Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions

Just for fun, I did a search on my own blog to see what resolutions I’ve made in the past.  Nothing came up.  Maybe I used “intentions” rather than “resolutions.”  I didn’t spend a lot of time searching because I’m pretty sure any  I made did not make it through the first month.  Resolutions have a bad rap so it seems acceptable to not stick with them.

I did find my first new year blog post.  Hard to believe I’ve been at this for over six years.  Here is what we did in 2004.  Interestingly enough we were in Colorado then as we thought we were going to be this year. 

Back to resolutions.  If there is one consistent theme throughout any health information for seniors, it is how beneficial exercise is for mind and body.  Over the years, I have tried to have some kind of program.  Basically, I’ve kept my weight within the normal limits and had normal blood pressure, etc. because I’ve, at the least, walked two miles on a regular basis, and at the most, had a full hour-long floor exercise program each morning.

It’s been about five years ago that I started slacking off.  No idea why.

I’m not going to say it’s a resolution, but I am going to get back to  moving in 2011.  I have a treadmill in the basement, Kim has a couple machines available at her clinic that I could schedule myself on.  If nothing else, I can bundle up and walk to the mailbox, a .6 mile round trip.

It’s a “no excuse” year.   I turn 65 years old in little over a month and it’s time to do all I can to make these latter years healthy and happy.

Motivational comments encouraged….  

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Betting on weather

Doug & Drue (in Colorado) remodeled their basement.  Dan is finishing up the cabinetry for their bar.  It seemed like a small project on paper, but loading them in the back of a pickup makes for a fairly big load.  Then, transporting them eight hours in the winter is definitely betting on weather.

Actually, we missed our window of opportunity.  We should have taken them today, although it was misty/wet here, it was around 50 degrees in the Springs.   Now, snow is moving in out there.

It looks like our next window of opportunity is Saturday.  We can carry the doors inside the truck and Dan says it won’t hurt the rest to freeze.  Just not a good idea for them to get wet. 

It’s been crazy weather.  La NiƱa is fulfilling expectations with record snowfall in the northern US.  It is supposed to be fairly normal around here this winter.  I did notice the temperature is posted at 53 degrees in Topeka right now and 49 degrees in Mesa Arizona where our friends live.  Their daughter who lives in Kansas City is visiting.  (Seems like we often hit a “cool spell” when we visit too, Jen)

Wondering how the Little Apple (Manhattan, Kansas) KSU faithfuls are doing fighting the snow in the Big Apple (New York, NY).  Thankfully, the game is in the afternoon so it might not be quite as cold. 

First Grade 1952

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Before I put all the old black and white negatives away, I am scanning them to store digitally.  I actually feel like I’ve posted this picture before on the blog, but I can’t find it. 
This is Acker School.  It was a one room school, 1st through 8th grades.  Dan and I attended all eight grades there. Really, a beautiful building that is still occupied as a private home. 
I like this picture because on the front row, I’m second from the right and Dan is 4th from the right.  On the second row, my brother is 5th from the right and next to him is Dan’s brother, Ron.  On the back row Dan’s oldest brother Larry is next to the teacher. 
There are greeting cards that have old pictures on them.  I think this one would be a good one.  Lots to look at in this group.  That’s why I put Mom’s name on it because she was the photographer and it might discourage someone from lifting it. 
Note:  I’m adding this the next day after posting this entry.  This is not my 1st grade picture because (duh) none of my classmates are in it.  It might have been taken in the spring of 1952 which would have made me 6, but I would start school the following fall.  It looks like everyone has something in their hand, which might mean the last day of school.  We are dressed warmly, but school got out the last of April—we only went eight months. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Extension Cords

What….    Probably thinking I’m hurting for blog topics, right?

I was thinking extension cords would be one thing I wouldn’t mind picking up on an after Christmas sale.  Sometimes retailers don’t mark this type of thing down unless it is packaged for the Holiday, though.

I found the slickest cord several years ago.  I can’t remember if I bought it before or after Christmas but it has an on/off switch that sits on the floor and works by stepping on it.  I know this sounds pretty lazy, but sometimes it’s such a hassle to reach plug ins.  A quick way to turn Christmas lights off and on quickly. 

Handy to have but not worth a trip.   

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Stepping back—moving forward

When I was a rural mail carrier, the time after Christmas until spring was—I don’t want to say depressing—but just not my favorite time.  Believe it or not, the busy, long hours leading up to Christmas were at least interspersed with festivity and Holiday cheer.  Then, the cold, short, sometime bleak days of winter set in.

Mom’s sudden turn for the worse leading to losing her has been similar to those previous days leading up to the Holidays.  Grief is work but it was interspersed with the joys that come with family and friends coming together to celebrate Mom’s loving and good life and  Christmas.
 
Christmas is over and it’s back to routine. I felt a tug of that old cold, bleak winter feeling this morning when the sky was gray and the temperature cold.  As I sadly began to put away the old photos I had dug out of Mom and her life, I began to think perhaps I should start on some small scale to organize those photos.  Possibly first by decade and Christmas celebrations.  Also, finish scanning the rest of the old negatives where I happened upon this picture of Mom, Dad, and a friend  that none of the family had seen before.
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Or, I could finish the photo book of the last decade  I started making as a Christmas present for each of our children and their families before I had to quit.
 
There’s the empty file cabinet that I’m going to put 50 file folders in, one for each state with a map and points of interest cut from magazines that need to be gone through and then tossed.
 
I filled in birthdays on my 2011 calendar.  For some reason, that simple act always makes me happy.
 
At any rate, it is still a cold winter day, but the sun has come out, streaming in our south windows.  The house is toasty warm and so is my outlook.  Mom’s spirit is with me as is Dad’s and all those close to me who have moved on from this life.  As the cards say, memories do comfort.  And, those memories are created over a lifetime.  I’m excited to continue making mine.

Friday, December 24, 2010

All the year

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
― Charles Dickens

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wrapping up Christmas

With both our children here with their families, this will be a special, memorable Christmas.  I am taking time out from kitchen duty, vacuuming and present wrapping to let friends who visit here at my little blog know that all is well. 

It seems I wasn’t the only one needing last minute gifts.  The stores were busy this afternoon.  All except Lowe’s.  Either we hit a lag or people aren’t starting a remodel project right now.

I received an email informing me that ToysRUs is staying open all night tonight.  Last minute shoppers have a friend there.

I ordered a gift for my friend Kayzie who lives in Arizona a few minutes ago.  Amazon says she will receive it in five minutes.  There is only one catch for this last minute speed shopping to work.  The recipient must have a Kindle ereader.

Well, I’m going to enjoy a hot cup of tea and then back to lovely preparations.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sadness in our family

My Mom passed away this afternoon.  She was 95 and physically in good health although suffered from Alzheimer disease.  She was a special person and will be missed by all who knew her.

I won’t be posting for a few days.  Her obit should be in the Abilene paper on Tuesday.  Her first name is Fern.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A gift idea that gives twice

The National Geographic series on Great Migrations was amazing, especially the segment on Monarch Butterflies.  Of course, we might be prejudice because of our friend and neighbor Chip’s part in it.  It wasn’t only that, though.  The photography was amazing as were the stories.   Some of the more beautiful shots of the Monarchs are in this music video.

At the top of the video, it says, “visit the site.”  I highly recommend doing this but use this link.  It take you directly to the Great Migrations site.  There are background videos, blogs and  music videos from segments about other migratory species.

The entire series is now for sale.  The price depends on the type.  I ordered a DVD and it cost $29 from Amazon with blue ray $5 more. 

If you do order this or any thing else from Amazon, go to the Monarch Watch site and click on the Amazon Portal near the top of the home page.  Or save this link in your bookmarks.  In this way, Monarch Watch will receive a percentage of your order.  I know they work on a tight budget so if we all do this small thing, it is a win, win situation for all.  If you order right away, you can still get it by Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gift out of hand

I went into WalMart to purchase Despicable Me for Carly.  Pretty exciting as it comes with an inflatable Minion (?).  Also, I’ve got all the bases covered as it is a 3-Disc Combo Pack – Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy.  No tape for our VCR, though.

There was a $5 bin of movies there.  That’s where the shopping trip got a little out of hand.  I ended up with five DVD movies.  Here is what I purchased:

Two documentaries:  Victory at Sea and Victory by Air.  Both of these use WWII footage.  I’ll wade through these while walking on the treadmill.  I like actual footage of WWII.

61*  This is a baseball movie I purchased as a gift for our neighbor

A River Runs Through It  The scenery is beautiful in this movie.  I also enjoy the fly fishing scenes.

The Other Side of Heaven  This is a Disney movie that I thought maybe I could watch with the older grandkids.

Really, five dollars is not a bad price for a movie.  It just adds up with five of them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Audio books help with preparations

I was gone a good part of the day today.  My kitchen was a mess.  I put the listening buds in my ears and the task was finished while listening to a good story.  Simple as that.  I do at least one or two tasks each day while listening to a book. 

Lately, I’ve had a hard time choosing a book.  I don’t want to listen to something that will make me sad, depressed or tense.  I just finished listening to The Good Guy by Dean Koontz.  It was a murder mystery.  Good story, but not a feel good Christmas story. 

Today, I started The Sweet Potato Queens’ First Big-Ass Novel:  Stuff we Didn’t actually Do, but Could Have, and May Yet by Jill Conner Brown.  Now, here is a great read.  Funny with a story line every woman can identify with at some level.  I’m not finished yet.  It’s one of those novels you don’t want to finish.

Lately, I’ve mostly listened to audio books from the State Of Kansas Audio Books.  By downloading and installing Media Overdrive on that site,  it is simple to put an audio book on to an inexpensive little mp3 player.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who knew? An IPad Band

Carol Lindahl, a Chapman High School classmate, posted this on her Facebook page.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rolln’ with the big boys

My friend Sue and I used to be neighbors.  Not every week, but at least once or twice a month, our families would get together on Sunday evening for pie.  Sue and I had a little (maybe a lot) of friendly competition going on with pies.  It wasn’t that we would compliment each others, but mostly brag on our own.  We both thought would were the best pie bakers in the area—and no one eating them would say we weren’t.

Sue continues to make excellent pies, but I’m out of practice.  I had to throw my pastry cloth away and I have not been happy with my crusts since.  And, a flaky, tender crust is one of the most important parts of a superior pie.

I know our guests Thursday night are excellent pie makers.   They bring them to church dinners.  So, rather than being intimidated, I decided to throw it all in and make an apple pie for dessert.

Since I still have not purchased another pastry cloth, I rolled the dough between two pieces of parchment paper.  Rather than using some of the different types of crusts I have experimented with lately, I went back to 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teas. salt, 2/3 cup butter flavored Crisco and 4-6 tabl. ice water. 

I used rather tart apples but added a little lemon juice just in case.  Also, plenty of sugar, a little cinnamon and nutmeg. 

The pie was delicious.  They all complimented me.  (I know, who is going to criticize a homemade pie).    The crust, thankfully, was good.  

There is one pie maker I won’t be competing against, however.  That is my cousin Kaylene.  Her pies are wonderful.  (She worked in a gourmet pastry shop). She has a secret ingredient that she’s not telling.  She must because they are just too good.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tried a new recipe and......

it was delicious.

We invited two thoughtful couples who also happen to be neighbors over for dinner tonight. We needed work done on our boat. They not only did the work, but came and got it. How thoughtful was that?

One of the couples will be leaving right after Christmas for warmer weather so what better time than right now.

My menu was pork, scalloped potatoes, two vegetables, homemade bread and apple pie with ice cream. Lloyd and Carolyn Wulfkuhle recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by giving each person a collection of their favorite recipes. This is one:

Peach Glazed Stuffed Pork Chops

8 1/2 oz can sliced peaches, undrained
2 T butter
1/3 cup hop water
2 cups Stove Top stuffing mix
4 pork chops (1" thick)
1/2 cup peach preserves
2 T. Dijon mustard
Chop peaches with syrup. Melt butter in hot water and add stuffing mix. Stir in peaches with syrup. Cut pork chops on one side to form a pocket and stuff with stuffing. Mix together preserves and mustard and glaze tops of chops. Bake 350 for 60 minutes.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Speaking of Christmas Plants,

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IMG_9340 This was a lovely huge poinsettia a year ago.  It kept its big red leaves at least through Valentines Day.   Then the plant continued to thrive until sometime in August.  It really began to look spindly and rank.

I sat it out on the porch and watered it if I happened to remember.  This fall when the plants all came in, I debated about tossing it.  As I said earlier, I have trouble with that so I brought it in to the south sunny window and started watering it regularly.

About a week ago, I noticed the leaves were starting to turn red.  Every day it gets more red leaves.   I did not do anything other than let it sit in the natural light and dark.  No dark closet at night to “force” it. 

What a Christmas joy this plant as turned out to be.

By the way, in the lower right hand corner is a Christmas cactus bud that looks might it might be on track to bloom right when it supposed to.  A lot of my friends’ Christmas cacti are blooming early.

Christmas tree in the forest?

Well, maybe if I squint real hard, lean back and look through bifocals while tilting my head sideways…. 

I do like all my plants keeping the tree company, though.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

It’s the thought

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The tree ornaments in this picture, the crocheting around Christmas tree balls, are three of a dozen given to me over a period of several years by a customer on my former mail route.  It is hard to tell by the picture, but they are slightly cream colored thread over white balls—very beautiful.

Above one of the balls, barely visible, is a heart made of clay that is one of six that Kim made years ago.  Just out of the picture are unique Santa ornaments given to me by Drue.     No matter how I decide to decorate the tree, these ornaments are my favorite.  All were made or purchased just for me. 

Each year when I hang them on my Christmas tree, I have a thought that I should make similar handmade or notice a theme on friend’s trees and purchase an ornament as a thoughtful “thinking of you”  gift.  As they get their decorations out they would know,  as I do about the people who gave me these,  that I am thinking about them not only during the Holidays, but year around. 

I should remember, though,  “Good thoughts don’t make good deeds.”

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Peak Physical Therapy

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Peak Physical Therapy is Kim’s new business.  It has been her goal since graduation from Creighton University with her DPT that she would open her own clinic.

It has happened as of the middle of November.  I thought I would wait to post about it when her web site is complete.  I will link to that later. 

Dan helped with some carpentry work and I painted but it was mostly the work of Kim with lots of help from Marc.  She did a good job planning and picking colors.  I think it is an upbeat, yet professional office.

It is located in Barrington Village on west 29th street in Topeka.  I believe she is planning an open house when she is settled in.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus

This video has had almost 3 1/2 million views so chances are you have seen it.  If not, it is definitely worth the time to watch it. 

Any who attended Chapman High School during the 50’s thru the 70’s or 80’s, probably participated in the Christmas Vespers.  It was a whole school tradition.  Also, the tradition was to sing the Hallelujah Chorus as a finale.   Mr. Miller, the long time and highly respected music teacher who led the chorus during this time died this year.  I am sure many who participated in the tradition under his leadership will remember him fondly but with sadness when they hear this beautiful song.

Unfortunately, I am not a talented musical person.  However, I did sing the alto part in the Hallelujah Chorus and still remember some of the part. 

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I’m going with it

I’ve spent the past three hours staring at this computer trying to figure out how to manage our health care.  It seems most companies are going “green” so only mail information needed for informed decisions upon request.  At this point, I’ve waited too long for that to work.

The reason I’m looking at health care closer this year is that I will be on Medicare in the early part of 2011.  I decided early on, that a supplemental policy is needed for the best coverage.  So, after reading forums, information provided by insurance companies and deciding how much to spend, I’m going with a basic Blue Cross/Blue Shield supplemental plan.

It is so hard to second guess health care.    On the other hand, maybe knowing would be more stressful than helpful. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

This is crazy….

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It’s bad enough that we actually went shopping this early, but I somehow set my alarm wrong.  I was afraid to go back to sleep so 3:15 am I am drinking coffee & making my list. 

Kim and I shopped and Dan drove.  We actually did get some shopping done at Eddie Bauer (40% off everything in the store) and Home Depot (98 cent poinsettias).  Kim wanted something in Target, we walked in and turned around and walked out.  The lines to check out were over half way back through the store. 

It was fun, an adventure.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Skye the Boxer

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Those of you who follow my blog know about Skye. I am sad to write that she died Monday, November 22. In a little over a month, she would have been 12 years old. Here is her final post.

Skye came to us sometime in May or June of 1999. Kim and Marc had her first. They already had one boxer, Belle, a refined, well behaved and beautiful dog. Along came Skye, ornery, head strong and happy as a lark. Also, on May 23, along came Aaron so two boxers and a baby were too much. We happily took Skye.

She immediately took over our hearts and home. Lucy, our Beagle, took to her immediately also. Lucy taught Skye how to flush out the rabbits. Most summer evenings we knew where they were because we could hear Lucy on the scent of a rabbit. We began to wonder if it was a game when the rabbits figured out neither of those soft-hearted dogs would ever hurt them.

After Lucy hunted her last rabbit, Skye became much more attentive to us. In fact, she was by our side whenever we were outside and knew where we were inside—a true companion. She did have her quirks.  She had some kind of crazy reaction to being penned up. One time she got left in the house by mistake. There are still places on woodwork where we can see her reaction to that. Thunder and gun shots were another problem. As she grew older, that even got worse. Remember, only a couple months ago we left and a thunder storm came in? She got frightened and took off, only saved by a observant neighbor.

Skye had the best sense of humor of any dog we have ever known. She delighted in making us laugh and knew just how to do it. She could “talk” her way into anything she wanted, including playing with her squeaky newspaper or doughnut and getting a treat. If the doorbell rang, she would be the first there to happily greet our guests. I am not sure I have ever heard her growl. Maybe when she was younger, Dan could get her worked up over seeing something move outside the window.

She had a couple close calls. Once we saw a coyote chasing her across the pasture. The kids yelled and waved their arms and the coyote turned around. Another time she acquired some kind of blood disorder that required a life or death decision. We said save her, paid the exorbitant bill and she lived another seven healthy years.

At the end, she had several problems. Her hips had become so painful that she required a pain pill each day. She also had an issue in her lungs that made it very difficult to breathe. It was her time. We said our goodbyes.

It was difficult to lose Skye. But thinking back over the years, we are so glad we had her as a part of our lives. She helped with the empty nest. And, of course, always made us have at least one big healthy laugh per day. She was a good girl.

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On being a mail carrier

I’ve been retired a year and a half now, but I will never forget the best parts of my 30 year job of delivering mail.  The first episode of this 60-minute segment of This American Life is about a city carrier who saved a person’s life.  As the story points out, this is not unusual and, although I never saved a person’s life, I called 911 about suspected activities at homes or a concerned neighbor when mail piled up in the mailbox of an older customer.

The part of this story that really made me miss my job is how the carrier knew his customers.  That part is so true.  There also was a trust there that, although we knew more about people than most such as their address and condition of their mailbox, it was not a topic of conversation with anyone.

I only listened to the first two segments right now.  The second about the blind man walking a child is excellent also.  I think I will download this as a podcast and listen on my  mp3 player while cleaning for the holidays.  But if you only have seven minutes, listen to the first part about mail carriers. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Topeka Youth Debut Orchestra

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Aaron is a member of the Topeka Youth Debut Orchestra, the beginning group of the Topeka Youth Orchestra.  We are proud of him.  He is the only bass player chosen which puts a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.

This is the last song played.  I missed recording Ode to Joy, more of a Holiday selection.  This is Cabbage Countdown by Phillips  To get the best sound, I probably should have been a little further back from the stage. Also, you might want to move down the volume in the lower right hand corner.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Wrong plant

I doubt if anyone caught the fact that I changed the plant belonging to my Aunt from  Hydrangea to Hibiscus after it was up for several hours.   Hydrangeas get so big, I don’t know if anyone brings them inside for the winter.

I do have a story about  Hydrangeas, though.  My Mom had several around their house.  I guess they loved the spot because they flourished  with big flowers each spring.   As I remember, they were white.  Maybe a light purple. 

Anyway, we decided  we wanted a start.   Plants had started up all around the main plant so we  dug up a big clump with a nice start.

We planted it out by the barn.  Each year it got bigger but no blooms.  Something didn’t seem right about it, but I didn’t think too much about it.  We were standing out by it one spring, by then it was higher than our heads.  Dan got to looking at it and said, “No wonder it hasn’t bloomed, this is a mulberry tree.”  

I guess a bird planted a mulberry in among the Hydrangeas and it survived the transplant and the Hydrangea start did not.   I think we cut down that tree the same day.  Looking back on that incident, I feel pretty stupid.  On the other hand, it amazes me how it all happened without us figuring it out.  Dan knows trees.   The power of suggestion is strong. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Unruly plants need a little love

Up until today, I had the front entry way lined with plants,  brought in late one night when we decided the temperature was dipping too low for the blanket to protect. 

Two big pots are geraniums—not real beautiful plants, probably could be replaced next spring.  Two smaller containers have begonias and one medium pot has a green foliage type plant.   Along with those, I have a poinsettia from last Christmas, a peace lily, a huge aloe vera given to me by my niece which keeps falling over and a fig tree.   At one time or another, someone in the family has asked me why I don’t just throw all these plants out.  They bring in bugs or acquire mites.  And, by times, they look pretty rag tag.

I have trouble throwing out plants.  I am still semi grieving over the fact that I let my Aunt’s old, old double Hibiscus die.  It was very root bound and it already was in a huge pot.  It really was time to let it go.  I still don’t know why I didn’t take starts off of it, though. 

There is no history with the plants brought in from the cold.  It’s just that they are alive and have potential.  It doesn’t seem right to toss them out to freeze.  So, they are all in my livingroom corner where there’s a lot of sun.  I’ll let them settle in to their environment then I’ll post a picture.  Maybe by then last year’s poinsettia will have red leaves and the peace lily will have recovered from its “haircut.” 

They just need a little love to flourish. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Local grandkids win awards in their sports

Last Saturday, Aaron participated in a swim meet where he won first,  third and fourth in three different strokes. 

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Aaron is second of the end with the blue hat.

Adam tested for his black belt the same day as the swim meet.  (There are levels of black belt and he is at the 1st).  He did well in the testing.  It requires discipline and concentration.  A lot of moves to remember.

  Here is Adam receiving his black belt.

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Peter Fletcher - Amazing concert

Peter Fletcher is trained in classical guitar.  He’s played all over the United States in impressive sounding venues including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.  Last night we heard him play for an hour and half at the Lawrence Public Library, no admission charged. 

It was an amazing concert.  Beautiful to hear, impressive to watch because of the sounds he created by his intricate fingering as well as his professional presentation.  This was one of the familiar songs he played.  Just goes to show no education or background in music is needed to appreciate beautiful music especially hearing it live.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I’m Back…

I guess there was a posse out looking for me.

It’s been busy the past few days.  We had Aaron’s swim meet, Adam tested for his Black Belt in Taekwondo.  We also met with our Card group and attended church and the all church Thanksgiving Dinner.

I’m resigned that fall in all its glory is over.  Most of the trees have lost their leaves.  The Pin Oaks are hanging on—I’m glad we have one outside our bedroom window.  We fired up our stove in the basement over the cold snap.  It makes the winter alright for me.  More on that later.

Obviously, Dan has his trail cam set up.  Most of the pictures are of the deer in the previous posts and three or four raccoons.  Be careful of the deer.  We’ve seen them out and about each time we’ve been on the road lately.

Tonight the Lawrence Public Library had a presentation on the inside passage to Alaska.  I know I’ve written before that our plan is to take the ferry up and drive back from Alaska.  We thought it might be this summer, but believe we are going to put it off another year.

Last Friday we cut enough wood to get us through the Holidays.  That feels good more ways than one.  It looks like a sunny day here.  Enjoy yours.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don’t forget Carly!

  Several days ago I posted the making of a family picture.  At the time, there was so much going on that I didn’t finish the post about how it was that all our family came together at the same time. 

Actually, our Colorado family made the trip back to visit Drue’s sister and family who were here from North Carolina.   We were excited that it worked out for us to get together at Drue’s Dad’s house to celebrate Carly’s 6th birthday which is November 5th.  We like to help each of our grandkids celebrate their birthday but Carly’s is so close to the Holidays that seldom all the family is together for her party.  So, this was a real treat for us.   

  For some reason, I did not get a picture both Carly and Trent  together, nor any of the other kids gathered to sing and eat cake. 

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Kim is 40 years old today

Kim is 22 months older than Doug and she turns 40 today.

It’s hard to believe.  Of course, she doesn’t look her age.  Really, the only people who think 40 is old anymore are 20-year-olds.  Certainly, there is a whole lot of livin’ left to be done.

I kept the Topeka State Journal (the no longer published evening paper) from the day she was born.  The top headline was, “High Court Rejects War Suit Action”  It goes on to say, “A divided Supreme Court refused today to hear a suit of Massachusetts questions the legality of U.S. military action in Vietnam.”   The war was very much on the minds of US citizens on November 9, 1970.

The other front page story, “Topekans Clean Up After Sudden Storm” and “Storm That Formed Funnel Said Freak.”  A tornado dropped down over Oakland, a northeast suburb of Topeka the evening before.   

We all know prices for groceries were cheaper then so no need to list those. 

All I know, it was a wonderful day for Dan and I.  A beautiful baby daughter came into this world.  She has been and still is a joy.

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Kim with her boys, her Dad and their family dog. We celebrated Sunday evening.  I think she is looking at her husband Marc in this picture.

Kim has a big event in her, Marc and the boy’s life happening soon.  I’ll let you know in a week or so. 

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Places to see

Today I received my New York Times email with an article entitled, "Six Beaches to See Before you Die."

Something tells me these musicians will see the six beaches and all the others in the song before I do.



Thursday, November 04, 2010

Animal Drama

This is Big Boy, our handsome back yard stud. 

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Tonight we watched him court his girls.

A young fawn wondering around in the high grass behind our house first caught our attention.  It boldly walked right into the yard.  Thinking it must have been kicked out by his mother, I was feeling sad.

Shortly after spotting the fawn, though, two doe were running as fast as they could across the pasture with Big Boy behind.  Then the two doe doubled back around and Big Boy stopped.  The three deer went back and forth running, stopping and just looking at each other.  Then repeating.  I thought maybe we were going to see some action, but guess this was just little courtship fun.  After watching all of this, we decided the fawn was just getting out of the way.  All of this went on until it was too dark to see.

Dan and I both commented we understand why so many deer die on the road this time of year.   If our evening drama is normal, there is a lot of crazy running around as part of the rut. 

Just between you and me, I hope Big Boy makes it through the season.  He is a beauty.   If he doesn’t, it appears there will be a couple little ones next spring that take after him.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Bonnie and Wayne

I’ve been scanning in old photos probably taken by my Mom.  She loved to take pictures—guess I got it honestly.  Here is one that might be of interest to my family. Bonnie & Wayne are first cousins.   Bonnie’s grand daughter has a blog.  Click here to see how Rachael resembles her grand mother and between the two pictures, four three generations of my Dad’s family. (Rachael’s beautiful mother, Connie, is not pictured.)  This picture was taken in 1943.img021 copy

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cranes migrating south over Wakarusa Valley

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This picture was taken Thursday, October 28, 2010.

The sky was moving with what we believe were Sand Hill Cranes.  I took the picture with as much telephoto as I had, then digitally enlarged again.  The sound bite does not do it justice.  They were certainly chatting to each other while moving south.

We plan to travel to Nebraska to see the cranes up close one of these years. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Amy Kay, Dane and family's new home in Jacksonville, Illinois

Our first impression of Jacksonville and the surrounding area was familiarity.  The town is surrounded by rich farm land all laying relatively flat much like our Kansas rural towns.
 
However, that is as far as the similarity goes.  Amy Kay & Dane live between two colleges and a large campus for the State School for the Deaf.  The town seems small for all the big buildings.  Apparently, early in its life, Jacksonville felt it should have been the state capitol.  And, it has train service which would have kept it prosperous during its early years.  Perhaps that is why there are an abundance of huge, beautiful, stately homes there.

Amy Kay and Dane’s is one.   It was built in the mid 1800s quite possibly as a gift from a rich suitor to his bride-to-be parents.  It is listed on the National Historical Register and has had past owners, like Dane and Amy, who care about keeping it authentic.  My pictures can't capture the space of it with 12 foot ceilings,  very wide trim and old growth walnut wood throughout. The brick exterior is trimmed with carved stone above windows and ornate wood trim.  The huge trees in the yard are beautiful in their fall colors.

It was dark when we visited MacMurray College campus where Dane is Athletic Director and coach of the girls basketball.  It is an old university, established not long after the city.  In the dark, it appeared the buildings were dignified and well maintained.

Since all our traveling necessities were in the camper, we slept out there.  It seems ridiculous as they had plenty of bedrooms.  And, it seemed even more ridiculous when a tornado siren blew at 4:00 am Tuesday morning.  Other than that, we had fun playing with Sebastian and Atticus and just blending into their busy lives for a few hours. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cuivre State Park, Missouri, then across the Mississippi to Illinois

The drive from Washington, Missouri to Jacksonville should have taken only a few hours.  However, keeping to backroads, a stop at Cuivre State Park and enjoying colorful trees along the way made our trek somewhat longer.
 
Cuivre State Park is north of St Louis and seems set apart from the surrounding farm land.  Our visit had to be nearly at the peak of tree color.  We drove through the park and stopped for lunch.
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IMG_8888 We crossed the river at Louisiana, Missouri, a colorful Mississippi river town.
  
Who knew there are still general stores.  Well, there is one just across the Mississippi river located at Pike, Illinois.  It boasts Judy’s home cookin, worms, Amish made goods and over to the right, beer.  Wish now we would have stopped for some of that homemade dessert.
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Pittsfield, Illinois, also had many colorful trees.  And an interesting bicycle build for four for sale.
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The town also had a beautiful town square and courthouse.
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Next stop, Jacksonville

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wine and more

The wedding at Powell Gardens was beautiful.  I’ll post a few more pictures later.

We decided since we were already one and a half hours into Missouri, we would spend an extra day chasing color.  Not that we couldn’t have just stayed where we were and witnessed gorgeous flowers and trees at Powell Gardens.  Only there wasn’t wine there. 

We discovered after loading the camper that our running lights were not working.  Not a big deal in the daylight, but we needed to park before dark.  When we told the person in charge at Powell Gardens, they graciously let us stay in their parking lot. 

The fastest way to get to Hermann would have been to slip up to I70 and head east.  Instead we enjoyed the backroads to Jefferson City, then on to Hermann.  The road that follows the Katy Trail from Jeff City was full of yellows, reds and both together.  No bikes along though.

We actually did not stop at Hermann, driving on through to Bommerito Estate Almond Tree Winnery.  Two sisters now own it and are the winemakers.  Their father, who started it, is in his late 80’s and we love to hear his stories.   We had this bottle of outstanding wine with our cheese and crackers.  Look closely under the bottle—a little visitor waiting for a crumb or maybe a drip of wine?

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Then on to Robllyers vineyards where we enjoyed Bob.  I’ve written about him before.  He is an entertainer out of St. Louis that makes sings lots of well known songs and makes the afternoon fun.  Deciding I had enough wine, I brought out the kite and let it fly while I walked around the vineyards.

It is only a short drive on to Washington where we are now.  We are backed up against the “wide Missouri” and listening to raindrops hit the top of the camper. 

Washington Missouri River bridge from where we’re parked.

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Tomorrow, we’re following the Mississippi north to visit Amy Kay & Dane and their new home. 

Laura & James married at Powell Gardens

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friends of the Kaw show “Tapped”

Friends of the Kaw states as their mission “to protect and preserve the Kansas River.”  The Kansas River, nicknamed Kaw,  begins in Junction City where the Smoky Hill and Republican Rivers join and ends where it joins the Missouri River at Kansas City.

Last Thursday evening we attended the Friends’ Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Liberty Hall in Lawrence.  There were four short films, most addressing water quality and resources.

“Tapped” was the last film.  This award winning Indy Film makes an impression watching the trailer.  We all know bottled water is not a wise choice.  However, I did not know there is a billion dollar industry in bottled water where big companies actually “farm” water without paying anything for it.  There is very little legislation regulating this industry that has grown primarily from advertising.  The plastic used for bottles is even another issue, both health and use of petroleum.

After seeing this movie, we hope to not buy any more bottled water.  We do find it convenient when traveling, but this summer I purchased glass jugs that can be refilled from a clean source and we have reusable drinking containers.  I carry water in the camper because I don’t like to drink the water run through our camper system.  It is a matter of getting into a habit even at home of remembering to fill reusable containers.

Lawrence Public Library has the movie to rent.  I am sure other libraries in the area do also.  I encourage all to see it.   I am sure the reason the Friends included this film in their series is that most of Topeka and possibly some of Lawrence’s drinking water is taken from the Kaw. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

And, the name of the flower is…

“It's a mum - Shefield's Pink- last plant to bloom -very frost resistant- it's having a good year - easily divided and transplanted”  said Chip.

Anyone want a start next spring?  It’s big enough to share!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just when you think it’s over

This plant has just started blooming.  There are still buds in the bigger picture.  Isn’t this the best plant ever?  It looks like a Mum—I’ll have to check with Chip because I bought it at his butterfly plant sale.  It is good for the insects because it blooms so late.  I do remember he said it is highly resistant to frost. 

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Photography workshop and a Honeymoon

Tonight I attended a photography workshop specifically about making photo books.   Even though I have made photography books before, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to hear two of Lawrence’s most gifted photographers on the subject, Mike Yoder, chief photographer for the Lawrence Journal World and Tim Forcade, with 40 years experience as an artist, painter, photographer and designer.

It was well worth the $25.  Their enthusiasm was catching.  Their examples were beautiful. 

And, not only did participants get a CD of the presentation, we were served wine and appetizers from Tellers, an excellent Lawrence restaurant in an old bank building downtown.  (I was reminded of its former life when I went through the vault door to go to the bathroom.)

I hurried home because Carole and Ray are home back from their honeymoon and  were stopping by.  They had a great time in New Orleans and surrounding area. 

I will put up links to programs for the photo books soon.  I should help Ray and Carole make a photo book of their wedding!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Local Fall Color

I'm always studying maps and fall color web sites to figure where we should go to find color.  These pictures were taken right here at home.  Still, I'm hoping for one more leaf peeping trip.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

National Park Service Senior Pass

This is the greatest deal around.    If anyone reading this is 62 and does not have one, the next time you visit a National Park site, sign up.  It is only $10.  You have to purchase it in person because they have to verify age  Here is more information.

On our recent trip to Arkansas, we drove to nearby Beaver Dam and lake near Eureka Springs.  We passed a beautiful Corps of Engineers campground.  It appeared it was an island, reached by a causeway.  It was morning and we were not looking for a camp site, but if we were, the sites would have been half price with our Federal Golden Age Passport, which is now called  Senior Pass.   

Also, any National Park is free admittance with the pass.  On our recent trip to Colorado, the Chimney Rock site charged half price with the pass even though it was privately maintained as did another campground that was privately owned but in a National Forest.  The Great Sand Dunes was free admittance.   Additional fees such as parking are still full price at some parks such as Mount Rushmore even though admittance is free.

Fishing license is another issue.  Each time I fish in a different state, I have to buy another license.  Wouldn’t it be great if, at the least, states would honor a home state license if only for a day or two.  Or, even better, issue a national license. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vocal concert and growing up

Aaron had his 5th grade vocal music concert last night.  As I’ve said before, I do enjoy attending these presentations.  For one thing, the kids work hard memorizing the songs and I like to support that. 

Also, Mrs. Judd, Aaron’s music teacher, had her students well trained as to when to stand, sit and move about.  There was no clowning around.  Serious stuff as it will be any time in the future when participating in a singing group.

Finally, I feel young people learn disciple, and with that,  pride in the  Arts as well as  sports and deserve support in their involvement.  If the attendance last night at the very same time as the KU/KSU football game is any indication, the parents, grandparents and friends at Tecumseh North Elementary School agree.

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After the concert,  we went to Aaron’s room with Marc’s parents.  When Aaron walked out of his room, the first thing we noticed is that he might have caught up to his other grandmother in height.  What do you think, Adam?

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Roaring River State Park

A trout fisherman’s paradise is just a few miles north of the Arkansas/Missouri state line.  Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my gear with me.


Roaring River begins as a spring measured at 224 feet deep when divers last explored in 1999.    The second picture shows the map of the spring including a lower cavern.  According to written accounts the spring roared loudly, especially in the spring until the small dam was built in 1865 for the mill.

 
The area has a long history.  Early records indicate Native American settlements lined the river.  Then, for a time, the river was used to run a grist mill.  In November, 1928,  Thomas M. Sayan, the famous soap manufacturer of St. Louis purchased the land. . No one knew the plans Sayan had for the beautiful property; but when he found his plans could not be carried out, he gave the property to the State of Missouri in December of that same year.  Many improvements, especially to the hachery, were made by the Civilian Conservation Corps beginning in 1933.
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A smaller spring at the top was hardly flowing when we visited.  I am sure it would be beautiful in the spring.  There is a hiking trail to the top of the cliff above the spring opening.

It is from this spring water that the trout in this hatchery flourish. 
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IMG_8639The pools and lake were full of trout in various sizes.  This picture was taken downstream about a quarter of a mile.  There are strict limits which I am sure most filled.  The stream was visibly full of trout released from the hatchery.   IMG_8619
Some were fishing with rod and reels but most were using fly rods.  It made me realize I need to practice.  They made it look easy as the line gently whipped and swirled through the air.  Next time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The shower was fun

What is it about opening presents and kids—well actually everyone.  We all gathered around to watch the shower of gifts.  James & Laura were gracious

IMG_8505 - Copy This was after hot dogs, brats, mac & cheese, and cookies.  A wedding shower and no cake?  Yep.  Cookies were less messy.

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Lots of friends and dogs…

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