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?

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.


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:


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.


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