Monday, April 06, 2020

Spring Fever For The Birds

The Buzzards are back and have been soaring all around the house since the middle of March--their usual time of arrival.  I’ve often wondered if they come back to the same place each year. This morning one soared right by our back window. It seems they are glad to be back and saying hello.  Dan has reservations on that theory.

It was a nice day so these Eagles were just out for a soar.  It’s such a joy to watch them catch the updrafts with their beautiful wingspan.    We are thinking they either have a nest or are working on one down by the river behind us.   The big Eagle nest over near the town of Clinton fell several years ago. The pair raised at least one baby before it got too big for the tree.  It is said the nests weigh around a ton.


The turkeys are back at it.  They are a little hard to see since most of the grass still needs to be burned.  This picture shows what we think are several hens on the left and on the right are probably Jake turkeys hoping for a little action but the Boss is in the middle is in charge. 

I think the pair of Collared Doves has finally made a nest.  They talked to each other endlessly. As do the Meadowlarks. For the Bluebirds, it’s just work, work, work.  They’ve got something going in the box. Definitely it's Spring and thankfully the birds are socializing.

Friday, April 03, 2020

This and That

The reason the bear was peeking over the sleeping bags in our livingroom a few posts back is because we removed just about everything in the RV for the remodel. All that gear ended up in the house longer than we thought. Finally the RV is finished as of yesterday.

We still have our old jack knife bed from the camper in the basement. (We would make someone a good deal) It is in good shape, although it probably could use new padding. A jack knife bed is a sofa. Then electrically via a small motor,  it lowers into a bed. It actually is a cool concept and there would be some who would wonder why we took it out. I hope we didn't make a mistake. Although we took the PW to Wichita for Adam's bowling tournament and were pleased with how our remodel worked out even though it wasn't finished.

I wrote about the new curtains. Here is a picture. I think they turned out well. The old drapes covered half the windows even when they were up. With these, the entire window will be open when they are removed.

The garden is in awesome shape. Dan used an old disk plow late last fall. Then, last week he ran over and around the area with a harrow. One problem, no seeds! I am going to call a nursery and see if we can do a drive by order to pickup seeds. After this cold spell, it will definitely be time to get the cool weather crops in the ground.  I like lettuce and spinach. I might plant four or five hills of potatoes.

I spent the day working on clearing off my desk. It isn't finished, but I can see a plan coming together.  I scanned in another batch of pre digital pictures. I usually do that when I'm putting off filing etc at my desk. I'll end with two pictures that make me shake my head. Talking about dangerous--the kids rode these three wheel ATVs all around our place and down in the valley. When these pictures were taken in the 1980's, the Wildlife and Parks allowed ATV riding in the valley--at least they didn't say anything to the kids. No helmet--I don't know what we were thinking.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Burn Baby Burn

Of course I'm talking about our annual pasture burn. 

Maybe everyone knew this but me, but Burn Baby Burn is a 1976 Disco song by the Trammps. It is familiar, but in 1976 I was listening to country.

We might be burning a little at a time this year because our neighbor who usually helps is busy with calving and planting.   Here is our first small area where Dan wants to work on clearing some brush where he removed a tree last fall.  The grass is nice in this area and we need to get it cleaned up so it can be put up.  The pasture still wet from recent rains so I felt like it went well.  Pasture fires are worrisome to me.

They are burning all over the valley now.   This afternoon there was a burn directly south of us.  We watched as the heat and smoke appeared to make an actual cloud.

It continued to keep it's form for a long time.  We have never seen something like that before.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Planning a road trip is half the fun

I can't lie.  I would love to just leave tomorrow for a road trip.  I've been thinking about taking off in the PW for over a week.   Here are a couple possibilities.

 We should probably keep the road trip close to home.  So, I suppose that leaves out this:

We receive a slick magazine published by Chevrolet.   In the latest addition they suggest the readers should take a 2020 Chev Equinox (go figure) and travel to about 40 miles northwest of Cincinnati Ohio for the Butler County Donut Trail.  There are eleven donut shops in about an 80 mile loop.  I think this would be a blast, altho a bit of a wreck for a diet (me) and blood sugar (Dan).  Still the possibilities of all those donuts is extremely tempting.  It is nearly a ten hour drive from here but I think there is a nice wine trail near Indianapolis on the way home.

By the way, in case you need schooled on donuts.  Click on the picture to make it bigger.

I seriously looked at the Great Salt Plains Lake in Oklahoma.  It is only four hours away via I 35.  According to the web site the State Park is still open.

The Lake has a high concentration of salt left from sea water millions of years ago.   I would like to dig in the salt flats for the selenite crystals formed by the saline water and gypsum.  This is the only place in the world where an hour glass shape is within the crystals.  After talking to Dan, though, we decided we better stay even closer to home just because we should do our part.

So, next week we are planning to drive south to the Ottawa area and ride on the Prairie Spirit Trail.  The entire trail is 51 miles from Ottawa to Iola.  So we will probably do a couple out and back rides.  We've ridden on a segment called South Wind Rail Trail near Iola.   I wrote about it here.

We'll see.  Like I've said before, it's a crazy time and maybe travel isn't in the cards.  I will plan anyway.  Because that's what I love to do.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Drawn like a magnet

We have undertaken a remodel project this winter.  Not in our home, but in our Pleasure Way RV. 
The PW is a 2003 model and for the most part, we have not done much to it.  It is true that we probably only use it about 30 nights a year.  Really not enough to create much wear.  But, the past couple years, I have thought it needed an update and a brightening up.  It wouldn’t do me much good to show pictures.  I am not sure anyone is that interested in how to remodel a RV.  We just about have it finished.  If we ever get to take it out, I will take some pictures with a background that is more interesting than our barn

Part of the remodel project was making new window coverings.  I decided to brighten things up by removing all drapes that were on the windows in order to capture all the light inside that is available.  Then, at night, when we don’t want anyone to see in, we need total blackout window coverings.  I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and purchased a nice drape, brought it home,  cut and hemmed two coverings to exactly fit the windows.  I am pleased with how it all turned out.  And no one will be able to see through these drapes.

Making the blackout curtains to exactly fit the windows and stay in place is where  magnets come into play. 

Who knew there was so many choices of magnates.  I found a web site that sells magnets and studied the pounds of pull or hold or whatever it is called.  I discovered I am pairing two magnets, they should hold the same pounds.  Since the magnets on the curtain would be sewn into several layers of fabric, I wanted some that were fairly strong—I think I finally settled on 3 pounds.  That’s actually fairly light, they sell some that hold 50 pounds!  That’s dangerous.

The package with the magnets came today.  There are already holes in the side of the windows from the old drapes.  That’s where I screwed in black, sort of decorative magnets that the curtain will stick to.    It was my job to screw the magnets  where I wanted them and Dan was handing them to me. 
I don’t think anyone will fully appreciate how hard it is to handle a stack of magnets that hold three pounds unless you’ve worked with them.  Dan would struggle to get one off and the little spacer would drop and then the magnet would fly right back on the stack.  Then without the shipping spacer, it was nearly impossible to get them apart.  He got one off and laid it down for me, but when laid the next one too close, they would fly together.  At one point, they flew together so hard, it broke one of them.

We decided those magnets needed Social Distancing.   And, it worked.  We just laid them far enough apart that they didn’t sense each other. 

Is there a day that goes by that we don’t talk about social distancing?   Just like the magnets, I think it is hard to be close to other people but keep apart—now they are saying ten feet.  Isn’t being close enough to shake hands part of our human behavior.  I don’t even think it’s learned, people—even animals—want to be close.    I saw a picture on social media today of a family we know poised on their front steps.  Apparently, there is a photographer in their area driving around taking pictures of families from the road to chronicle this totally unusual and crazy time. 

It really does seem like we just need to stay quarantined.  Because, just like our crazy magnets,  if we get too close, we will be drawn in even though we know we shouldn’t.  People have said that this virus will change our behavior after it’s over.  I hope we will still be magnets.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

How long can we last?

This question has been a topic of discussion lately.  Just how long could we go without a trip to the grocery store?

It has been nearly two weeks and we are still just fine.  Actually, I was looking in the pantry yesterday and I think we could go another week eating beans every day. 

Why would I have so many beans?  Don’t judge me on this, but I often go to the grocery story without a list.  If we are in town, we will stop by the store for one or two things.  Since I’m there, I’ll walk a couple of isles and inevitably  see beans.  I’ll ask myself, do I need beans?  Then I’ll pick up a can or so just in case.  This is why I need to always have a list.  Or, better yet, peruse the pantry before shopping and take note of what’s in there. 

So, I just went to the pantry to check for the sake of this post, I have Kidney-4, Butter-1, Cannellini-3, Black-1, Chili-3, Chickpeas-3 and no baked beans.   In my defense, I often add different kinds of beans to soups but definitely we could live on beans for a while.  Which is a good thing—they are very healthy.  Just writing this makes me think about black beans and rice, maybe tomorrow.

Then there’s this

The honey is from our bee lady as payment for the three hives she has on our place.   I have 10 jars of green beans and 6 of the tomato juice.  There are bags of  sweet potatoes and squash in the freezer.  All of this produce is from last summer’s garden. 

Who knows how long we could live without a grocery store.  Quite a while I think.  However, we love our fresh vegetables and fruits.  Eggs are a stable.  As is cottage cheese.  But, I think I will make an effort to see how long we can “eat out of the pantry.”

Dan says that's a good idea, until we run out of ice cream. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

We’re Being Watched

I could have added “over” to the title of this post.  Our family, neighbors and friends have called and texted to make sure we are OK.  I guess at mid 70s, we fall into the high risk category.  Today  we received a call from a neighbor with a big family telling me she had gone to Lawrence looking for milk and brought home three gallons.   Not knowing about her purchase, her husband ran to Topeka for a farm part and grabbed two gallons.  So, did we need milk?  I said, “thank you for thinking of us, but we’ve been drinking Almond Milk and we’re good.”  She said, “That’s OK but just know milk does not grow on trees.”

Tomorrow we are being treated to Vegan Lasagna made by daughter Kim and Marc.   I know it will be delicious.

We are also being watched by the inside.  I looked up from my comfy chair after lunch and saw this.

Why this bear is peering over a pile of sleeping bags in the living room while checking on us is for another post.

Then late this afternoon, neighbor Christi brought over another animal to watch over us

I’m feeling excited about this new addition.  Here’s it’s living quarters.

I think this is called hydroponics.  The fish poo feeds the plant.  They say watching fish is soothing.  Unfortunately, this Betta will be a loner because watching him eat another fish might not be quite as comforting.  He seems to enjoy watching us though….

Daily Habits

I am sure you are like me in that one more mention of any kind of virus will end your reading right here. So, viruses won't be the subject.  Instead, daily habits during these days at home.
 Last week I  started something new—walking.   The kick in the rear to start last Sunday is my participation in Walk Kansas.  I am on the Stull Stutters team and we are walking to the Eight Wonders of Kansas—virtually of course.  So far, I’ve walked around two miles a day on the treadmill.  Feeling pretty good about getting back in the routine.  I think all five members of my team’s total walking miles goes towards the goal.  I hope so anyway.  Not sure I would make it to wonder number two at my rate.

By the way,  what are the Eight Wonders of Kansas?  1/ Great Well at Greensburg 2. Cheyenne Bottoms 3. Cosmosphere Hutchinson 4. Eisenhower Museum/Library 5. Salt Mines 6. Cathedral of the Plains, Victoria 7. Tall Grass Prairie and 8. Monument Rocks.   We’ve visited most of the Eight, most recently the Monument Rocks.

I decided this week, I am going to post something every day on my blog. At least I am really going to try.  Maybe I’ll get back in the habit of writing.  I miss it.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A Late Valentine

So often we say we "love" something.  For me, it usually is food.  This was posted on social media by a young lady we know.  I just liked it and I hope you do too.

I am in the process of organizing our pictures from our 2019 roadtrip to Utah.  Hopefully, I'll have something to share soon! 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Rocking H Ranch Feb 2020

This little drone has me hooked.   This is our neighbor feeding his cattle hay last evening.  I am learning--I should have brightened the setting.  The brightness of the snow is difficult to film even when it's cloudy. 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Poinsettia Doppelganger

Yes,  these are Geraniums.

I used to let our geraniums freeze in their pots in the fall.  Probably not a bad idea because by the end of the summer, they can begin to look a little worn out.  However,  I discovered several years ago to clean the pots and plants of all dead flowers and leaves.  Maybe even trim back some of the scraggly branches.  Then I bring them in the house and put them beside a south window and let the sunshine do its magic.  They become beautiful Christmas flowers.  With a little fertilizer and TLC, they will bloom and look pretty until around the end of January.  When the sun starts its climb back north,  even though the days get longer, it isn't as intense and the geraniums will get lanky.  Finally,  I cut them back and let them recoup for the coming summer.

There is only one drawback to bringing summer plants in the house.  They were a nice home for a lot of little bugs and spiders throughout the summer.  Those little ones might even start their winter hibernation in the fall, but when they feel that warm winter sun, their little bodies perk up.  Among other bugs, this year a wolf spider came in on the plants.  Dan decided we didn't need to kill it because it ate other spiders. (insert eye roll emoji)   We watched this little guy first move up and down the wall behind the plant.  Soon we saw it was venturing out by moving about on the ceiling.  Sadly, one day I was cleaning my countertop and out came the little wolf spider.  It startled me and....

Probably just as well. It was all a little odd.

Anyway, tradition has it that if a person runs into their doppelganger it is a bad omen that both will soon die.  Just so you know, I am not superstitious, but I  keep my poinsettia in the livingroom well away from these red beauties.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

As we slide into Christmas week with 3 to 5 inches of snow on the ground, I am thinking it would be a good time to share our Thanksgiving/early Christmas celebration.

First, I didn’t share my usual Thanksgiving picture this year, so here you go:

Dang, I love this picture.  You got to think a lot of turkeys give it up for the Holidays each year.

Our Thanksgiving celebration started on Tuesday evening  because Doug, Drue, Trent & Carly left a day early to escape the big Colorado snow storm.  It was a good thing, for them and for us.     Once again, I was thankful that Kim, Marc, Aaron, Adam and Evan are no longer in North Carolina but just a short 10 minute drive away.   It is easy to meet up at any time,  with meals and a Free State Brewery visit a top priority.
The four dogs Gunner, Eve, Brutus, and JoJo were about as excited to see each other as their families.   I didn’t get a picture of Dan on the atv taking them out for a run.  It was a good way to wear them out.     I can guarantee that our cat did not make one move outside of her many hiding places.  She knows her limits. 

There are several in our family who are not eating meat.  It just happens one of my favorite soup recipes is an Italian Tomato Minestra soup.  I'll share…

Tomato Minestra  

8 servings
1 Tbs. Olive oil
1 large onion, choped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp each dried basil and oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
1 can (16 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 can 13 oz beef broth
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 carrots, pared and chopped
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow squash sliced
1 can (15 oz) chick peas drained & rinsed
2 cups chopped spinach or escarole
1 cup uncooked small bowtie pasta
In a large saucepot, combine oil, onion, garlic, basil, oregano and pepper.  Cook until onion is soft, stirring occasionally.  Stir in tomatoes, 3 cups water, the broth, celery, carrots, zucchini and squash.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.  Add chick peas and pasta and cook about 20 minutes.  A minute or two before serving, stir in spinach.
Our Thanksgiving meal was traditional all the way.  Turkey, Ham, stuffing,  mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, oyster corn, stir fried brussel sprouts, hot bread,  and Kim’s cheesecake, pecan and pumpkin pie for dessert.  All with plenty of wine & beer.   Hard to go wrong with this menu
In the evening, our long time friends Laura and James came by to visit.  We had more wine and even more laughs.  I will share later the surprise present Laura brought me because there is a  story surrounding it that deserves a post of its own.

Friday morning we gathered around the tree for our grab bag gift exchange.  I think everyone was happy with their gift.  I would say the most popular grab  was  a “My Pillow.”  (If anyone reading this needs a last minute for a teenager, there you go!) 

This picture of a little birthday celebration for Marc  is the best of the three pictures I took:)

A possible Christmas card picture that Drue didn’t use so I will share:

Laura and James have us mixed in

Friday, October 25, 2019

More Than A Test

I don’t know if I should be flattered, apologize or explain, but I’ve had family and friends wonder what is going on that I’ve not made an appearance here. 

So, I’ll explain.

There’s one huge reason, but I’ll leave that to last. 

This summer has been a wet one here in Kansas.  With these rains, the garden flourished and the flower beds grew weeds.  Not much of an excuse, but working outside is best done in the evenings.  That way, a hot shower immediately washes off ticks and/or poison ivy and helps sore muscles.  By the time I sat down here at my computer, I would find myself slumped over dozing.  

Second, we have been busy with our calendar.  We’ve gotten in the habit of eating tacos one evening each week.  I’ve cooked a lot for guests here and taken there.  We’ve enjoyed having Kim, Marc, Aaron, Adam and Evan close by again, so we stop by there and hang out.  Doug, Drue, Trent and Carly have made the trip back from Colorado two times and we’ve gone there as well. 

The biggest reason, though, for being a slacker on my blog is a Netflix program called  Heartland, a Canadian series produced and filmed in the beautiful area near Calgary.    There are now eleven seasons available to watch.  Each season has eighteen 45 minute episodes, we are on season five.  We both love this show so it is best watched when we  sit down in the evenings. 

Heartland might not be for everyone.  First, it is rated PG.    This series shows very little bloody violence, although animals—mainly horses—are the central storyline and there is plenty suggested.  There is a strong love theme throughout with family bonds, struggles and characters finding their life partners.  Heartland Ranch helps troubled horses and people who have struggles of their own, often young.    Amy, a young lady who was high school age when the show started is a sort of “horse whisperer.”  Her work with horses often with help are the central theme of the stories.  

So,  I mentioned we are on season five.  I hate to admit this, but the evenings when I usually come into my office and sit down to write about what we’ve been doing have been taken up by a television show.  Truthfully,  I am going to have to set aside an hour in the mornings to work here in the office.  It’s not only my blog that’s suffered but I look at my desk and see a lot more. 

I do have a lot to write about and it is all laying out in a pile so it won’t be out of site, out of mind.  We took a two plus week roadtrip in September to the “Grand Circle”of National Parks in Utah.  I’ve got some great pictures and observations.  They are coming.