Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Well, Hell.

Yes, another birthday is on the way. I know I am getting old because my hair is mostly silver (not gray, goddamn it!) I have to walk with a cane in an effort to relieve some of the pain in my knees. I am too stubborn to take the medication that is recommended by the doctor. I tried but there are so many side effects - headache, itching all over, my liver burns. The worst long-term side effects of this type of medication is sudden hemorrhaging to death and heart attack. Well, hell. Guess I'll just hobble along on these ruined old knees until I decide to burden my family and friends with helping me when I get reconstructive surgery. It sounds like a horrible ordeal in every way. A normal person would never have willingly suffered for so long. What is wrong with me? Aside from getting old, that is?

Though years of experience have smoothed many of my rough spots and I have learned patience - 87% of the time - I still feel as if I do not know what the hell I am doing. Does everyone just bumble along, blindly hoping for the best outcome in situations that actually require an experienced attorney, an economist with a PhD, a detective, a scientist, a master mechanic, or a psychic?! I thought people my age were supposed to be wise.

I am a bit wiser now than I was at age 21. I drive the speed limit. I yield the right of way. I pay the utility bills on time. Whenever possible, I avoid people who aggravate me. I try my best to not aggravate others though I can tell I am often unsuccessful. I avoid drugs and alcohol and people who abuse either. I try to mind my own business. I try to appear as if I know what the hell I am doing but I rarely fool anyone. It is a good thing that I have very low self-esteem because I make a fool of myself routinely. I no longer wake in the middle of the night groaning when I recall some embarrassing situation or something I should never have said. I am at last inured to that particular suffering simply because I have experienced it so many times. I know it is not going to kill me. I just think to myself: "Well, hell. It's not the first time and surely not the last."

Of course, there will be a last time. There is a last time for everything under the sun. That is not a sobering or somber thought to me any longer. We are the leaves of an infinite tree, and one by one the people we love drop away, never to be seen again. All the while a mighty pulse rushes through the tree, changing and renewing everything. At some point I will drop away, too.

Driving on a city street the other day I came across a drifting leaf. The stem, like a tail on a kite, stabilized its descent. The oak leaf itself, long dried and curled inwardly, slowly spun as it made a gentle arcing descent across all that moving traffic. I alone was in the right place, at the right time to witness its fall. As I rushed past at 40 miles an hour, the leaf surely fell beneath the tires of all oncoming traffic. In a very short time all the elements that made it an oak leaf will have returned to molecules and atoms. It will return to dust. No one knows what happens to its memory of being an oak leaf. No one can say for sure if it ever realized it was a seasonal leaf of an oak tree. It is a mystery - a mystery I am one year nearer to discovering for myself.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Two Moons

We know that other planets have extravagant and exotic moons. (The current count for Jupiter's moons is at 67.)  The four Jovian moons first seen by Galileo are easily seen with a small hobby telescope. I have seen them myself. It is difficult to imagine a sky full of moons.

I wonder if sentient beings on other worlds created myths about their multiple moons to comfort them in their long evolutionary awakening as we have here on earth for our one moon? Now we know there are no goddesses dwelling on the moon - no mythical creatures at all. Now we know the intrigue of moonlight is not even the light of the moon itself but a reflection of the sun. Though the old mysteries have died with the space age, our moon remains mysterious and alluring in our consciousness.

Should I reincarnate to earth in a future lifetime, when humans will have mined and polluted the moon as surely as we have the earth, I wonder if she will be held in any reverence whatsoever then.

The Lakota Moon of the Shedding Horns, the last full moon of 2016 setting over the west bend of the creek at dawn
And in the east, the Supreme Beings attentive to something only they can hear.
The same morning as I was leaving for work.
The last full moon of 2016 slipping behind the prairie hills for the last time.
The rising of the 2016 November super moon

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Well, It's Cold Outside

It is ten below zero officially in Paxico. Winds at 3 mph. To whatever Power or Force that rules such things, I give my sublime thanks for no wind with this bitter cold because I will soon have to venture out into it. The Supreme Beings will be impatiently awaiting their slow slug of a servant to provide their breakfast and to break up the ice on the water tank. (The slug groans when thinking about how thick that ice is by now...)

Yesterday I made the trek to the Portal of Hell to turn on the electric heater. That will protect the pipe coming from the well from freezing. I simply dread going into the basement in the old garage. The heater may not be needed by tomorrow because the weather is expected to return to more tolerable conditions. That is wonderful news but with it looms another journey into the pit! The ONLY good thing about that is when I close the door behind me and know it might be another year or two before I have to go in again!

There were so many birds at the feeders all day yesterday that I will have to refill everything this morning. I can see activity out there already in the dim light. I did not see a single squirrel yesterday, not even the one I think of as Donald Trump. He is the one that climbs into the middle of the main tray, leisurely stuffing his face until he is entirely full. All the other squirrels are satisfied with eating the food provided specifically for them in their own tray and on the ground near the safety of the big hackberry trees. Even then, they only spend a few moments eating at a time. Not the Donald. He imperiously grubs the best of the peanuts and sunflower seeds for as long as he wishes and not even the woodpeckers bother him. He ignores me when I open the door and yell at him. He refuses to move off the tray until I am within a few feet of him. I have chased him a few times even though it is futile. His arrogance is infuriating. He knows he is in no danger and stays a few feet ahead of me. Only when I close in will he reluctantly scamper up the big tree - but only a few feet up the tree. All the other squirrels scatter at first sight of me. I sit at my desk watching through the windows, glowering at that fat, self-serving pig of a squirrel. He is helping himself to the best of the best and frankly does not care what I think of him. There's one in every crowd.

* * *

The morning chores are completed. The horses were shivering and I felt so sorry for them. They must have suffered throughout the long night in the bitter cold. They have a good shelter but it is not like the shelter of a barn. The birds were reluctant to leave the feeders and flocked back immediately after I came in the house. Poor things. Jake was in the worst shape of everyone. He spent yesterday afternoon and all night sleeping on his big pillow in the garage. His hind legs were so stiff and it was so cold that he could not even keep up with me. The poor guy is not well suited to his job as a farm dog. Duke would have LOVED this snow and the cold never bothered him. I miss the old dog who never failed to escort me to the barn and back, to the Portal of Hell and back, to the mail box and back. I hope by now he has reincarnated as a snow leopard or a Siberian wolf, far from the noise and smell of man, where his noble spirit roams the wild places.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What Happened?

Our country has changed, deep down in its soul, and I am not sure who she is any more. We are angry at one another. We have insulted and harmed each other through abusive national discourse and now sit glaring at one another, truly angry and unable to tolerate much in the way of reconciliation.

We have elected a loose cannon as President – a man whose business practices and personal mores are despicable – a man whose entire adult life represents the worst of America and her capitalistic excesses – a man who made himself rich trampling everything designed to protect people and things which require protection from unbridled capitalism and greed. He is the President we deserve, I guess, as we seem to be a nation of hateful, selfish people. We have lost the middle ground – all of us. For instance, no longer can we safely and sanely discuss a humane and just way to keep immigrant families together. It has devolved into a national brawl of the extremes. No one wants freeloaders clogging up the system, not even hard working illegal immigrants whose sweat and tears are just as real and as hard-earned as our own, we who are descendants of illegal immigrants to the last man. We need to sanely discuss immigration then make humane and fair changes.

The hateful discourse has hardened our hearts. I literally cannot stand any more of the Fox News rhetoric and that ilk. It is like Antabuse to an alcoholic. It makes me instantly sick. I feel bad that people I love seem to be blissfully unaware they have been emotionally manipulated and – yes – how racist, homophobic, and all the other unfortunate “ist” and “ic” terms for undesirable human behavior that Fox rhetoric genuinely is.

Alternatively, people who consume Fox rhetoric cannot stand the stinging barbs of satire and irony the “liberals” and the Left use in their rebuttals in the national discourse. They have had their fill of being abused in this way because they do not consider themselves racist or homophobic. In their daily lives and actions most of them quite likely are neither racist nor homophobic. It is a question of degree, I think.

Now we are truly angry at one another. Every issue blooms into a huge firestorm of hateful spite. I understood the genesis of the Black Lives Matter movement instantly. American citizens are killed with impunity by police all over the country and nothing is done to stop it. Even women and children are gunned down. It is an established fact that black people are harmed by institutionalized racism, even to the point of death but instead of Black Lives Matter engendering a dialogue between decent, rational, concerned human beings, it touched off a reactionary firestorm of All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter. Folks! These are not mutually exclusive schools of thought! The irony of All Lives Matter seems to blissfully escape the most strident defenders of that particular group. If indeed all lives matter then Black Lives Matter would never have sprung from the mean streets of our American cities. We would have come together to tackle this horrific problem of innocent people being gunned down before our very eyes long before the need for a Black Lives Matter movement ever came about.

I could go on.  Environmental issues demand our immediate and undivided attention.  We MUST do something quickly or our children and grandchildren will pay an unbelievably painful price for our selfish inaction.  Instead of combining our might and considerable creative resources to resolve these issues, we are divided and angry and nothing meaningful gets done except for the few who profit mightily at our expense.

My spirit quails at the thought of this madness as being deliberately engineered by the rich and powerful. People become rich and powerful by manipulating everything around them and through radical opportunism. Of course there are powerful groups – think tanks and various organizations everywhere - that clinically promote particular agendas. A little excursion into the history of our railroads is a nasty, despicable lesson on everything from genocide to wholesale government corruption, bribery, thievery and murder. Not much has changed since then. Our national consciousness has been bamboozled by the minions of the greediest and most corrupt to the point where we are literally at each other’s throat while they make off with all the money and destroy the planet while they are at it. We fight like cats and dogs and try to pin the blame on whatever whipping boy our national media chooses for the week. It does not serve you or me. We deserve better.

Not everyone wants or needs to be a billionaire. No matter what color we are, what our first language may be or what our religion, gender or political persuasion may be, we all want the same things. We want to work and pay our own way. We want affordable and equitable education for our children. We want and DESERVE affordable health care. We want competent and principled police forces. We want authentic and just representation in our government. We want equitable taxation for EVERYONE, including corporations and the rich. We need clean air, clean soil, clean water or we will not survive. We want to live in peace with the people we love for all the days of our lives. Americans can have that. We are already rich enough. We simply need to sit down with our neighbors and find common ground. We must work together to change our government, to rid it of corruption. Politicians must be held accountable to “we, the people”. We must stop listening to the voices that say this one or that one is to blame. WE are to blame. WE are the responsible party.

I do not know when or if civil discourse will return. This election we became painfully aware of our differences of opinion - among good friends, within families. The solution is to become aware of our commonality, to find the middle ground and value that far above our differences. Maybe that is the point of beginning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Still Know What To Do, Grandpa

Some weeks ago on the way to work, I crested the first hill going north on Vera Road and found an entire herd of cattle making a break for it through a gate that had been left wide open. One little group was already far down the hill, and one slightly larger group was in the road and moving north. The entire rest of the herd was gathered at the gate ready to make their break.

It was easy enough to herd the cows still in the pasture away from the gate. They slowly ambled away toward the north. The group directly outside the gate was a bit of a problem. As I slowly inched my car between them they moved north, too. Eventually I had parted their little group. I got out of the car then and quietly "shooed" at them. They turned and made their way back into the gate. That left the brave rogues who were already far down the road, enjoying the greener grass.

I was sure one of the Orc's big mining trucks would be coming from the north soon enough, and that would cause the cattle to move back toward me. If I just backed the car up south of the gate, any oncoming car or truck would hopefully pressure the cattle toward me and I could direct them back into the gate. But no traffic was visible. I finally eased the car past the wayward cows. By getting out, I was able to move them back toward the gate. Luckily,they entered the gate instead of continuing on past it. Though I was careful to not scare them or cause them to run, once the stragglers entered the gate, they decided they were in a hurry to join the rest of the herd over the hill to the west, so they loped over the hill. Out of sight. Not a single cow was visible.

I struggled with the barbed wire gate. I was not strong enough to close the gate all the way and could only get one end or the other into the wire loops that hold those wire gates taunt. I at least had the gate across the opening though it would fall down at the first pressure from the cattle. At least none of them were on the road now.

As I was walking back to my car I had left a distance to the north, a truck came hauling toward me. Turns out it was someone coming to make sure that gate was closed. I explained I had moved the cattle back into the pasture but was unable to close the gate. I explained there were about 25 cattle out. When I looked up toward the gate, there was not a single cow in sight. Not one.

I just hope that the guy did not think I was telling a lie, as in "Yeah, that broken-down old woman claimed to have herded 25 cattle back but there were none in sight!" Or that he thought I was exaggerating, like maybe only one or two were out. I was raised around beef cattle and helped herd the gentle beasts many times. As long as you do nothing to scare them, it only takes a little pressure to move them. They can be contrary, and sometimes a cow with a calf will match wills with you, but most often, just as that morning, they all graciously agreed to move back into their pasture at an old woman's bidding. Honest.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


There will most certainly be a last time I post to my Spiritcreek blog - either I will have dropped my earthly robe or I simply will not be interested/able to continue posting. The posts get fewer each year even though I still have plenty to say - I am an opinionated liberal redneck from Kansas, after all. My most loyal and faithful reader, Kit, is gone and sometimes it feels as if I am writing into the void. I can hear him in my mind's ear right now, giving me a hard time. (He was always so bossy!) But today is Thanksgiving, and this morning, through the programmed magic of Facebook, a photo of the foundation of my house appeared as a Memory from four years ago. Here I am today, sitting at my computer looking out the windows opening to the bend of the little creek, just as I had always imagined I would someday do. I paused for a moment to appreciate what is good and right in my world. First, however, there must be bitching and moaning!

On the first day of November I suffered a wound to my leg when a weed stalk ripped a hole in my skin. It certainly hurt but it wasn't until I got back to the house that I realized it required stitches. Aside from childbirth and a bar fight that required 17 stitches in my ear, I have never needed stitches. My stomach was full of butterflies anticipating the medical torture.

The doctor called it a "gruesome wound" - a bit dramatic but it was ugly. Getting stitches was not pleasant, especially since the doctor complained the entire time about people coming in late in the day. She was quick to add an accident like mine was different. I think she must have been under a lot of stress. I missed the good Dr. Keirnan O'Callaghan, the general practitioner I went to my entire adult life. He would never have complained to a patient. I am certain his stitches would have looked a hell of a lot more careful and precise than the Frankenstein attempt of the stressed Med Assist physician. (Good thing I am not overly vain.)

The worst part has been the actual healing. It has been messy and inconvenient and eventually required two days off work. I do not know how people with serious wounds - a gunshot, for instance - ever heal! I have spent $45 in bandage supplies alone. One little weed stalk hidden in the grass at the barn caused all of this. A few days ago, none the wiser, I suffered a puncture wound just inches from the big wound. It did not require stitches but I am still bandaging my leg and waiting for both wounds to fully heal! My body must certainly have passed some aging threshold because I have cut, sliced, scraped, abraded and scratched myself countless times but never sustained damage like this - not even when I wrecked the family Harley in Salina! 

The entire experience made me reflect on the ordeal of people who face major physical healing - combat soldiers for instance. What must they endure? I am grateful mine were minor wounds. I am grateful for truly professional, dedicated doctors like Dr. O'Callaghan. He was a class act I took for granted because I did not know any better. Now I do.

I am grateful for a million and one things - but the point is sometimes you have to bleed into your shoe before you realize how grateful you are for the things you have taken for granted.

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 traffic 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 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


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

Monday, March 7, 2016

Assembly Instructions

Some months ago, I purchased a 9 cubic foot dump trailer to pull behind my lawn tractor. It was the alternative solution to carrying heavy buckets of water up the hill for the horses when it is too cold to use the garden hose to fill the water tank.

The trailer is ostensibly a Craftsman trailer, purchased at Sears for $115. I was thinking it was a GREAT bargain until I went to get it. It was in a long, impossibly narrow box. Some assembly required I correctly surmised. I was not worried. I built a Barbie Doll Dream House one Christmas eve. I have single-handedly assembled bicycles and swing sets and cheap furniture. I routinely make minor home repairs. I maintained my own Harley Davidson motorcycles. I can read assembly instructions like a boss because I was a professional technical draftsman for 20 years.

Thanks to a very warm winter, there were only a couple of times I had to carry water to the horses, so the box of unassembled pieces remained untouched in the garage until today, when I asked myself: Why not tackle that little project? I can use the trailer to haul rocks and limbs out of the yard before mowing this spring.

So... I tore open the box. Nothing looked too challenging and the assembly instructions were in well-translated English, always an auspicious beginning. I read: "Tools required - large flat screwdriver and 1/4" wrench or socket". What they REALLY meant was a Phillips screwdriver and a 10 mm wrench or socket. It went fairly smoothly after that but the instructions were not authentic Craftsman instructions. They were "Universal" instructions, apparently a generic brand of trailer. The trailer pictured did not show Craftsman on the side, but Universal. (No mention of THAT on the box, at Sears, or on the Sears web site!)

The instructions were for several different models but I figured it out because I am a goddamned American genius! That is what I told Jake when I had finished and stood back to admire the newly assembled little trailer.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Lying awake this morning, just before dawn, a lone coyote raised a single howling note of mourning not far from my bedroom window. Expecting to hear the raucous chorus of his family joining in, I raised my head from the pillow when a different howl rose in the silence. It was Jake, answering his wild cousin, perhaps mourning from the deep genetic memory of the time when dogs were wolves - wild, and roaming with few enemies. Jake always answers the coyotes.

In our arrogance, we claim we domesticated the dog, the horse, the chicken and any other animal species that grace our lives with their help or their giveaway so we can live. I consider it a conscious decision on their part. They were here first, after all. They are our Elders.

Surely long ago the Animals saw the starving humans and took pity on us, with our limited senses and our two legs. At a great council, it was decided that the strange two-leggeds would need help or they should perish. The great Wolf chief agreed that some of his people should go live with the two-leggeds who, as all could see, were neither wise nor strong. The wolves would help them hunt, help protect their camps, teach them a true protector lays down his life for his family.

The bravest of the Wolves, in an act of selfless courage, came into the camps of the two-leggeds, trading away their freedom as mighty hunters and warriors with few enemies. They became the Dog, no longer wild and free, yet still mighty warriors, from the tiniest to the largest, even to Jake the Bad Dog.

The wolves of this world are hunted, trapped, poisoned and skinned. Their families destroyed. The coyotes are hunted with dogs who have entirely forgotten they were once wolf warriors. And dogs, their fate inextricably intertwined with ours, suffer with us - neither of us free, neither of us wild.

The coyotes howl for all of their kind who have been trapped, poisoned, shot, torn apart by dogs in the endless, merciless persecution by humans. Perhaps Jake howls for the senseless abuse and neglect his noble kind often suffer at the hands of men. Maybe they howl to honor those first wolves who came into the camps, changing the history of the world.

from Indian Country Today - George Monbiot
from Youtube - www.calxibe
Descendant of the Mighty Wolves - whose only gift he retains is how to howl like one.