Saturday, September 20, 2014

Our family, the extended version, is large.  We like each other.  We don't get together to celebrate things like birthdays and such, but we do celebrate life.  There is a certain comfort in embracing generations, siblings, cousins and such, and  allthewhile knowing that there is a doormat called WELCOME anytime one of us stands at the threshold of family.

This weekend my niece Melinda stopped by rural Kansas for a visit:
Lavender and wine:

The Shamrock Cafe (out in the middle of nowhere, a cozy chair from which to view the Flint Hills sunset):

Is this reminiscent of the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Windows are Open!

It is Autumn.  Although on the verge of "warm" this afternoon, I will take it.  I wore a sweater (albeit 3/4-sleeved) with a scarf today.  Zounds.  I am emerging out of seasonal hibernation.

Yesterday I planted many rows of my Autumnal Garden.  What did I plant?  Mesclun.  Kale.  Cabbage(s).  Fennel.  Beets.  Leeks.  Onions.  Tarragon.  Rosemary.  Collard Greens. French Breakfast Radishes.  (To my mind, no one eats radishes for breakfast unless they're part bunny; you French folks out there should clarify this...)  and Chicory.  Maybe more...who can recall? 

And so, now, what's to come of all this?  It sounds like I might have put in many hours of labor into this venture, but I assure you that, as usual, I did not.  Darwinism!  I like plants that can fend for themselves.  And so I tilled up space between the massive New England Pumpkin Patch and the dwindly, spindly tomatoes, and called it good.  In went the seeds.  I thought it was supposed to rain last night, but it did not.  And so maybe tomorrow I will sprinkle the Autumnal Garden to get that germination going.  And then?  I wait.

Our windows are open this evening.  I hear cicadas (I call them locust in my Okie lingo.)  There is a young family who moved down the way, and I hear their little kids out playing.  That is such a great sound.  I have some older relatives who moved into a retirement place in Arizona years ago, and that place restricted the presence of children.  So sad.  What's better than a window open to kids hollering outside in play?

This evening I have been fussing around the kitchen, looking for my "for-two" souffle dish.  Where is it?!  If I don't find it, then we are to have two mini souffles, which amount to maybe two bites and that will not suffice.  (Truth be told, I think our "for-two" souffle dish is probably actually earmarked for 4-6.  But we do love us some souffle.)  And along with spinach souffle, we are having grilled tuna and some sort of new potato thing that I have not yet moved on...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Time for a Change?

Fourteen months ago, that Spouse o' Mine and I were driving back from a fun holiday in Colorado.  Nine hours of driving through Kansas gives a couple ample time to drum up all sorts of conversation.  I commenced one subject by saying, "We are currently spending $129.00 per month on satellite television. That's a lot of money for all of those Infomercial channels that we do not enjoy."  From there, we revisited options, and one in particular that our son Graham had mentioned: "Chromecast".  It is a $35.00 gadget from Google that enables one to utilize a smartphone (of which we have none) or a PC or laptop (of which we have several) to send a signal to our television so that we may enjoy EXACTLY what television shows we may want to watch.  We can search such things as Hulu or Netflix, and some sports outlets, and watch things we are intentional about watching.

Intentional.  Ah!  There lies the rub.

The first couple of months after we cancelled our satellite, I found the house very silent during the day.  I had not realized how much I used the television to fill the void of silence.  I began listening to radio - news, music, talk shows.  Gradually, though, my interest in having noise in the house all the time lessened.  (I still listen to NPR and BBC news, The Retro Cocktail Hour, Science Friday, and past Talk of the Nation shows.)

Our "intentional" television viewing has gone through some stages in the past year.  We still enjoy viewing sports, and shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.  All of my HGTV, Cooking Channel, and Food Network viewing?  Now very limited, to say the least.  Just last week I scrolled the offerings of some of my favorite channel haunts.  You know what?  I don't miss them.  Runways and models and chefs and dancers once held my attention.  But now I have been weaned away from this entertainment.

A friend and I were discussing digital photography, and how it has enabled every wannabe photographer, however talented they may or may not be, to get gigs for wedding (and even funerals).  I think, too, that technology has become so inexpensive and simple as to enable television and actors/actresses/news folks to "go for it" on one of the myriad channels that are available in our new millennium.

And so we viewers have a choice to blindly keep the television on, or to move on to something more stimulating.  Go outdoors?  Read a book?  Sing some songs?  Play an instrument?  Write a blog?  Heh heh...  

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Summer's Nature

The locusts are all in chorus this evening. It sure is a ying-yang song: I love it, I abhor it. The time I love it most is in midwinter.  I think back to the hot sweltering days of summer (not yearningly, to be sure), and I take that memory of the sound, coupled with the heat and the glaring sun, and it makes me smile at the complete opposites of our seasons herein rural Kansas.

Here's a creepy photo of what is burrowing in our gardens and my lavenders:

That is a cicada killer.  I call them locust killers, because I grew up in Oklahoma, where people call cicadas locusts. 

Here's some creepy notes about these LARGE creepy cicada killers: they sting the locusts (cicadas) which renders them paralyzed yet very much alive.  Then they take the locust down into the root system of my lavender (OK, MY version), where they lay their eggs in the locust, and when the larvae develops, it eats away at the still-living, yet-still-paralyzed locust.  UGH.

I was reading an article today about wasps, and how they are valuable to the delicate balance of our nature (this is true, true...) and how we would suffer Biblical proportions of all sorts of pests if not for the wasps, as nearly every pest insect on Earth is preyed upon by a wasp species, either for food or as mentioned above, as host for its parasitic larvae.  Blech.

I really do believe that God created the heavens and the earth.  I don't think any of us have the absolute answers on His creation; why try to pinpoint absolutes?  I also believe that God instilled rules of nature which allow for lives and deaths and wasps and gila monsters.  And evolutions.  And miracles.  I think too many people do not acknowledge "rules of nature" as a God-given plan.  But then, that's my faith.  Others' faith is often different...

Wow.  So I went from cicada killer to faith in creation and evolution.  All in five paragraphs.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Young Autumn

Autumn is the hush before winter. ~French Proverb

I went out and cut lavender early this morning.  Such a peaceful pleasure.  I took my coffee out the back door, called out, “Pasture!” and was immediately accompanied by one dog and two cats.  “Pasture” is one of their favorite words.  This morning was cool, and sunny, and hushed.  I could hear every little bird song, and bug buzz.  Late this afternoon will be dramatically different, when the locust warm up and start their decibel-screeching chatter.   

The lavender is gathered into bundles, and is now drying, hanging upside-down, in the study.  I only gathered six bundles this morning, about half of one variety I have planted out in the pasture.  Some of the varieties have been stubborn to bloom, and, new to this lavender business, I can only assume that maybe they will bloom next spring.     
I am also drying a plethora of red peppers.  Perhaps I will make a holiday wreath out of them.
The farmers have begun their corn harvest, and that’s always fun to observe.  Big trucks full of bright yellow dent corn pass by our house off and on all day.  Dent corn is not the sweet corn we roast on the grill every few days.  Dent corn is sent off to make corn oil, cattle feed, and the like.   

There is a jasmine blooming all along the west side of our property.  The scent is amazing, and it carries through the air every trip to our mailbox, or the front yard, or the grotto.
 The peach tree looks meager after two summers of drought followed by a tremendously cold winter.  There is just a smattering of peaches hanging on it, but those which are there, are good-looking.
And it is apple week.  I have three groups of apples: the ones that fall to the ground are automatically donated to the ducks.  In that our ducks hang out under the apple trees every day, and they don’t care where they poop, we err on the side of caution and safety (e coli), smash these fallen fruits with our heels, and leave them for the ducks.  Maybe our eggs will come apple-flavored this fall.  The next group of collected apples are the blemished-beyond-edible, which are going in to a tub for the ducks, for next month.  And finally, the nice, pretty ones, I am bringing inside and we are eating fresh and sauteeing and baking.  Eventually, I will get around to making applesauce for the freezer.

Busy days...and it's about 58* this morning!  This is my kind of weather, to be sure.

Where did it go?!

I think Blogger is on vacation.  I put a lengthy post up this morning, and now it is gone.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

To My Kids and a Reminder for All:

I had forgotten about a man I knew years ago, until I read this link (below).  I never knew his name, never asked his name.  I still recall his filthy blonde hair, bloodshot eyes, and sunburned skin, and rags-for-clothes.  He had no sign, no adorable dog beside him.  He sat outside a grocery store in LA.  He was a Vietnam Vet.  He would ask for quarters.
This was way back when I worked for TWA - early 1990s.  On occasion from my international flights I would take a month of weekly flights, JFK to LA.  I would do my grocery shopping in LA (at this time I had two toddlers).  Almonds come to mind as a delicacy I would not find in wintertime Michigan. The grocery store was only a walk away from our "TWA" hotel by the airport.  I would arrive back home at Detroit Int'l Airport with a black F/A bag and several brown paper grocery bags, full of fun groceries for the week back home.  I did not fit the F/A stereotype t all. 
When I went grocery shopping, I would grab a small something for the man outside - a bottle of milk or juice, a banana, or some sort of bread.  I knew he wanted quarters for either drug or drink.  I rarely gave him one, but every once in a while.  He was kind in his own way. Each time I approached him on my way into the store, I talked to him.  Small talk.  And on my way out of the store, too.  Small talk.
I hope I made a difference. 

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.  ~ Mother Teresa
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