THE FRAGRANCES OF OUR MINDS

There are things that triggers memories. Maybe its a song, place, or person. All can bring up memories long-buried, but smells– fragrances really do conjure up strong remembrances for me.

There is a farm about four or five miles from us. When the wind is just right…well you get my drift! I remember the barn lot where I milked cows, held new kittens and waded in sucking mud during the rainy days, of my youth. The images of me feeding my 4H steer and brushing his shiny red coat float above my head.

When our neighbor, up the road, cuts fresh alfalfa in the summer I remember my dad hauling heavy square bales from the field to our barn. Our Mom would bring out fresh squeezed lemonade and sandwiches for the men when a much-needed break was taken. Dad and his hired help, which included some cute-buff teenage boys, would enjoy the short recess under a shade tree.

Fresh brewed coffee brings me back to my Mom’s kitchen, where she would enjoy a cup, or two while sitting at our shiny formica table with its yellow plastic upholstered chairs. Grandma made the old-fashioned coffee–cowboy coffee, we called it. She’d just poured the ground coffee in pot of water and let it come to boil. Problem was…she had to watch it closely, or there’d be hot coffee all over her stove top!

Smoke from the recent fires around here brought back cool fall days of burning leaves in our yard, or a weenie roast with friends. The smokey smell hanging on our clothes and hair long after the event.

This morning my husband brought in some Lilacs. Our bush doesn’t usually produce a lush crop, but this year, for some reason…they are beautiful!

When I took a whiff of the lavender clusters, I was back in my Mother’s yard– to springtime in Iowa, and the sweet perfume floating on spring breezes through the weathered window panes of our farmhouse.

So, I set about trimming the woody stems…a bouquet for the kitchen table and one for my husbands studio. The aroma now floats between our two spaces and make me sigh, and remember.

KRE

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

This past week, Kansas and the midwest experienced the grandeur and the fury of nature.
“Beauty and the Beast,” if you will.

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We endured cold, then warm days of rain, anticipating the deluge that was headed our way. Weathermen and women were, “In their height of glory!” As my Mom would say. Minute by minutes reports in pink alerted us to the storm drifting ever closer.

I, like hundreds of others in our town, fought the lines for staples–things that would not require electricity to prepare them if we should suffer an outage. I was thinking of 2005, I think it was, when all hades broke loose and many of us were out of power for days, and some, weeks. Breaking branches and trees sounded like rifle shots in the dark.

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We waited and waited and waited for the ice. It didn’t come the first day, but we had a light coating on the second. It was a long weekend. My spirits were about as gloomy as the landscape framed by my diningroom window.

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But, when I looked outside I was inspired!

When Nature finally did her deed, here, it wasn’t so bad. Unfortunately, north and west of us was a different story.

Toppled trees, downed power line, no water, no heat, no plumbing…you get the picture.

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So I threw on a coat and went outside to capture the beauty that was left behind. I’m always amazed at the artistic splendor of nature. It’s like she says, “I’m going to hit you hard, but leave a little treat so you won’t feel so bad when I’m done!”

That’s what happens when rain turns to ice and coats everything in crystal. The most drab, dried, ugly bushes, branches and twigs become transformed into a beautiful sculptures.

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Fence posts and gates drip with diamond like jewels. It’s a wonderland. Luckily, here in our county, we didn’t have a lot of wind with this storm which helped to save trees and structures from real damage.

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As I reluctantly creep into a more mature age…a-hem…I am careful to watch my step. Especially when I’m looking through the camera’s eye…not on my next step!

 

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Stalactites of gleaming ice hung, and clung to everything! What was a drab landscape the day before, now glistened and winked like fairy dust. I had to think of my Mom. She loved times like this and loved taking pictures as I do. Thanks Mom, for passing it on!

KRE

The New Baby

It’s January 1954, in Iowa. My Dad says, “It’s colder than a well digger’s ass in Montana.” That means it’s really cold! My brother and I have been waiting for our Mom to come home to us. “She went to get a baby!” My Grandma Ross says.

She’s been staying with us for a few days. I don’t know why it takes so darn long to pick out a baby, but I guess when you’re making a big decision like that, you need to take your time.

Grandma won’t say much about where this baby is coming from, or what it is. I guess we’ll find out when dad gets home.

We live on the river bottom. Dad says, ‘cause our house is real close to the river. Sometimes it floods our barnyard and fields. I think its fun when that happens. We wade out in the yard in our bare feet. The cows are up to their bellies in muddy river water. Dad cusses a lot when it floods.

Our house is big and white, and has two stories. Don’t know why they call them stories, but they do. Grownups have funny words for things. Our windows go to the floor so we can see out really good.

Grandma just said she heard a noise. We all go to look out the North window, and dad’s car is pulling up.

Grandma says we have to be quiet, cause we don’t want to scare the new baby. She’s real bossy…grandma. I guess she’s knows a lot about babies cause she had eight kids. Our Dad is the youngest of the bunch! Grandma says, my Mom got the “pick of the litter!” See…there’s a funny word, for a bunch of kids.

Anyway, I watch dad walk around the Buick and open the door for Mom. She’s holding a bundle in her arms. She walkin’ kinda’ slow.

Grandma hurries to the door and in walks my Mom with the new baby. Dad gives me a wink and messes with my brother’s hair. Mom looks tired, but she smiles at me. She sits down and peels away the blanket. I look at her and say, “What’d you pick out?”

“We have a girl!” She answers. “Her name is Eileen.”

We’re all gawin’ at Eileen like she’s somethin’ real special, but I feel a little mad, cause now I’m not the only girl. But, at least it’s not a stinkin’ boy!

 

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So that’s the way it went, sixty-three years ago today!

 

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Happy Birthday, Sis. Love you!

KRE

 

Cows In The Mist

When I return to Iowa, I always have to check on my sister and brother-in-law’s cows.

As I’ve stated before.”I love cows!”

It’s a typical Iowa winter day–cloudy and gray. The kind I hated as a kid!

The cows don’t seem to mind though.

These girls lounge in the lot now, expecting any day, hour, or minute. They are heavy with calves, just waiting to join the world alongside the other newborns.

For now, these black beauties are contented to lay in the hay, chew their cud, and wait it out.

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The old Richwoods Church stands alone in the mist as it has for decades. A comforting landmark that watches over its eternal guests, day and night, rain or shine.

 

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The old barn, a behemoth of a structure, gives shelter when needed. It was a great place to play and hide when my siblings and I were home together. It still serves that purpose for grandkids and cousins.

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This one’s belly makes me hurt!  Surely she won’t go another day…will she? How do they do it…out in the cold, no heated blanket to keep from shaking? She’s a better cow than I am.

Her attitude and look says, “Go away! There’s nothing to see here…yet!”

So, I’ll go back inside and report my expert observations. Truth is, these girls will probably give birth during the night when we humans are tucked snug and warm in our beds.

KRE

Chicken!

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I haven’t posted for a bit. I guess I’ve been distracted by all the politacal banter. I had an election block! So, here goes…

The term, “Chicken!” comes up a lot in conversations. It implies more than the species, I’m afraid.

We’ve all heard it since childhood. I wasn’t sure about the origin of the non species term, so…I looked it up.

The term “Chicken!” can be traced to Shakespeare’s time.

But I found this little tidbit about one way it came into the American vocabulary.

Chickening Out may come from 1864 Union Army enlistment in which a chicken was provided to each person who enlisted. He would take the chicken home, clean, dress, and cook it for dinner- no refrigeration in those days. The next day he came back to ship off for the Union Army.

Should he not come back his name was printed in the local paper-very shameful to the family name – not like today. A relative with the same family name could fulfill the Army contract by enlisting instead of the original person. The Union Army didn’t care as long as they got someone of worth.

We all remember the scenes from  movies,  American Graffiti, and Grease. The game of “Chicken” was played out in order to settle a score, impress a girl, or just to show off.

Anyway, I digress.

What I really wanted to talk about was…chickens!

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Growing up, our family raised chickens for their eggs and their meat. I’ve talked about chickens before, but I truly love chickens.

They go about their days pecking at the ground, seemingly not a care in the world. We don’t give them a lot of credit for their smarts.

Chickens have played many roles in our literature and society.

There’s “Chicken Little,” who ran around proclaiming “The sky was falling!” We attach that term to people who are always forecasting doom.

Henny Penny reminded us of what escaping hard work will get you, nothing!

Those Henpecked husbands, we all know a few!

Chicks, the guys all talk about!

Cock of the walk, we know who he is!

Cocky devils.

Chicken Lips!

But there is references of strength and loyalty in this species, as well.

We’ve all heard about “Mother hens.” I  remember a story that made an impact on me when I was a little girl. It was about a mother hen who spread her wings over her brood to protect them from a fire. It made such an impression on me, that I asked my Mom if she would do that for me. She said, “Sure!”

As a result my extensive Chicken research, I found these nuggets…

CHICKENS SEE BETTER THAN HUMANS

CHICKENS TEACH EACH OTHER

CHICKENS HAVE THEIR OWN LANGUAGE

CHICKENS KNOW WHO THEIR OWNER ARE

THE EARLIEST CHICKEN JOKE IS DATED IN 1847

CHICKENS ARE SMARTER THAN BABIES

CHICKENS DREAM

THE OLDEST CHICKEN LIVE TO 22 YEARS OLD

HENS COMBS GET LARGER JUST BEFORE THEY LAY

CHICKENS WERE THE FIRST TO HAVE THEIR DNA SEQUENCED

CHICKENS OUTNUMBER BY ROUGHLY 4 TO 1

DINOSAURS=CHICKENS

HENS TALK TO THEIR CHICKS BEFORE THEY HATCH

CHICKENS ARE SPEEDY

CHICKENS HAVE HIERARCHIES

CHICKENS LOVE PLAYING

DUST BATHS ARE CHICKENS BEST FRIENDS

DOMESTICATED CHICKENS CAME FROM ASIAN JUNGLE FOWL

CERTAIN BREEDS ARE ABOUT TO BECOME EXTINCT

A DOZEN EGGS NEEDS FOUR POUNDS OF FEED

There now…I’ll bet you forgot all about the election!

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Go hug a chicken!

http://www.thehappychickencoop.com/20-surprising-things-you-didnt-know-about-chickens/gets…

KRE

COLD SNAP

 

I awoke this morning and glanced at my phone.  It read, 40 degrees.

I love October! It is a beautiful month, warmed with Indian Summer days, with a nip in the air that reminds me of what’s to come.

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Colors of fall–brown, Siena, gold, orange, and subtle green make up the autumn canvas.

Vegetation is weary–trees long to rest. The summer sun and wind have had their way. Its time for the fall fashion show. Soon they will sleep, only springs sun and rain will awaken them.

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Photo by Gary Sneed, Cedar Point, Kansas

I look forward to putting away my summer garments. A soft flannel shirt and worn jeans call to me from my closet. The familiar fit and feel makes me happy and warm. Long sleeves cover my fading tan. I’ve had enough of heat, and sweat.

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My foot steps “crunch” as I walk upon the ground. Leaves are curled and brown blanketing my once verdant lawn. Colors, and sounds surround me–my aching joints a passing thought.

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Squirrels scamper from point A, to B, their cheeks plump with nuts. Tails twitch as I  walk pass. They scold me with their chatter. I’ve interrupted their harvest.

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Cinematic coloration of the prairie soothes me. Her busy production has come to a close. Mother Nature has her blanket ready. Sleep is coming.

KRE

Sunflower

Kansas is known as the “Sunflower State!”

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Helianthus annuus, the common sunflower, is a large annual forb of the genus Helianthus grown as a crop for its edible oil and edible fruits. This sunflower species is also used as bird food, as livestock forage, and in some industrial applications.

When you drive through the countryside, here in Kansas, at this time of the year, you see their bright faces waving in the breeze all over the state. They bend and twist in the wind as if dancing to their own inaudible tune.Wild sunflowers can pop up just about anywhere. With all the rain we’ve had this summer, they are abundant in ditches, pastures–where ever there is dirt, you will find the sunflower!

I love the sun, and anything that symbolizes the blazing ball that heats our planet. I have images of the sun hanging all over the place. Maybe I was an Aztec Princess, in another life!

Not!
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Being a sixties girl, I worshiped the sun. I have age spots to prove it! But, no matter the consequence I always loved the way the sun made me feel. It’s the same way with these delightful flowers.

You can’t help but feel happy when you see a sunflower, with its bright yellow petals and chocolate-brown center.

If you know where to go, you can visit these fields of magnificent blooms. Sunflowers are not just unique to Kansas, but are scattered across the county. The rows of yellow sunburst follow the sun’s arc from horizon to horizon. I often think of Van Gogh’s lovely Sunflower paintings, with the juxtaposition of blues and yellows in thick, vivid oils.

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Want a lift, and a shot of optimism? Bring some sunflowers into your space. There are no side effects, and a whole lot cheaper than meds!

KRE

Van Gogh images from the internet.