Prairie Ramblings

Saturday afternoons, 2:30 central during Silver Rails

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 teacher, Karen loves finding fossils from the ancient inland seas  as well as  learning about  modern  pioneers who harvest Kansas wind. Each week Prairie Ramblings takes you inside everyday life.  It is a celebration of living the good life on the high plains.

All my married life, I’ve loved attending local auctions.  Part of the charm of these gatherings is seeing friends and neighbors and catching up with one another’s busy lives or listening to the auctioneer’s clever patter.  Another reason these events draw me  is the chance to see history and sometimes buy a little chunk of someone else’s story.  Unfortunately, there comes a time when those little pieces of other’s lives add up to enough stuff to clutter my closets to overflowing.  Before anything bursts, I need to take action.

Ribbons of Birds

Feb 22, 2015

One of my favorite parts of wrapping presents is creating pretty designs with all kinds of ribbon.  The  paper corners may not be so sharp as one might wish, but I love using  scissors to stretch skinny little green or red Christmas trim into dangling sausage curls.  Somehow sparkly spools of foil, scissors, and tape bring out the creative in me, and I find myself making loop de loops and fleur de lis on my loved one’s gifts.  I’m not sure skill matches imagination, but I love playing with strands of fabric and paper.

Over a decade ago, I lucked into a National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar titled  The Great Plains: Texas to Saskatchewan.  For five weeks,  Tom Isern  led 19 other teachers and I to read and analyze literary and historical texts, discuss conclusions, and visit iconic sites to better understand what it means to live on the plains.

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.

Sunset Memories

Jan 25, 2015

Skilled technicians with the right equipment create concert and video light shows that dazzle viewers.  An important component of such expertise is that anyone, anywhere can ooh and aah at  color and light shifting like a living kaleidoscope. Kansans don’t have to wait for light shows to come to town. They only have to look west each evening to enjoy award-winning productions the setting sun and our clear atmosphere create daily.

driversed.com

Some of us rise long before dawn breaks the horizon and hit narrow two lane highways in night’s deepest black. For these folks, life between the white lines balances boredom caused by limited visibility  with edge of the seat, adrenaline-rushing thrills.

Early each morning I turn east on Highway 9 and immediately shrink to a blip on the universe’s radar. If satellites actually watch cars passing down remote roads, I ‘d hardly be visible in my silver Toyota that blends in with a worn asphalt ribbon  connecting one shrinking farm town to another. I’d show up as two tiny eastward moving light rays.

BIG Sister Club

Jan 4, 2015
etsy.com

People join clubs for different reasons, and sometimes they gain membership because of something someone else did. That’s certainly the case for those initiated into the big sister or brother club. Affiliation with this organization has nothing to do with a child’s intentions. Involvement is totally a result of parental action. 

getruralkansas.com

Lovers of sun light, rejoice. Soon, the winter solstice will pass for another year. Even though days grow longer only a few minutes at a time, we’ll soon enjoy more sunshine than darkness in a 24-hour span. Unfortunately, it takes a month or so of incremental minutes before longer days are noticeable, so until then let’s bask in the glow of Christmas lights.

Flash Christmas

Dec 14, 2014
quotes.lol-rofl.com

What do you do when you aren’t ready for Christmas? As a former Type A Christmas junkie who decorated, baked and made dozens of cookie and candy platters, wrote long Christmas letters, and had her Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving , I’m about to find out.

ctonabudget.blogspot.com

I know some might think, heavens no; December doesn’t need another holiday. After all, it has Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but for those of us living in deer country, we need to make opening day of firearms deer season the kind of holiday that frees kids from school and employees from work. Even for people who don’t hunt, advantages exist.

pettimes.ca

Our last dog came to us as a mature hand-me-down. Our daughter adopted him as a furry white puppy with appealing eyes. He was small enough to fit in her housecoat pocket. His mom was Shih Tzu and reportedly his dad was Lhasa Apso, so Dudley should have remained tiny and cuddly. Six years later, he weighs 45 pounds and comes to my very tall knee. While he isn’t purse pet material, he’s still lovable.

blakleyhomeplace.blogspot.com

While living out of a suitcase has definite drawbacks, one of the bonuses of visiting new places is trying local foods. Because my family both moved and traveled a great deal as I grew up, I learned early the joy of sampling regional delights every time I hit the road.

Witches Britches

Nov 16, 2014
dallasnews.com

I wish I’d paid closer attention to my high school chemistry teacher. If I had, molecules and their pairings might confuse me less. I could better understand polyethylene and other carbon polymer products. Despite my ignorance, intricacies of molecular interactions interest the poet in me. Niggling thoughts waken me in the middle of the night to wonder about the origin of the end product—plastic bags that decorate my landscape.

Weekend trips were my father’s favorite way to unwind.  One of his favorite getaways was a  ranch east of San Diego along the Mexican border.  Semi-arid and craggy, it’s mystique appealed to me as well.  It was a relief to escape the crowded Los Angeles basin to this uncomplicated ranch nestled amidst sage-dotted hills.  The land’s sparse vegetation and up-thrust boulders made it difficult for man or beast to inhabit. 

Karen Madorin

Instead of counting sheep to fall asleep, I count blessings until my eyelids slam shut.  On nights when slumber doesn’t come readily, my list grows more creative as I run out of obvious items to tally.  One item at the bottom of a long list of life boons is not just thankfulness for food to nourish my family, but for knowing the origins of my meals.

Karen Madorin

That Thursday’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 the perfect weekend to come.

planobluestem.blogspot.com

As autumn officially arrives this year, I am reminded how blessed we are in western Kansas to live close to nature and her cycles.  On this vernal equinox when daylight and darkness are essentially equal,   I give thanks that I live somewhere that makes it easy for me to note such an occurrence.

Karen Madorin

While calendars tell us summer is over and fall has begun, hordes of giant dragonflies ride still-warm breezes and wasps hover over ripe fruits. Summer birdsong tricks us into believing there’s plenty of time for a second round of ripe tomatoes and okra or many late season dips in a lake or pond. The reality is that frosty mornings are not far off. It won’t be long before summer tunes are silent, insects and birds will vanish, green leaves will turn to dry husks, and ice will crust ponds and lakes.

emsworld.com

Rapid care in the golden hour after an accident or major health issue such as a stroke or heart attack offers hope to patients and their loved ones. For those who live in remote areas, time between the moment  a cardiac incident or traumatic injury occurs and treatment begins depends on how swiftly emergency services arrive on scene. For most of us living on the high plains, that means we depend on neighbor/volunteers during crises.

mustangtripp.blogspot.com

Some people like to buy jeans with holes already in the fabric. I, however, prefer my new britches with only traditional waist and leg openings. Unfortunately, because I’m not good at crossing barbwire fences, I’ve ripped some fashionable extra tears in my denims.

dogbreedinfo.com

If you saw our fuzzy white dog, you’d swear he was good for nothing but keeping the end of the couch warm and watching his food bowl. In reality, he’s a sticker patch super hero who aides Mother Nature in her efforts to make sure prickly seed producing plants of all kinds never die out.

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.

zookyworld.wordpress.com

Time for confession: I’m a female missing the fashion gene. While I love art and creativity, I prefer wearing jeans and  t-shirts. Ironically, I sometimes watch What Not to Wear. I’m pretty sure I’d drive Stacy and Clinton insane because I often don’t like the designs and patterns they convince the person-in-need- of-improvement to select. While I may not like the colors and configurations these style mavens promote, I do love beautifully designed insects.

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. 

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