Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Heading West, New Mexico Day 2

We got up and took out to the border. We watched carefully for pronghorn but saw nary a one. We reached Springer, New Mexico, a mere crossroads. This year we found the favorite historic Brown Hotel up for sale. SO sad.  We left town on a new road and drove another 83 miles without a pronghorn. It seemed like a long ride without our antelope friends!

We reached Clayton…on to Cimarron, collection of houses with an outlaw past, on to Eagle’s Nest and up into the mountains to drive the Enchanted Circle. We have been at this spot several times so it was like coming home. Autumn tinges of orange and yellow brushed the top of trees and wildflower patches. We stopped in Red River and bought some forbidden fudge, a chocolate/red chili combo I wanted to bring to friends.

Next destination was Questa. Such history here, but also a church project we have been following. They are coming along nicely and the story is super interesting. I will try to find a short version for readers. Many old adobe churches dot New Mexico. St. Anthony’s in Questa doubled as a fort from Indian attacks in its early history. But the adobe wall began to cave in. The Catholic Church heads wanted the church torn down and replaced with metal building. The congregation refused, took it on as a nonprofit organization, and began to save the wall themselves. The people have stirred mud, made bricks, build the wall again only to have other points begin to cave. They refused to give up again and kept going. The men went into the forest themselves and chopped 300 year old trees and shaped them into beams.

All went well and many people like us were moved by the faith and dedication to this old church. They are replacing an original choir loft while redoing the church. At Easter this last year, they were sawing into a log when something appeared on the log. The men stepped back as they saw a Madonna holding a lamb. Women tend to see a Madonna holding a babe. The people were moved as they think this is a sign from God. No matter what you see, faith is moving mountains (and trees) in Questa, New Mexico.

Below the church sits an old truck, some horses, and a field of wild purple asters. The scene is beautiful. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Heading West, First Day

So we coasted along down the highway heading to the West. We were sad to leave Biscuit at the kennel but it was best for all of us. The highway was typical side road until we hit Caldwell, Kansas. Caldwell is a tiny berg with a rowdy past. Today it is only few blocks wide and long, but very nice history markers designate spots to note. I saw the Border Queen Museum on the main street and hollered WHOA. Unfortunately it was closed which we found was a common thing for many things on Mondays. The super looking Cherokee Strip museum down the road would also be closed on Monday.

However, just as we left town a gorgeous pheasant looking like a heavy transport plane lifted out of the ditch, flew across the windshield, and landed in the opposite ditch near the railroad tracks. It was an amazingly beautiful bird. Each trip west, I look for pheasants and usually find ONE for a brief few seconds.  So I took this flight and sight as a promising omen.

Shortly we slipped into Oklahoma where fields became wider and deeper, where the earth began to show shades of lighter brown and eventually red earth. The landscape gradually changed from farming to ranching. This trip I was taken with the wind mills. So many old ones stood by crumbling farm houses and I knew they all carried stories that I wish they would tell me. Some are still in use. This one was interesting as it was still in use, but it was distinctive in that the stand was not metal of today but the old wooden frames, including wooden ladder steps!

There were still nice wildflowers out.  

We pushed on the Guymon, Oklahoma before stopping for the night. We had cup of soup with crackers and herbal tea with a cookie in our room before bedding down early. Only a hour or so beyond there would be New Mexico!

Ruby Slipper Hits the Road

I have been away from my computer and blogs for a week. The last three seasons have been hectic and trying in various ways. As autumn began, we squeezed in a road trip before anything else could happen. It is getting harder to go as far and fast as we used to. We were a little hesitant about a trip,but we pushed ahead now knowing later might not be better. We tried to travel lighter with no computer among other things, but we still had a load.

We headed west, old spots but new trails. Much of the time we traveled the Santa Fe Trail. Amazing thinking of how people generations ago got across the land, down the trail, and to Santa Fe through the Midwest. DH picked a new road. Nothing wrong with it, quite nice really, but it just wasn't a favorite. It ran between two distinct areas of the Flint Hills and the Oklahoma line.

When we pull out, there is always the excitement of travel but going west means the horizon soon begins to stretch out. You feel like you are driving right into the massive sky. Clouds, hopfully white and fluffy, become traveling partners. After a milder summer than most, the fields and pastures were greener and full of life more than the usual burnt ground of September.

The days and miles flew by, and now we are home again. Time to reconstruct and absorb all we saw and felt. Time to fetch Biscuit from the kennel, to buy milk, to catch up on readers' blogs, and to start old routines once again.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Fictioneers/Prayer Walking

Time for Friday Fictioneers again…got to this link for more 100 word stories based on a picture of the week. http://new.inlinkz.com/luwpview.php?id=437147

                                                    Prayer Walking
 I was sitting among the garden’s flowers, mulling over my troubled life, when I noticed the ancient woman inching along the labyrinth’s twists and turns. She bent over a silver cane while the one hand caressed her heart as if to assure her it was beating. Her steps shuffled in the rose petal center and back out again. When finished, her puckered face still looked like a withered apple head doll, but her rheumy eyes radiated celestial brightness.

“Peace, child,” she said. I knew then I wanted what she had. I stepped onto the labyrinth’s path and began to pray.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Medley of September Moments

The weather has taken that wonderful autumnal turn, cool in morning with warmer afternoons. The mums are coming along reaching for October bliss. However a few remaining pots of once lagging summer blooms have burst forth with new vibrancy as they too enjoy the cool nights.

 No tea on deck this morning as Miss Biscuit had doctor’s appointment early. For three days she has been carrying her leg. She has slowed down, looks weary some, but when the trash truck etc. comes by she zips like a lightning bolt only using a mere three legs to do it. The vet says it is her hip and she wants to try meds first because a hip x-ray on a dog takes sedation. She said Biscuit needs “bed rest”, but the meds will make her feel better before she is healed. Ha, bed rest? Can you stop a freight train with a pea shooter?

                                                      A rare moment of resting peacefully!

                                               Note those crossed legs!

I entered some poems in a contest this morning….only to realize the contest does not open until October. Such is how my mind works these days. The nice thing is I can resubmit as all early entries are being trashed. I also found a book in the closet, though it was new, and began to read. It is one I have already read, but is so good I am going to finish it twice!

My sister-in-law writes that the Ladies Home Journal has ceased publication! Sad news. She says the company is substituting Cosmo for the rest of the LHJ subscription…hardly a fair trade. So sad to hear another staunch pillar of early publications has folded. Have you readers heard of this already?

I made a big batch of pimento cheese…you just can’t buy it in the store this good. Tomato plants torn down for the year. Soup and bread recipes are coming out. DH is hungering for a road trip, and yes, a light-hearted trip sounds good for a few days. This time of year it is always lovely to coast around on back roads, watch scarecrows going up, see pumpkins on porches, and feel autumnal air. Soon maybe we can manage to hit the road in the Ruby Slipper, who knows?

                                           Granddog Storm might proud of a new bone!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Christmas Really?

Last night DH and I drove over to Pittsburg State University to attend the first of this year’s Visiting Author series. We used to never miss and then life intervened. Last year we managed to miss every single speaker. We have slipped into a type of evening lethargy here and DH was wise to push us out for this reading by Thomas Fox Averill.

Averill is on staff at Washburn U in Topeka, Kansas, and he has authored several books. His last was rode , a novel he constructed around a favorite song of his, “Tennessee Stud”. It was a great read and is fascinating how the author found his inspiration for a great read from a song.

When I got news Fox was to read from his new book, a carol dickens christmas (Fox must have an aversion to capitals!) I was disappointed in his subject. It seems every established author hammers out a Christmas book to garner up holiday profits for a publishing house. Also, how many times can writers play with the work of Charles Dickens?

The first thing the author told the audience was he worked on the book for ten years. He explained how he researched by going even to England to experience Dickens home and writing life. The book includes Victorian recipes that he personally tested at home. He set the modern day story of Carol Dickens and her life in Topeka, Kansas, a town he knew well.

Averill then began to read pages and introduce characters. I found some I liked. I still felt the Christmas theme might be overworked, but I am interested in Kansas settings so I listened hard. I stumped Averill after his reading when I asked how the story of Carol Dickens might have been different in another geographical area…what made part of the story was totally regional? He said good question and then segued into a lot of Kansas writers are capturing the region and suggested I visited his web site listing them. (http://www.washburn.edu/reference/cks/mapping/index.html

Okay, I suckered right up and bought the book. I think it will be a pleasant read if nothing else, but I am not going to read it until closer to the holidays…an early present to myself.  I’ll let you know how the book reads then, but I bet I'm not disappointed since it is by Thomas Fox Averill. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ernie Pyle Again

The men are walking. They are fifty feet apart, for dispersal. Their walk is slow, for they are dead weary as you can tell even when looking at them from behind. Every line and sag of their bodies speak their inhuman exhaustion.

On their shoulders and back they carry heavy steel tripods, machine-gun barrels, leaden boxes of ammunition. Their feet seem to sink into the ground from the overload they are bearing.

They don’t slouch. It is the terrible deliberation of each step that spells out their appalling tiredness. Their faces are black and unshaven. They are young men, but the grime and whiskers and exhaustion make them look middle-aged.   May 1, 1943

I knew the power and precision of Ernie Pyle’s writing, but I wanted to know the man himself. So I picked up a copy of Ernie Pyle’s War: America’s Eyewitness of World War II by James. Tobin. The author takes  readers back to the beginning in Dana, Indiana and shows how an only child grew up in a farming family. Pyle was an undersized but bright student who could not wait to make his way out into the world away from the Midwest.

Pyle was an excellent journalist, one worthy of studying. He began with reporting, then an aviation column (during the early years when planes were the new technology), and then a roving column of human interest stories in roadside spots of America. He gradually became popular, the number of readers growing during the era of Hearst, Scripps-Howard and other big newspaper chains. Eventually, he became the world’s greatest war correspondent during World War II.

Pyle did not write of policy or generals; he wrote of the common soldier, the common man. He made readers see what he saw. Indeed, the author’s ability with words recreated everything for readers that he saw with his own eyes. His writing allowed readers to view the war in a time when newsprint was the way media got stories out. He became so popular among his favorite subject the infantrymen and the reading public that he developed a mythological aura. Eventually a movie, Ernie Pyle’s American G. I. Joe, was made from his work. Starring Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum, the dated film can be seen on U-Tube.

While Pyle was developing a star persona, producing extraordinary copy from fox holes, and setting a standard for other writers, his personal life was somewhat a shambles. A slightly built man of ordinary looks, he suffered health problems, drank too much, and dealt with a rocky marriage to a woman of mental instability. Like many creative people, he doubted his own work many times feeling he was not writing quality copy.

This is an extraordinary book published 17 years ago and 69 years after Pyle’s death on a Pacific Island covering the war. It reveals the weaknesses and travails of an ordinary man; it shows the power of a great writer; it takes readers through the war that should never be forgotten.

            “I love the infantry because they are the underdogs. They are the mud-rain-frost-and wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can’t be won without.”

                                                                          Ernie Pyle

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

More Indoor Weeding At This House!!!

Books are a hindrance to persisting stupidity…Spanish proverb

Weeding continues here. Once the attic was done, it felt so good I wanted to keep going. So midmorning I started on the bookcase in my office. Oh my, where to begin? How could I turn loose of any one of them?

But begin I did. None were bad books, but they were just less worth the room they took than other favorites. A lot of poetry books were removed, but a whole basket remain. I pulled some novels…some children’s books…a few reference type books I used in the classroom. Some I set aside to look at one more time before letting go.

I took my books to the public library where some will be shelved and some will be put on their resale shelves as fund raising for the library. I hurried them right down this afternoon before any could just back out of the boxes!

And before I look too saintly, I must confess to making an order last night to Lou Turner and her High Hill Press.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Perfect Sunday

Friday’s rain was a welcome relief to both drought and heat since the front also brought cooler temps too. So yesterday morning we faced cleaning the attic over the garage. DH had been begging me to “release” some of the thing stored there. Frankly, I reminded him that he had two buildings on the property full of “stuff”, but he assured me all that was of vital importance!

So we dragged down toys, high chairs, baby bed, boxes of fruit jars, old suitcases, saved carpet pieces, wall paper rolls, paint buckets, movie projectors and more. I know most was not worth money, but the items were loaded with memories. I have diminished the stash periodically over the years, but now it was time to relinquish it all. I shut my eyes and did it.

We have buried four people in the last seven months. We have helped move a household, helped another settle downsize a widow’s home, and all this after closing a farm house only months ago and also watching people lose every stick of their possessions in a tornado. How does one walk away from all these life items? But I thought about how it felt to rummage in the ashes of my mom’s burned house trying to figure out what had been what and where. I thought of my own children going through an attic of things wondering WHY we never turned loose of things.

I weed the house routinely, but still closets are full. I know I must dig deeper and release more. But yesterday we dug deep into the attic. Only half the fruit jars and the baby bed remain. The trash men are going to gasp when they arrive in the morning. I gave in on everything but the baby bed. Alas, it too will go but when and how? No one wants it, but when I look at the bed I see my parents as young marrieds with no money, but they sweat out pennies to buy this brand new baby bed for a brand new baby. It was a small fortune for them as it was large enough to use as a youth bed as well as for a new born. Three daughters slept in that bed; two grandsons grew in that bed. But no one wants it now…it is sad to me.

After a long and dirty day yesterday, I got up to a beautiful morning. Dog and I bundled in flannel robe and made sure we had a heavy cozy for the tea pot as it was 55 chilly degrees on the deck. The air was also damp enough my book pages began to go limp. But book and reader hung in there, not sparing a minute of morning's beauty. Eventually breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and jam increased the joy of morning. The skies are now a shade of sapphire dotted with an occasional splat of cottony cloud and makes for a perfect reading day. Tomorrow we can work again, but today it is book and tea time all day long outside!