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 February 7, 2014

A prairie rabbit shows me the Zen way of life

Credit 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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Small business creativity is alive and well on the high plains

Dog grooming hits the road

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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Cosmic Sand Pile

Credit 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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

The Best Dining On the Plains is Found in Small Towns

Credit http://sf.funcheap.com/

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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:00 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Ode to the Public Library

Credit theguardian.com

Watching how much my toddler granddaughter loves books reminds me of a seven-year-old,  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.  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.

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

Frugal Good Times

Credit 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.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Ta Da! Christmas Magic: From Tumbleweed to Christmas Tree

Credit 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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Prairie Ramblings Episode
6:07 am
Sat December 14, 2013

Solstices Remind Us of Rhythms Our Hearts Know

Credit chateauamber.eu

I can’t imagine living in times prior to scientific understanding of the year’s shortest day and longest night, the winter solstice.  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.

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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

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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