Friday, March 30, 2012

Wild Strawberries and Violets

Every spring I hope to eat a few of the wild strawberries that grow in the path to the barn but other creatures get to them first. I once lived where wild strawberries grew in the front lawn and I ate them on the way to collect the mail. The place had been a farm house long before Topeka consumed the farmland in subdivisions and streets. Though the lawn grass was vigorous, the little strawberry plants stubbornly grew plentifully in the old prairie soil marooned amid the noise and concrete of civilization.

As you may notice, Jake enthusiastically entered into the photography project this morning.

And of course, the violets are here. They bloom early and stay for many days, reminding me always of Patti.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Am A Kansan - Not a Rocket Scientist!

Wood Ducks at Gage Park
Saturday is the last day of the six week photography course I have been attending.  It has been fun and informative.  The range of options available in my camera is overwhelming.  Nothing should be so complicated.  I am a Kansan - not a rocket scientist!  Fortunately, there are rocket science minds in the digital camera industry that have created fully automated cameras that enable anyone to take perfectly exposed photos.

My daughter has also attended the classes, making the time even more enjoyable.  The grand finale is a group trip to the Topeka Zoo.  Yes, it is corny, but this is Kansas, remember.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sacred Cows

Baby Sitting Duties

New Born Testing the Air

The Newborn with His Mother

Every morning on the drive to work, I pass my neighbors' pastures and every day there are more calves.  This morning one of the cows was stuck with nanny duty, surrounded by at least a dozen calves while her sisters were down the hill eating breakfast.  One little calf was not cooperating.  He was apart, by the fence along the road.  Because my parked car worried her, the cow called for the little rebel to join the safety of her small herd, but he ignored her.  I took a few photos then drove on.  The wayward calf raced the car for a short time, running as fast as he could along the fence, his tail streaming out as he bounded downhill at top speed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sacred Machinery

For Sale, along with a tiny piece of my soul....

For two years, I have tried to sell my '06 Harley Davidson Street Bob, but thanks to the economy, the offers made were one to two thousand dollars less than the bike's worth.  If I were to just give away my Harley, it would not be to a person of the male persuasion attempting to cheat me out of my sacred machinery.  Never! 

In an attempt to keep the miles down (and the price up), I have rarely had the bike on the road for the last two years.  It resided in my daughter's garage, growing dusty, cobwebby, and losing the charge on the battery.  I could change out the battery myself on my old Harley.  I could change the oil, adjust the chain tension and other routine matters myself  but I cannot do any of those things with the new Harley.  For one thing, I have never seen anyone change the battery out of a newer Harley nor do any of the other maintenance chores but I gave it the old college try Sunday.  There are tubes and electronic connections and other considerations - primarily the warning on the battery paperwork that clearly states, in bold letters:  IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THE TOOLS OR THE KNOWLEDGE TO INSTALL THIS BATTERY PROPERLY, YOU RISK SEVERE INJURY AND DEATH.

Alllllll righty, then.

Today, I called the local Harley shop.  They sent a truck to retrieve my bike.  I have to hand it to men and their mechanical genius.  The service truck was enclosed and equipped with a mechanical lift.  The guy rolled my motorcycle onto the lift and hit a switch.  Then he rolled the bike into the truck and strapped the front end.  It was as strenuous and as difficult as walking from one room to the next, and took about the same amount of time.  Everyone who owns a motorcycle should be so lucky as to also own a truck like that!  When a motorcycle does not run on its own power, it is a massive burden, a mighty curse, a seven-hundred pound albatross that draws the sweat and cuss from you like a tick sucking blood.  (And it sucks up your money, too!)

I loved riding my old bike.  It leaked oil and had an "orange wire" short that bedeviled it (and all Superglides manufactured the same year).  The frame had been slightly bent when its first owner ran into a car, which caused it to always pull to the right at highway speeds.  It vibrated and I dropped the bike onto its side several times the first year I rode it, permanently scarring it in places, but I trusted that machine.  The only time I was truly stranded was when I ran out of gas.

I don't know about this new bike.  I do not ride it all the time and I do not know all of its quirks.  I have not opened it's secret places, tightened its bolts, or polished every square inch of it a million times the way I did with the first bike.  It is far more complicated. Instead of a true Harley soul, it has computer chips.

My bike is still for sale, but I am going to put some miles on it this summer.  It is ridiculous to own a Harley Davidson and not ride it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This is one of the first photos taken with my new digital camera.  I was experiencing buyer's remorse and happened to look down to see this affirmation - in big, medium, and a double dose of small OK's.  I laughed and took the photo.  Sometimes we forget how easy it is to be perfectly at peace in life.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

The weather has been so strange and abnormal for such a long time that I have been pining for the spring thunderstorms.  Though often dangerous, they are beautiful, powerful, exciting, and one of the best things about living in Kansas.  Unfortunately, they are sometimes the worst thing about living in Kansas.  A powerful storm blew through the other night, spawning a tornado that destroyed over half of the small Wabaunsee town of Harveyville.  That unfortunate community is less than 20 miles southeast of Spirit Creek, as the crow flies.

Earlier that evening, I stopped for a major fix of reading material at Barnes and Noble, the only remaining bookstore in Topeka. It was windy and clear when I entered the store but brooding and humid when I left for home.  As I fumbled for my house key in the twilight, I noticed the first lightning.  I checked the weather and was surprised to learn there was a tornado watch for the area.  When faced with a tornado watch, my game plan is always to stay alert in case I need to take shelter.  This naturally evolves into me stretching out on the couch, watching tv with my eyes closed.

Something jolted me awake - probably the blaring of the television suddenly becoming silent when the satellite connection was interrupted by the storm.  The lightning was constant and wicked.  I stepped to the front door to gauge the conditions in case I had to make a break for the storm shelter.  The thunder was continuous, coming from all directions, and the wailing winds blasted rain against everything with a cold violence.  Above all, an enormous roaring scared the bejeezus out of me.  The blazing, frenetic lightning lit everything in crashing strobes.  I could clearly see the whipping of the trees.  My house was making unusual groaning noises.  Maybe I should already be in the safety of the storm shelter, I was thinking to my dumb self.  I listened intently to that awful roaring for a while.  Since it was not getting louder,  I decided it was not a tornado - at least not one headed directly for me, so I opted to not make a run for the creepy storm cellar.  My heart was beating pretty hard for about fifteen minutes.  Perhaps retirement was not going to be an issue for me after all...

The storm did not last long.  The intensity soon went out of it and I knew it was safe to go to bed.  The next morning dawned clear, fresh and golden. Everything that could hold water was filled to the brim.  Large pools of water had collected in all the low spots.  Duke came to the front door with muddy paws and mud on his snout where he had been digging after some poor creature.  I let Jake out and the two of them were off and running.  It was not until I checked my email that I learned there had been a tornado.  A friend in Texas heard it on the morning news, wondering if I was safe.

I am safe, yet again.  But many of my neighbors lost everything.  I am very thankful for my good fortune and feel a tiny pang of guilt wishing for a big spring storm, since it brought such misery to others.