Monday, May 30, 2011


No, they are not daisies. No, they are not asters. They are called Daisy Fleabane. The common fleabane begins blooming prolificly in May and sticks around for the whole summer. They may be in ones or lots, but they are ever present in the mountains of New Mexico. They add just the right amount of color to any area so enjoy seeing them . . . even if there are many of them.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Dad would have been 86 today. I would love to be able to wish him happy birthday.

He passed away eleven years ago. It seems like it was yesterday. I still feel the pain and the numbness. The fog that overcame me took months to leave.

Dad was a little different from most men of his time. For some reason, he thought it was important that his girls learn to play golf, to fly fish, to camp, to ride horses. So Katie and I began playing golf at 8 years old, far before it became fashionable. We learned to fly fish and still love it, though I was never a fan of taking fish off the hook. Relaxing on the stream while casting a fly is something that makes me smile. He took us to the wilderness several times, and the adventures we had there still keep us laughing when we get together. Most girls at that time learned more domestic things, but not us.

Men of Dad's era generally had chauvinistic tendencies, but when Dad saw that his daughters were negatively impacted by people with the same beliefs, he changed. He began to treat the people in his office differently, even promoting several women to positions unachievable before. He always tried to do what was right, and honesty was most important to him. He hated cheating - whether it was on the golf course or in business - and he wouldn't tolerate cheating in his business or at home.

When I went away to college, Dad had begun to learn to play the piano. I wish I could have been there when he held his recital. He invited his friends to our home, and he played several rather difficult pieces. I guess it was a funny night, but I admire him for putting himself out there like that. I am not brave enough to do such a thing.

When he died, most people said that the one thing they will always remember about Dad was what a nice man he was, honest in his dealing with people. And they are right.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Clematis in the Mountains

It is spring in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, which means the clematis must be in bloom. They seem to be everywhere, but many people call them bluebells because they have a bell-shaped flower. Do not be misled. They are the only vining plant with flowers that look like them. . . the wild clematis with its light blue or lavendar flowers. Lovely!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Who is Coronel Tapiocca?

When we arrived in Madrid, we noticed a series of stores in all of the train stations and in the airport. It was called Coronel Tapiocca. We didn't pay much attention to it that day, but we would find out about the Coronel soon enough.

We discovered that Don's suitcase had been mis-routed out of Wichita and didn't arrive with us. It was only three hours behind us, and the luggage people assured us we would have it that same day. When it hadn't arrived by evening, Don and Di went to a local store to buy underwear, socks and a shirt for the next day. We expected the luggage sometime that night, but when we were to leave for Cordoba the next day, we still had no suitcase, so we told the hotel to be expecting it and we left . . . without any more clothing for Don.

That's when we met the good Coronel. In the train station on the way to Sevilla, we decided to buy Don's next change of clothing there, since we had no idea what might be open in Sevilla. We walked into Coronel Tapiocca's store, which is mostly safari-style clothing, and found a decent looking shirt for a fairly reasonable price. Don was tempted to buy a pair of their hiking shoes, too, but refrained since he had a perfectly good pair in his luggage. As Don walked around Sevilla in his Coronel Tapiocca shirt, however, we wondered what people thought about a guy who would buy his clothes in a train station.

And why do they spell the name Coronel? We think it is because Colonel is a rather confusing word, and they spelled it phonetically. And why Tapiocca? We have no idea!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Looking to Heaven!

I have seen a lot of cathedrals in my day: St. Peter's; St. Paul's in London; Westminster Abbey; Notre Dame; and many more. So when Diana told me we were going to see another cathedral in Seville, I knew it would be nice, but I didn't expect to be impressed.


When we walked in, we looked up. And we kept looking up. And we kept looking up. The cathedral was built to meet heaven, and we do believe it does. It was so tall, we nearly got a kink in our necks trying to look at it. I continue to marvel at how the builders back then were able to build so high without cranes and heavy machinery. I guess that's what makes it even more miraculous.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Spanish Garden Tour

The first thing we noticed about the city of Cordoba in Spain was the beauty of their small, quaint streets. Everyone had flowers in their window boxes. Geraniums dominated the boxes, but we also saw bougainvillea and others. They were gorgeous.

At the end of the day, we went to a patio tour . . . the Cordoban version of a garden tour. Certain homes would open their patios so that visitors could come in and see their gardens.

We only saw four of them, and our clear favorite was the first. It had a well in its center, and the plants were everywhere. The others were fun and inviting, and Don even found a gecko hiding on a wall in one of the gardens.

We didn't see many flowers that we would find in Wichita, but we certainly enjoyed looking at the ones in the patios.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Perfect Flight!

Through our travels we have had bad flights, such as the one when we left Greece this year and had quite a problem with the man who sat behind me. I think I am scarred forever from that encounter, but I lived through it.

Most of our flights have been just fine . . . some bumpy, some smooth, but all safe without hassle!

But Wednesday's flight from Madrid to Atlanta has to be considered a perfect flight. It was three hours late, so the Delta employees rerouted a lot of the people on the plane. Since we had plenty of time between flights, they left us on the original one, and we stayed in the airport with Di, sorting through pictures.

We received a free lunch, and when we got on the huge 767, there were only 96 people. There were so many seats, we could stretch out, sleep across seats, get up and move around. The flight attendants were delighted, everyone was happy. It could not have been nicer. Then when we arrived in Atlanta, what took us over 1 1/2 hours in December took 20 minutes. We arrived at our gate to Wichita with an hour to spare . . . and we got home safely. Sometimes, a delay in a flight works to one's advantage, and I would like to thank Delta Airlines for the perfect flight!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shoes Make the Trip!

Shoes make a trip. If a person has the wrong shoes, the trip can be ruined . . . that is the voice of experience talking. So for our trip to Spain, I went to my favorite shoe store (and that is saying something because I hate shoe shopping) to find some comfortable shoes. I knew Ecco shoes were golden because I had two pairs in Germany, and they were perfect.

I found a very stylish pair of Ecco Mary Jane's that fit really well. Then I bought a nice soft sandal that I thought would do the trick. After everything was packed, I decided that maybe I should throw in my tennis shoes . . . just in case.

Don had packed his hikers and his slip-ons, but for the plane trip, he wore his light moccasin-style shoes. Unfortunately, his baggage didn't quite arrive on time, so he had to wear those moccasin-style shoes for several days.

The first day in Madrid, Don and I walked with Di to her school, walked through the Prado, and then walked home. Uh Oh. Although the blisters hadn't formed yet, I could tell I was in trouble. I didn't have any socks for my cute Mary Jane's, and on a hot day, with as much walking as we were going to do, I knew they wouldn't do. So, as much as I didn't want to, I wore my tennis shoes to Cordoba.

Don could tell he was going to be in trouble, too. Just with walking in Madrid, his feet hurt, since his shoes had no support. But surely, his luggage would come before we left for Cordoba the next day . . . surely.

But no. It wasn't to be. So he had to wear his moccasins again. We walked at least ten miles in Cordoba. The bumpy cobblestones would have created a very bad situation if I had been wearing the sandals or the Mary Jane's. But my feet didn't even hurt in my tennies. Don, on the other hand, suffered greatly whenever he had to walk on the cobblestones - which was almost all of the time. So through Sevilla, Granada, Toledo, and Segovia, my white "Look at me, I am a tourist" shoes kept my feet from aching; but Don got no such relief until we returned from Granada and retrieved his suitcase.

I did wear my Mary Jane's on the one day in Madrid where we only walked four or five miles. But they were all on paved streets, smooth and easy, and it was a cool day. I never even wore my sandals. And once he got them, we couldn't pry Don's hikers from his feet.

So from now on, no matter how ugly they are, I am taking tennis shoes or hikers with me. It just isn't worth it to worry about having sore feet, especially as much as we walk on our trips!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We Are Worn Out!

Well, we successfully did it! We wore Diana out.

You thought it would be the other way? Well, you had better think again. In seven days we have conquered six cities, seen more castles and cathedrals than you can imagine, walked more cobblestone streets than we thought existed, and we are still ready for more. Unfortunately, I think Diana is ready for us to leave. She said she is exhausted! Well, maybe she is just exhausted and would put up with us some more if she had to.

The next few weeks will be full of posts from Spain, including pictures of some amazing meals that we had. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One of my Favorite Flowers!

It seems that some of the most beautiful flowers have such a limited bloom time that I am always left wanting for more. The magnolia tree, for example. Its blooms only last a day or two (if that, in the Kansas wind), and then they are gone.

So it is with iris. A week or two is all we get, and with the Kansas winds being what they are, sometimes we don't even get that many. The iris was my mom's favorite flower, and in Albuquerque she grew many different colors or it. Her favorite was the very large dark purple one, but she had others that she enjoyed. So I grew up watching the iris, trying to figure out which ones would bloom and where.

One of the joys of the iris is that it takes so little care. It will bloom almost anywhere, and as long as it has space to grow, it will keep blooming. Extreme Kansas temperatures don't seem to bother it, and it will even bloom in semi-shady areas, which is what most of our yard is now.
When Mom passed away, Katie and Bart made sure to take a few rhizomes of some of Mom's faves from her garden. Mom had given me some peach, pink, big purple, and purple/white ones, so between the three of us, we probably have a fair representation of the colors of iris in Mom's yard.

What a beautiful flower. I just wish it had a longer life.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Finally! Found Them All!

When we went to Germany, we came home to find that Aubrey had hidden 54 playing cards of the red and blue bird variety all over our house. Over the next few weeks, I cleaned and searched to rid my house of them, and within a month or so I had found every card but one. One lousy card.

Aubrey tried to give me a hint or two - "I hid one in a pair of pants," "Have you looked in the books Pride and Prejudice and Hamlet?" I looked everywhere and decided that the last one must be in the bookcase somewhere, and since I didn't have time to clean the whole thing out, I decided to leave it for this summer.

This evening I pulled out some of my summer clothing. When I turned a pair of capri pants upside down, guess what fell out of one of the pockets? Voila! The last card. I didn't even know that pair of pants had a pocket, so no wonder I didn't find it earlier. Anyway, finally I can say my house has been exorcised of the evil bird.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Goldfinch

Today I received an extraordinary birthday present. I looked out the sliding glass door and there, perched on my very old feeder with brand-new seed was a gorgeous yellow goldfinch and his little lady. Goldfinches are very timid, sweet birds, and we rarely see them in our yard. I was delighted with the unexpected treat.
You know, Kansas has some colorful birds. With the ordinary robin and yellow meadowlark, add the red cardinal, the bluejay, and the gorgeous goldfinch, and the entire color wheel appears. And to think . . . we have had them all in our backyard, even today!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

KSU Spring Game

I am suffering the after effects of the KSU spring football game:

1. An insanely red sunburn on my face and neck, gotten from sitting in the bleachers on a spectacular day. It was sunny, but cool, so it was hard to remember that a person could get sunburned. It was worth it, however, as the day was gorgeous.
2. Anticipation. Football anticipation. This particular spring game was the best we have ever gone to. The team seemed to be in sync with each other, passes were made, touchdowns were scored, and the quarterback controversy seemed to be settled.
3. Blueberry pie a la mode from Nelson's Landing. Made by Grandma Nelson, it was really good. Warmed with ice cream. Did I say it was really good? And I had it after sharing a steak sandwich with grilled onions and mushrooms. It was a great meal!
4. Bubba's Nekked bar-b-que. Made by a former chef from Independent, he has his own restaurant. I decided to take it to our tailgate party. Yum. Everyone loved it.

For those of you who couldn't go, you missed a great time!