Matfield Green - Our first years

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Animal stories

The Usual Suspects (Tom & Barb, Elaine, Phil & Kathy, artist Jim Worster, Pat, Bill & Me) gathered at the Bunkhouse for a cookout yesterday. Only Emily was missing. Bill and I cooked salmon and asparagus. Elaine brought a salad in her 2 foot long canoe-shaped wooden salad bowl. Barb brought brownies and blondies for dessert. We ate on the front patio with the wide view of the Little Cottonwood Valley laid out in front of us. Blue sky, green fields, dusty cow-spotted hills. After dinner, and after the hot sun had started setting in the west, we retired track-side for training watching and story telling.

Bill told of the cow carcas he'd found in the smallest of the ponds just west of us. And how Pepper had dragged home a femer the other day, heavy in her mouth for more than half a mile, never questioning whether or not the hours of chewing to come would be worth the effort. Pat told of a cow he'd seen on the way to Witchita the other day. Up to its neck in a pond. Unusual. Phil remembered a calf he'd spotted on a winter day coming home from Kansas City. It was trapped on a pond, unable to move without slipping. Unless you know whose ranch you are driving by there really is nothing to do.

Elaine jumped in with a story she'd heard from a friend . He'd stopped at a farmhouse to ask directions. The farmer invited him in to look a map and the traveler noticed that there was a pig in the kitchen, a big pig with only three legs.

After they'd determined where he'd gotten lost and which way he needed to go, Elaine's friend said to the farmer, "I see you've got a pig in here."

The farmer said, "Yes, that's some pig. You know that pig is really something. One day I was stuck out on the ice on the pond out back. The ice had started to break and I was stranded. Well that pig went and got a rope and managed to get me back to shore. That pig saved my life."

"Wow," said the traveler, "that really is something."

"That's not all," said the farmer. "Not too long ago I had an accident. My tractor turned over and I was caught underneath it. And that pig, that pig somehow managed to lift that tractor up and get me out from under there. Not sure how he did it. But that pig rescued me."

"I see the pig only has three legs," said the traveler.

"Well, a pig like that," said the farmer, "a pig that special, you can't eat a pig like that all at once."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Scissor-tails at home

A pair of Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers are nesting in the furthest south of the 6 scraggly adolescent elm trees right out in front of the bunkhouse. Beautiful bird whose predominant song sounds like the beep-beep of a cheap child's squeeze toy. They are lovely though. The nest is flimsy and light; you can see right through it. No eggs yet that I can see, so perhaps they are still building. They hover around worrying and fluttering back and forth among the trees. A couple of times last night, they posed two on a branch in full view, a birdwatcher's dream. Between poses we witnessed a lovers' quarrel - loud, intense, with much flapping of wings, and forgotten a moment later.

Pepper has a scrape on her shin and seems subdued - happy to lounge on the grass in front of the bunkhouse. Uncharacteristically willing to lie down when I tell her to do so. How does a dog process such a near miss, I wonder?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Charlie and Betty Swift

Charlie and Betty Swift are farmers in the old time family farm sense of the word. They are nearing 80 years old but that doesn't stop them from cultivating an acre or two of vegetables, tending cows and hens and thoroughly sustaining themselves from their labors. Once in awhile they'll pick up some extra cash mowing grass and trimming weeds (as they did for us in the early days of our bunkhouse ownership - that's Bill's son Willie pictured with them here).

Tom Armstrong once asked Charlie Swift if he'd ever worked for anybody. Charlie thought just a moment and replied, "My dad."

Their farm is on the Rogler Road just about 2 miles northwest of town. I drove out just before noon to see if they'd let me poke around their garden, see what they'd got growing and see what I could learn. When I arrived Charlie was sitting in an easy chair in the kitchen, stocking footed with the well-worn running shoes he works in discarded nearby. Betty was laying the table for lunch.

Not very polite to visit farmers at high noon, I suppose.

But they didn't seem to mind. They waved me out to the garden - where I saw wonderous sights, indeed. The five inch head of broccolli amazed me the most. Nearly mature cabbages. Rows of lettuce. Onion after onion after onion. Need I mention tomatoes, potatoes, rows and rows of corn already 6 or eight inches high, peppers, carrots, and somebody sure must love radishes.

Back in the kitchen they were in no hurry to eat and no hurry to see me go. Charlie talked more than I'd ever heard. His eyes were literally sparkling as he listened joyfully and respectfully as his wife started a story, then joining in to tell me from his point of view about the tornado that tipped the shed over minutes after he parked his tractor and ran for the cover of the cellar.

"This fool didn't know what he was seeing," chided Betty, managing, somehow, to say it kindly.

We talked about cell phones - "Those tiny little things, and my nephews are out there in the driveway calling West Virginia and Chicago!"

We talked about seedlings. They buy most of their plants in El Dorado, though when the weather gets warm enough Betty starts a few tomotoes and peppers in pots .

They don't grow peas anymore or strawberries - they take too much time to pick.

And we talked about lettuce. Betty wanted to know if I had learned any interesting ways of fixing it up in Chicago. She may have been disappointed to learn that I am partial to just olive oil and vinegar with a dash of salt and pepper. Charlie has exotic tastes in lettuce: he likes to dip the leaves in cream and sugar with a little bit of vinegar to sour it. And Betty is likes wilted lettuce, dressed with bacon grease and onions.

Betty is a regular at the small Farmers Market in Strong City - early in the season she is sometimes the only vendor. As I left she lay down the guantlet - "Maybe you'll give me some competition," she smiled.

Maybe next year, Betty. Maybe next year. For now I plan to pop in often and learn what I can from the Masters.

Oh Pepper!

I'm shaken this afternoon. Bill called about an hour ago to say that Pepper had been hit by a car. She is unscathed, thank heaven. But probably none the wiser for her very close call.

Carol Brown was bicycling down highway 177 on her way back from a strenous shopping trip to the Strong City Grocery. Pepper as usual started barking and gave chase. An approaching car slowed but somehow hit her. Puppy tumbled to the side of the road and the car sped on. Pat was pissed, but Bill talked him out of pursuing the hit and run driver.

Hard to blame the driver for hitting a badly behaved dog; but easy think ill of a person who doesn't even pause to find out what happened.

Spring Salad

Mixed greens and pea pods from our garden, radishes from Isobel's. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and a dash of basalmic. Heaven.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


This morning - not early, since I've been sleeping past my normal 6am attempting to rid myself of a mild but tenacious spring cold - Bill and Pepper and I walked west and then south out on the prairie on the other side of the tracks. The Rogler cows had drifted east toward our property line so we walked swiftly, hoping that Pepper would be distracted by birds and mole holes and leave those cows alone.

Happily, she was and she did.

Reaching the gravel road we turned left and made our way back toward town. At the corner of Egypt Street and Open Range Road, four big dogs can always be depended on to greet us, ready and eager to play with Pepper. The most energetic of the lot is a light brown lab mix a little bit bigger than Pepper. He accompanied us into town, where we were met by the school-bus driver's Corgie, Tasha, who seems perpetually escaped from her backyard pen. She joined our party as we looped through the quiet streets of Matfield Green, and started on our way back home.

I knew that the brown dog was streetwise, but that Tasha might not be so savvy - and that Arlene, the bus driver (and an award winning horse-woman), would worry. So back we went to return Tasah to her pen.

Homeward through what we have named our "south pasture" - full of happy purple petaled spider wort now that we've burned and Bill has removed all of the shady, weedy cedar trees.

We spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon down by the garden. Bill cut stakes for peas from thorny black locust trees, which have given their lives so that I can have a pond outside my bedroom window. I drove in the stakes, weeded, watered and just wandered around admiring baby broccoli, kale and a few tiny corns.

The garden is beginning to bear fruit. We'll have salad tonight - red and green baby lettuces and sweet young snow peas, and radishes contributed by Isobel Gray, who is clearly winning the subtle but persisent community-wide game of whose-garden-grows-the-most-fastest.

I continue to strain my eyes watching for potato leaves. One bed of potatoes is going gangbusters, but the is almost barren. This soil is hard. The top of it bakes like clay in the sun - I'm afraid that only the most determined potatoes are going to make it through to the light.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Catfish Chow

The temperature at the Emporia State Bank read 104 degrees Fahrenheit at almost 6 o’clock yesterday evening as we drove out west of town to visit Susan and Scott, new friends courtesy of the Emporia Chamber of Commerce. Hot and dusty on those dirt roads, harsh smell of manure on fertile fields. It's a different kind of landscape around Emporia - more tillable land, fewer cows. Passing expensive looking houses and well-manicured lawns on the way out of town, we'd wondered where the money comes from - the University, yes, and a substantial hospital, the huge and stinky Tyson meat processing plant, and most of all agriculture - machines, chemicals, seeds.

Our host, Scott, is enjoying an early retirement after selling his share of Fanestil Meats, while Susan directs the Career Services department at Emporia State. They are both Texans, which explains the six (count 'em, six!) pairs of cowboy boots, all Scott's, by the front door. Work boots. Dress boots. Boots for casual occasions. Boots beautiful enough to double as living room decor in their off hours.

After a wonderful meal of beer can chicken, sweet corn and coleslaw, followed by tart and delicious homemade raspberry sorbet, we ambled out to their backyard pond with a bucket full of Purina Catfish Chow. Sure enough, the pond is full of hungry bottom feeders - 10 pounds or more - who are not too proud to stick there noses out of the water for a bit of kibble.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Photo gallery

Top: That's the basement of our new house courtesy of the concrete contractors. Now it's Pat's turn, to build walls and install floor joists. We're on the way!
Middle: At the house sight, drilling one of six 200 foot deep holes for our geothermal HVAC system. We'll use the earth's constant temperature of 55 degrees to help heat and cool our new house.
Bottom: Tai Shen at home in the National Zoo.

Of birds and bears and seeing eye dogs

I've just returned from three days in Washington with the Realtors Association - a welcoming, interesting and interested bunch. I led a class in leadership, touching on personal renewal, personality type and conflict resolution, and all 24 students jumped enthusiasitically into each new conversation - and didn't even complain when I made them do role plays! What more can I ask?

The class was seven hours long and, role plays or not, I spent most of those seven hours talking. At about the end of hour six, my voice, normally so cooperative, gave out under the strain of a cold, bid me good-bye, and left a nasty frog's voice in its place. Luckily there was a microphone handy to carry me to the end of the class.

Exhausted, I could think of nothing more perfect to do than to take myself down to the National Zoo, just 4 blocks away from my hotel, to visit the baby Panda, 10-month old Tai Shan. It was a gray day and for the most part the zoo was deserted. No admission charge required, I wandered right in and happily up to the panda habitat. For a zoo, it all looks very comfortable. The panda dad - weighing in at 270 lbs - has his own wooded and grassy enclosure, with mama and baby - Mai Xiang and Tai Shen - living in a separate and equally hospitable space next door. Apparently panda dads aren't into childcare (or much else about their young offspring) and can resent the relationship between mother and son. So zookeepers take no chances.

When I arrived, Tai Shen was sleeping in a tree. On a small branch of a leafy tree about 8 feet off the ground. Not much of a view for me. Mothers and fathers with small children came and went as I sat on a bench nearby, glimpsing the sleeping panda bear, watching for awhile and then wandering on to a more entertaining exhibit. But three other women, like me, were camped out waiting for the little one to move. And these women new A LOT about this panda. When he was born - July 9 2005 - how much he weighs - 50 lbs (just a little bit less than Pepper, he looks bigger, but it must be all the fur). They even knew at what time and what kind of fruitcicle was used to lure Tai Shen out of the tree yesterday evening! And they shared anticdotes about other evenings as well!

"Are you here every evening?" I asked. Really wondering.

"On no," the one woman laughed. Turned out she is from Texas. Her friend is from New Jersey. They'd never met before today, but they are members of a cyber-group of about 400 that keeps an eye on Tai Shen via the Zoo's "Pandacam" They share observations and photos and whenever anyone is going to be in DC they check to see if anyone else happens to be going. They love pandas in general and Tai Shen in particular. Not that I blame them.

So I sat for about an hour. Panda mom and dad had long since gone inside. The zookeeper - a young woman in blue jeans - had woken Tai Shen and was trying to coax him down with a stick of bamboo. No go. Apparently this had been a hard day for the cub. For the first time, Mama had refused her nipple. Over and over. All day. My new friends thought perhaps he was sulking.
Hard to say.

The young woman cleaned out the cage (a very nice cage it is, but it is still a cage). Then she came back and coaxed some more. Cleaned some more. Coaxed some more. Pretended not to care. And finally, while here back was turned Tai Shen dropped a fuzzy black leg and another, and as she turned around he hung about 5 feet off the ground. She reached up and took him in her arms. Her hands across his belly, his face toward the small and dedicated crowd. He's a cutey. They don't make them much cuter than that.

Except for Pepper of course.

She and Bill met me at the airport in Wichita. We stopped at Kinko's on the way home. I was going to wait in the car while Bill ran in to make a few copies. But apparently Pep had been in the car long enough. She wiggled out the front door after Bill, took a quick survey of the Kinko's parking lot, and as the automatic doors slid open she ran into Kinko's, darted to the back of the store, made a quick circle of the place, evaded our attempts to catch her by the collar, took this quick turn and that until finally she made a mistake and I caught her (ta-da!) by the collar.

We sat for a few moments behind a copier at the front of the store. A customer came in and another left both smiling at my sweet dog sitting so nicely, like a greeter just inside the door. I knew I would have trouble getting into the car without Bill, so I thought I'd just wait and we could all exit together. (Did I mention that we had no leash with us? Did I mention that neither Bill nor I are ace dog trainers?)

But it was not to be.

A Kinko's co-worker approached us with a smile. "Is he a seeing-eye dog?" she asked politely. I had visions of putting that deception into some kind of absurd action. But instead I said regretfully, "No." So, of course, we were asked to leave. And we did.

One morning while I was away Bill was working at his desk, Pepper was lying on the bed and the bunkhouse door was open as it often is to catch the breeze and give Pepper in-and-out privileges. Suddenly overhead were three barn swallows. "Like angels," says Bill. They flew several circles around the room, with dog and man both staying still and watching. In a moment, two swallows found and made their exit, but one remained. Bill moved into action to help guide her out the door. Pepper too gave chase.

Must have been quite the scene.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Natural wonders

A baby ring neck snake under a wood pile in front of the bunkhouse.

The night hawk yesterday evening. Floating on the breeze high above us on the prairie. Diving deep and straight toward the earth. Unearthly gutteral sound of whirring wings when 4 feet above the ground he flips and soars right back up again. Searching for bugs? Probably. Having a wonderful time? Absolutely.

Tiny gray mouse scurring through the recently burned grass.

Missouri evening primrose. Pale yellow flower not yet open. She'll bloom as it gets darker, opening her petals for polination by only a certain type of moth. Lovely slender and pale green leaves, veined in white.

Eastern blue bird shimmering in the mid-morning sun.

Five sleek and playful horses lingering in the corner of the field across the street from us. Keeping there eyes on us, as we do on them.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Garden musing

Morning in the garden.

Me spreading straw that I transported from a huge moldering pile behind Emily's house. Mulching tomoatoes and strawberries. Setting out cages to support tomatoes and peppers. I'd learned, in Chicago, that straw is hard to come by in the spring. You need to collect it in the fall when there is plenty. I did not have enough forethought to set aside straw for this year. So better moldy than nothing, I hope.

Pat building the basement walls. Soon there will be a basement ceiling - aka first floor joists. Then it is onward and upward.

Bill murdering poison ivy hither and yon. Our one exception to the "no herbicide" rule. We are Rounding Up that ivy wherever we see it. Bill is terribly allergic. I have yet to be bitten and hope I never am.

So, garden musings.

Thinking that I will make it a habit to say hello to at least one neighbor every day. And maybe I'll have to say that Tom Armstrong doesn't count. Because he makes it too easy. Stopped by this morning to ask if we needed anything from the Twin Cities (Cottonwood Falls and Strong City, 15 miles to the north, total population about 1200, one grocery store, a liquor store, a couple of gas stations and a few other business establishments). We are getting used to saying yes if someone asks. It's a charm and a necessity of living out in the middle of nowhere, that when someone goes "somewhere" they stop and ask if you need anything.

Ran into Isobel Gray when I went to get the straw at Emily's. Isobel is about 55 or 60. Lives alone about 5 miles out of town. I've not yet been invited to her house but I'd like to be. I hear it's simple. She grows much of her own food and wakes at 4am all summer long - no trouble since she is an insomniac - to go fishing in the farm ponds. The fish get frozen and become a winter staple. She's told me canning stories that make it clear that I'd have much to learn as her apprentice. Isobel and I share a philosophy of why bother planting it if you can't eat it.

Luckily there are people in the world like Emily (and Bill) who do not share our philosophy. Thus, Isobel and I get to enjoy perky flowerbeds and the shade of lovely, strong burr oak trees.

I've been watching for signs of sprouting corn and potatoes. Corn can sprout from seed in as little as a day, but that must be in warmer weather. Mine is at least 5 or 6 days in the ground and still no sign of it.

Sometimes it seems as if you actually can watch potato plants grow. Two of the ten or so rows I planted 2 weeks ago have sprouted and seem to be doublingin size every day. But no sign of anything in the other 8 rows, and in those cases it's like watching water boil. I keep thinking I'm going to go down to the garden and see a bubble in the earth with a dark green potato leaf pushing its way through. I look and look again, but in 8 out of 10 rows, so far, there's nothing.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Beans beans they're good for your heart

I don't know why that popped into my head. The old ditty about farting that my little brothers used to find soooooo funny.

Actually I do know why it came to me. I am feeling wiped out today. I have a cold, my nose is runny and I really don't want to spend the time I need to spend going through my notes - rehearsing - for the class I'm teaching on Tuesday. Mostly I just want to get better. Now.

But. I'm not. Better. However, I am not so sick that I couldn't get out into the garden. In this kind of state it is easier to do than to think. So I did. I planted. I planted beans. It was sunny out, and I hoed and raked and seeded and watered, and some day soon there will be beans for dinner.

And those little white beans going into freshly hoed soil, lo and behold, they did my heart good!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Unanticipated advantages

There are unexpected benefits to being surrounded by retired men. Today while I am at work in my office - preparing to speak with a potential coaching client, participating in a Coach U teleclass, getting my notes in order for a class on Leadership that I am teaching at a National Assocation of Realtors convention next week - both Tom and Bill are at work out in the yard. Tom trimming weeds and Bill mowing lawns (mine and the Armstrong's).

It's like Tom Sawyer and the fence. One starts and the other joins in. Except that these guys know what they are getting into and they still think it's going to be fun. Anything that involves power tools - that, I believe, is the manly definition of fun.

Quite the deal for me.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A skunk in the dump

I took a short and early walk with Pepper this morning - had to be at the office by 7am for a Coach U teleclass. As we neared the bunkhouse, passing the site that Pat used to dump materials when he was clearing out the building in the initial stages of construction, I looked up to see Pepper going head-to-head with a skunk. 2 feet between them. Skunk's tale raised.

"Pepper, no." I yelled. "Pepper." Both still. "Pepper, no, no, no." Both turn. Skunk runs back into her home in the refuse pile. Pepper trots toward me. I prepare for the worst. Take a wiff as she nears. And another. Wondering if it is fair to leave Bill with a skunky dog to wash first thing in the morning.

To my joy, Pepper smells exactly like herself. As sweet as any slightly smelly farm dog.

So we move happily back to the bunkhouse for breakfast.

What do skunks eat for breakfast, I wonder?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

6 Beautiful Burr Oaks Find Homes at Santa Fe Bunkhouse

The six burr oaks we bought at Tree-rific (what a name) are making their new homes on the west side of the bunkhouse. Instant shade - and much needed as Spring moves speedily toward the blistering prairie summer.

Bill borrowed the Catterpillar back-hoe (I think that's what it is) from the concrete contractors who have been working on the house. Very trusting of them, I'd say! And kind of them to enable Bill's rite of passage into the ranks of men who operate heavy machines.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Apple promises

There in the foreground of this picture of the west side of my office, where I come and go everyday, is a tiny little apple to be. About 1 inch round. Where just a few weeks ago there were blossoms. In a few more weeks we'll be baking apple pie.

I've spent most of today mailing letters to everyone I know telling them (you) about my coaching business. I don't write much about it here - but I am loving this new aspect of my work. I have five clients and am hoping to increase that to 15 by the end of summer. I love the work - the conversations with client - as well as the things I'm learning in my "Coach U" teleclasses and my work with my mentor coach to build my business. It feels like I've found my calling. I'd be upset about not having found it before except that this work demands a kind of settled maturity that I probably haven't really grown into before now.

Pat is pouring the concrete floor in the 3rd and final bunkhouse unit today. Bill is preparing to plant six large oak trees that we bough at Tree-rific in Andover last week, and I took an hour off in the middle of the day to plant a few more peppers and a couple of melon seedlings that survived their tumultous infancy. I also thinned lettuce that I had seeded so thickly that none of them have any room to grow. A lesson this gardener should note for next year. Or better yet for the late summer planting.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Persian on the Prairie

Dorine is my Emporia Chamber of Commerce "Sponsor." She made sure I knew about the first After Hours event, and introduced me to fellow ECC members. Together we ate hors d'oeuvres and drank wine out of plastic cups, while dutifully admiring the new atrium at the Emporia State University Alumni Building.

That was a month ago.

Happily for me, Dorine did not let her responsibilities end there. Last night Bill and I were invited to an "end of sememster" party at her home. Dorine herself is an insurance agent, but her husband Jim is the director of the International Students office and many of their friends are also employed by the University. At the party we met the chair of the art department, a photography professor, a cultural geographer, and an archeologist named Susan who was able to answer questions about many of the rocks that Bill has found in his wanderings around our property. Susan from Career Services was there with her husband, Scott, who just retired from some enterprise having to do with beef. And Bill was especially pleased to meet Richard, who owns the local John Deere distributorship and will be happy to sell us our first tractor - when that highly anticipated moment arrives.

Dorine, I should note, is a lovely Assyrian woman from Iran whose mother was highly influenced by Christian missionaries. When it came time for Dorine to go to College in the late sixties they picked Wooster College for its Presbyterianism. Jim told the story last night that I'd heard from Dorine when we first met: her dad told young Dorine, don't come home for the summer because you'll lose all your English. Go to summer school instead. There being no summer school at Wooster, Dorine followed a friend home to Emporia where she met a charismatic professor in the business school who convinced her to stay. Not long after, Jim returned from Viet Nam, was introduced to Dorine and the rest is happy marital history.

Stuffed grape leaves, dill rice, kabobs, beans with tomotoes and prunes, salad with olives and red peppers and, of course, baklava and strong tea for dessert. Add the easy conversation with fellow travelers who welcomed us into their crowd - A wonderful evening.

Today is a rather dreary Sunday. Too wet to work in the garden and I'm feeling a bit queasy - like maybe there's a chest cold waiting in my wings. So I'm catching up on easy things at the office, hoping I'm wrong about the cold, and saving my energy for weeding and planting on a drier tomorrow.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Surprising Pat

I let the cat out of the bag to Kathy & Phil Miller - told them yesterday was Pat's birthday. I'd asked him earlier in the week if he wanted me to invite anyone for dinner. No. His plan was to spend the day golfing. Guests for dinner seemed like too much fuss, I guess. Eating with just Bill and me would be fine.

So be it.

But around noon I stopped to visit Kathy & Phil. After I left, Kathy decided to make a cake. She called Tom & Barb Armstrong and, happily - since it's 12 miles to the nearest store - they had some ice cream to go with it. It was decided that there would be a surprise for Pat at 7:30 at the Armstrong's. All this happened around 5:45. Tom called Bill and then came next door to my office to tell me that we should find some excuse to come back "downtown" after dinner.

I made a quick celebration of a spaghetti dinner (Pat had been rained out of his golf game) and asked Bill, in passing, if he would come down to the office with me after dinner to help me decide how to decorate the bathroom. It's harder to lie than to act, I notice. Especially when your husband winks at you while you are trying nonchalantly to set up the surprise!

Pat said later that if he had added up all the little clues he would have guessed.

Tom called Pat at about 7:15 to say his DVD player wasn't working, and would Pat come and have a look at it. Apparently this had happened before and apparently Tom and Barb are notoriously bad with technical things. So Pat thought nothing of it. He came on down, arriving just in time for the cake and candles, and seemed pleased, after all, to be surprised and celebrated.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Kansas Rural Letter Carriers' Association

If you want to buy stamps here on Rural Route 1, you simply put a check (or cash) in your mailbox - it's one of those metal boxes with a little red flag on it - with a note to Joy the postal carrier. She takes the check and replaces it with stamps. Or if you want to mail a package and don't know how much postage it takes, or don't have it, you put the package in the mailbox and hoist the flag to let Joy know to stop for a pick-up. She'll take the package and leave a note letting you know how much you owe her.

Yesterday I left a check and a note requesting 500 stamps - more than she usually carries I assume. She left 200 right away and came back today with 300 more. Plus a note on Kansas Rural Letter Carriers' Association paper:

Thank you for buying your postage from us. We appreciate your business.
Thanks again!
Cassoday P.O. & Rural Carrier

Cassoday is a very small town down the road about 10 miles. It has a gas station, a school, a cafe and an antique store. There must be a church somewhere too. A little more substantial than Matfield Green, but not much. I'll bet the post office there is never sure if they'll be the next casualty of the exodus from rural America. I'll buy all my stamps from Joy from now on. It's wonderful and I hope it lasts. Maybe I need to write more letters.

telephone, DSL, corn & raspberries

A long day on the telephone yesterday. I'm taking classes through Coach U, a great help as I my coaching business started. It is a truly global enterprise - all on the telephone. Yesterday morning's 7am class was taught by a woman in Israel. Students included Henry from Belgium - familiar from a previous class - as well as callers from Singapore, China, England, the Caiman Islands and the United States.

At 8am I was on the phone with Maren and Tony at the University of Massachusetts, learning what I need to know to teach an online class in strategic planning for arts managers.

At 11am I was coaching a client in Chicago, at 2pm I was on the phone with my mentor coach who lives in Seattle, at 3:30 I met - by telephone of course - with Doris from the Flint Area Association of Realtors. She is helping me prepare to present a class on leadership in DC on May 16 for the National Assocation of Realtors.

All good. But it makes me think I need to go out and say hello to my neighbors.

I got seed corn in the ground last night while Bill dug holes for raspberry plants along the inside of the corral fence. He asked me how many plants I'd bought. I said "15". He heard "50" and started digging. 25 holes later we clarified the issue. Got the 15 planted and now wondering what to with our 10 empty holes.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


The weeds are overwhelming. Literally, taking over the beds in my absence. And, emotionally, something that could easily depress a gardener. I remind myself that this is the first year. Just last October this garden was a pasture. The grasses and other prairie plants do not yet know that their home is outside the stockyard fence.

I picked little lettuce leaves and beet sprouts yesterday. The first salad of the season. Our first bowl of Kansas-grown greens.

We live here now. We've eaten joyfully of this earth.

Our work will make it bountiful.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Home again! After two weeks away. What a relief it is after planes and hotels and conference centers.

To make it even better, it rained more than 4 inches while I was away. Vegetables (and weeds) are thriving. Are calling me out to the garden.