Friday, February 18, 2011

Kansas celebrates 150 years

Most who live in or care about Kansas know the big 150th birthday observance was several weeks ago on January 29th.  Actually, it was only the recognition, the activities celebrating it will continue throughout the year

A week before the day, the Wichita Eagle published an article recommending books to read this year in honor of 150 years of statehood.  (Thank you, Kayzie for calling it to my attention.)   I am listing the books, but go to the article for reasons they are on the list and more about the writers.

For all ages:

  • “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum
  • “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • “Sod and Stubble” by John Ise

Sunflower State History:

  • Any Kansas History book by Craig Miner

The character of Kansas:

  • “The Learning Tree” by Gordon Parks
  • “The Barnstormer and the Lady” by Dennis Farney
  • “What’s the Matter With Kansas” editorial by William Allen White
  • “What’s the Matter With Kansas” book by Thomas Frank

Iconic Images:

  • “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote
  • “Picnic” by William Inge

Cowboys and Indians:

  • “The Last Cattle Drive” by Robert Day
  • The Spanish Bit Saga by Don Coldsmith

Prairie poetry:

  • Kansas Poems of William Stafford” edited by Denise Low
  • Langston Huges
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Albert Goldbarth
  • “The High Plains” and “No Rain from These Clouds” by Kenneth Wiggins Porter

The nature of the Plains:

  • “Hunting and Trading on the Great Plains” by James R. Mead
  • “PrairyErth” by William Least Heat-Moon

Perhaps this will give you some ideas if you want to go with a Kansas theme in your reading.  I plan to read some as well.  One that I have read and certainly recommend is “The Last Cattle Drive.”  It is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.  When we subscribed to the “Grass and Grain” newspaper, I always enjoyed Don Coldsmith’s column.  I plan to read his Spanish Bit Saga books.  Finally, it is about time I read “PrairyErth.”  Additions or recommendations are welcome in the comments. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

There’s green under that snow!

IMG_0010-1 I took the lazy girl way out today and emailed this picture to our son-in-law Marc for identification.  He is our go-to person for weeds with his agronomy degree.  His first thought was  “mouse ear chickweed.”  He asked me a couple questions for clarification, but I remembered he was on his way to a meeting and told him not to worry.  I checked online and in a book we have and it does look like chickweed.  Even though there might be some similarities, it is not clover.

The green emerging from under the snow is amazing.  I had to run errands today and noticed fescue yards look a little green also.  I am sure the snow cover did a lot to insulate everything under it from the minus degree temperatures.  My guess is that deer are sneaking in at night to enjoy the early tender growth as well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day 2011

IMG_0001-1

I know you aren’t supposed to buy appliances, but….

Cuisinart ice cream maker

Our friends Kay and Lynn who now live permanently in Apache Junction, Arizona, must be planning a romantic evening with home made ice cream because they requested my recipe. 

The Cuisinart ice cream maker is very cool.  Simply place the canister in the freezer.  When you are ready to make a last minute dessert, take it out and dump in the ice cream recipe and plug it in.  It works best if you allow time for it to freeze a couple hours after it is finished churning, but not necessary. 

Here is my recipe.  I have messed around with it, making improvements and adding all kinds of fruit, nuts, etc. 

Cuisinart Vanilla Ice Cream

1.1 oz French Vanilla Instant Pudding (1/3 package)
Generous 1/2 cup sugar  (use brown sugar if making brown bread)
1 teaspoon good vanilla
Fill canister about 80% full with 1/2 & 1/2 or cream

Serves 4 generously

Robins think it’s spring

It is too big an area for a picture and Robins have excellent camouflage coloring anyway.   Still, the sight is beautiful for two reasons.  Who doesn’t love Robins and sometimes their presence spells spring.

The past two days our meadow has been crawling with Robins.  The snow cover is about off and boy are they busy pecking and scratching.  As far as we know, they’ve been around all winter.  Chip was by this morning for a visit and he said the Wildlife and Parks  counted approximately 56,000 Robins during their annual bird survey last fall.   I bet there were at least 1,000 around here today.

It makes sense that they would spend the winter here.  The Clinton Lake Wildlife and Parks rangers have food plots all around the valley.  Farmers leasing the public land are required to leave some of the crops for wildlife.  With the Wakarusa river nearby, I am sure there is open water available.

With the mild weather, especially with all the Robins, it’s hard not to think about spring.   Still, we all know Winter has more for us down the line.  Isn’t it nice to have this reprieve, though?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Flying High

IMG_9996.CR2 We had dinner on the table, wine poured and ready to start on salads, when we both started counting jet streams out our south window—at least ten in this picture. 

By the time we finished our meal, the conditions changed,  jet streams dissipated and no additional in sight. 

Actually, “Fly Over People.” might be a good name for those of us in the middle.  I like it that way.