Saturday, December 03, 2016

Saturday in Target

I am not thinking straight.  Clearly, I am not.

I needed to make a run to Target (about 15 miles from home) to buy some storage tubs.  I am trying to whip this art room into some sort of manageable shape and navigable floor space.  I didn't realize that everyone and her dog, (yes), were out Christmas shopping today.  I'm still coming down from my Thanksgiving high.  I haven't done much in the Christmas season thoughts yet.

In Target, there were kids squabbling, mothers ranting, and what's this with the husbands??  My husband does not go to Target with me.  He doesn't shop anywhere, with me or without me.  There were so many husbands in Target today, with their ranting wives and their squabbling kids.  Interesting.

Speaking about interesting, there was an older couple who walked past me.  They were old and looked really old.  Rough.  Long-time smokers, perhaps.  She, in particular, was wrinkly and drawn.  But she was dressed in some kick-ass skinny jeans, and when she walked away, her backside could have been mistaken for a model, with her above-the-knee leather boots filled by her legs which seemed to go on forever.  Interesting.

Turning down another aisle (the bath aisle, if you were curious), I heard a voice that sounded just as deep and gravelly as Louis Armstrong's.  I kid you not.  I looked around the place in search of some magnificent fellow who was no doubt capable of belting out a tune to stop all shoppers in their tracks.  I peeked down another aisle, and there was the source of this gravelly bass voice: a woman, a youngish grandmother with her two grandkids!  What??!  It just did not seem right.  She was nice looking, as were her grandkids.  Her voice was put in the wrong body!!

Then there was the pleasant old lady, her husband, and their dog.  I have a thing about keeping dogs at home in their yards.  Not in cages or kennels (oh, wait!  That's another blog post for another time.)  I have a problem with all the dogs in all the human public places.  Too many dogs in outdoor restaurant settings, and by this I mean too many dog owners allowing their little, mini dogs onto a restaurant/coffee table.  BLECH.  I don't want to eat from a plate right where your dog has been sitting and slobbering.  I am digressing.  This pleasant old lady, her husband, and their dog simply melted my heart.  The (human) couple was so happy.  No doubt that little pooch has a lot to do with that.  And so, my minor anti-canine diatribe can abate with that sweet vision.

And then I headed towards the book aisle.  This meant I had to pass the multiple toy aisles.  Squabbling kids, ranting moms, husbands who were way out of their element.  Here's a funny I witnessed:  A largish (really largish) woman was yelling (no exaggeration here) to her son, "BUBBA!  BUBBA!!"  A little kid, the size of a mosquito, came round the corner and answered politely, "Yes, Mother?"

And finally, the damper of the Christmas spirit: A big ol' father, dragging around a cart full of coats, followed by four young children and a sweet-yet-haggard-looking woman.  He barked at his wife.  "Take 'em back!"  And she walked away, carrying a few Christmas items, with very little emotion on her face.  Her older daughter followed her, carrying the younger daughter.  All three were a vision in their long denim skirts.

And that was my orientation into the new season of...Advent.

I hope I get more out of it than shopping...

Friday, December 02, 2016

This is Not a Good Chapter

I began this blog some many years ago, when my brother Bob secured blogspot.coms for each of us in the immediate family.  I took off with mine.  It was like a diary in the new millennium.  And I had family readers.  And then, I had friend readers.  And then, I noticed some readers from within the USA, and some international readers.

The voice from which I wrote most frequently was that of a daughter, writing home to her parents. In reality, I knew my Mom and Dad read my blog posts regularly.  Both Mom and Dad would reply or email me a note as to their take or reflection or opinion of any piece I wrote.  We had such fun!  Mom and Dad would write to me by email, or call me on the phone, and we would discuss what I had written.  We might chuckle.  We might sigh, or wipe a tear.  But it seemed that my writing was aimed for my parents' pleasure or "discussion".

About four years ago, I began noticing Mom's short-term memory loss.  Mainly on the phone.  In person, she was great.  But it progressed/regressed (which is it?!) to Mom changing from Mom, into "my mother".  My Mom is no longer there.  She left a couple of years ago.  My mother is still here, living in my parents' home.  She is happy, vibrant, and she is "my mother".

Two months ago, I went home to Pryor Creek to visit my Mom and Dad.  I was brushing my mother's hair one morning (who, at age 88 still has the most gorgeous thick, silver hair that one rarely sees at that age.  My Dad complains that she needs her hair cut.  She doesn't.  She's got it, let her flaunt it, I say.)  My mother commented to me, "You are really good at this."  I replied, "Well, I learned from the best!" And she and I bantered back and forth for a few moments, and then she asked me, "Do you work mainly in hospitals, or in home health care?"

And there it was.

Not six months before, I had told my brothers that this day would soon be here, when she did not recognize me.  I live five hours away from my parents.  I am lucky if I see them once a month.  I was braced for this moment, and it did not upset me.  My Mom left a couple of years ago.  My mother was making terrific, cheerful conversation with someone.  For that, we are blessed.  My mother is cheerful and happy (most of the time.)

Today, I wanted to call my Mom and talk to her.  I wanted words of experience, of wisdom, of humor, and of love.  I did not call my parents.  When I called yesterday, my mother could not even figure out how to hold her phone.

And so, this is not a good or sweet or comforting chapter.  I hate the phrase "It is what it is.", but now, I get its meaning.  Millions of daughters have gone through this, and millions of daughters will go through this.

It's my turn.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pretty Chooks

Each morning I call out to my four Silver Lace Wyandottes, "Here, (or Hear...listener's choice), Chookie-chook-chook-chook." Every morning for months.

I got these four chickens in June or so.  I ordered "older" chicks (or, as I call them, chooks).  Not day-old little chicks, but some with a few weeks of life to them, so that I could forego the month or months of babying the baby chicks.  Cute though they be, baby chicks are smelly and labor-intensive.  Older chooks, ugly though they be, have a greater viability rate.

All I ask of this coexistence between my feeding/housing them, and their existence on our property, is that they provide us with a daily egg,  That's all I ask.

Hooray!  Yesterday was a one-egg morning.  Today?  A stellar two-egg morning!  By George, I think they've got it!  

Yes: Apparently, we have become the Clampetts.




Monday, November 14, 2016

A Big Ol' Moon

Last week I was describing on the phone to that Spouse o' Mine something I had seen out here in the middle of nowhere in rural Kansas.  "They were putting in a big ol' tank."  "A big ol' tank?!"  And that's how he, Aussie folk, mocked my Okie vernacular: big ol'.  And the "ol' " is not pronounced as you might hear someone from the East or West Coast reading it from a book - it's not "big ol" with the tip of the tongue pronouncing the "L" (as in "Olaf").  The "l" is pronounced, starting in the back of the tongue and meandering towards the tongue tip, but it stops somewhere along the way, as only an Okie can do it.

Big ol'

Whole slew

Lotsa

Rilly big/little  (rhymes with "hilly")

And so it goes..

Anyway - here is my addition to what no doubt is a whole slew of rilly big pictures of a big ol' moonrise tonight:  my tripod was my shoulder leaning against a fence post out in the pasture.







Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Celebration of Life, in the Present:

Last week I received an invitation to celebrate an acquaintance and neighbor's 91st birthday.  She is an acquaintance of nearly fifteen years, and a neighbor...some seven miles away.  (That's how it works in rural Kansas.)

It was a morning coffee today with something like ten women attending. Ten women of three generations -PLUS two children of another generation - so...four generations celebrating coffee and coconut creme cake with this amazing woman, around her rural kitchen table with which most of us are so comfortably acquainted.

We women all know each other by close or distant social occasions; whatever the definition, we were all so comfortable in our meeting this morning, it was a true joy.  (We even sang Happy Birthday in  two-part harmony.)

True joy, also, by celebrating this wonderful neighbor's life thus far.  How fun to enjoy the sharing of parts of her life's daily diary, started in 1942.  A daily diary!  Her daughter read spits and spots of it to us, and I was transfixed.  We all had so much fun revisiting our own family heritage/history by her written words.

I left this morning's coffee with a song in my heart.  How nice to be able to celebrate a life well-led, and especially, a life that truly had hardships which she has shared both in her diaries, and to some of us {me} in person.

And so?  There are so many folks out there with great stories to hear and to share.  I am always so uplifted when I visit this neighbor and her family.  Her grace and humor and intelligence.

I guess I would close this by saying "Thanks be to God."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I Do Love Me a Roundabout

We have a few roundabouts in Manhattan, Kansas.  They are easy to maneuver - as long as all the other drivers feel the same way.  Sometimes we have a Nervous Nelly who thinks all bad things are going to happen with the absence of stop signs, but for the most part, i have to say: Roundabouts is what it's all about!  (I should be in marketing?)  Back in our Egyptian days, we even had three and four-lane roundabouts.  That, though, I will have to say, was a bit willy-nilly.  In that I never drove in Cairo, I can't say for sure, but I relied heavily on prayer as my drivers did the work.  I came out at the end of that year, unscathed.

Ok.  So, if you read my last post, you will understand that my station wagon was smacked broadside late this summer.  Just after which, we. that Spouse o' mine and I, left for points south:

Australia.

They drive on the left side of the road.

I don't.

I am driven on the left side of the road.  I always have been.

(Note: I love to be driven.  I always have loved being driven places.)

So, here we were, arriving in Brisbane just shortly after my unfortunate car accident by which the left side of my car was struck broadside by an idiot.

What happens, when one travels to Australia, where all the roundabouts travel in the opposite direction?  They run clockwise, instead of our American counter-clock-wise.  So, ...as we were travelling clockwise, the oncoming traffic appeared in MY WINDOW, which caused me to SHRIEK for DEAR HEAVENS STOP!!! STOPP!!!!!  AGHHHHHHHH!

And for a brief second, that Spouse o' Mine would slam on the brakes, because he thought - well, he just thought I was dying.  I did, too.  But I thought it longer than he did and with far greater fear than he did.  And my foot was braking on the Aussie passenger side of the car.  I was a total wreck, for nearly three weeks of riding in Australia.  This is a small example of post-traumatic stress.  I was sure, each time a car entered the roundabouts with us, that I WAS GOING TO DIE!  Or, at least, the airbag was going to pop out again and hit me in the noggin.  Again.

Gues what happened when we returned to the United States and our roundabouts?  I was totally frozen.  Which way?  Which way?!!!  WHICH WAY???!!!

Have mercy.

It is October 26th, I think I have it down now.

Pitiful state of circumstances...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Car Talk. I See a Trend?

Does anyone listen to re-recordings of the radio show called Car Talk?  I learned a lot about auto mechanics from listening to that radio show.  And I have a handy mechanic in that Spouse o' Mine.  He does a lot of auto-magic at our home.  Plus, he can take a car into a repair shop, have the problem assessed, ask knowledgeable questions, and walk out knowing that the repairmen know he knows.

But this is not about Car Talk, or about that Spouse o' Mine.

This post is all about me.

Here is a Volvo Station Wagon that I drove for quite a few years, some 7-10 years ago, until the 4th of July, along I-70 at the Georgetown , Colorado exit, in the mid-afternoon:
 




The driver who struck the back of my car was under-age and unlicensed, the car was full of under-aged kids, there was a whiskey bottle and "residue" found in the car.  (I asked the police officers, "What do you mean, "residue?"  "Marijuana, Ma'am.")

And here is a Volvo Station Wagon that I drove for three years - until August of this year, when I was struck, broadside, by a young woman.  And let's address the airbag, that blessing of car accidents.  I had only two seconds (and I am being conservative) to react to what I perceived as an accident-to-be.  I saw in my peripheral, a car at my sideBOOM!!!.  But that sideBOOM! was simultaneous to my front airbagBOOM! going off.  (Notice, that my airbagBoom! only rated one exclamation point; that is because, as soon as it was deployed, it was just as quickly deflated!  The smoke filled my car.


I thought the smoke meant my car was on fire.  I put the car in park and hopped out, not even bothering to turn the car off.  Many minutes later, a police officer arrived.  I asked him if my car was still running.  It was. He turned it off, explained that the smoke I smelled was from the airbags, and that I would probably have that stench in my nose for the next few days.  (I did not.)

The idiot who broad-sided me was a twenty-something.  I am pretty sure she was texting.  She claimed to the police officers that it was "the full moon".  She was cited. I am pretty sure she must have been texting.  She was a total  idiot at the scene of the accident.  Don't be that Total Idiot, young women.  (Old women, too: don't go there.  Be total a Smart Wise Thing.)

What do I have to say about these two incidents?  Well, first I have to exclaim (again and again and again), "Thanks be to God!"   Both times, just before impact, I asked my brain, "How bad is this going to be?!!!?"  Seriously: that was the question in my head: How bad is this going to be?   Both times, there seemed to be no serious injuries.  I say seriously: I am not left quadriplegic.  I had some bruising, (no one told me that a breast can bruise green  from a cross-strap!)   And my eyeglasses...BONK from the airbag.  GREAT BIG BONK!  This past collision caused some questionable mental faculties.  I should have been seen by a physician.  But the EMS seemed to think I was fine, and since I was alone with no one to second-guess them, I acquiesced.  Since, then, a nurse friend has told me (upon hearing some of my questionable memory and behavioral activities, that I may well have experienced a concussion.  I think, upon hindsight, that I might have, indeed.)   Oh - and the airbag experience?  The next day I exhibited nose and chin abrasion.  Nothing major.

OK, so a week after my car accident I had a flight to Australia.

Stay tuned...because this car nonsense seems neverending...

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Speaking of Songs...

Kookaburra Sits on the Old Gum Tree...

Yes - so many of us were taught that "exotic" song some many decades ago.  Who knew that I would grow up and have an "inlaw home" where those miniature-yet-LOUD birds harangued our world just before dawn, and just after sunset each day:

|https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UazdfDhm7us

Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Merry, merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!

I have to say, the kookaburras are CUTE.  They are small.  How can such a sound emit from this little bird?  As I have mentioned, it was raining at the Botanocal Gardens.

And so there were very few people , and lots of birds flitting about.  Here are some of my Kookaburra shots:






















Oops.  I think that this is a goanna.  I am not even sure how to spell it.  Clearly, not a cookaburra.



Monday, October 03, 2016

Rigabamboo

Heaven only knows how I recall these words, this tune.  Sheesh - even last week that Spouse o' Mine was opining that "you have the strangest memory for songs..."  This was after a flight from somewhere to somewhere, and the flight crew announced that our baggage would be found on  Carousel Nine.  So the two of us followed an amazing queue/maze of humanity (it took a COMPLETE HOUR!), and there it was...Carousel Nine, and there I announced...:

"Number Nine..Number Nine...Number Nine..."

I thought it was funny.  Funny to me, but not to him.  Maybe my Beatles memories are fonder than his.  Maybe my jetlag had not kicked in.  Or...maybe it had?  Yeah - I think it had.  I think I was numb.  Numb...er Nine!  Hahahaha!

Anyway, this Rigabamboo song from decades ago got dredged up when we, that Spouse o' Mne and I, toured the Brisbane Botanical Gardens.  In the rain.  But really, it was just fine. I love rain and no public more than I love sun and too many people.

So here, I show the bamboo which we in the U.S.A. will probably never enjoy in its greatness.  This stuff is HUGE in Queensland.



























The princess pat, (the princess pat)
Lived in a tree, (lived in a tree)
She sailed across, (she sailed across)
The seven Seas, (the seven seas)
She sailed across, (she sailed across)
The channel two, (the channel two)
And she took with her, (and she took with her)
A rick-a-bamboo, (a rick-a-bamboo)
A rick-a-bamboo, (a rick-a-bamboo)

Now what is that? (now what is that?)
Its something made, (its something made)
By the princess pat, (by the princess pat)
Its red and gold, (its red and gold)
And purple too, (and purple too)
Thats why its called, (thats why its called)
A rick-a-bamboo, (a rick-a-bamboo)
A rick-a-bamboo, (a rick-a-bamboo)

Now Captain Jack, (now captain Jack)
Had a mighty fine crew (had a mighty fine crew)
He sailed across, (he sailed across)
The channel two, (the channel two)
But his ship sank, (but his ship sank)
And yours will too, (and yours will too)
If you dont take, (if you dont take)
A rick-a-bamboo (a rick-a-bamboo)
A rick-a-bamboo, (a rick-a-bamboo)

Now what is that? (now what is that?)
Its something made, (its something made)
By the princess pat, (by the princess pat)
Its red and gold, (its red and gold)
And purple too, (and purple too)
Thats why its called, (thats why its called)
A rick-a-bamboo, (a rick-a-bamboo)
A rick-a-bamboo, (a rick-a-bamboo)







 





















Sunday, October 02, 2016

Whaling

While in Brisbane, my brother- and sister-in-law took us (that Spouse o' Mine and me) down the coast, parts south of Brisbane.  Specifically, to Byron Bay, and Tweeds Head.  Someone brought up the subject of whales.  I commented, "Oh, I have never seen a whale; I would LOVE to see one."

AND GUESS WHAT?

WHALES!!!  Lots and lots of whales playing!  Breaching! Playing with their babies!

Humpback whales migrate this time of year from northern Australia, down the coast and on to Antarctica.  (Think: it is springtime in Australia.  The whales head south to cooler climes, and birth their babies somewhere along the way.)

Lookie here, folks:







It's interesting that all the whales I photographed seemed to breach to the south (right, in these photos).  I surmise that they were headed south, so they were jumping out of the water south?

I am SUCH an expert on all things marine.

What fun, what fun it was!  I could have spent DAYS whale watching along the beaches.  As it was, I did spend hours and hours.  What fun.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

I Took a Trip

I took a trip this month.  No: last month.  September.  I went to Australia with that Spouse o' Mine.  We went to visit his kith & kin.  He has parents, brothers, inlaws, and nieces and nephews over there.  We were there nearly three weeks.  I am going to write about my trip, but not in any order at all.  My trip did not have any order in it at all, but great fun was had and that is all that counts.

Today, Saturday October 1st: here I am, home again.  Jiggety-jig.  Ugh.  36 hours awake/not completely awake, certainly not fast asleep, in airports, on airplanes, in too many Customs queues filling out too many Customs forms.  In a moment of lucid consciousness this morning I realized that I had not completed filling out my Australian Customs departure form, and had plunked it into the box upon my departure.   I forgot to fill in my passport number and some other blank.      

I wonder if the Aussies will come after me?

I think I will discuss Virgin Australia Airlines.  I booked our flights on that airline because they were cheap.  I think maybe next time I will pay the extra few hundred dollars so that I can get piddly things that I wanted on that 14-hour flight.  Most airlines now provide Wi-Fi service on flights.  (Last year I was emailing folks while flying over Vanuatu at 35,000 ft and 555 mph.)  Our 14-hour flight gave us a meal after take-off, a snack in the middle of nowhere, an ice cream even more in the middle of nowhere, and then a meal two hours before landing.  If one wandered about the cabin (as I do, a LOT), one will discover that they have a bin of apples and pears for the taking, in one of the galleys.  Hello?  No announcement about bins of fruit?  Or better yet...can the flight attendants not stroll down the aisles and offer us fare-payers some fruit?  Do we have to forage the galleys?  And my coffee addiction?  How should I address my need for caffeine?  I wanted/needed coffee maybe four hours, then six hours, and then again nine hours into our flight, and none was to be had. Seriously?!!   I should not hearken back to my old Flight Attendant days with TWA, but I am: on international flights we always had a fresh pot of coffee going in every galley (read: 6 galleys) for anyone who wanted coffee.  And tea!  Or any drink!  OK, let's move on from caloric intake, and I will revisit the entertainment onboard Virgin Australia.  No Wi-Fi, but they had movies and TV and podcasts.  The podcasts were Aussie, and I enjoyed them.  Why was I listening to podcasts?  Because the TV choices were dated.  DATED.  The Mindy Project, (2012).  Big Bang Theory.  Arrested Development.   I watched Monster-in-Law (2005), and parts of Bridget Jones' Diary (2001).

I don't want to boast but I do want to clarify that I am a seasoned traveler, and I am game for lots of fun and adventures, and any ills that might come hand-in-hand.  But here's something that I do not like about Virgin Australia's long-haul planes: the armrests do not come up all the way.  They come up...maybe 60ยบ.  That's not enough if one is trying to lie across a couple or a few seats to get some shuteye.  Let's talk PRETZEL NECK.

Wowza.  This sounds like Negative Nancy wrote this.

Nope.  I am a Positive Polly, but apparently this flight stuff was lying at the top of my consciousness.  As we are taught to do, I shall follow my negative(s) with a positive:

DELTA Airlines ( which we took from Kansas City to and from Los Angeles) was pretty darn good.  Good check-in service, good cockpit crews, great flight attendants (yeah - 'cause I am an authority) and all around pleasant folks and flights.

And so.  This is my first of many installments regarding our Aussie Holiday.

Stay tuned...
~ T.

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Barnetts: Thank You, Educators. Thank You.

I just saw an old photo that a classmate from my elementary school posted on Facebook.  (This is why, to me Facebook is relevant and enjoyable: I would never have a photo remembrance of one of my favorite teachers and grade school principle, were it not for Facebook.)

It shows a young student (Scott Bradshaw) receiving an award from Mr. Barnett:


Mr. Barnett!  I did love and respect that man.  He was my 6th Grade teacher, but also my Jefferson Grade School principal.  He was awesome.  He was either Cherokee or Choctaw.  He blended/mainstreamed some of his Indian heritage into our everyday lessons.  Our classroom included many native American Indian students, and he made a very conscious point to draw them out in conversations regarding their homes, their heritage, and their thoughts on...anything!

His wife, Mrs. Barnett, was my high school counselor.  She was so welcoming.  Too, she was instrumental in my receiving a college scholarship to Oklahoma State University.  And for that, I am ever so grateful, as, too, I am sure my parents were.  After all, I was #5 in the Webster OSU tuition line.

This is just a very, very happy remembrance from my childhood.  Mr. & Mrs. Barnett played a key role in it.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

A Time Portal: USPC and Beyond: Annie O

Yesterday I took our dog to the vet's.  I do love a trip to our vet.  She is a young, small- and large- animal vet whom I have known since she was an undergrad at K-State.  She was in Pony Club with our kids back in the day.  She got a vet diploma, got married, has three gorgeous kids, and now she is our vet.  Our vet for dinky little kittens to right up to those 1500-lb horses.  She shares a lot of my animal-ownership opinions (some of which are more farm-mentality and less "save-this-creature-at-all-cost").

Our vet has a title: Dr.

I don't call her Dr. *** unless other people are within earshot.  I call her the shortened name we had for her back in Pony Club days, when there were too many "Annes" to discern which we were talking to or about.  Annie O is what I have in my phone's speed dial.  That Spouse o' Mine, and our kids, could all look in my phone and know who to call for any animal malady: Annie O.

This is sort about Annie O., but it is also about the cute pony that arrived in a trailer just as I pulled up with our dog.  This cute pony was a leopard Appaloosa, (Google it!), looked to be large pony-size, 13hh.  It had a companion horse in the trailer - I am not sure why.  This cute pony was under condition - failing to thrive.  Certainly not neglected - I eavesdropped on the vet/client conversation as he was unloading both horses from the trailer.  The owner happens to live a short ten miles from us - we are neighbors!

Our vet began asking all the requisite questions that one might hear from any vet, but also from anyone in USPC Pony Club and beyond.  I loved it - it was like being back at a Pony Club rally, and the horse managers were being drilled on the care of their mounts.

How old is the horse?
When were his teeth floated/rasped?
What is he fed?
Round bale or squares?
How many in herd?
Is he low on the pecking order?
Worming?

And it went on.  The first order of business was to look at the pony's teeth.  Bring in the equine dental specula...

At this point, my appointment with our dog was over: she is good to go to the boarding kennel next week.  (Sob!)

So I missed the last.  But what a fun window of time - here was my vet, a former USPC Pony Clubber, doing what she no doubt knows the best about.

I sure would take our horses to her.

Wait! We so did, back in that equine chapter of our lives.
















Monday, September 05, 2016

Summer Season is Now Closed.

This evening marked the closing of our outdoor swimming season.  The last, local pool closed its doors tonight at 8:00 pm.  The past many summer weeks, that Spouse o' Mine and I have retraced the miles back into town each evening, to enjoy our "twilight swim" alongside other lap swimmers in our little community.

Tonight that Spouse o' Mine opted for a community bike ride instead of the lap swim.  Power to him, because I was lollygagging in water during our high-80s temps, and he was working it maniacally in the 30 mph wind gusts.  

The pool was loaded with activity.  I love activity!  Upon arriving to the lap lanes, I spotted a friend whom I have not seen for three years - and there he was, back from Ecuador, back in my pool, swim cap and goggles on.  How in the world did I recognize him?  How did he recognize me, in my swimsuit, ponytail, and goggles?  Ha ha ha!  Anyway: What a fun chance meeting.  One never knows...right?

The pool was so busy with activity: lap swimmers, school kids, Ft. Riley soldiers and their kin...

I asked to share a lap lane with another woman.  Easy peasy.  I swam eight laps, and on my ninth, my hand struck out towards the end of the pool , and I struck a young girl's leg instead!  She was sitting on the edge of the pool.  I laughed and said, "I am so sorry!"  She laughed, and replied. "You swim like that?"  She motioned the freestyle which I had been doing.  I laughed and said "Yes!  How do you swim?"  And she hopped into my lap lane to show me.  (Her backstroke).  But!  Knowing the strict lifeguards, I said to her, "Let's duck under the rope and you show me there ."  ("There", being the "free-swim" area, not policed by lap-swimmer-lifeguards.)

She showed me her backstroke, and a few dives and handstands down to the 4' bottom, and then we were done!  I moved to swim back under the rope into my lap lane,. and I saw: SHOOT!  Another woman had usurped (in my opinion) my lane occupancy.

Seriously?!

So I spent the rest of my laps swimming inbetween casual swimmers, standers, and little kids.  Big kids.  Fort Riley soldiers.  You name it.

Finally, before even my 20 laps were done, I called it "Toast!" and climbed my ladder.  I toweled off, and sat for the remaining fifteen minutes of my hour.  And I loved it.  I loved watching the little kids. There is nothing better.  I loved watching the preteens maneuvering their social skills.

The best?

The very, very best was this:

Upon entering the pool this evening, I stood right behind two 70-something women.  I applauded them mentally.  As I sat after my abbreviated laps, I saw that one was swimming in a lap lane, probably not where she should have been - alongside two other more able-bodied swimmers.  She was swimming at a snail's pace.  One of the other women moved to a different lane, to free up that particular lane.  And so this elderly woman swam, slowly to be sure, but surely, AND she had a tremendous smile on her face.

I hope I weather to have that smile on my face in 20+ years, in a pool.

The other woman.  I lost her early on.  But after toweling off and sitting down, I chanced to see her down at the diving boards.  She sported a bikini.  The bikini look was ok.  She climbed up the high-dive, and when she got to the end of the board, she turned (backward), positioned her toes just so, and made several hand movements, back and forth, as if she were practicing Tai Chi. And then:

BOOM!!

This incredible 70-something woman executed the most amazing spring-board back dive that Manhattan City Park will ever witness.

It was AWESOME.  Even the lifeguards were smiling.

This 70-something woman toweled off, like they do in the Olympics, and then she stood in line for another dive.  This time, she faced forward, did some more arm and hand movements which looked like Tai Chi, and then:

She performed the most beautiful swan dive off  the spring board (high dive.) that I could ever imagine.

And you know what?  This woman repeated her dives four time (eight dives in all).

I want to applaud her.  I swam some silly laps at 56.  She is SWAN-DIVING at 70-something.

You lead us, diving lady.  See you next summer.


Thursday, September 01, 2016

What Do You Do?!

This week I offered to take a meal to a family down the road - neighbors who were going to be dealing with some health and traveling issues, all-in-all one of those weeks which we all wish we could press "fast-forward" and move past all the unpleasantness.  There were some dietary issues to be acknowledged in making this family meal, and I felt pretty good about my menu.

So this morning I hauled out the chicken I had slow-cooked yesterday and boned it, I made the noodles (with very little seasoning besides salt).  I made some fairly bland carrots (but carrots, in my opinion, are awesome on their own - who doesn't love 100% carrot juice?  Right?)  And then I made a spinach souffle.  And biscuits for the chicken and noodles.  And chocolate chip cookies, along with some chocolate chip cookie without chocolate chips, because who knows if chocolate is easily digestible or not?  My GI tract is honed in on my daily handful of chocolate chip, so I have no reference by which to assess the situation.

OK!  All was cooked.  I tasted this, that, and the other, and let me tell you:

The chicken and noodles had a big FAIL taste to them.  Oh, no!!  What?!  I carried two spoonfuls out to That Spouse o' Mine who was on the tractor mowing our ditches.  "Taste this."  "WHAT??!!"  (Diesel too loud.) "TASTE THIS!  JUST TASTE IT!!"  He tasted it.  No emotion.  "It tastes like boiled chicken."

Ew.  That's it?  "It tastes like boiled chicken."?

What does one do when a meal is a major fail, but one has promised it to arrive at 5:00 pm?  I had no idea what to do.  I didn't think it tasted ...tasty.  It didn't seem like comfort food to me.  It sure wouldn't be my choice of a "homecoming meal" after a trip to MD Anderson.

What to do, what to do...

Ugh.  I opened our fridge, grabbed our bottle of Thai Peanut Sauce and threw it into the food bag and out the door I flew.

When I arrived at the family's house, huz was on the phone and no one else was around.  I am comfortable enough with their kitchen, so I found a pen and tablet and scrawled, "Chicken & noodles: not so great.  Use peanut sauce."  I handed it to him, he smiled (still on phone), and I left.

What does one do?  We are not a community which has a Pizza Shuttle on every corner.  Or a deli.  We are miles and miles away from anything concerning food.  Unless you see the cows and chickens and sheep as potential.  Nope, I felt like I was stuck with a meal that tasted like "boiled chicken".

I may throw in the kitchen towel after this experience.  I have always had great confidence in my cooking.  But this was a major FAIL.

Ugh.    

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Follow up on : Last Week

I wrote back on July 6th that I had entered a mini/sprint triathlon.  As I had explained, the week that I saw the ad for the mini-triathlon had been cool and mild by Kansas summer standards.  I think that was the mental lapse for me: cool and mild.

Huh.

I signed up for the triathlon, and two days later, BAM!  Back we were to the triple-digit temperatures. I was distressed.  I hate sweating.  But, I did venture out most mornings of that fortnight and either ran or rode my bike some semblance of triathlon distances.  Oosh: the sweat.  I hate sweat trickles.

In the evenings, I enjoyed my swim training.  Ha ha ha!  I swam happy laps; side stroke, breast stroke, back stroke, and freestyle.  In that order.  Most evenings, I had my own happy lane. And every other swimmer was polite.  "May I?"  "Is it OK?"  "Can we?"  

I thought this was the way things were in the swim world. "Do you mind?"  "How about we share?" "Oh, pardon me."

In my two-week triathlon training, I also looked at YouTube for videos on "transitions" and "strokes" and blah blah blah.  I was so ying-yang mentally.  Part of me said, "You've got this!" and part of me said, "Seriously?  Just go have fun with it."

That latter mentality is what I chose to adhere to: Go have fun.  And so, the early morning of the triathlon, I drove an hour or so to the competition site, parked my car, and looked around, eyes wide open to a myriad of athletes.  Somehow I had gotten the mistaken impression (having entered this thing online) that there were so few participants that I was certain to be Okie-Dokie and not stand out like a total beginner in any of the transitions.

Ha ha ha!  Wrong.  There appeared to be some serious competitors in this morning's fun and games.  SERIOUS.  E.G., the woman whose bike I placed mine next to?  She had all her "stuff" lined (in a line!!) as to how she would transition from pool to bike to road run.  Yes, I do understand that this is how it is in the Big Time,but HEY!  This was supposed to be fun and games, and not the Olympic trials.

So, I shifted my shoes and helmet around a bit.  To show everyone that I knew how this thing was going down.  Yes sirree.

The start of this mini-sprint triathlon was in the local pool.  We were told that they would send each swimmer off every 20 seconds.  (We all had timers on our ankles).  No diving was allowed, and I mentally planned to jump straight down into the pool in order to kick off from the side.  Ha ha!  Well, adrenaline got the better of my mind, and when that man called "Go!", I jumped about twenty feet into the pool.  Ok, I exaggerate, but know that I jumped far away from the side of the pool so I had no place to kick from.  SHEESH.  Starting from a dead stop.

And then, I swam a few lengths of the pool, passing a few people.  And a few people passing me.  Everything seemed OK to me, not unlike my happy swim laps at home with my polite fellow swimmers, until SUDDENLY these two Saint Bernard-sized men overcame me in my lane, SPLASHING and WHACKING me as they passed me.

Oh.  OK.  That's competition, I told myself as I gasped for breath in the waves.

But then, you know what? I met those two giant Saint Bernards at the other end of the pool.  They were hanging there, catching their breaths.  And so I had to swim under the rope, pass them and get on with my swim.  But then!  Whoosh!!  Again, those two Orca Whales overcame me once again, and WHOOSH!  I had a few mouthfuls of water.  This was not pleasant, nor was it anything I had experienced in my happy laps in my happy evening swimming.  This went on for the last four laps of our swim.    

Transition to my cycling:  it went well.  Very well.  I can't say enough about it, except that i was fast for six miles.  I passed people!

And then: the running transition.

Oosh.

I was tired from the cycling, and so I piddled around in my transition (i.e., parking the bike, taking my cycling shoes off and putting on running shoes, drinking a fair amount...)

And then I went off.  It started as a run, then a walk, then a run, then a walk, and so on, for two DING-DONG miles in Kansas summer heat.

I was toast.  But you know what? So was the teenage girl with whom I was trading off and on during our last transition.  She and I were both encouraging each other, and that made my last few minutes much more pleasant.

So the result of my two weeks' training:
3rd in my age group (56-ish?)
31 out of 35 entrants.

I will take it, and I will eagerly take a new mini/sprint triathlon.

I likened it to recess for 50-year olds.  Seriously:  I had so much fun.    











    

 

Monday, August 29, 2016

More to Come

Back, way back, in my TWA flight attendant training, we were taught how to successfully evacuate 410 passengers out of a 747 by means of eight emergency exits, at approximately "one butt per second on those eight slides".  Granted, some of those butts would land on the tarmac below in a crumpled and injured, perhaps very injured heap.  But, they would be out of that plane.  One physical aid we were taught in order to encourage any balking passenger onto the evacuation slide was to grab them by the back of the neck, and tuck one's knee right under their hiney.  BOOM!  They'd be on the slide and halfway down before they could scream, "Jiminy Pete!".

I think today was one of those days.  Someone should have grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and tucked their proverbial knee under my mental well-being and WHACK!!  Someone should have told me to straighten up and fly right.  Maybe someone should have just...

Oh.  Never mind.  Someone did a kinder and gentler motion to get me back here to writing fine tripe and utter nonsense.  Thank you, Louise.  I am back on track.

More to come.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Biserka

We got our dog out of the Wichita dog pound, or whatever it was called.  Initially, I had seen a "for sale" ad for a dog, the breed for which I was looking.  We already had a Bouviers de Flandres dog, and I wanted our elderly pup to have a companion to keep him active.  I answered the ad, a few days after the 4th of July of that year, and the owner's reply was that she (the dog) had jumped the fence and fled during the fireworks in their community.  She was in the pound, and they, the owners, had elected to not collect her.

Would they collect her for me?  I would pay to spring her from the joint.

The owners agreed.  They paid her bail, I repaid them, and the dog "Holly" came home with me.  
Soon after, I renamed her Biserka.  Our dog is a nutcase.  She is timid, scared, yet can get totally out of control and attack the thin air in a millisecond.  I think it is poor care.  Abusive care.  Whatever, this dog is now and will be our responsibility till her dying day.

It's a love/Lord-have-mercy relationship, for all of our family - that Spouse o' Mine can barely get her to come to him, and he can RARELY approach her without her cowering.  So, so sad.

This week she was cowering upstairs during a particularly bad thnderstorm.  Later, I chanced to find that she had chewed up one of my favorite paperback short-reads (I Don't Know How She Does It).  Just yesterday morning, another bad storm (our world was green in atmosphere), and poor Biserka was flat-out spread eagle on the study floor.  I sat down beside her (pondering how I might cajole her into the basement if need be for a tornado?) and she refused to acknowledge my presence, at all.  Poor pup.

Tonight I was up in my art room, and upon reading about Nice, France's horrific news, I began crying.  Silently, but the tears were flowing.

I heard pawprints downstairs.  ( Biserka is an outdoor dog who gets to live indoors in hot summer and freezing winter.)  I heard her climb the stairs, and then she came and lay her head in my lap.  Nothing else.  Just looking up at me.

This is so out of character for our little nutcase.

Maybe she knows more than she reveals.

*****************************************************
Here it is, the following morning's edit:

Last night, I went downstairs from the art room.  I went into the living room to read a bit.  But, Biserka had managed, (quite out of character, I might add,) to shred the first few chapters of this week's project:

War and Peace


Thursday, July 07, 2016

July, almost mid-. Saints be praised.

A fun friend and I met for lunch this week, after which, she suggested that we hit the local arts place for their annual watercolor exhibit.  I am so happy she did; the paintings were just what I needed to spur me into another interest here in my summertime ennui.

The next morning I went out to run the requisite two miles (for that triathlon thing next week!), and the clouds were gorgeous at 6:00 am.  Yes, there was some lightning going on, and I left with the instructions to that Spouse o' Mine that he should come fetch me in the car if the lightning seemed near enough to whack me.  (Happily, the storm cell moved onwards and eastern.)  When I got back to the house, I took my camera and a car, and ventured out for photos of fun things that I might like to use as inspiration for some watercolor.  I have not done much in this medium, and I have no instruction.  But... here I go!

Last night that Spouse o' Mine and I ate lamb masala and some spinach paneer and some cool, cool cantelope.  Tonight sees us having cod with coconut chutney and curried beetroots.  (You can tell that I shopped at my Asian Mart this week, yes?)  The beets and kale come from my special Darwinian Garden, which is indeed doing the Darwinian thing of late,  (I am mowing weeds now, but that's OK), because the beets, kale, and collards are all standing tall and that's all I ask of them.

And that's all I have, this July summer evening. Ugh.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Last Week

Last week, final June and beginning July, our rural Kansas weather was really quite nice, given that it's summertime.  It rained ~ 3" (Sheesh.  I have always hated when folks talk about rain gauges, and here I am, doing it.)  The mornings were cool, and the days were overcast, with spits and spots of precipitation hither and thither.

Last Friday was a pretty great summertime day in my books.  I was happy. (There are lots of summertime days when I am burrowed under, in a summertime ennui, and I can't seem to surface, physically or mentally.)  But I was a happy camper last Friday.    

So much so, that when I read online about a mini-triathlon being held in two weeks...

I was in my happy place: a cool, overcast day with no wind or dust.  Initially, I called that Spouse o' Mine and told him about the mini-triathlon.  Did he want to enter with me?  No?

But he encouraged me on, and so I mulled over the prospect the rest of the morning and into the afternoon.  Visions of grandeur frolicked in the cool, overcast day.  There might have even been Rocky music playing.

Yes, I did.

I signed up for it.

I have been swimming laps at the university natatorium (read: swimming pool) for nearly ten weeks now.  I can ride a bike.  My running is pretty sketchy, especially in temps and humidity which make that trickle of sweat head south - oosh!  My skin crawls.

And so here I am, two weeks before a 200-yard swim, 6-mile cycling, and 2-mile run.

I can do all the three independently.  Yesterday as I climbed out of the pool, having timed myself TWICE on a 200-yard swim, I asked myself, "How do you feel?  Feel like a really fast 6-mile bike ride?"

The answer was "ungh...I don't think so..."  

A couple of days ago I practiced some cycling sprint intervals and eight miles of riding, after which I asked myself, "Are you capable of putting on running shoes and going down the pike two miles?"

The answer was, "Well.  Heck.  Maybe a walk/run???"

And so it goes, this first week of mini-triathlon training.  I looked online for some training tips, and what I found were training regimens for twelve weeks out.  Surely they were for real triathlons?  If not, then I am in for a big surprise/disappointment, come race day.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Church

I have pretty much always been a church person.  You are asking, "Why doesn't she say 'Christian'"? Two different things, in my mind.  I am a Christian, and I am a church person.  It seems like I have always been both.  But, my being a church person means that I thrived on my childhood of Sunday School, Bible Schools, confirmation, church choirs, of knowing generations of church members as I grew up.  

In college, I sang in a church choir in a Lutheran congregation just off campus.  I was drafted into the choir because my brother attained the job of choir director while he was studying Music Education.  He beckoned all his four siblings to help out as they might.  We did.  In doing so, I became a member of that congregation.  Not in the official sense, but in that I became acquainted with folks who would hold my hand throughout the next couple of decades of my life.  How in the world does that work?

After college, (the short story), I got married, and moved to Cairo.  Egypt.  We newlyweds attended a tiny Lutheran church during the twelve months we were there.  Our service was in the late afternoon.  As we walked into our Sunday service, it was comforting to know that my parents, in Pryor Creek, Oklahoma, were entering their sanctuary at the very same time - at their 10:45 am service.  This somehow helped my deep chasm of homesickness.

Upon our return to US soil, we chanced to become members of several Lutheran congregations, and at one point, ended up in the church of my collegiate years: Salem Lutheran.  I still remember our first Sunday at church.  We were greeted by old friends, and we were immediately welcomed back into the congregation - this time, married, with children.  We flourished.

Today, Sunday, found that Spouse o' Mine and me in our church of the past fourteen years (nearly fifteen!).  This morning when we passed the peace, I greeted the elderly man in front of us - a wonderful, joyful retired professor who is notorious in our community for his continued running.  In addition to his daily runs, on his birthday he runs a lap for each year of life at the university's indoor track, accompanied by many, many local runners.  Passing the peace with a friend from my Lydia Circle, and then another woman whom I admire.  At communion, the usher was a cycling friend of mine - she rides probably 3x what I do.  And she always has a smile.  Our friends, who just celebrated the birth of their first grandchild, had friends and family in from all over, to witness his baptism.  So sweet.  After church, we visited with some acquaintances whose son is our kids' age.  He is now a pilot who flies long-haul to Europe.

And this is what I mean by church.  I have a foundation of friends and church members.  Even if I am not well-acquainted with any of them, I still feel like I can comfortably make contact with them for any reason at all.  This is a community to which I can turn and comfortably find what I am looking for.

I would guess that I could call or email any of my former churches, right down to my childhood church in Pryor Creek, Oklahoma, and someone would be on the other end, saying, "Welcome.  You are one of us."

And that, to me, is why church is important.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Follow a Negative with a Positive?

I was going to start this post out with the word Ugh, but thought better.

Who wants to read anything that starts out negative?

So!  I gave you two sentences, and now here comes the negative.

This week?  Ugh.  Summer.  Sheesh.  I hate sweat, I hate that trickle wherever it starts and wherever it is I can swoop in get it to stop.

I have become neurotic about Paul's kitten Julia (well, she's now about a year old), climbing into one of our cars and dying a pathetic, 120+* death.  So I am constantly on the lookout for her.  She, on the other hand, is prowling for anything that moves, and this is sort of a good thing.  Moles, you know.  The barn swallows have her number, and I think she has acquiesced on that note.

Neither Julia nor Sister Monica Joan (my pound cat) have much interest in entering our abode in this heat wave.  They have cat food and water, and they stare at me, unmoving, as I hold the door open for them, asking, "Do you want to go inside?"  Allthewhile, the AC is heading OUTSIDE.   Our dog, B., on the other hand, lies in wait for those six words.  She knows them!  And she knows where she is allowed in the house.  She is so gigantic (85+ lbs),  I had to make a few perimeters, lest I trip over a dog and end up in the emergency room.

The bugs are ugly this summer.  UGLY!  The gnats are on high alert.  Too, I hate the fact that, even though my child-bearing years are past, I am still arising at dawn and applying mosquito repellent even as I sip my morning coffee out of my dainty teacup, (which will follow me out the door as I tend to things outdoorsy).  And the tick population?!  Don't start the conversation.

I have been earnest in getting out and doing things during this, my least favorite time of the year.  If I do not hop on a bike, I have been walk/running a 5K before the sun fully rises and before those insidious flies (bot flies?!) attempt to cling onto my sweaty (ICK!!!) face.  I try to ride my bike in the way early mornings, and I diligently swing by the university's pool (the Natatorium.  Like our Viaduct: Rural Kansas likes Latin proper nouns, apparently.)  right after lunch.

I wear a hat that says "Go Outdoors."

I do.

I am trying.

TRYING.

Trying to cope with summer.

Ugh.

Next week:

Estes park and Breckenridge, Colorado.

Saints be praised.



Tuesday, June 07, 2016

My Life, My Epitaph

I am 56 years old.  I am sort of an active person.  I like to walk.  Run.  Hike.  Bike.  Swim.  Play tennis.  Play chess!

In so many of the aforementioned, I come in last.  I lose, or am dead last, or somewhere slowly bringing up the rear.  I rarely win at chess or tennis.  I haven't won a running race since high school. My one crit (cycling), I was SOooo dead last.

But: I DID IT!

I still like to do all these activities.  Coming in behind the pelaton or pack or missing that volley? Hey, it really does not bother me.  Not one whit.  I wonder if it used to, back a few decades.  I don't think so.  I still remember running my first 5K, at age 31.  I was having a ball being part of the throng of runners, and it did not bother me when I had to stop and walk.

Last weekend that Spouse o' Mine and I spent time in the Colorado Rockies.  We invited friends to join us up a short hike of Hoosier Pass.  Once we got going, I found myself pacing about fifty yards behind the other hikers.  Altitude!  Deep snow!  Where were my snowshoes?

But I had fun, even though I did not make it as far up as the rest of the gang.

The following morning it was just that Spouse o' Mine and me, hiking up Loveland Pass.  This time we needed crampons for melted snow=ice, not snowshoes.  But, we had not brought those, either.  So we ventured forth as best we could.  Again, I was bringing up the rear by a significant margin.  Still, I got pretty darn high, and was pleased with my effort.  Heck, I did not slide down the icy side of the Continental Divide, screaming and raising a ruckus and pleading for someone to call 911 and a helicopter.  So: all-in-all, I had a good hike.  Albeit slow.

As the two of us were hiking, I remarked that I am always last in all my ventures.  We had a chuckle.  And then we came up with my epitaph.

"Always Last.  But Always in the Game".

I'll take it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

June! June 1st!

"June's poppin' out all over..."

I love that song.  You shall have to YouTube it.            

I love it because my sweet older sister taught it to her class each year - either K, 1st grade, or 3rd grade, even a 5th grade, I think.  They all learned that song, and a multitude of others.

I sing a lot.  I sing in the house, and I REALLY sing outdoors.  I belt it out, especially going down the road a piece.  I assume no one can hear me.  Sometimes it's show tunes, or musical pieces.  Sometimes, it's Latin prayer things. "Te...ergo que...sumus...."  "I'm just a girl who cain't say no..."  "Zippadeedoodah, Zippadeeay..."

But: back to June.  It is indeed popping out all over.  Normally in rural Kansas, June means triple-digit hot and all our garden hopes hinge on watering schedules or cactus landscapes.  This spring has been fairly mild, but for the tornadoes, and even they have been...not awful so far???

Exciting, fun, sweet news:  Last Wednesday eve, I had already headed in to the bedroom and was nearly planting my head on the pillow, when the phone rang.

Oosh.  A phonecall at 10:30 pm means bad news.

BAD news.

And yet, I could hear that Spouse o' Mine, not in words, but his tone was uplifting.  And then, as he approached our bedroom, I heard him say, "Here!  Talk to Mom!"  And he thrust the phone into my sleepy hand.  But...sleepy, no longer:

"Hi, Mom!  I'm engaged!"

Oh!

So sweet.

So, so sweet a conversation.  It brought tears to my eyes then, and does now, as well.

My baby.  She has no idea how this affects me.

My baby.

Here she is, calling that Spouse o' Mine and me, late that night:


 I love this photo.  It shows her happiness, talking to us, her parents.  It is not one of those posed engagement photos.  Clearly the photographer, her fiance, experienced and embraced her engagement joy.

As do we.

June's poppin out all over...

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Good Day

What a great day.  Saturday, day of fun and games.  That Spouse o'  Mine left really early for a morning bike ride (7:15 am??), and I headed out the door myself forty-five minutes later.  Lots to do on a terrific, not hot, and not too altogether windy day.  (In rural Kansas, this type of day is graded A++)

Today, I:

Planted a boatload of lavender. (I have one more day and I will be DONE this spring!)
Planted twelve echinacea plants in the cutting garden. Perennial.
Planted twelve coreopsis plants in the cutting garden.  Perennial.
Weeded everywhere I walked.  I learned this from a lavender grower I visited a couple of years ago: we walked and talked and he weeded every step of the way.
Made up two strawberry pots full of snapdragons and petunias, for the Grotto.  No banana trees this year: I am going annuals and a few perennials.
I tore out almost all of the sedum in our front bed.  I toted it (by lawn tractor) down to the creek bed, and tossed it into an erosion site.  The lawn tractor then died on me (as it did two days ago), and so I left it and walked back to the house.  Miraculously, a few hours later, it was back in the barn.  Huh.

There is some backstory to this: two days ago, I filled the thing with gas, and proceeded out to the pasture to mow trails for that evening's Kite Flying  and Happy Hour with my fellow lady friends of rural Kansas.  The mower died after about 300 yards.  (Three football fields).  I left it out there.  The next evening, that Spouse o' Mine ascertained that I had filled it not with gasoline, but with diesel.  Hence, the inactivity.  But, my disclaimer is this:  someone neglected to label the red gasoline container as "DIESEL".  We somehow have acquired a million red gasoline containers in our fourteen years here in rural Kansas.  But we have never had a need for any diesel and so it never entered my mind that I should question, "I wonder if there be diesel in this red gas container??"  But that Spouse o' Mine bought a legitimate, if small, tractor earlier this spring, and lo and behold, it runs on diesel.

Well.  We both learned a valuable lesson this week.

OK, back to my glorious Saturday: I spent nearly all but one hour of this day outdoors.  I enjoyed the blooming peonies, irises, salvia, the baby bluebirds, the orioles which are indeed stopping and eating the cherry jam I set out for them.  We have hummingbirds just sitting around, surveying the space.  And I loved our silly cat Sister Monica Joan who thought the tippy-top of our roof was THE PLACE to be this afternoon.

Sister Monica Joan (named for a nun in Call the Midwife) is a black-and-white kitty I got from the animal shelter last summer.  I went there planning to spring the kitty who had been in there the longest.  It was a win-win-WIN!  Sister Monica Joan had been in there for three months, PLUS she is black and white.  My thinking, here in rural Kansas, is that not many wild predators (read: fox, coyote) go after black-and-white animals (read: most usually skunks?)  Our vet thinks I am hilarious.  And the other win?  Sister Monica Joan is the sweetest little kitty one could ever imagine.

One of our neighbors (he lives seven miles away) stopped by this afternoon to drop off some wonderful lettuce from his garden.  I, in turn, sent him home with four squash plants - all four different heirloom Italian winter squash plants.

I went out to my Darwinian garden, and ZOUNDS! The sweet peas I planted too many weeks ago are now up.  I think I just checked on them a few days ago and decided they were a loss, but, no!  Yippee for fun garden victories.

And so now I am showered and pondering dinner.  I mentioned to that Spouse o' Mine that I can't Pass the Peace with anyone at church tomorrow because my hands are AWFUL.  They are like sandpaper, even though I wore gloves all day.

* sigh*

I suppose that in the great scheme of things and days, mine was pretty wonderful.  I hope you had a nice day, too.

A turtle kite:








Monday, May 09, 2016

My Birthday Celebration!


I celebrated a birthday today.  Not MY birth, but one of several birth days I celebrate each year.  
This day is all about her:  
Claire Hilary.


















Sunday, May 08, 2016

May 8th. Mother's Day and more...

This weekend for me started on Friday, bright and early. I had many lavender propagations to get into the ground before A) the rain came , and B) before I headed south to Oklahoma, Pryor Creek, exactly, to celebrate mother's Day with my Mom and Dad.

I got up early, with the sunrise, and I made myself a thermos of coffee.  Then I beckoned one dog and three cats to follow me out to the lavender.  Although, I simplify their animal vocabulary by calling anything out of the range of our yard, "Pasture!"

"PASTURE!"

She had been awaiting her call:


She was distraught about being up there doing who-knows-what, and she mewed and mewed up on the rooftop the entire time I was planting lavender:


Hands-and-knees, I crawled along the rows, trying to get those plants in before my planned 2:00 pm departure time, to drive to Pryor Creek.  I did have 20 minutes to spare (kid you not!), and I lay down on the sofa with the kitchen timer on, in case I lapsed into a coma nap.

I did not!  I got up, and drove five hours down to Mom & Dad's house.

Happy mother's Day!  (Early)

At my Mom and Dad's we had fun family stop in all along the afternoon hours.  I think we three (Mom,Dad, and I) all tried to sneak in a catnap between visitors, but all for naught, and that was OK, for sure!

It was a great time, for all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Year Ago

A year ago, that Spouse o' Mine told me that he was planning to go to an agricultural meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.  Did I want to come along?

Well, hell yeah, I wanted to come along.  I made plans.  I budgeted for my air fare.  I studied Turkey, world history, and more importantly, Istanbul.

Then , through the past year, the Syrian war and ISIS and other programs have caused a whole lot of turmoil in Turkey - mainly in the southern border.  (Google it, PLEASE?)  

Because of this, about eight weeks before our trip, I opted out of my dream trip with that Spouse o' Mine.  Too much unknown?  He would be in meetings, and I, who loves to explore on my lonesome, would perhaps be in the perilous parts of Istanbul.

And then, only three weeks before our departure, there was a suicide bomber in a "tourist market" area of Istanbul, which killed a lot of people.

That Spouse o' Mine is in Istanbul as I type, for almost one more week.  He calls me each day.  I have admonished him NOT to go to any "tourist" market or other.  Go to meetings and then back to the hotel.  (I don't think he is following my directives, but at least he is not telling me such.)

And that is my April, 2016.

Almost a Month Later!

It's not been writer's cramp.  It's been...just...life.

I read a blog today which made me sad.  A cyber-friend accidentally hit a cyclist who ran a red light.  Her fault.  Not his fault.  Her fault.  This made me sad.

One of the comments to this blog post gave the opinion "...cyclists seem to believe themselves to be above traffic laws, maybe because they are saving the environment, after all. Good lesson/reminder that they are not above physics laws, but sorry ***  had to be the teacher."

We have bulls out in our neighbors' ranch, and they excrete lots of manure.  This person's comment was perhaps to allay my cyber-friend's emotions, post-accident.  But reading her comment had the same effect on me that our eau de neighbors' bulls on a southwind day does: BULLSHIT

 A) A "good lesson reminder" ??!!!  Does this person comment on all sad incidences this way?  What a tool.

B)  Again, "... believe themselves to be above traffic laws"...does this person comment on other traffic accidents, injury or death-related, with such judgmental vitriol?  

 To lump a population of cyclists together and give them a bad name is not at all right.  

I am a cyclist.  So is that Spouse o' Mine.  As are our adult son, two adult daughters, and our son-in-law.  We use vehicles just as everyone uses vehicles.  Some of ours have two wheels (bicycles).  Some of our vehicles have four wheels. (Automobiles.)  We pay taxes for the usage of roads, whether or not a day calls for a car or a bicycle.  We follow the rules.  We all wear helmets!  We have lights on our bikes!  We wear bright colors!  Most of our cyclist friends follow the rules, the laws.  If we see a cyclist NOT following the rules and laws, we all are vocal to them: we call them out.  

I witnessed a cyclist getting hit by a car, right in front of our house.  He was not injured.  (Although pretty sore the following days.)  It was not his error, it was the automobile driver's error.  Her car sustained some dents and a cracked windshield, where he, our college-student acquaintance hit first her hood and then her windshield.     

Two years ago we, that Spouse o' Mine and I, went to the funeral of a cyclist friend of ours.  He had been hit from behind by an automobile driver who was typing on his GPS while driving.  That driver had so many feet, SO MANY INCHES, to be away from our friend Mark.  And yet, he was typing away while driving, and he hit Mark.  Mark was killed instantly.  We had only ridden our bikes with Mark a few days earlier.  

We all carry opinions about drivers, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, motorcycles, and such.  Unless you are Gandolf the Genius or have all the wisdom in the world,  KEEP YOUR INSIDIOUS, UNCARING WORDS  TO YOURSELF. 

And that's all I have to say today.  Oh - except for this: Tom, I am very sorry for your accident.  VERY SORRY.  I know it must have been horrible.   
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