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:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Christmas Fudge Secret Revealed!

Okay, so everyone loved my Christmas Fudge this year and it was too easy. I shared it with some gals at Henry's (in Topeka Harley Davidson Shop, restaurant owned by Lon) that were too young.. maybe even young enough to be my granddaughters. Hmm....Anyway, here is a picture of the finished product which, by the way, the Old Timers at the Round Table Number 29 ate up in 15 minutes! Old Bikers never die, they just eat more fudge... ?? huh? Did I say that?

Look for the recipe on Racheal Ray's Web page. Five Minute Fudge. For real! See Ya! vj

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

In the beginning, I always have good intentions. Sort the stack of paperwork, sew up that quilt, finish the article for the paper, catch up on ... whatever. No resolutions. My husband says the only resolution he ever made was in 1968 and that was to NOT make one. Bugger...

I think resolutions are our hope for the future, even though only approximately 22 percent of the folks who make them, actually complete them. Only one resolution I think is needed: love more, laugh more, hug your children more often and be at peace with the world. The poem, Desiderata, says it all...

"With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."