Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hiking in the Valley

These early warm days of winter when ticks are hiding are perfect times to hike around in the valley behind our house. 

Valentines Day was a little cooler than some we’ve had lately and a light coat felt good.  We started at a point that we look at daily from our window.  It seemed odd to look back.


First, down over the valley ridge to the well.  We always check it out when we are hiking in the area.   It is a mystery why this old well has been left open like this.  When the farmsteads were being dismantled for the lake, it was a big deal that all wells be sealed. 


Then we headed cross the floor of the valley and back up the ridge to the old farmstead.  The trees are taking over and it’s getting harder to figure out just where the house was located.


There is the hint of a foundation for a pole shed with a small pen where Dan is standing.  In 1978 when the dam had just been closed and this upper flood easement land was not regulated, we would ride horses down around and through this area.  I think I’ve written before about how, in this corral area,  k pot weeds were higher than we were on top of our horses.  Times have changed—no pot, unless you find an old cooking pot in a dump and no horses, atvs or vehicles allowed off road in this Wildlife & Parks land.  Probably just as well.

We circled around back to our starting place, passing two hunter’s lawn chairs, one with a big hole shot through the back (yikes). 

This is always an interesting walk because there are  ghosts of time past.  We also feel that even though this is public land, there are few that make their way through here.  I think that is why those lawn chairs seemed  out-of-place and a bit unsettling. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Birthday Spiraling Away

I have always liked birthdays.  It is an excuse for a party—always a good idea.  But I have to admit I am somewhat embarrassed about celebrating mine when I am not in charge.  (That probably says a lot about me).  Anyway, February 4th was actually quiet.  Dan and I were invited to Paul and Janice’s for supper.  A perfect celebration.  But, the next day I got too much attention at church and then several friends wanted to go out to Texas Roadhouse for lunch.  I  think I would have refused had I known they were going to make me sit on a saddle and then bring a whole bunch of staff to sing a loud and rollicking song.  I can guarantee there are no pictures of that going on this blog.

I did get a Spiralizer for my birthday though.  Here’s the picture on the box…


These little gadgets are really fun.

I can’t wait to do a potato like is in the bottom right corner and put it on the grill with a little oil and seasonings on it.  Kind of like a grilled potato chip on a skewer.

Here is what I did today.  I spiralized with that left hand blade one big russet potato, one big sweet potato and one big carrot.  Then I threw them in a pan with olive oil, seasonings and enough basil flavored vinegar from our neighbors who make their own to provide enough liquid to steam the whole thing.  I didn’t cook it until it was all mush but still done.  Dan said it was like eating candy.  It was good.  I have a zucchini, and yellow squash in the frig so am going to try making a vegetable soup we enjoy with spirals tomorrow.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Thin Wall

It hardly seemed like winter today with upper sixty degree temperatures.  It makes me almost miss my days on the rural mail route when driving around with the window down was almost perfect.  The customers would be out for a little visit and the wildlife as well. 

We had a warm day like this last week.  Dan and I took that opportunity to replace our sliding door in the living room with a double french door.  We were way overdue to get this done.

When we removed the old door, this is what it looked like:


Something about seeing this big hole in the wall made me think how close we actually live to the outside.  Just the width of a wall.  It doesn’t seem like much compared with a log or stone wall.  Definitely modern insulation and air tight construction helps to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures year around. 

Our house should be air tight now.  We actually had an expert on that sort of thing check the house several years ago.  We had small drafts around several electrical plugins and light switches which we worked on.  And he told us then the sliding door needed to be replaced. 

Sometimes when we try to light a fire in our downstairs stove, we have to open the exterior basement door a crack to get a good draft.  I can hardly imagine the draft that flowed through the old log cabins with those huge fireplaces.  At least those old drafty houses had fresh air.  These warm days, I’m opening up the house to let some of the fresh air in.  But sure am glad we can keep it out when the cold air blows.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Eagles etc

We were up at the church to help with the monthly Harvesters distribution this week.  It was a blustery day Thursday but we loaded potatoes, carrots, blueberries and several ready made meal kits into cars for nearly 100 families.  The November and December distribution families were down.  Maybe food was available in other places.  We jumped back in full force this month.  (Just as a side note about the food we receive for distribution from Harvesters.  I know there are sources for this food that I don’t know about, but I do know that a lot is donated by WalMart.)  

We were only a mile from home when I received a text from our neighbor Brenna telling us there were Eagles in a field nearby.  We immediately flipped a U-turn and headed back.  Turns out it was an Eagle family working on something dead, possibly a dead coyote.



We know of a huge Eagle nest over by Clinton Lake but don’t know if this family calls it home.  It is always a treat to catch a glimpse of these majestic birds.

A little later in the day, I walk into the bedroom to see a possum helping itself to some of Dan’s treats out by the windbreak. These lowly, relatively ugly animals don’t have the reputation of Eagles, but just as equally share our neighborhood.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Landscaping Phase 4

Bet many thought I was just dreaming about doing a little something more to the front of the house.  Rightfully so, because we are not ones to change what we like in decorating—think orange countertop that is obvious in so many of my pictures.

However, just in passing, Kim saw something on Fixer-Upper that she thought would look good on our house.  In fact, it almost had to be a pause in the program to really take note of the detail.

I’m talking about shutters on the front of the house.  Like I said earlier, we’ve always thought the landscaping was enough to finish the front “look.”  However, our kids are usually right on their assessment and the consensus was that we needed more.

Dan is always able to come up with the solution.  So, here are our shutters made with fence panels with simple crosspieces.  The color was our choice.  We like that it isn’t too much contrast but yet looks good with the color of paint on siding and roof shingles. 



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Turkey catchup

I did not fix a turkey the entire Holiday season.  Our North Carolina kids fixed turkey for  Thanksgiving.  It was delicious and I thankfully let them take care of that part of the meal.   By the time the Colorado kids got here on New Years Eve day, turkey was not on any of my meal planning lists.

We were in Topeka the other day and I needed to stop in for a few groceries.  The Walmart near 29th and California is an easy store to run in for a few things.  (I seem to spend way too much time looking for items in the Dillon’s store nearby).  I walked by the meat counter and this caught my eye.


Here we have a nearly 15 pound turkey for $7.44—50 cents per pound.  A Grade A hen turkey at that.  Notice also the “Best If Used By” at 6-08-18.  Amazing good deal!

If I had a growing family, I think I would have had a couple of these in my cart.  Probably should have anyway—June of 2018 is a long way off.  I’m sure our neighbor would have his smoking wagon fired up at some point and we could throw one in.

  As it is, we  have some friends coming for a meal this weekend.  So, turkey it is. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Flowers in the Winter

I took these pictures last week when there was snow on the ground.  Since that time, we’ve had a 70 degree day.  Now, by this time tomorrow night we are forecast to have ice.  So, we are thankful for the flowers in our home right now:


Poinsettia flowers are at the center of the leaves—but then everyone knows that. 


I brought the geraniums in this fall.  As long as they get lots of sun, they continue to bloom. 


I have two violets that are so happy where they are located that they continually show us these beautiful flowers.  I started two by sticking leaves in a pot and gave them away at Christmas.  I think it is time to do that again.


I bought this Amaryllis after it was marked down.  So, it did not bloom for Christmas.  What a joy it has been to watch it grow.


There are several other flowers on my Lemon tree, but this lemon is much more interesting.  Right now there are three lemons.  I probably should pick all the other blooms off so this small plant can make my lemons!



The Christmas cactus has been blooming since mid November.  It too just loves where it is sitting and if I continue to put water on it, I think it will bloom all winter.


I was going to “let this Peace Lily go” last fall.  It had gotten so big.  However, I brought it in and cut the leaves all.  It is sitting here in my office in front of a north window.  Three months later and here you go.  It wants to stay with us!

Any other year, we would have a Yucca bloom by now.  However, my huge Yucca plant took a dive last summer.  It fell out of the pot and was just too unwieldy to replant.  I’ve got another nice plant going, but it won’t bloom for a while.  I still think the whole Yucca plant “falling” out of its pot was some kind of conspiracy between Dan and the kids.  They all said it was ugly.  Don’t believe them—it had beautiful curves.

So, that is our mid winter blooms.  They make us happy!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Happy Couple

One thing that can be counted on is that a wedding will be a happy occasion.  And, it held true for Cameron and Alexa.

The ceremony was in the Church of the Resurrection, downtown.  It looks to be an old movie theater, but the pastor mentioned in his sermon that it was a bar.  At any rate, I don’t know when I’ve been to a wedding ceremony where the pastor took as much care in the bride and groom. The highlight was the reading of the letters the couple wrote to each other. 

This picture was taken in the church.   The children are cousins.  Notice the musicians in the background.  This was taken before the wedding started.  We didn’t take any during the service.


The reception was on the third floor of the Bauer at the Crossroads in downtown Kansas City Missouri.  It is a historic warehouse turned art studios and event space.  Janice’s decorations were the perfect combination of rustic/classy for the space.  There were lanterns, candles and greenery added as well.


Instead of a cake, there was this wonderful assortment of yumminess.



I guess this must the way a brother and sister dance!



Alexa Wedding

Friday, January 06, 2017

Welcome Visitors!


This year we celebrated Christmas quietly, but the New Years brought our Colorado family.  Needless to say, we always enjoy having them—and all of our family—here.  Thankfully, the temperature cooperated for a couple days so there could be ATV rides and other outdoor activities. 

Then snow and cold temperatures arrived so that called for a taffy pull (it turned out delicious—I’ll post the recipe later)



We are probably in trouble with this picture.  At the time it was taken, their family was visiting other grandparents.   Just as it is with grandkids, grandparents spoil the pets too.  We did “encourage” them to get off the furniture after this picture was taken.  They slept in the warm livingroom all night.  As far as we know, it was on their pillows….



Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016


Dan and I wish a Very Merry Christmas to all family and friends who happen by the Backroads this day.   May you be around those you find special this Christmas season. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Preparations

We were on the road for over three weeks in November.  Our visit to North Carolina and the roadtrips between were fun.  It amazed us that we found it quite comfortable to be gone so long.  Of course, that is with a big thanks to Christi for watering our newly planted landscaping.

A week after we returned, I hosted a bridal shower for our niece.  Entertaining in our home is fun, but putting up Christmas decorations can be tedious.  It helped that Dan pitched in with washing windows and hanging lights.  Actually, it was good to have the deadline.    The cheery, warm feeling of the decorations  makes me feel happy this time of year.

The warm cheery feeling has been welcome the past couple days.  Dan and I decided our Christmas present to each other would be one of those fancy indoor/outdoor temperature gauges.  Once we got it, we couldn’t wait until Christmas so its been a big deal tracking this cold weather.  Here’s what the new gadget says right now.  Notice the minus 3—it’s supposed to drop more tonight.  Looks like we have sun in the forecast, though. 


This week the winter sun will drop to its most southerly point.  Today it streamed in the south windows warming that part of the house to 80 degrees.  The thermostat wouldn’t allow it, but we talked about how funny it would be if the air conditioning would come on when the outdoor temperature barely broke zero.

We spent the day holed up, finally going out around 4:00 pm to clean off snow.  Of course, I had to take some pictures while out there. 


There are lots of visitors to a little area around the pines.  Here’s why


Christmas treats for our birds, bunnies and it looks like deer tracks as well.  Not many goodies have come out of my kitchen for us humans…yet.  This is the week!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

It has been an epic Thanksgiving this year.  It started two weeks ago when we left home for Augusta Georgia.    It can’t be easy to have two retired elders move in for that long, but we’ve had lots of fun and everyone has made us feel as though we are a part of the family.

Kim and Marc are excellent cooks—in fact all our kids are good cooks.  We had turkey, ham, Kim’s special potatoes, sweet potatoes, Dan’s oyster casserole and brussels sprouts.

IMG_9190-1It was Kim’s the chocolate cheesecake that stole the show, though


A few got sleepy after the big meal.



Jojo was sure there was a squirrel for her this Thanksgiving.

IMG_9183-1 Well, here we are getting ready to load up the PW and head west.  We think we will slip through a warm spell so that we won’t need to winterize.  A big thank you to our North Carolina family for making our visit special and to our neighbors for keeping everything watered at home so we didn’t have to worry.

Happy Thanksgiving to family and friends! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Marc and Kim have a new Cary city park just a short walk away from their house.  It has a basketball court, playground and a Pickleball court!  The little park is very popular in the neighborhood.

So, as part of our early Christmas present to the family, we gave them enough equipment to play double Pickleball. 

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island near Seattle Washington.  Three dads madeup the game to keep their kids occupied during the summer.  It is played with a wiffle ball and wooden paddle. 

I wondered why it is called Pickleball.  There are two theories and both are probably partly correct.  One of the wives of the founders of the game, thinking it was a combination of several sports,  thought it was like a pickleboat in crew where the rowers are drawn from extras from other boats. The other possibility is at some point one of the families got a dog and named it pickles. 

When we bought the equipment in Dicks Sporting Goods, the man at the checkout said it is becoming hugely popular in the Cary area because so many courts are being made available.  It is a fun game because it suits all ages.

Everyone is feeling better about their game.  Somehow Marc and I didn’t get a shot.