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. 


Monday, November 30, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

There were two big reasons why we enjoyed a special day at the Hoobler family's home despite the recommendation from the Kansas Governor to forgo celebrations this year. 

 The first reason is our grandkid's Great Grandma Betty. Betty lives in Pittsburg Kansas and is thriving in her 90s. She is in town visiting her daughter Pam and Norris and it just seemed a good time for a celebration she could be a part of because... 

 Aaron, our oldest grandson, is leaving in a week for Basic Training at Lackland AFB near San Antonio. As you will hear, Aaron signed up for the Air Force in May 2020. But, because of COVID restrictions, his name is just now come up for training. Thanksgiving is the last time most of us will see him in a while, but we are all happy and excited about his future.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Life Rings

We purchased and built where we live now in 1977/1978. The trees around the front of our home were planted around that time. We lost one to a lightening strike. Other than that, they have thrived for 40 plus years. We ordered most of the trees as saplings from the County Extension Office. However, the tree in this video was given to us by Paul and Irene Hoffsommer. They had a little tree farm in their back yard and gifted us this pine for our windbreak. Now, one by one, these Austrian pine trees are dying from disease. However, they continue to serve as we cut and split their wood for heating in our stove. When they are all gone, I am saddened I will no longer hear the wind whistle through their big branches or watch Mockingbirds use the very tippy top for their stage.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

One Minute Garden 2020

It is a fact that I'm slow with editing video, but six weeks since my last post is taking it to a  new level.  There are projects in the queue, though, specifically a roadtrip--hopefully before long.

Until then, here is our "One Minute Garden" from 2020.  It was an exceptional year for produce.  

Monday, September 21, 2020

Persimmon Tree

 We have three wild persimmon trees in our pasture.  These were probably "planted" by wildlife eating fruit from a persimmon tree by a nearby home.  Just like any other fruit tree, the yield varies year to year.  Fruit on these trees have disappeared almost overnight when they ripen.  I am sure the squirrel and raccoon have something to do with that.  This year, however, they will be mighty full if they strip this tree and the other two near by.  

I've tried to make persimmon jelly in the past.  It wasn't as tasty as I had hoped.  So, the critters can have at it!

Monday, September 14, 2020

Dan's Hummingbirds

Anyone who sits at our dining room table during the summer gets a front-row seat to the hummingbird show.  They eat and battle each other to eat from sunup to sundown.  

This timelapse was taken in a two-hour timeframe.  Concentrate on the level of the sugar water.  We couldn't believe how fast it dropped in only two hours.  We think they are immigrating through right now so we have even more around.  

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Fish Pond

Most evenings when we are home, Dan heads to the pond to feed the fish.   All he has to do is rev up his ATV engine and the cat fish come swimming to him.  I think I read someplace that fish can feel vibrations--can fish actually hear?  

Last evening was a clear, wind free evening.  It was time to finally get up my nerve to fly the DJI Phanton 4 drone owned by our neighbors.  They sent it home with me several weeks ago telling me to fly it just for fun.  Compared to my tiny DJI Mavic Mini, this drone is huge.  It went well.  I could tell by the quality of the camera footage, this is definitely a higher end drone.  It was also very responsive, so I apologize for the jerkiness.  On the downside, it is also loud--no stealthiness when flying this one.  

Still trying to make these videos interesting.  At two minutes, there is a fine line between seeing drone footage as interesting or boring.  

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Clinton Kansas Fox Family

As many of you know, the town of Clinton sits on a peninsula on Clinton Lake near Lawrence.  For several years, among the houses on the three short streets, a family of foxes thrive.  They move between the residents, playing, scavenging, and in some cases causing havoc.

Our friend, Irma invited us to come over for coffee and watch them play at a new six-inch driveway tube she and Ron installed.  Here are a couple things to watch for in the video.  At least one of the fox gets entirely inside the tube--remember only six-inch--which demonstrates how easily one could penetrate a chicken pen. Irma said she saw one of them emerge face first which means it came entirely through the tube!

Watch for momma arriving with some sort of food and one of the youngsters rushes over and grabs it and immediately it's gone.  No wonder she looks thin and haggard.

Last year we were driving through town and felt like we might have hit one of the tiny babies on the road.  We were never sure because it ran off the road.  There is a lot of traffic headed to the lake so probably it happens each year. 

This video is two minutes--a bit longer.  I'm learning each time I edit videos.  I think this one might be a bit better but still not as good as I would like.  If you have the internet ability, watch it in HD. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Will the Real Susan Stand Up

We've lived here in this pasture for 42 years and I'm not sure we've ever seen a crop of Blackeyed Susans as this year.  We wonder if it was the unusually wet summer last year.  The pasture is beautiful but hard to get a picture.  I'm not real happy with this video.  I tried three different times, but the tiny flowers are hard to capture. 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Milkweed Intrigue

You, my loyal readers, have probably noticed a change in direction on my blog, primarily to do with my recent fascination with video.

I don't know how long I will be stuck in posting videos here, but with a drone that takes fairly decent content (if I edit it right) and a new little gimbal for my beginner's level video camera I might be posting on here for a while.

So far, I have stuck to short videos of one to two minutes because of how long it takes me to edit footage.  If writing a blog takes time, it is nothing compared to editing video--for me anyway.  But, I haven't abandoned writing.  Just hoping you will stick with me through this phase--and hoping Dan will too!

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.