Thursday, June 28, 2012

Be Our Guest

For several years we have given monetary supported to American Brittany Rescue. ABR is an organization of volunteers who, as the website states,"..take in stray, abandoned, surrendered and/or impounded purebred Brittanys, provide them with foster care, health and temperament screening, an opportunity for any necessary rehabilitation and to assure their health and placement into new home." Last summer I even helped transport one dog to her new home in Denver. A couple of months ago we helped get another dog into Brittany Rescue and found the experience so rewarding that we decided to get more involved. We are now foster owners. Yesterday our first foster dogs arrived.

This is Freckles.

And this is Toots.

Freckles will be staying with us until a new permanent home can be found for her while Toots is in route to Denver. Tomorrow I will be driving her to a point half way between my home and Denver where her new foster owner will pick her up and take her on to Denver and her new life.

Both dogs are sweethearts and if you would like to read more about them go here. The link will take you to the dogs available in Kansas list. Toots is the first dog shown with Freckles right below her.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

And It Burns, Burns, Burns

More fires in Colorado including the one burning into the city of Colorado Springs and the one burning west of the city of Boulder. Why is "The Springs" burning and Boulder proper not? After watching Denver television coverage I can actually answer that question.

At one Boulder County press conference yesterday Kim Kobel of the Boulder Police Department said that what was happening in Colorado Springs would not happen in Boulder because homes in Colorado Springs were built in the meadows in the foothills west of town and then up the side of the mountains making it difficult to fight the fire. Since this was not allowed in Boulder County the city would be safe. Firefighters have been able to keep the fire about one-and-a-half-miles away from the city of Boulder so her assessment seems to be correct so far.

Closer to home, there was a 70 square mile fire burning on the Colorado eastern plains yesterday which started when a truck on Highway 36 blew a tire and sparks from the tire rim set the grass near the road on fire. To the east of us here in Kansas there was a grass fire that burned 5,000 acres which started when an overheated car pulled to the side of the road and set grass on fire.

One word that describes conditions out here is tinderbox.

At home, the county commissioners have issued a fire ban that includes fireworks. This ban does not cover the town I live in and the city council, for some reason, has decided not to ban fireworks inside the city limit. Like I said, I dread the 4th of July holiday this year.

Update:Late yesterday afternoon the city council announced that fireworks are now banned inside the city limits.

Monday, June 25, 2012

We Didn't Start The Fires

But someone did. There are now eight separate fires burning in Colorado as this map from The Denver Post shows:

The High Park fire west of Fort Collins has burned 83,205 acres or over 130 squares miles. It was started by lightening on June 9th.

The Woodland Heights fire, part of the town of Estes Park, started on Saturday and has burned 27.3 acres. Fire crews are saying this one is 100% contained. That means it is still burning but cannot spread any farther. The cause of this fire is unknown.

The Treasure fire between the towns of Leadville and Alma started Saturday and has burned 320 acres. This one they are saying is "human caused."

The Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs started Saturday and has burned 3,400 acres and is expected to burn another 5,000 before fire fighters get it under control. This is the one that caused the evacuation of 11,000 people including the entire town of Manitou Springs. The cause of this fire is not known at this time.

The Springer fire near Lake George has burned 1,145 acres and is supposedly 100% contained. This one started June 17th and was cause by "recreational shooting." Some butt-heads were shooting at propane tanks.

The Weber fire northwest of Durango near the town of Mancos started on Friday and has burned 8,300 acres. Another "human caused" fire.

The Little Sand fire north of Pagosa Springs has been burning since May 13th and has consumed 21,616 acres or 33.7 square miles. It was caused by lightening.

The Stateline Fire south of Durango and near the Colorado-New Mexico border has burned 350 acres. This one may also be "human caused."

Of the fires listed only two were not started either deliberately or accidentally by humans. I dread the Fourth of July holiday this year.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Another week gets by me without me doing any of the things I had planned. FYI- I really, really hate wind and it just doesn't seem to stop.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white,
All are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

The above is something that members of certain Christian missionary groups, including a group called the Bible Believers, do not believe. Last Saturday members of these groups invaded the 17th Annual Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan sharing their anti-Muslim, and what they believe are pro-Christianity, sentiments. They did so vocally ("You're going to burn in hell!" "Jesus Akbar!"), with signs ("Muhammad is a liar, false prophet, murderer, child molesting pervert"), with slogans on t-shirts ("FEAR GOD" "INFIDEL REPENT"), and with the parading of a pig's head on a staff. Evidently those bigoted idiots never stop and ask themselves, "What would Jesus do?"

Anyone can call themselves a Christian but only your actions make it so.

(Detroit Free Press article here.)

(1:04 PM) Note: Link to Detroit Free Press article repaired.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Been Busy

Yard-work, laundry, dogs, trips, and

A Very Short Song

Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad-
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.

Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.

Symptom Recital

I do not like my state of mind;
I'm bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn's recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I'm disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I'd be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men....
I'm due to fall in love again.

reading Dorothy Parker.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Attention My Fellow Americans

David McCullough Jr., an English teacher at Wellesley High School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, has some news for you- You are not special just because you are you.

(David McCullough's speech to the 2012 graduating class of Wellesley High School.)

Dr. Wong, Dr. Keough, Mrs. Novogroski, Ms. Curran, members of the board of education, family and friends of the graduates, ladies and gentlemen of the Wellesley High School class of 2012, for the privilege of speaking to you this afternoon, I am honored and grateful. Thank you.

So here we are… commencement… life's great forward-looking ceremony.

And don't say, "What about weddings?" Weddings are one-sided and insufficiently effective. Weddings are bride-centric pageantry. Other than conceding to a list of unreasonable demands, the groom just stands there. No stately, hey-everybody-look-at-me procession. No being given away. No identity-changing pronouncement. And can you imagine a television show dedicated to watching guys try on tuxedos? Their fathers sitting there misty-eyed with joy and disbelief, their brothers lurking in the corner muttering with envy. Left to men, weddings would be, after limits-testing procrastination, spontaneous, almost inadvertent… during halftime… on the way to the refrigerator. And then there's the frequency of failure: statistics tell us half of you will get divorced. A winning percentage like that'll get you last place in the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles do better than weddings.

But this ceremony… commencement… a commencement works every time. From this day forward… truly… in sickness and in health, through financial fiascoes, through midlife crises and passably attractive sales reps at trade shows in Cincinnati, through diminishing tolerance for annoyingness, through every difference, irreconcilable and otherwise, you will stay forever graduated from high school, you and your diploma as one, 'til death do you part.

No, commencement is life's great ceremonial beginning, with its own attendant and highly appropriate symbolism. Fitting, for example, for this auspicious rite of passage, is where we find ourselves this afternoon, the venue. Normally, I avoid clich├ęs like the plague, wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole, but here we are on a literal level playing field. That matters. That says something. And your ceremonial costume… shapeless, uniform, one-size-fits-all. Whether male or female, tall or short, scholar or slacker, spray-tanned prom queen or intergalactic X-Box assassin, each of you is dressed, you'll notice, exactly the same. And your diploma… but for your name, exactly the same.

All of this is as it should be, because none of you is special.

You are not special. You are not exceptional.

Contrary to what your U9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you're nothing special.

Yes, you've been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You've been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You've been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we've been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you've even had your picture in the Townsman! And now you've conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building…

But do not get the idea you're anything special. Because you're not.

The empirical evidence is everywhere, numbers even an English teacher can't ignore. Newton, Natick, Nee… I am allowed to say Needham, yes? That has to be two thousand high school graduates right there, give or take, and that's just the neighborhood Ns. Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That's 37,000 valedictorians, that's 37,000 class presidents, 92,000 harmonizing altos, 340,000 swaggering jocks, 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs. But why limit ourselves to high school? After all, you're leaving it. So think about this: even if you're one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you. Imagine standing somewhere over there on Washington Street on Marathon Monday and watching sixty-eight hundred yous go running by. And consider for a moment the bigger picture: your planet, I'll remind you, is not the center of its solar system, your solar system is not the center of its galaxy. Your galaxy is not the center of the universe. In fact, astrophysicists assure us the universe has no center; therefore, you cannot be it. Neither can Donald Trump… which someone should tell him… although that hair is quite a phenomenon.

"But, Dave," you cry, "Walt Whitman tells me I'm my own version of perfection! Epictetus tells me I have the spark of Zeus!" And I don't disagree. So that makes 6.8 billion examples of perfection, 6.8 billion sparks of Zeus. You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another-which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality - we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. We have come to see them as the point - and we're happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that's the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole.

No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it… Now it's "So what does this get me?" As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans. It's an epidemic - and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune. One of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School… where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the mid-level curriculum is called Advanced College Placement. And I hope you caught me when I said "one of the best." I said "one of the best" so we can feel better about ourselves, so we can bask in a little easy distinction, however vague and unverifiable, and count ourselves among the elite, whoever they might be, and enjoy a perceived leg up on the perceived competition. But the phrase defies logic. By definition there can be only one best, you're it or you're not.

If you've learned anything in your years here I hope it's that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning. You've learned, too, I hope, as Sophocles assured us, that wisdom is the chief element of happiness. Second is ice cream… just an FYI. I also hope you've learned enough to recognize how little you know… how little you know now… at the moment… for today is just the beginning. It's where you go from here that matters.

As you commence, then, and before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance. Don't bother with work you don't believe in any more than you would a spouse you're not crazy about, lest you too find yourself on the wrong side of a Baltimore Orioles comparison. Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction. Be worthy of your advantages. And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life. Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer; and as surely as there are commencements there are cessations, and you'll be in no condition to enjoy the ceremony attendant to that eventuality no matter how delightful the afternoon.

The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you're a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer. You'll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness-quite an active verb, "pursuit." Which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots roller skate on YouTube. The first President Roosevelt, the old rough rider, advocated the strenuous life. Mr. Thoreau wanted to drive life into a corner, to live deep and suck out all the marrow. The poet Mary Oliver tells us to row, row into the swirl and roil. Locally, someone… I forget who… from time to time encourages young scholars to Carpe the heck out of the Diem. The point is the same: get busy, have at it. Don't wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands. Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression-because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life. Rather than You Only Live Once, it should be You Live Only Once… but because YLOO doesn't have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn't matter.

None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence. Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It's what happens when you're thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion-and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you're not special.

Because everyone is.

Congratulations. Good luck. Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I Am The God Hell Fire

The mountains west of Fort Collins, Colorado are burning. Dry conditions, high winds and great swaths of Mountain Pine Beetle killed trees have caused the High Park Fire, which started on Saturday morning, to burn over 20,000 acres (33 square miles) so far. Late last night Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said this about the fire, "It's spread in almost every direction. It splinters to the south, and then it splinters to the east. I don't know that we've ever seen anything like this before."

No, I guess he hasn't as the weather conditions and the dead trees have created the perfect storm for fire. That red area on the map below showing the greatest concentration of beetle kill in Colorado is right where the fire is burning.

Below is video of the fire as it reaches an area with houses showing a white truck driving around checking to see if the homeowners have evacuated the area.

This fire is not a surprise to the fire fighters, the national and state park services, or anyone who has driven through the miles and miles of dead trees in the Colorado Rockies. We always knew the mountains were going to burn it was just a matter of when. So in a way it is a relieve to know the fires are finally here. The wait is over and the renewal of the forests can begin.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Amber Waves Of Grain

Wind racing through a wheat field outside of town yesterday. Cutting has begun here about three weeks earlier than normal. Last year the first load of grain brought into a local grain elevator was on June twenty-ninth. Corn that is normally planted around the fourth of July has been in the ground since May. Three tornadoes, high winds, and hail the size of tennis and basketballs baseballs reported in Eastern Colorado yesterday has me wondering what the heck is going on with the weather this year.
(Film shot by my husband.)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

An American Pastime

And, no, I don't know why shooting at roadsigns is so popular.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Cannot Get This Song Out Of My Head!

Beet, beet
Sugar beet, beet
Sugar beet
Sugar beet, beeeet

Beet, beet
Sugar beet, beet
Sugar beet
Sugar beet, beeeet

Beet, beet
Sugar beet, beet
Sugar beet
Sugar beet, beeeet

Beet, beet
Sugar beet, beet
Sugar beet
Sugar beet, beeeet

Sugar sugar, beet
Sugar, shu beet, beet
Sugar, sugar beet
Sugar, shu beet, beet

Sugar, sugar beet
Sugar, shu beet, beet
Beet, beet
Sugar beet, beet
Sugar beet,
Sugar beet, beeeet

Beet, beet
Sugar beet, beet
Sugar beet
Sugar beet, beeeet

Beet, beet
Sugar beet, beet
Sugar beet
Sugar beet, beeeet

Beet, beet
Sugar beet, beet
Sugar beet
Sugar beet, beeeet

(Man's voice)Sugar!


Monday, June 04, 2012

Sweet, Sweet

the memories you gave to me.
-Dean Martin

I was making a cup of tea this morning when I started thinking about how much I like the flavor of honey. It has a rich sweet taste with a slight peppery finish that I find very appealing. I'm a fan of small local honey makers as they do not overheat their honey which affects the flavor. Most store brand honeys are treated this way and you really can tell the difference. Store brand honeys are not as sweet as unheated honeys and they have what I can only describe as a flat taste to them. They also have a thinner consistency when compared to unheated honey and run over the sides of your spoon  as you pour.

Anyway, that got me thinking about sweeteners in general and so I decided to list the ones I eat in favorite order.

1. Honey
You already know why I like it.

2. Maple Syrup

I grew up eating Log Cabin Maple Syrup and it wasn't until I was an adult that I found out it wasn't really maple syrup at all. It is a "maple blended syrup" containing only 2% maple syrup. I think the major ingredient was corn syrup.

So imagine my surprise when I first tasted real maple syrup. It was as different in taste as orange soda is to fresh squeezed orange juice and I was hooked.

3. Cane Sugar

It still surprises me how different tea made with sugar is from tea made with honey. It's still sweet, it's just that sugar doesn't have the rich flavor of honey.  Still, even with that flaw I like sugar. Sugar come in two forms, cane sugar and beet sugar. I prefer the taste of cane sugar over beet sugar. It taste sweeter to me and sometimes beet sugar has an faint unpleasant odor to it.

3. Beet Sugar

Still a much better choice than high fructose corn syrup.

4. High Fructose Corn Syrup

What can I say about high fructose corn syrup that hasn't been said before?

Friday, June 01, 2012

Who Are The True Christians?

Back in early May North Carolina added an amendment to its state constitution which denies gay couples the right to marry. That amendment reads, "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State."

In protest Missiongathering Christian Church, which is located in San Diego, California, put the message below on a billboard in Charlotte, North Carolina.

It reads, “Missiongathering Christian Church is sorry for the narrow-minded, judgmental, deceptive, manipulative actions of those who denied rights & equality to so many in the name of God.”

Thank you, Missiongathering Christian Church, for taking a stand against ignorance and hate.