Saturday, August 6, 2016

Possession is 9/10ths of the Law






For almost two full weeks, this little tree frog and I have been battling over possession of my mailbox. I have left the mailbox open several times but he always returns. Once, when I was trying to remove the mail carefully so as not to disturb him, he jumped out of the mailbox. I was not sure where he landed so I carefully and very slowly backed up the car, causing him to jump into the grass where I knew he was safe. The next day, he was back.

It was incredibly hot the first time I opened the mailbox and received a minor shot of adrenaline from the unexpected pair of eyes calmly looking at me. I left the mailbox open. I even went up there about 4 am in the rain to see if he had left. The box was empty then, but he returned. He has returned almost every day, no matter what, so as far as I am concerned, he's welcome to poop on my mail. Almost all of it is junk mail anyway.



The strip mining has progressed to directly across the road. I am sorry that the prairie is being ruined like this but honestly, this area is no longer real prairie. If the owners are not strip mining it for limestone, they are spraying it to kill everything but grass. The time of the true tall grass prairie is gone forever. All that remains is a tiny, tiny percentage that white people are just now beginning to value because it is vanishing and rare. Too late.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Yes, My Horses Still Love Me - Sometimes

Yesterday was terribly hot with the heat index officially 110 degrees. (It was like waiting in the lobby of Hell before... well, you know.) The farrier, Vince, was scheduled to be at my house at 2 pm. Naturally, I did not get away from work immediately and I had several errands to run before I left town.

Everywhere I went people were doing extraordinary things - in slow motion. And yes, they were all old people! At the drive-through post office drop box, an old lady pulled up, got out of her car, slid her mail into the slot. She returned to the driver's seat, slammed the door a few times, then re-started the engine! Then, for reasons I could not fathom, she sat in the car for a bit. Perhaps she needed a nap after so much exertion? It was a drive-through - not a stop-and-get-out!

I made the very Buddhist choice to not become angry or frustrated. She did not know Vince would soon be on his way to my house but I was still sitting in the drive-through drop box lane in Topeka...

I absolutely had to dash into Dillons for a few quick groceries. Otherwise I would have a can of tomato soup made without milk for supper. I shop in that store ALL the time. I know the fastest checkers but no, I mindlessly chose the slowest checker - a new girl who cannot be friendly and check simultaneously. She was so sweet that I could not become frustrated with her as she babbled while cleaning the scanner screen, and talked while trying to find a price for one of my items, and inexplicably chatted to the guy next in line while attempting to scan my vegetables. God. Save. Me.

Next, I dashed into the farm store where the customer service is always 100% terrible. It is a fact of life so I had no expectations. I raced - in my ruined-knee, old woman way - to the horse supply aisle for two bottles of fly spray. Then I had to wait as the two old women behind the counter chatted up two very young women, discussing their nose piercings. What the hell? When do young girls EVER do business in the goddamned farm store and who gives a rat's ass about their piercings if they do?!

When it was finally my turn, one of the old women left, leaving the slowest clerk in the history of all bad check-out clerks to wait on me. When I said hello, she did not speak. She scanned the bottles slowly. When I mentioned the weather, she did not answer but responded by opening her pie hole in a giant jaw-crackin' yawn. When I attempted to scan my card she finally spoke. "Wait. That's not the total. You get a senior discount." Well, alrighty then! I was not aware the farm store offered senior discounts. But that was all - there was no offer to put my purchase in a bag - no-thank-you-come-again - no have-a-good-day. The "piss off" is always implied. (It IS the farm store.)

Finally, I was on my way home, mentally checking off everything I had to do as soon as I pulled into the driveway. It was so hot that I had to immediately put the groceries away. Change clothes. Get the water jug and my check book and the halters and ropes and take at least one of the fly sprays to the barn. I had to halter the horses, spray them for flies and get myself and them in a relaxed state of mind.

Oh, it was just so terribly hot and I became so overheated that at one point my heart started racing unnaturally fast. I thought, "Whoa! Guess I won't be showing up at the cube farm EVER AGAIN!" I was not sad or scared about it either. However, nothing dramatic happened. I sat in my car with the air conditioner blowing full blast in my face, drank cold water, wiping my face and neck with a damp cloth until I cooled down.

I managed to get both horses haltered, sprayed, their hides brushed. I had time to scrub the algae out of the water tank, move it under the sun shade and fill it up with fresh water. I had time to sit in the car each time I got too hot. There was time to brush each horse, which they love. Wally sweats in the hot weather, but Ginger does not unless she exerts herself. Both horses rested their big heavy heads on my shoulder in gratitude for the fly spray and the grooming. I knew it was far past 2 pm so I made a trip to the house to see if Vince had called. He is normally on time. I came in the house to a ringing phone. It was Vince calling a second time to say he was going to be almost 2 hours late. I was concerned for him, knowing he had a stable of horses to work on before he got to my house. He said he had not eaten since early morning and would be a few more minutes late. I encouraged him to take all the time he needed to eat and cool down and re-hydrate. I was free for the rest of the day. I waited in the house until I heard Vince's truck coming down the drive.

When the time came, my horses were so well behaved! They lifted their feet willingly. They stood still and did not fidget or toss their heads. They did not try to lean on Vince or nibble at his clothes. While Vince and his assistant were working on one of my horses, I held the rope to the other. Wally was so happy that he started licking my arm with his huge horse tongue - gross! The only thing horses ever eat is vegetation. Compared to dogs, a horse's diet is sanitary and civilized so it honestly was not that gross. It was a horse compliment of affectionate grooming behavior, but no thanks, Wally- no thank you VERY much. While I was holding Ginger's rope, she rested her big face right against my shoulder, a far more acceptable horse compliment.

I told Vince I would have understood if he had wanted to postpone due to the heat, but he paid my horses a huge compliment, saying "Oh, I knew these horses would be no problem, so I came on anyway."

Thousand pound beasts with gentle spirits who demonstrate appreciation for the favors of fly spray and brushing and trimmed hooves. How much I love the those two horses - and they apparently love me in return.  Or, it was too hot for them to behave otherwise...
Goober Number 1

Goober Number 2

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Bean Experiment

My son will be thirty years old this summer but it does not seem possible - the years of his childhood are still so fresh in my mind. Recently a particular memory surfaced and I have no idea what triggered it. He needed an experiment for the grade school science fair. I suggested that he sprout beans under glass to show the effects of gravity (geotropism). When the beans had sprouted and grown an inch or so, he turned the glass upside down. The bean sprouts made a 180 degree turn to continue growing upwards.

I remember buying the beans and some small sheets of plexiglas. What I recall the most clearly is that aside from the school project we decided to conduct an experiment on whether Reiki energy versus negative energy would cause the beans to sprout or grow differently. We soaked paper towels in water, placed several beans behind plexiglass and embarked on the scientific quest to prove whether Reiki energy would noticeably impact plant growth.

One set of beans was treated with Reiki energy twice a day and the other set of beans was treated to both of us shouting obscenities for the same amount of time. The experiment lasted about a week or so. I fully expected the beans treated with Reiki energy to sprout first and exhibit the most vigorous growth but the beans we cussed and shouted at sprouted first (almost 24 hours earlier) and undeniably grew faster and larger. I think it was the laughter that skewed the experiment. We simply could not yell and cuss at the beans without bursting into almost hysterical laughter - every time!

I have been revisiting that memory lately and I wonder if he remembers cussing at the beans, too.

Post script: He does remember! Well, who wouldn't remember something that crazy?!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Restored


A few years ago this pond completely dried up during the cruel extended drought. It was dredged so that it would again hold water once it rained. I do not know if it has been restocked with fish. There have been ducks visiting overnight and a few Canadian geese this year. I think they were merely resting in the safety of the water - not eating. Geese are herbivores, but not ducks, so not sure what the ducks could eat.

I hope the heron (or a heron) eventually returns to this pond because his solitary silhouette in the beautiful evening light always stirred something in my spirit. I think there will have to be some food source available before a heron would stay. Fish and frogs and maybe a few baby turtles would be the entire menu. And snakes! How could I forget snakes?!

Just the same, stopping for a brief moment in the evening to appreciate the view, even without the heron, is exceedingly nice.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The World Has Changed...

Rain finally made it's very slow way to my little corner of the world. It has been lightly raining since mid-afternoon, with the potential for some heavier rainfall within the next hour. None of my trees had leaves as of this morning. It only took a few drops of rain for the baby leaves to finally appear, and all the visible ground to burst into new green.

The red bud trees did not blossom this year due to the cold temperatures and the gale force winds and the lack of rain. Perhaps that is why they bloomed so spectacularly last spring - to balance the failed spring this year. And oh yes, here is the long awaited heavier rain - a proper rain you can hear on the roof.

There has not been a single thunderstorm so far this year. Oklahoma has claimed them all along with the tornadoes. I do miss those magnificent plains thunderstorms rolling in from the Rocky Mountains, shaking the house with enormous percussive force and the wicked electrical violence searing the black skies. It has been years since we have had "normal" Kansas weather and I miss those mighty thunderstorms. They are like dear old friends who gradually stopped calling.

I had to make a trip to Topeka yesterday to buy groceries because I was too tired and in too much pain to shop after work the entire week. Before hitting the highway toward home, I stopped for a "Flat White" at the local drive through Starbucks. This is a caffeinated delight made with only espresso and milk, but it is delicious to me. Starbucks first offered it at Christmas but each time I made a special trip to get one, they were out of the ingredients. That does not make sense to me! Are not coffee and milk their two main offerings?! It was sometime in January when I finally got to try it for the first time and I have been hooked on it since.

I do not stop to get a Flat White often. I want to continue to appreciate it as a special treat. Saturday when I pulled up to the window, much to my delight, the person in the car ahead had already paid for my order! It was the first time that has ever happened to me. Not only was it surprising, it made me amazingly and disproportionately happy. Of course, I paid for the people behind me and hoped they were as delighted as I was.

The world has changed. We have succeeded in disrupting the weather. The Dalai Lama says we did not know better but now that we do we must be responsible and fix it. The world has changed. Flat White has come to Kansas, of all places, and total strangers will pay for your coffee for no reason.

Some things never change, though. When I first placed my order, I asked for a Flat Black. What the hell?!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Brave Dutch Bantam Goes Free At Last!

The lone survivor of the notorious Spiritcreek Chicken Incarceration Facility has been set free from the outdated, decaying chicken facilities!

One mild evening some days ago, I waited patiently for the last little hen to go to roost at twilight. Once in her nest, I could easily catch her. She was going to a better home with my neighbors who maintain a small flock. I knew she would much rather be at the bottom of the pecking order in a flock than to continue her solitary and very lonely existence here.

It marks the end of an era that I will always fondly recall as The Chicken Years. It was so much fun building the coop and the pen, raising chickens, getting to know the true nature of the amazing little birds, the descendants of dinosaurs! However, it was one long tragedy of death and loss. Too many roosters. Mean roosters. Unexplained death and predation. Loss of my favorite characters to sad and premature death. Jake the Bad Dog. Snakes. Pack rats. It was just too much.

I was moping around - just a tiny bit - whenever I would realize the chicken pen was empty for good but I hoped the little hen was settling into her new home. She had never been given a proper name, (I think she was Medium girl), so when my neighbors said their grandchildren would have fun naming her, that made me happy.

A neighborly phone call this week delighted me. As it turns out, Babe as she is now known, is the favorite hen of the one and only Mr. Blackie, the chief rooster! My neighbors' dog is of the Good Dog Duke lineage, so their chickens enjoy freedom during the day to scratch in the dirt and leaves, to take dirt baths and to tend to their normal chicken business. That is the very best news.

It is a very happy and appropriate note on which to end The Chicken Years.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Improvements to the Portal to Hell

When I purchased this property 16 years ago, things were in tip-top shape. The man who sold the place was one of those great American jack-of-all-trade guys, always industriously working at something and producing excellent results. He had done so much carpentry work, plumbing, painting, and general sprucing up that the place was move-in ready. There were only two items that I should have used to negotiate a much better price: the roof on the house and the roof on the garage. There were several layers of shingles and it was obvious they would need to be replaced. Eventually I had to replace the roof on the house. I begrudged every penny spent because that roof was destined for a landfill when the new house was built. Such a waste! Once a roof begins to leak it accelerates right into decay and deterioration. I had no choice but to replace it.

The roof on the garage lasted another ten years but it too, at last, succumbed to the Second Law of Thermodynamics - all things tend toward disorder. Due to the new house there was no money for repairing that roof, so in dismay I have watched it fall into ugliness and decay. There was actually a round hole directly above the basement where the pressure tank of the well system resides, the tornado "shelter" - as if I would ever take shelter there! The entire building has fallen into disrepair, and any item "stored" in it is actually just waiting to be hauled to the landfill.

Until this week!!!!

I called for bids two weeks ago - received them in the mail on Monday, accepted one that night. There was no discussion of when it would happen but Wednesday I came home to a yard full of equipment and ALL the shingles off. I came home from work tonight, Friday, and the new roof was complete. I do not mind spending the money for such immediate and professional work.  What a relief to have this major problem resolved at last!

It surely is the nicest roof of any portal to hell any time, any where. I hope the whangdoodles appreciate it as much as I do.

Ugliness and an eyesore - and the winter portal to hell when I have to go in the basement to turn on the heater.

Still the portal to hell, but much nicer looking.


Post Script:
The reference to hell makes more sense if you recall the ordeal of descending into hell documented here: Portal To Hell