Sunday, April 29, 2012

KSU Spring Game

Saturday was the spring football game at K-State, and Don and I had been planning to attend for weeks.  Initially we were going to take the Willie-bago, but because of some complications we just took the car, and Doug Thompson joined us.  We ate at Vista . . . hadn't eaten there in a long time, and it was a blast from the past.

The sun was partially hidden by a thin layer of clouds, which made for a perfect day - warm enough to wear a short-sleeved shirt and cool enough to be comfortable.  By the time it was too warm, the sun went behind the press box, and it cooled down again.  I have the sunburn to prove it!

We were able to see numerous new players as well as improvements in last year's group.  We have good reason to think this is going to be a fun year!

Friday, April 27, 2012


One of the joys of being a parent is meeting the friends of their children.  Then, when the friends get married and have their own children, it is equally fun to watch them parent.  Lucky us, this generation has many ways to communicate with others.  Lucky me, some of Kenneth's friends blog, so I can keep up with their goings on.

Through blogs I have met Parker, Finley and Braden.  I have never met Finley and Braden, but I have had the opportunity to meet Parker.  Through his mom's writings, I have gained a great appreciation for this funny and fun little guy.  So when I heard that he loved Casey at the Bat, I had to find a way to see him.  Unfortunately, that is hard to do since they are in the UK for several years.

I had heard that Sam and Parker might be coming home, but I didn't know that I would be able to see them.  After all, they don't get home often, and I didn't want to impose.  Just leave it to divine intervention, however, and things work out.  And I do believe in divine intervention, by the way.

I was at the nail salon a week ago, and as I was finishing up, three young women came into the salon.  I said to the manicurist, "Is that Sam?"  Gena had no idea of whom I was speaking, but by that time, I had gotten a clear view, and indeed it was Samantha, there to get her manicure for the wedding she was going to be in.  I was able to talk to her about being home, and we arranged a time for me to come by to read Casey at the Bat to Parker.  I was thrilled!

So Tuesday morning, Kenneth's Casey at the Bat book in hand, I arrived at Sam's house.  Parker and GramGram answered the door, I showed my book to Parker, but I quickly found out it is hard to compete with Pluto and Mickey Mouse.  Within a minute or so, however, he ambled over to me, asking to hear the book.  Be still my heart!

I read it once to him, and I loved it.  GramGram cried.  Parker wanted to hear it again.  I was in heaven, but I had the presence of mind to set up my iPad and tape it.  While typing this post, I watched it again, and laughed and laughed.  Parker is a special little guy!  Thanks Sam and GramGram for letting me take an hour of your day.  You made my week!

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Several times within the last few weeks I have talked to or read about stay-at-home moms questioning their decision to be at home because of criticism from their friends who have jobs outside the home . . . or vice-versa.  And that got me to thinking . . . which is always dangerous.

I am definitely a feminist, but I think that term has come under fire and been misunderstood.  The feminist fight I fought was not about which lifestyle is better.  It is about having a choice - and then within that choice having equal opportunity, non-discrimination, non-harassment, respect, and the ability to pursue a desired career with the same opportunities as others.

That means that those women who stay home for their families deserve the same respect as the woman who is in the work force.  Her contributions are equal to those of a teacher, a nurse, a doctor . . . they are just different.  It means a woman should be able to become a CEO if she is the best qualified - and be paid as such.  It means no glass ceiling.  It means no condescending remarks implying women who are at home don't work.  It means supporting each other . . . not sniping at each other.

A person close to me one time said that women are their worst enemies because they don't support each other.  We had quite the discussion, but based on my recent talks I think that statement might be right.  Having respect for each other's choices is another step toward the quest of equal respect and equal opportunity.

The end of my philosophizing.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Duck, Duck, Goose?

My heart broke yesterday.

We were just getting ready to go to McDonald's Thursday morning, when I heard a funny chirping outside. I looked out our sliding glass door to see this:

A baby duck. At first, Don and I didn't know whether it was a duck or a goose, but we decided it was a duck. But in our backyard? He looked in the door, Babs went crazy, he chirped and headed for the grass. Since Don needed to get to work, so we left, thinking the duck's mother would find it.

When we came home, we saw the poor little thing walking up the driveway a few houses away. He made good time in the ten minutes we were gone. Still thinking the mother must be around, we opted to leave him there, though we knew his days were numbered.

It didn't occur to me until an hour later, that he probably didn't have a mother. It is too early for ducklings to have hatched and I suspect he was somebody's Easter duck. I don't know whose he might have been, but had I been thinking, I would have put him in Babs' dog kennel and taken him to the Humane Society. But by then, I had no idea where he was. I can't help but think things did not end well, however. Which explains my heartache.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kale Chips?

When Diana told me her roommate was making Kale Chips, I took a step back before I said, "What? Kale chips? That sounds terrible." Diana assured me that, to the contrary, they are actually pretty good. So since I had never done anything with kale, I decided to try them.

It isn't as if they are hard to make. Buy kale. Clean kale. Break into bite-sized pieces. Put on parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350. Drizzle a little olive oil over the pieces; shake a little salt over them. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until brown.

So I made some. They looked a little weird, but I tried one. Good. Crunchy. Amazingly light and airy. So I gave one to Don. Same reaction.

I wouldn't want a steady diet of them, but I am finding that they satisfy the urge for something salty and crispy . . . with negligible calories. The one down side is that you need to check your teeth when finished. Little pieces of kale stick around . . . Despite that, I can't help but think they are far more nutritious than potato chips.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

You Can Take the Boy Out of the Country

. . . but you can't take the country out of the boy.

Evidence of that was Saturday night during the tornado-fest. We had gone to the basement well before the tornadoes were close and had been monitoring their progression. When the meteorologists began talking about the tornado nearing Eastborough, which is about 3 miles directly south of here, Don disappeared. I heard the door open, and he went outside. I came upstairs to ask him what he was doing and to suggest that he come inside. "It isn't that close," he said.

This morning he explained himself further to someone at church. "I have been doing this for 60 years, and I have yet to see a tornado. And I have been trying," he said. I guess he figures his continued antics will keep the tornado at bay.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

White Coral Bells

White Coral Bells
Upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the Valley
Deck my garden walk.

Oh, don't you wish
That you could hear them ring,
That will happen only when
The fairies sing.

One of my fondest memories goes back to when I was maybe 4 or 5 and Katie was 7 or 8. She had just returned from Brownie Camp, and the song she had learned that day was White Coral Bells. For some reason I loved that song. At that time, we still shared a room (Bart hadn't been born), and as we were going to sleep, I asked Katie to sing that song to me. I think I asked her three, four, maybe five times to sing it to me. Needless to say, this might have been the first, but certainly not the last, time she lost patience with me!

Now I have coral bells blooming in my garden, and although they aren't white, every time I walk by them, I hum the tune, fondly remembering Katie singing it to me when we were young.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Doggy Dementia!

By the time our little Chaco dog was 18, she very clearly was a sandwich short of a meal. She would go outside, wander around in the same place, and then come back inside. She didn't lose so much of herself that she was totally senile, but she wasn't as sharp as she had been.

Well, the same thing is now happening to Babs. For the last year we have noticed that she is operating on a reduced brain. Especially at night, she will go outside, turn around and come right back in. Sometimes I will open the door but because she can't see or hear well, she will stand there scratching at the air. Five minutes after she is inside, she is scratching to go out.

Monday night, Don got so tired of it, he opened the sliding door. Sure enough, Babs just stood there in the door. She didn't go in; she didn't go out. She stood there for over 15 minutes. Then she would walk around, go back and stand another 15 minutes. If it weren't for the bugs that came in, we would have left the door open all night.

Poor little thing. The light bulb is on, but we aren't sure someone is home most of the time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The First Iris of Spring

Usually around my birthday in May, the iris are just in bloom. On occasion, they aren't even blooming by then, but that is rare.

This year, iris was already blooming by April 6. My biggest purple ones are up, and by the time I took this picture, one had already wilted.

This particular iris came from my mother's garden. It was always one of our favorite ones because the blooms are so large and such a deep color. I loved it long before I loved purple!!!

Because the iris are already close to blooming all over the yard, and because we are expecting some significant hail this week, I hope I still have blooming iris for my birthday!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just Desserts!

My foodie children, after taking us for a wonderful lunch at Urban Table, then decided to take us to sample their favorite dessert that they eat every Sunday after church. They go to a little restaurant named Story and have a chocolate brownie.

Well, unfortunately, the brownie dessert went away the night before, to be replaced with a chocolate flourless cake. So of course, Kenneth had to have that one.

Don ordered the German Chocolate Cake (partly because he knew I wouldn't taste it, since I am no lover of coconut), and I selected the lemon bar, complete with blueberries.

The flourless cake was unbelievably good. Kenneth said he thought maybe he could live with not getting the brownie he wanted us to try. The lemon bar was really good with just the right amount of tartness. I thought the German Chocolate Cake had too much coconut, but Don loved it! A great dessert day all the way around.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Urban Table

All of my kids and their friends are foodies. They love to cook with good, fresh ingredients, and they like to go to novel restaurants. We can always be certain when we are with them we will be eating at interesting places.

Such was the case Saturday in Kansas City. Kenneth and Melinda took us to Urban Table.

Their menu included a number of intriguing entrees and sandwiches, but I had to try their grilled cheese. It had a fancy name - something like the truffle cheese grill (but that's not quite it) - but more interesting were the ingredients - havarti, blue cheese, pears, and a chutney on a challa bread. Man, oh man. It was scrumptious. The homemade potato chips, however, rivaled it for deliciousness. I love homemade chips, but the ones from Urban Table were the most thinly sliced, perfectly fried potatoes I have ever seen. I would go back there just for their chips . . .

If I were a real foodie, I would have taken a picture of the sandwiches and salads before we ate them. Unfortunately, they were gone before I ever thought of it. I did remember to take a picture of the desserts at the next restaurant, however so stay tuned!

The next time in Kansas City, I would recommend you make Urban Table one of your meal stops. You will not be disappointed.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Easter Tree

Just after Don and I were married, my parents bought us a dogwood tree for our house. I had never heard about dogwoods, but Mom and Dad had just traveled through Arkansas and Missouri while they were blooming and they thought they were so beautiful, they brought us one. We planted it where we thought it would grow, but unfortunately, it didn't survive.

In the next few years, I would see the occasional dogwood, and on Woodlawn Street there is one fairly large dogwood that blooms every year. Other than that, my exposure has been limited.

I did learn that the dogwood is called the Easter tree by some people because the flowers look somewhat like a cross. It is also supposed to be the tree that was used to make the cross on which Christ was crucified.

This weekend Don and I went to Kansas City to pick up some furniture for Diana. It was during that trip that we had the opportunity to see the dogwoods blooming in all of their glory. The trees are spectacular right now, and within a block of Kenneth's and Melinda's house, I saw six or eight gorgeous trees.
These beautiful trees, blooming Easter weekend, helped me understand why the tree is called The Easter tree. May you have a beautiful and blessed Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012


For many of us, getting older carries a negative connotation. But I have watched my sister, Katie, actually turn back the clock, and relish doing it!

Yesterday was her birthday (April 5). I usually have some nasty poem about old age ready for her, but this year it didn't seem right. Although she is older than I, she certainly has been making a case for being younger. First, three years ago she quit smoking. That, in an of itself, is an unbelievable feat. I know many people have quit smoking, but for some people it is extremely hard. Katie had tried everything - including hypnosis - to stop, but nothing ever worked. Finally she found just the right tool to help her, and as of January, 2009, she has been smoke free. I would contend, since both our parents smoked and we were around second-hand smoke every day of our lives, that Katie had smoked nearly 59 years until she was able to stop. A+ for Katie.

She has always played a good game of golf. Since she retired, she has worked very hard on her golf game and she has participated in a number of events, winning her golf club championship several years in a row - four, maybe? She still plays better than I ever have, and I a pretty sure she could beat Don or Kenneth, if they had the nerve to play her. They don't. A+ again.

In 2010, she began dieting and lost quite a bit of weight, though she was never heavy. She decided several weeks ago to go back on a diet, and now she weighs less than she has in a number of years. That will only help her golf game and her stamina. Our mother always talked about going on a low carb diet. Once again Katie is proving Mother right - drat!

Katie is proof positive that a person doesn't have to accept that getting older means slowing down. If Katie is any indication, she will still be going strong at 90.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Amazing Storms

Wednesday was one of those gray days, sprinkling off and on, cool but not cold, delightfully fresh. By noon, about 1/2 inch of rain had fallen, which after the 4 inches last week. The grass is green, flowers are blooming. It was lovely out.

About 5:30, however, it began to get darker and darker. We noticed thunder and lightning, and suddenly the rain came down. And down. And down. And the hail came down, and down, and down. And more rain came down. In 45 minutes we had another 1 1/2 inches of rain . . . a total of 6" in less than a week.

The hail turned the deck white.

The river in the back yard was as big as we have ever seen it.

Where was this moisture last year? Hoping for just the right amount of rain through the summer!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Last Alaska Post - PattySue Style

Well, I have pretty much summed up our trip to Alaska, except for the very first day. Susan, John, Kathleen, and Tom hadn't arrived yet, so Kathy, Walt, Don and I went to Betsy's second-grade class. While there, I had the privilege of reading PattySue Finds a Home to her students.

But first, the trip there. We were to arrive at 11:00, so we all set out at about 10:00 to find the school. It is hidden back in the woods in a beautiful area. The first thing we noticed on the 2 degree day was that the students were all outside playing. . . in two feet of snow. In Kansas there is no way our students would be outside because too many people would complain. But these kiddos were having a ball in the snow, and if they didn't go out on these days, they would never get outside. When they all came in, they very carefully hung their coats up, took off their boots, and took their places.

I enjoyed Betsy's class so much. Spacious and colorful, it had many different learning spots. We particularly liked the salmon hatching tank that allowed the students the opportunity to see how eggs hatch. At a designated time, they will release them all into a lake. The lake is land-locked just in case the salmon are infected, but for the children it is a marvelous learning experience.
The students were particularly attentive, and they seemed to enjoy all of the crazy things we did. We sang several songs (Willabee, Wallabee, Woo, and Down By the Bay), we discussed rhyming and poetry, and then we read PattySue's story.

Afterwards, we drew a rhyming verse for Down By the Bay. Betsy had a very inventive group of students, and it pleased me to bits when they asked if I would read PattySue again. That was the ultimate compliment!

Thanks Betsy for letting me visit your class. It was a fun day!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Permafrost Tunnel

Betsy's husband, Matthew, is a glaciologist who studies ancient snow. He is world-renowned in that area and has written a very interesting children's book about snow and its many different forms. Did you know there are different kinds of snow? I didn't . . . until Matthew taught me.

Part of Matthew's interest is with the permafrost tunnel outside Fairbanks. It is a shaft drilled into a hillside that gets into and under the permafrost layer. Walking through it, it is easy to see how permafrost is created and why it is so important. We even walked under a frozen lake from about 15,000 years ago. Plants can be pulled from the lake that are still green - 15,000 years later.

Matthew explained the whole process of permafrost and the purpose of the tunnel.

Much research has been conducted there, and numerous fossils have been found in the area. (Matthew's and Betsy's son even found a mammoth bone nearby.) It is a fascinating look at the ice age and the impact that global warming will have on our environment. Thank you, Matthew, for taking us into the permafrost tunnel.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Recycling, Alaska Style!

I have always been a recycler, even as a child. At the cabin we picked up trash, and once aluminum cans could be recycled, I was on board. The fact that recycling has become a part of many people's every day lives shows how far we have come.

That being said, being in Chena Hot Springs gave me a glimpse at the next level of recycling. The man who purchased the resort in the early 2000's owns a recycling plant in Anchorage, and he was determined to bring his passion to Chena Hot Springs. First, he found a way to recycle different items to harness the heat in the geothermal system to provide electricity for the complex. His next plan there is to make enough electricity to sell to others in Alaska.

When we visited the greenhouse, we learned a very unique way to recycle traffic signs. Yes, traffic signs - the ones pedestrians look at to see whether it is safe to cross the street . . . or not. Chena Hot Springs has its own greenhouse that is heated geothermally, and the lighting for growing the plants comes from LED lights - just like those on Christmas trees. They were experimenting with other LED lights, which is where the traffic lights come in. Someone has excessed the traffic lights and they came into the recycling center. The Chena Hot Springs people decided to see if they could be used as grow lights for their herbs. Witness how well the plants grow:

We need more people with this kind of vision, who can take old items and turn them into a new useful purpose! Kudos to the owner of Chena Hot Springs . . . he is doing just that!