Thursday, December 27, 2012

Going To The Movies

I received a holiday gift card from my employer.  It was either the dollars or a ham but you cannot turn a ham into a visit to Middle Earth and that is what I did with my greatly appreciated gift - I went to see The Hobbit.  Though I have been inwardly wincing over the cost of admission to the new movies, I have decided to consider the ticket price as a personal donation to one of the greatest art forms the world has produced so far.

Of course, Peter Jackson is only filming characters channeled by an author a long time ago.  No modern film character will ever have the staying power of characters who came to earth through the printed page.  A cynic might say our admission price also goes to make actors rich.  That is fine with me, too.  Imagine how dreadful it would be if the beloved characters were portrayed by inept actors!  (Remember Brad Pitt as Louie in Interview With The Vampire?  He ruined the movie with his dismal lack of skill, though he certainly looked good while doing so.) 

One can also argue that a $5 plastic cup of carbonated corn syrup and carcinogens is a big rip off.  But consider the number of teenagers entering the workforce via movie theaters.  It offers a safe and fairly pleasant place to begin their participation in the American system of capitalism. 

Then you have to consider what the cost of the ticket gives you, how utterly enchanting it is to visit in full technicolor splendor the Shire and Rivendale.  When the Lady Galadriel made her film appearance as the guardian of Middle Earth, I BELIEVED.   She appeared exactly as an Elven queen of great wisdom and powerful magic.  If Gaia herself were to incarnate, she would be no more breathtaking.

I am saying it is a win-win-win-win situation.  Movies are worth the price of admission to Middle Earth... or into space... or war.... or back in time... or to hell... or wherever else we can imagine.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman...

It is Christmas again, so soon.  The years do roll on.  Christmas has become mostly a non-event in my immediate family.  I still have great memories of the few Christmas morns before I realized my parents were lying about Santa Claus, and the memories when my children believed my lies about about Santa Claus.  Why do we lie to our children about such a thing?  It is antithesis to Christmas. 

If lying about Santa is not enough to give you a lifelong series of winter blues, there are the adult years of Christmas excess, commercialism, and people being trampled to death at Walmart and Best Buy.  Actually, this year I did not hear of anyone being trampled to death but perhaps I was not listening because all that was in the news was the big gun "debate".  I had to turn it off. 

I was once a Christian, if believing in Jesus with all of your heart makes you a Christian.  But that too has been stripped from Christmas by all of the lights and needless expense and the fact that our retailers can only stay in business if they do well between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Bah.  Humbug.  Now I know that Jesus was one of many ascended souls who came to earth in an attempt to teach us we do not need the NRA telling us what to do.  The thing is, I look for Jesus in others the year 'round because he never existed in Christmas and he never intended to exist in Christmas.  Like a lot of other things, Christmas is something we just made up, probably to make ourselves feel better about the long nights and short days.  Thank goodness Jesus can still be found in such people as Barry Feaker of the Topeka Rescue Mission, and all of his brethren across the entire world who truly feed the hungry and shelter the homeless.

As is the custom in my empty nest, I honor the day by doing something small and special for my companion animals.  I am not attempting to contaminate them with the horrible abyss Americans have made of the idea of Christmas.  It is for nostalgia's sake, and because it is as good a day as any to acknowledge how much I truly love and appreciate the ying-yangs.  Ginger and Wally are receiving brand new lime green buckets that hang on the fence so they can eat their morning oats with ease.  I will have to tie the buckets to the fence but even then I do not expect them to last long.  The horses will only care about those buckets exactly as long as there are oats in them. 

The dogs Duke and Jake get two milk bones for breakfast.  I will sneak the old Dukenator a couple of extra because, even though he is old and cannot get around on his four legs any better than I can get around on my two, he still stands in the middle of the driveway barking to warn me when Dan and his crew arrive to work on the new house.  For all Duke knows, those trucks might be driven by meth addicts, not carpenters.  Jake runs to hide.   

Later in the day I am going to meet with the real Ying-Yangs, my adult children.  We are going to spend the afternoon together thoroughly enjoying ourselves despite the fact that all three of us are entirely broke and cannot afford a horrible American Christmas this year.  We are not so broke that we are spending the day with Barry Feaker, so we have much to be thankful for.

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

Saturday, December 22, 2012

So, the World Did Not End After All

The world still exists today, December 22, 2012.  People were hoping for the end of the world because they do not want to face the consequences of our collective actions.  The problems faced on a global scale seem too enormous and impossible to remedy.  The problems faced in our own country seem insurmountable.  The world requires a new mindset from humans, her most problematic inhabitants.

Faced with the escalating slaughter of innocents by deranged men, the gun "debate" becomes a psychotic argument in the theater of the absurd. The NRA's solution to post armed guards in our elementary schools is, in a word, insane.  Anything to perpetuate their own argument and avoid their responsibility for the mounting terror and civil tragedy of gun violence seems reasonable to the NRA.  They actually believe humanity can be divided between the good guys and the bad guys.  If only the world were so simple. 

We are also seeing our national psychosis succinctly demonstrated in the current congressional dysfunction to avoid a needlessly self-inflicted financial crisis that threatens not only the recovering American economy but the world economy as well.  Want to argue one side or the other?  Convinced you are right and the other side is wrong?  We are our own government.  This is what our insanity looks like, feels like, and what happens when the pandering and posturing claims the human ego.  Apparently we have not had enough of this immersion therapy into crazy.  We want to ride it to the utterly asinine conclusion and suffer like the bastards we are.

I am not encouraged nor inspired by the news "in these generally wretched times".  Somewhere many years ago I read that phrase but do not know to whom it should be attributed.  I have never forgotten it because it perpetually sums up the current state of the world.  There is always something horrible occurring that humanity must face on the grand scale:  disease, ignorance, intolerance, inequity, injustice, inequality - the plague, Inquisition, slavery, the Holocaust, world wars, climate change, natural disasters, monumental political stupidity, ignorance, Fox News.  The list is endless.

I assume "we" are heading in some general direction as we collectively learn from our horrific and tragic mistakes.  Though there are still instances of slavery in this world, no government sanctions it.  We still need a lot of work learning not to imprison and torture our fellow human beings for ideological or philosophical differences.  It appears that women are rising up all over the world at last.  If we learn to grant one another respect and equality, we can perhaps grant the earth the same respect.

Cheers to social evolution.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


This single flock of migrating geese extended far past the view of the camera lens in both directions.  There were thousands of birds!

When the geese were disturbed by other photographers, their wings and their alarm calling made an enormous sound.  The photos cannot convey the numbers nor the experience of witnessing thousands of large birds take flight as one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Long Island, Kansas

I recently had occasion to visit the fine town of Norton, Kansas located in north central part of the state.  Driving there on a fine winter's morn, I passed a sign that read "Long Island 9 Miles North" with a bold arrow pointing the way.  In the clear sunlight, it caught my eye and piqued my curiosity.  I had never heard of Long Island, Kansas. 

When people settled the West they surely named the new communities for the places they had left behind, places they were likely to never see again.  I assume that most were named with tongue in cheek.  Pittsburg, Princeton, Oxford, Assaria, Alexander, Everest, Delphos, Washington, Jamestown, Lebanon, Manhattan - all Kansas towns but by no means is it an exhaustive list of famous place names scattered across the state. 

On the way home Sunday, I made it a point to see what had become of the settlers' dreams in the place they named Long Island.

The settlers may have left this relic behind.  It is the only one in all of Kansas, I think!

Puts me in mind of Honolulu...

Looking north, from city limit to city limit.  Bet New Yorker's cannot do that in their Long Island!

The settlers sense of humor seems to have survived as well. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Great State of Kansas

At the break of day.

The last of daylight on the Kansas River

Sunrise means breakfast is on the way.  Even though standing at the fence does not inspire their servant to move any faster, they can always hope.
The great state of Kansas will not attract anyone based on beauty alone.  You likely have to be born here to appreciate the subtle beauty, or what remains of the natural beauty, that is. 

Regardless of the extended drought and the double curse of winter, the prairie retains a vibrant color, signaling life force safely stored fifteen feet beneath the soil.  It is what sustained the buffalo hunters then the invaders and now the descendants of both.  This is the fading beauty that causes me such grief witnessing its gradual dissolution into the American worldview of pollution, genetic tampering, chemicals, land development and destruction.

The Kansas River, ranked as the 21st most polluted American river by one source, is still beautiful.  The sand bars are treacherous, claiming lives when they collapse, and the water claiming lives when the foolish try to navigate a flooding river.  Unless we turn the Kansas into a flood canal, the river will survive us.

I have no answers for the problems of so many human beings on the planet - how to feed and clothe them all.  I have no idea how to stay the avalanche of change and progress that has claimed almost all of the buffalo and the buffalo hunters.  The invaders will be next to fall away into history.  The sun will continue to rise and set over this place presently known as Kansas long after the Americans are long gone.  Hopefully there will always be a patch of tall grass somewhere, glowing red and handsome in the early light, but all things seem to have their time under the sun.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mt. Home

The descendants of the Hunter/Gatherers can do this with opposable thumbs and electric saws.
Friday evening as I drove the final quarter mile toward home, I could see that the walls were standing in the new construction.  It was too dark to take any distance photos, so I gave up until Saturday morning.  But I did not wait to go into the shell of the new house.  Because I was a professional draftsman in the first half of my career, it was easy to visualize the house from the drawings.  Reality packs a much more emotional punch than imagination!  As I walked through the future rooms, exactly as they were laid out on paper, I was overwhelmed.  I looked out the windows and doors and walked through the closets - tried the place on for size, you could say. 

So here is my new house taking shape on Mt. Home, the only practical point on the original six acres where FEMA would allow me to build without buying flood insurance for the rest of my life.  Just a few feet of elevation put the house entirely out of the flood plain.  (I could have built beside the barn, but that would be a lot of horse manure right out the back door!)

When the old house is razed and hauled away, the view will be to the west, across the bend of the creek.  To the south, from my bedroom window, I will be able to see the running water of Spirit Creek (should it ever have water in it again).  I believe I will have to hire someone with a brush hog to clear some of the underbrush to capitalize on that view.  It does not compare to the Pacific Ocean from the cliffs of northern California, but it will suit me just fine. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Tuesday Night
Wednesday night.

Jake was missing again and where do you suppose I found him?
I direct your attention to the pink material to the right of Jake.  Imagine walking out on a fine sunny Tuesday morning to find two rolls of that material strung from hell to breakfast, shredded and chewed and glowing in the fine golden light of dawn.  Bad dog. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Embarrassed Dog

I did not get home until after 7:30 tonight and it was very dark.  It took a couple of minutes before I realized a dog was missing - the most irritating one.  Jake was gone.  There had been a lot of activity at the building site today - a lot of dirt work and more big equipment parked around in the dark.  I called and called for Jake but there was no sign of him. 

I drove up the road in both directions, calling for him.  The horses came running to the gate because if I come to the gate at night it normally means pears or apples or peppermints.  I was empty handed.  I told them they should blame Jake.

I could hear my neighbor's dog barking and wondered if Jake had left home due to all of the commotion and strange people here today.  I wondered if I had run over him in the dark and he had dragged himself away to die.  (I am such an optimist!)  I was beginning to feel very bad about the situation.  I was happy that my last encounter with him had been a kind one, when I actually petted his head and told him he was a good boy even though it was not true.  Despite the fact that every day I am irritated with that dog, I knew if he were truly gone, I was going to be a very sad old lady.

After a half hour of calling, I drove the car up to the barn so I could use the car lights to see if he was hiding in the hay.  He was not there and the horses behaved as if there were no animals at all in their vicinity.  I came in the house to check the phone for messages, thinking if Jake had been run over by some of the big machinery today, Dan the builder would probably have at least left a message about it.  No messages.  Then, out of the blue, I got the idea to check if the nitwit had fallen into the crawl space of the new house and could not get out.  Sure enough, when I called to him from the edge of the new foundation, I heard the tiny, faint whine of an embarrassed dog.  I had to get the car to have enough light to not break my neck walking over the uneven ground to the "window" in the foundation wall.  Jake was waiting for me.  I had to haul him out by his collar because there was just no other way but it did not seem to bother him.  He was ecstatic and I was greatly relieved.  Duke was not too happy about it but what could he do?  It was a round of milk bones for the canines and a big piece of chocolate for me. 

I hope Jake just fell in and did not follow some wild critter into the hole.  If there is a wild animal trapped in the crawl space, the construction guys will have to deal with it.  Hopefully Jake learned his lesson.

Even though it is a bad photo, you can see why I was sad Jake was missing tonight.


Tall Grass Prairie Reserve National Park Makes Me Grouchy

The only bird I was able to photograph with the telescopic lense - I was not quick enough for the others!

Fungus, growing in December?

My hiking abilities limited me to this single vista.

I thought I had photographed a little bird bathing in this crystal pool.  When I downloaded the images, it appears I captured a rock that looks remarkably like a domestic chick.

Have to give the Nature Conservancy brownie points for trying, but these signs made us laugh, right out loud.  The parking lot was tiny and this reward was so negligible as to make it not worth the environmental pollution required to manufacture the signs!
I finally made the trip to the Tall Grass Prairie Reserve National Park, though it is not the best time of year to view the prairie.  The verdant spring would be the most beautiful season to visit, but December is guaranteed to not draw many visitors.  The less people I have to deal with, the happier I am.  I still found cigarette butts and dogshit in the trails. 

"Tallgrass prairie once covered more than 170 million acres of the United States, from Indiana to Kansas and from Canada to Texas. Nearly all of it is gone, plowed under for agriculture or urban development."  All the more reason to let tourists toss their butts around and their dogs shit where the rest of us walk.  At least the dogshit will eventually dissolve.

As limited as I am by painful knees, I was still able to walk almost a mile and a half.  I grieved that I was not able to take the six mile hike in order to see the most beautiful part of the reserve but that is why we have digital photography available on the internet:  Tall Grass Prairie National Park

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Reign of Mice Draws Ever Closer to an End...

It took two big trucks and several men to set up this towering configuration of technology to pump concrete in for the crawl space floor.  I really wanted to watch but was too shy, so I left in my car after taking a few photos from a distance.

Tell me how a single stinking mouse will get into this concrete fortress, huh?!  Eat concrete, Rodents!

And then I spied this Achilles Heel... a virtual 16 lane highway for the little bastards!  This will be covered by something - a 1/2" steel plate - a hot, glowing layer of uranium - a maze of 1000 set mouse traps - something!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Adventures of Duke and Jake

Exploring the construction site, Duke and Jake stumble across a magical portal... 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The Sandman Delivers
So, what's going on here again?
The Outer Me
The me my friends are most familiar with...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hermit Crab

I have to admit there is a lot more traffic on my road than there was 13 years ago when I moved out here.  There might be as many as six or seven cars driving by on a Saturday, (including the same vehicles coming back the other way).  Despite the likelihood that someone was going to see me and wonder what in the hell I was doing now, I hauled my canvas lawn chair up to the foundation of the new house and spent some time doing nothing.  I sat in the chair with my eyes closed and soaked up the warm sunlight.  From the road, it had to look silly because it looked silly up close.  Wally and Ginger stared at me from the fence.  

There is a great energy around the new house.  It already feels like home.  I might be a little bit like a human hermit crab.  I outgrow places, easily tire of their energy, and during all the years I rented, I tired of the landlords.  Five years was the limit before, often much less.  The longest I have ever lived anywhere in my entire life is the 13 years I have lived in Tornado Fodder Cabin (aptly named by Cyberkit).  I think my focus has been toward the new house for so long that the purposeful energy which sustains a person's home has left my current shack er, ah house, and already infuses the new home.  The new house already exists, I just haven't yet caught up to it in time. 

I am greatly looking forward to moving into a house where no one else has ever lived before.  No other's bad energy, smells, grease, or catastrophic decorating choices.  No great disappointments or tragedy permeating the structure, and certainly no ghosts left to bedevil me.  A fresh start in life.  I think I know exactly how a hermit crab feels when she finds the perfect new shell. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Men and Their Machines and Buyer's Remorse

Only two days later: the footing and the foundation walls are poured!
Looking north across the future master bedroom, kitchen and mudroom.

After decades of dreaming, the day finally arrived last Friday.  When I left for work, the new house was but a dream of mere stakes and flags.  When I arrived home, it was a big hole in the ground.  Progress!

Tuesday morning, before the dogs had been fed, men began arriving.  That evening I met an old friend for dinner so I did not get home until late that night.  I was tired so decided to wait until morning to take pictures.  When I woke up at 3 am, I could not wait any longer to at least see what had been done.  Taking the lantern, I ventured out into the cold.  I was shocked to discover all of the footings had been formed and poured!  In one day.  I considered getting the camera but decided to wait until dawn. 

Waiting was a mistake.  Wednesday morning, men began arriving before I had fed the horses!  Thank God I was dressed already.  (Sometimes I go to the barn in my nightgown.)  I was too shy to take any pictures with so many men arriving. Besides, I needed to get my car out of the way to make room for the big trucks and equipment trailers. 

I admit that I left work about 20 minutes early so I could speed homeward.  I was amazed to find that all of the foundation walls had been formed and poured.  In one day!  I was stunned.  I think I have been programmed by the big industrial construction sites I have watched go up.  They take a lot longer than a small house.

I am highly prone to buyers remorse, so when the outline of the house seemed tiny to me, my heart sank a bit.  I think (hope) it is an optical illusion.  My sister-in-law who built several very nice and much larger homes over the years always had a moment of regret when the house looked so much smaller than she imagined, usually as we were standing in the middle of a framed-in room larger than any house I had ever lived in.  I hope this is my only moment of doubt.  How will I fit my furniture in there?!  Maybe I should forget about the garage and have Dan build that space into a living room.  It is not too late!  But actually, it is too late.  Any changes now will cost a lot of extra money, so I am staying the course.  There will be many times in the future when it is pouring rain but I will gratefully step out of my car into a dry garage, or when the world is covered in thick frost but none that has to be scraped from the windows of my Ford.  When energy rates cause the utility bills to double and triple what they are now, I will be quite satisfied living in a hobbit house.

All that psychosis aside, I am thrilled.  And once again the miracles men and their machines accomplish astonishes me.  All that cooperative hunting and gathering produced a marvelous evolutionary product.  Men who build things are just soooooo sexy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kansas State Politics 2012 - In Pictograms

A Couple of Horse's Asses

A Whole Lotta BULL!

A Significant Pain in the Butt

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Amazingly, Construction Begins

Some of the stakes and flags that held the seeds of the new house for over a year.

Looking east toward "Mount Home" where the ground is to be excavated today 11-9-12

Though I drove like a  maniac to get home in time to see the progress, this is what I could see in the car lights...

November 10, 2012, Duke looking south over the excavation.

Beautiful sky this morning, full of southern winds ahead of the big Northwester' coming in tomorrow.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pumpkins - Next Left

To visit Peter Peter, Pumpkin Eater Extraordinaire, you would take this exit.  It is the way to the Great Pumpkin Patch and the very same garden that produced Cinderella's carriage.  Jack-o-laterns, pumpkin pies, and October magic are born here, too.  Do not miss that turn!

I discovered the sign on an overcast day.  Despite the drought, the prairie was exceedingly colorful and it is a shame that I failed to get many photos of an extraordinary autumn.

October in Wabaunsee County, Kansas
Beautiful Prairie

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Ink Is Dry

Today I signed a ton of papers at the bank.  The sheets and copies and explanations and warnings stacked up.  Eventually they were gathered up and thoughtfully placed into a legal-sized manila envelop.  It was a service the bank provided so I could easily carry everything while my stomach twisted with anxiety. 

Next week I start choosing the siding and shingles and a host of other decisions for the new home that is to be built at Spirit Creek.  Soon the big machinery will be here bulldozing dirt - well, at least moving dust around.   

It was a long haul.  I started talking with Dan the Builder about five years ago.  Each time I would get close to this point, something expensive would happen, or the government would throw a wrench into the works.  FEMA insisted on surveys and flags and elevations and photos and maps to exempt the building site from the newly designated flood plain, which included almost all of the six acres parcel, whether it was 30 feet above the 100 year flood elevation or 2 feet.  I would have been forced to pay the government expensive flood insurance for the rest of my life - in addition to all the taxes, fees, inspections, and blood letting I already pay.  So kudos to me for winning one against the bureaucrats! 

The flags and stakes are still in the ground, well over a year later, waiting for the new home.  I sacrificed my Harley in order to build, but that is a fair trade.  When the winter wind is howling but I am snug and warm in my wonderful new little house, I will not miss the sacred machinery a bit.

Today, my nephew generously offered to help paint, but that is all included in the price of the home.  We talked about interior colors, but that is an easy answer:  blindingly white.  I am going to live in the white light for a couple of years until I am healed of living in a 1970's era double-wide with fake leather beams and, I swear to God, an orange carpet - in the very room where I am sitting now.  At least it is not orange shag.

Oh, congratulations to me, a hundred times over.  I never thought this would come to pass.  But it is at hand.

The building site - taken a year ago this month, looking southwest from the barn.  I look out the window every time I am working at the computer and imagine my new house on this little hilltop.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What In The Samhain...

Today the spirits of all my departed loved ones draw near.  According to Irish mythology, the spirits of the dead and fairies are able to communicate easily with the living tonight - the end of summer and the beginning of winter.  Samhain.

Though I would love to communicate with my parents, family, and friends who have preceded me in death, I do not like the spooky way ghosts have been harassing me most of my life so I take no chances.  I never ask anyone supposedly dead to slam a door or touch me the way television ghost hunters do!  If a door slammed for no reason, or I felt an invisible hand touch me, it would scare the begeezus out of me.  I would die of fright.

While I have lived in several places where strange things happened, events so blatant that a paranormal explanation was truly the easiest answer, I never felt as if those events were caused by one of my dead loved ones.  It would make me incredibly sad if anyone I loved was stuck on earth as a spirit without a body, unhappily roaming this world and unable to move on. 

Besides, in America there are no ghosts, and fairies are considered happy spirits, more like nature spirits.  In Ireland fairies are serious business and no one dares to provoke them.  I assume a serious Irish fairie could zip over here to America in an instant to kick any sissy American fairie's ass, so I am not going to take any chances with fairies, either.

In my life Halloween has always been a fun time of dressing up in an outrageous outfit and getting a ton of candy.  The best Halloween parties of course were the ones I attended as an adult.  The most righteous Halloween revelers of all are bikers - in the Harley Davidson sense of the word.  Halloween parties always brought out the creative best in those people.  When a fully grown male biker earning his own way in this world decides to dress up for Halloween, you never know what to expect.  At one memorable party, three friends came as ZZ Top, complete with suits, huge beards (in this case genuine beards) and cheap sun glasses.  They stayed together all night, drinking in unison and eyeballing women in a synchronized fashion.  But they took second place to the old school Mafioso, carrying a machine gun in a violin case, authentic to the last detail.  The clincher was a huge knife buried in his back.  Goodwill raked in a fortune from that biker crowd every year at Halloween.  I miss those crazy, happy people.  We are all old grandmas and grandpas now, too busy with grandchildren and too tired for a big costume party.  Many are already dead but I do not want to necessarily hear from them tonight, either.  I assume they took their wicked sense of humor with them, which means they would enjoy a great laugh at my expense and feel no ghostly remorse. 

If it is true that the veil between this reality and the next is thinnest tonight, on All Saint's Eve, then maybe, just this once, I will be willing to hear from a dead loved one.  But if a serious Irish fairie scares me to death instead...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Are Any of Us As Smart as a Fifth Grader?

How easy it is for life to be difficult and dangerous on this planet.  We should be far kinder to one another, and far more gentle with the earth herself. 

The multiple threats of the megastorm coming ashore on the east coast are unimaginable to me -  and apparently to others.  One couple, interviewed for the evening news, are living in a mandatory evacuation area of New York City but refused to leave.  Now the lobby of their building is at least four feet underwater and all power to their building is off.  For drinking water, they had filled the bathtub.  I was shocked at their naivete.  How long do they believe it will take utility crews to restore electricity to millions of people?  How long will their food supplies last, especially in their non-functioning refrigerator?  How long do they imagine it will be before potable water runs from their faucets?  How long do they believe it will be before grocery stores can restock food after being destroyed in flood water?  If they are adults of sound mind, they have the right to take their chances, but the problem, in my not so humble opinion, is they have a toddler.

It may be weeks before electricity is restored and the water supply is no longer contaminated.  What if their building catches fire or dangerous people start looting as soon as the water recedes?  What if they become ill or their child becomes ill?  What will they do then? 

They must have made what they believed was the best decision under the circumstances.  That anything could truly threaten their everyday reality and safety must have been unimaginable or they would have surely evacuated their child to safety when they had the chance.  I sincerely hope the best for that family.

Sometimes human beings are not smart.  I include myself as another specimen of the bumbling species.  How have we managed to survive to the point of overwhelming the planet with our numbers?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Trash, Trucks and Dawgs

First, my daughter needed the truck and then my son.  The truck has not been at the farm since late June.  Consequently, I have not been able to haul the trash to the landfill.  The cans have been filled to the brim and this has made Jake the puppy immensely happy.  He expertly works the lids off (despite all best efforts to prevent it) which makes it easy to tip the cans over.  Then, to his great delight, there is a mountain of smelly garbage to nose through - a plethora of textures to chew and rip apart - and an over abundance of material to drag all over the yard.  He has all day to create a scene that instantly turns me into a murderous woman.  I want to kill that dog - with my bare hands.  I have considered hauling him back to the humane shelter.  He is a bad dog.  He is not a good farm dog.  He rarely barks at anything.  When people drive up, he disappears.  He has killed two of the three chickens survivors.  The only thing Jake has going for him is that he is so darned cute when he lays down to watch me pick up the trash, cussing him all the while.  He crosses his front paws, kicks back and watches the show.  Literally.

My son showed up with the truck last Saturday.  We hauled off every scrap and molecule of trash.  All that disgusting stuff Jake happily dragged around and I angrily and repeatedly picked up is now safely in the landfill.  I do not know what Jake has been doing to keep himself occupied during the day, but he has not been close to death a single, solitary time since Saturday. 

I have plans to build a corral for the cans.  It will require a gate to allow for the easy removal of full cans for hauling and that makes it a bit of a larger project. A gate is not beyond my basic building skills, though.  I can fix this most aggravating and imminent danger to Jake's health and well being, but I cannot fix Jake's other problems.  I cannot teach him how to be a good farm dog.  I keep hoping his genetics will activate and he will become the watch dog I need him to be.  So far he is nothing but a worthless trash hound. 

I think Duke appreciates having a companion even though Jake often irritates him, too.  The dear old Duke, that most valiant and wonderful of good dogs, continues to diminish in strength and ability.  He is a retired dog who gets fed first, and petted first, and receives treats first.  It is almost to the point that when I go to the pasture, I have to put Duke in the pen to stop him from following.  He can no longer make the trip without great effort.  If I had the money, I would have one of those four wheelers with a small trailer.  Then Duke could ride along and still be part of the action.  He is just too big for me to carry. 

This summer, I drove past the house of a distant neighbor.  Those kids were in school with my son.  The boy, now a young man, must have been visiting home and had gone for a run or a hike.  His dog, now old like the Dukenator, was struggling to make it back to the house.  The poor old dog was in the road, lagging far behind the young man, obviously in pain and unable to do anything but take baby steps.  I do not think the man realized how far behind the dog had fallen.  It caused a lump in my throat.  But if Jake does not shape up, he will not have to worry about getting old on the farm like Duke and the neighbor dog.  (He will go live in the city!  What did you think?!)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Indications of Evolution... Or Not

The gravel roads going both east and west from my home have been recently renewed with fresh rock.  While necessary, it is always better when the roads have been pounded into a surface resembling concrete.  New rock yields about a year's worth of dust that finds its way into every nook and cranny in a vehicle, and in my case, into the house.  It means a fair amount of mud though we have almost forgotten what a muddy road is thanks to the extended drought.  It also means that I can no longer drive 50 miles per hour.  Fresh gravel is the equivalent of covering the road with marbles.  After the county has brought in new gravel, it takes a couple of days to adjust to a slower and safer rate of travel.  That is why I almost drove into the ditch Sunday afternoon. 

I was going a little too fast for fresh gravel when I spotted a small snake racing across the road.  Normally snakes stop and lay in a straight line, thinking they are camouflaged - not a good strategy.  This little guy knew better than to act like a stick but instead of turning back he was slithering across the road at top speed.  I quickly slowed down, hoping he would stop.  He must have been a racer because he did not slow at all.  I instantly recognized a fateful encounter for him, so I hit the brakes - a little too hard - and the car began to skid in the loose gravel.  I kept steering away from the snake but quickly ran out of room and the snake just kept racing toward the front wheels of my car.  Luckily for me and the snake, I was not going so fast that I lost control.  I avoided the ditch and the snake, seeing in the side mirror that he was unharmed and still racing for the other side. 

Snakes know nothing about insurance companies.  Even if we could somehow speak their language, it would be impossible to explain about the human snakes that have successfully lobbied the government into an unholy morass of liability laws that do not favor "the insured".  In addition, this particular snake had no idea that I was genetically predisposed toward hating snakes - that I was tenderly nurtured by a man who fearlessly locked up the wheels of his truck, skidding recklessly, confidently, to kill any snake unfortunate enough to cross his path.  My father would slam to a stop, crash into reverse and floor it in order to run over any snake he spotted in the rear view mirror. 

I have evolved past my fear and loathing of snakes - as long as I am at a safe distance.  I have often stopped in the road to get a good look at one laying still, stretched in a perfect line.  If I wait long enough, it will eventually make its silent, graceful way across the road.  I have overcome the unreasonable fear and hatred of snakes learned at my father's knee but not because I have grown wise or mellowed with age.  There is only one reason why I do not kill every snake that crosses my path: mice.  Snakes eat mice.  I wish mice would cross the road in front of my car.  I learned the techniques of vehicular assassination from a master.  I would kill them all in cold blood and back up for good measure.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oh Delicious Hay

The horses, Ginger and Wally, have been getting hay daily for a couple of weeks now.  The quality of the pasture is mostly devoid of nutrients even though they still spend time grazing.  This is the first autumn with Wally and it is an adventure to discover his "table manners". 

While watching me walk up the path to the barn both horses behave as if they are retarded in the old fashioned, politically incorrect sense of that word.  One or the other will call to me.  Ginger paces the fence with her head turned so both eyes are directly facing the fence.  Wally stands in one place and tosses his head about in a bizarre imitation of sparring giraffes.  What is wrong with those two nitwits?  They belong on the short bus!  (The short trailer?)

You would think they are starving, but that is not so.  Wally lost some of his big belly due to the earlier illness, but Ginger is still fat - too fat according to the farrier and my neighbor who owns five horses.  I do not recall my father's horses, or grandpa's horses behaving like idiots at feeding time but maybe they were not waiting on such delicious hay.  Maybe the brome hay baled just down the road is so delectable that it makes my two horses loco.

As soon as I throw the hay over the fence for Ginger (of course her majesty the Queen is served first), Wally's antics kick into high gear.  When he gets his serving, his entire body relaxes and if he could speak, he would be crooning, "Oh hay, oh delicious hay, oh delectable hay."

One amazing thing - Ginger and Annie had to be fed at least 75 feet apart or Ginger would run back and forth trying to eat from both servings.  I discovered 75 feet was far enough away that it made her antics impractical and Annie could usually eat in peace.  Wally can eat his hay just a few feet from Ginger.  Wally does not know how good he has it in the Kingdom of Ginger.

Silly horses!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Oh My Unfathomable Omniscient Diety!

First thing Monday morning a headline caught my eye in Google News.  It was a science article from the Los Angeles Times discussing new evidence from the Apollo lunar mission soil samples regarding the hydrogen molecules present in the dirt.  It was interesting to read but nothing earth shattering.  What made me almost spew my morning tea all over the computer screen were the opinions posted by three of my fellow citizens.  I normally do not look for the opinions posted by people online because they are typically not worth reading and are quite depressing.  When the full scope of our collective American ignorance is available via the internet for the entire world to witness, well, it is enormously discouraging.  Our effort to give everyone in America an education is noble but perhaps it has fallen short in certain instances. I would say, based on these three comments, it is an outright failure.

Reproduced below, for your entertainment and edification, are the first paragraph of the article followed by the enlightened offerings from three of our typical fellow Americans.  I stumbled across the holy trinity of the Ignorami:  general stupidity, religious dogma, and politics.  I hit the jackpot! 

Read'em and weep:

Apollo rocks analysis: solar wind made moon water
Analyzing grains of soil collected from three Apollo lunar missions, geochemists have figured out that the hydrogen in trace amounts of water on the moon’s surface probably came from solar wind, the outflow of positively-charged hydrogen from the sun.

Frankothemountain3 at 4:09 AM October 15, 2012
Oh yeah, let's look at that junk from 43 years ago.

LA City-Data Forum at 6:53 AM October 15, 2012
My pastor has always questioned whether men went to the moon. He told me my opinion should be to question these alleged events and consult with the Bible. Same with dinosaurs. Moon rocks, schmoon rocks; I don't believe it.

a.gentleman49 at 6:53 AM October 15, 2012
Hydrogen atoms in a rock from solar wind to make water, even though the moon is dryer than a bone in the Arizona desert because, even if an atom of water did form, it would immediately evaporate into the vacuum of space? Boy, are these NASA folks really trying hard to keep their jobs once the fiscal cliff cometh.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Without Much Ado...

I hope this is the heron from the corner.

Not his favorite pond but it will do because...
...his former home looks like this!

Monday, October 8, 2012

And Then I Call My Other Horse....

First, he stops in a cloud of dust!

Do I want to make the trip or not?

Maybe I'll gallop over and slam on the brakes at the last moment - make it worth my time. 

It would be bad form to scare her.  She is pretty old.

What ridiculous contraption is she holding in front of her face?

Doesn't look dangerous. 

Humans are soooooo lame... but she might have a pear...

Waaaaaaait a minute.... Did I hear a booger?

Yes, I heard a booger.

Oh, OK.  Now let's see if what's-her-name has a pear.

If she thinks I am going to stare into that contraption...

So do you have a pear or not?

I do not see a pear. I'll save face and nibble at this plant.  

What a wasted trip!