Friday, May 30, 2014


For several years we have heard about the show Longmire on A&E.  Since we do not have cable, we were never able to watch it.  Those in the Canyon had talked about it, however, and this year, they were filming while we were there.

The first day, we were stopped while they were setting up lights and cameras.  As we drove down the canyon, we saw semi after semi of equipment, Star Waggons (for Robert Taylor, Neil Diamond Phillips, and others), and many, many people.

When we came home, we saw a yellow Camaro crashed on the side of the road.  At first we thought it was really a wreck, but it didn't take us long to determine that it was the crashed car they were filming.

On Tuesday, as we were driving down, we were stopped again.  They were rehearsing with bears . . . real Hollywood bears.  One was in the trailer in the picture, another was on Cathedral Rock, being fed while we passed.  Apparently, the car crashes into a bear . . . and they had to rehearse it.

On Thursday, they were doing the actual filming of the scene.  When we drove by at 7:00 a.m. cables were already laid, trucks were in place, and the real "uncrashed" Camaro was waiting its turn to get in the scene.  I wish we could have seen the filming, as I think it would be interesting.

So now I have to read the Longmire books, and Don and I are going to watch back episodes so that we know what it is about!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What's Worse Than Finding a Mealworm in Your Oatmeal?

When we were at the cabin in early May, I opened a brand-new carton of Oatmeal - Quaker, not the off-brand - and ate several bowls of it.

When Kenneth and Melinda arrived, the one thing I knew I did not need to worry about was the oatmeal.  Melinda eats it every day, but I had a brand-new carton.  Not to worry.

Sunday, we opened the carton to find a full-grown mealworm in it.  Oh yuk!  Don dumped out the carton and found one more living in the depths of the box.  Double yuk!

Despite Don's lack of understanding, neither Melinda nor I were particularly fond of the idea of eating the oatmeal.  Don said he would have eaten it . . . But he never did.  It finally ended up on the hillside, food for chipmunks and birds, which is much more appropriate.

But now I wonder if I had a mealworm or two in my initial bowls . . . I am trying to think of it as additional protein.  Yum!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Surprise! Surprise!

Diana had joined us at the cabin on Wednesday, May 20, and we spent the first few days hiking and enjoying the cabin.  On Saturday, we went to the post office to mail a letter and walked home.  I saw a car in the cabin below ours and wondered who was there.  I did not think much about it until I noticed it was a Johnson County tag.  That is when I realized it was also an Altima.

"Our son's car,". I screeched.  "That is our son's car!" And I took off running up the hill.  Now those of you who have been at the cabin know that the road is rather steep, and I am not young . . . But I ran all the way up to the cabin . . . Only to find I could barely breathe, and the KC kids were not there!  We guessed that they were walking up the canyon, so once I caught my breath, we headed up after them.  Shortly thereafter, they were walking down the road.

What a fun week we had!  I never dreamed they would really be able to come out to see us, but it was so fun to have them.  When they left on Tuesday, it was very sad . . . But the memories will never go away!

Old School

Being at the cabin is like taking a step back in time.  Today we had another occasion to enjoy a blast from the past.

I had finished the last of a roll of Alcoa aluminum foil that had been here for a long time.  A large 150 foot roll that cost $1.65, it had some interesting offers.  For $1.00, we could receive a hardback book of 91 Decorating Ideas using Alcoa aluminum foil.  Decorating ideas?

Some of the ideas on the box included putting it on top of the stove to prevent splashes, making a back splash behind the sink, and using aluminum foil to wrap your ironing in, if you did not want to do it that day.  Place the roll of clothes in the refrigerator for tomorrow.

We decided that I should write Alcoa to see if they still have the book.  I think it would be fun to see.

Friday, May 23, 2014

I Guess It Is Better To Be Lucky Than Good

In our family, it seems as if one of us always has the good luck.  It would not be anyone over 60 years old and that person is not a female.  Let's leave it at that.  It just seems, however, that whenever things appear to go wrong, he always manages to come out on top.

For example, season tickets for KSU football were to be renewed in April.  Despite repeated reminders, this person kept using, "Don't worry, Mom.  I have until April 26th."  That day came and went and by the time he thought to renew, it was too late.  And season tickets were essentially sold out.  

Since KSU football has become so popular, the athletic department has had to change their approach, which meant that, based on priority points, current season ticket holders could add seats . . . But we had to wait until Tuesday, May 19, for our points to come up.  We put it in his hands to take care of.

At 1:37, he signed in, and voila . . . As he said, "There was my ticket sitting as an island in the middle of the section.  I swooped in and grabbed it."

If that had happened to me, I would have been sitting in the nosebleeds.  I guess it is better to be lucky than good!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I have known that we have grosbeaks at the cabin, but I have only seen them fleetingly.  They are a rather shy bird that likes sunflower seeds, few of which are found in our area.  Therefore, grosbeak sightings are rare indeed.

Last year we saw several in May so this year I decided to put out some sunflower seeds to see what would happen.  Yowzers!  Not exactly what I expected.  We are the most popular cabin in the forest! We have at times had ten or twelve black-headed or evening grosbeaks, along with a number of wrens, pine siskens, and finches.  Don describes sitting on the porch as a symphony - hummingbirds are the strings, wrens are the flutes, siskens the percussion.  Rather poetic for an engineer, don't you think?

This is one of the many black-headed grosbeaks visiting our feeder.  Beautiful, isn't he?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Just Lean Against a Tree

I have been reading O Magazine since its inception.  I have received great advice from numerous articles, and it was one issue that helped me determine whether it was the right time to retire . . . It was, by the way!

But April's issue had the most helpful bit of info yet.  For 53 years I have been using the bathroom in the woods . . . while hiking at the cabin, going to Wheeler Peak, and the like. Not once did I consider leaning against a tree to perform the act.  The last time I squatted, I was not sure I would be able to get up again.  So this advice was most timely.

I have not had a chance to try it, but when I told Ruthie Horn of my newfound advice, she already knew about it and was astonished I did not.  But now I do!

Thanks, Oprah!  My life in the woods has just been made easier!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Sprinkler System

Well, although automatic sprinkler system clocks seem like heaven, it still helps to be smarter than the manual.  The older we get, it seems the less likely that is to happen.

Two years ago, during the huge drought and high heat, we spent some time at the cabin.  Susan, our neighbor, told us our grass was looking awesome.  We were not sure why until we figured out the clock was programmed to water twice a day.  Over $600 later, Don thought he had learned how not to make that expensive water mistake again.

Last week when we were at the cabin, Susan again discovered that we were watering twice a day.  Well phooey.  How can that be?  We had it fixed.

Wednesday, Don pulled out the clock guide and assured me that he had definitively gotten the clock programmed correctly.  Definitively.

This morning, Thursday, we pulled out of the garage, and immediately Don's expression (both facial and verbal) told me something was wrong.  "The sprinklers should not be running . . . And they are," he said.  Oh great.  We are leaving for two weeks and the sprinklers will be operating twice a day again.

Not to worry.  At least I hope not.  He has definitively, absolutely positively programmed the clock correctly.

I sincerely hope so!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Snow in May

Going to the cabin in May is always a risky proposition.  It is usually cool, but at times it can be downright cold.  The day we left for my birthday trip, it was 102 degrees in Wichita.  It was about 60 at the cabin.  During the week, the weather stayed about that until Thursday.  Then this happened!

Babs and the hummingbirds were not fans!

It snowed for a number of hours, but it was warm enough that it didn't stick.  That night, the temperature plunged below zero.  We were glad to be in our nice warm cabin, backed up to the fire, drinking hot tea.  It was a lovely day!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Off The Grid

One of the best things about the cabin is that we have no internet coverage.  We have no ability to use cell phones.  We only have a rotary dial phone, so using voice mail where we have to "press 1 for customer service" is impossible.  For what it is worth, that is why I like voice recognition systems!  Anyway, it is wonderful - and inconvenient.  I use the computer a lot more than I would like to think!

One of the things we do have is satellite radio.  For my birthday several years ago, I received a docking station for the satellite radio.  We take it to the cabin when we are there so we can catch the news - though I never use it for that.  I use it to listen to Mike and Mike in the Morning.  I need my Mike and Mike fix, and with my satellite radio, I can turn it on while still in bed and listen as I am awakening.  At least I am up-to-date with sports.  And when we need to, we can catch CNN or NPR, Bloomberg, or one of the other information stations.

Every now and then we have to go to Pecos or to Santa Fe to catch up on our emails and phone messages.  Otherwise, much work would not get done.  It is sad that as we drive, once we get through Pecos, I am glued to my iPad, deleting emails, answering others, and checking in.

It is great to be connected . . . but it is also great to disconnect.  I am glad we can have both!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Sand County Almanac, Part II

It took awhile, but I finished it.  This book is definitely one worth reading.

The first third is filled with gorgeous writing about observations Aldo Leopold made while on his farm in Wisconsin.  His descriptions of the animals, the scenery, the behaviors is finer than any writing I have ever read.  The patience he had to document what he saw and then write it makes me jealous - I can't sit for that long.  But after reading his book, I am determined to try.

The second two thirds of the book are more about conservation and society than about the observations he makes.  For those of us concerned about the environment, about the land, and about the animals it is compelling reading.  Unfortunately, the ending of the book seemed a little "lecture-prone," but that's because some of the selections were lectures or papers that he delivered.  I found them less interesting, somewhat concerning, but certainly true.  Perhaps because his message was somewhat fatalistic, I found myself not wanting to read it.  But it is a book I believe every person who enjoys the outdoors should read.  Hunters, fishermen, hikers, farmers, skiers, snowmobilers, photographers - everyone.  Until we all understand the difference between respecting the land and using the land, we will continue on our downward spiral, eliminating more and more species, creating havoc in our wake.

There are those who would argue with Aldo Leopold's premise - that we can protect our land and still experience a sound economy.  His thought is that if we do not, nothing will be left for our children.  Having seen what I have seen just in my experience in the mountains, I tend to agree with him.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Hope for the Holy Ghost

It has been said before that Mother Nature amazes.  Proof again abounds in the Holy Ghost.

Hiking in the burn scar behind the cabin, we found multitudes of aspens, many already over three feet tall.

The aspen behind Don is already three feet tall!
Mountain holly was blooming in obscure places, and numerous native plants were peeking out through the scorched earth.

A wild iris greeted us across the hill from us.  Not exactly in the burn scar, but blooming earlier than normal.

The stream, scoured white last fall, has begun to heal, turning a healthier color of light green.  A few fish survived the floods, and they will begin to propagate, though it will be several years before they are big enough to catch.

The scoured stream last October.

The same hole on May 8.  It looks more normal this color!

Hummingbirds are already back by the many.  A herd of five deer has taken up shop just down the road, and we had one little gal find our salt lick within 36 hours of putting it outside.  The bluebird, still cloaked in his winter gray, discovered our bird feeder and told his friends.  The wrens and grosbeaks, robins and finches all made their presence known.

I will be looking for the Lady's Slipper to reappear, the mountain iris to color the hill behind the cabin, the yellow puccoon to dance in the sunlight.  The signs of healing and restoration may be slow to develop, but I plan to pay attention.  Thank you, Mother Nature.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Sand County Almanac

This book was recommended to us when we were at our NFH Convention in Reno.  I did not know much about Aldo Leopold . . . Shame on me.  He is a noted conservationist, and wow, can he write!  My favorite passage so far:

One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.

A cardinal, whistling spring to a thaw but later finding himself mistaken, can retrieve his error by resuming his winter silence.  A chipmunk, emerging for a sunbath but finding a blizzard, has only to go back to bed.  But a migrating goose, staking two hundred miles of black night on the chance of finding a hole in the lake, has no easy chance for retreat.  His arrival carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges.

Isn't it beautiful?  And this is just two paragraphs!  I already love this book!