About karenrossepp

I'm an art educator and accidental author. As with art, I love to paint with words--descriptive writing that brings the reader into the story--feeling the humidity after a spring rain, the choking dust of a country road...seeing the subtle colors of a summer sunset. Travel with me to a rural Iowa farm in the 1940s and to the steamy jungle of South Vietnam.





My dad was handsome, tall and strong

In my eyes he did no wrong

Until I reached and age


He was only middlin’ to fair

Dad worked hard for us to live

 showing love not easy to give

I knew he did

love me that is

 hugging and kissing…not a way of his

He was around both night and day

hard at work, more than play

Dad loved to hunt and fish so much

he had the skill and the touch

Holding game for him to dress

was a task and a mess

He’d skin a rabbit, duck or fowl

while cats circled round

with a meow

Dad taught me many things alright

to work and learn and hang on tight

to all the things that he held right

He called me sis when I came round

or when I’d call when I was down

Dad made me sad at times that’s true

but more than not

I always knew

He’d be where he’d alway was

in my heart just because

He was my dad that’s part of me

the kind of memory

that will always be

Karen Ross Epp














Potty Training Olympics

Yesterday, I spent the day with my youngest grandson who is three, and will be four this fall. He’s in the midst of being potty trained, so I helped the cause along throughout the day.


His mother had figured out what his currency was, and  we capitalized on that. With my own son, his father, I used M&M’s but, alas… this is a different age.

She sent along toys he could earn each time he did the deed in the potty. I was a little sceptical, but as the day progressed it was obvious, this kid loved earning the rewards.


Every ten minutes, after the first success he wanted to go potty. I thought for sure he was going to wither up like a raisin by the end of the day.

I explained that he needed to replace water and food so his body could make more.

“You mean, water is pee?” He asked. Then, of course the following question was, “Well, what is the poo made of?”

He was so excited about his deposits we even had to summon Papa. We also put stickers on the potty lid to further show evidence of his successes!


Kids love stickers and they don’t care how they look when they’re displayed. The art teacher in me wanted to direct each placement, but the grandma said, “This is his thing!”

With all the accolades of an olympian, we clapped, cheered and told him how proud  we were of him. Then with the sweetest expression, he said, Nonna, I’m proud of you too! You did good at the potty like me!”

I couldn’t have asked for a better compliment.

If I’m around, I’ll try not to embarrass him at his wedding! I’ll press these moments to my heart, and take them out when I need a little encouragement.

P.S. I didn’t include the photos of the real thing. Those I sent to his mama!










June in Kansas is green. The hills, pastures and lawns burst with a verdant collage. And, many of the perennials are blooming in full force.



Walking around the place this morning was like a buffet for the eye.



Our yucca are especially beautiful right now. Their full blossoms only last a few days, but what a show they give us.  There a many varieties of yucca… the ones growing in our yard, and all over Kansas, are some of the smallest of the species. But, for their size they put on quite a show!

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So here’s a little eye-candy for those who love plants, flowers and everything growing.

I’m hoping we get the rains needed this summer to keep it going!




This picture makes me shiver just to look at it! My husband ventured out east to the Flint Hills yesterday. He wanted get some photos of the mustang who roam out there. Well, he found them. With ice caked tails and manes they stood together, and apart in miserable conditions. But, these hardy horses are used to what Mother Nature hands out in the weather department.





With little to no shelter on the plains of Kansas, these mustang huddled in a ravine  from the biting wind, their bodies close together providing some sense of warmth and protection.

Like the Bison, mustang fuel our sense of what the West once was. Their raw existence stimulates our imaginations to paint, write, and photograph their descendants.


Against the monochromatic background of winter, the herd appears, at first, to be but boulders dotting the hills.


Who knows what their nights are like on these lone and windswept grasslands. They have manage to survive though, what comes from above or below!

I am amazed that these animals can survive on grass. Just grass!

Maybe that’s a new diet I could implement for myself! Nah…shredded wheat is as close as I’ll get!

Photos by Phil Epp





I’ve not posted for a while. Family illness and life has kept me at bay!

Today, I’m energized to write.  A new chapter in my life is about to happen.

As many of you know, I wrote a book, Corn Rose, https://www.amazon books.com, which is historical fiction, but based on what my mother orally passed down to me over the years. It is a glimpse into her life before Iowa and her marriage to my dad and their lives together during the first tumultuous years in Iowa.

During my childhood I only met my mom’s side of the family, the Cina’s, once. That was when I was two or three. Mom wrote letters to her family, but not being able to see them was hard on her. What I learned of them was through her recollections.

Anyway, over the past couple of years I have been corresponding with a first cousin via Facebook. So, this friday the 23rd, my birthday, we will finally meet! John is my mother’s nephew, and son of my Uncle Joe Cina. I’m very excited to meet him and sit down and exchange family history. Not knowing my maternal side of my heritage has always been a yearning and need for me.

I’m anxious to give him a hug, have him meet my family and exchange lots of stories.

To be continued with photos…soon!





Every year, about this time, my hard maple tree shows it brilliance. It’s no ordinary maple tree—I’ve written about it before. This tree was given to me by my Dad as a sapling over thirty years-ago. He knew that I missed the hardwood’s vivid colors of my native Iowa. So, he trekked it all five hundred miles, just for me! It’s the best present he ever gave me!

So every October, I bask in its splendor. I marvel at its straight trunk, thick foliage, and best of all… its color!

I gives me pause and time to think about my Dad. He was not a touchy-feely kind of dad, but he expressed his love with meaningful gestures, like my Maple tree!

We try so hard to give the things we didn’t have to our children and grandchildren, but we miss the mark on what is lasting, in the long-run. Some of the most precious gift were handmade for me. And, the most valuable gifts, were taught to me.

I’m a sentimental person, if you haven’t already guessed. I still have a rhinestone pin a boy gave me in the seventh grade. I save old letters and pictures. I have a corsage from my high school prom. My children’s firsts are tucked away in a tub, somewhere in my basement.

Thank God, my Mother saved all of my Brother’s letters from Vietnam, or there would be no book!




So I’ll stop now with the sap-a-plooza, and let you view my beautiful tree.



SAYING GOODBYE Rip, Watson…1988-2017

Yesterday, we said goodbye to a dear member of our family. One who was loved by our children and grandchildren and was a fixture on our place for many years.

Watson, AKA, Co-stars BB Good, was thirty years-old… a handsome Palomino gelding who stole our hearts from the very first. He once belonged to Tom Watson, the golfer, as a show horse. We got Watson when his show days were behind him.


We loved the fact that he was gentle even though he stood 15 hands… that’s a horse’s measurement in height.

Over the years, he toted our family around, grownups, kids, babies, and guests—and anyone who wanted a safe, comfortable ride.



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He was a calm and steady horse that made you feel at ease,  high in the saddle. You can feel when a mount has an even, smooth gate, and he had it!



Watson’s devoted stable mate, Rhubarb/Ruby, a pretty sorrel filly, was very upset yesterday. She’s paced all afternoon, sensing something wasn’t right with her buddy. We don’t give animals enough credit when it comes to their emotional senses. They feel change, and loss. And, that was very evident yesterday.



As you probably guessed, we had to let our beloved Watson go yesterday, with the help of our local Veterinarian. As Ruby paced around the corral, whinnying for her friend, Dr. T knew just what to do. He went to her, put a halter on her, and let her say goodbye. A few sniffs and nudges later, she was much more content.

We’ve lived here, on our Ranchette, for many years. Pets have come and gone. We’ve buried three horses now, several dogs, and numerous cats.

When I was a kid, on our farm in Iowa, there was no ceremony or care to bury our animals. Large animals, like cows, sheep, and pigs were hauled off by the rendering works–huge trucks that were all too familiar in the farming community. You could actually smell them before you saw them. The sight of a cow or horse being pulled by a log chain into the back of those vehicles was sickening for me, but a way of life on the farm. That’s why we decided that we would never do that, so we have all our dear-departed animal family members buried where they lived most of their lives.

I imagine it won’t be too long before we start looking for another horse to fill the void left by our dear Watson. I know Ruby needs someone to keep her company. He or she will have to be ready to take on grandchildren and anyone else lookin’ for a sweet ride!