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.