Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

'Twas the night before Christmas, And not until Spring
Would a motor be running, not even a Wing.

The bikes are all sleeping, they're covered and warm,
Batteries are tended, nylon covers their form.

My Bros were all nestled down snug in their beds,
While visions of new chrome danced in their heads.

And I in my do-rag, bike jacket and boots
Out shoveling snow, and dreaming of scoots.

Then from the horizon there came such a clatter
My shovel I dropped, what could be the matter?

Away up the hill, I slogged through the snow
Looked up at the sky; where'd all that noise go?

Then a throb from the heavens, like straight pipes so hearty
Gave Summers' good thoughts, a loud bikers' party.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a Hog Ultra Classic, Red trailer in rear!
I thought it was Rahlow til' he grabbed another gear.

With a little old rider, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than a V-Rod his Ultra came on,
And he whistled, and shouted, and sang out this song;

"Now, Springer! Now, Dyna! On Ultra and Softail!
Now Sporty! Now Rigid ! On RoadKing and Glide!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now RIDE away! RIDE away! RIDE away all!"

As small bikes that from the semis do fly,
When they meet with the air blast, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top that Ultra it flew
With a trailer of goodies, and ole' St. Nick too

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The rumble and thunder of pipes that gave proof.

I ran in the house, boots thumping around,
And in came St. Nick all bearded and round

Dressed all in black leather, from do-rag to boot
His chaps were all tarnished with road grime and soot;

A T-bag of goodies he'd flung on his back
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack

Dressed all in black leather, from do-rag to boot
His chaps were all tarnished with road grime and soot;

A T-bag of goodies he'd flung on his back
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack

His shades -- how they twinkled! his do-rag how scary!
With chains intertwined, through skulls that were cherry!

His droll little mouth had done many a row,
So the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to my ride
And fixed it with Chrome, Horsepower and Pride

And giving the peace sign with bikers' good cheer
Strode off to his Ultra rumbling near

He sprang on the saddle, his gloves on the bars
A wheelie he threw; then off towards the stars

I heard him exclaim, as my chest swelled with pride,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

He's back!!!!!

I was sitting at the computer this morning and looked out the window. Above, high above the trees and out toward the Lake soared a Bald Eagle. It is the first one I've seen this year. He's back! Last year he would perch near our driveway and watch the lake for birds/fish. Well, this morning, I ran and got the camera. Well, he was too far away, but I did take a picture! If you look real hard, you can see the white of his head and a bit of white on his tail feathers. Otherwise, it is a bit dark. Wonderful! Have a great day!

Monday, December 1, 2008

View from the Back Seat

View from the Back Seat

December 1st. It doesn’t seem like another year has almost escaped me. Where has it gone and what have I done with this year? There are a little more than 30 days left in 2008 and fewer still before Christmas.

On Sunday morning my dear husband and I awoke to a snow-covered panorama. The three darling Christmas Trees and row of Candy Canes my daughter and son-in-law placed in their front yard twinkled gaily in the gray morning light, reflecting brightly on the snow covered yard. The sky was gloomy and overcast as the snow slowly drifted down, coating everything with powdery white stuff.

It was 6:00 o’clock in the morning in the town of Terre Haute, Indiana and we were up early to pack our car and say our goodbyes. The fragrant smell of cinnamon oatmeal and toast drifted through the quiet house. We padded to the kitchen and picked our way through breakfast, chatting merrily about the mounds of leftovers tucked away in the refrigerator, another Thanksgiving slipping into the family history book. Kisses all around, a family hug, and then we were driving on Interstate 70 toward home.

So were about 60,000 other travelers! About 30,000 were traveling west on Interstate 70; the other 30,000 were traveling east. Our two lanes of the interstate looked like the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The only difference, most of the cars were moving about 75 miles an hour. Traffic was heavy and everyone was heading home to Kansas, or thereabouts.

With every hello, there is a goodbye and farewell; a coming and a going; a time for joy and a time for a little sorrow. We will miss the shopping with my daughter and son-in-law on “Black Friday”. I can truly say that they personally boosted the sagging economy on their own, because they bought a new car!

As the end of the year draws to a close, each of us has a some time left to reflect on the things we did, or in some cases, didn’t do. But, by God’s glorious grace, we can make use of the time we have left before we mark the beginning of another year! Right now, I am making my end-of-the-year “bucket” list and will get it done. Until next time, take care and God bless. Vicky

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Many Happy Returns

Merry Christmas! Happy Thanksgiving. How many days to Christmas, I don't know, but if the traffic and the shopping malls are any indication that Christmas will be a prosperous one, well, it's gonna be Merry!

We visited with my daughter and son-in-law this weekend and my daughter and I went shopping on
BLACK Friday. It wasn't so bad, but the most fun was shopping at the Dollar Tree in Terre Haute, Indiana. Everything was a dollar and I knew exactly how much it was going to cost before I went to the cash register. I got five things and with 7 percent tax. You know, I always wonder what the tax money goes for. I don't think there should be tax on food and drugs. I really don't. However, other consumer goods, a tax would be good.

I am wondering if the new president-elect will have in mind for taxes, or better, tax relief. While I believe we should pay our fair share, I do think that the American tax payers are overburdened and overtaxed. My gosh, I have to work six months as it is to pay taxes. If there are any more entitlements and programs, I might as well quit work and collect unemployment. NOT.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Okay, so I haven't blogged for a while. So here is the latest edition of the "View from the Back Seat"...

View from the Back Seat

Hopefully, by the time you read this you will have had a festive and Happy Thanksgiving! My dear husband and I chased the proverbial turkey down the road to Terre Haute, Indiana and ate our share of traditional, domesticated butter-filled bird and home-made cranberry sauce, a specialty of my daughter’s (her mother-in-law’s recipe). I am partial to the canned, jellied cranberry that shakes and jiggles when it comes out of the can. On Thanksgiving Day, my Grandmother Muriel assigned to me the chore of opening that can, getting the jelly to slide out in a perfect cylindrical shape and then cutting it into thick slices to arrange in a jelly dish. Mmmm… Add miniature sweet pickles, stalks of celery slices filled with pimento cheese spread, and banana slices slathered with Miracle Whip and sprinkled with chopped peanuts; these items rarely made it to the Shove dining room table without fingers grabbing a few samples before mealtime.

Even before the “Big Turkey Day”, we have eaten our share of the tasty bird. My father invited us to the St. Marys Harvest Home dinner a couple of weeks ago and we enjoyed turkey with all the trimmings and pumpkin pie. Then, last Sunday, my dear husband attended the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the Methodist Church in Eskridge, Kansas. It had been my plan to attend, having made a dessert. However, I woke up with a sore throat and fever and remained under the covers until well past noontime.

According to my dear husband, seventy-five people filled the basement of the Methodist Church on Sunday, November 23, 2008 and included members from the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist Churches of Eskridge. Turkey, hams and five different varieties of stuffing along with an array of vegetable casseroles and breads were the mainstays of the meal. Three tables filled with desserts to delight even the most discriminating tastes included pumpkin, apple and cherry pies; cheesecakes; fresh baked cookies; five cakes; and one dump-cake (mine). I asked my dear husband what dessert he had; his response was “Dump-cake, of course!”. (I think he likes my cooking.)

Every year, I recall the time (many years ago) when I asked a co-worker what she was having for Thanksgiving dinner. “Hamburgers”, she said, “and then we watch television. Nothing special.” It made me think how we automatically assume that everyone celebrates Thanksgiving Day with an overabundance of food or shares the holiday with family. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own plans that we forget others may not be able to afford the extra food or have family traditions that provide a sense of belonging. I hope you included a neighbor or an elder in your celebration, whatever it might be, just as the Methodist Church opened its doors to Eskridge (and us Baptists!) and the surrounding community. As for my daughter, she sets an extra place each year at the Thanksgiving table for Janet, an elderly neighbor lady whose family lives in another state. And we enjoy her friendship, too!

Until next time, take care and God bless. Vicky

Friday, August 1, 2008

Quilter's joke

This is a quilt that I am working on. I am about done, but it is sooooo hot outside that I wonder if I should wait until cooler weather...
Here is a funny joke someone (Zeke) sent to me today:

Sunday after church, a mom asked her very young daughter what the lesson was about The daughter answered, "Don't be scared, you'll get your quilt." Needless to say, the mom was perplexed. Later in the day, the pastor stopped by for tea and the mom asked him what that morning's Sunday school lesson was about. He said "Be not afraid, thy comforter is coming."

Monday, June 30, 2008

View from the Back Seat 07/03/08

Summer is in full swing at beautiful Lake Wabaunsee. Last Saturday, the lake was jumpin’ with Jet Skis and speed boaters pulling tubers. Tubers are those youthful daredevils who hang onto inflatable devices while being thrown around behind a power boat going at breakneck speeds. I have done that once and once was enough for me! I was much younger at the time. However, watching my dear husband do cartwheels across the water after being propelled from a tube was even more thrilling! He was much younger as well, but it was not exciting for him!

At the lake, the entire week prior to July 4th has been busy with campers and swimmers, boaters and skiers. My dear husband and I have friends from Nebraska who will be spending the weekend with us and we will take in some of the local parades and festivities, as well as the traditional Fourth of July Fireworks display Friday evening at Lake Wabaunsee. Of course, there will be the boat parade earlier in the evening and I am sure we will have our giant water guns readied for the passersby as we watch from our dock. Tradition requires that one must be well armed with propelled water devices (such as water balloons) or huge 30-foot shot water guns. But most of all, during the day we will be touring on our motorcycles with our friends through beautiful Flint Hills.

Whatever your activities may be on “Independence Day”, please remember the intent of this most revered holiday celebration. According to, Independence Day is celebrated on July 4 because that is the day when the Continental Congress adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. From July 8, 1776, until the next month, the document was read publicly and people celebrated whenever they heard it. The next year, in Philadelphia, bells rang and ships fired guns, candles and firecrackers were lighted. But the War of Independence dragged on until 1783, and in that year, Independence Day was made an official holiday. 1941 Congress declared 4th of July a federal holiday.

John Adams, a lawyer, the first Vice President and the Second President of the United States, was one of the members of the Second Continental Congress who signed the Declaration of Independence. He wrote to his wife, "I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival... it ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other..." And so we shall, Mr. President, so we shall.

Take care and may God bless you and your family during this Independence Day Celebration! And God bless America! Vicky

The photograph above was taken as we cruised the Mississippi on a tug boat in June 2006. There was a stiff wind and of course, Old Glory was flappin' in the breeze! Hooray for the Red, White and Blue!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Seven Layer Salad

This you can do the night before! You will need an oblong, glass dish.

Ingredients include
1 bag of lettuce,
1 chopped tomato (use those little cherry tomatoes cut in half. So much neater!)
2 to 4 chopped green onions
1 grated carrot (I chopped a bunch of those little mini-carrots. works as well)
1 package of frozen peas (use a good name brand as they are usually smaller and sweeter than off-brand)
1 bottle of bacon bits
1 small jar of light Miracle Whip - not the fat free, okay?
1/4 cup sugar; about 1/4 cup milk
Finely grated cheese.

Layer in the oblong glass pan in order. Mix 2 to 3 cups light Miracle Whip with 1/4 cup sugar and add the milk to thin it. cover the salad and then top with grated cheese. I used Kraft finely grated Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese.
The key to this great salad is to refrigerate overnight for the flavors to blend. I use Reynold's Clear Plastic Wrap. It is sticky enough to make a seal. Hint: lay a few baby carrots on top of the salad to hold the plastic away from the dressing/cheese mix.
Sunday menu: BBQ Sandwiches; Seven-layer Salad; chips and iced tea.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Raisin Sheet Cookies - A Bakin' Mama!

Oh, yeah. Raisin Sheet Cookies. Mmmm... So I baked and here they are. The recipe follows:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Spray cookie sheet with Pam.

1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup water
1 tsp. soda
1/2 cup Crisco
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. baking powder
Measure all the ingredients before you start. Combine the salt, flour, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and baking powder and stir well, set aside. You will add this later. Bring the raisins to boil in water in a 3-quart heavy sauce pan. Once it boils, remove from heat and add the teaspoon of soda and stir well. Then add the solid Crisco. Once that is melted, stir in the dry ingredients all at once. Batter will be slightly thick. Pour immediately onto the greased cookie sheet and spread out. The batter will be a thin layer, but will puff up during baking. Bake for 12 minutes to 15 minutes at 375 degree oven. Keep a close eye on the 'cake' checking frequently after 12 minutes. It should come out golden brown. Be careful so it won't get overdone as it will be too dry! Touch the 'cake' with your finger and it will spring back; the edges will draw away from the edge of the cookie sheet, too.
Remove from your oven and cool on top of the stove with a clean t-towel over it. Cool about 15 minutes. Ice with a thin layer of glaze made out of powdered sugar and water. Let the icing dry for a couple of minutes. Take a couple of sheets of waxed paper and cover the 'cake', then recover with the towel. Cool completely, then cut into bars and store in air-tight container or leave in pan and wrap carefully with clear plastic wrap.
Please note: You should ALWAYS cut a couple of pieces for a taste test! "R"

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Post Turtle

A friend sent me this joke (below). It is, however, food for thought.

Now, in Kansas about this time of year, there are all sorts of turtles that cross the get to the other side. Green turtles, ornamental turtles, and the big ol' snapper turtles. Sometimes the snapper turtles are as big as a tire and if you hit 'em, you can be sure that you will need a front end alignment on your truck if you do. Now here is this joke, please draw you own conlusions....

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old Texas rancher, whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Obama and his bid to be our President.The old rancher said,
'Well, ya know, Obama is a post turtle'.

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post turtle' was. The old rancher said, 'When you're driving down a Country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced On top, that's a 'post turtle' .

The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain. 'You know he didn't get up there by himself, he doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while he is up there, and you just wonder what kind of a dumb person put him up there.'

Think about it. Som
eone put him there.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Fairy Land

I went to the Cherished Friends Doll Club annual doll show in Topeka, Kansas over the weekend.

I found a miniaturist and she had a lot of little fragile dolls about 1/32 of the actual size. Hence, I found this little boxed fairy... and made a purchase for a gift.

She is adorable, so I took pictures and posted the fairy here. She rather reminds me of another fairy that I made about 4 years ago.

This is the doll that I made for my daughter in 2004, when she turned 30 years old. Well, maybe it is not EXACTLY like the one purchased yesterday...It is from an 11 or 12 inch doll. It was fun to make. She is a woodland fae.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Siberian Iris.
Spring has certainly brought out some beautiful flowers. While the photograph shows a blue flower, they are actually a rich, deep purple. Must be the camera!
Happy Spring!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Food for thought

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders & says...
"Oh no....she's awake!!"

A friend sent this to me. God bless her!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Cat Bath Tales

Little Bit takes the plunge!

Cass gets a shampoo, too!

We all spent a lovely day at the cat-bath house. It was above 70 degrees outside and I was doing some Spring Cleaning! Unfortunately, it included cat baths. Hmm... I got a wee bit wet, too!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cat Tales Project

I was asked to make a poster for the Cat Tales Writings Gathering, which is the third Thursday of the month in Dover, Kansas. This is the little sketch and arcylic painting I did of a tabby cat. It turned out rather cute, reminds me of another tabby I know and love.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

PT Cruiser on Steroids... in Kansas, no doubt!

Lookie, Lookie,

Time to play hookie.

Time for a road trip, maybe. That is, if I can get off work...
Yahoo, Buckeroo!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Wabaunsee Pines Golf Association Saves the Day!

Monday, March 31, 2008 a grain truck - a Peterbilt - "ran" into some trouble on Highway 99, just north of the Lake Wabaunsee Dam, spilling several tons of soy beans into the creek, creek bed and onto the Kaeckell Grave Site, a historical grave site in Wabaunsee County. On Saturday morning, April 4, 2008, a team of volunteers comprised of Wabaunsee Pines Golf Association members.

Detailing after removal of the soy beans from the grave yard.

Behind the stone, one small dent in the bean removal!

Grain shovels, rakes, leaf blowers and a lot of muscle went into the cleaning up of the tons of soy beans dumped on and near the Kaeckell Cemetry north of the Lake Wabaunsee Dam.

Thanks to the team from the Wabaunsee Pines Golf Association Volunteers!

How to catch a worm...

A quick yank....

And you are on your way...

And the red, red robin goes bob, bob bobbin along...
Yesterday was a perfect day. EVERYONE was out on their motorcycles, including us. We rode to Alma, Kansas and then back to Eskridge. The temperature was almost seventy one and, even though it was warm, there was enough of a breeze that you needed a jacket. Great day for everyone! "R"

Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring in the Flint HIlls

Wow! The day was fantastic, at 8:00 that is! The sun was shining brightly and the rain drenched yard sparkled! Here are the Tete-a-Tete Daffodills in my front yard. They even bloomed before the grape hyacinths!

By lunch time today, it was terrifically cold!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Yum. Homemade Italian Bread!
Ah, the smell of homemade bread.

A sense of accomplishment. The perfect dough; an easy recipe; a lovely warm afternoon to bake bread...

Please note that one should always make sure that the oven is perfectly clean! Last weekend I baked a chocolate cake and I accidentally turned it upside down on the oven. It was a perfect cake, it came right out of the pan... onto the oven door... and it continued to bake right there on the door. After I trashed the cake, washed down the oven, I actually baked another cake!

For some reason today, the washing wasn't enough because the smoke alarm squealed as the oven heated up. The bread went in, then I spent the better part of 30 minutes fanning the smoke alarm, assuring the cats that everything was okay -- they were going nuts! -- and opening up the house. Boy, am I glad that it was 50 plus degrees this afternoon!

I would say that the bread turned out great, but my head hurts... Maybe I should have a slice of hot bread and butter... mmmmm...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Snow covered gnomes...
next to a sprinkler.

And this one is so bored with the snow... (note the little one in the crook of the tree?)
When is there going to be spring and sunshine...
Only 20 days to the first day of Spring... March 21.
These pictures were taken last weekend, Sunday morning. Today, the temperature was 68 degrees and there is NO MORE SNOW!!! Yahoo!
Valentine's Day
Ah, this is a late posting.

Valentine's Day was February 14, 2008.

We had a dinner date in Alma, Kansas at Deb's Cafe. Candlelight. Formal table cloth and decorations. Candy. Sweet treats.

A gift: candy in a Lenox China candy dish. A dozen red roses. And a wonderful card.

Sigh. This is a picture of the last three roses as they sit on the counter. The pretty red and white doily was made by a friend.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yep, it snowed again

This is what we saw at first light, 6 inches of heavy snow... and still going.

Don't you just love those beautiful Kansas Flint Hills?
What's this?

This started out as a birthday present. I began this in, would you believe, September? Actually, September 6, to be exact. My friends and I had gone to a Fine Art Exhibit at the new Bloch edition of the Nelson Art Gallery. On our way back, we stopped at one of my friend's mom's house (that's a mouth full) and she is an advid quilter. I always had denuim in mind - jeans on the brain - so I came up with this idea. A four patch of brushed cotton and variety of jean denium...

Cass loves sleeping on the bed... especially, when I am using it to lay out the quilt...

I ran out of denium... so I bought more. Then I decided I wanted to put polar fleece on the back... So I bought some of that. The fleece wasn't going going to work out and I wanted something a little nicer, so I went to my local quilt shop and bought some more brushed cotton... Well, my gift was NOT done in time for the birthday, so I made a pillow out of a couple of the extra patches... Boy, those ladies really smiled when they saw me comin' for some more denium!

Well, I was almost done in time for Christmas. Almost. I still had to tie (not quilt) the top, which I got done, then I needed to bind it. Back to the quilt shop! Whoppee! Those ladies love me! I bought the binding and I finished it in time for Valentines Day. My brother actually got it on the Sunday before Valentines Day! See?... :)

Happy Birthday Day!
Happy Halloween!

Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!

Oh, Yes, and Happy Birthday...err Valentine's Day, Ray!

(I'm confused.)

Love ya, "Sis"

(don't ya think this is a good picture? Who's that guy?)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Yep, it snowed again. I wrote to my brother-in-law and asked if he would send his snowblower, since he moved from New Jersey to Louisana. He won't need it...

The sun is melting much of the ice and snow from the streets and traffic is getting around pretty good.

Ah, Kansas. Land of Snow. Er, I mean, Land of Ahs! Hmmm.... Maybe we really live in Narnia?
No! Wait! It's Global Warming!

No! Wait! It snowed like this in 1983, 1967, 19... Is there a pattern here? Does anybody know?

No! Wait! Call that guy, you know, what's his name who won the Nobel Peace Prize for a movie! You know, what's his face? Where is he now, hiding out until after the election... Maybe he is secretly hoping for a write-in campaign.

On the street where you live...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Old Button Basket, Elaine Brozich

A wicker basket so drab and torn,
But what wonderful memoiries it enfolds,
Long years ago it was shiny, unworn -
What child wouldn't love the treasure it holds?

A pearly button off baby's dress,
So small it's almost lost,
A few of jet from Grandma's cloak,
And here's one gold-embossed!

A lonely cuff link, a Chinese coin,
A necklace, but only part;
One no longer see such simple things
Delight a young child's heart.

Black-headed pins - where are they now?
A coat button on a string,
An empty spool, a rubber band,
A tic-tac for Halloween in the thing!

Ah! How I long for the days of youth
And the treasures we always could find
In Mother's wonderful button box,
Such simple pleasure too soon left behind.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Full Moon over Lake Wabaunsee

Driving home from work, the moon was rising in the east - a full moon, orange as a slice of cheddar, hanging over the snow covered prairie.

Earlier that day, the moon was setting in the west, about 7:25 A.M., over the beautiful, snow-covered Flint Hills. But the rising of the moon was spectacular.

I rushed into the house, grabbed the digital camera and tromped through the drifts to the lake shore and took this picture. Notice the straight edges of the moon light on the lake - the lake is frozen. The slash of orange fractured by the cracks in the ice.

As the moon rose above Lake Wabaunsee, it began to pale into a romantic white. Ah, Kansas. Land of Ahs....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

This morning, a lone coyote braved the frigid weather and stalked the black Angus pastured at the Widau Ranch. The Widau Ranch is located in the beautiful Kansas Flint Hills.

He looked nervous in the weak, morning sunshine, watching me over his shoulder as I drove past on Highway 99, his legs splayed, ready to run. Some of those cows would kick him to death if he got to close.

Coyotes are synonymous with crafty, nasty, lie-telling politicians. Rabbits and field mice are holed up out of the bitter wind and weather right now, the coyote's main fare. Most of the coyotes I've seen this winter have been big, healthy looking creatures running singly or in pairs, even in broad daylight! Sometimes they will run in packs of four or five and stalk cattle, preying on a weak or dying calf.

At night, we can step out on our back porch, especially on warm starlit summer nights, and hear the raucous songs of the coyotes just across the street in our neighbor's pasture. Their songs echo off the hills, as they sing to each other across the prairie.

Now, as the temperatures dip back below zero, I wonder how people survived without gas heat and forced-air furnaces. My dad told stories of waking up in the morning as a child in Havensville, Kansas, and the glass of water he sat by the bed was frozen.

We are fortunate. Stay warm. As always, vj

Friday, January 11, 2008

Winter is a wonderful time to bird watch. The owl that hit our truck on Sunday night was the Saw-whet Owl. It was small, about 7 inches in height, no prominent ears, yellow eyes dilated into huge dark orbs (in shock from hitting our truck and then blinded by our truck lights); brown lightly streaked with white on the forehead and crown and white below with reddish-brown streaks.
Tuesday. It was a little after 8:00 A.M. and I was on my way to the library in Saint Mary's. The sky was gunmetal gray; big, fat flakes of snow splashed on the windshield of the truck. In a plowed corn field north of Maple Hill, on the east side of the two-lane blacktop, three thousand snow geese and Canadian geese were swirling, landing and taking off in mass. The field was just south of the Kansas River. They were noisy, pulsating in their movements, beautiful feathered creatures. All stirred up because...
a bald eagle was hunting. The adult eagle soared gracefully across the highway, just above my truck. Suddenly, there was nothing else to see -- just the lazy swoop of giant black wings and the distinctive, snowy white head as I drove under the gorgeous creature.
The rest of my trip to work was in silence. A beautiful way to start the day. vj

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Night Drives

Barred Owl. Tonight we drove over to Alma, Kansas for dinner at a favorite pizzeria. It was dark, about 6:00 PM when we started home. Just a few miles south of the little town, along highway K-99, something thumped the truck on the rear, passenger door. We turned around to see if, perhaps, a deer ran into the truck and wanted to report it to the sheriff if that was the case.

Along the side of the road, we saw a small bird. It had to be a bird of prey, as it was pitch black, no moon and in the middle of the Kansas Flint Hills. No traffic, nothing. Just a little bird hunkered down on the shoulder of the road starring off into space. The culprit. The owl apparently dived for dinner and we got in the way.

Owls are very lightweight, some weighing only 2 or 3 ounces. We turned the truck around again, stopped on the shoulder of the road a short distance away. I jumped out and approached the stunned bird from the highway side, afraid that if it was hurt that it would jump or flutter onto the pavement.

It's head was turned away from the glaring headlights of the truck. I spoke in low tones, keeping it's attention. Of course, I did not wish to "pick it up". I learned a long time ago, don't pick up injured wildlife... My dear husband grabbed a pair of leather gloves (he always has three or four pair with him in the truck), then joined me there in the flood of light. He gently shook an empty glove against the chest of the stunned bird of prey and it moved ever so slightly, then without a sound, flew into the grove of trees from where it came. Wow! Too cool!

The owl was so small, no larger than a kitten. We believe it may have been either a juvenile Barred Owl or a Flammulated Owl, although the Flammulated Owl migrates in the winter. Whatever the creature, it left a small mark (a smudge, actually) on the truck door and a big mark on our memory!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mill Creek, Wabaunsee County Kansas

These first pictures were taken looking upstream in Mill Creek, just below the dam at Lake Wabaunsee. It was 4:00 PM in the afternoon today; the sky was overcast and the temperature was about 42 degrees. The water was 33 degrees. The sun peeked out from the clouds momentarily. Enjoy! vj

These last two pictures were taken looking downstream, below the bridge: