Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

To What Do We Aspire?

Malala Yousafzai is a young teenager from Pakistan.  She is sixteen.  Last October she was shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban, for her stand promoting education for girls in Pakistan.

That's a pretty brave stance for someone so young and from a female teenager in a male-dominated culture. Clearly the Taliban felt threatened by her writing and speaking out in support of education for all children and youth in Pakistan. 

There is an American family named Kardashian whose family members, mostly all female, show up on television and online and portray themselves as "important".  For what reasons, I have yet to comprehend.  I have yet to comprehend most reality shows, and I have only watched one "Keeping Up with..." episode.  (Strike that: less than one episode.)  

Sometime last year there was news (BREAKING NEWS!!) that the mother of the Kardashian daughters wanted to take her two youngest daughters out of school (high school, I am guessing?  I should keep more abreast of the Kardashian news) in order to allow them to further their modelling careers.  Ok, ok, this is only drivel hearsay from whatever rags I happened to be reading last year.

So, we have a young Pakistani teenager, Malala, getting shot in the head for her strong voice in support of girls' and women's education.

And, we have a caricature on television about what we Americans deem important to our well-being.

So I pose this question to every parent:

Where do you want to steer your kids for their future?

And to every teenager, male and female:

To what do you aspire, and hope to be? 

I'm thinking, optimistically, that it is a no-brainer.

Any thoughts on this?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fatigue All Around

I am tired.  I think "tired" is a good thing, in most cases.  In my case, it IS a good thing: I have been active and even over-active, and I think that, in itself is a good thing for a 50-something.

This weekend was so beautiful outdoors.  On Saturday that Spouse o' Mine left for his morning bike ride, and I mentioned that I was "going down the road".  What that means is I might walk and I might run and then I might walk again, as far as I like, and then home again.  Jiggety-jig.  Saturday, though, I decided to be a bit more disciplined, and I set my running watch on a one-minute timer.  I would walk a minute, run a minute, walk a minute, and so on, as long as I enjoyed myself, and then I would turn around and head back.  An out & back, in runner's lingo.

Six miles later, I arrived at our front gate.  And I felt pretty good!  Granted, I was tired the next day, but it was the "good" tired - like one feels after a full day of skiing or hiking.

I am tired today, too. This morning, way before dawn's early light, i hopped out of bed with a smile on my face, and a plan.  Plans...

I left the house just as soon as dawn reared its gorgeous head (today was a Thomas Moran pink of sky and clouds.)  I drove t the rental place where they rent all sorts of things: wedding tents, snow cone machines, and...



I was there to rent a boom lift for that Spouse o' Mine, on his 16th Day of Compulsory Unpaid Leave.

I worry that the fine folks of the U.S. of A. are forgetting the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who have not worked and have not received paychecks since September 30th.  Think of that: a young married couple who might both be federal employees, trying to make ends meet. Or a single mother trying to support her family.

Word on the street is that a Congressional agreement is in the near future.  That's a good thing.  May I request one thing of any American reader of this blog?  I don't care what party you are registered under.  I want you to remember this past month, and the coming winter months when Congress will again meet to discuss budget.  I want us all to REMEMBER - do not forget - the goings-on of your Representatives and Senators.  And then, come election time, I want you to vote with all your might to get the skunks out of Congress.  Puh-Lease.

OK - off my political ladder and onto my exterior paint ladder...

The boom lift!  And a new chainsaw!

Life is grand.

We had an hour left on our rental, and so we took the boom lift down the road to our ranch neighbors and changed a lightbulb for them.  And shared boom lift rides with them - that's how we do it in rural Kansas. (I was thinking...every middle-aged woman should have this skill.)

And now, it is dusk, I am exhausted, and I still have a task or two ahead of me.

#1. Dinner: Salmon, kale, and butternut squash (compliments of the ranchers with whom we enjoyed our boom lift rides...)
#2.  Letting the Bloodhound and the Bouvier out into the pasture and yard this evening to romp and mark their territory.  Because this morning, settling the boom lift in place, I came upon some fresh coyote scat right SMACK in the yard where our precious kitties spend their evenings.  (You just Google Image that is all I have to say.)

And so: I am fatigued.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Half Full

So here we are, Compulsory Unpaid Leave, Day 8.

That Spouse o' Mine, I explain to people, is like an Australian Cattle Dog.  He MUST have a job at all times.  Must.  If not given a job, the Aussie dog, and his Aussie counter part, that Spouse o' Mine counterpart, gets into trouble.

So here is bit of a perk on the murky trek through "Unpaid?  Retroactive?  Soon?  Not soon at all?   Forgotten?"

Our house exterior is looking GOOD.  In that he would rather I not complicate his painting matters by participating leads to some verbal repartee.  (May I please interject here that I commenced the house painting back in summer, slowly and surely, and so I surely do deserve some accolades for ladder-scampering and brush-cleaning, and oh: painting at least half of the entire HOUSE!)  Ok, ok.  I am off my soapbox.  Ladder.

Another bit of a perk on the murky trek through "Unpaid?  Retroactive?  Soon?  Not soon at all?   Forgotten?"

That Spouse o' Mine hopped out of bed this morning (way too early, if you ask me), and thought out loud: "Should I call my student and ask him if he wants to come out and pound t-posts this week?  Because he is unpaid this week as well."  I mumbled "Yes".  And the man headed for his email, to contact the college student.

I suppose the caffeine kicked in somewhere between emailing and all else, because the next thing I knew, that Spouse o' Mine was dressed and looking for a distance measure, and he needed to go in and get gas for the mower.  I had no idea where all this was going, and I did not care, because it was not even 8:30 am.

Fast-forward to 11:30 am, when I had to drive down to the end of our property to tell that Spouse o' Mine that I was off to lunch with a friend, "Ta, ta!".  He had driven in all the t-posts himself.  No need for a 20-something to come out.

That Spouse o' Mine, and Martin the Helper.

Late this afternoon that Spouse o' Mine came in and asked me to join him in the side yard to attach chicken wire the length of our property.  (Our ducks have decided that "out" is more exciting that "in", of late.  So, one afternoon later, we can tick that one off our list of To-Dos.  (It had been on my list for a LONG time, mind you.)

Our internet has been intermittent of late, and tonight that Spouse o' Mine complained about it.  I replied, "I think maybe you could call Jeff at the telephone office tomorrow and talk to him about it."  (Because I call the local phone company way too much, in my opinion, about international calls and internet and rural life in general.  It's a sad thing, I think, when they recognize one's name in a phone call.)

So this is my life.  A Spouse with too much time on his hands.  (Con)  He is finding things to do which have been neglected for some time.  (Pro)  He asks me, from time-to-time, what I am doing.  (Con.)

OK.  Glass: Half full. But only barely.  Those folks in Congress seem to have lost track.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Church Lady

I don't want to be Dana Carvey's SNL character The Church Lady.  I am 53, and each morning I peer into the mirror to see what grand changes have occurred, overnight, to my face.  I slip out of my jammers, and into my day clothes, allthewhile witnessing the changes that are occurring, overnight, I tell you, to my body.

What happened to Ah, Sweet Youth?

Well.  There is another chapter to this middle-age nonsense.  My church service mental well-being.

Let's just get this out of the way right here: I am a meditator.  One who meditates.  The Bible says, "Be still, and know that I am God."  And I take that admonishment with more attention than that of a mustard seed.  When I go into the sanctuary, it is to meditate and worship.  Pray, and sing praises.  Listen to what will hopefully be a good, thought-provoking sermon - one which will stay with me through the week.  (I know, I know: that's difficult for a pastor to address hundreds of mindsets and STILL knock off a sermon worthy of a week's-worth of provoking thoughts.)  

This week, that Spouse o' Mine and I arrived at church and headed into the middle of a pew for worship.  (Because that's what you do, you all: YOU GO INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE PEW SO THAT LATECOMERS DON'T HAVE TO CLIMB AWKWARDLY OVER YOU DURING PRAYERS.)

Shortly thereafter, a father and his son came into the pew in front of us.  Cute toddler kid.  Father looks oldish: second marriage?  Whatever.  But the toddler kid and his oldish father don't know how to whisper.

My mother taught me this gem, when I was a young mother:  A baby, a toddler, has to be taught how to whisper.  My method (probably my Mom's, too) was to put my finger up to the tyke's lips, not unlike blowing a candle out, and whispering, "whisper, whisper, whisper."  Again and again.  And again.  At some point, your kid will whisper.

OK.  Kid in front is not whispering.  And now there is a man directly behind us, using his cell phone.  IN THE SANCTUARY.   Really.  I don't think anyone, anywhere, needs to be told to NOT talk on your phone in a church sanctuary.

Happily, two pews in front of us is a young husband and wife, with a wee son in tow.  What a beautiful picture. The Dad is proud of his son (?18 months?), and the mother is dutiful to the son's concerns and noise.  The son begins making noise partway through the service.  His mother puts her finger to his mouth.  And he responds with quiet.  Maybe three times, I see mother and son go through this.  He is a happy boy. Should I also say that he has Down Syndrome?  No.  He is a happy boy, with happy parents, neither of whom are on phones, and he is already being taught how to behave in the sanctuary.

Oh dear.

I sound like The Church Lady.

So sorry.  

Thursday, October 03, 2013


This is a tsetse fly:

And this is a tsetse fly:
This fly seems to be prevalent in Africa, and causes a "sleeping sickness", or trypanosomiasis.

We in the States don't need to be worried about sleeping sickness, unless we are travelling to certain parts of Africa, where the tsetse fly lives and breeds and infects.  And's a problem.

I knew very little about tsetse flies and trypanosomiasis until this month, when that Spouse o' Mine mentioned that he would be working through the weekend - something that only happens occasionally, and often when some research is getting involved, interesting, time-imperative.

Normally that Spouse o' Mine works with grains.  He is a scientist who comes up with instruments to test size (to the 100th mg), firmness, oil content, etc.  He has also developed instruments to test the damage of fruit in harvest and damage to human brains in impacts such as cycling accidents.

There are some folks in Austria who are doing research work in Africa, with tsetse flies.  They needed an instrument which can identify the sex of flies.  That's where that Spouse o' Mine comes in.  The Austrians sent him a collection of tsetse fly eggs several weeks ago.  (Let's not panic; they are in a secure and controlled environment, so much so that he wouldn't even allow me, his wife! into the lab where he is working with them.  I just wanted to have a look-see.)

Well.  Apparently this research may be a wash, in view of his Compulsory Unpaid Leave this week.  The tsetse flies are due to hatch today, and must be tested within the next couple of days.  This is very frustrating for that Spouse o' Mine, who is locked out of his lab until Congress can get its act together.

He is only one of thousands who are looking at their work and their time-sensitive research projects falling by the wayside.

On a lighter note, what is that Spouse o' Mine doing while he waits?

Painting the house!  With Martin the Helper!

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