Saturday, March 30, 2013

Home Construction

We moved here ten years ago.  Summertime in the country with three kids who knew no one with which to play.  One of the first things that Spouse o' Mine did was to build a treehouse with our son.

The interesting thing about this structure is that the builders put no nails into the tree, only on the treehouse itself.  And it was very sturdy:

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Easter.  Here we are, Holy Week.  Lent.  Good Friday.  Easter Sunday.  This is a big observance and celebration in the lives of Christians.

This week in the press and online anywhere, one has been inundated by the U.S. Supreme Court hearings regarding same-sex marriages.  Oh, my, to read Facebook this week!  So many Christians are throwing this Bible verse and that Bible verse, like volleys in a tennis match. 

This afternoon I was reading something about the connection between Easter baskets and Easter (as in: He is risen, indeed! Hallelujah!)  I decided to Wiki Easter basket history, which then led me to Easter egg.  Wiki says that Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus.

What??!  No they do not.  Not in my book.  In my book, an Easter egg symbolizes:
  1. Not mowing the lawn till after Easter.  That is a rule.  Because Competition (#2) is greater when the grass is longer.  Yep.    
  2. Competition.  Again, my family is nothing if not competitive.  A hunt is a hunt.  Let the best man (fastest) win!
  3.  Art.  Let's dye and paint and create.  Woo-hoo!  Such pretty eggs in our refrigerator!
  4.   Post-hunt: Egg Salad Sandwiches.  Yippee!
In my world, there is absolutely no connection between Christ's death on the cross, which is very serious and spiritual, and dyed Easter eggs and decorated Easter baskets.

I think Easter egg hunts came about because, if you have ducks, anyway, this is the time of year you can walk out into the yard or the pasture or the ditch or the barn or the garden or the side of the road or the duck house, and Lo and Behold, there is an egg!  Every morning is an egg hunt this time of year.  This is how we celebrate spring, and the longer hours of sunlight.  More sunlight = more egg production.  It's duck-and-chicken culture.  God gives us nature and seasons.  God does not expect us to try to equate an errant egg-lay with the birth of Christ.  Sheesh.

In my Biblical search, I see nothing about Easter eggs, baskets, bunnies (Oh, please don't get me started on this one...reference some past year of Easter tide in this blog instead.).  And lawns were non-existent, so that's a non sequiter.

Let us acknowledge that Easter egg hunts and Christian Resurrection are two  completely different celebration.  And - yes!  We can celebrate both.  But please, don't try to dovetail one celebration into the other.  One is religious, and one is a celebration of Spring. 

My youngest older brother and I were talking this morning.  I mentioned that I enjoy a quiet, prayerful vesper-type service for Easter.  He countered that his pastor or bishop, I forget which, spoke last week that given that Easter is the time of the year which many non-church-goers attend a church service, he (the pastor or bishop) thought that the service should be one that might welcome and interest (wow - I am really paraphrasing the paraphraser at this point.) the newcomer/C-and-E (Christmas and Easter) Clubber.  I can't agree with this thinking.  I think Easter is a celebration that  all Christians should attend in heart and soul.  I don't think this is a weekend to try and attract new members to the church.

Oh, and back to the Supreme Court?  Who is as wise (or wiser) as King Solomon?  I do not have answers. 

* Sigh *

I guess this weekend I will say my prayers and know that God hears them. 
And that's a happy thing! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Psalm Of Life

A Psalm Of Life

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Another parental chapter closing.  My Mom told me years ago that motherhood never ends.  Ever. 

She is right.

Daughter Gillian has packed up all her worldly possessions.  Some, she has packed into her car.  (Hurrah!)  Some, she packed into our closets, and our outbuildings.  And some, she packed off to Goodwill. (Hurrah!)

This afternoon, she and I went out to her car, ready to say our goodbyes.  She is off!  Her birthday is tomorrow, but we have been celebrating 26 years all weekend long.  I hugged her, cried my maternal boo-hoo into her shoulder (she is taller than I), and she hopped into her car for parts east: Cape Cod!  This is very exciting, and I love that she embraces a sense of adventure. 

But, wait.  Her car made a terrible noise.  Terrible, outlandish noise.  I called to her, Give it some gas!  She did.  Awful sound.  I yelled, Shut it off!  She did.  But... did not turn off.  The !^!*#%I*! kept going!  No gas, no key in the ignition: Holy Mackeral!  It must be possessed!

I turned to her, calmly.  "I guess you should take the Trailblazer."

Our extra car - who in the world knows why, but yes, we have an extra, and yes, there have been more than a few instances when this pretty-good-car has really bailed out our family.  So!  The Trailblazer is off to Seafood and Cranberry Land.  For the time being.

And this evening, that Spouse o' Mine and I looked at each other, and sort of smiled.  It was not a happy, gleeful smile.

It was a sort of coming-of-age acknowledgement: Empty Nest, more and more...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Palm Sunday

I went to church tonight instead of in the morning.  Chapel service is quiet and I especially liked the visiting pastor's Palm Sunday sermon, which had me from the get-go until the end.

This is my favorite recording of Handel's Messiah's "Rejoice!" song.  During Big Family Christmas, for what seems like years and years, we have sung this song.  Mind you, Kathleen Battle one-ups us Websters, et al hillbillies when we sing it, but on the flip side, then, I can safely say that none of us Websters have any reason to act like prima donas, either.  Huh.

 Kathleen Battle - Messiah - Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion

Handel took his scripture for this song from Zechariah 9:9   King James Version (KJV)
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee...

I love this song.  I sing it in the car a lot. 

Friday, March 22, 2013


The first week of Spring sees rural Kansas as cold, and grey, and sleety-snowy.  That's OK by me.  But I like this painting by Claude Monet. too!

An Orchard in Spring 

Thursday, March 21, 2013



Traveling from place to place, esp. working or based in various places for relatively short periods.

A person who travels from place to place.

I led a peripatetic life in my youth.  I moved from Oklahoma (college) to Connecticut (college) to central coast, California (young love) back to Connecticut (from one job to another), and then to Egypt (newlywed), over to Michigan (Spouse's PhD), during which time I also took an apartment in NYC to ease the Detroit-JFK commute for my job, then down to Oklahoma (chickens come home to roost?) and now, in rural Kansas for ten years.
And now, our daughter Gillian is living the same itinerant lifestyle - and what fun it seems to be!  From K-State to KU, and a summer working in Atlanta, and a summer working in San Diego, and finally, after a summer working in China, she moved to Kansas City for a new job.  But now, a new job on Cape Cod beckons her, and she is once again packing up her old kit bag and, smiling, heading out.  Heading east.  
That Spouse o' Mine and I went to Kansas City today, in part to bring some material possessions back home to store for her, and in part, just to have a day with her.  Our day was cut short by the snow-sleet weather, but fun was had nonetheless.  We lunched at what has become a favorite little French restaurant, Aixois.  
Tomorrow Gillian will come home and spend the weekend (her 26th birthday!) and then she is off!  Off to prove her potential and her mettle.  And adventurous side.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Good Poem - not by me!

Riding Out at Evening by Linda McCarriston
At dusk, everything blurs and softens.
From here out over the long valley,
the fields and hills pull up
the first slight sheets of evening,
as, over the next hour,
heavier, darker ones will follow.
Quieted roads predictable deer
browsing in a neighbor’s field, another’s
herd of heifers, the kitchen lights
starting in many windows. On horseback
I take it in, neither visitor
nor intruder, but kin passing, closer
and closer to night, its cold streams
rising in the sugarbush and hollow.
Half-aloud, I say to the horse,
or myself, or whoever: let fire not come
to this house, nor that barn,
nor lightning strike the cattle.
Let dogs not gain the gravid doe, let the lights
of the rooms convey what they seem to.
And who is to say it is useless
or foolish to ride out in the falling light
alone, wishing, or praying,
for particular good to particular beings,
on one small road in a huge world?
The horse bears along, like grace,
making me better than what I am,
and what I think or say or see
is whole in these moments, is neither
small nor broken. For up, out of
the inscrutable earth, have come my body
and the separate body of the mare:
flawed and aching and wronged. Who then
is better made to say be well, be glad,
or who to long that we, as one,
might course over the entire valley,
over all valleys, as a bird in a great embrace
of flight, who presses against her breast,
in grief and tenderness,
the whole weeping body of the world?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hope Springs

It's that time of year: the early morning sun just skims the hardwood floors and kitchen floor...highlighting the dust and crumbs that winter grey hid so well.

But, on a more-positive note, the wheat is looking all pretty and emerald out in the fields.

After two summers of drought, I told myself (and anyone who would listen) that I didn't want to plant ANYTHING this summer.  Too hot, too dry, too dusty.

But I find myself perusing the seed catalogs and garden sites online.

That Spouse o' Mine brought out the chainsaw this weekend and cut down the two once beautiful, now-dead willow trees out of our back yard.

But he says we will replace them this spring.

Playing Bocce underneath the willows:


Thursday, March 14, 2013

One Week

How did a whole week go by without my writing on this blog?  I suppose a few days off occasionally are to be permitted.  But a whole week?

It has gone from 14º to 75º this week, and I did not handle today all that well.  I have been trying to run anywhere from 1-7.5 miles (run/walk, of course) every day this month, but today was probably my worst afternoon thus far.  Who wants to run in hot (75º), dusty weather?  It looks like I shall be moving my running from 3:00 pm's to 9:00 am's so that I don't have to notify our county's First Responder (also, our neighbor) of a possible heatstroke.  How embarrassing would that be, I ask?

6000 dead pigs floating in a river upstream from Shanghai?  How can that be?  6000 sounds like a lot of...dead pigs.  I am only listening to this on BBC Radio, and I don't know the circumstances.  They are saying that the pigs died of cold weather.  Hmmm...

A new Pope.  That doesn't really affect me, or my family of Lutherans and Methodists.  The new Pope has chosen to be called Francis.  Like Francis of Assisi?  Here's a quote attributed to Francis of Assisi that I can appreciate:

Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words. 

I like that.

Friday, March 08, 2013

March Madness

The first week of March has come and gone.

With it, my 53rd birthday, complete with gorgeous chocolate birthday cake (Thanks, Gillian!).
 I have been eating birthday cake for breakfast this week.  Nothing better, and it has been a long time since I have enjoyed a cake this much!  I got phone calls, and cards, and gorgeous roses from that Spouse o' Mine, plus lunch with the ladies, some tulips from a friend, and a trip to the zoo to see the newborn chimp.  I say this was a terrific way to enjoy one's 53rd birthday.

In the past, I would take a celebratory bike ride on my special day, and hammer out the mileage equal to my trips around the sun.  This is no simple feat for a March birthday, when one has not ridden a bike during the winter months, not to mention the cold and windy Kansas March weather, or the fact that I am now in my fifties and that means a 50+ mile bike ride before I can blow out candles and be sung to.  (This year's birthday duet of that Spouse o' Mine and daughter Gillian was just lovely!  Ha ha!!  With daughter Claire on the East Coast and the College Boy on the West Coast, we missed out on a complete quartet, but it was lovely just the same!)  This year, I decided to forego the bike and concentrate on the subject in the next paragraph:

Along with the first week of March, and my birthday, 20 miles are now marked off my running calendar.  This, not much.  I ran 2, 5, 1, 1, 1, 7.5, 2, and 1 mile the past seven days.  The running all had walking interspersed in it.  My time for running a mile went from 12:30 up to 13:10, and today was my week's PR (personal record) of 12:22.  Baby steps, I tell myself.  Yesterday as I was knocking off two miles, a memory flip-flopped into my head like a big ol' fish: in high school, I could run a half mile in 2:42.   If you add 2:42 + 2:42, it does not equal 12:22.

And also this first week of March?  Lots and lots of Snow Geese in the 'hood:


I love that we can see the mud on their webbed feet.  Aren't they so aerodynamic?  Singularly aerodynamic, and as a goose herd, as well.

Ok, Ok, I checked Wikipedia and here's what they say about groups of flying geese:
 "...The collective noun for a group of geese on the ground is a gaggle; when in flight, they are called a skein, a team or a wedge; when flying close together, they are called a plump..."

Wiki forgot to include the adjective aerodynamic.  

Nature is amazing.

So here's to the first week of March.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, for welcoming your fifth kid into the world fifty-three years ago.  Somehow I suspect the advent of my arrival, as Number Five, was maybe not as exciting as Number One or Number Two.  But I can thank you, my parents, for doing a bang-up job in the kid-rearing arena.  For all five of us.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Two Things:

1. People need to include pronouns in their sentences.

B. People need to take the word "literally" out of their vocabulary for the rest of the year. 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

More on Running:

I love to run.  My runs have walks interspersed in them.  I freely admit that: I run till I feel like walking, and then I walk till I feel like running.  The point is, I feel like doing it, however the equation presents itself on any given day.  Some days I go a mile, some days I go 7.5 miles.  I am not locked into any Mile/5K/Half/Full Marathon training.  I am not lean and trim, not a greyhound.  I am overweight, but in fairly good shape in spite of it.  I just head down the road because I like to.

So that Spouse o' Mine and I went four and five miles, respectively, yesterday.  I started out running counter-clockwise around our section, and the plan was that he would head out sometime later, clockwise, and we would meet up somewhere and he would double-back with me.  Now, here is the BIG NOTE:  He has not run one stride in over a year.  What made him think he should go out and do four miles?       

This morning after coffee, and breakfast, I decided to knock off my "Mile-a-Day" before church.  Off I went down the road, half a mile, and back.  I felt OK.  It was not a fast mile, by any measure.  But, I did it.   I even paid attention to the sermon afterwards.  (Somewhat.)

That Spouse o' Mine, who is very athletically inclined, has been hobbling around the house all day, and yet? He decides to do his mile around noon. 

Oh, my goodness.  Limpy the Lion.  I told him to take an aspirin.  (My answer for anything.  Really.  Aspirin is a Godsend.  It only takes one.)

And that's where we are on this Sunday eve.  I am a slow runner who walks whenever she darn well pleases, and Limpy the Lion maybe had too much testosterone flowing in his veins.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

We Are Family

Facebook has a Running page I follow.  This week, it came up with a Run a Mile a Day in March.  I thought that sounded easy enough, and so I "joined" the group.  And I "invited" lots of family and friends to do the same.

This morning, my niece Amy decided to take it a step further (and she accuses me of being an overachiever!!) and she created a Family March Running event, and sent it out to Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, and family friends.

As I say, we are nothing if not competitive.

The deal is to run one mile each day.  Yesterday I ran 2 miles.  Today, that Spouse o' Mine and I ran 5 miles.  Let me clarify: that run had some walk going on in it.  Just to be CRYSTAL CLEAR.

Some of the young bucks of the family have gone online, lamenting their 7-minute miles and such.  Pooh-pooh.  My two miles were thus: a twelve-minute mile out and a thirteen-minute back.  This afternoon, I think my miles averaged fourteen or fifteen minutes.

But the fun of the deal is just that: we are having fun.  Family fun, even though we live hundreds and perhaps thousands of miles from each other.  That song in your head?  "We Are Family..."   
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