Friday, October 30, 2009

The 1918 flu

I was just looking at a book we have about the 1918 flu epidemic. Now, let me immediately remind everyone that I personally, was not alive in 1918. And, yet I personally knew people who were alive and who's lives were affected by the flu. They were old by the time I knew them, but I heard their stories and think that a few of them need to be remembered.

I'm to young to know about the fear that epidemics brought to parents in the past, but I know my parents and others of their generation talk about polio scares which was "their" epidemic. Those of us born after 1950 or so, have never experienced that kind of fear.

I've said before that I like to walk through cemeteries and look at the tombstones. You can track epidemics there by clusters of death dates. In local cemeteries, you see young adults--from 18-25 years of age dying in the years of 1918 through 1921 or so. Many of those folks died of the flu.

My Woodruff Grandparents were born in 1900 and 1906. The flu epidemic was very real to them--as were other epidemics. But this one struck the healthy and killed quickly. I remember Grandad telling how the school in Fowler closed one winter, and maybe two winters to keep kids from getting the flu. He graduated from High School a year "late" because of the school closing.

And, there were Jim and Grace G. I remember Jim and Grace only as little old people, but... they had each been married before. Jim's wife died of the flu, and Grace's husband died of the flu. Each had children to care for, and married each other shortly after the death of their spouses. They had a child or two together, and lived a long life together. And yet, how different their lives might have been if their first spouses had survived.

I also remember we kids talking about Walt? McKinney--who died of the flu. (Mom, was he George's son or brother, or am I mixed up?) But, I remember we kids talking about him dying, and how devastated his parents were. Even if this memory of mine isn't accurate; it does demonstrate that the flu epidemic of 1918 was something that impressed we kids who grew up in Big E.

I remember people talking about friends and family who died of the flu. I remember them talking about it and just shaking their heads as they remembered. To me, it was always a puzzle. What was it about the flu that made this generation have conversations like:

"What ever happened to his son "JOE'?

"Oh, he died of the flu back in '19."


And then, they'd both simply shake their heads in a mutual ritual of remembrance for something that needed no further explanation. Having never experienced that, and not really truly understanding that bond, it's something that's always fascinated me.

I hope I never do understand that bond.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

embroidery floss

The last two nights, I've been busy organizing my stash of embroidery floss.

I've been embroidering or doing cross stitch for over 25 years, and over the course of time, I've accumulated lots of floss.

When I started, there weren't many options for storing floss. Grandma Berends had this old metal box that she used to just toss her floss skeins into. They became a tangled mess. (And, yours truly has that box, with floss...and it's still a mess.)

Mom and I found these bags:

And I've used them ever since. I can't tell you now many metal rings full of floss I own. I haven't counted them. However, a couple of years ago, Mom gave me her floss collection, so I had many duplicates.

Since I'm ready to start embroidering some tea towels, I decided it was high time I organized and combined our two floss collections.

What was I thinking?

I started out be taking the bags off the rings--in DMC numerical order. Then, as I'd find Mom's bags with the same color of floss, I'd remove one and put it in the bag that was in the best shape. I can't tell you how many duplicate colors we had, but between the two of us, I'd say we had over 600 bags of floss. And, yes, I threw 1/2 of them away! Some of my bags were over 25 years old and were falling apart. It was time.

Right now, all my floss is finally in numerical order and is in two boxes. I'm trying to decide if I want to put all those bags back on rings--or if I want to simply find a box big enough for all 350+ skeins of floss. And, hey! Maybe Grandma's antique metal box will hold all my floss...

I've toyed with switching storage systems, but I think I'll keep this system, I'd really hate to invest in all new things. And, in some bags, I have 3 skeins of floss! But, it's organized, and now I can start stitching again.

But...I still have all that "speciality" floss that isn't in my blending filaments, and my linen floss and my florescent floss and my jewel tone floss and my metallic floss, and my candlewicking thread, and my pearle cotton....oh dear...I think there's more organization in my future.

Monday, October 26, 2009

hunting when the deer don't cooperate

So, how do you pass the time while hunting and sitting on the ground early in the morning when the deer don't cooperate? The following is a shortened version of what my morning (Saturday morning) was like...

I like to watch and listen to the world awake. I'm, being quiet so as not to alert the deer, and being quiet, I get to hear the birds wake up and start chirping. I try to identify the various ones. There's a whip-er-will. Doves. Pheasant... I watch the sun rise and marvel at how light changes. The windmill that is behind me is pumping. The rhythm of the rods moving up and down is comforting and familiar. I think about this being a good spot, because I could see lots of tracks moving my direction toward the windmill and toward bedding areas. I sit and watch diligently for a while, but after a while, it's hard to concentrate on listening for deer and watching for them.

So, being bored, because there weren't any deer around, I began to play with the dried sunflower pods and picked off the seed heads and scattered the seeds while wondering how the Indians ever got sunflower oil out of those things. Then I wondered if maybe the Indians planted domesticated sunflowers for oil, because these wild sunflowers are sure dry and the seeds--well, these sure don't seem at all like oil seeds, or even the kind you eat. Man, sure wish I'd brought some of those to snack on.

So then I take a seed and stuck it in my mouth to see it tastes like other sunflower seeds. It doesn't. Just tastes dusty and dry. So I spit it out, and took a quick look around at the field and the pasture to see if any deer are around. (They aren't.) So, I shred another sunflower and wonder what time it is. Dang, left the phone at home. No watch either.

Then I admired the whiteish grass and wondered what kind of grass it is. I ran my hand up it, pulling the seeds off into my hand and wondered if I could gather enough to take some home to the chickens. Then I pulled more seeds off the plant because it's fun. Oh, dang, I'm supposed to be watching for deer, so I quickly take another look around.

Shoot, wonder if I'm in a bad spot...maybe I should move over there, closer to the edge of the weeds...but if I move, will a deer see me? hear me? Dang, this grass is sure wet. My thighs are cramping up. Funny, my knees don't hurt, and they aren't cold either. but, Can I really sit here on my knees for two hours? Yeah, I'm just going to set down. Well, crap, can't see anything...better get back up on the knees....There are sure lots of sunflowers over there's kinda fun pulling all the seeds off. Wonder if I pull all the seeds off if the birds will eat them off the ground? Maybe the birds only look for seeds on the plant...maybe I'll actually kill several birds just by pulling the seeds off these dang sunflowers. Ok, don't pull the seeds off...but it sure is fun though. Surely, surely one dang sunflower plant won't be the end of the stupid birds.

What's that sound? Dang. Just some stupid Pheasant hens... but, man, they make neat sounds as the wind whistles around their wings. Oh, look! A Hawk! He's sure pretty. Wonder if he sees me? How cool is that? Play with more of that white grass. That's cool. They sure pull out of the ground easy. Wonder what it is. And, what is this plant right here. It's still green. Is it Ragweed? If it is, will I start sneezing? No, it's froze, the pollen is gone. Sure is kinda pretty though...leave it alone.

Sigh, better look for deer. Stupid deer. Wonder if Kev saw one? Maybe he shot that big buck...that would be nice, to be done and have meat in the freezer. But, I don't want to cut it up today, with Uncle Dale and Aunt Jo's 60th anniversary thing this afternoon... Hope that a buck doesn't see Kev first and think he's competition for the does. Man, that would be awful if he was being attacked by a deer, and I didn't know it...

Wonder what I'd do if a deer snuck up on me. Would I scare him, or would he attack me? Crap, is there a rabid deer behind me? Nope. Good. Stop thinking about stuff like that. That was a cool article about the Cougar they found...of course Dad says they are around here...what would I do if a Cougar came up one me? Wonder if I could stab a cougar with an arrow? Crap, is there a sneaky Cougar behind me? Ok Shell, time to change the topic... Wonder what time it is?

Ooooo, listen to those coyotes. there must be pups with them. Now that sounds like Dad coming in to feed....

Wow, listen to that steer bellow. He kinda sounds like an elk. Maybe I'll just tell Kev that I heard the elk. Oh, cool, wouldn't it be cool for that elk to come by? That would be awesome. Crap. I hope he doesn't, I don't have my camera either. And, what if I startled him and he decided to attack? STOP that! He won't attack you.

Wonder what time it is? Will Kev whistle? Man, my knees are wet. And they hurt. It's got to be 9 or so. I think I'm going to stand up. I can't see any stupid deer, and I don't care. My knees are sore and wet.

About that time, Kev whistled, so I walked back to him, and we walked out. And that, my dear friend, is what I do when I'm hunting uncooperative deer...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Need a good laugh?

Last night, I informed my children that they were now responsible for their own laundry.

I have always done our laundry on Saturday or Sunday. The kids, until recently, have been really good about bringing me their dirty laundry to be washed. But, since we moved, they really haven't been very good. Miss Kat will bring me a few things, but will not bring up her important laundry (like underwear) until she's been out for several days.

Andy used to do that too...I'd be doing laundry, and find 2 pair of underwear to be washed. Either he wasn't changing them, or he was using both sides before bringing them to be washed. And, believe you me...sometimes they looked like they'd been worn for a week or two.

What is it with my kids and underwear???

Then there's the deal with jeans. For many years, we simply didn't have the money for the kids (or we adults) to have more than 2 or 3 pair of jeans. So, we'd wear them a couple of days and then put them in the wash. That worked well until Andy got an "Outside" job and got very dirty. Which was fine, because by this time, he had 4 or 5 pair of jeans...

He just wouldn't wear them because he didn't like them. (And they say girls are picky.)

Miss Kat is almost as bad. She has several pair of jeans now (thank God for hand me downs). However, she'll take them off and they'll disappear in the dark recesses of her room; never to be seen again. And, then suddenly, they'll reappear, all in a laundry pile, needing an emergency wash because someone "doesn't have anything to wear."

The last couple of months, I've begged the kids to bring me their laundry to wash. I've demanded that they bring me their laundry, I've threatened, I've gotten on my knees, begging to do their laundry.

Until now. Dang it, they can do it themselves.

Which led to me telling them they were responsible for their own laundry. At which point, Miss Kat said, "That's good. I've been doing my own laundry for a couple of months now anyway."

After I picked up my jaw off the floor...and after I stopped laughing hysterically, I simply said


Footnote: She hasn't been doing her laundry, because I have yet to 1. Hear the machine run. 2. See her carry laundry up or down the stairs. and 3. There's usually something of mine still in the dryer that I forgot to get folded and we all know that a teenager won't fold any laundry that isn't her own and can't even use the dryer if there's something in it... and 4. well...yeah, as her mother, I know better!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cross stitch--what's next?

I've been working on this picture since this summer. Cross stitching of course. It's almost finished. All that's left is to do the back stitching. Once finished, it's going to hang in my dining room. I should be able to finish it this week. And I'm excited to finish! I love finishing a project, but then, I immediately am ready to start another project. In fact, I'm itching to start on a couple of different things, and I can't figure out which one I want to do first.

I'm dying to do this one...
It's called "Mom's Kitchen". Kev and I saw it stitched up at the Kansas State Fair this year. I fell in LOVE with it--because it has all the colors in my kitchen, and it has a lot of the "old crap" that I use for decorations in my kitchen. I'm not sure where it will wind up when it's finished because my walls are almost full of "old crap." But, I'll find a home for it. I really want to start on making this for myself. But...should I do this, or should I finish the other 3 or 10 kits that are patiently sitting in my To Do box?

Then there's this project. I bought these transfer patterns--"Happy Gadgets" last year along with...

These tea towels.... or wait...maybe it's....

THESE tea towels... I need to look. But, they would be a break from a BIG project, and would go really fast and might even be a good thing to whip up for a Christmas Present...
Anyone have any suggestions? Cause I really need to decide quickly on my next stitchin' project. And, who knows, I might even take your advice and stitch what you suggest!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Lake Charles

There's a "Lake" on the campus of DC3. I use the quotes, because in MY's a pond, not a lake. But, hey, it's name is "Lake" Charles, so there ya go.

these two guys--above live at the lake. There are several geese that winter over, but this guy/gal stayed all summer long too. The white fellow is a duck, not a goose. He and his mate also live at the lake. Unfortunately, his lady love died about a month ago. Since then, this duck and this goose have been hanging out together. The duck is not nearly as shy as the goose, as the duck will walk right up to people hoping for a handout.
This view is of the "lake" from my building. Not a bad view...not bad at all! And, this shot was taken mid September--a time when the grass is normally more brown and dry looking. But, with all the rain we've had this summer, it's still nice and green.

It was a crystal clear day the day I took pictures of the lake. No wind--which is rare in itself in Dodge City...the city that is windier than Chicago. (Look it up if you don't believe me.)

This tree I's a big old Cottonwood that grows right on the edge of the Lake. No bench under it, but it's still a nice spot to stop and watch the geese or ducks or even just enjoy the water.
It might not be a true lake, but it's pretty cool!


The girls have been laying eggs for 4 or 5 months now. When we had 23 chickens, I averaged a dozen a day. Then, we lost a couple to some idiot stray dogs.A couple of weeks ago, I sold 5 hens. I didn't have to sell the girls, but a friend of my Mom wanted a few hens and I decided that we'd do fine with 15 hens.

Plus, the roost was a little full with 20 girls on it, so I did need some space.

And...I wanted to get a Rooster or two to help out my girls who continually hear their biological clock tick. So, I got a couple of Roosters. I lucked out and got two roosters for free from some friends. Best part, they are the same breed (Buff Orpington) as the girls!

No "randy" behavior yet...the boys aren't really quite old enough to be interested in that sort of thing...yet. But, Henny or of broody again. Not sure if it's because the boys are there or what, because it's really not the right time of year to be brooding. I'm sure in another couple of months tho, the boys will be thinking about that and will be ready to assist the girls in their broodiness... That's what I like about matter what species, they are always ready to lend a ...err...hand when it comes to procreation.

Here's a shot of some eggs we gathered last week (on a day when someone forgot to get eggs the day before.) There's more than 8 eggs here. 13 and 1/2 or there bouts...
The 1/2 if for this little fella--below.

(Splotches are from my wet fingers and are not to be considered a flaw or imperfection in otherwise perfect and beautiful brown eggs.)

He's just a wee bit small. First time egg layin' size. What's up with that???

Not sure what happens, but occasionally, we'll get a really small, pullet sized egg. When you break it open, the yolk is about the size of a pencil eraser. Not really worth anything except to scramble with other eggs. But they're cute!
So, that's an update on the girls. Stay tuned for another episode of "As the Egg Turns"
or "News from the Biddies"
or "Cheep, cheep, cheep, pick a little, talk a little..."
or "Adventures of Randy the Rooster and Henny the Hen "
Ok, ok, I'll stop!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

and Riddle me THIS...

Why do ranchers, farmers and hunters get up at an ungodly hour each morning when all they do is go to the local coffee place and sit there for 2 hours drinking coffee?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Riddle me this...

How on earth do one's eye glasses get so stinkin' dirty so fast.

With fingerprints?

When I don't touch them?


Thursday, October 01, 2009


Yep, it's been THAT kind of day. Three toilets...3 of them left "un"flushed.

Just drives me absolutely


That is all...

Echo in the bone

I finished my book last night.

And now, I'm rather sad. There won't be another book in the Outlander series for another 3 or 4 years. I won't know what's going on with Jamie and Claire, Ian, Jenny, Jem, Roger, Brianna or Buck. Dang, I hate suspense--and now I have to wait for 3 more years! (Echo is the 7th book in the series.)

I love books that pull you in and keep you involved. I've been reading this series for 18 years. These characters are members of my family! And I won 't know anything new about them for several years...

And that makes me sad. I won't talk about the plot or what is bugging me or what I loved...cause I know there are some who haven't read it and don't want me spoiling it for them. But, when y'all me :)

But, never fear. I'll wait a couple of months, and then read Echo again. It's what I do. And, for a week or so, I'll be right there with the Fraser clan enjoying their exploits, laughing and crying with them.