Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good Morning America

The day always starts with such promise. This is what my morning looked like, and what it looks like almost every morning. Today just might be the day I win the lottery.....

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Long Road Home Past The World's Largest Ball of String

Visiting my stepfather this week for his 86th birthday meant a trip to what I reluctantly claim as my hometown. It is about two hundred miles, one way. It is always a long road home because I have traveled that route countless times since I graduated from high school there in May of 1970. (That date seems as if it should have B.C. tacked on it now, even to me.) It is a long, boring, familiar drive.

Over the years I have found the absolute shortest route possible to get there. No matter what was going on in my life, I would go home. My past is inextricably and forever linked with every mile. Each trip home is a trip to the past. Three hours of driving is ample time to thoroughly mull things over. My memory unwinds unavoidably on that drive home, so speed is of the essence.

There are perennial bright spots on that long trail that bring a smile and fond memories. One such place is the berg of Portis. I can never drive through that town without recalling the Christmas Eve my husband, a New Jersey transplant, came through Portis, Kansas for the first time. The citizens had made an honest effort to decorate their main street by stringing a single wire of "Christmas lights" across the highway which bisects the town. They were not even genuine Christmas lights, but a half dozen or so regular red light bulbs, and two were burned out. That was the full extent of the Portis Christmas decorations.

At first, my husband could not believe his eyes, then he started laughing. By the time we passed under the string of lights, he was laughing so hard that he had tears in his eyes. He kept trying to say something, but he was laughing too hard for me to understand him. He was laughing so hard that I began laughing/weeping too.

Since that season, the little town has done far better with their decorating efforts. Sometimes they have nothing at all, which is infinitely better than the single string of red bulbs.

A rather more infamous landmark is located on the main street of Cawker City, Kansas. It is the world's largest ball of string. For decades it was on the south side of the street in the center of the town, sadly sagging toward the ground, uncovered and unkept. We never passed by without someone in the car remarking on it. One year we noticed someone had apparently tried to burn it down.

The townsfolk have grown in their appreciation of their tourist attraction, and over the years they have made changes. It was eventually wrapped in sturdy rope, and reshaped into an actual ball. Then a new sign, then a formal sign. Some years later a roofed shelter was erected over it. Now there are contemplation benches so a person can sit, meditate, and consider the efforts to collect such a large ball of string and why. There are other "world's largest" balls of string, so Cawker City has made a more discerning designation as the world's largest ball of sisal twine.

If you are ever through Cawker City, look for it right there on main street. You can not miss it.

For even crazier Kansas stuff, visit here:
Select a Kansas town from the right hand side of the page. Read'em and weep.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


My daughter is my best best friend (BBF) and my best friend forever(BFF). I admire her.

She works diligently at moving her life forward. She always tries to do the right thing. She dresses for work stylishly and professionally and always looks beautiful, even when she is schlepping around at home. She did not learn her style from me, thank god. It is innate to her own sensibility.

When she was little, she was shy, compliant, and I only had to tell her once. Of course, that did not last. When she became a teenager.... well, let us just say I was glad to see her exert her will and break out of her shell. Once all that foolishness was behind us, we were able to find one another again and enjoy our relationship.

She is a good daughter. I understand now how I could have been a better daughter to my mother. My daughter has a tremendous will, which has served her well as she moves forward with her education, her career, her marriage and what I call "life electives" - motorcycling and photography for now. Women spend a lifetime learning how to manage their will gracefully and she is making great progress. There are a few people who have learned the hard way to not mess with my daughter.

There are characteristics evident in each human being from a very young age. My daughter, being quiet and agreeable for the most part, gives bullies the idea that she is a pushover. In first grade, the mean little neighbor girl found out the hard way just exactly how much abuse my daughter was going to accept. I heard a scream of rage followed by screams of the neighbor girl running home crying to her mother. My daughter threw a piece of brick directly to the back of the other little girl. I hate to say it, but if anyone ever deserved a brick to the back, that little neighbor girl did. Of course, a parent can not reward brick throwing, but in my heart I was glad to see that other child get her comeuppance. This illustrates one of my daughter's life tasks - how to set those boundaries early and maintain them so that a brick is not needed at the final hour. On the other hand, if it takes a brick, then throw it with all thy might.

Once my daughter married and moved far from Kansas, I never expected her to return to settle here. But she and her husband bought a house literally "down the road" from me. It seemed so far fetched to hope they would even come back to Kansas that I never even imagined they would one day buy a house so close by. She never admitted to thinking the Flint Hills were beautiful or that the sky was spectacular here, but now that she lives in a house with a dramatic view of the prairies, she is beginning to see what I see and love what I love. It takes a while for the subtleties of Kansas to reveal themselves.

We can talk about the old bad times, the events that occurred in our lives due to my inexperience, my negligence, my mistakes, and the mistakes she made growing up. She confesses things now when I never had a clue at the time. It is all forgiven and all we are left with is a warm understanding and a wonderful relationship.

My daughter's dedication to complete her Masters degree is what I admire most right now. Writing is difficult for her. It is frustrating, a true stretch. But, she is so determined. I have no doubt that she will make it. I see the effects of a good education in my daughter. She will never be just a "mere supervisor" the way I have been. She is director now in her current job, and who knows what her future holds? The daughter has exceeded the mother in all ways, and that is the way it should be.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Crazy Is As Crazy Does

Sometimes I can not sleep but it is not a hardship. There are nights when I fondly recall the era of my life when sleep was delicious and coveted and luxurious (when I was young). Delicious sleep belongs to the past, like so many other things. Occasionally when I can not sleep, I go walking. That is what I did last night.

It rained all night Sunday and was snowing hard Monday morning. It rained and snowed all day and continued to rain throughout the night. There was mud and slush and freezing rain coming down, so what better time to go for a walk?

About 3 am I decided to go up to the barn. I found my winter boots, still full of pieces of hay from feeding the horses all last winter, and also full of spider webs. I used the vacuum cleaner to insure there were no live spiders left in the boots, but two spiders crawling on the toe of one boot were sucked into the maelstrom - death by Kirby. I found my winter gloves, trusting no spiders had taken up residence in them, and located the headlamp. It was totally black outside, I needed a light. I bundled up in spider-ridden boots, dirty old work gloves, and my ragged work coat.

Taking up my walking stick, I took off in the dark for the barn. When it is raining or snowing, the sky is entirely black and the silence is comforting. Even though Duke is getting up there in age now and I hate to disturb his sleep, I can never sneak off in the dark without him. He always hears and comes running. The generosity of the dog nation is beyond reproach.

The horses hear me coming as well, and Ginger sometimes makes a low greeting in her throat. Annie rarely makes any noise. She is a horse of few words. She expresses herself in other ways. She chases Duke, plays in the water tank, and routinely scares the bejeezus out of me with her startled stomps and take offs.

The horses are not glad to see me - only if I have food or treats. Otherwise, I am just their noisy servant stomping around in the middle of the night, disturbing their sleep. But, I like going to visit them in the dark. It never ceases to amaze me that thousand pound animals with four feet can silently get within six inches of me to exhale a warm blast of air onto my neck, giving me a heart attack, but they can. Ginger did this to me in broad daylight. She routinely sneaked up behind me when I was cleaning her pen. She worked to perfect her technique.

Duke is never off duty, marking his territory all along the path to the barn, even in the dark. If I am not paying attention I sometimes run into him if he has stopped to claim a spot where a coyote or other intruder left a scent. He always goes ahead of me on the path, peeing on things every few feet. I think it is the canine equivalent of the red carpet treatment.

Once I get to the barn, I turn off the headlamp. I only need it to make sure I do not trip and fall down where Duke can enthusiastically lick my face. Duke will be twelve years old next spring and he still has not learned to not lick and slobber and breathe stinky dog breath all over me if he gets the chance. The four words he always hears: "*#@ *&@$^& #&, Duke!" have no meaning or effect on him. I believe he assumes that is the sound humans make which means "carry on enthusiastically."

Duke snuffles around the hay and usually takes off in the dark while I am at the barn. When I get tired, or too cold, or resign myself to going back to bed, he is often so far away that I can not hear him at all. I know there is nothing in the dark that will harm me, (unless there should be a rabid skunk), but sometimes I hear something big rustling through the prairie and I certainly hope it is the ol' Dukester. It always is. I can never sneak away from the barn without Duke running up to escort me back to the house.

It is a good thing to go out to the barn at night. The warm bodies of the horses are dark shapes silently passing next to me. I run my hands down their soft necks. Sometimes, if Ginger will stand still long enough for me to lean against her warm side, I place my arms around her neck. She only tolerates this because she believes royalty should always treat servants with civility.

Sometimes the wind is what I want to listen to. Sometimes it is the silent snowfall, or the gentle mist of rain. Sometimes it is the stars. Late in the winter, it is the owls calling eerily along the creek. Sometimes it is the moonlight that calls me to the little rise where the barn sits. Sometimes it is simply a restlessness in my spirit and the need to reconnect with the energy of this place I call home. Sometimes thoughts of the future crash through my reverie, ruining my sojourn. There will likely come the day when I will have to move to town - go live in a dinky little apartment some place where the only animal I will be allowed to look after might be a cat, if I am lucky. If I am damned, I will have to go to a rest home. I know what happens to crazy old women who try to wander away from rest homes, or want to roam the night in their nightgowns and winter boots.

Tenzing Norgay

Tenzing roosting alone at night on the back porch

Two years ago, at the farm store, I saw tiny blue chicks for the first time, ever. They were blue with yellow caps, and so tiny! I had to have one, even though I did not know what breed of chicken they were. For some time, I observed the tub of bantam chicks for sale. There were four or five different breeds mixed together and I did not recognize any of them. One blue chick distinguished itself from all the others by being the most vital. It also seemed to be the most intelligent as it interacted with the other chicks and the limited environment. It was simply more "engaged" in whatever it was doing. So, I chose it. Of course, I was hoping it would be blue when it grew up.

Of the three chicks I chose that day, they turned out to be Tenzing Norgay, a Porcelain D'Uccle and the dominate hen of my flock today, and two Partridge Cochin roosters, Big Man and Sweetie Peep. I have chronicled my adventures with them throughout my blog. Big Man was the funniest chicken I have ever known, and I loved him so much, but I had too many roosters. Since I can not eat my pets, I had to give them away. I believe I found a good home for the roosters but I am not sure how much longer they survived. I no longer ask the girl who has them, just in case she might have bad news. Only the little blue chick, Tenzing Norgay, remains of the original three.

As you may recall, Tenzing was able to fly to the cage door as soon as her real feathers came in. She quickly learned to fly to the door the second it opened, and apparently simply liked to sit in my hand because she was not rewarded with food for this.  She was roughly the size of a meadow lark and so cute. The two roosters would run around in the cage in a panic. They never figured out that my hands were not predators, or that they too could fly to the door.  Tenzing was, wings down, far smarter than those silly little roosters.

She continues to distinguish herself, though there are five other Porcelaine D'Uccle hens in the flock now. They all started out as blue chicks with a spot of yellow on their heads. Now they are white hens with splotches of blue around their necks. Each one is marked a bit differently so I can tell them all apart. Tenzing is a loner. She found her old cage stacked on the back porch early this summer and began laying her eggs in there. (She can get into the back porch the same way the dog does - through the dog door.) She prefers that cage as her roost at night.  All the other chickens go into the pen at twilight, but Tenzing goes to her solitary roost on the back porch. Since she is not penned with the others at night, she always has her freedom during the day. I do not have the heart to throw her in with the others. I understand about needing solitude and space.

Of all the chickens, she seems to understand that I am her friend and protector. As soon as she hears my voice she comes running and tags along behind me.  She knows I will have food but I think she also remembers that I have amazing powers that can expand her world.

Sunday, the cold rain necessitated a change where I store the chicken feed.  The flock has been kept penned up due to the slinking coyote recently spotted several times just a few feet from the pen. Since I no longer scatter the chicken feed in the driveway so I did not expect Tenzing to be out in the cold rain, but when she heard me, she came running. She followed me around the house several times as I moved the bins of food to the back porch.  It was unusual that she followed behind me for such a long time.  Even a genius chicken like Tenzing only has an attention span of.... well, not very long. And chickens can be distracted quite easily. Even when they expect food, none of them follow me for more than about thirty feet.

I do not pick her up any more but I still talk to her. I think she would be cold sleeping alone, as all the other chickens snuggle in the nests together for warmth and companionship at night. But, for whatever reason, little Tenzing Norgay prefers a roost of her own choosing, even if it means being alone. I need to find an intelligent, handsome rooster worthy of her.

Monday, November 16, 2009


A bit of Ireland came to Kansas Saturday night and my daughter and I were there. We attended the Saturday night performance of Riverdance - the Farewell Tour. It was a delight. The dancing was unusual and dramatic. The dancers were all so beautiful. I believe the small stage at the Topeka Performing Arts Center limited the production to a degree, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

The lead female dancer was absolutely flawless, but this being Kansas, she hardly garnered the appreciative applause she deserved. The loudest applause was lauded on the dramatic male dancers. The men were good, but to my eye, the young lady was a cut above them and absolutely perfect. (Uppity women are not appreciated in Kansas - unless you are Sarah Palin, don'cha know?)

My daughter and I had girl's night out. We ate a nice dinner then went to the theater. I even put on makeup, but do not assume I was puttin' on airs. I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt it is true that you can take the woman away from her bike, but you can not take the biker out of the woman. Just as this long awaited and highly anticipated production began, right at the moment the actual dancing began, some late-comers came flying toward their seats to our right. Okay - I am normally patient and understanding. Because a giant (but innocent) man was already seated several chairs inland, and the tardy ticket holder's seats were on the other side of him, the ensuing musical chairs involved about nine people! Eight or nine people, including a giant, milling around within a few feet of us, making noise, blocking the stage and creating an enormous distraction! My irritation knew no bounds. I intended that my whispers would be heard only by my daughter when I hissed, "Jeeeeez - ussss Christ! Sit the **** down!"

I half-heartedly apologized for my outburst at the time. My daughter said "Everyone else was thinking the exact same thing."

Returning to our car after the concert, my daughter brought it up. She admitted that it stunned her at the time. Unfortunately I was much louder than I intended. After the concert, (when her embarrassment had worn off) she was beginning to appreciate it in a different light. I apologized, admitting it was wrong on every level. She pointed out not a single person stood up in front us the entire rest of the evening. We began to laugh until we both had tears in our eyes. In fact, at one point we were howling.

My daughter has collected a few memorable quotes, things I have said or done over the years that she and my son find funny. I think my son-in-law has been in on this recently, too. The sad thing is that when I say these things they find so funny, I am most often entirely serious. I guess I am a "character" in their lives. It is not that they are making fun of me so much as they are beginning to see their mother as an individual. I am happy they find some humor in a few of the more outrageous things I might say or do, but I think it is Old Woman Tourettes, and they should be more respectful.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Major Retraction!

All three Weird Sisters survived the night! Where the missing one was hiding last night, I do not know, but all three Weird Sisters survived. I repeat: No missing chickens!!

Seems Like the First Day of Winter

It is cold and wet and overcast today. All the leaves are down, but there remains some green - the rose bushes, for example. Undoubtedly the prairie is preparing for winter. Normally the summers are so hot and brutal that I welcome and appreciate winter until at least mid-January. Then I begin pining for the light and warmth of spring. Enough is enough!

Every year, I have the intention of buying special light bulbs from Sweden that are said to offset the depression of winter. If they work, I might make it through the entire winter season as a happy idiot. What would it feel like to be almost in a good mood during January, I wonder? Never have I taken one tiny concrete step toward getting those light bulbs. Like everything else, if I just wait long enough, it will be spring again and I will not need light bulbs from Sweden. I wish I was more proactive but it takes a lot of energy.

I am also a tiny bit sad this morning because one of the Weird Sisters disappeared last night. Some unknown predator had her for supper. Darn it. The little chicks I bought at the farm store have survived and proliferated, but of the eight silver sebright chicks that traveled via United States Postal Service from Back East, only two are left. Kansas has proven to be too wild and dangerous for them. Whatever gets them does not even scatter any feathers.

It was my fault for letting them out yesterday morning. I knew I was going to be gone all evening so I should never have let them out. I was not too worried because it had been overcast all day, and I was certain the chickens would go to roost early. By evening the chickens were making their slow way toward the pen. Their speed and distance from the pen correlates directly to the amount of daylight left. As my departure time approached, the sun broke through, illuminating our little valley and invigorating the chickens. They headed back toward the timber, industriously scratching through all the leaves as they made their way. I did not have time to pen them up. As soon as I got home I checked on them, and one of the sebrights was gone.

I knew it was foolhardy to raise chickens in this location without extraordinary measures or permanently penning them. More have survived then I ever imagined. It still depresses me a little bit, especially on a wet cold day like today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Red Tailed Hawks

The pair of hawks, center.

The red tailed hawk is a sort of spiritual messenger for me. A red tail feather signaled a major life shift. My spirit was fading away with a broken heart. I was floundering in a great absence of hope. I had lost faith in all my dreams and did not know how to spiritually replenish myself. That feather came from the North, signaling a new strength building in my life.

There have always been Indians in my life, but none of them were "practicing Indians". There was shame and heartache associated with being Indian, so no one ever wanted to admit to it. Some people I love dearly did not even know they had Indian blood, not until late in their lives.

After that feather appeared, I met people I fondly refer to as "real Indians". It has nothing to do with blood quantum, though I did meet and come to know some full bloods, too. I had opportunity to go into lodge, to sit humbly on the good earth, in the dark, singing those old prayer songs. My spirit rose from the ashes.

When the prairie had been restored on my twenty acres of former farm land, I dared to hope a hawk might find the habitat suitable to claim for itself. Amazingly, three summers ago I noticed a pair had taken up residence upstream of my bend in the creek, but they hunted my pasture.

Since all the leaves are gone now, it is easy to see, directly in my line of sight, the distinctive silhouette of a single red tailed hawk perched between me and the sunrise every morning. It could not be more directly aligned within my sight as I look out this east window. If I pay attention, I will see the moment when its mate flies up to perch briefly next to it on the same branch. They sit within inches of one another for a short time, then both take silent wing in the faint light.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Spirit Fairs

The Spirit, Mind, Body fair took place in Topeka on Saturday. When the Church of the Infinite Source first tried to hold a spirit (new age) fair in Topeka, they had to jump through hoops. All the psychics had to be ordained ministers of some type. The powers ruling Topeka were afraid of witches, I guess.

It was wonderful when the fairs first started. For me, the energy generated by all those like-minded people was like swimming in warm water after surviving the cold desert. I have seldom missed a fair since. There are various energetic healers, exotic stone jewelry, psychics of every persuasion, essential oils, music, books, tons of junk, and my favorite - the quartz crystal vendors. The best vendor is a woman from Mt. Ida, Arkansas. I have bought dozens of her crystals over the years.

Some people attribute special powers to crystals but I do not know about that. I suspect there is much traditional shamanic knowledge in working with crystals. That aside, quartz crystal literally inundates all of modern life - watches, computers, scientific equipment, toys, lcd's - there are few things that do not have some form of quartz crystal in them. Crystals form in a spiral manner and always terminate with six faces, and one face is always a perfect triangle. Quartz crystal is one of the few substances that energy passes through without diminishing. The molecular structure allows the free transfer of energy.

There are dozens of books about the mystical purpose of quartz crystals - healers, transmitters, record keepers, time windows. The list is exhaustive. Perhaps in the right hands, those things are true. Nothing amazing has ever happened between me and my crystals. I just like them. I think they are beautiful. No two are ever the same. Some of them do have natural strange etchings on their faces - pyramids, runes, graceful structures, rainbows and fantastic inclusions within them.

One myth is that when a crystal finds the right person, it will become clear. The first crystal I ever purchased was dirty brown, about six inches long and two inches around. There was an inclusion within it that spiraled up from the bottom. The faces were beat up and chipped. It had been on a long, rough journey. Most crystals are violently broken from their matrix but there was only one tiny little area where mine had been connected to its mother matrix. In effect, it is almost as if it formed whole. As soon as I saw it, ugly and chipped and dirty-looking as it was, I felt an immediate connection to it. I had to have it. For the first several years I owned this crystal, it was cloudy and you could not easily see through it. One day I suddenly realized it was clear. What happened within the crystal to make it become clear is a mystery. It is still brown in color, but it has cleared within.

I do not give much serious thought to all the angel/spirit/space brother/spiritual ray hokiness of most of that new age stuff. Most of the time I think it is harmless imagination. But the tolerance and proliferation of new age thought has opened the door to far more serious mainstream tolerance and study: biofeedback, energy work acceptance in clinics, hospitals and psychiatry, acupuncture, herbal healing - things too numerous to list here.

Skepticism is good, I think. It is healthy. Of course, if a space brother ever contacts me, I might have to reconsider.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Useful Information

I have learned a few things in my life that I am willing to share with the rest of the world freely and with no further obligation.

When I was four years old, I had the idea to dive head first into a pillow. I placed a pillow carefully on the floor, then climbed into my little brother's crib. It was easy to get into the crib because the side rail was down. With no further ado, I dove head first into the pillow. I hit the pillow squarely. The top of my head slammed into the floor as if the pillow was not there. It hurt. As I lay stunned on the floor, I determined that diving into pillows is not useful.

When I was eleven, my family was visiting my first cousins. In my aunt's yard there was room to ride a bicycle all the way around her large house. I was doing just that, minding my own business, riding one of my many cousins' little bicycles. With each lap around the house, I was picking up speed. I had my head down and was totally into the moment. Tommy Reser, the meanest of all the big cousins, jumped out from behind a shrub and jammed a broom handle into the front wheel of that bike. The front of the bike stopped immediately but the back wheel, and me, continued to travel at the same speed right over the handle bars. As I lay stunned on the sidewalk, I determined it is safer, and more useful, to always ride with eyes ahead.

The first time I swallowed a bug while I was riding my motorcycle, I thought it was possible at seventy miles per hour to spit off to the side, and the wind would carry it away. No. The air pressure simply smears the moisture along the surface of your face.

This is free advice.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

People of the South Wind - the Kansa

The state of Kansas takes its name from the Kansa people, the People of the South Wind. The Kansas River, is also known as the Kaw - also a pronunciation of the name of the original owners of the Flint Hills. William Least Heat Moon lists 140 different spellings of the Kansa name in his book "PrairyErth". Kansas, Kansa, Konza, Kaw all refer to the People of the South Wind.

"The (Konza) band before us were all finely formed men; for with the exception of the Osage Indians of the Arkansaw, they are considered the most noble of the tribes which yet roam within the neighborhood of the settlements."

"The Konzas had a proud, noble air, and their white blankets as they hung in loose and graceful folds around them, had the effect of classic drapery." John Treat Irving, traveler (1833)

"In the evening the principal Kanzas chief paid us a visit in our tent. He is a young man about twenty five years of age, straight as a poplar and with a noble countenance and bearing. ...Our chief is a very lively, laughing, and rather playful personage ...perhaps he may put on his dignity, like a glove, when it suits him." John Kirk Townsend, touring physician and naturalist (1834)

"The Kansa were quite tall and very well shaped. Their physiognomy...was quite virile. Their abrupt, guttural language was remarkable for its long and sharp accentuation of inflection.

To their strength, shrewdness, and courage, they added good common sense. Among their chiefs were some men of true distinction. The best-known of them... was White Plume." Nicolas Point, traveler and Jesuit missionary (1840)

"I believe my people will soon be impoverished. This I do not want to see. This is the darkest period in our history. The whites have made attempts to buy my lands, but I have never yet asserted that I wished to sell my lands." Chief Ahlegawaho (1871)

"...The government forcing several land-cession treaties onto the Kansa over the years when they were still on their ancestral grounds up along the Kaw River. First, Congress made them cede twenty million acres - that's the size of South Carolina - in return for two million acres and annuities from the sale of their lands. Then, in a later treaty, the government took that reservation away and handed them roughly a quarter of a million acres here along the Neosho, and then reduced that to the Diminished Reserve before finally forcing them into Oklahoma, where the Kansa had to buy land from the Osage." Joe Hickey, anthropologist (1991)

"We have not seen the dusky forms of the noble red man of the Kaw persuasion about our streets in the last two or three days. Doubtless those sweet-scented ones that were encamped near here have gone back to their reservation. When we consider how efficient they were in "gobbling up" the putrescent animal and vegetable matter about the city, we almost regret their departure." (Topeka) Daily Kansas State Record (June, 1868)

all quotes from the book "PrairyErth" by William Least Heat Moon copyright 1991

The Kansa ancestral lands include the property where I now live. I sometimes think the melancholy that wells up in my heart, the ache that arises from the thrumming of those high lonesome winds, is the memory of those who lived here first. Maybe the Kansa are recalling the beauty and abundance of the Flint Hills before Indian and land alike had fallen to starvation and disease and the greed, Christianity and government of the white man. Perhaps they are reminding me to love this land while I have the chance.

As I was writing this tonight, a white streak of light appeared right out of the east window. Before that happened, I was thinking of going out into the night to say prayers in memory of the Kansa. Now I am afraid of ghosts. Patti is likely laughing at me, wherever in this universe she is, but I am still not brave enough to face ghosts the way she was. I will wait until daylight.

Reading current reader comments posted to daily on-line articles published in the Topeka Capital Journal, I see that the mean, ignorant spirit of the goodly citizens of Topeka has not changed at all since 1868.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kansas Winds

No surprise that the wind blows - a lot - in Kansas. Sometimes it howls and batters everything from the ground up. Sometimes it sounds as if it is whipping everything apart, but if you look, only the treetops are thrashing. Sometimes it is a high wind, high up in the atmosphere, that you can only hear and not necessarily see. There is a particular sound in those winds that brings a deep melancholy to my spirit. I do not know why.

Wind often brings a change in the weather. The horses are always high strung and nervous then. I have to be watchful around them as the slightest thing sets them off. They smell fresh scents from far locations, and if they were free, they would cover miles and miles with that wind. I understand. All of us were once free to roam this world, horses and humans.

Sometimes a mighty storm rolls in from the Rockies. You can sense the shift in the atmosphere. I like wrapping in a big quilt, laying in the dark, hearing the roaring winter wind. Those same winds in the other seasons are frightening because they could contain a tornado or out flow winds. Those winds are too exciting and dangerous and I am always a bit sad when they subside.

Most of the rain that falls in Kansas begins as humidity in the Gulf of Mexico. If the weather has been dry, or exceedingly cold, drying the air, when those Southern humid winds arrive you catch the scent of water. Those sweet, moisture laden winds remind me of Hawaii where the Pacific winds comb through the islands each day with frequent showers and numerous rainbows.

Some days in Kansas there is little wind but if you look high up, a silent rushing moves clouds in a sustained current, a literal river in the atmosphere. It is a perfect time to lay back in the sunlight, watching this dramatic movement in the ocean of air in which we live. It gives me the sensation of determination, as if it is heading to a destination with purpose and resolve.

Tonight the wind is high up, building and subsiding in waves as it rolls in from the south. It is a comforting sound I love. It is the sound of Kansas. Toward the ground there are no tree branches or items blowing in the dark. The small red bud trees just out the front window are not moving at all. Near the house is it almost windless but if it were daylight, I would see the tall grasses on the ridges moving in the ebb of these winds. Lower down, not even the fallen leaves stir.

Sometimes there are breezes that come in low, along the ground, yet not a single branch moves. There are eddies of air that come among the buildings, day or night, and tug at your hair or clothing from different directions. Sometimes you could swear the wind has an awareness of you.

One brisk spring day, my brother and I were in our grandfather's meadow. It was really too cold to be there without our coats. Though it was spring, and the meadow was beginning to green, the wind out of the north was cold. An endless army of small puffs of clouds were being driven low and fast before that cold wind, rolling shadows quickly along the ground. In the spontaneous invention of children, we began a game of cloud tag. The idea was to stay in the shadows racing along the ground. Of that bright morning I remember the pure white shapes of sunlit clouds - it seems as if they were hardly off the ground. It is hard to say how long we laughed and tumbled in the fragrant grass that morning, diving and rolling into the shadows. At some point there was total abandon into the perfect present, and not only could we better judge the shadows, the clouds themselves seemed to participate in the play. It was magic. My brother has no memory of this perfect day - we were very young. But I remember it well.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I believe our thoughts are energy. They can direct energy, influence outcomes and events, turn the tides of our lives and football games. I was wondering what Monday morning looks like energetically. It must be one big black pit of despair and depression.

Studies should be done to determine how many more deer commit suicide on Monday morning by throwing themselves in front of cars traveling to work. Deer are sensitive to the energy environment. The collective sigh of human boredom, and the burden of selling hours of our lives
for money, wash across the entire country in a despairing tide of emptiness and futility.

It is not drugs, or disease, or old age that kills us. It is the cumulative effect of Monday.