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.

Ways To Connect

realworldsurvivor.com

 “Going once, twice, sold!” patters the auctioneer as he transfers ownership of an old wedding ring quilt to a buyer. The crowd moves in unison from the flatbed display wagon to let the woman who purchased the heirloom retrieve it. As soon as she moves back into place, the curious mass  realigns itself like a giant amoeba shifting and reforming. Many become one on a sunny prairie morning.

Outdoor America

Aug 17, 2014
rvgoddess.com

Any good outdoors person knows that Cabela’s is a necessary stop on any vacation destination within 200 miles of this famed outdoor shopper’s paradise.  As lovers of nature, my husband and I always squeeze in a shopping expedition on our way to or/and from Wyoming.  We would always wonder what we missed if we ever drove past that green roofed utopia on I-80.

Witness Trees

Aug 10, 2014
flippetyfloppety.blogspot.com

We once traveled to Montana where I met a remarkable man who introduced me to “Witness” trees. In that particular case, the storyteller was talking about 1000 or 2000-year-old pine trees that oversaw pack trains led first by native people and later by miners and then hunters heading into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

ktiv.com

Sometimes Western Kansans get so caught up in getting through a day or the week, they forget something special occurs toward the end of summer. Those unique events are area fairs, which began a few weeks ago and wrap up over the next few weeks. They provide opportunities to socialize, eat good food while supporting local organizations, and explore 4-H and open class entries in categories from fashion review to animal showmanship. It’s a time for kids and adults to showcase favorite projects.

inourwordsblog.com

After pulling weeds, mowing lawns, playing, or swimming under hot summer sun, evening breezes provided welcome relief during games of softball and freeze tag played at dusk during my childhood. As a youngster, I loved being outside under lavender, apricot, and rose tinted  skies when cool winds blew  and tangled hair into Medusa-like snakes and tickled sunburnt skin. This was a such a positive part of my life that I still enjoy replaying mental videos of evenings my brother and I invented new games or enjoyed old standbys with neighborhood kids after supper.

pestkill.org

We’ve enjoyed a lush garden this summer with tall corn, big cabbages, sweet potato vines that could be jungle instead of food, and towering tomato plants. Imagine our horror when we visited the garden one morning to find an interstate of raised trails weaving in and out our plantings. This was my introduction to a live mole.

magysty.blogspot.com

All eyes in the stands focused on a bright yellow Volkswagen parked in the center of the Big top.  Both doors opened simultaneously, allowing two clowns wearing towering top hats and oversized, floppy shoes  to step into the spotlight.  Then two more characters in bright, outsized  attire squeezed out, and then two more and two more and two more  like an out of control tube of toothpaste until there were 12 clowns crowding around that little  VW.  If those weren’t enough to dazzle the crowd, two more popped out. 

ranchreflections.wordpress.com

If you tune into the news, you’ll see people and nations disputing boundaries. These disagreements might involve guns, artillery, and bombs, or they may be legal wars that wind their way through courtrooms for years before anyone gets a definitive answer regarding who owns what. Since the beginning of time, humans have wrangled over property lines. After watching two male cardinals duke it out last week, I’ve decided people ought to settle their differences the way birds do—with song.

artofmanliness.com

In Victorian times, people of good breeding with time on their hands apparently went “calling.” As either a pass into another’s home or as a token of the visit, guests left behind a reminder of the visit in a lovely dish placed on an entryway table. These ornately engraved name cards held special significance if one bent the left top corner one way and another meaning if the deliverer tore a different place. 

dankalal.net

Old houses intrigue me—especially those with formal parlors. In today’s world, the concept of an appointed sitting room is alien to our interactions. However, after participating in the Donna Day Craft Workshop at Cottonwood Ranch Historical Site, I’m rethinking my feelings about fancy salons folks once used only for weddings, Sunday visitors, or wakes.

blogs.dickinson.edu

For weeks, I eye-balled a dead deer lying in a nearby wheat field. Each time I passed, I saw carrion eaters had whittled the carcass further. When I first spotted the broken body, I hoped a highway crew would clean it up, but after observing how many meals it provided not only to crows and magpies, but also to other scavengers, it served a better purpose where it was.

idahoweedawareness.net

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. 

oriooli.com

A phone call brings Karen one step closer to becoming the oldest generation.

solarlivinginterns.blogspot.com

It is that time when Kansas cars, driveways, and tops of heads wear purplish reminders of a passing bird’s mulberry feast. Everyone saw it coming as pale fruits of this native tree first turned from white to bright red then matured to black-purple. Not so long ago, Jayhawk-state residents looked forward to this early spring fruit as one of summer’s first harvests. Now days, most folks consider these berries a mess to clean up.

statesymbolsusa.org

Typically, when you see wild turkeys, you see them in a flock. If they are seeking a morning breakfast of grasshoppers and other early rising insects, several dine together.  At night, they gather in  large groups to roost in a big tree that provides each bird its own branch.  However, they perch close enough to one another for the turkey equivalent of The Walton’s “Goodnight, John-boy” evening song.

ravengrrl.blogspot.com

Only a Grinch could hate spring’s arrival. What’s not to like about warmer days, leaves unfurling, grass greening, tulips and daffodils bursting into bloom, lilacs perfuming breezes, and white blossoms exploding on Barbie’s wedding bush. This plant is really called spirea, but for little girls playing dolls, this shrub provides bouquets enough for a hundred wedding ceremonies--hence its nickname.

123rf.com

One of my favorite novels to teach is John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. I love his use of landscape, the very human ways the main character Kino and his young wife Juana face ills that befall them, and truths about human nature the author unfolds in quotes that spill from memory at odd times. One of those instances occurred recently.

therealjackrussell.com

You’ve heard the saying, “Looks can be deceiving.” That statement describes our little terrier’s coat. When you see him, he looks like a sleek little pooch who doesn’t shed. That’s true September through February. However, when March blows in, he gives March Madness a new interpretation.

justmakethecoffee.com

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.

wikipedia.org

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone for another year. With the flip of that calendar page went the need to wear green and an urge to search lawns for lucky four-leaf clovers. The more common three-leaf variety representing faith, hope, and love symbolized Ireland’s most famous saint. Add a leaf to that trefoil and you get luck as well. Finding a shamrock with that extra something is the difficulty. According to some statisticians, only one in 10, 000 possesses the lucky fourth.

http://www.dirtycarart.com/

Recently, a friend sent me a link to “Scott Wade’s Dirty Pictures.”  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.  With recent snow melt and the resulting swampy driveway, I  wondered if I couldn’t save some money on canvas and take up sketching on our pick-up and car windows.

tropicoftaurus.net

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.  While these nomadic people didn’t follow a Julian calendar, they knew the importance of using seasonal lunar phases to record passing time.

saidanotherway.blogspot.com

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?

lilbitfarms.com

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. 

kaweahoaks.com

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. 

thefieldbrookreserve.com

One part of Eastern thought that intrigues me is the Zen  concept of intentionally living in the moment and experiencing that moment fully. I suppose that is a  major reason  why I enjoy the out of doors so much.  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.

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.

Cosmic Sand Pile

Jan 24, 2014
thezarembas.blogspot.com/

 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.

Frugal Good Times

Dec 27, 2013
sarahhearts.com

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  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.

prairietayles.blogspot.com

Despite stickers embedded in fingers and palms, I don’t want to give up my beautification project.  Nope, I’m not digging backyard sandburs. I’m decorating a Prairie Christmas tree. Yep, I’ve gone Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I’m turning a tumbleweed into a showcase for curling green, gold, and red ribbons accented by shiny ornaments.

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