Friday, March 28, 2014


Ah, Springtime in rural Kansas.  Today was a coolish, moist day with no 48-mph wind gusts (which we have so enjoyed for the better part of this week), and so there was some burning going on:

 You can see the scrub trees which line our creek: 1/8 mile from our house.  And a pitiful cyclist just left of the power line pole is sucking for oxygen after having ridden through that smoke.

It looks like our neighbor's house is about to catch on fire, but this was a controlled burn, and, happily, it remained controlled:

Do not drive through smoke.  Period.  It might last 5 seconds, it might last way too many seconds.  Visibility may be fine, or it might cause an eight-car pile-up, just like fog. 

The community cemetery is yards from this controlled burn.  This cemetery has folks from the Civil War buried here.  And many from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which started down the road at Fort Riley.  And even a white slave. What???  That's another story for another time.   (But why should it matter if the slave was white or black or pink or chartreuse?)

And one more photo before I head to the kitchen to make a Reuben & fries dinner:  Muy Healthy, I know.

Hey!  My hair smells like smoke.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Things: Week One

Last week (I know, I know, a week has gone by.  And I haven't even been that busy.  Just without words.) I wrote about doing new things.  And I have been doing new things, or learning new things, or enjoying new things.

Let's start with today's fun "new thing".  I discovered the Retro Cocktail Hour:

Retro Cocktail Hour

Actually, I catch this radio show occasionally on Sunday nights, but today I pulled up the show online, and that was what I listened to during yoga.  And office work.  And lots of laundry.  And cooking the meal for the Emergency Shelter.  And then coming home to cook the Armstrong meal.  Retro Cocktail hour is music that sounds like it is straight from I Dream of Jeannie.  Or Batman. 

I am in a Retro Cocktail Hour trance.  I am loving it.

What other new or innovative things have I done this week?

I hiked the Konza Prairie.

I walked the streets of Manhattan (Little Apple), in the 'hoods of the students.  I wanted to look at the architecture of the older part of this university town.  Read: The GOOD architecture.  I intend to familiarize myself with these cool houses, and take photos of things I like - things from back a half-century and more...things that the new builders have no clue of, in terms of art and craftsmanship and scale. And LIMESTONE!  Omigoodness, what pretty houses we have thrown out to the college boys and girls.  Such a pity, a pity.

The wind here in rural Kansas has been prohibitive to any outdoors activity, save hanging laundry. And that in itself is a first (also today), because the freezing temperatures have also been prohibitive.  But I put some laundry out on the line, in 48 mph wind gusts (yep, that's what NOAA was calling it.) and I assumed (rightly so, by the way) that the drying would be done in an hour. 

I wonder why so many people here in rural Kansas are against wind energy? Really? 

OK, so back to the wind:  I am back to the Rec. The Recreation Center, that is, at K-State.  A new season, a new venue.  It's been too cold/snowy/icy/windy to get out and exercise in my neck of the woods, and so I returned to the Rec and have been run/walking indoors with the college crowd.  I love them.  this week: 3 miles. 

Another "new" this week:  I have been venturing down to our creek area.  I am knocking weeds and brush down, and I have planted wild flower seeds.  I have no idea what will come of this.  If I do not participate daily in this venture, I suspect the poison ivy will overtake my windbreak and Adirondack chairs.  But, hope springs...

OK, one more "new" in my week, and this one has been really irritating to me.  I have been trying to follow Kansas politics.  Within Kansas, and at the national level.  I have always tried to "follow" politics, but now, I am trying to dot-to-dot the Kansas politics and why our governor and senators and representatives are voting the way they do.

Enough said.  For the time being.

Here's a happy note!  Next week that Spouse o' Mine and I are once again housing collegiate cyclists who will be in town to compete in the Wildcat Grand Prix (K-State Cycling).  We always LOVE that weekend. 

Collegiate athletes (at least, cyclists and track folks, that's all we raised here in rural Kansas) are awesome.  Try to find a way to support YOUR collegiate athletes who are not football or basketball players!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Backside of Ides

Here we are, surfing down the backside of the ides of the month.  I have packed away the Winter Paraphernalia tub.  The skis and poles are all paired and stowed.  I commenced the planting of clay pots out in the Brickhouse and noticed that tulips and daffodils are merely poking out a tip of their leaves - as if to put their toes in the water, so to speak, to check the temperature before they head on out into what may or may not be Springtime.

I had lunch with a friend today - the mother of my daughter's college (now: ex) boyfriend, also the mother of my son's best friend through school here in rural Kansas.  She and I get together a couple of times during the year, and we always have too much to catch up on, with six kids' history and news, as well as our very own.  It was a jolly afternoon.

After which, I went to the library.  I perused the New Book slots.  There was a title which caught my eye, and I pulled it out: something about doing something new each day for 365 days.  I think it was written by the author of the book about going to India after her divorce, which was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts...ah!  Eat, Pray, Love .  I did not read the book.  I hope it was better than the movie, and I was sorry that Julia Roberts spent her talent on that movie.

I really digress.  Whether or not THAT author wrote the book to which I refer, I am not sure.  This afternoon, I glanced through the book, and re-shelved it.  I do not want to sky-dive any time in the next 365 days.  But it had me thinking about the next 365 (because, really? NOW is the time to start a year-long improvement project, not on January 1st.)  I went online and Googled many options regarding "doing something new each day".  It gave me some ideas.  Some impetus.  I think one can grow really stagnant if one is complacent.  Especially here in rural Kansas.

And so, tomorrow I shall embark on a personal challenge to do one new thing each day.  It might be learning something, or experiencing something, or improving something that I have not acted on before...but I will attempt to enrich this body and soul by means of new n interesting things each day.  Stay tuned. 

(It may not be too interesting?  I'm not going to Madrid to fight a bull.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rural Kansas in March

This morning, online, there was a RED FLAG WARNING about burning today. Burning in rural Kansas in March is a common annual event.   Thousands and thousands of acres of grassland are burned off each spring.  It's smelly, it's an irritant to eyes and lungs, and yet, it maintains our prairies and keeps them free of noxious weeds and cedar trees and all things bad for tall grass prairie land and grazing pastures.

Here's a photo of some burning.  We see this sort of thing every day and night here in rural Kansas:

And, happily, here is what we enjoy later in our summer months:

Not only are we in burn season, but also in deer season - and I don't mean hunting.  The deer are out in droves right now.  While this sounds pretty and pastoral (and it is), it is also a danger to any driver in the early morning or the late evening.

Case in point:

Monday evening that Spouse o' Mine had a church meeting which extended into the mid-evening  (read: dark) hours.  I had prepared a dandy meal (rack of lamb!), and he still was not home.  In that the evening was unseasonably balmy, I thought to set the table outdoors, and got the candles out, and lit them.  Yes - this is a common dining experience for us, no: it was not an odd romantic whim of mine; if it's warm, we eat al fresco, and usually we at after the sun has set.

So finally that Spouse o' Mine arrives home, only to announce, "I hit a deer."  (I shall have to look up my earlier post regarding the rhyme of deer and beer...I think it was pretty funny.)

I queried, "Oh, was it bad?" and he replied, "Not so bad." and I said, "Let me call the sheriff to come make a report." 

And so I did.

In that this was the 4th or 5th deer that someone in our family (Post note: It was the 4th - the 5th, 6th, and 7th were bovine), I was a cool cucumber in getting the sheriff's deputy to head on out to our place.  And in the meantime, that Spouse o' Mine and I sat down for candlelight dinner.  (It really is a pleasant way to end a day, and so few couples take the time and attention; it is so simple.)

So the deputy hauls into our driveway like a house afire as we are supping, and that Spouse o' Mine leaves the table for a moment or two to chat with the deputy, and then returns.  I am guessing that the deputy does not know what to make of us, after 8:30 in the evening, eating outdoors by candlelight.

And so here is March in rural Kansas.  Fires, dead deer, and candlelight dinners.

C'est très romantique.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pet Peeve. Only One of...Many...

I went online this evening to find a good recipe for short ribs.  I have a freezer full of beef that I need to "download", so to speak, and so I decided to hit the internet instead of my collection of cookbooks to find an interesting recipe.

I cook - a lot.  And I love to cook.  I'm fairly knowledgeable about nutrition, cooking, cuisine, whatnot.  I am not a food snob, nor would I like to be called a "Foodie". 

I cook, we eat.  I think we eat well.

OK: my pet peeve.  It's an internet sensation to post a recipe, first by giving a brief  (or maybe not-so-brief0 sobriquet of a recipe, and then proceed to (HERE COMES MY PET PEEVE!!) a photo journal of how to make the stupid dish.  These insipid articles, written by - I don't know - gourmet wannabes? - first show us the oil in the pan.  And the next giant photo to download shows the diced onions in the oil in the pan.  We see a photo of pancetta or bacon or a bag of potatoes or dried squid.  And then there is a photo of liquid, being poured into the pan. and it goes on and on.  I can scroll down for hours it seems, and then: voila!  The recipe, in text. 

TEXT.  Thank you very much.  I just want the recipe.  Nothing more. 

And more interesting stuff from rural Kansas: that Spouse o' Mine and I went to the Manhattan Arts Center play yesterday: Harvey.  It was very enjoyable.  In fact, that Spouse o' Mine said it was more entertaining than a movie.  (In part, I think, because we were only a few feet away from the stage, and also because he liked the fact that they served Harvey Wallbangers at intermission.)

Tonight that Spouse o' Mine has a "Strategic Planning" meeting at church.  I am not sure what that entails.  Is Christianity like a chess match?  I always like church service to be a quiet service of prayer and contemplation, and some really good choir & organ music. Should I have to think about strategically-aligning myself anywhere in the sanctuary?  Ok, maybe in the fellowship hall.  If the coffee is good. 
Old Dog dislikes new tricks, I suppose.
I am, of course, fifty-four. 

Friday, March 07, 2014


That Spouse o' Mine and I spent a good part of the week in Colorado, around Breckenridge, specifically.  I say "around" because, except for a delightful après-ski lunch at my favorite French sandwich shop, we did not set foot in Breckenridge proper; we were out on the mountains in the snow and sun and other elements for the greater part of our stay at altitude.

Every morning we would arise and sip coffee by the fire, reading newspapers until the temperature rose enough that we deemed it "comfortable" to go explore on skis or snowshoes.  (Comfortable: 20º?)

When I say "ski", it means on XC, or cross-country skis.  My downhill days ended a few years ago when I decided that the slopes were too crowded with faster (and less-in-control) skiers than I.  I love downhill skiing, and I love a day full of riding the ski lifts and skiing all over the slopes, finally ending as the sun falls back behind the mountains, and the snow is just getting granular with ice, at the same time my body is becoming granular with fatigue. But, those days, for me, are over.

This week the two of us hiked the snowy mountains, XC skied the snowy mountains, snowshoed the mountains.  It was pretty nice.  No:it was REALLY nice.

It was also my birthday. Birthday girl hit fifty-four this week.  Wowza. 

I am happy that I got to spend the week in the snow, in the mountains, with my best friend, doing some things  we both enjoy. 

So, here's to.....
happy fifty-four.

Yippee! I can still ski and snowshoe!

(That's where I was going; Yes!)

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Tuesday: Snowshoe Day

I have to admit, I am feeling really, REALLY fatigued after Snowshoe Day.  My body is a limp noodle.  This morning that Spouse o' Mine and I snowshoed across McCullough Gulch, which is just below Quandary Peak, south of Breckenridge.  As is the rule of hiking, I dressed in layers.  It was 11* at mid-morning, and I felt like I was in proper attire.


A half hour up the trail (and it was a quasi-trail, mainly made from telemark skiers early in the morning.), and I was sweating.  Positively sweltering.  I took off my jacket to remove my wool turtleneck, and then replaced the jacket.  By then the sun was doing its intense job, partnered with the gorgeous snow.  We continued on.

Well.  Another stop.  Hot.  I was HOT..

I slung off my backpack, and then removed my jacket.  What's left, you might ask?  Just my "base layer".  A thin, turtleneck undershirt.  I really, REALLY wanted to peel off my ski pants as well - I had base layer thermal tights on underneath, but the logistics of removing snowshoes, then the hiking boots, then removing the ski pants...all without benefit of a tree to lean on to, made me decide to commit to mind over matter. 

So I sucked it up and went on along the trail.  It's probably a good thing, 20/20 hindsight, that I didn't get the ski pants off, because by noon, we were along a north trail, with no sun to soak us in heat and sweat.  I even put my jacket back on. 

Melon break:

The hike was certainly worth it!



Saturday, March 01, 2014

Snow and Bingo

So that Spouse o' Mine and I decided we would bug out this week, and head for the hills  mountains:

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado!

But now, we wait.  The insipid forecasters which should be giving us scientific, new-millennium weather forecasts, guiding us as to what our week's actions should be, simply call out any weather happenstance, like Bingo callers. 

B-10º: Baby, it's cold!!!

I-84%: Indicative of some precipitation?

N-20: Northwind @ 25 mph.

G-5: Groundhog done gone underground for some more weeks.

O- 20: A chance of snow before 7pm, then a slight chance of snow between 7pm and 1am. Cloudy during the early evening, then gradual clearing, with a low around -9. Wind chill values between -15 and -20. North wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Possible 4"-8"' snow.

And so we pack our skis, and we wait. Snow here, snow there, anywhere, we will enjoy the XC skis...
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