Monday, August 27, 2012

The bee's knees

At the end of our lives, ultimately only one question remains. Did we manage to give others love and did we receive love from others? Did we manage to "be there" for the important people around us, or were we too busy thinking about the next game?
- David Servan-Schreiber

A former student gave me this card and the card design and message are so special to me.  

First, the design.  I am a little crazy for bees and the card looks like it came from an old-fashioned press or block print.  These two factors combined made me want to seek out a retailer.  I am still waiting to place an order, but it is in my future.

Second, the message.  When a student takes the time to thank me  for the opportunity to work together, I feel a great deal of pride.  It is a really special thing to be able to work with young leaders at the start of their career.  I am so thankful for my job and the great people around me.

This card is a keeper.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beautiful blooms

While running out of the house early in the morning, I noticed that our flowers near the front door were still blooming despite the hot, dry summer we have been experiencing.

Thankfully, Friday and Saturday both included cooler temperatures and RAIN!

I am so thankful for the rain and so are the plants.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Relic of the Kansas prairie

My weekend started with a Friday night and Saturday morning retreat with some student leaders. The retreat site was at White Memorial Camp near Council Grove, Kansas.

The drive to the camp was amazing.  The prairie views were really incredible and everything looked refreshed after we (finally) got some rain.  The only down side was the gravel roads to the camp had some serious mud in the low areas. My car really needs a car wash!

At the corner where you turn south to take the final road to the camp, there was this awesome old house.  I feel in love with it on Friday night and promised myself that I would get a picture today.

I love this relic of the Kansas prairie.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lessons learned

Today has been a day of lessons learned.

As part of my work day, I attended a luncheon that featured a panel of women who provided advice for other women working in our field.  All four panelists are people that I know and have worked with in one aspect of our jobs or another.  It was especially fun to hear them talk about their career paths and perspectives on being busy women leaders.

Two of the panelists spoke about the importance of focus.

Lesson number one.  Focus.

After reheating my cup of tea for the third time tonight, I decided to sit down and actually enjoy it.  It was a great chance to catch up on some of my favorite blogs and get some perspective on the day.  (I also put water on to boil for dinner and forgot about it for several extra minutes while I got distracted by e-mail.  Hmmm....focus.)

Enter lesson number two.  Don't read sad things when you are feeling kind of sad from the start.  This equation equals tears.  This story, from one of my favorite bloggers, will help with perspective.  The perspective was worth the tears.

I was feeling kind of guilty about staying inside with the temperatures so mild.  We actually had rain this morning - a glorious, slow and steady rain.  

Why stay inside?  My husband was still at work and the dogs needed some time to run.  Truthfully, I felt like the alpacas were staring me down, especially Magellan.

I mean, how can you ignore that face?
 The dogs had some time to run and get into mischief.  The only way I can get a picture of Joey is to give him a rawhide treat.  Though, he will growl at me, Cy (our other dog), and a shadow if he thinks you are getting close enough to take his rawhide away.
 The dogs also got into the garden which is off-limits because they are tomato thieves.  They do look guilty, don't they.
Lesson number three:  Get your thoughts together before opening your mouth.  This is the time of year when I most need to practice patience and a balanced approach.  I dropped the ball on that one today.  The good news is that I am sure I will have a lot more situations this week during which I can practice.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dirt, Denim & Diamonds - Day two

Saturday was the second day of the very successful Dirt, Denim & Diamonds conference.

There were so many things that I loved about this conference.  At the top of the list was the location.  Living Water Ranch is located northwest of Manhattan, KS and is nestled in the Flint Hills.  It is a gorgeous site with beautiful vistas in every direction.

The drive to Living Water Ranch is one of my top five in Kansas.  It is amazing that you are close to town and yet, you feel like you are really getting away. 

 If anyone ever tells you that Kansas is flat, you only have to take them on this drive.  Love these rolling hills.
When you turn south to travel to Living Water Ranch, you cross a cattle guard. If you are new to this, you might think that it is for drainage or some other purpose.  It actually keeps cattle (or other livestock) in a fenced area - in this case, the pasture.  There is a fence around the pasture, but to allow cars and other vehicles to come and go without opening and closing a gate, the cattle guard can stand in the place of a gate. The animals are not able to walk over it, yet people and cars can move across it easily.

I always feel this great sense of "getting away" when I drive across the cattle guard.

It also puts me on alert in the event a cow or calf are hanging out on the road.
I loved the views of the grasslands and the lake beyond.
 The cows along the drive and in the pasture just completed the whole setting.

Once at the conference, I found myself surrounded by awesome women across many generations, representing may different connections to agriculture, and from locations all around the region.

The sessions were educational and interesting.  The conversations between sessions and over meals were very, very special.

I spent some time today sorting through my stack of business cards and session handouts.  I have plans to reach out to several of the women who attended.

Congratulations to my friend for an excellent conference full of sisterhood, learning, and fun!

I am not a...5-star Horticulturalist

Sometimes, you just have to share something that makes you laugh, even if you don't know what to make of it!

My husband is really good at finding awesome things on Craigslist.  He's great about scanning the listings and discovering some item that we just have to add to our collection of collections.  And, every once in awhile, he will stumble on a particularly creative, funny or weird post.  I am not exactly sure how to classify this post, but it made me laugh!

Folks, how many times have you gazed forlornly at your sad and sorry roses and thought to yourself, "How I yearn for a few dried cow patties* to rouse and revive them!"?

Ah, well, your wishes CAN come true! 
 Yes, I have risked chiggers, heatstroke, and a vast array of spiders to provide you with a bag of all-natural cow manure. And this didn't come from just any old herd--these are special Gelbvieh/Limousin cows--loved and petted at Prairie Springs Cottage; why there is even a lovely one named Erma!

Munching on Flint Hills grass, drinking from spring-fed (soon-to-be-brackish) pond-water, and nibbling a bit of George Ebert's hay (Hey! We're in a drought if you haven't noticed!), these cows have ruminated and digested (and expelled) a perfect, pretty-much-organic, fertilizer just for you.

Despite barbwire tearing a hole in my shirt, a grasshopper thwacking my eye, and enduring the thrumming of hovering Chinooks, I am still willing to give you a tremendous bargain: $8.00 for a pillowcase-sized bag; cash only.
On second thought, all of you should get off your lazy duffs and get it yourselves--maybe you too would get to see one of these little endangered horny toads, become 'one' with nature, and have an all 'round great day...!

*disclaimer: I am not an Herbivorologist, a Poopologist, nor a 5-star Horticulturalist--I have no idea how much to put on roses--google it yourself, please.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dirt, Denim & Diamonds - Day One

Congratulations to my blogger friend for an excellent start to her conference Dirt, Denim & Diamonds!

Tonight was the beginning of what will be a great opportunity to network and learn with women from the region.  We connected over our love of agriculture and everyone was so warm and friendly.

The agenda for the first day included shopping from a great set of exhibitors, hearing an inspiring presentation about gratitude, and making our own gratitude journal.  (Oh, and did I mention the food was great, too!)  It was fun to see talented women share an inspiring message and to help us make something meaningful.  Nothing can bring a group together like working on a project - sharing supplies, offering advice, and providing compliments on each other's work.

When we arrived at Living Water Ranch, we were greeted by the conference organizer with cute and creative table decorations, a bag of goodies, and a 'wow factor' folder.
 I loved, loved, loved the folders.  Each had a denim pocket that included a pen and information on ways to connect with the conference.
 Our project tonight was making a gratitude journal.  A local Stampin' Up! demonstrator helped us with the design, materials, and instruction.  She did a great job keeping us focused and helping us share tools between tables.

This was the perfect project to follow an inspirational presentation by an ag ed leader from Nebraska.  Her message was perfect to set the tone for our conference and to provide perspective.  We really are so blessed.

I am so looking forward to tomorrow!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Primary elections

 Tuesday was primary election day.  I made plans to hit the polling place early in the morning before work.  I arrived at 7:01 a.m. by my clock in the car and tried the door.  It was locked.

A neighbor pulled in behind me and told me that I still had one minute.  He got out of his truck and rattled the door handle and banged on the door.  Then, he walked away!

I yelled at him that they (the very nice retired ladies) would think it was me!  When the door opened, I sold him out and named him as the impatient one.

This year's primary had a few hotly contested races.  I have to admit that I was relieved to have this day pass because it would mean at least a short respite from the phone calls, direct mail pieces, and door-to-door campaigners.  We had about reached our limit of robo-calls and we were more than a little annoyed to have a door-to-door visit on July 4th.

I still get a kick out of voting.  It was a big deal when I finally turned 18 and had the chance to vote.

I remember going with my mom to a polling place when I was really little and I stood with her in the curtained booth while she voted.  That early trip left a big impression and I will always remember how important it seemed to be able to step into the booth and make your choices.

I came across this photo in Pinterest a few weeks ago.  When I take a moment and think about the right to vote, I am struck by how recently women actually earned this right in our country.  I am so humbled by the fact that I have this right and just a few generations ago, women were fighting to make this a reality.  I am so lucky.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Plant geek: lilies

 When we first moved into our house, we knew that most of the yard and landscaping was a clean slate.  We understood that the builder who remodeled our 100 year old schoolhouse had taken out most of the plants and grass with the idea that whoever bought the place would need to start over. We were up for the challenge and yet, a little sad that some of the original plants might be lost.

We moved in during the month of July.  One day shortly after we were unpacked, we had some belladonna lilies or naked ladies pop up in the yard.  I happened to be the first out of the house that day and saw the surprise blooms.  When I went back into the house, I told my husband that we had some naked ladies in the yard.  He was a little surprised by that declaration and maybe a little disappointed that I was talking about a variety of flowers.  (The other scenario would have made for a better story!)

When I was growing up, my mom had some of these lilies in front of one of her apartments and I will always remember being introduced to them by her.  I really loved them and thought they made a nice bouquet - elegant and showy.

Today, I noticed that some naked ladies were again making their appearance.  I really love these blooms.
And, check out the blossom - amazing!

Olympic Training Center

 August started fast and furious!  We left for a short trip to Colorado with a group from my husband's school.  We had three days - one day for driving and some touring, white water rafting on day two, and then driving home.

Our two vans pulled out of the school parking lot a little after 5 a.m. It was early, especially for high school students.  We did get to see an awesome Kansas sunrise behind us as as we drove west.

I rode in the "boys" van.  We had a full video gaming system and I certainly learned a lot about video games, even in the first 20 miles or so.  Our group was also musical and they sang a little ditty that is still in my head.

Our first stop was the Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs (save the two stops along the way for driving breaks).  We toured and shopped and learned about the athletes who train at this location - one of three in the country.
It was amazing to think about the dedication and hard work that is required to be an Olympian.  The tour felt  a little more meaningful since the Olympics were underway in London.  (I also gave the tour guide high marks, given my day job. She was humorous, kept the group together, used story well, rested us in the shade...well trained guide.)
 It is hard to tell, but the flame is lit over the visitor's center.
 I have always loved the motto.
 Even the views were inspiring!
After Colorado Springs, we headed even further west toward the cabin where we were staying.  Our cabin was near Mount Princeton and it was a perfect location.  There was no cell phone reception or internet connection, but a electricity and (hot) running water.  And, a tv to watch the Olympics together.  Everyone had a great time.
On the first morning, my husband and I took a walk together.  It was 40 degrees - a sharp contrast from the 95 degrees we have been waking up to (and then roasting through the day to highs well over 100 degrees).
And, it was beautiful!

More about our white water rafting adventure...coming soon!