Chic-Chic-Chicory

170718_Chicory

[ White chicory ]

July 18 – On our way to church a couple of days ago I noticed a white-flowered chicory plant beside the road. Everybody knows that chicory is blue, so a white version is quite unusual. On the way home after church we decided to stop and pick that stem and take a picture of it. We looked and looked but just could not see a white chicory until just before hitting the black top, and there it was. Chris is our car driver, so she stopped, and I got out and waded through the weeds to that plant and pulled it up and we took it home.

The chicory flowers close up later in the day and new flowers open the next morning. These white flowers were beginning to close, so it was a close thing. Chris got out her camera and did some twig clipping and got a couple of pictures, and then put in some blue ones as contrast, but next time we are out that way we are going to stop and get the other white plant that I left growing, and Chris will have her camera along and will get a picture of a wide-open white chicory blossom.

170718_Bamboo

[ Bamboo ]

Chris has been outside clipping weeds near the bamboo patch. Yesterday I worked in our garden, using the rototiller to dig up some rows of grass and weeds between our crop rows. The ground was very dry and dusty and I shall go over it again after some rain has fallen. It got cloudy late last week and we had thunder and a couple of raindrops, but that soon ended. I recently dug up a short row in the garden and added some fertilizer and sand next to one of our fences, and planted a couple varieties of cucumber seeds. This will extend our cucumber crop, as we already have a number of growing cucumber plants.

Whenever we make a trip into Lee’s Summit, have a small cardboard tray in the front seat, containing check book, wallet, shopping list, etc. Among the items the other day were a couple of gift cards for the supermarket Hy-Vee that we had thought of using during the day while we there. However, things ended up too crowded and we skipped Hy-Vee and went home. At home I started looking for the Hy-Vee cards and couldn’t find them anywhere! Chris and I both looked every where and finally decided we had lost those cards somehow. Several days later I got out our check book to write a couple of checks, and to my pleased surprise found those two cards behind the rubber band around our check book. The lost has been found…

150907-18 Albizia

[ Albizia ]

Growing in our side yard we have a beautiful albizia tree, in bloom and just loaded with fuzzy pink and white flowers, at least those that the Japanese beetles don’t want. Two or three times in past years the blooms have been invaded by a swarm of small brown beetles, similar to larger June bugs, and these beetles just completely devoured every flower and bud, but then the tree thoughtfully produced a second crop of flowers after the beetle crop had matured and died.

Growing in a row close to this tree we have orange trumpet vines planted from seed years ago, and they too are in bloom now and doubtless providing lots of nectar for humming birds. A brother-in-law once told me that he would not plant any orange trumpet vines as they are too invasive, and indeed they are, sending up dozens of little shoots in the lawn. Running the lawn mower over them several times puts an end to the invasion for the current year.

After all this hot dry weather, our car hadn’t been washed for some time and was very dusty and the windows were hard to see out of. So I had Chris back it out of the garage (she is the designated driver), and I got out the hose and sprayed it well several times.

170718_CatSnake

[ Cat the snake charmer ]

Now the cat was enjoying herself on the lawn some yards beyond the car, and somehow the hose suddenly aimed itself directly at Cat. In shock the cat leaped high into the air and got out of the line of spray speedily. She drinks a lot of water but hates to get any of it on her coat. Today she has been enjoying sleeping on our bed, right at the pillow’s edge, and fortunately on Chris’s side.

So long, everyone, from DALE and CAT.

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Snips and Snails and Raccoon Tails

170716_CleaningGarage

[ Cleaning up the  mess ]

July 16 – Several weeks ago now we discovered when we got up in the early morning that we had had an intruder locked in our garage overnight. A lot of items on my work bench had been knocked onto the floor, a box of many old worn-out AA batteries was upside down on the floor and the contents strewn all over the place, and I blamed an opossum. But then I noticed that two of the three white plastic window blinds had been shredded and knew that instead it had been a raccoon, trying to find an escape route. So I had a lot of tidying-up to do and had to buy new blinds and install them.

Around the same time we had an issue with our garage door not wanting to close. Pushing the remote-control button in our vehicles would open the door but to close it we had to push the big button in the garage and hold it down until the door was closed. That meant that when we drove away to somewhere, someone had to close the door from inside and then go out the front door and join the vehicle in the driveway. I got out our instruction manual but was not mechanical enough to figure out what to do.

garage door after possum chewed the wire

[ No thanks to the raccoon! ]

I finally phoned our serviceman and told him we needed some help! After we told him our problem, he said that usually such problems indicated that the two little green lights at the base of the door were out of line somehow and that if I could get them back in order I could save a service call. Away I went to check them out, with Chris right behind me. While I checked the far light, Chris was looking at the closer one and noticed that the wire from above seemed to be disconnected from the light. Sure enough, it was, and the wire had been chewed badly in several places. That raccoon must have been desperate!

So out came a number of tools – wire-cutter, pliers, electric light on a cable, insulation tape, knife, and something soft to kneel on. The job was not easy, for that wire was different from most and difficult to remove the insulation from. I struggled for a long time and ended up with barely enough good wire to fill in the gap. Finally things looked good and Chris pushed the door-closer button above – and down came that door just as it used to. Raccoon, may the coyotes chase you up a tree tonight!

170716_Turkeys

[ Visiting turkeys ]

There is a small turkey population around here and some mornings early we have seen a turkey or two in the back yard. We have a friend in Pennsylvania who has befriended a flock of turkeys and they don’t seem much afraid of her anymore. Perhaps I should put out some dry corn kernels next to our bird feeder and see if turkeys will start coming to eat them and maybe stay around a little while. But possibly our resident squirrels will find that tempting and eat it first.

And speaking of bird, I was surprised the other day to find a baby Carolina wren out by our barn, and then another one inside the barn, on the floor. This was the third year we have had them nesting in our barn, which they enter via a gap under the door.

170716_TrashBarrel

[ Trusty trash barrel ]

Yesterday I had brought out a barrel of trash paper to throw in the burning barrel. When I lifted the lid, I was surprised to see a baby bird flapping around inside, and wondered what it was doing in there. And then another even smaller one started hopping around. More Carolina wrens, which usually seem to come in fours from the nest.

Earlier I had tossed a bundle of grass from the barn into the burning barrel, and now I realized that it was a nest. I got out those two little birds and sent them hopping over the lawn and a parent shortly flew down to inspect them, so I guess they were taken care of, for they had soon disappeared. Lucky for them that I discovered them before dumping in the trash paper to be burned. The call of the Carolina wren is “Teacher, teacher, teacher”, which we have been hearing a lot around here lately.

Well, we shall wait to see what creature shows up next! In the meantime, have a good time, everybody. – DALE

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The Driver’s Test – Part 2

July 11 – If you remember, my last post left off as we searched for the Driver’s License Bureau. Now we didn’t keep track of the mileage, but I can easily believe that we must have driven at least 25 miles in our search. By this time, Dale was not too happy, (and who can blame him?) about the directions we were given, very different one from the other. Finally, Dale announced, “OK, it’s your turn this time. Maybe you will have better luck than I have had!”

170711_PoliceCar

[ Lee’s Summit police ]

Just as he said that, I looked out the window and saw a police car parked not far from the curb, with somebody in it, maybe looking for folks who were going too fast. Quickly I asked Dale to turn left at the next road and drive back to that car. After he had parked near the car, I got out and moved over to the window where a smiling young man sat and asked, “Is there something I can do for you?”

My answer? “I sure do hope so.” Then I explained the problem and added, “And it’s my birthday today! I’m NINETY, and I’m really tired of hunting for the license office!”

“Well, I can help you,” he said as he smiled again. “That office was moved last July. Now if you want to follow me, I’ll take you right there.” If we WANTED to follow him? Yes, we surely did! After thanking him several times, I hopped back into the truck and told Dale the good news. A few minutes later we were backtracking on one of the streets we had heard about in the directions people gave us. About five miles later, he pulled into the small plaza, parked and pointed just ahead to the office we had been looking for for well over an hour! Before he could leave, I jumped out of the truck, ran over to the car and gave that young man a hug through the window! I don’t think he thought he had done anything great, but we sure did!

As soon as we walked through the entrance to the license office, my worries began. Would I be able to remember the road signs? Who would ask me questions? etc, etc. During the long drive all over Lee’s Summit, I hadn’t thought of that problem at all!

“Take one of those tickets over there,” Dale said. Just as I had it in my hand, a friendly man asked if I had come for the test. When I said, “Yes,” he told me to come over to his desk and sit down. Already? We had just arrived, and didn’t have to wait at all as we usually do because of the number of folks taking the test. After I had brought out my license and answered questions about any changes in it, even down to my weight, (Good for me; I had lost 6 pounds in the three years since my last test.) he said, “Well, we’re ready. Just look through those little slots and read the letters you see.”

170711_RoadSigns

[ Too many signs! ]]

After that was over, he asked me to tell what the road signs meant. There were a few curve signs, no left turn, yield, and finally one round one, a circle within a square with no words on the surface. I had to admit that I didn’t recognize that one without the words. The shape should have told me that it was a DO NOT ENTER just as I had seen so many of them that morning along the highway!

When it came time for me to sign the paper giving the information, my hands were shaking so much that I just couldn’t even sign my name! When the examiner saw that I was really embarrassed, he said, “Don’t worry. I can tell you’re nervous. That’s OK. Your husband can sign for you – you passed!”

That’s when I reached across the desk and gave him a big hug! “Well, that’s the first hug I’ve ever had while working in this office! Thank you! Enjoy the day now!” Oh, yes, I would after all of those miles of driving and the kindness of the policeman and the examiner! Now I can add this story to those driving experiences I wrote about earlier! – CHRIS

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The Driver’s Test

July 10 – Well, guess what? I’ve done something that most of you haven’t accomplished yet, but actually I guess I really didn’t DO it! Instead, thanks to the Lord’s rich blessings, a good heredity, and the love of friends all over the world, I celebrated birthday number 90 a few days ago. Did I say celebrate? Well, yes, but this blog will be a little more interesting thanks to some problems that came up along the way!

170710_TrafficSigns

[ Road signs to remember ]

First of all, I had to have my driver’s license renewed for another three years, so off we went to Lee’s Summit. I had been checking over the highway signs for a couple weeks because when I have to take the test, simple though it is, I always worry that I won’t remember when I am sitting in front of the examiner, and then my driving days are over. As we drove the dozen miles to town, I was surprised to find so many signs forbidding drivers “DO NOT ENTER,” or ‘WRONG WAY.” Why in the world would I want to enter the wrong side of the highway and then try to back up and get where I should be?! However, there must be at least some drivers who do just that, because every time a road turned off the highway, there were the same two warning signs. At my age, I would hate to try again.

I’m going to stop right here for a bit as I tell about two times I well remember not doing well in this type of test. When I was seventeen, living back in Pennsylvania, my brother Frank was sure I needed to get a license before I went back to college in Massachusetts. So why did I agree? Because he was such a neat brother, and if he thought I could pass the test, well, maybe I could. This next part wasn’t right, but when he told me that he wanted me to drive him to work at the GE, and then go back home to pick up another brother who would take me to the bureau, I didn’t say no.

OK, so on to the testing area. A very tall officer, really big and strong, led me out to the car, went through all of the directions and maneuvers (I still cannot back up very easily! Guess I believe we should all move FORWARD!) while I was shaking during the entire ordeal. Finally, we stopped, parked, and went into the office where I would become a driver for the first time in my life! Only that’s not the way it all worked out! I flunked! Why?

“Because you were too afraid, and you didn’t turn corners well,” said the officer. So, as I picked up Frank at work and told him the sad news, he very quickly answered, “Well, that’s why I didn’t take you. I thought you wouldn’t pass!” At least he was honest but I wasn’t too pleased with his words! Since I would be going back to college in another week, he told me I had just one more chance, and he would take me then. Guess what? I practiced turning corners till I could see them in my sleep, and backed up over and over. Maybe I could get a license after all. Oh, sure!

This second time, as I sat in the car waiting for the policeman, who should come out of the office door but the SAME one who rode with me the week before! Since I knew I wouldn’t pass with him sitting next to me, I didn’t bother to be afraid, but just did what he told me to do and get it over with! Maybe that’s why I had an easier time because I wasn’t afraid! Guess what? When the test was over, he shook my hand and said, “Much better this time, and I know why. You didn’t let your nervousness take over this time, so you did drive well enough to pass! Congratulations!”

170710_License_Bureau

[ Where we took the written test ]

Another test I well remember. After we had moved to Missouri, and the time had come to renew our driver’s license, Dale and I went to the office where we didn’t have to drive, just take a written test, a very easy one. When I saw that test, I didn’t feel nervous at all but just picked up the pen, and got to work. The first couple questions were really easy, and the next, and next right on through ten! Dale had already received his license, and I knew I would too. BUT, I didn’t! I can’t remember if it were the first or the third question, but as the examiner handed me my paper, I noticed the mistake I had made! Talk about a very silly answer! “Well, you’ll pass anyway,” the lady said, but since you told me that you didn’t have the current license with you today, I’ll hold this one until you bring it along to show me!”

And now back to Lee’s Summit. Dale wasn’t positive he knew just where the license bureau was, but he was pretty sure it was in the same little plaza where he buys cartridges for the computer. However, as we checked out that area, there was no sign of the place we were looking for. I suggested that we try the next plaza to see if we had forgotten just where that bureau was. Not there either.

“Guess I’ll have to ask again,” Dale said. Back he came with directions that he couldn’t remember. After driving around again and finding nothing, he stopped at another office for help. This time he wrote down those directions. But we still couldn’t find that license bureau. Some told us to check out the area where the now closed Price Chopper store was. Since we had no idea where that might be, we ended up with the directions to drive over a long bridge, and then move on to another shopping mall. By that time, I wasn’t even thinking about taking the driver’s test. I just hoped that we would find our way home again! (tune in tomorrow to find out what happened!) – CHRIS

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Rains, Too Much Rains

170703_LawnPondd

[ Rainy driveway ]

July 3 – After a dry fall and winter, we wondered if we would ever be able to plant a garden, but finally, when the rains came, they must have chosen to stay awhile, because we had a river or two in our unpaved driveway with huge puddles all over. Then the cry was not, “When are we going to have some rain?” but instead, “If we have much more rain we’ll never dry out, the garden will be too wet to plant, and we may end up buying onions and tomatoes!” That thought was just about unheard of earlier, but not any more.

The onions we planted much earlier are so full of weeds we can hardly tell where the row is! The thirty cabbage plants were eaten off completely by rabbits which also ate off the peppers. Something took care of about 5 of the 40 tomato plants. Good thing we put straw around those plants before setting up the cages to hold the plants tall. At times we can’t even walk in the patch to see how the plants are coming along. If we did, we might sink out of sight in the mud!

170703_Peonies

[ Clobbered peony ]

All of the rain and strong winds early last month were very unkind to our beautiful peonies as they stood out on the lawn in a colorful row. One pure white with big blooms, one with pink and white, and two completely red. The plants were tall and so full of blooms right from the beginning that Dale suggested that we put stakes up all around the plants, then join them with light ropes. That took a bit of time since the bushes were so big. Unfortunately, as the rain and wind continued, we had to cut off the ruined blooms and take the stakes back to the garage. That all happened in about one week!

170703_MockOrange

[ Mock Orange ]

Since there were so many blooms, I decided to use the small pruning shears and cut one at a time so I could count how many total blooms there were. I told Dale I thought there might be about 300 or so, and neither he nor I could believe the actual number of flowers. Believe it or not, I counted five hundred and seventy-seven! Look at that number again! Pretty good for only five bushes of various sizes. The mock orange bush did really well this year, all covered with little white flowers.

And what about our lawn mowing? With all the rainy days we’ve had, the grass never seems to fully dry out, just getting higher and higher. Good thing both of us enjoy outdoor work. Makes a big difference in my outlook on life as I realize that not only does the job need doing, but I enjoy every minute of the time I can be out in the sunshine and light breeze. Just hope it stays quiet and won’t blow me off the mower! A few times along the way I have been mowing on the side of the pond wall on a very windy day and find myself leaning away from the pond to give me courage to keep on going with the wind on my side!

170703_Mower

[ Chris on the mower ]

Speaking of mowing, we made new friends when we took the mower front wheel along for the folks at Lunsford Motors to repair. The first time we took it to the shop, the leak in the tire was fixed for a set price. But by the next day, that tire had no air left in it. So, it was off to Lunsford again, for a second repair. The folks there sent us home without asking for a second payment. When the air still left the tire for a third time, we decided to take the wheel and the tire to the shop once more, only this time we would forget the repair and order a completely new tire!

When we returned to the shop to pick up the new tire, we found that Bebe (who takes care of customers), was all set to bring out the wheel with the tire in place. No problem these days when I climb onto that mower and know that I can mow for several hours without having one concern that there may be more repairs needed. That family is such a happy one, and kind to all who step inside the door. They just received a boost from the local Chamber of Commerce, a well-deserved honor!

Bebe, with her smile and kind ways, endears herself to everyone she talks with. One time as I was finishing up a story I was telling her, she asked, “Do you like cheese crackers? You can have some if you do! Quickly she moved to a small table on which all kinds of treats were placed. Some of those treats must be for kids who get tired of waiting for their parents to take care of business in the shop. She is so kindly that I think she always tries to find a solution to anyone’s problem!

Wouldn’t it be a new world if all of today’s inhabitants were more interested in making other folks happy than in getting everything they want, no matter how they get it! I saw a little story the other day that reminded me of that point. “The really rich people are not those who try to get everything they can and keep all, but those who are so happy with what they do have, that they don’t complain, but rather share what they have!” – CHRIS

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Killdeers or Possums?

170627_KilldeerNestJune 26 – On one of recent Harvesters’ food distribution day, Dale parked the truck in the usual spot. As I started to open the door, I heard a loud cry of a bird that was moving away from the scene, crying loudly, “Kill-dee! Kill-dee,” all the while trying to lead us away from what turned out to be a nest, not an empty one, but filled with four speckled brown and white eggs. Soon the first killdeer was joined by the second, and leaving the nest unguarded in their haste to send us on our way, they both moved quickly away.

As other volunteers arrived to give out the food, they saw their friends near our truck, so they came over to check out the story. Finally, after everyone had left that area, the birds did return to the nest and the eggs. One of the men who was helping with the food, found a big empty cardboard box and enclosed the nest to protect the birds, but judging from their noisy clamor, they weren’t too pleased with the man’s gift of protection. Off came the cardboard, and all was peaceful and quiet once more.

170627_KilldeerHarveyLast year when we drove up to the church for the services, we found a killdeer’s nest in almost the same place! Maybe they enjoy the music that floats out the doors! Sometime ago our grandson Rob was plowing with the big farm tractor with his dad Harvey coming along behind. When Harvey saw the nest of a killdeer, with several eggs in it, he stopped to take a picture and sent it to me on his phone. Both he and his two sons love and appreciate nature.

Actually they appreciate just about everything that is good. Harvey’s dad Bob helps us out several times in the summer and fall by mowing down the grass between the fence and the road making the scene a lot better than we see in other places when no mowing is done. His wife Janice gives us monthly haircuts (By the way, Harvey cuts his own!) and takes just as long as she needs, often stopping to see if we are satisfied so far!

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you may remember hearing about one of our “friendly” possums that makes their home in a box of rags under one of the workbenches in the garage. Some have stayed all night or even longer as they feel comfortable sharing the comparative warmth of the garage in cold weather. How well I remember the time one of those creatures was locked into the garage overnight because we didn’t know it was there. Must have sneaked in when the cat was coming in for the night, and the door was closed. The end result? Many items were chewed up or dragged around or eaten!

Well, just the other day after Dale came in with food for the cat, he said, “You’ll never guess what happened last night!” Judging from the look on his face and the way the words came out, I came up with only one guess! “Possum, again!” Yes, I was right. Things were scattered around on his workbench, on the floor, on the top of the boxes of firewood, on the coolers, and just about everywhere.

170627_ApplesBut, as my dad used to say, “What really got my goat,” was the ruination of most of the contents a big blue and white cooler, some beautiful red or yellow apples! Glancing down at the mess left behind, and thinking of all of that good fruit we would lose because of the possum, I was not too happy! Bits and pieces of apples left behind after he had enjoyed scrunching up several of the fruits had left the cooler a mess. But as I went through the remains, I found just a glimmer of hope! By the time I had sorted the good from the bad, which included tossing out any apples with scratches from the possum’s claws or bits of apples left, I found that very few of the fruits at the bottom of the cooler were bad in any way. No teeth marks, no half eaten fruit, nothing that a good cleaning under the kitchen faucet wouldn’t cure.

Before I forget, a little tune I used to hum and sing way back when roughly 80 years ago:

The man who has plenty of good peanuts and giveth his neighbor none,
He shan’t have any of my peanuts when his peanuts are gone.
When his peanuts are gone, when his peanuts are gone,
He shan’t have any of my peanuts when his peanuts are gone!”

170627_CleanGarageHow could I forget that little song when the words were easy, the music cheery, and the truth at one hundred percent? So, even though I am not keen on possums in the garage, they probably won’t come back because the apples are now in the kitchen fridge drawers, all of the coolers are clean and tidy, Dale cleaned off his work bench, and it’s good for the heart to share with someone or someTHING like a hungry possum! – CHRIS

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Flat Tires, Jackfruit, and the Birds

June 21 – We left home shortly after eight on a recent Town Day, and went right to the post office where we usually meet our good friend Richard, former postmaster of Pleasant Hill for a few minutes. Richard was not there, so we did not stay long as everyone was busy. However, the thrift store is just a block away, so we went there and visited and shopped as usual on Thursdays. Had a great chat with Susan, and were introduced to Manager Pat’s husband who stopped in to pick up a car. He was very complimentary of her and said when they first met he could see a halo on her head and knew she was for him.

Later while looking through some books, we were pleasantly surprised to see a familiar face there in front of us – our friend Richard! He had arrived at the post office shortly after we had left, and knowing our schedule, had come over to the thrift store just to see us. The three of us had a great visit for a few minutes and then he was out the door and on his way.

170621_SamaraMarketWhen we left the thrift store we stopped at the SAMRA MART gas station to fill up our tank, and I showed the attendant a book I was reading, written by a Cal Samra, and asked if perchance he was a relative. A big smile indicated that he was not. That is rather an odd last name, however.

Our next stop was at the store where a month ago we had our riding mower’s front tire repaired. We thought we had a puncture, but the repairman said it was an air leak between tire and wheel, fixed it, and we were on our way.

170621_LumsfordMotorsHowever, over the following month I had to pump that tire each time I used it to replace the few pounds of pressure it had lost. But then we did not need to use that mower for a week, due to the rains, and when I went to check it out, it was completely flat and the rim and tire were separated. I couldn’t even get the jack in under the mower and had to call Grandson Robbie to come and give me a hand and get the wheel off.

We took the tire to Pleasant Hill and left it there at the store for another repair. The lady in charge was very pleasant and obliging and when we returned later, the tire was all fixed up free of charge, with her apologies. We brought it home again afterwards and Grandson Robbie stopped by and in just a few minutes had the tire back in place and everything ready to go. I will keep checking the tire pressure regularly, though, to make sure it hasn’t started to leak again.

170621_JackfruitWe spent some time at Price Chopper, taking advantage of a sale they were having. Had heard they had some Mexican jackfruit, and the man in charge of groceries took us into their chilled storage room to show us what a jackfruit looks like. What a strange, large fruit it is. Our son had bought one a couple of weeks earlier, for just $2, as it was the last one in the store and he wanted to try it. The usual price is $20. Well, this fruit did not find favor in our son’s eyes and taste buds, so he disposed of it.

When we stopped back a couple of days later, we found that one of them had been sold already and the other one was in dubious health and would be thrown away. Chris had brought her camera along and our friend Robbie went off and brought it out for us to see and photograph. It seemed to be in so-so condition and we were given it free to take home and sample. Out in the parking lot Chris used my little pen knife to cut a chunk out and take it back into the store for a friend to try out.

Price Chopper also had dragon fruit for sale, and this is a colorful and strange-looking fruit. Many years ago, Chris and I were on our way back to the States from Southern Rhodesia, and had stopped briefly at Zanzibar and there sampled some jackfruit, but could not remember how it tasted.

170621_CarolinaWrenFinally back at home we unpacked and got breakfast ready. After eating I went out to the barn and brought out the push mower that Chris wanted to use. While out there I discovered that our resident Carolina wrens had left their nest on one of my shelves and were flitting clumsily around outside the barn. A fourth baby was still inside, flying around and cheeping, not knowing how to get outside. The mother was in there with it, but her escape instructions were not being followed yet. After trying in vain to catch that baby in a net, I gave up and left the birds to their own devices.

Was puzzled to see a larger bird flapping around in one of the windows behind the blinds, and after a while discovered it was a female cowbird. Finally got her out and into the great outdoors again. It too must have sneaked in under the front door with a missing threshold, hoping probably to find a nest she could lay an egg in. – DALE

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90 And Counting

ChrisFairchild1929June 21 – This is a SHORT guest editorial by Chris and Dale’s son.

I think it’s important to recognize that Chris turns 90 years old today! That’s something that not many people get to experience, and just wanted to say how proud I am of my dear mother for reaching this particular milestone.

And so in her honor,  I give you this short piece of doggerel:

I hear it is your birthday
You may celebrate at will
Just because you’re getting older
There’s no need to feel ill!

For your age is just a sign post
You’ve got hair, who needs a wig?
And there’s nothing wrong with numbers…
I just wish they weren’t so big!

Happy birthday, Mom! – DAVE

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Snake and Bunny

170616_Snake

[ Chris and snake ]

June 16 – As I was walking out to the barn to get the lawn mower the other day, I thought I saw something in the grass, but it wasn’t moving. However, after I had stood still for a bit, wondering what the “something” was, that something slithered around to face me; then I knew what it was! A black and beautiful snake. As it stopped in front of me, I guessed it must have been four feet long. Now if Dale had seen that snake, he would have picked it up, grabbed it around the neck, and enjoyed seeing it. Sure, I enjoyed seeing it, too, but I prefer holding a snake that Dale has caught and then passed on to me to hold. Just a bit of time went by before that snake practically flew out of the grass right in front of me and disappeared into the woodpile by the fence.

Now that was interesting, BUT so was the next happening! A little bunny must have had his home taken over by the snake! Out he jumped to get away. I stood within a couple feet of the rabbit which just stood silently, sniffing. Way back when I was about twelve, my dad found a bunch of baby rabbits in the field when he was plowing. Since the mother had disappeared, I took over for her and fed the one bunny left. All summer I petted that little guy, and if I would let him out to run about, I would just sweetly call, “Minny, minny, minny,” and he would come back to me. Don’t ask me why I chose those strange sounds, because I don’t know why either! I carried the bunny all around the neighborhood that summer, just showing off my friend!

Yesterday I did the same for the one that the snake chased out of the wood pile. That little rabbit stood right in the same spot, when he came out of the wood pile. Never moved a bit! Just sniffed quietly with eyes looking around and wishing mother were sitting next to him! Finally, I had to get some mowing done, and when I took the first step, he disappeared. I hoped he didn’t meet up with that snake!

170616_bunny

[ not my bunny, but close enough ]

A few more lines about the bunny I raised so long ago. When it was too cold to go outside that winter, with snow packed up in high drifts, and the fields covered with lots of snow, I had to keep the little guy inside the house where he roamed around freely, poking around here and there to find out what was in every corner of the house. I can still hear the sound of his nails clicking along on the shiny linoleum in the kitchen or climbing up behind the ancient radio where the tubes kept the area inside nice and warm.

When Christmas time came, we brought in the huge tree to sit in one corner of the living room. Talk about master of all I survey! Why do I mention this? I’ll bet I was one of the very few who had a rabbit or other creature that climbed up from the metal holder on the floor all the way up to the highest branches, pulling off small branches if she wanted to, or just sitting comfortably on another. The scent of that tree called for her to come for a visit from time to time, keeping her acquainted with the outdoors where she really belonged.

The following spring, we let her go. At first she would come bounding back to me from one of her short journeys, and as I would call “Minny, minny,” she would come to be petted. But all things really do come to an end, and after a week or two, that little bunny, not so little any more, didn’t come back but joined up with her own kind, which is really what I was hoping, although I still have kindly thoughts of my friend who left me about 75 years ago. – CHRIS

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Here Fishy Fishy Fishy

170604_Richard

[ Post-office Richard ]

June 4 – While we were in the post office the other day, Richard, our very friendly ex-postmaster, told us of his his fishing plans, depending on the weather. He and a group of friends would be driving down to Truman Lake, named in honor of a former president from Missouri, to fish for paddle-fish. The reason? The Lake of the Ozarks is a bit overcrowded for his liking. That is a lake where folks have houses built “on the water”, and there is a house every few feet! Truman Lake is operated by the Corps of Engineers, with no houses allowed.

Said Richard, “It will be difficult for me to quantify tales of my fishing experiences. I have been fishing with my family and friends for over 30 years. Fishing and “lake-ing” was all my wife’s idea, as it started. We tend to be on the water two to three times a month during decent weather. I must disclaim that I do have any real fishing skills. Maybe 3 out of 10 trips to the water will you see me catch a fish. While landing a “gorilla” (as I call the bigger fish) has its rewards, I simply enjoy the serenity of the water, the beauty of the land, and being in good company. Oh, and I like seeing the eagles at the lake!”

How much those guys enjoy each other while they drag in the fish. I can just imagine the stories they tell of “the one that got away,” or “that was the biggest and heaviest fish I ever caught,” or “it sure is good to leave town behind and just enjoy being outside with friends!”

170604_Catfish

[ Unhooking a catfish from our pond ]

I know very little about fishing or just plain fish, for that matter! I don’t know the difference between a blue gill and a crappie, but I do know what a catfish looks like, and I feel sorry that it’s so ugly! There are lots and lots of those “cats” in our pond. Once our friend Clyde and his grandson stopped over from their home to do some fishing in the pond. Such a beautiful day it was, and they caught a number of fish while enjoying the sunshine and the breeze. Clyde told us the story of cleaning that fish, an experience that changed his mind about coming back to the pond ever afterward! Just too hard to clean up.

170604_Fish

[ Another pond fish ]

Speaking of fish, here’s a note about something that I haven’t thought about in about 80 years, back when I was ten. In those days we had no car so had to walk everywhere we went. If we followed the railroad track that was about two blocks from our house, we could switch off to a road that led to a fishing area where many folks from Erie, PA came to enjoy the sport. My mom was a great fisherman and could throw out the line like a professional. Just a little nibble would alert her to another catch.

One day as I sat beside her on the dock, a big wave came along and took with it the dozen or so fish that were on a stringer in the water waiting for Mom to finish her fishing. All the time she had spent on catching some pretty good size fish was wasted, and she was so disgusted that she said, “C’mon, kids! No use wasting the rest of the day if the waves are going to be that bad.” So we gathered up the poles and all of the other things that we had carried down the road about four miles earlier in the day, and headed for home. No more fishing THAT day!

170604_Crappie

[ Crappie ]

Richard said that the reason for his trip would be to fish for crappie, as the paddle-fish season was almost at its end. “I will be spending next week with four or so buddies. We had worked together during my time at the Lee’s Summit Post Office. THEY are the real experts. This group is in their third decade together. I am lucky that for the last few seasons I have been able to hang out with them. At the risk of jinxing myself, I hope to bring home 10 to 15 full baggies next week!”

I wonder if his plans worked out well, and if there are 15 new baggies in his freezer! He is a very hard worker and always has been, but he likes to have good fun, too. – CHRIS

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