Thursday, June 30, 2011



A deep winter sundog. There actually were two in the sky that -28 F degree morning back in March. We've been told that the dogs only manifest on the coldest of winter days. I will miss the gifts of cold weather - but not overmuch ;)









An autumn dawn on the slough, Stoney Run, outside our back door. As you can see, there is much to love in this small haven in the midst of the immodest magnificence on display in middle America.

Waking to a display of such color reminds one of the variety that nature offers to all willing to open eyes and gaze in rapture.

I sigh as I recall the autumn and winter beauty of the prairie we are about to leave.

The mountains beckon. Vagabonds together, we will head south to the eastern Sierra on 3 July to bask in the fragrance of Ponderosa and Jeffrey Pine forests.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sunset and Daybreak on Stoney Run



We're about to leave this magical place and I wanted to share a photo of the paradise that sunset brings with it to our prairie home.

Hanging from the tree limb is a house wren nest provided by our good neighbour, Janet.

The picture looks east..one of the few times in my life when sunset was more lovely in the eastern skies than the west.




And then an April Daybreak outlines the task set for spring. Snow still lingers before the dawn.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another look at Terrorism

Positive Disruption
By ROGER COHEN
23 June 2011

Checking out the NYTimes this morning, I found an interesting article that asked me to reconsider the 'west's' influence in Afghanistan.

When I was finished reading Cohen's report, I wondered if the framers of the US Constitution were correct in assuming that one had to reach the age of 45 to be wise enough to govern as President of the USA. And then, it occurred to me that a younger candidate vs. an older one (Obama vs. McCain) might give us a more successful mind set.

I do realize there are many other parameters by which a presidential candidate ought to be considered, but in the instances reported in Cohen's article, some of which I have copied below, younger may be the better choice.

Cohen writes:

'I’d come by to see two former State Department guys now trying to do good things for the world through networks rather than diplomatic cables. Call them T-shirted envoys with algorithms.

Both seemed to be bubbling with relief at finding themselves out of the unwieldy bureaucracies that address the world as it appears on a physical map and in a company that views the globe in the same borderless way as the 52 percent of the world’s population that is under 30.

Something immense is happening as the world transitions to a hyperconnected state where, for many, the distinction between the real and virtual worlds has ceased to exist. All the trailing paraphernalia of states and borders and government-to-government palavers, not to mention privacy laws, look so 20th century.

. . . Carpenter is working with Jared Cohen, who’s heading up a new unit called Google Ideas, after a stint at the State Department. Cohen, at 29, starts with the notion that technology is agnostic: It can be used in the cause of freedom — and has been to great effect from Tunis to Cairo — just as it can be used in the cause of repression. So how do you “tip the balance in favor of the net positive?”

. . . the Summit Against Violent Extremism . . . will look at entrance and exit tipping-points: What factors push young people toward identification with violent groups and what may usher them out again.

More than 80 “formers,” as Cohen calls them, will attend — former Islamists, former neo-Nazis, a hard-line former Israeli settler now working on conflict resolution, former Los Angeles gang members. If technology, as Cohen and Carpenter believe, is “a great way to amplify and network credible voices,” then the hope is these shared experiences of aggression and disillusionment can be channeled to positive effect.

I don’t think the world’s leaders have begun to grasp the implications of unstoppable connectivity. Some people are calling this the Age of Behavior: What I do affects what you do, more directly than ever before.'

If you want to read more of the article, click on the title to today's blog entry to go to the NYTimes. Here's the link just in case technology doesn't otherwise cooperate. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/opinion/24iht-edcohen24.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha212

And remember, if there is hope for peace on this lovely planet, it will probably occur as a result of good folks using good technology to access each others experiences and opinions in the planetary discussion - at least that's what I believe.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

20 June 2011

Always there's a story. This one begins with what I thought would be my last session with my Cuban friend whom I tutor in English. About 8:15 on Monday night we showed her new tutor the books and the process we have been using for the past few months.

After they left the house in the midst of a major prairie downpour, I put on my own rain jacket and headed out to the farm for a very late dinner of slow roasted pork chops and fresh corn on the cob accompanied by a pleasant Aussie shiraz.

Hours later our guest from southern California, my hubby and I arrived back home and readied for bed — not for long. My way too full gut complained and then cramped and then went into spasms that refused to cease and desist. Guest and hubby tried to alleviate the pain by giving wise instructions. Finally, 911 was called and of course shortly thereafter the whole scenario repaired itself and I found myself stretched out on the couch, feeling much better minus the pain of a half hour previous.

Moving forward another fifteen minutes and beside me sat the county deputy sheriff, an ambulance team of two EMTs, a driver and a nurse, all of whom were politely assuring me that I belonged in hospital.

I begged off. They finally agreed and drove back to Bowbells and their beds, and I visited the next morning, as promised, with our local health professional. All travel plans are on hold awaiting a colonoscopy ..urgh.. 7 July.

Final note: I'm feeling fine most of the time but inclined to remain close to the bathroom facilities close to home.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sunny Thursday

Oh my — Weather news again.

Rained all day yesterday. Poor producers (farmers) are having major difficulties planting this spring. Impossible wet. Tractors bogged. Livestock stuck in fields that have turned into huge ponds.

The only ones who seem happy with the conditions are the yellow headed blackbirds, the red winged black birds, and all the water fowl. Well, I guess the muskrat is rather pleased as well - probably hasn't had a feast like the eggs available this year..in a very long time.

Sunshine today and temperate temperatures. Happiness.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Being Home, prairie women, and dining delights



About to embark on a week end with the gurls - prairie women, that is.

Had a conversation with my prairie friend yesterday about 'feeling home again' as she crossed the border from South Dakota to Nordacotah. In the midst of the whole exchange, I realized there is no where about which I feel what she described - the sense of being home, of returning to the tribe.

I had been in the midst of discussing an incident involved with 'prairie food', a very specific style of cooking akin to southern fried, but seriously not limited to chicken. Fish and plenty of it are included in 'prairie fodder'. Some of that fish is local - like Walleye. A second delicacy is breaded cod with a distinctly Norwegian name. The preponderance of Scandinavian settlers in this region of Nordamerika has a definite influence on what is served at Sunday dinners or everyday field dinners carried out to the men operating combines and seeding equipment.

And it does seem that food and the ritual surrounding food creates the ambiance surrounding the sense of 'being home'. My own tastes are far more eclectic but I do recall my first three years in Australia. At least once every couple of weeks I'd sneak out of the house and trudge a good two kilometers to the closest MacDonalds to enjoy a large order of 'fries', in Aussie parlance better known as 'chips'. Just the taste was enough to fend off my sense of being a stranger in a strange land. My digestive tract somehow communicated with my brain to let it know that I could survive at least one more week of being a foreigner.

So, what of this week end with the 'gurls'? I don't have much hope for any sense of comfort, but it will be a learning experience, filled I'm sure with bouts of laughter, to spend three days with 'prairie women'.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I'm eager to be in the mountains again


Been on the prairie too long. This is where I want to be..not in the snow, mind you, but in the lovely, even if cool, spring time in the Sierra.

It's been a while since last I tripped up those stairs, opened the front door, and basked in the knotty pine scented space that is my home in the Sierra.

Soon, very soon, we will head there to celebrate 4th of July with family.

Hooray for family and hooray for having a space in which to meet together.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Tiny House

Tiny House — what a concept in America?

Click on the title to today's blog entry and scroll down to the video. Lovely idea, but I cannot imagine living in 320 sq ft. of space with three people. Keeping everything in its own space would be the greatest challenge.

The cost of the 'tiny house' is about $20,000, which seems a tad steep to me. However, buying a house at that price today means not having a mortgage and that's a most positive perk.

Our prairie house is about fifteen hundred square foot - perfect for us. That's counting the upstairs which is still under construction. We'll see how we like it when there really is space for each of us to have a floor of our own. Oh, and that counts the basement as well...which is the only basement (so far as I know) in Burke county that has NO water seeping into it from the absolutely once in 50 year water table levels.

I suppose our 1500 sq ft space has a price tag about the same as the 'tiny house'. The metal deck roof ($3000) was the most expensive aspect of our renovations. Water proofing the basement with a British process cost about $1500 for materials. A new furnace and insulation make up the primary other expenses so far. Tools with which to do all this work have added at least another $1000 to our costs.

We don't add the $700 for a commercial espresso machine to our list, but let me assure you that none of the work would have been accomplished without a good cuppa at least three times a day. Flat white is our specialty.

Lumber to build the covered walkway between the house and the garage made winter endurable. And the Aussie did raise the back wall of the kitchen 8 inches, which didn't cost much in materials - a house jack - but lots of time and patience.

So, as spring finally threatens to surround us, as the goslings follow their parents around Stoney Run, we ought to be very happy home owners. If only the surge of waters would stop threatening to turn this corner of the prairie back into the great dinosaur inland sea that used to proliferate in mid North America, all would be well.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Yippee!

Rain is gone, sun is here; painting, gardening, walking out on the prairie. I'm not the only happy one - farmers are tilling with glee in the fields again!

How stunning it is to open one's eyes to brilliant sunshine! I know, I know - if one goes without, the 'withing' is so much lovelier.

It seems like a lifetime since we had our first cuppa with the doors all open, birdsong filtering through the gray matter scrubbing the crabby self out of consciousness.

Life is good! Just thought I'd let you know. Laundry is in the washer, paint is stirred ready for application to the walkway between house and garage. The first coat was applied three weeks ago, before the deluge. And all the seedlings are about to break the boundaries of their various house bound pots - just dying to stretch their roots in good black prairie soil.

May your Wednesday be as lovely as ours!