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. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Something is Moving in the Grass

If you hear yourself saying that, perhaps you should take a very close look before walking up to check. 

A week ago, we received a call wondering if Dan could help.  We immediately jumped in the truck and headed over.  What we found was as impressive as neighbor Deb said it was.  She had leaned over to pick up a piece of wood there is was.  Thankfully it was more interested in scaring than biting right at that time.  Later that day, Dan saw a copperhead down a road leading to the river.  There is some thought that the flood waters have pushed snakes up out of the valley.

Several nights ago, we came home late on the ATV.  As we were turning into the barn, our lights caught something in the grass.  The quality of the picture is poor because it was nearly dark.  But, no mistake this bunny was on high alert.

Then tonight we were sitting on the deck.  It was totally dark but we were enjoying the stars and gentle breeze.  When the mosquitoes decided to join us, I got up to go in the house.  As I walked in the garage, a little light shone across the yard and Dan asked if I would get a flashlight.  He thought there was something in the grass.  Sure enough, this little guy was busy digging for grubs and acted like it didn't even know we were there.  The crazy thing is it started to come right toward us and ended up coming up into the flower bed and went under the deck we were sitting on!   It could be one of the young ones that we think were raised under the mower shed.  Once again the picture is poor quality because Dan was holding a flashlight on it for light.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Counting Bales

I'm going to share a YouTube video I made last night.  First,  a little background.

Currently, I am subscribed to at least ten and probably more YouTube video channels.  These are produced by ocean cruisers and full-time RVers mostly.  I am amazed at the quality of these self made videos.  At some future time, I'll list some of the most well done.

So, I thought if they can do it, so can I.  Last night, there was a beautiful full moon, a few little clouds to make the sky interesting and Dan wanted to look over the bales that had been rolled up in the pasture.  So, off we went with my little video camera shooting here and there.

We spent about 30 to 45 minutes driving around and sitting to watch for deer in the beans.  The deer, for once, did not show up, but it was a beautiful sunset.  When we got home, it took me about three hours to edit the video and start the upload to YouTube.  I had to go to bed, because the 2 minute video was going to take over an hour to upload. 

This morning, I found the finished product.  Full disclosure, both Dan and I laugh out loud when we watch it.  Dan says it's my hat, I think it's the fact that this is actually what we do and the neighbors are probably laughing at us regularly as we tool around looking at stuff. 

At any rate, here you go:

Friday, July 12, 2019

2019 4th of July

The 4th of July this year was set as a goal for the completion of Kim and Marc's remodel project on their home. We all have looked forward to the celebration for a long time, but for them it was especially important.   Remodeling can be tedious at best and downright aggravating at worst.  So, having the 4th deadline was good for them in a way, but also stressful.

The good news is they were able to nearly complete everything they set out to do.  And we all had a wonderful time.

A highlight of the weekend was the many young people who came and went.  They have a way of having fun that filters down to everyone.  Aaron invited two friends from North Carolina to visit for a week.  Doug, Drue, Trent and Carly came from Colorado.  There were friends and friends of friends, so at any time we had up to 14 young people.   As you can imagine with all the water play, food and a lot of it was consumed.

Most of the activity centered around Kim and Marc's home on Lake Jivaro.  Everyone came out to our house on the evening of the 4th for a meal, fire and shooting off of some fireworks.  There are beautiful fireworks available now. And, even in the heat of the summer, there is a warmth around a fire that is beyond the flames.  For some reason, the camera just didn't come out that evening.  I didn't see anyone else taking pictures either.  Even though I like to have documentation, it was nice that everyone had their cameras and electronics put away.

On the 5th of July, the Lake had a fireworks display.  We enjoyed more visitors, including parents and relatives.  A highlight of the day was the boat parade.  Carly worked hard trying to get the decorations to stay on the damp boat.  If there had been a prize, we would have won.

As can be seen by the Smug Mug pictures, I captured plenty of lake pictures.  .   Click here and scroll down if you would like to see our weekend.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Clinton Lake

Picture from Clinton Lake US Army Corps of Engineers web site
Clinton Lake has broke a new record.  Here is the article from the Clinton Corps of Engineers web site:
"We are receiving daily calls and messages asking about the status of our boat ramps and beaches. Please see the below photo to understand better why we are unable to open these facilities for you. This is the Bloomington East peninsula, and that yellow line you see in the water is our beach boundary buoy. The lake is currently at elevation 896.87' above mean sea level. Normal elevation is 875.5', and our previous high water record was 892.46', which was measured in 1995. These are unprecedented times for Clinton Lake. Please understand that we are doing what we can to provide you with a quality recreation experience as we also juggle the lake's main priority, controlling downstream flooding.”
We are continuing to see rising waters on the upper part of the Lake as well.  A person we know called the Corps office to see if the water was safe to kayak or canoe.  They said all the pit bathrooms were cleaned out and the others were shut off before the water covered them.  That is good to know.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Wakarusa River

Just as Kansans all over the state are keeping an eye on their Corps of Engineer lakes,  we are making regular trips the six miles or so over to our Clinton Lake.  Locals who know say it is the highest its ever been and we agree.   Not only is the swimming beach under water, but the bathroom and shelter are mostly submerged.  The docks are unusable.  There is one one campground in the Corps Bloomington area that is completely open.  There is partial camping in the other but the bathrooms are closed.

Within a mile of us, is the Wakarusa River which is one of the feeds to Clinton Lake.  We just got back from checking the area where they have built fly away marshes.  The dikes are completely submerged. 

 This picture was taken from the top of a big hill looking south toward the river.  The view to the east was mostly obstructed by trees but the flooding looked the same. 

We considered going home and getting the canoe to check what kept splashing around down by the gate.  Probably carp having a hayday with all the new feeding.  They better get back to the river, area though.  We've seen carp stranded when the water recedes and it isn't pretty.

 Saw Mr. Turtle
giving me the evil eye. 

All should be concerned for Kansas farmers this year.  It's been a struggle planting and for many replanting.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Topic of the Day

Rain—how much did you receive?

How much did we receive?  The most recent was about 3 inches.  Can’t complain much about how it came down.  There was very little wind. It was not  a gully washer or toad strangler.  The trouble is the soil is saturated and most everything is running off.  Our pond is full and running out the overflow tube.  I am sure all ponds in the area are too.  That means all water is traveling down the tributaries, feeding the Wakarusa/Kaw/Missouri. 

We got the garden planted in a timely fashion this year.


The lettuce needs to be picked again.  The green beans are up enough that I am hoping they will be less susceptible to drowning.  I planted two rows of corn way down there on the east end .  There are tomatoes and green peppers down there as well.
We are trying something new this year for the cucumbers and squash.  The weeds can be so bad in among the vines so we laid down a black plastic and put pine needles on top of it.  Maybe we will help kill off  the bind weed that we struggle with each year too.

The grapes look good.  They are loaded with tiny clusters. 

Evan’s circle is looking awesome.  There are so many buds out there.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Second Tuesday in May

I'm sitting here in my new office chair as I write this. 
About a month ago, I was at my desk here in the office.  To my back and behind my big roll top desk, is Dan.   We sometimes spend part of our mornings reading news and evenings reading  forums and blogs, listening to podcasts, etc.  Both our chairs were cheap and uncomfortable.  I just happened to see an email from Sam's Club advertising a sale on office chairs.  After a brief discussion, I pushed the purchase key and a week later two soft leather office chairs arrived.  At first I thought the purchase was a bit extravagant, but we have enjoyed this furniture purchase as much as any we've made in a long while. 
Today I picked a large container of fresh lettuce and spinach from the garden.  While out there I cut enough asparagus for our next meal.  The green beans are up nicely and the corn is making an appearance.  So far, no rabbit or deer damage.  We better get the electric fence out, though.  It only takes a couple of deer one night of grazing  to mow off a promising garden. 

Tonight we attended Adam's Pops Concert.  It was awesome.    My favorites were "My Shot" from the play Hamilton,  Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl".   The senior director, Martha Barnhill, has been an instructor in the Shawnee Hts school system for over 30 years.  She has a masters touch teaching orchestra to young people.  Her enthusiasm and encouragement shows in the numbers--44 in Symphonic Orchestra and 64 in Concert Orchestra.  Amazing for a 5A size school.

Last evening, Dan and I made a final sweep clearing limbs in a small corner of the pasture that is mostly trees.  This spring we cut down a couple dead hedge trees which required a lot of picking up branches too small to cut up for fire wood.    So far so good, no itching.  There was poison ivy all over the place but I was covered neck to toe and everything went into the washing machine when I came in the house.
We've been cutting a lot of wood this spring.  Next time I'll have a couple pictures 

Monday, April 29, 2019

State Music Contest

Saturday Adam competed in the State Music Contest at Emporia High school.  His Cello Choir received a One rating, 77 out of 80 score playing "Processional" by Robert S. Frost.  Adam announced the number.


Thursday, April 04, 2019

Almost there!

The first Wednesday of the month at Chapman Valley Manor, Noreen comes by to sing with the residents.  This is a good time for us to visit Aunt Ruth.

First, Noreen is special in her own right because she is the last of my Dad's first cousins and is a vibrant 92 years old.  (Dad would have been 111 this year--he was 38 when I was born in 1946).  But more importantly, Noreen has had a passion for bringing music to elders for many years.  I thought yesterday as we sang along with her that we actually are a part of her elder group because we also enjoyed the very familiar old hymns and camp songs we seldom sing much anymore.

My brother's wife, Ruth, called Wayne's Ruth to set her apart, is Aunt Ruth's advocate at the care home.  Aunt Ruth did not have children and all of her extended family are grateful that she has Wayne's Ruth to watch after her.  She needs an advocate at this point in her life.  She is struggling with quality of life right now.

Aunt Ruth's birthday is the same day as Dan's--June 30th.  On that date this year, Dan will celebrate number 75 and Aunt Ruth will celebrate 100! 

Even though Aunt Ruth has some health and memory issues,  we were relieved that at least for ten minutes or so, thanks to Noreen,  we could hear her voice singing and a smile on her face--even a little of her distinctive laugh.  Wayne's Ruth assured us that this was significant as she had been fairly unresponsive of late. I was on one side of her and Wayne's Ruth was on the other.  When we heard that singing voice and little laugh, we looked at each other, both with damp eyes. 

Thank you, Noreen, for your dedication to singing with us.  Thank you Wayne's Ruth for dressing and fixing Aunt Ruth in the classy way that she would have chosen for herself had she been able to look into her closet and mirror.  We are pulling for that three month away date to celebrate 100 years of Aunt Ruth's life. 

For now, though, we were grateful for a short connection to her real personality. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

April 1st timetable

Today it snowed!  Big flakes, heavy for a while, but no accumulation.  That would be par for this winter.  We did a short roadtrip to the north Kansas City Costco yesterday and couldn't believe the flooding on the Missouri River on north 435.  The destruction in Nebraska due to flooding is record breaking.

As I thought about what seems to me to be an unusual winter this year, I decided to look back at blog posts from year's past.

On April 1, 2005 and April 1, 2006 I posted that the Pelicans were spotted migrating back through the area.  We spotted a large group of white birds in the distance on our way to Clinton several days ago that just about had to be Pelicans.  Also, we spotted Turkey Vultures or buzzards as I like to call them, on or around March 16th,  just as we do each year.

On March 30, 3010, I snapped a picture of a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker.  I looked out the window a couple days ago and there was one looking right back at me.  So, they are here as usual.

On April 6, 2012, I was sitting at the kitchen table and spotted a tree frog on our bar stool.  I speculated at the time that it came in an open window without screens.  So far, we have not spotted a tree frog but I have had the windows (without screens) open several times on warm days.

On April 1, 2013 we were celebrating Easter.  From the time this picture of Kim with this fabulous walleye was taken to now, she and her family sold the house on Lake Jivaro and moved to North Carolina and then moved back and purchased another house on Jivaro.  They have tried several times in the past week, but still no luck with walleye this year.

On April 1, 2014, I posted a little movie of us picking up rocks.  Spent a day doing that this week.

April 1, 2015, we  nearly froze our water system in our little RV in the Smoky Mountains coming back from North  Carolina.

Frost in the forecast for tonight, but a fairly nice week ahead.  All in all,  we are probably on track with spring as usual.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Palmer Ridge High School Wind Ensemble

This was part of our last four days in Colorado.  Trent is a percussionist in his Wind Ensemble.  They were competing in the district contest for the state of Colorado. Palmer Ridge High School is in Monument CO, north of Colorado Springs.  They received three perfect scores with a 1 rating.  They will be competing at State.  Here is a link to an audio of their concert where they played "Afterlight" by William Pitts and "Blue Shades" by Frank Ticheli.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Adam is Rolling -- League Champions

Here is the picture from today's League Championship team!  Adam is next to his coach.

Adam, our Shawnee Hts High School Junior, came back from North Carolina with a love of bowling and league experience there.  I am not sure if his school there had a team.  He felt he might be competitive though.  And,  after trying out for the school bowling team,  he earned a place on the varsity team.

We came into this activity with no experience so we didn't even know if we could cheer for good performance.  We could and we have.  With the bad weather the past few weeks, the schools have had to be creative to get in all the tournaments that had to be called off.  We've seen a lot of bowling the last few days.

Adam has a unique two-hand delivery.  I tried to capture a pictures--


We are proud of his dedication and team play.  These kids are good bowlers!  We have watched two of Adam's teammates approach a 300 score.  They all bowl around 200 most of the time. 

I will say, this time of year, it is a great spectator sport.  It is warm and the games move along quickly. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019


I'm working on a post, but the Grammys lasted too late to finish.  So, to start off the week in a good mood, here you go:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Break In!

It was about 10:00 am on Monday, January 21st, that we decided to run an errand.  Someone was watching our driveway to see us leave and cameras here at the house were watching while we were gone.

It's hard for me to figure out exactly what time because the time stamp on our cameras is off.  But it was close to 11:00 when someone came to our door.  He knocked, knocked, held his phone up and waved it around like he was trying to get a signal, knocked on a window by the door.  Then he did this:

He actually waved at the security camera.

For 7 1/2 minutes he walked around the house and tried every door and knocked and looked in windows.

Then he put his shoulder into it and knocked in the back door--a door with a dead bolt no less.  The following is his timeline for loading his Jeep:   In about 4 minutes he came out the front door with the first load that included electronics.   Another 4 minutes, miter saw.   Another 2 minutes, jewelry.  He moved up to the barn, 1 1/2 minutes in our RV, flashlights,  2 minutes in the barn, misc tools, 3 minutes,  a small generator.  He was gone in 23 minutes. Taking out the time he spent knocking on doors, he spent about 15 minutes stealing stuff.

We got home around 12:00 noon missing our visitor by about 30 minutes.  We immediately saw something was wrong when the garage to house door was open.  The basement door was opened when we came in the house.  We immediately called the police and I quickly saw the iPad was gone.  I immediately changed passwords for Apple.

The Douglas Co Deputies got here quickly.  We accessed the video from the cameras and they made a copy for their records.  They carefully inventoried all we could tell that was stolen.  By then it was about 2:00 pm.  They left but in about 5 minutes they came rolling back with another police officer.  He must have been on his way and just got here.  He came in and used the "Find My Phone" app on my phone to find the location of the iPad that was stolen.  It located at a motel in Topeka so off they went.

When they got to the motel, the Jeep was there.  Come to find out, the motel room was under surveillance by Federal Marshalls. (No idea why but speculating gun trafficking)   So, when they guy stepped out to smoke wearing the exact same clothes as in the waving poise, he was a done deal.  I would have loved to see that--police all over the place.

This mug shot was in today's Topeka paper.  No one told us any names, but since this guy looks like the one waving at our cameras and his violation says, "holding Federal"....

Today we went through the process of getting our things back.  And, we were surprised at what he had taken that we hadn't missed (my Channel perfume for one thing).  The only thing that seems to be gone for good is the miter saw.

Our thoughts about all of this have been of two kinds.  First, its unsettling that someone could so easily break into our home.  The thought of someone walking around, throwing things on the floor makes us mad.  On the other side, we were so impressed that the Douglas County Sheriff's department spent so much time on a relatively insignificant (although not to us) crime.  They treated us and our home with respect and kept us informed all along the way.  The fact that they and others actually apprehended the guy is amazing.

We told one of the deputies that we felt like the whole thing was like a "Cops" episode  on television.  He smiled and said, "Unfortunately, they all don't end this way."

Friday, January 18, 2019

Catching Up Part 1

In case there are still friends out there who are checking this humble blog, I am going to spend some time catching up.

Tonight, I can hear the wind and see the snow by the light on the barn.  Dan has been watching the weather today.  He thought maybe it would miss us.  We even saw a map on the news earlier that looked at that time as if it might be east of us.  However, I see by my computer weather news feed that I70 west of Topeka is struggling. Our grandson slid off the road on his way home from his friend’s house this evening and it was so slick that a four-wheel drive pickup couldn’t pull him out.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is preparing, sending and receiving cards.  I still have the cards we received this year on my bulletin board.  I had an idea the first week of December to crochet little stars for each card this year.  Good idea too late.  So, no one on my Christmas card list received little crocheted stars.  I told Dan I was going to start making them right away for next year—I’ll have to let you know December 2019  on that one.

Anyway, I had another idea.  I would take a picture of us peeking in from outside a door and I would say, “Merry Christmas from our house to yours.”  This idea did get done for the most part.  Interestingly enough, the hard thing was to take a picture of us peeking in from outside.  Here are a few attempts

The one we finally used is bottom right.  I can’t believe how hard it was to get a decent picture by setting the timer and running back into the picture. 

It is pretty obvious we were having nice weather two weeks before Christmas.  Although it’s hard to see in the background, but the pond was down so much that the dock was nearly out of the water.  With the nice weather came a dry fall.  In contrast, the dock is now totally afloat.  The pond is actually only about a foot below the overflow tube.  This past week has had welcome moisture for sure.