: the BIG Apple), working for the Metropolitan Opera, and upon retirement had moved to Los Angeles.  In her later years she moved to Oklahoma, nearer her kin, just as a chicken comes home to roost.  And this was where she lamented the lack of her French perfume.

What Aunt Alpha did not realize was that I took frequent trips to Paris.  The next time I found myself in one of the Galeries Lafayette, I purchased a bottle of Cabochard for her and surprised her the next time I visited Oklahoma.  She was amazed.  (I would like to point out here that "cabochard" means "headstrong" in French.  That was Aunt Alpha, all right.) 

Well, I dabbed on some Cabochard this morning, and all day I smelled my wrists: yes, yes: Auntie Alpha.

Funny how fragrance stays in one's memory.

“A good fragrance is really a powerful cocktail of memories and emotion.”   ~Jeff Stepakoff

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Table for Three

We had Small Family Thanksgiving today.  It's not the first time, and I know it won't be the last time.  We had a delightful day!

The neighbor and I have been doing tag-team animal care the past week or so: she dealt with our beasts while we were in Virginia, and this week I am petting her cats and feeding her fowl.  The chickens in my care are easy keepers.  Although on Day Two I had to nudge a couple of them with a pole because I had not seen any movement from them in the past 36 hours.  Since then I have noticed that they move around when I am not there.  Whew!  That's a relief!

Here's what the funny things look like:
 Gillian and I planned our Thanksgiving menu this morning while that Spouse o' Mine took his 38-mile bike ride.  Gillian headed out to the garden and harvested all the fennel root, for fennel & potatoes. 

I thought Gillian should see the funny chooks across the road.  We walked over, and gave the birds some lettuce from our garden, and then I spied: pears!  Pears in the neighbors' yard!  I took some back to our house (thanks, Melissa), and made Poached Poached Pears.  (Get it?)

It was such a nice day, I set the Thanksgiving table outdoors.  We enjoyed the turkey, the fennel, potatoes, cauliflower, and shortbread.  Not a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but then, I have never been accused of traditional meals.

While we are on the subject of meals, I should say that tonight's "light" meal was to be a quinoa, navy bean and kale stew.  I just went out to pick the kale in my garden.  No kale!  That Spouse o' Mine weeded this morning!!!  (Why does he go into my garden?!) 

Gillian and her father are making a coffee table for her new apartment.  
And after Thanksgiving diner, they began bike repair and tune-ups.

 Tonight, since I didn't have any kale to pick, I took my camera out to watch the flying geese.  The temperature is supposed to drop 40º in the next few hours, and so I suspect all these geese were hunting for some warmer earth, on Thanksgiving night.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I was just reading something that reminded me of an experience I had back in my "younger motherhood" days.

Some details are vague and sketchy, but the gist of the afternoon in question is that that Spouse o' Mine attempted to make an international phone call.

We have been married 28 years.  For the better part of the first half of those years, he was unable or unwilling to learn how to make an international call.  He made it sound like Australia had a direct-dial to anyone anywhere in the world: no 011, no Country Code, no nothing.

Back to the afternoon's experience:  He attempted to make an international call to someone, and mistakenly dialed 911 - not 011, which is the "international calling code".  He realized his error and promptly hung up.  He announced that he was going to his office on campus to do some work.  I announced that I was going to have a quick shower.  The three kids, perhaps grade-school-aged? were left to their own entertainment.

Après shower, as I was just drying off with my towel, our older daughter knocked on the bathroom door.  She said there was a policeman at the door.


I threw on a bathrobe and headed downstairs, soaking wet, dripping-wet hair and all.


I arrived at the stairwell landing and the front door to see TWO police officers.  The police woman was standing on our front porch.  The police man was standing off the porch, two steps away.

The police woman introduced herself to me, the dripping-wet woman standing, dripping, in her bathrobe.  She explained that the 911 people had received a call from our address, and, "Was everything all right?"

I stood there, stunned, dumbfounded, for a minute or so.  Our three kids huddled behind me in my dripping wet bathrobe. 

And then I burst out laughing.  I remembered that that Spouse o' Mine had mistakenly called 911 and immediately hung up, irritated that the American phone system was so ridiculous.  (REALLY?!  My gosh.)  I laughingly explained to the two officers what had transpired.

They stared into my eyes.  They did not move.

I moved.  I shuffled around nervously.  I was not used to greeting guests in my bathrobe.

They continued their stance for an uncomfortable time, it seemed to me, who really just wanted to scamper upstairs to my bedroom and PUT SOME CLOTHES ON.

After an amazing amount of time (it probably was only seconds, maybe a minute or so..) they somehow sent each other a mental message that perhaps I was a young mother of three young kids, who had an Aussie husband who couldn't take time to learn how to make a international call (011) without mistakenly dialing  911 instead.

Have mercy.  28 years, and we are still married.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weekend Fun

That Spouse o' Mine and I went to visit the newlyweds this weekend: DC and Richmond.  Fun, fun time.  We left Kansas City in the wee hours before dawn one day, and arrived in DC before most things were even open.  But we are adventurers, and we were hungry ones.  We took the Metro from the airport to Union Station in DC, and hoofed it many blocks to China Town for some brunch (morning Foo Yung, anyone?)  I was the one who whined that I needed some China Town food that early in the morning.  It was calling my name.

We wandered and meandered around DC and the Capitol.

Preparing for January's inauguration:

 In the Botanical Gardens:  where my chocolate chips come from:

 Vanilla plant: where those funny vanilla beans grow:
 In late afternoon we boarded a train for Richmond.  I fell asleep as soon as I got on the train.  I love trains.  I love them in Europe, I love them here.  Train travel beats airline travel hands-down nowdays.  The seats are comfy.  One has elbow room.  Leg room galore!  One is free to move about the cabin cars (plural!) whenever one feels compelled, with no frowns or barcarts following in hot pursuit.  There is no baggage compliance nonsense. Hungry?  Just sally on down to the meal car any time you pleaseORDER YOUR CHOICE FROM THE MENU

I cannot believe the great U.S. of A. does not have an intercontinental railway system east to west, north to south.   I would be train-travelling every weekend of the year, if it did.

During the weekend we went sightseeing: Maymount.  It's a mansion.  A park.  A really nice 100-acre. Victorian home.

Gorgeous fall colors.  Claire says the trees were at peak two weeks ago.  Wow; this is not peak?
 "Claire, can you make sure that old house is in the photo?"
 "We were talking.  Take another one."
 "Did you get the house back there in the photo?"
One more...Oh!  Ha ha!  Wait!!!
 Wait another minute!
Pinecone gathering.  Because that's what we do.

Why is it we 50+'s feel the urge to climb trees? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Whale Tales

A friend of mine and I have been discussing Jonah.  The Bible is a wealth of information, but there's a serious lack of detail in the whole Jonah and the whale story.  What happened between, "Get thee to Ninevah." and being tossed overboard from Tarshish and subsequently swallowed and hacked up again three days later?

I recalled a story my middle older brother Bob had told me ages ago, about one of our ancestors being swallowed by a whale.  I emailed him and this is what he sent back:

Tully Clark

And I took it upon mself to look for other whale mishaps, and I found this entertaining one:

Bartley and the Star of the East

In the late winter of 1891, the whale-ship Star of the East was in the vicinity of the
Falkland Islands when it came within sight of a whale. Two boats were dispatched with harpoons to snare and kill the beast, but the lashing of its tail capsized one of the launches, spilling the crew into the sea. All were accounted for except for a single sailor, James Bartley.

Ultimately the whale was killed and the carcass drawn aboard the vessel to begin the process of salvaging valuable resources. By the next day good progress had been made in removing the layers of blubber from the beast, so a tackle was attached to its stomach to hoist it on deck. Sailors were startled by spasmodic life within the belly of the whale, and upon further inspection the missing sailor was found.

Bartley was quite mad for two weeks, but upon recovering his senses he recounted what little he could recall of being dragged under the water. Struggling for his life he had been drawn into darkness within which he felt a terrible and oppressive heat. He found slimy walls that gave slightly to his touch, but could find no exit. When his situation finally dawned on him Bartley lost his senses completely and lapsed into a state of catatonia.

During his time inside the whale the gastric juices affected his exposed skin. His face, neck and hands were bleached a deathly white with a texture like parchment, a condition from which the skin never recovered. Bartley believed that he would probably have lived inside his house of flesh until he starved, as breathing was not a problem.

This Whale Tale has been determined to be just that - a tall tale.  But a fun one to read, nevertheless!

Sleep well, everyone.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Thanksgiving

Here are some things I am thankful for today, in no particular order:

Good poems like In Flanders Field.

Last night's rain.  (Correction:  That should be tippy-top in my order.  Thank you, God.) 

Brazilian music on a Sunday afternoon.

A walk in the woods in the winter's dusk.

Sleeping cats.  They're like stuffed animals.

Church folk.

Leftovers.  It  IS  the Day of Rest, after all.

That's it.  I am thankful.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Afternoon

I wonder if these little guys know today is Opening Day of quail season?  
They must have known they were safe in our yard. 
 Cute little fellows...
 Today's wind: S 25 mph G 39 mph...
He's an all-weather cyclist.
 MacArthur, daydreaming of mice?  Quail?
Today, Saturday November 10th, I am thankful that we have a nice,strong shelter from the wind.  And rain is in our forecast.  Ah...

Friday, November 09, 2012

These Early Sunsets!

This week in the aftermath of the TIME CHANGE, that Spouse o' Mine has come home early every afternoon.  (That's OK, because he leaves early every morning, as well.)  He goes for a quick bike ride, or moves directly into the Bike Barn/"finish-the-interior-trim-in-the-new-addition barn".  Tomato, Tomahto.  Let me insert here, too, that our "new addition" is approximately five years old.  Note to anyone who wants to listen: Refrain from telling building contractors, "You put up the foundation, studs, and drywall and we will do the rest."  Just refrain from saying that sentence.  Trust me.  Pay the extra money.

So I was in the kitchen and noticed the sun was going down - FAST! - and I was in the midst of cooking Feijoada, and so I sauntered over to a window facing the Bike Barn and called out, "Hey!  Paul!  There's a bag of dogfood over by the Russian Droopy Tree.  Will you please feed the dogs and put the ducks away?"

"What?  What tree?"

"The Russian Droopy Tree."

"What tree is that?"

"The RUSSIAN DROOPY TREE - the one right by the Bike Barn!"

"You mean the Alaskan Cedar?"

Huh.  Why is it he always knows the correct name for every growing thing in our yard?  At least I am descriptive, even if my geography is off.  I saw him smile in the silhouette of the sunset.

November 9th sees me thankful for a guy who still takes me, with a sense of humor.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Doors. (And Not Jim Morrison)

I have had a mental thing about doors in This Old House.  And property beyond this old farmhouse...
Since we are three-less inhabitants in This Old House (read: Empty Nest), I have decided it would be prudent to have a door between our kitchen and the dining room.  History (i.e., the doorway) has shown that previously, there was a door separating these two rooms.  It makes sense.  In the last century, it might have been more of a social statement, keeping the kitchen hidden from guests.  It makes sense today to keep that part of the house, now uninhabited for at least half the day, unheated and unairconditioned. 

I bought an old and very charming door over a year ago.  It still had its original glass, but needed a clean sanding and restaining.  I am not sure exactly what transpired when, but that old door ended up hung as a front door to one of our outbuildings, affectionately named "The Brickhouse".   And it was painted barn red.  And, the Kansas wind slammed the door and shattered the gorgeous original glass. 

And that is how it's set for...a year.  I was reluctant to unhinge the door and that Spouse o' Mine over this stupid, stupid, stupid door.  But, I wanted it in my dining room, NOT the Breickhouse.

Today I visited our Habitat for Humanity Store with measuring tape in hand, and I found a replacement exterior (read: old farm outbuilding) door which matched the style of everything else on this old, old property.  I finagled a good price for it, and lo and behold, the bread landed jelly-up and I even had a strapping young(er) man see my plight of carrying this 2-ton door out by myself, and offered his muscly physique to my aid.  (I could have done it myself...but even the lady at the cash register was appalled that I was going to attempt this.) 

So I came home again, home again, jiggety-jig. 

Tomorrow:  Unhinge the Brickhouse door.  Replace Brickhouse door.   

This weekend:  Remove barn red paint on gorgeous door, and proceed to staining.  Call glass company with measurements for bevelled glass.  Head to the local home place and peruse the wood trim selections.

Oh!  The door in my mind's eye is GORGEOUS.  Let me tell you.


Part DEUX:  In the barn loft (yes, right there by the original house shutters...) is a pair of French doors.  For the doorway between the dining room and the old living room.

Ah...I live in a perpetual, real-time episode of This Old House.  It's never-ending.  Always morphing. There is always SOMETHING.

November 8th: what am I thankful for today?  I am thankful, SO thankful, that I have talked to three very special people in my maternal life in the course of the past 24 hours.   


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I Sing

This morning I looked out the window as I poured myself another cup of coffee.  I saw a robin perched on the grotto fence.  That was an unusual sight, because robins don't normally "perch" so much as hop along the ground looking for grubs and what-have-you.  Plus, I thought robins had already headed south for the winter.  They migrate from Kansas, I think.

I poured my cup of coffee, and walked into the mudroom, where I glanced out that window to see a bunch of robins, all huddled around my little garden pond.  They were in want of water. 

So sad.  It is so dry here.  Later in the morning I collected a couple of shallow pans and took them out into the yard and filled them with water.  Poor birds.

It reminded me of the hymn His Eye is on the Sparrow.

And today, November 7th, I am thankful because I know He watches me.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Wabaunsee Votes!

Here in Wabaunsee County, rural Kansas, people have to drive miles to get to the polling place.  I say place, singular.  I am not sure that's accurate, but I do know for a fact that it USED to be plural: polling places, because we once only had to walk down the road to the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church to cast our ballots.  Then someone in the know decided to make us Wabaunsee city limits folk drive to the Wabaunsee county seat twelve miles away to vote.  I'd vote that as poor judgement - I wonder if a lot of the people who live around us don't drive the twelve miles to go vote in most elections.  It means that people like that Spouse o' Mine must head south for twelve miles, return, then head west for twenty miles to work.  There are worse things, I suppose.

Daughter Gillian came in last night from Kansas City so that she could vote this morning.  She and I drove to the county seat, to the American Legion Building.  Parked right out front of the American Legion was a pickup truck with a day-old calf lying in the back.  Typical day in Wabaunsee County.

The American Legion building is about as large as our living room.  It has three electronic booths and four "paper" booths.  There was not a line to vote, so we got in and out in just a matter of minutes. I goofed up on one vote: I voted to continue to tax boats in Kansas.  (Pressing issues like tax fraud and abortion do not come up, but taxing boaters in the land-locked state of Kansas does.)  Actually, I didn't REALLY goof up.  But Gillian pointed out that if I indeed acquire a sailboat anytime soon, I will have taxed myself on it.  Oops.  Again, there are worse things.

I am thankful for three things today: A) The time change didn't seem to bother me as much as it has ALWAYS done in the past.  B) I had a good cello lesson today: new music.  {It's as exciting at 52 as it was back in 5th grade piano lessons.}  C)  Election Day: 1.5 hours to go, here in rural Kansas. 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Good Folk

Now that it's cool once again, I have begun again to do my daily walks and runs.  I am doing five miles this week, and yesterday was my first walk/run.  This is to say, more walk than run, but nevertheless, the "run" is there.

My gosh.  This morning I could barely shuffle in to the kitchen for my coffee cup.  And today I stuck with my basic five miles of walking. 

Yesterday while I was out walking the Flint Hills, I stopped to chat with a rancher neighbor who was filling giant round water tanks with water.  I would like to say that they have ~500 cattle, but I think what I mean to say is that they have ~500 cows (and that would mean much more bovine if you add up the calves and bulls and steers.)  But asking numerical questions such as how many cows, how many acres, is considered bad form, and so we'll just have to leave that to one's imagination.  Suffice to say, these neighbors have lots and lots of ranching biz in their day-to-day activities.

This year's drought has caused all of this ranch's ponds (on thousands of acres, I do know that) to dry up.  Nary a drop of water for their cattle. 

That's bad.   

So the ranchers and their hands drive around twice a day and refill all the water tanks in all the fields and pastures they have put out for their cattle.  Having had horses, and knowing that a horse can take in five gallons of water in a day, I was surprised when my neighbor told me that these cows (lactating) would be drinking about 20 gallons of water each day. 

I read something a while back, something that was a reply (or retort!) to PETA regarding ranching's handling of their herds.  The article was a statement regarding the care that ranchers took last winter during excessive blizzard conditions: seeing that their herds were well-fed and well-watered, and well-sheltered.

The same goes for these folks in the drought-ridden areas of the country.  A tremendous amount of care is taken in the ranching business around here, and not only for the business side of it, but because these people care for their livestock - not something that PETA people would like you to be privy to.

November 5th, and I am so, so thankful that I see the reality of ranching and the care these ranching neighbors put into their livelihood.           

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Not Much Longer!

Daughter Claire sent me a humorous link regarding the election.  It showed people being interviewed while standing in line to see their candidate in Denver.  It could have been uninformed voters for either candidate.  The link was funny.  But it also made me want to shake people till their teeth rattle. 

I cannot stand some of the things I hear on the news and on the street.  I will  be the very very first to admit I am not educated on all of the issues in the presidential debates, but I sure do try my best to ask questions and look online to find out some numbers and facts and answers. 

And, as I have always taught our kids: Question statistics, ALWAYS.  Statistics have malleable properties which are often hammered and honed into falsehoods, for all the wrong reasons.

And finally, I hope that I, and all the voting Americans, continue to keep apprised of the federal and political situation well into the next four years.  No complacency, no moss-growing.  It would be nice if all the people out there who can cast a vote this week make sure they are educated enough to know what the issues are, and not what the press and two political parties might want to lead us to believe are the "big deals".

Tonight, the 4th of November, I am thankful that I get to vote in two days.  This can be taken two ways:

A) I am thankful that we Americans vote for our chosen leaders.


B) I am thankful that the Presidential election is very nearly at its end.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Family Ties

It's Kansas State vs Oklahoma State tonight in football.

I do not watch football.  I don't enjoy the physical violence.  That Spouse o' Mine does not enjoy my questions.  We two are happier if I do not pretend to be a football fan.

But, I love my alma mater Oklahoma State University.  My parents went there, my grandmother and great aunts and uncles went there.  My brothers, my sister, cousins, nieces and nephews have graduated from OSU.  Heck, that Spouse o' Mine came from Australia to earn his Masters at OSU.  That's four generations and a spouse!  After graduating from OSU, I moved far away, and then even farther away from Oklahoma.  After marriage, we moved EVEN FARTHER away (if that is even possible; I suppose, the Middle East is EVEN FARTHER.)

But chickens do come home to roost, and so we did.  We spent seven wonderful years back at OSU, when our kids were in early elementary.  It was home to me.

A job change led us to this next state north, where all things are purple.  We Armstrongs are most certainly a minority.  So my bright orange flag is hanging out on our porch - a sacrilege in this world of purple we live in here in Kansas State Wildcat territory.


Today, November 3rd, what am I thankful for?

Heavens, NOT football.  I am thankful for a family heritage and history that I can trace - even beyond Oklahoma State University.  That Spouse o' Mine once commented that it was not the norm to have three volumes written on one's family history - but it sure is a comfortable feeling.  Roots are nice, and some people have no idea what their family did, even two generations ago.  So, this is my thankfulness on November 3rd.

Friday, November 02, 2012

An Eve of Eaves

Last night we lost internet.  And phone, too, according to the telecom company, but we weren't aware of that.  Still, this morning, no internet, and even into mid-afternoon.  I broke down and called them - numerous times, since their line was busy or nonfunctioning.  I finally reached a human, and he and I walked through the modem setup numerous times, internet.

I have to interject here that a few years back my computer got a bad bad virus on it.  My bother Bob in Oklahoma said to bring down there next time I came and he would look at it.  He rid the hard drive of bad things.  He added a new dimension to my computer as well.  Brothers will be brothers will be brothers, even when we are in adulthood and should act age-appropriately.  What he added was a new sound which comes on anytime I shut down or restart my computer:  The voice of a woman's blood-curdling scream:


I never remember that it is on there - I rarely shut down my computer. 

So I had this telecom guy on speaker phone and he suggested that the next step would be to unplug power supplies and shut down my computer.  So I did.


"My gosh!" 

"That wasn't me!" I exclaimed.

"My gosh!" the telecom man repeated. "I thought you electrocuted yourself!"

And it wasn't even Halloween.

This early evening I had a sink full of dirty dishes staring me in the face, and eaves full of leaves staring me down from above.  I opted for the eaves of leaves, and carried one of our extra-tall ladders out from the barn and up the sides of the house.

And so, November 2nd, I am thankful that I have the ability to scamper up and down an extra-tall ladder.

Many, many times.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Our Home

To some, it is an old run-down farmhouse.  Plaster-and-lathe, with cracks like old wrinkles.  The window panes are old, and some show the wavy patterns of settling.  Hardwood abounds - no carpet in this old house, only oriental rugs here and there.  House slippers are de rigueur for us, the inhabitants, not by etiquette, but to offset the cold floors. The ca. 1887 fieldstone cellar/basement gives evidence to the quality of craftsmanship the Civil War soldier used when he built this, our old house. 

The windows wear wooden plantation shades which open to views of the surrounding gardens and farmland.  There are house shutters out in our barn which at one time must have been more than ornamental; some day I would like to haul them out from the loft of the barn and have a really good look-see in broad daylight.

Our huge barn is another amazing testament to old style craftsmanship.  Kneebrace joinery, and mortise and tenon instead of nails.  The fieldstone foundation is faltering a bit, the stalls bear evidence of cribbing horses or bovine boredom.  The old weathervane is a bit askew - no doubt the Kansas wind has played a part in that.  Barn swallows abound in the spring and summer.  What a treat it is to watch nest-building, nesting, and hatching of these delicate birds.  Occasionally, we have bats high, high above, in the barn rafters.

We have a well, and it's a pretty reliable water source - of course, we are only two miles from the Kansas River.  We have a vegetable garden.  What we call "the orchard" consists of two plum trees, two peach trees, and two apple trees.  We have wild blackberries down by the creek in July.  Our rancher neighbors are our sources for beef and lamb.  Our ducks give us seasonal eggs.     

All-in-all, we have shelter, food and water.  Even in all its age and upkeep, I am thankful for this old house on this old property.  We have lived here ten years.  Before that?  City dwellers.  Our kids spent their later childhood years here, exploring the fields and pastures, riding horses, running the country roads, playing with ducks, dogs, and cats.  And rounding up the errant peacocks.  We have had many horticultural and garden experiments on this property.  We fly kites and ride bikes.  We've had lots of parties and potlucks and cookouts here.  We go out in the night to view the constellations, and go out in the morning to watch the glorious sunrises.

And so, November First: I am thankful for our home.

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