Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Dan's Hummingbirds



Yes, these have to be considered Dan's Hummingbirds.  His daily chore all summer has been to refill at least one of our two feeders. (Yes, they empty a feeder a day)  All of us who sit at our dinningroom table watching the antics of these interesting little birds appreciate his diligence.

We started with four hummers this spring.  As close as we can tell, we are up to ten or eleven.  It's hard to count them with all the darting in and out.  Most of the day, they go from the clothesline to the feeder and back.  Sometimes they fly around the front of the house where there are flowers.  The Cannas are blooming and I see them flying over to those bright red flowers as well.

The other night, one of the feeders was empty.  I stood up near the window and one of the hummers flew up to the feeder and sat on top of it and looking in at me.  I've seen them "tell us" the feeders are empty before.

We never buy the commercial juice. It is expensive and the red color is not good for the birds.  Dan heats one quart water and 1 cup sugar until the sugar dissolves, lets it cool and fills the feeders and stores the rest in the frig.

We are looking for them to take off any time.  They are almost always gone by the middle of September.  Last year we had a warm fall so they stayed around a little longer.  We will miss them.

One last hummingbird story.  Kim and family are moved into their temporary home.  It is in a fairly large subdivision.  Although there is no sigh of bird feeders visible from their back windows, there are probably some around.  We were sitting in their dinningroom and Dan was nearest to the window.  Suddenly, up flew a hummingbird, hovered there and looked in the window at Dan.  Finally it flew off.  They have not seen it since.  You can tell me those little ones don't talk to one another.



Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thoughts while gathering for a garage sale:

It amazes me how I can overlook items on a shelf that I seldom use. I have found myself standing in closets the past few days and making a real effort to think whether I really need what is in front of me.

I find it very hard to get rid of music and movies. I have vinyl, tapes, and CDs. Even though most music is streamed now days, I am still clinging on to this outdated way to listen to music. I am making better headway with the VHS tapes. Still, I was checking to see if a television we are selling works and popped in Grumpier Old Men. We laughed until we cried at this 23 year old movie. (Worth watching just for Grandpa Gustafson played by Burgess Meredith.) Still, I am sure that movie is still available without keeping a copy here at home.

I have a set of Pfaltzgraff dishes I don't use anymore. They were given to me by a friend of my Mom's when they had to downsize because of health. Their fate is still not decided[--I waiver back and forth. They do take up a lot of room but they are classic. Might have to wait until the next sale to make a decision.

Then there are purses. Everyone knows how much I like handbags. I seldom pay full price, but am a sucker for sales and used clothing stores. Amazingly, I have quite a pile I am selling.

While Kim was here, she and I experimented with an Instant Pot (more on that another time) Because of the convenience of this new appliance, I am selling my small pressure cooker. Some appliances just fall out of favor or are reinvented. Definitely need to free up space in my cabinets by getting rid of my electric skillet which hasn't seen the light of day in years. It has been replaced by cast iron--some trends in cooking are circular.

Then there are toys. Last week, I went down the basement and boxed most of the remainder of our kids/grandkids toys thinking it is time they make another young person happy. Today, I took some back out and put them in a box. I decided a home should never be without a few toys for little ones. A few barn yard animals and a little barn, Mattel Rescue Heroes and a couple puzzles will occupy kids just fine. Legos are bagged and on their way out. I am not sad to see them go. They can't be played with without dumping them all over the place.

Very few clothes are going into the garage sale. There is a place in Topeka called God's Storehouse that does a good job of repurposing clothes. And, the Salvation Army is starting their coat drive soon. My clothes are not that special.

Dan is having a hard time gathering things. There is a plan to have a specialized garage sale with only tools in the future. He has a lot of them from his years of working in construction.  A project for winter.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Family Time

Once again son-in-law Marc’s company has undergone a merger and with that comes another change—this one is very exciting!  Kim, Aaron, Adam and Evan, along with Marc, will be moving from the Raleigh/Cary area of North Carolina back to Kansas! 

We have known this for a while, but until they are here on Kansas soil could I really believe it was all going to happen.  They have a house but will be unable to move in until the first of the year.  They have secured a rental that will accommodate all of them and their two dogs  until then.  But, their moving company won’t be able to pack their NC home for another week.  And, school starts before then.

So, we are excited to have house guests for a while.   Kim is staying here with Adam and Evan while Marc and Aaron flew home to close things up there.  She is keeping busy with school preparations and the unbelievable amount of changes that have to be made when moving.    We are trying to do some fun things here before the kids have to go back to classes. 

We’ve gone on several pontoon rides.  Pontoon?  I better go back and tell about our little purchase in Nashville Tennessee on the way home from Aaron’s graduation. 

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We wanted a pontoon for a long time.  After a lot of research, we decided on a Bass Buddy 16 foot fishing pontoon. We wanted something that would be easy to take in and out of the water and transport.   Then it is up to Craig’s List.  Wouldn’t you know, one showed up that we could look at on our way to Aaron’s graduation.  We made a deal and home it came on our way back. 

So, back to the kids.  I hope they have enjoyed being out on the water as much as we have since they arrived.  We prefer evenings in order to catch the sunset.  Lots of fun to have young people and laughter out there too.

Aaron had a friend so there is one extra in this picture.

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We still haven’t been able to figure out the perfect combination to catch fish in the middle of the summer, but we are working on it. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Crushing Realization

I am not sure why I have a fascination with the steel recycle place aka the crusher.  Maybe it’s because there are so many things to contemplate.  Unbelievable variety of cast off, mostly metal objects.

Here’s the routine.  We drive up to the scale and go in this old, tumble down mobile home.  The really nice young lady tells me to go ahead and drive up on the scale and she will flash the light when she has the weight.  We pull forward with the last of my old mail cars—a 1987 Oldsmobile that would probably still run only it has a fuel pump problem.  That car got me out of more snow and ice situations with its front wheel drive and studded snow tires. 

Anyway, after weighing we drive around back and roll off the Rickster (bought it from Rick).  Here is the sad part.  The guy with the big front lift, just sticks a huge rod right through the two front windows and moves it over in line for the crusher.  I couldn’t watch. 

Here is what I did look at though.

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My Dad used to say that old age is an equalization.  Extremely successful businessmen (Cadillac limo)  and a hard working blue collar worker (work van) all end up playing cards at the same table in the old folks home (Dad’s words).  I’ll just guess that the Cadillac is on top of the work van only because the van got there first.

Then there is this

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Never too old to quit advertising. 

There are so many other things going on in these pictures besides the cars.  It would be interesting to write down all the objects just thrown together.  Maybe they would make a good jigsaw puzzle, especially the top picture.

We drive back across the scale.  Full disclosure and in case anyone has an old car sitting around, we received $170.00 for the poor Rickster.  Certainly worth the effort.  Price is up on scrap metal.  I might get to go back!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer Morning When All Flowers are Equal

I walked out in the garden around 7:30 this morning to check for ripe tomatoes.  There were a few.  What really caught my eye, though, were the flowers.  Obnoxious and invasive flowers but this morning, they were beautiful.  So pretty, I had to get my camera and capture them and the activity there were creating.

First, just as I walked out the door, there was that nettle that I want to pull but never have my gloves with me when I think of it.  Still, so pretty in the morning.

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Next, out in the garden, there was the bindweed we’ve been fighting all summer.  Still, there is a honey bee enjoying it’s nectar. 

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And, there around the tomatoes and grapes is that darn Morning Glory vine that will take over the plants if we don’t get on it.  But, there is a bee clear in that little flower.  And, isn’t that a beautiful shade of blue?

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Finally, coming back into the house, I see a legitimate flower on my poor bug riddled Hosta by the back door.  This beautiful morning though, all the flowers were lovely.  I walked away from them—I’ll deal with the vines tomorrow.

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Friday, July 06, 2018

The Saga of Water Line Leaks

We feel fortunate for our well maintained waterline.   Wells are not an option where we live, so an extension of a fairly new rural water district system to the edge of our place was the reason we purchased this land 40 years ago.  So, of course, 40 years is the age of the pipes that bring the water to our house from the meter—about a third of a mile.  We’ve had no problem with those pipes for all of these years.  Until now.

Our water usage has gradually increased since the first of this year.  We turned off our hydrant down by the garden when not in use.  When that didn’t help, we purchased two new low water usage toilets.  That didn’t really show any improvement.  Then we planted a garden and did a little watering  and thought that was why our bill was bigger than we thought it should be.

Finally, in April of this year, we got serious about trying to find what was going on.  Using a post hole digger, we dug three holes where it looked like there was some evidence of extra water by how the grass looked which was about 50 yards away from the house, up toward the meter.  Sure enough, one of the holes was nearly full of water after about eight hours.  After $385.00 in time and backhoe use by a company that specializes in fixing water lines, the small leak was found and fixed.

Then, with traveling and thinking we had the problem fixed, we didn’t check our water bills  which are auto paid each month—until July 1st.  That bill was $215.00 and showed that we were using 120 gallons every hour. 

That got our attention and when we checked, our meter was whirling.

Again, out came the post hole digger.  We dug a hole every place there was extra green grass.  One hole, directly out from the hydrant in front of our house was full of water the next morning. 

We decided, two people in their 70s could still dig a hole.  The whole backhoe situation would play havoc with our front yard. 

First, Dan used the tractor to scrape off the turf.

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Then, we dug straight down.    As when we dig anywhere around where our house sits, we had to spend time extracting a big granite rock on the way down.

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It turns out, we were almost perfect in our estimate of where the leak was located.  About four feet down there was the water pipe and it was definitely leaking.  There was also something right on top of it as well—a tree root.  And, we soon discovered there was a granite rock directly under the water line.    This isn’t a good picture, because you can’t see the rock and we have already cut part of the root.

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We enlarged the hole, turned the water off at the meter and went to work to successfully fix the line.

Here is the most interesting thing about this whole situation.

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This picture shows how the leak developed.  The water line was laid right on top of the rock 40 years ago.  In fact, the granite rock actually had a little grove where the pipe laid on it all those years.  Then, the tree root came along and grew right along the pipe.  As the leak developed, the root got bigger and pushed the line down harder against the rock.  And, that’s how our water bill continued to gradually get larger. 

We will definitely be tracking our our usage because, you know how these things occur in threes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Neighborhood Excitement

Friday of last week, Dan was sitting at the kitchen table and out of the blue said, “The Goodyear Blimp is over east of us.”

Of course, I didn’t believe him, but after checking the binoculars, sure enough!

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This picture was taken as it passed over the north part of our hay field here at home.    The wind was giving it fits and neighbor Brenna thought it was going down in their field.  It could be it was trying to change course a little because it ended up landing at Forbes Field and probably needed to move north.  It would have been awesome to see it land!

As it turns out, the blimp is really a dirigible because there is no internal flame.  It runs on three engines--two on the sides and one on the back—that use outside air to propel it..   It is a semi rigid airship and is never deflated.  The outside structure lasts 15 to 18 years.  The square visible on the side in my picture is actually a digital sign.  You can read the article in Topeka CJ Online about its visit here.

So, I thought I would check social media to see if there were any pictures.  It was funny how, as it crossed over the area, posts showed up with pictures on Facebook and Instagram.

No exciting news like it had to land in our area because of the weather.  It actually was visiting Topeka (first time in 16 years) primarily I am sure to support the Goodyear plant.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

North Carolina Swim Meet

The main event for everyone making the journey to North Carolina was Aaron’s graduation.  It was a fun day with good food and conversation.  I think Aaron is experiencing joy and elation at his graduation from high school but also somewhat apprehensive of the future.    I would like to tell him there is no hurry, that he should enjoy his youth and freedom.   I feel confident he will do that and work out his life’s goals in good time.

Kim wanted to do a little shopping in the afternoon.  Bedding is a hard one to figure out.  There just isn’t a way to “try it on” to see if it works.  Or is there…

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In addition to graduation day, we also attended Adam and Evan’s swim meet at the pool in their living area, just a couple blocks from their home.  Swim meets are exciting for a few seconds and then wait.  So we had time to visit with Marc’s parents and enjoy pizza provided by Kim and Marc.

This all took place on June 12th, Dan and my anniversary.  So, that is the reason you will see our mug shot in the pictures.  Here is the link or click on the picture below.

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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Aaron’s High School Graduation 2018

Green Hope High School graduation ceremony began at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, June 13 at the Raleigh Convention Center.  There were over 750 graduates in attendance.  The speakers were members of the Class of ‘18.  This graduating class has to be one of the most diverse group of young people in the US.  The lady who read the names did an outstanding job.

At this point, using my little laptop, I have not been able to organize the pictures.  Also, the pictures taken with a cell phone seem to be small.  However, here they are.  We had a lot of fun helping Aaron celebrate his big day. Click here or on the picture for more!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

New River State Park Rail Trail

Southern Virginia New River Rail to Trail State Park is considered one of the Nation’s Premier Rail Trails and has been designated an official National Recreation Trail by the Department of the Interior. In 1986 the Norfork Southern donated its abandoned track for the purpose of this bike trail.  The New River itself is historical in that it is the oldest river in the United States. For all of these reasons, plus the fact that this rail trail is not too far out of the way from Kim and Marc’s, we decided to ride at least part of the 57 mile trail. 

Our plan was for me to start at Galax and Dan would drive up the trail and we would ride toward each other. 

The Galax to Fries Junction section that I started out on is actually not along the New, but along a tributary Chestnut Creek.  Comments on the trail web site led me to believe this was a nice part of the trail to ride.  And it turned out to be exactly that.

First, the trail is flat and well maintained.  Most of the trail is open to horseback riders but there was little evidence of their use.  At first, I rode right along with nice views of the gentle creek.   Soon as more little drainages added to the size of the creek I was excited to find rapids forming and even several waterfalls.  I was along side the creek most of the time, although enjoyed Virginia ranching landscape too. There was a cute little store but I had to pass as I didn’t bring any money.  

I always enjoy the tresles of which there were many.  My favorite, though, are the tunnels.  The one I encountered looked onomous because it was completely dark at the entrance—spooky because I was by myself.  I considered waiting until another trail rider came along, but thought that would be unadventurous on my part so I tentatively started in.  No sooner had I got about twenty steps in than the tunnel curved enough I could see the end.  Still, there is nothing like seeing light at a distance and it being completely dark in front of where I am riding.  It is disorintating and makes me feel like I losing my balance.

Chestnut Creek entered the New River and at that point, there was a beautiful long tresle over the big New River.  So exciting but still no Dan .  I thought I would meet him at the tunnel when we parted.

Turns out the place we made out to meet had a very long a curvy road which did not lend itself to speedy travel.  He mostly missed out on a great ride.

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Click here or on the picture for a few pictures and a little movie

Monday, June 11, 2018

Boondockers Welcome

This is not a sign travelers often see.  In fact, staying off the grid is considered by some RVers as kind of cheating.  Then a clever computer person, seeing a need, created the web site Boondockers Welcome.

Basically, it is a site where people sign up to host other RVers at their home or on their land. Self contained travelers then go online and ask to spend a night or two.  The host has to approve the request.   Of course, there are profiles etc.
 
So, that is how we found one of the most beautiful and serene places to camp near the New River Rail to Trail.  It wouldn’t be fair to the hosts to tell the exact location but I will say it is close to Galax Virginia and right next to a beautiful tributary of the New River.

Our hosts were friendly and gracious.  They opened their front porch to conversation and we left feeling like we were friends.  We learned local history and about the surrounding lands.  And, what is it about that southern accent that seems so friendly and laid back?

We will definitely be using this web site again. And thank you to Jim and Andrea for a memorable stay at their lovely summer home.





Saturday, June 09, 2018

North Carolina Graduation

It’s hard to believe our little Aaron is now grown up and graduating from high school.  The family is gathering for this celebration on Wednesday of next week.   There will be more on that later.

We are roadtripping of course.  We drove ten hours on Thursday arriving in Nashville nearly at dark.  This was a short layover so Walmart it is. 

This was taken on our way to park for the night.  Really,  where else but Nashville TN…. 

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From Nashville, we made our way to Virginia and the New River Rail to Trail.  I’m still gathering pictures so more on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Harvest ahead

Dan has worked hard on the trees and brush on the 80.  This will be the last fire before harvest.  The wheat in the background is starting to turn and will soon be too dry to chance a spark.  This picture was taken Sunday evening.  He had gathered a big pile of brush and noticed there was one small smoky log.  He thought nothing of it and came on home to get a match and see if I wanted to watch the pile burn.  This picture was taken right after we returned.  A lesson on how easily a fire can rekindle.

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The electric fence has done its job!  There are zero bean plants nipped by deer.  Also, the beans are benefitting from the composted dirt and are loaded with blooms.  Only problem with the dirt is it brought in a healthy dose of bindweed.  We have been fighting it mightily but finally gave up on a half row of beans.  Right now  all is looking good, but that pesky stuff will be back.  This fall we might have to address the problem with something stronger than a hoe & rototiller. 

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Finally, I am sharing a picture of one of many Hummingbirds that cheer our lives.  They are  social little things.  If the feeder is empty, they actually will let us know in a flying around the window sort of way.  Sometimes I think they sit on this little perch and look in at us. 

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