Friday, May 31, 2013

Goodbye, May!

May was a very nice month, I thought.  Complainers complained about the cool weather and Boo-hoo: I could only smirk.  Those folks have short term memory of last year.  And the year before: no spring whatsoever, jumping from Cccold winter to Hhhot summer.  I think last year I turned my AC on in April. (But then, I am a delicate flower.)

May seemed to be a month of purple.  Purple irises, purple pansies, purple clematis.  It was a royal month of color!  I am not sure what this unwanted weed is, in a local wheat field (vetch, perhaps?  Someone help me out here.)  but as far as my eye is concerned, I can thank my lucky stars (of course, God), that this particular weed is so, so pretty.  It makes me think of Provence every time I drive into town.  The wheat farmer must suffer a heart attack every time he drives into town.

The road out front of our house is still closed (a highway, no less.).  It's been nine months, what the bridge folk anticipated.  I have no problem at all with the road in front of our house being closed: less traffic (MUCH!), and less noise.  Less rural Kansas dust.  I realize this creates a hardship for my neighbor farmers and ranchers, but this is my blog, and HEY!  I like the closed road.

Bad ducks:

I had coffee with a few of my coffee friends this morning.  A gardening conversation came up, and one friend mentioned that her mulch had been delivered.  Wha...????  Just a few days ago a neighbor (a farm/ranch neighbor, who employs farm/ranch hands!!) mentioned that her landscaping crew had delivered AND spread her mulch for her gardens this week.


Hmmmm.  Hmmmmmm!

I trekked to Home Depot this week, as is my annual thing, purchased a kabillion bags of mulch, hauled the  !*^/?+*!!  bags on a trolley to my car and proceeded to blithely (yes, not a care in my world) throw them into the back of my Volvo station wagon.  As though I had biceps of Popeye, I might add.  And THEN slitted/cut all the bags and tossed the mulch ever-so-easily to the gardens.

And then I find out my coffee ladies have this all done for them?  What the heck?!

The month of March held Family March Running: a mile-a-day of running or walking.  And then, in May, we held 400-Mile May:A month of cycling, 100-mile weeks.  Four (out of 64?) family members made it to 400 miles, as of this evening.  Starting tomorrow, we 64+ are embarking on Mile-a-Day June.  It should be a good time had by all.  We keep daily tabs on Facebook, and they are happy and encouraging and challenging.

That Spouse o' Mine, completing his 400: (He's so cute.)

Several weeks ago (many?), the neighbor cat went under our house to deliver her three kittens.  They stayed underground for a few weeks, and then the neighbors came over to collect said feline infants and their momma.  Cute kitties!  So cute, in fact...

The New Kit on the Armstrong Block.  No name, so far.  Noname?  NoNahmeh?  Nonami?  Stay tuned...Oh - and mincker suggestions are being collected.  Thank you very much. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May Day...Last Few Days!

Omigoodness, the roses are blooming and the peonies - MY FAVORITE - (I have told my kids to plant them at my grave site...but I guess that will be hard to do since I think my ashes are to be made into fireworks) are tremendous this evening.

This evening, from whence the next ~96 hours of thunderstorms and tornadoes are to come. 

Ha ha ha!!  Come what may, I say.  I think the forecasters are trigger-happy after Moore's catastrophic afternoon.  That is so sad, and I do not make light of weather and tragedy, at all.

But I DO make light of the hyperactive forecasters and storm chasers.  They are on caffeine and speed and all those other drugs to which I am not privvy.  They talk too fast and they run their words together.  And they do not always use proper grammar.  Especially pronouns.  And adverbs!  Especially, adverbs!

We, that Spouse o' Mine and I, had a really nice three-day weekend for Memorial Day.  We didn't do anything.  Saturday, I cut irises for the church altar.  Sunday, that Spouse o' Mine and I hosted the Patio Fellowship after church (read: Lutheran coffee).  And we came home, it was HOT, and so I stayed inside the rest of the day.

I went upstairs to address the art room:  Many starts, and not so many completions.  I found a perennial movie favorite of mine (my family is SOooo tired of this one!!!)  "A Year in Provence", turned it on, and proceeded to quilt the day away.

It was lovely.

Inbetween Provence, I watched the cycling championships on TV with that Spouse o' Mine.  We loved it.  So nice to see new names - not all the stale "Le Tour" names which also come up wanting in the "doping" balances.

Anyway: A great weekend was had.

And here comes summer!.................

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Notes on Musical Notes

I am in a twit this afternoon.  Music.  Musicians.  Musicians wannabes.  Rap stars.  Pop stars.


I was just watching blurb on some current pop star who "writes her own music".  Really, This "pop star" is 21 years old.  She sings a lot.  She goes out with guys and then the paparazzi sells all the photos to the press.  She "writes her own music".

Why should we look?  Or care?  Has she written a Missa Brevis?  I doubt it.  I doubt that this pop star-singer-whatever even knows what four-part harmony is.

I know, this is a negative entry, but REALLY.

And here I go, even more negative.  (So sorry.)  This morning at church we sang a Swahili song, and a Brazilian song.  Both in English.  So, we Lutherans are singing songs with a beat, and the beat does not coincide with the Lutheran song mode that is in our hearts.  And the beat(s) also do not REALLY work with the English translations of the Portuguese or the Swahili.  And finally, the songs are SO ding-dong repetitive, like my father reflects:

7-11 Songs: Seven words, repeated eleven times.

Yes - my Dad has got it so right!  Bring back our hymnals:  I read through the Justification hymns this morning during the sermon.  I have to say, they gave me great comfort in my reading.  I did wish that our hymns during the service did the same.  Swahili- and Brazilian-translated words and tunes just not do it for me.  I want some substance to my voice and song.  Something I can sing on my way home.

Not a 7-11.           

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Problem "Child"

He's not a child.  He's a dog.  A beautiful, sweet bloodhound.

How can he be the vortex to so much TROUBLE this week?!

Over the weekend, he hauled an animal part (large leg bone?) back home from the creek.  It was gross.  Rancid.  Smelly.  Pretty awful. 

Our dogs stay in their dog yard most of the time.  It's a large fenced area (larger than most city yards), and they have the indoor run of the broadside of the barn as well.  Even with all that space, I like to let them out in the pasture/creek area in the mornings and evenings for exercise and to remind the circling coyotes and foxes that yes, the domesticated canines have the run of the property.

A couple of days ago, just after the dead leg recovery, Beau the bloodhound romped down to the creek and brought back another treasure: the skull of the dead animal whose leg he had so proudly retrieved a day or so earlier.  It was awful: he wanted to show me his prize, and I was running backwards trying to keep out of physical contact with Beau.  Listeria!  Rabies! Awful germs that I don't know about but am afraid of anyway!  Beau had a hurt expression on his face when I was running backwards and screaming "No!  No!  No!"   

I have yet to find that skull in the dog yard. It is too awful for me to come to terms with, just yet.

I took the pups out this beautiful morning, at 6:30 am.  The pasture grass is up to my knees now, green as green can be.  I have my little mown path around the pasture, and the pups and I went down towards the creek.
Along that fence, on the creek side, the grass is even taller.  I saw something just on the other side of the fence - just a puff of black, a few inches higher than the grass.  Beau spotted it just when I did, and whoosh! over the fence he went to get a better look.

He took a direct hit from the skunk.

I suffered collateral damage.   

I came right back to the house and threw off my clothes (they are lying in the grotto; I may burn them.) and grabbed my vet friend Cate's remedy for all things skunk: dish detergent, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide.  I showered and I can't smell it on me.  Paul couldn't smell it on me.  While I was showering and scrubbing, Beau made his way back to our yard and circled the house several times.  Eau de Skunk filtered into house.  I did vet friend Cate's other trick - the same one we flight attendants used to do for inflight vomit: coffee grounds in the oven @ 200ยบ.  (Well, we flight attendants just poured fresh coffee grounds on the target spot on the plane, we didn't put grounds in the oven.)  And then?  I vacated the house for three hours.

Oh - and Beau?  Poor Beau.  I have yet to bathe that nasty hound dog.  That's on tonight's agenda.



Monday, May 13, 2013


Always it happens when we are not there--
The tree leaps up alive into the air,
Small open parasols of Chinese green
Wave on each twig.
But who has ever seen
The latch sprung, the bud as it burst?
Spring always manages to get there first.
Lovers of wind, who will have been aware
Of a faint stirring in the empty air,
Look up one day through a dissolving screen
To find no star, but this multiplied green,
Shadow on shadow, singing sweet and clear.
Listen, lovers of wind, the leaves are here!

by May Sarton

Friday, May 10, 2013


This week has been one of beautiful weather.  Rural Kansas: not always synonymous with that phrase.  The temperature has been mild, a few showers, no wind to speak of (in Kansas-Speak this means less that 15 mph.) and everything is green.

Some years ago, and I have written about this, that Spouse o' Mine and I (and our kids) gathered acorns, just like little squirrels, from Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.  Back home in rural Kansas, we planted the acorns, and they grew into tiny little oak trees.  And then they died from horse manure compost - which any horse owner will tell you, will not "compost" for fertilizer use until 1-2 years of aging in a big ol' pile somewhere.  Lesson learned (I, a horse owner, KNEW this, and had discussed it at length with another adult member of our family.  Deaf ears, I say; my words fell on them like felled giant oak trees.)

Last autumn, that Spouse o' Mine and I returned to Washington, D.C.  We walked over to Capitol Hill and collected more acorns from those giant oak trees - those that the congressional squirrels had not already hoarded for their own needs.

Back home in rural Kansas, I dutifully set them in our refrigerator for a couple of months, and then planted them in individual containers.  Three had already grown into baby oak trees, and this week I set them outside in our grotto.  I had nine more planted pots in our mudroom, and this week I set them outside, too, and thought ahead to the day, centuries from now, when the new landowners could appreciate our arborial services to the future generations. 

This afternoon I looked out the window and !!GASP!!  two of the baby oaks were missing from their pots.  I immediately went outside to investigate.  My first accusation went to the ducks.  DUCKS!  Eating my tiny oak trees!  Stupid, stupid ducks.  Stupid.  Ducks.

But that didn't make sense.  Ducks will take bites out of leaves, but not haul an entire little tree out and chow down.  Hmmm.

By this time, that Spouse o' Mine had come home and he listened as I whined as only a good horticulturalist who has lost her crop can whine.  He reflected, and surmised, out loud, that ducks don't do that kind of damage.  Squirrels, however, do.  And interestingly, we have had two adolescent squirrels take up residence in our trees just the past week or so.  Aha!  J'accuse!  I walked over to the other nine pots of planted acorns to show that Spouse o' Mine that we still had a viable oak plan in our summer season.

I knelt down and dug my fingers into the soil to pull up an acorn to check its progress. 

There was nothing in the pot.

I moved to the next pot, stuck two fingers into the dirt and felt around.  No acorn.

Time and time again (nine times, exactly), I felt into a pot for a burgeoning acorn: not one ding-dong acorn in the whole lot.

Those !*^!>! squirrels!!! How in the WORLD did they do it?  How?!  How?!!

So now: we have to make yet ANOTHER trip to Capitol Hill.  Or plant holly.                

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Bunny Saga: Ch. 2: Beau and the Bunny

I was all set to write about the return of the barn swallows today, but that will keep for another day. Today I will continue with the Bunny Saga:

There's a bunny nest in my vegetable garden.  Read Ch.1 HERE.  

This afternoon that Spouse o' Mine volunteered to till my cutting garden and vegetable garden.  Yay!  Brownie Points for him!  He mentioned that he might mow the chickweed in the vegetable garden before he tilled.  Off he went.  Very, very soon, he returned to the front yard where I was raking leaves and putting them in the compost, prepping the shade garden for another summer of hot, hot shade.  He said, "There's a whole lot of baby bunnies all over your garden."


Apparently, when he went to mow, the now-weeks-old bunnies panicked: flight for safety!!  That Spouse o' Mine shut off the mower before he had any fatalities on hand.  So he and I decided to wait a few days before rototilling.  If the bunnies are that agile, they will soon be moving out of their nest.
Yesterday evening I let the pups out for their evening romp.  We've had a fair amount of rain, and the creek is running.  The bloodhound is taking full advantage of it, swimming and swooshing along, taking his morning and evening adventures a step further into wild and wooliness.  Last night when he returned to the dog yard, he held in his mouth a rancid leg of dead animal.  I don't know what it was, but it was gross and it smelled really bad.  It's times like that that I ask myself, and anyone else who wants to listen to my musings, Why does any dog owner/lover allow their dog to lick their (the human's) face?  Really.  It's gross.  Our dogs lick their nether regions and haul in rancid pieces of unknown animals, and they eat coyote poop out of the pasture, too.

Beau likes to mouth things:

 Tonight I was walking around the yard and pasture looking for that Spouse o' Mine.  I walked past the dog yard, and I saw Beau the Bloodhound holding what looked like the last remnant of rancid dead animal leg in his mouth.  "Beau, that is REALLY gross," I said.

But then I saw what was really in his mouth.

A baby bunny.


Beau was just walking around the yard with a bunny in his mouth.

Actually, the hind-end of a baby bunny.  The front end was sticking out the front of Beau's drooly mouth, no doubt in total shock.

And Beau just kept walking...walking...walking...

"Beau! Drop!"

And he did.

Baby bunny fell to the ground, seemingly all right, but unable to move - probably in shock.

Here's baby bunny before I returned him to the nest in the vegetable garden:

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The Evening

I think thunderstorms are forecast this evening.
Ducks. Happy, contented ducks. (Except for the limpy one, who was attempting a snag of dogfood from the Bloodhound's bowl.  Limpy Duck should thank his lucky stars that his monicker is not Dead Duck.)
One of our apple trees, covered in not-quite opened blossoms.  One can hear the buzzin' of the bees, as they delight themselves in the scent and pollen.
Pansies.  So pretty.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Back to the Wild Kingdom

It was grey and snowy, sleety, rainy all day here in rural Kansas, the second day of May.  I don't mind it one bit.  This morning I did some work for the cherry season which has begun in California (you will see sweet cherries in your grocer's produce section within a week.)  Still grey this afternoon, I read through a couple of books of collected poems.  There were many poems with which I was familiar, and many I have yet to get a clear grip on.  This week's memorization is The Charge of the Light Brigade, Tennyson.  I have always loved this poem, and it is high time I commit it to memory.  If I am unlucky enough to be part of that Alzheimer's statistic in the coming decades, I will still be entertaining to my great-grandkids: 

"Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon behind them, Volleyed and thundered..."

I will be a terrific great-grandmother in her blithering state.

Late this afternoon, the skies cleared and I headed out to walk the pups in our pasture.  I walked, they romped.  They frolicked after a full day hunkering in the barn, away from the wintry elements.  They paraded, and trotted, and chased each other and...

Down by our creek, I stood watching nothing, nothing at all.  I do this a lot during my dog walks down there.  If one stands very still, it is amazing what can be observed and witnessed.  Case in point, this afternoon:

Standing stock-still, I heard and then felt a flurry, a BIG flurry heading STRAIGHT towards my head.


Really?  Can I get a grip on reality?  Who (in their right minds) EVER think they are being overtaken by peacocks?

Well.  It has been my experience living here in rural Kansas, that incredibly large birds which resemble pterodactyls, and which fly right around one's head and body, are indeed peacocks.  I have owned many peacocks, and this is what they do.  (As that Spouse o' Mine points out, their brains are the size of walnuts, so what does that tell us?)

But I do not currently own any peacocks.  So...what the bloodhound was flushing was NOT peacocks, but turkeys.

Yes.  Most people around here would assume that IMMEDIATELY.

I assumed that it was an attack of peacocks.  Mine is a colorful imagination.

Another chapter of my homecoming week was that a few days ago I went out to our vegetable garden to assess the situation.  I pullled a few weeds.  My cello teacher tells me that the pretty purple weeds are called "Chickweed"  Out, they go.  But very suddenly, I heard a tiny-yet-frightenly SQUEAL right at my feet.  A small grey THING!  A baby rat?!  A baby what?!

Oh, my.   A baby bunny.  Tiny. Oh, wait: two baby bunnies, but one was dead.  The other was so cold and stiff, I cupped my hands around it and blew warm breath, again and again. By the time I got to the house, the baby bunny, eyes still shut, was breathing regularly and kicking its cottontail back legs against my palms.  I put him in a tissue box and headed to the computer: Wild baby bunnies...

Online bunny authorities say that Mother Bunny comes to feed babies only after dark - that she will not set on a baby bunny nest during the day, for fear that it will attract predators.  That makes sense.  I called that Spouse o' mine and told him my plan:  I would return baby Bunny back to the garden at dusk.  Yep.

 What the Online Bunny Authorities also say is that a baby bunny with the little stripe on its head signify that it is one week old: too young to survive outside its nest.  Well, we could not find its nest.  And what Online Bunny Authorities failed to address was our freezing/below freezing temps this week.

I went to our local big store and bought a little animal baby bottle and little animal milk replacement, and began to feed Baby Bunny.  Baby Bunny was very pretty, and it was very sweet to observe such a...I don't know  how to describe it, such a ...personal chapter of Nature?  A chapter of nature that we humans do not often enjoy.  Such a teeny, tiny, little baby.  Watching him breathe, and suckle, and scoot all over the place - definitely an instinctual burrower, even as a week-old creation.

During the night, I was awakened twice by Baby Bunny's squeal of hunger or warmth or who-knows-what.  I tried to comfort him with food and stroking and cover.  In the morning, I fed him once more.  Sadly, by lunchtime, he had died. I felt sad, not morose, but sad that I had not been able to nurture him to viability.

An aside to Baby Bunny, after my night of feeding:  That Spouse o' Mine asked me at dawn, "So, how is motherhood?"

I could reply that there is a reason God gives us babies in our 20s and 30s.

Not in our 50s.       

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

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