Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday morning in bathrobe and slippers, I will watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with my dear husband and our daughter and son-in-law, sip hot tea and laugh at the errant balloons as they course down the streets of New York City in their famous blustery wintery weather. Later, we will eat dinner, inviting an older single adult who is home alone during the holiday to join us, and then when the afternoon wanes, watch some football or perhaps try to find “The Miracle on 34th Street” – only the original version with Natalie Woods will do. After it is dark, Terra Haute has a little park nearby that will light up with traditional and modern Christmas light displays. We hope to be there when the switch is flipped.

This year I have heard more about an “Attitude of Gratitude”. It is tough times for people and families, but there is a glimmer of promise in keeping a cheerful heart and a smile on one’s face. Perhaps it is a time to count blessings: those little miracles that come in the form of a friendly waved or a small courtesy by a stranger who lets you go before them in the check–out line at your local grocer; a surprise gift of friendship, just a telephone call away or a knock on a forgotten door. Perhaps it is a hug from a stranger.

On our motorcycle ride through New Mexico, we looped down past Shiprock and rode Red Rock Indian Highway 13 toward our destination of Chinle, Arizona and the Canyon De Chelly National Monument. Just over the border in Arizona is the Red Rock Trading Post. It was hot and dusty, typical day in the desert Southwest and our group of eight motorcycles pulled in and parked along the front of a low, plain log building with a covered front porch. Most of the bikers converged upon the air conditioned premises, others sat on wood benches on the porch; I prowled the edge of the parking lot next to the highway, trying to get photographs of the strange and beautiful landscape.

An older Navajo woman got into her car with a young boy and then abruptly she got out. She approached me and we struck up a conversation about her daughter and her daughter’s love of motorcycles. Her son-in-law had been killed in Iraq and they had ridden a bike together. Now, her daughter rides alone on her own bike and she was going down to Durango to have his imprint (picture) put on the front of her bike. For the last two years, her daughter (who has two sons – one in 4th grade and one, a freshman) rides in the “Run for the Wall” event to Washington D. C. She also told me that she helps her daughter with several event motorcycle rides throughout the year. The woman was on her way to work in Farmington, New Mexico and had a long drive with her little grandson, but before we parted, she opened her arms wide and gave me a great big hug!

My dear husband and I hope that you and your family will have a wonderful, thankful holiday this Thanksgiving. By the way, the Run for the Wall Mission Statement is to promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world. Check it out at http://www.rftw.org/. They ride right through Wabaunsee County on Interstate 70 every year! Take care and God bless you and your loved ones! Vicky

Monday, November 9, 2009

This week...

Last summer, our Great Adventure XI – or the Great American Adventure for Vicky and Hal - half the fun was all the wonderful places we visited or saw along the way to our destination and, I must say, trying some of the unusual fare at many delightful restaurants. We know all the good places to eat, even if we’ve never been there before. I call it eating your way across America; I gained a few pounds on vacation this year. Fortunately, a little dieting when we returned home fixed that problem. And I still like pie and ice cream; especially pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream, a Thanksgiving Holiday favorite.

Every Thanksgiving Holiday is closely associated with food and family. I prefer not to cook such gigantic meals as our lives wane. As we get older, I prefer doing anything else other than cooking. The company of friends and family has become more important than preparing mass quantities of food that is consumed in 30 minutes or less (i.e. Coneheads). Although I have tried several alternatives, our family traditions still remain intact over the years. My daughter prepares basically the same foods for her family that I prepared for past holidays, which is similar to what my mother prepared and my grandmothers prepared.

I have experimented with alternative fare. One year, in 1989, we had Chinese Stir-Fry. It just did not go over very well. Another year, our family ate at one of the finer buffets offered in Topeka, but we were disappointed because we had no leftovers to piece on during the evening. (And no pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream, either.) That particular dining experience left my dear husband with gastrointestinal distress for two days. He said they were “Bad Yams”. And they were bad yams!

It’s not about food; it is about family and the reason we are here. Our lives are but a breath in time and we should surround ourselves with good memories of family and friends. Sometimes we don’t have the family or friends, but it is possible to be thankful for the gifts that God has given us: a great country, a freedom that no other group of individuals enjoy (A BIG thank you to our Veterans and Troops); plenty of food (even if we don’t have much, we have more than any other nation of peoples); a freedom of choice in what we believe and that we can move about, via motorcycle if we choose, whenever and wherever we wish. My wish to you this Thanksgiving Season is that you are surrounded by your loved ones (or friends) and that you are truly blessed by the maker of all. Happy Thanksgiving (even if it is a little early). Vicky

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eskridge Fall Festival Time!

It was Fall Festival time in Eskridge, Kansas, on Saturday, October 31, 2009, and at 7:30 in the morning, we had to drive “around” Eskridge on our way to Topeka. The Eskridge City Fathers barricaded the street in the downtown area which allowed pedestrians to meander safely among the food stands, craft stalls, and baked-goods tables that lined both sides of main street (Kansas Highway 4). I always thought that was a good idea and it posed only a minimal inconvenience for motorists.

My dear husband and I were not able to attend the Children’s Costume Parade that was in the morning. I understand that the event was well attended and Paul Langley was a delight to the audience. My dear husband and I both had prior engagements, but we returned early in the afternoon to wander through the maze of vendors, visiting friends, admiring the unique costumes of the children and snacking on some our favorite “fair” foods.

Precisely at 2:00 PM, 1st grader Master Coursen sang the National Anthem to officially open the Fall Festival Parade. He was quite exceptional, singing the entire anthem from memory. Then students from the Mission Valley High School performed the duty of Color Guard, marching in front of their police escort (lights on!) through downtown Eskridge followed a two-team, draft horse-drawn wagon carrying Parade Marshall Otis Menfee along with members of his family. Following the wagon were floats representing the Women’s Methodist Union and from several businesses including the “Library Van” decorated by the Pottawatomie/Wabaunsee Regional Library Staff (“starring” several new books). The noisy Fire Engine (sirens on!) was driven by a Volunteer Fireman and, of course, Mayor Cory Lowe driving the Eskridge Lumber “Wagon”.

My dear husband watched as I dashed about grabbing candy thrown during the parade. Later, I played with our neighbor’s new chocolate lab puppy while the young owner raced for the sweet treats along with many other school-aged children. The day was a perfect for watching a parade while eating funnel cake; the temperature was around 72 degrees with the sun shining brightly on the festivities.

In just two, short weeks, the Gateway to the Flint Hills Coalition Pride Boosters sponsors the Wabaunsee County’s 11th Annual Veterans Day Salute in Eskridge on Wednesday, November 11, 2009. The schedule of events begins at 8:30 AM and culminates with a lunch at the Eskridge PRIDE Community Center. Look for the brochures around local businesses! And say “Thank You for Serving” to a veteran this year. As always, God bless you and your family. Vicky

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I have many good memories of Dodge City, Kansas including the time my parents took my brother and me to a State High School Basketball Tournament one spring. We camped at the KOA, went to the games, and one night my brother and I along with some friends saw a new Vincent Price horror movie at the local theater while our parents went out.

Later, my husband and I stayed in Dodge on our way to points west and southwest on several of many Great American Adventures. We always found time to do the tourist-thing, visit Boot Hill, the Long Branch Saloon, and the museums; even discovering some great restaurants with our motorcycle friends and it was no different this year when we stayed at Dodge on the first night of our trip to New Mexico and Arizona.

It was hot and day, a typical western Kansas summer day. My friend and I walked downtown, then decided it was too warm to venture too far and returned to the hotel. The restaurant was within walking distance and my dear husband and I had an enjoyable evening dining with several other couples in our group.

Early the next morning, we left our hotel and Dodge City, riding the short distance to the Santa Fe Trail marker just west of town. The prairie was just waking up under the warming rays of the morning sun. A light wind stirred the short grasses that flowed over the horizon to meet the pale blue sky; sunflowers dotted the rolling swell of grass, punctuating the view with bright yellow splashes in the early light. Grasshoppers buzzed, flying away in front of us as we left the boardwalk and tramped through the short prairie grass leaving moisture from the light dew on the toes of our riding boots. The air was fresh, cool and carried the tunes of a few early song birds. I couldn’t imagine walking these prairies day after day, following a wagon trail west from sun up to sun down. However, this morning, the silence was deafening. It could be so lonely here, but peaceful for those who travel the fast lane – like the cars that whizzed by on Highway 50 just a short quarter mile away.

For a brief moment we were caught up in the peaceful sounds of an empty Santa Fe Trail, imagining what it would be like to walk the lonesome prairie, headed for a new life. Then in another moment, we were back on the fast track with all the rest of the highway traffic headed toward our next destination of La Junta, Colorado. Until next time, enjoy the solitude of the open prairie whenever you can; it is fast disappearing along with the peaceful, slower times of yesteryear. God bless you and your family. Vicky

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Yikes the rain!


Rain it did, a total of 4 inches of the wet stuff pouring down beginning at sunset and all night long. Sigh, the little Lake Wabaunsee was full of water and now, when I drove over the Maple Hill Creek, it was roaring near flood stage: a mini-mighty muddy Mississippi.

Now, this little photograph was taken of Mill Creek after a beautiful ice storm in January 2008.

It was a busy day starting at 6 AM and I didn't get home until 7:00 PM. I think I drove over 150 miles for the PWRL Library from St. Marys, to Wamego, then Alma, and Alta Vista Mini Library. I visited with Doris M. who has been fill-in librarian; she is retired and such a sweetie. Then, I raced over to Eskridge to meet Shirley P. where she picked up the Harveyville Mini Library stuff from me... After working until 5, I drove the mini-van back to SM and got my car. Whew, what a day.

I watched an old movie, a nice movie, with Robert Montgomery, "Here Comes Mr. Jordan". He played Joe Pendleton a boxer who died before his time. I loved it; it was wonderful.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Returning from the Great Adventure

Wonderful weather followed us on our travels to the Great Southwest. We had a fabulous time and on the last day, we rode 390 miles from Perrington, Texas to home, stopping in Alma before we actually got home. Darn Kansas Wind, why do we have to go through Western Kansas to get to the good places? The wind blew hard all day long, cross wise, against us.

And you know what greeted us? My two lovely, very spoiled cats had a big party while we were gone. Yep, they invited their friends over and trashed the house. Little bitty pieces of blue gritty litter was tracked all through the hallway in the utility room and the back hallway. The rug that covers the threshold of the entry way to the utility room was flung across the hall and folded up against the back door, covered with grit. Pieces of litter were tracked into the back bedroom (at least it wasn't on the bed) and throughout the kitchen. Kitty food was at a premium... they would have starved if we were a day later. They have a two quart automatic feeder. That was almost empty as well as the second one-quart bowl next to the litter box. AND the water bowl was messy and looked like one of the partiers washed their little paws in it.

So, for an hour I cleaned and vacuumed and washed, then refilled the water bowl and cat food bowl all the while each kitty whined and cried. Then, at 8:30 PM, bedtime they both snuggled up and slept by my side, promising they would never invite those bad cats again.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

How Mr. Obama trains up anarchists: click here: check this out

Friday, July 24, 2009

Okay, so it's not how you get a deer home in Kansas, BUT I do know how to cook them now (after properly dressed and fresh frozen). Mmmmm... butterfly steaks simmered slowly in apple juice, then topped with sauted onions, spices - thyme, basil, and rosemary leaves - then with a spaghetti sauce. Served with spaghetti noodles and Parmesan cheese. Tender, tasty, and low fat.

Hmmm, this is a delightful little group! This is from artist Tasha Tuder, she was a lovely watercolor artist who did the lovely work in the Secret Garden and The doll house. Lovely little books to read.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Independence Day is in the past. The flurry of activities beginning early Friday morning through late, late Saturday night left many of us exhausted, sunburned and weary. Lots of clean up and lots of leftover food and lots of paper were shuttled into the trash barrel.

My dear husband and I enjoyed the visit of our daughter and her husband over the weekend. We celebrated my father’s 80th birthday with a family dinner at Silver Lake Restaurant; attended the 4th of July picnic in Eskridge, Kansas on Saturday; did a little geocaching at the Eskridge Cemetery; found a little dog named Pugsley and was instrumental in getting him back to his mistress; sorted through baby things (no I am not a grandmother); watched a fantastic fireworks display at Lake Wabaunsee; and stayed up to 1:00 A.M. listening to our neighborhood revelers’ fireworks! Needless to say, Sunday was as busy, but the evening was pleasant enough for a motorcycle ride over to Alma.

We did take a leisurely ride around the perimeter road of the lake early Saturday evening. Cars were everywhere; motorcycles were everywhere; and the golf carts monopolized the roadway and the smell of gunpowder filled the air! Additionally, our little neighbor (named Ray), who came by our house on his big-wheels trike, said that the cops were giving tickets to a lot of people. Sure enough, the Sherriff’s Patrol was on duty, watching for speeders and golf cart violators. Yep, the most traffic at the lake and on the lake that I’ve seen in quite a while.

But it was fun! I hope your holiday was fantastic and safe. Until next time, take care and God bless you and your family! Vicky

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Sunday Ride

Each Sunday we try to take a least one little short ride through the Kansas Flint Hills. A couple of weeks ago, we took a longer route through Wabaunsee and Osage County, when it was a tad cooler. Today it is 100 degrees plus, but my dear husband rides anyway. He says he is the only one in "the big city" east of us that wears a long sleeve white shirt. There is a reason for that... no sunburn.

My dad has been riding for over 50 some years. I remember riding with him at the age of 5 years old. On the 6th of July, he will turn 80 years young and yes, he is still riding every day. We eat breakfast together about three or four times a week. I with my iced tea and him with his coffee buddies telling stories and kidding around. My dad proudly rides around 50 to 100 miles every day. One of the local bikers call him "The Million Mile Man". Sure is; his 1990 Harley has over 225,000 miles on it and just this past winter he finally had a new engine put in it; had it rewired and he says it runs like a top. Gotta love those mechanics at Topeka HD!

Although my husband's bike only has 125,000 miles on it (it is a 1999 HD), we keep on plugging the mileage. He will turn 60 years old this fall - while we are on our trip with the OZ HOGS to points south and west, then south and west....

Sunday, May 31, 2009

After a several month hiatus, I am trying to seriously keep up my blog. A little bit about riding (motorcycles), a little bit about writing about the Kansas Flint Hills, and a little bit about gardening and activities of our household. How boring can it get? Not, too boring...

This is a picture taken from our yard. Each spring we have a pair of oriels returning to hatch a new group of babies. While robins sustain the hazards of Whitey the cat, these lovely creatures stay in the trees.

Enjoy!