Karen Madorin

Prairie Ramblings writer

Community: Hays, KS

A sixth generation Kansan, Karen Madorin cherishes the prairie in a way only one who has left a beloved homeland and returned can.  A writer, amateur photographer, and former teacher, Karen loves finding fossils from the ancient inland seas as well as learning about modern pioneers who harvest Kansas wind.  Her Prairie Ramblings essays celebrate living the good life on the High Plains.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Annie, get your gun-- and a mixing bowl

Jillian, Ellerbe, N.C., Winchester SX 3 in Mossy Oak Duck Blind finish.
Credit npr.org

Who says a woman's place is in the home?

Not so long ago,most  people considered serious women hunters a rarity.  Their appearances on outdoor channels were uncommon, and you couldn’t find camouflage or blaze orange specifically designed to fit feminine  curves.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
4:00 am
Sat November 30, 2013

The Force: Music

Credit grandmashousecac.com

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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Holiday Baking Cooks Up Memories

Credit coupondivaqueen.blogspot.com

As soon as nights get longer and colder, I find myself scouring cook books and magazines for festive recipes.  The irony is that I may whip up one of two of these temptations, but always, always, I return to childhood standbys.  While new flavors tease family taste buds, traditional recipes comfort and connect us to loved ones and times long gone.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Jack Rabbit Coming Down a Country Road

Credit sparselysageandtimely.com

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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

From Pumpkin Patch to Kitchen Delight

Credit birdworms.com

Seeing photos of my granddaughter’s visit to a pumpkin patch reminds me why these seasonal venues draw visitors from miles around.  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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Autumn Uglies

Credit beyondthefieldsweknow.org

Those of us who share our country homes with wildlife love spring time when we see the babies.  Nothing is cuter or sweeter than a newborn fawn unless it is six or seven baby raccoons following mom to the creek.  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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

High Plains Grasses Provide the Palette of Autumn

Credit hutchrec.com

The palette of autumn colors in western Kansas dazzles me every year.  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.  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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

The Lost Art of the Sunday Drive

Credit farside.areavoices.com

Frequently, people lament the passing of the good ol’ days but when questioned, rarely do any Sad Sams want to return to days before air conditioning, central heat, automatic transmissions, cell phones, internet, and cable TV.  While it is possible to live life without those items, most of us don’t really want to revert to life without modern technology.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

The Great Hedge Apple Insect Experiment

Credit http://joycewallace1.blogspot.com/

Normally, I avoid sequels.  I don’t want to know what happened after Rhett left Scarlet standing in the door with his famous line echoing in her mind.  I definitely didn’t want to see Rocky triumph more than once.  However, I must write a part two to the hedge apple saga.  If I don’t, that tale’s audience may enter the next bug cycle with unfounded hope.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

The Magic of Monkey Balls: Truth or Tale?

Credit wikipedia.org

    

“Hedge apples, direct to you!” An Internet site suggests that placing these objects “around the foundation or inside the basement provide relief from cockroaches, spiders, box elder bugs, crickets, and other pests.” Hedge apples. Aren’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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

A Weekend to Remember

Credit windriver.org

 Last week’s gusting winds did more than catch  arms and legs  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.  It set my nerves on fire and prepared me to enjoy a perfect weekend.

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Folklore
5:18 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Towering Sunflowers Predict…

Credit eyes4mwanza.blogspot.com

  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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Drought, A Tree Root, and No Plumbing

Credit acquaplumbingllc.com

  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.  By the time I left, velvety purple petunias, coral moss rose, and vibrant snapdragons already showed heat distress.

While in North Dakota, I kept track of western Kansas weather through phone calls and monitoring the Hays Daily News.  Though some rain fell, I knew the only way my flowers would survive was through regularly hosings. 

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
10:30 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Miniature Dinosaurs on My Hilltop

Credit umich.edu

From the time I toddled until I finished 3rd 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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

If the Santa Fe Trail of the Past Met Highway 50 of the Present, There’d Be No Boring Travel

Credit usends.com

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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Gifted Armadillos

Credit superanimalwallpaper.blogspot.com

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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Die Fly!

Credit paqwak.com

If curses and death wishes worked, a fly couldn’t survive, let alone buzz in anyone’s ear or crawl on their flesh, near my house. In the last two weeks, I’ve thought or said, “Die fly,” at least a 10,000 times. Unfortunately, wishing these creepy crawlers into the afterworld has had absolutely no effect. It’s time for an attack plan.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

And the Oscar Goes to the Bull Snake

A few years ago, we replaced the windows in our house. I expected dust, noise, flies, and suffering through hundred degree plus July days, but I didn’t expect an Oscar quality actor to make an appearance. One thing about living in the country, something unexpected always happens. Because of our remodeling project, I faced one of my most dreaded fears—a snake in the kitchen.  

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Moms Are Moms No Matter the Species

Over decades, my students have written many essays detailing results of getting between young animals and their mommas. Mothers aren’t only tender. They’re tough when necessary, and one look at a momma cow with her calf clearly states you don’t want to mess with her baby. Years ago, a family of fledgling wrens reminded me how moms fuss over their babies and that I should stay out of their business.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

How'd an Egg get in the Water Pan?

We’ve raised chickens most of our marriage, so that’s thirty years of learning to understand feathered, cackling females. I can confirm this species is messy, noisy, piggish, and sometimes mean –which explains the term henpecked. They’re also dense and run like gawky, miniature Tyrannosaurs. Despite their character flaws, I love my girls. However, one of them has confused me.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Blitzkrieg on the Banks of Big Creek

Credit http://healthimpactnews.com

The London Blitz involved nine months of German bomber-induced devastation that drove people who lived there into a state of constant awareness regarding the location of the nearest bomb shelter. While the banks of Big Creek won’t echo with the drone of mechanical motors and sound of carpet bombs exploding one right after another, one locale faces a dive bombing hawk intent on scoring a fresh chicken dinner.

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Dung Beetle
8:01 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Heroes of the Pasture: Dung Beetles

Heros of the Pasture
Credit Dingle Images

Somewhere I saw this quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I agree and add you’ll meet interesting creatures along the way. Sometimes those new acquaintances look like something from an intergalactic space bar.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Planting a Little Shade

If you’ve ever closely examined vintage Ellis photos, you know the town had even more big trees shading yards, parks, and walkways than exist today. Seeing old pictures made me think about trees growing around town. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look long before I found a history of local tree culture.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:21 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Pelican in the Wading Pool

Nobody told me when I married a game warden that a pelican would take up temporary residence in my children’s wading pool. Nor did I realize my two tiny daughters and I would spend a couple of days throwing our hooks and lines off a bridge over Big Creek trying to catch enough fish to satisfy that visitor’s insatiable appetite. On the other hand, that eating machine never expected to vacation at our house either.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:35 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Assistant Pollinator

Credit treehugger.com

Watching bees and butterflies with pollen-coated legs buzz about my garden fascinates me. While I don’t plan to grow my leg hair until it can collect yellow nodules of plant magic, I have decided to join these insects’ efforts to pollinate my tomato blooms.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:19 am
Fri June 7, 2013

Fawn Nurseries

Years ago our family tent-camped at Slough Creek Camp Ground, a primitive site at the north end of Yellowstone National Park where wildlife is abundant and close. That particular summer, the area’s fawn population had exploded. Does led babies to the stream bank directly across from our tent. While my husband fished, transfixed little girls and I watched the tiny creatures scamper and nurse while their mommas browsed and occasionally cleaned a baby. This is my fondest memory of camping with small children.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

No Place for Sissies

We invited a French exchange student to share our lives for six weeks one summer. Her first question after she deposited her luggage in the bedroom was, “Do you have tornadoes here?”

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

The Secret is Homemade

As a self-appointed foodie, I often watch Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives for cooking inspiration. Guy Fieri’s success at seeking eateries with reputations for amazing fare motivates me to look for excellent dining on road trips. Because of my research, I have a list of favorite restaurants. However, none of these culinary institutions matches the quality or flavor of my all-time preferred place to eat, Grandma Lottie’s kitchen.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
1:19 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Jelly on the Bush

I've heard some folks refer to cattle as, "hamburger on the hoof."  With that reference in mind, I have been salivating about all the jelly on the bush that the current blossoms have been hinting at.  I was disheartened by the frost that took many of my sandhill plum possibilities.  As the summer progresses, I will rise to the challenge with our feathered friends to see who will be the first to the harvest.

Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Lilac Memories

Memory triggers include anything from childhood toys,  favorite tunes, or scents that punch the start button on videos of our past that cycle over and over in our heads.  Each spring when lilacs bloom, I get a full two weeks of scented prompts that start those mind movies rolling. 

Lilacs figure into my earliest recollections.  I haven’t checked with my mother, but I suspect their scent wafted into my very first home to imprint on my infant brain.  Every time I smell those lavender blooms, I think of sunshine and gentle breezes combined with motherly and grandmotherly love.

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