Friday, June 27, 2014


Yesterday was my Manhattan Women's Thursday Ride.  A group of women, all ages, gets together each Thursday and someone has plotted a bicycle route in advance, and off we go!  Sometimes we mix things up just a bit, and spend a bit of time here (at a bike shop) or there (with a nutritionist) or even there (a garden spot) or there (a après-cycle coffee) and take in some extra-cyclicable (is that a word?) programs here and there.  Camaraderie!

Yesterday was so fun.  The weather was good.  (READ: Not too hot for this delicate flower, not too windy, just..right...)  The women are terrifically supportive and conversational and... just plain good souls.  Cycling camaraderie is THE BEST.  I came away from my morning so happy and fulfilled in all that is good in the world.  Again:  Camaraderie!  What a GREAT start to my Thursday.

Last night, I got word from daughter Claire that someone from Manhattan's cyclist community had been killed by a motorist on his 7:00 pm ride.   So sad.

Yes.  We know that cyclist. 

Unspeakably sad.  

He rode the Saturday "Pancake Rides" that we have done for years.

Mark Jilka.  One of nine kids.  I am happy to have known Mark.

Today I was toodling about, doing errands, and a truck in front of me called my attention.  I can't tell you now what the truck was about, except that in my mind it was funny, and in my mind, it did so hearken to the sweet remembrance of my sister Barb. 

My older sister Barb. So ding-dong-funny.  And such a good sister.  Her comments and admonishments (albeit sort of oblique) were stellar in my becoming Mother of the Year. (Yes, right, kids?)

My sister Barb would have been 62 years old today, her birthday.  We would have played around in her pool and laughed about age today.  We would have planned all the coming year's holidays and any other family gatherings.  We would have laughed about wrinkles and gardens and our adult children...

Life.  Sweet life.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday Things to Think About

 Today in:

1797: Charles Newbold patented first cast-iron plow.

1876: Custer's Last Stand.

1900: Walter Reed began the research that beat yellow fever.

1948: U.S. responded to Soviet blockade of Berlin with an airlift.

1949: Walter Baade discovered asteroid Icarus INSIDE orbit of Mercury.

1959: The St Lawrence Seaway opened, linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.

1968: Iwo Jima and Bonin Islands were returned to Japan by the U.S.

1978: First dedicated oceanographic satellite, SEASAT 1 was launched.

My middle-oldest brother Bob has a blog, and this is where I gleaned/mined/collected the fine gems of history noted above. 

Here is Bobby Boy's blog:

Yes, you can use the mnemonic device of, because that might possibly be how my brother picked his blog URL way back when.  My brother, he's a funny one.

They all are, all three brothers... 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fishermen in Bellingham Bay

Bellingham (WA) Marina is very large.  There's lots going on in the waterways of the Pacific Northwest.  Boat travel, whale watching, yachting, fishing, cruises to Alaska, shrimping, name it!  The marina is full of all shapes and sizes of boats: big 'uns and little 'uns, catamarans, little tugs, and giant "I Must be Rich" boats.

I am always fascinated by the fishing industry.  I was the greatest fan of The Greatest Catch several years ago - I even made the then-College Boy a nifty quilt which I named The Greatest Catch; he and I spent many summer hours watching that show!  (Now we, that Spouse o' Mine and I, have no TV to speak of.  We opted to cancel our satellite subscription last summer.  That's another story for another day...)

And so of course I was up before dawn, camera in hand, down at "the docks".



Friday, June 20, 2014


Heading home from Seattle...what a great flight!  Yes - you heard me right.  It was a great flight!  Alaska Airlines, nonstop to Kansas City.  On a large, clean newish 757 with COMFY seats.  Fly Alaska!

I suppose I should give a quick description of my TSA experience prior to this flight.  I have no idea what it is in my demeanor or actions that makes me a magnet for TSA attention.  That Spouse o' Mine and I entered the security screening area.  A TSA lady looked at my ticket and then his, and said something to the effect that our tickets were different, and one of us would have to go to Pre-Screening and one would have to go to the other screening.  I looked at her, puzzled, and she said impatiently, "Oh, you two just both get it THAT line." and pointed thither.  So we lined up behind what seemed like a dozen switchbacks of people lined up with their bags and kids and strollers and animal carriers.  We meandered through two of those switchbacks and that's when I noticed the sign over yonder that said "TSA Pre-Screening."  Hey!  That's what my ticket said on it!  And even better, there was no one standing in THAT line.  I showed it to that Spouse o' Mine, and he agreed: I should go over to that line.

So I stooped under the tape that was corralling the herds, and all of a sudden, these two TSA people swooped down on me.  The BIG man yelled quite sternly at me.  "Oh, no, no, NO!  You can't be crossing under like that!  You get back in that other line!"  "But my ticket says I should be over here."  "You can't be moving out of one line into another one!"  "But this is what my ticket says - See?  It says I should be over HERE."   The BIG woman stood over me frowning.  No, she was scowling at me.  I calmly showed them my ticket.  I opened my mouth to say something more, but the BIG man shut his eyes and motioned me on my way to the Pre-Screening line.  I'll have to say, I was on my way to the plane in a flash!

I still have no idea what any of that was about.  What an odd experience. 

Alaska Airlines: happy crew, good service, and clean, clean, clean.  I had the the fun of having two unaccompanied minors sitting next to me, two girls who looked to be maybe 7 & 9.  Coloring books, Wimpy Kid readers, sack lunches sent by Mom, ("She told us they wouldn't feed us on this plane.") and they were sweet kids.  The time flew.  (Ha ha.)  Upon landing, the younger sister asked the older what would happen if the plane couldn't stop at the end of the runway.  The elder replied that it would probably hit something and that we would all hit our heads on the seat in front of us.  She mentioned something more about wearing seatbelts.  And then she turned to me and told me that their uncle had not been wearing his seatbelt once and the plane couldn't stop and he hit his head.  I replied that I bet he wears a seatbelt now!  And she replied matter-of-factly, Well, he's DEAD, now.

Oh, dear.

Arriving in Kansas City and heading out to the Long-Term parking, I noticed a military guy approaching, waiting for the same shuttle.  "Fort Riley?"  I asked.  "Yes, Ma'am".  The three of us began talking.  He was from a tiny town called Appalachia, Virginia.  He has a fiancee.  He is about to be deployed (Yes: you guessed it: Iraq).  "What do you do?" I asked. 

"I'm a sniper."

You know, I am fairly conversant with most people, but I had no reply, no reply at all to this information.  I smiled in silence.  Thankfully, our shuttle arrived and we climbed on.  I turned and told him, "Thank you for your service and good luck in your deployment."

Off the shuttle, the wind was remarkable.  And so I did.  "Holy Mackeral,  it's like a wind tunnel!"  and some man called over his shoulder, "You're back in Kansas!"

And so we are...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Staying Places

Four weeks before that Spouse o' Mine and I headed west to Western Washington, I perused the hotel offerings in Bellingham.  I perused, and then set that on the back burner of my days.  Three days before we began our trip, I pulled up the perusals once again and began making phone calls.

What made me think that any hotel worth its name would still have rooms available three days before Commencement Weekend?  What was I thinking?  Apparently, I was NOT.

Plan B:  I Googled Bed & Breakfasts, Bellingham, WA.  I found several which looked to be dandy.  I called one in my favorite area of Bellingham: Fairhaven.  Booked.  The woman on the phone sounded like she could barely contain her laughter, because, really, what was I thinking?  Just before a big University weekend?

I moved on to the B & B # 2.  Jackpot!

Sort of.  They had an available room for one night.  "We'll take it."

Plan B's B & B was really wonderful.  We will go back.  Tons of room in the "B & B, plus marvelous gardns, complete with Koi and evening-strolling deer.  And kayaks!!  Did I mention kayaks?  (The kayaks were actually my impetus for taking the room at this B 7 B, so that that Spouse o' mine would have something to do in the off hours; he is like an Australian Shepherd, and needs "a job" in all waking hours.  I thought paddling around Lake Whatcom would be perfect.  As it happened, the following day was COLD and rainy.  Indoor day.  But you know what?  Our breakfast with the two other couples in the inn was great fun.  One couple was from 107º Tuscon, escaping the heat for the weekend, and the other couple: A Canadian Mountie! and his French-speaking wife.  Fun, how fun....      

So, then, on to Plan C: Air B & B.  For those unfamiliar with Air B & B, it is an online site where homeowners can advertise their homes (or other) for rent by room, or whole home.  It bypasses the laws and taxes that hotels are liable for, and therein lies a GREAT rub in the hotel industry.  All I can say is, enjoy this opportunity while it lasts, because the lobbyists are hot on the trail in D.C. as I type.

And so, Plan C:  Ha ha ha!! I picked a boat.  Yes.  A boat.  For our two remaining nights.  And we had fun!   The owners stayed on the boat as well, and they were great fun.  They told sailing stories about the Caribbean, and we told stories about rural Kansas.  Or places equally as interesting.

 Our final night in the Pacific Northwest was in Seattle with my lovely niece Melinda and her Kiwi Huz Josh. They met in Antarctica years ago, and got married last year in Breckenridge.  They are so fun, so sweet, so adventurous.  Love those two!  They took us to the Arboretum and the Rose Garden (I have no clue what the real names are; these are the awesome places right in their neighborhood (walkable! walkable distances!!) where they escape when the "City' gets to be too much.

And there it is: places we stayed. 

Such a fun weekend.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Things That Alert Airport Security to Me:

And now,  another chapter in what I call my “I’m 54 Years Old and Must Surely Look Like a Drug Mule for All the Times that Airport Security has Pulled Me Aside.”  
You may have read my posts regarding Chilean Fruit Dogs: Entering the country carrying  processed, DRIED prunes.  ( know: change-of-diet-travel-non-reactions.)  Charge: $87 USD, plus, said dietary fiber was confiscated.  So painful that the Chilean Fruit Dogs were SO BEAUTIFUL... 
And my TSA pull-over this spring simply because I was carrying three very small eucalyptus trees in my bag: Three Globs of Dirt
This weekend that Spouse o’ Mine and I winged it west to witness (SAINTS BE PRAISED!!) our College Boy Graham graduating from Western Washington University, in Bellingham, WA.  Yahoo, Hooray, he’s earned a BS in Computer Science, and that will hold him in good stead and as of now it seems that we have no more, NO MORE college tuition to pay in the foreseeable future.  It’s like we’re getting a raise. 
Sort of.
But let’s backtrack a smidge.  Winging it: Flying on an airline:  that connotes the act of TSA security and all the fun that it entails.  Mostly, taking one’s shoes off  (EW.  Walking barefoot where thousands of other barefoot soles have trod, leaving their EWWwwww skin cells behind…blech – let me tell you, that is a bad thought in my mind.  A phobia?  No.  A bad thought in my mind.)
Happily, the TSA lady in charge of me opted to allow me to keep my shoes on.  I was thrilled.  And I told her so.  “You just made my day.”  She glowered back at me.   I set my two bags on the screening belt and walked through to the other side.  That’s Spouse o’ Mine was already through his TSA business and was already busy putting his belt back on.  I collected one bag, and waited.  And waited some more.
And then I saw it. 
I know this song and dance:  someone had culled my smallish-suitcase off the conveyor belt and had set it aside.  I waited.  No one showed up to explain things to me.  I waited some more, and finally tapped a TSA lady on the arm.  “My suitcase is sitting over there, ” I pointed.  She walked over and took it and placed it on a screen to look at its contents, only very briefly, and then carried it over to a table and unzipped it.
Oh, I do know this song and dance.  
“Ma’am, is there any sharp object in here that I should be aware of?” 
Now, I am one of those people who wrack  their brains over questions like this:  I mentally start from the very first item I packed, and mentally inventory all there is: is anything sharp?  Anything at all?  What could puncture this lady and get me into more trouble than those Chilean Fruit Dogs did?
By the time I finally answered “No”, the TSA lady was already poking and prodding her gloved had through the layers of my suitcase.  I am a DANDY packer.  Very systematic, and everything is where it is in my bags because there is a tried and true reason.  So when she called out to me in a very loud voice (so that all the other passengers should learn from my transgression), “Ma’am, you are not allowed to carry peanut butter on board the aircraft”, I stared blankly and began my slow-yet-very-thorough mental inventory through my bag once again. 
Peanut butter?  What the heck?  I don’t even eat peanut butter.  What is she going on about?
That Spouse o’ Mine, done belting up and holding his bags, stood half-frowning and gape-mouthed clear across the room.  Sadly, he has seen this song and dance of mine too many times. 
And she reached deep into my suitcase and pulled out a jar of…
Gumbo.  Gumbo Soup.  Some I brought for the College Boy.  He has spent the last three weeks of his college career (yes, finals and all), with mono.  So what better thing for his mother to bring to him than some comforting gumbo soup.
The TSA lady proceeded to confiscate it.  
I poked my head over her shoulder and said loudly, so all the other passengers could see that I was not guilty of peanut butter smuggling, “Oh!  That’s NOT peanut butter!  THAT’S GUMBO!  I can carry on gumbo, can’t I?!!!”  And I was so animated that she called across the room to her supervisor and asked, irritably,  “Can she take GUMBO on the flight?!”  I seconded, “It’s for my son!”  And he came over with a smile just for me, and said, “I am from the South, and I know what gumbo means."
"You can carry it on.”
Ha!  One point for the mother with the jar of gumbo soup.  

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Thinking in Cadences

Rain, rain, rainy-rain,
Thunder, thunder,

That apparently is our weekend in a nutshell.

Humid, humid,
Foggy glasses,
Moisture everywhere.

I put the window unit (air conditioning) into my upstairs art room this evening.  We have central AC, but the nitwit(s) who put in the venting - before our arrival to this abode - did  a bang-up job of incompetence.  Hence, a window unit.

Pork Loin,
Bubbles & Squeak,
Lunch in rural Kansas.

I am planning to clear out/ cook everything in my freezer this summer.

Tornados and basements,
Messes, both;
Address the situation...

Ugh.  Not only is our basement a crappy mess that looks like hoarders took over (did we?), but last week's plumber broke the bottom step (glad he was not injured, but could he PLEASE have mentioned it to me?!!!)

I'm a grand,
He's a grand,
And time keeps marching on...

Baby Jack, my grand-nephew, was baptized in Oklahoma today.  I was absolutely there in spirit.  I watched the clock:  4:00 pm.  He is my sister's grandson.  Barb would have been 62 this month.

Swallow, swallows,
Also lightning bugs.

This morning I spied a large hawk flying low and being chased by what looked like barn swallows.  One little bird attached itself onto the back of the hawk, and there he rode, pecking the neck of the hawk for quite some time.  I did have a camera in the car, but thought better of stalling 4-lane traffic for a photo-op.  Really, though, this little bird took an extended ride on the hawk's back. 

Last night we drove home from a concert in town (town: Manhattan, KS), and here in dark, rural Kansas, the lightning bugs were amazing.  I have never seen such activity - it looked like a Disney animated movie out in the woods.  So pretty, and witnessed by so few.

~ T.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Tart! Tart! Cherry Tart!

Our neighbor (five miles away) invited us to glean their cherry trees, and so we did:

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Weeding Thoughts

That Spouse o' Mine got home from Ghana Sunday midnight.  That was a long trip - for me.  Two and a half weeks of sporadic emails and intermittent garbled phone calls.  We are so spoiled nowdays.  When the two of us lived in Cairo way back when (30 years ago), our highlight was the once-a-month call home to my parents in Oklahoma.  And we received a letter or two in the airmail each month.  (Now instead of airmail, people store things in "the cloud".)

I had planned to accomplish so many things while that Spouse o' Mine was gone.  I had an index card three columns-full of tasks to start and finish.  "Paint the bathroom"  Nope.  "Wash windows" Nope. "Clean barn, clean duckhouse, clean basement, clean cars..."  Nope, nope, nope.  Nope!

Read books? Yes (Hey!  Not on the index card.)  Read backload of magazines?  Yes!  (HEY!!  DITTO!)  Sit on the porch of an evening with friends?  Yep. Watch several seasons of The Good Wife?  Guilty as charged.

Weed and till and plant something like 68 lavender plants, visit a real lavender farm (with something like 4200 plants), and sweat and sway in the heat and wind of Kansas?  Yes.  Yes, I did indeed do the latter.

In fact, I still have 4 hours of weeding and tilling to do this week, before I complete my first round of lavender planting. I have been going out at 6:00ish am every morning that it has not been lightning and spending at least three hours pulling weeds out of my little lavender plot.  From there, I take my eensy 4-tine rototiller and plow up hills and troughs: hills for the lavender plants, and troughs for the moisture drainage.  (Hope springs eternal here, following two years of serious drought in rural Kansas.)

OK.  So here is what my early morning practice looks like:

Arise.  Hopefully at 5:00 am, so as to watch the dawn before the sunrise.  Do lots of yoga stretches because - hey! - I am not getting any younger and this lavender farming biz is proving that fact.

Make coffee.  More yoga.  Sip a cup of coffee whilst perusing the weather.  Pour rest of coffee into thermos and head out to the pasture with coffee and teacup in tow.  Also, one dog and two cats.  They love it when I call out "PASTURE!!" at 6:00 am.

Get down on hands and knees for 2-3 hours and pull up weeds.  Mostly dead weeds, but some live-and-thriving-therefore-strong weeds.  My elbows begin aching.  And my little fingers, too, because they are the stronghold of fists which finally yank the weeds from the earth.  That, and maybe, at 54, I have a bit of my grandmother Gram's arthritis? 


Every 45 minutes or so I take a swill of coffee from my teacup.  The heat and humidity are high.  Sweat: AWFUL.  I hate trickles.

And so, throughout my mornings in the weeds, I am thinking up thoughts like "What is the difference between delegate and relegate?"  "Gerunds: let's revisit them."  "What about T.S.Eliot?"  "High fructose corn syrup really needs some major boundaries,"  "What about S.E.Hinton?"  "Frank Lloyd Wright: Prairie" "Oh, lookie, there is a new-born praying mantis!"   "I'd really like to know Paul's  (not that Spouse o' Mine) realtime/personal connection with folks like the Philippians."  "What I would do in the Whitehouse if I were First Lady."  "These wolf spider are  much larger and hairier than last week; they look like tarantulas."  "Myanmar",  "Ah! A bumble bee. Who named him so?"   "The Obamas: I hope they are fairing well as a family."  "Look at that sunrise!  A Thomas Moran painting, to be sure!"    

And so much more...
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