Prairie Ramblings en Sharks in Kansas <p></p><p>Sharks swimming in Kansas waters? Looking for dorsal fins cutting through waters where I fish, wade, and swim gives me goose bumps. I’d already spent too much time focusing on such worries as a teenage body surfer in Huntington Beach, California.</p><p> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 05:00:03 +0000 Karen Madorin 30364 at Sharks in Kansas Serendipity on Highway 183 <p></p><p>Some words stick in the mind, and serendipity is one those memorable terms rattling around in my cranium. In college, I hung out at a retreat called Serendipity House. I’d never heard the expression before, so after my first visit, I hit the dictionary.</p><p> Sat, 29 Mar 2014 05:00:03 +0000 Karen Madorin 29697 at Serendipity on Highway 183 Let Mother Nature release your inner artist <p></p><p>Recently, a friend sent me a link to “Scott Wade’s Dirty Pictures.”&nbsp; It sounds like something that should make me blush; however, it is actually a site detailing a clever artist who turned his dirty car windows into canvases for spectacular drawings.&nbsp; With recent snow melt and the resulting swampy driveway, I&nbsp; wondered if I couldn’t save some money on canvas and take up sketching on our pick-up and car windows.</p><p> Sat, 15 Mar 2014 05:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 29008 at Let Mother Nature release your inner artist I see the moon, and I know it by name <p></p><p>If you took an evening walk or happened to look out your window eastward last Thursday, you saw what some call the Worm Moon, a term American Indians introduced.&nbsp; While these nomadic people didn’t follow a Julian calendar, they knew the importance of using seasonal lunar phases to record passing time.</p><p> Sat, 08 Mar 2014 06:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 28811 at I see the moon, and I know it by name Bread dough by hand is best <p></p><p>Here’s a challenge: can you tell the difference between handmade and machine made bread? Handmade means no mixers, no dough hooks, and no electronic devices of any kind until it’s time to pop those risen loaves or rolls in the oven. If taste buds can’t tell a significant difference, why would anyone choose an old-fashioned technique to do a job?</p><p> Sat, 01 Mar 2014 06:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 27621 at Bread dough by hand is best Snow day brings new revelations <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Like my students, I appreciate occasional snow days. Waking to hear a DJ listing my school on the school cancelation list reminds me of finding an unexpected twenty dollar bill in an old pair of jeans.&nbsp;</span></p><p> Sat, 22 Feb 2014 06:00:03 +0000 Karen Madorin 27613 at Snow day brings new revelations There's beauty in the eye of the beholder <p></p><p>Living in the same region and sharing roads, doctors, schools, and hair stylists doesn’t mean people see a common experience from the same perspective. Everything that’s happened to individuals prior to those events colors their interpretations. It’s true of two kids who grow up in the same house with the same parents but tell two different stories about their upbringing. People spin their own explanations.&nbsp;</p><p> Sat, 15 Feb 2014 06:00:03 +0000 Karen Madorin 27612 at There's beauty in the eye of the beholder A prairie rabbit shows me the Zen way of life <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">One part of Eastern thought that intrigues me is the Zen &nbsp;concept of intentionally living in the moment and experiencing that moment fully. I suppose that is a&nbsp; major reason &nbsp;why I enjoy the out of doors so much.&nbsp; It’s hard to hike, camp, bird watch, fish, or hunt if you aren’t fully aware of your surroundings and the relationships of those elements with one another. Not long ago, I spotted a Zen rabbit on one of my walks, and it gave me much to consider.</span></p><p> Sat, 08 Feb 2014 06:00:04 +0000 Karen Madorin 27611 at A prairie rabbit shows me the Zen way of life Small business creativity is alive and well on the high plains <p></p><p>City dwellers take for granted easy access to services. With strip malls in urban areas sprouting like weeds in a wet summer, finding a groomer and pet care is as easy as taking a drive around a section is for me. During that four-mile drive in a city, people have to choose which business to support. In small prairie towns on two-lane highways where customers are in short supply, it requires ingenuity to figure out how to meet people’s needs and make a buck at the same time. Sat, 01 Feb 2014 06:01:01 +0000 Karen Madorin 27414 at Small business creativity is alive and well on the high plains Cosmic Sand Pile <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Remember the joy you found digging in a great dirt pile or a big sand box when you were a kid? As youngsters, my brother and I spent hours creating our own geography, which included mountain ranges, deep valleys, sloping hills, and raging rivers. All we needed was sand, a couple of spoons or trowels, and water.</span></p><p> Sat, 25 Jan 2014 06:00:04 +0000 Karen Madorin 27005 at Cosmic Sand Pile The Best Dining On the Plains is Found in Small Towns <p></p><p>City friends sometimes ask if I miss eating at popular chain restaurants. When I first moved to rural Kansas, I did miss running to Olive Garden or Red Lobster. Now days, I’m happy to wait until a local organization hosts a foodie fundraiser. I’ve learned that’s where you find homemade-by-neighbors fine dining. These cook’s reputations are on the line, so they don’t serve just anything.</p> Sat, 18 Jan 2014 06:00:04 +0000 Karen Madorin 26866 at The Best Dining On the Plains is Found in Small Towns Ode to the Public Library <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Watching how much my toddler granddaughter loves books reminds me of a seven-year-old,&nbsp; toothpick-legged child who thought she was a big girl when her momma handed her anallowance on Saturday mornings. Along with that shiny dime, that little girl’s mother permitted her to trek uptown-- first to the dime store and then to the library. The coin was spent in no time.&nbsp; It took much longer to wander up and down the bookshelf aisles searching for the perfect three or four titles to carry home so she could escape into those well-turned pages for a week of exciting adventure.</span></p><p> Sat, 11 Jan 2014 06:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 26615 at Ode to the Public Library Winter Morning Shadow Plays <p></p><p>One of my favorite childhood memories or maybe even adult memories involves casting finger shadows of rabbits, birds, and other creatures onto a blank wall. One morning, I noticed Mother Nature playing her own shadow games on Big Creek below my kitchen window.On weekend mornings, I look forward to seeing what sorts of fun the “old girl” can concoct using barren branches, agile squirrels, and flitting birds.</p><p> Sat, 04 Jan 2014 06:00:02 +0000 Cindee Talley 25966 at Winter Morning Shadow Plays Frugal Good Times <p></p><p>Go to enough auctions of people who survived The Depression, World War II, the blows of the 50s, and the one car families of the 60s, and you’ll find&nbsp; boxes of small square table cloths and probably more than one deck of regular or pinochle playing cards and maybe a box of dominoes. These inexpensive, reusable items were ingredients for Friday and Saturday night good times as well as the center of family gatherings at holidays.</p><p> Sat, 28 Dec 2013 06:00:03 +0000 Karen Madorin 25965 at Frugal Good Times Solstices Remind Us of Rhythms Our Hearts Know <p></p><p>I can’t imagine living in times prior to scientific understanding of the year’s shortest day and longest night, the winter solstice.&nbsp; Before easy access to candles, kerosene, and electricity, this was a worrisome season. Little besides faith the sun would return comforted ancient people through increasingly long nights.</p><p> Sat, 14 Dec 2013 16:07:00 +0000 Karen Madorin 25530 at Solstices Remind Us of Rhythms Our Hearts Know Annie, get your gun-- and a mixing bowl <p></p><p>Not so long ago,most&nbsp; people considered serious women hunters a rarity.&nbsp; Their appearances on outdoor channels were uncommon, and you couldn’t find camouflage or blaze orange specifically designed to fit feminine&nbsp; curves.</p><p> Sat, 07 Dec 2013 06:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 25222 at Annie, get your gun-- and a mixing bowl The Force: Music <p></p><p>It’s interesting how certain tunes and lyrics transport our minds from the present to another time and place. I can’t listen to “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog” without finding myself traveling backward through time to age fifteen when I rode shotgun up and down the main drag of a small Southwest Kansas town. With our windows rolled down, summer breezes riffled our hair until a comb could hardly pass through it. Oncoming drivers blared horns to greet one another as part of the nightly ritual. These discordant sounds disrupted KOMA tunes that set the rhythm of our popping bubble gum.</p><p> Sat, 30 Nov 2013 14:00:00 +0000 Karen Madorin 24963 at The Force: Music Holiday Baking Cooks Up Memories <p></p><p>As soon as nights get longer and colder, I find myself scouring cook books and magazines for festive recipes.&nbsp; The irony is that I may whip up one of two of these temptations, but always, always, I return to childhood standbys.&nbsp; While new flavors tease family taste buds, traditional recipes comfort and connect us to loved ones and times long gone.</p><p> Sat, 23 Nov 2013 06:00:03 +0000 Karen Madorin 24688 at Holiday Baking Cooks Up Memories Jack Rabbit Coming Down a Country Road <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Having learned to drive in Southern California where merging with rush hour traffic was a driver-ed mandate, I relish our area’s slow-paced traffic.</span></p><p> Sat, 16 Nov 2013 06:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 24373 at Jack Rabbit Coming Down a Country Road From Pumpkin Patch to Kitchen Delight <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Seeing photos of my granddaughter’s visit to a pumpkin patch reminds me why these seasonal venues draw visitors from miles around.&nbsp; Walking among vines to eyeball and then pick and carry home these great orange globes connects people to the soil that grew that particular squash and to the sun and rain that nurtured it. It’s like holding an electrical wire and getting the full buzz, only without the shock and spasms.</span></p><p> Sat, 09 Nov 2013 06:00:04 +0000 Karen Madorin 24037 at From Pumpkin Patch to Kitchen Delight Autumn Uglies <p></p><p>Those of us who share our country homes with wildlife love spring time when we see the babies.&nbsp; Nothing is cuter or sweeter than a newborn fawn unless it is six or seven baby raccoons following mom to the creek.&nbsp; On the other hand, nothing is funnier looking and yet more charming than a flock of recently feathered turkey poults trying to catch grasshoppers as they follow their mother through tall grass.</p><p> Sat, 02 Nov 2013 05:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 23691 at Autumn Uglies High Plains Grasses Provide the Palette of Autumn <p></p><p>The palette of autumn colors in western Kansas dazzles me every year.&nbsp; I know many folks think foliage tours in eastern states reveal the best seasonal color, but I wish they would drive across the prairie with me.&nbsp; The colors may not be quite so obvious as the hardwood forests in the East, but anyone with a good eye can enjoy our fall hues.</p><p> Sat, 26 Oct 2013 05:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 23445 at High Plains Grasses Provide the Palette of Autumn The Great Hedge Apple Insect Experiment <p></p><p>Normally, I avoid sequels.&nbsp; I don&rsquo;t want to know what happened after Rhett left Scarlet standing in the door with his famous line echoing in her mind.&nbsp; I definitely didn&rsquo;t want to see Rocky triumph more than once.&nbsp; However, I must write a part two to the hedge apple saga.&nbsp; If I don&rsquo;t, that tale&rsquo;s audience may enter the next bug cycle with unfounded hope.</p><p> Sat, 12 Oct 2013 05:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 22837 at The Great Hedge Apple Insect Experiment The Magic of Monkey Balls: Truth or Tale? <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Hedge apples, direct to you!&rdquo; An Internet site suggests that placing these objects &ldquo;around the foundation or inside the basement provide relief from cockroaches, spiders, box elder bugs, crickets, and other pests.&rdquo; Hedge apples. Aren&rsquo;t they ugly fruits that look like a green brain? In fact, green brain is another term for this wild pod along with the terms Osage orange, hedge balls, monkey balls, and horse apples.</p><p> Sat, 05 Oct 2013 05:00:03 +0000 Karen Madorin 22500 at The Magic of Monkey Balls: Truth or Tale? A Weekend to Remember <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Last week’s gusting winds did more than catch&nbsp; arms and legs&nbsp; in slamming doors, blow hair in directions it’s not intended to go, and make me tilt at a 60 degree angle in order to prevent joining a bazillion tumble weeds traveling hither and yon.&nbsp; It set my nerves on fire and prepared me to enjoy a perfect weekend.</span></p><p> Sat, 28 Sep 2013 05:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 22123 at A Weekend to Remember Towering Sunflowers Predict… <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Folk wisdom, especially weather-related folk wisdom, captured my attention when I first learned the saying, “Red sky at night—a sailor’s delight and red sky at morning—a sailor’s warning,” from my grandmother. I’ve tried to determine whether or not her wise words consistently ring true over the decades, but so far--no verdict.</span></p><p> Mon, 23 Sep 2013 14:18:10 +0000 Karen Madorin 21922 at Towering Sunflowers Predict… Drought, A Tree Root, and No Plumbing <p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>When I left home to attend a five week National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Teacher Seminar, my husband devoutly promised he’d water my flowers.&nbsp; By the time I left, velvety purple petunias, coral moss rose, and vibrant snapdragons already showed heat distress.</p><p>While in North Dakota, I kept track of western Kansas weather through phone calls and monitoring the Hays Daily News.&nbsp; Though some rain fell, I knew the only way my flowers would survive was through regularly hosings.&nbsp;</p> Sat, 14 Sep 2013 05:00:03 +0000 Karen Madorin 21615 at Drought, A Tree Root, and No Plumbing Miniature Dinosaurs on My Hilltop <p></p><p>From the time I toddled until I finished 3<sup>rd</sup> grade, I called oil boomtowns dotting Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico home. During those years my family lived in this stark and beautiful region, my dad would bring me bits of petrified dinosaur skeleton he found near rig locations where he worked. These bones-turned-stones gripped my imagination until I added a dinosaur tooth and a dinosaur coprolite or fossilized doo to my rock collection.</p><p> Mon, 09 Sep 2013 19:30:00 +0000 Karen Madorin 21069 at Miniature Dinosaurs on My Hilltop If the Santa Fe Trail of the Past Met Highway 50 of the Present, There’d Be No Boring Travel <p></p><p>As a youngster riding down Highway 50, I never questioned how this piece of asphalt connected me to the past of either Kansas or our nation. It was a boring ride that didn’t have interesting scenery unless we happened to drive through a storm with writhing clouds or pass through at sunrise or sunset.</p><p> Sat, 31 Aug 2013 05:00:03 +0000 Karen Madorin 20977 at If the Santa Fe Trail of the Past Met Highway 50 of the Present, There’d Be No Boring Travel Gifted Armadillos <p></p><p>Sometimes you look at a creature and wonder how it evolved into the beast it is. The kangaroo and platypus come to mind, but they’re Australian, and who can account for animal adaptations down under? The critter I’m most curious about is one I see squashed all too often on the Texas and Oklahoma Interstates--the armadillo. Not long ago, I spied an immigrant armadillo flattened on I-70 in Trego County.</p> Sat, 24 Aug 2013 05:00:02 +0000 Karen Madorin 20666 at Gifted Armadillos