Friday, November 22, 2013

Welcome winter - now what do I do?

Today was the official start of the winter weather work.  What does that mean you ask?  Well it means that I better have all the hoses drained and mostly put away in the garden shed, along with the tomato cages.  Guess what - this is not yet completed.  I am about 85% done with this. 

Today I started washing ghosts.  I have the ghost kids mostly done, and the ghosts that lined the retaining wall along with about half of the ghosts that were hanging on the deck.  However, 3 ghosts remain steadfast at their posts - 2 on the deck and the one by the mums.  By the end of the weekend, I will have them all washed, dried, folded and tucked away in their ghost holding container until they are called upon once again in early October 2014. 

We also got a blast of arctic air so that means fireplace is heating the house, which in turn means I have to haul wood in from the pile outside.  I got the woodbox, the kindling box, the shingle bucket and the cedar scrap bucket filled up once again and in their spots around the fireplace. 

Of course the wood piles outside are holding steady and slowly giving up their logs to heat the house.  If you can see any numbers on the ends let me know, I seem to grab the 90 degree ones when I already have the house in the mid 80s.  Currently, one log at a time and we are comfortable at 82-84.

This is going to be my daily life for the next few months.  Oh sure, there will be the occasional holiday dinner with the extended family.  There will be a little bit of decorating the house for the holidays.  Which will then lead to the un-Christmas decorating in January.  I have a wonderful snowman collection that will be going up after Thanksgiving and will stay up until the end of March. 

My goal is to have Halloween packed up and put away by Thanksgiving.  Hopefully in doing that I will also find some missing items that have been misplaced during the month of October because of the hoard of spiders and ghosts and other creepy things that invaded the house.  Amazingly, I found something just the other day that I had misplaced in late August/early September.  Oh what a happy day was that!

I know these items are in the house because that is the last place they were seen.  I think some serious cleaning and reorganizing and general clearing out of things is in order.  So you see, even in the cold of winter when there is nothing to do outside, there is plenty to do inside and I plan to get it done before the end of the year!!!!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and may the start of this holiday season find you surrounded by family and friends, loved ones, happiness and simple pleasures.

Monday, November 18, 2013


One of the great joys here on the prairie in the late fall is tumbleweed season.  This can last for months and is dependent on so many factors.  Your best option of seeing what I call the great tumbleweed migration is to drive across the state of Kansas and into Eastern Colorado - sure western Nebraska and the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas would be good places as well, although I have never been south of I-70 to verify this.

What is tumbleweed season you ask?  (did you ask me yet?)  Well let me tell you a little story of acrobatics, strength in numbers, and unfortunately death and destruction.

Tumbleweeds are dried up pig and fire weeds that were allowed to prosper in the ditches, along fence lines and field edges.  These weeds, just like everything else in the fall, go into their dormant state, dry up and drop their seeds all around.  Once the weeds are dried completely it takes one good gust of wind to break them at ground level and send them out into the wild frontier to spread their seeds and play games like Red Rover and Chicken.

The Great Tumbleweed Migration
It was a windy day (out of the south) in November as I drove west on I-70 to go visit my daughter and get my hair cut.  Suddenly, out of the field on the south side of the road came this 2 foot by 3 foot cartwheeling monster of a tumbleweed across the interstate, daring me into a game of Chicken.  I thought to myself, must be the migration, wonder where this one is going?  I watched the tumbleweed cross all four lanes of the interstate (going right in front of my car), with the grace and ease of a professional acrobat.  Then as quick as it was there on the highway with me it was gone, down into the ditch and up and over the fence along the edge of a stubble field.  The tumbleweed popped up and over the fence as if it suddenly was in a pole vault competition, cleared the fence and tumbled on through the stubble field.  My guess is this is another effective way they scatter their seeds for next years group of weeds hoping to make it to migration season. 

There were lots of other tumbleweeds that did not make the vault over the fence and were tangled in the fence, bringing it to life as a wall of tumbleweeds.  They looked like they were daring the others to play nature's game of Red Rover.  Once caught in the web of weeds at the fence row, it takes a lot of wind from the opposite direction to dislodge the weeds and set them free to tumble and play once again.

As I drove down the interstate I saw a tumbleweed that decided to take a ride on the front of a semi-truck.  There it was in the grill of the truck, hanging on for dear life.  I could almost hear it squeal with glee as it traveled down the interstate at speeds in excess of 70 mph.

Other tumbleweeds were not so lucky.  They play chicken with the vehicles on the road and just as predicted they lose.  Some try to roll under the car or truck, hoping to avoid the wheels but more often than naught they meet their untimely demise and are busted into little bits of dried up weed scattered all over the highway.

Some rules of the road during tumbleweed season:
1.  If you find yourself in a game of chicken with a tumbleweed - DO NOT SWERVE. 
2.  Watch for tumbleweeds.  If you know what direction the wind is blowing, you can spot them sooner and avoid running them over as they cross the road.
3.  If you want to run them over (truthfully we won't mind a bit) then please do so safely.  Don't swerve, don't slam on your breaks, just plow right through.

On a final note, if you happen to be traveling with the wind, check the ditch next to you.  There may be a playful tumbleweed racing you down the highway but watch out, they have been known to suddenly change course and come up on the highway catching a driver off guard.  Just follow the rules above and you will be fine.

Be mindful that they are devious weeds, hard to pull up and if given the chance to scratch your car they will.  If you happen to run one over, please take a few minutes the next time you stop for gas or a snack to check your underside and grill for chunks left behind as that can be a hazard to your car.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mystery at the museum. . . . . 8th grade version

So yesterday evening my sister calls me from Denver to inform me that I need to assist my young 13yo nephew with his ancient Egyptian project that is due on Monday.   It is a "craft" type of project and there was a whole list of things as options but my nephew was leaning towards a mummy in a sarcophagus.
1st - Good thing my nephew and his dad are coming to the farm or we would have issues with the helping part.
2nd - Thank goodness for the internet where I found a U-Tube spot about how to make a sarcophagus by  Thank you for the inspiration, watching your project helped in so many ways.
3rd - Another thankfulness - I was going to be in McCook Nebraska where the nearest Walmart is located and was able to pick up the necessary things needed to make this project go over the top!  
My inspiration - boys throw things away so let's make it work for the classroom museum but inexpensive and easy at the same time.  A whole loaf of bread really captures the essence of a stone or wood carved sarcophagus. 

So I call my sister to verify this does not need to be stored and endure for all time.  I agree to the project; sure, I can whip something up on practically no notice. Good thing I had to go to McCook today for an eye doctor appt. I stopped at Walmart and got a roll of gauze, 3 bags of assorted jewels and a loaf of bread.

When I got home dad and I got the loaf of bread sarcophagus sliced in half and cored out. Great thing about bread is that it is kind of doughy and still can be formed into shapes. So I shaped me up a body, wrapped it in gauze and called it a mummy.

Now all my nephew has to do is decorate the top of the sarcophagus. I swear if we don't get an A on this project I will never do another project ever!!!!! Check it out.

Of course I will get pictures taken of the finished bedazzled top for you all to enjoy so check back to this post for updates.
 A can of gold spray paint, a bag of jewels and bling shapes has transformed the loaf of bread sarcophagus into an Ancient Egyptian King's sarcophagus.  As soon as we find one that fits!  (yes the inside of the loaf has also been spray painted.

GRADE UPDATE:  Later in the week I got work from my sister that my nephew and I received a 100% on the project and a 96% overall for the class.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sounds of Fall, literally

This morning I awoke to heavy frost all over everything.  The remaining flowers and cherry tomato plants are now officially dead.

What was amazing was the few minutes I spent standing out on the west deck while my car sat in the sun with the defroster working its magic.

I stood there and heard the most amazing thing.  Snapping, cracking, popping, all those types of sounds.  What was more amazing was watching the sounds occur.  The hackberry tree that sits in mom and dad's yard was dropping leaves.  Each leaf made that amazing sound as it broke from its position on the branch and then quietly, silently fell to the ground, never making another sound once it was released from its hold on the branch.  It was quite possibly the best sound of fall I have ever heard. 

How I have never heard it before is a mystery, maybe I have and just did not take time to register the location of the sound or take time to appreciate the symphony of sound that accompanied the beautiful waterfall of leaves as they gracefully fell to the ground at the base of the hackberry tree. 

I hope this story has inspired you to go listen to the leaves and see what song they sing to you.  I am sure we can find another movement in the winter months to celebrate, but for now I relish the Sound of Fall I was privileged to hear.