Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014: A Good Year: And Also With You

It's New Year's Eve, and I am setting up a wireless mouse and wireless keyboard for my PC. It's nearly 2014.

Way back in 1988, we were a family of four. Two adults, one working on his PhD, and the other, working on her motherhood skills with two daughters under the age of three.  Back then, we also had an office with a computer. It had a very, very  slow DOS operating system. I do recall that I started learning about "email" that year. I didn't see its worth over a letter sent n the mail.  (And in 2013? I still LOVE a personal letter in my rural mailbox!)  My mother was so far beyond me in computer know-how.  She embraced the new frontier of computerland.  I eschewed it.  She was my To-Go person for all things Windows. She had all the answers!!  And if she did not know outright, she knew in a matter of a minute or so, where to find the answer.

It is incomprehensible how far the computer age has traveled in only a couple of decades.  But - not unlike the science of air travel, right?  Who, besides Da Vinci and probably a few more folk, could have seen the future of human flight?  And now, we have amazing aircraft that few could have imagined even half a century ago!

Do you wonder about the next fifty years?  I do.  I cannot imagine.  I hope that there is more good than bad. (Don't we all, each of our generations?)  I think there will be amazing medical advances, curing diseases on which we have not yet got a handle.  Amazing science discoveries.  I hope that there are amazing movements of peace and acceptance in the world, but I also hold a pessimistic thought, that peoples in the world will refuse to accept others.  Case in point just now, 2013 -  the Tibetan people in China. 

In fifty years...I think the United States is so young compared the rest of the world, it might suffer some in its government.  I don't like writing that.  I dearly hope that I am wrong.

So, well, here we are in rural Kansas; personally, our family is doing pretty darn well. 

And so, in world-wide terms, I can only utter,

"Thanks be to God."  "And also with you."

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Today is the Sixth Day of Christmas.  I made cheese fondue this afternoon - such a treat in this cold and snowy afternoon.  Tonight I went out to feed animals, and lo and behold, there were eight eggs in the duckhouse!  It's like "Six Geese a-Laying" but without the geese.  And more eggs.  Our ducks moulted late this fall.  When they moult, they usually quit laying eggs, too.  I do not know the whys and the wherefors of this, but that's apparently how it's done.  I am so happy to be back in eggville - once one enjoys free-range duck eggs, it's difficult to enjoy the storebought, papershell, teeny-tiny, pale yellow chicken eggs in the grocery store.

Here is a cute photo; see the boy holding the calico kitten?  That's Puzzle.  Jasper, other kitten, and Bear, big dog, are dearly departed. 

And another cute photo: Claire and Puzzle, some seventeen years later...

And yet another: College Boy Graham titled his photo "Two Puzzles".
He took this when he came home from uni two weeks ago.  She is sitting on the game table, on the jigsaw puzzle. 

And finally:
When we put up the Christmas tree in mid-December, Puzzle opted for that special place to sleep in her elder days, by the heat register, under the tree, among the packages.

I took this photo two weeks ago, and emailed the kids as to how cute she was, snoozing under the tree!

 Last week, the night before Christmas Eve, Puzzle died under the Christmas tree. 

Twenty years ago, I got a call from a university Vet Med resident, who also helped us as housesitter on many occasions. 

"There was a litter of kittens dumped at Vet Med this morning.  You really need to come see them."

"No, we really do not need a new kitten."

"No.  You REALLY need to come see them."

So we went, and brought home a gift which has lasted twenty years, and whose memory will make us smile much longer.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Fourth Day

I have a cold today.  I am not sick.  Over Christmas this past few weeks, we, the kids and I, discussed the definition of "sick" and "having a cold".  Since the kiddos have fledged our nest, occasionally one or the other or all three have mentioned by phone or email they they were sick.

SICK?!!!  Mother Me would panic.  Major maternal panic mode!

And come to find out?  They just had a cold.  A measly, snibbly cold. Sniffles.  A tiny bit of a fever.  Nothing that they should write home about.  Take a long nap.  Drink lots of water.  Eat some garlic.  Gargle.  Vicks.

This morning, I began sneezing and wheezing.  I thought it might be allergies, but what in the world could I be allergic to in single-digit temperatures?  After lunch, I lay down on the sofa for a quick 20-minute nap, as is my sometimes practice.  But that 20 minutes ended up to be a two-hour marathon coma. Complete with really vivid dreams.

And I continued to sneeze.

I sneezed out in the snow in the pasture as I herded the pups out for their evening romp.

I sneezed in the art room as I completed some art works.

I have a cold.

I am not sick.

Today is the Fourth Day of Christmas.

Mel Torme wrote this song when he was 19 years old:

MEL TORME: Good King Wenceslas

1. Good King Wenceslas look'd out,
    On the Feast of Stephen;1
When the snow lay round about,
    Deep, and crisp, and even:
Brightly shone the moon that night,
    Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
    Gath'ring winter fuel.
2. "Hither page and stand by me,
    If thou know'st it, telling,2
Yonder peasant, who is he?
    Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence.
    Underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence,
    By Saint Agnes' fountain."
3. "Bring me flesh,3 and bring me wine,
    Bring me pine-logs hither:
Thou4 and I will see him dine,
    When we bear them thither."
Page and monarch forth they went,
    Forth they went together;
Through the rude5 winds wild lament,
    And the bitter weather.
4. "Sire, the night is darker now,
    And the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know now how,
    I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, good my page;6
    Tread thou in them boldly;
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
    Freeze thy blood less coldly."
5. In his master's steps he trod,
    Where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod
    Which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
    Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
    Shall yourselves find blessing.
Wherefore, Christian people, know,
    Who my lay are hearing,
He who cheers another's woe
    Shall himself find cheering.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Third Day of Christmas

Here we are, the Third Day of Christmas.  I keep coming back to the Kings College because, well...they sing "Christmas" to me!

Tonight in rural Kansas, it's warmish (read: 40º F) and the stars are out.  The stars are brightly shining.  Here's some nice music:  O Holy Night

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Reindeer Games

Today is the second day of Christmas.  The kids have come and gone.  After Little Family Christmas, we six drove to Oklahoma for Big Family Christmas, the singing of the Messiah, and a Christmas Dinner made by the Younger Generation - three days and nights of holiday madness happiness.  We shot arrows and scavenger-hunted. There were races and bike rides, tennis matches, and even an ice storm.  Holly Jolly!

Scavenger Hunt:  Two teams drove around the rural Kansas county, searching for photo opps for their team.  This clue: "Un burrito".  The team competitors got extra points if their faces were in the photos...
 ..."un burrito"...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bleak Midwinter

I am thriving in this cold, dark season.  I love midwinter.  I can list a myriad of reasons why I do well in this seasonal atmosphere, but that might make all you sun- and heat-lovers more depressed and Seasonally-Affected than you already are.

Ok, Ok, here are just a few reasons I like the bleak midwinter:

Snow!  It is such fun to be out in the snow.  I don my snowsuit and boots and hat and mittens, and there's such fun to be had exploring nature.  Tracks and trails and birds in flight...

 Silence!  Snow is an awesome noise insulator.  All is calm.  All is bright.

Ice is pretty.  We were in Oklahoma this week, and let me tell you, Oklahoma does ice storms better than most.  Granted, the ice storms are a major headache to Oklahoma residents, and are dangerous, and Okies could finish this sentence with more and more negative descriptions, but let me just say:  Ice is pretty.

It's dark outside!  Even in daylight, the skies are most often grey and cloudy.  I'm just fine and dandy with that.  I don't mind the dark.  Never have, even when living in Michigan with its late, LATE sunrises, and its early, EARLY sunsets.  (Hey: payback time in July, when it's the converse, OK?)  For me, dark winter days and evenings signify soups and art projects...NOT watermelon and long, hot bike rides.

Should I mention, "No bugs"?

Ok, here's one of my all-time, tippy-top favorite Christmas Carols.  Yes, it discusses snow and ice and frost and bleakness.  But the song ends quite happily.  The lyrics were written by Christina Rossetti, and the music, by Gustav Holst - who also wrote The Planets - also a favorite of mine.

In the Bleak Midwinter

Sunday, December 15, 2013


As is my practice of an evening, I went to the china cabinet and took out a piece of stemware and poured myself a glass of wine.  I looked at this glass: it is not antique, but it is old and it holds terrifically fun memories.   There is a line around the very center of the globe.  That is the horizon, from which all the etchings of pine trees and snowflakes originate.  I like to call these wineglasses in my china cabinet my "Winter Stemware". When our kids were fairly young, I sometimes would ask them to fill the glasses "to the horizon".  I remember one very difficult day last year, I requested that my glass be filled "TO THE TREETOPS!"    

How did I come to own so many glasses in my "Winter Stemware"?

May years ago, I had lunch with my sister Barb.  We went to Arby's.  She ordered for us, and - WOW!  we got two wineglasses of "Winter Stemware"!  For free!  With pop in them!  My sister really knew how to do things.

I wanted more.  More Winter Stemware...enough for that Spouse o' Mine and our three kids.  (No, we would not fill their glasses to the horizon with wine, Silly; milk in those wineglasses!)

The problem was that Arby's offer for glasses (I am pretty sure they did not tout this deal as Free Wineglasses) was that you got a free glass when you ordered a soda.  Well, we Armstrongs did not and do not drink sodas.  So I was at a loss.  I called my sister up.  (Her family drank sodas like...I don't know; like horses eat alfalfa?)  Can you PLEASE get me some more Arby's glasses?  She said she would do whatever she could.  And that was the end of the story.

Christmas came, and we were all merrily doing the Little and Big Family Christmases.  Big Family Christmas that year: A large box was set in front of me.  To Tric.  (My sister Barb never spelled my name any other way that Tric.)  I opened it, and there was a boatload of newspaper.  Newspaper wrapping something...

Omigoodness!  Twenty-six Arby's Winter Stemware Wineglasses!!

She had called the three brothers, who were in cahoots on this, and they all visited Arbys the month of December, to get me my glasses.

You gotta love family.

And sisters.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Coming Home, Part One:

College Boy Graham is home, dinner has done been et, and we are awaiting the cookies out of the oven.

Can I add a post script to yesterday's post about that Spouse o' Mine and his hand?  This morning, we were busy for an hour or two upon waking, Skyping Chilean customers and whatnot.  Finally, that Spouse o' Mine went in to change the dressing on his carving wound.  I asked if I could have a look.

I spied.

I refrained from squeezing my eyes shut.  I remained without emotion showing on my face.  "You really need to go have this attended to.  We really should have gone in last night."

For once in our happily wedded bliss, he acquiesced.  The wound was not pleasant.  Meaty-things going on there.  (I asked myself, if ever my Dad the sculpture incurred such injuries?  Must ask my mother...)

He drove in by himself (thank goodness, because I could only imagine how many cold and flu germs would hinge themselves onto me in the waiting room...yes! I am neurotic.)

Speaking of waiting rooms...

That Spouse o' Mine waited three hours.  Three hours and some sutures later (Told ya so!), he was good to go.  I told him if we had gone in last night, when the blood  flow was ridiculous, they would have seen him immediately.

And now, back to our happy evening of reunion?

I love this old, old song - here recorded  by Johnny Cash.

Children Go Where I Send Thee

Friday, December 13, 2013

Oh Beautiful Star

Years ago, - nay, decades ago, (when the heck did that happen?!), I used to commute from East Lansing (by way of Detroit) to New York's JFK International Airport once, and sometimes twice, a week, to work a flight to parts east: Europe or the Middle East.

Work is work is work.  That I got to go to terrific places in my employment was a valuable perk.  But, I have to say, commuting and logistics did make my work to be...work!  I started out as a flight attendant first as a single woman, and later on, as a newlywed.  Still later, as a Mom.

Logistics abounded.  Every-which-way.

Stress and worries and security  (OH!  Hijackings and terrorists and who-knows-what-else.)
(In the New Millennium, we have sadly witnessed the "what-else".)

I remember listening to this carol so many, many times on my drives to and from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.  It calmed my nerves, heading east to JFK.  It called me back to hearth & home on my return flights.

Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

I still love listening to this song, sung here by the Judds.  It is a calming carol for me.

Speaking of calming...

I so needed this, this evening.

That Spouse o' Mine (and he will really hate it when he finds that I have written about this..) has been working on a piece of wood this month.  A carving.  A sculpture.

You see, every year at Big Family Christmas, we play Dirty Santa (look it up), and all the gifts are to be hand-made.  And we're not talking a snowflake cut out of a 9x12.5" paper, we're talking oil paintings, sculptures, quilts.  We Websters are creative, and appreciative of art.  The more personal it is, the better we like it.  Yes, ye, we all would LOVE a real live Bougerreau.  But Gma's oils (my Mom's) and nephew-in-law Josh's framed photographs from Antarctica are prime real estate in our Dirty Santa.

But, back to that Spouse o' Mine:

He was upstairs merrily creating something about which I cannot describe, while I was "lower deck" in the galley, prepping our Friday night pizza.  (Living 12 miles out in rural Kansas, we have no pizza delivery.  Sad state of affairs.)

Very quietly and suddenly, he appeared right next to me.

"I cut myself."

"How badly?"  (Note to all you English writer-wannabes: my adverb, even in emergency, was correct.)

"Not bad."  (Note to all you English writer-wannabes: this is how one speaks when he is bleeding, grey, and about to pass out; please note lack of proper adverb.)

I looked at the wound - and it was BAD.  I announced that I would take him in for sutures.  He ix-nayed that plan all over the place.  (How does one spell Pig Latin, much less speak it?!)  About this time, after I had cleaned and wrapped his wound and was cleaning the surrounding fingers and palms (Because, really? How much blood did you lose before you decided to come downstairs and seek help?!), I looked at his face.  And it was a terrifying grey.  Blank eyes.

He was in shock.

I yelled at him, and shoved him into the living room.  I told him to sit down on the sofa.  He could not find it - he was blacking out, I supposed.  I pushed him onto the sofa and pushed his head down (he frowned, but made no attempt to move it.)  I pulled his injured hand above his head.

Very, very soon afterwards, (a minute?  who knows). he seemed right as rain again.

And now we two are eating our pizza together, as if the First Aid necessity had never come about.

Have mercy.
And I will sing my calming carol, Oh Beautiful Song of Bethlehem once again.

And again...
and again...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pre-Dawn Jingles

Yesterday I scheduled a Skype conversation for this morning at 7:30 am with a customer from Chile.  That Spouse o' Mine and I have been waking up at 5:00 am, so I saw no need to set an alarm.  Wouldn't you know, today of all days, we woke up at 7:00 am?!

I jumped out of bed, scrambled around getting my laptop set up, (because I left it to the morning's task, thinking erroneously that I would have 2.5 hours to prep for this call...!), I cleaned off the desk area which would be seen in the Skype call (who wants to look like a disorganized yahoo first thing in the morning??) and wondered about the bags under my eyes and such, all before dawn and all before coffee.  Ugh.

An aside to this tale:
My Great Aunt Dee's Christmas Stocking, which I was given upon her passing:

   A very charming homemade Christmas stocking!  A really beautiful stocking which finds its place each year in my home.  It is really wonderful.

And here was Aunt Dee's admonishment to me:

OK, back to my morning Skype:

I got everything ready, was dressed and ready to roll, (except for my lipstick; WHERE was my lipstick?!) when I got an email from the customer, just minutes before my Skype call to him, saying he could not Skype this morning.

That was a total blessing.

Here's a carol called "Jingle Bell".

Kling Glockchen

Would that this happy little song would have been running through my head this morning, calming my uncaffeinated, pre-dawn nerves.  We rescheduled the Skype meeting for tomorrow morning.  Rest assured it will commence more calmly than this morning.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 10

Today, we - that Spouse o' Mine and I, were discussing units of measure around the world.  Neither of us, for the life of us, can understand why the United States of America is still in the dark ages in this respect: when, oh, WHEN, are we going to go metric?  It is time.  Past due, actually.  Adopt the metric system and do away with the time changes.

This day in 1799, France adopted the metre as its official unit of length.  I have yet to find how things were measured in France before 1799, but I have not researched it, either.  More to come on that subject...

This day in 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state in these united ones of America.  Do we all realize how young the United States of America are?  Compared to other countries around the world, our nation is still in its baby steps.  Amazing to consider.

Mark Twain's book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published on this day in 1884.  It has been on "banned" book lists as early as 1885 - when the Concord (MA) Public Library called it "trash and only suitable for the slums."  Nowdays, the debate seems to center on Twain's language and use of the word "nigger" in the book.  This book was assigned reading back in my childhood.  I enjoyed it.  I haven't re-read it.  I haven't used the word nigger either, except as a quote.  What has stayed in my memory from this book are his adventures.  Do you suppose this is what Samuel Clemons was aiming for?

In 1867, a patent was obtained for a mixture of:
3 parts nitroglycerin
1 part diatomaceous earth
A pinch of sodium carbonate


Yes, this Swedish man, Alfred Nobel, invented dynamite.  He then went on to found the Nobel Prize, which is a pretty coveted prize by folks all over the world.  Mr. Nobel died on this day in 1896.  In Sweden today, they observe Nobeldagen (Nobel Day).

When I was growing up, my family never, I think EVER, celebrated Christmas on Christmas Day.   Christmas was celebrated whenever it worked for all our large extended family.  My parents also told us that Christ's birth was to be celebrated every day of the year, not just on December 25th.  After all, where in the Bible does it say "December 25th is the birth date of the Lord Jesus Christ."?

This month, we Armstrongs will be celebrating Little Christmas here in rural Kansas in just one short week.  Yippee!  Four kids will be home.  (I say kids, but they are all adults.)  From here, we will head south to Oklahoma for Big Family Christmas.  Big, it will be!  One night of dinner cooked by the young adults, the next night will be the singing of Handel's Messiah (all 2.5 hours of it), and finally, Big Family Christmas and finale of all things Big Family.  A marathon to be sure, but fun and love and re-acquaintance after a year apart.

We've had a small respite in the single-digit temperatures today.  Not high enough to melt ice and snow, but enough to give us a bit of solar energy for the rest of the week's single digits and ice and snow.  Hey!  It's winter, after all.  Here's my carol of the day, to still all the holiday hoo-hah:

Still, Still, Still 

(I like it in its original German better.)

Monday, December 09, 2013

Merry & Happy

My day started out nice, at 5:00am.  Cold, but nice.  Since I got an early start of it, I was ready to head out the door bright & early to do some Christmas errands.

Animals fed, business emails checked and replied-to.  Car warmed up.

I hopped in, headed down the highway, and it was then that I bothered to put on my heavy-duty mittens for the 11º temperature.  (I have "special gloves" with which to feed animals, because what might seem just fine in 11º starts to smelling pretty darn awful after the car warms up and the Bloodhound smells start to thaw.)

Eau de Drool.

So, I slid my cold hands into my clean and toasty mittens.  Ah, nuts.  I had two left-handed mittens.  I was going to look silly and lopsided.  Well, too late.  I continued on into town.  I made my first stop: Hobby Lobby.  I collected my things, and went to checkout.  I swiped the credit card.  The lady told me to hit "cancel" and so I did.  Credit card: DENIED.  Silently, I think to myself: IMPOSSIBILE!  She told me to swipe it again.  And told me to hit "cancel".  I did, and: credit card: DENIED.  Again, I thought to myself: IMPOSSIBLE!  But I shyly looked around and thought, I am a total loser.  Ughhh.  Two left-handed mittens and my credit card was denied.  I hope I don't see anyone who knows me.


The cashier said brightly, "Don't you hate when that happens?"  I said nothing.  I was thinking to myself: IT DOES NOT HAPPEN.  IMPOSSIBLE!

I wrote a check and made a bee-line for the door.

I still had errands to run, but I sure wasn't going to submit myself to further humiliation, so I went to the nearest ATM and got lots of cash. UGHhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  From there, I went to points A-Z and did my holiday fun and games, all with that heavy cloud of Credit Card Denial hanging overhead.

Upon returning home, I began lunch. I do love me some garlic, and I grabbed the garlic press and went crazy over the pizza I was making for lunch.


My garlic press broke.  I swear, I go through garlic presses like nobody's business.  Can no one make an industrial-strength garlic press?!

I took lunch into the study and immediately began my banking detail on the computer to determine WHY I was in a left-handed mittened, no-credit- and no-garlic-press world.

Hey.  My credit card was just fine.  Fine and Dandy.  What the heck?!  No stolen identity, no "over-the-mark" nonsense, just ready and willing to be used and used and used during the holiday season.


As for the mittens and the garlic press: I still need to address those situations.  But I am thrilled that no cyber security has been breached, and my holiday shopping can go rolling merrily along.

This melody is how happy I felt after lunch:

Shepherd's Pipe Carol

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Friendly Beasts

You gotta love a dog who loves his baguettes:

And the all-weather dog who lovers her daily hikes:

And the calico kitty, fast asleep under the tree.  (And Martin the Helper, pushing his luck a bit. Puzzle may be geriatric, but she has been known to throw a chihuahua down a flight of stairs.)

The Friendly Beasts
(I remember watching Tennessee Ernie Ford on the I love Lucy shows...)

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Ain't That A-Rockin

I was listening to Christmas music today as I decorated our Christmas tree.  First, I must chortle once again about the "State of Our Christmas Tree".  It's a fake tree.  Some years we do real trees, some years fake. This year is Fake Tree year.  I hauled the fake tree out of the hayloft, hosed it down, and assembled it.

Sort of.

There are a few (Several?  Quite a few?) branches missing.

Whatever.  I have made do with that which I have on hand.  It looks tremendous in my eyes.  I love that each ornament has some sentimental meaning to my family.  Case in point:

The Christmas Cow.

Now, who couldn't love a 2nd Grader's Christmas Cow?  I have carefully kept this ornament, all 12" of it, for years and years.  I haven't decided if or when I shall surrender these ornaments to the original artists, our three kids.  They bring back memories of rocking babies, reading bedtime books, listening to funny stories.  Explaining why a toy brought from Santa said "Made in China" on it instead of "Made by Elves".  (I kid you not.  Thank you, little miss Gillian.)

Our tree is not a show piece of Lenox china or matching ornaments and ribbons and bows.  Ours is a masterpiece of years of fun and family.

Please enjoy today's Christmas Carol:
 Ain't That A-Rockin

Friday, December 06, 2013

Chicken Soup and Music for the Soul

Brr.  The low tonight is now forecast for -3º F.  That's -18º C for all you Celsius folk.  Here's what Cold looks like on a Rural Kansas Evening:

I am making some sort of chicken soup tonight.  I make most soups by scratch, to keep down the sodium (and fat) intake.  I wonder why soup companies think that salt should be the header on their ingredients lists?  Anyway, I could call this Tortilla Soup, since I will be serving it with tortillas, but I didn't follow a recipe, so?  Who knows?  Chicken and beans and lots of vegetables, cumin, garlic, and Sriracha Sauce.  Yummy!  Maybe I will make some rice to go with the soup...yeah...

And tonight's Christmas carol is one of my very, very favorites, even though I do not speak Catalonian.  Two great renditions, and you must enjoy both!

El Noi de la Mare

El Noi de la Mare

What are they singing?!
The Son of Mary
What shall we give to the Son of the Virgin?
What can we give that the Babe will enjoy?
First, we shall give Him a tray full of raisins,
Then we shall offer sweet figs to the Boy.
First, we shall give Him a tray full of raisins,
Then we shall offer sweet figs to the Boy.
What shall we give the Beloved of Mary?
What can we give to her beautiful Child?
Raisins and olives and nutmeats and honey,
Candy and figs and some cheese that is mild.
Raisins and olives and nutmeats and honey,
Candy and figs and some cheese that is mild.
What shall we do if the figs are not ripened?
What shall we do if the figs are still green?
We shall not fret; if they're not ripe for Easter,
On a Palm Sunday, ripe figs will be seen.
We shall not fret, if they're not ripe for Easter,
On a Palm Sunday, ripe figs will be seen.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Hot Food on the Cold Plains

Today I provided a meal for the Emergency Shelter in town.  I take a meal in twice a month.  It may sound daunting but it really is not.  I work these meals around my own weekly schedule.  I call them up a day or two in advance of when I want to cook, and find out the number of folks currently at the shelter.  And I go from there.  When I started this project (last summer), that Spouse o' Mine and I discussed it, and decided that for what it might cost the two of us to go out for a nice dinner, a meal could also be thoughtfully provided for whomever was in the shelter on any given evening.  When I say "thoughtfully", I mean it takes some thought to frugally provide a meal for anywhere from 20-45 people.

But!  It is very easy.

I baked a batch of cookies this morning, and threw three pork loins into the crockpots and went about my daily affairs.  The rice & vegetables are cooking as I type.

Tonight I am taking in Asian pulled pork, garlic green beans, and rice with peppers and onions.  And chocolate chip cookies.  Pork: $25.00, Asian sauce: $5.00, green beans: $4.00, rice: pennies, and peppers & onions: $5.20, chocolate chip cookies: whatever I had on hand in the kitchen cabinets.   (I am serving 30 tonight.)

In 45 minutes I will load the food and take it in town.  The Emergency Shelter also has a full kitchen and a large pantry full of donated items, so if there happens to be more diners than my lot allows, they can easily supplement it with shelter food.  (Although I was told that some people simply do not know how to cook.)

On another note, it is 18º outdoors - the high for today.  I looked out my kitchen window this morning (13º and saw this squirrel:

He did not move at all.


I got so worried about him, I wondered if squirrels ever stuck their tongues out on frozen metal.
I headed outside, with my camera, and he did not move.  AT ALL.  Finally I walked directly under him, and he scampered across four treetops and then he froze again.  What was his problem, I wondered?

Ah.  Then, I saw the greater picture:

Martin the Helper:

So the Great Plains, and the Flint Hills of Kansas, are getting the winter weather we expect.  And here is some news from another plain,

Far, Far Away 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Changes in Temperature, Menus, and Music

Wowee: 24º this afternoon!  I hauled out my fluffy snowsuit to take the dogs out for their run and deal with the other animal logistics in the yard.  Dogs, cats, and ducks all get heated water bowls in temps like this.  Used to be, back in our equine years, the ponies, too, had heaters in their water.  Even with electricity, we humans have be vigilant and make sure all the bowl and tanks are full-functional, morning, noon, and night.  Lows later this week are forecast to be colder, much colder.  But, we may get snow, and that makes everything just perfect in my books.

The kitties will be allowed into our mudroom tonight.  Each cat has an old bed pillow, each with CAT scrawled with a Sharpie pen on both sides, lest some human confuses one as a human pillow.  (How that could possibly happen, I do not know, but I like to assume that anything is possible in this household.)

Our Christmas tree (branches) made it as far indoors as the mudroom, and so it looks like some pine forest with CAT pillows strung about.  Somehow this day got away from me...so...no Christmas tree up yet.  Maybe tomorrow while the plumber comes to pay a call.

I went out to lunch with a few friends today.  We visited a new restaurant.  The menu looked inviting, but also a bit confusing.  We four were given four little plates - just a wee bit larger than saucers.  Our waitress explained that we would not be ordering entrees, but rather small offerings from the menu - she recommended that we each order three things from the menu.   We four would then share - not unlike sharing at an Asian restaurant.  The orders would not all come to our table at once, but would arrive when each was was cooked and prepared.  It was a bit puzzling, but we four were game.  We were not given serving utensils, so we agreed to "serve" ourselves with our butter knives.  The food was terrific.  I think we four were on our best manners - because if one ordered a plate of brussell sprouts, and the tiny plate holding eight sprouts came to our table, who wants to be the one to take an extra sprout over their portion?  (I will freely admit that I totally hogged the shrimp and grits, because I LOVE grits, and since Heidi is a vegetarian, that 4th shrimp was up for the offering, and the other two ladies were playing their Polite Cards.)  Well, the food was excellent, as was the service and the ambiance.  The menu?  Hmmm.

In view of our weather, I offer the following Christmas carol.  I like it, nontraditional as it is.  I can get silly in my head, watching the video of all the Brits in Royal Albert Hall singing in their best British accents, althewhile knowing that the song is probably BEST sung by some Jamaican street group accompanied by steel drums.  Nevertheless, who doesn't love hundreds and hundreds of folk singing their hearts out with a nice, nice Christmas carol?

Calypso Carol 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

I Wonder as I Wander

A gorgeous December day!  It was 65º this afternoon - something we rural Kansans don't often experience in the first week of a December.  And in three short, short winter days, we will be back to the forecasted 6º we normally see in this season of Advent.  Weather moodswings, one could say?

I spent a goodly amount of time outdoors today.  I sanded down a door, and then applied several layers of polyurethane throughout the day.  It's to be a desk, eventually.

I climbed up in the barn loft and recovered the Christmas tree, in three different boxes.  I have no idea why that is, and it was an irritant.  The Christmas tree is kind of large, and exposed to the dusty, filthy elements eleven months of the year that it sits up in the hayloft, and so I took each branch and hosed it down and hung it on the grotto fence to dry overnight.  (Or freeze.)

I filled each birdfeeder, and hung suet for the woodpeckers, and filled birdbaths and duck pools.  Since this is the last "warm" day in the very near future, it was important to get these tasks ticked off my Index Card o' the Day.  (Yes: I make up a neon-colored index card each day and carry it in my pocket.  Things that are not accomplished get carried over to the following day's index card.  It is a useful practice.  Crutch. Whatever.)

There was work to be done, for sure, but also some pauses in the day to sit in an Adirondack and ponder.

Ponder what?

Well, I wonder why one of my four giant goldfish in the grotto pond seems to be in torpor state even thought it is 65º and the other three are hale and hearty.  Is he at death's doorstep?  Is he faking it?  Is he comatose, prepping for the coming single-digits coming our way?  Nature only knows.

I collected a few burr oak leaves from under one of our trees.  And I just studied them.  

I took a seat in an Adirondack out in the pine trees and called a friend and we talked and talked.

I picked up a cat here and there, lulling in the sun.  I think the kitties are lying in the sun, charging their solar batteries while they may.  I waved at a volunteer fireman who honked that firetruck horn as he passed my way - not to a fire, because that would entail a siren, not a noisy honk and a friendly wave.  

This evening that Spouse o' Mine called from out on the road somewhere in Western Kansas, and I sat in an Adirondack as we talked about the beautiful sunset we were both sharing, and the pretty burr oak leaves.  .

It was a fine day, and now I am cleaned up, dinner is nearly ready, and I am enjoying this 15th century Christmas ballad which made its way to Appalachia in the early 1900s:

The Cherry Tree Carol

Monday, December 02, 2013

Just Hear Those Sleighbells Jingling...

I ventured out for a bit o' Christmas shopping late this afternoon.  It was safe because all the Black Friday people were gone.  I have made a list, and checked it twice.  I went to a Menard's store, which falls somewhere between a Home Depot, a hardware store, a lumber yard, and the expanse (but not obnoxiousness of) a Wal Mart.  (And people are not waddling about in their jammies.)

While there, I ambled over to the kitchen tile and linoleum area, because I can see that task coming in 2014. There was, of course, Christmas music piped in throughout the store.

"I'll be Home for Christmas" has been been a favorite of mine for 28 years, since my first year living away from home - far, far away, in Cairo -, and I got to go home for Christmas.

Today's rendition was horrid.  Positively painful to listen to.  I wanted to cry, the female singer was so slow, and couldn't hold a pitch, even in these computerized times, and...oh, I could go on and on and criticize ad infinitum, but... instead of complaining now, I'll tell you what I did in the Menard's.  The college girl who was working in the kitchen tile area asked me if I needed assistance.

I only replied, "I really, REALLY hate this song."

Honestly.  I am beginning to act like a mental case.

After perusing the kitchen tile area, I meandered outside to the garden area.  There was a young woman working near the exit to the garden, and she did not look up or turn to me or face me in any way, shape, or form, but she said, "Hi, welcome to Menard's".

Maybe she was talking to a mouse.

I have a rule.  (I have lots of rules.)  My rule is, if you would like to communicate with me, please face me when speaking to me, and look me in the eye, or close by.  (What if I lip read, for Pete's sake?)  So, the retail people who do as this woman did do not get a reply from me.  (Because what if I am deaf and do not know they are addressing me?)  Heck, that's just bad manners.

That said, I will admit that having three kids who have all worked retail has given me some empathetic reasoning.  Some.  But not much.  (I feel three pairs of eyes rolling as they read this.)

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Friday, November 29, 2013


It's that sound, that anticipation, that one feels on a roller coaster:

Tup-tup-tup-tup-tup-tup-tup...as the roller coaster clickety-climbs,...and climbs...and climbs...

The anticipation: "Omigosh, when will we go?  When will it go down?  When will it speed around the corner and fly out of control?"

And before we know it - off we go!  Into an amazing launch (for some) of hilarious ups, downs, fores, afts, leans, to and fro.   And for some, an amazing launch of stomach-queezing, long-enduring, brain-squeezing hours and days.

Hooray!  (for the former folk, anyway...)

Holiday season!

And for the latter?

So sorry.  The New Year is just around the corner, though.  Peace be with you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Early this morning I headed outdoors to do what needed doing: hauling water to animals in the 11º temperature.  Feeding same.  Admiring the frost on the hayfield, and the pastels in the predawn sky.    

I heard a strange commotion across the way, in the direction of the river.  The Kansas River flows just north of us, not even a mile away.  This morning it sounded like traffic was flowing across the water.


Ah!  It's that time of year!  The geese migration!  From a distance, all you hear is cacophony.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of geese.

And add to this, the crème  on top of my aural pâte:  a big old bald eagle, circling above and then beyond me.

I love this time of year.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

19th, 20th and the New Millenium

I have a flashlight tucked into the back pocket of my cords.  Outside, it's an ice storm of sorts.  Our electricity has gone off twice this evening.

The first time, I was on the phone to daughter Gillian on Cape Cod.  (She may soon experience Cape Cod winter outages; take note, Dearie.)  The power went off, I bid adieu to Gillian so that I could scrounge around for some candles and a flashlight or two.  (And save my cell phone in the event of a prolonged-outage.)  Funny, in the Spring time (i.e., tornado season), I always had two flashlights hanging on the basement doorknobs.  And these two are dandy: they are wind-up flashlights.  So (in theory, I know, especially since they are MADE IN CHINA), these bode well for horrific, catastrophic tornado problems.  But for some reason, they are missing from the basement doorknobs tonight.

Must make a note to self.

That Spouse o' Mine asked me from the darkness of the living room, "Where are those candles we used this summer?!"  I thought he meant a bundle of new and unused candles I had purchased and had tucked away somewhere.  Where, now, I had now clue, no clue at all.  What HE meant, apparently, was this: where were the candles we used all summer when we opted to dine al fresco out on the front patio, at the wrought iron table, with the delightful windbreak of the new addition to shield us from the summer tempest?

I went through the house looking for the bag of new, unused candles.  (I finally found them in our bedroom. Why there, I haven't a clue.)  He finally found his idea of candles - guess where? - at the wrought iron table, with the delightful windbreak of the new addition to shield us from the summer tempest.  I hadn't moved them.  I guess I just thought we might have a mild day in November and need some outdoor evening atmosphere.

Or, we two are slackers in the household management biz.

I think it's the latter.

Nevertheless, by Round Two of no electricity this evening, I had rounded up beautiful candelabra and also some stumpy scented candles (which, really, I do not like, they make me wheeze...), and we had candlelight in every room and bathroom downstairs.

It really was pretty.

Round One of no power saw me thinking...thinking...thinking... (because it was already dark at 6:00-ish.)...What will we do this evening?  (I had already opted out of my book club meeting, due to ice, although the topic was Alice Munro, this year's Nobel Prize winner in literature.  And let me tell you, I have SOoo enjoyed her short stories.)

A dark house and candles were remindful of anything I have read about Abraham Lincoln.  Dearie me: we shall have to read by candle light.  And then I moved on to games.  Card games?  Chess?  Backgammon?  (That Spouse o' Mine and I, back in Newlywed Days living in Egypt, used to play amazing hours of backgammon.  I think it was an escape, looking back...)

One of the first episodes in Season One of Downton Abbey shows one of the housemaids building a morning fire in the dark.  She complains about the brightness of the new electric lights in the house - she won't turn them on.  

Well.  Here I am now, in the new millenium complete with electrical power, and dinner is on the stove.  A propane stove.  A funny thing, this: the stove has an electric ignition to start the-then propane power source. What the heck?!

I am going to cut this to the chase:

I have computer capabilities this evening.
I have a functioning stove: propane, albeit, needing electricity.
The propane heat (two separate entities) is on.
Our cell phones are charged.

OK: That's the New Millenium.

Candle light, (pre-ca 1900)
Darkness fun & games, (pre-ca 1900)
Flashlights, (ca 1900)
Electricity, (1900s)

And so we have it.  We, as a family, still require the 1900s non-technology to get through an evening.

And you know what?

I love the candelabra in the living room.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Brain! My Brain!

I regularly read Louis Plummer's blog The Chattering Crow.  Recently she wrote about Luminosity, the website which touts games to retain one's brain life as one ages.  I had visited the site once, and after reading her blog entry, I was reminded about the site.  (OK, it already does not bode well for my brain, if I have already visited a "brain" site, but don't recall it until I read another blog about said site.)

Here's what I wrote in a comment to Louis Plummer's blog entry:

"I am 53 and in serious trouble.  I went to Luminosity this morning.  I have only been to this site one other time.  I forgot my login email, and my password.  Luminosity cheered me on:  'You're doing great!  Almost there!'

I played a Find the Grackle and Remember the Number game.  I earned four cards, to make a heron.  Then I wondered if I needed to remember that it was a heron that I earned?  Was this a trap?  As I was musing this possibility, I missed the next two turns.  And then i earned a card with 1/4 of a white bird's head.  What kind of bird is that, I wondered.  Oops.  Missed another turn.  Earned a card on next turn.  Was that a goose?  A bald eagle?  I successfully earned all four cards to reveal an albatross.  That made my mine go to Samuel Coleridge... "

So, today.  I did a 7.5 mile walk/run.  (I walk till I feel like running, and then run till I feel like walking.)  As I was out on this jaunt, I noticed, most of all, the clouds.  So pretty!  The sky was the blue that makes one want to see the Mediterranean.

And the mackerel-sky clouds were layered, perhaps every 3000'.  I went to a church ladies' meeting this afternoon (Lydia Circle) during which we went around discussing blessings of the day.  I described the clouds on my extended walk, and finished by saying that people on LSD probably enjoy that same view.  I am not sure how that came into my head, but I opened my mouth and out popped the words.

After Lydia Circle I headed back home to rural Kansas to finish out my day.  Nearly home, along our rural highway, I spied two large-ish bovine (bull or steer, I don't know which, but surely large) out on the highway.  Seconds before, an on-coming semi had braked to a halt.  No one wants to hit a cow.  I knew who to call (I have all our surrounding ranchers on speed dial on my cell phone.)

Ring, ring.  "Hi, Trish."  "Hi, Joe.  How are you?"  "I am fine.  How are you?"  "I am just fine, thank you very much.  You have two cows out ...blahblahblah", as I gave the precise directions.

Here's the funny.  I spent part of my morning yesterday determining in my memory where the !&*#@! grackles were in the Luminosity game, and here I am, a day later, playing "Where Exactly are the Bulls?" with a rancher neighbor.

He asked, "Are they in the grass?"  I thought.  And thought.  "Well, they WERE on the highway." (What grass?!)  "Now they're in the ditch.  Is there anything I can do?  But I don't want to get out of my car.  They are kicking their heels up and feeling frisky."

I heard him sigh.  No, he'd be down in a few minutes.  At this point, the semi had passed, the bovine were in the ditch, and I was headed back home.

Rural Kansas.  Luminosity.

Friday, November 15, 2013

New Millennium Population

I looked at a photo of a teeny, tiny newborn today - the son of an acquaintance, born across yonder Big Pond just this week.  The photo is exquisite.  No silly frou frou or bows or backdrops or anything.  Just a great photo of this babe's face.  I was mesmerized.  I could look at this photo for hours and hours, pondering his baby-ness, and his wise elder-hood, some many decades from now.  What will he learn in Third Grade? And as a Senior in High School, what will he know about technology?  And history?  About friendship and trust? And religion?

This kid is indeed a tabula rasa (blank slate).  What his parents and elders lay upon him is great.  I hope they fulfill him with Nature.  Humor.  Creativity.  My plan would be lots of Christianity.

His tiny closed eyes: I hope they open wide to the nature around him, and he holds that dear and close.  I hope he looks behind him for lessons, and forward to improvement of his life and of this world.  I hope this little tyke embraces all the changes that, perhaps, I will not ever know.  In 1903, the Wright Brother made their first "powered' flight .  (They had gliders going way earlier than the "powered" airplane.)  And fast-forward into our new millennium, there are reaches to Mars.  Imagine that.  My childhood embraced the Moon Walk.

And so, I look at this babe, this photo, and think: "I will never know."

Such a great thing, babes.


A serviceman from our area was killed in Afghanistan last week.  Three hundred people put up 1600 flags in his honor yesterday, for his funeral.  Sgt. 1st Class Forrest Robertson was 35.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Own Harvest

The forecast is a low of 15º tonight, and more of the same tomorrow night.  Time to address the autumn garden.  This morning I went out and picked the bok choy, the butter lettuce, collard greens, and half of the French radishes.  Boy, I hope we really, REALLY like French radishes, because we have enough to keep us going though Thanksgiving and Christmas, and well into the New Year.

I kept the fennel, cilantro, and dill in place.  Someday I'd like to have a huge cold frame, but in the meantime, I will utilize sheets and plastic, and see how far I can extend their season.  

 Volunteer birdhouse gourds.  Beau the Bloodhound picks one off daily to play with.

This is not a game of Peekaboo, but rather a moment of "Who Trusts Whom".

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Have Mercy: Adjectives Needed

So, we have been painting This Old House for several months now.  There was a hiatus in August for travel and summer heat hoo-hah.  Really, we are pretty-much done.  What's left is the tippy-top dormer, and for that, we (That Spouse o' Mine and I) will don mountain climbing harnesses, attached to the stairwell indoors.  (Snicker if you must.  This plan was mine approximately eight months ago, and it was, too, met with snickers, if not outright guffaws.  And yet...here we are...donning our gay apparel) and finish off the fun, fun task of old house husbandry.

Yesterday, Friday, I awoke with a bundle of energy and transported it to the outbuilding we affectionately refer to as the Bike Barn. The Bike Barn houses bicycles.  It was perhaps once the 1887 tiny cabin used by the Civil War soldier who was deeded this plot of land, while he built his actual house...it's a guess.  (The outbuilding is better than a smokehouse, better than a chicken house, and better than anything else we can come up with.)   Enough said. I thought to myself: I can knock this one off on my own, in a day or two!  (Yay for mental cheerleading.)  I proceeded to paint the west side and the north side of this outbuilding.  I even managed some artfully-applied trim work.  Yay for me.  Right?

And yesterday evening, that Spouse o' Mine came home from work, poured himself a glass of wine, and headed out to the Bike Barn to do whatever needs doing in a Bike Barn before a weekend of cycling.  I had cleaned up and had started dinner.  He came in later.

I asked, "So, what do you think?"

"About what?"

"The bike barn?"

"What about it?"

"The color?"

OK, this went on a few more queries until I told him I had painted the Bike Barn - from cream with burgundy trim, to faint blue with white trim.  The guy saw nothing.  NOTHING at all.

Please note: house, and left of house (south, actually), the bike barn in cream and burgundy.
OK.  I am sort of in awe, sort of smug.  Kind of worried.

But then, let's fast-forward to this morning, Saturday morning.  I am showered and getting dressed for a meeting. I grab some socks (I think) and my black loafers.  On the living room sofa, talking to that Spouse o' Mine as I pull on  a sock and a shoe, I remark, "Where's my other sock?"  I thrash around the sofa, looking for the other mate.  What the heck?!  I walk back into our bedroom, and trace my movement from the bedroom through the bathroom and into the living room.  No sock.  What a conundrum.  Finally, and let me tell you how embarrassing this is...

The other sock, I had already put on my other foot.  You guys are ready to commit me now, aren't you?

Sad, sad state of affairs.  I can't believe I am admitting this tale.

He is colorblind and clueless, and I am simply clueless.  No excuses on my part.

So sad, so sad.

So glad we love each other.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Look Deeper.

In my last post I alluded to the use of science and math in agricultural and horticultural practices.  What's involved, you may ask?  Well, lots more than what we, as consumers, ponder in the produce aisle looking at the apple bin.

We live in rural Kansas, and we are surrounded by farms and ranches.  Lots of corn and wheat and soybean.  Sorghum, too.  (Although around here, they say milo.  Potato, potahto.)  Science, science, science.  County extension people keep abreast of what's going on in fields, and work with farmers to anticipate the good and the hardships.  Then, there are topics such as breeds of grain.  Timing of fertilizing.  Spraying of pesticides.  Blister beetles and grasshoppers.  Say, what makes a good soybean?

Our neighbors AI (artificially inseminate) some of their herds of cattle, and they ultrasound their cows.  Science technology!  And there is a whole science to which most people are not privy: grasses, legumes, what to bale, when and how large?  Silage?  Anyone have a recipe for that?

Crop rotations: Corn, then soybeans and wheat, then sugarbeets.  Why does a rotation of wheat and sugarbeets produce better yields than, say, soybeans and sugar beets?  Science will tell you.  And the matters of seeding row width and rates certainly are subjects for your favorite word problems.  

Cranberry season is in full swing in New England and the Pacific Northwest, as I write.  Orchard growers in the Southern Hemisphere are gearing up for their cherry season in the next month.

Apple season is nearing its end up in the Pacific Northwest.  Apple pickers, most often migrant workers, have made their way from south to north, and will continue on up through part of Canada, picking apples.  The apples are gently dropped into canvas bags slung over their shoulders.  From there, the apples go to baskets, which are then deposited into trucks.  The apple trucks take the harvest to packing houses which dot the orchard-filled landscape.  And then what?  Well, there is a huge industry of quality control.  Science and math, math and science.  Apples are sorted and graded.  They are shipped all over the United States, and all over the world.  Apples that don't make the cut go...to applesauce.  How do they keep the apples fresh?  Controlled atmosphere: (CA).  CA is a process which controls the oxygen level, the temperature, and humidity in huge packing-houses filled with thousands of boxes of apples.  Math and science, science and math.  How do they keep all those apples from bruising?  Research in postharvest handling, again: science and math, math and science.  Things like sending an instrumented sphere (a round ball with a computer in it), through the entire trip along with apples being picked and packed and stored, from the tree, into the migrant worker's bag, into the basket, then the truck, and into the packing house.  Then someone can take the IS (instrumented sphere) and hook it up to a desktop, and see the results: at what point in harvest does the fruit suffer the most damage?   Then they can improve whatever needs improving in their practice.

So you see, there is so much to think about the next time you grab that bag of potatoes, or that 100% cotton shirt.  It's a fun thing to look into, science and math and horticulture and agriculture.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

In the 'hood:

This afternoon's activity across the road:
Folks, this is a really huge combine, cutting the corn.  (The machine on the left.)  I wish I could tell you the hocus-pocus of what goes on with the combine, but I might be inaccurate.  Ah, well, here's what I THINK goes on.  (Disclaimer: I am not a farmer.)  I think the header of the combine takes the stalks and cuts them, and the cobs of corn are taken in.  I think the leftover cornstalks are used as forage for cows in the winter. That's a win-win.  From there, it is more hocus-pocus as to how the corn kernels are separated from the cobs.  And what happens to the cobs??  Happily, corn is filling the grain bin on the combine (the machine on the left.)  After two laps (my vocabulary; I am sure farmers use a different lingo) in the cornfield, there is a tractor pulling a grain cart which pulls up in front of the really huge combine.  They work alongside each other briefly, the combine harvesting and the tractor hauling:

Eventually the tractor's grain bin is full, the combine's bin is ready to re-fill.  And so the tractor takes its grain over to one of two semi trailer trucks, and augers the grain into their containers.

When the semi trailers are full of corn kernels, they can either make their way slowly down the road, approximately  six miles, to the local grain elevator.  There, the semi is weighed, with the corn in the back.  And then the semi driver dumps the corn, and the semi is re-weighed.  That's how the elevators gauge the corn amount.   Or, the semi trailers can make their way slowly to the farmer's own grain bins ("on-farm storage"), and then the farmer can decide the whats and whens and wheres with the grain.

It is always mesmerizing to watch the farming activity here in rural Kansas.  Season-to-season, we witness a business of which other folk may have no clue.  Disking, (or plowing and then disking), fertilizing, planting, spraying, and then harvest.  Prayers for rain or for no rain, or maybe a smidge of rain. Hoping for snow, hoping for no snow, worrying about hail, and drought, and omigoodness.  Farmers are closer to nature than anyone could claim to be.  Plus, they embrace science and technology.

So!  These are the people in my neighborhood...(Mr. Rogers...yes?)

And our cats?  Yes!  They are harvesting as well.  It is kind of unsettling to see how many field mice are being "harvested", now that their food source has been removed.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Naggy-Nag I am a Nagger

Honestly.  Has anyone out there in blogland actively supported this (in my opinion) God-forsaken TIME CHANGE?!  Really?

I have never, EVER heard one person exclaim the virtues of moving the clock one hour earlier or one hour later.  It just messes us all up.  EVERY SIX MONTHS, IT MESSES US ALL UP.

Every six months, we all complain and grind our teeth and go through the cyclical motions.  And yet, as lemmings, we do it.  Well, most of us do it.  Hawaii does not observe the time changes.  (Bravo!!)  Arizona, save for the Navajo Nation, does not observe the time changes.  (Bravo!!)  But the rest of us in these united states do.

If I could, I would instigate the change of two things post-haste:


Oops.  And now I am on another tangent.  From time changes to the National Anthem.  How does my mind work???

2) Say, how about we change the National Anthem to something more peaceful.  
Instead of :
Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

How about we change it to:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

And that's all I have this evening.  Except this evening's dinner menu.  Think Southern:  Grits, collard greens, and fried eggs.
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