Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dorcy The Goddess of Light

From the first nights spent on my little patch of Kansas prairie, I have wanted a "laser beam" bright enough to cut through the darkness to illuminate the timber and underbrush across the creek. I have so often wished to see with my own eyes what Duke's keen senses tell him is prowling there. Behold, the time is at hand! On the last trip to the farm store I found a rechargeable, one million candle power spot light on sale for cheap. It contains a quartz halogen bulb. It gives me superpowers. I can illuminate the old garage easily from the front windows.  (I could conceivably capture a glimpse of a whangdoodle - assuming they have a detectable form.)

The light is not practical for anything except a brief blast of focused light. After 15 hours of charging, I only get 30 minutes of continuous use. I do not intend to use it for anything except to investigate noises I cannot identify. I think unscrupulous hunters use this type of spotlight to blind animals in order to easily shoot them. I do not think I should ever shine it in the direction of the horses or the dogs. The instructions warn to never look into the light or to shine it in someones eyes.

Last night Duke was barking repeatedly so I used the light to look along the creek bank south of the house. I did not see any creature but Duke stopped barking and did not resume. Apparently, the light scared away whatever creature was there. The best use for this will be in warm weather when I have to go to the barn after dark. According to the product information that came with the light, I can theoretically illuminate snakes in the path from up to a mile away. That works for me.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Where's Wallo?
It was a beautiful Christmas Day, such a pleasant day that I thought I would take some special photos of my horses, specifically the one who takes herself very seriously. I could only get a single photo - and it is a bad one. No matter what I did to entice her, Ginger refused to look at the camera again. She knew.


Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward (Some) Men
From the Critters and the Crazy Woman at Spirit Creek

Disclaimer on Neighbors and a Few Other Comments

My aversion to living too closely to neighbors comes from the post traumatic stress of living next to the neighbors from hell in Topeka, Kansas. I have very good country neighbors, and any snide comments about "neighbors" is in no way directed toward them! I rarely see any of my neighbors and have few occasions to even speak to anyone, so we all get along great - as far as I know.

Another embarrassing thing I probably need to clear up at this time is a comment I made about how attractive men are who build things. I posted that comment during the time my house was being built. The exact term I used was "sexy". That, too, is a tongue-in-cheek statement, referring to my general observation that men who build and repair homes, fix machinery, air up Harley tires and other such amazing feats of masculinity are very attractive in a generally-speaking, non-embarrassing, entirely innocent and unintended way to the fairer sex. I was NOT referring to anyone specifically. It was a statement acknowledging the higher qualities of all men who practice the white magick of construction and repair. All that stands between women and the second law of thermodynamics is a man with a tool belt. That's all I'm sayin'!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Missing the Old People

It is appropriate that a woman born at the winter solstice, during the longest night of the year, would have an affinity for winter. Though I deeply appreciate the pleasant and green days of spring - the dramatic and beautiful thunderstorms of summer and the flowering prairie - it is the cold of true winter that I love the most. I enjoy bundling up in warm clothes and boots and going to the barn to tend the horses. Unless it is brutally cold, they prance and buck and gallop their joy as soon as the back door opens. They know their oats are on the way. Wally arches his neck, tossing his head and mane as if he is the most handsome guy alive. And my bossy little mare, her copper coat dusted with snow, is beautiful in the clear yellow sunrise, her shapely nostrils flared and steaming as she vocalizes her impatience with the slow human trudging up the hill.

Winter is silent and pristine, with or without snow. A woman can hear her own heartbeat in the deep silence. Sometimes the happy memories of my childhood come calling as I lean against the fence panels listening to the horses. Their simple pleasure in the nutritious oats and fragrant hay is tangible. In that simple, sweet space I easily recall the smell of smoke from my Grandma's wood-burning stove. It permeated the house year round - a sweet and familiar incense tracing far back in our human genes, unfailingly reminding us of comfort and safety and warmth and family.

In the closet by the back door, (the only door ever used by anyone) Grandma kept old jackets, hats, scarves, mittens and sweaters. These old clothes, smelling wonderfully of wood smoke and hay, were for city folk who did not know how to dress for the farm - or for a granddaughter who would get in big trouble for ruining her "good" clothes.

Grandma was a simple woman, beloved of just about everyone who ever knew her. She was loving and kind, and had a bit of mischief in her, a spark of something good that filled you up. She loved me perfectly. She loved me exactly the way I was, and never in all the time I spent with her, did she ever make me feel bad about myself.

She taught me to thread a needle, to pick strawberries without damaging the plant, to scoop up fuzzy yellow peeps and cup them safely in my hands. She taught me to build a fire in the stove, and allowed me "grown up" chores, like gathering the eggs or filling the wood box. I could "help" make bread and egg noodles and pie crusts. She was dressing a chicken once when I saw two tiny kidney-shaped organs connected by a little thread of flesh. I exclaimed, "It's kidneys!" Though it embarrassed her, she explain it was a rooster and those were his manly parts. My grandma always told me the truth and gave me the information I needed at a level I could understand. She never told me to wait until I was older, or in school, or to ask someone else.

If the theoretical physicists are right, and in reality there is no such thing as time, and everything in the universe happens now, it means Grandma's kitchen, blessed with the smell of baking bread and boiled coffee, still exists. She is there carefully making four depressions in the snowy white flour where the egg yolks go in order to make egg noodles. That poor unfortunate rooster is just about ready for the kettle, and soon Grandpa will be coming in from doing chores.

Monday, December 23, 2013

First Days of Winter

The weather station in Paxico is reporting 10 degrees this morning - positively balmy! Driving home last night from Topeka, the car readout indicated 2 below zero at 7:30 pm. When it gets this cold, the water pipes coming from the well into the "basement" of the old garage can freeze. After two instances of enduring that hardship, and paying for expensive repairs, I am vigilant when the temperature gets to zero.

As I was driving home, my mind was full of justifications for NOT taking the trouble to place a small space heater into the basement. I kept telling myself it would "probably" be fine. It was so darned cold outside that I did not want to get out of my warm and toasty car, go into my warm and toasty house, then bundle up in work clothes and trek through the snow over to that freezing and silent empty building. For starters, whangdoodles surely reside there, especially after the sun goes down. There would not be anything truly dangerous, like snakes or giant spiders this time of year, but there could be a mammal, or a group of mammals making themselves at home. A sleepy squirrel or a opossum could savagely attack when I opened the door. Oh, I eventually stopped making excuses and accepted the fact that it had to be done.

It is times like this when I always ask myself, was marriage really THAT bad? It was a job for a husband, no question. As I was trudging through the snow, followed by my faithful dogs, I wondered how a man would genuinely feel about going into the basement on a frigid, dark night. Would he feel any dread at all? Or would it be such a small action preventing such a large headache, that he would simply take it all in stride? Men are expected to be unafraid of spiderwebs or creaking old buildings. They do not mind the snow or the dark, and probably no man on earth believes in whangdoodles. Is it because men truly do not mind, or because they are raised to keep fears and complaints to themselves?

It brought my grandfathers to mind. They always took care of the difficult, dirty, unpleasant things - braving the cold and dark, suffering through many hardships on behalf of their wives and families. It was expected of them. They were responsible. I simply cannot recall either of them complaining about much of anything except the weather and the government. So, I just sucked it up and took care of things last night, and this morning I have running water in my house.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Far Better Than the Giant Ball of Twine...



Yolk Art?

We found these steel barrel chickens on the main street in Smith Center, Kansas. I like that the artist left them in the original colors. The rooster might be close to six feet tall. Maybe there should be some peeps made from old Pennzoil cans?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Beautiful People Who Would Never Live in Kansas

Decades ago, I was reading a popular magazine while I was waiting for the doctor or the dentist, and saw photos of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet.  The article was about their divorce.  I was sad that those young and exceptionally brilliant and beautiful people could not make their marrage last.  I thought they were the most beautiful people in the world.  I wondered how either of them would ever find anyone as beautiful as the person they were divorcing.

I have not researched who Lenny may be married to now, but Lisa found a man even more beautiful than Lenny, though I did not think it possible.  Jason Momoa!

Everyone knows how I feel about living too closely to neighbors, but what if these two amazingly beautiful people lived ... say... a mile down the road?  I know that could never happen.  If Jason Momoa were to even step foot in Kansas, it would rip a hole in the universe.  It would be as if all the positive matter in the world suddenly fell into the black hole that is Kansas.


*Photos shamelessly stolen from the internet because, you know, I would have my own photos of any of these people?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"I Canna Dooo it, Captin!"

Facebook has it fun features, like seeing photos and keeping up with whatever friends and family might be doing. It gives us ample opportunity to tease one another, and share jokes, and stay in touch without actually speaking. (Sometimes not speaking directly with relatives is a good thing. I'm just sayin'...)

There is a dark side to Facebook, but I am not referring to the spying corporations and our invasive, out-of- control government commits against us. Nor am I referring to those unfortunate people who, in the hubris of lust, post regretful photos of themselves. I am not talking about college students who, by every other law are considered adults, capture their partying and "underage" drinking, which allows corporations to weed them out before they even get a chance at a career. Something is fundamentally wrong when a legal adult 18 (and over) can be penalized so severely from stupid Facebook photos, but cops filmed beating and shooting people remain exempt from consequence.

People post their political views on Facebook, which would be fine if I agreed with them, but chances are I do not. Sometimes I extremely do not agree with them. Though I may love those people dearly, I have to check the boxes that prevent their propaganda from showing up on my news feed even though it also prevents the things I would like to see.

Sometimes people post horrifying photos of animals being tortured or killed, asking for help to track down the perpetrators. Most of the time, they are photos that I have already seen, often many years ago when those photos came uninvited as spam. It still makes me sick.

Recently, someone posted a video of a woman accused of adultery, and murdered at the hands of her husband. He cut her throat. I did not watch it. Just reading the description was horrifying enough for me. There are things you can never "unsee", never forget, never again be innocent of witnessing. I hope to live my entire life and die without witnessing a murder.

I know such horrific things happen every day on this earth. I know there are animals suffering abuse, neglect, and quite likely torture, within a few miles of just about every person in America right now. They are called feed lots and corporate farms. There are people not guilty of crimes against human beings who are suffering abuse, and neglect, and torture in prisons all over this country - more prisoners than any other country. I know there is no genuine journalism or freedom in our press. It is almost all entertainment. I know there is precious little I can do about any of this. When people post these cruel images, post their opinions, post their crazy (to me) points of view, it always feels as if I should do something about it. But what the hell can I do - about any of it?

When photos of a starving horse in the town of Pomona, KS showed up, I tried to save that doomed horse by calling people who should have been able to help - the police, the county attorney. The horse died despite many people's efforts. The horse should have never been allowed to get to such a terrible state, but the neighbors who surely saw this animal starving over the months did nothing about it.

What can I do about a culture that allows women to be murdered at the hands of their husbands and fathers and brothers?

What can I do about the rabid American mindset that we need more guns, not less?

The horrific images and inflammatory political memes people so willingly share on Facebook always cause a rising toward action, a call for a response, a rebuttal.  I feel like Scotty deep in the engine room of the Enterprise, and Captain Kirk is tensely ordering more power - that it is life and death if I do not instantly comply. I just want to shout at my Facebook friends, in my best Scots accent "I canna dooo it, Captin!"

Instead, I simply "unfollow" my friends.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chicken News

While chicken relations remain tense, it appears the new hens are making themselves at home with Big Hen. After an attempt at animal communication, Perelandra style, the three new hens started going into the coop at night on their own. I no longer have to search for them in the dark and then stuff them into the coop every night.

No one wants to cross Big Hen, but the Medium girl simply circles around and does whatever she wants. The Large girl soon follows her. Small girl is either so much younger that she can only cheep like a baby, or she is mentally stunted. Sometimes all she can do is cheep forlornly from inside the coop when the others are outside eagerly pecking and scratching for their meal. It is as if she is lost and cannot find her way out.

There is the smallest bit of serendipity in that all four hens are exactly of the same body shape. Surely the Silver Seabrite hen (Big Hen) is closely related to the Dutch Bantams. The biggest difference I can observe between the breeds is their "dialect". The black hens have different mutterings, clucks and twitters. They also have a quiet series of musical whistling that is pleasant to hear.

Even if Big Hen is not thrilled to share her space and food with three foreigners, it is much better that she is not entirely alone in this world.
Big Hen and the Foreigners - Sounds like a rock band?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Peace and Quiet

A week or so before moving into the new house, I had the satellite television service discontinued. Though the new house is set up for it, I have not restored the service. Due to living "below sea level", I cannot receive any local tv station - even with an antenna on a tower. I keep an eye on threatening weather using the internet. I have not watched network television for years, so I certainly do not miss anything there. If I want to watch a movie, I can rent two or three DVD's for less than $4 at the Red Box outside the grocery store. I read Google and Yahoo news daily, and sometimes I will read the online version of the Topeka Capital Journal. Truly, the only thing on television I sincerely miss is Jon Stewart's daily monologue. Due to my internet provider up-rating my account to the connection speed I have been paying for all these years, I can watch Jon online, too. The only requirement is patience while Jon's 10 minutes of wit and political satire buffers. Who needs a television?

When my son visits, he is uncomfortable with the silence. The lack of background noise is too much for him. He cannot imagine living my silent, solitary life. I was the same when I was his age. There are many things I miss about being young, but the constant need for people and drama is not among them.

The last time my son was here, he asked in exasperation, "What do you DO out here?!"

"I enjoy my life in peace and quiet!"

He is not old enough to know what that means.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cooking For the World's Most Discerning Food Critic the Day After Thanksgiving

Over the years my family has become accustomed to never celebrating any holiday on its actual date. We try to accommodate every one's work schedule and travel plans and choose the best alternative day. As a result, we have been emancipated from an enormous amount of unnecessary tradition and stress. This year we were invited to another family's Thanksgiving dinner, held on Thanksgiving Day, which set us free to gather on Friday.  Driving home together on Thanksgiving night, my son, a bachelor, was grilling me on what I had planned for the big meal for our family. When I told him a hearty beef stew, he was apparently disappointed and began to give me a hard time. He berated my cooking abilities and entree selection. He proclaimed my choices were plain and simple. I am not certain what he was hoping I would prepare, but it was too late to change the menu. He said, "You aren't a very good cook, are you?" (I think he was teasing...)

Mr. Ramen Noodle Chef apparently thinks he knows enough about preparing a large family meal that he can throw around criticism like confetti. To hear him, you would think he had cooked for a family all his life. I did not bring it up, but while he was denigrating my culinary skills, I thought about the full fried chicken meal I prepared for my brothers (step and otherwise) when I was in sixth grade, and our father/stepfather was in the hospital. When I called my four brothers to the table, all had the same suspicious, complaining tone of voice as my son had Thursday night. The only horrible thing about that fried chicken meal was the gravy. I did not know to only use a scant portion of the oil in the pan to make gravy. I used it all! I must have used three cups of flour to soak up the oil. The gravy tasted fine, but you could stand a spoon up in the middle of the bowl and it stayed there. Otherwise, the meal was edible and no one starved or even suffered for one second in the absence of our parents at meal time that night.

As it so happens, Mr. Food Critic apparently enjoyed his non-traditional food on Friday. I made a large pot of beef with barley and wild rice simmered all day with herbs and diced tomatoes and thick mushrooms and new potatoes. It was delicious. When he asked for green beans with bacon, I had it covered. There was also rosemary bread, deviled eggs and delicious whole milk from a local dairy sold in thick glass bottles. There was cranberry relish, black olives, and smoked gouda, too. We had pumpkin pie baked that morning with genuine whipped cream. My daughter brought a homemade pecan pie and ice cream. Later in the evening the fresh mulled apple cider finally broke down my son's disappointment and despair.

In the hours after the main meal, the horses received a huge amount of love and attention. I asked for help moving the round pen while everyone was home. With five adults, the entire process took all of ten minutes. I would have struggled and labored all afternoon to move it myself, hampered by the horses interfering in the process, getting in the way, and worrying that a panel would fall against one or both of them. As it was, Ginger escaped through the walk-in gate we all failed to notice was wide open. After a short trip down the path toward the house, she came right back and entered the big gate, unable and unwilling to get too far from her beloved Wally.

Wally was penned in the newly relocated round pen so everyone could pamper and love on him without Ginger's jealousy. All the cockle burrs were removed from his mane and tail, which of course, only lasts until he walks past the next cockle burr plant. Sadly, Miss Snot Face was mostly left out of the loving attention and grooming. Wally is the rock star and that is fine. Ginger is still my own little red mare who will not suffer fools gladly, and I lover her.

After the sun went down, the men gathered wood and built a fire so we could enjoy both the warmth outdoors and toast the giant marshmallows I had discovered in the baking aisle of the grocery store. I am not sure that anyone actually ate any of the large marshmallows, but it was fun setting them aflame.  

My daughter called soon after she left, asking if I knew where her gloves were. She thought she had left them by the fire. Though I looked long and hard for them using the headlights of my car, I had a feeling Jake had already found those gloves, and I would only find the sad, ragged remains in the brutal light of day. I decided that when I did find them, I would throw them away and tell my daughter I did not know what happened to her gloves.  A lie was not necessary. In the cheerful early light of a cold dawn the next morning, from my office window I witnessed Jake the dog joyfully tossing one of the gloves high in the air and chasing around with it in his mouth. I bolted out the door in my sleeping apparrel and rescued the glove. Miraculously, it was dirty but otherwise undamaged! It was easy to spot the other glove, also intact. After being washed in cold water and Woolite, the gloves were 98% good as new. It was a true day-after-Thanksgiving miracle.

It was a fine, fun day and no one starved - not even Mr. Food Critic.

Wally and Guests of my daughter.

Note "The Gloves" of knitted lambs wools and the faux fur cuff.  How did they survive a night in the wild with Jake the Destroyer?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Whangdoodles

The first time I recall mention of whangdoodles was when I read about them in William Least Heat Moon's first book, Blue Highways.  He took off in a van for a year, following the roads on atlas maps marked in blue - secondary highways - then wrote about his experiences.  He was somewhere down south when the locals warned a particular reservoir was haunted by whangdoodles.  I think he was a hopeful skeptic and decided to camp at that reservoir.  All through the night strange banging and noises surrounded his van.  Just because a world renown author writes about his experiences with whangdoodles is not scientific proof that they exist.

Every night when the sun goes down, I have to go into the chicken pen, find the three new hens and physically stuff them into the coop.  They are afraid of Big Hen, I suppose, since she bullies them every day.  I do not know what I am going to do to convince them they need to roost in the safety of the coop.  For now, I have to put those little chickens to bed in the dark. 

Last night was a starry night.  It was the kind of night I love the most: cold, calm, and beautiful.  After "tucking the chickens in", I was thinking of going to visit the horse persons when a loud, organic sound came from the general direction of the barn.  I cannot describe the noise.  It was surely made by a large animal, maybe a cow or even a horse, except I have never heard either animal make that particular noise.  It could have been the noise a cougar makes when it yawns.  You know, like right before it decides to attack a human being?  Except the dogs would have been going crazy barking at a cougar.  The dogs did not even appear to acknowledge the sound, as if they had not heard it at all. 

I stood in the dark a long time watching the dark outline of the barn, hoping to see if the horses were up there.  I never saw anything move but I gradually got the feeling that the noise I heard was probably a whangdoodle, so I came back to the house and locked the doors.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cheap Thrills

The end of the line for the dog bed.  Glad I got it on sale.  I think Jake would agree it was worth every penny.


What are you gonna do?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Three Little Hens

Finally, I dialed a phone number and someone answered! I have been looking for a few little hens as companions for my single surviving Braveheart hen. One lady hung up on me and never called back. I am not sure what that was about. The other advertisers were too far away or did not have what I wanted. One advertiser on Craigs List seemed to be professional but there was never an answer when I phoned. I gave it one last try today and lo, a voice speaketh from the Chicken Realm.

First I talked to an older man. He was friendly and enthusiastically willing to sell me a few little hens. Yard art, he called them. He gave me overly detailed directions, including a description of driving past the "old, awful house" and "come on back - we'll take care of you!"

When I called before leaving work to confirm, I spoke to a different person, a younger man. He was a salesman! He imported his chickens from Holland and was one of only four breeders of Dutch Bantams in the country. He would give me a deal. And he tried to sell me a rooster.

Well, it was a dark and stormy night when I finally left work for the special chicken breeding haven beyond the "old, awful house". I know I am not as smart as I once was, but sometimes things happen that demonstrate how much I have truly lost. The first thing was driving all over southeastern Shawnee County because I apparently have lost the capacity to drive directly down the streets I have known since 1974. I was not lost. I simply failed to turn on the proper streets, going several miles out of my way. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, but for whatever reason, I drove through intersections as if I were on my way to a different place. I finally drove to the address and turned into a dark and narrow drive. By then it was entirely dark and an icy rain was falling.

It was a good thing the first man had warned me about the "old, awful house". It was an enormous old three story farm house that was coming down in large, square blocks of old wood. In the gloom, it was spooky. I began to worry about axe murderers who lure their victims with chickens. ("Come on back - we'll take care of you!")  If so, they were cheerful and friendly murderers.  It might not be too gruesome an end. A woman waiting for me with a flashlight showed me to the cages where earlier someone penned several little black hens. Even though the pen was under a big car port structure, their feathers were sprinkled with the icy rain. Poor little peckies!

There were only three in the pen and at one glance I said I would take them all. That is when I realized I had forgotten the transport box in the car - another indication of my foggy brain capacity. No problem. The woman scooped up two and I took the other. The little chickens were sleepy and only made a minor fuss. Cash and chickens changed hands then and I was on the road to home in the first winter storm of the season. I could hear their tiny little cheeps and mutters as they tried to deal with being rudely awakened and jostled around in the pitch black interior of a cardboard box while Joe Bonamassa played the best blues guitar licks known to mankind.

They are tiny little hens, entirely black, much smaller than crows, maybe even smaller than pigeons. The woman said they were almost full grown, but they are not mature hens. Now it is after midnight and I checked on them in the box in the garage. They are fine. When  I looked up Dutch Bantams online, I discovered that Mr. One-of-Only-Four-Breeders-in-America was either lying or seriously misinformed. Everyone is breeding Dutch Bantams. Oh well. I have the chickens I want and that is the mainest main thing.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jake the Bad Dog

The last detail Dan the builder had to complete was to pour the front sidewalk.  I knew I should have penned the dogs before I left for work the morning the concrete truck arrived.  Let me clarify.  I knew I should have penned Jake before I left for work.  Yes, there are dog paw prints in the new sidewalk but none of them, not even a toenail scratch, belong to the Good Dog Duke.  He knew to steer clear of things that do not concern him.  Jake the Bad Dog clearly enjoyed several trips across the concrete.  The final invoice from Dan contained an official builder apology at the bottom: "Sorry about the dog prints."  Of course, the fact that there are permanent dog prints in the sidewalk does not cause a disturbance in The Force, but it is another black mark against the Bad Dog Jake.

The dogs sleep on the front porch of the new house.  They will sleep there until cold weather makes them sleep in either the hay bale shelter or the big igloo dog house at night.  When it gets really cold this winter, I will let them into the garage at night.  Tonight I brought home a brand new sleeping pad big enough for Duke.  No amound of coaxing or putting a treat on the far side of the pad convinced Duke that it was his.  When I opened the front door to see if it was raining, I discovered enthroned in the center of the cushy new red pad the undeserving Bad Dog Jake.  So, I guess I need to get another sleeping pad for the front porch and hope that the Bad Dog Jake does not possess the selfish behavior of a snotty red American Quarter Horse mare I know - the one who insisted on keeping her pasture mate out of both barn stalls, though she herself could only use one. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Pyramids of Kansas




It was about a week too late for photographs of the enormous mounds of the north central Kansas milo harvest by the small town of Glen Elder.  This was the last uncovered hill and it only shows a bit of the marvelous striations of colors from the various strains and hybrid seeds.  Normally these enormous hills are beautiful mosaics of yellows, golds, reds, browns and beige.  Every year when I drive by, I wish for my camera.  I remembered to take my camera this time but just missed the best and most beautiful.

At this particular site, there are three huge covered buildings, and there were three enormous outdoor mounds already covered with the heavy plastic tarps. I failed to get a good picture of the entire complex.  There are millions of bushels of milo there.

According to KSSorghum.com, in 2011 Jewell County led the state in highest sorghum production with 5.95 million bushels followed by Smith County with 4.97 million bushels. Mitchell, Rooks and Osborne County rounded out the top five. Marshall County saw the highest yields in 2011 with 112.5 bushels per acre.  Glen Elder is in Mitchell County.  Kansas typically produces between 40 and 50% of the nation's sorghum crop. 

My "warm and fuzzy" feelings about milo was dealt a blow when I read that the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association "continues to play a key role in advocating and protecting crop protection choices for Kansas sorghum farmers. KGSPA is one of the founding leaders of the Triazine Network, a national coalition of agriculture groups who continue to work to keep the atrazine and other triazine herbicides available to growers."   KGSPA is the only organization with a registered lobbyist representing sorghum growers in the Kansas Legislature.

After reading that, I went to the Environmental Protection Agency web site.  The EPA is concerned with the widespread contamination of drinking water.  "Atrazine is currently one of the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States, with estimated production of 76 to 85 million pounds annually."

All I can say is that I am thankful for the EPA's monitoring of this herbicide.  I hope they know what they are doing.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Apologize. My Brother's Lamp Is Not the Ugliest Lamp In the Known Universe

This is bad.
 
This is worse than "bad".  It is creepy.
 
This is not creepy or cheesy or bad.  It is pure ugly.
 
This is sad. 
 
Ugly and cheesy = Cheegly?
 
In my humble opinion, this is What The F**k ugly. 
 
 
I apologize to both of my dear brothers.  The dungeon lamp is a true work of art compared to the electric blue frog.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Is Bad Taste Genetic?

There may be some people on the planet who are so highly evolved aesthetically that they cannot abide anything ugly or unpleasing within their sight.  They are the people who own purebred animals, limited edition cars, designer clothing, and critically acclaimed artwork.  Clearly, no one in my family enjoys membership in that exclusive and limited group.

I unashamedly shared with the world the orange and fluorescent green old-lady sneakers I wear for mowing and working at the barn. I humbly admit they are ugly - very, very ugly. Once a person begins to admit and own shameful secrets, it is difficult to stop. I confess my brothers are also guilty of incredibly bad taste. It is possible that together they found the most unattractive table lamp in the long and torturous history of unattractive table lamps.

Exhibit A, presented here for your perusal, is the lamp my brother Randy found somewhere in his brave and crazy travels across the world.  (Not surprisingly it was discovered for sale within the state of Kansas.) He bought this lamp as a gift for our youngest brother Mark who has always been interested in the Arthurian Legend and the Medieval historical period.

Some creations are singular.  Their unique and distinctive existence produces an aura, an energy that, regardless of purpose, marks their existence as peerless.  They become the epitome of some aspect of themselves.  Exhibit A falls into that singular group of artifacts.    

Mark graciously accepted the lamp. He ferociously defended it through marriage and divorce, and perhaps even more telling, through a much later subsequent romance. The 1970's avocado green sofa inherited from our parents could not be successfully defended forever. The sofa miraculously made it through the marriage, but fell at some point in my brother's current relationship. That he gave up the beloved but ugly and FREE couch is tangible proof of the depth of his enduring love. But even that fierce love cannot part my brother from his ugly lamp.

When I contemplate this item, I realize that there were surely two such lamps purchased originally - one for either end of the sofa. There were likely dozens and dozens of these lamps created somewhere on this earth. Conceived by an artist or a designer, executed in a modern manufacturing center, then with much effort and energy, sent across the world for consumption by eager home owners and interior decorators. Maybe the only thing left of the entire conception, birth and life cycle is this one lamp, the lone survivor, rescued from extinction and obscurity by my own brothers.

Anything as singular and rare deserves something far better than the ugliest lamp shade known to mankind.  I have a new mission in life as of this morning:  a quest for the holy lampshade.  Help me, Lord.

EXHIBIT A




Monday, November 4, 2013

Vera Road


When Did Coke Bottles Become Worthless?

Some months ago I discovered that Coke was selling small six packs of Coke in glass bottles with metal caps, just like the old days! This made me happy. I thought Coke was making a trend toward reusing benign glass containers. This also made me happy because those tiny bottles were perfect to enjoy a Coke at home. Eight ounces with ice is exactly the right amount to satisfy my craving for something sweet, but not so much sugar and carcinogens that I feel guilty. A six pack would last several weeks. Eventually I had six little cartons of small Coke bottles to return to the store for the deposit. I bagged them all up and hauled them to town yesterday.

When I checked out at the grocery store, I set all of the empties on the conveyor, and the young - very young - check out girl was taken aback. "You have empty bottles." She looked at me accusingly. I thought maybe she was slow or damaged, and I was irritated with her. The sad truth is that she was truly mystified by the cartons of empty bottles. She had to call another kindergarten-aged "manager" over where they slowly explained to me that they do not accept empty bottles, with the exception of glass milk jugs. They were irritated with me for holding up the line and interfering in their day. We all looked at each other, wondering what planet the other generation was from. The baby manager politely asked/told me she was giving my bottles back as she was gingerly loading them back into my cart.

So this is what our decades of recycle and reuse and environmental consciousness have come to: millions of glass bottles going to the trash. I left the store feeling embarrassed in the short term, and depressed overall. Apparently it is cheaper for Coke to just make new bottles forever than it is to reuse them. Nothing in our government, nothing in our laws, and nothing we have taught our children has made a bit of difference in the wasteful, consumer society we have created.

I have four little bottles of Coke left in the refrigerator. I am going to enjoy them because they will be the last ones. I have to find a place to recycle the empties I have now. And it occurs to me to ask why my adult children have not kept me informed and up to date regarding what the hell is going on in the world these days? It is part of their job description as my offspring to keep me from embarrassing myself.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

October Closes Spectacularly and November Dawns Lovely

Coming Home

November Dawns Golden and Lovely

Fertile Are the Fields and Pastures

The View from I 70

Imagine this vista, requiring millions of years to evolve to this beauty, being destroyed by fracking...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

White Birds Friday, White Birds Saturday

Cattle Egret feeding in a pasture east of Buffalo Mound.



Pelicans in Flight
 
 
Coming home from work Friday, a pasture of feeding white birds caught my eye from I-70. I thought they were cattle egret. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds Eastern Region confirms my best guess.

I photographed the pelicans Saturday afternoon, just east of my house. This flock appeared and disappeared, ciricling in the clear sky. It was remarkable the way they vanished from sight then reappeared as they were circling, rising, and sorting themselves into flight formation.  I wonder if their feathers reflect the blue sky at a certain angle.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Around the Farm...



Looking south-southwest from house - wildcat emerged from lower left hand and crossed to the right
 
West-Northwest from front door

North from front door
 
Northeast from back of house
Standing east side of barn, looking north toward front gate.
 
East side of barn, looking southeast

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Farrier Day Marred by Large Insects

It was farrier day at the farm. All horse persons were called to the barn and haltered, sprayed for flies, given bits of hay, brushed and curry combed. Cockleburrs were pulled from forelocks and Ginger put in the round pen alone so Wally and I could interact in peace.

At one point during the day's proceedings, standing with the halter rope in my hand, I looked down to notice a very large caterpillar at my feet. He was not of the furry kind. He was a very handsome brown, green and gold, and he was in imminent danger of being trampled by horse hooves or florescent orange sneakers! I looked for a twig or a sturdy stem in the immediate area so I could move him. I was not going to interrupt the process of trimming hooves for a mere caterpillar, so I took a deep breath and PICKED IT UP IN MY BARE FINGERS. I tossed him as gently as possible into the taller plants along the fence. It was not the worst experience with an insect I have ever had, but bare human skin and bare caterpillar skin were never intended to meet in my personal universe.

After I had moved the caterpillar, I noticed a very, very large wolf spider that had to have been within one or two inches of where my hand had just been. She had what I assumed was a bright blue egg sack stuck to her rear, and I wondered if I had just scooped away the intended nursery, or maybe the big fat juicy meal she intended for her dear one hundred thousand babies. Though I hoped she did not get stepped on by womankind or horsekind, I did not scoop her up to toss to safety. She and her egg sack were on their own, unfortunately.

Later in the morning I was going to overturn the water tank so it could be refilled. Somehow I failed to notice a very large spider web across the little gate opening and walked right into it. It was such a strong web that I heard the tiniest, faintest snap as I walked through. Out of the corner of my eye I caught the swinging collapsing trajectory of the huge black spider riding its web downward RIGHT ONTO MY BACK. I felt her hit my back with the weight of perhaps a penny dropping against my shirt. Yes, I screamed.

I heard a tiny spider scream, too.

This tiny woman can and does "kick Ginger's ass"!  lol

Ginger Ruler of All Except Terrie

Wally, Not Using Me As a Rubbing Post for a Change

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Lights of Home and Wild Cats

I had yet to see my house from afar, lit up and welcoming in the dark. Tonight I turned on all the inside lights and drove a mile away. I have to say, I was underwhelmed. It might be a far more dramatic sight after the leaves fall. Even then, the house is oriented in a strangely off-kilter way to the road, and to the sun, as well. It suits me. I do not like being square to the world. Tonight's excursion did answer one question: I can wash dishes in my underwear and no one can see from the road. Not that I have washed dishes in my underwear - only if I wanted to. It is one less thing...

The other morning, I just happened to be standing quietly beside my bed when I saw a tawny wild body come gracefully through the underbrush and timber a few feet from the open window. At first glance I thought it was a coyote but it was a bob cat. In full sunlight, it crossed the wide clearing of the front yard, stopping twice to get a bearing on the dogs' location. I tried to quietly go for my camera, but at the first creak of my knees, the animal fled into cover. After it was gone from sight, the dogs became aware of its presence. They ran toward the south bend of the creek, but they were not barking. I am not sure if that meant they were they in hunting mode, or if it was an animal they know and tolerate in an uneasy agreement to share the neighborhood. Duke has enjoyed wild coyote "friends" several times over the long years of his life. Why not a bobcat, especially since a bobcat could probably take the old Duke down in a serious altercation. Make peace not war has always been the old Dukenator's personal philosophy.

I was glad to see the wild animal even though it might very well have been the demise of most of my chickens, and likely two of my three cats. If not this particular bobcat, then surely one of its kin. It has as much right to the creek as I do. Though I loved my chickens and was not careless with them... well, everyone loves to eat chicken.  As long as the wild critters do not attack me, nor the Duke, nor most of my family members, we can live in peace. I have resigned myself to living without a cat, though I dearly love the members of the feline nation. It hurts to lose a chicken but it is a serious wound to lose a beloved cat. The solution is to simply not own a cat. That way, seeing a bob cat less than ten feet from where I stand is a good thing - a gift from nature - not something to dread.

Now that I have seen the wild cat, I worry about the trappers, the hunters, and all of my neighbors with guns in their homes and in their trucks. I hope the animal can avoid them all.
http://webcat.fhsu.edu/ksfauna/mammals/index.asp?page=species&species_id=356-897&dots=yes&tributaries=yes&isAnura=&map=

Sunday, September 29, 2013

One Woman's Football Healing

Thanks to Global Climate Change, Kansas has recently been enjoying weather fit for human beings. Saturday was an absolutely splendid fall day! It rained lightly in the morning and then the skies cleared into magnificent cerulean and cobalt blues draped with pristine white ribbons of clouds. There has been no better day in the history of the world for a football game!

The problem is that I have not been able to watch a football game of any kind since my only son played his last football game in the freezing rain on a cold, windy night under the dismal lights of the Mission Valley football field - in 2004. The problem has nothing to do with football per se, but that last game was his senior year. He was the baby bird athlete who flew the nest, leaving his mother to suffer in misery with empty nest football syndrome. The best professional football game is not as exciting as a high school game when you know all the boys playing. My son graduated the following spring and was no longer home to watch professional football with me, either. The trauma was so severe and sad that I had to give up all sports - all football and basketball games. For years afterward, I teared up whenever I saw the lights over a high school field. I thought perhaps I would never watch another football game - that my son's last game would be the final football game of my life. I was at peace with that.

My diabolical daughter lured me into attending the Washburn football game yesterday. I only went to spend the time with her but it turned out better than I could imagine. At the first snap of the ball, all the memories of watching Baby Bird (he will kill me if he ever reads this!) out there on the field came rushing back. But I did not even tear up! I realized I was healed of pining away for the years that got away from me, working all the time when my son was growing up. I could watch football and not feel guilty and sad. I did not pine for my son - well, I did just a teensy bit, wishing he would have come with us because I think he would have enjoyed himself.

I sent a text to him, saying he should have come with us because it was a great day for football and it was a good game. His reply: "No way...I'm a man that drinks whiskey and builds shit out of wrought iron." I am not sure what either of those activities have to do with his refusal to come to the game, but maybe he still suffers a touch of football withdrawal himself.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Crime of Punishment

Throughout my adult life, I have had the misfortune to know several people who were sentenced to prison.  Their crimes were nothing on par with the magnitude of the financial ripoffs we have all endured at the hands of the banking industry and our cellular service providers.  Most of the crimes committed by the people I know were drug related.  America is the absolute worst place on earth to be a drug addict or an alcoholic.  The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world.  Yes, our good Christian nation throws its fellow citizens behind bars at the drop of the hat.  Our justice system fills the prisons with mostly people of color, of low economic status, the mentally ill, the uneducated, the abandoned and powerless - all efficiently shipped off to prisons managed mostly by white people.

We should all know to not steal, threaten someone with a weapon, sell drugs to minors, rape or kill someone.  Some people should be sent to prison simply because we do not have any other way to protect ourselves from rapists and murderers.  But in my humble opinion we throw too many people into prison and leave them there for far too long.  The longer a man spends in prison, the more unfit he becomes to live in society. 

A young man who is very dear to me is currently incarcerated by the State of Kansas.  A series of tragic circumstances entirely out of his control combined with his personality and character defects to place him in prison.  He was orphaned, grieving, and homeless.  He was wild and angry but a danger only to himself.  His prison sentence seemed to reflect that there remains a bit of mercy and willingness to recognize the unfortunate circumstances in a young man's life.

It is interesting to observe the behavior of my family and friends whenever I bring up this young man's name.  No one wants to hear anything.  End of story.  The prevailing attitude is if he is in prison it is because he is criminal and stupid or he would not be there.  Even though every one has committed some mistake or lapse that, given the right set of circumstances, could possibly earn us a stay as a guest of one of our state or federal wardens.  Ever had one too many drinks but drove home anyway?  Texted while driving?  Damaged property, even accidentally? Smoked a joint?  Shared your powerful pain killing prescription drugs with your neighbor or your spouse?   Minor offenses that, given the right tragic twist by fate, or your own bad luck, could become criminal offenses that would put you in prison.  It is very easy for American citizens to be sentenced to prison, easier than anywhere else in the world.

It has been to my immense sorrow to learn exactly how few rights an American citizen has once that citizen becomes a prisoner.  A person can be put into segregation for weeks and months on end for small rules infractions.  There is a semblance of appeal in this segregation process within the prison, but it is the inmate's argument against the full weight and autonomy of the Warden and the Department of Corrections.  An inmate can only appeal a subset of infractions to another warden in a different prison.  Who would most often win that appeal process, I wonder?  And as far as I know, the inmate rots in segregation while the "appeal" makes its way through the paper trails and business hours of the prison administration.

When you personally know and care about someone enduring this barbaric form of punishment, isolated in a brick cell hardly larger than a coffin for 23 hours at a time, it weighs on your heart.  Your own powerlessness to intervene or intercede on their behalf is an immense burden.  

I recently learned, to my horror, that none of us have a right to visit our loved ones in prison.  A warden can, at his discretion, rescind the visitation of any prisoner for up to a year, whether or not that prisoner is found guilty of any rules infraction.  As long as a "review" is made, a warden can deny visitation indefinitely.  It is an extremely punitive and arbitrary form of punishment, and something even the American Civil Liberties Union cannot address.  The highest court in America has already ruled no one has a constitutional right to visit their loved ones in prison.  What legal arguments prevailed before the Supreme Court Justices of America to cause them to deny such a profoundly human need?

It has been quite an education for me, learning the realities of our penal system.  It is terrifyingly easy to be sentenced to prison.  Once there, it is terrifyingly easy to be abused in ways we are not even aware of from the relative safety of our lives on the outside.  In fact, you can be emotionally abused by this system without ever being convicted of a crime at all. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Superior Beings

Her majesty Ginger and the Walai Lama
I have been absolutely demoted to the lowest caste in Horse culture this summer. I am one eye blink away from untouchable status right now. My existence is not even acknowledged unless I have a treat or a brush in my hand. This is because their pasture is six feet deep in big blue stem and I have only been to the barn a few minutes daily to make sure they have water and no one is bleeding. If there is not something in this relationship for them, then they do not even pretend interest in me.

Wally's former people said Wally would be the boss, and they were right - as long as he allows Miss Snot Face to eat and drink first, and hog all the treats, and be groomed first. If he decides it is time to head for the pasture, she follows along even if it means walking away from the curry comb. She can walk away from Wally though, and he just watches her go. He sees where she is going then carries on with whatever he deems more important than following after her fat, grumpy behind.

I am seldom irritated with Wally. He does everything I ask of him. He tolerates (ignores) me calling him: Wallery, Wall', Walter, William Wallace, Walai Lama, Big Teensy, Gooby and a lot of other names so infantile and sweet and asinine that even I, the woman of no self esteem, refuse to admit on the world wide web that I speak them aloud. Wall' is just a big ol' goofy sweetheart and I love him! All I want to do is hug his big neck and rub his soft nose and lean against his big round belly. He does not truly appreciate any of it. He is smart enough to know that all treats come from human hands. If he ever wants a pear he simply must endure the hugging. In his mind it is a fair trade.

Miss Thing, on the other hand, most often hears "Ginger!" and "Goddamn it!" and all possible variants. Oh, she eventually does what I ask, but it must always look as if it is her idea. It is the typical vying between two alpha females. (I'm pathetic but I am a human being - I have one or two advantages over a horse.) Sometimes Ginger forgets her royal self when I am brushing her, and she gathers up the back of my shirt in her rubbery horse lips and returns the favor of mutual grooming. If she is in a very expansive and royal mood, I might get the top of my head nibbled. All the horses did this to me when I was child, and it still makes me laugh. I think mussing a human's hair is an equine term of endearment. I cannot help myself. I love Miss Thing, too.

Years ago Ginger was sent away to Bonner Springs for 60 days of training. (I still held the dream that I was going to ride Ginger.) The young woman who did the training had no trouble with my horse. She said Ginger was smart and brave. The old woman who tended all the horses stabled there did not like Ginger. It was an equal and mutual dislike. Whenever the old woman had the lead rope, Ginger would back up, toss her head, and misbehave. She even reared up once when I was there. Ginger stopped short of bolting away or being an outright bad horse, but she and the old woman hated each other's guts. Well, I did not care for that old grouchy woman myself. My relationship with Ginger is simple: in return for small personal favors, Ginger will sometimes be nice to me. In my mind it is a fair trade.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How The Universe Conspires Against Me

I knew I should never have conceded to wearing those goddamned orange and lime green shoes! Right away, I commit a classic Crazy Old Lady act of vehicular senility.

In order to save myself a step, I left the hatch open when I backed down the drive, where I intended to unload a forty-five pound bag of dog food. It just so happens someone planted a twin hackberry tree a good fifty years ago in anticipation of the day I would grow up, buy this place, become senile, and back down the new drive way.

I was watching in the rear view mirror to gauge how closely I was getting to the tree. I forgot the hatch was up even though it was not visible as I was looking out the back of the car. I remember the $1000 insurance deductible though.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Healing Machinery - Another Splendid Y Chromosome Evolution

My lawn tractor is six years old. Before a mouse chewed through the wiring to the display that logs the hours the engine has been in use, it had clocked 11 hours - a mere 1.83 hours per year. That is because after the first season, the damn thing would never start again without Sears sending a mechanic to my house. Sears has a handful of technicians and sells hundreds of lawnmowers, so sometimes I would have to wait almost six weeks for someone to show up. My grass would be three feet tall and my attitude would be evil. I purchased the extended warranty but in reality I had paid Sears a LOT of money in advance so I could mow once a season - sometimes twice.

This year the Universe took great pity on me and sent a mechanical miracle, a man with an affinity for the combustion engine. He came to my house, hauled the machine to his temple of lawnmowery and healed that cursed tractor! It starts every time I turn the key now. This amazing wizardry cost a mere $125!

Oh, what wonders the Y chromosome has wrought to roam this destructive and dangerous planet: men, evolved beyond hunting and gathering to the art and sorcery of the combustion engine... men who have trailers and time and reasonable rates. Womankind cannot thank you enough!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Transmutation Process Nearing 100% Completion

I have a nice pair of athletic shoes - expensive - snowy white - unused. I have been sorely tempted to wear them for mowing or scraping algae out of the horse tank but I have resisted. I continue to hope that I can wear them for their intended purpose: exercising.

I was in KMart the other day when I found a display of exceedingly cheap athletic shoes for the entire family - on sale! Those shoes had a rubber coating on them, and the pair that caught my eye were a nice blue with black and white trim. Alas, those were men's shoes and did not come in an equivalent size for me. That acceptable blue color was not available in any other size selection. I had to settle for the women's shoes, offered in horrendous colors like hot pink and fluorescent yellow, or toxic purple and turquoise. But, they were CHEAP, and they had that rubber coating I think (hope) will make them perfect for mowing and algae scraping. I ruin my shoes all the time working outdoors.

I settled for the least offensive pair of women's shoes offered. I did not even try them on because I did not want another human being to witness the moment of transfiguration.  You know, I was once considered a pretty woman. That was the compliment I heard back in the day.  I was cool, too. I owned, maintained and rode my own Harley and wore expensive leather boots. I ran with poets and musicians, iron workers and Indians. In those days I never in my wildest dreams thought I would come to this lowly point, or ever in my entire life consider wearing anything as hideous as these abominations.

That terrible rending sound you are about to hear is the colossal final collapse of my self-esteem, the death of the woman I once was, and the final transmutation into a Crazy Old Woman. When I lace these beauties up and climb on my lawn tractor in a few moments, the former me will have disappeared entirely, become nothing more than a myth. 



Sunday, August 11, 2013

You Never Know Where Dung Beetles Might Lead

My son and I were coming home, driving up the grade after crossing a local creek, when we saw something far ahead making its slow way across the road. We could not identify it until we were close and then we started laughing. It was two dung beetles rolling a large ball of cow manure - uphill. One beetle behind rolling with her front legs, and the beetle in the front guiding with his back legs. (I might be incorrectly inferring the sex of each.)

I saw similar beetles often on my grandfather's farm and they always delighted me. It was funny the way they were intently focused on their task, moving a large amount of manure, far more mass than the beetles themselves. The perfectly round ball intrigued me and I always wondered where they were going. They did not waiver from their course simply because a human being came by. As a child, I assumed the ball of manure was their winter food. It certainly protected them from being smashed under foot.

This morning I was thinking about seeing the beetles in the road, wondering why something so silly and insignificant stays in my memory. It was just a snippet of memory from the time when my son still lived at home. It led me to read a little about dung beetles. They can roll up to 10 times their weight. Male Onthophagus taurus beetles can pull 1,141 times their own body weight: the equivalent of an average person pulling six double-decker buses full of people. The American Institute of Biological Sciences reports that dung beetles save the United States cattle industry an estimated US $380 million annually through burying above-ground livestock feces. And lastly, dung beetles are currently the only animal, other than humans, known to navigate and orient themselves using the Milky Way. That places those beetles in a rather existential light.

Today I will be visiting an old friend who is terminally ill, to say farewell. As a parent myself, I know saying goodbye to his children must be particularly difficult. I wonder if he will be allowed to keep his memories of this earthly life.  I wonder if my friend will be able to remember forever all the silly, random instances of time spent with each of his beloved children. Some day I will surely find out for myself.

Super Glue

The titanium frames of my eyeglasses gave way unexpectedly two weeks ago. I was driving on the interstate when I felt something in my hair but thought it must have been a bobby pin falling. Later I discovered that the left ear piece had simply broken and fallen. Somehow it made it through my hair, past the generous [ahem] curves of my body onto the floor of the car. The entire episode was a little strange, if you want to know the truth.

At noon that day I took the glasses to the office where I had purchased them, hoping they could be mended, even temporarily. But the lady there could not. She could not even get a mismatched earpiece to work. She offered to send them to "the lab" if I did not mind a two week turn around time. I did mind. Without my glasses I am handicapped. I cannot see to read or write or brush my teeth. I can see well enough to drive and watch television, but anything close is impossible. Furthermore, I could not get in to see the doctor for a new prescription for almost three weeks! I was stuck wearing my glasses with one ear piece. At least there was that.

I tried to superglue the earpiece back, but it utterly failed. I had to travel to Tulsa, so I wore the glasses with one earpiece and suffered headaches because the glasses did not sit appropriately on my face. I was constantly adjusting them. Once again my utter lack of self-respect served me well. Wearing a lopsided pair of glasses enhances no woman's beauty.

When I returned home, I was determined to remedy this problem. First, I tore through every nook and cranny in the house looking for an old pair of glasses. I distinctly recall gathering up four or five pairs and packing them in a box for Good Will when I moved, but I do not remember saving one pair in case of emergency. I thought surely I was intelligent enough to save one pair but if I was, I was not smart enough to put that emergency pair where I could find them in an emergency. So, it was down to me and the superglue.

I assembled the tools: the glue and two tiny strips of indestructible plastic fabric cut from a feminine hygiene item. Squinting, with one eye closed, I placed tiny drops of glue on the lens and placed the first tiny strip of plastic on the lens. Then, I proceeded to glue my finger to the lens, to the ear piece, to my thumb. Eventually I blindly managed to glue the earpiece back to the lens, and then glue another strip of space-age plastic fabric over that. Amazingly, it worked. It is ugly and there is still glue on my finger but I can see.
Superglue Ugliness!
 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Praying or Preying?


"We mean you no harm.  We've come for your men."




An enormous praying mantis was on the ceiling of the front porch this evening. It was motionless and I thought it was stuck in a spider web. I gently moved it with the broom handle and found that it was perfectly alive and well. The motionless must be part of its hunting technique. I have never seen a mantis this large.

It politely cooperated when I took photos, thoughtfully remaining in one place while I got the camera. I noticed that it turned its head, sizing up the threat I might be presenting. Maybe it was deciding if I was potential prey. When an insect turns its head to look at you with both eyes, you have my permission to feel just a tiny bit disconcerted.

It is a fantastic creature, a feat of engineering and exoskeleton design. The slender, jointed construction of its hard shelled body appears alien and impossible. I marveled over the delicate front claws. Mostly I was glad it was a mere six inches in length. If it and its brethern were six feet long instead, human beings would have a tremendous fight for dominance of the earth.

Post Script:  Thank you to Cyberkit for the suggested caption!