Wednesday, October 5, 2016

More Misty Morning

The portal to hell shrouded in the mist...

Here comes the sun...

The prairie continues to be lush and green

Still so much water, welcome after the long drought

The supreme beings...

Wally's graceful neck

Song sparrow

One of many big ol' fat spiders, their webs bejeweled with tiny beads of mist.  All of them were surely dead by that afternoon when the county mowed the ditches 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Mists of Vera Road

A beautiful foggy fall morning lured me out with my camera, though I took all of the photos with a wrong setting on the camera. It would not have made much difference since I still do not know what the hell I am doing with that camera!

Thanks to the County failing to mow this summer, the sunflowers were allowed to grow to maturity on both sides of the road. These last few weeks the ditches have been alive with doves and sparrows and insects and a lush profusion of all manner of plants that I observed through their entire season's life cycle. I found it particularly beautiful to see the rich colors and textures, and to notice the myriad lifeforms harbored in the deep vegetation.

While taking the pictures this morning in the wonderful fog, I was grateful the County had neither sprayed nor mowed. The sunflowers would be available to the birds all winter. I took almost one hundred pictures within a mile of my house - photos taken in the nick of time. Later in the day I heard machinery but thought it was the limestone miners (the Orcs) across the road. When I left for town late in the afternoon I discovered the County had finally made it through with the mowers. I felt just a little sick when I saw the destruction.

Mordor, at the end of my driveway
North on Vera Road
There's always that last one...
Not a very well constructed web
A perfectly constructed web
Beautiful small plants that glowed red in the misty light
A large spider was in the center of each web
This web was in better shape than the others
I marveled over the sheer beauty of this grass, though I believe it is an undesirable
And hidden in the fog and foilage....

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Mystery of Fate

Earlier this summer, while waiting for the light to change, I noticed twigs with green leaves stuck in the holes in a sign post. I casually wondered what the circumstances might have been that caused someone to do that. Passing the corner several times a week, I soon realized it was not a random, meaningless human act but a living tree growing within the sign post.

I drive past this corner several times a week and I continue to consider the fate of this tree. The definition of fate is: the development of events beyond a person's control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power. Was it a supernatural power that allowed the seed to take root where the tiny shoot could escape the mower and the weed whacker by improbably growing inside the relative safety of the sign post? Most would argue it was mere chance, but chance is a synonym of fate.

Every time I drive by, a verse from a Paul Simon song comes to mind:
"It was a dry wind
And it swept across the desert
And it curled into the circle of birth
And the dead sand
Falling on the children
The mothers and the fathers
And the automatic earth"*

The "automatic earth" might refer to the processes of life established and programmed within the DNA of all living things, the impetus for the dogged determination of survival. Despite less than optimum circumstance, a seed, following it's automatic programming, germinates and grows in an attempt to fulfill its destiny. The destiny of the seed is to sprout given the merest chance. If this tree is left to its fate it may slowly and surely engulf the post within its trunk, or it may reach an unnatural limit within the confines of the post when it cannot sustain itself and perish. It may be killed by a human being in defense of city property. Any number of other fates could befall the tree but its seed could not choose not to sprout.

Corporeal human beings, inhabitants of the automatic earth, are powered by this same programming, though we believe we alone, of all living things, have free will - that our lives are guided by a higher purpose, or a higher intelligence, or have a different fate than trees... or insects... or animals... or bacteria. We can at least choose not to live but we honestly have no idea to what extent all living things may possess free will. Some world views acknowledge physical existence itself is not possible without some level of consciousness - that all physical matter contains consciousness. Perhaps by dint of consciousness any physical matter also falls into a spectrum of possible action that can be considered some form of free will.

It is tricky to think my way through such ideas. Far better minds have wrestled these concepts and it is all written somewhere. For all I know, my life as I have lived it is a human version of living despite unnatural confines, just like this tree. Or perhaps a chance of physical life is so precious to tree and human alike that growing within a prison is desirable. Rather than read what another person has decided, it is better to reach my own conclusions on such matters. In the end, I am not sure it matters either way.

*from "The Boy in the Bubble" by Paul Simon, copyright 1986

Attempting to assume its ultimate form despite the limitations

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hello, Helianthus Annuus and Helianthus Maximiliani!

The Kansas State Flower, the common sunflower, spectacularly adorns the country roads now - at least those that have escaped county mowing. What a sin it is to waste such a beautiful and generous gift of nature! They feed and protect the prairie soil, provide food and shelter and mating sites for innumerable insects and cover for birds, and fill my heart every season with their beauty, blessing my beloved Kansas landscape.

Helios, the Greek mythology personification of the Sun, born of Hyperion, the god of wisdom and light, and Theia, the goddess of sight and heavenly light. Helios drove the golden chariot across the sky into Oceanus, returning to the east each morning. Thousands of years after the mighty Grecian culture waned, Europeans found the common sunflower in the New World, giving it the Latin name helianthus annuus. 

A cloudy day does not do justice to the banks of bona fide yellow

Almost every blossom has mating beetles, in addition to bees, bumble bees, and other insects visiting

Sunflowers come into bloom and stay that way for weeks.  I waited almost too long to take pictures

Still yellow at night!

I think these are Maximilian Sunflowers, also in great abundance right now and also bona fide yellow

And they remain bona fide, even at night!
Beautiful  from any angle

I cannot help myself - I post something about sunflowers every year!  Here is the first one:

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?!