Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Orleans - Day 1

Water, water everywhere!!  Day one in New Orleans was spent dodging puddles and avoiding rainstorms.  We did find some dry moments to walk around the French Quarter and even took a carriage ride from Pierre, who seemed to know almost everyone.  The picture above is taken looking down Bourbon Street.  Strip clubs, bars, and art galleries.....strange combination, I know. 

I learned that in New Orleans you can carry alcohol with you on the street as long as it is not in glass.  We passed one place that had a carry out window just for drinks.  One of my favorite places I have seen has daquiries in slushie machines.  They have probably 10 machines all lined up.  I will try to take a picture and post later.

On the schedule for tomorrow is a swamp tour and maybe the WWII Museum.   

Monday, June 28, 2010

Evidently, I'm It

1.   What’s your staple meal (ie. what meal do you cook most often when you can’t be bothered to be adventurous)?

Considering I am not the cook in my family, I guess I would have to say Mac and Cheese.  It is honestly one of the few things that I haven't managed to screw up over the years.
2.  What do you want to be when you grow up?
I was going to be an architect.  I started taking drafting when I was in 5th grade and continued through high school.  I learned how to use AutoCAD and VersaCAD and oddly enough how to bury naughty computer games so a teacher couldn't find them, but that is a story for another day.  I stuck through architecture for one year at KSU and traded in the four white walls of the studio for the four white walls of a practice room.  I do have extremely neat handwriting because of all those years of drafting though.
3.   What book are you reading at the moment (if any)?
I am currently reading 1776.  I have a book about Nannerl Mozart ready to go and my grandma just loaned me four books about the Amish so I should be set for a while.

4.  How do you relax?

This may sound odd but working on the farm is my idea of relaxing.  After wheat harvest I always feel much better.  I also enjoy playing any of my instruments for relaxation except guitar.  I'm not good enough at it yet for it to be relaxing.

5.   What color are the interior walls of your home?

Up until a few years ago, everything was white and it was driving me absolutely nuts.  I may have gone a little color crazy but here goes........entryway - medium blue-green, parlor - darker blue-green, living room - purple, dining room - just started painting it olive green, downstairs bathroom - light lavendar, kitchen - brick red and yellow gold, upstairs hallway - same yellow gold as kitchen, bedroom - light green, my office - blue, Matt's office - imagine Kaufman Stadium. I have wallpaper bought for the upstairs bathroom that is purple, green, and gray.

6.  What is your guiltiest pleasure?

hmmm......I guess it would have to be my pickup.  Do I need a truck?  Not really, but I love my truck.

7.  What time is bedtime and getting up time?

I try to go to bed around 10:30.  During the summer I have been getting up and walking at 7:30.  During school, maybe 6:45.  Thankfully it doesn't take me long to get ready in the morning.

8.  How long do you spend reading blogs (per day or per week)?

Not very long unless people on my list post new stuff. 

If you have read this and haven't been tagged yet, I guess you are it. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Harvest 2010

Harvest for my family is officially over!  After a little more than 3 full days of cutting the last load is in the elevator.  It was great to see all my buddies at the elevator. 

There are still two employees left from when I worked there when I was in high school so it is always nice to see them and talk about the "good old days" before hydraulic probes, computers, and a fancy shaker machine figure out dockage.

These days I drive the truck.  Since my uncle bought the semi harvest has been much more enjoyable for me.  My right arm would be almost dead after the second from all the shifting so a new automatic is heaven!  Here is my pickup with the semi in the distance.  I sometimes wonder what my grandpa, who was the official truck driver for as long as I could remember, would think of this truck.  It has air conditioning (even though my uncle swears it doesn't work right), a radio, air ride seats.  A far cry from the trucks we had when I was a kid.  My favorite truck, which we lovingly call Pinky, does get to come out at least once a year to collect the seed wheat.  I remember Grandpa heading to town in Pinky with usually 2 or 3 of us grandkids with him.  First, I really don't know how he put up with us and secondly, I don't know how we fit into that cab!

There was usually not a lot of sitting for Grandpa.  As soon as he got back from town the other truck was sitting full waiting for him.   I don't know that Pinky would hold a full dump from both combines.  The semi holds at least 2 from both combines and a little more.  Needless to say, I do have a little down time between loads.  So I take a book along and I can be found either sitting on the top rung of the ladder or leading against a tire in the shade reading. 

Thankfully harvest went pretty smoothly.  My uncle broke the belt to his spreader in the next to last field.  Other than the tarp handle attacking me and almost knocking me out, the belt was the only casualty.  The guys have planted a lot more corn this year so hopefully I can play hooky from school a day or two and go drive truck for corn harvest.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Symphony in the Flint Hills 2010

This was our fourth year to attend the Symphony in the Flint Hills.  This year's concert was in Chase County in pastureland owned by a Texas billionaire.  If you don't know about the Symphony in the Flint Hills you are missing out.  The grand finale is, of course, a performance by the Kansas City Symphony, but this even is so much more.  They bring in people to give talks all afternoon about the history of the area, the wildlife and vegetation, and other topics.  You can take a covered wagon ride across the prairie, go on a wildflower walk, and even stargaze once the sun goes down.  There are local musicians, cowboys, great food, art..........and it all takes place in the middle of a pasture somewhere in the Flint Hills.

This year's concert was threatened by weather all day long.  Mother Nature is a big part of this event happening.  Thanks to technology, we got text messages updates all day about the status of the weather.  Even though we drove through some rainy spots to get there it was an absolutely beautiful evening.  As you can see from the pictures, it was a little hazy, but it was still a stunning view from the hill.  No highways, no power lines, just grass as far as the eye can see.

They only sell about 5,000-6,000 tickets each year and every year it sells out within the first couple of hours.  It is always interesting to find a spot to sit and just watch the people go by.  You see all kinds.  One of our favorites this year was a gal walking around in her stiletto high heels.  Not exactly my choice of footwear for walking through a pasture, but hey, it takes all kinds.  Even the parking lot is an interesting experience, everything from Cadillacs and Lexuses to pickup trucks.

There is really no other way that I would rather listen to the symphony.  This year was a little different with the addition of a guest artist that performed with the symphony.  Lyle Lovett, who is a friend of the landowner, performed and while I am not a huge fan the selections that he did seemed to fit in.  Here is the website if you want to read a little bit more about this event.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thank goodness for road trips

This week we went to Minnesota.  We actually started last Saturday and spent 2 days at Royals games (they won 1 and lost 1).  We left after Sunday's game and drove north.  We stopped for the night in Albert Lea, Minnesota, a mere 17 miles from the world famous SPAM Museum.  We decided to pass on the SPAM and proceeded on to Minneapolis early the next morning.

I am one of those people who can read in a moving vehicle with no problem.  One of my friends who is also a librarian, loaned me four books that she thought I would enjoy.   I am an odd sort when it comes to books.  When I was in elementary school I read almost every biography in the city library for the summer reading program.  I don't really enjoy reading things that don't have at least one foot firmly planted in history or fact.  The books she loaned me are about the lives of four different women, Martha Washington, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Jane Austen, and Nannerl Mozart.

I decided to begin with Martha Washington.  Having been to Mt. Vernon and being married to a social studies teacher I probably have more information about George Washington than many normal folk.  The book, however, was all from Martha's perspective.   What a great read!!!  The author even explains at the end what is fact and what she took liberties with for the sake of story telling. 

It tells about how Martha dealt with many deaths in her family and how she was forced to run her plantation after her first husband Daniel died.  Running their small operation was good practice for later years when she would need to take over the operations at Mount Vernon while George was leading the troops.  I also found it very interesting that most winters she would go to the camp to live with George.  She would visit with the troops and gathered the officers wives also at camp to sew and mend clothes for the officers.  By the end of the war she was held in highest regard, almost as high as her husband for her efforts during the war. 

On the ride home, I read the book about Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  I was not sure what this book was going to be like, not having the background on her that I did with Martha Washington.  When I say I read this on the way home, I really did!!  It was a very easy read.  What an interesting life she had.  Not only did she fight illness most of her life, she too had to overcome devastating deaths in her family.   Reading the epilogue at the end was very interesting because most of the circumstances regarding her relationship with Robert Browning seem to scripted to be true.  Most of the details regarding how they met, their courtship, and eventual marriage are absolutely true!!!  Even though she is best known for her love sonnets, she never intended for that collection to be published.  She was a prolific poet and was even considered for the position of Poet Laureate of England but was passed over for Lord Tennyson. 

I am trying to save the last two books for wheat harvest or our trip to New Orleans later this summer.  Thank goodness for road trips!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

YMCA and McDonalds cups

This week I have been helping with the State FFA Band.  I really did not know what to expect when I volunteered for this.  I was in FFA when I was a student at good old MHS, but I never attended State Convention.  FFA kids are really great kids and when you add in the band kid factor, believe me, you are in for an interesting time.  This week I have learned really bizarre facts about all the band members, learned how to play "Ninja," marveled at some physical feats, and worked with them on a lot of great music.

Tonight was the first of two performances.  It was fairly informal as it was before the evening session.  We had worked up 8 pep band type tunes and played while members were entering the auditorium.  The crowd was so awesome!!!  They were clapping and singing along and I don't think there was anyone in their seats for the state officer candidates leading the YMCA dance at the end.

Tomorrow's performance will include some pop music and we will end with "God Bless America."  It has been an absolutely amazing week and I hope I get the opportunity to work with this group again.

So what does McDonalds cups have to do with this??  We are doing a percussion ensemble piece called "Fast Food."  It calls for 3 different sizes of cups with lids and straws.  The performers are supposed to move the straw up and down in rhythm.  We of course, are going to put our own special twist on this, thanks to the creative ideas that the group has come up with.  It should be interesting.