Tuesday, January 31, 2023

I was looking out the window around 9:00am the other morning and this coyote came trotting across the pasture behind our house. I always keep my little Panasonic ZS50 nearby. It has a fantastic telephoto lens. The trouble is it is very hard to keep it steady. Even though this little video moves around a lot, I thought it was worth sharing because of the beautiful coat on this male. I'm not too happy with how relaxed he was about coming right up to the house. There is no perspective to know, but he was jogging along the back mowing line of our yard.

Dan says it is getting close to their mating season so maybe he is feeling bold.  We lit our little Solo tabletop fire pit to roast marshmallows at halftime tonight and they serenaded us the whole time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Speaking of Jacksonville

 We watched the Chief’s play the Jacksonville Jaguars a couple of days ago.  It was good to see a win for the local team. 

 The Jaguar's hometown of Jacksonville got me thinking of our visit there last spring.  We were visiting our grandson Aaron and Harlee.   Aaron is stationed at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Georgia.  We mostly camped at Reed Bingham State Park in Georgia.  However, we wanted to see the ocean, so we booked a site at Little Talbot Island State Park near Jacksonville, Florida about two hours away.

This awesome state park is located very near the ocean.  It has been put aside by the State of Florida to maintain pristine beaches with no development.  It’s hard to believe it is located so close to a large city without the usual high-rise buildings and businesses cluttering the beaches.  

Our campsite was located between the ocean and the inlet and had easy access to both.  It was set in the trees with ferns draping down over us just as we would expect in Florida. We fit in a visit to St Augustine, just down the road. Looking back, I wish we would have kicked back and enjoyed the beach. 




Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Top Ten Topics While Driving 100 Round Trips to Colorado

Over the years since Doug and Drue have lived in Colorado, we figure we have made around 100 trips.  We arrived at that figure by estimating we make about three trips a year.  When the grandkids were little, it might have been more.  Now that it is easier for all of them to return here, maybe less.  Still, 100  is a nice round number.  And, there were three years when both our kids and their families lived in Colorado.  Also, it is important to remember we also travel to other places and this list pretty much holds true.  

Over the years, we usually do not read, look at electronics or listen to books.  So, what are the top 10 things we do while on these 16-hour round trips?  This list is in no particular order, it’s just what came to mind as I write.

  1.  Food.  Where we are going to eat along the way (no surprise there)

  2.  Weather.    Wind direction, temperature, road condition.  In all those trips, we have encountered road closures twice due to snow, once we had to find a motel and another time we bluffed our way through by saying we had relatives in the closure area.  Once we were on the scene of a bad accident in slick conditions

  3. Crops. Our rural background influences our interest in the crops in the fields, including their apparent health.  Many who complain about the boredom of western Kansas maybe aren’t noticing how many beautiful productive acres are out there.  

  4. The sky.  Sunrises, Sunsets, clouds.  Over the years we’ve traveled at times when we’ve seen them all.

  5.  Plans.  What we might do during our visit.  This is especially true if we are driving the Pleasure Way RV.  On the return trip, usually, a lot of time is spent talking about what we need to do when we get home.  Plans for future projects for cutting wood, filling ditches, the garden.  

  6. Fellow travelers. The kinds of cars, trucks and RVs have changed over the years.  Twice we have actually counted RVs by category (a subject for another post) Speculating on where people are going and why they are in such a hurry.

  7. Roadkill.  I know–what can I say?  We have to comment about all the roadkill we see as we go.  There was a time after a very bad winter storm when we actually saw cattle that had not made it through the cold weather along the road.

  8. Landmarks.  Flint Hills, Wind Generators, Barns, Post Rocks, large churches, Quinter (halfway spot), state line and the five little towns on Hwy 24 between Lyman and Colorado Spgs–Matheson, Simla, Ramah, Calhan and Peyton, always commenting on their order.  

  9. Driving–when we trade-off (a bigger topic than it should be)

  10. Sleep–the only time I listen to my audiobook is while Dan is sleeping.

Maybe this topic is more than anyone would want to know, but since we just returned from a visit two days ago, it was fresh on my mind.  As to our visit, it was great.  We didn’t see the Colorado family at Christmas, so it was just a quick two-day visit with a day on each end for driving and talking.  Finally, something I didn’t list is just being quiet with our own thoughts.  Nothing wrong with that and a nice highlight of travel.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Stull Community of Faith Church Fire

Fortunately, we have never had a fire occur in our home.  There have been near misses of danger with the burning of our pastures each spring.  There were two occasions when we called fire trucks.  But, our home has never been in danger.  So, the first time we watched flames shooting out of a building that was important to us was when our Stull church was struck by lightning.

Monday, July 25, 2022.  We had just finished lunch when we heard that the church was on fire!  Of course, we immediately jumped in the car and headed up there.   The video was shared from a person who stopped on the road.

The fire was contained to the bell tower.  This photo shows how close we came to catching the entire church on fire but thanks to the quick response of the fire departments that did not happen.  Once the flames were extinguished it continued to smother and they continued to pour water into the area where it started.

After the fire was extinguished and the experts came in to assess, it was quickly determined that the damage was extensive, mainly from the extreme amount of water it took to put out the smolder.  We peeked into the building and water was running from the ceiling in various places and the ceiling was sagging.  It was obvious there was water above. .  In fact, the moisture permeated the entire church. Click here to see the removal of the bell from the tower. It is a big bell and it was a process.

Immediately, experts were brought in to start the drying-out process.  I haven’t been a part of the group that has overseen the recovery.  But, I am certain the huge fans and many dehumidifiers ran around the clock, seven days a week for at least a month probably longer. It was an education to see how the professionals do their work. They cut holes in the walls and ceiling. Then big tubes that funneled the air from the fans were put into the holes. So, air was circulated not only in the open areas but between the walls and above the ceiling.

After it was dried out, the dumpsters were brought in and all damaged sheetrock and other smoke-damaged items were removed.  It’s been a slow process.  Materials are in short supply and these kinds of construction projects always seem to have delays.

The last “tour” of the church was this past Sunday, January 8, 2023.  The remodeling contractor has refinished all the trim, all the pews and the floors.  With the removal of ceilings, it was determined it was a good time to run to wiring and add lights and sound.   The basement wasn’t as damaged, but there was enough.   So, it has been remodeled as well.

With all the work to fix the damage, the integrity of the architecture of when the church was built has not changed.  Currently, the thought is we might be able to have services by Easter.  Here are a couple of current pictures.  The area behind the cross at the front will be beautiful but it is still a work in progress.

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

New Year, New Post.

 Well, it's been a while.  We are fine and as far as we know never had COVID.  We've never passed on the chance to get a preventative vaccine.   "They" say that the shots don't prevent anyone from getting it, but we wonder if we had light cases because of them.  Honestly, we hardly know anyone who hasn't tested positive.

 Since my last post we've traveled a bit, enjoyed family and friends, and worked on our yard and land. Of course, I too made a list of New Year's resolutions.  One was to start posting again.  When I started this blog, I posted five to six days a week.  That's when I carried mail and had a lot of material.  Our lives are more mundane anymore.  And there's Facebook and Instagram to post pictures.  However, I've never felt comfortable putting too much on those very public forums.  But I can put things on this little blog and people can come here and look if they want.  So, we'll see how it goes. This time I'm not making any promises as to how often, so if you are reading this, just check in once in a while.

Since the setup of Blog posts is the most recent is on top, I thought I would start with some things from this past year and work my way to the present.  Since I mentioned garden, I will start with my garden this past summer.

Several years ago, we hauled composed dirt from under the feed bunks at our neighbor Mark & Brenna's feedlot.  Dan has spread loader full piles over the entire area of the garden the past two years.  The plants absolutely thrived.  Notice I said "plants."  I had beautiful big tomato and green bean plants.  The tomatoes set on fairly well but would not ripen.  The green beans grew all over the place because I mistakenly planted pole beans.  Since this variety was new to me, I didn't realize they don't all get ripe at once.  I needed to check them each day which, of course, I didn't.  The beans were either monster or too small.  Even the winter squash didn't produce like usual, mostly because of the evil squash bugs.  

Honestly, I heard from many that this wasn't a good garden year.  Too much rain early and then too dry. 

The picture below is from clearing those pole beans. They were like an invasive weed.  Come to think about it, maybe they are why the tomatoes didn't produce because the pole beans grew up the tomato stands.  

I'm feeling optimistic about this year's garden. I'm looking at seed catalogs already.  We plowed this fall and along with the extreme cold, we are hopeful the bug larva hidden in the soil will freeze--the only good thing that came from the recent weather.  

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Watching deer never gets old


Just for perspective, the area where the grass is higher is only about 40 feet from the back of our house.

 There’s a reason why these three deer are looking toward the house.  They have enjoyed some nice meals of corn this winter.  But, with the warm weather, their gravy train has ended.  Obviously, the yearling in front is losing her winter coat. Still, they look good coming out of the winter. 

There are plenty of coyotes around which might be why Brutus and Jojo don't seem to bother them when they are here.

On a moonlit night we might even see some hanging around the windbreak.  Then there is this!

Monday, March 28, 2022

Scarlett O'Hara Pieris

 In 2015 we completely removed the front landscaping.  Here is a link to the process of removing the original overgrown plants.  

Kim spent a lot of time planning the replacement scrubs. We didn't actually plant everything until the fall of 2016.  The timing and varieties were well-done on her part because we only lost one plant.   It was an almost a perfect fall with a late freeze and good moisture.  

There were once two Scarlett O’Hara Pieris plants tucked in a corner where the front juts out for the garage.  This is the one that prevailed.  Perhaps it was the location or the soil.  Pieris plants like acid soil.  According to my research, I should add some of our neighbor's corral compost we have in a pile for the best natural acidity. (More on that wonderous stuff another time)  

Even though it has never been a fast grower, it continues to plug along with determination.  I think it came back from the roots at least once.  Kim said we should move it.   However, it's become a favorite where it is located.  I admire people and plants with spunk and determination

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Do you really want to know what I cook for dinner?


In the past few years, I have not felt like writing on this humble blog.  There were months when we mostly stayed home.  I do not think anyone would want to read what I cooked for dinner each day. 

The videos I make are fun.  I mostly try my hand at making shorts.  Both Instagram and YouTube have that available.  In the end, writing is most enjoyable for me. And, more importantly, it takes hours to produce a short five-minute video that is only marginally creative.   I'm definitely a faster typist.

I do occasionally post on social media, but I prefer a place where family and friends can check in if they want to rather than have my activities randomly pop up.

Even though I did not write here, I kept a journal for the past year and a half.   I have a printer (Canon and Kodak both make one) which enables me to include little pictures in my journal.  Definitely old school—I will show you sometime.  In the end, journaling is a lot like posting here.

I have had several ask me about my blog recently and my most loyal reader still checks in (thank you Paul).  So, I thought I would give it another roll.  Summer is upon us, the garden is ready to plant, Dan has his projects and we are venturing out in our little RV.  All of these activities provide fodder for pictures and words. 

I am going to try to put something on here twice a week—Tuesday and Saturday mornings.  Will see how that goes.  If I find I’m once again not fulfilling my promise, I’ll let you know. 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Long Overdue

 Wayne & Ruth with Dan at Johnny's in Topeka.  We visited for 2 1/2 hours.  I think it was overdue.  

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmas 2020

I found it especially important this year to remind myself of all the wonderful things that have happened this year.   Around Thanksgiving, it became clear we weren’t anywhere near back to normal.  Lockdowns were not going away.  That meant that some things that have been tradition were not going to happen. Still there were a bunch of happy memories made this year.

Topping the list were graduation celebrations with family and friends.  Then road trips with Dan, road trips with friends, and road trips to visit family and friends.  Remodeling the PW, which I don’t think I’ve ever shown the completed project because, as usual for us it’s not quite complete.  The garden was wonderful so we were able to preserve and share with neighbors and friends.  Dan has been busy all year with his backhoe doing one project or another.  We have enjoyed others pets and our own kitty. We have enjoyed conversations on  porches,  around fires and by phone.

There has been aspect of luck for Dan and I this year.  Many times we could have been exposed to the virus.  We have worn masks when out and about since the very beginning, but who knows.  As I said, it just might boil down to luck.

Over Christmas, we were able to spend time with Kim, Marc, Adam and Evan.  Aaron was not there because he is in Air Force Basic Training at Lackland AFB, San Antonio but he was able to be in touch.  

About a month ago, I had this thought that it might be fun to have an outdoor bonfire on Christmas Eve.  Several days later, I talked to a friend who lives in Wilson Kansas and she said she was thinking a big bonfire would be fun on Christmas Eve.  I told her I had the same thought.  She said if two people are thinking the same thought, it is a good one and if three people are thinking the same thought, it’s from an Angel.   When I mentioned it to Kim, she said they were in.  So, the plan was made for what I like to call a “Pop up Christmas Eve Party” mainly because it wasn’t finalized until the day of because of the weather.  We just had a few neighbors and family down and it was really fun.  All outdoors on a 17 degree night.

I am thinking there will still be more celebrating.  I’ll let you know.  In fact, I am thinking I will make a New Year Resolution.  That would be to post on this blog once a week.  I think each Friday would be a good day.  Let’s see how long I can go with this resolution in 2021 because I’ve made them before and failed.  I’m feeling good about at least 50 posts on this blog next year.   Until then, Merry Belated Christmas and Happy New Year.  I appreciate you loyal readers who hang in there with my musings.  I truly appreciate your support.