Matfield Green - Our first years

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cold again but spring will (really) come

I know the end of winter is just around the corner because a week or so ago I went shopping with a Girl Scout from Cottonwood Falls named Heather - shopping for garden supplies. Heather is part of a Girl Scout entrepreneurial program called "Challenge and Change." She is going to grow and sell vegetables in a plot just off the main drag in Strong City. I'm one of her adult allies. Another of the adults participating in the project is the landscaper named Terry who loaned the plot of land. I know that I will probably be able to learn a lot from hearing Terry's advice to Heather. In the photo Heather and I are loading the car after purchasing seeds and shovels and the like.

Monday, January 29, 2007


I got home from a teaching week in Chicago to find signs of spring. For one thing our new pond is now half full (definitely not half-empty!). The snow has been melting in the hills, running down the draw and under the railroad straight to our pond - exactly as planned. And so far the lovely pond appears to be holding water.

Pepper and I walked through the woods to the Little Cottonwood River, just west of us, and lo and behold for the first time since last March the River runs! Hurrah.

It was still quite cold last night and we city folks discovered that one of the responsiblities of country life is to check your propane tank once in awhile. The gage hit empty last evening. Happily our bunkhouse is well-insolated so we only lost about 8 or 9 degrees through the night. We called Flint Hills Energy first thing in the morning and they arrived in less than 45 minutes. Pat and I reflected about what might happen if we had found ourselves without gas in Chicago. How many phone calls, how many days waiting, would it have taken to get everything up and running again? More than 45 minutes I guarantee you that.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A mouse in the house

The weather is a big deal around here.

I went on a great walk this mornign. Getting myself lost a bit and then finding myself walking among the whitewashed rocks that spell out "Matfield Green" in huge letters on the hillside west of the bunkhouse. The walked was only marred by the moment in which I slipped going down into a small dry creek bed. Slipped back and conked my head. No lasting damage but surprising and kind of scary.

Then on my way back from coaching in Emporia this morning it started to snow. Highway 50 wasn't actually very bad - the truck traffic melts the snow - but the trucks passing and blowing ice onto my windshield makes me panic a bit every time. And the last 15 miles on Highway 177 are treacherous with snow.

Finally, whenever the temperature drops one solitary mouse shows up in my office house. I don't mind really but I'm always surprised. And if I'm on the phone with a client I have to try to keep from yelping. (That sentence was just interupted by a yelp as the mouse jumped out of my wastebasket!)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's the middle of January and...

...there's not much to say except that it is slippery out. As the temperature goes up about 1 degree a day the ice gets more treacherous. We've all landed on our butts more than once. Go with the flow (downhill) is my motto.

On an very positive note the days are getting longer. If I leave the office by 5:45 it is still light enough to walk home safely. Bill took a walk to town in the dark the other night - to pick up some photograhs that Jim Worster was printing. When he came back he noted that the only danger is getting hit by a drunk driver on the road. No purposefully malicious humans or even animals to worry about.

We got a draft grant proposal of to the Kansas Historical Society yesterday. Hoping to raise some money to get some significant restoration work done at Pioneer Bluffs.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Whew! I'm back

After much round and about on the google and blogger help desks I am back in business. Hurray! It's an icy winter day here. Snow and freezing rain all weekend and now the ground is covered with what looks like snow, but if you walk or even drive on it you leave no print.

It was a great day for Bill to be out taking pictures of Pioneer Bluffs. We are scrambling to get a draft grant proposal together for the Kansas Historical Society. Draft due to be postmarked tomorrow. I'm writing much of the narrative while Bill and Tom focus on the specifics of the construction projects we're proposing and developing the budget and timeline. It's all for stabilization and urgent repairs of the buildings. I dreaded working on it, but actually it's been fun, and putting actual dollar amounts to the work that needs to be done has quieted my worry about fundraising. It's a lot of money. But it's specific and we can start to bite off chunks and go for it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Year

We've been away visiting relatives in Ohio. Brother Jim and family stopped here for a couple of nights on their way back to their home in Austin Texas. It was rainy most of their day here, but at about 3pm it started to clear up. We took that chance to drive into Cottonwood Falls and then back the long way along Sharps Creek Road through Bazaar and looping around west and back toward Matfield Green. Their appreciation of the landscape - brilliant reds of the wet grassland especially - was a real heartwarmer for me.

We also spent an hour playing with Marva and Jane's puppies, now named Jim, Joe and Bill. Niece Sarafina and sister-in-law Laurie were ready to take little Jim back to Austin. But big Jim, who works at home and would probably be charged with training the pup, vetoed the idea. I want one too (Bill, would be my choice, of course) but I am restraining myself. Not enough room in the bunkhouse. Not enough room in the bunkhouse. Not enough room in the bunkhouse.

As the old year waned, we celebrated Barb Armstrong's 82nd birthday with bean soup and a big chocolate cake. Whether or not Gerald Ford should have pardoned Richard Nixon was the after dinner topic of conversation.