Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Happy 71st Birthday, Dan!

It wasn’t a big celebration—but lots of laughs and plenty of food.

I wanted to fix something that Dan would like.  He mentioned fried chicken.  I think someone else can fix that better.  So, we settled on Frogmore Stew.

An important part of Frogmore Stew is corn on the cob.  We were lucky to find good quality at Dillon’s.  The shrimp were frozen, but where we live, that is what to expect. 

Here we are after the dinner and getting read to blow candles on the cake.


We’ve celebrated 49 birthdays and today was the first time I gave Dan flowers—although half of them were from the pasture.

If you look closely, at the bottom of the picture is a hole in the table.  We have a leaf for the table with a hole especially for serving Frogmore Stew.  Traditionally shrimp shells and corn cobs are dropped through the hole into a trash can. 

Christi had another idea….


The cake was funny—study it a while.   Thank you Heath & Connie.


He was pleased to get calls from the kids and he actually answered a text from Carly.  Maybe he will get techie in his elder years! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cicada and Tree Frog gathering

I am documenting the Cicadas to acknowledge this is their big 17th year.  The volume of their sing song mating call is deafening if near a particularly loaded tree.  The other day when I was mowing, they didn’t like the competing sound so they swarmed all over me.  They don’t bite, but those little gripping feet feel like it.

Speaking of gripping feet—the tree frogs on our kitchen window are amazing.  I count eight in this picture, but there were actually ten right before I took the picture. 


For a while each evening, we leave the light on in the kitchen which draws bugs on the outside of the window.  The tree frogs then go to work.  If you look closely, there is a  hummingbird feeder hanging from the eave.  The frogs regularly jump back and forth from the feeder to the window.  Today we saw a little tiny one make the leap.  Last week I washed the window on the outside and within a day it was a mess again.  The little buggers are too much fun to watch so I will not worry about a dirty window.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Four out of Five Isn’t Bad

A recent article listed five outstanding wine regions outside of Napa Valley.  Dan and I have visited four of the five.  Obviously, we think wine trails are fun.

Hermann Wine Trail – I have lost track how many times we have visited this region.  This might be my favorite picture of a spring visit several years ago.


Shawnee Wine Trail – We’ve visited this southern Illinois region several times.  We  enjoy their fruit wine. And, it is especially beautiful in the fall. They may have improved the signage in recent years, but early on this is why it was difficult to find the actual wineries.


Finger Lakes region of New York – This was a beautiful area, but we visited at a time when we were up against a deadline of a birthday celebration in southern Indiana and getting back to work.  So, we did not do it justice.  We stopped at one winery.  This is the only picture I took.  There is a glimpse of one of the finger lakes in the background.


Texas Hill Country – Loved this area in the spring when the Blue Bonnets were blooming.  Would go back in a minute.  We were there looking at the flowers and only visited one winery.  There is a wine trail that looks interesting.  I think we need to get a group and sign up next spring!  Want to come?



Another notable wine trail would be Colorado’s Grand Junction area.  I don’t know if there are enough for a “trail,” but we enjoyed our visit to a winery in Nebraska.  And, what about our trail right here in Kansas?  We think the wine is good and it’s close enough to visit in an evening.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Wildflower Walkabout

I wish we would have kept better track of rainfall this spring.  The total amount has to approach ten inches—maybe more.  Both the brome and prairie hay look lush.  Right now so do the wildflowers.  So, we decided to do a little wildflower tour.

First, just a hundred feet from our house is a big patch of common Sullivant milkweed.  Anytime we drive by, it is humming with activity.  It’s a wonder there aren’t butterflies and bumble bees in this picture as well.  They are all around.


Further up the driveway we have one of my favorites—Black Eye Susan


These are all over the pasture—Fleabane Daisy


The most beautiful of all—Butterfly Milkweed



There is always one mystery.  I think we’ve taken a stab at what it is in the past.  I thought maybe Dewberries, but doesn’t match the online photo.  Help!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Symphony in the Flint Hills 2015



Today I laid out our  t-shirts and confirmed that we have volunteered seven years at the Symphony.  Each year it continues to inspire us in its beauty and in many ways simplicity.

The Symphony celebrated ten years this year.  Originally, it was the inspiration of just a few.  Two especially, who saw a vision of what the annual concert could be—a gathering of people who enjoy good music to introduce them to the beauty of the Flint Hills.

This year, in celebration of the ten years, it was held at the Z Bar Ranch or Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve, site of the first gathering.  Our volunteer time started at 10:00 am so we were on the road by 8:00.  At that time, the weather was a bit up in the air, but the day turned beautiful. 

We opted for a different seating choice this year—near the edge where we could listen to the music while enjoying the beautiful hills. 



We completed our volunteer duties to hear several educational presentations.  We were especially interested in the reintroduction of  Prairie Chickens onto the Prairie.  The history of the bison herd was surprisingly interesting as well.

Lyle Lovett was a guest of the Symphony.  We were buzzing around the seating area when he and his band showed up on stage for a sound check.  They ended up playing for at least 30 minutes.  What a surprise treat.


Once the concert started, all eyes were on stage.  Ours, however, were on this beautiful spot.



And, finally this


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Crawdad, Crayfish or Crawfish

In New Orleans it was mostly Crawfish—maybe Crayfish in fancy restaurants.

In Kansas, this is a good ole CrawdadIMG_2481We should have put something beside it for comparison.   I am sure I’ve never seen one this big here before.  This big daddy came from Shawnee County but went down to the new pond to live another day.

Monday, June 08, 2015

A Different Kind of Colorado

Couchsurfing.  That is sleeping on different couches while traveling .  Definitely for the adventurous.

Doug, Drue, Trent and Carly did more than give up their couch—they “rented” their entire home to a family for a week.  The occasion was the Air Force Academy graduation just down the way.  This was their first time and, according to them, their last.  It is a lot of work getting ready, not to mention the week in their camper.

Enter Nana and Papa.  Since this really wasn’t a vacation, we drove the PW out to stay with the grandkids during the day while Doug & Drue worked. 

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park and Campground at Larkspur, just north of Monument is  a “destination” campground.  We arrived on Tuesday morning, checked out Saturday morning and only left twice and that was to eat at Larkspur Pizzaria and Café.  (Highly recommend that café—especially the imported from Minnesota Walleye on Friday nights)

First thing each morning, we traveled to the Ranger Station in our golf cart (resisted but caved to pleas to rent when we also grew very tired climbing the hill to our camp space on top) to pick up a daily list of activities.

It took us three days to find all the “special Jellystone geocaches” with three real GPS units.  One was near here, Trent & Carly climbed, we didn’t.


The camp was located in the foothills, but still scenic.


Behind Carly is the Frisbee Golf Course.  Here they are mowing that area.   Actually in this picture they were grazing the railroad right of way!!  Most of the time they were up on the course.  They had a herder with a crook herding stick.  Although most of the time he was traveling around in his golf cart.


We shot off air rockets that went surprisingly high.


Selfies, pictures with Yogi and around the campfire (think Trent should have been in the bathroom in that one).





No picture of the heated swimming pool, but the jumping bubble was very cool—which will be added in the morning because it’s taking too long to upload.  OK—here it is!

Oh, the kids would not like me to miss these special friends…



Lots of fun here at Jellystone.  It’s not cheap, but worth having all the activities to keep the kids and us busy.  Thanks for the good time Kevin, Emily and Ryan!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In Memory

We made our annual trip to the cemeteries today to visit our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles grave sites.  While it can be a time of sad reflection, we enjoy the yearly visit.   Our families are mostly buried at country church cemeteries only a mile apart in the community where we grew up. 

I have resorted to artificial flowers, the brighter the better.  We should try to get peonies started.  I don’t know of any other perennial flowers  that bloom at exactly the right time.  The rain was hard on the peonies this year.  They were blooming but often bent over often laying on the ground.

This year we visited the Alida Cemetery.  The town of Alida is under Milford Lake, but the cemetery was wisely placed on a hill outside of town.  It is in this cemetery that Dan’s great grandfather John is buried.  Dan and I have a common background in that both our families immigrated from Switzerland.IMG_2408 Here is another of Dan’s relatives with an impressive military background. 


The military service markers were not placed in the two bigger cemeteries, but these were in the much smaller Alida cemetery.  They were a bit askew so it would seem they aren’t removed from year to year.   I would like to get pictures of all the different wars.IMG_2413IMG_2407IMG_2417

I need to study more about these markers because it doesn’t appear each war has its own design at least with these markers.  Although, we did spot two marking  veterans of the Spanish American war and WWII several years ago. 

On our way home, we decided to drive through Fort Riley to the Ogden pawn shop we like to check on once in a while.  That did not happen.  The Post is secure—the two guards made that clear at the check point by what they said and by what one of them had in his hand.  Although, I will say they were polite.

Next year we will visit the Junction City cemetery and find my Mom’s parents. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Garden is In

I suppose most would say, “The garden is planted.”  Dan and I must have grew up saying this phrase.  I am sure this is how we would ask about anything planted, “Is the wheat in?” “Do you have your corn in?”  Then, we would ask, “Do you have your wheat  out?” Meaning, have you harvested.

Back to the garden. 


This definitely is not a great looking garden.  However, ignoring the weeds, the beans, onions and potatoes are progressing nicely.  Since this picture was taken, we have developed a deer problem again.  They love the green beans and have nipped the tops off each plant.  Dan has posts and wire ready to install an electric fence as soon as it dries up.  If we don’t get it installed soon, we will once again hardly have a crop of green beans.

As for the weeds.  I thought it was such a wonderful idea to plow the garden this year.  As I expected, it did make for a mellow seed bed.  What I didn’t expect is breaking all those bindweed roots cause the weed to multiply.  Dan has tilled several times, but the rainy weather has kept us out of the garden recently and it looks worse than this now.  As soon as it dries up enough, we will till again and probably resort to the old fashioned way of bending over and pulling—I’ll be doing that with the electric fencer off.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tree Trimming

It has been an ongoing project to work on trees around here.   We have large Australian pines to the north of our house.  They started as a wind break, but not sure how much wind they block anymore.  I think I’ve said this before but I feel like I’m in the mountains as the wind whistles through those big trees.

Since we were working on trees anyway, Dan decided to chainsaw the limbs that were too low to safely mow under.

Later, I was contemplating loading the limbs on a trailer when I saw a dove scamper off.  On closer inspection, there was a nest, still on the limb, but laying on the ground.  And, it had two little doves in it.   I gently covered it with another limb and waited for Dan to get home.  I knew he would have an idea.  I hoped it wouldn’t involve bringing the baby doves in the house!

What we did do was to cut the limb on each side of the nest and used baling twine to tie it back up onto a limb higher in the tree. 

Sure enough, we went back out to check later and there was the dove sitting on the nest with her babies safely underneath.  She didn’t like the camera pointed at her so she flew off, but here is the nest. 


This was about three weeks ago.  We are fairly sure we have seen the little babies tentatively flying around recently.  All is well that ends well!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I Am Fine! Although a little soggy

I received a call today  wondering if everything was ok with us, specifically me since I hadn’t posted to my blog in a long time.

I appreciate the call, Ron and Jean.  It made me realize  I need to get back in the habit.   I have missed writing here. 

I’ll start, as I always do when I’ve been away for a while, with the most recent news.  Tonight that would be the four and a half inches of rain we have received in the past three days.  Last night it came down in buckets—over three inches.  

Our new pond ran over—literally.  There is a pipe to help keep the water flowing through during a heavy rain.  However, it could not handle so much so fast.  When it rains so much the pipe can’t handle it, there is usually a overflow on the upper part of the pond where water will exit away from the dam area.  Our overflow is too high and the water went over the dam.

This picture is the pond this morning.


Here is how close it came to washing out at least part of the dam.


Definitely something that will need attention.

This is a picture of the older pond taken from what our kids called, “The Pit.” 


Finally, the Wakarusa River.  Thankfully, I don’t believe there was much flooding into fields.  Mostly, the rain was welcome to fill up ponds and give a good saturation for the crops.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sibling Day

It’s been fun seeing the pictures of siblings today on Facebook.  So, I thought I would put a couple pictures of siblings.

  Mom & Oscar 2

  I love this one of my Mom and her brother Uncle Oscar.  This picture is cool in so many ways.


My Dad is on the right.  His parents are in the middle.  Some of the other pictures taken at the same time have Wayne as a baby so this might have been taken right before Uncle Bill left for WWII.


Dan’s mother, Esther second from left, then sister and brother 4th and 5th from left.  I don’t have a picture of Dan’s dad and his sister.

Linda Wash Tub 1947

First Day of School 1952

You’ve got to love the first day of school—in case you don’t remember, one room, one teacher—all eight grades!  Wayne and I are ready.

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Dan (third from left) and his brothers at Christmas.


Kim & Doug are all dressed up because it was Paul & Janice’s wedding.  And, their anniversary is Monday. From the age of the kids, I think it will be their 42nd anniversary.



As for our grandchildren siblings—There is no way I can decide on which pictures to include and because it is getting late and there are so many.  Here is the most recent complete family picture.  It is one of my favorite entire family pictures—but then I love them all.

There you go, sibling day to the extreme!