Wednesday, December 26, 2012


My mother was an excellent knitter.  When we were young, she could always be found with a knitting needle in her hand.  She would take us to the yarn shop to pick out yarn for our sweaters.  I had a beautiful celery-green V-neck, a bright orange cardigan (mohair), an off-white cardigan, and she even finished off my green knit dress that I started but neglected to finish.

When Katie was in ninth grade or so, Mom began to knit her a sweater.  She used a blue-green wool along with a blue-green mohair to make a V-neck, cable knit pullover.  I always loved that sweater.  Katie wore it throughout high school and perhaps college, but somehow I ended up with it.  In my thinner years (pre-children), I wore it numerous times - even to work.  It was warm and pretty . . . and I loved it.

Once I outgrew it, I could not bear to part with it.  So I kept it.  Don't exactly know why, but I did.  A few days ago, I decided to get it out to see if Di would be interested in it.  She jumped at the opportunity.  Not only did she like it, it fit beautifully!

So 45+ years later, Di's new sweater looks brand new.  And no one in the world has one like it!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


My favorite of all favorite Christmas traditions is lighting luminarias on Christmas Eve.  Unfortunately, this year the weather kept me from putting out my normal 200.  I finally settled on 65 . . . just enough to go up the sidewalk and around the tree.  With snow coming in and dreadful cold, we could get them lighted, but cleaning them up might prove to be more of a challenge than we want to face.  So we did an abbreviated version  . . . yet I found them just as lovely.

As we arrive home from late church, the lighted candles are such a peaceful reminder of what this Christmas season is all about.  I am praying for peace and happiness for my friends and the world.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas

and all through the casa,
the tree's finally up,
Caramba, que pasa?

The stockings were hung con mucho cuidado
In hopes that St. Nicholas would feel obligado.

The table was lista para la familia,
With steak, potatoes, and memorabilia.

Luminarias are lit, the fudge is made,
The egg nog is bought, the fire is laid,
It seems as if everything's setting up right,
Merry Christmas to all . . . and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

An Explanation to No Motivation

There is a reason for the lack of motivation.  I don't know how legitimate it is, but it is an explanation anyway.

Before Thanksgiving, we began a project.  A kitchen project.  To be done before Thanksgiving.  Started in plenty of time.  But as usual, things don't always go as planned.

I forgot to take the before picture until the tile and the countertops were gone, but this is a pretty accurate look at the old kitchen.

When we went to the Baylor game on Don's birthday, the contractors worked on the countertops and tile.  The project was already a week late, but the kitchen was usable by Thanksgiving.

By that time, Don had decided he wanted to paint the cabinets.  Of course, that was to start Tuesday, the 10th.  The painter got sick.  I had already cleaned out all of the cabinets, however, so I couldn't decorate, cook . . . nothing.  He finally arrived this past Monday, but the cabinet doors are still not ready.  So I have a kitchen that is done except for the cabinet doors.

At least today (Saturday) I can put things away.  Nevermind that we are having company for Christmas dinner . . . they will just get to look at the insides of my cabinets.

The carpenter wanted to install the doors and drawers on Monday, Christmas Eve.  He didn't understand why I said no.  Can you imagine having that going on while trying to get dinner ready?  Sometimes men just don't get it!

Anyway, by this time, I don't have time to take out the snowmen, the Santas, the angels, the snowglobes - by the way, I love the snowglobes!  I may find a way to use the bells, but that's it.  This is the most undecorated Christmas I have ever had . . . but at least I have a kitchen to use.  Pictures will be posted later!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So Much To Do . . . No Motivation

Christmas shopping.  Have bought some items, still have more to get.  I have two weeks . . . well, a day less.  No rush.

Christmas cards.  Wrote my note tonight.  Will make copies sometime this week.  No hurry.  Might get done by Christmas Eve.  Then again, might not.

Wrap presents.  That one is done.  I needed the dining room table. But the ones not bought aren't wrapped . . . statement of the obvious.

Decorate the tree.  Tree?  What tree?  Purchase tree first.  That might happen tomorrow.

Decorate the house.  Well, that might happen after Di gets home.

Mail packages.  Done.  Amazing.

Get basement ready for company.  Yikes.  That will take days.  Not done but has to get done.  Maybe Friday?

Put lights outside.  Every year, we put out fewer and fewer lights.  This year is the worst . . . but at least there are a few out there.  A pitiful attempt.

Don't know why my motivation is lagging.  I love Christmas, but the Christmas bug hasn't hit yet.  It had better hurry!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bucket Lists

We think of Bucket Lists as documentation for us "older folks" of those things that we want to do before we leave this earth.  But I believe we should always have a bucket list, even as young people.

That being said, Diana is having the opportunity to check one item off of what would have probably been on her bucket list, if she had one.  She has been invited by a friend to attend the Wendy's Heisman awards tonight, and if she is lucky, she will be in the audience for Saturday night's Heisman awards.

She was invited back when Collin Klein was the front runner for the award.  Although he does not appear to have a chance to win it, we can only hope that many of the traditionalists, those older folks who view the Heisman as more than a flashy game, voted for him.  Time will tell, but how lucky that Di gets to go to an event that many of us just dream about.

I hope she has a great time!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Big 12 Champions

Well, the roller coaster of being a fan went from the depths of depression to almost the highest of highs yesterday.  After losing to Baylor (the lows), and playing a terrible first half (not helping the lows), Collin started playing his game, and suddenly we are the champions.  K-Staters have not had that opportunity very often, so we celebrated in style last night.

After it became apparent we were going to win, the music in the stadium began blaring, "We are Champions, we are the champions . . . . "  The people in the stadium were singing, jumping . . . and then when the the final second clicked to 0, students swarmed the field for the presentation of the trophy.

Rather than storm the field, we stayed with our friends at our seats. The fireworks, the music, the trophy presentation, the speeches, and then . . . my favorite . . . Stand Up, Stand Up for the Champions, for the Champions Stand Up!  It was a perfect night!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

Well, we had another successful Black Friday.  Did not set foot in one store, did not fight one crowd, did not spend one cent, except for a few beverages at McDonald's, Starbucks, and Louie's.  Instead we did yard work, took naps, spent time with Kenneth and Diana (while Melinda was fighting crowds), and generally had a relaxing day.

Tomorrow, Small Business Saturday, we will set foot in several stores - all local - to try to help boost their sales.  Keeping money in Wichita is the best way to do business!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chance Meetings

Today was an interesting day in terms of seeing people I have known but not seen in a LONG time!  First, I went to my art class and in walked Cory Ruedebusch, one of our first 8 students at The Independent School.  She is still darling, and it was so fun to see her.  She has two beautiful children who I also got to meet - Vin and Geneva - and her mom, Ginger, was also with her.  It was so fun to see them!

Not an hour later, in walked Suzanne Mitsch.  I haven't seen her in several years, and her beautiful daughter, Elizabeth, was with her.  They were doing a special art project, and I was able to catch up with Suzanne and all of the kids.  Several grandchildren and one on the way makes it sound like the Mitsch family is still just as fun as ever.

Finally, this afternoon Don, Diana, and I were delivering turkey dinners to people who have fallen on hard times.  We called one person, and when I heard her voice, I quickly put two and two together.  She answered the phone, and after we told her we were bringing a turkey to her house, I asked her if she is a cook.

"Yes," she answered.

"Did you cook at The Independent School?"

"Yes," she answered.

I told her with whom she was talking, and she was as surprised as I.  After the holidays, we are going to get together.  I loved her . . . and her cooking was outstanding!  She is still cooking now in Goddard, but with her grandchildren living with her, it is tough to make ends meet.

Anyway, three chance encounters that reminded me of the very fine people I met during my years at TIS.  Just another one of the many reasons to be thankful.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Not so Frond of You!

In our back yard we have a beautiful, very tall bald cypress tree.  I have written about it before.  It is an awesome tree . . . except for a few weeks in October and November.  That's when its fronds fall on the yard . . . and get in Babs's hair, feet, and mouth, and then end up all over my house.

Last weekend, most of the fronds fell in a period of just a few days.  Usually they fall more gradually and we can keep up with them . . . but not this year.  When we went to the back yard, it looked like this:

The beauty of the fronds is that they roll up pretty well, squish well, and fit in bags much more easily than leaves.  And when we were done, we ended up with these bags:

It was a lot of mowing and rolling, but it is probably a small price to pay for a beautiful tree.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Being a Fan

Being a sports fan is hard work.  It involves emotion of every shape and size.  It involves planning meals and get togethers.  It involves adjusting schedules.  It involves money . .  . and sometimes lots of it.

We have been on quite a roller coaster ride with our football Wildcats (basketball, too, now that I think of it!)  We were one snap away from the championship game in 1998.  Talk about a roller coaster - we went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in about 15 minutes.  We have been through a coaching change that went south; we re-hired Bill.  And slowly we have been climbing up to the top of the roller coaster again.

And nerves.  I do not handle the stress very well.  Close games are so hard for me to watch when I have a team in the hunt.  Saturday night's game was agony . . . we were never far enough ahead for me to be completely at ease.  Pacing.  Going into the stairwell.  Closing my eyes.  I am a mess.

Now that we are #1 in the BCS polls, I am even worse.  I am trying not to be too excited . . . bad karma.  I am trying not to be too pessimistic . . . bad karma.  I am trying not to think about the possibilities of "that that cannot be named" . . . bad karma.

Guess I just shouldn't think and should instead enjoy the ride . . . except I hate roller coasters!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Reading Is Fundamental

One of the philanthropies in which Kappa Kappa Gamma has immersed itself is Reading Is Fundamental.  As a part of it, three times a year we go to read to classes and hand out books to children.  Yesterday (Thursday) was that day for me.

Unfortunately, it was a bad day for volunteers and I found myself reading to five classes consecutively, 20 minutes apiece.  Whew!  Haven't done that in a lot of years.  Good thing my voice was in good working order, since I have been practicing being loud at football games.

For the kindergarten through 3rd grades, I read PattySue Finds a Home and Happy Hippopotami.  They really liked PattySue, and how can a person not love the rhymes in Happy Hippopotami?

     Happy Hippopotamuses Climb aboard the picnic buses
     For a hippo holiday, in the merry month of May.

It is a great book for teaching rhyming, and PattySue has several rhymes in it too.  It is gratifying to see how much the children enjoy PattySue.

For the fifth-grade students, I read a portion of The Phantom Tollbooth.  It is one of the most fun books to read aloud, especially the part I read . . . when Milo meets the Doctor of Dissonance and his sidekick, Dynne.  I get to yell a lot, which scares the students, and I get to do some acting too.  They seemed to enjoy the book, and I always get a kick out of it.

The children love their new books, and I think the program is a very fun one.  Hoping that my presence makes a small impact on some of the children.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This movie was rated with 4 stars, so my friend, Karen, and I decided to see it.  I was afraid it was going to be a juvenile comedy or chick flick, but I was so wrong.  It was a deep coming-of-age story, funny in some scenes but heart wrenching in others.

At the beginning, Karen and I commented that it was excruciating to watch.  Why?  Perhaps because we had lived it so many times.  The nice kid from a good family who is quiet and smart.  He hasn't necessarily been bullied but he hasn't found a friend.  Those who used to be friendly had gone on and were suddenly too cool to include him.  So he sat alone at lunch, he sat alone at games, he went home to his social life with his family.  Sound familiar?  You know those kids, too.  You may have been that kid.

As the story progresses, the under stories begin to develop into a rich tapestry that is all woven together at the end.  Indeed, it is a movie every person involved with young people should see.

The saddest part to me is how hard it is for adults to help.  Parents try, but they cannot control the behavior of kids at school.  Teachers try, but they can't catch everything that happens.  Friends try, but they can't always do anything either.

The one thing I know for sure is that many times, bullies beget bullies, and if a parent is a bully, so is their child.  If a parent is mean and nasty to others, their children are too.  As much as we in education try to change the culture, we can't do so alone.  But we keep trying by setting good examples, talking with students, educating communities.  This movie is another way to get the message across.  If it helps just one young person, one parent, one teacher, it will have been worth every penny it took to produce it!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dinah and Fiona - Wildcat Fans in the Making

At our tailgate parties, we don't very often have the privilege of  having little ones join us.  Kenneth's friends are just beginning to have children, and luckily they are bringing them to games.

At our Octoberfest, Fiona and Dinah joined us.  There are a few months difference between the two, but Fiona, the younger, weathered all of the people wanting to hold her, and Dinah seemed to enjoy the food we had.  We did tell Alison we needed to get Dinah a little more purple, but she promised that she has some!  The moms did a great job with the little ones . . . I hope these adorable little girls return next year.  It will be fun to watch them grow up!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Red Cup is Here

In 2007, we arrived in London on October 31.  It was fun watching Halloween unfold in a different country, and in London, it didn't seem much different.

As we walked around the city that day and the ensuing ones, we saw signs all over that said, "The Red Cup is On Its Way" or something of the sort.  The signs were mostly in Starbucks, and sure enough, on November 3 (I think), the red Starbucks cups arrived in their stores.  Prior to that I hadn't noticed a starting date for "the Red Cup."

Today I stopped by Starbucks for my usual drink. ( I name my drink a different special, depending upon the day, but until December 8, I am ordering the Collin Klein for Heisman special!)  I digress.  Anyway, today when my order arrived, it was in a red cup.  I asked when the red cups had arrived, since I hadn't noticed it yesterday.  Today.

This year in the US Starbucks is not making a big deal over the red cup.  Maybe they aren't in London either.  But the fact that I noticed my drink in a red cup tells me the Starbucks marketing campaign was effective.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cheesie, the Dwarf; Cousin Itt; and Halloween

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays.  As a child, we would dress up and spend the entire evening trick-or-treating.  It used to be safe to go without parents, and we would not come home until 8:30 or 9:00, bags filled completely full of candy.  Once I started teaching, I would dress up in crazy costumes, and at The Independent School, people could count on me becoming Cousin Itt, a dwarf, a shark, or something else!  It was great wandering around the school, and usually people couldn't figure out who was under that costume until they saw my shoes!

Unfortunately, for the past 12 years, Halloween has been a holiday of mixed and conflicting feelings.  In 2000, I had taken my shark costume to school, but I had a meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Garvey first.  I was going to wander the halls after that.  It never happened, as about 9:00 that morning I received a phone call that my dad had passed away unexpectedly.  Mr. and Mrs. Garvey were with me when I received my news, and suddenly, I was on auto-pilot.  I will never forget it.  We flew home that day, passed out candy that night in Albuquerque, and proceeded with funeral arrangements.  Mind you, this was 9 days after Don's mom had passed away.

Needless to say, Halloween is also sad for me.

But Dad would have hated to think his passing would make us quit enjoying the fun of Halloween.  So after two years or so, I decided I needed to go on with dressing up because it is fun.  Since I have retired, I pull out the costumes and visit businesses and people I know, cookies in hand.  This year I  mixed it up a little, appearing as Cheesie, the dwarf, at a few places, and Cousin Itt at others.  I even went to Rotary as Cousin Itt.  It unnerved a few people since Cousin Itt only squeaks and they had no idea who was under Cousin Itt's crazy costume.  Eventually a few people figured it out . . . but if I had taken off my purple shirt, I am not sure anyone, except Don, would have known!

Dad's passing was very sad and shocking, and I will never forget him, but I know he would say, "Life goes on, Karen; get with living it."  So I do my best to enjoy every day, just the way he would have wanted it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


This year's football schedule was a challenge.  After last year's Octoberfest, we knew it would become an annual celebration.  But we only had two home games in October.  When the KU game was at 11:00, we were left with October 27 - the Texas Tech game.  Once it was announced that the game would be at 2:30, we were on.

At 11:30 the party began when the host, Kenneth, came out of the RV, lederhosen dressed, to the tunes of Octoberfest blaring out of the speakers.  Roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun . . . In heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here . . . along with the chicken dance and other polkas.  Next year, we will do the chicken dance!

After the brats were all cooked, the German potato salad eaten, the mini-German chocolate cupcakes devoured, the pumpkin whoopie pies gobbled, the home-made pretzels enjoyed, and the German beer finished, we were all able to indulge in a fabulous game against Texas Tech.  I think I can safely say, a good time was had by all!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hedging One's Bets

One thing I have learned after 6 1/2 years of retirement is that the t-shirts that say, "Let the dog in, let the dog out" really did know something about animals.  Get one dementia-fied 15-year-old dog and one two-year-old active Springer in the same household, and I could perpetually be opening and closing the sliding door.

Bella solved the problem for me . . . at least while the weather cooperated.

I would open the door, and she would go partway out . . . and then stop.  Soon she would lie down, making sure she had her nose out the door.  That way, she could go in and out as she pleased.

Good thing the weather was good most of the days she was here.  She is much happier this way!

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Two Bad Bs

There must have been something in the air on Thursday.  The temperature was cooler, for sure, the wind was blowing, a front was blowing in.  That must be what got into the two Bs at our house - Bella and Babs.

Babs has had a number of tummy issues for which she has been taking a medication.  We have had several indications that it has been helping - she is no longer spitting up, she is eating well, and she is gaining weight.  All good signs.  Unfortunately, she has also begun to eat gross things in the backyard. She had a habit of that, but it had stopped, I thought.  Wrong.  At least wrong yesterday.  Yech.  I guess I am glad she is feeling better, but isn't there a better way to show it?

Then there's Bella.  She has been a very good dog all week.  She hasn't gotten on the bed once, she hasn't jumped on people (much), she played nicely with PattySue.  I had noticed yesterday morning when she went out she was much more active in the backyard.  She was crawling under the stairs, which she hadn't done in some time, and she was running around crazy, as if a rabbit was everywhere and she couldn't decide which one to chase - but there weren't any!  I should have known she was not her normal self.  So when I came home yesterday from a short errand, this is what I found:

Yes, Bella had gotten into the trash.  I think she was after the McDonald's box (to the right), but I don't know for sure.  She didn't make nearly as bad a mess as Sepia used to, so I wasn't really upset, but she knew immediately that she had been naughty.  She got the "I am ashamed" look and rolled over.  Of course, could I get her to do that with the camera turned on?  No, but you get the idea.  It was easily cleaned up, and how could I be angry with such a sweet girl?

Today, they both are being their very cute selves . . . so it must have been the change of weather that brought the devil out in both of them!

Monday, October 22, 2012

How Do People Think of These Things

I am frequently amazed by how clever people are.  They think of the funniest captions for pictures.  In light of the Wildcats' most recent win, I got quite a chuckle out of this picture.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bella, the Flatulent Dog

If Walter, the Farting Dog had not been written, I would write my own book.  It would be called Bella, the Flatulent Dog, or Bella, the Dog That Lets Beans, or maybe Gassy Bella.  All work.

We have never had a dog that lets gas a lot.  Occasionally, sure . . . but not every day and certainly not ones that smell like the water treatment plant.  But Bella . . . wow!  Hers definitely do not smell like roses.

The Gaskills had mentioned that she seems to have this problem . . . and it is becoming more and more apparent!

Good thing she is  very loveable . . .

Friday, October 19, 2012

Funny Stories from the Last Few Days

It has been a few days of visiting with people in meetings, lunches, or other venues.  I came across a few stories that I have loved and need to share them (so I will remember them!)

At a meeting a woman (a K-State fan) was telling about her granddaughter who had fallen and scraped her arm.  The scrape was bleeding and bleeding, and as it did so, the little girl cried harder and harder.  Her mom tried to clean her up, but the little girl was inconsolable.  Sobbing, she finally explained to her mother, "But Mommy, I am not bleeding purple like Grandma."

At lunch with Mrs. Garvey, I was told about her new puppy, a Chin.  I had never heard of a Chin before, but it apparently is a Japanese dog of royalty that becomes a lap dog.  This puppy, however, is a little too rambunctious to be a lap dog yet.  It leaps around, licking Mrs. G on the face, jumping up and down.  They named the dog Willard, and they call him Willie.  One of the grandchildren tried to convince Mrs. G to let the dog sleep with her.  Her response?  "I need to get to know him better before that happens."  Don't tell me you have to lose your sense of humor as you age!

Another friend of mine is painting her house.  She and her husband chose what they thought would be the perfect shade of green.  Unfortunately, the color wasn't exactly what they had thought, and it turned out to be a bright lime green.  We were all out front discussing her predicament, and different ones of us were more politic than others.  Don, however, wins the prize for political correctness. He hadn't heard the story of the colors and how the paint store agreed to fix the paint, so when asked what color he liked he responded, "Whatever color B. likes."

I hope you enjoy my stories!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Drawing - Part II

Well, I attended my fifth or sixth art class today.  I had no idea what Charles had in store for us, but I couldn't wait to arrive.

When he told us we were going to be drawing faces, I wanted to leave.  Faces are hard, hard, hard, and I had no idea how he was going to approach it.  But, true to his word, he started slowly and talked us through it.  He also used several examples of famous artists whose faces and necks are far from realistic, which gave us freedom to have unrealistic people.

Amazingly, when I finished, I was delighted with my piece.  Not delighted enough to put it on this blog, but certainly happy enough to show it to Don when I get to bring it home.

This weekend when I was doodling, I drew some flowers . . . and they looked like flowers.  Rick and Don could even tell what they were.

I have a LONG way to go, but the fact that some of my work is actually looking like it is supposed to is certainly a testament to the Monart way of learning to draw!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Walking in a 5K

This fall I have walked in more 5Ks than I have ever walked in before.  A total of 2.  I used to run them, and I loved to run . . . but having children pretty much did me in for that activity.  So I have turned to walking and I do walk a lot.  But I don't usually enter events in which to walk.

This year, however, I have done two of them.  The first, the Komen Race for the Cure, was in honor of Kim.  We usually are not in town for this one, but because football was a little different schedule, we were home.  I decided if there is one race I could, and should, do, this was it.  So I went to KWCH, got my red and blue Kim's Crew shirt, and joined the fray.  Luckily, I ran into Dave Dahl, who with his wife and her sister, started next to me.  We both are Chatty Cathys, and the walk was over before we ran out of subjects to talk to about.

This morning (Sunday) was the Prairie Fire Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K.  As a part of their wellness program, Don's firm was holding a departmental competition to see how many people would participate.  We were there at 7:15 a.m., doing our part of uphold the integrity of the Facilities group.  Although several in the group were runners (4 marathoners and a few half-marathoners), most of us were just walkers.

For this walk, the Hagers and we started out together.  Soon Daryle and Don were ahead of us, and Arlene and I brought up the rear.  We had a delightful conversation, and again, the race ended long before we ran out of subjects.  The funny part was the half-marathoners, who started 15 minutes before we did, were finishing at the same time as we.

I have learned a couple of things about 5K walks:

1.  I should do more of them;
2.  It is fun to connect with people who are on the periphery but not part of the mainstream of friends;
3.  Life is interesting;
4.  I would be thinner if I walked 3 miles every day.

I don't know when the next 5K will be, but the weather has been perfect, the talk exhilarating, and the walk healthful.  For what more could I ask?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Learning to Draw

I can't draw.  I have never been able to draw.  I tried.  But since I was a little girl, I have not been able to draw.

It is really a detriment.  When I taught, I would tell the students I was Picasso, and just as you can't necessarily tell what Picasso was drawing, it was the same way with me.  But Picasso is a great artist, so I must be, too.  The kids would laugh and endure my terrible scratch as I would try to draw "fried-worm pie" or "caterpillar pizza" . . . or any number of other things.  I also learned I can't play pictionary, because my team couldn't tell what I was drawing.

Since I retired, I have been wanting to enroll in an art class, but I was too intimidated.  There was one place that advertised that they could teach anyone to draw . . . yeah, yeah, yeah.  Anyone but me.  I had walked by it a number of times and had even picked up their literature several times.  Finally in August I put on my big-girl panties and walked through the door.

The first day I was SO nervous.  No way could he teach me to draw.  I knew a number of people in the class (that's for another day), so at least I knew I would enjoy the company, but I wasn't expecting great things.  That day we drew sunflowers.  Skeptical, I did what the teacher said.  And glory be, by the end, I had actually drawn a sunflower.  And it looked like a sunflower.  I was pretty happy about it until a friend said, "Karen, sunflowers are the easiest things in the world to draw.  Even kindergarteners can draw them."  Well, maybe, but mine actually looked like they were supposed to look!

For the first time in A LOT of years, I have been so excited to do something new.  I don't dread going, and I actually do the homework.  I have only had five or six classes, and sometimes it is very stressful, but I have been having so much fun.  And although we have a lot of work to do, I am beginning to believe that Monart School of Art actually can teach anyone to draw.

I am not ready to put a picture of what I have done on the computer . . . but stay tuned.  Maybe sometime.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

'Another Spider Blog

Spiders are not my favorite critter, but I am fascinated with their webs.  Over the past few years, I have taken pictures of webs and spiders and written about how much I hate walking into their webs.

Several weeks ago, Don and I looked out our sliding glass door to find that an orb spider had built his web in such a way that we couldn't use the door.  We could, of course, have pulled down his trap, but we preferred to watch what happened.  So we let Babs in and out the door, but we never graced the stair.  And we watched.

Invariably, by morning numerous bugs were caught in the spider's trap.  And as he ate the bugs, he got bigger and bigger.

One morning we were able to catch the sunlight just right to capture a picture of his by then huge web.

It got cold the other night, and now all we have is a remnant of his web.  He is curled up above it, hoping for warmth, I think.  We'll see if he returns, but if not, we feel lucky to have been privy to his fine art work!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

There Are Tailgates, and There are TAILGATES!

I had been planning the tailgate party for the KU-KSU game for awhile.  Our niece and nephew, Kylie and Chase were going to join us, as well as Don's brother Kevin, his wife, Barb, and their two boys.  Chase is purple through-and-through, but the rest lean blue and red.  Nephew Eric is a student at KU, yet he was the only one who did not wear blue and red.  Kevin, Barb, and Zach made up for it.  And although Kylie is learning toward KU, she is keeping an open mind!

So, I tried to make sure the kids had a good time.  Since it was an early game and Don had a meeting Friday night, we went up after school on Friday.  While Don was at his meeting, we went to Aggieville, watched the band play at Kite's, ate at Bluestem Bistro (it was a 2 hour wait at Coco Bolo's), took a tour of the Kappa and DU houses, and drove around the campus.  Then we went to the stadium parking lot and slept!

Early Saturday morning, we were up and getting ready for a 9:00 visitor.  Right on time, Willie drove up in his little car.

After Kylie and Chase had their picture taken with Willie, Don and I had to do the KSU with him!

I thought we had had all the visitors we were going to have.  What I didn't know is that Anne Strube had been tweeting Eric Stonestreet.  Three tries did not go through, but the fourth did.  And about 5 minutes after Willie left, as Anne was preparing to go to the Cats' Closet, up drove a green four-wheeler with Eric inside.  Anne hadn't left yet (good thing!), so she and Ashley were able to get a Christmas card picture with him.  The whole group gathered for a photo, we gave Eric a cup of coffee, and he left to grace other people's tailgate parties.  What fun!

Unfortunately, most of our group had not yet arrived.  The KU folks had gotten trapped in horrible traffic on I-70 as had Kenneth and most of the Kansas City crew.  We are grateful Anne and Ashley were there, however . . . .I know Kylie and Chase will remember this party for a long time!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fast Food

We have long been warned of the dangers of eating too much fast food - especially hamburgers.  They cause people to gain weight . . . and I am certain hamburgers are addicting.

I have not eaten a hamburger from McDonald's in years . . . except for the occasional $.99 one purchased while driving through the McDonald's in Hugoton while on the way to the cabin.  Other than that, I haven't had one in forever . . .

For the last few months, I have been having trouble getting our little Babs to eat.  She has gotten very picky, and one day she will eat something, only to turn it away the next day.  She went through her rotisserie chicken stage, her ground up dog food stage, her cheese stage.  Those lasted less than a week.  But several weeks ago, she started eating hamburger.  I would buy a pound at the store, brown it, and serve it to her over a course of days.

Tiring of the "browning routine" I decided earlier this week to purchase a $1.29 hamburger from McDonald's.  I took it off the bun, cut it into pieces . . . gone.  She loved it.  It wasn't nearly enough.  So we began buying a double cheeseburger, plain, no bun.  YUM!  Gone so fast, I can't believe it.  Those two hamburgers have about 300 calories . . . today she ate two homemade burgers + two McDonald's burgers.

It is a relief to have Babs eating, but in the process of feeding her, I tasted the cheeseburgers.  Man, I had forgotten how tasty they are.  I am not yet tempted to order one for me, too, but I can surely see how easy it is to over-indulge.  In the meantime, we are hoping to "Supersize Babs" as she needs to gain weight.  Thanks, McDonald's.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Race For the Cure

I have never walked in the Race For the Cure.  Usually, we are out of town on the day, but this year we were home.  So I signed up with the KWCH team and walked as a part of Kim's Crew.

Arriving in the parking lot is a like going to the State Fair.  It was crowded . . . very crowded.  And there were booths everywhere hawking all sorts of stuff.  Some people were dressed in bizarre pink outfits, though most of us were pretty middle-of-the-road.  Once the walk started, we all streamed out onto Douglas Avenue and began our trek through Eastborough.

It could not have been a lovelier morning, and the walk was not stressful at all.  When it was over, people quickly dispersed, and the walk was over.

Luckily, I ran into Kim's mom prior to the race.  She is such a beautiful woman, both inside and out.  She is the rock that has held the rest of us together.  I know it was an emotional day for her . . . it was for me, so I cannot imagine how it was for her.  I loved seeing how many people love and honor Kim, and I hope she did, too.

Kim impacted those around her in so many ways.  The least I could do was walk to preserve her memory.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The St. John's Bible

Have you ever seen an illuminated Bible?  I hadn't until last week.  And what a treat it was!

My Aunt Ruth had told me about the St. John's Bible exhibition at the New Mexico History Museum.  She tried to describe it to me, but until I saw it I didn't understand.

Kathy Dunlavy, Ginny Marti and I visited the museum on Wednesday, and it didn't take long for us to determine that this was a very special exhibit.  A man, Daniel Jackson, had a dream as a boy to create an illuminated Bible, totally hand calligraphed with gorgeous art work that utilized the finest materials available.  The pages were calf skin, some of the inks were from an ink factory that closed down in the 1880's.  Daniel created his own font, then taught it to numerous scribes.  A computer was used to set up the pages, then the work began.  Gold and platinum were used to illuminate it . . . all hand done!

One of my favorite pages was the Valley of the Dry Bones.  Tough subject, but the artist did a spectacular job with it.  In the valley, s/he depicted not only Biblical images but also contemporary ones - the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, oil spills, ecological disaster.  It was breathtaking.

If the exhibition ever comes anywhere near you, go see it.  It will be time well spent.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fantasy Football

A few weeks ago, our family decided to set up a fantasy football team.  We invited my sister and brother, Joey, Diana, Kenneth, and Morgan.  The names of the teams were all related to silly nicknames  or events, which will mean nothing to most people but a lot to us.

When we held our draft, Katie didn't get to participate, so the computer picked her team.  DianaSaurus Rex decided to use a "complex algorithm" based upon looks and funny names.  When I asked her if she was going to draft Tom Brady, she said no because "He's too old."  Thirty-four and he is too old. Sheesh!  The rest of us were pretty serious about our picks . . . and I got Jordy.

Unfortunately having Aaron Rogers and Jordy Nelson does not appear to be unbeatable.  So far I am 0-2, though hopeful that this week I can beat WillieBago.  I won't know until Monday night, so we will see.

Fantasy Football has made us interested in all of the games.  Fantasy Football has encouraged us to root for teams we would never have considered before.  Kenneth says there must be something that makes 500,000 people participate on a weekly basis.  Now make that 500,008.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


One of our family's favorite card games is 3 to 13, a simple, fast, fun game that can be played by many. My friend, Kathy, plays the same game, but her deck of cards has five suits (they add a yellow star suit) and it is called Five Crowns.  There is no place better than the cabin to play it, so we did.

I have played many, many games of 3 to 13, but I have never seen a perfect round.  Until last week.  When I had one.  Perfect.  No points in 10 hands.

And here's the score card to prove it.

It may never happen again, so I had to have visual and blog proof that it happened!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall Colors

The trees in the Pecos are just beginning to change.  Perhaps they were so beautiful because the yellow stood out against the green of the other trees.  Enjoy some pictures of the aspens.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Traveling with the Girls

Several months ago two friends and I made plans to go to the cabin.  Kathy Dunlavy and Ginny Marti have been my friends for many years, but when Ginny moved back to Wichita last year, we became even better friends.

We left last Monday and returned Friday evening after a wonderful trip.  We all got along very well, and the conversation and camaraderie made the week an excellent one.

The one downside?  We ate and then we ate some more.  We baked cookies, visited the Shed in Santa Fe, tried many other dishes . . . I think I returned ten pounds heavier.

But it was worth every calorie.  There is nothing like girlfriends to make life better!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's Never Too Late to Say Thanks!

I had an interesting occurrence on Friday, and it proved once again that it is never too late to say thanks.

In a meeting on The Student Experience at Kansas State, a woman in front of me was telling what her experience was like when she was at KSU.  "I had the best teacher in the world," she said, and then went on to tell about a Spanish professor who took this woman under her wing to make certain she had a successful time in college.  She was so grateful, she set up a scholarship.

"Was that Margaret Beeson?" I asked.

"Why yes it was," she answered.

"Are you Mrs. Hollis?" I asked her.

"Why yes I am," she said.

"Well, I received your scholarship," I said.

It was one of those goosebump moments.  I don't know why I knew, but I just knew.  After the meeting, we were able to talk, and I was able to thank her in person for the scholarship.

It doesn't get much better than that!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Get Your Hands Up!

It is amazing some of the situations that happen to people out of the clear blue.  Don had one the other day that was pretty scary, but ended up all right.

As he was driving to work, he noticed a police car sitting by the side of the road clocking traffic.  No big deal.  Happens all the time.  He pulled off US 54 into the Central Business District and turned up the street toward his office.  As he looked behind him, he saw the police car, lights blazing.  Though he had no idea what he had done, he pulled over, and a truck pulled in behind him.

He heard the policeman yelling, and when he looked in his rear mirror, he saw the officer, hiding behind his door, gun drawn.  The gun was pointed right at Don.  "Let me see your hands," the officer yelled, and Don quickly rolled down his window and put his hands out.  So did the man behind him.

That is when Don determined that the stop had nothing to do with him.  Within a few seconds, the other man was handcuffed and being led to the police car.

Whew.  Don was able to drive away, but he said looking into the barrel of that gun was pretty scary.  You just never know what is going to happen to you at 7:00 a.m. on a Friday morning.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kansas Storms

Several weeks ago, after many days over 100 degrees, a storm suddenly blew in.  It was welcome for many reasons:

1.  It brought cool air with it.
2.  It brought 3" of rain with it.
3.  It brought some beautiful colors with it.

I was able to catch a few pictures of how green the bald cypress tree was, how yellow the sky became. I love these pictures.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Car Trouble at 105 Degrees!

After the football game, we had a wonderful time in Kansas City with Kenneth, Melinda, Don's dad, and several of Don's relatives.  We got to see Uncle Rod again - twice in less than a month!  Micky and her husband, Mike, were there, too.  He is fighting a tough fight against cancer, but we would have never known it on Sunday.

Monday afternoon, we headed for home, and we could tell something wasn't right with the RV.  It wasn't downshifting correctly, the radiator fans were really loud . . . we just couldn't figure it out.

On the way through Emporia, we made our usual stop at Starbucks.  I had to have my chai tea latte, you know!  The trouble started when we restarted the engine.  The sound was awful.  Don turned off the motor, and restarted it without trouble.  Thank goodness the gas station was only a mile away, because by the time we got to it, the engine was boiling over.

After more fiddling, we determined we weren't going anywhere.  It was at least 105 outside, and poor Don was crawling around under the hot engine.  The tow truck came, and luckily, the mechanic figured out what was wrong and how to fix it.  He had us on our way in no time.

We were very fortunate.  We had air conditioning, a toilet, and food.  It could have been a whole lot worse . . . and much more expensive!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Are You Ready for Some Football?

HURRAH!  It is here!  Football season again.

Tailgate time.  My favorite time of the year.  It looks as if the weather is going to be perfect . . . upper 80's, light winds.  The game, that starts at 6:00, should be cool and comfortable.  Even better, it is a sell-out!

Our little group of tailgaters is growing.  Kenneth and his friends are now inviting their friends to join us, so we are getting a youthful feel back.  For a few years, our group's size had diminished, but now we are back to about 30.

Our nephew, CJ, is now attending Benedictine in Atchison, so he will be joining us this week.  Brianna will be home from Boston, so she and her brother and sister-in-law, Jarred and Emily, will be there.  Victoria's mother, Barbara, and Don's dad, Ken, will also add to the festivities!  Babs and Bella will greet everyone (though Babs will probably just sleep through the day), decked in their KSU clothing.

Since the weather is going to be perfect, green chile burgers will be the fare, along with numerous salads and sides . . . and CJ's birthday cake for dessert.  Top it off with a win (I hope), and it will be the perfect day!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fly Fishing

Any day in the stream is better than a day at work.

Our last Saturday at the cabin was proof of that!  The day before we had been invited to fish on a friend's private land.  We couldn't wait!  We had never fished it before, but we knew it would be beautiful.

Unfortunately, Friday night, it rained and rained.  And in the high country, it rained some more.  The river was higher than it had been in a long time.  And it was muddy, muddy, muddy.  We knew we wouldn't catch anything.  But it didn't matter.

We donned our waders, put together our fishing equipment, and went down to the water.  It was more beautiful than we had expected.  A striking rock cliff came down on the west side of the river, and it was obvious that there were some perfect pools for fish.  I couldn't wait to get onto the water.  The pictures are of Don and me in the muddy water . . . isn't it picturesque?

Don and I both had a chance to practice our casting, we had the opportunity to see some gorgeous water, and the cool weather with sunny skies made for an exquisite day.  Two hours later Diana arrived to pick us up, and we were happy and grateful we were able to fish in such a pristine place!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chokecherry Jelly

When we were at the cabin, the chokecherries were ripe, so I decided to make some jelly.  In the past I had added some crabapples to it, but this year I didn't.  I won't make that mistake again.

The jelly was beautiful.  Dark red.  Lovely.  Our ten-year-old neighbor helped me make it, and we had a great time.  But then I tasted it.  YECH!

It was so bitter and left such an aftertaste that I couldn't stand it.  Interestingly, Don and the neighbors didn't notice the aftertaste.  They liked it just fine. A friend told me it is the tannins in the cherries that make it bitter.

That's when Diana reminded me that tannins are also in coffee (YECH!) and wine (YECH!).  No wonder I didn't like it.  I can't stand coffee and wine, either.

Next year, if I happen to be around when the chokecherries are ripe, I will again put crabapples with it to neutralize the tannins.  I know I will like it better, and the others won't mind the change!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bras, oh my!

I had the opportunity to dog sit Bella this past week.  She is always so funny!  She loves to be with me, which reminds me of Sepster.  She rides in the car and stands on the console, just like Sepster.  She is excited when I come home, excited to see her family . . . she is just a fun dog to have around.

Today (Tuesday), I picked her up at her house and brought her here.  She walked into my bedroom, and immediately started barking.  I couldn't imagine what it might be that was causing her to bark . . . the bed was made, there wasn't anything on it, I didn't think we had a burglar.  I walked in to see what was disturbing her so.  She was barking at the bathroom door.  What could it be?

And then I saw it.  It was a very scary thing.  I had hung my bra on the doorknob to dry.  And Bella was going crazy barking at it.  I tried to take a video, but by the time I got it turned on, she had decided that although that thing hanging on the door was big and scary, it didn't move, so she was safe.  Phew!

Wish I had the video to share.  Instead, just imagine!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ipo, Ipo Everywhere

One of the rarest treats of the Holy Ghost Canyon is the existence of the Holy Ghost Ipomopsis, an endangered flower.  Some years have been rather grim, and at times we thought we were going to lose the plant.

Last year, the Forest Service created an area where they planted numerous Ipomopsis flowers.  They are trying to increase its population, as it only grows in certain areas, mostly road cuts on the north side of the Canyon.  When we were there in July, we were not optimistic about the prospects of a good flower year.  Despite good rains in April and May, June and July were so very dry that many plants in the canyon were crispy.

Imagine how pleased we were last week to see an entire hillside of Ipomopsis.  The plantings on the hill bloomed, and we had more plants than we have ever had before.  Additionally, we had some growing in places on the road where we had never seen them.

Finding the new Ipomopsis plants was truly a joy, and I am hoping they continue to proliferate. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Di!

We should have known when she was little that Di would love to cook and bake when she was an adult.  She had a kitchen with all sorts of contraptions that she could make meals with . . . her favorite was the cupcakes.  Remember the Fisher Price cupcakes that had a cupcake holder and icing pieces that could go on top?  We would sit in her room and pretend to eat cupcakes and have tea.

She also loved to play in the Tupperware.  Sometimes she would crawl into the cabinet and sit inside it.  As little as she was, it wasn't too hard for her to do.

Back then she made many different wild dishes though I no longer remember the names she gave them.  The imagination on this girl was incredible, and it was fun to watch her mind work.

Now she makes things like salted brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and chicken soup.  She tries new vegies and dishes, and with her creative mind, she is always experimenting with other foods.  I still love her imaginative mind and the things she thinks to do.  Happy birthday, my sweet!  You are a joy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ninety Somethings

Our trip to the cabin was particularly notable in that we had some very special visitors.  First, on Sunday, my Aunt Ruth (pictured right), her son, Chris, and his wife, Kim came to visit us.  Aunt Ruth had been to the cabin as recently as 2008, but cousin Chris had not been there since sometime in the late 60's.  I have a picture of him when he was 15 or 16, sitting at the table with us, right before the pack trip.  I won't embarrass him (or the rest of us at the table) by posting it, but I thought this current picture was particularly good of all three of them.  

Aunt Ruth is the youngest ninety-something I have ever met.  She still drives Meals on Wheels, sometimes taking the routes that others won't take because the weather is too bad.   Fifty years in a row, she still volunteers at the hospital.  She puts out the church newsletters and bulletins . . . every week.  She takes her recycling to Explora in Albuquerque so that the children can use them in their art projects. She bakes cookies until she finds the perfect recipe; she makes stuffed hearts for people who have had heart surgery; she makes all sorts of toys and other items for people who are in crisis.  She is indeed an amazing woman!

Then on Wednesday, Don's Uncle Rod Simpson, and cousin Sherry and her husband, Mike, joined us for the day.  Uncle Rod is another very young 90 something . . . but he is a year younger than Aunt Ruth, so he can't be the youngest 90 something.  Anyway, he continues to amaze us all, not only for his traveling and activity, but also for his astute financial knowledge.  We sat on the porch, talked and visited, and then went to Frankie's for lunch.

Unfortunately, Uncle Rod's eyes were closed with both pictures, so I picked the best one of every one else.  (From left, Diana, Mike, Don, Sherry, Rod and me.)  This is at Frankies, where we had all just finished some delicious Green Chile Stew.  Yum!

Don and I are so very lucky to have such wise and awesome relatives.  And having the chance to be with both Aunt Ruth, Uncle Rod, Chris, Kim, Sherry and Mike was the best.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Second Ride

After having such a successful ride, Emily mentioned that in the early mornings, she would see a baby coyote in the meadow on the golf course, and she invited us to go along.  Although 7:00 a.m. is might early, Diana and I were bright-eyed and bushy tailed - despite the fact that we were a little sore from the ride the day before.

I again rode Ranger, and this time Diana rode Amaretto.  The ride was short - 45 minutes maximum.  We saw two more deer, but unfortunately, no coyote came to play.  We were quiet; we looked and looked.  Emily's dog, Private, looked too.  But we did not see the coyote.

It didn't matter.  Having never been on the golf course that early, I hadn't realized how peaceful and beautiful it could be.  It had rained the day before, so there were dew drops on the trees.  The air was cool, the sky ice blue.  I am very grateful to Emily for showing me that I could still ride and horse and enjoy it!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Has Hell Frozen Over?

After a trip to Spirit Lake a few years ago, I swore I would never ride horses again.  My knees hurt, my rear hurt, my back hurt.  For several days, I couldn't walk.  It wasn't worth it!

But while we were at the cabin, Emily Ley told us about a two hour ride during which we might see a bear.  The day before she had seen a bear track, so chances were good we would see one.  OK.  I was in.

We left the Tererro General Store at 9:00 a.m. in search of bears.  I rode Ranger, a very good horse who kept up well, didn't trot (another thing I hate), and was very responsive.  I knew from the beginning it was going to be a good ride.

First, we saw two deer.  I wonder if there was a fawn around, but we didn't see it.  Then a few minutes later a pack of coyotes began howling and howling.  We never saw the coyotes, but we surely heard them.  We began to see signs of bear - torn down oak trees, acorns all over the ground.  We saw several bear tracks. 

But no bears.  I think I should have recited my "Let's go on a bear hunt" song . . . maybe then we would have seen one.

Anyway, we got back after two hours, without a hurt knee, a hurt back, or a hurt rear.  I was a little sore the next day, but nothing like before.  I have to say - it was an enjoyable ride!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Verdant Farm, part 2

I have missed the farmer's market the last few weeks, but on Wednesday, I was able to go again.  I headed straight for the Verdant Farm booth, as I knew they would have something unique and different.

About a month ago, I purchased a squash called a pattypan.  I had no idea how to cook it, so it sat on my counter for awhile.  Wednesday I asked Dana for directions.  Following her instructions, I sauteed some onions and garlic, put the wedges of squash in it, and when it was nearly done, added some tomatoes to it.  A little salt and pepper later, and Dana was right.  Delicious.  I did have to take the wedges out of the pan and cut them smaller so they would cook before the garlic turned black, but I will know what to do next time.

This week, they had a new melon.  I wish I could remember the name.  It looks somewhat like a watermelon, but Dana says the flesh is green and tastes a little like cantaloupe.  I can't wait to try it.

They also had some beautiful yellow tomatoes.  I bought two, which was a huge mistake.  I should have bought ten.  They are wonderful.  I used one in the pattypan dish, and its subtle taste and fleshy meat made the dish.  I hope they have them again next week, because I will buy many more.

Their cucumbers were perfect; the onions huge.  I love shopping at Verdant Farm!

Monday, August 13, 2012

A REALLY GOOD recipe!!!!

One of the miracles foods that showed up when my kids were little was Magic Shell.  I loved that stuff!  Pour it on ice cream and it hardens, just like a dipped cone!  I bought more than my share of Magic Shell, but as the kids grew (and I grew . . . fatter), I quit buying it.

In early August, my subscription of Cooks Illustrated arrived.  I love that magazine, as it not only has good recipes, it explains the science behind them.  At the very beginning of the magazine, however, are  questions from people like me.  One of them was how to make a homemade Magic Shell.

On Thursday, Susan and I decided to try the homemade recipe.  The key is coconut oil.  Luckily, Dillons had some, and although it is expensive, I think I can use it for other things, so I bought it.

Taking 4 Tablespoons of coconut oil (I had to melt it for about 20 seconds in the microwave to make sure I had 4 Tablespoons), and 3 ounces of chipped semi-sweet (bittersweet) chocolate, and a pinch of salt, I melted it in the microwave for a minute, stirred it, and melted it again.  Another stirring and it was done!

We had to try it, of course, which we did.  Awesome.  We then tried it with milk chocolate chips, but we wouldn't recommend it.  Too sweet.  The bittersweet chocolate was perfect . . . and so we now have the perfect answer for dipped cones.  Yum.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Friend, the Double Gold Medalist

In high school, through my friend, Anne Turbett, I was introduced to Cathy Carr.  Although Cathy was younger than Anne and I, she was friends with Anne's sister, and we frequently hung out together.  She played volleyball on the school's team, went to football games with us, and generally was a part of our group.  And she was so much fun . . . funny, low key, relaxed.

Sometimes, she couldn't go with us because she had a swim meet.  We knew she was a talented swimmer, but it didn't keep her from participating in all sorts of school activities.

Before I returned for my sophomore year at K-State, I had seen that Cathy had gone to the Olympic Trials and I had heard she made the Olympic team that went to Munich in 1972.  Communication was much different in those days, and we had to rely on newspapers for our information.  Coverage of a girl from Albuquerque was slim in Manhattan, but my mom told me she made the team.  I didn't know when she would be competing, however, so I tried to watch the coverage as often as I could.  (Back then, we only had the nightly updates . . . not round-the-clock coverage like we have now.)

One night, I had an opportunity to go on a blind date, but I turned it down, just in case Cathy was swimming.  I went to the informal at the Kappa house, and with a variety of other girls (and their dates) I was glued to the television.  As they announced the swimming in the breaststroke, up came Cathy's name.  She was in the finals!  I jumped up, screaming and yelling, "That's my friend, that's my friend."  We couldn't hear the announcer, I was yelling so loudly!  As I recall, the other people in the room were only a little annoyed with me . . . but I didn't care.  This was my friend.

The rest is history.  Cathy set a world record while winning a gold medal, and later in the games, she won a second one.  Her world record stood for two years (although during the Beijing Olympics one of the announcers sent me to Google because he said that Cathy's record was bested just that year.  I thought he was wrong, and indeed he was . . . but it was fun hearing her name again!)

What is amazing about Cathy's victory is how unassuming she was.  We knew she was a good swimmer.  But none of us had any idea of how good she was.  Apparently others didn't expect it either, because in the Wikipedia article about her, it appears as if she was the pleasant surprise of that Olympic games!  I am not sure anyone expected it, except perhaps Cathy, and she kept it to herself.

Sports have become so all-consuming for current athletes.  They train year-round, they lift weights, they eat special diets.  I know Cathy trained and worked hard, but she always had time for other things.  She always took time for her friends.  In a games fraught with horror and doping scandals, she was a very bright spot in an otherwise very sad era.

I lost track of her, though I did find some information about her.  I am trying to contact her, but so far have had no luck.   When I drive by her family's home (the soft green now repainted) in Albuquerque,  I think of her fondly.  And every time we have a summer Olympics, I remember how fun it was watching my friend win a gold medal.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Bunny Nest

Don and I had been watching the bunny nest with interest.  The momma was always watchful, and on occasion we would see her at the nest, presumably nursing her babies.  And then . . . Babs found the nest.

It must have been blind dumb luck that she found it, since she can't hear or see.  But Tuesday afternoon her nose led her to the nest.  She had just begun to sniff it when we saw her, so we were able to keep her from harming the babies, but every time she went outside, she eventually ended up over at the nest.  (I thought she might forget about it, since dementia seems to have set in, but no chance.)

Wednesday morning, I went to the nest to see what was going on, and all that is there is a hole in the ground.  All of the rabbit fur and soft material was littered on the yard, but the babies are no longer there.  Although it is possible that a cat got them, we didn't hear any squealing (which we usually do), so I am hoping the momma decided Babs had gotten a little too close and moved them to another nest.  I suspect in a week or two, we will see baby bunnies hopping around the yard.  At least I hope so.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Moral Dilemma?

Today I noticed a brown patch in our yard.  For some reason I thought it was a spot where Don had repaired the sprinklers.  Nevermind that there wasn't a sprinkler around . . . I didn't notice that.

A few hours later, Don came in to tell me he found a rabbit's nest while he was pulling weeds.  He said it was right in the middle of the yard . . . yep, right where the brown spot was.  He was poking at the dead spot, trying to figure out whether we had grubs, when suddenly the hole began to squeal.

What to do?  The rabbits are indeed a nuisance.  But I couldn't let Don kill them.  It just wasn't right.

So in the near future, I expect to see baby bunnies frolicking in our yard, eating my plants and driving Babs crazy.  Oh well.  The price of doing the right thing . . . or what I think is the right thing!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Women in Sports

I know Title IX was a controversial law when it passed.  I know Title IX changed funding for all colleges and universities.  I know that some men's teams suffered because of Title IX.  But I still believe it was the right thing to do.  Especially after watching the women compete in the Olympics!

Today I am watching the women's volleyball team play China.  These girls are amazing!  I was a decent overhand server at one point in my life . . . for the times.  But now?  Oh my goodness.  I was also a decent blocker, but my jumps look like baby steps compared to these women's leaping abilities.

When I played basketball in high school, the game was comprised of six ladies - two on defense, two on offense, and two rovers.  Why?  Because the full-court game was too "hard" for women.  We didn't even have a basketball team with games after school.  We had to go to "play days" on Saturdays.

Young women like my sister, Katie, who was a legitimate athlete in her own right, consistently suffered the inequality in women's sports.  But it was women like her who paved the way for today's girls.  What I noticed when I was at The Independent School was that the girls who played sports were well-rounded.  We offered an equivalent number of sports for boys and girls, and although it stretched our resources to the max, I would not have done it any other way.  The opportunities for both genders provided them with a legitimate upper school experience.

I am grateful for the women who paved the way for these young girls.  I pray that today's athletes will take the time to find out how hard it was for their mothers and grandmothers . . . it wasn't always this way.  And for Title IX, I am grateful for that!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jelly Making

There's something about making jelly that intrigues me.  I first saw jelly made from wild raspberries when I was about 12.  I loved picking fresh raspberries, but when I found out that a cabin neighbor was raiding "my" patches for jelly, I was somewhat incensed.  Eventually, I learned to make the jam myself, and I have made it ever since.

Several years ago I learned to make gooseberry jelly.  I had never had gooseberries, but I decided to try jellying them.  WOW!  It is yummy.  So then I decided to try mixing raspberries and gooseberries.  From the gooseberries I was able to pick and juice, I made 17 jars of "graspberry" jelly.

When I got home from the cabin, we still had a number of peaches that I had purchased, along with some extra rasmpberries and some leftover gooseberry juice.  I wondered what peaches, raspberries, and gooseberries would taste like?  Well, there's nothing to do but try it.  Which I did.  Tasted amazing.  Now I am just trying to come up with a name - preachberry?  greachberry?  prooseberry?

This picture is not the sum total of the jars I made, but it is a nice sample.  Fun times!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Aftermath

Well, the tree came down.  Can you see the chain saw near the stump, squished by the tree?  Ruh Roh!

Oh well, nothing a chocolate chip cookie can't fix.

Within an hour, Don had all of the logs cut up and put away.  Saturday night, our nephew, Joey, Don and I picked up all of the sticks and put them in the trash.

We still have some dents in the gutter that Don will fix once it cools down.  The chainsaw is already at the shop getting a new handle, a sharpened chain, and a tune up.  And the tree is down.

Saturday night, Don dug out the instructions to the chain saw.  "You know, this wouldn't have happened if I had read these instructions."  Oh really?

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Early this spring, we noticed our redbud tree was dying.  It is so sad, because the spring combination of the redbud and the snowcrab impressed us!

The redbud was Di's favorite climbing tree, and in the summers, the kids would play under its shielding leaves.  So many memories were dying away, but we knew we had to take it down.

Throughout the spring and summer, Don had been cutting a limb at a time, leaving some for the trash men and putting the larger logs in the log pile.  This morning, he decided was the day . . . he would stay home from work and finish the job.

When I came outside about 11:00 a.m., he was cutting a wedge in the tree so that it would fall the way he wanted it to.  Then he started to cut the tree down.  Watch as you see what happened:

Ten years ago we would have been so mad.  This time, we just laughed.  I thought I was well out of the way, but as you can see, even with the best plans, things can go wrong.

So now, with a little work on the gutters of the house, a little tune-up on the chain saw (that got stuck under the tree), and a little repair of the work bench, things will be back to normal.  Within an hour, the tree was chopped up and the majority of sticks were picked up.  So little harm done!

But . . . even when you think you know what you are doing, it is best to leave things to the professionals!  Right, Don?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Such Crust!

Today I went to see Mrs. Garvey.  We had a lovely lunch together, talking about numerous things, particularly the school.  Her daughter, Ann, joined us, and along with her caretaker, Shelli, we shared numerous stories.

One of Mrs. Garvey's sayings was the topic of a portion of our conversation.  Mrs. Garvey was well known for holding her tongue and refraining from making negative statements about people.  Ann said that rather than swear, she would say, "Oh, bad word."  I had never heard her say that, but I did recall that numerous times when she was particularly upset with someone's behavior, she would say, "Such crust."  The perfect way to express displeasure.  "Such crust!"

Oh that we should all be so classy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Poor Babs!

Aging has its consequences.  Ask me.  I am finding out.

So imagine being 105.  That's about how old Babs is.

We had noticed that her hearing and vision were decreasing, and for that reason, we have been keeping an eye on her at the cabin, particularly when she is outside.  We used to always keep her on a leash, but now that she doesn't run away, we had been letting her go outside with us, but unattached.  Not anymore.

Last Friday, Don and she went outside.  I was down near the stream, picking gooseberries.  Suddenly I heard Babs yelp.  It wasn't a good yelp.

Apparently, Don thought she was following him, but she took an abrupt turn to the wall and suddenly fell five feet to the road - Graham Johnson style.  She fell towards the top of the hill, but the fall is farther than it looks in this picture.

She must have good bones, because although she is sore and not able to jump much, she can walk and trot.  At times we accidentally touch her where it hurts, but most times she is fine.

What baffles me is that she couldn't see that it was a long way down.  Today in the back yard, she saw a rabbit that was 20 - 30 feet away . . . and she chased it!

I don't know what got into her, but her life is now back to leash restriction when in the mountains!

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's No Yolk!

The other day, I cracked an egg, and look what I got!

I have heard of double-yolk eggs, but in all of my years, this is the first one I have ever gotten.  I didn't quite know what to do with it, as I was using it in cookies . . . but I just pretended it was two eggs, and they came out well.

This is just a minor little thing, but if I ever lose the appreciation of the differences in nature, the strange things, I might as well not be alive.  It is these things that keep life interesting!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bella, age 2

Bella has definitely become an adult.  Although she still jumps, she is much calmer.  When I had her last week, she didn't get under the gazebo, she didn't crawl under the deck, and she didn't go wild chasing rabbits.

Exercising while Bella is in the house is still an adventure, however.  I have a series of exercises I am supposed to do three times a day, and I have to tell you, Bella makes it interesting.

On the first set I have to lay on my back and twist my legs to the side.  The minute I lay down, Bella sits right next to my head and stares at me, her tongue hanging out.  Soon she lifts her paw, as if to shake hands.  I take her paw and hold it until she gets bored.  She changes paws, and I hold it until she tires.  By then, my first set is usually done.

The rest of the exercises encompass some form of laying on my side or back.  By that time, Bella wants to be closer to me.  So the minute I turn, she cuddles up next to me.  Close.  Very close.  After a few minutes, she rolls over on her back, expecting a tummy rub.  If she doesn't get the tummy rub, she sits up and stares at me again.  Three times a day.  Frankly, I think it is cute.  Sepster used to do that, too, so it is nice to have a dog who wants to be near me.

Bella will also lay on my feet when I am at the computer, sit next to me on the couch, or try to be as near as possible.  When she was here, she got two dog bones from two different banks.  She thought she was in dog heaven.  The best part, however, was in the morning.  She had very obediently slept in her dog bed all night.  When Don got up at 6:00, he let her outside.  She came inside, and very carefully crawled into the bed, snuggling up right next to me.  I thought it was Babs and didn't pay much attention until I got out of bed, and there was a black and white dog in my bed.

Keeping Bella is truly a treat.  She is a very sweet dog!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Old School

When Mom and Dad bought the cabin in 1960, one of the beds upstairs was a red twin, complete with springs and mattress.  Katie loved sleeping in the red bed, then I did, then Bart.  As kids we thought it was great - the middle would sink to the floor, and we thought it was the greatest bed in the world.

Fast forward to adulthood, and not many people enjoyed sleeping in the  red bed.  It was too, too soft . .  and bad for our backs.  But Mom kept it because she told me it would need a custom mattress.

In the early 2000's, Don and I bought a piece of plywood to put under the mattress, and although it helped, it didn't help enough.  My friend, Pam, slept in it, and she was a good sport.  But it was not comfortable, and at that time, I told Don we are going to get a new mattress, even if we had to get it custom made.

This year we went looking.  We gave the mattress people the dimensions, and amazingly, it is a standard twin size, give or take an inch.  So the Monday after our Wheeler Peak adventure, we purchased a new mattress.

When we took the old mattress off, we found this tag on it:

For 52 years (and years before that from the previous owners), we have been sleeping on a mattress that cost $29.50.

Needless to say, it was time.  We thought it was interesting that the name of the new mattress is:

Perfect.  Katie slept in it last week, and she said it was very comfortable.  Much better than the old one, for sure!